Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Celebrity Chefs | Roger Mooking - A Little Bit of This ‘n A Little Bit of That

I love good food. But anyone who knows me personally will vouch for the fact that I’d rather be outside the kitchen that in it. However, I find that my love for good food takes me to the kitchen more often these days. While I try to replicate some of my favourite dishes that I eat out I also keep an eye out for refreshing recipes that can easily be put together to give a gourmet angle to a home-cooked meal. One such recipe that I have followed umpteen times is a side dish of broccoli, red chillies and slivered almonds, served chilled. I had seen it on Everyday Exotic, a food show hosted by Canadian chef Roger Mooking, aired on TLC.

Roger is currently in Delhi to launch the first Indo-Canadian cookbook that has been put together by the Canadian High Commission, featuring recipes by Roger himself and Indian celebrity chefs Sanjeev Kapoor and Manisha Bhasin, among others. An Appetite for Fusion will be unveiled Canadian High Commissioner, Nadir Patel on March 19. The event is co-presented by Delhi Gourmet Club.

Top: Chef Roger Mooking; Bottom: Chef Roger with the Shangri-la team.

So, when I am invited for a cooking demo with Roger Mooking at Delhi’s Shangri-la by Eros Hotel I make the time to attend despite having a packed day. The limited participation makes for easy interaction with the chef. While creating dishes from the aforementioned cookbook – lamb kebabs, rice and black-eyed peas pilaf and long simmered tamarind sauce – Roger shares many cooking tips. (For details about the recipes do pick up a copy of the book.)
-       Use a combination of minced garlic and chopped garlic as a marinade for meats. The different sizes allow the garlic to permeate the meat entirely as well as form a caramelized crust on top.
-       While grilling any meat it is advisable to not disturb it too often. Initially the meat will stick to the grille but once the crust starts forming it’ll start peeling off on its own.
-       Blanching black eyed peas helps to release the gas from them that then doesn’t get transferred to the dish.
-       While sautéing onion and garlic add a little salt to draw out the moisuture slightly. This will prevent it from burning.
-       Adding a citrus element to any dish, sweet or savoury, opens up the flavours. The acid opens up the palate allowing the flavours of the dish to be enjoyed more fully.

While using ingredients such as coriander and tamarind Roger confessed to enjoying the fact that he didn't need to explain each ingredient to us unlike in North America where most people are not too familiar with the correct use of these ingredients.

Chef Roger prepping the Lamb Kebabs. 

“Food is a way for the world to come together,” says Roger. Being in born in Trinidad, attending cooking school in Toronto, having a Chinese grandfather and close affiliation with a Telugu family is just a part of Roger’s multi-cultural influence that finds its way into the fusion fare that he serves in his restaurant. “When cooking fusion food, it’s important to work with a few ingredients, lest there is con-fusion!” he laughs.

The Chef and I. 

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Events | International Women’s Day at ITC Maurya’s Pavilion

The ITC Maurya has consistently featured one of the finest buffet spreads in the capital. Long before The Leela Ambience Gurgaon and Setz came up with the seven-kitchen concept, The Pavilion had been featuring a vast variety of quality fare in its buffets on a daily basis; the choice was even larger on weekends and special days. So, on International Women’s Day (that is celebrated to honour and recognize the contribution of women) The Pavilion put together an exclusive brunch where Delhi’s leading lady chefs came together to showcase their signature creations.

Clockwise from Top Left: The Goddesses of Good Food; Kainaz Contractor; Manisha Bhasin; Ritu Dalmia; Julia Carmen.
The ‘Goddesses Of Good Food’ include Diva’s Ritu Dalmia, ITC Maurya’s Manisha Bhasin, Tres’s Julia Carmen and Rustom’s – Parsi Bhonu’s Kainaz Contractor. The highlight of the afternoon is the camaraderie between the chefs that is infectious and creates an atmosphere of bonhomie in the restaurant. To add to that, all the ladies dining anywhere at the ITC Maurya are served a complimentary glass of sparkling wine on this day.

The Vibe
While I take a look around and interact with the chefs I realize that choosing where to start is a daunting task for me. So I decide to start with the customary Salad Bar. Apart from the regular cold cuts, I relish the Spicy Grilled Prawns, the Lobster With Tomato Salsa and the Tandoori Raan pulled and tossed with ruccola, caramelized pinenuts and feta.

Salad Bar and Cold Cuts.
I then head to Julia Carmen’s station who has created and served many-a-delicious dishes at Tres. The Goat Cheese Churros with roast beetroot and caramelized apples and walnut dressing is fab. The churros are being made fresh and are beautifully light and crisp. The melting goat cheese on top and the chunky walnut sauce bind all the ingredients in a delicious mix. The Slow Cooked Chicken Parcels are stuffed with melted mozzarella and plum tomatoes, topped with fresh basil leaves and served in a rich tomato sauce. I am really looking forward to the Oven Baked Sea Bass with parsley and mushroom crust in a light grainy mustard sauce since I used to love the mushroom crusted sole at Tres that was served with a crab and mustard infused sauce. This version is not similar though - the mustard somehow overpowers the mushroom crust that is delicious. 

Clockwise from Top Left: Goat Cheese Churros; Slow Cooked Chicken Parcels; My Platter; Oven Baked Sea Bass.
Moving on to Chef Manisha's creations, I savour the Jaipur Lamb basted in pomegranate and black pepper and the Sole with the Spiced Crust but my favourite is the Homemade Cottage Cheese with sundried tomatoes, edamame beans and a methi-infused sauce. The whole dish just comes together beautifully. I am told that the Quinoa and Oyster Mushroom Pulao is fabulous but I skip it to save space for Ritu and Kainaz's creations. 

Clockwise from Top Left: Homemade Cottage Cheese; Roast Chicken; Quinoa and Oyster Mushroom Pulao; Spice Crusted Sole.
Ritu Damlia’s Gnocchi Caprese is as delicious as it is simple. One just cannot go wrong with the refreshing flavours of basil, tomato, mozzarella and garlic. But keeping the gnocchi light is an art that Ritu has certainly mastered along with keeping the balance of all the flavours that make this dish so warm and comforting. And what can I say about the Four Cheese Risotto with crumbled sausages? Heaven for cheese lovers!

Top: Gnocchi Caprese; Bottom Left: Four Cheese Risotto; Bottom Right: Crumbled Sausages.
And finally I head to the Parsi counter! Kainaz is the former food editor of BBC Good Food magazine and recently shifted base from Mumbai to Delhi to open a Parsi restaurant featuring her family-owned recipes. I have been wanting to try her three-week old restaurant Rustom’s – Parsi Bhonu that has opened to rave reviews. The Patra Ni Machi is chutneyed fish steamed in banana leaves. I appreciate the liberal helping of chutney in this. The Jardaloo Marghi Ma Salli is chicken cooked in a sweet and sour tomato gravy with dried apricot topped with crunchy potato straws called salli. A tasty dish, this is best enjoyed with caramelized rice. Again, sheer comfort food this is. (I look forward to having this home-delivered soon!) Then there’s Dhansak and Mutton Dhansak that’s a spiced masala dal that is slow cooked so that the lentil grains become like a smooth paste. Both the vegetarian and non-vegetarian options are great and the mutton pieces in the latter are meltingly tender.

Kainaz Contractor with her delicious Parsi fare.
And you would think that after all this food I would skip dessert, right? Wrong! I seem to have a separate compartment for dessert. The choice in the dessert section is as wide as in the savouries. I'll just leave you with a mouthwatering image of some of the things that are on offer and a few that i indulged in. 

A fraction of the Dessert Counter.
I am told that we can look forward to more delicious buffets at The Pavilion featuring a combination of chefs from within the ITC and beyond. So keep a watch out.. or come back to Appetising Tales to know more about the goings on. 


The Pavilion, ITC Maurya, Sardar Patel Marg, Diplomatic Enclave, New Delhi. 
Telephone: 011 2611 2233