Blog Event |Indiblogger and alphabet soup – just words, no pictures #BeautifulFood

” A picture is worth a thousand words ….”

Well this is going to be a difficult post for me … words only, no pictures. For an obsessive shutterbug this might prove to be the most difficult challenge yet, but with a little shove from a dear friend, I am game to give it a shot!

“They say that a picture is worth a thousand words. Can you use words to describe a great picture? Using words alone, write a blog post that describes a mouth-watering, perfect meal and how you can make it more beautiful with Borosil Glassware from myborosil.com.”

Interestingly we’ve had a few meal experiences on our very recent trip to Leh, some good, and others best forgotten. The best one possibly was our first one on the banks of the river Indus. The open air tented breakfast and lunch room at the eco camp is set by the gently bubbling Indus. The river is low on water as the summer heat has yet to melt the ice on the glaciers that feed it.

Set amidst beautiful greens, nestled in the Himalayas at 11000ft,  we would have never imagined a meal under tents, the brown wood and canvas blending perfectly with the surroundings. Keeping us company were a few cows from nearby villages, a mongrel called Kali, a wild cat who endlessly bothered a handful of warring black billed magpies, finches and oriental turtle doves, also wild asses grazing just across the river.

Lunch was soon served by the very efficient chef who has honed her skills in Delhi {ex Olive} and now develops recipes to serve at the camp using local ingredients. Just my kind of chef. She has another tough job on hand … adapting the recipes to cook at high altitude. It’s a different ball game altogether, one which she seems to have perfected. {And it’s not an easy one as we were to learn later!!}

Fresh local salad greens and watermelon balls tossed in the most awesome honey mustard dressing was the first to arrive. Mixed together with pretty and delicate bamboo salad forks from Meghalaya, it was the best salad ever! It has inspired endless salads that we enjoy everyday since our return. {Wish I could share a picture!!!}

We were really hungry ; must have been the mountain air and the lack of oxygen. It was Budh Purnima which meant Ladakh has to be ‘vegetarian’ on the day. The meal was simple yet bursting with flavour. The Palak Paneer {spinach cottage cheese} made from local spinach and cottage cheese had a nice tang to it, pleasingly different from the one we eat here in the NCR. I loved it!! On the side was a stir fried Zeera Aloo {cumin potatoes} also beautifully seasoned and cooked just right. Fresh chapatis {flatbreads}, a yellow dal and short grained boiled rice completed the menu. I can well imagine how beautifully the essential combination set would fit in with this menu!!

Did I just say completed the menu? No wait, there was more! An absolutely smashing good banofee pie set in the sweetest little glasses. The toffee sauce, whipped cream and bananas were marriage made in heaven. Scrape, scrape, scrape … we could have licked the glasses clean! I can visualise how stunning the dessert this might look layered as it were in the borosil glass katoris! Desserts do look wonderful in glassware.

The meal was one of the most memorable and picturesque ones we’ve enjoyed of late. Hopefully I managed to convey the picture of #BeautifulFood!!

Don’t miss a post Also find me on The Rabid Baker, The Times of India

Baking | Whole Wheat Lemon Tres Leches Cake … & Your Wish is My App #Indiblogger #Nokia #NDTV

“Sometimes things become possible if we want them bad enough.”
T.S. Eliot

Whole wheat Lemon Tres Leches Cake 1Whole Wheat Lemon Tres Leches Cake … a healthier, whole grain version of an international favourite. The cake was as delicious as it was simple and rather plain in appearance. A healthy makeover, a cake I was inspired to make a while ago with leftover ‘tres leches‘ or 3 milk syrup from a Daring Bakers challenge. Then I had made a much fancier layered Mango Pastel de Tres Leches or Mango Three Milk Cake.

Mango Pastel de Tres LechesI forgot to share the whole wheat version until the other day when I was trying to dream up some app ideas for an Indiblogger event I attended. One thought led to another, and also took me back to the Whole Wheat Lemon Tres Leches Cake which I had forgotten to share as promised.

Mango Pastel de Tres Leches But first a little introduction to the event that inspired me to ‘wish‘! It was an interesting evening which launched Season II of the Your Wish is My App meet with Indiblogger and Nokia Lumia. It promised to be an entertaining evening with a live wire bunch of folk on stage. The line up included New York based, Michelin starred celebrity chef Vikas Khanna, TV anchor and  super gadget guru Rajiv Makhni, and someone best known as the father of the Indian gaming industry, Vishal Gondal.

Your Wish is My App Indiblgger NoikaThat it would be entertaining was expected; that it would be side splitting funny, hysterical laughs and packed with madness and mayhem wasn’t. The trio kept us in splits, a 100% engaging and interactive. The crowds loved them, especially Vikas Khanna who wears his heart on his sleeve. The attendance crossed 300 and for a while the stage shuddered under the weight of almost everyone who wanted to be ‘there with the guys’!

Photo courtesy Vj Sharma @ Photo Journey

Photo courtesy Vj Sharma @ Photo Journey

With sound touching the ‘are you crazy‘ levels, it was an entertaining evening of ‘Apps and Blogging‘ alright. Have you ever thought to yourself “I wish there was an app for this! ” was the question asked.

Healthy food makeoverI did have some app-etising thoughts in my head, but very enthusiastic techies present in large numbers overtook my confidence pretty soon. Food bloggers were few, the techie majority hungry for bytes. My ideas just didn’t flow. On the drive back however I suddenly had a head full of possible ‘wishes’ ! Apps that would bring together a local farmer/produce community in touch with buyers … a farm to table app!

fresh pumpkin pureeApps that would encourage the use of local produce, suggest indigenous substitutes for international recipe, and also give a nutritional analysis of a recipe, maybe a possible calorie count too. An app that would make us think differently perhaps, support a local food and farmer community, encourage us to lean towards healthier food habits, and analyse our plates to see what we eat.

Roasted bell peppers
Roasted bell pepper pesto

Why apps? With over 2200 million mobile handsets being sold in India each year, the numbers are only set to grow. With mind boggling numbers of 130 million users who access the internet via smart phones, it only makes business sense to step into apps! Season I at Nokia saw 38000 app ideas being offered, out of which 1200 have already been converted into apps.

Here’s one that would be on top of my wishlist for a food community at large. Since all of us aren’t recipe developers and experimenters, how about an app that offers a healthy alternative to a normal recipe? Not sure if it’s achievable, or if it’s a hair brained non tech idea, but I love the very thought. While I have the time to experiment, substitute, indulge in my hobby / obsession, a lot of food lovers might not be on the same plate.

Healthy food

Maybe call it a Glocal Healthy Recipe App? It would need to offer healthier substitutes for recipes, locally available alternates, a calorie count, nutritional info if possible etc. The idea is to try and stay local even with global recipes, Glocal if you like. That in turn reduces out carbon footprint, makes us support the local farmer and producer community, encourages us to think out of the box; more than anything else, experiment!

Whole wheat Lemon Tres Leches Cake Here’s an example of a healthy makeover. This Whole Wheat Lemon Tres Leches Cake is a whole wheat version of the Tres Leches Cake {or a “three milks cake”}. Incidentally, the basic cake is also a healthier whole grain version of the pound cake. Whole wheat Lemon Tres Leches Cake The Tres Leches is a light cake, with many air bubbles. This distinct texture is why it does not have a soggy consistency, despite being soaked in a mixture of three types of milk. Enjoy it!

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

Baking | Chocolate Cake & Coffee Patisserie Cream Trifles … a coffee high!

“To me, the smell of fresh-made coffee is one of the greatest inventions.’
Hugh Jackman

Chocolate Cake & Coffee Patisserie Cream TriflesChocolate Cake & Coffee Patisserie Cream Trifles. The deep, sensual aroma of coffee steeping won me over! Are you devastated by the smell of fresh bread or cookies baking? Or onions in gently frying in butter? Roasting garam masala? Fruit stewing with vanilla beans? Or maybe coffee beans roasting? Fresh herbs? Freshly plucked tomatoes? I absolutely am. It’s an olfactory explosion of sorts.

smells 2When I was young I often woke up to the delicious smells of onions frying, a chocolate cake baking, a clarified butter/pure ghee dal tadka … but the most vivid memory was of the smell of wet earth after the first monsoon showers. To this day, the smell of wet earth takes me back to those childhood days when we used to race out to play in the rain. Pure nostalgia!Whole wheat coffee dark chocolate pound cakeNow more than ever before, my world is ruled by food aromas. Does your nose lead you to the kitchen? At home here, all day long, you’ll find folk following their nose into my kitchen. It’s the most happening place in the house. I baked a chocolate cake 2 days ago. Yet this coffee pound cake was on their mind. ‘Why didn’t you bake another coffee cake?’. The  teens pestered me! Annoying? Yes!Chocolate Cake & Coffee Patisserie Cream Trifles I’m an out-and-out coffee sort of person! The family is too. Fresh coffee beans roasting … nirvana. Takes me back to days down south. Every house would roast their own coffee. Ours did not, but the neighbours generously shared the aromas. What a beautiful heady feeling to wake up to. Instant upliftment.

Vanilla beans in bakingI’m also a vanilla sort of person, mostly paired with fruit. The fragrance of splitting a plump vanilla bean and scraping the insides makes my day. That morning was good! Once the thermomix got down to making the creme patisserie {7 minutes is all it takes}, I had ample time to sit and take in the fragrance. My hands smelt so good.

Balsamic Vanilla Basil StrawberriesTry reducing fresh strawberries and vanilla bean for a compote. The whole house smells beautiful. Seriously … never underestimate the power of smell. Walk into a good coffee shop and if you’re like me, you’ll fall into a trance! 
hocolate Cake & Coffee Patisserie Cream Trifles So to cut a long story short, I was MAD that my chocolate cake didn’t go down well. I counselled myself a little. I knew what went wrong. I had tweaked a good recipe and added more baking soda than necessary. Extra baking soda always plays spoil sport. Note to self : BEWARE in future!hocolate Cake & Coffee Patisserie Cream Trifles I almost trashed the cake yet knew the crumb was light. It was a good cake basically, so trifle was on my mind. I love it when cake obliges with neat little squares. Two minutes later, I was in coffee creme patisserie mode. Time to win the coffee lovers back! Pastry cream that smelt like heaven, felt smooth as silk. Asked the daughter to check for sweetness. She couldn’t wouldn’t stop spooning it into her mouth! Just one last spoon, she begged!

Chocolate Cake & Coffee Patisserie Cream Trifles Trifles are great make ahead desserts. Also a lovely way to use up leftover cake. We love fruit trifles and we loved these Chocolate Cake & Coffee Patisserie Cream Trifles too. Deep coffee flavours, great pairing with chocolate, nice play of textures. The cake cubes soaked in a coffee syrup. A swirl of whipped cream might have completed the trifle. CoffeeSo tell me dear reader, is your life is ruled by good food aromas? What are the smells that awaken your senses? Are you convinced that if something smells divine, it must taste even better? Do you eat with your eyes first? And do you believe, like me, that the sense of smell, sight and taste are all interlinked to make our world more delicious?

Smells of everyday

Food,  ingredients, aromas, the folk, the garden, the venue, memories, the ambiance … the entire connect weaves a delightful ‘spread’!
~For Indiblogger and Ambipur  … ‘Smelly To Smiley!’ ~

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

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