Bloggers Table | Cooking a tale with Aditya Bal … and a Pineapple Mascarpone Birthday Cake!

“When we eat together, when we set out to do so deliberately, life is better, no matter what your circumstances.”
Thomas Keller

Aditya Bal Meet, VedaThe Bloggers Table recently took us to Veda to meet cookbook author Aditya Bal over his new cookbook on Indian cuisine, Chakhle India Cookbook. As expected, Aditya turned out to be a warm, friendly guy, quite the gentleman, eager to hear from the bunch of us and looked ready for bouquets and brickbats.  And as expected again, we had LOTS to say!Aditya Bal @ Veda

Photo courtesy Sid Khullar

It was nice to see him there on time, something a bit of a rarity in Delhi. Veda is a high end fine dining restaurant owned by celebrity Indian fashion designer Rohit Bal,  who happens to be the authors uncle. Aditya Bal Meet, VedaWe held ‘court’ at a large table in the centre of the rather opulent restaurant which is done up in red and black, lots of it, quite Gothic. Loads of bling too! The lighting and ambiance too dark, the interiors overpowering and ‘busy’, almost garish. Didn’t do much for my sense of aesthetics if you know what I mean. What did I like about the place? The tables … stunning with exquisite black and white inlay work. Aditya Bal Meet, VedaExchanging notes, we learned that quite a few recipes were off the mark with ingredient measures. Not good news for beginners in the kitchen. I  realised that while cooking from the book, I had made an error. In my own space, somewhere along the way I eyeballed the spice  measures  or used my “andaaz“.  Aditya took the feedback positively, though most flack was passed to the publishing house and TV channel who were seemingly in a hurry to get the book into print!Aditya Bal Meet, VedaNothing much to write about the food that night. Didn’t do too much for the tastebuds, other than the cawliflower manchurian and palak ke patte ki chaat {crisp flash fried spinach leaves served in Indian street food style}. The rest of the food was meh, pretty standard everyday fare and disappointingly mediocre. Don’t even get me started off on the dessert! It was kulfi, or rather half a kulfi, with a pasty-ish end taste? How much can you get wrong in a kulfi???

What brought the evening together was the incessant banter from the food bloggers …and their better halves. As always, we enjoyed each others company. Aditya patiently heard us out, took notes, talked about this book, his future plans, his love for Goa, his passion with cuisine, French food  … his pretty Russian wife escaped the boisterous group soon!Pineapple Mascarpone Cake The evening ended with a cake! It was Sangeeta’s birthday the next evening and I proposed earlier that we surprise her with a cake.  Smart Sid took it further and proposed ‘WE’ bake her one; so yours truly baked her a Pineapple Mascarpone Cake. It’s been ages since I made one, so I did a dry run first. For the frosting and filling I used homemade mascarpone which I made to ‘test the recipe sans a candy thermometer’ for Sneha, a reader of my blog. Came out GREAT!Homemade mascaponeThe cake was nice {if I may say so myself}. We exchanged plants, seeds, herbs, sourdough starters, sang happy birthday while Sangeeta did the honours at Veda…  and tripped out quite a happy bunch! Aditya was sporting enough to dig into the cake before he bade us adieu! Good luck to him for his next book ‘Kachche Raste‘!Pineapple Mascarpone Cake

When Sid suggested a pineapple cake, which is Sangeeta’s flavour of choice, I bought a tin of Del Monte pineapple slices. The mascarpone was because of Sneha, a reader of PAB. Coincidentally, Indiblogger is holding a contest with Del Monte, so this post is off to them. This cake wouldn’t have been here had it not been for blogging!! It celebrates food, blogging, friends, the Bloggers Table … all good things in life!

 

The rest of us on the table that evening were…
Sid Khullar
Rekha Kakkar
Parul Shirazi The Shirazine: Of Poster Boys and Food!
Tanya Khanna
Sangeeta Khanna
Ruchira Hoon
Charis Bhagianathan Of Cookbooks & Company
Sushmita Sarkar

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Cooking | Butter Chicken & Punjabi Chole … The Chakle India Cookbook {a book review}

“When love and skill work together, expect a masterpiece.”
John Ruskin

Butter Chicken {Pan fried version}It’s a delicious book on Indian cooking. An almost impish face smiles back at you from the cover, the earnest cook, with a twinkle in his eyes. It’s Aditya Bal the Indian model turned chef stirring up some magic. ‘The Chakhle India‘ Cookbook is based on the most popular food show Indian TV. From the book I offer a quintessential Indian curry – Butter Chicken {Pan fried version}, and a chickpea dish – Punjabi Chole.The Chakle India CookbookI looked at the book with initial skepticism as I don’t follow too many TV cookery shows. Took it along when I went to pick up the older teen from detention! {Yes that happens too as she didn’t submit a project in time. She had completed it but forgot to submit it!}! I love the lessons school can teach that we can’t! Butter Chicken {Pan fried version} from The Chakle India CookbookGot there 30 minutes early armed with the book; it was the most fruitful 30 minutes I’ve spent of late. It was an instant connect! He seemed warm, real, ‘talked’ to with you, a peoples person, had a wonderful rapport and was entertaining. Explains why he runs the most popular food show!Butter Chicken {Pan fried version} from The Chakle India CookbookFood is good when it is real, when stories are woven around it, when you know where they are coming from and what influences the style … a face behind the name makes it even better! Not so long ago we met Shamita, Ms India Universe, at the Four Seasons Wine Tasting event and marveled at how grounded she was. More recently we got ‘up close and personal‘ with one of India’s top chefs Saby at the Olive Bar & Kitchenanother fabulous person!Butter Chicken {Pan fried version} from The Chakle India Cookbook Haven’t met Aditya but already feel like I know him a li’l bit. He talks fondly of growing up in Kashmir {I love Kashmir and it is on my list of places to revisit but with the hub}. I have beautiful memories of Srinagar which we visited as kids; Aditya stirred those up beautifully.Butter Chicken {Pan fried version} from The Chakle India CookbookThe author lived an idyllic life in Srinagar, the culinary side reflected by Wazwan, potlucks, Sunday roasts reminiscent of his maternal grandmothers cooking; then had an unfortunate displacement from the state he loved due to civil unrest. He modeled for a few years and eventually found his calling in food. The book is packed with recipes from different corners of India, reflected in the title Chakle India {literally translates into Taste India}…Butter Chicken {Pan fried version} from The Chakle India CookbookI love the simple explanations, the ‘deglazing’ of the pan now and then, asking you to check the balance of flavours, taking in the magic of Indian spices. Other “foodies” like Chantal Royer do a great job at analyzing some of the traditional Indian spices from her travels.  For all you meat lovers there, there is plenty of ‘meaty goodness’ that he tempts you to try. I made butter chicken from his book when I got home.
Butter Chicken {Pan fried version} from The Chakle India CookbookWhy Butter Chicken? Because it is one of India’s most popular dishes, the kids love it, I haven’t made a ‘butter’ laden butter chicken in ages, it was the weekend, there was no electricity and the recipe was a pan fried version, it uses fresh tomatoes which are in abundance … more simply, because I wanted to!Butter Chicken {Pan fried version} from The Chakle India CookbookIt’s a good, homey, comforting recipe … a nice balance of flavours, not like the original butter chicken as that uses oven baked tandoori chicken, but finger licking good nevertheless. The son asked for it 2 days in a row! I make a low fat version often, yet to be blogged, but for now this version is for you!Chola Masala from The Chakle India CookbookThere are plenty of vegetarian recipes too. I reached for the book a second time as I had chickpeas soaking for a salad for the dieting diva. Made the Punjabi Cholas and they were fabulous! Loved the astoefitida {hing} in them, and also loved that it didn’t use commercial chana masala. I served them with boiled rice but they would taste great with flatbread too, or just as a snack.Chola Masala from The Chakle India CookbookNice to see a book with seemingly more emphasis on the meaty dishes, yet one that offers a liberal dose of vegetarian main course and snacks. The dessert section is SWEET! I have my eye on a mango kheer which I find rather intriguing and haven’t heard of before! Chola Masala from The Chakle India CookbookPick up the book and you’ll find it easy to cook from it. The ingredients are simple pantry staples and the methods aren’t cumbersome. Some recipes do appear long with many ingredients and instructions … a little complicated but really aren’t. The only downside, if ever so slightly there is one, is the pictures. I like my food photographs to show the dish from a short distance to get a better idea of the dish. Most frames are shot really close up, though there are plenty of them. Chola Masala from The Chakle India CookbookThe book is a delicious take on homey, comforting and make-able Indian cuisine, food from the heart, flavours that speak for themselves and the energy to make you want to cook! It’s a good addition to my ever growing collection of cookbooks.

Thank you for Anushree for sending me a copy to review. I really enjoyed the book!

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