26 October 2015

Shopping for a Good Cause

After agriculture, the vocation that provides sustenance to a large number of people in rural India is the handicraft industry. Artisans who create beautiful handicrafts are found in each and every Indian state, with each art form being distinct and varied from the next. There is unfortunately, a huge gaping hole in the market between the artist and the consumer. Somewhere, a bridge is required so that the consumers have easier access to the products, and the artists are able to sell their wares effortlessly.

I was recently introduced to 'Ratash' - an e-store that retails regional Indian handicrafts and wares. At first, it looks like any other retail store that sells handicrafts, but I later found out that the proceeds of every sale from the store are given completely to the artisan. They're trying to empower the skilled worker by providing them an online platform to sell their wares, and enabling them to use technology to improve their businesses.

25 October 2015

Pimp My Rice - Book Review. And a Fun Recipe.

Call me conservative, but the charm of cooking with a good ol' recipe book beats YouTube videos or articles on the web! Which is why I was super thrilled to receive Nisha Katona's new cookbook - Pimp My Rice - where rice is the supreme star! An entire book with recipes ranging from smoothies, to mains, to dessert all emphasizing on everyone's staple crop, is a genuinely handy book to have.

What pleasantly surprised me in the first glance was the versatility of rice that was demonstrated in the book - rice tea, breakfast based dishes, soups, mains, appetizers, dessert, cakes, and even a black rice - coconut sorbet! Who knew you could do that much with rice?

Katona's Indian heritage is evident in a lot of the recipes - rice flour bhajiyas, colonial kedgeree (also known to us as khichdi), and kheer inspired rice pudding are just a few of the recipes where you'll find an Indian influence. I particularly enjoyed the quirky introductions made to each recipe, and the pictures in the book are beautifully styled and depicted. She also includes recipes with varieties of rice - red rice, black rice, sushi rice, sticky rice, wild rice and more; some of which may not be readily available in Indian markets. 

I particularly found useful the pages where she speaks about the basics about rice, different cooking methods for each type, and cultural backgrounds for each - made for an enlightening read. I only wished there were more pictures in the book. I like being able to see if the end product in my kitchen matches the intended end product in the recipe.

18 October 2015

Going Pa Pa Ya!

I read this quote somewhere on the internet - 'What Masala Library did to Indian food, Pa Pa Ya attempts to do to Asian cuisine.' If there is even an iota of truth in that statement, it is only fair for me to have sky high expectations from Pa Pa Ya. Zorawar Kalra's Massive Restaurants group pulls yet another rabbit out of the hat with this new age spin on an Asian bistro. The philosophy behind Pa Pa Ya is simple - present Asian food and drink with a twist. And my meal was filled with tons of twists and turns that night. Buckle up!

You know this Asian restaurant's going to be different when you don't spot Oriental motifs on the walls. Metal exoskeletons and cuboids that look like molecules jut out from the wall, forcing me to think of organic chemistry lectures from a decade ago. The food is however, the catalyst in creating this 'high energy dining' formula. Throughout the menu you'll see the influence of newer cooking technology such as molecular gastronomy, and mixology making the meal here a treat for all senses - umami included!

Highly recommended are the Pa Pa Ya Tales - cocktails that each come with a back story, that your enthusiastic server will be more than happy to narrate to you. Infused spirits, and cocktails with Asian ingredients set the drinks apart. Foam, fumes, and fire - expect all three! The Lighthouse - that comes complete with lemongrass fumes, in a light bulb that you have to unscrew every time you take a sip - was my pick of the night. 

The LightHouse
 In true Kalra Hospitality, the meal began with an amuse bouche - a basil infused watermelon cube, with lemongrass and chilly foam, served on a dainty shell - a sign of good things to come. Also insist they bring you their signature palate cleaner in between courses - a wasabi and yuzu sorbet. Spectacular balance between the pungency of the wasabi, and the citrus yuzu flavour, without either overpowering. 

Amuse Bouche
Wasabi Yuzu Sorbet

16 October 2015

The Food Week That Was - Regional Favourites

Before I start off this post, I am going to share some happy news with you'll. The website Rebates Zone recently published an infographic on the top fifty food blogs in India, and yours truly features in the list at number forty. See the list here.

Anyone who knows me well enough will know that I love Indian regional food more than I love world cuisine. I may be falling into the rare minority group here (no, I don't mean that I am Parsi), but I rather explore cuisines from different Indian states than run-of-the-mill Italian, Chinese, and Thai. It is a pity that we don't think of the vastness and diversity that India has to offer when it comes to food or travel. 
My food week pushed me out of my comfort zone - Bandra - took me to the far suburbs of Borivali and old gullys of Fort. My food week encapsulated me back into my comfortable cocoon with two cuisines that I love - Maharastrian food and Parsi bhonu.

Girgaon Katta, Borivali:
Personally I feel that Maharashtrian food is under represented in Mumbai. Barring a few pockets in and around Dadar, Shivaji Park, and Mahim the cuisine fails to be easily available. Which is why discovering Girgaon Katta in Borivali - mini Gujarat if I may - was like discovering as oasis in a desert. 

With a fairly large menu that well covers all the popular Marathi food staples under fun categories such as 'tasty' Chatakdar, 'crispy' Kurkurit, 'spicy' Zanzanit, 'tangy' Chatpatit, and more. Crisp on the outside, fluffy within; the Thalipeeth was worth a repeat order. Flavourful and moist, please make sure you ask for heaps of white butter on the side which melts atop this beautiful desi pancake. Crunchy sev gaathiya comes doused in a spicy misal gravy to be mopped up with pav on the side - who doesn't love misal pav? Misal pav is the epitome of ' different textures and flavour combinations' in one dish. Make sure you try their tangy sweet kokum sherbet. And save stomach space for the piyush - a liquefied shrikhand type drink, calorie laden and filled with goodness.

Misal Pav
Kokum Sherbet and Piyush
Masale Bhaat