book review

‘Going green has never been so deliciously exciting. Bon Apetit…’
Farhan Akhtar

Roasted Red Bell Pepper & Broccoli Salad, Vicky Goes VegRoasted Red Bell Pepper & Broccoli Salad from Vicky Goes Veg. Everything about the book is colourful, fresh, exciting, full of flavour and vegetarian of course! It’s an exciting new book by Chef Vicky Ratnani and holds a LOT of promise. Vegetarianism is no longer considered ‘second food. Slowly but surely vegetarian centric cookbooks are appearing on bookshelves, grabbing eyeballs as they do so!Vicky Goes Veg @ The Palms, GurgaonWe were hosted by Harper Collins & Nachiketa at the lush and beautiful ‘The Palms‘, Gurgaon for the book launch. Vicky Ratnani has infectious energy, is animated and absolutely passionate about food. I was fortunate to meet him in Jan last year at a tea & food pairing session, and it certainly was a pleasure to meet him again.Vicky Goes Veg, The Palms,.Gurgaon

Vicky Goes Veg He held fort by the poolside under the blazing setting sun, which shouldn’t have been quite so blazing in Mid March … but was! Sporting that he is, he didn’t blink an eyelid, no complaints nothing. He was there well before the guests began to arrive and after a short delay {thanks to the TV crew}, he fired up!

Eggplant & Bok Choy in Sambal, Vicky Goes VegSauteing, chatting, sharing tips and trivia and a load of his passion, he held the attention of the select audience. As he stirred up magic, we were served the same from the kitchen alongside. The flavours blew us away! Who wants to eat non vegetarian food if vegetarian food can be so exciting. Not me!! The Braised Plantain with Thai spices was out of the world good, as was the Eggplant & Bok choy in sambal.

Local produceI love the energy throughout the book. It entices you to ‘try’ something different. I also love that Vicky has stuck to the concept of  sourcing local produce, something that makes the locavore in me do a merry dance. The photographs that liberally colour the pages are a journey of the food chain in India including the merchants and the local bazaars.

Carrots,beets, home grown 2Vicky is often seen arm in arm with the guys who matter … yes, those who grow, deliver and sell local produce. It’s refreshing to see so much space dedicated to the local sabziwala i.e. vegetable vendors. The recipes in the book are unique, hail from across the world but come with an Indian twist, all green and fresh!

Roasted Red Bell Pepper & Broccoli Salad, Vicky Goes Veg The good thing is that Vicky encourages you to think out of the box, constantly innovate and evolve. He offers his book as a stepping stone for new ideas in vegetarian cooking, and tells you to be fearless. If you don’t have this, use that. There’s plenty of trivia tucked within that makes the book even more interesting. One downside is that the number of portions or ‘servings’ aren’t specified.
Roasted Red Bell Pepper & Broccoli Salad, Vicky Goes Veg So I set off to make the Roasted Red Bell Pepper & Broccoli Salad.  Of course, my heart followed his advice and my recipe meandered off as I was short on time. I didn’t blend the dressing, only whisked it. Substituted apricots for walnuts, simplified the dressing a bit. I also made Stromboli from the book which disappeared too quick!

If you’d like to win a copy of the book, VICKY GOES VEG, please leave a comment below telling me which your favourite vegetarian dish from across the globe is. Please be sure to leave a valid email address so I can contact you. This giveaway is open to residents of India, or anyone with an Indian mailing address. {Giveaway sponsored by Harper Collins}


Recipe: Roasted Red Bell Pepper & Broccoli Salad 

your picture

Summary: Summary Info Goes Here

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes

  • Salad
  • 1 red bell pepper, roasted
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, roasted
  • 1 big head of broccoli, cut into florets
  • 1 broccoli stem, peeled, thinly sliced
  • Salt to season
  • A pinch of cracked black pepper
  • A few spigs of thyme
  • 2tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup fresh coriander leaves
  • Dressing
  • 2 cloves of garlic, cut into chips
  • 2tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 a white onion, sliced
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • Salt to taste
  • Pepper to taste
  • 1 spring onion, cut into 3cm long batons
  • 4-5 dried apricots


  1. Season the bell peppers, broccoli florets and stems with salt, pepper, thyme and olive oil {I blanched the broccoli for 2 minutes first and then plunged it into ice cold water}
  2. Cut the bell peppers into strips
  3. Fry the garlic in olive oil, and allow to cool and crisp. Resreve the garlic flavoured oil for the dressing.
  4. Dressing
  5. Saute the white onion in the garlic oil. Deglaze with red wine vinegar. Transfer into a bowl to bln it to a dressing.
  6. Season with salt and pepper. Add the oriander leaves including their juicy stems. Whizz to blend to a smooth, sour, creamy, garlicky dressing.
  7. Mix the spring onion batons and apricots along witht he broccoli and peppers. Spoon the dressing over the veggies. Garnish with the fried garlic chips.
  8. Yum! Toss all the veggies along with the dressing. Chill before serving.


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

“At home I serve the kind of food I know the story behind.”
Michael Pollan

Banoffee PieBanoffee Pie … it was the first ever banoffee I truly loved. Indulgent. Addictive. Impressive. More impressive as the recipe comes from 16 year old Oraya, the youngest baker in the Sood family. She’s firmly booked her spot in the ‘The Sood Family Cookbook‘ and her dessert sang out loud.Food tasting of “Pahaadi Khaaana” from the Sood Family Cookbook by Aparna Jain

Food tasting of “Pahaadi Khaaana” from the Sood Family Cookbook by Aparna Jain 3It was a winner at the lunch I will talk about in a bit. I had a slice. Then, guilt ridden after a virtual food marathon, I reached out for a second helping. I am not a banana person, but this was different. I got home and HAD to put one together for the family. Unfortunately, things got delayed. A lot.

Mumbai Dec 2013Went to Mumbai for a cookshow shoot {it’s under wraps at the moment} for 2 days, stayed on for 4. It was a memorable experience. Met up with food blogger friends. Ate every bit of Mumbai street food we could find. Was part of a fantastic team. We eventually shot all night long, a’night duty‘ after a long 19 years as Mr PAB messaged. My years in the airlines came alive again…

Banoffee PieBack home and I hit the ground running. The Sood Family Cookbook on my list of things to do {read cook from}. As I flew in, the husband flew out on work emergency. He somewhat managed to fly back just in time to take junior to Hongkong for a short vacation. This was dessert to celebrate!!

Food tasting of “Pahaadi Khaaana” from the Sood Family Cookbook by Aparna Jain Rich, indulgent, addictive and made with simple pantry ingredients, Banoffee Pie comes together easily. I baked the biscuit crust as a matter of habit {read I bake everything; well almost!}, but it’s great sans baking. This  is one of the many recipes that makes Aparna’s ‘from the heart cookbook a star.

Banoffee Pie Condensed milk is the main {read finger licking good} ingredient here. You can make the toffee as in the recipe below. There is an alternative if you have a pressure cooker {which is pretty much standard in Indian kitchens}, and aren’t terrified of the thing exploding as I used to be at one time. It works well. 

Banoffee PiePlace the tin {I do 2-3 together to save time and energy} in a pressure cooker, cover with water and place on heat until the steam comes out. Put the weight on once the steam builds up. After whistle number 1, reduce heat to minimum and allow to cook for 30 minutes. {or 40 like me if you want it really thick}. Turn off heat, allow tin to cool. Use as required.

Food tasting of “Pahaadi Khaaana” from the Sood Family Cookbook by Aparna Jain About the book now. A family cookbook is a celebration in itself, a concept as comforting as it is interesting. The value a community adds to a cookbook is huge; a family adds even more! The Sood Family Cookbook offers an absorbing mix {of recipes and food memories}, a potpourri as varied as the mind can envisage. I LOVE the design and layout.

Food tasting of “Pahaadi Khaaana” from the Sood Family Cookbook by Aparna Jain Aparna writes it well, a connect runs through the book. Stories come alive as you read through it. It’s interesting how her life criss crosses with that of the audience in different situations. We’ve all been through the nostalgia, the missing ‘taste of home’, the calling family at odd hours for a recipe, the childhood taste that lingers forever …

The Sood Family Cookbook by Aparna JainWith a post grad degree in hospitality, Aparna has literally had a finger in every pie. From Silicon Valley, to Cosmopolitan and Good Housekeeping, to the now somewhat clouded Tehelka, she has an intriguing background. Vibrant, warm and passionate,  she played the perfect host!

Food tasting of “Pahaadi Khaaana” from the Sood Family Cookbook by Aparna Jain It was a delicious experience to be part of the launch that beautiful Sunday morning. The warmth and connect embraced you as you entered. With the whole family rallying behind the cookbook, it was difficult not to notice how food excites them.

Food tasting of “Pahaadi Khaaana” from the Sood Family Cookbook by Aparna Jain Everyone had a food story to share, each one brimming with nostalgia about the journey of the book, proud to be part of the book. Recipes were discussed, ingredients shared, pahaadi khaana accorded its deserved status …

Food tasting of “Pahaadi Khaaana” from the Sood Family Cookbook by Aparna Jain Lunch offered dishes straight out of the book cooked by the Sood family. The food was finger licking good food. Each recipe as different and special as the book promises is testimony to how good a cookbook it is. Some of my favourites … crispy bhindi, ghee roast, pahadi mutton {a winner}, pahaadi madra, pahaadi mani, pahaadi hara namak, shrimp biryani. And of course Oraya’s Banoffee Pie!

[print_this]Recipe:Banoffee Pie
your picture

Summary: Rich, indulgent, addictive, this simple Banoffee Pie {banana + toffee} will win your heart over.

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes {plus toffee making time}

  • 1 tin condensed milk {sweetened} 400g
  • 15 digestive biscuits {or Marie}
  • 6 tbsp butter, soft
  • 2 bananas, chopped
  • 1/2 tbsp salt
  • 1 cup cream {for whipping} or canned whipping cream


  1. In a large pan that has a tight lid, place the tin of condensed milk, and cover it with water. Ensure that the water covers it. Heat for 1 1/2 hours. {Refer David Lebovitz’s post}
  2. In the interim, crush the biscuits with the butter. Mix well.
  3. In an 8″ non stick pie pan, push the butter and digestive mixture down to the base of the pan to form a crust.
  4. Now cut the bananas into slices and layer the base completely with them.
  5. Once the condensed milk is ready, open the tin carefully after cooling. It should have turned into a beautiful caramelized toffee-coloured semi-solid mix called Dulce de Leche.
  6. Mix the salt in and spread over the bananas to form the topmost layer.
  7. Top with whipped cream.


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

“Each individual has a unique food personality. The key is finding the balance point at which you feel great and are healthy.”
Rachel Frank

Red Berry CrumblesRed Berry Crumbles from a chick lit cookbook. A youthful, racy, around the world in 80 recipes cookbook with a catch to every name. The Tadka girls who blog at Tadka Pasta present fresh and imaginative recipes from their repertoire of travelling the globe. From the bylanes of Shanghai to the farmers market of Santa Monica, they leave no stone unturned. Their experiments in different cuisines have a personal touch … the inimitable Indian Tadka style of their own kitchen.

Red Berry CrumblesRanjini Rao and Ruchira Ramanujan offer you flavours galore, sometimes quirky enough to make you sit up. Real life stories accompany each recipe, setting the scene and connect that make the book more interesting. At times however, the written word tends to get cumbersome. You want to get to the recipe quick.

Red Berry CrumblesWith the book nicely divided into interesting sections – like bites n brews, sweet treats, signature tadka, funnibles etc, there’s plenty in it for everyone. The Red Berry Crumbles was a recipe I enjoyed. Good for an everyday dessert. Go a step further, perk it up a little and make it special for the holiday season!

Red Berry Crumbles The layout and design of the book is something I like; the simple scrapbook layout which adds to the appeal. Not overpowering, yet aesthetic. Notes with almost every recipe are quite welcome. It is thoughts like this that make a difference!

Red Berry CrumblesWhat should I try first from the book? I thought I’d hand it out to junior. NOT something sweet I ‘gently suggested’ {read instructed}! He came back within minutes mumbling Red Berry Crumble. When I said there aren’t the sort of local berries here that we you see in the book, he was quick to retort … they say you can use strawberries! Kids grow up faster than you can imagine. Smarter too. “I checked the ingredients,” he said.

Red Berry Crumbles At times the recipe title font {and dual headings} confuse. Different fonts and different header designs salt and pepper the book. I think fun stuff like this is possibly targeted at the younger reader, new adventurous cooks in the kitchen. The recipes infuse new life into old classics, a pinch of chaat masala here, a tadka there!

Red Berry CrumblesMultigrain tortillas, DIY Oatnut bread, green chutney pesto, cawliflower soup, Tadka’s own chicken curry, chocolate bark, sundried tomato and herb crackers, Tadka style baklava dessert … yumminess aplenty. An African touch here, a Persian footprint there. Interesting indeed!

Red Berry Crumbles The Red Berry Crumbles offer a burst of colour, texture and fun! They bring alive the holiday season. A crumble is right up our street. This looked and smelt fab as it stepped out of the oven! I added some extra fruit to accommodate an extra serving. I also substituted the plain flour in the crumble topping with whole wheat flour.

Red Berry Crumbles That’s just how crumbles are … very accomodating and simmering in rustic goodness. In a few recipes, I find some basic standardisation missing. It’s best to either go with cup measurements or weight. A combination of the two in the same recipe makes me want to retype and correct!

Red Berry Crumbles A serving of light cream on the side, or some ice cream as suggested by the girls, will dress up this simple weekday dessert for guests. I think you can assemble it in advance and pop it into the oven about an hour before dinner! The red juices that spill out of the ramekins will win you over!!

Red Berry CrumblesThe crumble was delicious. The flavours paired beautifully. We loved it!! You could use frozen berries if you like! I threw in some frozen mulberries too. I leave you to dive into the recipe, while I go to explore the book some more!

Before I sign off I’d like to thank Praveen for including Passionate About Baking in the list of the Top Indian Food Blogs of 2013. I am honoured to be part of the list. Humbled too!

[print_this]Recipe: Red Berry Crumbles 
your picture

Summary: A bubbly dessert which is sweet, tart and even mildly spiced. This rustic red berry crumble is a melange of flavours and textures from Around the World with the Tadka Girls

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes

  • The Berry filling
  • Juice of 1/2 orange
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped orange zest
  • 1 tbsp all -purpose flour
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • A dash of chaat masala powder
  • 12 strawberries {fresh or frozen, {do not thaw}
  • 100g raspberries or blueberries
  • The crumble topping
  • 1/3 cup maida {I used whole wheat flour & it worked just fine}
  • 60g cold, unsalted butter, diced
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • A pinch of salt
  • 2 tbsp oats
  • 2 tbsp chopped walnuts


  1. The berry filling
  2. Stir together the orange juice, zest, flour sugar, salt and chat masala in a medium sized bowl.
  3. Slice the strawberries and mix gently with the other ingredients in the bowl.
  4. Set aside while you prepare the crumble
  5. The crumble topping
  6. Place all the ingredients except the walnuts, in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse a few times till the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
  7. Refrigerate till it’s ready to go into the oven
  8. To assemble the crumble
  9. Preheat the oven to 190C
  10. Divide the berry filling into four buttered ramekins, or use a larger baking dish
  11. Sprinkle the topping evenly on top of the filling.
  12. Scatter the chopped walnuts over the filling.
  13. Bake in the centre of the preheated oven for 30-35 minutes. The tops will be browned crisp and the berry juies might bubble over slightly.
  14. Bring the crumble over to the table, and serve while it is still hot from the oven.


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

Please wait...

Subscribe to my newsletter

Want to be notified when the article is published? Do enter your email address and name below to be the first to know.
%d bloggers like this: