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.

A Morning with George Calombaris and a Recipe or two

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I received a PR invite a couple of weeks ago to  Bloomie’s kitchen.The event was a cooking demo and a book signing by none other than the Australian chef ,restaurateur and television personality best known as the judge on the cooking competition, Masterchef Australia,George Calombaris.”Kindly RSVP at the earliest”,said the email.Now having watched him a million times over on TV ,judging young kids on Junior Masterchef,it was an opportunity that I certainly didn’t want to miss.Well,”Most certainly yes”, was my response back to the PR invite.I would be delighted to watch this maestro in action.While I was excited that he would be cooking up a storm ,it was also my opportunity to pick up his cook book Georgie Porgie and of course get photographed with him.Call it my fan-girl moment if you wish!

 

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kitchen collage 1

The stage was set amidst the wonderful kitchen arena of Bloomingdale’s at the Dubai mall, hosted by  Bloomie’s kitchen.I arrived early and got browsing around  the store. I personally love shopping for my kitchen stuff here. I’ve  been eyeing the Le Creuset cookware  range for quite some time  now and perhaps my Kitchen aid too which has been on the wish list for over a year.Well I did receive a surprise voucher from the wonderful hosts at Bloomingdales, which I used to buy my copy of the book.

The bonus of arriving early is that I managed to grab a seat right up at the front,I for one wanted to watch him up close and personal.It’s 11am and he arrives on the dot.I’m excited to see him in person.He begins by talking about the show,his Greek  origins and about his various restaurants like The Press club.He was greeted with a huge round of applause  from the all those who had taken time off to see him in person.My first reaction was that he seemed to have lost a staggering amount of weight, and looking quite suave in his new look.Good on you Georgie!

He’s fabulous already.Quite charming,funny and a dynamic personality in person as much as his screen presence commands.

George then commences the cooking demonstration for the guests that are waiting quite patiently for his magic touch.He started the cook off  with a wonderful and simple Watermelon and Feta salad,which seemed easy tp put together,with an amazing twist.This salad had an addition of the watermelon rind which was cooked in balsamic vinegar and added to the salad.We sampled this and it was just very refreshing in flavor.This was served with lamb lady fingers that he effortlessly made.Both these recipes are as follows.

I was impressed with George’s presence and they way he interacted with the audience.It was a very interactive session where the audience was encouraged to throw in questions while the Chef and his team cooked up a storm.

He then went on to show us Ravioli making from scratch with a delightful filling made up of Ricotta date and mint .The Ravioli was plated on a bed of Pumpkin Puree and drizzled with Olive oil.This was a winning recipe.The demo finished off with a wonderful Spiced Milk fizz with smoked strawberries.

A wonderful couple of hours watching George cook and sampling some wonderful dishes, was a indeed a morning well spent.And now the moment I’ve been waiting for.The book signing and a photo opportunity with him.I excitedly had over my phone to the wonderful staff at Bloomingdale’s asking them to take a couple at least.The moment arrives and I thank his for an exciting morning and go on to tell him about my own experience of teaching and inspiring young kids to cook. He affectionately puts his arms around me and that is one Kodak moment for me!Quite thrilled with the series of events that morning,my book  autographed by him,I leave in awe of this very impressionable personality.

 

 

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Watermelon Salad with Lamb Lady Fingers:(Serves 8)

Ingredients;

  • 600g seedless watermelon cut into cubes
  • 100g watermelon rind(green and skin removed)
  • 100g Balsamic Vinegar
  • 100g Crumbled feta
  • 1/4 bunch mint
  • 40g Olive Oil

Directions:

  1. Place the watermelon rind and the vinegar in a pot and simmer.
  2. Simmer until the vinegar becomes a glaze and then place it in the fridge.
  3. Mix the reduced vinegar with oilve oil and reserve.
  4. Slice the rind in thin slices and set aside.
  5. To finish place 3 pieces of fresh watermelon into a serving bowl.
  6. Place the rind over the top of the watermelon then crumble some feta.
  7. Place a hot lamb lady finger next to it and drizzle with olive oil.

Lamb lady fingers:

Ingredients:

  • 5 Filo sheets
  • 200g melted butter
  • cooked lamb shoulder
  • 40g icing sugar

Directions:

  1. Cut the filo into 15cmX25cm strips and cover with a damp towel.
  2. Lay one sheet of filo out and brush with some melted butter.
  3. Place 15g of cooked lamb mix at one end of the filo.
  4. Roll the filo folding the ends in as you start to roll.
  5. you should end up in a cigar sized roll.
  6. Once rolled brush with some butter and place on a lined baking tray.
  7. Bake ina hot oven at 180C for about 10 minutes or till brown.
  8. Dust with Icing sugar and serve with the salad.The next was a Ricotta date and mint Ravioli.He demonstated the fine technique of making the Ravioli dough using a special Tipo 00 flour.The kitchen aid has a fabulous atatchemnet for pasta making which is just fantastic.Note to myself: Must buy that Pasta maker soon.The Ravioli was served to us on a bed of pureed pumpkin and drizzled with olive oil.This was just sublime and quite a creation! I have this recipe on my must do list.

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Ricotta Date and Mint Ravioli,Salt Bush Brown Butter:

For the Pasta:(Makes 16 Ravioli)

  • 100g’00’ Flour
  • 100g Semolina
  • 1 Egg whole
  • 55g egg yolks
  • 5g Olive oil
  • 1 egg whole 9for brushing pasta)

Directions:

  1. Place all the ingredients in a food processor and bled on high until the mixture resembles bread crumba.
  2. Put into a bowl and knead for atleast 2 minutes to form a smooth ball.
  3. Wrap in cling film and set aside for an hour.
  4. Cut the dough into 4 equal pieces.
  5. With the pasta machine roll the dough to the 2nd thinnest setting.
  6. Dust with semolina between each sheet and place on a damp towel over the pasta sheets.
  7. To make the ravioli lay 2 of the sheets of pasta on a bench dusted with a little semolina.
  8. Place 8x3o gof ricotta filling on each pasta sheet.
  9. With the other 2 sheets lay them out and cut 16 round pieces with an 8 inch cookie cutter.
  10. Brush the pastaaround filling with egg wash and place the cut out disk over the top of the filling.Cut out with 6cm cutter.
  11. Seal the edges of the pasta well by crimping with your fingers,repeat until all the filling has been covered.
  12. Place the cut out pasta on a tray dusted with semolina flour.

Ricotta Filling:(16 Ravioli)

Ingredients:

  • 1 white onion peeled and diced
  • 2 cloves garlic crushed
  • 1/4 bunch mint
  • 50g butter
  • 50g Olive oil
  • 100g dates
  • 300g Ricotta cheese
  • 60g Bread crumbs
  • 2 egg Yolk
  • 3g Mechlebe
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  • Heat a medium sized saucepan on medium heat and melt the butter.
  • Add the olive oil and saute the onions,garlic dates and breadcrumbs.
  • Let the mixture cool to room temperature,then mix in the Ricotta ,mint,egg yolks and season with mechlebe,salt and pepper.
  • Once at room temperature divide into 30-35g balls.

 

The above recipes have been provided by Bloomie’s Kitchen as a part of the demonstration by George Calombaris.

Crescendo: Premium Vinegars & Oils

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I was recently invited for the official launch of Crescendo,one of Germany’s largest retail franchises.They specialize in a wide range of premium quality Vinegar, Oils and a great selection of spices and herbs sourced from all over the globe.

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The afternoon spent at Crescendo was indeed a very informative one. Kaspars Vendelis Crescendo’s in-house Good taste consultant educated us on a variety of uses and benefits of the various Oils and Vinegar in store. The range is fairly unique and can be adapted into various cuisines as well.

The Vinegar range from the Classic to Balsamic Aceto Balsamico and the wonderful Balsamic Crème varieties. We sampled some great varieties such as Raspberry vinegar,Date vinegar and Kalamansi vinegar.It was interesting to learn that the Crème vinegar have a higher percentage of fruit which makes the flavor more powerful. The blueberry vinegar was indeed a winner for me…and any wonder it has been awarded a three star rating by the International Taste and Quality Institute.

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We then went onto sampling a variety of Oils. These were classified as Extra Virgin Olive Oils, Nut Oils,Seed oils ,Infused Oils and wellness oils.A great tip shared by Kaspers was the anti aging oil mix. This is a combination of Argan oil,grape oil and walnut oil.Furthermore wheat germ oil has some great healing properties especially for damaged skin as it has a high content of vitamin E.

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Crescendo stocks a great range of International spices as well. They are quite a unique  blend and have over 90 different varieties to choose from.

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The session ended with a live cooking demo by Kaspers. Just as well as after having sampled an array of vinegar and Oils it was interesting to see how these could be used in cooking as well.

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A recipe for Chicken Liver with Raspberries:

  • Chicken Liver
  • Raspberries
  • Quail eggs
  • Mixed salad leaves
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Sesame seeds
  • Hazelnut Oil
  • Raspberry Balsamic vinegar

Directions:

  1. Boil quail eggs and put aside.
  2. Clean and cut the chicken liver into bite size pieces.
  3. Put the liver in a bowl and marinate with raspberry vinegar for 20 minutes,pat dry and roast on a hot pan.
  4. On plates assemble mixed salad leaves with cucumbers and tomatoes with raspberry vinegar and hazelnut oil.
  5. Arrange the chicken liver over the salad leaves and top with the quail eggs.

Great ways to use Oils and Vinegar in your everyday cooking.

What more their bottles come beautifully packaged in elegant bottles and would certainly make great gifts. Do visit them soon.

Crescendo is located in the Souk Madinat Jumeirah on the main level next to Patchi.

Pizza making at Pantry Cafe

Pantry Café a wonderful modern dining & open kitchen  concept opened it’s door’s a couple of months ago. Having read Foodiva’s review I had explored this place over breakfast and a brunch a couple of times. This café has a lovely rustic-chic feel to it. The menu apart from the wide  array of sandwiches, soups ,salads has  the most delightful cheese platters and some great steaks too.. And of course their wood oven Pizzas.

I had read all about its live Pizzeria and the wonderful wood oven Pizza’s though had yet to try some. It was marked down on my “To Eat” list for my next trip to Pantry Café.

Well I was quite naturally excited on getting a blogger’s invite for a Pizza making demo and decided to go along and see this happen live.

On arriving we were warmly greeted by the lovely Owner who was very enthusiastic about the afternoon session. She then introduced us to the man behind stove or in this case the wood oven –Chef Dominico from Naples.

Intro owner

The demo started off with the chef explaining to us about the key steps in the Pizza making process. In this case it’s the Italian Tipo 00 Pizza flour that creates their wonderful thin crust pizza’s. This is available at the pantry café for those of you who may wish to experiment with some pizza making in your kitchens. The café also retails various other products ranging from Oils,vinegar,pasta sauces & cheeses.

Sauces

 

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We sampled four varieties of Pizza’s that afternoon.
 Classic Margherita
Spicy Diavalo with Wagyu Pepperoni, Mushrooms & cherry tomatoes
Genovese with a pesto base and topped with Mushrooms & Arugula
Pizza Bianca

As for me the Pizza Bianca was a winner…Truffle Brie, Mushrooms, Roasted garlic & Arugula…Absolutely divine!

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Thank you Pantry café for a wonderful afternoon.

Do visit Pantry café:
 Located at: Al Wasl Square Al Hadeeqa Street Jumeirah
Contact: Tele: 009714-3883868
E-mail: info@pantrycafe.ae
Open for Breakfast,Lunch & Dinner

Pizza Recipes as shared by Chef Dominico Pantry café.

Classic Pizza Margherita

The traditional Margherita pizza is a simple pizza that relies on the basic ingredients to make a great pizza-Italian Tippo Flour, San Marzano Tomatoes, fresh Mozzarella,olive oil,and fresh Basil .There are three official variants. Pizza Marinara which is made with tomatoes,garlic,oregano,and extra virgin oil. Pizza Margeherita,made from tomatoes, sliced mozzarella, basil, and extra virgin olive oil and Pizza Bianca, a white base with fresh mozzarella ,garlic, oregano,sea salt and extra virgin olive oil.

Pizza Dough Recipe

1kg Caputo Tipo 00 Flour

1/2 liter of water

1 tablespoon salt

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon sunflower oil

1 teaspoon brown sugar

1/2 tablespoon fresh yeast

Pour water into a mixing bowl. Add Oil, salt, sugar and yeast and mix well. Then slowly keep adding the flour until all the water has been absorbed and continue to mix all the ingredients for the dough by hand and knead well for about 10 minutes. when done,divide the dough into smaller balls and cover with a wet muslin cloth and let it rest for 12 hours.

Pizza Sauce Recipe

500 grams San Marzano tomato sauce

1 1/2 tablespoon salt

3 tablespoons oil

1 teaspoon white sugar

50 gr. fresh basil

You can use canned San Marzano tomatoes to create a wonderful and simple pizza tomato sauce. Mix all the ingredients for the sauce together and blend using a hand mixer.If you are using a brick oven, you should not cook the sauce. The hot oven will cook the sauce perfectly. If you are using a convectional oven you can cook the sauce for 3 minutes.

Basic Pizza Margherita

3 tablespoons tomato sauce

5 grams Parmiggiano Reggiano

40 grams fresh mozzarella

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

5-6 whole basil leaves for garnish

Preheat the oven to 240 Knock back the dough balls by punching it to remove air and roll each dough out on a floured surface until you have very thin, 25cms-diameter pizza bases.

Spread the tomato sauce over pizza bases leaving a 2cm border. Divide the mozzarella between the bases, then scatter the Parmiggiano  Reggiano .Drizzle with olive oil and bake for 8-10 minutes until the cheese has melted and the pizza bases are crisp and lightly golden around the edges..

Drizzle the pizzas with a little more olive oil, garnish with small basil leaves then serve immediately.

This is just the start .Once you master a perfect pizza margherita, you can vary it by adding an endless possibilities of ingredients. Below is a simple guide to assist you in selecting the right ingredients for the different pizza variants however,remember there are no hard and fast rules.

Margherita & Marinara

Porcini mushrooms

Grilled eggplant, tomato and basil

Grille eggplant, tomato, arugula, capers and anchovies

Arugula and grilled onions

Al Mare- clams, mussels and prawns

Four seasons: artichokes, mushrooms, olive and turkey ham

Turkey ham, Wagyu pepperoni, Wagyu ground beef, button mushrooms & cherry tomatoes.

Bianca

Roast potato, rosemary and Percorino

Mushroom, leek, tomato and slivered Parmesan

Pesto, oil and tomato

Smoked salmon and Brie

Mushroom and Brie

Artichoke and Brie

Four cheese: mozzarella, Percorino, parmesan and Gorgonzola

Olive,grilled onions and anchovies

Truffle Brie, mushrooms, roasted garlic, arugula

You may also like to read a fellow bloggers review of Pantry café Pizza making at :

www.coffeecakesandrunning.net

www.mymouthisfull

DISCLAIMER: I was invited to Pantry café for the Pizza making session and all views expressed on this blog post are solely my own.