Sunday, August 23, 2015

Get crabby in your kitchen! Bombay Times Aug 13, 2015 edition

Koli-style Chimbori/Crabs in coconut masala

My recipe featured in Bombay Times Aug 13, 2015 print edition in an article titled 'Get crabby in your kitchen!' by Ismat Tahseen.

Here is the link for an online read. 

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Quoted in Man's World Magazine : Seafood Adventures

Kalyan Karmakar of quotes me in his article on Seafood Adventures in the Man's World magazine.

I am talking about octopuses and deep sea fishing on Page 60, August 20015 edition. I am off to get my copy now!

Monday, August 10, 2015

Call It Nougatine, Praline Or Chikki

To us Indians, nuts coated in sticky jaggery is Chikki, to the French it is Nougatine or Praline Yeah but if its French suddenly everything becomes a little superior eh?

Traditionally if you go by Larousse Gastronomique both Nougatine and Praline are made the same way. That is caramelizing sugar and then adding nuts to it and then rolling out sheets while hot. Yet there is a slight difference. Nougatine uses ground almonds and the sugar to almonds ratio is 2:1 whereas In Praline blanched and then toasted whole almonds are used and the sugar to almonds ratio is 1:1. Cakes made with Nougatine or Praline are known by these names where traditionally buttercream is flavored with it and then used for filling and frosting the cake. You saw my version of Nougatine and Custard Filled Cake in the last post on this blog.

I told you that you will be surprised at the Indian connection. So here we are making Indian Chikki or Nougatine or Praline. Yes both these French versions have gone beyond the almonds and are made with other nuts of choice and the Indian chikki has expanded its variety by using sugar.

The process is simple but handling caramel is tricky. Be warned that this recipe requires complete focus do not multitask when working on it. This warning is especially for women as we are big time multi-taskers.

200 gms sugar
200 gms coarsely chopped mixed nuts (I used cashew, almonds and pistachio)
1 teaspoon salted butter

In a wide pan measure out the sugar. Put it on medium heat and let the sugar start melting.

Meanwhile prepare the surface of the counter by lightly spreading butter on it.

Add the rest of the butter to the sugar to give it a hint of salt and smoothness. As the sugar melts completely keep stirring as it will foam up evenly. Let the sugar get a nice golden hue while you are stirring.

At this point add the coarsely chopped almonds, cashews and pistachios. Switch off the heat. Mix to evenly coat the nuts with the hot caramel. While this mix is still hot remove from heat and pour on the counter. Press down the mass. Oil a rolling pin and use it to thin out the Nougatine into a sheet.

Let it cool for a few minutes. Then cut up the sheet into pieces, cool completely.

The cut up pieces can be served as Chikki /candy. It is a fantastic energy booster post workout or when traveling to carry along in your handbag.

If you are planning to use it to flavor a Nougatine or Praline cake like I did here then you need to crush the pieces. These crushed pieces can be used as sprinkles on icecreams and other desserts.

Have fun making this candy treat and spread some sweetness around you by distributing some to friends.

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Nougatine and Custard Filled Cake

Months before my birthday we were discussing cakes, my foodie partner and I. There was a lot of drool-worthy description of a cake with a crunch that made me zero in on this cake that I wanted to bake for my birthday and as a special treat for the other.

I started looking around on the internet for a recipe but as I always do, my own take on it. Then just as I was confused about nougatine and praline my Larousse Gastronomique came to the rescue! As I was flipping the pages I read the sign off on it that said "India Food Network". I smiled at the timming. This encyclopedia of gastronomy was gifted at the IFBM2014 last year to all the participants. Mine was lying untouched until this reviewing of my collection of culinary books. Like I said it was perfect timming indeed, one never knows how connections are formed and life surprises us. I am now writting for IFN and here is my first post on How to eat like a Koli.
Sorry for digressing and lets get back to the recipe. I followed the recipes of Nougatine and Chocolate Genoese sponge from the Larousse Gastronomique yet made an eggless adaptation.  I decided to fill the cake with custard since a Parsi enjoys his custard and this cake if not a success wishing would atleast pass the finicky gourmand's test.

Well it did get a thumbs up from everyone who ate it. Infact it got the silence it deserves when one eats something so good. So here is the recipe. Be warned this is quite an labour intensive recipe and each component can be made as per convenience over days then assembled and chilled a day prior to the celebration you are planning.


For a single sponge
65gms butter
75 gms sugar
75 gms dark chocolate
160 ml whole milk
125 gms all purpose flour
1/2 tablespoon baking powder

For the Custard 
30gms of custard powder
500 ml milk 
50 gms sugar

For the Fresh Cream Frosting
2 packs of 200ml Amul fresh cream
1/2 cup sugar
1 lime, juiced 

For the Nougatine
Recipe to follow

Making the sponge
You need to bake two sponges with the given recipe as we are making a layered cake. Else you could double the quantities and make a single sponge and slice it horizontally. I am not perfect at the slicing so I made two sponges.

Preheat oven at 200 deg celcius. We are preheating at higher temperature to make the sponge rise quickly as soon as it goes into the oven.

Melt the butter. Grease a 9 inch cake tin with a little butter. 

In a heat proof bowl mix the sugar, dark chocolate, molten butter and whole milk. Put this bowl over a pan of hot but not boiling water and whisk till the dark chocolate it completely molten. Remove from heat and cool to room temp. Whisk again to aerate it.

Then in another big dry bowl whisk together the all purpose flour and baking powder. 

Fold the dry ingredients into the wet mix. Pour the batter into the prepared tin. Tap the cake tin on the counter to level the batter.

Bake at 180  deg celcius for 20 mins.

If you are making one single sponge increase the baking time by 5 mins. I also realised that using a 9 inch tin gave me a less thicker layer than I would have liked. It worked for this cake though since it is layered and has 2 layers of sponge.

Making the custard
In a bowl mix the custard powder with 50 ml milk to make a paste. Boil the rest of the 450 ml milk. Once sugar is melted add the custard powder paste to the boiling milk and keep stirring to avoid lumps. Add 50gms sugar at the end and cook for 2-3 mins. Let it cool to room temperature. 

Making Fresh Cream Frosting
The most important thing to do even before you start making the frosting is to chill the cream, freeze the bowl used for whisking and the whisks too. It is also good idea to freeze the sugar. 

Drain the chilled cream. To do this, wet a large handkerchief wring out the excess water. Place it over a sieve. Pour the chilled cream over it. Let is rest in the fridge for 30 mins. You will have nice thick cream.

Now in the freezed bowl add the thick cream and sugar and whisk for 5 mins. Then add the lime juice to the frosting and whip till stiff peaks are formed. The lime juice helps the cream to stay stiff and the citrusy flavour is just a slight trace almost unnoticeable. Keep this bowl of cream chilled till use.

Making the Nougatine 
It is very easy to make nougatine and there is an interesting thing that will surprise you if you are Indian. The process is tricky and therefore it requires a separate post. Watch out for it!

Chop or pound the Nougatine into small pieces. Don't worry if some is powdered, use it all.

Assembly and Decoration
Start by placing one sponge layer on the turn table to form a base. Then pour the prepared custard over the base. Spread it evenly. Sprinkle the nougatine generously over the custard. Place the second layer of sponge over the custard nougatine layer. 

Now add the whipped fresh cream frosting and spread it on the cake top and sides to give it a nice finish. Sprinkle the nougatine and some more very large heartedly on the top as this is the star component of this cake. 

Once assembled move it into a large platter or on to the cake stand for the final presentation. Chill in the fridge till you bring out the cake for the cutting.

I celebrated this birthday with AC and my cousin Akshay amidst some really cheerful singing the night prior. Since we were just three people I had a simple menu. We started off with potato waffers, salted cashews, Kaju katli and gauva nectar and after an hour dinner of Chana dal, Veg pulao, sweet lime juice and this cake.

After which we just talked and talked into the dawn...

On Trail