Udvada: The Perfect Foodie Getaway

 

Culinary travel is something that I’m very passionate about. And yes, I certainly will  travel 200 kilometres  away from Mumbai in search of hidden gems that nourish and  feed the soul.Well after all the best part of any travel is the food, right?

One such getaway was a road trip to the sleepy and quaint town of Udwada in Gujarat. The hubs and I are the perfect partners in crime as he loves to drive and I’d go to the end of this earth in search of good meal. En route, our pit stop is  the legendary “Ahura” on the NH8 which serves up some great Parsi delicacies. We settle for some Akuri (spicy scrambled eggs with onions, tomatoes and spices) and some Kheema (Minced meat). Both these are served with Pav (Indian dinner rolls). With our bellies full we proceed on our journey ahead.

 

NH 8, Amboli, Tal. Dahanu, Dist. Palghar | 14 km after Charoti Toll Booth on NH 8 while driving to AhmedabadDahanu 401601, India
+91 97665 12512

We arrive at our destination late afternoon. Now Udvada is a small town in Gujarat and home to   famous for its Zoroastrian Atash Behram,probably the oldest place of worship for Parsis. The drive from Mumbai is about 3 hours  making it a  quick weekend getaway from Mumbai and quite a foodie haven. This quaint town spells old world charm. Perhaps even a sleepy old town with a population of no more than 10,000 inhabitants and mostly Parsis.It is said that the name ‘Udvada’ was derived from ‘uth vada’ which means ‘grazed by camels’.This was our getaway a couple of months ago. Just right for an overnight trip to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city. We decided to stay the night at a the Globe Hotel as this came  highly recommended by friends.

 

Globe Hotel Udvada:

Udwada Road, Near Pundole Agyari, Udvada, Gujarat 396180 

 0260 234 5243

 

This place is  every bit old world and a “no frills” kind of place. It’s nice to see the owners around the property and taking good care of their clients. We opt for an air-conditioned room which is simple and just right for just the night. Having checked into our hotel we decided that the best way  to explore this town is to take  a walk around. The roads are fairly isolated as it is quite lateen the afternoon and perhaps a time for siesta.We pass by some fairy tale cottages and sandal wood vendors on our way to the fire temple.

Some Must Do’s in Udvada:

  1. Fire Temple:

 

Quite rightly coined as the Mecca for Zoroastrians as it home to the “Atash Behram” s the most sacred of the Zoroastrian fire temples in India and the oldest continuously burning fire-temple fire in the world. Since only Parsis’s are allowed into the fire temple, I was quite happy taking pictures from the outside. It is said that the name ‘Udvada’ was derived from ‘uth vada’ which means ‘grazed by camels’.

2. Goodies from the Irani Bakery:

Nestled in one of the by lanes, we discover this lovely bakery and decide to buy some Mawa Cakes, Brun pav and Khaki biscuits as food souviniers to share with the family back home.
3. A walk on the beach and wandering around the city:
The beach turned out to be quite rocky and we just about managed to take a short walk but this, and all the trotting around the town does our appetite good. We get back to our hotel in time for an early dinner. One that I’ve been waiting for. The food is cooked in the hotel kitchen on the premises. The gastronomy arrives and at first seems like a large spread for two. All though we do land up doing full justice to our meal.
5. A Parsi Meal at Globe Hotel:
Our meal consists of:
  • Fried Boi ( Local Fish)
  • Fish Curry
  • Parsi Gosht Ni Curry (Mutton Curry cooked with potatoes)
  • Rice
  • Chappatis ( Indian wholewheat bread)
  • Kachumbar ( fresh salad with Onions,tomatoes and fresh coriander))
  • Hand churned ice cream ( sadly no pic, but was delicious)

We decided to head back to Mumbai early next morning.This trip turned out to be exactly what the foodie in me hoped for. I can happily check it off my to-do list around Mumbai. I do hope I have enticed you to discover Udvada and revel in some Parsi gastronomy.

Bon Appetite & happy travels! I’m working on my blog post on my recent trip to Montreal. Can’t wait to share my Culinary sojourn.

 

 

Cat Cafe Studio: Fancy A Coffee with Cats?


Fancy a Coffee with Cats?

Here a Cat there a Cat Everywhere a Kitty Cat!! Now if you are wondering what a Cat’s got to do with a slice of the best ever Carrot cake and a shot of espresso, well then welcome to Mumbai’s first ever Cat Café Studio located in four  Bungalows Versova,Mumbai. Feline friends will be delighted to spend a couple hours at this café playing with Cats that are housed in the Enclosed section. The café hosts almost 20-30 species. These cats are usually stray cats taken from the streets ,that now have a home. They have been spayed and neutered and are all up for adoption (for free, provided you meet their requirements, which is being an ardent cat lover of course!!)

 

While this concept is new to Mumbai, Cat cafes are very popular especially in Japan says the Manager of the café. Apartments in Japan forbid pet ownership, and hence a lot of these cat café’s have sprung up. These café’s enable pet lovers to spend some time with cats and can be very relaxing and enjoyable too.

 

The studio has a nice Patio for those who may just want to use it as a café and sip a coffee or grab a quick bite. This place is abuzz with teenagers and perhaps a great opportunity for them to volunteer their time at the cafe. Interestingly the Cat cafe studio is an NGO.

  • The café serves up some great Coffee’s, Tea cakes, Sandwiches and Wraps.
  • Location: 63, Harminder Singh Road, Aram Nagar Part 1, Aram Nagar, Versova, Andheri West, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400061
  • I had my usual shot of espresso and ordered in a couple of slices of their Carrot cake and a Cinnamon Loaf. Hubs and family had a round of a Cappuccino  and Masala chai
  • Pocket friendly Menu and prices.
  • We paid Rs 1200 for five of us.

Chocolate Is The Key To Happiness…Easy Chocolate Gateaux

Chocolate is the key to happiness…

It’s been a hectic and busy  start to 2017 to say the least. I realise we are into May already.I can’t recall when I last sat  down with my cup of coffee and got down to posting for my blog.

I now teach at a Hospitality Institute here in Mumbai and head  the Bakery & Patisserie program. It’s been one fabulous year and I love what I do…which is teach of course.

Teaching: A Rewarding Profession

Keep Calm and Bake on! The quintessential mantra in my kitchen as I begin my day at The RPH Institute of Hospitality Management. A sense of utmost tranquility prevails when I come in to commence preparation for the class.

Of course this is the calm before the storm. Welcome to my world of elevated excitement interspersed with high decibels of noise and commotion, as I take on my task of instructing a bunch of enthusiastic bakers that are keen on bakery specialization The students arrive and I begin with a talk on how Baking is a Science.

“Measure, Measure and Measure”, accurately I chime in a high-pitched tone to set the rule for the baking session, as getting things done to perfection is what I strive for, when I teach. After all baking is all about measuring to the T. The advice is heeded by most and it’s a pleasure to see some very talented baker’s in my class. Each session of the bakery practical covers various hands on methods of Bread making, Various Cakes & Pastries and Desserts.

Teaching is indeed a rewarding profession. The reward is more emotional, especially when your students excel and create exceptional work.

School’s out and I’m on a month’s summer break now. This morning I managed to take a quick peek into my blog account after ages. I have been meaning to share my favourite to go  recipe for an easy and decadent Chocolate Gateaux smothered with  an equally rich and creamy Chocolate ganache, dusted with chocolate shavings and garnished with fresh raspberries. an absolute  show stopper and perfect for summer entertaining.

Hope you all are having a wonderful summer.

Chocolate Gateaux with Ganache Frosting (Serves 8)
INGREDIENTS:
• 2 cups sugar
• 1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour ( 218 grams)
• 3/4 cup Cocoa (96 grams)
• 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
• 1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 2 eggs
• 1 cup milk
• 1/2 cup vegetable oil
• 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
• 1 cup boiling water 

Directions:
1. Heat oven to 180 C. Grease and flour one 9 inch round baking pan.
2. Sift flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Then stir in the s
ugar. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin). Pour batter into prepared pans.
3. 3 Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely.
4. Divide the cake into two halves using a very sharp knife.
5. Frost with chocolate ganache. Dust with some chocolate shavings and garnish with fresh raspberries.


FOR THE GANACHE:
• 250 grams(9 ounces) semi-sweet chocolate chips
• ½ cup water
• ¾ cup butter
1. Place the chocolate chips and water in a small saucepan .Now place this saucepan over a pan filled with water and place on medium heat .Keep stirring till all the chocolate melts.
2. Once the chocolate has melted. Keep aside from fire.
3. Cut the butter into small pieces and whisk into the melted chocolate till completely incorporated.

Give Us Today Our Daily Bread: Easy Spelt Loaf

Spelt watermark

 

The smell of good bread baking, like the sound of lightly flowing water, is indescribable in its evocation of innocence and delight…

Bread Making is one of those almost hypnotic businesses, like a dance from some ancient ceremony. It leaves you filled with one of the world’s sweetest smells… there is no chiropractic treatment, no Yoga exercise, no hour of
meditation in a music-throbbing chapel. that will leave you emptier of bad thoughts than this homely ceremony of making bread.”
M.F.K.Fisher, The Art Of Eating

 

And I couldn’t agree more.  I absolutely love bread making. For me the entire process is one of the most satisfying experiences in my kitchen. Right from kneading the dough (which I must admit I love doing with my hands) to knocking it down,letting it rest and baking it.Gentle bread aromas wafting through the house as I wait impatiently for my loaf to turn into that wonderful golden brown. A perfectly made loaf for me is a euphoric sense of accomplishment and gratification.Now it’s another story how antsy one gets  once the bread has been baked, as I just can’t wait long enough for it to cool and devourer it.

I had some Spelt flour which I had picked up on a trip to Dubai last year and had been wanting to experiment with this ever since.

Some Facts about Spelt:

Now mind you this grain is not gluten-free as it a form of  ancient wheat, all though the gluten content is lower and hence better tolerated by those who are gluten sensitive (This is my own opinion as I do have Gluten Sensitivity)

Packed with nutrients,this grain is much in demand and is making a huge comeback.Spelt has high water solubility, so nutrients are easily absorbed by the body making it easy to digest. It is high in protein (significantly higher than wheat), higher in B complex vitamins, and spelt is high in both simple and complex carbohydrates. Spelt’s nutty flavor doesn’t just taste good, it has so many other nutritional benefits that are amazingly good for you.

TIP WHILE KNEADING SPELT DOUGH:

The gluten in Spelt is pretty unusual, while wheat flour that needs a lot of kneading to strengthen gluten to give bread structure, the gluten in spelt breaks down fairly easily. So just make sure not to over knead this flour.

Well enough said about Spelt flour and now for the recipe for this wonderful Bread. Please do try it out. I have made this a couple of times now, with some not so great results. This time however it came out just perfect.

Go ahead and bake some ,I’m quite glad I experimented with Spelt flour.

 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 500 grams Spelt flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon  Active dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 300 ml Luke warm water
  • 1 tablespoon Olive oil
  • Pumpkin seeds(optional)

METHOD:

  1. Pre heat  the oven to 200 C
  2. Activate the yeast by mixing it in about 100 ml water and the sugar.
  3. Once the yeast is activated mix the spelt flour, yeast, salt and remaining water and make it into a smooth dough .I like to use my hands. Please do ahead and do this in a mixer with the kneading attachment.
  4. The dough will be soggy so you could add a little more oil and mix till smooth.
  5. Place this in a glass bowl and cover with a damp cloth. Let this rest for about an hour.
  6. The dough will have doubled in size within the hour.
  7. Knock down the dough.
  8. Now place this dough in a bread tin that has been lightly greased.
  9. Make deep cuts on the surface of the dough.
  10. Cover again with a damp cloth and let this rest for another hour.
  11. Sprinkle with some flour and bake in a pre-heated oven for about 34-40 minutes.
  12. Remove from the tin when done and place on a wire rack to cool.

Happy Baking dear friends!

Salads and More

I have been looking at doing a Salad roundup on my blog for ever so long.Well here it is! These are an assortment of my absolute favourite ones. With ingredients like Beets,Olives,Cheese,Chicken,Corn and an assortment of Shredded Cabbage and yes Minced Chicken too,these recipes are sure to complement any dinner table. They  are an absolute delight served as  main course salads,that work great on  week-nights with grilled meats or fish or perhaps  just as is with some soup.Our family for one enjoy’s a good hearty salad with every meal.

Salad collage

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