Cooler | Phalsa Berry Sharbat – ‘Blendit’ like Vikas Khanna #summer #cooler #inseason #kitchenaidindia

“The more you know, the more you can create. There’s no end to imagination in the kitchen.”
Julia Child

Phalsa ka Sharbat Phalsa Berry Sharbat … the much dreaded ‘loo‘ or hot summer winds, dry and dust laden, sweep across the plains of North India. Summer here becomes intolerable at times, with ‘fry eggs on the sidewalk‘ like temperatures threatening your very existence! Then along come some of the best fruit that nature has to offer … and life becomes worthwhile again! This Phalsa Berry Sharbat helps you survive…

Phalsa ka Sharbat With a slew of summer fruit now being offloaded by the truckloads, we could not have asked for more. Red, luscious, juicy cherries, mangoes falling off hand carts, watermelons piled sky high on roadsides, peaches just about beginning to surface, Indian java plums too. And then the phalsa berry, a beautiful, tangy, astringent much awaited native Indian berry!

Phalsa, Grewia asiatica Packed with vitamin C and antioxidants, this humble little berry, Grewia asiatica, brings alive childhood nostalgia. Back then, almost 40 years ago, the silent afternoon would be pierced by the shrill cry of the ‘phalsa wala‘. You’d find him with a wicker basket, topped with a very wet gunny bag which he gently peeled back to reveal the precious little berries. The very fragile and perishable phalsa would change hands for a few pennies. Washed gently and tossed in rock salt, we would hungrily suck them, trying to extract the most from the almost impoverished looking fruit.

Phalsa ka SharbatSometimes if we were lucky enough, we would be rewarded with phalsa ka sharbat! It was pain staking to make and a special treat. Life is a little easier now, with gadgets that make life in the kitchen a breeze. Just one sip of this amazing cooler, in colours that uplift the soul,  memories of a quintessential part of Indian summer comes alive! Sharbats or ‘fruit and flower based coolers‘ are the answer to the beat the heat!

Kitchenaid Blendappetit  with Vikas Khanna Hymns from the Soil This takes me to the launch of the KitchenAid Pro Line Cordless Hand Blender in association with Masterchef Vikas Khanna in Delhi. The launch is a part of multi city #Blendappetit Tour spanning across India starting from May 20, 2014. While, the cordless blender is a unique, first of its kind, versatile product, it comes with an ultimate experience of ‘anytime anywhere’ blending.

Kitchenaid Blendappetit  with Vikas Khanna Hymns from the Soil This new blender from Kitchenaid India is a magic machine, ergonomically designed, a thing of beauty. It comes equipped with a rechargeable 12V lithium ion battery which gives it the power to perform efficiently. The super blender can blend, mix, whisk, chop, froth, puree, shred and whip up anything in a flash.

Kitchenaid Blendappetit  with Vikas Khanna Hymns from the Soil The very sweet and charming Vikas {I was fortunate enough to shoot with him recently} blended a lip smacking good kiwi smoothie from his new book.  The chef was affable as ever; entertaining, engaging, humourous! He connected instantly with the expectant crowd and soon had the gathering mesmerised. Ripples of laughter flooded the studio in Gurgaon with Vikas holding court, spinning out one anecdote after another. Stories of his home, his mother & grandmother, his inspirations, his journey from cooking a Rs 20 meal in Punjab to a Rs 20 lakh meal for Obama … yet humble and grounded as ever, a philosopher at heart!Kitchenaid Blendappetit  with Vikas Khanna Hymns from the Soil The afternoon witnessed the launch of his book- .Hymns from the Soil, his first book on Indian vegetarian food and a tribute to Mother Earth. It is full of nostalgic tales of his childhood, and in many ways ‘our childhood’. The ‘mitti ki khushboo‘ or the smell of the wet soil, planting his own vegetable patch, the vegetable vendors with fresh vegetables, seasons that spelt fresh produce {unlike now when you almost get everything round the year} … a touching evocative connect with the soil of the land. The book is beautifully written, with stunning pictures and recipes that call your name.

Phalsa ka Sharbat With so much talk of the connect of the earth, including the shrill call of the vendor that pierced the afternoon silence then, it’s a good time to share this recipe. I make the Phalsa Berry Sharbat every year, changing the recipe as I evolve, always in panic like the berries might disappear or go out of fashion. The phalsa season is a short one here just through May and June. Juicing these in my Thermomix is a breeze … which is why I make this quite often.

Phalsa ka Sharbat 6Phalsa ka Sharbat Not sure if taste buds change as the years go by, or the flood of flavours available and sugar laden options in packaged juices snatch simple pleasure away. Maybe it’s the slightly astringent aftertaste, but unfortunately, this isn’t the kids favourite sharbat. The boy loves his aam panna or raw mango sharbat, the daughter her cranberry juice. Thankfully both also love the daily fresh watermelon juice & smoothies.

Phalsa ka SharbatThe Phalsa Berry Sharbat takes the summer heat away, refreshes the soul, gives you a generous dose of vitamin C and antioxidants … what more can you ask for in these ‘oven like’ months? Oh yes, and if it takes you on a trip down memory lane, that’s even better! I’m loving it!!

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Also find me on The Rabid Baker, The Times of India

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Baking | Wholewheat Dark Chocolate Biscotti, GF Buckwheat Mini Apple Pies & Wholegrain Coffee Chocolate Chip Cake … & a product review #élan

“You begin with the possibilities of the material.”
Robert Rauschenberg

Baking & Serving with élanMy love for food props is understated. I am avid lover and collector of any prop related to food, from a spoon to a cauldron! It’s no secret that I haunt the streets of Old Delhi looking for vintage finds, that I browse Etsy just to drool, that Pinterest is another favourite hang out. That’s probably the tip of the iceberg as food photography props are an obsession! élan is a refreshing discovery!

living with elan I rarely veer towards bright colourful props, maybe something to do with my inherent bend of mind towards pristine neutral whites and dull un-shiny metallics! No longer though! I was recently sent this BRIGHT POP ART styled cake stand with server, and 3 tier stand. Gingerly taken out of ‘the well packed box‘, they bowled me over!!

living with elan This was where the very talented NY art school graduate Vidushi Gupta, the creative brain behind ‘Living with elan‘ comes in. She describes herself as  “passionate about the tactile, the messy, and the raw – designs and colors that transcend the mundane and bring joy to your everyday life.

living with elan

élan is a treasure-trove of fascinating lifestyle products waiting for you to organise, garden, entertain, gift, and even entice. Buckets, boxes, caddies, gardening tools, blackboard markers, suspended hearts-birds-mini homes, lanterns, stools, trays, napkin rings and more! Enjoy basic geometrics, vivid colors, patterns, and raw textures. Each piece is handmade.

living with elan I was instantly drawn to the bright, cheerful colours, the interesting and refreshing designs, and the powder coated finish. I love metallic bric-a-brac, and élan fills my heart with joy. That they used the rather underrated and unexplored world of galvanized sheet metal {read unbreakable , long lasting and sturdy} is a HUGE plus for me.

living with elan  The filigree lacework on the cake stand and matching server, the very neat powder finish of the tier stand all scream quality. And this quality available in the very heart of the NCR is even better! The lady was sweet enough to offer me the rani pink cake stand {though she did ask me if I’d rather have another colour}. PINK fitted in beautifully with Pinktober and my breast cancer awareness drive.  How wonderful that the tiered stand also had a nice touch of PINK {and the server can be used with it too}… sweet!

living with elan 6The products are not painted – they are powder coated in an industrial oven to ensure maximum quality and life. All their powder coating is lead-free and safe for foods, so you can eat from any of them. There was plenty in Entertaining with élan for me, yet curiosity drove me to explore further! Plenty of ♥-tuggers I have to say…

Organizing with élan

Wooing with élan

Gardening with élan

Traveling with élan

Mini bird homes, bucket caddies, chantilly gift boxes, an amphora pitcher of l♥ve {♥♥♥}, everything organiser, a fabled accessory bucket, mughal flower bucket, a mughal pie in the sky storage box {♥♥♥}, the dabbawala box {♥♥♥} … I was running out of words! These are just a few of the products they have on offer. The vivid colours, thoughtful designs and versatile range makes sure there is something for everyone.

living with elanBetter still, they offer ‘tailor made‘ options! How cool is that? They can customise any product for you , match it with a theme or occasion, or both. Their existing line can be custom coloured to match party theme or brand colours. You can even ask for a brand logo to be added! Immense possibilities to create refreshing, happy moments!

Whola wheat almond Biscotti & Whole Wheat Coffee & Dark Chocolate Pound Cake Of course I had a field day. I made a Wholegrain Coffee Chocolate Chip Cake that morning. Almost similar to the one above, but for a teeny bit of buckwheat flour. Also sneaked some Chocolate Almond Olive Oil & Whole Wheat Biscotti from a batch baked for Mr PAB who was leaving for HKG. He likes to carry a ‘taste of home‘ with him when he travels!

GF apple walnut buckwheat piesBeing a kinda free day, I made tiny little GF apple pies with buckwheat just because …

I scribbled  the recipe on a scrap of paper and can’t find it of course. It was basically chopped apples, brown sugar, cinnamon powder, chopped walnuts & raisins, a few tbsps of buckwheat flour all tossed together. I patted them together into cupcake liners {thank you Finla}, dotted them with butter and baked them for about 20 minutes. The daughter loves anything apple, and loved these cold!

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Also find me on The Rabid Baker, The Times of India

Baking | Wholemeal Chocolate Nutella Cookies …. #snugg

Wholemeal Chocolate Nutella Cookies Wholemeal Chocolate Nutella Cookies … felt like snug cookies. Something secure and comforting about them. The idea of course came from developing a comforting bite which felt ‘snug’ … thanks to this fabulous Snugg iphone cover I received in the mail the other day.

snugg antiradiation iphone caseI love the Snugg line of products. They spell quality and durability which is what I look for in anything I would pick. I have been using the Snugg iPad cover for a while now, and I love it to bits. The iPad  is ‘safer’ in the kitchen than ever before, and stands beautifully while I dash back and forth! Similarly, the iPhone case spells quality. In addition, this premium case sports some fantastic features.

Black iPhone 4/4S Anti Radiation Case.

– Reduces Cell Phone Radiation (SAR) by 92% and Hot Spot Radiation (EFI) by 90%!

– Ultra Thin, Lightweight, Sleek Design.

– Durable and Impact Resistant.

Wholemeal Chocolate Nutella Cookies Wholemeal Chocolate Nutella Cookies With the word snugg in mind I marched ahead with a cookie idea. I attempted to snuggly fit in some Nutella into the heart of my cookie. At the end of my experiment, wasn’t too sure if the Nutella taste came through, but the cookies were a hit alright!

Wholemeal Chocolate Nutella Cookies Soft cake like cookies, ‘no longer tiny’ hands sneaking them away from the cookie jar one after another. They seemed to hit the right spot with the kids. With a nice deep chocolate flavour, you could barely tell that these were whole grain cookies!

Wholemeal Chocolate Nutella Cookies Maybe it’s the recent almost 100% switchover to healthier eating & whole grains, a sign of evolving tastes. Or maybe that chocolate and wholegrain are good ‘companions’, I have had loads of luck of late. I barely ever use plain flour anymore, unless it’s a special birthday cake, or maybe partly in bread. I’ve had a patch of good luck with 100% wholewheat bread too, so I ain’t complaining!

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Also find me on The Rabid Baker, The Times of India

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