Blog Feature | RIP Dr Kurien … AMULya is a priceless legacy !

“Never forget that quality and value are the foundation for successful brands”.
Dr Kurien

AmulThis post is not about the roulade above I made this morning. That isn’t being shared today. This post is about what went into it … and my connect with the brand, Amul, specifically Amul cream.  My life in the kitchen every single day is touched by someone fondly referred to as the ‘Milkman of India‘. That someone was no other than Dr Kurien, the father of the milk revolution in India, the brain behind the largest rural dairy development programme in the world {Operation Flood}. This is a tribute to him.AmulIf there is one man who changed the dairy map of India, that credit would be his. He passed away last night leaving behind a legacy, a business model, an organisation that put the consumer at the centre of any major decision it took. At 90 years of age, he still led from the front, ethically  building one of the greatest brands India has ever had – Amul, which means ‘priceless’ in sanskrit.Amul

The Birth of Amul began when milk became a symbol of protest as early as the 1940′s. The seeds of this unusual saga were sown more than 65 years back in Anand, a small town in western India. The exploitative trade practices followed by the local trade cartel triggered off the cooperative movement. Angered by unfair and manipulative practices followed by the trade, the farmers went on a milk strike and eventually formed their own cooperative in 1946. Amul grew from strength to strength thanks to the inspired leadership of Tribhuvandas Patel, the founder Chairman and the committed professionalism of Dr Verghese Kurien,who was entrusted the task of running the dairy from 1950.

AmulA visionary who gave us a Taste of India, Dr Kurien touched numerous lives across the nation on a daily basis, from farmers to end consumers! At the very micro level,  he touched a little life in an obscure corner of Gurgaon, tucked away in the National Capital Region … mine! Almost no day goes by for the obsessive baker and cook in me without reaching out for an Amul product – cream, cheese, milk, ghee, condensed milk! Amul When I think of it, it amazes me. How much we take things for granted as they’ve been there right through our growing years. Amul Butter was the butter we grew up on … we knew no other. It ‘greased’ our growing up years, those stolen spoonfuls, those slathered slices of bread jam & butter, hot parathas rolled with butter melting right through … always Amul!Amul At the time, the Indian economy wasn’t brand explosive like the West. Until the 80′s we had single brands on the market.It was simple for the consumer … butter was Amul, Kissan made jam and ketchup, for jelly it was Rex, colas meant Thumbs Up … and growing up in Delhi, milk was Mother Dairy or DMS! So much brand loyalty and connect.AmulToday it’s a whole new ball game. Brands have exploded through the roof. You don’t just reach out for or ask the corner store for butter. You’ve got to name a brand, and the same goes for other dairy products. The choices are mind boggling in a speedily hungry economy like India where the consumer is king! AmulHere too, Amul held its ground, building a formidable business model, a management lesson that is staggering for economies like ours! For a co-operative, that is certainly a tall achievement. {Much of what I studied in economics in university makes more sense now!}. As Dr Kurien said, “There is no room for complacency. We must not only maintain our lead, we must increase it.”Amul

“The key to retaining our competitive advantage lies in keeping focused on the basic business principles:
• Be Customer-Driven
• Adapt quickly to the changing environment.
• Anticipate change and act today to meet tomorrow’s challenges.”

AmulPutting this into practice in a complex ‘madhouse’ like economy like India  isn’t easy! A small example. Home bakers in India have cribbed for whipping cream for ever. I am a locavaore to the core and refuse to buy imported cream. Recently the thread came up on an FB group and we rallied for our cause. I posted on Amuls FB wall, many like minded folk pleaded the case. Nothing happened.AmulThen a few days later, I saw sweet Sushmita ‘LIKE’ Amul on FB. That reignited my call! I was back on FB and said “I will LIKE you Amul if you promise to consider introducing whipping cream to your line of products! I WILL!” I knew someone would hear. Then one day, out of the blue, Amul said…

Amul

That is how dynamic the company is. How many would have bothered in a country of a billion people? They listen, they are consumer driven, they are ethical, they give back to community, they are inspiration … and they are oh-so-creative! Every morning the paper has an Amul advertisement to portray the days news/sentiments! From Clint Eastwood  to ….….Prince Harry in LA, the ads covered them all! At my end, Amul kept my culinary adventures alive and ‘covered’ – pasta, pizzas, soft cheeses, cakes, ice creams and desserts covered! I could dream because of you. You made it possible! There is Amul in almost everything I enjoy making!Amul

RIP Dr Kurien, you are an inspiration to millions … to me too!

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

Bread Baking | French Fougasse with Roasted Red Bell Pepper & Garlic, Walnut & Mozarella … #fortheloveofbread

“If thou tastest a crust of bread, thou tastest all the stars and all the heavens.”
Robert Browning

French Fougasse with Roasted Red Bell Pepper & Garlic, Walnut & MozarellaBread we love! French Fougasse with Roasted Red Bell Pepper & Garlic, Walnut & Mozarella … one of the most satisfying, indulgent and ‘would sell like hot cakes’ breads I’ve made ever since I’ve got back into bread baking mode! There’s been a bread baking frenzy of sorts and the net seems  knee deep in dough!French Fougasse with Roasted Red Bell Pepper & Garlic, Walnut & Mozarella I switched into bread baking mode with wonderful wonderful Ottolenghis focaccia and there’s been little looking back. That was a most excellent bread to bake … deep, rustic, complex flavours. The stamp of Ottolenghis culinary brilliance!! It must have been more than a coincidence to find Jamie in Nantes baking focaccia too … whihc is how I walked into the Twelve Loves Challenge. What is that? Simply said, an event  ‘for the love of bread‘!

I missed their August challenge but looks like carbs all the way this month and the bread monster is alive and kicking yeast on PAB! The September Twelve Loaves Challenge calls for Bread with Cheese; for me it meant baking French Fougasse stuffed with cheesy goodness, a bread we LOVE at home.French Fougasse with Roasted Red Bell Pepper & Garlic, Walnut & Mozarella

In French cuisine, fougasse is a type of bread typically associated with Provence but found (with variations) in other regions. Some versions are sculpted or slashed into a pattern resembling an ear of wheat.

I’ve baked this often, always with fresh yeast and plain flour. This time though, with carbs threatening an overdose, I did a tiny substitution with whole wheat flour and used instant yeast. I also literally stuffed the dough, almost making it a more like a baked sandwich than bread. It was delicious … and disappeared soon! I didn’t have Gouda so used mozzarella instead. Any cheese is good and mozzarella was great … warm, stringy, flavourful, cheesily indulgent.French Fougasse with Roasted Red Bell Pepper & Garlic, Walnut & Mozarella You could always halve the cheese but mine had a good dose ‘For the Love of Bread’ of course! Bread with Cheese Twelve Loaves is kneadlessly hosted by my sweet baker friends – Jamie @ Life’s a Feast, Lora @ Cake Duchess and Barb @ Creative Culinary. They are immensely talented ladies, inspirational too.Sourdough breadAlongside, the very viral FB group on CAL took off and we voted for a bread baking event … it was time to Tame The Yeast Beast. A lot of bread talk took place – dough ‘mentoring‘, recipe swaps, inspirations across the board, ideas exchanged, meals virtually dug into … The flour and yeast industry must be feeling the upswing these days with home bakers doing bread from scratch across the globe!French Fougasse with Roasted Red Bell Pepper & Garlic, Walnut & MozarellaNever has it been a better time to ‘break bread’ together. There’s been plenty of bread talk, FAQs, fresh yeast vs instant yeast vs sourdough {sourdough bread above}, why the yeast won’t rise, the brand of flour, the temperature etc. I’m no expert but have found that more often than never it’s the quality of the yeast which plays spoilsport and gives rise to beastly failure!Sourdough breadThis week, I also baked my maiden sourdough bread thanks to Sangeeta who shared some sourdough with us at Veda. My bread didn’t come out looking too good, and the recipe needs some further experimenting. Sangeeta’s posted a wonderful sourdough FAQ on her blog and I now know my bread was pleasantly sour because it was proofed for 3 days. The kids loved the flavour … {Sorry about the photographs. All done in a rainy day hurry}Sourdough breadThose loaves too disappeared pretty soon… some with lunch, and the rest as sandwiches for dinner. Will tweak the recipe and get sourdough confident soon. I want to make a San Francisco Sourdough bread one day … have you made one yet? Until then, here is one of my favourite meal breads for you, a  French Fougasse, almost a meal in itself. Serve alongside a light salad {I did a chickpea salad}, steamed French beans or char grilled broccoli, maybe a soup.

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



Feature| Baking in Delhi … the vitalstatistics!

“Some people give time, some money, some their skills and connections, some literally give their life’s blood. But everyone has something to give.”
Barbara Bush

Baking in Delhi ... the vitalstatistics!Baking in India is a whole new ball game, a challenge like none other, where something as basic as uninterrupted power supply might pose one of the biggest challenges yet. By the time you whip, the eggs, fold in the flour and pre-heat the oven, the minute you pop the tin into the magic box…POP, there might be a power cut.While finding a way around that might be a little expensive, and not easy for most of us, I’m going to try and list a set of resources to tackle the other important issues – EQUIPMENT, INGREDIENTS and BAKING TINS etc. This little list is based on what I use, my experiences with other fellow bakers…and trivia I find here & there.I will continue to build on it as I go along.

Do leave a comment/mail me if I have missed something! I would love to hear from you!

A fellow foodie blogger I recently exchanged notes with, the very sweet Pamela Timms @ Eat & Dust who I finally got to meet after ages of planning. We met at the French Pastry Festival for a Le Cordon Blue workshop run by LBC Master Chef Christian Fuare, hosted at The Oberois. Once the workshop was done, we chatted through a light, flavourful and delicious lunch and covered the ups and downs of baking in India.

With some inputs from Pamela too, with gentle pressure from the sweet Suma @ Cakes And More, and many emails from kind, patient readers of PAB, without further delay, here we go…

In my kitchen

1. Oven – I use a Morphy Richards 40L oven I recently purchased. It’s a nice oven, a good size and has a variety of oven settings. {Pamela has the same, and in addition has a Bajaj as well that she recommends}. Right now there aren’t any problems, but if I need to fix it there are sites like PartSelect that provide appliance parts and have tutorials.

2. Electric Handbeater – This is indispensable for someone like me, and I use it all time. I use an in-store brand from Croma {which turned out to be a sturdy one imported by Croma from WoolWorth}

3. Thermomix – A magical kitchen food processor, and not just that. It even cooks. In the Thermomix, processing takes just seconds. It can weigh, chop, grind, mince, mill, knead, whisk, beat, blend, puree, whip and juice! I use my TM every single day, and love it to bits.  {Thermomix in India}

4. Things I can’t live without … my microplane zester, spatulas, nutmeg grater, box grater, Santuko knives, Ergo chef knives, more knives, mixing bowls of every size {glass & steel}, balloon whisks, offset spatulas, bread knives, potato peeler {shaves chocolate curls and cheese well too}, stack of chopping boards, candy thermometer, cookie scoop, pastry bags, icing set with many nozzles, rolling pin{s}, dessert rings {adjustable and fixed}, Lazy Susan {you got to love this creation}, weighing scale {even though the Thermomix has one}, cherry pitter {thank you Purple Foodie}, disposable piping bags {thank you Suma},  … and as much parchment paper as I can possibly stash. I think parchment paper is one of the best inventions ever! I just wish we had some locally available for home use. I know that some is being produced here but it’s for commercial use! :-(

Update: Parchment paper is now available locally – look for it at Modern Bazaar, Needs, Big Bazaar

5. More things I can’t live without … Endless baking tins, loose bottomed tart tins, petit four molds, ceramic ramekins, odd plates, white crockery, spoons of every size and shape…

Pantry Staples for Baking:

I’ll begin with the basic basics…

White butter: I actually make my own every week and store it in 100gm portions in the freezer. It keeps as good as fresh. White/unsalted/baking butter is difficult to find locally in the NCR. You might find some local brands like Gopaljee at your neighbourhood dairy. Imported Lurpak is available at gourmet stores like La Marche.

Plain flour: Simple old maida. Modern Bazaar stores cake flour in addition.

Whole wheat flour: Aata {I use Aashirwaad}

Vanilla Beans: Available well packed and organic at Fab India. I get 500gm packs from Down South – ‘Vanilla India Producer Company’, Ernakulam, Kerela { Ctc 91 4846599233/9349256746 }.

Vanilla Powder: Available in 50gm sachets at Fab India outlets

Vital Gluten: Available at Modern Bazaar {on request; ask the Store Manager}

Sugar : I use plain granulated sugar most of the time. For quick bakes I grind the sugar, and use this even in place of icing sugar.

Vanilla Sugar: Just slip a slit vanilla bean {after scraping seeds for use in something} into a jar of granulated sugar, and shut the jar tight. Store in a cool place, shaking it once or twice a day. You should have sweet smelling vanilla sugar in about a week.

Pure Vanilla Extract: I make my own {do remember it takes a while to get ready, 3-6 months}

Brown sugar: I use light brown demerera most of the time when brown sugar {light/dark} is called for. Muscavado Sugar is available imported in most gourmet stores but does cost a packet. I prefer to stick to local brands.

Yeast: I use Gloripan / Mauripan brand instant yeast that Suma from Bangalore sends me from time to time. Check her blog Cakes & More for the online source {You will be surprised at the baking/patisserie stuff you get there}. I also use fresh yeast that is available in 500gm blocks available at Modern Bazaar {Vasant Vihar and DLF}. I store the block in my freezer, and chip off the bit I want to use. Never had a problem with it. Dried yeast is also available in most ‘kirana‘ stores, and in INA etc.

Buttermilk: Best discovery to date. Saw something at local Mother Dairy outlet, checked the ingredients and did a dance of joy. Chhach is cultured buttermilk sold in 500ml packs at Mother dairy and Amul. For baking, use the plain chhach.

Baking Chocolate: The very bane of every Indian bakers life … but help is at hand with an online store Delicious Now. I often order 2-3kgs of there couverture chocolate for my baking. Its a good quality, single bean origin chocolate {55%} which works well for me. They have 10kg packs on there site, but did repackage and meet my order for 3kgs. {Priced at @700 per kg/Nov2011}. It’s a good couverture for home baking, though you stock a higher % chocolate as well.

A chocolate supplier in Ludhiana can be found at Chocolate and Baby Spice {chocoandbabyspice@hotmail.com} and they courier slabs of dark chocolate etc, and accept payment via bank transfers online. They are very reliable and efficient as I have ordered from them often in the past.

Other than this, you can find Calebaut, Selbourne, Morde at INA market. Morde is available in 500gm bars in white, milk and dark baking chocolate in most gourmet stores like Modern Bazaar, La Marche etc.

Pimento in Jangpura also stock chocolate – +91-9810003527 or +91-9810245682. {Thank you Meenu Iyer}

Almond Meal: INA Market, mainly during winter

Dry fruits, candied peel, whole spices etc: Old Delhi, INA Market

Cocoa: My heart is set on Valrohna but it is too expensive here, as are other imported brands. What do I use? Nilgiris cocoa powder from down South thanks again to Suma and the hubs trips to Bangalore, my stock is maintained. Its a good, dark cocoa {no idea if it is alkaline or not, but to tell you the truth, I have never bothered to check}, and I have never met with a problem!

Cream: C is for cream and in India the non availability of whipping cream can make you weep. All we get is 20% low fat Amul cream {and Gopaljee in the NCR at times}. I use Amul {200ml tetrapacks} for my mascarpone etc, and for frosting too. I keep it chilled in the fridge. See my Cream in India 101…whipping it into submission. Imported whipping cream is available in most gourmet stores.

Update {Aug 2012}: After repeated requests on Amuls FB wall, they have come back to me saying they are working on a whipping cream! So there is hope in the near future.

Soft cheese: I make my own mascarpone, ricotta and  quark. {recipe here}. Local Indian soft cheese is available in most gourmet stores like Modern Bazaar, INA, La Marche, Natures Basket. These stores sell a large variety of imported cheese as well.

Miscellaneous:

  •  Pigmento in Jangpura has a range of chocolate compounds and cocoa and tons of fillings, colors and other stuff useful for baking/making chocolates – call them at +91-9810003527 or +91-9810245682. {Thank you Meenu Iyer}
  • Modern Bazaar, Vasant Vihar & DLF Phase 1, Gurgaon has an extensive aisle with baking products {which are often found to be priced quite high} You would find vital gluten there on demand. Please request the store manager.
  • Parchment paper – You could order online. Just mail your requirement to passionate.baking@gmail.com. They have a FB page Passionate Baking
  • Bakersmart – An online store for buying gloripan yeast and compound chocolate and some other stuff like pans and liners and fondant press etc {thank you Ketkee @ The Constant Nibbler}

Shopping for pots and pans, ramekins etc:Pots & pans in Delhi

1. Baking tins, dessert rings, bread knives, bread molds, muffin trays, icing sets, pastry bags … and lots more in this little shop in Old Delhi. Take the Metro to Chawri Bazaar, and a rickshaw from there. I love this shop! {Update April 2013- They have a website too now.}

1730/B, Bazar Lal Kuan, Delhi 110006
Mohd Kashif, Ctc 9311150022
{Deals in bakery ware, cake mould, bread mould, muffin tray, pizza tray, cake stand, halwai ware, kitchen ware}
2. Vintage pots and pans
Doma Copper Brass
12 Tibetan Market
Janpath,
New Delhi
Tashi Nima , Ctc 9999700186
3. Urbandazzle is all about living with style. Be it Drinking, Dining, Decor or Gifting – it’s the one-stop shop for all such items. Urban Dazzle is a must visit too for bakers in India. Ramekins are reasonable here, as is other bakeware. Bakeware, dessertware, bottles, RAMEKINS, cake plates, decanters, kitchen essentials, table essentials, tumblers, carafes… a huge variety under one roof! Be it Drinking, Dining, Decor or Gifting, it’s the one-stop shop for all such items. While most of their current selection is made of glass, they intend to diversify into other items going forward.

4. Stores like The Home Store, Osaba {Vasant Vihar}, Tarini {Greater Kailash & DLF Phase 4}, Croma {Sanjeev Kapoors silicon baking line}, Lifestyle stock good quality baking tins, ramekins, ceramics etc but do check in advance as stocks are very erratic!
5. Butler Mart, Lajpat Nagar, New Delhi – Bakeware, Kitchenware, Electrical appliances {palette knives, icing knives, baking dishes of all sizes, even serving plates etc.} {Thank you Eishaan Bhargava for the link.}

…. will keep updating!

HAPPY BAKING!!

Helpful links

Baking in Bangalore

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