there’s always something cooking
Not too late to start
7COFFEES Single Origin
tried and tested at Cafe Coffee Day
THE ITALIAN CONNECTION
All about Delhi and real Italian food
e u ss
WINE CROWDSOURCED AT WESTIN, PUNE
L L A
i N A I L A T I
EDITORIAL & CREDITS
We’ve managed to bring out the magazine for a second month in a row, which hopefully is a harbinger of better things to come. We’re learning as we go, a quality I hope we never lose, as an organization. You’ll find therefore, that the layout is a little better than the last and that this issue has over one hundred photos and has a hundred pages, more than a 50% increase over the last one. Antara’s relentless poking resulted in our starting monthly wallpapers October onwards and the first one is ready for download from the website. It’s hosted at Flickr, so you should be able to download any size you want. It may not work with mobile resolutions, but give us enough demand and we’ll make that happen too. Finally, as you may have noticed, this issue is Italian with Chef Theodor Rudiferia featured on the cover. I’ve known Theo for a few years now and know him to be a warm person who loves spending time in the company of great people, wine and food. Doing an Italian issue with him therefore wasn’t an option - he is Italy for me.
THE CHEF AT LARGE TEAM FOUNDER & EDITOR SID KHULLAR ASSOCIATE EDITOR NATASHA ALI LISTINGS EDITOR PARUL PRATAP SHIRAZI RECIPE CURATOR NADEEM KHAN SUBJECT MATTER EXPERTS VINITA BHATIA (PUBLISHING) SANDEEP SRINIVASA (COFFEE) JASWINDER SINGH (WINE & SPIRITS) SPECIAL PROJECTS RITUPARNA MUKERJI SHRUTI ARORA
Thank you for all your feedback and emails for our first, the previous issue. Do keep the criticism coming!
REVIEW TEAM DELHI CHARIS ALFRED BHAGIANTHAN PARUL PRATAP SHIRAZI JASWINDER SINGH SANDEEP SRINIVASA
Stay well. Sid
MUMBAI VINITA BHATIA KETAN PANDIT
OTHER CREDITS On the cover is CHEF THEODOR RUDIFERIA Cover photo was taken by SID KHULLAR
BANGALORE NATASHA ALI
KOLKATA ANTARA RAY MEGHA JHUNJHUNWALA
AMRITA GILL http://amritavishal127.blogspot.in/
NEHA MATHUR http://www.whiskaffair.com/
ARCHITA RAY http://architashomecooking.blogspot.in/
RUCHIRA RAMANUJAM http://tadkapasta.wordpress.com/
KAMALIKA CHAKRABARTY http://silencesings.blogspot.in/
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MODERATORS ANTARA RAY MONA SHARMA KAPIL BAHL KAAJAL LAMBA NADEEM KHAN KETAN PANDIT
“CaL” with Fondant by Akbar Basha, a baker by profession and an awesome one at that.
CaLDRON October 2013 | page
Oriental fare at Cafe On 3, Doubletree by Hilton Mayur Vihar
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Member Poll Your take on Italian Food, 7 Reviews Molto Bene!, Bangalore, 8 212 All Day, Mumbai, 10 G for Great, Delhi/NCR, 14 Magpie Calling, Kolkata, 16 Kitchen Kin Chef Theodor Rudiferia, 18 Master Barista Damian Burgess, 24 Chocolatier Rakesh Saini, 32 Events Westin Crowdsources Wine, 36 When Pizza met Pasta, 40 Cover Story Delhi’s Italian Connection, 44 Features Seven Single Origin Coffees, 28 It’s Never too late for Olive Oil, 58 Spirit-uality An Evening with the Masters, 62 Recipes Dark Chocolate and Strawberry Panna Cotta, 64 Bell Pepper and Goat Cheese Focaccia, 66 Chicken and Mushroom Risotto, 68 Risotto with Asparagus, Peas and Pearl Onions, 70 Spaghetti with Baked Meatballs, 72 Chicken and Cheese Ravioli with Pumpkin Alfredo Sauce, 74 Roaming Rover Suryagarh - Jewel of the Thar, 76 Member Spotlight Kulpreet Walia’s breads, 98 CaLDRON October 2013 | page
YOUR TAKE ON
ITALIANFOOD We asked Chef at Large members to name their favorite Italian dish. While some aren’t dishes and the courses mixed, Tiramisu does win hands down!
Pasta Arrabiata 4% Cappuccino 3%
Fettuccine in Alfredo 3% Olive Oil 3%
Panna Cotta 4%
Pizza (wood fired) 13%
Spaghetti Carbonara 4% Spaghetti Bolognaise 6%
Pasta in Pesto 10%
Stuffed Ravioli 10%
Pizza (wood fired)
Pasta in Pesto
Fettuccine in Alfredo
“Espresso”, Sandeep Srinivasa “Anything with anchovies”, Reshmy Kurian “So many dishes, such a short life”, Apolina Fos “Tiramisu, always!”, Yaman Agarwal “Tough job, everything is tempting”, Sumeet Malik “My favorite cuisine :))”, Madhvi Taneja “Can I add, ‘The Waiter’?”, Sarah Wilson Link to Poll on Facebook CaLDRON October 2013 | page
REVIEWS - BANGALORE
Molto Bene! A visiting Italian Chef, an Italian food festival, authentic Italian fare. Whatâ€™s not to love, asks Natasha?!
There's something about the Italian language and its cadence, the accented English and twinkle in the eye of an Italian chef, that makes my heart go "thump". In the past year or so, I've had the opportunity to meet, interact with and enjoy the cooking of a few different chefs from Italy, and really, what's not to love about charming men who can cook up a storm and describe their food in such lilting voices? The passion and enthusiasm they bring to their craft, and their willingness and interest in sharing it with others, is another very charming quality. And there is the Italian wine...
Chef at work.
Anyways, enough of my waxing eloquent. This is about a delightful evening spent at Bene, Sheraton Bangalore's Italian restaurant, where the wine flowed, the conversation was loud and happy (with us Bangalore Blogger's Table members, that's a given), and the food was great. The Chef's Table with Chef Carlo Molon, visiting from the Sheraton Milan Malpensa Airport Hotel & Conference
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Centre, was organized to showcase the current Italian festival that runs until the end of the month. Chef Molon started us out making our own pasta, which the others took to, like ducks to water. I had the enthusiasm, but not the skill, to create the right shapes...Chef took pity on me and even came over and helped so at least one of my "creations" looked authentic! A definite reminder of Kindergarten days, when I was the one child who cried at art time, demanding more reading instead. Once we were seated at the table, enjoying glasses of wine and freshly baked bread, we examined our menu for the night. Everything looked delicious and innovative, and the non vegetarians were torn, and quickly went along with Chef's suggestion of serving both entrees. Our first course consisted of a barley salad with dried tomatoes, sauteed zucchini, onion jam, pepper coulis, and ricotta cheese with chives, or Insalata d'orzo con pomodori secchi, zucchini saltate, coulis di pepperoni gialli marmellatina di cipolle rosse & quenelle di ricotta all'erba cipollina, to give it its Italian title. This was a fresh, flavorful dish that met with approval across the table, and we all spent the next few minutes in (relative) silence as we ate. Oh and the onion jam - sweet and so good! The buffalo mozzarella cheese ravioli that we'd made earlier was the next offering: Ravioli di Mozzarella di bufala e coulis di pomodori arrostiti e salsa di peperoni gialli.Â The yellow pepper cream garnish on the plate was really good and I mopped it all up with a piece of bread. The main courses were both beautiful - herb crusted, oven roasted imported lamb loin with basil crushed potatoes (it was served just on the other side of rare, and I found it juicy and tender, but others at the table felt it needed a little more oven time before it was ready) and crunchy, flaky philo-pastry sheets layered with potato, green beans and a basil pine nut pesto. And yes, I ate both! At this point, it did not feel like anything could top the meal, but we were in for a further treat. Chef presented us with a trio of desserts from the festival menu, and the sighs and silence that followed as we dipped our spoons in said it all. Fresh ricotta cheesecake, served in cupcake like fashion, a red wine sauced, poached pear dish with divine cinnamon ice cream, and the piece de resistance, Meringue cake (crunchy with crushed hazelnuts) with chocolate sauce and Chantilly cream. A fine meal enjoyed with friends is the best kind, but one where the desserts were out of this world makes it all the more unforgettable. Molto Bene, amici! by Natasha Ali
Spaghetti with tomato sauce and fresh basil leaves. CaLDRON October 2013 | page
REVIEWS - MUMBAI
The recently opened Two One Two All Day is a casual restaurant-cum-deli where traditional dishes are given an unconventional twist.
Two One Two All Day sticks to a trendy wooden theme, with polished wooden floors, faux wooden concentric lighting fixtures and wooden display columns holding curios. Brightly lit, the spacious restaurant has a deli at one end and a glass enclosed kitchen on a raised platform – page
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the better for Executive Chef Mikhail Shahani to keep an eye on guests and gauge their reactions. We began with Cappuccino of Wild Mushroom (325), served with herb garlic bread. The earthy taste of three different mushrooms – porcini, button and truffle – is something that even those averse to the humble fungus will appreciate. Chef informed us that the cappuccino in the soup maintains its frothiness even if eaten 20 minutes after being served. Chef Mikhail takes liberties with well known dishes like Prawn Bisque (325). This classic seafood soup has been given a Thai flavor with the infusion of galangal, coconut milk and kaffir lime leaves and ends up delightfully creamy and spicy. This
is probably the only South East Asian dish on a largely Mediterranean menu.The Wild Mushroom Ragout (475) in baked phyllo puff pastry served with sundried tomatoes and garden greens was a perfect bite sized snack with coffee. Two One Two All Day doesn’t yet
Barbeque spiced chicken wings
There’s something about the aroma of freshly baked bread that does wonders to your appetite – even if you have none when you enter a restaurant, like we experienced at the newly opened Two One Two All Day, Santacruz. When you walk in, you expect to see some familiar signs of the flagship 212 fine dining restaurant in Worli, but the new Santacruz outpost is a more casual, all day dining place where Mediterranean dishes have been given different twists.
serve alcohol and plans to do so shortly. Conscientious diners that we were, and remembering our promise when we walked in, we opted for a Rocket Salad (390) that comes with warm goat cheese croutons, roasted tomato and slices of poached pear, with balsamic vinegar. Chef Mikhail sure likes his balsamic vinegar and sundried tomatoes since these make a cameo appearance in almost every dish – not that it’s a cause for complaint. He self consciously quips that even his mom can identify any dish he personally plated, since he loves to play around with balsamic vinegar!
The cappuccino in the soup maintains its frothiness even if eaten 20 minutes after being served.
In the mains, he strongly recommended Crab Farci, crab meat mixed with Parmesan and cheddar cheese, served in a crab shell. The presentation won us over, more than the taste, since the cheese overpowers the crab meat’s subtle flavor. The Barbeque Spiced Chicken Wings (475) has a sweet and spicy glaze and is a great comfort dish to dig into, especially with the accompanying blue cheese dip. Next was Tenderloin Carpaccio (475) served with marinated mushrooms and Parmesan cheese shavings. Chef offers a healthy balance to the calorie-rich fare with salad and nuts. So even if you opt for the Marinated Feta with Crusty Farmer’s Bread (575), rocket leaves are present to make you feel like a saint, pearly white wings and halo intact – the dripping cheese from your maw notwithstanding! We also tried char-grilled Tiger prawns on a bed of couscous salad. While we liked the mildly flavored skewered prawns, pairing it with an equally mild couscous salad didn’t add anything. A spicier dip, we thought, would have done better as a contrasting flavor. CaLDRON October 2013 | page
Porcini Mushroom Ravioli (525) with tomato concasse was all the more appealing with chopped walnuts and the omnipresent balsamic vinegar sprinkling. This delicious dish had a combination of several tastes – spicy, tangy, sweet – all in moderation. The walnut butter, however, served as a cruel reminder of our need to control our waistlines. The Roasted Ratatouille Vegetable Risotto (525) with Pecorino cheese fondue was a curious mixing of two classic dishes. The lovable not-too-creamy Italian risotto with loads of basil blended well with the homely French ratatouille with its crunchy vegetables.
Fussy kids will definitely like Chef’s signature French Fries with Melted Blue Cheese and Truffle Oil (not printed on the menu), and Spaghetti Carbonara (565), where strands of spaghetti cooked al dente play hopscotch with pieces of bacon and fried pork belly, cream, and shavings of Parmigiano Reggiano. Stuffed to our gills, we still couldn’t resist dessert. The brownie came all dense and fudgy, as any good brownie ought to. The Apple Crumble came in the form of a muffin, and was not as crumbly as we would have liked. We talked to Chef Mikhail to understand how he’d like to define Two One Two Daily Bar. He prefers to call it a confluence of a deli and a fine dine restaurant, with the mealper-person-price averaging INR 1500. Thus, he’s retained only a few premium dishes on the menu, which 212 regulars would recognize. He hopes to draw in the office crowd, where people can opt for make-your-own quick sandwichon-the-go within 5 minutes, choosing from the variety of breads and cold cuts available. Whether that is successful or not, we now know where to go for an extravagant meal in a casual setting in the suburbs.
Wild mushroom ragout
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by Vinita Bhatia
“Bicycle Changed her Life”
You Can Help change some more ... Donate a Bicycle today and help change a life. facebook.com/BicyclePower
Dipesh +91 9833152162 | Vaishali +91 9833800132 | email@example.com
Cycle-On is a joint initiative by Youth for People & The Campus Bicycle Project Our Mission is to Empower Rural communities, especially Children with Eco-Friendly & Sustainable Mobility Solution; A BICYCLE through Study-to-own (for children) & Work-to-own (for adults) programs
facebook.com/YouthForPeople - facebook.com/CaLDRON CampusBicycleP roject October 2013 | page 13
REVIEWS - DELHI/NCR
e had the pleasure of visiting Crowne Plaza Today last week and I have to say, Gurgaon is getting to be pretty happening! We started with their coffee shop, Cafe G, airy, pretty, beige and very classy looking. That is not always a given in coffee shops sadly, which is why I have mentioned it specifically. Food greets you as you enter, which for me is always a good thing.
You have to visit Cafe G at the next available opportunity. We were pampered, fed, made to feel right at home and that’s what a coffee shop should do.
G for Great Cafe G, Crowne Plaza, Gurgaon page
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A crispy, fresh salad bar, well stocked and well presented. I tried a bit of everything as I always do and loved the apple and walnut salad, not so much a Waldorf but a variation that was well appreciated. What I really liked about the salads was that none of them were overtly heavy, not big on dressing, with options to dress your salad as you please. I personally loved the cheese board though they were almost out of brie, but that’s good in a way considering there were so many counters to be enjoyed. As always the service was impeccable, the staff courteous and extremely well informed. We were shown around to what seemed like a selection meant for royalty and I don’t mean that in terms of the number of dishes present, I mean that in terms of the kind of dishes present. I was instantly drawn to the Italian spread. The menu changes regularly, so I suspect no two visits will ever be the same, that for me is hugely heartening. The pizza and Teppanyaki counters seemed interesting too, mainly because they were very well stocked and organized. We were served a few specials from the a la carte menu, from which I strongly recommend the Shiitake wonton Salad served with a toss up of baby spinach, pok choi and tomatoes in an oriental dressing, it was outstanding. If I close my eyes and visualize it, I can almost taste it all over again. For me its usually these one off things that make me go back and this dish will. We also sampled a salad of tomatoes pickled in wine served with bocconcini, tomaotes and pine nuts, garnished with arugula and basil; Cafe G’s take on a Caprese, it was lovely and refreshing. The Mezze platter is worth a mention as well, since the dips were truly well done, especially the hummus – yum! We were smart enough to keep plenty of space for the
main course; for me it was a few dishes I hadn’t had in a long time and had never had in India – Arancini (crumbed and fried risotto balls usually with a little filling) and Osso Bucco (an on the bone veal shank, where the meat comes off the bone with a swipe; its wholesome like our very own Rogan Josh!). Now these for me exemplify a well thought out menu, because foods like these are always only in recipe books or television! Then there was the delicate pumpkin lasagne. I say delicate because the flavours were oh-sosubtle, the tenderloin medallions, the way to a girls (this girl at least) heart and the fresh cannelloni, just beautiful, real food. We also ordered a three cheese pizza for the table; it came straight out of the oven, bubbling and sizzling. My bowl of Teppanyaki noodles were nice. They could have done with more seafood but the flavour was adequate.
You have to visit Cafe G at the next available opportunity. We were pampered, fed, made to feel right at home and that’s what a coffee shop should do.
by Parul Pratap Shirazi
Almond and corn Timbale
Then came the dessert counter! One of the most opulent spreads I have seen in a long time and
with a variety that is evident of an evolved pastry chef. Chef Qureshi combined fruits, cream, chocolate, spices and eclectic dessert techniques to develop a station meant for royalty. I think Gurgaon has a brand new place to come satiate their desires for world foods and world class desserts. The Cappuccino eclair has a special place in my heart for ever and ever, along with the Panna Cotta and the Kiwi Tart. I have said this before but I have subtle measures for multi cuisine establishments and some of them are a Caesar Salad (the maxed on the salad front!), coffee ice cream and a cup of hot cappuccino, I must say the coffee ice cream here was a bowl of complete joy.
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REVIEWS - KOLKATA
MAGPIE Calling Mrs. Magpie’s, Kolkata For a quaint and girly experience that’s not restricted to the ladies, and lovely baked goods, go to Mrs. Magpie.
Once the food started arriving, the first thing that struck us was the portions. Individual portions of club sandwiches meant four humungus layered sandwiches, plus chips. The fact that the sandwiches were generously stuffed added to the intimidating effect it had on the machismo. I tasted the bacon club sandwich and the smoked bacon was extremely flavourful and predominant amongst all the layers in the sandwich. My ham and cheese quiche was thin, soft, melting in my mouth, not eggy at all. I had it, like a lady, with a flavorful Darjeeling tea that came in a transparent kettle (not the cup and a tea bag that I often dread) and there was enough to share it with another tea lover. A plum sorbet was ordered, which got licked clean as the bowl was passed around the table. The verdict, again, was very positive. The flavourful sorbet had bits of plum in it, adding to the texture. page
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Cupcake at Mrs Magpie’s
The name Mrs. Magpie reminded me of Mrs. Kaur’s in Delhi’s Khan Market; both being pretty little patisseries with personified names. I had long waited for some of my lady friends to visit Kolkata so that I could make a girlie trip to this place. But as luck would have it, I finally happened to visit the dainty pink cafe with a bunch of boys, straight from watching a car racing action movie. Hungry as hell, orders were placed pronto for individual club sandwiches (chicken, bacon and veg varieties), an assortment of hot and cold beverages, and a humble ham and cheese quiche for me. We looked around in amazement as we waited for the food to arrive. Some of the guys did grumble that the place was “too pink” for them and “the chairs may be cute but not very comfortable”. I, on the other hand, was mesmerized by the menu and the pretty cakes in the display window. There was a Gangnam-styled cake, a Harley Davidson cake (which obviously the guys admitted to liking), a couple of pretty hand painted ones, a bus filled with passengers, a house, a forest, and so on.
But it took a sip of the gooey, thick, hot chocolate to melt any male ego that may have existed at the table that day. The hot chocolate was actually molten dark chocolate which may have only slightly been thinned with creamy milk, as against the standard instant chocolate drinks cafes serve in the name of hot chocolate. We liked it so much, we ordered for another cup that was soon passed around the table. I ordered for a toffee cupcake in the end â€“ it was way too pretty to be eaten but then am really glad I did! These are mini-cupcakes and the size of the topping is almost equal to the size of the actual cupcake. While I had presumed this would make it too sweet, it was actually just right and the toffee topping was superlative. And thus came the end to one of the most memorable afternoons I have had in a long time. I have my eye on the afternoon tea (a set menu of scones, cupcakes, finger sandwiches along with tea) that they have on their menu, that I will try next time. I now know where to take my friends who fly in and ask to be taken to a quaint place. Well done, Mrs Magpie!
by Antara Ray
The entrance to Mrs Magpieâ€™s
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THEODOR RUDIFERIA We met up with Chef Theo to figure out what makes him tick, and learnt a few things about Italian food in the process. I’m sitting with Chef Theo at Roadhouse, the American styled bar and grill at the Doubletree by Hilton, Mayur Vihar, where he’s the Executive Chef, also responsible for the adjoining Hilton. Roadhouse is probably the best casual dining space for everyone in NOIDA, a city that’s sadly bereft of restaurants one can look up to. Every time we meet, he has a food suggestion for me, that sometimes starts with, “This one is a very traditional Italian dish”. After meeting quite a few times, I find food makes Theodor Rudiferia happy; planning a menu for friends, shopping for ingredients, cooking it and finally serving it to people he cares for. We’re going to try a couple of burgers today that aren’t on the menu yet - French Connection – Tenderloin Mignon with Truffle Oil in a toasted, buttered brioche with Sauce Bernaise and a Greek Lamb Burger with garlic, cumin and coriander, topped with red onions and tzatziki in warm pita bread. How did you start cooking? My relationship with cooking started back home at a young age in the city of Merano, Italy, where I grew up. Just like India, family relationships are very intense in Italy and we had a lot of family gatherings that my mother used to cook for. I developed an interest in cooking, watching her cook. I told my mother that I would really like to learn cooking as a trade, but she wasn’t so keen on this as my family wanted me to study economics. Soon the opportunity arose to enter an apprenticeship program in one of the top hotels in my city. I asked my mother if she would allow it and we had a family discussion and everyone agreed that I should try it for one year and then make a final call; they were still keen that I should study economics. I loved it! After two and a half years I joined Hotel school full time. From that moment onward, I’ve been cooking. I wouldn’t say call it a specialty, but my favorite is Mediterranean cuisine with a highlight in Italian of course. You mentioned family get togethers where your Mum would cook up a storm. Could you describe a typical meal? It wasn’t always the most expensive food, but always good, proper, home cooked Italian food, which is so much better. We used quite a bit of produce from our garden (we had a big one). The menu would always have an appetizer like a small pasta dish, many times home made pasta or perhaps an antipasti platter – things to nibble like page
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CaLDRON October 2013 | page
Chef Theo plating a dish at Infinity
parma ham, salami, cooked ham, different kinds of cold cuts and of course lots of pickles, olives, silver onions… olives are a must! Then came the main dish, which was usually a meat item, but then it depended on the occasion. In the summer it could be fish or a lamb shank in the winter, with vegetables or potatoes depending on the weather and always a big bowl of salad; salad was a staple. There was always a good olive oil on the table, sometimes a bottle sent by relatives from places that made great olive oil. A glass of wine, white or red was served to adults. This depended on the food being served and you couldn’t get it wrong! A light pasta with a tomato sauce needed a light red wine and if game was being served, then the red wine became heavier and so on. The children drank water; we had some of purest water in the world at the time. Dessert was usually cake. A simple cake, homestyle, like a Tiramisu. Sometimes, depending on the season, it could be a cherry tart or pie, or walnuts or strawberries too. The adults would always have espresso at the end of a meal. My mother is an amazing cook. She can cook a simple meal using tomatoes and fresh basil from the garden that would rival a sophisticated restaurant’s product. Italian cuisine is a very simple cuisine because we only use a few, ingredients, each of which we want to taste. So we must use the best ingredients! A typical example would be a mozzarella and tomato salad. The best mozzarella made with water buffalo milk, fresh beef tomatoes and crisp basil leaves from the garden and a splash of extra virgin olive oil – a combination of flavors that delights me every time. Do you find Indians, who are used to complex flavors, appreciate Italian cuisine the way it is meant to be? There are a couple of dishes, especially from southern Italy, that appeal to the Indian palate. For example, Zuppa di Pesce, a spicy soup that was developed by fishermen who, left with unsold catch, would flavor the fish with olive oil, peperoncini, garlic and other such ingredients and consume it themselves. Since this soup is a little aggressive and contains flavors that are quite familiar to the Indian palate, Indians usually love it. Similar is the case with Pasta with Puttanesca sauce. The average Indian however, I find misses spice in his Italian food, in which case, most chefs adapt the food to the customer’s palate. I believe recipes that are hundreds of years old shouldn’t be changed as they’re traditional and chefs should instead experiment with higher quality ingredients and different recipes to find those that will appeal to their customers. I’ve seen diners eating a seafood risotto ask for Parmesan cheese. This is incorrect as the cheese overwhelms the taste of the dish and it is our duty as professionals to guide customers. On the other hand, as professional hoteliers, we are also bound to give customers what they want. What’s one major difference you’ve noticed between Indian and Italian food cultures? Foraging, which I believe isn’t practised in India, though kitchen gardens are increasingly tended to and used. Back home, almost everyone forages in the forests coming back with Elderberry, forest mushrooms, raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, herbs, chanterelles and morels among other edibles available in the wild. It is of course a protected resource, so we don’t pick much, only enough for our needs. How many restaurants have you been associated with? What’s the hardest part of setting up a restaurant? Don’t ask me that, it’s been too many. (on being pressed) About forty, from which I’ve opened a little more than twenty. There is a whole procedure involved – from market research to concepts. Then there’s menu planning page
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CaLDRON October 2013 | page
Grilled vegetable salad with Parmesan cheese and basil leaves
and layouts – you can write a whole book about it. The toughest part is being different from others, because you don’t want to be just another restaurant. You want to serve food that’s awesome and also deliver an excellent experience to the customer. All of this requires discipline and creativity. How many properties have you worked with and how long have you been with the Hilton? Over the last 28 years I’ve worked with fourteen five-star properties of which the last 20 years have been with Hilton Worldwide. Hilton is a fantastic company, with some great hotels all over the world. I’ve stuck with Hilton because you’re looked after and it’s a great company to work for.
by Sid Khullar
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Chef is particular about which oive oils are served with what food
Apart from being with your family, what makes you happy? Apart from cooking, I have had a chance to meet quite a lot of good people in many places because of my profession. That too makes me happy. The human aspect aside, as an Executive Chef, a large part of my work involves meetings and administrative work, which doesn’t leave me a lot of time to cook. I’m the happiest when I’m behind the stove, creating dishes, training people – that is where I feel great. Some of the people I’ve trained are now executive chefs in top properties all over Asia, which is very satisfying! That, makes me happy.
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A whole roasted chicken at Infinity with all the trimings
Damian Burgess of Caffe Vergnano 1882
Damian Burgess in action
Damian Burgess, Head Trainer and Master Barista for Caffe Vergnano 1882, answers the most common questions that most have about their favorite brew.
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The first cup of coffee can sometimes be the highlight of many people’s days. Is it any wonder then that brewing a perfect cuppa is no longer just another chore; it’s taken on an art form. From selecting the best beans, to learning on the best method to brew it (often through trial and error) , there is a lot that goes into getting the perfect cup of coffee. Damian Burgess, Head Trainer and Master Barista for Caffe Vergnano 1882, answers the most common questions that most caffeine-cravers have about their favorite brew. Caffe Vergnano 1882 began as a small grocer’s shop in Chieri, Italy and has since grown to become the seventh biggest Italian large scale distributor of coffee, present in 19 regions with more than 4000 clients, and more than 40 branches in 13 countries worldwide. What’s more, the company exports successfully to more than 60 countries worldwide. How does one know how to select the best coffee beans to get the perfect cup? Firstly we need to establish what is intended by ‘brewing’ as there are many different methods of converting coffee beans into a coffee drink. For example espresso, filter coffee or mocha. Each of these has its own different characteristics and extracts different flavours from the beans. Beyond that there is always the consideration that each person appreciates different aromas and flavours. Where somebody likes a full bodied rich coffee someone else appreciates a fruity and light coffee. However, in a general sense it always best to use high quality coffee. This means the best beans which have been harvested and not the rotten or mouldy ones which have been retrieved from under the plant. In this case price really does pay. Cheap coffee is cheap coffee. What are the best characteristics of a good coffee bean crop? Coffee is very similar to wine in that each year the crop is different. There are good years and bad years. For the farmers, a good crop means a good yield of beans which are undamaged by insects or bad weather. For the consumer, this is also the same case as this would reflect in the cup also Is there a best-used before date for coffee beans, and how does one test if the coffee beans one has will make a good cup of coffee? The general rule is ‘the fresher, the better’. However, if it is too fresh then the coffee has not had time to fully develop all its flavours and aromas. It is usually best consumed 4-5 days after roasting. In theory the coffee can be stored for a couple of years assuming that the conditions are ideal; vacuum sealed, airtight, and somewhere cool and dry. Once opened it should be used as quick as possible as it will begin to oxidize. It is best stored once again in an airtight container somewhere cool and dry. What about storing it in the fridge? The best of the bad solutions is often the fridge. It is far from ideal, but certainly better than out in the heat. Be careful to make sure that the container is airtight as coffee will adsorb all the aromas in the fridge and you may find your prized Jamaica Blue Mountain tasting of last night’s left overs. CaLDRON October 2013 | page
How does one test if the coffee beans one has will make a good cup of coffee? By smell. Coffee which is past its best will have lost a lot of its aroma and will even have a rancid smell to it. This is due to the oils coming out from the beans and going rancid in the heat and oxygen. If one does not have a coffee maker, is there any way they can still brew good coffee? Once again it really depends on what is meant by a coffee maker. If you don’t have your very own espresso machine or pulse brewer in the house there are many easy and simple ways of making coffee now available. The Italians have been using the stove top Mocha for many generations. All that is required is a stove top of even open flame. There are the more modern contraptions such as an Aeropress which only requires the hot water and a strong arm. Or a bodem or French press, where one again only requires the hot water. Failing all of these there is always the way which was opted by the cowboys…. They would often travel with raw coffee beans and roast them over the fire and then crush them with a rock. Cowboy boots and socks were then taken off and the ‘ground’ coffee was placed into the waiting sock. Hot water would be poured through the waiting sock and the liquid gold consumed with relish. No added flavours required although the sock would need to be dried before putting back on foot. I am not sure if your average banker’s Italian designer shoes would provide the same flavours as a cowboys foot in a boot after a day in the saddle but always worth a try! What should the ratio of water to milk be in a good cup? There really is no correct answer here unless you are referring to a cappuccino in which case there are rules which need to be followed; 25ml of perfectly extracted espresso with 125-150 of perfectly foamed fresh milk. When the ratio changes and there is too much milk the drink is no longer a cappuccino. Others would argue that milk should never go in coffee and there are those who would not dream of drinking it black. It’s subjective and should be enjoyed in whichever way makes you happier.
Barista Damian Burgess has 15 years of experience in running bars, both in Italy and abroad. He has gained SCAE levels 1 and 2 certification in coffee brewing, and is associated with the Vergnano Academy, which teaches people on the processes to create a perfect espresso and cappuccino every time.
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Freshly roasted coffee beans
Freshly roasted Ethiopian coffee beans
Single Origin Coffees with Cafe Coffee Day Sandeep and Jaswinder test, taste and illustrate the ticking of Cafe Coffee Dayâ€™s single origin coffees.
FEATURE The nice people at Cafe Coffee Day, noting our love for caffeine, invited us over to spend an afternoon tasting their coffees. Of the eight coffees we tasted, seven were single origin, i.e. every bean in the powder used, originated from a single geographical region and not a mixture of beans from all over as is the case with most varieties of beans or powder we purchase. There were three of us from the Chef at Large team and two folks from Cafe Coffee Day. Sandeep Srinivasa, the coffee expert, Jaswinder Singh, the wine man and me, the food guy. From Cafe Coffee Day came Aparupa Roy and Sharan M.H. The plan for the afternoon was to have Sandeep Srinivasa express his thoughts on the subject as a coffee person and Jaswinder to utilize his nose as a wine person and while I tried the food and tried to learn a thing or two on the subject. All the notes you see below are by Sandeep and each graph, of the coffee as experience by a wine snob, independently prepared by Jaswinder, for each blend, in two forms - espresso and black, based on his individual opinions. Later, I decided to keep this article only about coffee and omitting any details about the food, with the reassurance, that the food is a blend of cafe and bistro, and unlike that served by any other coffee chain in the country. We tasted these at the CCD Square, a new, premium outlet brought by Cafe Coffee day into existence. This is probably the first effort of the kind in the country and we're looking forward to feedback. - Sid Cafe Blend - Arabica + Robusta This is obviously the best designed blend, because both the espresso and press coffee had extremely consistent crema/ oils. The taste was also not sour and slightly bitter, which was doubly interesting because of the Illy tasting that I did the previous day which was not bitter and slightly sour - a surprise since both coffees are blended at the same lab in Bangalore. Aparupa told us that Illyâ€™s coffee are pulp-dried (which means both the pulp and the bean dry together) and that results in the acidity I experienced. This could also be explained by the content of Robusta - which is more bitter than Arabica coffee. Ethiopan Sidamo Ethiopia is the birthplace of coffee. Having said that Ethiopian Sidamo is a type of Arabica coffee of single origin grown exclusively in the Sidamo Province of Ethiopia. In general, it is generally considered in the coffee world that if it is Ethiopan, it should be world class. This general perception of Ethiopan coffee is around because of its deep, spice/wine/chocolate-like taste and floral aroma. Professional tasters find citrus and lemony tastes in the coffee. Most of the coffee is either wet-processed or dry-processed with the fruit skin intact. Allowing the fruit to ferment off the bean as it dried in the sun could be the reason that Sidamos tend to have a wine-like characteristic (Note: Iâ€™m not sure if that was the way these Sidamo beans were dried). This was by far the sweetest of all the coffees that were served. The initial taste peaks and stays sweet in your mouth for quite some time. Surprisingly, this is obvious in press form, but the flavors truly come out in espresso. I would not recommend this with any Indian/spicy food, since all the flavors would be lost. Highly recommended with chocolate. page
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Indian Kathlekhan This single origin is harvested from the Baba Budan Giri Mountain Range, Chikmagalur, Karnataka. Legend has it that the bean is a direct descendant of the 7 seeds brought into India secretly by Saint Baba Budan and planted around his hut in the mystic Bababudangiri Mountains. The coffee is usually grown at an altitude of 30003500 feet under a mixed canopy of 40-45 ft native shade trees, which possibly contributes to the taste. In general, the top roasters of the world (e.g. SweetMarias) don’t do a dark roast of this coffee as it is a very soft bean. My opinion is that we had a slightly darker roast. This variety, also known as “Dark Forest” has a very robust body though the pull made it a little sour. I would say this was the closest to the Illy coffee that I had previously and perhaps the best crema of all in my opinion with the robust body causing the taste to keep building up in one’s mouth. This is a coffee that is best suited among all for milk-based beverages (Cappuccino etc.) Rajgiri Pearl Rajagiri and Sannkhan Estates are situated at an elevation of 3000-4500 feet around the Baba Budan region an area well suited for the growing of Arabica beans. The taste profiles of this region overlap with the Kathlekhan coffee except for certain nuances. Consistently bitter. Very highly recommended with very sweet desserts. The press form was consistent with the espresso which means that the flavor has less to do with the oils and more in the body. Would also be expressible in milk form. Mysore Nuggets Mysore Nuggets Extra Bold or MNEB in trade parlance is actually a technical term, which means that this is the highest grade of Arabica coffee that India exports; the largest bean size, grown and prepared to the highest standards of the India Coffee Board.The MNEB has a reputation for a soft caramel/brown sugar sweetness and a refinement above all the coffee grown in India. Please note however, this strongly depends on the actual estate growing it; we all know how government bodies in India operate. This varietal was sweeter than Kathlekhan or Rajgiri pearl, but more bitter than the Ethiopian Sidamo. This coffee had a slight peak at the back of the tongue, indicating a very complex flavor which Jaswinder would be best suited to explain. Mysore Nugget does have a international fan following for its complex flavor. Consistent with its press form, though some of the bitterness and complexity was lost. page
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Guatemalan Popularly considered the best among South American coffees. However the problem is that there are many, many farms within a small area - so usually what comes out is a blend. consistency is hard, because there is no large scale drying equipment, and therefore batch sizes are pretty small. In that way, I’m actually quite happy that I got to taste a single origin here. Very mild initial taste, but a slightly bitter taste build up. Not-so-good a crema consistently for everyone. I think some of the nuances of the taste were lost that way. On a press, it was very mild and quite non-descript. Costa Rican Tarazu Perhaps one of the most interesting. Costa Rican coffee is being watched cautiously in the international market. The farms in costa rica have begun to adopt high yielding commercial varieties (as opposed to Ethiopia, where they still maintain the genetic diversity of the coffee). Very often, the coffee ends up being indistinct. Very good crema. A powerful spicy taste at the edge of the tongue that lasted for a long time and melded into a very interesting bitterness. I kept going back to this coffee for that very interesting flavor that it brought. I could taste this edge even on the press. The very interesting thing that happened was that I managed to procure a bag of Costa Rican La Planada Herbazu Micromill from the amazing Taf Coffee in Athens. The taste of this micromill had the extremely distinct tastes of chocolate, acidity and fruity tastes interplaying. So yes, you can have amazing Costa Rican coffee. Colombian Supremo Incidentally, the Supremo refers to the size of the bean. In this way, it is perhaps similar to our “MNEB” moniker. However, Colombian coffees are also grown in very small, family owned farms so they have the potential for greatness. Perhaps the most non-descript of all the coffees I had, this one had a very low-key initial feel and a quick die off. From what I read later, people who adore Colombian coffees, look for this characteristic. It had extremely low acidity too. I would recommend this coffee for people who don’t like coffee. All of us at Chef at Large and Cafe Coffee Day spent a fair bit of time making this article happen and we hope you like it. As always, your feedback is always welcome.
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Fun with Fondant chasing a dream
Creations from Rakesh’s workshops. Inset: Rakesh Saini
Mumbai-based Rakesh Saini is living every red blooded man’s dream - surrounded by eager beaver women who hang on to his every word, lapping up everything he dishes out. Curious yet?
Mumbai-based Rakesh Saini is living every red blooded man's dream. Every weekend he's surrounded by eager beaver women who hang on to his every word, lapping up everything he dishes out - not because of his chocolaty good looks or his disarming smile. It's more because he shows them how to work magic with the one ingredient that makes most women go weak in their knees – chocolate! Meet Rakesh, a trained chocolatier from Ecole Chocolat in the US, who conducts workshops on chocolate modeling and sugarcraft at 32 Degree Chocolate Studio, which are well attended by many people. When we say mean people, we don’t just mean women who can’t wait to get their hands on chocolate, but men too. At prices ranging from Rs 4,000 To Rs 11,000 a pop, each person who enrolls for the chocolate making or chocolate modeling workshops gains hands-on experience on how to heat the compounds, mix it with corn syrup and colors, store it, roll it on in various shapes, etc – and an insight on how to use hand modeling techniques rather than just cutting the shapes out. The reason? Rakesh believes that with the right fingers and palm movements one can give better 3D depth to shapes of items, especially those like a rose flower for example, which is asymmetric by nature. page
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But a bit more about the man behind 32 Degree Chocolate Studio, an Indian-born student who went to London for his studies and later joined Marks and Spencer as a retail manager. It was in this city that Rakesh Saini met his wife who he eventually married in the year 2004. Four years later, as the fiscal situation worsened in Europe, he returned to India. But the idea of getting into the food business was germinating in his head, having taken root when he was in London. He finally decided that he would get into that one food-related industry which finds favor with most people around the world – chocolate! I am into baking for
“Many of my friends often ordered fancy fondant cakes for the last 2 years. I their birthdays. So I thought why not take a plunge into this started just for my stream since it seemed to be a very interesting business and the kids but just don't know how very craft fascinated me”, says Rakesh.He decided to first get some and when I got into it professionprofessional accreditation and signed up for a course with a Banally. At the moment I bake cake for orders. I keep attending workshops to galore-based institute and later with Ecole Chocolate in the US and upgrade my knowledge, study about picked up his sugar craft skills in the UK. It helped that his wife was the market as I believe that there is no an expert baker too, and Rakesh literally puts the icing on them – in end to learning. Rakesh is a wonderful the true sense of the word. In 2012, fortified with his knowledge person. He understands the needs of Rakesh unveiled 32 Degree Chocolate Studio with the objective of each participant in the workshop and imparting more knowledge about the techniques of chocolate model- teaches accordingly. He is also very ing and sugar craft because he felt that other cooking class teachers approachable and helpful. The workwouldn't impart more knowledge than was necessary. "I work prishops are wonderful, lots of learning marily with people who want to create their own business for cakes and fun. I loved being a part of it. Sunita Lobo and confectionery and want unusual and eye catching designs to top these," he says. Of course, he also sees people from other walks of life including lawyers and doctors, who want to try their hands at decorative cakes. Rakesh has already published a book ‘Magical Christmas Cupcakes’ in the US, presenting creations for Christmas cupcakes and plans to have another one shortly for India. He also plans to provide a Some Chocolate Modeling Truths by Rakesh Saini • Heat white chocolate compound for 3 minutes in batches of 60 seconds each in a microwave so it doesn’t burn. • While making chocolate for modeling, mix corn syrup with molten chocolate and then knead it in your hand so the oil is drawn out. • While modeling chocolate, your hands should be cold. You can keep rubbing your hands on the sides of a water glass with ice cubes in it to keep your hands cold. • Don’t mix colors into the white chocolate compound at one go. Chocolate tasting in progress Chocolate dislikes moisture and since the colors have moisture content the chocolate is apt to curdle if too much color is added. CaLDRON October 2013 | page
Another creation at 32 Degree Chocolate Studio
paid video service where he’ll give tutorials on chocolate modeling, but that’s still in the pipeline. Though his operations are focused in Mumbai, Rakesh sometimes travels to conduct workshops in other metro cities, because he is invited there. “Going ahead we plan to train and appoint city ambassadors in major metros. We might even tie-up with non-competing culinary training schools as well to have our own courses on chocolate modeling and sugarcraft,” Rakesh added. For a person who spends many of his waking hours coaxing chocolate compounds into unique shapes, Rakesh has a surprising confession to make – he is not really very fond of eating chocolate himself! It’s interesting though that someone can create a flourishing business on the foundation of that one ingredient that he rarely eats anymore! But Rakesh isn’t complaining, nor are the people who participate in his workshops. After all having a charming teacher to coach you through chocolate craft makes it that much more easier to keep going back! page
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by Vinita Bhatia
Westin Crowdsources Wine! Most choose the keep their wine lists exclusive and prefer not to discuss the reasons for the inclusion or exclusion of specific wines. Not the Westin, Pune. Theyâ€™ve gone the other way around!
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ou’ve all heard of Crowd Sourcing, the practice of obtaining feedback, ideas, services etcetera from the masses as opposed to sourcing the same from a select few. Some say quality is compromised while others say the Law of Averages can be seen at it’s best. With the Wine event at the Westin, Koregaon Park, Pune however, I think that’s a moot point and such an effort will definitely work well. Speaking with Anjali Mehra, Assistant Director, Marketing & Communications for Starwood Hotels & Resorts, South Asia, I learnt the basic idea to be as much about promoting a culture of wine drinking as about bringing the work of Indian wineries to the fore. On a side note, the results of the tasting will also affect the contents of the wine menu of this property; the most favored wines as indicated by the tasting will land up on the property’s wine offerings for three months. The question is, how did they do it. I admit being fairly clueless when I entered the premises. I use ‘fairly’, because I knew it was about tasting wine, ‘clueless’ because I knew nothing else. On entering I was handed a brochure of sorts, with a slip of paper affixed with a clip. The slip asked the bearer to tick off two entries each, from every varietal listed. I ticked off Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc, Sparkling wine, Dessert Wine, Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon, and then dutifully plodded over to the gents a little further down, handing in my entry, against which I received a rather thick pack of tasting cards. Here’s how it worked. Multiple wineries were participating, including Sula, Grover, Fratelli, Revielo, Zampa, Kiara, Turning Point, Vallone, Four Seasons, York and Nine Hills among others. Each of these wineries have multiple products based on different varieties of grape. The thick pack of tasting cards was therefore divided into sections for each varietal I had picked, the number of cards for each varietal depending on the number of participating products for that varietal. For example, I had seven Chenin Blanc tasting cards, as there were seven products, from multiple wineries, based on that varietal. In total, I had
Sujeet Kumar (GM, Westin, Pune), Dilip Puri (Dilip Puri, MD [India] & Regional Vice-President [South Asia] Starwood), Vikas Malik (Regional Director Food and Beverage, Starwood, South Asia CaLDRON October 2013 | page 37
to therefore make my way through between 35 to 40 different wines, recording Bouquet, Taste and After taste for each product. On one side of the area were counters for participating wineries, on the other side, the wines and in between, food counters. I’ll come back to the food in a bit. The wines were in generic bottles, with the brands indistinguishable, so no biases could be formed based on one’s existing opinion of the brand. Each counter had rows of glasses set out in columns, the number of columns indicating the number of products available for that varietal; Chenin Blanc for instance had seven columns as there were seven products to be tasted for that grape. Cheeses, breads and little bottles of water were available too. The crowd comprised imbibers, beginners, enthusiasts and connoisseurs, each of whom had their own agenda. Some just drinking and jotting numbers, others giving the numbers and their experience careful thought and those with the training and/or knowledge obviously providing the highest qualities of input. My own ratings may have seen a decline in quality over time. I’ve never been good at spitting, even as a little boy, when it probably was a competitive sport. While tasting, I did try spitting, but decided to risk intoxication, after one particularly ineffective attempt resulted in a splash-back of mixed DNA. For those who’ve seen ‘The Spiderwick Chronicles’, I was this far away from gaining ‘The Sight’, had a Hobgoblin been among those who had tasted that varietal before me and were I not wearing spectacles. Two breaks and nearly forty differe t headed over to a grilled food countbeing introduced by the chap who chose a platter of seafood from envy, while I went with pork Anurudh Khanna, in tracing the quality of produce on the but also from the rarely able in quantity.
wines later, I declared myself done and er. Yu Yu Din, who I had met recently after really should have been here, Jaswinder, a very well stocked counter, much to my and beef. The efforts of the Executive Chef great suppliers were evident from not only counter and during brunch earlier that day, seen baby carrots and zucchini flowers avail-
Back to crowd sourcrelative to the purexercise been innature, say, the the lot, it however it the most
ing. The quality of crowd sourcing is really pose it is intended for. Had the output of this tended for a purpose that was qualitative in identification of the finest wines amongst couldn’t have been called a success. Since was meant to identify the wines that were liked, with the intention to share feedback
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with wineries and on the property’s menus, I’d say it was a tremendous success. I say so because the ‘best’ wine doesn’t necessarily have to be the most popular and the most popular not necessarily technically the ‘best’. We’re speaking commercial physics here, accomplishing the task at hand through first a quantitative and then a qualitative analysis, due to the relatively low numbers of people attending who really knew their wine. The group plans to repeat the exercise at other locations too, reflecting the results in the menus of the host property. The resultant menu will not only reflect the likes of ‘real’ people, it’ll also reflect quality and ultimately, make it easier for most of us to confidently order a bottle of wine with our meals. I’m looking forward to seeing which wines land up on the menu of The Westin, Koregaon, Pune and believe you should too. by Sid Khullar
Wine afficionados busy sampling different wines from all across the spectrum. CaLDRON October 2013 | page
When Pizza met Pasta
Pizza Hut recently held Chef’s Tables in Delhi and Bangalore. Nadeem and Natasha share their experiences of the event.
Pizza Hut is synonymous with, well, pizza! However, the chain also has a nice selection of pastas and desserts, which we’ve eaten on more than one occasion. They recently held the third round of Chef’s Tables, with interactions between invited guests, including CaL Blogger’s Table members (Nadeem attended in Delhi and Natasha in Bangalore) and Pizza Hut Head Chef Arjyo Bannerjee and Chef Luca Ciano, Executive Chef, Barilla International. Barilla is the foremost name in the pasta and pasta sauce business, and during the Chef’s Table we got to know that Pizza Hut uses Barilla pasta for their dishes. After the customary introductions, with the two Chefs giving us insight into their cooking styles and careers (during the course of which it became evident that these two guys are friends and share great camaraderie that makes for super fun!), we got down to the business of eating. We were served items from the regular menu and also enjoyed special pastas prepared by Chef Luca. First to come were the beverages: Sipping Cheese Cake (might work for some as a dessert, but its definitely too sweet as a drink), Ginger Lime Cooler (this was the winner, with the spiciness of ginger and tang of lime) and Candied Lemon. The appetizers included options for both carnivores and vegetarians; the latter platter had crispy veg patty (a delicious corn and cheese patty), parmesan n garlic potato wedges and onion rings with sweet chili and jalapeno cheese sauce. The non-vegetarian platter included chicken topped crispies, jerk chicken skewer and an Arabian classic, kibbeh with tomato salsa & yoghurt dip. The general consensus was that the veg appetizers made a bigger impression than the non veg ones, and this from people who love their meat! We were served two pizzas from the current menu: Roasted red pepper, arugula and parmesan and Flame grilled chicken and veggies. Here too, the vegetarian pizza won more fans, and we found ourselves reaching for second pieces. Fresh, crisp arugula really elevated the taste. Now came the time for the main attraction of the night: the pastas cooked by the two Chefs. The tantalizing aromas of the ingredients had us all a little light-headed. It was the simplest of things page
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Speghetti with baby corn and bell peppers
really – EVOO, garlic, fresh basil. It was a real pleasure to watch Chef Arjyo and Chef Luca whip up the dishes, and in Bangalore, a recurring issue with the electricity meant that we were treated to some extended impromptu banter between the two, and were also party to a little demo of Chef Luca’s knife skills; impressive, the way the man can look at you and carry on a conversation, while cutting an eggplant skin into the thinnest slivers you ever saw! We thoroughly enjoyed Chef Luca’s stories about Italy and cooking, and were charmed by Chef Arjyo’s choosing the daughter of one of our Bangalore Table members as his assistant. Fusilli tossed in tangy tomato and herb sauce, tempered with cream sauce for extra indulgence. Nadeem: Fusilli’s one of my favorite pastas due to the fact it has a large surface area and gives a lot of starch to bite on. The sauce having tomato sauce and cream, had a touch of Indian “makhani” flavors to it, and I found the cream and tomato both canceling each other's characteristic flavors. Lasagna bolognese garnished with parmesan, tomatoes and parsley. The classic bolognese sauce was made using chicken, tomatoes and red wine. Natasha: Lasagne, for me, needs red meat to taste right. This chicken version was particularly bland and did not do anything for me, and indeed, no one took more than a couple bites at my table. I would have to say it was the worst lasagne I’ve ever eaten! Warm spaghetti pasta salad, with lemon and oregano marinated prawns.
Penne with Sicilian vegetable caponata, salted ricotta and pine nuts was Chef Luca’s first off menu offering of the night. Caponata we learned, is traditional of Sicily. Nadeem: I really liked the combination of spring vegetables, herbs, vinegar, capers and Italian tomato paste. The dish was served with toasted pine nuts and a touch of genius by the chef, fried aubergine skins acting as a towering garnish.
Natasha: Some people balked when they heard the prawns would be raw, but this turned out to be best dish of the night. Cold marinated prawns, sun dried tomatoes, tossed with warm spaghetti, with a garnish of garlic and rosemary toasted bread crumbs, served in little bowls, had us reaching for seconds.
We ended on a sweet note - dessert was Warm chocolate trio, a perfectly decent affair. We enjoyed the chance to meet and watch two such vivacious chefs in action, and despite some people turning up their noses at a place like Pizza Hut doing Chef’s Tables, we think it was a lovely and charming effort and says something about the brand that they want to be known for more than just pizza, and are reaching out to foodies.
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by Natasha Ali and Nadeem Khan
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Delhi has a passionate connect with Italian food. We take a look at what the pros think of Delhi’s preferences alongside a peek into real Italian food.
Ritu Dalmia, owner and Chef at Diva muses, “Back in 1993, people would ask me why their smoked salmon was served cold, I was asked to serve sliced onions with lemon and salt and more or less every Risotto and Pasta dish was send back - kaccha hai. Now clients want their pasta Al dente, I dare to put things like Scallops, Truffle, Artichokes in my menu. Guests pronounce dishes with an ease that would put Italians to shame, and wines! Oh yes the wines, it is no longer about snobbery, the client knows what he wants, knows which ones are value for money, and they order accordingly.” Just like Indian food is largely perceived by non-Indians to consist only of curry, chicken tikka masala, naan-bread, korma and vindaloo, most of us have a fairly narrow idea of what constitutes Italian food. Just as we have multiple states, each with its own unique style of cooking, Italy too is divided into twenty regions, the food from each region differing considerably from that of its peers. Think of Lombardy, Tuscany, Emilia-Romagna, Sicily and Sardinia among others. A multi course Italian meal begins with hot or cold appetizers called antipasti. Meant to stimulate the appetite, they also serve as the Italian equivalent of the French amuse bouche – showcasing the talents of the chef and the capabilities of the restaurant. The quality of a restaurant’s antipasti can and should be taken as a page
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Cured Italian meats with stone ground mustard
That the city of Delhi likes its Italian is no secret. Whether the Italian it likes is Italian indeed is however a different story. Every second ‘continental’ restaurant that opens its doors to the public proclaims their kitchen to be the holy grail for Italian food in the city. American pizza chains advertise their wares such that consumers are left in no doubt that the stuffed crust they’re biting into, was taken from the heartland of the Italian countryside. I recall a recent conversation where the menu of an Italian concept restaurant was being discussed. The man behind the restaurant started off with a grand statement that his restaurant would only serve the most authentic Italian food. When asked for examples, he thought for a moment and said,”Pizza, pasta and the rest... you know what I mean!”
Breads are an important part of Italian cuisine. Here, a part of the bread display at Infinity, The Hilton, Mayur Vihar New Delhi
first insight into the quality of the food. An alternative to antipasti can be a salad (insalata) or a soup (zuppa). Chef Willi Haueter, Executive Chef at The Imperial, New Delhi while feeling the Italian food scene in Delhi is fraught with competition advises diners to the possibility of Tuscan food being a great fit for both vegetarian and non-vegetarian diets. “I try to go with the classic versions, but keep them light for today’s low carb, low calorie diets”, he says. Primo Piatto (first course) is where the action begins and traditionally comprises pasta, risotto or gnocchi. Similar to antipasti, it is perfectly alright to order two or more samples of different dishes for this course. Portions served as Primo Piatto can be small, keeping the arrival of the main course in mind. Not usually served with side dishes (contorni), main courses can be found listed in most restaurant menus under Fish dishes (secondi di pesce) or Meat dishes (secondi di carne). Sides such as vegetables or polenta among others, can be ordered separately if required. Sweets (dolci) and cheeses (formaggi) complete an Italian meal. Some Italian Regions and their Specialities Due to the differences in climate and soil across the different regions of Italy, different Italian regions developed their own specialities over the centuries, most of which are unique to that region and carefully protected by the locals and their government. Some regions with an abundance of particular varieties of pigs ended up perfecting the production of pork products like sausages, salamis and hams while others, perhaps due to the deep seated cultivation of livestock are known today for many varieties of delicious cheese. Here’s a quick rundown on the wares some Italian regions are known for. • Lombardy has an unusually large number of specialities. The region is known for its panettone, bresaola, Gorgonzola, pizzocheri (buckwheat pizza) and viulin, an Alpine ham. • Tuscany, a well known name the world over, is a gastronomes paradise with olive oil, sausage products made from Cinta Senese pigs, bacon, beef and wines from Chianti. • Emilia-Romagna is a region the world should probably be grateful to, being the place of origin for parmesan and one of the world’s best known vinegars, aceto balsamico tradizionale or Balsamic Vinegar. • Sicily, a geography most Puzo fans would be intimately aware of, instantly qualifies as a seafood lover’s ultimate destination. Fresh catches of tuna, swordfish and lobster being pulled in everyday flavoured with the abundance of citrus fruits and sea salt produced by this Mediterranean island accompanied by traditional Sicilian vegetables like pumpkin and courgettes make Siciliy a preferred gourmet destination. • Sardinia, a favourite exotic locale for medieval fairy tales, too has a few specialities tucked away. Consider the thousand varieties of sheep cheese that Sardinia is said to be home to or the crunchy and very thin Sardinian bread called pane frattau, or perhaps air dried wild boar sausages and Asfodelo honey among other examples of Sardinia’s culinary contributions to the world. CaLDRON October 2013 | page
Bikram Singh, a restaurant consultant who runs Skill Smith Consulting says, “Earlier, only a certain calibre of people expected and demanded authenticity, while most others would settle for simple, creamy pastas. Most guests today however, being better travelled than before, now recognize authenticity and will even settle for a small, crisp but authentic menu and don’t mind paying the price for it. People who now approach me for regional speciality restaurants too require the same - menus that list dishes using fresh ingredients in authentic recipes that the most well travelled guest would enjoy. Restaurants today aren’t only cuisine driven as they used to be earlier; a guest looks for a complete Italian experience, which includes the seating environment and expect wait staff to know the menu inside-out, including details of which ingredients were used in their food.” Primarily an agrarian society, with the exception perhaps of the automobile industry, Italian food has for long depended on the use of fresh, local ingredients for every day meals. A dish could be as simple as a freshly picked courgette, gently roasted in an oven, lightly drizzled with extra virgin olive oil, flavoured with a mild garlic rub and seasoned with a little salt. Such simple preparations allow the full flavours of the ingredients to burst through in every bite. Eaten with a hunk of freshly baked bread and accompanied by a glass of young, local wine, every meal becomes one fit for a king!
A.D. Singh, restaurateur of note and one of the few who appear to have ‘cracked the code’, remarks, “In the Italian food scene there are two interesting developments; one being the availability of good quality Italian food in many different formats and not just high end dining. The second draws attention to the growth of Mediterranean restaurants that incorporate Italian but offer food from across a much wider canvas.” Singh does however feel that the dining majority want pizza and pasta for most part while an ever growing segment of discerning diners seek authenticity and higher quality ingredients. The simple nature of Italian food however, isn’t necessarily represented by the many Italian restaurants that dot the city. Fast food chains peddling pastas clogged with starchy, oily sauces or pizzas stuffed with processed cheese aren’t helping things either. Given the commercial nature of their presence, one can understand restaurants tailoring their products to suit local tastes. This recipe, overhead at a local supermarket, imparted by a lady instructing another in the making of pasta, explains why we find suspect Italian food at most restaurants. “Make a bhuna masala with garlic, tomatoes and onions, add a spoon each of pizza sauce and pasta sauce, mix with boiled pasta, season and sprinkle red chili powder over.”
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A classic pizza at India Grill, Hilton Garden Inn, Saket, New Delhi
Simple and unpretentious cooking is perhaps the hallmark of Italian food. Touched by many other cultures over the years, including Arab, Grecian and French influences, Italian food today represents a refined cuisine that nonetheless represents honest food without putting on many airs.
Smked Salmon and potato appetizer by Chef Theodore Rudiferia at Infinity, The Hilton, Mayur Vihar, New Delhi
Olive oil, a commodity that a couple of decades back was mostly used for massaging infants and children, has found its way into the kitchen, thanks to tireless efforts by various agricultural bodies, restaurants and other related agencies. Quite a desirable presence in the kitchen today, mainly for it’s healthy nature, most olive oils are healthy though all aren’t equally suited for use with Indian food. The highest quality begins with cold pressed, extra virgin olive oil or EVOO that is quite flavourful and used with salads, as a garnish or as a dip. Contrary to popular belief, extra virgin olive oil can be used for deep frying though due to its lower smoke point, it is necessary to regulate temperatures carefully. Going through a series of different oils, all blends of virgin olive oil and other refined oils, we reach Olive Pomace Oil, that much maligned oil that most self respecting gourmets wouldn’t allow in their immediate vicinity. Granted Olive Pomace Oil doesn’t have any of the lovely flavours present in EVOO, but did you know the structure of this oil is nearly the same as EVOO... and therefore has nearly identical health benefits? Sure, it can’t be used as a table oil as EVOO can, but its higher smoke point makes it perfect for use with Indian cooking without losing much of its healthy nature. Many different grades of olive oil exist in the market, the composition of which is sometimes a mystery. Note that these are different from manufacturing grades. Even in retail grades, the list goes Appetizers from Heaven Antipasti follow the same traditions as the rest of Italian food – the use of simple, local and fresh ingredients. An age old Italian practice, antipasti is found in mentions as early as the first century CE, when Marcus Gavius Apicius recommended dishes such as ham with figs, eel marinated with rosemary and songbird tongues for use as antipasti in his cookbook, considered to be the earliest surviving collection of Italian recipes. Here are a few antipasti that are ridiculously simple to make but end up as delightfully tasty pre-dinner tidbits. • Slices of grilled aubergine, flavoured with garlic and slight drizzle of balsamic vinegar topped with a splash of extra virgin olive oil. • Insalata Caprese di Bufala, perhaps the most well known Italian salad in the world, is also one of the most simple dishes to replicate in your kitchen. Snowy white sliced, fresh, mozzarella and sliced, succulent tomatoes tossed with leaves of fresh basil, freshly cracked black pepper and topped off with a generous glug of extra virgin olive oil. • Crostini (little toasts, in Italian) are part of the antipasti club and are small slices of toasted bread topped with any number of toppings such as meats, cheese or perhaps a tapenade made of olives, anchovies, capers and olive oil. Finely chopped or pureed, tapenades make excellent toppings and are best when freshly prepared. Did you know crostini and its cousin, bruschetta are said to have originated in medieval times when Italian peasants would use slices of bread as plates, then eat the plate too? This practice isn’t only restricted to Italy and was prevalent in England too, where the bread-plates were called Trenchers; perhaps a part of the history of the term Trencherman. Interestingly, the city of Florence takes credit for the origin of Crostini, which can be as simple as a piece of toast, rubbed with tomato and garlic, then drizzled with sea salt and olive oil. CaLDRON October 2013 | page
beyond olive Pomace oil, the usual varieties of which are not recommended for consumption. You’ll find the term ‘Cold Press’ used on labels to describe high quality olive oil. It indicates the oil wasn’t heated over a certain temperature, typically 80 degrees Fahrenheit. The cold press method ensures the oil retains higher levels of nutrients and isn’t degraded much. Olive oil grading is a strictly regulated process with the following gradations: • Extra Virgin Olive Oil comes from virgin oil stock, must contain 0.8% or less acidity and must taste superior. Usually not cooked with, EVOO is used as salad dressing, a dip or as a table garnish among other possible uses. • Virgin Olive Oil too comes from virgin oil stock, must contain 1.5% or less acidity and must taste superior. It is used in much the same way as EVOO. • Pure Olive Oil or simply olive oil labelled products usually are a blend of virgin olive oil and other refined oils. They do not have as much flavour as EVOO. • Olive Pomace Oil is oil extracted from the remnants of the olive oil production process, has neutral flavours, a high smoke point that makes it suitable for deep frying and has health benefits comparable to EVOO as per some sources, depending on the method of extraction used. • Lampante Oil, graded below Olive Pomace Oil isn’t suitable for human consumption and is used industrially. The name comes from history; it was used in the past to fuel oil lamps! Wines, another subject of recently renewed interest in the capital, go very well with Italian food and can usually be paired quite easily even if one only knows the basics of pairing or is a new wine drinker. Considering most Italian dishes only use a few ingredients, pairing wines becomes a fairly quick exercise if one follows the basic tenets of wine and food pairing. Remember, there are no hard and fast rules and don’t fall prey to social pressure when selecting your wine. If you like the way the wine tastes, and the way it pairs with food that’s the wine for you, regardless of the gurus may say. Match subtle foods with subtle wines and highly flavoured foods with bold, strong wines. Pair fatty or rich foods with dry, crisp, acidic or wines high in tannins. Drink acidic wines with acidic foods. Do not match creamy foods with acidic wines.
At the end of the day however, Delhi does boast of some very good Italian restaurants. Diva Piccola, probably the newest of the lot, though with an enviable pedigree, is one of them. A tiny restaurant that describes itself modestly as a Trattoria, Diva Piccola serves food that tries hard to adhere to the Italian maxims of simple cooking using fresh, local ingredients. The results are well worth the trip to Hauz Khas village. Ritu adds, “We are still not at the same levels as London or Istanbul or even Shanghai for that matter, where every neighbourhod has its local Italian, but I will say that today a guest in Delhi doesn’t need to drive miles just to eat their bowl of pasta.”
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Wine is integral to an Italian meal.
• • • •
An assortment of cheeses
Another great place to try Italian food in the city is Italia. Located in DLF Promenade Mall, Vasant Kunj, Italia offers al fresco, fine dining and casual seating options with food that you’ll remember for a long time to come. One of the best Italian restaurants in the city, Italia is a part of the Park Hotels. La Piazza at the Hyatt Regency, one of the stalwarts of the Italian food scene in Delhi is still going strong with crowds thronging to partake of their very popular buffets and a la carte dining options. -Alessandro Sandrolini, Chef de Cuisine at La Piazza remarks, “I have to say people are more aware about Italian food now than before, perhaps because people are travelling more now. Guest expectations are higher than before but on the other hand restaurants too now have more options in terms of imported products and those of higher quality. We try to make a difference at La Piazza by serving authentic Italian food. Despite being a casual dining restaurant, the food at La Piazza is flavoursome and uses the best products available.” Finally, we can broach the topic of Italian desserts. Italians love their desserts, just like we do. The dulce finale, a sweet finale to the meal is considered to be quite important and chefs give it their Popular Italian Cheeses Demystified Most of us love the aromatic sprinkling of grated parmesan on our platters of pasta or enjoy a hunk of cheese grilled with our steaks. Here’s a quick rundown on popular Italian cheeses and what they’re made of. Many Italian cheeses like Parmigiano-Reggiano follow stringent labelling standards controlled by the European Union. Including the better known PDO or Protected Destination of Origin, only cheeses that satisfy certain geographical and manufacturing criteria may use certain monikers. For example, only cheese produced in the provinces of/near Parma, Reggio, Emilia, Modena, Mantova and Bologna may be labelled as ‘Parmigiano-Reggiano’. • Parmigiano-Reggiano, also called parmesan, is probably the best known Italian cheese in the world and possibly the most preferred hard cheese worldwide too, originated in the Emilia-Romagna region. Made using cow milk and aged for a minimum of 12 months, this cheese is available in varying degrees of ripeness. • Mozzarella di Bufala, is a fresh cheese made only using milk from the water buffalo. Local tradition insists the water buffaloes be ‘happy’! This cheese isn’t aged and due to its composition, usually eaten the same day as it is made. It lasts longer when sold in vacuum packed contained with whey. It originated in the Campania region. • Gorgonzola is a versatile cheese that can be smooth, firm or crumbly and always has a ‘bite’ from the veins of fungus that penetrate the cheese. A fairly strong cheese that’s protected under Italian law, Gorgonzola is made from the milk of cows and goats, the latter lending the cheese a saltier flavour than versions made using cow milk. • Pecorino, another protected and quintessential Italian cheese is made using ewes milk and is a hard cheese that shaves beautifully. Originating in the Marche region of Italy, the ‘foja de noce’ variant of this cheese is wrapped in walnut leaves and aged for several weeks, which gives it its distinctive flavour.
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complete attention whether at home or in a restaurant. You’ll find desserts from southern Italy to be sweeter than their northern counterparts and northern desserts to be far more elegant than their southern counterparts. Think of fruit salads seasoned with sugar and flavoured with vanilla, orange juice and amaretto (Macedonia Fruit Salad), pears poached in red wine with cinnamon and sugar (Pere al vino rosso), strawberries marinated with sugar and balsamic vinegar (Fragole all’aceto balsamico) or fruits gently crystallized in sugar each with magnified flavours (Frutta candita). The much loved Tiramisu cannot of course be left out. Traditionally made using sponge fingers, strong espresso, mascarpone, double cream and chocolate, Tiramisu, literally meaning ‘pull me up’ originated in Tuscany and is a much loved dish featuring on menus all across the globe, New Delhi being no exception. Italian food, its simplicity being in direct contrast to most Indian cuisines is still one of our favourite international cuisines, penetrating even the smaller towns where one would least expect to find Italian dishes on a menu. Given our attraction to new foods, it is but a matter of time before we fully appreciate Italian food for what it is and revel in the uncomplicated flavours and textures it’ll bring to our tables. complete attention whether at home or in a restaurant. You’ll find desserts from southern Italy to be sweeter than their northern counterparts and northern desserts to be far more elegant than their southern counterparts. Think of fruit salads seasoned with sugar and flavoured with vanilla, orange juice and amaretto (Macedonia Fruit Salad), pears poached in red wine with cinnamon and sugar (Pere al vino rosso), strawberries marinated with sugar and balsamic vinegar (Fragole all’aceto balsamico) or fruits gently crystallized in sugar each with magnified flavours (Frutta candita). The much loved Tiramisu cannot of course be left out. Traditionally made using sponge fingers, strong espresso, mascarpone, double cream and chocolate, Tiramisu, literally meaning ‘pull me up’ originated in Tuscany and is a much loved dish featuring on menus all across the globe, New Delhi being no exception.
by Sid Khullar
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Panna Cotta, a beloved Italian dessert.
Italian food, its simplicity being in direct contrast to most Indian cuisines is still one of our favourite international cuisines, penetrating even the smaller towns where one would least expect to find Italian dishes on a menu. Given our attraction to new foods, it is but a matter of time before we fully appreciate Italian food for what it is and revel in the uncomplicated flavours and textures it’ll bring to our tables.
It’s never too late for
OLIVE OIL T
here are plenty of olive oil making the rounds everyplace we see. The fitness pundits say it’s healthy. Manufacturing companies quote the fitness pundits and say it’s healthy. Cooks and bloggers quote the fitness pundits and the manufacturing companies and use it in every other dish. Chefs and gourmets can’t get enough of this greenish-yellow, mildly viscous fluid and pair with everything possible. Traditional Indian cooks don’t like the flavors that result from using olive oil in any sort of Indian food. So, what’s the deal? The first olive oil I encountered was a green tin, at the age of six or seven, that read ‘Olio Sasso’ and was used as a weekly massage oil for us kids, usually washed off with ‘Chandrika’ soap after perhaps a thorough rubbing down with chickpea flour. I don’t beWhy is olive oil good lieve any of us ever thought of it as something edible. It didn’t for you? We’ve gone smell edible anyway; quite similar to north Indians who over the basics as well think of coconut oil as something that’s applied to the scalp, as checked out a new never to a frying pan. It was to be more than two decades before olive oil introduced itself brand of olive oil on the to me as edible.
Interestingly, while all of us are aware of the Mediterranean penchant for olive oil and are quite aware of Italy and Spain’s high levels of olive oil usage, did you know Greece has the highest consumption of olive oil per person? Figures, when you consider the olive tree is said to have originated in Greece. Having said that, Spain does produce nearly 44% of the world’s olive oil. Olive oil is assumed to have been first extracted a little before 4000 B.C., and by some sources, even 4500 B.C. Methods of extraction were crude and included techniques such as placing olive pulp into tanks, waiting for the oil to rise to the top and then draining the water from the bottom. It’s ancient uses included ritualistic, medicinal, cosmetic and household uses such as soap making, lamp fuel and cooking. page
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Olive oil production begins with turning olives into paste, which is slowly churned to increase the concentration of small droplets of the oil within. At this point, older techniques use pressure to separate the oil from the paste while modern technology allows us to use centrifugal forces to accomplish the same task in a more effective manner. Oil is extracted from olive paste in multiple stages and using multiple techniques, each one causing the resultant oil to be graded differently – virgin, refined and pomace. The highest grade, Virgin olive oil refers to oil that has been extracted only using physical means and nothing else. The next, refined means the oil has been treated chemically to remove strong tastes and acidity. The last and lowest grade indicates oil that has been extracted from the paste using chemical and heat treatments. Why is olive oil considered healthy? Olive oil is considered healthy because of numerous positive claims against diseases of different sorts. • Osteoporosis – due to the improvement of bone mineralization • Obesity – no facts, just empiric studies that show improvement in levels of obesity • Rheumatoid Arthritis – no facts again, only studies that show people who consume olive oil are less likely to develop this • Diabetes – helps lower low-density lipoproteins, improves sugar control and increases insulin sensitivity • Blood Pressure – no facts, studies that show a decrease in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure • Heart Disease – Helps lower blood cholesterol • Cancer – no facts, studies that indicate it is helpful against breast cancer and other malignant tumors • Oxidant Stress – contains anti oxidants such as Vitamin E, carotenoids and phenolic compounds
Benefit Oive Oil is a nw variant that’s surpriringly flavorful and aromatic
Most authorities suggest the consumption of two spoons of extra virgin olive oil a day as a safeguard to health. Interestingly, olive oil is said to be a great, natural free radical inhibitor, making it a good addition to your skincare regime. Its other cosmetic uses are in exfoliation (when combined with sea salt), nail and cuticle moisturisation and an aid in the removal of eye make up. CaLDRON October 2013 | page
Cooking with Olive Oil Extra Virgin is the olive oil grade that’s best for us from a health point of view, say most experts. The grouse that most of us have with extra virgin, is that per popular wisdom, one can only use it for salads and the like, where there’s no heating involved. This isn’t entirely true. Smoke point for extra virgin olive oil, the temperature at which an oil begins to smoke, and also the point at which most health giving compounds in olive oil, like polyphenols, begin to literally go up in smoke, is around 410 degrees Fahrenheit. Given that most cooking can be done between 250 and 350 degrees Fahrenheit, one can indeed cook with extra virgin olive oil. Additionally, a high quality extra virgin olive oil can have an even higher smoke point.
A jar of oil. Extra virgin olive oils are usually found in dark containers
Benefit Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil - (Website) Among the many olive oils on the market, we chose to work with a relatively new entrant for this article – Benefit, which makes the same claims as most other brands, with the addition of the ‘Organic’ tag, which too is a current rage. We tried two varieties of Benefit Olive Oil – the extra virgin and the refined oils. The refined, an import from Spain, was as expected, smooth, nearly entirely odorless and mildly buttery. It was also said to contain more than 75% monounsaturated fatty acids, which if accurate, should help regulate cholesterol levels. The extra virgin, imported from Tunisia, was however a bit of a surprise. While the brand claims the oil has a mild taste and aroma which is preferred by Indian consumers and we were a little trepidatious during the initial tasting, it turned out to be quite alright as shown in our sensory evaluation below: • Aroma: fruity, with a mild apple-banana fragrance and hints of freshly-mown grass. • Taste: Very mildly peppery with a hint of bitterness similar to that of not-yet-ripe fruit • Aftertaste: The only minus point for me; it didn’t linger too long, which makes it better for use as a component than as a key flavor ingredient.
I used the refined oil in traditional cooking and found the results to be identical to other refined oils. The extra virgin variant was used in salads, as a topping for hot, cooked foods and even to cook foods in. As claimed by the brand it’s smoke point was about 190 degrees Celsius, which made it perfectly suitable for most cooking, except where higher temperatures were required, at which point, it did lose character and undoubtedly some of its health benefits too.
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Given the spate of artificial products we consume today and the loss of health in it’s many dimensions most of us are rapidly becoming aware of, including a simple, easy to integrate component like olive oil into our lives and daily routines isn’t much work. by Sid Khullar
CaLDRON October 2013 | page
An Evening with the Masters A perfect pairing of masterful food and some of Jaswinderâ€™s favorite scotch from Black Dog made for a fantastic meal.
hat happens when two Masters appear on the same stage? Sheer brilliance. That’s exactly what occurred when MasterChef Italia Spyros Theodoridis and Master Blender of Black Dog Scotch, Richard Paterson, took the stage at Westin Gurgaon. Stories were told, and the audience enthralled by the presence of an exceptional marketer, Richard Paterson. It requires showmanship to tell a compelling story and have the audience glued to their seats. listenting to the story of the most premium scotches in the world being named after the original Master Blender’s favorite fishing fly. There was, however, more to the evening than just stories. It was about extraordinary scotch and extraordinary food paired for the delight of the crowd. Master Chef Spyros Theodoridis, winner of MasterChef Italia, flew down from Italy for the evening to create magic in the kitchen. There has been an increasing trend to pair food with drinks. I know, I’ve been busy attending one food pairing after the other. But honestly, all jokes and fake complaints apart, the fact is that food and drink taste best when enjoyed with the right company and right accompaniments. The menu was carefully selected to pair with the scotch. To begin the proceedings, first on the table was the Black Dog 12 Year Old Gold Reserve. Paired with the entrée pasta dish, Tagliolini with tomato pesto and dried spinach greens with marinated anchovies, the Black Dog 12 Year Old comes alive on the palette with its delicate sweet notes of honey and butterscotch and mild hint of spice. The nose is lighter for a whiskey that spent 12 years in the cask, with notes of mild spices and honeydew. Not a bad start at all. But well begun is only half done. Or as in this case, one-third done. My favorite Black Dog was up next with a prawn risotto. Executed to perfection, with sweet, ripe mangoes on the side, the risotto was definitely the best I’ve had in a long time. Accompanied by the Black Dog 18 Year Old with its sweet honeydew, ripe citrus fruits, cinnamon and clove notes on the nose, and a cinnamon-nutmeg, overripe peaches, bitter sweet almonds, toasted oak and dark chocolate finish on the palette, the main course was just heavenly. When it comes to scotch, not many realize that dark chocolate pairs really well with good scotch. In fact, desserts made from dark chocolate and scotch are superlative. Of course, you need a master to execute that too. One thing I was not concerned about that evening. But before dessert was served, there was the last dish for the evening – lamb chops, cooked to perfection, served on a bed of creamed potatoes with crispy beets in a vegetable sauce. Succulent, tender meat, accompanied by the best scotch of the evening, the Black Dog 21 Year Old Quintessence. Sweetness on the palette and the nose with notes of cinnamon, licorice, dark over ripe fruits, toasted oak and dark chocolate with a palette of toasted bitter sweet nuts, butterscotch and dark chocolate made for the perfect night cap. Black Dog blended scotch has been one of my favorites for quite some time. To me it is luxury personified. And it is always fun to learn a bit more about the brands and products you enjoy the most. by Jaswinder Singh CaLDRON October 2013 | page
Dark Chocolate and StrawberryPanna Cotta
RECIPES Ingredients: • 1 1/2 cup heavy cream
• 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
• 4 tbsp sugar
• 3 tsp powdered gelatin/agar agar
• 1/3 cup dark chocolate, melted
• Fresh Strawberry for garnishing
• 2 tbsp strawberry puree
• Tempered chocolate twigs
• A few drops of red food colouring Method: First (lowest) Dark Chocolate layer 1.
In a bowl, add 1/4 cup cold water and 1 tsp of gelatin. Bloom for 5-10 mins till gelatin becomes spongy. If using agar agar, dissolve 1 tsp agar agar in 1/4 cup hot water. Bring it to boil and simmer for 5 mins. Ensure the mixing is done while the ingredients are warm.
Put half a cup of cream and 1 tbsp sugar in a pan on low heat. Stir till sugar dissolves. Remove from heat.
Melt half the dark chocolate on a double boiler or microwave for a minute/till melted.
Mix chocolate in the cream, stirring well.
Mix the gelatin/agar agar and stir well to dissolve while the mixture is warm. If it doesn’t dissolve, gently re-heat the mixture and repeat.
Pour the dark chocolate in glasses and refrigerate for half an hour or till set. To get the angled effect, keep the glasses tilted with the help of a towel roll.
Strawberry layer 7.
Bloom 1 tsp gelatin in 1/4 cup cold water or agar agar in hot water as instructed above.
Dissolve 2 tbsp sugar in 1/2 cup cream over low heat. Remove from heat. Add food colouring, vanilla extract and strawberry puree. Mix well.
Add gelatin/agar agar and stir to dissolve.
10. Pour in the glasses over the chocolate layer. Refrigerate for another 1/2 hour or till set, angled against a roll of towel. Second Dark Chocolate layer 11. Repeat the same steps for the first layer. 12. Pour on the strawberry layer and allow to set in the fridge for 1/2 hour or till set, glasses to be kept straight this time. Strawberry Fan 13. Make 5-6 longitudinal cuts (not all the way through) and then gently spread using little pressure. Tempered chocolate twigs 14. Take about 1 tbsp chocolate and melt on a double boiler or microwave for a minute. Whisk well. 15. Pour the chocolate in a plastic cone, snip off the end and draw twigs on a butter/parchment paper, very carefully. Set for 5 minutes in the refrigerator. Peel off paper and keep aside. Arrange the strawberry fan and the chocolate twigs as desired and serve chilled.
Recipe and Photo by Amrita Vishal CaLDRON October 2013 | page
Bell Pepper and Goat Cheese Focaccia
RECIPES Ingredients: • 31/4 cups Bread flour (See Note 1)
• 2 tsp Salt
• 11/2 cups Water at room temperature
• 1 tsp Mixed herbs - 1 tsp
• Half a cup Mixed bell peppers, chopped
• 4 tsp Olive oil plus more for drizzling
• 2 tbsp Goat cheese
Combine water and yeast in a large bowl. Mix till yeast is dissolved.
Add 1 cup bread flour to the bowl. Mix with your hands, till the batter is smooth and there are no lumps. Cover the bowl and keep in a warm place for 3 hours.
Add the remaining flour, olive oil and salt to the bowl. Mix everything together.
Lightly flour the work surface and knead the dough for 10-12 minutes, till soft and elastic.
Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl and cover and keep in a warm place for 40 minutes.
Coat a baking tray with olive oil. (See Note 2)
Transfer the dough to the baking tray, then gently and evenly stretch the dough to fill the tray.
Cover and keep the tray in a warm place for 40 minutes.
Pre heat the oven to 200 degree C.
10. Make gentle dimples on the surface of the dough with your fingers, then drizzle with olive oil. 11. Sprinkle the bell peppers, herbs and goat cheese on top. 12. Bake for 30-35 minutes until the focaccia has a golden brown crust and sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom. 13. Cool on a wire rack.
I prefer to microwave the focaccia for 20-30 seconds on high before serving. Notes 1. if bread flour is not available use 3 cups all purpose flour and one-fourth cup of wheat gluten. 2. I used a 10 inch round tray, but you can use rectangular too.
Recipe and Photo by Neha Mathur CaLDRON October 2013 | page
Chicken and Mushroom Risotto
RECIPES Ingredients: • 1 cup Arborio Rice
• One Quarter cup White wine
• 2 tbsp Butter
• 2 cups Chicken/Veg stock
• 1 tbsp Olive oil
• 2 tbsp Cream
• 1 medium Red onion, very finely chopped
• Parmesan cheese and basil leaves - for garnish
• 1 cup Mushrooms, sliced
• Salt and pepper to taste
• Half a cup Boneless chicken, finely chopped Method: 1.
In a non stick pan add butter and olive oil.
Tip in the chopped chicken and saute till it changes colour. Remove from heat and keep aside.
In the same pan saute the sliced mushrooms and keep aside.
Next saute the finely chopped onions till they turn pink. Now add the arborio rice.
Saute the rice for 2 mins, then add the white wine. Once the wine is absorbed, add a ladle of the stock. Add a little stock every time the rice dries out. The rice will gradually become creamy. By the time we finish adding 2 cups of the stock the rice will get cooked. It should not become mushy and must have a bite to it.
Now add sauteed chicken, mushrooms and the cream. Gently mix.
Check seasoning; add salt and pepper as required.
Serve immediately, enjoy and think of me!
Notes 1. The original recipe use Amul cream. You’re free to use any brand you wish.
Recipe and Photo by Archita Ray CaLDRON October 2013 | page
Risotto with Asparagus, Peas and Pearl Onions
RECIPES Ingredients: • 4-5 cups vegetable/chicken stock
• ½ Teaspoon crushed red chillies
• 2 cups Asparagus, trimmed and chopped
• ¼ Teaspoon pepper
• 2 tbsp olive oil
• 1¼ cup Arborio rice
• ½ cup small pearl onions
• 1 cup frozen peas, defrosted and cooked
• 1 Onion, chopped
• 1 tbsp butter
• 4 Garlic pods, minced
• ¼ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
• Salt to taste
• 2 tbsp Cream cheese
• ½ Teaspoon dried thyme or 1 sprig fresh thyme
• A few basil leaves, sliced thin
Put the stock in a saucepan and bring it to a boil. Add the chopped asparagus and cook for 2 minutes. Remove the asparagus with a slotted spoon and set aside. Keep the remaining stock hot.
Meanwhile heat the olive oil in another large pan and add the pearl onions. Cook on medium heat until they turn golden. Now add the chopped onion and garlic. Cook on low heat until they soften. Add the salt, crushed red chillies, thyme and pepper and cook for a few seconds.
Add the rice to the pot and toast for 2 minutes, stirring to mix everything together. Keep the heat medium-low and pour in ½ cup of the stock. Cook the rice, uncovered, stirring often. As the liquid gets absorbed by the rice, keep adding more, ½ cup at a time. Continue to stir often. When the rice is almost cooked, stir in the peas. The risotto is done when the rice is tender and creamy, but not mushy.
Remove the pan from the heat and mix in the reserved asparagus, butter, cheeses and basil.
Garnish with basil leaves and shards of Parmesan cheese.
Serve with a zesty side of fresh basil pesto or pair with grilled chicken, sautéed shrimp or halved hard boiled eggs.
Notes 1. Cook the frozen peas if required. 2. More Parmesan cheese and Basil leaves are needed for the garnish.
Recipe and Photo by Ruchira Ramanujam CaLDRON October 2013 | page
Spaghetti with Baked Meatballs
RECIPES Ingredients: Meatballs: • 200 gm Minced Chicken
• 4 tbsp Pasta Sauce
• 2 tbsp Pasta Sauce
• 1 tbsp Garlic, chopped
• Salt & Sugar as needed
• Half a cup Spring onion, chopped, optional
• Salt per taste
• 200 gm Spaghetti, boiled in salted water
• 1 tbsp Olive oil
Method: 1. Add all the Meatball ingredients to the minced chicken. Mix well. 2. Line an oven tray with aluminum foil and grease the foil with oil. 3. Make small balls with the chicken mixture, place in the tray, evenly spaced. 4. Bake at 210 degrees Centigrade for 10 minutes on each side, depending on your oven. 5. Heat very little oil in a deep, heavy bottomed pan. 6. Brown the garlic, then add the pasta sauce and spring onions. 7. After 30 seconds, add the meatballs and spaghetti, followed by the spring onions. 8. Toss well so the sauce covers the spaghetti and everything is evenly distributed. 9. Adjust seasoning and serve.
Recipe and Photo by Kamalika Chakrabarty
PALEO GNOCCHI by KUMU
The Paleo diet is pretty hot these days and Kumu R, has a recipe on her blog that allows you the joy of demolishing a platter of Paleo-friendly Gnocchi. Kumu’s Gnocchi is made from Sweet Potatoes, uses Arrowroot powder and is baked before it is cooked with a sauce. Click here to view Kumu’s Paleo-compliant Gnocchi recipe in your browser or use the following URL: http://bit.ly/paleognocchi CaLDRON October 2013 | page
Chicken and cheese ravioli with pumpkin alfredo sauce. page
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RECIPES Ingredients: • One quarter cup Ricotta cheese
Ravioli dough • 2 cups All purpose flour
Pumpkin Alfredo sauce
• 2 Eggs • 2 tbsp Olive oil
• 2 tbsp Butter
• One quarter tsp Salt
• 2-3 cloves Garlic, chopped • 2 tsp All purpose flour • Half a cup Pumpkin puree
Ravioli filling • Half a cup Chicken mince
• 1 cup Heavy cream
• 2 tbsp Olive oil
• Half a cup Milk
• 2 - 3 cloves Garlic, chopped
• Salt to taste
• Salt to taste
• Half a tsp Black pepper powder
• One quarter tsp Pepper powder
• Half a cup Parmesan cheese
• 2 tbsp Parsley/Coriander, chopped Method: Pumpkin Puree
1. Cut pumpkin into slices. 2. Place the slices in a baking dish. 3. Pour half a cup of water in the dish. 4. Bake in a pre heated oven at 350 degree F for about an hour. Cool. 5. Discard the skin of the pumpkin and take out the flesh. 6. Blend the flesh in a blender with very little water.
1. Make a mound of all purpose flour on a clean surface 2. Make a well in the center of the mound 3. Add eggs, olive oil and salt in the well 4. Mix everything together using your finger tips 5. Add a little water and knead the doughv 6. The dough should not be soft. 7. Knead the dough on a slightly floured surface with the heels of your hands for 5 minutes 8. Cover the dough in a cling film and keep aside
You can refrigerate the puree for a week and can freeze it for an year
1. Divide the dough into 4 parts 2. Make a ball of each part and dust and roll into a very thin large rectangle. If you have a ravioli press, keep a layer of dough on it 3. Fill the cavities with filling and then cover with another layer of dough. ( never overfill the cavities ) 4. Roll the rolling pin over the press. Remove the raviolis from the press. If you don’t have a ravioli press, roll the dough and using a ruler, cut the dough into 4 cm squares 5. Keep a little bit of filling in the center of the square and brush the edges of the square with little water 6. Cover with another square. Press nicely on the edges 7. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add salt and 3 tbsp olive oil to the pot 8. Add the raviolis and cook for 10 minutes on medium flame. Keep pushing the raviolis down with a ladle 9. Drain the Raviolis and add to the sauce
1. Add oil in a pan. Add garlic 2. When the garlic is slightly browned, add chicken, salt, pepper and parsley 3. Cook till chicken is done and the filling is dry 4. Add ricotta cheese and cook for a minute 5. Cool the mixture 6. Blend the filling in a blender to give it a smooth texture
Pumpkin Alfredo Sauce
1. Heat oil in a pan. Add garlic 2. When the garlic starts to brown, add all purpose flour 3. Fry for 15 seconds 4. Add pumpkin puree. Cook for a minute 5. Add cream , milk, salt and pepper. Cook for a minute 6. Add Parmesan cheese and cook till the cheese melts 7. Add the Raviolis to the sauce 8. Garnish with chili flakes and parsley 9. Serve hot
Recipe and Photo by Neha Mathur CaLDRON October 2013 | page
SURYAGARH Jewel of the Thar A weekend at Suryagarh revealed all the thought that has gone into this modern-day fort that looks and feels just like it’s centuries old counterparts.
orts have always been surrounded by an aura of mystery, the feeling of courts held ages ago and battles waged in another era. Suryagarh, while being a modern construction, feels just that way. The only difference is that it’s a five-star luxury resort with all the amenities we’ve come to expect and quite a few surprises up it’s sleeve. I spent a few days at Suryagarh and was dismayed at how quickly time seemed to pass. Just looking over the entire property takes a day and make no mistake about it, this property is one of those you want to explore. Camel safaris, journeys to ghostly, abandoned villages, shopping trips to Jaisalmer, Fort explorations and much more await vacationers. While quite a few ethnic resorts such as Suryagarh aren’t really suitable for domestic tourists, this one most certainly is. Folk dances and other such fare make evenings fun and their very well intentioned F&B offerings compliment the experience.
Suryagarh, by night
I captured what I could with photographs and this is my journey, through Suryagarh, for you.
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The main courtyard. Below, view at night.
CaLDRON October 2013 | page
Room Lobby. Inset: A spacious bathroom
My room, a type III Suite - the main bedroom. A quick nap and we were off to tea at Lakhmana Dunes
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My ride to the desert rendezvous â€“ Michael the Camel. The other two were named Shah Rukh and Hritik.
CaLDRON October 2013 | page
All manner of fare was served at the Dunes, on monogrammed crockery, atop a dune, under a well appointed canopy.
A herd of camels we encountered enroute
The endless, harsh and beautiful desert.
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Type II Suites come with richer accessories and larger lobbies with their own guest restrooms.
CaLDRON October 2013 | page
The guardian of Kuldhara, a man who seems as ancient as the city itself.
The only person allowed to stay at Kuldhara, he’s been around for as long as anyone can remember and put his age at anywhere between eighty five to a hundred. He only admits to 75. Memory loss or vanity, we’ll never know. Local legend says he once took an Australian tourist out into the desert on safari and came back with a besotted bride, who he accompanied to Australia. Both separated soon after. We asked our guide, “Why would a tourist want to marry him?”. Eloquently shrugging his shoulders, our guide said, “Well, he did have his own camel.” Most of his livelihood is gained from charging tourists for entry into Kuldhara - 10 rupees per person and 50 rupees per car. Happy with our token of appreciation, he also played his Satara for us.
Kuldhara, the abandoned city, as seen from Nabha Fort.
An entire village, abandoned overnight, to protect the honor of their daughter.
CaLDRON October 2013 | page
An ancient well, now dry.
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Finely made temple dome. Inset: A view of the temple.
CaLDRON October 2013 | page
We return to the dramatic courtyard and watch the performers do their thing. Below, a street magician performs for us.
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Sikh performers performed not so commonly seen versions of martial Bhangra. Below, Rajasthani folk music and dance.
CaLDRON October 2013 | page
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Legend of Marwar is the Rajasthani restaurant at Suryagarh. Below, our dinner.
CaLDRON October 2013 | page
We took a peek into Draksh, the bar and Nosh (below) their all-day dining restaurant before heading off again.
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Rait, the spa, offers a range of relaxing treatments, while the indoor swimming pool was unlike anything Iâ€™d seen before.
CaLDRON October 2013 | page
The Jaisalmer Suites are the peak of luxury at Suryagarh. The size of a modest house, everything within is king size.
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One corner of the bedchamber. Below, one half of the bath. This suite also has a private terrace with a jacuzzi.
CaLDRON October 2013 | page
We concluded our trip with a visit to Jaisalmer city.
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Live music at Lakhmana Dunes
Text and Photos by Sid Khullar CaLDRON October 2013 | page
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Assorted breads by Kulpreet Walia, a Chef at Large member., who has worked as a professional baker in five star environments. She happened to bake a batch of these lovely breads and we thought them ideal for this issue! CaLDRON October 2013 | page
Chef at Large