Feature| Thai Masterstrokes …Masterclass at Neung Roi, Radisson Blu, Delhi … and a Tom Kha Gai

“Thai food ain’t about simplicity. It’s about the juggling of disparate elements to create a harmonious finish. Like a complex musical chord it’s got to have a smooth surface but it doesn’t matter what’s happening underneath. Simplicity isn’t the dictum here, at all.”
David Thompson

Thai Masterstrokes ,Neung Roi, Radisson Blu Plaza Delhi 800Thai Masterstrokes! It was back to the classroom after a LONG time, and it was a half day of fun and delicious learning. There’s good food and there’s learning how to cook it with a master, yet it’s not always possible to have your cake and eat it too. It happened one day where we got the best of both worlds! We attended a brilliant Thai Masterclass at Neung Roi, Radisson Blu, Delhi … followed by a sumptuous Thai lunch.

Thai Masterstrokes ,Neung Roi, Radisson Blu Plaza Delhi It was an invite to ‘Thai Masterstrokes’ … to experience cooking classes featured at the award winning Thai restaurant Neung Roi, to sharpen your culinary skills as you learn the art of cooking Thai delicacies by the culinary goddess, Yenjai Suthiwaja. It was everything it promised to be and more. If this is what school is about, I’m ready to go right back!Thai Masterstrokes ,Neung Roi, Radisson Blu Plaza Delhi We were a group of food bloggers invited to attend one of the masterclasses which is being run for cooking enthusiasts in the city. I have to add that we were quite an exuberant bunch, very chatty and comfortable back benchers who were thrilled to be there. Kudos to sweet Chef Yenjai who comfortably accommodated our chatty group, making sure we were part of the class, involving us equally. This is the kind of class to be in!

 Thai Masterstrokes ,Neung Roi, Radisson Blu Plaza Delhi 5The class much to my delight began at the stroke of 11am, the designated time. So refreshing to see the attendees already seated, a smiling chef and her helper at the cooking station, a well organised counter with Thai cooking ingredients displayed aesthetically. The backdrop of the kitchen added to the appeal. These are paid classes that run at the restaurant, and are well attended. The beautiful mustard interiors add to the overall appeal.

Thai Masterstrokes ,Neung Roi, Radisson Blu Plaza Delhi The set of recipes chosen for the class that day were well balanced and in hindsight so simple to make. It’s one thing to order and eat, it’s quite another to watch the dishes being cooked under your nose, inhale flavours, watch the dish taking shape … and then eat. The connect is greater and so also the appreciation. The food talks to you and the flavours all come alive. Of course, the magic was created by Chef Yenjai who patiently took questions from her class, painstakingly explained ingredients, what they were called in Thai, substitutes etc. She was sweet to constantly praise her team who have made Neung Roi as popular as it is.

Thai Masterstrokes ,Neung Roi, Radisson Blu Plaza Delhi On the menu that day were two non vegetarian mains – Pla Yang Kamin, grilled sea bass, which was given a quick marination in fresh turmeric and herbs like galangal, lemongrass etc. Chefs tipkeep the skin on otherwise the fillet tends to break. Gently grilled to perfection, it was served with a tamarind chili dip which simmered while the sea bass marinated. The second main was Gai Kaprow or a stir fired minced chicken with chili and a Thai hot basil. Both the mains were beautifully plated and presented.

Yam Tuea Plu, Thai Masterstrokes ,Neung Roi, Radisson Blu Plaza DelhiBetween the two mains was a very interesting salad, Yam Tuea Plu or a winged beans salad. Making it even more interesting was the fact that these delightful beans are served raw. The complexity of flavours and ingredients made it intriguing, and the roasted coconut & tamarind dressing had us ready to dive right in. We had to wait though…

Tom Kha Gai, Thai Masterstrokes ,Neung Roi, Radisson Blu Plaza DelhiThen came another huge favourite Tom Kha Gai or chicken and coconut milk soup. Simmered with typical Thai herbs, this was a soup I knew I would love. Heard there was a vegetarian version too, Tom Khai Jay and I was in love with the very idea!

Thai Masterstrokes ,Neung Roi, Radisson Blu Plaza Delhi The last course to be demonstrated, dessert of course, and another love story to follow. Tub Tim Krob or water chestnut in coconut jasmine syrup. We were smitten. Such a pretty, flavourful and simple looking dessert, yet so exotic. Loved how the chef served this up. In a matter of two and a half hours, she demonstrated an entire meal, slowly, patiently, lovingly. Of course we were quite hungry and impatient now…the food beckoned us!

Thai Masterstrokes ,Neung Roi, Radisson Blu Plaza The cooking classes are followed by an exotic Thai meal paired with wines, beer and soft drinks. The private dining room was reserved for us and we couldn’t wait to dig in. Amidst a lot of laughter, tons of requests ‘not to serve‘ the hungry audience until pictures were clicked, we embarked on possibly the most delicious and wholesome meal of late.

Pla Yang Kamin, Thai Masterstrokes ,Neung Roi, Radisson Blu Plaza DelhiPleasing everyone with varied tastes, and taste-buds is no mean task, that too a heady mix of vegetarian and carnivorous guests. Chef Yenjoi excelled. The grilled sea bass was light, bursting with herby good flavour and drizzled with a tamarind chili sauce that paired beautifully. This praise from a non fish eater…you can imagine how good it was!

Thai Masterstrokes ,Neung Roi, Radisson Blu Plaza Delhi We were really fortunate to have the very food experienced Ruchira with us, she asked for favourites to be added to the listed menu. That hit the ball out of the park. Take her with you when you eat out! Seriously the pomello salad was the BEST I have ever eaten. I couldn’t get enough of it. Can you fall in love with a salad? YES! The winged bean salad was also really really good. Crisp, crunchy, divine balance flavours, a great dressing…Thai Masterstrokes ,Neung Roi, Radisson Blu Plaza Delhi I love Thai food because no matter how much you tuck in, and overeat, it doesn’t leave you feeling exhausted and full. Loads of fresh raw or barely cooked vegetables, no carbs that I can recall {other than the corn fritters that appeared as a chef special}, gluten free too I think. And dipping sauces galore! Tangy, chili, fresh with undertones of herbs, we carried on with them much after the ‘dipping’ was done.

Thai Masterstrokes ,Neung Roi, Radisson Blu Plaza Delhi 12Hats off to the chef for having been able to develop a vegetarian Thai menu  for Neong Roi as it couldn’t have been easy. The mushroom satays {YUM!!} served with a different and very addictive sauce, the stir fried vegetables crisp and flavourful, and the cherry on the cake, the vegetarian version of the Tom Kha Gai! The Tom Kha Jay or the coconut soup was the best soup I have ever had. Beautiful lilting flavours, gentle on the palette, smooth and light. I think I could survive on Thai salads and soup for the rest of my life!Tom Kha Gai, Thai Masterstrokes ,Neung Roi, Radisson Blu Plaza Delhi More praise was due to be heaped when the dessert appeared! Tub Tim Krob was remarkably light and good! Water chestnut + coconut milk + jasmine = pure heaven! Such delicate flavours, so satisfying. Not too sweet too. It was the perfect end to the perfect masterclass and meal! We also tried a pumpkin dessert Fugtong Chum, which comprised of candied pumpkin and was beautifully presented again. That was quite sweet for me, yet was a hit with some others on the table!

Thai Masterstrokes ,Neung Roi, Radisson Blu Plaza Delhi Little wonder that Neong Roi, an award winning Thai restaurant, is so popular with it’s patrons. It’s a true labour of love and passion. The chef and her team are really passionate about what they do, and have got it right all the way! A masterclass @ Rs2000 with such a wonderful set of dishes taught, and then to get to eat them as a meal too is worth every penny, or rather paisa.

Thai Masterstrokes ,Neung Roi, Radisson Blu Plaza DelhiThe fact that the class was packed and the students were there seated before time is testimony to how popular it is. It’s worth mentioning that seats are limited and that means quality! Thank you Radisson Blu Delhi was hosting us so wholeheartedly! We loved being there!

Cooking | Thai Chicken Mince, Broccoli & Pepper Salad {Larb Gai} #glutenfree #healthy #comfortfood

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

Thai Chicken Mince Salad | Larb Gai Thai Chicken Mince, Broccoli & Pepper Salad … bursting with fresh, summery flavour, it’s good warm and chilled too. People often ask me if I cook? Obvious question I guess when you see the blogs name with posts to match! However, I do cook. Everyday, and most meals are home made. Loads of chicken with loads of fresh herbs  … that’s our summer! Curries, salads, crispy filets, fajitas, quesadillas, fingers, sliders, wraps, burgers …Cooking chickenThe other day I saw a Thai Chicken Mince Salad drop into my inbox from Bee @ Rasa Malaysia. I didn’t get as far as seeing the recipe then, but the Lap Kai or Thai Chicken Mince Salad stayed in my head. One of those niggling things that you make you reach for pots and pans rather urgently.

herbs and peppersI had everything on hand and a basic recipe in my head. It’s a really simple recipe, inspired by a recipe from the Simple Thai Food Cookbook by talented Leela at She Simmers. The salad came together in a matter of minutes. It’s a great gluten free, low carb option for summer. I returned later to check the recipe on Rasa Malaysia aa knew mine would be radically different! It was.Thai Chicken Mince Salad Larb Gai This was my version of Larb Gai. It was different since Thai cooking uses a lot of galangal but my heart belongs to garlic. I also don’t like fish sauce so it doesn’t figure in my cooking. Larb Gai is often served with sticky rice, or roasted rice powder as in Leela’s recipe. I added some almond meal to soak up extra juices since that was what I had on hand!

Thai Chicken Mince Salad Larb GaiThe marriage of flavours and textures is nice. Sweet, spicy, fresh, exciting. Above all, easy to stir up. Don’t forget to add the roasted rice or almond meal… the nuttiness is addictive. Serve as soon as you stir it up  … in crisp lettuce leaves or with a crisp salad on the side. The ‘now almost off to college teen‘ loved it cold too!

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Dessert | Dragon fruit & Strawberry Christmas Jelly … Merry Xmas

“Christmas, here again. Let us raise a loving cup:
Peace on earth, goodwill to men,
And make them do the washing up”
Wendy Cope

Dragon fruit & Strawberry Christmas Jelly Dragon fruit & Strawberry Christmas Jelly … these were plenty fun to make and absolutely delicious {if I may so so myself}. Couldn’t think of a better way to ring in the bells, to colour our world with the red, white & green. They seemed so right!!

Dragon fruit & Strawberry Christmas JellyThat they turned out goblet scraping good was an added bonus. Everyone, young & old, loved them. The kids begged for seconds. And thirds. Goblets, glasses, shooters. All fun!Tropical Coconut Milk Rice Pudding Remember my very recent the Tropical Coconut Milk Rice Pudding with Thai fruit? These jellies were what I had in mind initially, yet the rice pudding came first. This a little later. Both eggless and both held their own spot in the dessert world. While I fell in love with the colours of the former, the latter played some more magic. Kid sorta magic!

Tropical Coconut Milk Rice Pudding

Dragon fruit & Strawberry Christmas Jelly Of course the Dragon fruit & Strawberry Christmas Jelly dessert is inspired. Inspired by the Strawberry and Vanilla Macaron Trifles I made in Dec 2010 adapted minimally from a Donna Hay recipe. They were absolute crowd pleasers then. The story the same this year as well.

Strawberry Vanilla Macaron TrifleThe magic lies in the beauty and simplicity of the fruit juice jelly with suspended fresh fruit within. One look at the dragon fruit, the black and white contrast, and the luscious strawberries in the fridge … and a small voice in my head said “Why not? Why ever not?”

Dragon fruit & Strawberry Christmas Jelly So to keep with the flavours, I did a mixed jelly … litchi juice for the dragon fruit and cranberry juice for the strawberries. How good can good get? The result was fab. I know because I could hear the goblets being scraped clean. Thankfully there was plenty.

Dragon fruit & Strawberry Christmas Jelly There is nothing like glassware to set jelly in. I used a variety of glassware just because I wasn’t in the mood for monotony. I used brandy goblets, stemmed glasses and a few shot glasses too. I think stemless brandy glasses would work well too. Or maybe these beauties from Urban Dazzle which are one of my favourites.

Dragon fruit & Strawberry Christmas Jelly The dessert needs a little pre-planning. Since there are two flavours of jelly, one needs to set first, then the other follows. I was a bit impatient so the colours merged a little. No issues though. They still tasted brilliant. I think I managed one a little closer to how I would have liked them all to be.

Dragon fruit & Strawberry Christmas Jelly Dressing up the jellies is the fun part. Pipe over some barely sweetened low fat pillowy soft cream {I used an Ikea funnel}, garnish with colourful fruit, add a sprig of fresh mint … and go HO HO HO!!

Dragon fruit & Strawberry Christmas Jelly

Have a safe, delicious and fun holiday season. Joyeux Noël dear readers, Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas 2013

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