Friday, 26 August 2016

A World of Breads

From childhood till old age, one of the most constant foods in everyone’s diet is bread; a mixture of flour, salt and water that’s been fried, roasted or baked. Often taken for granted but the foundation of a balanced meal, bread is eaten in many forms in India, whether soft puffed rotis, ghee smeared parathas, methi flecked thepla, rustic grainy bhakris or deep fried puris.  Even white sliced sandwich bread has taken on an iconic status with roadside sandwich vendors in every city.

Around the world too, in every nation, bread baskets are filled with unusual and intriguing types of loaves that contribute to daily meals. In eating and cooking with these breads, one can take a virtual trip to distant lands. Imagine enjoying the best of the Mediterranean, Italy or France in the comfort of your kitchen. It is certainly enough to set aside the processed sliced bread in favour for these artisanal loaves from around the world.


Mediterranean Marvels
Soft pita baked to form a pocket is a classic of this region and a vehicle for numerous delicious fillings like fried falafel with creamy hummus and pickled vegetables or chickpeas and greens or leftover meat and sauce. Or gently warmed and topped with mashed avocado and half fried egg makes for a great breakfast. Cut into triangle, it can be baked into pita chips to serve with tangy muhammara. Thin, crunchy and flecked with sesame seeds is the dried version of lavash. It’s the perfect appetizer with a collection of dips or even as a quick snack to eat on the go. 



















Italian Indulgences
Italy is home to two classic, universally beloved breads. The ciabatta is a long, wide loaf with a soft inside and thin crust and looks a lot like a slipper. Slice, butter and enjoy with a hot beverage, or dip into egg wash and pan fry for French toast (its soft crumb soaks up the egg while the edges hold their shape). Cut up leftover bread and combine with diced tomatoes, peppers, onions, basil and a vinaigrette for the classic panzanella salad. Simpler than a salad but just as filling is focaccia torn up and dipped in extra virgin olive oil. This flat, inch thick bread is studded with herbs like rosemary or ingredients like tomatoes, onions, olives to name a few. Cut into squares and serve as a snack or slit in the middle for a sandwich. 


















French Favourites
Croissant, Baguette, Brioche. Indulgent and sophisticated, these breads are perfect as an epitome of French food. Eating a butter or cheese croissant with a cup of coffee in a French café is a top rated cultural experience, as is stepping into a bakery for a fresh baguette. Traditionally eaten for breakfast with butter or jam, all three breads are also versatile ingredients. Flaky buttery croissants taste delicious smeared with cream cheese and lined with thin layer of smoked salmon. Spread soft cheese with ham in crusty baguette for a classic sandwich. Soft, buttery, savoury-sweet brioche is made from enriched dough and is perfect as a dinner rolls with soup, braised meat or vegetable stew. 


















Bagel-icious
The bagel represents more a people group and a nation. The Jewish tradition of eating unleavened bread birthed this chewy, ring of bread in Eastern Europe from where it spread most notably to the United States, where people enjoy it for breakfast.
As purveyors of authentic produce from around the world, Godrej Nature’s Basket works hard to make available a wide assortment of freshly baked breads. We hope this trip around the world encourages you to try a new type of bread soon!


Wednesday, 24 August 2016

A Guide to Cooking with Cheese

Chevre, Ricotta, Cheddar, Brie, Colby, Muenster, Swiss. 
All of these are names of cheese from around the world. Made from cow's milk, goat's milk, sheep's milk, fresh or matured, hard or creamy soft, mild or stinky; the world of cheese is a fascinating place. It is filled with variety in shape, colour, aroma and texture making it an incredibly versatile ingredient in any cook’s pantry. But to respect this diversity and truly savour the complete cheese experience one must use a few thumb rules.

 

A World Beyond Processed Cheese
All of this choice means that there are so many options to experiment and try out in the kitchen when cooking with cheese. Gone are the days when the only cheese option was a processed block.  Now one can joyfully indulge in the stretchy texture of mozzarella when baked or the creamy mouth feel and salty notes of feta or the shards of Parmigiano Reggiano. Make a move to elevate your gastronomic experiences and save the processed cheese for a retro styled chicken salad.

 

To Melt or Not To Melt
A magical thing happens when cheese comes close to direct heat. It slowly melts down and is gloriously transformed into long, nutty brown strands of gooey cheese. Unfortunately, this process happens only with certain cheese, typically soft varieties like mozzarella and its baby version bocconcini, gruyere, fontina, cheddar to name a few. Hard cheese like Parmesan or creamier cheese like feta, triple creams cannot be heated to get the same result but will be a waste of perfectly good cheese.

 

Don’t Get Rid of the Rind
Rinds are the outside shell that forms on cheese during the cheese making process. Sometimes, the rind is entirely inedible like when made with leaves, wax or cloth. But when the rind is edible, it’s a good idea to save the rinds of Parmesan or cheddar for adding a punch of savoury, umami flavour to stocks, stews, pasta sauces and soups.  


Grate When Cold
Dishes like grilled cheese sandwiches, Mac n’ Cheese, casseroles, mornay sauces call for lots of grated cheese. To ensure all the cheese is properly grated and does not turn into mushy, refrigerate the cheese for an hour and grate it when it’s cold.

 

So many classic dishes around the world like the croque monsier, French onion soup, soufflé, fondue, mozzarella sticks,, pizza and cheesecake have cheese as a star ingredient. But there are so many ways to enjoy cheese in everyday meals as well. Crumble soft cheese like feta into a salad, layer Gruyere over sliced potatoes into a gratin, melt Swiss and fontina into a decadent cheese dip, grate Cheddar into an apple pie, add herbs like parsley and mint into ricotta to use as a spread in a roasted vegetable sandwich, whisk blue cheese into a homemade salad dressing. 
We hope this guide and cooking ideas have you excited to try a new cheese today! No matter what way you choose to join in our cheesy celebration, the results are bound to be absolutely delicious!

Monday, 18 July 2016

The Perfect Tea for the Perfect Meal

Mastering the art of pairing tea with food is just as important as knowing how to pick the right wine for the right meal. Picking the right tea can turn a regular dinner into a unique culinary experience. If you’re just starting to discover the fascinating world of tea, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed, but the numerous options offer the most opportunity to create stunning pairings.
The purpose of pairing tea with food is to enhance the taste of both the dish and the beverage. A good rule of thumb is to pair a subtle tea with a mildly flavoured dish while assertive brews can hold their own against salty, spicy flavours.

White

‘White tea’ comes from a shrub called Camellia Sinensis, just like all green and black teas. Its leaves are picked very early with a silvery white down still on its edges and it is very minimally processed. This gives it a light, silky and subtle flavour. If paired with anything too strong, the natural sweetness of the tea might be lost.  It’s ideal for an afternoon tea with light and refreshing snacks like cucumber sandwiches or buttery baked goods like peach or apricot turnovers. If serving with appetizers, opt for vol au vents in a light cream sauce. At the dinner table, white tea is best paired with a basic green salad in the slightest dressing of oil, salt & pepper. 




























Green

When pairing green tea with food, it is important to note its terroir. Based on where it is grown, each leaf has varying flavours. For instance leaves from Japan tend to have a subtle vegetal taste. The fresh, grassy aroma of a Sencha pairs wonderfully with seafood like sushi, steamed fish in soy-ginger sauce and even dishes like fish en papilotte or crab cakes. The teas from China are stronger with a slight smokiness which compliments dishes like grilled chicken, stir-fries, fried rice, roast turkey and even some root vegetable preparations. At the other end of the flavour spectrum are fruity or citrus scented teas, typically from Sri Lanka. These fresh green teas are much more versatile. Try them as iced teas or fruit based mocktails. Its light sweetness is pleasing paired with mildly seasoned salads, vegetable sandwiches, with an assortment of coldcuts, certain savoury baked goods like croissants or muffins. Green teas can also be used in interesting desserts like puddings, cakes, ice creams and chocolate truffles.

















Oolong


The term ‘oolong’ refers to teas that have been partially oxidised. It can be easily identified by the tightly furled leaves in little pellets. They are a bit more pronounced in their individual aromas and tastes which come from the specific kind of processing it has gone through. Light oolongs are best suited to be accompaniments to snacks that bring out its floral and sweet character. So serve it with mildly sweet cookies, scones, apple pies, vanilla madelines or crackers and baked chips.  Dark oolongs are excellent combined with a variety of pastries, pancakes with natural maple syrup, fried or baked light meats, medium rare to rare red meats and seafood like salmon.














Black

Within the range of black teas too, there are three dominant flavours; fruity brews from Darjeeling and Sri Lanka, smoky black teas from the Nilgiris and Fujian in China and the earthy notes of tea from Assam and Yunnan. With bold, assertive flavours, these teas can be paired with heartier foods. Serve a rich Darjeeling, the champagne of teas with creamy desserts like cheesecake, éclair or fruit trifle. The smokier varieties like lapsang souchong can be served with smoked salmon & cheese bagels, ham, even salty, firm cheeses like Asiago or Grana Padana. Earthy black teas, such as those from Yunnan and Africa, are good accompaniments for barbecues, jerk chicken, mashed potatoes and curries.

















Pu-erh

Traditionally from the Yunnan region of China, pu-erh tea refers to the large leaves of the same plant that are sun-dried and naturally fermented to create a sophisticated, mature flavour. Often compared to aged wine or whisky, pu-erh style teas are pressed into round or square cakes. It can be either green and raw or dark brown and ripe; these characteristics will determine its flavour. In either case, the complex, often savoury aroma and taste can hold its own against bold or fatty foods. In China, tea houses serve cups of pu-erh tea with steamed or fried dim sums stuffed with seafood or meat. Its robust flavor stands up well to spicy food too like spicy pork noodles. Another great combination is dark fermented pu-erh and mushrooms, both of which recall earthy tones.




























Use these ideas as suggestions to pair your favourite kind of tea with food either at a tea party, social gathering or curated dinner. You can also stop by the tea counters at any of the Nature’s Basket stores and try out new varieties on the shelves. Experiment with blends for an interesting tea experience. 

Monday, 11 July 2016

Greek Yogurt – The New Superfood


Ever wondered  what the difference between regular curd and Greek yogurt is? The reason for its mass appeal? How you can use it? Read on for a quick and handy guide to this fabulous ingredient that’s definitely more than a passing fad.

Greek yogurt is regular cow's milk yogurt that has been strained three times over to remove its whey. This process results in a much thicker consistency, while preserving yogurt's distinctive, sour taste. This yogurt is softer, creamier and easy to spread. Once the liquid has been drained away, the resulting curds are significantly higher in protein and fat content


Greek yogurt has become everyone’s go-to breakfast food with granola, fresh fruit or even just a drizzle of honey. The fruit-flavoured cups are a wonderful grab and go breakfast option. A wide range of delicious options like mango, pineapple, mulberry that are free from chemical additives or flavours are also available.


The unflavoured Greek yogurt can be used in many different ways. Spread a thick layer on toast with a sprinkling of toasted pistachios or hazelnuts with a spoonful of maple syrup for a delicious and satisfying breakfast. Whisk it into pancake batter in place of sour cream for a breakfast stack that is full of probiotic goodness and a lovely tart flavour. Another easy-to-make breakfast option is a smoothie of Greek yogurt with bananas, cinnamon powder, ice and a bit of honey. Full of protein and energy, this is an excellent way to kick start the day or indulge yourself after a session at the gym.

But you can use Greek yogurt as more than just breakfast food.
The smooth, thick texture and tart flavour of Greek yogurt is also an excellent substitute for mayo and sour cream in sandwiches, salads and dips. Try adding bits of chopped and fried garlic into a bowl of whisked Greek yogurt for an addictive accompaniment to chips, nachos and even vegetable crudités.

When the whey is drained away, the acids that cause curdling is also separated, making Greek yogurt a bit more heat friendly than plain yogurt. This is particularly useful for marinating meat as the protein gets tenderised and the meat develops a lovely flavour. You can use it in making Mediterranean lamb chops or kebabs. You can even add it to soups, stews and curries right at the end. This wonderful ingredient can also be used in baking. It lends a wonderful tang to baked goods like cakes, scones and muffins. 

Because of low moisture content, Greek yogurt freezes faster and smoother than regular yogurt. You can create innumerable flavour combinations using it as a base. Try adding a mix of cocoa powder and candied oranges or swirl Monin’s peach syrup into the yogurt before freezing. Throw in a handful of roasted nuts, crumbled cookies or fresh berries. It’s a great way to get the kids involved and have them gorge on the probiotic goodness of Greek yogurt.


With its mild flavour, luscious texture and nutritional goodness, Greek yogurt is an essential ingredient in any pantry. Its versatility will add newer dimensions to the possibilities on your plate. You can easily pick up Greek yogurt from any of our outlets or even shop for it online.



Tell us innovative ways in which you've used Greek Yogurt, in the comments below!

Thursday, 23 June 2016

5 Fresh Ways To Enjoy Fruit

It only takes a walk through a fruit and vegetable market to marvel at the colours, shapes, aromas and textures that can be found in the rows of neatly arranged fruit. If you scratch the vibrant surfaces, there is a abundance of nutritional benefits to be had from the juicy produce. But all too often, fruits purchased in a rush of healthful zeal are left neglected or just chopped and eaten as a snack. People quickly tire of its one dimensional flavour and texture.
But there is so much more that you can do with fruits beyond the boring fruit salad. Here are some of our favorite ways to make the most of each season’s fruit:

Cups of Colour

A cup full of perfectly cut up fruit in a variety of hues all tied up together with a surprising dressing is a great snack! It looks amazing, can be made in advance and full of immunity boosting phytonutrients too. The trick to making the most of fruits is to play off its natural flavour and texture with some tang, some heat or some crunch.  So pair dark blueberry orbs with verdant green mint leaves honey and scooped out chilled watermelon balls in a glass. Or combine the best of stone fruits like peaches, plums and cherries with a thyme-ginger infused dressing. Dress diced mangoes, papayas, pineapples with coconut milk, lemon juice & caster sugar all whisked together for bright & fresh treat.


Fruit Rolls

An interesting way to showcase the colours and shapes of fruits is in a summer roll. It’s a play on the Vietnamese classic rice paper rolls where instead of the usual herbs, finely julienned fruits take centre stage. It’s a visually attractive way to get kids to try new fruits and offer guests a refreshing, light and gluten free snack. To make this, dip rice paper rolls in hot water. Lay the softened sheet on a flat surface and arrange matchstick sized fruit like apples, pears, orange segments or strawberry slices. Tightly roll and serve as is or with a simple orange & honey dip.


Roast ‘Em Right
Fruits like pineapples, mangoes, figs, pears, peaches, grapes are juicy and full of natural sugars that caramelize beautifully when roasted on a low heat. This process cooks down the fruit juices till each mouthful has an intense fruit flavour. You can toss up these concentrated morsels of fruit with a lemon juice or creamy mascarpone for a luxurious salad. Add a dollop of soft chocolate ganache on roasted pears for a comforting dessert.




All Puffed Up
Fruit and sheets of buttery puff pastry go really well together. There is no end to the possibilities with these two ingredients. The pastry crisps up to create a delicious receptacle for the fruit. Here’s an idea, arrange strawberry or fig halves on a rectangle of puff pastry and bake till golden and flaky. Drizzle some spiced honey and serve for an indulgent fruit-y treat! Or wrap half a peach cheek in a square of puff pastry and bake till crisp. Drizzle with a rum caramel sauce for a dessert that captures all the amazing qualities of the stone fruit. 


If, inspite of all the above ideas you still are left with fast ripening fruit, place it all in a large saucepan with some sugar and cook it down into a sauce you can use all through the year over desserts like pound cake, ice cream, panna cotta or tarts.


Monday, 6 June 2016

The Great Summer Cooler Fest


We like to think of summer drinks as something light, sipped on a sunny patio at a party. But the fact of the matter remains that summers in India are brutal and the body needs a near constant supply of water and liquids to function optimally. So whether they are simple infused waters, colourful mocktails, refreshing juices or thick smoothies, it’s crucial that every kitchen and fridge is well-stocked with beverages to keep yourself and your loved ones hydrated and happy. And this is what the Summer Cooler fest is all about, with exciting offers and cool deals on a wide assortment of thirst quenchers. So, come on down to any of our stores or log into our online store from the comfort of your home and pick up your favourite beverage. Or let this fest be an opportunity to try something new this season. 
 
Water All The Way
The easiest and simplest way to remain healthy and refreshed is to consume plenty of water. Qua bottles natural mineral water at the foothills of the Himalayas that replenishes the body’s balance. For a sparkling thirst quencher, try Perrier water in its distinctive green bottles. 


 

Fruity Fun
For instance, the fruit beverages by O’cean and Wild Water are excellent ways to beat the boredom of gulping plain, flavourless water all day. These waters are fortified with minerals and vitamins with options of apple, guava, mango+passion fruit, and are free from artificial chemicals or preservatives. Hand the kids a bottle of Fruitshoot juices and let them keep playing all day long. These tasty juices come in a handy bottle with a sipper for hydration on-the-go.


 


Summer Nostalgia
The summer always brings to mind the carefree vacations of childhood and the traditional drinks grandma would make. Paper Boat keeps those memories alive with their delightful range of beverages like kala khatta, aam panna, jaljeera, aamras, and kokum, in easy to carry pouches. Sip on these delicious beverages and enjoy a walk down memory lane.




Colourful Coolers
Basil seeds are known to be incredibly cooling. An interesting trend in beverages today is by American Style where basil seeds are added into fruit juices; the seeds absorb the liquid and become plump which provides a wonderful texture to the drink. 









Morning Refreshment
Need your morning shot of caffeine to begin the day? Don't let the heat keep you from enjoying your daily coffee. Cold coffee is the way to go with delicious vanilla or hazelnut flavours by DropKaffe. You can also opt for a vegan beverage with Staeta’s creamy almond milk in your morning smoothies or with cereal or to make a cooling Mexican horchata.
 



 


Cold Pressed Joy
If hydration combined with health is your goal, cold pressed juices like Raw Pressery or Jus Divine are the way to go. These colourful bottles are full of the natural goodness of fresh produce. Extracted and bottled under intense hydraulic pressure, these juices are free from artificial preservatives and chemicals. Each thick drink or smoothie is tailored to meet specific health goals.

With such a wide array of coolers, everyone will be spoiled for choice. Did this post cover your favourite beverage? 

Tell us in the comments below: what are you looking forward to in the Great Summer Cooler Fest?