Kapoor & Daughters, Now At HSR Layout

The HSR Layout outlet of Kapoor’s Cafe  now has a beautiful new addition – a one-stop bridal shop! Here’s introducing Kapoor & Daughters!

This new store will stock dresses for to-be brides and their near and dear ones, all designed by Mukulika Kapoor, wife of Kapoor’s Cafe owner Arpit Kapoor. The garments are stitched in-house, some lovely statement pieces included.

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Left: Mukulika Kapoor, showcasing an embroidered saree from her collection; Centre: Some of the pieces on sale at Kapoor & Daughters; Right: A gorgeous red bridal lehenga at Kapoor & Daughters

In time, there’ll be jewellery and footwear on sale too. Customisation facilities are available as well.

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Left, Centre, Right: Some of the statement pieces on sale at Kapoor & Daughters

Kapoor & Daughters officially launched recently, to drumrolls and much fanfare, and I was thrilled to be a part of the grand opening.

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The dhol wallahs at the grand opening of Kapoor & Daughters, HSR Layout

All ye brides to be, take note! Now, you can shop till you drop here, and then eat your heart out at the upstairs all-vegetarian Punjabi eatery!

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Lunch At Misu: An Extremely Satisfying Affair

Considering our love for Pan-Asian food, the husband and I had been eagerly waiting for a chance to visit Misu on St. Marks Road. The place had been on my must-check-out list ever since it opened up, recently. Rave reviews of the food here by several food bloggers ignited the fire further. We decided to descend upon Misu one weekend, for lunch, and were not one bit disappointed. We absolutely loved the food we had here!

Ambience

The vibe at Misu is nice, warm and welcoming. The eatery is medium-sized, neither too cavernous nor too tiny.
The decor is simple and elegant. The mirrors on the ceiling, the long windows letting in the sunlight, a mural of a lady holding a fan across her face – everything adds to the charm of the place.
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Left: A view of the interiors at Misu; Right: A close-up of the lady with the fan, whom I loved
We found the seating here to be comfortable.

Cuisine

Misu serves Pan-Asian food, both vegetarian and non-vegetarian. There are plenty of options on the menu for both varieties of patrons.

The food and drink

Most reviews of Misu mention their Rainbow Dumplings – colourful, pretty, bright, happy little things. I love the look of them, and so the vegetarian version of these dumplings were the first thing we ordered here. The dumplings came to our table looking pretty as ever, but sadly, they weren’t really our cup of tea. We weren’t bowled over by them. The bok choy stuffing within was something that failed to excite our tastebuds.
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Left: Fried Turnip Cake; Right: Vegetarian Rainbow Dumplings, both at Misu

The Fried Turnip Cake that we ordered next was brilliant, and we absolutely loved it. Never would I have thought that something with turnip in it could be as beautiful in taste as this savoury cake was. The balance of sweet and sour and spicy was just perfect in this dish.

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Left: Sweet Lemonade; Centre: Virgin Mojito; Right: Vegetarian Tom Yum Soup, all at Misu

To go with the starters, we ordered a Sweet Lemonade (without soda) and a Virgin Mojito. We loved the Virgin Mojito, and felt it was very well done. The Sweet Lemonade was good too – not extraordinary, but not bad either.

The Vegetarian Tom Yum Soup that we ordered next was absolutely lovely. It was just perfect, neither too watery, nor too thick, very different from the watered-down stuff you get in the name of Tom Yum Soup in most Asian eateries.

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Left: Vegetarian Khao Suey at Misu; Right: Assorted pickles and dips we were offered at Misu

Next up, we ordered some Khao Suey, which was, again, just perfect. The coconut milk broth was extremely flavourful, and we loved it to bits.

Most Asian restaurants bring you the Khao Suey in a bowl, all ready. Quite unlike that, at Misu, the various components of the Khao Suey are brought to your table – the broth, the peanuts, the veggies and the noodles – and you get to mix them up just the way you would like. That is something that initially overwhelmed us, but an experience that we came to love eventually.
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Left: Mango With Sticky Rice; Right: Chocolate-Chilli Truffles, both at Misu

We were presented with some Chocolate-Chilli Truffles post this, something that isn’t on their regular menu, but only offered to diners on a complimentary basis. They were brilliant too, so very well done. We loved everything about these truffles – the Bournvita-and-sugar-coated exterior, the gooey chocolate interior, the hint of bitterness, the beautiful fragrance of good-quality chocolate, the chilli that kicked in after the sweet taste of the chocolate had almost left our tastebuds! Yum!

We also ordered Mango With Sticky Rice, which was lovely too. It was simple and elegant, mild but delish, the way it is supposed to be.

Service

Service was quite fast, we felt. We reached Misu just a bit before lunch hours closed, and everything we ordered arrived at our table super fast. The staff was courteous, polite and helpful.

Prices

The prices here are on the higher side. We paid about INR 2500 for this meal – high, but we are definitely not complaining about the quality or taste of the food here or the experience we had. We’d definitely love to come back here to sample more of the Pan-Asian delicacies on their menu.

Have you been to Misu yet? If so, how was your experience? What are your favourites on their menu?

Making Modaks With Chef Kunal Kapur, At The Masterclass By Whirlpool Built-In Appliances

Last weekend, a day after Ganesh Chaturthi, I was at the Something’s Cooking Culinary Studio, making modaks. These were no ordinary modaks, let me tell you, but very unique savoury ones, stuffed with a salty onion-garlic-green chilly-coconut filling. These modaks were later plated in a sea of coconut milk moilee sauce, and served with a dab of kokum foam on top. I, along with a bunch of other food bloggers, was attending a Masterclass with celebrated Chef Kunal Kapur, organised by Whirlpool Built-In Appliances. These modaks were specially innovated by him, for the class.

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Food bloggers and foodies discussing the menu, with Chef Kunal Kapur

Food bloggers as well as foodies from different walks of life were present at the Masterclass, and were divided into teams on the basis of their dietary preferences. All of us, together, cooked. The aim was for us to experience Whirlpool’s built-in kitchen systems and a whole host of kitchen appliances, using them to cook a special menu designed by Chef Kapur for the occasion.

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Some scenes from the culinary Masterclass by Chef Kunal Kapur

The event was also a means to commemorate the second anniversary of Haute Kitchen, am experiential centre for Whirlpool’s built-in appliances in Koramangala, Bangalore.

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Left and Centre: Two different teams, busily and happily cooking; Top right: The fancy-schmancy modaks that our team prepared; Bottom right: The ande ka halwa that our team prepared

I was in the ‘eggs only in desserts’ team and, together, we followed the instructions on the menu to cook up these unique savoury modaks. We were taught how to make foam that would stick to a spoon when inverted, instead of falling off, using kokum – a basic molecular gastronomy trick using soy lecithin. This foam, we used to deck up our savoury modaks with. We also made ande ka halwa, an egg-based sweet dish, which is, apparently an old Hyderabadi recipe. The other teams made a non-vegetarian version of the modaks, using prawns and fish. As we cooked, Chef Kapur demonstrated the making of the prawn-and-fish modaks.

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Left and centre: Chef Kunal Kapur demonstrating the preparation of the prawns-and-fish modak at the Masterclass; Right: The beautifully presented non-vegetarian modak prepared by Chef Kunal Kapur

All in all, a fun time was had by everyone, and much learning happened. I know for sure that I am surely going to prepare these modaks again, at home.

Thank you, Team Whirlpool India and Something’s Cooking Culinary Studio, for making this possible!

About Whirlpool’s Built-In Kitchen Appliances

Whirlpool has introduced a host of smart built-in products with European design and functionality. These products – from coffee machines and hoods to built-in dishwashers and refrigerators to stackable washers and dryers – are highly versatile and technologically advanced, at the same time being very innovative and stylish. Whirlpool built-in appliances feature the advanced 6TH SENSE Technology, which intuitively senses all your needs and adapts to your culinary techniques. In other words, the appliances contain intelligent sensors and features that orchestrates the entire cooking process, observes the energy output, adjusts the cooking time, and keeps everything in your control.

At the Whirlpool Haute Kitchen (No. 11, 3rd Main, 80-feet road, K.R Garden, 8th Block, Koramangala, Bangalore – 560095), you can ask for a demonstration of various built-in kitchen appliances.

About Something’s Cooking Culinary Studio

Something’s Cooking Culinary Studio is a place that believes in bringing people together through the power of cooking. Cooking classes, workshops, corporate team events and blogger events are just some examples of all the fun stuff that happens here. The studio is located at 580, Aswan Plaza, 20th Main, 8th Block , Koramangala Ganapathi Temple Road, Bangalore – 560095.

The Husband’s Birthday Lunch At Farzi Cafe: An Underwhelming Affair

Farzi Cafe had always been on my list of eateries to visit in Bangalore, thanks to a number of blog posts I have read praising the place. I was in awe of the very innovative ways in which the cafe presents its food. So, it was Farzi Cafe in UB City that we chose to celebrate the husband’s birthday recently, and headed to for lunch. True to the reviews that we had read, the cafe did dish up food in very different ways, but we, sadly, ended up underwhelmed by the whole thing.

Ambience and decor

Located in the posh UB City, Farzi Cafe has an ambience that I would call ‘buzzing’. The eatery was teeming with people when we visited, and most of the ample seating area was occupied. Thankfully, though, we didn’t have to wait for long for a table to open up.

The seating was quite uncomfortable, we felt, a fact that has been pointed out in several Zomato reviews. The place tends to get quite noisy too (something we noted during our lunch, and on several past visits to UB City), so it is definitely not somewhere you visit if you want to have an uninterrupted conversation.

Cuisine

Farzi Cafe has a varied and extensive menu, including Indian as well as fusion dishes, both vegetarian and non-vegetarian. The eatery is known for its off-beat take on popular foods as well as innovative presentation styles.

The food and drinks

First up, we ordered the Mac N Cheese, served not the usual way, but in the form of deep-fried balls. The taste was strictly okay.

The Orange OK, an orange-based mocktail, that we ordered was just average too.

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Left: Orange OK, Centre: Mac N Cheese; Right: The complimentary Mishti Doi Shots

The Vada Paav we ordered next – paav inside the vada, and vada outside the paav, deep-fried – was presented beautifully, but, again, we found it just okay taste-wise.

For main course, we ordered their English Paav Bhaji, paav bhaji made with ‘English’ vegetables and served with foccaccia instead of the paav that usually comes with it. Presentation-wise, it was terrific, and the taste was definitely not bad, but we didn’t find it really out of the ordinary. I typically use all sorts of veggies to make paav bhaji at home, and this was the same.

We were offered a complimentary tamarind palate cleanser in between the two courses, with great fanfare, the sticks plucked out of a large white ceramic tree. It was okay, and I’m not complaining about that either.

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Left: Vada Paav, Centre: The tamarind palate cleanser offered complimentary in between courses; Right: English paav bhaji

The Rasmalai Tres Leches Cake that we ordered next was good. The presentation was good, and the taste was good, too.

We were given some complimentary mishti doi shots, which we loved. The paan (cotton candy shells filled with dehydrated paan mix) was good, too.

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Left: Rasmalai Tres Leches cake; Centre: The complimentary paan; Right: The typewriter in which our bill was presented to us!

Service

We found the service to be okay – the staff was polite and courteous, but they took ages to bring each dish to the table. It wasn’t really a problem, because we did want to have a leisurely meal.

Prices

We felt the food to be quite expensive here – like everything else in UB City is. We paid INR 2500 for this meal.

In hindsight…

We felt more than a bit underwhelmed by this birthday lunch at Farzi Cafe, a fact that is as sad as it gets. Overall, I guess, we had built up too much of expectation thanks to all those rave blog reviews, and those didn’t match up to the reality. Maybe, we are purists who don’t like their food to be tampered with too much. Maybe, we just didn’t choose the right dishes. Maybe, it just wasn’t our day – we kept feeling like the lunch we had had here wasn’t a hearty affair. Maybe, this is the sort of place where presentation is key, and that isn’t always the lookout for us.

I’m confused about whether I should give this place another go or not.

It’s Falooda Time At #SwensensIndia!

#swensensindia #faloodaevent

What do you think of when you think of falooda?

I think of glasses filled with pink, pink, pink milk lined up on a street-side cart, vermicelli and chia seeds swirling around in it. I think of people grabbing these glasses with sweaty hands. I think of them gulping all of it down in one go, an attempt to sate their parched throats on a hot summer’s day as well as to placate rumbling tummies with the cool, sweet, rose-laden drink.

When I encountered the falooda at Swensens, at a recent event for food bloggers, it both matched and did not match the picture in my head. The event aimed to familiarise us with the latest introduction on the Swensens (India) menu – the falooda – or, rather, the chain’s version of it. We also met Director – Swensens (India), Mr. Pinaki Mukherjee, who talked to us about the salient features of this  falooda.

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Left: Mr. Mukherjee talking to the food bloggers about the Swensens falooda; Right: The three versions of the Swensens falooda (small, medium and large) that are currently available

The Swensens version of this dessert is classy and beautiful, all jazzed up, as against the street-side version. It is made with quality ingredients, all the little things that have always comprised the falooda. It is just as cool and refreshing, too. The rose and the vermicelli are there, but no chia seeds or milk. I would say it is Swensens’ attempt to recreate the falooda, without deviating entirely from the way the drink originally tastes.

At the event, we were shown how the Swensens falooda is made – layer by layer by layer. Each layer is built to give a different taste, a different feeling, to the eater. We watched in wonder as waffles (crushed and whole), rose syrup, saffron syrup, saffron-flavoured ice cream, broken cashewnuts, saffron-flavoured vermicelli, rose petals and the signature Swensens cherry all went into the making of the falooda.

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Left: The Swensens falooda, standing tall and pretty; Centre and Right: The team demonstrating the various steps in the making of the Swensens falooda

Mr. Mukherjee told us of how each ingredient used in the falooda is sourced with great care and caution, to ensure good quality and consistent taste. The Maraschino cherries that are a part of all Swensens ice creams come from a farm in the US of A – apparently, the entire crop of the farm is booked by Swensens in advance, every year. Similarly, the roses and saffron (for the rose and saffron syrups used in the falooda) comes from select fields in India. Also, the vermicelli used herein is cooked fresh every morning, infused with saffron, unlike the plain vermicelli commonly found in falooda elsewhere.

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Isn’t she pretty?!

I’m not a big fan of falooda, I admit. I never have been. This version of the falooda did win me over, though. I liked the way it tasted, each layer contributing towards the delectable taste of the whole. I love the fact that Swensens offers the falooda in small, medium and large sizes, so patrons can choose the exact quantity they would like to have. The large size is like a complete meal in itself!

This is definitely one dessert that I would love to have again, if I can look past the Sticky Chewy Chocolate Fantasy that grabs my fancy every single time I enter Swensens!

Why don’t you go ahead and try out this pretty and delicious dessert, too?

  • Where?: At all Swensens outlets
  • When?: Limited edition for about 3 months, ongoing now
  • Price?: INR 99 for the small (Happy Falooda), INR 149 for the medium (Carnival Falooda), and INR 229 for the large (Crispy Crunchy Falooda)

I was invited to sample the product, and to share my feedback about the same. The views expressed herein are entirely honest and my own, not influenced by anything or anyone.

Workshop On Millet Foods For Dieticians And Chefs, Day 2: How To Cook With Millets

If Day 1 of the Workshop On Millet Foods For Dieticians And Chefs was enlightening, Day 2 was even more so. Day 2 was when all participants couldn’t take their eyes off stage, when they watched goggle-eyed the magic being spun before them, riveted to their seats. Day 2 was as full of practical sessions as Day 1 was of technical ones, with a number of chefs coming up on stage to demonstrate all the delicacies that can be cooked using millets.

The point was to prove just how versatile millets are, how they can lend themselves to a variety of dishes, Indian and international, healthy and not-so-healthy, simple and five-star-menu worthy, sweet and savoury, vegetarian and non-vegetarian. Together, I think, the chefs more than proved this!

Here is an overview of Day 2 of the workshop, for your viewing and reading pleasure. I think I’ll mostly let the pictures of the food do the talking – that left all of us speechless, for sure!

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Day 2 began with Shri Krishna Byre Gowda, Honourable Minister of Agriculture for the state of Karnataka, addressing those present. In his speech, he recapped most of what was discussed on the first day – enunciating how exactly millets are good for you, for the farmers, and for the environment as well.

(Check out my detailed post about the key take-aways on Day 1!)

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Shri Krishna Byre Gowda, in his inaugural address on Day 2

Then, Dr. Bhaskarachary of the Indian Institute of Millets Research (IIMR), Hyderabad, came up on stage to talk about the role of millets in today’s society. He talked at length about how the inclusion of millets would go a long way towards creating a balanced diet, as opposed to the wheat- or rice-heavy diets that most people these days seem to use. He spoke of how the high nutritional value of millets is not something that we should miss out on, especially now, when lifestyle diseases like high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes are on the rise. Dr. Bhaskarachary also stressed on the role of chefs, dieticians, home cooks and food bloggers to spread the right information about millets, and to encourage more people to include them in their diets.

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Dr. Bhaskarachary addressing the participants of the workshop

After this, some heavy-duty action began on stage! It was the turn of chefs from all over Bangalore to showcase their delectable millet confections!

Chef Ramaswamy Selvaraju, Executive Chef of Vivanta By Taj, Bangalore, went first. He demonstrated how to make a beautiful Spinach-Stuffed Millet Ravioli With Primavera Sauce, as well as some Pan-Seared Chicken With Millet Stew And Sauternes Sauce and Smoked Chicken And Baby Pineapple Salad With Crispy Foxtail Millet.

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Left: Chef Selvaraju demonstrating his recipes; Right: Top – Spinach-Stuffed Millet Ravioli With Primavera Sauce, Centre – Pan-Seared Chicken With Millet Stew And Sauternes Sauce

Next, Ms. Vani Anamdas, Manager – Housing & Food Services, International Crops Research Institute For The Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), Hyderabad, came up on stage. Her team demonstrated the making of Finger Millet Cake With Hot Garlic Sauce, Millet Manchurian, and Millet Kashmiri Kofta In Palak Gravy.

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Left: Ms. Vani Anamdas addressing the participants; Centre: Top – Finger Millet Cake With Hot Garlic Sauce, Bottom: Millet Manchurian With Gravy; Right: Top – Millet Kashmiri Kofta In Palak Gravy, Bottom – Dry Millet Manchurian

Ms. Anamdas’s team from ICRISAT also went on to demonstrate how to make Ragi Shots, Sorghum Stuffed Kulcha, Millet Waffles, Ragi Banana Bread, and Sorghum Flakes-Fried Chicken.

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Top left: Ms. Vani Anamdas’s team demonstrating millet-based recipes; Bottom left: Sorghum Flakes-Fried Chicken; Adjacent to bottom left: Ragi Banana Bread; Bottom right: Millet Waffle; Top of bottom right: Sorghum Stuffed Kulcha; Top right: Ragi Shots

Post this, Chef Nagarekha Palli of Ramaiah University of Applied Sciences (RUAS) came up on stage to demonstrate two more millet-based recipes – Foxtail Millet Crisps With Millet Sprouts and Smoked Kodo Millet Kabab With Yogurt Dip. She also demonstrated how to get millets to sprout beautifully into long, delicate, green shoots, over a period of four or five days.

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Left: Chef Nagarekha Palli demonstrating on stage; Centre: Foxtail Millet Crisps With Millet Sprouts; Right: Smoked Kodo Millet Kabab With Yogurt Dip

Chef Shyam Prasad of RUAS then came up on stage to show the audience how to make Millet Paella (yes, you read that right!) and Finger Millet Tacos.

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Left: Chef Shyam Prasad demonstrating his dishes; Centre: Millet Paella; Right: Finger Millet Tacos

Chef Shashi Sharma of RUAS then showed everyone the method of preparation of his Millet Paneer And Spinach Tikki and Millet Chicken Risotto.

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Left: Chef Shashi Sharma on stage; Centre: Millet Paneer And Spinach Tikki; Right: Millet Chicken Risotto

After this, Chef Sridhar Krishnan of RUAS demonstrated how to make two beautiful, beautiful, beautiful millet-based desserts – Greek Yogurt Cake With Citrus Glaze and Toffee Chocolate Tart.

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Left: Chef Sridhar Krishnan on stage; Centre: Greek Yogurt Cake With Citrus Glaze; Right: Toffee Chocolate Tart

Day 2 of the workshop concluded with a panel discussion, where participants could ask relevant questions to the experts on stage. The experts included Chef Shashi Sharma, Chef Shyam Kumar, Chef Sridhar Krishnan, food blogger Ruth D’Souza Prabhu of the Bangalore’s Restaurants fame,  Chef Nagarekha Palli, Chef Vani Anamdas, and the Joint Director of Agriculture, Mr. Jayaswamy.

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The experts on stage, for the panel discussion

Key take-aways from Day 2 of the workshop

~ Millets can be used to cook a huge variety of dishes, ranging from traditional Indian fare to the highly exotic. And millet-based food can look great, too!

~ Millets can be used to create healthy dishes as well as junk food like manchurian and calorie-heavy dishes like cakes and other desserts. The dishes demonstrated at the workshop were a mix of both these types. I admit some the dishes shown to us weren’t very healthy, but I guess the aim of the workshop was to demonstrate the vast range of possibilities. Also, as the experts stated, people would be more amenable to using millets if they saw them being used to make contemporary food that is tasty as well.

~ While cooking with millets, one needs to be aware of the inherent properties that each type possesses. Some types of millets, for instance, needs to be soaked for a while before cooking, to ensure that they are cooked well and not very chewy. This understanding comes with trial and error, experimenting with millets in your kitchen on a regular basis.

~ Baking with millets can be a tad tough, since they do not possess any gluten. Hence, it becomes essential to mix maida or whole wheat flour with them, to get a good-quality finished product.

~ When you substitute millets for rice in a dish well-known to you, there might be a change in the texture of the dish as it is known to you. This is something you must be ready for, when beginning to cook with millets.

Well, that was all about the beautiful millet workshop I attended. I hope you enjoyed this post, and that it will be of help to you.

Workshop On Millet Foods For Dieticians And Chefs, Day 1: An Overview

The 25th and 26th of July, 2017, saw a beautiful workshop on millet foods being conducted at the MS Ramaiah campus in Matthikere. This workshop – Workshop On Millet Foods For Dieticians And Chefs – was organised by the Government of Karnataka, in association with MS Ramaiah Institute, with the intention of spreading more awareness about millets and millet-based foods. This is an extension to the #LetsMillet campaign being vigorously undertaken by the Government of Karnataka, an attempt to reach out to the masses after the hugely successful Organics And Millets Mela held in April 2017.

I am thankful to have been offered an invite to attend and cover the workshop which, I think, was just as successful as the Organics And Millets Mela. It was met with a wonderful, enthusiastic response from chefs, dieticians, students, home cooks and various dignitaries from the worlds of food, nutrition and politics.

To say I am overwhelmed and enlightened by the experience of attending the workshop would be an understatement. I’ve learnt so much in these two days; watched so much of magic being unravelled; life in my kitchen is never going to be the same again, I’m sure.

Some of the most commonly asked questions about millets were answered, this first day of the workshop. Here’s a glimpse of all that happened on Day 1 of the workshop, and the key take-aways, for your viewing and reading pleasure.

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The workshop began with an address by Shri Krishna Byre Gowda, Honourable Minister of Agriculture for Karnataka. He spoke about how millets are the need of the hour, speaking about what exactly millets are and the need to inculcate them in our daily diets

We’ve been hearing about this ‘millets’ thing day in and day out. But what are they, really?

Millets are actually grasses with tiny seeds, something that has been cultivated in India since ages. They are hardy crops that can be grown with little investment and little usage of water, and hold immense nutrition within their tiny selves.

If they are so good for us, why aren’t we using more of millets?

Once upon a time, millets were consumed in generous quantities by Indians, and were extensively used to feed cattle as well. However, with advancing times and the increasing influence of Western culture, millets began to be looked down upon. They began to be called ‘poor man’s food’ or ‘cattle feed’, and our diets changed to include primarily wheat-  or rice-based products. Our consumption of millets has gone down drastically, both in urban and rural areas, so much so that it is negligible. People have forgotten how to use these ancient powerhouses of nutrition aka millets.

Why millets?

Today, when global warming is a scary reality that we are slowly waking up to and water conservation is the need of the hour, millets can be of great help. Growing 1 kg. of rice consumes about 4,000-5,500 thousand litres of water, while growing a kg. of millets needs just about 20% of that. Moreover, millets can be grown even in bad weather conditions, in poor soil conditions. They are sturdy crops that aren’t usually infested by insects or diseases and, hence, require little or no pesticides and fertilisers. Therefore, the cost of growing millets is much, much lower than that of cultivating wheat or rice.

Sadly, though, there is little demand for millets today. Today, millets are grown only by those farmers who are unable to grow anything else, because they are extremely pressed for money or have land that has extremely poor conditions. Millets are good for the farmer in a lot of ways. So, if you begin to include more millets in your daily diets, you are actually helping the poorest of farmers, saving them from a life of misery.

By buying millets, you also contribute to environmental good health, by reducing the stress on already stressed-out water resources. You also help in cutting down the use of fertilisers and pesticides. Millets are, therefore, good for the environment, too. 

This is not all. Millets are good for our health, too. Today, non-communicable or lifestyle diseases like high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol are rampant in rural and urban India. Many of these diseases occur because of our sedentary lifestyles, increasing stress levels, and an unbalanced diet (read: increasing use of junk food and drinks, a high level of wheat- or rice-based foods, and a lack of inclusion of different types of fruits, grains, vegetables and other ingredients). Thanks to their high nutritional content, the inclusion of millets in our daily diets can be one of the ways out of this situation. It is rather sad that people today are turning to foreign grains like quinoa and oats for their nutritional values, but ignoring our very own millets, which are far superior to these foods (even to rice and wheat, in case of most nutrients).

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Shri Krishna Byre Gowda releasing a special cookbook containing millet-based dishes, at the workshop, along with other dignitaries

What’s this #LetsMillet thing? Who are the various stakeholders?

The Government of Karnataka is presently on a mission to propagate awareness about millets through workshops like this one, to encourage people to use more of them, and to teach them different ways in which they can do so. Check out the #LetsMillet hashtag on Facebook and Instagram to take a look at the considerable work that has been done in this regard.

Chefs, dieticians, food bloggers and other social media influencers have an important role to play in contributing towards this end.

So, millets can be used just to make stuff like ragi mudde, right?

Millets can be used in a variety of dishes, traditional and contemporary, vegetarian and non-vegetarian. Also, people take millets to mean just ragi (finger millet) or bajri (pearl millet), while that is so not the case. These are just two types of millet – there’s a whole millet family out there, for you to explore and get the benefit of. Pearl millet, kodo millet, little millet, proso millet, finger millet, barnyard millet.. there are so many varieties of millets! Most people today don’t even know what these grains look like! 

Further, these grains can be used to make anything from gobi manchurian, dosa, idli, curd rice and bisi bele bath to risotto, ravioli, cakes and breads. For the last two years or so, chefs, home cooks and food bloggers have been experimenting with different types of millets, and there is now a wealth of recipes to be explored. So, millets does not translate into just stuff like ragi mudde.. almost anything can be made from them! They can be used in place of wheat and rice in all the dishes you commonly consume today, like curd rice or sambar rice, and they can be made into delicacies like payasam and kesari bath, too. That said, millets possess certain qualities that are inherent to them, and a chef should work around them while trying to develop dishes with them. 

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Some of the exhibits at the workshop. Left: The various kinds of millets, and some other grains that we should be consuming; Centre (top): Palak dosa made with navane (foxtail millet); Centre (bottom): Different types of breads and cakes prepared using millets; Right (top): Various snacks prepared using millets; Right (bottom): Thalipeeth prepared using bhajni (a flour made with mixed millets and grains)

Should I use millets just because my ancestors used them?

The Honourable Minister of Agriculture ended his speech with a request to everyone to consider increasing the use of millets in their daily diets. He stated that he does not solicit people’s co-operation because increasing consumption of millets is a political agenda, or because our ancestors used these grains, but because they are good for us in so many different ways, a fact that has been backed up by a whole lot of systematic scientific research.

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Dignitaries speaking about various aspects of millets, including their nutritional values and the way in which they should be introduced into one’s diet. Among the dignitaries who graced the occasion were Dr. Vilas Tonapi, Director – Indian Institute of Millets Research (IIMR), Hyderabad; Dr. Bhaskarachary of IIMR, Hyderabad; Dr. Vibha Shetty, Professor of Prosthodontics, Faculty of Dental Sciences, MS Ramaiah Dental College and Hospital; Ms. Hema Arvind, Chief Dietician, MS Ramaiah Memorial Hospital; and Dr. Govind R Kadambi, Pro VC-Research, MS Ramaiah University of Applied Sciences.

What are the various nutrients that millets possess?

  • They are high in dietary fibre, so they fill you up with lesser portion sizes. Therefore, they are helpful in weight management. They also help in lowering constipation.
  • They possess a low Glycemic Index (GI), and are thus useful in controlling diabetes.
  • They have anti-tumour and anti-carcinogenic properties too.
  • They are low in sodium, so they are helpful in the management of hypertension.
  • They help in the lowering of serum cholesterol and triglycerides.
  • They possess a highly alkaline nature, thereby helping in preventing and lowering the effects of irritable bowel syndrome, acidity, gallstones and stomach ulcers.
  • They are rich in anti-oxidants.
  • They possess hypo-allergenic properties and, hence, help in preventing allergic reactions.
  • They are rich in iron, thereby helping in the prevention of anaemia. 
  • They are useful in the prevention of liver disorders.
  • They are completely gluten-free.
  • Millets are far superior to wheat and rice and even quinoa, as far as various micro-nutrients are concerned.
  • They are quite high in protein, and hence, play a crucial role in a vegetarian diet, wherein protein sources are limited.
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A panel discussion on millets by experts from various fields. The experts include food blogger Archana Doshi, reputed dietician Geetha GH, Yogen Dutta – Executive Chef of ITC Gardenia (Bangalore), and Dr. Vibha Shetty – Professor of Prosthodontics, Faculty of Dental Sciences

If millets are so high in nutrients, should I be switching over to an all-millet diet then?

No, that kind of extreme switching over in diet is not advisable, not recommended by dieticians or nutritionists. Yes, millets are very high in nutrients, but they do need to be supplemented by wheat, rice, pulses, vegetables, milk, meat, eggs and a variety of other foods, so as to provide complete health to a human being.

What is advocated, really, through campaigns like this is an open mind, an acceptance to trying out different kinds of millets, at least a basic introduction of millets in your daily diet. All meals/snacks that you consume in a day need not be millet-heavy, but it would be great if at least one of them is.

Also, millets are not a miracle cure for all your ailments. The increase in lifestyle diseases in today’s times in not just a product of an imbalanced diet, which can be cured by the introduction of millets in your diet. There are other steps that need to be taken, too, to curb this, such as lowering overall stress levels, incorporating more physical activity in our lives, etc.

What are the things that I should keep in mind while introducing millets in my daily diet?

  • Millets can be used by people of all age groups, from a 6-month-old baby to a geriatric person, irrespective of their health condition. However, millets are believed to be goitrogenous in nature (i.e. they can enlarge one’s thyroid gland) and, hence, it would be advisable to consult a doctor before beginning to consume millets if you have a thyroid condition. If you have any other chronic ailment, too, you should ideally consult with a doctor to check on how much of millets you should consume in your daily diet, and in what form.
  • Soaking millets and throwing away the water, sprouting, cooking, roasting and fermenting are some techniques that are recommended to reduce the negative goiterogenous properties of millets.
  • Do not get carried away when you are just beginning to introduce millets into your daily diet. Do not go overboard. Introduce them slowly, little by little, into your diets, and wait and check whether they suit you. To start with, you may consume just one type of millet for a while, mixing it with rice or pulses, about twice a week, to see how they agree with you. Slowly and gradually, you may increase the quantity of millets you use.
  • Since millets are non-glutinous, baking with them can be tough. You might have to mix whole wheat flour or maida to them, to get good results.
  • There might be a slight difference in texture, when you substitute millets for rice in a dish known to you. For instance, pongal made with barnyard millet or proso millet might be grainier in texture as compared to that made with rice. That is something you should keep in mind while using millets.

Well, that’s how Day 1 of the workshop ended. I hope you enjoyed reading the post, and found it informative!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Discussing ‘The Power Of You’ With Anaida, At SodaBottleOpenerWala

Last weekend, I was invited to be a part of a workshop titled ‘The Power Of You’ at the famed Parsi eatery SodaBottleOpenerWala, on Lavelle Road. The workshop promised to touch upon things spiritual and emotional, including the healing power of food, how to choose the right ingredients for your food, and how to be the best version of yourself. The person conducting the workshop was none other than Anaida Parvaneh, pop star of the 1990s, a highly unlikely suspect for such a thing.

I had a lovely time at the workshop, where I felt Anaida spoke my mind about food. I returned with my faith in the power of food and cooking renewed. This post is all about my experience at the workshop.

About Anaida Parvaneh

Many of us still remember the pretty Anaida crooning to Oova Oova, back in the ’90s. She was a rage back then, after all, as we were growing up, singer of many more such groovy hits. What most of us don’t know (yet) is that there is a whole other side to the beautiful Anaida – Anaida Parvaneh (yes, that’s her last name!) is an Iranian by descent, someone who loves the food of her homeland. OK, she is a foodie at heart, who loves food in general. She is also a healer, writer and consultant for the entertainment and hospitality industry. I hear her workshops on yoga, meditation and overall wellness are extremely popular, the world over.

SodaBottleOpenerWala (Bangalore) is presently running a food festival called Persian Pop-Up Kitchen, wherein Anaida will be acting as Chef and whipping up some lovely heirloom recipes that have been handed down through generations of her family. Interesting, right? This workshop is an extension of the food festival.

Major take-aways from the workshop

The workshop began with Anaida speaking about the immense healing power that food possesses, of how it can be used to heal your mind, body and soul. She spoke of how, consequently, the person who cooks has a great responsibility – he/she is nourishing a whole being, and hence, needs to do the act with great love, caution, respect and patience. This is something I have always believed in, too.

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Anaida opening the workshop, with Chef Hemant Sonar from SodaBottleOpenerWala, Thane, Mumbai

Then, she went on to speak about how it is critical to choose the right ingredients for your cooking. The ingredients pass on their energy, their nutrients, to you, through your food, and it is, hence, important that you choose them with great care. Use fresh and seasonal ingredients that haven’t undergone undue stress (read: unhygienically grown crops, unethically raised meat, or extremely processed food). She also talked about how one needs to be aware of the different properties that various ingredients possess, and to use them wisely – most of the medicines you require for your small and big ailments are already present in your kitchen, she believes, and I vouch for the same too.

She suggested showing gratitude to food, to the ingredients that have gone into it, thanking the Universe for providing nutrition to you, thanking all those whose efforts have gone into putting your food on your table. Once you become mindful of this, she says, you cannot not eat right and stay healthy. I heartily agree, and strongly believe in the same.

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Anaida, in the course of her workshop

She also spoke about how food per se does not make you fat, but it is the kind of relationship that you share with food that determines whether it is healthy or unhealthy for you. If you eat in a hassled way (read: paying no heed to your food, seated in front of a television, or emotional bingeing because you are upset or happy), you will tend to veer towards the wrong foods or overeat, ultimately negatively impacting your health. On the contrary, if you build a good relationship with food, if you love and respect it, you will automatically begin to eat just as much as you need. So, it is not the rice or the ghee or the kheer that makes you fat – do include them in your diet, too – but the lack of being mindful with them that does.

Anaida then went on to tell the participants about how food need not be elaborate or have too many ingredients for it to be comforting and nourishing. The foods that comfort you, that heal you, are, more often than not, simple ones. So true, right? These comfort foods are different for different people, and you need to figure out your own. It is you and you alone who can pinpoint the exact things that bring you comfort and happiness from deep within.

For the benefit of the participants, Anaida demonstrated one of her favourite comfort foods – something she calls her Magic Soup. She believes this soup – loaded with vermicelli, turnip, coriander, carrots, corn, mushrooms and mixed sprouts, among other ingredients – has healing properties and that it can help anyone who is feeling under the weather. The soup, indeed, was simple, yet beautiful – I tried out the vegetarian version.

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Left: The ingredients for Anaida’s Magic Soup; Centre: Anaida demonstrating the non-vegetarian version of her Magic Soup; Right: The vegetarian version of the Magic Soup that I sampled

At the workshop, we also had the pleasure of meeting Sourav Sachin of the Flipkart fame, who spoke about how all the power that you need to lead your life is right within you. It is your attitude that determines whether others are fair or unfair to you, he stated. It is your way of looking at things that makes life good or bad for you, he added. When you stop looking outside, and start looking deep within, your light will shine, he concluded.

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Sourav Sachin, speaking at the workshop

In conclusion…

Both Anaida and Sourav’s words resonated with me, struck chords within me. The workshop felt like a reiteration of beliefs that I have always held. Deep inside, I think, all of us know all of this, but we often forget to be mindful in the chaos of everyday life.So, here’s to being more mindful, more slow, more accepting and aware of ourselves and what we really need!

 

A Very Keralite Breakfast At No. 10 Fort Cochin, St. Marks Road

Over the weekend, I was invited to be part of a breakfast meet for food bloggers at No. 10 Fort Cochin, a relatively new eatery on the busy St. Marks Road in Bangalore. Along with some of my foodie friends, I had a grand time here, gorging on some typical Keralite fare. This post is all about my experience.

No. 10 Fort Cochin, In a Nutshell

The restaurant, previously called Malabar Kitchen, isn’t a tough spot to find, considering that it is located at a prominent place on St. Marks Road. Basement parking is available, which is a big, big, big plus in a city like Bangalore and, therefore, worth a mention here.

The place prides itself on serving authentic Keralite food, including a full-blown sadya for lunch. Apparently, the chefs have been brought in from a couple of the best restaurants in Kerala, to ensure authenticity. Also, the fish and other seafood used in their meals comes fresh from special places on the coastline of Kerala and Gujarat.

Announcing breakfast at No. 10 Fort Cochin!

No. 10 Fort Cochin has been used to catering to corporate crowds from the offices nearby, for lunch and dinner. Breakfast, here, though, is something that has very recently launched. They do the typical puttu, appams, egg roast and stew for breakfast, but they also have dosas, idlis and cornflakes forming part of the (limited) menu. You will definitely see a far more extensive menu, including a lot of vegetarian and seafood dishes, during lunch and dinner time here.

The decor

The eatery has a simple, no-fuss decor, all clean lines and functionality. The latticework on the walls lets in ample sunlight, ensuring the place is well-lit and ventilated. The wooden chairs and tables, which can seat up to 40 patrons at a time, are comfortable.

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Seating at No. 10 Fort Cochin

The wall decor here is subtle, but impressive. An artist’s impressions of all things Kerala adorn the walls – murals of the famed Dutch Palace in Mattancherry, the streets of Cochin, the ships that you can commonly find in the sea at Fort Kochi, and so on. I couldn’t help but reminisce about the lovely time the husband and I have had vacationing in Kerala, here.

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Left: A model of a ship, on one of the walls at No. 10 Fort Cochin; Centre: The simple menu at the eatery, with a depiction of Fort Kochi’s famous Chinese fishing nets in the background; Right: A mural at the eatery, depicting the streets of Kerala

The food

We opted to sample the Keralite fare at No. 10 Fort Cochin over the cornflakes and other stuff (but of course!), and I would say we were richly rewarded. 🙂

Here is a brief overview of the food and drinks I tried out at this place.

Appams with vegetarian stew

I started breakfast with their appams and a vegetarian stew, both of which I loved. I have never had either before, so I am not sure of whether they would match up to the actual thing you get in Kerala. Personally, I quite liked the appams, pillowy soft with a faint hint of tanginess to them.

The vegetarian stew was perfect, with a generous amount of veggies, mild, with a slight kick from ginger. It suited my taste buds perfectly.

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Left: The non-vegetarian version of stew; Right: Appams and egg roast, both dishes that my fellow foodies adored. I cannot comment on the taste, as I sampled only the vegetarian fare here.

Lemon juice

I washed down the appams with some good old lemon juice, made in plain water with no soda. It was decent – not exceptionally brilliant, nor too bad either.

Puttu and kadala curry

Next up, I tried out some puttu with its quintessential accompaniment – kadala curry.

The puttu was well done, generously doused with coconut, mild and simple. It was a tad dry and crumbly, but tasted great.

The kadala curry was lovely, and I simply loved it. It was mild and simple too, without any going overboard on the spices, just the way my mommy would make it.

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Left: Puttu and kadala curry; Centre: Vegetarian stew; Right: Plain dosas

Plain dosas with sambar and chutney

I also tried out the plain dosas here, served with coconut chutney and sambar. I loved the dosas, neither overly crispy nor overly soft, done just right. The coconut chutney was finger-licking delicious, while the sambar was just average and could have been better.

The prices

Breakfast for two at No. 10 Fort Cochin would set you back by INR 500 or so, which is pretty reasonable considering the location of the place.

Overall…

I liked the food here. It was simple, homely and non-restaurant-y, if you know what I mean. The ambience is pleasing, too. This is surely a place I would love to go back to, especially for the Kerala-style sadya.

The views expressed herein are entirely my own,  uninfluenced by anyone or anything.

Enchanted At The Mad Teapot Cafe, Indiranagar

Imagine a cosy little cafe with little tables, big windows that let the sunlight in, plants in pots on the sill.

Imagine porcelain teapots hanging from the ceiling, with decorative roses in them.

Imagine a gorgeous princess bed with net curtains in the vicinity, fairy lights in mason jars, artificial roses in wicker baskets hanging on wooden swings, and paper lanterns strung on trees.

Imagine lights in the shape of a magician’s top hat.

Imagine plates with magical messages on the wall.

Are you wondering if this place is for real or is a figment of my imagination? Are you doubtful if such a cafe really exists? Well, it does! That is exactly how The Mad Teapot Cafe in Indiranagar, Bangalore, looks like, from the inside. I had read, and heard, so many lovely descriptions of the place that I absolutely had to drag the husband here one afternoon, for lunch. We ended up getting equally enchanted by the eatery, too.

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Part of The Magic Teapot Cafe, Indiranagar. Pretty, pretty, no?

The Mad Teapot Cafe is housed within a home decor store called The Wishing Chair, on the bustling 100-foot Road in Indiranagar. The store, and consequently the cafe, has an ambience that can only be described as magical, enchanted, charming, quirky, and fantastical. With names like those, what else does one expect, if not a fairy tale-ish place? And a fairy tale-ish place is exactly what you get.

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The decor at The Mad Teapot Cafe. I fell in love with those gorgeous fairy lights in jars! And, oh, isn’t that princess bed to die for?!

The magical home decor merchandise on sale at The Wishing Chair doubles up as decor for The Mad Teapot Cafe. It surely is a different-from-the-usual experience eating in the midst of stuff straight out of an Enid Blyton fantasy, an experience we cherished for sure.

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Is this a happy place? For sure!

The cafe is small, with just about five tables, a good place to stop at for a quick cup of coffee or dessert or some short eats. We lingered over our lunch, just gazing around and taking in the magic of the place, and that is exactly what the other patrons were doing as well. How can you help that, with an ambience like that? The service staff seems to be well used to such gawping, and were relaxed themselves, not exactly hovering over our table, but polite, friendly and responsive when called upon.

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Some more pics of the inside of The Mad Teapot Cafe. Quaint, no?

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What about the food, you ask? I will start by telling you that the menu is straight out of an Enid Blyton book, too. Here is where you will find stuff like Forest Of Pumpkin Blossoms, Moonface Madness, Winter Woodland’s Vegetable Pasta, The White Fairy Pasta, and Island Of Greek Stories. Now, if that doesn’t enchant, what does?

The cafe proclaims that they are ‘proudly vegetarian’. Except for just one dish with eggs in it and the desserts (this latter part I am assuming!), everything on the menu is vegetarian. The cuisine is a mix of Italian and Continental food – no pizzas, but a variety of flat breads (mini pizzas, if you must!), pasta, salads, little bites, sandwiches, tea and coffee, the freak shakes that are all the rage now, and other desserts.

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The menu at The Mad Teapot Cafe, just as fairy tale-ish as the ambience!

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I have heard people raving about the food at this place, vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike. We had a good experience with the food here, too. To be honest, we didn’t find the food mind-blowingly brilliant, but it was definitely good.

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The food we ordered at The Mad Teapot Cafe. On the left: The dessert we chose, The Orange Citrus Fancy, In the centre: The Adventures Of Miss Evergreen (top, a flatbread), Winter Woodland’s Vegetable Pasta (bottom), On the right: Twisty’s Tomtom Spaghetti (top), Cappuccino (bottom)

The love affair between me and The Orange Citrus Fancy was immediate. I absolutely loved this pudding, well done, with just the right amount of sweet and sour for my tastebuds, bits and pieces of real orange peel in it, decked up with slightly bitter orange brittle. I have absolutely got to have this again, here!

The husband and I loved The Adventures Of Miss Evergreen, too. Spread with green pesto and topped with mozzarella, ricotta, sundried tomatoes and walnuts, this flatbread was a delight to eat. It was barely warm when it was brought to our table, and we were too hungry to ask for it to be heated up. Had it been served piping hot, I am sure it would have tasted even better.

Winter Woodland’s Vegetable Pasta was a simple but hearty dish, with a lot of grilled veggies, without any sauce. We weren’t really bowled over by this pasta, which actually felt a bit dry.

Twisty’s Tomtom Spaghetti came with a creamy red sauce that was a tad too fiery for me, but flavourful. In hindsight, the sauce would have gone better with penne pasta, rather than the spaghetti we had ordered. Overall, it was a good dish, though.

The cappuccino was decent. The almond cookie it was served with was chewy, but nice and tasty.

We found the portion sizes to be generous.

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Price-wise, the husband and I found the cafe to be expensive. We paid about INR 1300 for our meal, including taxes.

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I know for sure I will be visiting this place again, to try out the large number of desserts they have on their menu (in spite of the prices being a tad high), and to soak in more of that magical atmosphere. I think the place is best suited to times when you want to linger over some food or desserts, for a very relaxed cup of coffee with a book, or catching up with your friends and loved ones.

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Do visit this place, if you haven’t already! It’s well worth it.