Arhaan 8 years old

Dear Arhaan

Woohoo! You are going to be 8. It has always been a magical number for me for many idiotic reasons. I remember I was 6 when I made my first sarcastic comment – I hadn’t done well in Maths and while getting scolded I just said “ It’s just a test – It isn’t as if the heavens fell down!” Needless to say your grandparents were left speechless and I was given the royal ticking off once they recovered. By 8, I was a regular sarcastic comment generator.

Arhaan Chetna
Arhaan

Another idiotic thing that made 8 magical was Kuch Kuch Hota Hai – yeah yeah I know I’ve been hounding you about it but picture this – I have always known I wanted to be a Mom. Career, education etc yes, but being a Mom was also always something I wanted to be. So imagine how impressed I was when i watched that movie and this girl who just turns 8 gets this weird letter from her dead mom asking her to reunite her dad and his supposed first love – and the girl did It! For me that was the definition of turning 8 – my saracasm and the weird maturity displayed by the girl in Kuch Kuch Hota Hai.

Well, half job is done cos baby you are one sarcastic devil – thankfully not all the time;) Maturity, adjusting the fact that you are a boy we can leave off for  a couple of more years..lol.

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But this letter – this letter was something that movie inspired and I’ve got to write it.

I remember the day you were born so clearly – I was a clueless nut who thought she had this figured out – oh baby I was I wrong. I used to think work was hard and babies were a breeze – what an idiot!

You haven’t seen the corporate zombie that I was before I had you – up at 6.45 come hell or high water, dressed and out by 8 – worked all day like as boss to come home at 7. It seems like a lifetime away. You see me now – there are days I just change from day pajamas to night ones and I’m sure you wonder what is wrong with me. You see 8 years ago when I had you I became so lost in the wonder that was you that I left everything behind – I saw no point in dressing up just for you when all you wanted was a soft cuddly Mom. I went through a  weird clothes phase when I started working again and I had just about settled to the thought of being a Mom and a woman when your baby brother hit me hard.

 

I love you both to bits and I wouldn’t change a thing, but sometimes I do wonder if I had given less of who I was into being a Mom would things have been different. We’ll  never know now shall we!

Yesterday, at lunch when u were telling me the crazy stories behind Phasma , I remembered each of you phases – babbling on your first birthday, Pooh on your second, Mickey and Cars on the 3rd, toy story on the 4th, the ocean on the 5th, Baymax on the 6th and the Marvel Comics on the 7th. This last year you have dissected Star Wars and Harry Potter and you have grown into this beautiful person who stops dancing in a party to go and sit with a friend who isn’t feeling well. The friend was a girl – but I hope you would do it for a boy too.

I see so much of me in you – it fills me up but it also makes me want to tell you to not be this way- I’ve learnt that the hard way you see. But then the toughest part of my job is to let you learn your own lessons and to watch that shape you into who you will be – and no matter what, I will always be proud of you ( just please remember the no violent crimes or terrorism clause).

I worry no end – like yesterday when we were talking about taxi drivers and you were adamant about not being one- all I want you to learn is there is immense dignity in every honest labour – no matter what it is. And a person who isn’t afraid to do everything it takes will never fail in life.

So go out there my darling,  and be the person you will be – I know you will be awesome! You boys are my biggest dreams and I know you shall shine bright – or even if you want gleam in subtlety that’s fine with me – just be content and confident and my job will be done well!

 

Love,

Mama

Follow Chetna at MiXStudio

 

Chetna & Arhaan
Arhaan & Chetna

Edible Flowers of India it’s characteristics and availability

Thanks

Manav Paul's Blog

MiXStudio uses edible flowers of India during catering events

My catering blog has an article that talks about food plating and its functions and what’s frivolous. Very little in India consumerism has been exposed on edible flowers,  they are fairly underestimated and somehow carrots or tomatoes are disguised as flowers that’s my take on frivolousness. Especially when there are so many pretty looking colors that translate into even more beautiful flavors than just a flower that tastes like a tomato!

Especially in pre-plated catering while I move to cities my first task gets to who will be my edible flower suppliers and are they available in Goa? If not should I travel with them?? Delhi and Mumbai are easy to source and usually make for great locations that enable me to make a pretty looking canvases out of these beauties.

flowers-1168313_1280 Edible Wild Flowers

Allium

is from the family of leeks…

View original post 1,155 more words

Edible Flowers of India it’s characteristics and availability

MiXStudio uses edible flowers of India during catering events

My catering blog has an article that talks about food plating and its functions and what’s frivolous. Very little in India consumerism has been exposed on edible flowers,  they are fairly underestimated and somehow carrots or tomatoes are disguised as flowers that’s my take on frivolousness. Especially when there are so many pretty looking colors that translate into even more beautiful flavors than just a flower that tastes like a tomato!

Especially in pre-plated catering while I move to cities my first task gets to who will be my edible flower suppliers and are they available in Goa? If not should I travel with them?? Delhi and Mumbai are easy to source and usually make for great locations that enable me to make a pretty looking canvases out of these beauties.

flowers-1168313_1280
Edible Wild Flowers

 

Allium

is from the family of leeks, chives, garlic, garlic chives are edible and flavorful!
from the family of garlic, chives have a sweet oniony – garlic flavour mostly white, either strong or flavorful.

Angelica

Beautiful colours that are lavender to blue or deep purple rose, i find the flavouring more like fennel but most document that as licorice,  these are difficult to source
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Arugula Flowers – Image source

Anise hyssop

Again these flowers have subtle anise to licorice flavour.(Not seen them here), but you can see them here

Arugula

Available here if the suppliers are told to, pretty white coloured flowers with a peppery flavour just like its leaves, usually with dark brown to black veins running from the centre, they can white, yellow or even purple.

Basil

Most easily available in Delhi & probably the most overused by me during catering events, they make for a great pizza to pasta garnish and also a great companion for steamed fish. Colour ranges from whitish to pinkish lavender, the flavour of these leaves make for a lot milder companion and does better for light flavoured fish…  Have a look at some arrangements here for them

Borage

They taste like cucumber, never seen them here, never tasted them. But the flavours sound interesting! I want to use it for savoury mild flavoured burgers made of fine quality Japanese yellow fin Tuna! Black Sesame burgers!! This is my bucket list flower

Calendula / marigold

Best flower for easy supplies, Calendula blossoms are tangy, peppery,  and spiced — and their vibrant golden color add a dash to any dish. Any wedding catering might just have them, decor guy use them. Grab a few and yes your plate colour is sorted.

Carnations / Dianthus

Be sure to remove the stalk of these flowers, The petals are sweet, but only when trimmed away from the base. The blossoms taste like their sweet, perfumed aromatic flavours. The only flower who’s flavour and aroma matches in tact.. They taste like flowers which is sweetish, unlike the other cousins like Arugula or onion flowers.

 Chamomile

Small pretty petals, more like daisies.. the flowers have a sweet flavor and are mostly found as a tea. Some can be allergic to Chamomile, so using this for large wedding may not be an option!
Chicory Flowers Natural Medicine Flower
Chicory flowers, Image Source

Chicory

Available easily around the South of India, with mildly bitter coffee like flavour,  earthy flavours of chicory is evident in the petals and buds, which can be pickled, my other favorite hobby.. Curing – the function of making flavours more intense than normal or less dense than desired.

Chrysanthemum

Again the local flower shop in most metros can provide you for them. A little bitter, Chrysanthemums come in a rainbow of colors and a range of flavors range from peppery to pungent. Use only the petals. They make for a great colour contrast on

Cilantro (Coriander in India)

You all must have seen the shoots of flowers… Like the leaves, people either love the blossoms or hate them. I’m not that particularly fond of them.. The flowers share the grassy flavor of the herb. Use them fresh as they lose flavours  when heated.

Citrus (orange, lemon, lime, grapefruit, kumquat)

Can be sourced from Nagpur and some regions of Himachal. Reminds me of a dear friend who makes the most beautiful Orange Liqueur from Nagpur oranges, Desmond Nazareth , I’ve used them for desserts in Goa & always carried a few bottles too Delhi. Citrus blossoms are sweet and highly aromatic, with bitter undertones. Use Desmondji frugally or they will over-power a dish or dessert..

Dandelion

Not seen them in India would love to Source them some day! You can contact me here if you have any idea
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Dill Flowers – Image Source

Dill

Yellow dill flowers taste much like the leaves itself, use discreetly, it has a strong aroma not many like!

 English Daisy

Probably the best looking petals, & probably not the best tasting petals  — they are mildly bitter — so using them for sweet Indian desserts can off set the bitter flavours

Fennel

Fennel flowers are yellow, sweet flavored like its leaves or seeds, just like the herb and with very cute looks, they’d do best with cottage cheese or a poached fish..

Fuchsia

They can give a subtle punch of acidity towards cheese Tangy fuchsia flowers make a beautiful garnish. Add them to any dish to add a mild acidic flavor, however getting them here in India is a challenge, unless of course your best catering client allows you to fly them in 🙂 Anybody listening?

Hibiscus

Arguably the most common flower in any Indian garden, seen them every where in gardens, societies, also known as the shoe flower.  Used in hibiscus tea, or pickled as jam in the north-east, much like a similar bengali paanch phoron, a tempering masala.

Jasmine

Again, extremely easily available in India and widely used by wedding decorators. These excessively fragrant buds are commonly are used in tea & Indian desserts. I’d personally want to cure them in sweet salty brine and bring in some latent flavours and not let them overpower the dish. Use Jasmine not only for decoration but also as garnish by the best caterers 😉

Lavender

My personal favorite, just how I like my women, Spicy sweet and well perfumed,  these flowers are a great addition to both savory and sweet dishes. Great looks and oomph of characters. The aroma presence so great, it can never go unnoticed on any occasion. The best part is, people or flowers of such character just add up to your brand image.

Mint

A cool breeze of wind is what they are  These beauties are magic!  minimally fragrant & minty. Their intensity varies and spearmint flowers are the best, these can be used in garnishing spring rolls, here an article on how to do t

Nasturtium

A sweet rosy & similar to arugula also the most popular edible flower, nasturtium blossoms are brilliantly colored with a sweet floral flavor. Their seed pod is sweet and spicy  too. Nasturtium flowers can be stuffed, leaves added to salads, pickle their seed buds, and garnish anything you like with it. They will bloom perfectly in Delhi winters, luckily my township gardeners chose them and I can always pluck a few of these!

sg121105_nasturtium
Nasturtium Flowers & Leaves Image Source

Rose

Darker the petals, more intense the flavors, the most easily available flower across India, most recognized and well used in Muslim and Mughlai cuisines. Jam’s and drink garnish and of course we all remember Rooh Afza, equally loved and hated by many!

Squash and pumpkin

They can be cooked and used in Bengali and north-east cuisine, they can even be fried.  The stamen of these flowers need to be excluded before use. They add a good flavor to pumpkin with its leaves and flowers. I remember eating them this way and probably with fish head

 Sunflower

Sunflower petals need to be cooked before use and usually the budding flowers are steamed.

The Crispiest Fries…

French fries

A soggy fry is a sad fry. In fact, it probably shouldn’t even be called a “fry.” Make sure the next time you cook a batch they’re crispy—really crispy.

As I mentioned in my last blog, for recipes you have Google..

For techniques lets get busy… I am assuming you know what fries are made of.. if not Google it…

Simple and easy rules:

Choice of potatoes, make sure they are large not so new, and not so sweet. Higher the starch, higher the darkness to them sweeter they are.

Use a mandolin to get even sized evenly cooked fries.

Another  trick is to blanch the fries in water, then freeze them, which allows more of the potato’s moisture to escape, thus producing a crispier fry.

And generally speaking,  fry the French fries twice — once at a lower temperature to cook the inside of the fry,

Freeze them,,,

And then a second time at a higher temperature to brown the exterior.
As you can see, there’s a lot of steps involved &  there is no short cut 😉

Now, this shouldn’t discourage you from trying to make French fries. But it should give you an idea of why restaurant fries tend to be more crispy. However, if you use the proper technique, you can still definitely make delicious, crispy French fries at home.

PS:

  • Potatoes must be cold in order to make amazing fries
  • If you want to pre-soak the potatoes to get rid of starch, sometimes it’s fun to dump a ton of salt into ice water to make them extra salty
  • Fried fries hate water. Keep them in a paper bag after you cook them and they will stay crispier longer. (But only for a few minutes usually.)
  • The more regular the volume of the potato cuts are, the more evenly they will cook
  • Unrefined peanut oil has a smoke point of 162°C. Refined is 230°C
  • A heavy sauce pan will have a more even temperature.P
  • The oil temperature will drop a bunch when you add the fries. A thermometer will help you to keep a consistent temperature.

PPS: These are pointers and not necessarily in any order. I want you to understand the procedure and the concept of the food you are handling and its desired outcome for which the above pointers..

PPPS: Adding chopped garlic and parsley to fries with your salt creates another magic

Now use your instincts and let the magic begin…

Manav Paul now runs catering to fine events in Delhi Goa & Mumbai. He can also be reached on +

MiXStudio does modern Indian European and Asian cuisines

A hikers guide to tech & food!

modernist-cuisine

It’s been a while.. I’ve been thinking I should write.. What time better than now! Some suggested, some motivated, but no one criticised, so thank you all and I have started…

What should I write?..

Well for those who know me, it better be food or technology and for that matter anything and everything I love.. There is one thing common between all of them. That commonness is the love & passion for things I take into my hands.

If that had to be running a restaurant in Goa and having some of my role model chefs arriving unannounced to try (me) out 😉 Or just figuring out that a proof of concept done 5 years ago having a positive impact on everyday life.

Hence it was only the love or passion, not the qualifications, experience, academics or anything one expected you to have to dabble with technology or food. Two brilliant realities that are a part our daily lives but yet so different. Both involve art science and can have different result if the love is missing..

I am not exponentially capable, it was just the love of it…

Passion is the drunkenness of the mind!

So what do I blog for on technology: Just like anybody else, I will disseminate my opinions!

My love & hate for Mac & Android, my verdict on who should doom & who should live… Why Facebook has a new feature and why Windows still wants to compete in a space it never did well (the Internet) and maybe why this grossly huge animal called Google needs another disruptive technology to keep monopoly in check… Why is cloud computing, social marketing, data messaging so big and why is the world changing a bit faster than we realise…

Naah no more lame recipes, for that there is Google! I demonstrated techniques, some that worked some that failed, now that I am a bit away from cooking the brains a bit rusty.. But nothing just about nothing can stop me from cooking or writing or experimenting… As they say there is no love purer than the love for food.

When it comes to food, technology is changing this game too! Food is looked at a science more then an art and vice versa… the perfect blend wins… Its no more magic in hands but precision of measuring grams and Celsius, humidity… Though most of the times its the gut feel of instincts that tells me the fine line of what to omit and how much creativity to add.

I will stick to pointers that can improvise a general hobbyist turn into a better chef! I will do all what it takes to make everyone do what they love and not get trapped in some lame ass job and think my life sucks as I did few years ago…

This world needs happy people.. there is just about enough and everything of the rest.

Besides Life it too short for average food, may all average places perish one day.. May all those who love win!

May this inspire you in many different and better ways than you can imagine..

Manav Paul

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