A Lovely Afternoon With Sarah Todd, MasterChef Australia 2014 Finalist

I’m sure most foodies would know Sarah Todd, especially those who have been regularly following MasterChef Australia. For the uninitiated, Sarah Todd was the finalist at MasterChef Australia 2014, with a huge fan following from India, thanks to her attempting a few India-inspired dishes on the show. Recently, when The Little Black Book (LBB) – Bengaluru offered me a chance to participate in a masterclass with Chef Todd, I grabbed the opportunity with both hands. I’m so very glad I did – it turned out to be such a fun afternoon!

The event was held at Script, a concept kitchen and workshop venture by Godrej. This was my first time visiting Script, and I found it to be a charming venue, a must-visit for food enthusiasts in the city.

Chef Sarah Todd in a candid tete-a-tete with the audience at the masterclass

Sarah Todd’s career story is nothing short of inspiring. She became a model at the young age of 18, after which a decade-long career on the ramp followed. In the course of her work with brands like Hugo Boss, Pantene and Gucci, which entailed extensive travels across the globe, she began to develop a passionate love for food culture. In a candid moment at the masterclass, Sarah said, “One day, when I was still a model, I had to put up the exact same pose about 15 times, so the photographer could get the right shot. That was a sort of turning point in my life. It was then that I began to ask myself – ‘What am I doing with my life? Is this what I really want to do?‘”

The moment sparked some sharp introspection on Sarah’s part, and she decided she wanted to delve deeper into food. She went on to enroll herself at the famed Le Cordon Bleu, and trained in French cooking. For years, she worked as a chef, training alongside Michelin-star chefs. In 2014, she participated in MasterChef Australia, which, she claims, was another huge turning point in her life. She discovered herself, her cooking style, while at the show. She found that she leant more towards wholesome, healthy food that she could serve to her family, rather than elaborate meals that looked like magical masterpieces.

Apparently, Sarah’s love for Indian food began when she started dating Devinder Garcha, an Indian. While at MasterChef Australia, Sarah prepared a few Indian dishes, which earned her a fan following of over 50,000 Indians overnight. The next morning, when she logged into her social media, this had her completely stunned. She visited India soon after, in an attempt to figure it all out, and fell deeper in love with Indian food. She went on to open Antares, her restaurant in Goa, followed by another, The Wine Rack, in Mumbai. In the intervening years, Devinder and Sarah became parents to Phoenix, a lovely son. “I became all the more obsessed with food after becoming a mom. I wanted my son to taste everything, and I wanted to make everything myself. I wanted to know exactly what I was feeding him,” she said at the masterclass.

Left: Sarah, speaking about plating, at the masterclass. Right: The beatiful plating of the Citrus & Cocoa Tart (top) and Avocado Open Sandwich (bottom) that Sarah demonstrated at the masterclass

Sarah’s wonderful plating skills have always amazed. At the masterclass, she wowed everyone by demonstrating the beautiful plating of two dishes – a Citrus & Cocoa Tart and an Avocado Open Sandwich. “We eat with our eyes first. If you are presented the exact same dish in two different plates – one just dumped on the plate, and the other presented artistically – I can guarantee you will eat more of the latter. Presentation is of considerable importance,” she said at the masterclass.

Any kind of food can be presented artistically. Anyone can do it. You need to break free of the shackles in your mind first. Just let loose, and let your creativity rein in, while you are plating,” said Sarah.

Taste is just as important as presentation,” Sarah said. “For me, a dish just cannot just look very pretty, but be lacking in flavour. It has to be bursting with flavour, too!,” she added.

Chef Sarah Todd, demonstrating the preparation of two wholesome salads at the masterclass

At the masterclass, Sarah demonstrated the making of two wholesome salads in jars, perfect for busy-workday lunches.

She spoke of how a cook needs to take care of three core things for a dish to be successful – flavours, textures and presentation. “A great dish has to have a variety of flavours, to keep the eater interested – sweet, sour, saltiness, spiciness and some umami, everything has to be in balance. There have got to be at least a couple of different textures to the dish. Lastly, of course, it has to be presented beautifully,” she said.

img_20180430_100203305399378.jpg
Chef Sarah Todd demonstrating the preparation of two salads-in-a-jar that can be filling meals in themselves

Speaking about her bond with India at the masterclass, Sarah said, “India is special. Indian food is so diverse, so amazing! I am constantly awed by the foods that I go on discovering in India – every new place I visit in this country, I end up with a new favourite food. There’s so much yet for me to learn, to discover. It is tough for me to point out just one favourite Indian food!

She spoke of how she does not want either Antares or The Wine Rack to be categorised as ‘an Australian restaurant’. “I want to cook Indian food, giving it my personal touch,” she said. “I can’t ever dream of competing with authentic Indian food, the way it has been cooked in Indian families over generations. How can one ever compete with that?! I want to take Indian food, and make it my own. I see I am making a difference that way, too,” she said at the masterclass.

I cook with the special, indigenous ingredients of the region, at both my restaurants. I make sure the ingredients are seasonal and procured fresh. Indian cuisine has a whole lot of wonderful ingredients that I am discovering – it is such a fun cuisine to be creative with!,” Sarah said.

She then went on to demonstrate the making of a fruity non-alcoholic drink, just perfect for hot summer days, at the masterclass.

Chef Sarah Todd demonstrating a fruity summer drink, at the masterclass

All through the masterclass, Sarah’s personality shone out. What a humble, down-to-earth, friendly and warm person!

The question-and-answer session with the audience at the end of the masterclass was what I enjoyed the best. It gave me a glimpse of the feisty, determined side of Sarah, the brains and talent behind the pretty face, the humane side of her that is trying to overcome her own shortcomings, the mommy in her, the career woman in her who is trying to make a difference in a world dominated by men.

All in all, it was a lovely afternoon, shared with fellow food enthusiasts from across the city. A fun time was had by everyone, I’m sure.

Now, I can’t wait to get to reading Sarah Todd’s blog and trying my hands at some of her recipes!

Advertisements

Idli Masala| How To Use Leftover Idlis

What do you do when you have a few idlis left over? I usually end up using them the next day to make Idli Upma or Chinese-Style Idli. Sometimes, I go ahead and make Idli Masala – a delicious confection spiced with pav bhaji masala, loaded with veggies, served with a generous dose of cheese.

Here’s how to use leftover idlis to make some delish Idli Masala, my way.

Ingredients (serves 1):

  1. 4 day-old idlis
  2. Salt, to taste
  3. 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  4. Red chilli powder, to taste (optional)
  5. 2 teaspoons sugar (optional)
  6. About 1-1/2 teaspoon pav bhaji masala, or to taste
  7. 1 tablespoon oil
  8. 1 medium-sized onion
  9. 1 small capsicum
  10. 1 small carrot
  11. 2-3 green chillies
  12. 1 cube Amul processed cheese
  13. 2 pinches of asafoetida (hing)
  14. 1 teaspoon mustard seeds (rai)
  15. 1 teaspoon cumin (jeera)
  16. 1 teaspoon sesame seeds (til)
  17. A dash of lemon juice, or to taste
  18. A few stalks of fresh coriander leaves

Method:

  1. Crumble the idlis. Keep aside.
  2. Now, we will prepare the veggies to use in the Idli Masala. Peel the onion and chop finely. Chop the capsicum finely. Slit the green chillies length-wise. Peel the carrot and grate it medium-sized. Chop the coriander finely. Keep aside.
  3. Grate the cheese finely. Keep aside.
  4. Heat the oil in a pan. Add the mustard seeds, and let them pop. Now, turn the flame to low-medium, and add the cumin, asafoetida, green chillies and sesame seeds. Let them stay in for a couple of seconds, ensuring that the ingredients do not burn.
  5. Add the chopped onion and capsicum and the grated carrot to the pan. Cook on medium flame till the vegetables are cooked, but still retain a bit of a crunch.
  6. Add the crumbled idlis to the pan, along with salt to taste, red chilli powder and sugar (if using) and pav bhaji masala. Mix well. Cook on medium flame for about 2 minutes, stirring intermittently.
  7. Switch off the gas, and add in the lemon juice and the finely chopped coriander leaves. Mix well.
  8. Transfer the idli masala to serving plates. Serve garnished with grated cheese.

Notes:

  1. Skip the red chilli powder entirely if you want the idli masala to be only mildly spicy.
  2. You can add in any other veggies of your choice – finely chopped beans, tomato, cabbage, mushrooms, cauliflower, broccoli, zucchini would be great additions. Here, I have used just a couple of vegetables that I had handy in my refrigerator.
  3. Use day-old leftover idlis for best results. If you are using freshly made idlis, chill them in the refrigerator for a couple of hours before beginning to make this idli masala.
  4. Using the sugar is purely optional, but I would suggest adding it. It gives a lovely, rounded flavour to the idli masala. You can use raw cane sugar instead of refined sugar.
  5. Chana masala or garam masala can be used in place of pav bhaji masala, too.

You like? I hope you will try this recipe for Idli Masala too, and that you will love it as much as we do!

*****************

Foodie Monday Blog HopThis recipe is for the Foodie Monday Blog Hop. The theme for this week is ‘Working With Leftovers’.

I’m also sending this post to Fiesta Friday – 221, co-hosted this week by Jenny @ Dragonfly Home Recipes.

Haryana-Style Aloo Chutney Pulao

For the recipe I am going to tell you about today, Haryana-Style Aloo Chutney Pulao, I have to give thanks to the Shhhhh Cooking Secretly Challenge Facebook group that I am part of. Have I told you how much I love this group? Every month, the members of the group form pairs, and every pair exchanges two secret ingredients. Every month, every member has to cook something from one Indian state’s repertoire, using the two ingredients allotted to her. Then comes fun time – everyone posts a picture of their dish in the group, and the other members try to guess the secret ingredients that they have used! Being the passionate traveller that I am, I love the chance that this challenge offers me to explore the food of different parts of India – albeit virtually.

The theme for this month’s Shhhhh Cooking Secretly Challenge is Haryanvi cuisine or food from the state of Haryana. I have never had the chance to visit Haryana but, as always, I was thrilled with this opportunity to get closer to the rich diversity of food that is present in India. Carved out of Punjab in the year 1996, the cuisine of Haryana has a lot of Punjabi influences (but of course!). The people of the state are a good mix of urban and rural, with a strong focus on agriculture. Haryana is a land that is rich in milk, desi ghee and other dairy products, and this reflects in the diet of the Haryanvis as well. The food of this state is robust and hearty, and prepared without much fuss. Apparently, Haryana is called ‘the land of rotis‘, thanks to the Haryanvi’s predilection to consume a variety of flavourful and healthy flatbreads. Bajra Aloo Roti, Besan Ki Roti, Bhura Roti Aur Ghee, Hara Dhania Cholia, Kair Sangri Ki Sabzi, Methi Gajar, Kachri Ki Chutney, Rajma Chawal, Mixed Daal, Bajra Khichdi, Alsi Ki Pinni, Daal Pinni and Atte Ka Halwa are some of the most popular dishes from the state of Haryana.

I was paired with Priya Suresh this month, who allotted me two ingredients – ‘potatoes’ and ‘mint’. A bit of reading online later, I zeroed in on this recipe by Master Chef Sanjeev Kapoor for Aloo Chutney Pulao. I made the pulao with quite a few variations of my own, and the result was fantabulous! I must say, the Aloo Chutney Pulao turned out absolutely flavourful, and was a huge hit at home. I’m so glad to have discovered this dish that is so very simple to make!

Here is how I made the Haryana-Style Aloo Chutney Pulao.

Ingredients (serves 4):

Major ingredients:

  1. 1 cup rice
  2. Salt, to taste
  3. 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  4. 5-6 tablespoons of spicy green chutney, or as needed (See notes)
  5. Juice of 1/2 lemon, or to taste (optional)

Veggies:

  1. 2 medium-sized potatoes
  2. 1 medium-sized onion
  3. 1/4 cup shelled green peas
  4. 1 small capsicum
  5. 1 small carrot
  6. 6-7 beans

For the tempering:

  1. 1 teaspoon ghee/oil
  2. A 1-inch piece of cinnamon
  3. 3-4 green cardamom
  4. 3-4 cloves
  5. 2 small bay leaves
  6. A pinch of asafoetida

Method:

First, we will cook the rice.

  1. Wash the rice thoroughly under running water, a couple of times. Drain out all the excess water.
  2. Pressure cook the rice with 2.5 cups of water, for 3 whistles. Let the pressure release naturally.
  3. Once the pressure has completely gone down, let the rice cool down entirely, then fluff it up with a spoon. Keep aside.

Then, we will partially cook the veggies required to make the Aloo Chutney Pulao.

  1. Peel the potatoes and chop into cubes.
  2. Peel the carrot and chop into cubes.
  3. Remove strings from the beans. Chop into large-ish pieces.
  4. Peel the onion and chop finely.
  5. Chop the capsicum into large-ish pieces.
  6. Place all the vegetables except the onion – potatoes, carrot, beans, capsicum and green peas – in a large container and add about 2 tablespoons of water. Pressure cook for 2 whistles. The vegetables should be cooked, but still retain a bit of their crunchiness. Let the pressure release naturally, and the vegetables cool down entirely.

Now, we will prepare the Aloo Chutney Pulao.

  1. Heat the ghee or oil in a pan. Add in the piece of cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, bay leaves and asafoetida. Let them stay in for 2 seconds, ensuring they do not burn.
  2. Add the chopped onions to the pan. Cook on medium flame till the onions begin to brown.
  3. Now, keeping the flame medium, add the cooked vegetables – the potatoes, beans, carrot, capsicum, green peas.
  4. Add in the cooked and fluffed-up rice, salt to taste, turmeric powder and the green chutney. Mix well, but gently.
  5. Taste and adjust seasonings, if needed.
  6. Allow to cook on low-medium flame for 2-3 minutes, stirring intermittently.
  7. Switch off gas and mix in the lemon juice (if needed). Serve hot with raita of your choice.

Notes:

  1. I have used Sona Masoori rice to prepare this Aloo Chutney Pulao. You can use any variety of rice you prefer.
  2. While pressure cooking the rice, adjust the rice:water ratio depending upon how grainy or soft you want the pulao to be. Using the above measurements yielded just the perfect pulao for us.
  3. I have used Chef Sanjeev Kapoor’s recipe for Aloo Chutney Pulao as the base, but have made several variations of my own. The recipe might not be authentic, but I am glad to have gotten a bit more closer to Haryanvi cuisine than I was earlier! And, hey, we loved it!
  4. The way I make spicy green chutney has been outlined in this post.
  5. I’m sending this post to Fiesta Friday – 221, co-hosted this week by Jenny @ Dragonfly Home Recipes.

Why don’t you try this Aloo Chutney Pulao recipe out too?

Did you like the post? Do let me know, in your comments!

Palak Daal Khichdi| Spinach Khichdi With Popular Essentials

This Palak Daal Khichdi is a great way to sneak in some of those gorgeous (not to forget highly nutritious) spinach leaves into one’s diet. The khichdi is super simple to put together, yet highly flavourful and satisfying. The pretty green of this Palak Daal Khichdi will make it alluring to kids and adults alike!

I have used Rozana Sona Masouri rice from Popular Essentials to make this khichdi, which cooked beautifully and easily. Instead of sticking to just moong daal to make the palak daal khichdi, I used Popular EssentialsPancharatna Daal (a blend of 5 different types of lentils) to make it even more nutritious. The tomato puree and home-made garam masala I used added a whole lot of flavour to the khichdi, as did the garlic-dry red chillies-cumin-mustard-asafoetida tempering. You have to try this recipe out!

Not only is this Spinach Khichdi quite healthy, but it is also super easy to make. It is perfect for busy week days or lazy weekends when you want to eat a hearty meal, but want to make just one dish. Serve it piping hot, maybe with a dollop of ghee on top, with plain curd or any raita of your choice!

Here is how to make Palak Daal Khichdi or Spinach Khichdi.

Ingredients (serves 5-6):

Major ingredients:

  1. 1 cup Popular Essentials Rozana Sona Masouri rice
  2. 1/2 cup Popular Essentials Pancharatna Daal
  3. Salt, to taste
  4. 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  5. 1 tablespoon garam masala, or to taste
  6. Red chilli powder, to taste (optional)
  7. 1 tablespoon oil

Veggies:

  1. 1 small carrot
  2. 1 medium-sized onion
  3. 1/4 cup shelled green peas
  4. 1/4 cup shelled fresh pigeon peas
  5. A few big florets of cauliflower
  6. 1 small capsicum
  7. 4-5 pieces of baby corn

For the tempering:

  1. 1 tablespoon oil
  2. 1 tablespoon ghee
  3. 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  4. 1 teaspoon cumin seeds (jeera)
  5. 2 pinches of asafoetida (hing)
  6. 3 dry red chillies
  7. 5-6 cloves garlic

To grind into a paste:

  1. A generous fistful of spinach (palak) leaves
  2. 2 green chillies
  3. A 1-inch piece of ginger
  4. 2 medium-sized tomatoes

Method:

Let us first grind the paste that we will use in making the khichdi.

  1. Chop the tomatoes into cubes.
  2. Peel the ginger and chop into small pieces.
  3. Clean and wash the spinach thoroughly, and chop it roughly.
  4. Chop the green chillies finely.
  5. Grind the chopped tomatoes, ginger, spinach and green chillies into a paste, in a mixer, using a little water. Keep aside. You should get roughly 2 cups of this paste.

Now, prepare the veggies that we will use.

  1. Peel the carrot and chop into batons.
  2. Chop the onion length-wise.
  3. Keep the shelled pigeon peas and green peas handy.
  4. Chop the cauliflower florets into medium-sized pieces.
  5. Chop the capsicum into medium-sized pieces.
  6. Chop the baby corn into medium-sized pieces.
  7. Keep the onion as is. Pressure cook the carrot, shelled pigeon peas and green peas, baby corn, capsicum and cauliflower florets with very little water, for 2 whistles. Let the pressure release naturally.

Now, we will cook the rice and pancharatna daal.

  1. Wash the rice and pancharatna daal a couple of times in running water.
  2. Drain out all the excess water.
  3. Pressure cook the rice and pancharatna daal with 2 cups of the spinach and tomato paste we prepared earlier + 2 cups of water. Give it 5 whistles. Let the pressure release naturally.

Then, we will proceed to make the khichdi.

  1. Mash the cooked rice and pancharatna daal slightly. Keep aside.
  2. In a pan, heat 1 tablespoon of oil, and add in the finely chopped onions. Saute on medium flame till they start turning brown.
  3. Now, add in the cooked veggies, rice and pancharatna daal.
  4. Add 1 cup of water (or as needed), salt to taste, garam masala, red chilli powder (if needed) and turmeric powder. Mix well.
  5. Let everything cook on medium flame for 2 minutes.

Meanwhile, we will prepare the tempering.

  1. Peel the garlic and chop it finely. Keep aside.
  2. Heat the oil in a pan. Add in the mustard seeds, and let them pop.
  3. Add in the cumin and the asafoetida. Let them stay in for a couple of seconds.
  4. Now, add in the chopped garlic and the dry red chillies. Let them stay in for a couple of seconds, on low flame. Switch off gas.

Now, we are ready to serve the khichdi.

  1. Mix in the tempering with the cooked khichdi, gently but thoroughly.
  2. Serve hot, with raita of your choice or plain curd.

Notes:

  1. If you don’t have pancharatna daal, you can substitute it with moong daal.
  2. I cooked the rice and pancharatna daal separately, the veggies separately too, and then proceeded to make the khichdi. This helps in avoiding over-cooking of the veggies. If you want to, you can cook all of it together in a pressure cooker.
  3. Adding the tempering at the end adds a beautiful depth of flavour to the Palak Daal Khichdi. I would totally recommend this.
  4. I have used home-made garam masala in making this khichdi, just 1 tablespoon since it is quite fresh and more fragrant than store-bought versions. If you are using store-bought garam masala, you might want to use slightly more.
  5. This post is brought to you in collaboration with Popular Essentials, a brand which has a number of grocery essentials under its belt. The opinions expressed in this post are entirely my own, not influenced by anything or anyone. I really liked the samples of Popular Essentials’ Rozana Sona Masouri Rice and Pancharatna Daal that I was sent – the packaging of both products was well done, they cooked well and tasted lovely too. I think the prices of these products is pretty reasonable, too, considering their good quality – 5 kg of the rice costs INR 305 and 500 grams of the daal costs INR 65. Popular Essentials’ products are currently available on most major online platforms like Amazon.
  6. I’m sending this post to Fiesta Friday – 221, co-hosted this week by Jenny @ Dragonfly Home Recipes.

Did you like the recipe? I hope you will try this Palak Daal Khichdi out, and that you will love it as much as we did!

A Delightful Healthy Meal At Enerjuvate, Koramangala

Bored of the regular cream- and spice-laden food that a whole lot of restaurants serve? Head to Enerjuvate Studio & Cafe for a lovely change from the usual!

The husband and I visited Enerjuvate’s relatively new branch in Koramangala recently, for a menu tasting. We returned completely sated after an utterly delightful meal, our taste buds tingling with the various fusion foods we sampled here. The best part – all the food we had was as healthy as it could be, cooked fresh. Our tummies felt light and unburdened after the meal, which we loved!

Concept

Enerjuvate is a pretty space, a studio cum store cum cafe. There are several workshops conducted here on a regular basis, at the studio. The store stocks a variety of healthy products ranging from almond butter, different types of tea and pure honey to various home decor articles. The little boutique at Enerjuvate sells a wide range of products prepared by women entrepreneurs – from clothes and jewellery made from recycled plastic and moss (yes, you read that right!) to all-natural cosmetics.

fb_img_1524293631711-012056889212.jpeg
Some of the articles on display at the Enerjuvate boutique, Koramangala

The menu at the Enerjuvate cafe is quite eclectic – it is a mix of many different cuisines, Indian and international. The cafe serves all-vegetarian food, cooked fresh without any artificial flavouring or colouring agents and preservatives. Ingredients like cornflour, refined flour and refined sugar are avoided, as is deep frying. Think momos made with jowar flour, papri chaat made with baked ragi pooris, hot-and-sour Asian gravy served with cooked millets instead of rice, desserts made with honey or cane sugar. We found the menu to be quite extensive – with a variety of soups, beverages and tea; a huge selection of entrees, wraps, pasta and pizza; quite a few healthy desserts and combo platters. Here, you will find several options for people who choose to go dairy-free, gluten-free or dairy products-free. There are quite a few Jain alternatives on the menu as well.

Enerjuvate was first launched in Jayanagar, in early 2017. After successfully creating a loyal clientele for itself at Jayanagar, a second branch opened up in Koramangala a few months later.

Location, ambience and decor

The Koramangala outlet is located in the bustling 4th Block, and wasn’t very tough to locate. The place has a quaint, charming vibe to it, both from the outside and inside.

The outside sitting area is simply beautiful, done up with fairy lights, ideal for breezy summer evenings and cold winter afternoons.

fb_img_1524293463154-01552154525.jpeg
Part of the outdoor sitting area at Enerjuvate, Koramangala

The inside is pretty too, with quirky but classy decor. Carefully chosen quotes and artifacts deck up the ceiling and walls.

fb_img_1524293591819-011498931254.jpeg
The decor at Enerjuvate, Koramangala

Go up a quirky decorated staircase and you will reach another cute sitting area, adorned by a bookshelf and more of those lovely artifacts. There’s a little balcony with just two seats too, upstairs, just perfect for a date night, looking out at the world go by.

Food and drinks

We started our meal with samples of a few of Enerjuvate’s signature beverages and a couple of their healthy starters.

img_20180421_155904336108543.jpg
Top left: Carrot Ginger Ale, Coco Mojito, and Almond Mylk Thandai; Top right: Kombucha samplers; Bottom left: Aloo Papri Chaat; Bottom right: Summer Salad (seasonal)

We absolutely loved the Coco Mojito, a twist on the traditional virgin mojito, made with tender coconut water, pineapple and mint, sweetened with cane sugar. It was so delectable! The other drinks weren’t meant for our taste buds – we couldn’t appreciate these as we are not a big fan of vegetable-based smoothies or fermented pro-biotic beverages.

The Aloo Papri Chaat was absolutely lovely, and I couldn’t resist hogging on it! The chaat was made with baked ragi pooris and, therefore, quite healthy. The spice levels, the chutney, the sweetness and tanginess – everything – was on point.

The Summer Salad, a seasonal special made with spiralised raw mango and cucumber, with a simple honey-lemon dressing was gorgeous, too. Slurpalicious!

fb_img_1524293535732-01980811238.jpeg
Thai DIY Paan at Enerjuvate, Koramangala

The next starter that was presented to us – Thai DIY Paan – completely blew our minds away. What a flavour bomb this was! My taste buds are still tingling with the burst of flavours it filled my mouth with. Served with toasted peanuts and coconut, Enerjuvate‘s in-house tangy tamarind chutney, chillies, sprouts, ginger, onions and lemon wedges, it is fun to make these lettuce wraps the way you want to. It is all healthy, too, to boot! In Thailand, apparently, this is a street food called Meeang Krung, and is made with betel leaves instead of lettuce. We would urge you to try this dish out at Enerjuvate – highly recommended!

Top left: Veggie Zoodle Bowl; Top centre: Asian-style chilli vegetables with millets; Top right: Potato Wedges Platter; Bottom: Momo Tasting Platter

Next up came a couple of their large platters – the Potato Wedges Platter and the Momo Tasting Platter.

The Potato Wedges Platter was lovely, very well done, with sweet potato and potato wedges baked to perfection, sprinkled with a generous dose of herbs. This is served with beetroot hummus and salsa.

We have mixed feelings about the Momo Tasting Platter, which included an assortment of healthy momos made with flours like wheat, ragi and other millets. The fillings were quite interesting – potato, spinach and corn, Asian noodles and the like. While I loved the fillings of these momos, I found the outer shell to be quite thick, unlike the paper-thin maida-based momos that are commonly available on the streets. That said, we do greatly appreciate the fact that these momos are made the healthy way, without any maida. The sauces served with the momos too are made in-house, fresh and healthy, without any preservatives or artificial flavouring or colouring agents.

We then went on to try samplers of two of Enerjuvate’s main course. We loved the Veggie Zoodle Bowl – zucchini noodles cooked beautifully, livened with herbs, perfectly spiced. The Asian-Style Chilli Vegetables was delish too – vegetables cooked the Asian way, but healthily, served with cooked millets instead of rice. This was such a delight to eat!

The Enerjuvate Loaded Pizza!

The Enerjuvate Loaded Pizza we were served next was sheer pleasure to eat. True to its name, it was loaded with toppings. The base – made with millets – was very well done, and the marinara sauce on it was quite flavourful. It was served with Enerjuvate’s signature pumpkin sauce (Gross? No way! The sauce was so delish, we were licking our fingers! We didn’t even know that it was pumpkin sauce, BTW, till we were told!). This is another dish we would highly recommend you to try at Enerjuvate!

Thai DIY Soup at Enerjuvate, Koramangala

We also tried out a couple of the soups. The Thai DIY Soup had an interesting concept – lemongrass soup served in a cute mug with assorted toppings, for you to add in the way you please. The taste and texture of the soup didn’t charm us, though.

The Thukpa Twist – Tibetan thukpa made with healthy flat ragi noodles – didn’t bowl us over either.

Left: Lemon (n)ice cream!; Top right: Choco Mocha Cups; Bottom right: Sizzling Brownie, at Enerjuvate, Koramangala

We ended our meal with samples of some of Enerjuvate’s desserts, every single one of which was brilliant and utterly blew us away!

The Lemon (N)ice Cream – a preservative-free vegan ice cream made with coconut milk – was so refreshing and lovely. We loved this to bits! If you can get hold of this at Enerjuvate, please don’t miss it!

The Choco Mocha Cups are, again, vegan. These little chocolate cups filled with coffee-flavoured cashew cream were sheer bliss. Yumminess overload!

The Sizzling Brownie was simply beautiful too, with vegan vanilla ice cream served atop a chocolate ragi brownie! This one comes highly recommended too!

All of these desserts were made with zero refined sugar. Can you guess? We surely couldn’t!

Price

A meal for two at Enerjuvate, Koramangala, will set you back by INR 800, approximately. We think this is a steal, considering the charming ambience, the quality and deliciousness of the food, and the fact that it is all cooked fresh and healthy, with utmost care.

In hindsight

The husband and I thoroughly enjoyed ourselves at Enerjuvate. We loved most of the food we tried out, in the midst of that pleasing ambience. Neither of us can wait to go back here and try out more from their vast menu!

Please do visit too – I’m sure you won’t regret it!

Have you been to Enerjuvate? What are your favourites here? Do tell me, in your comments!

Easy Hung Curd Lemon Mousse

I love anything with lemon in it, especially desserts. Aren’t lemon-y desserts just perfect for hot summer days, too? The scent of lemon instantly perks me up, makes me smile, even when I’m sweating buckets. Well, the Hung Curd Lemon Mousse that I’m going to tell you about today is exactly one such dessert – perfect for the summer months, fresh and lemony, something that will make you smile instantly. And, hey, it’s easy-peasy to make – no standing around in the kitchen for hours on end!

This is a relatively healthy dessert too, with no cream or condensed milk used. I have used home-made hung curd here, and organic honey to sweeten it. Once you have the hung curd ready, fixing up this mousse is a matter of minutes!

Here’s how I made the Hung Curd Lemon Mousse.

Ingredients (serves 4):

  1. 12-14 digestive biscuits
  2. About 3/4 cup fresh hung curd
  3. 3-4 tablespoons honey, or to taste
  4. 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice, or to taste
  5. 1 teaspoon lemon zest, or that from 2 lemons
  6. 5-6 unsalted cashewnuts
  7. 5-6 unsalted almonds
  8. A few fresh mint leaves for garnishing (optional)

Method:

  1. Toast the almonds and cashewnuts in a pan, on medium heat, till they get crisp. Ensure that they do not burn. Transfer to a plate, and allow them to cool down completely.
  2. When the toasted almonds and cashewnuts are cool enough to handle, chop them into slivers. Keep aside.
  3. Break up the digestive biscuits roughly and add them to a mixer jar. Pulse a couple of times, till you get a powder. Keep aside.
  4. In a large mixing bowl, mix together the hung curd, honey, lemon juice and lemon zest. Mix well, ensuring that everything is thoroughly incorporated together. Keep aside.
  5. You will need 4 small glasses to serve the dessert. Add some of the biscuit powder to the bottom of these 4 glasses. Spoon in some of the hung curd mixture on top of this. Add some almond and cashewnut slivers over this. Again, add a layer each of biscuit powder, hung curd mixture, and almond and cashewnut slivers. Repeat this till the glasses are almost 3/4 full.
  6. Garnish the glasses with a little more biscuit powder, almond and cashewnut slivers, and mint leaves. Cover, and keep in refrigerator for about 2 hours. Serve chilled.

Notes:

1. Raw cane sugar can be used to make this lemon mousse, instead of honey. You can also use ordinary refined sugar instead.

2. Lemon zest is nothing but the skin of fresh lemons, grated finely. You can use a zester or an ordinary grater to do this. While grating, make sure that you grate only the yellow skin of the lemon, avoiding any of the white layer underneath – the latter might cause your dessert to turn bitter.

3. You can use any brand of digestive biscuits of your choice, to make this Hung Curd Lemon Mousse. I prefer using Marie Biscuits.

4. You can even use walnuts, pecans, pine nuts or any other nuts of your choice, in making this mousse.

5. To make hung curd, simply take fresh curd in a cotton cloth, bunch it up and place it in a colander. Place the colander over a vessel and keep it undisturbed, in a cool and dry place, for about 2 hours. By this time, all the water will drain out of the curd and you will get a thick, smooth, creamy residue – this is what is hung curd, which can be used in making various dishes. For best results, use very fresh curd that isn’t sour.

6. If you aren’t planning on making the dessert right away after the hung curd is ready, store it in the refrigerator till you are. This will help stop sourness from getting into the prepared hung curd.

**************

Foodie Monday Blog Hop

This post is for the Foodie Monday Blog Hop. The theme for this week is ‘Recipes using curd’.

I’m also sending this post to Fiesta Friday – 221, co-hosted this week by Jenny @ Dragonfly Home Recipes.

Postcards From Cherrapunji, The Wet And Gorgeous Land

 

‘Cherrapunji is the wettest place on earth. It gets the highest amount of rainfall in the world,‘ I remember reading time and time again in my geography textbooks at school. Like many, that was my first introduction to Cherrapunji, via school books.

Well, the mantle of ‘wettest place on earth’ has now been passed to the neighbouring village of Mawsynram. Still, I am so thrilled to have had a chance to actually visit Cherrapunji aka Sohra, this place straight out of my school books, on our holiday to North-East India! And, guess what? We happened to visit Cherrapunji right in the midst of the monsoon, when it was at its wettest, wild, gorgeous best!

fb_img_1524121402488-01659006793.jpeg
A winding highway, in the midst of mountains, in Cherrapunji

Cherrapunjee from my eyes

We didn’t have any preconceived notions about Cherrapunji when we visited, and went with an open mind. The place charmed the socks right off us. We were thrilled to meet the sleepy, laid-back, small town that Cherrapunjee is, literally in the midst of the clouds. This land of many waterfalls and lush, lush greenery is still off-the-beaten track for many tourists.

fb_img_1524121372687-01372644694.jpeg
A quaint structure we came across in Cherrapunjee

Most tourists who do come here stay for just a day or so. They opt only to visit the Double-Decker Living Root Bridge and, at the most, a couple of tourist destinations. Cherrapunjee, however, is the sort of place you explore at a leisurely place. It is the kind of place where you stay put and do nothing, just sitting in the porch of your hotel with a cup of tea warming your hands, soaking in the prettiness around you. It is the kind of place where you take long walks on the winding streets, on misty mornings. You watch whole mountains being swallowed up by the clouds and mist. You let the clouds and mist envelop you, too, and you disappear into a private, magical space all of your own. Here, you begin to understand why Meghalaya (‘the abode of the clouds’ is called so), and why Rabindranath Tagore was moved to poetry here. You even write some poetry of your own, here. There is a lot to see and do and feel and explore in Cherrapunjee, if you take the time to do it.

fb_img_1524121387514-01418421219.jpeg
We stopped here to watch this breath-taking landscape, en route to Cherrapunji from Shillong. Later, we learnt that the landscape is like this, wherever you go, in Cherrapunji!

Exploring Cherrapunji

We stayed in Cherrapunji for 3 days, and thoroughly enjoyed our time there. We skipped the famous Double-Decker Root Bridge, as we were told it wasn’t a wise thing to attempt with a toddler in tow. We checked out many other spots here, and yet, I have this feeling that we have just barely scratched the surface.

When we visited, it would rain heavily in the early mornings, and everywhere would be filled with mist. At times like these, we would go for a leisurely stroll, just to get ourselves acquainted with the place, gawping at the pretty pastel-coloured houses, the local Ja-Sha (tea & rice) shops, and the many remnants of British culture. We would head for a relaxed breakfast then, the weather beginning to turn very pleasant. A day of exploration would follow. By 5.30 PM or so, it would start getting dark, and we would return to our hotel to rest and recoup. I grew so very fond of these do-nothing sort of days in Cherrapunjee – I would do it all over again in a flash!

fb_img_1524121490352-01638219664.jpeg
We missed lunch, the day we drove from Shillong to Cherrapunji. Our cabbie took us to this little shop in Cherrapunji, which made the best-ever vegetable Maggi we’ve ever had! There’s something extraordinarily charming about Maggi in the hills, right?

Relics from the times of the British Raj

Our cab driver told us fascinating stories of how the British were charmed by Cherrapunjee. ‘The Britishers wanted to make this place their capital,’ he said, adding, ‘but they found life here extremely tough. It was difficult to maintain any sort of records – the rain would wash away the ink on all their official papers. Finally, they gave up, and made Shillong their capital.’

I’m not sure how far this is true, but Cherrapunji does still possess some relics from the time the Britishers spent here. There are some very beautiful ancient churches here, and a few schools that the British set up. Apparently, during the British rule in Meghalaya, many of the local Khasi tribespeople converted to Christianity, which is still the most-favoured religion in the state, Cherrapunjee included.

fb_img_1524121367006-011603588049.jpeg
A pretty, pretty church that we came across in the course of our explorations in Cherrapunji

Wahkaba Falls

Neither the husband nor me are enamoured with waterfalls. I mean, we do love the sound of the gushing water – it never fails to soothe and relax us – but apart from that, we aren’t particularly fascinated by them. The waterfalls of Cherrapunji, however, made us fall in love with them! Wahkaba is one such beautiful waterfall we visited here, and absolutely adored. Abundant, powerful, pretty, we stared and stared at this waterfall for a long, long time. Then, the sun came out and made a rainbow in the Wahkaba, magic right before our eyes!

fb_img_1524137544557-01683923570.jpeg
The Wahkaba Falls in Cherrapunji

Arwah Caves

There are quite a few caves and caverns in Cherrapunji, many of them boasting of exotic rock formations and fossils. Mawsmai and Arwah are two of the best-known caves in the area. We decided not to do Mawsmai, as our tour guide suggested against it – it would be a difficult trek with a baby. We went to Arwah instead, and it turned out to be a fascinating experience.

fb_img_1524121324406-011026111685.jpeg
The gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous climb up to Arwah Caves in Cherrapunji

The climb up to Arwah Caves itself is magical. You get to see some amazing, amazing vistas, as you ascend.

fb_img_1524121351383-01343576207.jpeg
Mist-engulfed, during the ascent to Arwah Caves

You can choose to sit and rest at any of the stops during the climb, and take in the beauty around you. We did the climb real slow, soaking in every moment of it.

fb_img_1524121340875-011691003146.jpeg
A jaw-dropping vista, captured during the ascent to Arwah Caves

Good we did that, too, because when we got to the caves, we found we couldn’t get in too deep while carrying the kid – parts of it are real narrow and you need to double over to enter.

fb_img_1524121329273-01766799501.jpeg
The entrance to the Arwah Caves

We were so drunk on nature by then that we didn’t mind this one bit. Not exploring the cave meant more time for us to lounge around and breathe in more of that gorgeous, fresh air.

fb_img_1524121333823-011928994206.jpeg
Another absolutely amazing vista spotted during the climb up to Arwah Caves. Can you tell how crazy we went taking pictures here? 🙂

Nohkalikai Falls

Nohkalikai is another amazingly beautiful waterfall in Cherrapunji. When we visited, the water was abundant and gushing. At this spot, we fell in love with waterfalls all over again.

fb_img_1524121469356-011895466685.jpeg
The very beautiful Nohkalikai Falls in Cherrapunji

This brilliant waterfall has a rather gruesome story behind it, associated with a young local lady called Ka Likai (‘Ka‘ is a prefix given to women in general in Khasi). After Ka Likai’s husband died, she remarried, as is customary in this part of the world. Ka Likai had a baby daughter by her first husband, and would spend a lot of time with the little one after she got back home from work. Local legend says this made her new husband so jealous and furious that he killed the baby, and used the meat to cook a meal for his wife. That evening, the wife, hungry after her work, ate the meal. It was only later, when Ka Likai discovered a little finger lying in the house that she realised what had happened. Overcome with grief, she ran off the edge of a nearby cliff and died. Since then, the waterfall emanating from this particular place began to be called the Nohkalikai Falls, after her.

fb_img_1524121362871-011614171594.jpeg
Fresh cinnamon and bay leaves being sold at Nohkalikai Falls, Cherrapunji. I had never seen cinnamon sticks this huge before!

Sad as the story behind Nohkalikai Falls is, the place is quite the tourist attraction now. The atmosphere at the site resembles a small village fair, with everything from local handicrafts, woollen garments and toys to forest honey, a variety of pickles, fresh cinnamon bark and bay leaves on sale. I loved this part – I walked around the fair to my heart’s content, took pictures and shopped till we almost dropped!

fb_img_1524121453192-011105540289.jpeg
A variety of pickles and forest-fresh honey on sale, at Nohkalikai Falls, Cherrapunji

Ramkrishna Mission

The Ramakrishna Mission, set up in Cherrapunji in 1924 by Swami Vivekananda, is a big-time tourist attraction here. We found it just like the Mission in other places, nothing extraordinary. I loved the museum within the Mission premises, though, which is full of information and models depicting life in the North-East Indian states and their history.

Photography is not permitted here, and so, I don’t have any pictures of this place to show.

Eco Park

A large park maintained by the government, Eco Park is something of a tourist attraction in Cherrapunji. It isn’t much, to be honest, sort of poorly maintained, but it does offer some amazing views. We enjoyed walking around the park, photographing the breath-taking Missing Falls (named so because the source of the waterfall is untraceable). The kiddo had a grand time having a go at the swings in the children’s play area here!

fb_img_1524121377358-011555610350.jpeg
The spell-binding Missing Falls, as visible from Eco Park, Cherrapunji

Seven Sisters Falls

The Nohsngithiang Falls in Cherrapunji is popularly called the Seven Sisters Falls, because it is segmented into seven parts, naturally. Considered one of India’s tallest falls, this is supposed to be quite a beautiful spot. When we visited, however, we found only very thin streams of water cascading into the valley below, a kind of disappointment after the gorgeous falls we had been witness to in Cherrapunji earlier.

fb_img_1524137538918-011815376208.jpeg

So, that’s about all that we managed to do in Cherrapunji. Like I said before, I believe we have only just scratched the surface of all that the place has to offer. Well, next time..

**************

Getting there:

The best way to visit Cherrapunji is to reach Guwahati, either by air or train. Cherrapunji, about 180km from Guwahati, can be reached via state transport buses or private cabs. Alternatively, you could travel to Shillong from Guwahati (via bus or cab), and then travel ahead to Cherrapunji.

Getting around:

Private cabs are the best way to cover all the major tourist destinations in Cherrapunji. It is a great place to walk leisurely around in, but you really need a cab to sight-see. Our entire North-East trip was planned and managed by North East Explorers.

Stay:

There are a handful of good homestays, guest houses, hotels and resorts in Cherrapunji. Polo Orchid Resort, Cherrapunjee Holiday Resorts, Sohra Plaza, D Cloud Guesthouse are some stay options available here.

Eat:

Orange Roots, Halari, 7 Sisters Falls View Inn, Cafe Cherrapunjee & Inn and Rain Cafe are some of the popular eateries here.

**************

I hope you enjoyed reading this post, and found it useful! Please do tell me in your comments!

 

 

Vazhakkai Thol Thogayal|Raw Banana Peel Chutney

Did you know that the peel of various fruits and vegetables can be used to make delicious dishes? Yes! The peel, in most cases, contains a whole lot of nutrients, and they are best eaten rather than discarded. This Vazhakkai Thol Thogayal or Raw Banana Peel Chutney is one such example of a beautiful dish created from the high-in-fibre peel of the plantain, which would otherwise have gone to waste.

When I recently read about Raw Banana Peel Chutney (‘Aratikkaya Tokka Pachadi‘ in Telugu) on Sakhi Ravoor’s blog, I was reminded of a similar chutney that Amma would make. Amma‘s chutney would be yummylicious but simple, while Sakhi’s version sounded like a jazzed-up version of the same. I decided to recreate Amma’s chutney in my kitchen, adding a few Sakhi touches to it. The result was so very lovely – a delight, which we polished off in no time.

This Raw Banana Peel Chutney is finger-lickingly delicious, bursting with flavour. It pairs wonderfully with idlis, dosas, rotis, parathas and steamed rice alike.

Here is how I made the Raw Banana Peel Chutney.

Ingredients (makes about 1 cup) :

  1. Peel from 2 medium-sized raw bananas
  2. 1 teaspoon + 1 teaspoon + 1 teaspoon oil
  3. Salt, to taste
  4. 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  5. 2 medium-sized tomatoes
  6. 5-6 cloves of garlic
  7. A 1-inch piece of ginger
  8. A small piece of tamarind
  9. 2 tablespoons chana daal
  10. 2 tablespoons urad daal
  11. 4-5 dry red chillies, or to taste
  12. 1 tablespoon jaggery, or to taste
  13. 1/2 tablespoon sesame seeds (til)
  14. 1 teaspoon mustard
  15. 1 sprig fresh curry leaves
  16. 2 pinches of asafoetida

Method:

1. Cut the raw banana peel into small pieces. Chop tomatoes into quarters. Peel the garlic cloves. Peel the ginger and chop finely. Keep aside.

2. Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a pan. Add the chopped banana peel, and cook on low flame till they turn brown. Add chopped tomatoes, garlic cloves and ginger. Cook on low flame till the veggies shrink a little. Ensure that the ingredients do not burn. Transfer to a plate and allow these ingredients to cool down completely.

3. Heat 1 teaspoon oil in the same pan. Add the chana daal, urad daal and dry red chillies. Fry on low heat till the daals turn brown, taking care to ensure that the ingredients do not burn. Add the til in the end and fry for a couple of seconds. Transfer all the fried ingredients to another plate and allow to cool down completely.

4. Soak the tamarind in a little hot water for a few minutes, till it gets soft. Remove seeds, strings and impurities, if any, from the tamarind. Allow this to cool down completely. Reserve the water the tamarind was soaked in, too.

5. Take the cooked raw banana peel, tomatoes, ginger and garlic in a medium-sized mixer jar. Add salt to taste, jaggery, turmeric powder and tamarind along with the water it was soaked in. Pulse a couple of times for 2 seconds each, stopping to scrape down the sides of the mixer with a spoon and mix the ingredients.

6. Now, add the fried chana daal, urad daal, dried red chillies and til to the mixer. Mix the ingredients. Pulse a couple of times for 2 seconds each, stopping to scrape down the sides of the mixer and mix the ingredients. Stop when you get a chutney wherein the veggies are well ground and the daals are coarsely crushed. Transfer the chutney to a serving bowl.

7. Heat 1 teaspoon oil in the same pan. Add mustard seeds, and allow to splutter. Lower flame and add the curry leaves and asafoetida. Let them stay in for a couple of seconds. Transfer this tempering to the chutney in the serving bowl. Mix well. The chutney is now ready to be served.

Notes:

1. Use peel from bananas that are raw, green and firm, with not a hint of ripeness. This will give you the perfect-tasting Raw Banana Peel Chutney.

2. Adjust the quantity of salt, jaggery, dry red chillies and tamarind as per your personal taste preferences.

3. Finely chopped coriander can be mixed in too, after the Raw Banana Peel Chutney is ready.

4. Grind the raw banana peel, tomatoes, ginger and garlic first, along with salt, tamarind, turmeric and jaggery first. When almost done, add the roasted til, chana daal, urad daal and dry red chillies. This will ensure that the chutney retains a slight crunch from the daals.

5. We use only the peel of the raw bananas to make this chutney. The raw bananas can be used to make some other dish.

Did you like this recipe for Raw Banana Peel Chutney? I hope you will try this out, and that you will love it as much as we did!

******************

I’m sending this recipe to Fiesta Friday #220, co-hosted by Mollie @ The Frugal Hausfrau and Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook.

Sharjah Shake Recipe| How To Make Sharjah Milkshake

Kerala’s connection with the Gulf is legendary. Almost every family in Kerala has someone living in the Gulf countries or someone very eager to go there. When we recently visited Wayanad,Kerala, we were not surprised to come across small bakeries called ‘Dubai Bakery’, ‘UAE Bakery’ and the likes. It was in one of these little bake shops that we sampled Sharjah Shake for the first time ever.

For the uninitiated, Sharjah Shake is a milkshake that you will find in most bakeries in Kerala. A concoction made of milk, coffee powder, sometimes chocolate, peanuts, bananas, vanilla ice cream and Boost, Horlicks or Bournvita, it tastes absolutely delicious. This might sound like a weird combination, but don’t let that deter you from trying this out – like I said, this milkshake is finger-lickingly delish!

The origins of the Sharjah Shake are hazy. Some say this concoction was dreamt up by a Malayali in memory of the beautiful time he spent in Sharjah. Some say it is a tribute to the Gulf, the unending love Keralites share for the place. Well, whatever the case may be, I’m so glad to have had the opportunity to taste this beauty in Wayanad and to learn to make it right there!

Here’s how to make Sharjah Shake, the way I learnt standing in a tiny Wayanadan bakery.

Ingredients (serves 2):

  1. 1 medium-sized Robusta banana, chopped
  2. 2 heaped tablespoons Boost
  3. 3 tablespoons sugar or to taste
  4. 1 teaspoon instant coffee powder
  5. 2 tablespoons salted peanuts, skin removed
  6. 1 small cup of vanilla ice cream or to taste
  7. About 1-1/2 cups chilled milk

Method:

1. Add all ingredients in mixer.

2. Blend till smooth.

3. Pour into serving glasses. Sprinkle some cocoa powder or instant coffee powder on top (optional). Serve immediately.

Notes:

1. You can add in a few cashewnuts for a thicker milkshake as well as for added flavour.

2. Increase or decrease the quantity of the ingredients used, depending upon your personal taste preferences.

3. You can use Horlicks or Bournvita in making this milkshake, instead of Boost. Each one of these will add a variation to the taste.

4. Make sure the milk has been boiled and chilled in the refrigerator for a couple of hours, before using it in making the milkshake.

5. In Kerala, small local varieties of bananas are used to make the Sharjah Shake. Since I did not have access to them, I used a Robusta banana instead.

*************

This post is for the Foodie Monday Blog Hop. The theme for this week is ‘Recipes using coffee’.

I’m also sending this recipe to Fiesta Friday #220, co-hosted by Mollie @ Frugal Hausfrau and Jhuls @ Not So Creative Cook.

A Beautiful Birthday Lunch At Maia – Eat|Bake|Mom, Bellandur

It was my birthday, over a month back, and the husband and I decided to head out for a quiet lunch together, with the bub. He told me to choose the restaurant where I’d like to eat, and I chose Maia – Eat|Bake|Mom in Bellandur, a place that had been on my hit list ever since it opened up some time last year. We ended up having a lovely, relaxed lunch at Maia’s, and falling in love with the beautiful place that it is.

Concept of Maia – Eat|Bake|Mom

A relatively new entrant in the food scene in Bangalore, Maia is an eatery with a difference. I have been in love with the concept of Maia, ever since I heard of it – a space dedicated to moms, a menu featuring recipes contributed by moms from across the world, no-nonsense food prepared without any preservatives or harmful additives, food that isn’t cooked in a jiffy (restaurant-style) but the way it is at homes, food you wouldn’t hesitate to feed your child, including breads baked in-house.

Maia is an all-vegetarian restaurant, which doesn’t serve alcohol. It is owned and managed by Ms. Sejal Shah, a Gujarati, and her partner, thanks to which you will find several Gujarati dishes on the menu.

Location, decor and ambience

Tucked away in a quiet bylane in the busy Bellandur, Maia wasn’t difficult to find. Google Maps led the way, and the rest, as they say, is history!

Once you enter the gates of Maia, you forget that you are in the midst of the concrete jungle that is Bellandur. With a gurgling waterfall, earthy and rustic decor, glimpses of quirkiness here and there, and lots of greenery all around, this place is surely an oasis of calm. Both the husband and I were totally charmed by the prettiness of Maia.

27973512_754182521437833_4057108940163866862_n
The table we lunched at, right next to the gushing water, at Maia.

Maia is quite a large space, with a large number of seats available. There is both indoor and outdoor seating here, and we chose to sit in the open, right beside the waterfall. In hindsight, this turned out to be a wonderful decision. It turned out to be quite an experience eating to the sound of gushing water. All throughout our lunch, the sound of the water washed over us, and we finished our meal thoroughly relaxed and rejuvenated. This is a rare occurrence for us, considering that most restaurants blast loud, loud, loud music and are so noisy that you can barely hear your partner over the din, leave alone have a conversation! For this quietude alone, we would love to return to Maia, again and again and again.

27971658_754182551437830_8193759316675429605_n
My second favourite table at Maia’s, complete with skylight and stone table. Isn’t just a wonderful blend of the outside and the inside?

When we visited, we were lucky to have the place almost all to ourselves, and this added to the feeling of quietude that Maia already exudes. This is, definitely, the sort of place you should take your loved ones to, a place where you can really talk and bond with each other, over good food.

I hear the eatery is even more beautiful by night, when it is all lit up with fairy lights, a magical world of sorts. I can’t wait to go back to Maia, to check it out at night time!

BeFunky Collagemaia
Some of the whimsical touches at Maia that I loved. Little terrariums that adorn every table, a stone depicting Feng Shui symbols for the different constituents of the world, a quirky light

Food and drinks

We started our meal at Maia with Traditional Farali Patties – a Gujarati delicacy, a snack made with potatoes and a gorgeous sweetish stuffing within, something that is consumed during fasts. How could I not?! I adore farali patties, haven’t been able to figure out how to make them at home myself, and haven’t found them elsewhere in Bangalore. So, these had to be ordered!

BeFunky Collagemaia2
Traditional Farali Patties at Maia

The patties were lovely, and one bite into them flooded my mind with thousands of memories from when I used to live in Ahmedabad. They were, in my humble opinion, just a notch less flavourful than the absolutely brilliant ones I remember eating in Ahmedabad. That said, these were still lovely.

Next up, we opted for Burrata & Rucola Pizza, a thin-crust pizza made with Maia’s home-made tomato sauce, burrata cheese and rucola lettuce. The pizza was served with a variety of infused olive oils for us to drizzle over it – roasted garlic, sun-dried tomatoes and chilli – and it was just lovely, too. Super fresh pizza, simple yet beautiful in taste – what’s to not love?!

BeFunky Collagemaia3
Left: Burrata & Rucola Pizza at Maia; Right: A couple of the infused olive oils that were served with the pizza

Then, we went for Pasta Arrabiatta, our eternal favourite in restaurants. It came with a slice of warm, pillowy soft, beautiful bread which, I heard, was baked in-house. The pasta itself was very lovely, perfectly cooked, with an extremely flavourful sauce, generously laced with veggies. We loved this the most!

28058990_754182781437807_4048935195493963552_n
Pasta Arrabiatta, served with fresh bread baked in-house, at Maia

To end our meal, we chose Maia’s Signature Popcorn Shake, instead of a dessert. Popcorn blended into a milkshake, with salted caramel sauce and ice cream – this is definitely something we haven’t come across anywhere else! This was just lovely too, very well blended, the perfect mix of sweet and saltiness.

28167272_754182648104487_1662156630650432305_n

It’s a pity we weren’t able to try out more of the interesting dishes on Maia’s menu. I can’t wait to go back here for the same!

Service

The service staff was courteous, warm and friendly.

A couple of the dishes took a bit of time to arrive at our table, but we were fine with that as we weren’t in a hurry. I understand that is also because the food here is prepared fresh, only after the order is received. If I have to wait for fresh, home-style food, hey, that’s perfectly okay!

Prices

Our bill came to around INR 700, which I think is pretty reasonable, considering the quality and taste of the food and the ambience at Maia’s.

In hindsight…

Both the husband and I adored Maia, and will cherish the beautiful experience of lunching here for a long time to come. This is definitely a place I would highly recommend you to head to, with friends or family or on a date! The menu, albeit all-vegetarian, has a whole lot of Indian and international dishes to choose from. Like I said earlier, I am eager to go back here again, to try out more from the extensive menu, and probably check out the ambience by night.

When we were at Maia’s, we had the opportunity to talk to Ms. Shah, a co-founder, who came across as extremely friendly and passionate. I understand there are plans for an in-house patisserie, cooking studio and cheese-making classes at Maia’s in the pipeline, all of which sounds fascinating to me!

Don’t miss this place, folks!