Friday, 20 September 2019

Special Cuisine | The Authentic Chettinad Experience by The Bangala Comes to New Delhi

Most of us in Delhi have very limited exposure to Chettinad cuisine. Today's pop-up at The Lodhi showcased an extensive choice of dishes from The Bangala Table. A lovely sit-down lunch proved to be a delicious celebration of the rich repertoire of this ancient cuisine. And trust me, there's much, much more to the cuisine than Chettinad Chicken! In fact, I was particularly impressed with the variety of vegetarian fare that left me licking my fingers.

The delicious Chettinad spread served beautifully at The Lodhi.

Nestled in Karaikudi, The Bangala is almost a 100-year-old heritage hotel in the heart of Chettinad. It is renowned for its family kitchen, which has been rated the 28th Best Restaurant in India by Condé Nast Traveller in 2018. While you can book exhaustive masterclasses on Chettinad cuisine at the property, the recipes have been documented in a book, The Bangala Table. Co-authored by the family matriarch Ms. Meenakshi Meyyappan and Sumeet Nair, it includes classics like Chettinad Mutton Fry, Chettinad Chicken Pepper Masala and Quail 65; Crab Rasam to Anglo-Indian Mutton Cutlets; Pineapple Curry to Prawn Biryani; as well as the Chettiar vegetarian specialty Mandis to more familiar Pachadis.

For the real thing, head to The Bangala and book yourself a Masterclass. 

Coming back to today’s lunch: It started with koottu (mildly tempered seasonal vegetables), potatoes and peas masala poriyal, pomegranate raita, sweet mango pachadi, snake gourd bhajis and banana flower vadai. While there was a fair bit of aromatic mutton, chicken, crab and kingfish, the highlights for me ended up being butter beans kurma, pineapple curry and mandi made with bhindi, shallots and garlic with lemon rice, tomato rice, plain rice and a variety of poppadams completing the meal.

Chefs from The Bangala have flown down with special ingredients to make this experience as authentic as possible. This promotion is especially for DLF properties with an exclusive dinner on 20th September at Golf Lawns, for The Camellias and King’s Court patrons; dinner on 21st and 22nd September at DLF Golf Club; lunch and dinner on 24th and 25th September at The Lodhi, New Delhi and finally lunch and dinner from 27th to 29th September at Magnolias Club.

Sunday, 8 September 2019

Recipes | Pakodas - The Snack for All Seasons

Sangeeta Khanna's book, Pakodas, unveiled by Vijay Wanchoo,
Sr EVP The Imperial New Delhi.

"Pakodas - The snack for all seasons" is a beautiful celebration and a thoroughly researched book on this ubiquitous Indian snack. 

Author Sangeeta Khanna has done her master's in Botany and is a trained microbiologist. She works as a nutrition coach, designs menus for top notch luxury hotels and wellness retreats and often showcases regional menus, especially the food of Benaras, her hometown. But beyond everything else she is known for relentlessly propagating healthy food, desi and videshi - she talks about ancient and rare to find Indian vegetables with as much as ease and expertise as she talks about handcrafted pastas or homemade sourdough bread. 

At yesterday's book launch Sangeeta dispelled many myths associated with pakodas. "When you talk about pakodas one usually imagines deep fried, even 'artery-clogging' food," she said. But this is far from the truth, she added lamenting that people happily eat cookies daily that are laden with fat, but abstain from pakodas. 
- Firstly, pakodas maybe deep-fried, shallow-fried and even steamed!
- Secondly, even in the deep-fried variety, there is no fat in the batter; and when dropped in hot oil the outer surface immediately gets sealed. Thus oil only clings to the surface and doesn't seep in. When you drain the pakodas on paper even the surface oil drains out, leaving a plateful of pakodas with far less fat than an average cookie. 

The session included a lot more eye-opening information, demonstration of a variety of pakodas (recipes below) and finally a lavish high tea that included an even wider variety of pakodas from different regions. 

The book is not a run-of-the-mill cook book. It includes anecdotes, explains recipes with logic, nutritional information and even cultural stories of pakodas made for special occasions and festivals. It is divided into three sections: Vegetarian (including flowers, leaves, fruits, seeds), Non-vegetarian and an array of Chutneys (that are also superfoods, explains Sangeeta).

If you'd like a copy, it is available on Amazon.


Kankauve ka Pakoda

20-25 Leaves of Kankauve
200 ml Mustard/Peanut Oil

For the Batter:
½ cup Besan
3 tsp Rice flour
½ tsp Turmeric powder
½ tsp Red Chilli powder
¼ tsp Dry Mango powder
3-4 pieces Paste of Garlic cloves
½ tsp Carom seeds
½ tsp Salt
¼ cup Water

1.     Wash the leaves gently in water and drain.
2.     Mix all the batter ingredients and whisk thoroughly.
3.     Heat the oil to medium-hot. Dip the leaves one by one into the batter, wipe off extra batter and drop them into oil.
4.     The batter-coated leaves shall puff up immediately.
5.     Keep turning the pakodas gently to cook evenly until they become crisp and golden brown on the surface.
6.     Remove from oil with the help of a slotted spoon and place them on a plate lined with a kitchen towel.
7.     Serve with a thin chutney.

Nariyal Katli ka Pakoda

1 Fresh Coconut, halved and sliced into ¼ cm- long thick slices
400 ml Mustard/Peanut/Coconut oil                            

150 gm Besan
100 gm Rice Flour
1 tsp Carom seeds
½ tsp Turmeric powder
1 tsp Red chilli powder
1 tsp Lime juice
1 tsp Salt

1.     Mix the besan, rice flour, spices and salt in a mixing bowl.
2.     Pour water in a thin stream while whisking the batter thoroughly to get a medium-thin consistency.
3.     Heat the oil to medium-hot. Dip slices of coconut katlis into the batter, drain off extra batter and drop in to the oil.
4.     Fry the crescent-shaped pakodas until they become golden brown.
5.     Remove from oil with the help of a slotted spoon and place them on a plate lined with kitchen towel.
6.     Serve hot with a chutney of your choice.

Bhaap Ki Mungodi

1 cup Mung dal, split
1 tsp Coriander seeds, crushed
1 tsp Fennel seeds
1 tsp Cumin seeds
1 tsp Red chilli flakes
½ tsp Turmeric powder
½ tsp Dry Mango powder
Asafoetida to taste
1 tsp Salt
250 gm Mustard oil

1.     Soak the mung dal for an hour. Drain and pound either in a mortar-and-pestle or blend in a food processor to a crumbly coarse paste.
2.     Add all the spices and salt, adjust the seasoning, and mix thoroughly.
3.     Whisk the mungodi batter thoroughly to aerate.
4.     Grease the steamer plates and drop the mungodi batter in it, either with a piping bag or with your fingers.
5.     Steam for 8-10 minutes or until the mungoids come off the steamer plates.
6.     Alternatively, tie a muslin cloth over a pot of boiling water and drop the mungodis on the cloth and cover with a dome-shaped lid. Steam for 8-10 minutes and scoop them off the cloth with a flat spatula.
7.     Serve hot with a diluted version of Coriander chutney. You can also add a seasoning of cumin seeds, asafoetida, red chilli powder and some curry leaves.

Arbi Ke Patton ka Rikwachh

10 Colocasia leaves
2 cups Beasn
1 tsp Garlic paste
2 tsp Red chilli paste
2 tsp Cumin powder
1 tsp Pepper powder
2 tsp Dry Mango powder
2 tsp Turmeric powder
1.5 tsp Salt
2-3 Large pods of tamarind soaked in ½ cup water for the extract
100 Mustard oil

1.     Mix the besan with all the spice powders, garlic paste and tamarind extract.
2.     Add some water and make a sticky paste that spreads easily.
3.     Rinse and wipe the colocasia leaves dry. Pick out the biggest leaf from the bunch and spread on a clean surface with its rough side up. Peel off the veins to make the leaf smooth and pliable. Repeat the process for all the leaves.
4.     Drop a tsp of the besan paste over a leaf and spread evenly. Now place another leaf over it with its smooth side facing the leaf below and press to make them stick together.
5.     Spread some more paste over the second leaf and repeat the process to layer five leaves.
6.     Now roll up the stack of leaves tightly, folding the sides of the stack to seal both ends of the roll. Secure it with some more besan paste.
7.     Make another roll with the remaining five leaves and arrange both the rolls over a steamer plate. Steam for 30 minutes on medium heat.
8.     Remove from steamer, allow the rolls to cool and let them rest in the fridge for 24 hours so that the tartness of tamarind neutralizes the itchiness in the leaves.

9.     Shallow-fry the spirals with a drizzle of mustard oil until crisp and golden brown.