Thursday, 27 November 2014

Thanksgiving: Traditions, Treats and Tricks

A celebration of gratitude spent with family or friends; gorging on delicious food and leisurely catching up on each other’s lives; what’s not to love about that? Traditionally celebrated in the US on the 4th Thursday of November, the Thanksgiving holiday has now surpassed its American roots and is observed globally.


One of the best aspects of such a gathering has to be the sheer variety and diverse flavours put together in a meal that has come to be synonymous with indulgence and culinary gratification. Universally associated with roasted turkey and cranberry sauce, a typical Thanksgiving spread will also trays of relishes or appetizers, cocktails, dinner rolls, stuffing, gravy, devilled eggs, mashed potatoes, salad, blanched veggies and ended with apple, pumpkin or pecan pie. However this day can also be a great opportunity to partake in culinary experimentation. Plan a weekend gathering of your closest family and friends, don an apron, create a memorable meal and raise a toast to the simple, beautiful joys of life.




An integral part of a classic Thanksgiving dinner is a whole, roasted turkey; deliciously moist, tender meat that looks stunning as it is carried to the table and a great cooking technique to attempt and perfect. So go ahead, head down to our store and pick up a whole turkey that’s available all through the festive season. Alternatively, a whole, stuffed and roasted chicken is also a wonderful dinner centre piece that will wow your guests.

Image credit: http://lauralevysrecipes.com/


While the roast will be the focus of attention, whet your guests’ appetite by laying out an appetizer tray. Start simply with a cheese board, crackers, fruit or put together a slightly more elaborate platter of olives, pickled onions, baby carrots, stuffed mushrooms or celery sticks filled with goat’s cheese. This will give your guests something to nibble on while chatting with each other and waiting for the big meal.




If this is your first Thanksgiving gathering then a helpful tip to consider is to cut down on prep time and work as much as is possible. For instance, along with the whole bird, pick up peeled garlic, chopped veggies, dinner rolls, low-sodium stock for the soup or gravy, ready-to eat salad mixes that can be dressed up, tart shells to fill and serve as pie. All of these will surely make feeding your loved ones a memorable meal all the more simpler. Another helpful tip is to prep as much as is possible the day before, leaving you relaxed to be play the host.



Since the star attraction of the meal is the roast, plan side dishes that will complement it. Think of creamy mashed potatoes, crunchy Brussels sprouts, a spicy, sweet fig-cranberry relish to round off the flavours and textures of the meal. Or go uber simple with buttery brioche rolls and a generous green salad alongside a slice of perfectly cooked turkey or chicken. To end the Thanksgiving extravaganza serve up small, individual pumpkin pies.





An important tradition of the Thanksgiving meal is eating the leftovers the next day. Be sure to sandwich slices of meat between crusty sourdough bread slathered in relish for a hearty but festive lunch the next day. And as you savour it, remember again the joy of the little blessings in life.

Thursday, 6 November 2014

In Salad Heaven

Everyone loves a good meal; one that is freshly cooked, a complex yet perfect balance of flavours which leaves the diner with a deep sense of satisfaction & nourishment. A salad is basically such a meal in a single bowl. An artful combination of select ingredients tossed up to create a meal that is universally renowned for its nutritional goodness and bursting with a melange of flavours.

Imagine juicy orange segments paired with salty olives and zesty fennel shavings on a bed of mildly bitter arugula leaves dressed with orange vinaigrette. Each mouthful brings the five basic tastes together to create a perfect bite. The best part about this simple, elegant dish is that it can be easily personalized or recreated at home. Dont have arugula on hand? Swap it out for a mix of baby lettuce. Or switch the olives with capers.




 Image credit: http://anavocadoaday.blogspot.in/


One of the reasons why salads are a popular meal across the cuisines of the world is the innumerable possibilities a salad bowl presents. Each person in the world can create their own salad simply by tweaking it to their tastes and preferences. Need to consume iron and vitamin rich foods? Try a kale slaw with spicy marinated tofu in a peanut dressing or combine shredded kale with grated pecorino, season and dress with a lemon-EVOO vinaigrette. 



Image credit: http://maikinmokomin.blogspot.fi/

Can’t stand leafy, greens or mild flavours? Opt for a spicy Thai Som Tam made by mixing shredded green papaya, bean sprouts, thin sliced onions, ribbons of basil & coriander, cherry tomatoes and toasted peanuts. Flavour this salad with a piquant dressing of minced garlic, bird’s eye chili in fish sauce, lime juice and palm sugar. Or convert the pantry staple, pasta itself into a salad. Combine tri-coloured, cooked fettuccine with crumbled feta cheese, slightly blanched broccoli, chopped olives, toasted pine nuts and dress with a red wine vinegar+EVOO vinaigrette.


Image credit: http://www.gatheranddine.com/


All these salad ideas showcase light, elegant, sophisticated recipes as well hearty, rustic salads. The taste, texture, colour and fragrance of each ingredient plays off the other in a marvelous culinary symphony. This is a great tip to bear in mind when building a salad at home. In fact, a salad is also a great canvas against which to try out a new speciality ingredient like roasted peppers, infused oils or vinegar, honey, chili sauces, cheese or even spice blends. Try it out in a pasta, cous cous or quinoa salad to figure out its flavours.


Image credit: http://www.fashionablefoods.com/


If the above salad descriptions has you drooling and you need a bowlful of crisp lettuce, veggies, grilled chicken doused in a tangy dressing then simply come down over to the store. 

We have set up salad bars at our Bandra store where you can try out some of these suggestions for yourself. Featuring an extensive range of fresh ingredients in a hygienic set-up, this salad bar will give you a chance to explore and discover your own salad preferences. While at the store browse our shelves and stock up on your favourite salad ingredients and eat healthy delicious meals through the week. We have a wide range of salad greens, veggies, meat, cheese, nuts, fruits, fat-free dressings, oils & vinegars; all of which can be mixed and matched for salad utopia.


Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Recipe: Kaffir Lime Aioli

Kaffir Lime Aioli 
Ingredients:

1.5 tsp – kaffir lime leaves
Step 1: Assemble Ingredients
1 tsp garlic
1 no – egg yolk
1/4th – tsp Dijon mustard paste
1 no – lemon juice
To taste – salt
1 tsp – pepper pwd
130 ml – oil







Method


  •          Chop the kaffir lime leaves and garlic fine and keep aside.
  •          In a bowl combine the egg yolk , mustard paste , salt and pepper and mix to combine.
Step 2: Combine Ingredients & Mix
  •          Start adding the oil bit by bit while whisking lightly till a quarter is well blended and your mixture begins to form into a thick paste.
  •      Add the rest of the oil and mix well to combine.
  •      Add the kaffir lime leaves and garlic and stir in well. 
Step 3: Serve with a platter of delicious seafood!

Recipe by Rushina Munshaw Ghildiyal


Recipe: Chilli Chocolate Fondue

Ingredients:
Assemble Ingredients

  • 200ml Cream
  • 250gms Chocolate,chopped
  • 1/2 tsp Ginger powder
  • 1tbsp Red chili powder
  • 2tsp Coriander powder

Method:


Step 1: Gently heat the cream.
Step 2: Pour over chopped chocolate and mix till melted.
Step 3: Add the spices and mix well until thick.
Step 4: Serve with fruit, cake, turkish apricots, greek delights from our shelves.
Making Chilli Chocolate Sauce
Arrange on a fondue platter with assorted fruits and cakes!



Store in air-tight containers in the fridge for up to 2 weeks!


Rushina Munshaw Ghildiyal

Recipe: Chatpatta Kumquat Salsa to dress up your Kebab Platter

Go beyond the usual pyaaz nimbu and green chutney with this colorful tangy sweet spicy blend of fruit with a kiss of green chilli. Grill up ready to eat kebabs from Nature's Basket, arrange on a platter and add a bowl of this wonderful salsa!                           

Ingredients:

Assemble Ingredients
2 cups mixed fruit, diced fine (mix of Kiwi,  melons, green apples, pears)                                                              
3/4th cup kumquats/oranges sliced fine    
2-3 tbsp green chilli, sliced
2 tbsp honey   
2 tbsp lime juice
1 tbsp chaat masala                                     
Combine ingredients in a bowl, add dressing and mix well!
Method
Combine all the prepared ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Serve chilled with hot fresh grilled kebabs.

Serve with delicious Kebabs!
Note: Kumquats are miniature Oranges with a sweet skin and can be eaten whole. They add a burst of freshness to cut through heavy kebabs.



Recipe by Rushina Munshaw Ghildiyal


Recipe: Sweet Canapes

Throwing a Diwali party but not sure what to serve? Try this quick recipe for sweet canapes that look so impressive, your guests will never know how easy they are to make.



Ingredients:

6-12 Tart shells 

For filling:

150 ml – whip topping (already whipped)

1 pkt – blueberries

1 pkt – red currents

1 box – cream cheese 

1⁄2 tsp vanilla bean paste


Ingredients Assembled
Piping in the filling



Topping with Fresh Berries

Method:

- Whip up the whip topping. 

- In a bowl make combine the vanilla paste and cream cheese. Fold in the whip topping.

- Put the cream in a piping bag with a star nozzle and make a rose swirl into the tart/canapé shell. 

- Pipe the cream cheese mixture in the tart and garnish with whole berries.

- Alternatively drizzle a little fruit puree over cream cheese mix before garnishing with the berries.

And, ready to serve!




Recipe by Rushina Munshaw Ghildiyal





Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Dried Fruit

Every year, without fail the arrival of large and small boxes wrapped in shiny paper and colourful ribbons, full of crunchy nuts and rich dry fruits signals the start of the festive season. From ancient times when Mesopotamian cultures sun dried dates and dry figs to the dried apricots, prunes, sultanas, cranberries and nuts of today, humans across the world have been preserving and savouring fruit and nuts for eons.

Dried fruit have always signified the best one can offer a guest or a loved one. Dry fruits and nuts have always been a household mainstay during diwali time. But that doesn’t always have to be badam, kaju, and pista. This festive season create and set out an assortment of dried fruit in a variety of textures and flavours. Go beyond the usual and try something new.


Set out a lovely dry fruit platter adorned with colourful gems of dried blueberries, cranberries, Turkish dates stuffed with chocolate and hazelnuts, and a range of chocolate-coated nuts is a new and modern twist on traditional favorite. It is sure to impress friends and family if presented as a festive guest and will keep your household guests munching.Try mixing nuts and dry fruit up and serving in unusual ways, pair roasted almonds with sour cranberries, salted pistachios with Turkish apricots, candied walnuts and raisins, add chocolate covered raisins, slivers of dried apricots and dates stuffed with nuts together on a platter to serve up to loved ones.


Move past roasted and salted nuts and experiment with flavouring hazelnuts, cashewnuts, macademias with your signature flavours. Some popular options include black pepper-honey, rosemary-parmesan, cinnamon-brown sugar to name a few. Simply coat the nuts in the mix and bake till crisp.

Add colour to our gift baskets with dry fruit in colours of the rainbow… tropical fruits like mango, pineapple, papaya and kiwi are available dried and candied. The sheer range in colour, texture and flavour is mind boggling. Great to eat by themselves add to a muesli for breakfast or as a surprise burst of flavour in salads. Play around with the flavours of delicious dried fruit by pairing them with ingredients like meat or vegetables in savoury dishes. Lamb and apricots is a good combination as are dried cherries and chicken. Or add rich flavor to desserts. The sweetness and texture of dried fruits like apricots, dates, cranberries, raisins work wonderfully in chutneys, compotes and preserves which pair wonderfully with ice cream, cake, as filling for pies and tarts.


Apart from being served as a delicious snack, exotic dried berries like cranberries, blueberries and apricots can be incorporated very well into modern and creative diwali sweets. Phirni is a dessert that is a lot more versatile than it may seem, and it lends itself very well to Indian trifles. For elegant and colourful plated desserts at diwali dinner parties make trifles with layers of phirni, cranberries, blueberries and apricots, in shot glasses, and top them off with a few chopped nuts.


For the gourmands among your loved ones, a selection of roasted nuts by Planters, Tong Garden or our very own Le Exclusif range would be a thoughtful and cherished gift. We also have gift hampers created around dried fruit for gifting friends that are far away this season. Have more dried fruits than you know what to do with? Combine it with oats for a homemade muesli or soak in rum or brandy for a boozy fruitcake or Christmas pudding. After all Christmas is just around the corner isn’t it? http://www.naturesbasket.co.in/Online-grocery-shopping/Health/Weight-Management-Foods/Dry-Fruits-Muesli-Bran/35_0_0

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Hosting An Italian Themed Party

The festive season has kicked off and will be around for the next few months. The twinkle of the fairy lights and the warm feeling of celebration are in the air. Its an apt time to indulge the family in an evening of Italian food and wine. The great thing about Italian cuisine is its ability to scale up into an elegant, sit down affair or to cater for a more relaxed, easy going gathering for friends and family.     

While the food is key to the success to any party, an ideal ambience certainly helps. For an elegant sit down meal, use white pasta plates and bowls against a brown table with off white-golden napkins. Complete the look with a small flower arrangements to brighten things up. Candles burning in empty Chianti bottles are ideal to create  atmosphere. Set Andrea Bocelli or Luciano Pavarotti to play softly in the background for a great setting to an Italian themed party.



A distinctive feature of a true Italian meal is the number of courses that causes one to linger over the table for hours together, savouring the food, company and conversation. Therefore when planning such a meal, prepare moderate quantities of food to satisfy a diner over the span of 3-4 courses. An authentic Italian meal begins with the Antipasti; a platter of crusty bread, some cheese, shavings of prosciutto, briny capers, spiced olives, roasted peppers or maybe a light Carpaccio, fried zucchini flowers, an assortment of Bruschetta or salads like Panzanella, Insalata Caprese to name a few.



This is followed up by the Primo; the first course of the actual meal which is typically a small serving of pasta, gnocchi, rice or polenta. Wow your guests by serving up a gnocchi or polenta dish instead of pasta. Or impress them with an impeccable risotto. Elevate the entire experience by serving up a matching wine.
Once this course is relished, present the secondo; which is a small serving of fish, chicken or meat that is often grilled and served without a sauce. Some excellent options would be a tender, fragrant Osso bucco, a chicken, pancetta and bean stew, Porchetta or Cacciatore.


Lay out simply cooked, seasonal vegetables to accompany the secondo. This vegetarian course is called the contorno and can be stuffed artichokes or peppers, eggplant caponata or even wilted greens with garlic.

Once this course is polished off and your guests are reclining in their seats, bring out the dolci or desserts. Typically a bowl of fresh, seasonal fruit, chocolate or nut biscotti or Savoiardi biscuits is served with amaretto or another dessert wine. Yet on occasion the Italians also make a variety of plated desserts like tiramisu, panna cotta. Another great ending to a fabulous meal is the affogato; a bowl of vanilla ice cream doused in freshly brewed espresso. 

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Italian Dolce

Italian food is so popular the world that most people will be able to rattle off the classic dish names like Bruschetta, Pizza, Pasta, Risotto, Insalata Caprese, Spaghetti Bolognaise and the like. However, when quizzed about Italy’s desserts, most people only know of Tiramisu. Which is a shame because Italian cuisine boasts of some truly delightful desserts And the best part about these dolce, as the Italians call their sweet treats, is that most of them can be easily re-created at home.


A simple yet widely preferred dessert is the affogato; in which freshly brewed espresso is poured over a bowl of vanilla ice cream. The heat and cold together create an elegant dish that can be topped up with softly whipped cream, crushed amaretti or nuts. Stock up on one of our real vanilla ice creams to put this together any time a sweet craving hits.


Then there is the Zuppa Inglese. Made from one of the main ingredients in a Tiramisu, the Savoiardi biscuits, the Zuppa Inglese is also a layered pudding. A rich dessert with similarities to the English Trifle, in which the biscuits or cake fingers are soaked in rum, layered alternately with chocolate-cinnamon and vanilla-orange custard and then, finally garnished with chocolate shavings.

Also another cake based dessert is the Zuccotto; a chilled, dome-shaped sweet dish believed to have originated in Florence, inspired by the shape of the Duomo Cathedral. Variations abound, but it is essentially made with sponge cake soaked in a liqueur or brandy, assembled in a dome shaped mould and then filled with whipped cream, toasted nuts like almonds, hazelnuts and covered with chocolate ganache.  Try out this classy, impressive dessert at your next family get-together and watch the compliments flow in.   


The Panna cotta is often termed the perfect dessert; its global popularity is proof of this claim. The name translates to ‘cooked cream” and it is a creamy, velvety smooth pudding, made from milk, cream, sugar and gelatine. The Panna Cotta acts like a canvas against which a whole range of flavours can be explored from the traditional vanilla, chocolate, mango, raspberry to more  unusual ones like honey-lavender, rosewater-pistachio or  orange-star anise to name a few.



However, why stop at the traditional dolci? Get creative with Italian ingredients to create your own sweet treats. Use the tiramisu as a template to play around with flavours. Try using berries instead of coffee or spike the dessert with limoncello and lemon zest for a light, fresh spin on this Italian classic. Another play on tiramisu is to swap out the Savoiardi biscuits for amaretti cookies which will give it a unique new taste and texture. For an unusual Italian dessert that will stand out on any dinner table, serve up a dessert ravioli. Try stuffing the pasta with ricotta and dark chocolate chunks and serve with a light lemon glaze. Or add cocoa powder to the pasta itself and serve it with a passion fruit sauce for a pretty and sweet end to a meal. 

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Mastering the Risotto (With Some Flavour Variations)

When made properly Risotto, the world famous Italian classic rice preparation can be a real work of art. A freshly cooked plate of slightly al dente yet deliciously creamy rice flavoured with a savoury stock and finished with softly melting Parmesan cheese is a culinary delight. While many shrink back from cooking risotto at home because of its intimidating reputation, the truth is that risotto can be easily mastered by bearing a few tips in mind.  


The first crucial pointer is that for a good risotto you must have everything ready before you step up to the stove. That includes the rice, the wine, your add-ins and the bowls to serve it in. Risotto waits for no one and is perfect the second it's done.

Use only Italian short-grain rice varieties such as Aroborio or Carnaroli. Short-grain rice has high starch content and tends to absorb less liquid, resulting in a stickier, more compact risotto.
Cooking the rice in hot butter or cooking oil before adding liquid helps the rice absorb the liquids slowly without becoming soggy. This is called ‘toasting the rice’.


All the flavors that the cooking liquid starts out with become more concentrated and intense as it evaporates. Bearing that in mind be sure to use a vegetable or meat based stock (preferably home-made) or create a broth with stock cubes. It is important to add hot stock, not cold, to the rice during the cooking process. Adding cold broth to hot rice results in a hard, uncooked kernel in the centre of the grain.
Except for the onions or garlic, you should add already cooked vegetables into your risotto after the rice is finished cooking. This is especially important for tender greens like spinach, delicate herbs like chives, and veggies like asparagus. 

Save ingredients like butter, mascarpone cheese or Parmesan for the end of the cooking process. Fat will break under heat and ruin the dish.

After a few attempts at cooking a basic risotto you will understand the dynamics of cooking this dish and can then begin to use it as a background for a multitude of interesting flavour combinations. Here we have listed some classic pairings and a few with an unusual twist that you can try out at home.

A common spin on risotto includes mushrooms. The earthy, swarmy taste of porcini, portobello or button mushrooms adds a complex depth of flavour that transforms a rice dish into an impressive, gourmet meal. To make this version of risotto, re-hydrate dried porcini mushrooms with wine or stock. Sauté garlic, onions and button mushrooms with fresh rosemary in melted butter and olive oil till they dry up and cook. Pour the rice and toast with the sautéed veggies. Add the soaked porcini and use the soaking liquid in place of the stock and continue to cook as usual. Once it’s ready, plate up and serve garnished with a generous topping of caramelized onions.


During the cold seasons try out a rich, satisfying spin on risotto using roasted pumpkin and sage. The mellow sweetness of the squash is set off against the intense pungency of a fresh herb like sage. Roast pumpkins and then whiz with some cream into a smooth sauce. Prepare the risotto base as usual but include fresh sage while cooking. Once ready, stir in the pumpkin sauce and heat till warmed. Serve immediately.


Play up the Italian background of the dish by using fresh seafood like mussels and shrimp with the clean, aniseedy flavour of fennel. Sauté garlic and fennel till aromatic. Add the rice and toast well. Deglaze with wine and cook in stock till the rice has turned creamy.  Add shrimp and cook in the leftover liquid before stirring in the cooked mussels. Garnish with chopped parsley and serve hot for an elegant, classy dinner. 

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

A Guide to Partying, Thai-style

Need an interesting theme to perk up your next get together? Look toward the aromatic cuisine of Thailand for inspiration and ideas. Take your guests on a journey of discovery into the kaffir lime and lemongrass scented streets and kitchens of Thailand. Introduce them to the funky, complex flavours that play around and dance on the palate.




At the heart of the very many curries, grilled meats, stir-fries, noodles dishes and sauces of Thai cuisine is the skillful juggling of colours, textures, flavours and aromas. Thai cooking places an emphasis on freshly prepared dishes with strong aromatic components and a spicy edge. It’s known for its complex interplay of four or five fundamental tastes in each dish or the overall meal: sour, sweet, salty, bitter and spicy. Any interpretation of Thai cuisine includes paying its respect to high-quality, fresh produce quickly prepared and expertly seasoned till the meal resonates with the spicy, challenging and complex flavours Thai food is known for the world over.


Start with welcoming your guests with shots of Thai iced tea. This is a traditional Thai beverage brewed from strong black tea and spiced with star anise and cardamom highlighted by the tang of tamarind, creamy and sweet from the addition of condensed milk, it will be perfect as an ice breaker. A spicy Lychee-chili lemonade could also get the party started,  just, lightly blend lychee juice, lemon juice, salt, sugar with de-seeded bird’s eye chili and serve chilled on ice!



Plan a lavish, colourful spread of small bites for guests to nibble on. Get innovative with Thai inspired tapas maybe? Small bowls of kaffir and chilli spiced nuts, bite sized servings of some of those wonderful Thai salads; som tam, long bean, pulled meat, larb gai. Bring alive Thailand’s vibrant street food scene with a bite sized version of classic Chicken satay with a spicy peanut sauce or crunchy lettuce cups filled with an assortment of veggies dressed up with a sweet-sour-spicy dipping sauce.




Add some oomph to your party with a live Pad Thai bar! Don your chef’s hat and dish up portions of this iconic spicy-sour noodle dish for your guests! Ensue you have all the right  sauces for each diner to customize their dishes; a typical Thai dinner table will feature the umami rich fish sauce, super spicy Sriracha, and nam phrik; a combination of chillies, garlic, onions, lime juice and fish sauce. 


And when it comes to main course, Thai cuisine offers a wide range of dishes featuring meats, seafood and vegetables all centered on delicate, steamed jasmine rice. So pre-make and serve up numerous bowls of curries, stir-fries and dipping sauces with steamed rice. For instance, a Thai themed party is incomplete without a Red or Green curry with chicken or prawns. 



End this veritable Thai feast on a sweet note with an assortment of desserts that your guests can pick from. Go traditional with bite sized portions of sticky rice with mango. Or try it with caramelized pineapples, make a coconut version of crème caramel finished with a kaffir infused sugar or let your guests top bowls of shaved ice with their choice of fruit, syrup and coconut milk for ice kachang.




Renowned the world over for its bold, flavours and fabulous textures one thing is for sure a Thai theme will ensure your next party is memorable and well received! 







Thursday, 7 August 2014

Raksha Bandhan Celebrations

While sibling relationships are to be treasured daily all year round, having a special reason to celebrate them is wonderful. And that’s what Raksha Bandhan is all about. A season to cherish one’s siblings, celebrate familial love and strengthen commitments to one’s brothers and sisters. It is a festive occasion with sisters playfully teasing brothers, adults laughing and relaxing while eating rich traditional food. The tying of the rakhi bands and presenting of the gifts are the highlights of this festival with plenty of attention on the gift.

For this special occasion, Godrej Nature’s Basket has curated a range of gift hampers full of exotic, indulgent treats. Take a stroll through the store, wander through the cheese aisle, pick from the international grocery shelves and assemble a personalized gourmet hamper for your sibling based on what he/she will love. We have some of the most decadent chocolate offerings to celebrate Raksha Bandhan with; from immaculate white to sinfully dark chocolate, from cocoa truffles to alluring slabs of nougat and praline. Or use chocolate to transform a traditional recipe into something spectacular for your brother or sister this Raksha Bandhan. Think chocolate chilli kheer or aromatic roasted coffee and walnut parathas; surprise your sibling with your ingenuity!


Festivals are all about embracing traditions but they are also about adding a unique, personal flavour to them to create new and unforgettable memories. Twist a traditional recipe using our gourmet products sourced from all over the world. Give traditional Rakhi recipes a signature touch making them into wonderful new dishes. For instance, a halwa can be enriched with exotic red sultanas and slivers of dried papaya and pineapple instead of plain raisins. A kheer can be given a fabulous twist with poached peaches and pine nuts scattered over it. Or swirl some L’Exclusif fruit preserve or a Monin syrup through a favourite mousse recipe. Play around with the sizzling chocolate brownie by adding some desiccated coconut to the batter and serve it a la mode with pistachio mousse instead of ice cream.


Sometimes life has a way of disrupting the best laid plans; scuttling the plan for a home cooked meal. Don’t let that stop you from enjoying the time with your loved ones. Go to our online store and choose from our extensive Party Menu for a premium catered meal. Celebrate Raksha Bandhan with dolce and order delectable desserts like Tiramisu, Parfaits, Panna Cotta, Red Velvet dessert in a Jar and Lemon Curd Tart and spend some time with your siblings over these sweet treats. Or recount childhood memories and bond with your brother or sister over a shared cheese platter with matching wines.



So go on and shower your sibling with love and make the most of the time together. Happy Raksha Bandhan!


Image Credits: Google

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Tea Time Around the World

For millions across the nation, a few minutes each morning is spent holding a cup, mug or glass of tea or chai, warming their palms in the snatched solitude afforded by the ritual of tea drinking. During the Indian monsoon, these moments become more than habit; a source of warmth against the chill and the wet. Spiked with spices or brewed with a careful selection of herbs, each pot of tea is skilfully adapted to the season’s requirement.


From centuries past, regular consumption of tea has been highly recommended in Indian and Chinese medical systems. Not only is tea rich in anti-oxidants, significantly lower in caffeine than coffee but also an excellent aid in weight and stress management. Moreover, natural compounds in green tea might protect against several cancers, including those of the prostate, GI tract, lungs, breast, and skin.

During the damp and dreary months of monsoon flooding, a cup of masala chai offers spicy relief; its harmonious balance of milk, tea, spices and sweetness counteracting the chill of the rain. Common to the spice mix are cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, ginger and black pepper; all of which are known for their anti-inflammatory properties fighting against cold, cough and the flu. Their robust, bracing flavour warms the body and uplifts the spirit.


Another spice based tea beverage is the exotic kehwa from Kashmir (not to be confused with qahwa; another coffee drink). 
Made by boiling green tea leaves with saffron strands, cinnamon bark, cardamom pods and occasionally dried rose petals, it is an aromatic beverage perfect when rained in on a special evening. Be sure to use organic spices for a true flavour without harmful chemicals.


However not all teas need to be such an elaborate process. Even a simple brew of ginger in hot water with a dash of honey is a great herbal tea, perfect for soothing an irritated, sore throat. Or steeping ginger and mint together is a wonderful tea to settle an uneasy tummy. Many people also add tulsi or holy basil to their teas as a home remedy against the common cold, flu and a whole host of other illness. Its sharp taste adds a definite kick to the beverage making it ideal for the monsoons.


Across the world, people customize their tea beverages in numerous ways. Allowing black tea to steep in a teapot, poured into cups and lightened with hot milk is recognized as the English tea after the British manner. A significant mark of hospitality in North African culture is the offer of Maghreb; a brew of green tea and mint leaves, sweetened with sugar and ceremonially poured into dainty glasses. Po Cha is the Tibetan drink of choice; a energy boosting concoction of black tea, milk, yak butter and salt. Rather salaciously named is the Pantyhose Milk Tea from Hong Kong, a mixture of black tea and condensed milk served hot named for the sackcloth bag that looks like a stocking used to filter the tea leaves. An eye-catching beverage is Noon Chai; a pretty pink tea made with a special blend of leaves, milk, pistachios, almonds and salt, also from the Kashmir region. Also noteworthy is the Japanese Matcha, a jade green tea partaken as part of a special tea ceremony.


While purists only consider green tea, black tea, white tea and oolong tea (all made from the leaves and buds of Camellia Sinensis) as ‘real’ tea, the ‘tea’ moniker is today applied to a mind-boggling range of beverages from herbal brews to fruit based teas. These are infusions of naturally occurring botanicals, are usually caffeine-free and available as 100% organic products. Herbal teas, sometimes referred to as tisanes can be broken into three categories: rooibos teas, mate teas, and herbal infusions. Rooibos tea, or red tea, is made from a South African red bush and is delicious hot or iced. Mate tea is considered the coffee lover's favorite tea. Made from the leaves and twigs of the yerba mate plant, it has a similar flavour profile as coffee. Specifically blended to improve well-being according to Ayurvedic practices are herbal infusions, which improve health and well-being by addressing various minor ailments such as indigestion, insomnia, stress, weakened immune system and anxiety.


Sipping one’s favourite brew in a few moments of calm is a universal desire. Now having your preferred blend is easier than ever. A wide range of teas and tisanes are available at all our outlets including the online store. So go on, take a break this season and sit by a window with a cup of steaming hot tea on hand. Spend an hour watching and listening to the rain as you relax with preferred brew.


Image Credits:
Foodgawker
Google