Pomegranate Khandvi Lasagne


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Khandvi is probably my favorite Gujarati dish to make and eat. Making perfect paper thin, translucent khandvi is true art, I believe. And I must admit I can’t make it the way my mum does. Nonetheless, I can make it, well enough to satisfy a greedy craving.

Traditional khandvi can get boring after a while and Masterchef has only taught us to elevate traditional dishes to something where imagination is given a chance to appear as an art. Khandvi is basically a result of 3 ingredients — gram flour, buttermilk, salt and sometimes turmeric.

Our second week in the Masterchef Kitchen started with a Mystery Box challenge which had pomegranate, water chestnut, cucumber, physalis (cape gooseberry), lentils and walnuts. In addition, a regular support pantry with flours, sugars, dairy and basics.

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I decided to turn that typical yellow khandvi batter to something more fun like purple (or pink?)! And then screw the typical rolling and taking the easy way out — simply stacking sheets of khandvi that would resemble a lasagne.

They loved the idea but were hesitant if I would finish it in time

             They loved the idea but were hesitant if I would complete the dish in time

But I did.
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And I was happy to hear the judges say “this dish is a masterstroke!”

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And present me the Star of the week!
IMG_0297Now do you have a reason to not make this dish?! I guess not. So here you go!

Pomegranate Khandvi Lasagne

For the Pomegranate Khandvi Sheets:
1/2 cup gram flour
1/2 cup yogurt
1 cup fresh pomegranate juice
salt and red chili powder to taste

1) Mix everything using a wire whisk to form a smooth batter. Rest for 20 minutes.
2) Cook it in nonstick pan stirring constantly so no lumps form.
3) Once it’s very thick, spread it on the counter into a thin layer using a palette knife and then cut it in squares.

For the Water Chestnut & Walnut Filling:
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 green chili, finely chopped
8 canned water chestnuts, chopped
4 tablespoons walnuts, lightly roasted
salt and pepper to taste

1) Heat oil in a pan.
2) Sauté onions and green chili till translucent.
3) Add in water chestnuts and sauté till cooked well.
4) Lastly add in walnuts and mix. Season with salt and pepper and keep aside.

For the Cape Gooseberry Sauce:
15-20 cape gooseberries
1 tbsp oil
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon cornstarch dissolved in water
Salt and pepper to taste

1) In a pot of boiling water, add in cape gooseberries, cover and boil till softened.
2) Grind them in a blender to a smooth paste.
3) Heat oil and sauté garlic. Add in the paste and reduce it on low heat.
4) Add in cornstarch slurry and keep cooking untilthe sauce is somewhat thickened.
5) Season with sugar, salt and pepper.

To Assemble the Khandvi Lasagne:
1) Brush some sauce on a plate.
2) Place a sheet of khandvi in the cutter. Spread some sauce. Spoon some filling over. Place another sheet and continue to form the layers until you have 4 sheets of khandvi and 3 layers of filling.


Wintery Tart

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If I’m ever asked what my FAVORITE recipe from the MasterChef Kitchen is, I’d say “Wintery Tart”. More than just being a winner recipe, it has been a blessing for me. It is that first recipe I made as a result of a Mystery Box challenge when we were in bootcamp (top 30) and got me the first apron (with my name on it) to enter the top 12, from where started the real journey.

If at all you’re curious to know what was in that Mystery Box, we had carrots, cinnamon, strawberries, pineapple, lentils and purple yam. In addition, we had a support pantry with basics such as flours, sugars, ginger, garlic and dairy.

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                       It was an honor to demonstrate this recipe with Chef Ranveer Brar in the week’s                                                                        MasterChef Extraclass episode @ Holiday Inn, Mumbai

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Wintery Tart

For the Tart Pastry:
90 grams unsalted butter
1-tablespoon oil
3-tablespoons water
1-tablespoon sugar
1/8-teaspoon salt (skip if using salted butter)
150 grams plain flour

1) In a saucepan, heat together butter, oil, water, sugar and salt until the butter melts completely and the mixture is bubbling.
2) Turn off the heat and dump in all the flour at once. Mix quickly just until soft and smooth dough comes together. Do not overwork the dough.
3) Using a spatula, evenly spread the dough out and up the sides of an 8” loose-bottomed (preferred) tart pan.
4) Prick the pastry all over using a fork. Bake for 12-15 minutes in an oven preheated to 190ºC/375ºF.
5) Remove from oven and let it cool completely before filling.

For the Carrot Ginger Rice Custard:
2 medium carrots, roughly chopped
2 inch piece ginger, roughly chopped
2 cups milk
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup rice flour

1) Boil together the roughly chopped carrots and ginger until tender. Blend them to make a purée.
2) In a saucepan, heat together the milk and sugar until the sugar is fully dissolved.
3) In a separate bowl, whisk together the rice flour with some additional milk to form thin smooth slurry.
4) Slowly add this slurry to the hot milk while whisking continuously and vigorously.
5) Continue stirring and cooking the custard until it thickens significantly.
6) Lastly, turn off the heat and mix in the carrot and ginger purée.
7) Pour out the custard into a bowl, and cover with saran wrap touching the surface of the custard. Refrigerate to cool completely.

For the Pan-roasted Cinnamon Pineapple:
1 cup fresh pineapple, chopped
1/4 cup sugar (or depending on the natural sugars of the pineapple)
1 inch stick cinnamon, freshly ground

1) Place the chopped pineapple and sugar in a non-stick saucepan over medium heat.
2) Cook until the pineapple is nicely roasted with a crusty golden hue.
3) Add ground cinnamon and cook for another minute. Grind the mixture in a small mixer jar.
4) Set aside to cool.

For the Strawberry Purée:
4 fresh strawberries
1-teaspoon confectioner’s sugar

1) Blend the strawberries with sugar.
2) Strain the mixture.

For garnish:
Carrot juliennes
Fresh pineapple wedges
Ground cinnamon

To Assemble the Tart:
1) Evenly spread the pan-roasted cinnamon pineapple on the bottom of the cooled tart pastry.
2) Spread the carrot ginger rice custard over the pineapple layer. Smoothen the top using a palette knife.
3) Refrigerate the tart until the filling is set well.
4) Brush a strip of strawberry purée on the bottom of a plate. Place a slice of the tart on top, garnish with carrot juliennes, pineapple wedges and ground cinnamon.
5) Serve.

Serves 6.

Goat Cheese Stuffed Piquillo Peppers inspired by José Andrés

This past summer, we went to Miami where my sister got engaged to the love of her life.

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And to celebrate the big day, we went to dinner at The Bazaar By José Andrés — a restaurant that partly specializes in molecular gastronomy alongside traditional Spanish tapas.

We were thrilled about the whole concept of molecular cooking and so we started off with some terrific cocktails followed by appetizers, some of which looked like they were prepared at a science laboratory.

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Passion Fruit Up rum, passion fruit and ginger-laurel syrup, topped with passion fruit foam

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The Ultimate Gin & Tonic lemon verbena, lime wheels, juniper berries, fresh orchid

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Not Your Everyday Caprese liquid mozzarella (that was like air balloons, cherry tomatoes, basil

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Brussels Sprouts lemon pith purée, apricots, grapes, lemon air, plantain chips

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LN2 Caipirinha frozen using liquid nitrogen

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Making Liquid Nitrogen Caipirinha at the table

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Patatas Bravas fried potatoes, spicy tomato sauce, alioli

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Flaming S’mores peanut butter icecream, torched marshmallow



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In addition to the above dishes and many others, one of them was Stuffed Piquillo Peppers which was not on the menu but it was a chef’s recommendation for our little “veggie” group at the table. So we went with it. It probably was the best decision of the night. All of the tapas were very good, but none like the Stuffed Piquillo Peppers. That being said, I had to try making them at home. Here’s my take on it — it was very similar to the original, if not better. Or maybe even.

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For the peppers
6 – piquillo peppers/sweet mini peppers
2 oz – plain goat cheese
a drizzle of olive oil

For the Sweet Balsamic
1/4 cup – balsamic vinegar
1/8 cup – brown sugar

Classic Creamy Hummus

In the four years that I have lived in America, this place has not only served me mediocre weather, but also mediocre Arabic food. The one thing I miss most about home is the delectable Lebanese food — especially the luscious, silky, smoothest-ever hummus.
10457515_10152760671672363_1737380547329061620_nThis hummus recipe is a keeper. It is so smooth and creamy, it tastes exactly like the one we used to get at our local Arabic restaurant called Lebanese Flower, back at home in Abu Dhabi. 1 can (16 oz) – chickpeas OR 1 cup chickpeas soaked overnight and pressure cooked 1 cup + 1/2 cup – chickpea stock (preferred) or water 1/2 cup – labneh OR greek yogurt (If using regular yogurt, make sure to strain out the water) Salt to taste 1/4 cup – olive oil 2 tablespoons – lemon juice freshly squeezed 2 to 3 cloves – garlic 1/4 cup – tahini (you can use store bought paste or make your own by blending together 1/8 cup roasted sesame seeds with 1/8 cup olive oil) Cayenne pepper, parsley and olive oil for garnish

Pav Bread (Indian Bread Rolls)

These super soft, airy and slightly sweet bread rolls are an Indian street-food star.

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They are generally sliced in half, slathered with Amul butter on both sides and grilled on a hot pan till a layer of golden crisp steals your attention.

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Although this recipe does make the typical Indian bread rolls, they can really be served with anything and not necessarily used strictly in Indian fast food.

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Making them at home could not get easier; just a few basic ingredients, some patience and that’s it!

For the bread dough:

3/4 cup – warm milk
2 1/4 teaspoons – dry yeast
2 tablespoons – sugar
2 cups – bread flour (plain flour can also be used)
2 tablespoons – milk powder
1 teaspoon – salt
1/4 cup – unsalted butter, softened

For brushing the tops:

1 tablespoon – milk
1 tablespoon – butter, melted

Note: In the video, I am using my stand mixer to make the dough. But this can be done by hand too.

Chocolate Hazelnut Porridge

I don’t know if this is normal, but the first thing my sister and I crave every morning is dessert. While I generally eat a banana to satisfy my sweet craving, my sister comes up with some super healthy breakfast (dessert) ideas, like this one — chocolate hazelnut porridge. We usually keep jars full of homemade, all natural chocolate hazelnut butter and chocolate almond butter at the ready. You can simply mix a dollop of this butter with oats, spread it on toast or eat it plain by the spoonful.

This porridge can be eaten hot or cold. I like it cold because it tastes more like a pudding than porridge.

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Chocolate Hazelnut Porridge
1 cup — milk
1/4 cup — rolled oats
1 tbsp — chia seeds
1 (very generous) tbsp — chocolate hazelnut butter (or Nutella)
1 tbsp — roasted hazelnuts, chopped (optional)
to taste — agave syrup/honey/maple syrup (optional)

If you like it hot:

1) Mix the oats, chia seeds and milk and leave it in the fridge to soak overnight. (This step is optional but it helps the oats and chia seeds cook a lot more quickly if you’re in a morning rush.)
2) Right before serving, heat it in the microwave on high for about 2 minutes. You may need to add a little more milk if it gets undesirably thick.
3) Stir in the chocolate hazelnut spread, roasted hazelnuts and sweetening agent and serve.

If you like it cold:

1) Heat the milk, oats and chia seeds in the microwave for 3-4 minutes or until the oats are cooked.
2) Stir in the chocolate hazelnut spread, roasted hazelnuts and sweetening agent, cover and leave it in the fridge until breakfast next morning.

Sundried Tomato Dressed Pasta Salad

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For the pasta salad:
2 handfuls – pasta of your choice (I used whole wheat fusilli), boiled
2 tablespoons – olive oil
1 – small onion, sliced
1 handful – mushrooms, sliced
1 – zucchini, sliced
1 – small bell pepper, sliced
1 clove – garlic, minced
optional – grated cheese of your choice (I used a mix of emmental & gruyere)

1) Heat olive oil in a pan, add in onions and sauté for 2 minutes till transparent. 
2) Add in mushrooms and cook till lightly browned. Lastly add in zucchini, pepper and garlic and sauté for a few more minutes.
3) Add in cooked pasta and sundried tomato dressing and stir well. Refrigerate the salad and mix in the cheese right before serving time.

For the dressing:
4 to 6 whole – sundried tomatoes
1 clove – garlic
1 small – dried red chili (you can use red chili flakes too)
3 tablespoons – extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon – balsamic vinegar
to taste – salt & pepper

1) Place all the ingredients in the jar of a blender/food processor and blitz till nearly smooth.