Sunday, April 13, 2014

Breads | Parmesan Pesto Rolls

If you like your bread warm.....look no further !!! This is heaven !!!
Pesto Rolls are delicately fragrant with the basil and garlic and the tartness of parmesan !! Best served warm.... actually just of out-the-oven warm :-)
I get very touchy about my breads....hence all the fuss !!

I'm all for this bread especially because it tastes awesome without the added calorie burden of butter and cheese of the world. It doesn't feel dry in the mouth, has a lovely flavour, a great accompaniment or can be had by itself for breakfast.

I've been baking bread every weekend.... and it usually is the whole wheat loaf which has become a standard default loaf of the Jayaram household. Making these rolls was such a welcome change, not to say that I get bored with my usual whole wheat recipe, but who doesn't like a soft silky aromatic bun !
I must admit, while whole wheat breads taste great and are always always a much healthier option, nothing beats the good old white flour bread.

I always have a bottle of my homemade Pesto in the can always choose a different relish, flavour, condiment etc of your choice. A caramelised onion and ham filling is also great :-).

Pesto Rolls


2 cups All purpose flour or bread flour
2 tsp dry active yeast
1/4 cup warm water
1 tsp Sugar
3-4 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 tsp Salt
Warm water to knead the dough


1. Mix sugar and yeast in lukewarm water and let it prove for not more than 10 minutes.

2. Once the yeast starts frothing, take a flour in a large mixing bowl and ad the yeast. Mix well with your fingers. It's more like rubbing the yeast into the flour. Once rubbed it well, take some warm water and add gradually, simultaneously add salt and olive oil.

3, Mix well and now transfer the dough onto the work platform and knead well using both your hands. Knead it till the dough feels silky and stretchy.

4. Transfer the dough in a greased bowl and cover with cling wrap. Keep in a warm place for 1 hour till the dough doubles in size.

5. Once doubled, punch it down lightly and give it a quick kneed.

6. Now roll the dough into about half centimetre thickness, this should be about 12" x 15" in dimension.

7. Spread pesto generously and grate some parmesan.

8. Now keeping the longer side (15") towards yourself start rolling the dough. See the images below. Make sure the roll is tight.

9. Cut into equal parts and lay in a round cake mould.

10. Now let ir prove again for 30 minutes.

11. Bake for 15-20 minutes in a 220 C preheated oven.

12 Serve warm.

Happy Baking !!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Valentine Love and Homemade Pasta - from Scratch !!

While I'm the flowers -n-chocolate kinda romantic, KJ has his own quirks to show his love :-) and yet again this Valentine's day I was surprised with not flowers or perfumes or chocolates or cards but a Pasta Maker. Something I had been eyeing to buy for a while !! He always knows what truly gives me pleasure, what I would so dearly treasure !!

I got the delivery of the pasta maker in my office and by the time I got home it was late, but I was sure I wanted to try it out there and then. With actually an empty refrigerator and few basic ingredients in the larder, I braved making my first home made pasta with the pasta maker. For once while the pasta was made from scratch, the final dish did have some easy convenient store bought ingredients which are ever so handy on days nights like these (when you return late from work and don't want to order out).

Rolling out the first sheet of pasta was magical...really !! How a small ball of dough about 4 inches in diameter turns into a silky smooth sheet which is more than a meter long....
The more you roll the pasta, the silkier it gets. The standard cutter attachment with my new toy was the fettuccine.
Making Pasta at home is quick and simple. As Jamie Oliver says eggs and flour are always a little different, so if it feels a little wet add a little flour and if it feels a bit tight / hard add a little egg.
The thumb rule is 1 egg to every 100 g of pasta, though like I said earlier you can adjust the proportions. The idea is to get a smooth elastic dough.
Here goes the recipe:

Pardon the pictures, they are all clicked with my phone camera and this was not a planned shoot / post but I couldn't resist sharing this with all of you :-)
There was too much excitement in making the pasta and these photographs suddenly were incidental !

Fettuccine in Marinara Sauce:

Ingredients for the Pasta

Flour 200g
Eggs - 2
Salt to taste

Direction for making Pasta

1. Make a well in the centre of the flour and break 2 eggs in it. Add the salt and mix. Using a fork break down the egg and mix it in the flour  and now knead it into a smooth dough. DONOT ADD WATER WHILE KNEADING. If the dough gets too tight, you could add half an egg more.

2. Wrap in cling film and let it rest in the refrigerator for about 40 minutes.

3. Remove from the fridge and divide the dough into 4 equal parts. Re-cover the three balls and work with one at a time.

4. Flatten the ball slightly with the palm of your hand and run the dough through the thickest setting on your pasta machine, 3-4 times. This makes the sides of the pasta fill out to the full width of the pasta machine.

5. Repeat this through the settings changing it to the thinner setting every time, till the pasta sheet is about 1-1.5 mm thick.

6. Pass it through the cutter attachment of the machine - I used fettuccine. Dust the pasta with a little dry flour so that it doesn't stick together and make bunches and keep aside.

7. Repeat the same procedure with the other three balls.

8. Once the required quantities are ready, boil water in a large pan, add 1 tbsp of olive oil and 1tsp of salt. Once the water comes to a boil, add the pasta and boil till done.

9. While the pasta is boiling, ready the sauce.

Ingredients for the Sauce

10 Clove of Garlic (I like my pasta nicely garlicky.... you could reduce it to 7 cloves)
400 ml of Tomato Puree - ( I used Dabur)
1 tbsp of Chilli Flakes
1 small Onion - finely chopped
2 tbsps Olive Oil
Black Olives for garnishing
Parmesan for garnishing


1. While the pasta is boiling, start working on the sauce. Heat olive oil in a pan, add chilli flakes. Once the aroma rises, add garlic. Once garlic turns golden, add the onions and saute` till onions become wet. You don't need to brown them. Now add the tomato puree, cook for 2 minutes on medium heat.

2. Now in the mean time the pasta is boiled. Strain the pasta , drain out all the water.

3. Transfer the pasta into the pan with the marinara sauce. Toss it well and serve.

4. Once plated up, garnish with black olives and parmesan shavings.


  Happy Cooking !!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

A Granddaughter Remembers...

I was all of seven when one day she asked me to help her make tea in the kitchen. I was excited. I'm going to do something that elders do!! She was sure, I could do it. I could make a cup of tea when I was only seven.

And soon after, she taught me how to knead dough for chapatis (Indian flatbread)..... from the basic steps and instructions like "always make sure your hand and nails are clean before you knead the dough", to finer nuances like "always round off the dough with a teaspoon of oil for a smooth glossy look" or  "you have to knead it and knead it well till your hands are absolutely clean" or "wash the pulses 5 times before you cook them". Believe me I still do that and also see merit in it.

That's how my romance with cooking started. My grandma, extremely fond of cooking, took great pride in initiating her 7 yrs old grand daughter in it too.

While ma used to be away for work, it was then that this friendship blossomed!!
From story telling to cooking and even teaching me how to embroider, she was a great learning curve for me. She taught me all about the Indian Mythology by way of stories, she shared life experiences as I grew up.

Granny had lived in many parts of the country due to the transferable nature of dada's job. And she picked up lots of minor and major favourites from each stay. Gulab Jamuns however always remained her crest on a list of Indian ethnic delicacies.

Gulab Jamun was her signature dish which verged on being the family pride. It was served with a lot of flourish and originality. Sometimes topped with a layer of fresh malai.

Gulab Jamuns were always made from scratch, which means that the main ingredients being Paneer and Khoya were never ever outsourced. On occasions when the end product fell short of perfection, it was the doodhwala (milkman) who bore the brunt and was admonished for the lesser quality of the milk. He was even made to eat the less perfect Gulab Jamuns.

We lost her last week. She was 86 and all active and full of life till almost the end.
This is my tribute to the lady who is responsible for my romance with cooking. :-)

Here I share the recipe of her infamous Gulab Jamums that I never formally learnt from her but have literally grown up with the recipe.

Granny's Gulab Jamuns


1 litre Full Cream Milk to make Khoya (milk reduction) - makes about 200g of khoya

1 litre Full Cream Milk to make Paneer (cottage cheese) - makes about 125 g of paneer

3 tbsp of all purpose Flour

Oil for frying

3 Cups of Sugar

1 1/2 Cups of Water


1. With 1 litre of full cream milk make paneer.
1.a Let the milk come to a boil in a sauce pan, while it is about to boil squeeze the juice of 1 fresh lemon in it and let the milk simmer for about 2-3 minutes. Turn the gas off and let it stand for 5 minutes. Now strain in a cheese cloth.

2. With the other litre of the full cream milk make khoya.
2.a Take a heavy bottomed wok or kadhai and boil milk in it. Once it starts to boil, reduce the flame and stir. Keep it on low flame and keep stirring occasionally to make sure that it doesn't boil over. Keep repeat this, and soon you'll see the milk reducing in quantity and becoming pretty thick. The khoya is ready now.

3. Mix the khoya, paneer and flour well. and knead it like you would knead dough. The idea is to smoothen the mixture. There should be no granules or coarseness to the mixture. This takes about 10-15 minutes.
4. Once the mixture is completely smooth, roll into equal sized balls.
5. Heat oil in a pan for frying. Once the oil is hot start frying these balls. Make sure the oil is not very hot or the Gulab Jamuns will not cook properly from inside. Keep the flame on medium initially and then reduce to low.
6. While the Gulab Jamuns are being fried, in another wide pan put sugar and water and let it boil. Keep cooking the sugar syrup till it is little thick in consistence and sticky to touch.
7. Once all the Gulab Jamuns are fried, put them in the sugar syrup, give it a gentle boil and let it rest in the syrup itself for atleast 2 hours before serving.
8. Serve the Gulab Jamuns either hot or cold. I like mine hot.

Happy Cooking !!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Homemade Cookies | Whole Wheat Cookies | Lemon Cookies

"A Balanced Diet is a Cookie in Each Hand..."

Cookies were always a mind-block for me. Even though I've been baking for so many years now, but I never got around baking a cookie, for no particular reason. On thinking aloud, maybe I felt that it was not as satisfying as baking a cake... but how wrong was I !!
Off and on my father would encourage me to bake biscuits but with no results whatsoever, until one day he gave me an ultimatum to bake cookies :-)).

That weekend I tried my hands on my first cookies and I fell in love with baking all over again !! 
Baking cookies is such a joy, especially when you see so many cookies turning out from that little dough, and in no time. 
A whole new world of recipes opened up and there was no stopping me. Now I feel they are far simpler than cakes and the joy that a cookie brings no cake can :-)
Ever since my new 'cookie love', Tea Parties are my favourite kind of parties to host these days :-).

Here I share my first set of cookies I baked.  2 recipes back to back.
There will be more coming up and sooon......

Whole Wheat Cookies ( Eggless)


Wheat Flour 1 cup

Unsalted butter 1 tbsp

Salt ¼ tsp

Sugar 3-4 tbsp

Cardamom Powder  ½ -1 tsp

Baking Powder ½ tsp


1. Take a mixing bowl, add wheat flour, salt, sugar, baking powder, cardamom powder and mix well.

2. Then add unsalted melted butter and mix well.

3. Now using water or milk knead it into a dough. Neither too soft nor too tight.

4. Knead the dough for 2-3 minutes and keep aside for 10 minutes.

5. Pre heat oven to 425 f or 220 C.

6. Dust the counter top with a little powdered sugar and roll the dough into a thin layer. Using a cookie cutter of your desired shape, cut into a biscuits and arrange them on a greased baking tray.

7. Prick the biscuits with fork or knife  to prevent puff up.

8. Bake it for 12-15 minutes or it turn to crisp and light brown.

9. Remove from the oven and let them cool on a wire rack.

Lemon Cookies


275g. flour

125g butter (at room temperature)

1 egg

80g brown sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder 

Zest and Juice of 1 lemon


1. All ingredients should be at room temperature.

2. Sift the flour along with the baking powder.

3. Beat egg and sugar. Once well incorporated, add the lemon juice and the zest.

4. Now add the butter and keep whipping until the mixture looks pale and creamy.

5. Add the sifted flour to the butter-egg mixture and knead into a smooth dough.

6. Wrap this dough in cling wrap and refrigerate for atleast 30 minutes.

7. Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface to about 1/2 cm thickness and cutout cookies with the desired shape of cookie cutter.

8. Bake in a 180 C preheated oven.

9. Remove from the oven and let them cool on a wire rack.

Note: Do not bake cookies for more than 15 minutes, unless specified. Even they look a little under done or feel soft on touch, its okay, they will firm up and become crisp as they cool down.

Happy Baking !!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Restaurant Review - Uzuri, the new Gastronomic Adventure in town !!

On the world map, South Africa means Tribals, Nature Walks, Safaris, Wild life and Raw Scenic Beauty.....but did you know that South African Cuisine is now catching up on the gastronomic map of the world.

The 'Rainbow cuisine' as it is called, has conspicuous overtones of European food. With its history of  invasions back in the seventeenth century and settlers from Portugal, the Netherlands, Germany, France, and the United Kingdom, the colonial flavours of fusion cuisine define the South African fare.

On the other hand the  Afrikaners have their native  potjiekos, tamatiebredie (tomato bredie), or stews of lamb and mutton with tomato and onion sauce, with or without rice. There are many European contributions like Dutch fried crueler or koeksister, Malva Pudding and Melktert (milk tart). French Hugenots brought wines as well as their traditional recipes. Hence the Rainbow Cuisine.

So for the bold and experimental and the well travelled foodie, the affluent GK2 M Block Market of Delhi is now home to Uzuri Deck-n-Dining. 

Uzuri is a perfect blend of European Cuisine with the scrumptious hues of the beautifully majestic Africa.
The restaurant is spread over two levels. Level 1 offers an intimate dining space that boasts of chic décor with more than obvious tones of the wild. Bold colours and prints combined with wall masks used very aesthetically. Interesting I'd say.   

The Bar and Deck on Level 2 has an equally complimenting décor with well-appointed indoor and outdoor spaces. We sat on the deck....(don't we all crave for outdoor restaurants especially at this time of the year in Delhi !!) The lighting is excellent to set your mood right. The ambience is warm and welcoming. 
There is an eye for detail, small things that add up to the whole experience. From the music to the decor to the way food is served. 

The restaurant is led by two young talented chefs - Rishim Sachdeva and Guy Clarke.

Rishim, an Oxford Brookes University, London graduate is a globetrotter at a young age, having gained tremendous technical skills and work experience in Europe with some renowned and celebrated names in the food industry and Michelin Star Chefs like Heston Blumenthal and Chef Matthias Taubert.

Guy Clarke joins the team from South Africa and is a celebrated name as a Master Chef South Africa, season one winner. 

I had a chance to meet the modest Rishim Sachdeva, with a million dollar smile who romanticises food as he talks about it.
Once we were seated comfortably the gracious staff served the bread basket with three different types of butter - Paprika, Garlic and Pesto. Great presentation though I would have liked the flavours in my butter to be stronger.

While there was no specific tasting menu, we went ahead with the Chef's choice and were served  four dishes from the entrees... 48 Hours Cooked Mustard Lamb Shoulder served with Wild Spinach and Hazelnut Salsa Verde. The beautifully cooked lamb compliments the delicate balance of hazelnuts and mustard. A unique combination indeed.

Spicy Chicken, Roast Carrots, Pickled Onions with Chilli Creme Fraiche Dressing, Trio of Beetroot and Goat's Cheese Mousse served with Toasted Pumpkin Seeds and Warm Bread  where the beetroot was cooked three ways - salted, pickled, braised - served with the classic combination of goat cheese. You can never go wrong with that onebut the hands down winner for me was the delicately flavoured Cape Malay Fish Cakes served with Saffron Mayo and Nutty Capers.

A very interesting concept which I must say I've never experienced before was Palette Cleansers. These are essentially quick small bites of neutralisers like cucumber served in-between courses to cleanse your palette of the strong flavours so you could enjoy your next dish and experience the finer nuances. 

Along with these absolutely delicious entrees, we ordered some drinks (err only Mocktails....the liquor license is still awaited and likely to come through any day), but again the mocktails are an absolute winner. The Kaffir Lime Mojito and the signature cocktail - Uzuri Fresh.

The Kaffir Lime in the Mojito gives it a new dimension of flavour. 

Since KJ was with us for dinner so there was no way we could get away without ordering cold coffees if we saw them on the menu and I'm so glad we did. The coffee lover in me couldn't be more ecstatic. They offer three types of iced coffees on their menu and we ordered them all....Mandarin, Coconut Chocolate and my new favourite Cinnamon Ginger....I fell in love with the sound of that combination.

So moving to the main course we were served Pressed Pork Belly, with Apple Cider Mash and Warm Fennel-n-Star Anise Jus, Coffee-n-Paprika Crusted Tenderloin, served with Truffle Compound Butter, Marrow Roast Potatoes and seasonal vegetables and African Spiced Leg of Lamb served with Braised Radishes, Min Crusted Potatoes and 48 hours Caramelised Onions with Confit Garlic and Caper Jus. 

The Pork Belly was beautifully cooked with a lovely crackle to the crust.

The Tenderloin I believe was also delicious, cooked to a perfect rare medium. (I'm not the right person talking about this dish since I inherently do not like Tenderloin) However KJ loved it !!

The African Spiced Lamb was well cooked with a delicate balance of acidity and the sweetness of the caramelised onions.

On the side we'd also ordered  Cocoon Prawns and Feta Cheese with Parma Ham and Melon Vodka Dressing Salad which was very refreshing and Herb Quinoa Salad with Bush Style Smoked Vegetables and Truffle Scented Pesto.

Last but not the least, for desserts we had Chocolate Soil Semi Frozen Truffles, Caramelised Nuts, Pickled Grapes & Butter Caramel Ice Cream and Vanilla Panacotta with Raspberry Coulis.

The desserts could have been nicer. I was not satiated as far as the desserts went.

The pricing is a little steep but surely worth the over all experience.

Chef Rishim Sachdeva was kind enough to share their signature mocktail recipe - 

Uzuri Fresh and also  Missimuko with us:

Uzuri Fresh

4 Chunks Mandrin

2 Spoon Demarara sugar

3 pcs Lemon Wedeges

7 to 8 Mint Leaves

10 ml Lime Juice

10ml Sugar Syrup

90ml Orange Juice

30ml Cranberry Juice

Method: Muddled

Glass: Collins

Garnish: Half Moon Mandrin slice and Mint Sprig


45 ml Tequila

10 ml Peach Snappes

4 pcs Plums

10 ml Plum Suce

10 ml Lime Juice

10 ml Sugar Syrup

Method: Blended Served Frozen

Glass: Magrita

Garnish: Fresh Plum Rim of Salt
Uzuri meaning 'Goodness' in Swahili is truely true to its name. 

Cheers !!