Introducing: Oddy Uniwraps Food Wrapping Paper, A Super Handy Kitchen Equipment

I’m always looking for healthier, more eco-friendly alternatives to the things we use around our home on a daily basis. So, when I was asked if I would like to try out a sample of Oddy Uniwraps, an organic food wrapping paper, I agreed immediately. And… I’m so loving it!

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Oddy Uniwraps’ food wrapping paper

Oddy Uniwraps food wrapping paper is the latest product introduced by Atul Paper Pvt. Ltd., a renowned player in stationery and paper products for the last 20 minutes. The firm sells several office stationery products under the brand name of Oddy (short for ‘on demand’).

What I love about Oddy Uniwraps’ food wrapping paper

  1. Though this product is termed as ‘food wrapping paper’, it is actually a multi-purpose paper, which serves several purposes other than just wrapping up food. I have been using it to line baking tins while making cakes, to pack food for the husband to take to work, and to line boxes of coriander and mint before placing them in the refrigerator. If you make chocolates at home, I think you could use this paper to wrap them too, rather than plastic wrappers. I love how versatile this product is, how handy it is in the kitchen.
  2. There’s no plastic or aluminium content in this paper, and it is apparently 100% organic. Studies have proved that aluminium foil, very commonly used in wrapping food, has several harmful effects. This food wrapping paper offers all of the convenience of aluminium foil, without any of its dangerous side effects.
  3. This product can be used as a substitute for cling film as well. Paper trumps any day over plastic cling wrap, right?
  4. I love the cutesy print on this paper. Call me pedantic, but using it surely cheers me up.
  5. This paper is completely bio-degradable. If you use it, you place a lesser burden on the environment as opposed to that when you use cling film or aluminium foil. Any little step we take in this direction is good, I believe – just imagine how much of an impact we can make on the environment if we start paying closer attention to such little things as the material our food is wrapped in.
  6. This product is entirely microwave-safe and can be used in OTG ovens up to a temperature of 220 degrees Celsius.
  7. This paper is food-grade certified. The ink used for the doodles on the paper is food-grade certified as well.
  8. Food wrapped in this paper stays fresher, I have noted, as against that wrapped in aluminium foil.
  9. I love that this paper is so easy to use. The roll that I received as a sample has an in-built cutter, so you don’t even have to go looking for a pair of scissors to cut it.
  10. I don’t use aluminium foil regularly, so I am not really aware of prices, but, I understand that this paper is less expensive.
  11. The quality of the paper is really good. You can make that out while you use it.

What could have been better?

As of now, I see that this paper is available in only this particular print. Cute as it is, it would be great to have a few more designs to choose from.

Price and availability

A 20-metre roll of Oddy Uniwraps’ food wrapping paper costs INR 199.

The product is available on Amazon.

In conclusion…

I really liked this product, its versatility, its eco-friendliness and its ease of use. It is definitely something I would like to buy, and would heartily recommend.

I was sent a sample of the product free of cost to test and review. This is not a paid review. The views expressed herein are entirely honest, and entirely my own, not influenced by anything or anyone.

 

 

 

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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.

Easy Cheesy Nachos| Nachos And Cheese

Doesn’t a well-made plate of colourful, cheesy nachos just lift up your spirits? It surely does, for us. We are known to dig in to a platter of home-made ‘loaded’ nachos often, on weekends. I also make them when we have guests over, and they always bring a smile on their faces.

My go-to recipe for nachos and cheese comes from Richa Gupta’s famous blog, My Food Story. This recipe has been tried and tested by me several times over, with slight variations here and there, and it has never failed me. The proceedure for making these nachos is super simple, and the end result is utterly delectable. You have to try these nachos out to believe just how easy-peasy they are to put together, and yet, just how flavourful!

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Cheesy ‘loaded’ nachos!

Now, let’s see how to make these easy cheesy nachos, shall we?

Ingredients (serves 4-6):

For the tomato salsa:

  1. 2 small tomatoes, finely chopped
  2. 1/2 of a big onion, finely chopped
  3. A few stalks of fresh coriander leaves, finely chopped
  4. 2 cloves of garlic, very finely chopped
  5. 1 green chilli, very finely chopped
  6. Salt, to taste
  7. Lemon juice, to taste

For the refried beans:

  1. 1 cup rajma (kidney beans), cooked
  2. Salt, to taste
  3. 1/2 teaspoon red chilli powder
  4. 1/2 teaspoon roasted cumin powder
  5. 1 teaspoon oil
  6. 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  7. 1/2 cup water

For the cheese sauce:

  1. 2 cups milk
  2. 3/4 cup grated cheese (I used Amul processed cheese)
  3. 1 teaspoon butter (I used Amul salted butter)
  4. 1 tablespoon whole wheat flour
  5. 1 green chilli, very finely chopped

Other ingredients:

  1. 320 g nachos (2 packets of 160 g each)
  2. 1 cup sweet corn, cooked with salt to taste
  3. A few stalks of fresh coriander leaves, finely chopped

Method:

  1. Let’s first make the refried beans, so that they get a chance to cool down while the rest of the components of the nachos are being assembled. For this, heat  the oil in a heavy-bottomed pan and add the finely chopped garlic. Let it stay in for a few seconds. Now, add the cooked kidney beans, water, salt to taste, cumin powder and red chilli powder. Mix well. Cook on medium flame till the mixture thickens a little. Switch off gas and allow to cool down.
  2. Next, we will prepare the cheese sauce. Dry roast the flour in a pan till it turns slightly brown in colour. Mix the flour in about 1/2 cup of milk, ensuring that it is completely dissolved and no lumps remain. Keep aside. In the same pan, heat the butter and add in the green chilli. Let it stay in for a couple of seconds, and then add the remaining 1-1/2 cups of milk. Bring to a boil. Turn the flame down and add the milk-wheat flour mixture to the pan. Mix well. Cook for 3-4 minutes, or until the sauce thickens a bit. Switch off the gas, and add in the grated cheese. Stir, ensuring that the cheese has completely melted. Let the cheese sauce cool down a little.
  3. Now, we will make the tomato salsa. For this, mix together the chopped tomatoes and onions, salt to taste, chopped garlic and green chilli, lemon juice, and coriander. Ensure that everything is well combined together. Keep aside.
  4. Once the refried beans and cheese sauce have cooled down, start assembling the nachos. For this, lay out the nachos on a large serving plate. Spread the refried beans evenly over the nachos. Over this, spread out the cooked corn, cheese sauce and tomato salsa evenly. Garnish with finely chopped coriander. Serve immediately.

Notes:

  1. Make sure the tomatoes are at room temperature, before you make the salsa.
  2. You could use garlic butter to make the cheese sauce, too. In that case, you might want to skip adding chopped garlic to the sauce.
  3. Vinegar can be used in place of lemon juice, to make the salsa.
  4. If you want, you could slightly char the cooked sweet corn before using it. I usually avoid this step.
  5. Pickled, sliced jalapenos can be used as a topping for the nachos, as well. In case you use them, you might want to skip adding the green chillies in the salsa.
  6. If you feel the cheese sauce has turned out lumpy, run it briefly in a mixer, and it should be okay.

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Foodie Monday Blog Hop

This post is for the 107th edition of Foodie Monday Blog Hop. The theme for the week is ‘party dishes’.

 

Boiled Fruit Cake| Instant No-Alcohol Plum Cake

The theme for this month’s Shhh Cooking Secretly Challenge is ‘baking’, something at which I am just a beginner. I was supposed to bake something using the two secret ingredients that my partner for the challenge would give me – a daunting affair, but something I wanted to take up and explore, and so I did.

I was paired with Shobana Vijay, who writes at Shoba’s Delights, for the challenge, and she chose the ingredients ‘orange’ and ‘tooti frooti’ for me. The minute these ingredients were allotted to me, I knew exactly what I wanted to bake – an instant fruit cake! I’m glad I took up the challenge, for the cake turned out absolutely gorgeous. After a couple of failed attempts, I think I have arrived at a foolproof way to make this cake, and I’m thrilled to bits about that. It’s no secret that the husband and I love fruit cake, and the fact that I can now make it at home brings great cheer to me. So, yay to that!

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The boiled fruit cake or instant plum cake that I made!

As we all know, tonnes (okay, loads) of alcohol and months of soaking of dried fruits goes into a traditional Christmas-time fruit cake (popularly called ‘plum cake’ in India), so as to get a moist and wonderfully flavourful end product. The version I made, though, was an instant one, one with no alcohol and no soaking for months on end. It is made by boiling dried fruits in sugar syrup, which gives this version the name of ‘boiled fruit cake’ too. With the use of good-quality ingredients, this no-alcohol, no-soak, this boiled fruit cake tastes every bit as delectable as a traditional fruit cake, we think. It turns out perfectly moist, rich and  wonderfully flavourful, just like its more traditional counterpart.

Here’s how I made this instant plum cake aka boiled fruit cake.

*Recipe adapted from Joy Of Baking*

Ingredients (makes 1 medium-sized loaf or about 12 slices):

To boil:

  1. 55 grams unsalted butter (I used Nilgiri’s)
  2. 210 g demerera sugar/brown sugar (I used Eagle)
  3. 50 g black currants
  4. 150 g raisins
  5. 50 g dried and candied cherries
  6. 50 g dried and candied pineapple
  7. 50 g tooti frooti
  8. 50 g dried and candied orange
  9. 1 cup water

To powder with mortar and pestle:

  1. A 1-inch piece of cinnamon
  2. A 1-inch piece of fresh ginger
  3. 4-5 cloves

Other ingredients:

  1. 1-1/2 cups maida (I use whole wheat flour instead)
  2. 1 teaspoon baking soda
  3. 2 eggs
  4. 1 teaspoon vanilla essence

Method:

  1. Chop the cherries and the dried pineapple and orange into small pieces. Transfer to a plate. Transfer the raisins, black currants and tooti frooti to the plate too. Keep all these dried fruits handy.
  2. Peel the ginger and grate it finely. Keep aside.
  3. Crush the cloves and cinnamon to a powder, using a mortar and pestle. Keep aside.
  4. Take the unsalted butter and brown sugar in a thick-bottomed pan, and set on gas at high flame. Add in the grated ginger, cinnamon and clove powder, and all the dried fruit. Once the sugar starts melting, turn the flame to medium. Keep cooking, stirring intermittently, for 6-7 minutes. Ensure that the mixture doesn’t burn and stick to the bottom of the pan. The sugar might crystallise, but don’t worry about that now – just keep stirring and cooking.
  5. Switch off the gas after 6-7 minutes and immediately add 1 cup of water to the cooked sugar-dry fruit mixture. Be careful while you do this, as the mixture might splutter. Mix well. You should get a liquidy sugar syrup with semi-soft dried fruits in it.
  6. At this stage, if you feel the sugar crystals are still visible and haven’t melted entirely, simmer this mixture (on low-medium flame) for 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly. Add a bit more water only if required. When the sugar has completely melted, switch off gas.
  7. Keep this mixture aside and allow it to cool down slightly and get lukewarm.
  8. Meanwhile, sift the flour and baking soda together. Transfer to a large mixing bowl. Keep aside.
  9. Preheat the oven at 200 degrees for 10 minutes.
  10. In another mixing bowl, break the eggs and beat them lightly. Add the beaten eggs to the sifted flour.
  11. When the sugar-dried fruits mixture has cooled down, add it to the flour and eggs in the mixing bowl. Add in the vanilla essence. Mix everything well.
  12. Line a loaf tin with parchment paper, leaving some hang out on all sides.
  13. Pour the cake batter onto the lined loaf tin, and place it in the oven. Bake at 180 degrees for 45-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.
  14. Let the cake cool down completely before slicing it. Store in an air-tight container at room temperature. This cake stays well for 3-4 days.

Notes:

  1. You can reduce the quantity of raisins and add in some sliced almonds and/or cashewnuts, but I skipped that. I usually like making this cake with just dried fruits.
  2. Refined white sugar can be used in place of demerera/brown sugar, but you might not get a beautiful dark brown-coloured cake in that case.
  3. 1 teaspoon of dried ginger powder can be used in place of the grated fresh ginger.
  4. Orange zest or chopped orange peel can be used in place of sliced, whole dried oranges. I prefer using the latter.
  5. You could use a mix of demerera/brown sugar and refined white sugar to make the cake, too.
  6. If you feel the cake batter is too thick, you could mix in a couple of tablespoons of boiled and cooled milk to it.
  7. Please note that the dried pineapple and oranges, cherries and tooti frooti I have used here already have sugar in them. With the addition of 210 g of demerera sugar (as stated in the recipe), the sweetness of this cake was just perfect for us. Do reduce the quantity of sugar you use, if you want your cake to be a bit less on the sweeter side.
  8. Some people prefer adding the dried fruit, ginger, cinnamon and clove powder, sugar, water and butter to a pan, and boiling all of it together. I prefer adding the water later, after the sugar and dried fruits have already boiled.
  9. Ensure that the sugar-dried fruits mix does not burn, while you are boiling it.
  10. Make sure all the stems and seeds are removed from all the dried fruits, before using them.
  11. Ensure that the butter is brought to room temperature before you use it to make the cake.
  12. I bought all the dried and candied fruits and the tooti frooti that I used to make this cake from Ajfan, that wonderland for food lovers that I have come to love and have written about on my blog several times.

I know I have gushed enough in praise of this instant plum cake, but you should seriously try this out to know just what I mean. And when you do that, don’t forget to let me know how it turned out!

 

 

 

 

Rava Mixed Vegetable Upma With Eastern’s Green Jackfruit Flour

Breakfast yesterday was rava (semolina) mixed vegetable upma, cooked with some green jackfruit flour. Yes, you read that right. 🙂 Eastern Condiments has recently come up with a revolutionary product, called the Jackfruit 365 Green Jackfruit Flour, which I was sent a sample of for testing and review.

About Eastern’s Green Jackfruit Flour

Eastern’s Jackfruit 365 Green Jackfruit Flour is made from mature green jackfruit, just 2-4 days before it turns sweet. It has a neutral taste and a creamy white colour, with none of the aroma of a ripe jackfruit. Green jackfruit apparently possesses a number of nutrients and health benefits, most of which are retained in this flour. I hear there is no post-processing involved, and that there are no preservatives or flavouring agents added to the flour.

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Left: Eastern Condiments’ Jackfruit 365 Green Jackfruit Flour; Right: That’s how the flour looks like

Health benefits of green jackfruit (and flour)

Here’s a glimpse of some of the advantages that green jackfruit (and the resultant flour) have to offer:

  1. Helps in weight loss and weight management: A cup of green jackfruit has less than half calorie of two rotis and much lower than a cup of rice, but offers higher satiation due to higher fibre and water content. So, you end up feeling sated for longer, with fewer calories. It is, therefore, a great help in weight loss and weight management.
  2. Aids in controlling diabetes: Unlike ripe jackfruit, green jackfruit is great for diabetes. Through clinical trials conducted at Sydney University’s Glycemic Index Research Service (SUGiRS), it was found that green jackfruit has a much lower glycemic load (increase in sugar/blood glucose level) than rice and wheat. So, when you replace a cup of rice or two rotis with a cup of green jackfruit, your blood glucose will not increase as much.
  3. Adds years to your life: Jackfruit, due to low acidity, is the only fruit that can be consumed as a meal, replacing your regular carbohydrate like wheat and/or rice in full or part. As per a study by the National Health Service, UK, the low consumption of vegetables and fruits can shorten life more than lack of exercise. So, when we cook and consume green jackfruit in a meal, the quantity consumed in one meal itself is more than the vegetable and fruit we consume in a whole day, thereby aiding longevity.
  4. Helps in lowering cholesterol: The percentage of soluble fibre in jackfruit reaches its peak when the fruit is at the mature green stage. Soluble fibre obtained from fruits is the most superior quality of this nutrient, which helps in the removal of cholesterol from your body. This green jackfruit flour is, therefore, definitely a better, native and responsible alternate to the oats we import from Australia.
  5. Prevents colon cancer: Green jackfruit possesses a high amount of insoluble fibre, much higher than what you can get from rice or roti. It therefore aids good bowel movement, and in preventing constipation. Also, the fibre content acts like a bottle-brush to cleanse your intestines, preventing the occurrence of colon cancer.

How can you add green jackfruit flour in your daily diet?

Eastern’s Jackfruit 365 Green Jackfruit Flour can be used in most traditonal Indian dishes, without any change in taste or texture, but with all the nutrients and health benefits discussed above, intact. This product can replace 1/3 of the quantity of rice in dishes like idli, dosa, appam and puttu, and the same quantity of wheat in dishes like roti, paratha and poori.

Price and availability

At the moment, Eastern’s Jackfruit 365 Green Jackfruit Flour is sold only on Amazon India and in select stores in Kerala. Soon enough, though, the product is likely to be available in a number of cities across India.

A 200-gram packet of the flour costs INR 65.

How I used the green jackfruit flour in rava vegetable upma

I included Eastern’s Jackfruit 365 Green Jackfruit Flour in the preparation of a regular breakfast dish at our place – rava (semolina) mixed vegetable upma. I substituted a little of the rava with the green jackfruit flour, and found no change in the texture or flavour of the dish. In fact, the upma turned out absolutely scrumptious!

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Here’s how I made the upma.

Ingredients (serves 4):

  1. 1-1/2 cups Bansi sooji/rava/semolina
  2. 1/4 cup Eastern’s Jackfruit 365 green jackfruit flour
  3. Salt, to taste
  4. 3 green chillies, slit length-wise
  5. A few fresh curry leaves
  6. 1 medium-sized onion, chopped finely
  7. A few sprigs of fresh coriander, chopped finely
  8. 1 small carrot, peeled and chopped finely
  9. 1/2 of a medium-sized capsicum, chopped finely
  10. 1/4 cup shelled green peas
  11. A small piece of cabbage, chopped finely
  12. 2 small tomatoes, chopped finely
  13. 4 tablespoons oil
  14. 1 pinch of asafoetida (hing) powder
  15. 2 teaspoons mustard seeds (rai)

Method:

  1. Dry roast the rava and green jackfruit flour together on medium flame, till they emit a nice fragrance and turn slightly brown. Transfer onto a plate, and let them cool down.
  2. Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed pan, on high flame. Add the mustard seeds, and let them splutter. Add the asafoetida, and let it stay in for a couple of seconds.
  3. Now, add in the chopped onion, cabbage, capsicum and carrot, curry leaves, green peas, and slit green chillies. Add a bit of salt, and turn down the flame to medium. Cook, stirring intermittently, till the veggies are done, but not overly so. Sprinkle some water at intervals, if you feel the veggies are beginning to stick to the bottom of the pan.
  4. Add 5-1/4 cups of water, the chopped tomatoes, and more salt to taste. Keeping the flame medium, bring the water to a boil.
  5. Add in the roasted rava and green jackfruit flour. Stir well, ensuring that everything is well incorporated together.
  6. Cook on medium flame, stirring intermittently, till all the water has been absorbed. At this stage, the rava and flour should be well cooked.
  7. Mix in the finely chopped fresh coriander.
  8. Serve hot with chutney of your choice. I made balls out of the upma, for the sake of presentation, and served them with a sweet-and-sour green turkey berry (sundakkai, in Tamil) relish.

Notes:

  1. To make rava upma, we use 3 cups of water per cup of rava. Here, for 1-1/2 cups of rava + 1/4 cup of green jackfruit flour, I have used 5-1/4 cups of water totally.
  2. The proportion of water used here will yield an upma that isn’t too dry, but well cooked. If you’d like a drier version, reduce the quantity of water you use.
  3. Increase the number of green chillies you use, if you want to up the spice level.
  4. Ordinary white rava can be used in place of Bansi rava.
  5. You can use any other vegetables that you might have handy, to make the upma.
  6. To add a twist of taste to the upma, you can add any of these: tamarind paste, lemon juice, sugar, rasam powder, garam masala. Let your imagination run wild!

My thoughts about Eastern’s Jackfruit 365 Green Jackfruit Flour

  1. The flour was quite easy to use, thanks to detailed instructions on the back of the package. I didn’t face any difficulties in making the upma – I cooked it pretty much the same way I would cook rava vegetable upma, just with the addition of the green jackfruit flour to it.
  2. I think this is a great way to add green jackfruit to your daily diet, and hope to continue using it regularly. After all, it blends in seamlessly with most of the Indian dishes we make at home. I would recommend you try this out, too.
  3. I feel the product is quite reasonably priced, too.
  4. I appreciate the fact that a recipe booklet was included within the package, considering that this is a very new product and that people might need some guidance on what dishes it can be used in. The booklet, however, was entirely in Malayalam, a language I cannot read and write. If the product is to be available in multiple cities in India soon, the recipes should be translated into other languages too, for people to be able to use them.

Jackfruit 365 on social media: Website| YouTube channel| Facebook | Instagram| Twitter

This is not a paid post. I was sent a free sample of the product to test and review, and the post is based on my observations while using it. The views expressed herein are entirely my own, not influenced by anything or anyone. The health information provided in the post are courtesy of Mr. James Joseph, Founder, Jackfruit 365.

 

Chocolate Orange Hung Curd Cheesecake

The union of orange and chocolate is one made in heaven. The two are just meant to be together. Do you think so? Well, I’m a big fan of the combo! So, it is but natural that, the moment I saw this recipe for an eggless chocolate-orange cheesecake on CH’s blog, I wanted to try it out. A short window of time opened up to me over the weekend, and I grabbed it with both hands to make this cheesecake. It turned out absolutely heavenly, and has already been devoured! 🙂

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The just-unmoulded cheesecake – a tad broken, maybe, but heavenly in taste!

There is no gelatin or cream used in this cheesecake, and no eggs either. Instead, fresh hung curd is used here to make the sinfully rich, delectable and creamy top layer, suffused with the gorgeous scent of oranges. The bottom layer is made up of orange-scented dark chocolate, while the base is made up of orange digestive cookies (my variation!). Together, the three – the crust, the bottom layer and the top layer – make for a delight, a flavour bomb that will surely leave you hankering for more. The cheesecake requires minimal baking, and is super easy to put together, too. You must try it out to understand just what I mean!

We aren’t big fans of the silky smooth, gelatinous texture of store-bought cheesecakes, but we do have a thing for rustic, home-made cheesecakes like this one!

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Left: The cheesecake, just out of the oven; Right: A small slice of the chocolate orange hung curd cheesecake

I mostly followed CH’s recipe, but made a few changes of my own. Here’s how I made the orange chocolate hung curd cheesecake.

Ingredients (makes 1 medium-sized cheesecake – about 10 medium pieces):

For the crust:

  1. 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (I used Nilgiri’s)
  2. 2-3 tablespoons fresh orange juice
  3. 10-12 orange digestive biscuits (I used Nutrichoice)

For the bottom layer:

  1. 1/4 cup dark chocolate, grated (I used Amul’s Tanzania chocolate)
  2. 1 teaspoon freshly grated orange zest
  3. 1 tablespoon milk (boiled and cooled)

For the top layer:

  1. 3/4 cup thick hung curd
  2. 200 ml sweetened condensed milk (I used Amul Mithai Mate)
  3. About 4 tablespoons fresh orange juice
  4. 2-3 teaspoons freshly grated orange zest

Method:

  1. First, preheat the oven at 200 degrees for 10 minutes and then get the crust ready. For this, powder the orange digestive biscuits in a mixer. Remove the powder into a mixing bowl, and add in the 2 tablespoons of butter and 2-3 tablespoons of fresh orange juice. Mix well, ensuring all the ingredients are thoroughly incorporated together.
  2. Spread the prepared biscuit mixture on the bottom and sides of a medium-sized cake tin or springform pan. Make sure the mixture is evenly spread out everywhere, neither too thin nor too thick. Prick the crust randomly, using a fork.
  3. Place the tin/pan in the preheated oven, and bake at 180 degrees for 5-6 minutes. Remove from the oven, and let the crust cool down completely.
  4. Meanwhile, get the bottom layer (chocolate) of the cheesecake ready. Bring a pan filled with water to a boil on high flame, and then turn the flame down to medium. Place the grated dark chocolate in a saucepan, and place it inside the boiling water in the pan. Cook on medium flame till the chocolate melts entirely, stirring intermittently. Immediately mix in 1 teaspoon of orange zest and 1 tablespoon of milk. You should get a creamy, spreadable mixture. Spread this chocolate mixture evenly over the prepared cheesecake crust.
  5. Now, get the top layer of the cheesecake ready. For this, in a mixing bowl, mix together the hung curd, condensed milk, orange juice and orange zest. Spread this mixture over the chocolate, atop the cheesecake crust.
  6. Place the cheesecake in a preheated oven, and bake for 5-7 minutes or just until the hung curd layer has become a bit firm.
  7. Let the cheesecake cool down slightly, and then place it, covered, in the refrigerator for a couple of hours. Serve chilled.

Notes:

  1. Bring the butter to room temperature before you use it to make the crust.
  2. Increase/decrease the quantities of hung curd, condensed milk, orange juice and orange zest used, as per individual taste preferences. These quantities were just perfect for us.
  3. I hung 500 ml of Nandini curd in a cotton cloth over my kitchen sink for close to 2.5 hours, which yielded about 3/4 cup of thick hung curd.
  4. For best results, use fresh curd that isn’t too sour.
  5. Once the cheesecake was done and out of the oven, I decorated it with a little more fresh orange zest and dark chocolate shavings, before placing it in the refrigerator.
  6. Orange zest is nothing but grated orange peel. To get orange zest, grate the skin of a whole orange finely, ensuring that you get only the peel and none of the white pith. The latter can turn the cheesecake bitter.

This chocolate orange hung curd cheesecake recipe is such a keeper, I tell you! I hope you’ll try it out too, and that you will love it as much as we did!

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Would you like to take a look at the other similar recipes on my blog? Here you go!

 

Product Review: Bake Me India Vanilla Shortbread Cookies Baking Kit

Baking with the bub has always been a dream of mine. Ever since I became a mommy –  even before that I think – I would dream of, one day, standing alongside the bub in our kitchen, measuring out ingredients, mixing them up, placing a cake or cookies in the oven, letting her lick the last of the batter from the mixing bowl, waiting for the oven timer to go off, and laughing at the look of awe on her face on watching the finished product get out of the oven..  all of this and more. You get the drift, right?

I never actually attempted anything like this, though, till very recently, when I won a Bake Me India Vanilla Shortbread Cookies Baking Kit on an Instagram photo contest.

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The Bake Me India Vanilla Shortbread Cookies baking kit that I received!

About Bake Me India

Bake Me India is a New Delhi-based business venture that offers kid-friendly baking kits – brownies, cupcakes, cookies, cake pops and the like. The kits contain all the dry ingredients that would be required, as well as handy equipment such as a tray, rolling pin, piping bag, butter paper, and even a wee apron and chef’s cap!  The kits also come equipped with cards that outline in detail the steps in the baking proceedure.

Through these kits, Bake Me India aims to promote fun family baking times, especially by encouraging parents to bake alongside their kids. These kits are simple enough to be used by even very young kids (under adult supervision, of course!), and the parents need not be expert bakers themselves to use them. The use of good-quality ingredients and equipment is assured.

The kits (available in both ‘with egg’ and ‘egg-free’ versions) make for wonderful DIY gifts. You could opt to buy them individually or on a subscription basis, for as many months at a time as you desire. Prices range between INR 499 and INR 1699 per box, depending upon the nature of the product within. Home delivery across India is free, as of now.

Our experience with the Bake Me India Vanilla Shortbread Cookies kit

~ The kit I received included cookie dough, chocolate chunks, vanilla essence, powdered sugar, colourful sprinkles, instruction cards, cookie cutters, a little apron and chef’s hat, a tray and rolling pin, as well as butter paper. I loved how every possible dry ingredient and little tool that we might need for the baking process had been taken care of. I didn’t need to go looking for much.

~ The kit could, really, have done without the sprinkles and the apron and chef’s hat, but I loved that these things were thought of and included. Little stuff like these are just what kids love, right? The bub loved the multi-coloured sprinkles and donned the chef’s hat and apron as soon as they were out of the box!

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What was inside my Bake Me India kit! Don’t miss the little apron and chef’s hat in there!

~ I loved the detailed instructions on the cards, which told me every single we needed to do, to bake the cookies. There were explanatory pictures as well. The instructions were simple and clear enough for even a child to follow. Thanks to them, the baking process was a breeze.

~ The cards clearly stated the other ingredients and tools I would need to make the cookies, apart from the stuff already included in the kit – just some butter and an oven, in my case.

~ I loved how all the ingredients were packed really well, in Ziploc pouches.

~ The quality of ingredients and equipment provided was really good, and I loved that about Bake Me India. There was nothing sub-standard about the kit.

~ The bub and I loved, loved, loved baking the cookies together, though she mostly just watched, excitedly. It was messy, it was chaotic (with the bub wanting to put everything into the mixing bowl at once!), but it was so much fun! The husband was pressed into action as official photographer for the ceremony, and, all put together, it was just the break we needed, perfect family bonding time. And, as always, it was magical to watch dough go into the oven and come out all transformed into beautiful cookies!

~ All the ingredients (flour, powdered sugar, chocolate, sprinkles and vanilla essence) had already been measured out carefully, and included in just the right quantities that would be needed for the recipe. I didn’t have to do any measuring out at all, and could concentrate on just the fun part of the baking process!

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The finished product – the scrumptious vanilla shortbread cookies!

~ We chose to do away with the cookie cutters and shape the cookies with our hands, as rustic as it gets. I am so glad we did that – sensory play and all that!

~ The cookies turned out absolutely scrumptious and were gone within a day of the making!

~ I still have the rolling pin, cookie cutters, apron, chef’s hat and tray in the kitchen. I love the fact that I can get them out and use them again, whenever the bub and I fancy a bit of baking. I can clearly see this becoming a habit!

~ At INR 1499, I think the price of this kit is on the higher side. That said, I’m not sure how much it would cost me if I were to put together all the stuff that was part of the kit – the dry ingredients and reusable kitchen equipment included.

~ I didn’t spot a ‘best before’ date on the kit. Ideally, it should be included.

In conclusion…

I think the concept of the Bake Me India baking kits is absolutely lovely. The kits, albeit priced a tad high, make for a fun baking experience with your family, creating loads of fond memories in the process. They are great rainy-day DIY activities, and lovely gifts as well. This is, surely, something I would encourage you to pick up, for yourself and for your loved ones.

Find Bake Me India online: Website| Facebook| Twitter| Instagram

I received the product free of cost, because I won it in a photo contest. I was requested to do a review on my blog, and I obliged. The views expressed herein are entirely honest and completely my own, not influenced by anyone or anything.

 

 

 

 

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.

Proso Millet Sweet Pongal| Millet Sakkarai Pongal

This festive season, let’s offer something healthier to the Gods and to our bodies, shall we? How about some millet sweet pongal?

This sweet pongal contains absolutely no rice, which has been substituted with proso millet. You can even use a mix of different types of millet, really. The pongal also uses jaggery and not sugar, which is commonly used in festival sweetmeats. It tastes absolutely delish, just like the regular sweet pongal, but a much healthier alternative. The hint of edible camphor that is added to it takes the fragrance and taste of the pongal to new heights. What’s more, this dish is a breeze to prepare too!

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Now, let’s check out how to make this millet sweet pongal, shall we?

Ingredients (serves 6):

  1. 1 cup proso millet
  2. 1/2 cup moong daal
  3. 3 cups powdered jaggery
  4. 2 cups milk (boiled and cooled)
  5. 2 pinches of edible camphor
  6. 2 pinches of cardamom (elaichi) powder
  7. 1 tablespoon + 2 tablespoons ghee
  8. 5-6 unsalted cashewnuts
  9. 5-6 unsalted almonds
  10. 5-6 pieces of unsalted pistachios
  11. 2 tablespoons raisins

Method:

  1. Wash the proso millet in running water a couple of times, draining out the excess water every time. Make sure all the impurities are washed out.
  2. Take the washed and drained proso millet in a large vessel, and add in enough water to completely cover it. Let the millets soak for 2 hours.
  3. After 2 hours, drain out all the excess water from the soaked millets.
  4. Mix the moong daal and the soaked millets together, and add in the 2 cups of milk + 2-1/2 cups of water. Pressure cook this for 7-8 whistles. Let the pressure release entirely.
  5. Once the pressure has completely gone down, open the cooker and remove the container with the cooked millets and moong daal. Now, we will set about making the jaggery syrup for the pongal.
  6. Pour 2 cups of water in a heavy-bottomed pan, and add in the 2 cups of powdered jaggery. Set on high flame. Cook till the jaggery has entirely dissolved in the water.
  7. When the jaggery has completely dissolved, add in the cooked millets and moong daal to the pan. Turn the flame down to medium.
  8. Add in 1 tablespoon of ghee.
  9. Keep cooking on medium flame for 5-7 minutes, stirring intermittently, or till the mixture starts thickening.
  10. Roughly chop the almonds, pistachios and cashewnuts. Keep aside.
  11. Meanwhile, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of ghee in another pan. Add in the raisins and chopped almonds, pistachios and cashewnuts. Let them stay in for a minute. Add the fried nuts, raisins and ghee to the pongal in the pan.
  12. Add in the edible camphor and cardamom powder to the pongal too.
  13. Let the pongal cook on low-medium flame, for about 2 minutes more, stirring intermittently. Switch off the gas when the pongal is considerably thick, but still quite runny. It will thicken further on cooling.
  14. Serve the pongal warm, or at room temperature.

Notes:

  1. You could dry roast the moong daal before making the pongal. This gives the pongal a nice fragrance. I skipped this step.
  2. Don’t miss out on soaking the millets for a period of at least 2 hours. This ensures that the pongal turns out soft and well cooked, rather than grainy.
  3. The quantity of jaggery powder that you will need depends upon its quality and level of sweetness. We commonly use twice the jaggery powder as the quantity of moong daal + millet. Here, I have used 3 cups of jaggery powder for 1.5 cups of moong daal + millet (1 cup millet + 1/2 cup moong daal).
  4. Feel free to increase the quantity of ghee you use in the pongal. I know some households who love their pongal dripping with ghee. We are comfortable with just about 3 tablespoons in our sweet pongal.
  5. Do ensure that the pistachios, raisins, cashewnuts and almonds do not burn while frying them.
  6. Increase or decrease the quantity of milk you use to cook the pongal, depending upon personal preferences. If you don’t want to use milk, you can skip it entirely and pressure cook the moong daal + millets in 4-1/2 cups of water instead.
  7. Do not cook the pongal too much after adding the edible camphor and cardamom powder in, as this might lead to a slight bitterness.
  8. Edible camphor is different from the camphor that is lit in temples and in poojas, as an offering to God. Please do not confuse between the two.
  9. Ensure that you do not add more than two pinches of edible camphor to the pongal. The smell can be quite overpowering, and overdoing it can cause the pongal to acquire a slight bitterness as well. If you don’t have edible camphor, it is okay to skip it entirely.
  10. I have used proso millet to make this sweet pongal, in place of rice. You can even use a mix of millets – like barnyard millet, foxtail millet, little millet, kodo millet – for the same.

Do try out this millet sweet pongal too. I hope you like it as much as we do!

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Check out the other millet-based recipes on my blog!

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.