28 December, 2011

Bachelor's Kitchen: The Essentials

My last post for the Bachelor Cooking was a list of tips to manage your kitchen and how to explore the cooking.

Essentials for the Bachelor Kitchen - ingredients which are a must have to save your soul in the kitchen.

Tomatoes or Tomato Puree
Makes it easy to put in a little water and your "Sabzi" gets a nice gravy for it.

I prefer keeping slices and also the spread.

Olives / Mushrooms
These are life essentials I think - Pasta can't be made without them. And pasta is a mood-changer food. Also mix them with a few greens, some dressing and a bowl of salad is good to go.

Herbs, Spices, Oregano, Black Pepper, Hot Sauce
Finding green chillies in the fridge can be a challenge, so I prefer keeping enough hot sauce and other spices for that easy use.

Pasta Sauce / Pasta Packs / Noodles / Chinese Sauces 
Elements to toss that meal when an intensive cooking session is what you don't want to indulge in.

Keep a variety. Drinking alone can be boring.. so I like to have a mix - Beer, Vodka and the faithful Wine and Scotch. Stock-up before you run out... Domino's delivers .. the local wine shop, very rarely!

Chakna / Namkeen 
How can booze go without this... haha! Kidding - keep a few wafer packs handy .. mid-night cravings have to be taken care. Also that hunger pang just between the evening tea and dinner is attended.

And some other things on my list include:
  • Chocolates / Milk Powders / Biscuits
  • Fruits / Dry Fruits - almonds, dates 
  • Curd, Ice-cream, Chocolate Sauce - Solves your dessert cravings. 
That's my list, what's that essential element of your kitchen, please do share in the comments section. 

22 December, 2011

Super Simple Sunday Salad

Sunday evenings are supposed to easy for both me and the wife. So Sunday dinners are planned to be easy to cook and ideally something where I can help.

Last Sunday we made what I titled the Super Simple Sunday Salad.

Super Simple Sunday Salad

Here is what you need: 

  • Assorted lettuce leaves [nicely washed and chopped into medium size] 
  • Cherry tomatoes 
  • Green Olives [seedless] 
  • Feta Cheese 
  • White Wine Vinegar [this I think is the MAGIC potion]
  • Salt & Pepper 
  • Dried parsley 
  • Garlic Powder 

How to make it: 
Like the title says Simple. Mix up the stuff in a nice big bowl, pop it into the fridge for a few mins and then just bite into it.

And give the salad some company. Have a nice tomato soup garnished with herbs and garlic.

15 November, 2011

Sunday lunch at Carnivore

Carnivore is the famous restaurant in Nairobi which serves a wild variety of game meats. They call it the Beast of a Feast offering meat of ostrich, crocodile and camel roasted over charcoal and carved at the table.

For many years they served probably every kind of meat you could find in a jungle; but since 2004 things have changed and meats of Giraffe, Zebra and some others are now not available there.

At this Sunday lunch, we were a mixed bunch - A few who wanted to eat every meat available, Me - who wanted to try just a few and then some Herbivores who wanted NO meat. So we choose to sit in the area which offers the ALL YOU CAN eat meat offerings which is a fixed price and they serve both veg and non-veg meals.

They called him the medicine man
A pumpkin soup and some DAWA wet your appetite before you attack the massive meat offerings. After the server has placed the mountain of sauces & salads, the FLAG is put up - indicating you are now ready for the meats.

Sauces & Salads
Soon the carvers start appearing and bring the many meats. So, what all did we eat? I stuck to chicken and lamb and tried the ostrich meat balls which was nice. I really liked the leg of lamb BUT didn’t enjoy the chicken gizzards, preferred the usual Chicken Wings. I tried some Turkey for the first time and liked the taste of it.

All in all the meats are very well cooked and it was much edible than I had thought.

If you think you’ve had enough, its time to put down the flag so that the server can clear up your table and bring in the desserts. Lots of variety and after all the tasting - my choice was the best - Choco-Chip Blondie.

Black Magic Gateaux 
Choco-chip Blondie
Before you call the bill, enjoy the afternoon and get yourself some Kenyan Coffee to close the meal.

They call it the Hell 
Carnivore has a wonderful ambiance. Wide-spread, you have the option for both indoor and outdoor seating. Make sure you book a table since they are busy on weekends. The service is prompt and they let you sit easy and relish your meal without being pushed off.

01 October, 2011

Saturday Lunch - Dal Tadka, Potato & Capsicum with rice

This morning I woke up with no weekend plans. Of course there is the movie watching, reading, lazing and a bit of work if the mood is right. But the day needed some more excitement. 

So I decided to treat myself for a good lunch. And the menu was set - Dal Tadka, typical potato and capsicum ka sabzi just the way I like it and rice.

For Dal Tadka I checked online and used this recipe

For my favourite sabzi I checked with the ladies back home. Of course I also had to take some guidance on how to go about the pressure cooker operation, which was a first for me.

The Dal Tadka had some black elements floating in it - My guess is the onions were overcooked. So need to get them off earlier. Also I don't know why it couldn't get the nice yellow colour. Maybe needed more turmeric powder. 

I think a good attempt made and some new skills added to the bachelor cooking.

23 July, 2011

Ethiopian Lunch at Dass Restaurant Nairobi

The first weekend in Nairobi went off catching up on sleep, setting up the kitchen and so there was no action. But the next weekend, Asif my Nairobi-Twitter friend invited me to meet some interesting people over an Ethiopian Lunch. 

The place is called Dass Restaurant and I was told that because we came in post-lunch hour time we were lucky to have the place to ourselves. Yes, there was some intrusive private group activity happening but that's another story. 

So there is not much variety on the menu. You have some salads for starters and then you basically attack the main-course. Ethiopian meals are meats or vegetables cooked in a traditional sauce and served with something called the Injera, which is not very different from what we India eat as the Apam. 

I picked the chicken dish - Doro Watt Alitcha (mild red sauce) I didn't want to experiment the spicy one not knowing how spicy is Ethiopian food. But I was happy with my selection and the meat was soft marinated in a red sauce called Awaze. I also tried a bit of the lamb which Asif had ordered and I think that too can be recommended. Our other 2 friends on the table ordered like a basket - so they got a little of a few dishes mixed like a platter offering. Interesting if you've got a group so you can mix and match the offerings. 

It was a lovely Sunday afternoon and we had all the time in the world to kill so I thought of satisfying the sweet tooth. But no such luck, they don't serve any sweet desserts. Strange, is there is no Ethiopian sweet specialty? 

You can also read the restaurant review done by ChickAboutTown

11 June, 2011

Breakfast Delight - Upma & Orange Juice

On the weekends good food is an essential. good breakfast is pleasure.

So for this rainy dark Saturday morning it's Upma with my favourite - The Minute Maid Pulpy Orange juice.

24 May, 2011

Chocoholic weekend

And this was what the weekend was all about.

Powered by @rishyka of Chocoholic - Chocolates and more.

Oreo Brownie

 Walnut Brownie

Nutella Brownie

14 May, 2011

Bandra Ride: Moshe's & San Churros

It's said that an empty mind is a devil's workshop but in my case it becomes more of a foodie. For reasons, that I shall not get into here I have been off work for a while and have been enjoying the "me time". And a part of this free time has also been trying to satisfy various food cravings and dining at some interesting places. 

So we picked Thursday Night for a drive to Bandra and meet a long lost and soon to be married couple friend. Sancho's had been the second choice and after learning about the 45 mins wait, it remained second. Moshe's the first choice was picked and we took the rickety elevator [we called it the world's fastest] to the 1st floor where Moshe's is located. This outlet is a little more spacious than the one in Cuffe Parade. It doesn't have the outdoor seating but in this summer heat I am not sure if that's to be missed. 

I always enjoy dining company who take on the responsibility to order the starters and make good recommendations from their previous experiences. So we started the evening with some jalapeno cheese fondue and labneh with grilled pita bread. I've not been such a fondue fan, so I think I over-liked the labneh. 

There are some cuisines where sharing is just not happening. You order a dish, eat it by yourself and there is complete satisfaction. Thanks to my 2 month stay in Kenya, I had enough of pasta and I skipped it for something more interesting - the Sicilian Risotto. I would have killed my friend who said it looked more like 'masala khichdi'. ghadero saaloAnd I think it was a good meal choice - highly recommended. 

Other dishes which came to the table were - Oven Baked Crepe Roulade, different and exotic. The Corn Polenta although I didn't enjoy the 1 bite, wife said it was nice. The all popular Moshe's Penne was nice as always, said the recently engaged friend's bubbly to-be wife. Cheers! 

The black currant ice-tea was a disaster. I don't know how could they go wrong only to realise I ordered the Fizz rather than an ice-tea. Avoid it. Better stick to the ice-tea.

Service was prompt and although it was a busy evening I liked the fact that we were not being pushed into ordering or completing our meal. I think we sat there a full 20 mins after our meal was done thinking if we should go for the desserts or no. Not because we trying to balance our calorie or sugar in-take but because we had decided to do a short trip to the near-by new spanish dessert/coffee shop - San Churros. 

"Churros" are simple fritters that look something like a big “French fry,” but taste nothing like one. They are the Spanish equivalent of doughnuts. Instead of a ring shape, like a doughnut, churros are long straight or slightly curled lengths that usually have ridges. Eaten while warm and sprinkled with sugar or drizzled with honey. 
From: About.com

So they serve Churros in 3 sizes - 4 6 and 9 pieces with a choice of 3 sauces but you can order only 2. We picked milk chocolate and dark chocolate. The 3rd one I think was White Chocolate. Not the most satisfying dessert so if you're looking for something more exotic and wholesome see the other items like a 7 layered chocolate cake or the huge tiramisu serving. Go for it! 

It wasn't the best season to relish it but the hot chocolate with spice and cinnamon is awesome. Told the wife we must come back on a lovely rainy evening or winter night to enjoy this one. 

San Churros is a delight in a city like Mumbai thanks to the spacious seating area. You've got to order your stuff at the cashier on ground floor and then can choose to occupy the huge comfy chairs and sofas on 1st floor till they deliver your goods. Was a bit noisy, but I'll just blame the vacation time which got all the kids out even at that late hour. 

11 April, 2011

Bachelor's Kitchen Management Tips

It's been 2 months in Nairobi for me. Away from home without the mother or wife to manage the kitchen here. Although I am a foodie and once in a while I did like to experiment I don't think I can call myself even an amateur cook. And running and managing a kitchen on regular basis is an altogether different challenge which I experienced during this trip. 

What I am going to share is a little learning for the many challenges of running a bachelor's kitchen. 

I think one of the most important things to do is learn as much as you can. Ask family, friends and other people who live alone on what's easy to cook, meal ideas and helpful tips. I must thank some of my ex-colleagues at Mudra who gave me tips and meal ideas to get going. 

Yes, dig into your memory to remember all those simple meal ideas which you ate when the mother or wife were too tired/bored to cook. You'll be amazed how some simple recipes can produce good, tasty and quick meals to add variety to your daily eating. 

Don't go to the super-market without having planned your ingredients and other essentials shopping list. You'll end up home with at least 1 key element missing. So the way I did it was - Think Meal. For eg. 1 meal you want to do Thai Curry & Rice. So write - rice, coconut milk, Thai curry paste and veggies to go with it. This way you'll end up having all that is necessary for cooking that meal. 

Shopping List
Goes without saying plan, check and make a list. You'll have some basics which you need to buy every time - bread, milk, eggs, chicken and veggies etc. But every trip you'll want to also pick up some items which add variety to your daily menu, so go back to my "Think Meal" approach. 

The first few trips to the supermarket you'll go crazy. You want to pick-up pasta sauce, fresh chicken and lots of fresh veggies. And then you only realise that some of it got thrown because you never managed to cook it all in good time. For eg. I bought either chicken or then paneer otherwise you end up consuming one and other rots. 

If you're in a new country and see a whole new set of brands and products, I think you should go ahead and experiment. So your first round of shopping should be a mixed bag. For eg. I love flavoured yoghurt. So I bought a small pack of 2 different companies to try. I liked 1 and and now that's a regular in my shopping list. 

So that's it. Hope it helps you manage your kitchen better. Would love to know if you've got a kitchen tip to share with my readers. Leave your thoughts in the comments area below. 

In my next post, I am going to try and share some simple meal ideas which have become my favourites.