Cooler | Phalsa Berry Sharbat – ‘Blendit’ like Vikas Khanna #summer #cooler #inseason #kitchenaidindia

“The more you know, the more you can create. There’s no end to imagination in the kitchen.”
Julia Child

Phalsa ka Sharbat Phalsa Berry Sharbat … the much dreaded ‘loo‘ or hot summer winds, dry and dust laden, sweep across the plains of North India. Summer here becomes intolerable at times, with ‘fry eggs on the sidewalk‘ like temperatures threatening your very existence! Then along come some of the best fruit that nature has to offer … and life becomes worthwhile again! This Phalsa Berry Sharbat helps you survive…

Phalsa ka Sharbat With a slew of summer fruit now being offloaded by the truckloads, we could not have asked for more. Red, luscious, juicy cherries, mangoes falling off hand carts, watermelons piled sky high on roadsides, peaches just about beginning to surface, Indian java plums too. And then the phalsa berry, a beautiful, tangy, astringent much awaited native Indian berry!

Phalsa, Grewia asiatica Packed with vitamin C and antioxidants, this humble little berry, Grewia asiatica, brings alive childhood nostalgia. Back then, almost 40 years ago, the silent afternoon would be pierced by the shrill cry of the ‘phalsa wala‘. You’d find him with a wicker basket, topped with a very wet gunny bag which he gently peeled back to reveal the precious little berries. The very fragile and perishable phalsa would change hands for a few pennies. Washed gently and tossed in rock salt, we would hungrily suck them, trying to extract the most from the almost impoverished looking fruit.

Phalsa ka SharbatSometimes if we were lucky enough, we would be rewarded with phalsa ka sharbat! It was pain staking to make and a special treat. Life is a little easier now, with gadgets that make life in the kitchen a breeze. Just one sip of this amazing cooler, in colours that uplift the soul,  memories of a quintessential part of Indian summer comes alive! Sharbats or ‘fruit and flower based coolers‘ are the answer to the beat the heat!

Kitchenaid Blendappetit  with Vikas Khanna Hymns from the Soil This takes me to the launch of the KitchenAid Pro Line Cordless Hand Blender in association with Masterchef Vikas Khanna in Delhi. The launch is a part of multi city #Blendappetit Tour spanning across India starting from May 20, 2014. While, the cordless blender is a unique, first of its kind, versatile product, it comes with an ultimate experience of ‘anytime anywhere’ blending.

Kitchenaid Blendappetit  with Vikas Khanna Hymns from the Soil This new blender from Kitchenaid India is a magic machine, ergonomically designed, a thing of beauty. It comes equipped with a rechargeable 12V lithium ion battery which gives it the power to perform efficiently. The super blender can blend, mix, whisk, chop, froth, puree, shred and whip up anything in a flash.

Kitchenaid Blendappetit  with Vikas Khanna Hymns from the Soil The very sweet and charming Vikas {I was fortunate enough to shoot with him recently} blended a lip smacking good kiwi smoothie from his new book.  The chef was affable as ever; entertaining, engaging, humourous! He connected instantly with the expectant crowd and soon had the gathering mesmerised. Ripples of laughter flooded the studio in Gurgaon with Vikas holding court, spinning out one anecdote after another. Stories of his home, his mother & grandmother, his inspirations, his journey from cooking a Rs 20 meal in Punjab to a Rs 20 lakh meal for Obama … yet humble and grounded as ever, a philosopher at heart!Kitchenaid Blendappetit  with Vikas Khanna Hymns from the Soil The afternoon witnessed the launch of his book- .Hymns from the Soil, his first book on Indian vegetarian food and a tribute to Mother Earth. It is full of nostalgic tales of his childhood, and in many ways ‘our childhood’. The ‘mitti ki khushboo‘ or the smell of the wet soil, planting his own vegetable patch, the vegetable vendors with fresh vegetables, seasons that spelt fresh produce {unlike now when you almost get everything round the year} … a touching evocative connect with the soil of the land. The book is beautifully written, with stunning pictures and recipes that call your name.

Phalsa ka Sharbat With so much talk of the connect of the earth, including the shrill call of the vendor that pierced the afternoon silence then, it’s a good time to share this recipe. I make the Phalsa Berry Sharbat every year, changing the recipe as I evolve, always in panic like the berries might disappear or go out of fashion. The phalsa season is a short one here just through May and June. Juicing these in my Thermomix is a breeze … which is why I make this quite often.

Phalsa ka Sharbat 6Phalsa ka Sharbat Not sure if taste buds change as the years go by, or the flood of flavours available and sugar laden options in packaged juices snatch simple pleasure away. Maybe it’s the slightly astringent aftertaste, but unfortunately, this isn’t the kids favourite sharbat. The boy loves his aam panna or raw mango sharbat, the daughter her cranberry juice. Thankfully both also love the daily fresh watermelon juice & smoothies.

Phalsa ka SharbatThe Phalsa Berry Sharbat takes the summer heat away, refreshes the soul, gives you a generous dose of vitamin C and antioxidants … what more can you ask for in these ‘oven like’ months? Oh yes, and if it takes you on a trip down memory lane, that’s even better! I’m loving it!!

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

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Food for thought | What’s the one kitchen appliance you couldn’t live without?

“I put the kitch into kitchen.”
Nigella Lawson

Kitchen appliancesI have a confession to make: I love baking. Bit of an understatement? I love doing things from scratch and pushing my own boundaries to get creative in the kitchen. A recent post I did for the Home Bakers Guild got me thinking. There I talked about my passion for baking and the ingredients I enjoy using. Today my mind went a step further … What’s the one kitchen appliance you couldn’t live without?

Baking ingredientsThose who know me know that I don’t have a sweet tooth. My joy lies more in the making than in the devouring. Without my kitchen and my favourite kitchen utensils, would I be able to create the same great food? Would I find baking therapeutic? The answer’s probably no. AmulPerhaps I’ve grown so used to working with them I take my beloved kitchen appliances for granted, and a  tribute to my favourite and much-loved cooking tools is never too late! Do you have favourites? Other than my heavy duty machines, these are 2 things I often turn to on a daily basis. Irish Creme Chocolate Cakes with an Irish Creme Caramel Sauce

 Sieve

One of the most popular kitchen appliances, some people only use a sieve when they need to strain vegetables, rice or pasta. However, for a baker like me, a sieve can make all the difference between a bad cake and a good cake. Actually I think it holds the key to macarons too. Think sieve, think airy, light and dreamy!

Blood Orange Macarons with Maple Orange Chocolate Pastry CremeLearning that I had to sieve flour to make cakes that not only looked good, but also had a light and fluffy consistency whilst tasting great was probably one of the first lessons I ever learned in the kitchen. Have you ever had a cake that hasn’t had some of the ingredients sieved? I’ve made the mistake once, and I can safely say it’s not very nice! Coffee Chocolate Mascarpone Layered Cake It’s better to play safe … and bake yummy!! Did I forget to add that a sieve is also handy for a quick dusting of icing sugar or cocoa powder to finish off a cake? That’s why I love my sieve.

Hand Mixer

Swedish Prinsesstårta, princess cupcakes Years ago, I used to mix my cake mixture by hand. In the beginning it was kinda fun, had the promise of stronger and leaner arms, but it was very tiring. The lean arms didn’t happen of course!!

Oven Roasted Plum & Almond Cakes Julia Child 500My first hand mixer arrived as a birthday present from my husband who heard me whine quite a bit about the woes of hand mixing and elbow grease issues! It changed the way I have baked since that day. In my early years of baking, this was one good piece of advice I handed out to new bakers especially in India. It makes mixing ingredients together so much easier, quicker and it’s a lot more fun to do too!

Hyatt Chef Maurizio Masterclass I remember the Italian chef at a Masterclass at the Hyatt whipping up egg whites to stiff peaks in seconds with a HUGE bowl and a balloon whisk. I just gaped. Tried to emulate him, and can safely say I was back to the hand mixer really soon. One press of the button and it’s like magic!

Food photographsYou can see how much these mean to me, two appliances that I couldn’t live without. If I didn’t have them in my kitchen, then I truly believe that baking wouldn’t have been the cake walk it currently is!! So, which kitchen appliances can’t you live without? Do you have favourites?

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


Frozen Dessert | Strawberry Quark Ice Cream … have a refreshing Easter! #icecream #froyo #healthy #frozen #summer

“Ice cream is happiness condensed.” Jessi Lane Adams

Strawberry Quark Ice CreamStrawberry Quark Ice Cream … what a wonderful way to celebrate summer. I made this a week ago to use up the bags of strawberries I had frozen just before we left for Srinagar. I had frozen some left over quark as well and it worked wonderfully in this ice cream. So delicious that I had made several batches since, with plans to make more! Srinagar, Kashmir KahwaSrinagar was STUNNING! From near zero temperatures and sweet fragrant Kashmiri tea ‘kahwa’, from natural beauty that would blow your mind away, a city as beautiful as no city I have seen before, a people so hospitable. From ‘paradise on earth’ as it is so rightly called, we landed in Delhi in sweltering heat. IT WAS HOT!! Strawberry Quark Ice Cream It’s truly summer in the plains of North India, though we had some mild respite by way of thundershowers  yesterday. Still at 40C and counting, it’s promises to be a sizzling season ahead. For times like this, what can be better than a refreshing and beautifully coloured ice cream. Strawberry Quark Ice Cream We don’t grow blueberries or raspberries locally here, but I bet this will make a wonderful ice cream paired with any juicy seasonal berry. This was the first time I used brown mineral sugar in an ice cream paired with fruit. One spoon and another later, I wondered why I had never done it before? I went on to lick the bowl clean…and knew I had a winner here! Strawberry Quark Ice Cream

HAPPY EASTER!

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



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