PRODUCT REVIEW: JUGMUG THELA – ARTISANAL TEAS AND COFFEE

There’s more than one chaiwala gaining social currency in the capital these days. Jiten Suchede decided to put his talents as a designer to unexpected use by cobbling pallets into a makeshift thela that serves exceptional tea and coffee across the city.

 Disgruntled by the step motherly treatment being meted out to tea shops in a city increasingly invested in café culture, Jiten decided to make the chai ki dukaan relevant again. Metamorphosing that run down, unglamorous fixture of our youth into a charming mobile dispensary of teas, {surprisingly} coffees, and homemade snacks, so Delhiites can reconsider rushing into impersonal coffee chains and reconvene at their favourite artisanal chaiwala.

 Stop by for a cup of tea, a refreshing Vietnamese Iced Coffee, or the fiery Mattha. Unfortunately, till Jiten sets up his café, we have no option but to chase him down at the various exhibitions that’ll sprout up across the capital this winter. If you’re too lazy to bother, Foodcloud and Jaypore will home deliver you some Jugmug!

Making the conventional chai ki dukaan, relevant again, Jugmug Thela serves up teas, coffees and homemade snacks. Till they set up shop, catch them at exhibitions around the capital, or order online.

PRODUCT REVIEW: DIVIN-E-LICIOUS CUPCAKES

I’m a huge fan of the good work being done by the lovely sisters behind Divin-e-licious, Gayatri and Anushka Kakkar. They’re an embodiment of my favorite modern fairy tale, both sisters fought off the siren song of filthy lucre to pursue their gourmand dreams and made a huge success of it. The princesses then lived happily ever after pursuing a lifetime of successful entrepreneurship.
I’m not the biggest cupcake fan so I was really excited to hear they had decided to push the baking envelope and expand their menu to include a variety of mini jar cakes. Each eggless cake is baked into a little jar dripping in pearls and packed into a gorgeous floral box just in time for the festive season.
I tore through the classic chocolate, licked the jar of chocolate ganache clean and wept with joy over the red velvet. My personal favorite though was the chocolate nougat which made me feel like my mouth was surfing through waves of impossibly rich chocolate interspersed with perfect, little bursts of nougat-y crunch.

Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/Divin.e.licious.cupcakes
Contact: 9811961572

GOOEY CHOCOLATE FILLED CHOCOLATE COOKIES

“To do good is noble. To tell others to do good is even nobler and much less trouble.” ― Mark Twain
There’s nothing more exciting for a writer (even a lowly food blogger) than somebody appreciating your work. Thank you so much to everyone who’s ever bothered to call/ write in/ message words of kindness. You have no idea how much motivation it offers to someone who spends most of their time worrying about spoons and spatulas. It’s easy to feel stupid or like you’re wasting your time while everyone’s employed at something more lucrative but every compliment lights the way.To spread the sunshine, here are some food writers I love to follow, who are doing amazing things out there in the big, bad blogosphere:

1. Tongue Ticklers: Also run by someone who juggles foodblogging and a day job, this site has incredible vegan recipes with some mindblowing food photography. There are lots of Indian food blogs out there but very few with this level of aesthetic polish.

2. Sugar and Charm: An old favourite, I’ve been following Eden Passante and her beautiful family’s adventures in California for over 3 years now. A very pretty, very pleasant, very feminine blog filled with design inspiration, photographs and mouthwatering dessert recipes.

3. M Loves M: Mara puts together some really charming outfits, simple recipes along with some great photos on this simple but elegant blog.

4. Passionate About Baking: Another Indian blog and this one has some hardcore, over the top desserts! Delightful to look at but a little intimidating to try, a lot of these recipes are on my ambitious to do list.

5. Sinfully Spicy: I realize I gravitate towards girly, dessert blogs and since we can’t survive on cookies and cobblers alone, I’m going to end with this blog that has some seriously delicious savoury dishes.

One thing all these blogs have in common is the superlative food photography, I wish I could intern with one of them to figure out how they do it! These are of course just 5 out of the hundreds of food blogs out there and maybe I can make this into a more regular series where I get you more lovely links.

The only problem with the world wide web is that it stretches so far and while I’d like to send each of these talented blog owners a batch of these decadent chocolate cookies with gooey chocolate filling, I can’t. I made these for a lunch my parents threw and realized that you never grow out of the desire for a crumbly, chocolaty, overload. Or at least my parent’s friends haven’t. And I haven’t either. These are their own reward.

 

Makes about a dozen cookies
Adapted from Good Food magazineWhat you’ll need:

200g dark chocolate
2 tbsp butter
1 egg
¼ cup sugar
¾ cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
About a cup of NutellaHow to:

1. Preheat the oven to 170°C.
2. Melt the chocolate and butter together.
3. Whisk the egg and sugar till light and fluffy.
4. Stir the flour and baking powder together. Sieve it in batches into the egg mixture.
Chill the dough for 30 minutes to firm it up.
5. Now for the tough part, make 2 inch balls out of the batter and roll it into a fat little circle. Spoon the Nutella into the centre and fold it up like a gujiya. Try to ball the batter into a little bit of a circle so that it bakes into a cookie shape.
Foodnote: As you know, as I repeatedly say, there’s no great value in making food very pretty. It’s best to focus on making it delicious. This cookie is going to be a gorgeous, deep chocolate beauty and nobody is going to judge you if it’s not a perfect circle.
Try to work the Nutella in the best you can, the more you can fit in, the better the cookie will be. Don’t worry about getting the shape perfect. I started out trying to make a dimsum sort of shape but I wasn’t able to work that one out so I picked this half moon instead. Eventually I’d manipulate the half moon into a sort of circle but you can see the cookies aren’t perfectly round even in the end.
6. Seal your little chocolate dimsums and refrigerate them again for about 10 – 20 minutes.
7. Plonk the cookies on a greased baking tray and bake for 10 minutes.
8. Let cool completely before devouring.

 

RITU DALMIA’S ALMOND BISCOTTI

“I’m a better person when I have less on my plate.” – Elizabeth Gilbert

I was complaining, as usual, to a friend much wiser than me. I realize I’m not much of a benchmark for wisdom but don’t let that undermine her, she is in fact very wise. I was whining about how lazy I am and recently I’ve pretty much given up, put my feet up and taken to watching as deadlines swoosh by my face. It’s gotten so bad I was thinking of going on some sort of detox diet/juice cleanse.

Thankfully, I spoke to a more intelligent being before forking over a ton of cash for some ick green juice. It’s kind of silly to think of our bodies or minds as mechanical objects that will perform at the same level consistently. Add the mental and physical abuse we put ourselves through and it’s a miracle my body runs at all. When I think of the millions of minutiae that people consider impacts us and our behavior, diet of course but also exposure to sunlight, hydration and as per some, the phases of the moon, I guess I should learn to accept some of my lazy ass phases.

During the process of accepting this laziness I even managed to bake these surprisingly simple, low sugar, no butter biscotti. Perfect for pairing with a hot cup of coffee and a good book.

Makes about a dozen biscotti
Recipe adapted from Ritu Dalmia’s Travelling Diva

What you’ll need:

150g flour
150 g almonds
75 g icing sugar
1 tsp cinnamon powder
1 tsp baking powder
3 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 -2 tbsp orange zest

How to:

1. Toast the almonds in a dry pan and chop into slivers.

2. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Mix all the dry ingredients together in a bowl. In another bowl, whisk together 2 eggs, vanilla and orange zest.

3. Pour the egg mixture into the flour and knead with your hands. Knead till you have a sticky dough – add a little flour to your hands if it’s getting TOO sticky.

4. Roll the dough into a ball and split the ball into quarters. Roll the quarter into a rectangular log.

5. Place on a baking tray with parchment paper or which is buttered down. Brush down the logs with the last beaten egg and bake for about 40 minutes or till golden.

 

6. Cool for about 20 minutes and then slice the loaf into biscuits. Don’t let the loaves cool for too long because you won’t be able to slice them without their crumbling.
7. Place the slices back on the baking tray and bake for 20 minutes (watching carefully to make sure the biscotti isn’t burning).
8. Remove the biscuits from the oven and let cool completely.
Foodnote: Once they’re cool, store them in an airtight container because they’ll get soggy outside.

COOKBOOK REVIEW: TRAVELLING DIVA BY RITU DALMIA

“A man at a dinner table with friends and family never really gets old.” – Italian Proverb quoted from Ritu Dalmia’s Travelling Diva
I walked into Bahri Sons in Khan Market looking for Ritu Dalmia’s Italian Khana but they only had Travelling Diva so I bought it instead. Published by Hachette in 2012 Travelling Diva is Ms. Dalmia’s fifth cookbook and covers her favorite recipes from her travels across the world. The result is an unexpected collection of recipes from Bhindi Bhojpuri to Potato Roesti to Tzatziki. While Ms. Dalmia’s wide range of recipes are a lot of fun, what you don’t end up with is a coherent anthology of choices within one type of cuisine, making it hard to plan a whole meal with just this book. The recipes span between beginner to mid level proficiency and don’t require much in the way of pantry paraphernalia.Ms. Dalmia shines when adding a twist to classics, such as her glorious Prawn Biryani and Beet Raita or when combining exciting ingredients together like in her Summer Chicken with Coffee Glaze. On the other hand some of the recipes lack luster and are almost too simplistic like Watermelon and Feta Skewers or Frozen Mango and Yoghurt Cubes (puree mango, mix with yoghurt, freeze in ice tray doesn’t qualify as a recipe).

I loved the personal travel experience Ms. Dalmia puts in before each recipe and only wish she’d shared more. Also very helpful is the section titled “My Perfect Kitchen” in which she talks about must have ingredients and other pantry essentials. Unfortunately while Ms. Dalmia includes many garnishes I loved, including some handwritten recipes, there are some basics which could have been improved on. For example not every dish has a photo, something that can really discourage a novice cook. The photos are a bit dark and the food not as well styled as I would have expected. Another major inconvenience is the way ingredient measurements are set out sometimes in grams and other times in cup measures within the same recipe needing me to pull out my scale and my cup measures for each recipe.While trying some of the recipes I found more success with the savoury dishes than the sweet, the Italian Apple Ring Cake was hard and chewy, the Red Velvet dry and the Orange Chocolate Pots didn’t really have enough orange flavor despite my using more orange than the recipe called for. On the other hand, the following went off incredibly well and I’ve covered each (with my own inputs and in my own words) on this blog:

Summer Chicken with Coffee Glaze and Hung Yoghurt Sauce
Prawns with Spinach and Raisins
Prawn Biryani
Beetroot Raita
Almond Biscotti (coming up soon!)
Carrot Cake

All in all, Travelling Diva is worth purchasing at INR 499, the recipes are relatively easy and cover an exciting range for someone looking to experiment. Ms. Dalmia’s voice is light, her personal anecdotes charming and the format very pleasant. I’ve got Chicken Balls with Tamarind Glaze, Prawn with Orange and Basil Marinade, Chicken with Lime and Thyme and Fried Salmon Patties on my personal “to cook” list and will be trying them out as soon as I get a chance.

Yeah. These Orange Chocolate Pots just didn’t work out.