Thursday, 30 April 2015

Interstellar Food - A Meal with the Stars

This is one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.” Neil Armstrong said this and started jumping around on the moon. Whenever I watch this video, I feel as if in the end, everybody loves ‘space’ to jump around (pun intended!). Let it be on earth or on the moon.
Astronauts stay in space for days and sometimes even months. It’s like a home away from home but just ‘too’ far away. So the question which always grills my mind is - WHAT DO THEY EAT IN SPACE? Though I knew that they used to have those toothpaste like tubes to have the food from times are changing and so is the ‘Interstellar Menu’. To keep the food edible for longer missions, it is dehydrated and packed in a solid form. Imagine taking a ‘bite’ of your chicken stew. All the fluid items like milk, soup etc. are dehydrated too in a powdered form. 
Thanks to the NASA scientists, who made it possible to hydrate the food by mixing hot or cold water when in space and make food a ‘bit’ tastier. But no matter what, the mesmerizing aroma of the food drifts away before it can stimulate an astronaut because of almost zero gravity. So the exulting sensation of the food felt by the tongue and the nose is absent. But these men and women, do all this ‘in the name of science’. I respect these guys because if I would have been an astronaut, my kitchen would’ve followed me. Since food is important, astronauts are invited for tasting session where they can recommend the dishes for future missions. Though these days they have freeze dried sausage patties and much more but there is one thing Buzz Aldrin enjoyed in one of the missions - “Shrimp Cocktail”. From the word cocktail, I remember that I am very fond of preparing hot or warm cocktail recipes. He had something to say about it- “they were chosen one by one to make sure they would be tiny enough to squeeze out of the food packet, and they were delicious!” Let’s try this appetizer for our brave astronauts ‘in the name of science”.
For Court Bouillon:
1 lemon,
2 bay leaves,
1 diced onion,
5 sprigs thyme,
2 diced carrots,
1/2 bunch parsley,
10 cups cold water,
2 diced stalks celery,
5 diced garlic cloves.
For Shrimp:
Cocktail Sauce,
Lemon wedges,
1 pound rinsed shrimp,
1 tablespoon kosher salt.
For Cocktail Sauce:
1 cup ketchup
1 juiced lemon,
Hot sauce to taste,
4 teaspoons prepared horseradish,
1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce.
Preparation Method for Shrimp Cocktail:
  1. Add water, onion, garlic, lemon, parsley, carrot, celery, thyme and bay leaves in a pot. Bring to a boil. Simmer for 20 minutes.
  2. Add shrimp into the liquid. Turn off the heat. Cook shrimp. Stir occasionally for 3 minutes. Drain and cool. Peel them. Refrigerate if you are not serving immediately. If refrigerated, bring shrimps to room temperature for 20 minutes before serving.
  3. To serve put the cocktail sauce in glasses as shown. Loop the shrimp over the edge of the glass. Top the glass with sauce. Garnish with the lemon and serve.
Preparation Method for Cocktail Sauce:
  1. Combine ketchup, lemon zest, juice, Worcestershire sauce and horseradish in a bowl.
  2. Add hot sauce. Mix well. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Enjoy!
     So do you want to enjoy food in space?

Monday, 27 April 2015

Sansa Stark and her Love for Lemon Cake

Do you like always write on festivals?”
Oops. Thanks. I’ll make sure that I change my ‘routine’ ASAP”, I replied with a confused smile.
She was my 23 year old neighbor. This conversation happened before my Jazz Fest and Jambalaya blog. I needed to move on from Festivals. “I’m going to watch Game of Thrones. Talk later” she said this and hurried to her home. Game of Thrones is an American fantasy drama television series, loved by millions.

Voila! It helped. I was on a GOT marathon and consequently fell in love with “Jaqen H'ghar”, mumbling ‘Valar Morghulis’ at almost everything. This marathon ceased after the 4th season . I called her up and she was like “This is the year when they air season 5. They actually started it and two episodes are out”. Immense relief! There is one character which I noticed has grown up from a sweet little beautiful girlie girl to a damsel in distress and gradually to an alert and an astute woman when wisdom and tragedies hit her hard. Irrespective of all the troubles she has been through (including Joffrey), she walked through fire with tears and survived. Partly because of her will to survive and partly because of Lemon Cakes. When Lady Olenna of House Tyrell offers lemon cake to a ‘sad’ Sansa-
Olenna Tyrell: "Shall we have some lemon cakes?"
Sansa Stark: "Lemon cakes are my favorite."
Olenna Tyrell: "So we've been told."
I was like ok, people know this affair. Even Little finger tries to woo her by offering Lemon Cakes.
They are appetizing enough for me to try them in my kitchen. I love cake recipes. So let us make these Lemon Cakes for this sweet damsel in distress.

Ingredients for Cake:-
6 Eggs,
1 teaspoon Salt,
1 cup Sour Cream,
1 cup Unsalted Butter,
1 teaspoon Baking Soda,
3 cups All-purpose Flour,
1/3 cup Fresh Lemon Juice,
2 tablespoons Lemon Zest,
2 1/2 cups Granulated Sugar.
Preparation Method for Cake:-
1. Preheat oven to 350 D.C. Take a pan and butter and flour it. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, lemon zest, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
2. In a blender, beat butter and granulated sugar for 5 minutes. Add eggs. Mix in lemon juice.
Keep adding flour mixture and sour cream, until incorporated. Do not overmix. Add to the bundt cake pan.
3. Bake until knife inserted in center of cake comes out clean. Bake for 50 minutes. Cool for 30 minutes.
4. Turn out onto a rack to cool completely. Poke holes all over the cooled cake, and brush with lemon icing.
5. If the cake does not absorb all the syrup at once, allow to sit for 20 minutes before continuing to brush with any remaining syrup.
Ingredients for Lemon Icing:-
1/2 cup butter,
2 tablespoons lemon juice,
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract,
3 cups confectioners' sugar.
Preparation Method for Lemon Icing:-
1. Combine butter, lemon juice, vanilla, and sugar. Beat until light and fluffy.
2. Add more sugar or lemon juice. Adjust the consistency as needed.

Enjoy “Game of Thrones” with authentic Lemon Cake!

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Novak Djokovic and his Gluten Free Journey

These are hard times for all the health conscious people, including me. I say hard times because almost everything can be harmful for health, so what should we go for or not go for? I won’t answer for ‘what should we go for’ as I’ll end up a mentioning a lot of recipes, ironically making the whole meal “NOT” so very healthy. As far as ‘what should we NOT go for’ is concerned, a diet containing Gluten should be avoided. I haven’t implemented this yet but was simply thinking why not including gluten free diet twice or thrice in a week (whenever I can), so that even if I or you have to turn on to a complete gluten free diet, it can be done hassle free. This world number one tennis player, Novak Djokovic, suffered a lot before going for a gluten free diet. Gluten, which is found in wheat, barley and rye was affecting his metabolism. Eventually he was diagnosed as gluten intolerant and shifted to gluten free diet.

Consider someone whose parents own a pizza restaurant but son is sensitive to gluten. Sad! But his hard work and results after going gluten free are evident enough to make me think twice. I was going through a book, Serve Serve to Win, wherein Djokovic says - “What amazed me the most was how simple these changes were to make, and how dramatic the results were. All I did was eliminate gluten - the protein found in wheat - for a few days, and my body instantly felt better. I was lighter, quicker, clearer in mind and spirit. After two weeks, I knew that my life had changed. I sprang out of bed, ready to tear into the day ahead. And I realized that I had to share what I’d learned with others.” I can’t recall when was the last time I sprang out of bed, but let me try this healthy gluten-free recipe. Anyone, anytime may require turning to a gluten-free diet. Let’s practice now onwards.
Gluten-free Curry Noodles Soup
1 fresh Red Chilli,
200 ml Coconut Milk,
3.5 cm sliced Ginger,
1 teaspoon Turmeric,
1 litre Chicken Stock,
150 grams Rice Noodles,
1 teaspoon Brown Sugar,
2 tablespoons Lime juice,
1 teaspoon Tamarind paste,
2 tablespoons Thai Fish Sauce,
250 grams stir fry mix Vegetables,
150 grams cooked diced Chicken.
For Garnishing:-
2 Curry Leaves,
1 chopped Red Chilli,
1 piece chopped lemongrass.
Preparation Method:-
1. Take a pan and heat the chicken stock.
2. Boil the noodles in another pan. Drain water and set aside.
3. Add the remaining ingredients, except the vegetables, to the pan and bring to a boil.
4. When the chicken is hot, add the vegetables. When they are tender, add the drained noodles.
5. Divide the noodles between bowls. Pour the soup over them.
6. Serve sprinkled with curry leaves, red chili and lemongrass.
 The Gluten-free diet can be so yummilicious!

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Jazz and Jambalaya - Guide to Ecstasy

It’s been two years since I have been to New Orleans Jazz fest. My love for jazz goes long back when I was in college and used to roam around with my huge discman, playing - ‘Hold me close and hold me fast, The magic spell you cast, This is la vie en rose- by Louis Armstrong. I have even mentioned Jazz a few times in this blog too with my cocktail recipes, the Mulled Wine etc. New Orleans has this history of people coming and going. Let it be French, Spanish or African. But thanks to this process of people passing by this city, New Orleans gave birth to a lot of new things. African workers found comfort in music after a hard days work. They used to sit in groups, sing and play instruments and create music - they were creating Jazz. This city has been celebrating this festival since 1970s. But there is a reason why a lot of people pass by this city - its port. Now if you are in a city with one of the largest ports in America, you can expect this ‘port’ on your plate.

People pass by but leave their cuisines behind. New Orleans has a mashup of various cuisines and Jambalaya proves this right. Jambalaya is a popular rice dish, especially at family get together or events like this. Even huge quantity of it is simple to make. The best part is that you can play around from seafood, sausages to red or white meat, or mixture of all. There is a small story behind the recipe. Many years ago, a traveler arrived at New Orleans, in an inn, long after the dinner time. He asked the cook to throw in the available ingredients and this gave birth to the famous Jambalaya recipe, which is a staple of New Orleans. Jazz fest begins on April 24, 2014 and this combination of Jazz and Jambalaya might be too overwhelming for you.


1 Bay Leaf,
1 chopped Onion,
2 cups cooked Rice,
1/2 teaspoon Thyme,
1 cup Chicken Broth,
2 teaspoons Oregano,
1 teaspoon Hot Sauce,
1 stalk chopped Celery,
1 pound diced Chicken,
1/2 pound diced Sausage,
28 ounce canned Tomatoes,
1 chopped Red Bell Pepper,
2 teaspoons Cajun Seasoning,
1 pound cooked thawed Shrimps.

Preparation Method:-
  1. Take a slow cooker. Combine in it, chicken, sausage, chicken broth, tomatoes, onion, pepper and celery.
  2. Now add in bay leaves, thyme, oregano, Cajun seasoning and hot sauce of your choice. I prefer red hot sauce.
  3. Cover it up. Cook on high for 3 hours. Stir in thawed shrimps. Cover and cook until the shrimps are heated thoroughly. This will take around 5 minutes.
  4. Spoon the mixture over cooked rice. Serve hot!

Enjoy the Jazz Music!

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Celebrate the Seville Fair with Crema Catalana

The spring season in Seville, Spain comes with a special atmosphere. It brings with it the intoxicating fragrance of jasmine and orange blossoms. This is not all, spring also brings with it two major events, Semana Santa and the Spring Fair. The Seville Fair AKA Spring Fair takes place in Los-Remedios, that is next to the river. The event calls for singing, dancing, eating, drinking and ofcourse socializing. The attraction includes parades, horse rides, bullfights etc. wherein bullfight is the best part.

Hope you liked my Spanish meat recipe, Meatballs with Fire Roasted Tomato Sauce. I’m trying a dessert this time. Crema Catalana is AKA Catalan Cream. It is actually Spanish variation of French dessert called Creme brulee. It is considered as a great spring dessert. This is a quick and easy recipe. The best part is that this dessert can be prepared in advance. All you need to do is refrigerating it 3 hours before serving. And just as cheese, it will melt in your mouth. So let’s all dance to the beat of the Spanish music with mushy and sugar treat, the Crema Catalana.
Crema Catalana
2 cups Milk,
1 cup Sugar,
4 Egg Yolks,
1 Cinnamon stick,
1⁄2 grated Lemon rind,
1 tablespoon Cornstarch.
Preparation Method:-
  1. Take a bowl. Beat the egg yolks and 3/4 cup sugar until blended. Let the mixture turn frothy. Add cinnamon stick and grated lemon rind. Mix cornstarch with 2 tablespoons of cold milk. When well mixed, return it to the remaining 2 cups of milk.
  2. Take a pot. Pour in milk. Slowly heat the mixture. Stir constantly until thick. Remove pot from heat immediately. Prevent it from curdling or separating.
  3. The texture of the finished crema will be grainy. This is exactly how it should be. Remove the cinnamon stick. Ladle the milk mixture into 4 ramekins. Allow to cool. Then refrigerate for at least 3 hours. Before serving, preheat the broiler.
  4. Remove ramekins with the crema catalana from refrigerator. Sprinkle the rest of the sugar over each ramekin. When broiler is hot, place the ramekins under the broiler on the top shelf. Allow the sugar to caramelize, turning golden brown.
  5. This may take 10 minutes. Remove and serve immediately. Serve warm or cold as per choice.

Enjoy the Seville Fair!

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Celebrate Nepali New Year with Pork Choila

Bisket Jatra marks the starting of the Nepali New Year, AKA Navavarsha. The celebration of the festival goes on for a week. The festival is celebrated with great pomp and show accompanied by parades, parties, family get together and ofcourse huge family dinner. Infact, for a foodie like me, that's the best part, haha! Bhaktapur looks beautiful that day as it is sponsors the most exciting annual events right at the Kathmandu valley. A huge chariot, that carries the idols of Bhairab God, is dragged by number of villagers to the Khalna Tole. The tug of war competition takes place between the Eastern and Western sides of town, accompanied by huge applause.

Hope you enjoyed my meat recipe, red meat gravy, which was an authentic recipe of Rajasthan, India. Now here I am with one more traditional recipe called Choila. Choila is very popular dish in Nepal and relished by the localites. Choila can be made with any kinda meat, be it chicken, duck, beef or pork. I've tried the one with pork. The recipe is very spicy but you can make minor alteration as per taste. Traditionally served with the local beaten rice, the dish is definitely a winner in all respect. So let’s celebrate the Nepali New Year with Pork Choila.
For Curry
3 lbs. boneless Pork,
1 teaspoon Turmeric,
Salt and Pepper to taste,
1 tablespoon Chili paste,
1/8 teaspoon Asafoetida,
2 tablespoons Mustard oil,
1 tablespoon Garlic paste,
1 tablespoon Ginger paste,
2 tablespoons Lemon juice,
1 tablespoon Cumin powder,
1/4 teaspoon grated Nutmeg,
1/4 teaspoon Sichuan pepper,
3 medium diced, boiled and fried potatoes.
Marinade for Choila
1 inch sliced ginger,
5 sliced Red chilies,
3 minced Garlic cloves,
1/2 teaspoon Turmeric,
Salt and pepper to taste,
1/8 teaspoon Asafoetida,
3 tablespoons Mustard oil,
1 tablespoon toasted Cumin seeds.
For Garnish
1 teaspoon Fenugreek,
2 minced Garlic cloves,
2 tablespoons Mustard oil,
1/2 chopped Green onion,
Handful chopped Coriander.
Preparation Method:-
  1. In a large bowl, combine the ingredients for curry into a paste.  Add pork chops to the paste and mix to coat thoroughly. Set aside for two hours.
  2. Then, grill the chops until cooked thoroughly. Cut into 1/2 inch cubes when done. Now prepare a smooth paste of marinade for Choila.
  3. In a bowl, mix the smooth paste, of marinade for Choila, with the grilled pork cubes. Pour two tablespoons of mustard oil, toss it well to coat thoroughly.
  4. Add into a wok, along with potatoes, and cook thoroughly till the paste blends well with the pork. This will take 20 minutes on slow. You can simply use boiled potatoes or boiled and fried potatoes here.
  5. For garnishing, in a pan, heat two tablespoons of oil, splitter fenugreek till it turns dark. Add garlic and fry till light brown.
  6. Pour this oil mixture over the cooked meat. Add green onions and coriander. Toss the meat. Serve with steamed rice. 
Happy New Year!

Thursday, 9 April 2015

Vegan Tour with Vegan Celebs

Hey Jude, don't make it bad, take a sad song and make it better” this song by The Beatles helped me when I ran out of recipes for my aunt. My aunt is a vegan and allergic to a lot of ingredients. I had to go vegan and less spicy for her a week. She heard this song and said “You know, Paul is also a vegan, just like me” where she emphasized on just like me. Therefore, I thought let me make her happy. Hope you liked my vegan recipe, vegan cream cheese and vegan sandwiches. Former Beatles member, Paul McCartney has been a vegan for quite a long time. His former wife was a figurehead of the vegan movement. 
Paul looks 10 years younger than his age, I guess that’s how vegan food works. Not only him but many more including Bryan Adams, Ellen DeGeneres, Jared Leto, Jessica Chastain, Samuel L Jackson are working really hard to make people go vegan. Though it’s a difficult to make everybody vegan, these vegan celebs have substitutes for the meat to match their craving despite of their hectic schedule. I am not sure when or whether I’ll go vegan, but let me try something for my aunt atleast. I have planned a little treat for my aunt with everything vegan definitely inspired by all the vegan people and ofcourse the options they have with something like polenta. 
Vegan Baked Polenta 
Pepper to taste,
2 chopped Onions,
Garlic Salt to taste,
2 teaspoon Olive Oil,
1 chopped Tomatoes,
100 gms Vegan Cheese,
2 Squares Vegan Polenta,
20 gms chopped Coriander,
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano,
1 tablespoon Red Chili Sauce,
200 gms ground Vegan Sausage,
50 gms chopped Mushrooms (Optional).

Preparation Method:-

1. Take 1 teaspoon olive oil and saute in it onions and tomatoes. Now add in salt, ground vegan sausage and mushrooms (optional). Add garlic salt and stir it for a minutes. Set aside.
2. After removing from heat, add red chili sauce. Mix well. Now take a pan and heat the polenta squares with 1 teaspoon olive oil. You can directly bake the polenta squares but I prefer to heat them a bit first.
3. Make a sandwich of polenta with the filling. Add the remaining filling above the sandwich. Sprinkle vegan cheese inside and above the sandwich as shown.
4. Bake for 3 minutes or until the cheese melts. Top with pepper, oregano and coriander. Your little vegan treat is ready.

Sometimes it’s good to enjoy a Vegan Treat!