“The cuisine of a country is the only exact attestation of its civilization.”
Author Unknown

Chicken Pasta Salad in Home Made Buttermilk Salad Dressing 1 800Chicken Pasta Salad in Home Made Buttermilk Salad Dressing. Stirring memories.

My one and only trip to mainland Europe was to Milan and that too decades ago. The UK has it’s own charm, but Europe is a different story altogether. The husband often carried back tales of Germany, Netherlands and France yet I get a first hand feel as I couldn’t connect very well. It took the recent trip to Switzerland to change my whole perspective on Europe, how culturally and historically rich it is. You also get a taste of local cuisine. It makes the heart sing out loud when you see the pride they take in stirring up and serving local cuisine, each platter served in style, laced with culinary history. As you cross regions, the stories of food change, the influences are varied, French, German, East European, maybe more.

Swiss cuisineI got back and possibly the first thing I dabbled was was this char-grilled tomato gazpacho, one which is found right across the country. In temperatures ready to sizzle Europe, this Spanish chilled soup is popular across menus in Switzerland. A tomato gazpacho, spinach, cucumber, peach too where they get a little experimental. It’s chilled, it’s bursting with flavour and possibly the most welcome bowl to douse the heat wave!Vine tomatoes with LFP

Gazpacho The Swiss love food and they love life. Local produce rules the roost, and it is heartening to visit a country that celebrates seasonal and local produce practically on every platter. Fruit in bakes, sweet and savoury, greens that are to die for, micro greens just in case you need an additional excuse. Cheese in every avatar, eat as much as you like! If there’s one thing I picked out, it’s there love for salads. Fresh, crisp, from farm to table. SwitzerlandSalad bars are standard at sit down restaurants. Pick and choose what you like, and then drizzle {or drench} with either French or Italian salad dressing. I love the generous servings of dressing that stand alongside, lashings that take the salad up a lot many notches.It’s travels like this that inspire you to stir up something special, maybe something different.Sydney 2015 The trip to Sydney this summer had the teen in love with a good Caesar salad. I soon played around with ingredients for the dressing as that’s what a good salad needs IMHO. The rest I can manage, a little painstakingly in summer of course. So I came up with this dressing, which is like a cross between a Ranch and Caesar, no anchovies in here, yet nice and creamy and zesty. I’ll call it a Home Made Buttermilk Salad Dressing. It’s nice because it’s easy to whiz up, the trusted Hamilton Beach blender being the workhouse through my experiments.Home Made Buttermilk Salad Dressing Home Made Buttermilk Salad Dressing I really should also be making my own mayonnaise, though always have an eggless one in the fridge! Del Monte does a really nice one. Just makes life easier on days when you are short on time. Using just locally available ingredients, this is a nice salad dressing to have in the fridge to perk up the most mundane of salads. Adjust the zinginess as you like, increase or decrease the garlic according to your palette, skip the cheese spread to go light. This is your dressing. Do it your way!


Recipe: Homemade Ranch Dressing your picture

Summary: Zesty, creamy and lighter than a Caesar dressing, this is a handy salad dressing to have in the fridge. Play around with the ingredients as you go along, customise it to your taste buds. You might never go back to a store bought one again.

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes

  • 1/4 cup Del Monte eggless mayonnaise {or homemade}
  • 1/2 cup cultured buttermilk {chaach Amul/Mother Dairy}
  • 1/8 cup cheese spread
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup cheese spread
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp chopped chives
  • 1 tbsp dried herbs
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Salt & pepper to taste


  1. Place everything in jar of blender and blend until smooth. taste and adjust seasoning.
  2. Transfer to a clean jar/bottle, refrigerate.
  3. Keeps 4-5 days.


Once this is done and in the fridge, then the rest of the Chicken Pasta Salad in Home Made Buttermilk Salad Dressing is usually a breeze. Summer is a pain for fresh produce here, everything wilts so fast. So I threw together a quick summer chicken pasta salad, inspired by a Caesar.Chicken Pasta Salad in Home Made Buttermilk Salad DressingIt’s a meal in a bowl, and quite balanced too. I’ve kept the carbs to a minimum, a generous dose of greens {iceberg is all I find locally these days} and a handful of roasted walnuts. On other days, you could find some sliced avocado, tomatoes, feta, pine nuts and rocket in there. Do remember to add the croutons just before serving so they stay nice and crisp.Char-grille Tomato GazpachoOh, and you could always serve a chilled tomato gazpacho on the side, making it a more filling meal!

[print_this]Recipe: Chicken Pasta Salad in Home Made Buttermilk Salad DressingDressing
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Summary: A nice summery Chicken Pasta Salad in Home Made Buttermilk Salad Dressing which can be made ahead. Toss together and serve immediately in winter. It’s a meal in a bowl, and adaptable to taste. Use the best seasonal greens, preferably home grown or organic

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes

  • 2 oat crusted and shallow fried or baked chicken fillets, chopped
  • 1/2 head of iceberg lettuce, chopped
  • 1/2 purple cabbage, chopped
  • 75g Del Monte macaroni, cooked al dente
  • 50g walnuts, roasted, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 bell pepper, julienne {optional}
  • 1 cup salad greens if in season {I had none}
  • 1/2 cup home made buttermilk salad dressing {recipe above}
  • handful fresh basil
  • Parmesan
  • 2 slices whole wheat bread, cubed


  1. Place bread in air fryer and fry for 15 minutes on 160 until light brown and crisp. {Alternatively bake in oven}
  2. Place all ingredients other than bread, dressing, basil and Parmesan in a big bowl. Toss gently to mix, then pour over dressing as required and mix again.
  3. Just before serving toss in crisp bread cubes. Garnish with fresh basil, sprinkle over Parmesan. serve immediately.


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“Food is a central activity of mankind and one of the single most significant trademarks of a culture.”
Mark Kurlansky

Rivaayat - A Royal Indian Experience at Saffron, Trident, Gurgaon 600Food is the greatest healer, the greatest giver of comfort, and offers the best form of nostalgia to the culinary senses. It climbs up a few notches higher when it enters the royal kitchen. Imagine next, an intriguing combination of medicine and food. ‘Rivaayat – The Indian Culinary Conclave’ an initiative by The Oberoi Group made this possible with Izzat Hussain @ Saffron, Trident, Gurgaon.Rivaayat“Food is Medicine” is a term which was originally coined by Hippocrates, the father of Western medicine. It was his belief that eating wholesome food is the basis for good health, and it is this belief that forms the foundation of {Dr} Chef Izzat Hussain’s food philosophy. The uniqueness he brings to the table is how he seamlessly weaves Unani medicine and research of ingredients into his repertoire of royal Awadhi recipes. ‘Rivaayat – The Indian Culinary Conclave’ As part of this unique culinary initiative of The Oberoi group, I had the pleasure of experiencing a finely created meal at Saffron, Trident, Gurgaon. The fine dining Indian speciality restaurant has celebrated Chef Izzat Husain unveil secret recipes at Saffron. Rivaayat invites you to experience the magnificence of the royal kitchens of Awadh as he recreates treasured Indian classics like the Kakori Kebab, Gosht Yakhni Pulao, Zafrani Nehari and Baqakhani

Izzat Husain is known for taking Awadhi cuisine across the globe. He is a food enthusiast, working hard for several years to search and revive authentic recipes of Mughlai, Awadhi & Lakhnawi cuisine. He has learnt the cooking techniques and procedures from old cooks, house wives and foodies of royal families. Few of his specialities are Murgh Mewazad, Karhai Ghosht and Kebab Makhmali.

Rivaayat - A Royal Indian Experience at Saffron, Trident, Gurgaon With the ever so sweet Mallika {Manager Comm, The Oberoi, Gurgaon} and Executive Chef Sandeep keeping me good company at aesthetic and beautiful Saffron, I set off on this delicious journey. The starters {or fillers as I call them} were specially good, and for me a meal in themselves. I loved the Gosht Parchay, the Chicken Tikka which were vastly different from any I’ve had before; a melt in the mouth goodness about with addictive flavours. The Galouti Kebab on the little ulte tawa ka paratha was a winner too. The 2 chutneys accompanying the starters were amazing. An Olive Green Chutney {fresh coriander and olive oil} and a Thoom Chutney {emulsified raw garlic chutney} both fresh, bursting with flavour, robust and earthy. Chef Izzat Hussain doesn’t believe in using water in his cuisine. The chutneys had a base of oil, and his curries are cooked in milk!

Rivaayat - A Royal Indian Experience at Saffron, Trident, Gurgaon Time for the main course which arrived in gleaming katoris, little bowls of wonder. Lots of them. The menu is vast, and very interestingly offers a huge selection for both vegetarian and non vegetarian options. By this time the gentle Chef Izzat had joined us at the table. His belief is that milk or dairy cuts the acidity of the meat, thereby allowing easier digestion. I loved his signature Malai Boti Kebab which just melted away into oblivion. Also the Murgh Begum Pasanda, and a Mahi Korma, royal treatment all the way. I liked the way every little katori {bowl}  held its own ground with stand out flavours and spice blends.

Izzat ki roti, Rivaayat - A Royal Indian Experience at Saffron, Trident, GurgaonWhat took my tastebuds to happiness was the Paneer Chukandar. I loved the way the chef brought this pairing together. So creative! The Sabut Moong with saffron was comforting, though cooked with cream, so a little heavy. Next the veg Shahi Korma, pillowy soft vegetable koftas wrapped in a luscious gravy. That tomatoes were not part of the ingredients was something quite enjoyable. This is what I like about Awadhi cuisine….caramelized onions and dairy that bring about beautiful red hues to the dish.{The camera had been done away with by now}. On the side were breads … Sheermal, Gullafi Kulcha and Izzat ki roti. The Izzat ki Roti was by far the best. A multigrain, crisp flatbread that was addictive good, one that you could nibble away at all day long! The name of course comes from the creator …Chef Izzat Hussain. The chef said that this special roti is now very famous across Lucknow.

Rivaayat - A Royal Indian Experience at Saffron, Trident, Gurgaon Did I mention the Buraani Raita? Yum! Found it’s place on the platter alright! Oh yes, and there were 3 biryanis/pulaos that followed. A good to the last grain Kaju Biryani, and a couple of others – Gosht Tursh Pulao, and a Chicken Biryani which I could not try. Alas! Too full. Some Awadhi murrabba might have worked digestive magic here…. was I stuffed! That the meal was royal was obvious. ’twas heavy food I tell you.

Rivaayat - A Royal Indian Experience at Saffron, Trident, Gurgaon Dessert was delightful as dessert should be. Despite obviously being stuffed to the gills, the array of desserts tempted. I sampled the Chhena Kheer, Taar Halwa and Shahi Tukda. The Shahi Tukda was my absolute favourite … a full bodied Stollen like bread with raisins and saffron formed the base. I have to say all 3 desserts were excellent. Not cloyingly sweet as a halwa or kheer can threaten to be. They were just right for me, with Exec Chef Sandeep letting me on Izzat Hussain’s secret. A dash of lime juice will always cut away the feeling of dessert being exceedingly sweet! Nice tip!
 I also came away with a box of the most yum fudge chocolaty cookies, a gift from Exec Chef Sandeep!

Trident, Gurgaon is presenting its Rivaayat, a celebration of the Indian Royal experience at its award winning Indian cuisine restaurant – Saffron between 19th January and 25th January 2015.

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Lucknawi cuisineAwadhi cuisine hails from the city of Nawabs, Lucknow. This cuisine consists of elaborate dishes such as kebabs, kormas, biryanis, kaliyas, nahari-kulchas, zarda, sheermal, roomali rotis, and warqi parathas. The richness of Awadhi cuisine lies not only in the variety of cuisine but also in the ingredients used like mutton, paneer, dry fruits and rich spices like cardamom and saffron.Lucknow mainThe Lucknawi cuisine I have had in the past has been vastly different. Lighter on spices and milder to taste, obviously the food I’ve had in the past wasn’t this royal!! With my mother belonging to Lucknow, it is a city and cuisine which I enjoy a lot. I did ask for a simple, quick flavourful everyday recipe from Izzat Hussain’s vast repertoire. Here it is, a Murgh Hara Pyaz {Chicken with Spring Onions}, and as the tagline goes …  absolutely fresh, delicious and healthy!Hara Pyaaz Murgh It’s a light, summery, quick, fresh dish. I added a dash of cream towards the end to make it a ‘winter comfort food dish’, more lime juice, green garlic and onion scapes and loads of fresh coriander to make it ‘wintery’. It was really good with fresh lachcha parathas!

[print_this]Recipe: Murgh Hara Pyaz
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Summary: Murgh Hara Pyaz {Chicken with Spring Onions}, as the tagline goes,  absolutely fresh, delicious and healthy! A simple, quick flavourful everyday recipe from Izzat Hussain’s vast repertoire.

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

  • Chicken breast boneless julienne – 160 gms
  • Spring onions cut into batons– 60 gms
  • Fresh coriander – 5 gms
  • White butter – 20 gms
  • Salt to taste
  • Lemon Juice – 10 ml
  • Garlic – 5gms
  • White pepper to taste


  1. Heat butter in a pan and add garlic. Add the chicken juliennes and sauté.
  2. To this add the spring onion batons and cook on high flame.
  3. Add salt, white pepper , lemon juice and coriander and mix well.
  4. Serve hot


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“The smell of good bread baking, like the sound of lightly flowing water, is indescribable in its evocation of innocence and delight…”
M.F.K. Fisher

Savoury Whole Wheat Hungarian Kalács 1Savoury Whole Wheat Hungarian Kalács … it was a few months ago that I discovered the magic of bread art! That was thanks to the Daring Bakers and I was led into this fascinating world. Until then, bread to me meant rustic, moorish, artisan breads. From then on, Hungarian Kalács became one of our firm favourites. Mine to bake, and ‘theirs’ to eat!

Savoury  Hungarian Kalács, Twisted Buns; Sweet Yeasted  Nutella, Marmalade & Almond Praline Skillet Bread... bread art with the Daring BakersGoing back to the bread art challenge {pictured above}, that was one of my most enriching experiences, and a most delicious one at that. Soon after making the vegetarian version of the Hungarian Kalács, I made a non vegetarian one too for the carnivores at home. In went chicken, walnuts, bell peppers and rocket! It’s taken me some time to share it, but here I am, better late than never!

Savoury Whole Wheat Hungarian Kalács That version was a plain all purpose flour and vegetarian one. These Savoury Whole Wheat Hungarian Kalács are part whole grain as the name suggests. I had to experiment with the dough given my shift to whole grains. The dough worked brilliantly and the bread was gone before we knew it.

Savoury Whole Wheat Hungarian Kalács  makingFew things to keep in mind. My dough was a little soft though very pliable. Every flour type absorbs liquid differently, so bear that in mind. It’s always better to add the last 1/4 cup a little at a time. Gloopy dough makes me weep!! Another thing worth considering is the weather. Hot summers mean really quick dough rising and often an unmanageable dough. Try and chill the dough slightly before use, and work quick. Try keep the dusting flour to a minimum as it takes away from the end product.

Savoury Whole Wheat Twisted Buns 3  I made some twisted buns too like I did with the vegetarian version. Any bread art is mesmerising. You can see more visuals on the Vegetarian Savoury  Hungarian Kalács & Twisted Buns. And oh yes, there is a divineSweet Yeasted  Nutella, Marmalade & Almond Praline Skillet Bread on that page too.Savoury Whole Wheat Twisted Buns 2Savoury Whole Wheat Hungarian Kalács are a nice meals in themselves, and a versatile recipe at that. Fill it as you like. Just remember not to over-stuff it as then it will not hold.I really like the idea of stuffed breads, and this is a fine example.

Savoury Whole Wheat Hungarian Kalács & Twisted BunsUse this dough and go vegetarian with it. I’d see cottage cheese, walnuts, jalapenos, olives, spinach or rocket, maybe sun dried tomatoes in my vegetarian version. Cheese of course, lots of it!!

Savoury Whole Wheat Twisted Buns 4Just writing about it makes my mouth water. I think I just might be headed off into the kitchen to make some dough! I love how nicely it comes together, and how easy it is to serve. Makes for great finger food too and a nice centre piece for the party table! Always nice to have an eye catching item of food which gives folk something more to talk about and devour! This bread, art and all, is one of those things!!

Stuffed  filled breads sweet, savoury, vegetarian

Other stuffed or filled breads on PAB {sweet/ savoury, vegetarian}

Povitica – Croatian Sweet Walnut Chocolate Bread
Savoury Cheese & Garlic Olive Oil Pull-Apart Bread {vegetarian}
French Fougasse with Roasted Red Bell Pepper & Garlic, Walnut & Mozarella
Millet & Whole Wheat French Fougasse … rustic bread with caramelised onions, walnuts, dehydrated tomatoes and mozzarella
Apple Cranberry Almond Olive Oil Pull-Apart Loaf & Popovers
Nutella, Walnut & Orange Rolls
Ricotta and Spinach Roulade
Sweet Orange, Roasted Strawberry & Chocolate Buttermilk Rolls

This post is headed for Bloggers Tuesday at Home Bakers Guild.


[print_this]Recipe: Savoury Whole Wheat Hungarian Kalács your picture

Summary:These Savoury Whole Wheat Hungarian Kalács make great party of finger foods and are bursting with flavour. Use fillings of your choice to play around. This savoury bread is sure to please! The Twisted Buns are another variation using the same dough and filling. Serves 4-6
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Ingredients:# 1

  • Savoury dough
  • 150g whole wheat flour
  • 150g all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp instant yeast
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 25g Parmesan
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 200g buttermilk, tepid
  • 30 ml extra virgin olive oil
  • Filling
  • 50g cheese spread
  • Small bunch rocket, chopped
  • 1 small red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 small yellow bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 small chicken breasts, cooked, chopped
  • 1 tsp red chili flakes
  • 50g walnuts, finely chopped
  • 75g mature cheddar, grated
  • 15ml low fat cream {or 1 beaten egg} for wash
  • 10g melon seeds {or sesame, pumpkin etc}


  1. Savoury wholewheat dough
  2. Place both the flours, Parmesan, yeast and salt in the bowl of food processor and pulse on high speed to mix.
  3. Add the buttermilk,cloves, olive oil and garlic and knead to a smooth dough.
  4. Place the dough in a well oiled bowl, seal with cling wrap and leave in a warm place for dough to double, about 1 hour.
  5. Assemble
  6. Once the dough has doubled, preheat the oven to 200C.
  7. Line a baking tray with parchment paper.
  8. Divide the dough into two.On a lightly floured surface {or on parchment paper}, roll one half into an 10″ circle.{My tray wasn’t big enough, so I kept reserved some dough to make twisted buns with the same filling.
  9. Transfer the circle to the baking sheet and spread the cheese spread uniformly. Sprinkle over chopped rocket, bell peppers, walnuts and red chili flakes, followed by the finely chopped chicken, and finally grated cheddar.
  10. Roll the other half of the dough to another 10″ circle and place over the first half, pressing down gently.
  11. Place a glass in the centre and cut the remaining dough 4 times, then divide each into a further 4. You will get a total of 16 spokes {refer pictures}
  12. Gently lift each spoke and twist it 3 times. Brush over with cream gently and sprinkle melon seeds over the centre. {You can always brush with a beaten egg to get a beautiful glow.}
  13. Bake for 30-35 minutes until light golden brown and firm to touch.
  14. Cool on tray for 5 minutes, then transfer to rack. Serve warm or room temperature.
  15. For Twisted buns, please see this images. Divide the remaining dough into 2, and roll into balls, then flatten. On a lightly floured surface, roll one ball into a long elliptical oval about 4″ across and 8-10 inches long.
  16. Spread with cheese spread and remaining toppings as above {since I made smaller circles for the kalac, I had some filling left.}
  17. With a sharp knife {I used a pizza cutter},cut diagonal strips leaving a 1/2″ border from the edge. Roll into a long cylinder, then into a circle. Pick up and place in a parchment lined pie tin. Brush the top with low fat cream, sprinkle over melon seeds, and bake at 200C for 30 minutes.
  18. Allow to cool in the tins for about 30 minutes, then remove to a cooling rack gently with an offset spatula.


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