Saturday, 20 November 2010

The colourful flavours of Thai Cuisine

It may be nippy outside, but it is delicious and festive inside our shops! Perfect to warm the occaissional wet evenings of the lingering monsoon of this month are the myriad colours and flavours of Thai cuisine. Evolving through the melding of Chinese, Indian, Malay, Portuguese and Dutch cuisines, Thai cuisine is a complex, vibrant showcase of an intricate medley of taste and texture. A colourful, aromatic, flavourful whirl of the senses that we Indians have taken to with a vengeance.

Their famous curries – red and green, are well known. For those of you who like to make dishes from scratch, Godrej Nature’s Basket stocks all the raw ingredients for thai curry paste but if you’re hard pressed for time, we recommend some of our ready versions, simmer our succulent Godrej chicken pre cut pieces in Real Thai in green curry paste or stir roasted eggplant into a more robust red curry using Blue elephant’s spicy red curry paste! But it is the lesser celebrated iconic Massaman curry - a complex and layered combination of coconut milk, tamarind, peanuts, kaffir lime leaves spiced with a harmonious mix of cardamom, cumin, turmeric and cloves that transforms both meat and vegetables into an incredibly luxuriant broth to battle the sniffles rainy days bring. For a wholesome meal serve it with the unbelievably fragrant red rice from Conscious Foods.

In fact talking about fresh ingredients from fresh, there is nothing like the spicy notes of kaffir lime to invigorate one. Kaffir limes are versatile and add a touch of uniqueness to any dish. You only have to take one sip of aromatic tom yam soup to experience a moment of pure foodie bliss. Sharp and sour first, then mellow and savoury, then prickly and hot, all at once but also in steps. Then there is the blend of aromas, of lemon grass, galangal, fish, kaffir lime leaves, chilli, separate but together. Try readymade Tom yum paste by Blue Dragon for a fragrant pick me up before you ding into you Thai Curry!

Aromatic prawn and lemon grass soup (Serves: 4, Preparation time: 20m)

225 g. raw prawns peeled and deveined washed and drained. (Vegetarians may substitute Prawn with Tofu and mushrooms)
Peel of 1 Kaffir Lime
2 stalks lemongrass peeled to obtain tender white centre, crushed and sliced into 7.5- cm pieces.
1.2 lts. Stock (fish is best but vegetable or chicken stock may be used, if unavailable use 1 stock cube for every 2 lts of water)
2 tbsp fish sauce
2 tbsp. lime juice
2 tsp. Tom yum paste by Blue Dragon
5 sprigs fresh coriander
1 tsp. salt

Bring stock to a simmer and add lemongrass. Turn heat down to low, cover and cook for 10 minutes. Remove and discard lemongrass with slotted spoon. Add paste, simmer for 3 minutes. Add prawns to pot, cover and remove from heat. Allow to sit for 10 minutes. Stir in lime juice, fish sauce, and coriander, transfer to large soup tureen or individual bowls and serve immediately.

Mexican hot Chili Salsa

Mexican food, specifically Tex Mex sort of food, is favoured by the Indian Palate. No wonder seeing as Mexican fare is spicy and colourful, much like its Indian counterpart. Favourite Mexican foods include Tacos and Enchiladas (Tortillas stuffed with chilli pepper sauce and combinations of meat, beans, potatoes, vegetables or seafood). Popular sauces and dips include Salsa (pureed tomatoes with garlic, onion and jalapenos) or Guacamole (an avocado based dip). Why don’t you take inspiration from this colourful cuisine to brighten up snack time today.  We carry a complete range of Mexican ingredients at out store. To get you in the mood here is a recipe for Mexican hot Chili Salsa to spoon over over cheese toast for a colorful kick or serve as a spicy accompaniment to Tostitos low fat wholegrain nachos!

Mexican hot Chili Salsa (serves 4-6, Time 20 mins)

4 cups tomatoes, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup fresh chilli peppers, roasted and chopped
1/2 cup red capsicums roasted, peeled and chopped
1 cup onions, chopped
1/2 cup vinegar
3 tbsp tomato kethchup
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

To roast fresh red chillies and capsicums slit so steam can escape and place on an oven rack, broil, turning occasionally for 20 - 30 minutes until the skins darken & blister. Cover with a damp cloth, allow to cool and peel. Discard skin and seeds, if any. Chop and combine with tomatoes and onions. In another bowl combine vinegar, ketchup, garlic, salt and pepper. Mix with tomato mixture and refrigerate.

Why don't you .... Melt some cheese?

There is nothing like Hot melty cheese on a nippy evening. Take a generous helping of cheese, add the dangerous element of spicy chillies, subject to heat and forge a weapon of mass destruction - The Melty Cheese Sandwich!

Hot, crispy and dripping with molten cheese, that if eaten too quickly will drip and burn fingers. Cheese melts are a return to childhood heaven! But for an adult twist try using different cheeses!

Our Toffee cheese offers a sweet seduction of the senses with its blend of subtly sweet toffee and salty cheesiness...
Or try our Cinnamon cheese for its glowing subtle warmth and mouth watering aroma....
For stronger flavours try our Gouda with Nettles and Garlic, a subtle garlicky invasion of your senses....
Our Smoked Cheese (Scarmosa) will bring a touch of savoury smokiness to your Cheese melt, but throw in a few pickled jalapenos and you will have extra fortification and flavour!
But for a full on attack nothing can beat our Fire Spice cheddar with spicy chillies!
Bread and cheese, married in a marvellously melting mixture of mouth-watering flavour... is there anything that can beat it?
A hot cup of cheesy pasta, maybe? MMMMM! What could be more delicious?

Try this Four Cheese Sauce especially designed for us by our favourite gastronome Rushina Munshaw Ghildiyal.
Four Cheese Sauce (Time 20 mins, Serves 4-6)
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup white butter
2 tbsp fresch green chillies minced
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup shredded provolone cheese
1/2 cup grated Romano cheese

In a medium saucepan combine whipping cream and butter. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring frequently until butter melts. Add Green chillies and stir well. Gradually stir in grated Parmesan cheese, grated mozzarella cheese, grated provolone cheese, and grated Romano cheese. Reduce heat to low, and continue to stir just until all cheese is melted. Serve immediately, over gnocchi, fettuccini, or your choice of pasta. Please note the sauce will thicken upon standing.

Serving suggestions - Serve with garlicky French bread, and a selection of antipasti such as olives, brined vegetables and vinegary pearl onions to cut through the cheesiness of the sauce.

Friday, 12 November 2010

Welcome to the Natures Basket Blog.

Welcome to the official Godrej Nature’s Basket blog, our newest endeavour of reaching out to all our valued customers.  With this new initiative we at Nature's Basket can't help counting our blessings. We work hard every day to add new and wonderful flavours to our shelves, to equip you for a comprehensive cooking experience, whether you are making Mexican, Thai, Italian, French, or Japanese and to wash it all down, we carry wines from the finest vineyards the world over to satisfy both the curious and the connoisseur. Our Food Specialists at the stores are trained in the complexities of food and wine to assist patrons in their choices.

You'll be delighted to discover new ingredients to set your dishes apart. With a veritable treasure trove of the world's best gourmet products, we understand that navigating our stores and choosing what to buy can be quite exhausting. So we are proud to have some of India’s finest chefs and food names come in and share their knowledge in our Gourmet Guide sessions that we frequently organise at our stores. We encourage our patrons to come and talk to them and take back a whole lot of zany, delicious new ideas.

So do make a date to check in regularly for delicious updates from us on new offerings, tips on recipes and ideas for using the finest of exotic ingredients from around the world in fabulous new ways!  Bon App├ętit!

Mohit Khattar

Managing Director

Godrej Nature's Basket