This past September, I was invited to an event at the Lakeland Store by my dear friend, The Tiny Taster. Lakeland is one of the UK’s top kitchenware brands and has been brought to India by Westside. The meet-and-greet was organised to bring together Baking enthusiasts from all over Pune and introduce them to Lakeland’s range of cookware and appliances.
I absolutely LOVE seafood, even though I’m really challenged when it comes to cleaning and de-boning it (somehow I am always the only one at the table to choke on a fishbone) so I stick to shellfish and fillets as far as possible. I recently came across this new Pune based company called Fishvish, which promised to deliver ‘Blast Frozen’ seafood directly to your doorstep – music to my ears, because I had been planning some experiments with fish for a while but I was not prepared to go to the fish market by myself.
Since Father’s Day is right around the corner (June 15th) the lovely folks at ‘Green OK Please‘ approached me to come up with a dish for Dads, using Organic Ingredients – how could I say no? In this day and age, with health problems and stress levels on the rise, putting together a healthy breakfast for Dad seemed a great way to start Father’s Day!
Last year I made a trip to Dubai, and after sampling almost every type of Arabian cuisine I could get my hands on – one of the things I fell in love with was their Za’atar Bread. Za’atar has this unique herby, earthy, slightly lemony flavour – unlike anything I’ve had before.
Za’atar is a Middle-Eastern spice mixture, comprising Sumac, Thyme, Roasted Sesame Seeds, Marjoram, Oregano and Salt. It’s kind of like an Arabic ‘All Spice’ or ‘Chaat Masala’, if you will. Za’atar is so versatile, it can be used on breads, meats, vegetables, rice – and it’s SO good, it’s almost addictive!
I’ve been meaning to make a Soup for a while now and because I love Italian flavours so much, I thought I’d do a Soup which uses two of my favourite ingredients – Tomatoes and Basil! Nothing is better than a good, luscious Soup when you’re sick (like I am right now). Keeping in mind that it is Summer, I’ve kept this a light and flavourful dish, minus any heavy ingredients like cream or cheese. Plus, you can serve this either hot, cold, or lukewarm – it’s delicious any way you like it!
The idea for this dish actually came from two of Nigella Lawson’s recipes, ‘Saffron Scented Chicken Pilaf‘ and ‘Chicken with Spring Onions, Chili and Greek Yogurt‘. I’ve drawn from both these recipes but made quite a few changes to suit my personal taste. This was the first time I’ve ever cooked rice and because I was trying to prep all 3 components of this dish at once, I forgot to take photos of the process!
This meal is perfect for Summer, when it’s so hot you literally don’t even feel like eating anything. It’s delicate flavours and the cool Yogurt are just right to beat the heat!
Here we go:
I love working with fresh ingredients, and luckily enough for me – I can get them delivered weekly to my doorstep (Green Tokri, holla!). This week, my choice ingredient was Basil. I’ve never made a Pesto sauce from scratch before, so this was as good a time as any to give it a try. As you may or may not know, Parmesan Cheese is a premium ingredient, traditionally used along with Pine Nuts and Basil to make a Pesto sauce. Unfortunately, even the smallest Parmesan slabs available at stores here are too expensive for my budget, so I decided to improvise and use Amul Cheese instead. Purists – I know what you’re thinking – blasphemy! – but this was just for experimental and economical purposes, so don’t judge. Here’s how it went down:
Last week I went shopping for supplies and found the most gorgeous looking Cherry Tomatoes so of COURSE I had to use them in my most favourite food – pasta!
Originally, I had the concept of a sort of Arrabbiata – Aglio Oglio mix in mind (Red sauces are my fave, and they’re also much healthier than white sauces), but I did some research and decided to make my version of a ‘Quick Fix Spaghetti with Cherry Tomatoes and Roast Garlic‘. I like to chuck different ingredients together and see what happens, rather than rigidly following a recipe (nothing wrong with that either, I just prefer experimenting on my own). I don’t use specific quantities, I just go on instinct, so in case any of you needs exact measurements, I used this recipe as a guideline – ‘Pasta with Roasted Garlic and Cherry Tomatoes’.
Here’s what happened: