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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Culinary Event | Up Close and Personal with Chef Saby & Leonardo … & Sizzling Gamba {recipe}

“Too much of a good thing can be wonderful!”
Mae West

We were brought believing that too much of a good thing is bad! Times have clearly changed and with good times come dispelled notions! Our afternoon at the decidedly charming Olive Bar & Kitchen, Mehrauli sponsored by Leonardo Olive Oil was nothing short of magic.

{Warning: Long post}
Leonardo Olive Oil @ Olive Bar & Kitchen, Mehrauli Nine Delhi food bloggers, Italian cuisine and olive oil that flowed nonstop, celebrity Chef Saby with his passionate efficient team, warm and light hearted hosts Himani & Chandana, and one of my favourite eating places OLIVE – it was food heaven under one roof! Four hours with one of India’s top 10 chefs passed by in a heartbeat!Leonardo Olive Oil Meet @Olive Bar & Kitchen Mehrauli, New DelhiI’m an ardent admirer of the super talented Chef Saby. Having missed a couple of opportunities to see him create culinary magic, this was one event that I wasn’t going to miss. Apprehensive about meeting a guy who has won just about every chef award in India, cooked for India’s top families like the Bachchans & Ambanis, someone inspired by Sydneys Tetsuya, he instantly put us at ease. Leonardo Olive Oil Meet @Olive Bar & Kitchen Mehrauli, New Delhi

 Leonardo Olive Oil Meet @Olive Bar & Kitchen Mehrauli, New DelhiI walked in on the dot of 12 noon, the given time … everything was ready, in place and waiting. Have been to events before where apparently a wait of 30 minutes+ is seemingly acceptable. Not so here. The anti pasti counters gleamed invitingly, Leonardo flavouring the spreadapple relish, onion & chili jam, mushroom pate, hummus, Caprese salad, the exotic cheese platter, stuffed little red peppers with whipped feta {my favourite}, Leonardo olives, more olives, cured meats …Leonardo Olive Oil Meet @Olive Bar & Kitchen Mehrauli, New Delhi Himani Dalmia, Senior Manager Corporate, Leonardo and Chandana Paul went out of the way to make us live the experience – Up Close and Personal with Chef Saby and Leonardo”! It was soon time for Olive fish & chips, asparagus the vegetarian option! Crisp & delicious! Leonardo Olive Oil Meet @Olive Bar & Kitchen Mehrauli, New DelhiThe Chef? Jack of all trades and master too, wonderful human being, as level headed as he is large hearted, ever smiling, humorous, an engaging speaker, fantastic team leader, eagle eyed, perfectionist … too many adjectives but it’s impossible to describe the man in a few words! His accolades speak for him – Best Chef of India Awarded by President of India, National Tourism Award, 2011-12, Director of Kitchens – ai, lap, olive qutab, olive beach , the moving kitchen by olive yet so down to earth! {He even walked us to the porch and waited for our respective cars to come}.Leonardo Olive Oil Meet @Olive Bar & Kitchen Mehrauli, New Delhi

For him, cooking is an art, the ultimate form of expression. “The platter is my canvas and the food ingredients, my colour!” … in the case of this artist you can eat his art. At Olive, he brings his love for all things culinary to life as he cooks right in front of the guests at a rustic kitchen called the Greenhouse on the Ridge. His recipes, as always, satiate and leave guests asking for more.

He threw his kitchen open to us, patiently guiding us into every nook and cranny {it was buzzing at lunch}, explaining kitchen procedures, chef training, sourcing fresh produce … the works! Once inside the cold room, you can imagine the grin when we saw the Padano! If we could have lifted that 40kg block of cheese we would have run for it!Olive Bar & Kitchen Mehrauli, New DelhiThe menu for the day demonstrated different uses of Leonardo products – pasta, green and black olives, India’s first non-alcoholic beer, and olive oil of course! Non stop banter and photographs continued while discussing olive oil, the myths particularly surrounding pomace, the changing face of ‘food on our table’ … Pasta Marinare @ Olive Bar & Kitchen Mehrauli, New DelhiOlive oil is the juice of the olive, the only oil on the market that is extracted from a fresh fruit is universally accepted as the healthiest of all edible oils. Adding olive oil to your diet is the easiest change you can make towards a healthier lifestyle. I ♥ olive oil! Mr V N Dalmia @ Olive Bar & Kitchen Mehrauli, New DelhiLeonardo Olive Oil the first Indian brand of olive oil introduced in 2003 is a brand owned by Dalmia Continental Private Limited the flagship company of VN Dalmia {seen above; he joined us for lunch}. It offers four of the finest versions – Leonardo Gold, Leonardo 100% Pure Olive Oil, Leonardo Olive Pomace Oil and Leonardo Extra Virgin Olive Oil. The product list includes Leonardo Olives, Hudson Canola Oil, Granora Pasta, Indian pickles too.

Leonardo Olive Oil Meet @Olive Bar & Kitchen Mehrauli, New Delhi

Photo courtesy Rekha @ http://www.mytastycurry.com/

By the time we were done, we were ready to burst, yet Saby could have hypnotised us to eat another marathon round! He held us in good humour woven around the food and drinks, gently introducing each variety of olive oil used in the menu from batter fried asparagus shoots and basa fish, to the mind blowing apple & feta saladLeonardo Olive Oil Meet @Olive Bar & Kitchen Mehrauli, New Delhi… to moorishly beautiful fresh baked artisan skillet bread {close to the Indian pav something like I recently made, but up several notches} served with individual pestle and mortals to make your own olive oil dip {YUM} …Leonardo Olive Oil Meet @Olive Bar & Kitchen Mehrauli, New Delhi… melt in the mouth classical lasagna Bolognaise in a skillet, followed by black truffle porcini risotto {excellent was the word} …Black truffle porcini risotto … and then a variety of wood fire pizzasMarinara pizza; Asparagus, smoked Scarmoza cheese, walnuts, Parmesan, truffle oil; Spinach, sundried tomato, olives, feta; Pepperoni jalapeno; Olive’s signature Milano paper pizza … fresh from the rustic oven in the courtyard of this picturesque restaurant.Leonardo Olive Oil Meet @Olive Bar & Kitchen Mehrauli, New DelhiHe has us eating out of his hands, all this while his super efficient team set up the dessert counter and had us hopelessly distracted! I’m definitely a small eater but I was amazed at how far I stretched it. How could there possibly be so much deliciousness on a single day? I am proud to say I tasted everything, well almost  … Sizzling Gamba @ Olive Bar & Kitchen Mehrauli, New DelhiI’ve never had a gamba before, not always food adventurous, but having it stirred under your nose does something to your taste buds. Mouthwatering and sizzling good, I loved the way it was served? Beautiful flavours, the undertones of olive oil marrying the ingredients so well, the freshness of the produce and the passion of the chef! {You an find the recipe at the bottom}Tiramisu @ Olive Bar & Kitchen Mehrauli, New DelhiOlives signature tiramisu made with inhouse mascarpone had me swooning! It was delightful, as was the praline mud cake! I regret that I didn’t get as far as the apple & walnut crumble with the stunning spun sugar! Desserts @ Tiramisu @ Olive Bar & Kitchen Mehrauli, New DelhiSaby or Chef Sabyasachi Gorai is the Executive Chef at Olive in Delhi. Launched in 2003 by AD Singh, Olive was immediately chosen as one of the world’s best new restaurants. One of Delhi’s must visit eat out places offering hand picked recipes from the Mediterranean, overlooking the romantic Qutab Minar, it is housed in an ancient Mughal mansion.Olive Bar & Kitchen Mehrauli, New DelhChic in every way -  the old world character beautifully blends with the rustic charm of old wood, vintage furniture, light furnishings, an open courtyard, indoor eating places, a terrace sit out overlooking the monument … and of course, the ancient banyan tree! {Thank you Sangeeta for clicking me clicking Olive}Leonardo Olive Oil Meet @ Olive Bar & Kitchen Mehrauli, New Delhi My deep love for the vintage feel and distressed wood makes me love this place!  The Olive Bar and Kitchen is a rustic hideaway where good food, laughter, culture and conversation come together in a delightful Mediterranean melting pot. Leonardo Olive Oil Meet @ Olive Bar & Kitchen Mehrauli, New Delhi Thank you Himani and Chandana for playing the perfect hosts on behalf of Leonardo, and for the generous goodie baskets!Leonardo Olive Oil Meet - Goodie basketsThank you Saby, Vaibhav and Astha for the outstanding food, warmth and fun you served up, and for the ‘bottle cakes‘ and chocolates …Bottle Cakes @ Olive Bar & Kitchen Mehrauli, New Delhi …and thank you Sid for being the glue that binds the Delhi food bloggers together!

 

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