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  Smoked Eggplant Walnut Truffle Dip

“In fine, the truffle is the very diamond of gastronomy.”
Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin

Smoked Eggplant Walnut Truffle Dip … earthy, rustic, nutty, slightly tangy, creamy, smoky delicious. Some things come together with small beginnings, and for strange reasons. This dip was no different and found it’s origins in a wizened old forgotten pomegranate that I discovered while cleaning out the fridge. Also popped out a bowl that held an eggplant I had roasted 2 days ago, a small carton of Greek yogurt, and the plan was made.Eggplant Walnut Smoked Truffle Dip & pomegranates It was going to be a Smoked Eggplant Walnut Truffle Dip which would use up all the goodness that lay forgotten in the fridge. Also a chance to use some fabulous Black Truffle Sea Salt from Olive Tree Trading, a special product that really shines when used. It might be an expensive product, but a little goes a long way. On pasta, on toast, over dips, on artisan bread, in pasta sauce, over popcorn, on salads; really steps up the flavours!

Smoked Eggplant Walnut Truffle Dip With it of course some really really good quality extra virgin olive oil from the same company, a product that speaks for itself. As always, a dish is only as good as it’s ingredients and this Smoked Eggplant Walnut Truffle Dip was just that. You could always use sea salt but a black truffle sea salt is a noticeably charming addition, quite different.Olive Oil & Black Truffle Sea SaltThe rest of this Persian inspired dip has humble origins, almost staple pantry ingredients. How can you go wrong with eggplant {or baingan as locally called}, walnuts, garlic, yogurt and olive oil? Not possible right? Smoked Eggplant Walnut Truffle Dip

Smoked Eggplant Walnut Truffle Dip And the good thing is that if you blend it smooth, picky eaters can’t figure out what’s in this pâté like dip. It’s a win win; a delicious one at that too. Serve with wholegrain crackers, crudites etc. Great as a sandwich spread, with crusty wholegrain bread, etc.

Smoked Eggplant Walnut Truffle Dip
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A simple recipe with humble origins, this Smoked Eggplant Walnut Truffle Dip is a great addition to the party table. Serve with wholegrain crackers, crudites etc. Great as a sandwich spread, with rustic wholegrain bread, etc.
Servings Prep Time
3-4 minutes 5 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
30 minutes 15 minutes
Servings Prep Time
3-4 minutes 5 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
30 minutes 15 minutes
Smoked Eggplant Walnut Truffle Dip
BigOven - Save recipe or add to grocery list
Yum
Print Recipe
A simple recipe with humble origins, this Smoked Eggplant Walnut Truffle Dip is a great addition to the party table. Serve with wholegrain crackers, crudites etc. Great as a sandwich spread, with rustic wholegrain bread, etc.
Servings Prep Time
3-4 minutes 5 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
30 minutes 15 minutes
Servings Prep Time
3-4 minutes 5 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
30 minutes 15 minutes
Ingredients
Servings: minutes
Instructions
  1. Wash and pat dry the eggplant. Make 4-6 slits around and tuck in unpeeled garlic cloves.
  2. Roast over a low open gas flame, or in oven until charred all over and soft.
  3. Place in a bowl covered, until cool enough to handle. gently peel the charred skin off, squeeze out the garlic from pods. {This can be done a couple of days in advance and refrigerated}.
  4. Place all ingredients in bowl of processor or blender and process until smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning.
  5. Transfer to a bowl, drizzle generously with good quality extra virgin olive oil, sprinkle over some black truffle salt, garnish with pomegranate pearls. Serve with wholegrain crackers, crudites etc. Great as a sandwich spread, with rustic wholegrain bread, etc.
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 Chicken Jalfrezi“Food for the body is not enough. There must be food for the soul.”
Dorothy Day

Chicken Jalfrezi is a fiery as you like it, and a very popular stir fry curry in the UK, a recipe thought to have originated during the British Raj to use up left over meats. As time went by, there was a shift from mild curries to spicy hot ones on the continent, and the jalfrezi gained popularity. We visited the UK often in the late 1990’s. Next to the chicken tikka masala, this Indo Chinese dish was possibly the most popular.

Chicken Jalfrezi SpicesYou can basically ‘build it as you like’, throwing in left over meats to stir fry or do it from scratch. Either which ways, it’s a really quick stir fry to get going, one that comes together in under 30 minutes. Having the meat/chicken marinated ahead  is great if you have time. Marinate with a little ginger-garlic paste, maybe a dash of lime juice and salt. As with any good dish, use good quality ingredients and you know you have a winner.

Chicken Jalfrezi Wet Masala Spices

coconut & graterMy version of Chicken Jalfrezi has a slight southern or rather coastal touch with some coconut milk added to offset the fiery hot chilies. Like any good curry, this one too is entirely customisable to taste. I used star anise in the first tempering, a spice I have increasingly grown to love while shooting spices for the Masala Dabba. Post the trip it into the heart of South India to Karaikudi, the love for simple spices like these just became stronger.

Karaikudi, Chettinad, South IndiaI love a curry where tomato meets coconut milk, and with the ease of Dabur Hommade Tomato Puree, Dabur Hommade Ginger Garlic Paste and Dabur Hommade Coconut Milk in my pantry, this recipe was a breeze. Most Indian curries see the use of onions, tomato {puree or fresh chopped}, ginger garlic paste and a smattering of spices, both ground and whole. As you travel along the coastal areas of the Indian peninsula, an increased use of coconut milk in curries teases the palette, a taste that has grown on me. Dabur Hommade is one of the first brands in India to introduce expediency in cooking in Indian kitchens. What makes Dabur even more special is that it is a science based  Ayurveda company. Chicken JalfreziPlay with spices as you like, give the vegetables just  a quick stir fry so they don’t lose their crunch. This Chicken Jalfrezi made essentially with peppers, green chilies, onions and tomatoes gets a twist of taste with coconut milk. And yes I sneaked in some Greek yogurt to add to the creaminess. If you like a thick hearty curry which is a quick and easy stir fry, gives you a dose of vegetables, then look no further. This just might be what you were looking for!

Some favourite recipes where I use coconut milk
Kokum Coconut Milk Panna Cotta 
Tropical Coconut Milk Rice Pudding
Quick Tomato Coconut Soup

Chicken Jalfrezi
BigOven - Save recipe or add to grocery list
Yum
Print Recipe
This Chicken Jalfrezi made essentially with peppers, green chilies, onions and tomatoes gets a delicious twist of taste with coconut milk. If you like a thick hearty curry which is a quick and easy stir fry, gives you a dose of vegetables, then look no further. This just might be what you were looking for!
Servings Prep Time
4 people 5 minutes
Cook Time
25 minutes
Servings Prep Time
4 people 5 minutes
Cook Time
25 minutes
Chicken Jalfrezi
BigOven - Save recipe or add to grocery list
Yum
Print Recipe
This Chicken Jalfrezi made essentially with peppers, green chilies, onions and tomatoes gets a delicious twist of taste with coconut milk. If you like a thick hearty curry which is a quick and easy stir fry, gives you a dose of vegetables, then look no further. This just might be what you were looking for!
Servings Prep Time
4 people 5 minutes
Cook Time
25 minutes
Servings Prep Time
4 people 5 minutes
Cook Time
25 minutes
Ingredients
Servings: people
Instructions
  1. Heat clarified butter/ghee in a heavy bottom large pan/wok.
  2. Add the red chilies and star anise and sauté briefly until fragrant.
  3. Add chicken pieces in one flat lot, taking care not to overcrowd the pan. Season with salt and pepper. Sauté until golden brown over high heat, turn and repeat.
  4. Remove chicken pieces from pan, and keep warm in a covered bowl.
  5. Add a teaspoon of clarified butter if required. Add the diced onions and ginger garlic paste. Sauté until fragrant.
  6. Add turmeric powder/haldi, coriander powder/dhania and red chili powder if desired. Sauté for 30 seconds.
  7. Now add the bell peppers and capsicum. Sauté again for 3-4 minutes, then add the reserved chicken. Mix briefly, then add the tomato puree and coconut milk.
  8. Stir and simmer for 15 minutes until the chicken is cooked. Taste and adjust seasoning. Add the green chilies and fresh coriander, then simmer further for 5 minutes Serve hot with rice or naan.
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 Kurkure Lays, plant visit Pepsico India‘Comfort food is the food that makes us feel good, satisfied, calm, cared for and carefree. It’s food that fills us up emotionally and physically.
Finding comfort in food is a basic human experience.’
Ellie Krieger

First thoughts that swept through my head as we entered the Pepsico factory in Dhulagarh near Kolkata, a much anticipated trip into a promising kitchen. Hello Kurkure, have I missed you! It’s been a few years since I dived into a bag. One crunchy bite later, nostalgia flooded my soul, that old familiar taste that had serenaded me for several years. I was back! With an eclectic group of about a dozen ‘foodies’ flown  specially into Kolkata, we warmed up to each other over the hours drive to the factory. That drive was anything but mundane, action packed, but that’s a story for another day…Pepsico plant visit, KolkataA friend recently said to me that his entire family was addicted to Kurkure for 8 long years, and that’s quite a similar story across households in India. Kurkure, in hindi means crisp, now PepsiCos most most loved voted snacking brand in the Indian market, is a favourite with Indians across the globe. For me, a once in a blue moon guilty step off my routine.  There I was to discover that there’s so much more to the brand than just the snack. A brand that is constantly reinventing itself, attempting also to constantly improve nutritionally. It also makes great breakfast oats, one of my most favourite pantry ingredients.

Pepsico plant visit, KolkataThey’ve got the spice mix and product bang on! With 30 snacking options, Kurkure forms an iconic part of Indian food culture, a deep connect & nostalgia since being introduced in 1999. This entirely indigenous brand, made with trusted kitchen ingredients like rice, oil, corn, gram & spices, Kurkure has constantly re-invented itself to sustain its relevance to Indian culture and the Indian ethos. Yet the story is more than the plant producing snacks. It’s the larger picture of social responsibility that appealed to me, and that made the visit so worthwhile.pepsico-plant-visit-kolkata-2With the popularity of Kurkure, came many myths about the ingredients, about how good it might or might not be! One trip to the fully automated snack plant in Dhulbari proved otherwise. Prepared most hygienically in a state of art plant, it hits the spot for comfort food with the right spice blends and flavours. All ingredients in the Kitchen of lays are carefully sourced, efficiently managed and well stocked. It has now entered the traditional namkeens area which is proving to be equally popular!Pepsico plant visit, Kolkata

Pepsico plant visit, KolkataAnd then there is the Kitchen of Lays. Another heartening story right from the potato being germinated up to the chips that get sealed into bags, it’s a fascinating adventure. Overcoming challenges like a not a well developed supply chain, small land holdings, marginal farmers, loads of wastage etc, the company offers community support especially to farmers right from word go offering careful handling and the right variety of seeds. India is the only country outside of the US, where potato germ plasma and mini tuber are grown in greenhouses in Punjab. To help farmers minimize losses due to vagaries of nature, the company offers weather forecasts in collaborative farming to 24K farmers in the country. The partnership offers a 360 degree of engagement with best agronomy practices, soft loans, crop insurance, high quality seeds for better yields etc.Pepsico plant visit, KolkataTo think that much and more goes into the making of a mere pack of chips is a somewhat enlightening experience. Following the journey of the humble potato from a germ plasma to the fryer was fascinating. It makes the picture real, a story that comes alive with community collaborative farming, sustenance, social responsibility, good practices, the right potato and an efficient system. An automated system that works with precision, infra red sensors that pick out the slightest anomaly, dedicated happy workforce … and of course happy customers.Pepsico plant visit, KolkataSustainable growth, community development and minimizing the impact on the environment is worthy of praise! We were fortunate to experience the facility first hand. Right from very passionate hands on managers, spirited workers, an efficient management system, the fully automated plant operates impressively. What amazes is that PepsiCo’s growth in India has been guided by a philosophy of “Performance with Purpose”, the goal to deliver top-tier financial performance while creating sustainable growth. 06-1In practice, Performance with Purpose means providing a wide range of foods and beverages from treats to healthy eats; finding innovative ways to minimize their impact on the environment, providing a safe and inclusive workplace for employees globally; and respecting, supporting and investing in the local communities where they operate. For instance, in 2009, PepsiCo India achieved a significant milestone by becoming the first business to achieve ‘Positive Water Balance’ in the beverage world, a fact verified by Deloitte Touché Tohmatsu India Pvt. Ltd. The company has been Water Positive since then.
Pepsico plant visit, Kolkata
The Kaizen quality and productivity initiative where everyone is empowered, motivated and encouraged to add value contributes to safety, quality and productivity. With initiatives like that and three planks of renewable energy systems in place, for eg rice husk that generates steam to heat oil, or then frying that gives flash steam than runs a system to generate electricity, it’s hard to look at the packet of Lays or Kurkure the same way again. They just mean so much more now!

Photo courtesy Karan BhujbalThank you for opening your home and hearts to us Pepsico India!
{Photo courtesy Karan Bhujbal}

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