How sweet

Rose water and vanilla cupcake with chocolate and sea salt ganache

Chocolate blends with sea salt like Avril Lavigne and her high notes. Be it dark or sweet – salt cuts through the saccharinity in a way that it is hard to tell. The key is to use just a sprinkle, not going overboard and staying on the edge – for an edgy taste.

Today, I used a pinch of sea salt to spruce up my regular chocolate ganache. Unlike refined salt, sea salt leaves a  heavy, rustic taste when combined with chocolate.

The rest of the cupcake is infused with mild flavours such as vanilla and rose water. Continue reading

Crêpe of good hope

Whole wheat crêpes stuffed with thyme seasoned winter squash ragout

Paper thin sheet with a soft centre and crispy outside, is my idea of a perfect crêpe. Whether it is sweet or savoury, the above three criteria need to be met.

Since I am a vegetarian, the tough job was to find an eggless recipe that gave a flawless result. After months of working with several yolk alternatives (butter, whisked yogurt, cornflour and what not), I concocted something of my own. A simple, five-ingredient recipe that gives a result closest to my idea of an ideal crêpe.

The recipe is versatile, which means you can add sugar for sweet crepes and salt for savoury. The filling can range from creamy mushroom, spinach and ricotta to basil-strawberries and apple-cinnamon.  Once in a while, you can even spoil yourself by swapping whole wheat with all-purpose flour.

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Looks like a tart

Basil, bell pepper and two cheese tartlet

I’m a cheese friend. Sometimes it takes just a tiny piece of emmental or grainy parmesan to calm my craving and sometimes I go all the way with a four cheese pizza.

Out of all cheeses, smooth cream cheese ranks very high on my comfort meter. On a normal day you will find me slathering  spoonfuls on hot baguette  slices. And when mid-night hunger pangs need to be battled, I eat it straight out of the tube.

Today, I used it to make an eggless tartlet. The cream cheese, heavy cream and milk mixture, forms an emulsion that is good enough to bind all the ingredients together without the usage of eggs.

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Raising the bar

 Ferrero Rocher bars

First things first. I’m happy (actually euphoric) to share with my readers that I’m now a blogger for Vogue, India. Last week, I got an invitation from their team to join the website’s blogger programmee.  In true Vogue style, the girls sent me a few badges to choose from (in case something didn’t co-ordinate with my website’s background).  I picked the one in brilliant yellow and just like that, I am now a blogger for Vogue.

Because all good things are incomplete without chocolate, I made something to for us to celebrate with.

Ferrero Rocher is something that I’ve been obsessed with ever since I school. When visiting cousins got me a box of this spherical chocolate from abroad, I made frequent trips to the refrigerator under the guise of drinking cold water. And within a day or two, a box of sixteen would magically disappear.

Now, Rochers are easily available in my city, but I still feel that joy when I throw open the golden, crinkled wrapper. The whoosh of hazelnut cream is almost addictive and I always secretly wished that it came with a little more.

Today, I set my own Rochers in bar form and to fulfil that little wish (on a good day like this), I  slathered them generously with smooth hazelnut cream.  Continue reading

Bean talk

Red bean hummus with falafel and chilled yogurt-garlic sauce

Out of all the things I eat in excess, I never feel guilty about indulging in hummus. They say that chickpea is good for your skin and that is an excuse enough to polish off tub-fuls. Even though pita bread goes with hummus like nothing else – salty chips and sesame-speckled lavash are my good friends too.

Today, I gave chickpeas a ditch and went for red beans instead (good for your hair).

Unlike hummus that is sparingly flavoured with basil leaves, red pepper, kalamata olives, pumpkin puree, peanut butter and other lovely flavours, this hummus bursts of just one flavour. Continue reading

Mad baker’s tea party

Chocolate and jalapeño brownies with sticky toffee cheese fondue

There are days when I adore subtle flavours that loiter around for a few seconds and make a quick exit. Like a pulpy, pink strawberry icecream or a lemon sorbet. At one moment you feel the burst of fruit and the other, there is only that calming coolness. And there are days when strong, lingering flavours, catch my fancy – like a cold wasabi or basil icecream.

Today, I wanted something of the later kind. When I mixed jalapeño with my regular brownie batter, the result was quite fascinating. At first, the brown, innocuous pieces seemed just like another cake – chocolaty and sweet. But a few seconds after biting into its gooey exterior, a jolt of zingy jalapenos shakes your palate. Since the flavour refuses to budge, I tamed it with a sticky toffee cheese fondue. Continue reading

But naturally

Organic spinach and carrot flavoured fusilli with prune and lemongrass dressing

I’ve often imaged myself in knee high gumboots, wading through my personal vegetable patch, looking for the perfect piece of fresh tomato. I would someday like to dress up my salad with herbs that have been plucked from my own garden and roast crunchy carrots that have been unearthed minutes before they go into the oven.

Since I am far from ploughing my own patch, I often hit the weekly organic market where I can get my hands on locally grown vegetables and other goodies.

The whole idea of organic food fascinates me. Natural, unprocessed food that has not been through any drama has such a wholesome taste and texture. It manages to have a real taste that can never be found otherwise.

Recently, I visited an all-organic store in the neighbourhood city and got myself a packet of spinach and carrot flavoured pasta, among other things. Since the pasta had an obvious wheat flavour, I dressed it with a sweet and sour prune and lemongrass salad dressing.  Continue reading

Dumpling ground

Water chestnut, shitake and edamame dimsums with honey, garlic and chilli sauce

I’m not big on Asian food, but when I crave for certain textures and flavours, I happily give in. I believe that no cuisine does justice to the energy of lemon grass, the denseness of tofu, the woodiness of bamboo shoots and the peculiar bite of bean curd, like Asian.

One such ingredient that blends extremely well with Asian fare is water chestnut. Personally, I always end up popping them one by one, as if they were popcorn or something. The burst of sweet juice is so addictive.

Today, I stir fried them with two ingredients that I absolutely adore for their texture – edamame beans and shitake mushrooms. I stuffed them in dim sum wrappers and served it with a hot and sweet sauce.  Continue reading

Meet my roll model

Basil oil sprayed zucchini rolls stuffed with mint and pepper Greek yogurt


I have two rules when it comes to working with herbs. One is that I like to tear them roughly instead of chopping them up finely. I feel that this helps the flavours shine more brightly.

 And second, I avoid mixing more than two herbs unless my recipe absolutely demands it. What would a Thai green curry be if I had to choose between lemon grass and kafir lime leaves?

 Since most herbs have a strong flavour of their own, it would be unfair to cut it down with something equally strong. Today, while making a cold appetizer, I let go my rule number two and mixed together mint and basil. Since the recipe uses just one herb at a time and does not muddle them together, the sweetness of the basil and the coolness from mint came out just right. Continue reading

Over the top cooking

Steamed and stacked vegetables with leek and saffron sauce

Although I’m not a salad person, crunchy vegetables are my weakness. Whether I’m having pasta or a chunky soup, I’m always fishing for crunchy bits of carrots, artichokes, water chestnuts, French beans, broccoli or whatever it is, that has a noisy bite.

I respect recipes that manage to bring out the perfect balance of smoothness and crunchiness in one simple dish. Considering I spend hours looking for that flawlessly, crisp piece of bell pepper or aubergine, carefully puncturing all sides to ensure firmness, I better get to eat just that.

Today, I combined a few crunchy vegetables with a creamy sauce to make that balanced-out dish. Continue reading