Various restaurants in the city and capital have decided to take the plunge and enter the world of fine dining. Restaurateurs have realised that patrons seem willing to shell out a bit more for their food, if the experience is grander, the cuisine authentic and the ingredients richer, finds Moeena Halim.
Good food is to festivals what butter is to a good bake. Both are incomplete without the presence of another. With the season of giving just two days away, we help set up a good spread.
"Since Christmas falls during winter across the globe, most X'mas specific dishes are spiked with warming spices. They revolve around heart-warming bakes, desserts and anything that makes your house smell yummy," says home baker Smita Kinny from Navi Mumbai. According to her, Christmas is the time to catch up with family, so dishes such as cookies, pies and snacks that can be made beforehand provide respite from toiling all day in the kitchen.
Apart from good food, sharing gifts is also an integral part of this festival. "In order to save some money and win a few wows from your guests, this year I highly recommend making your own gourmet gifts at home," says Kiran Salaskar from Country of Origin, a gourmet bakery and store at Nepean Sea Road. To aid that, Salaskar has stocked up his X'mas ladder with a lot of DIY bakery mixes that one can just whip and bake at home. We get him and three other chefs to help us make merry.
(Recipe by home baker Smita Kinny)
12 egg yolks
5 whole cloves
750 ml milk
500 ml cream
400 gm sugar
10 ml vanilla essence
1 tsp cinnamon powder
3/4 tsp nutmeg powder
>> In a saucepan, heat milk over low flame. Add cinnamon, cloves and vanilla essence to it and mix well.
>> Heat for a few minutes and remove from flame just before the liquid begins to boil.
>> In a separate bowl, mix sugar with egg yolk and beat until the mixture turns light and fluffy.
>> Add warm milk to this and continue whisking to prevent curdling. Transfer this mixture into the saucepan and heat over medium flame until it attains a thick, custard-like consistency.
>> Strain the liquid using a fine sieve and pour it into a jug. Allow it to cool down in a refrigerator for a few hours.
>> Add cream and nutmeg powder to this and mix well. Pour it into serving glasses and chill further for eight to nine hours.
>> Garnish the glasses with nutmeg and cinnamon powder before serving it cold.
Ginger Bread Cookies
(Recipe by Chef Javed Merchant from Novotel Mumbai)
480 gm honey
360 gm sugar
30 gm ginger mixed spice (available in local supermarkets)
2 gm cinnamon powder
1200 gm refined flour
100 gm egg white
50 gm sugar
>> In a vessel, heat sugar and add honey to it. Stir the mixture until the sugar dissolves evenly and allow it to cool down thoroughly.
>> In a bowl, whisk egg white until it foams up and soft peaks begin to appear.
>> In another bowl, add flour to the mixed spice and the honey-sugar concoction. Once it is mixed properly, add egg foam.
>> Once the dough comes together, let it rest overnight in a cool place.
>> Roll out the dough into a 5 mm thick slab. Use a cookie cutter and press desired shapes onto it.
>> Glaze it with egg wash using a pastry brush and bake it at 180 degree Celsius for 10 to 12 minutes or until light brown and crispy.
>> Serve the cookies hot or stock it in air-tight containers.
(Recipe by Chef Alain Coumont from Le Pain Quotidien)
Ingredients for the pie shells:
60 gm butter
195 gm flour
2 gm salt
4 Tbsp water
Ingredients for the filling:
195 gm raisins
1 kg apple (chopped)
30 gm mix peel (available at local super market)
4 Tbsp orange juice
2 1/2 Tbsp apple juice
120 gm white sugar
2 gm cinnamon powder
2 gm cloves
20 gm crackers
>> In a bowl, mix butter with flour and salt with a fork until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs
>> Add water one spoon at a time and keep mixing until the dough holds together. Bind it well and transfer it on to a floured surface
>> Pat the dough into a circular mass and roll out into a 10-inch circle. Invert the sheet on a pie dish and adjust it gently with your fingertips
>> In a vessel, mix raisins, apples, mixed peel, orange juice, apple juice, white sugar, cinnamon powder, cloves and crackers. Heat the mixture on medium for 15 minutes or until the apples have softened. Remove from flame and allow it
>> In another bowl, make the pie topping by mixing white sugar with flour, butter and crackers. Mix all the ingredients gently with your fingertips until they resemble breadcrumbs
>> Pour the pie filling into the pie shell and top it with the topping. Bake it in a pre-heated oven for 30 minutes at 350 degree celsius
>> Allow it to cool thoroughly before serving
DIY Gourmet Gifts
Apart from preparing a lavish spread, gourmet giveaways will win you extra points. Kiran Salaskar shares some DIY gifting ideas
>> Melt all the chocolates together in a microwave or a double boiler and mix well
>> Place your spoon in a silicon mould and pour hot chocolate on it
>> Let the chocolate set in a freezer and de-mould it
Place the spoon in a mug and pour hot milk on it. Keep stirring until the chocolate melts. Drink up!
Salted Caramel Sauce
Things you will need:
50 gm demerara sugar
50 gm salted butter
100 gm heavy cream
A pinch of fleur de sel or sea salt
1 sterilized wide-mouthed jar
>> Empty sugar in an even layer at the bottom of a clean, dry vessel. Heat it over medium heat and allow it to melt.
>> Gently stir the sugar around with a spoon to hasten the melting process. Once it begins to melt, turn the heat down.
>> When it turns golden brown, add butter and salt to this and stir well. Take the vessel off the flame and pour cream into it. This will make the caramel bubble.
>> Mix well and allow it to cool The mixture will thicken. Once done, transfer it into the jar and gift.
Basil-infused olive oil
Things you will need:
4 packets of fresh basil leaves
2 cups extra virgin olive oil
1 sterilized bottle
>> Puree the basil leaves in a blender and set aside. In a saucepan, simmer olive oil and add basil puree to it.
>> Cook for 45 seconds over medium heat and remove from fire. Let the mixture sit for a few hours. Strain the basil leaf molasses out and pour it into the sterilised bottle.
Mix oil with spices to rub on meats before roasting or drizzle it on your salads
Joy to the world
The festive season is here and nothing spells joy better than a good Christmas feast. Here are some options in the city that will allow you to pull out those Santa pants (no one needs to know you're not going to dole out gifts at a mall)
Feast at Silver Beach Café and you'll leave with a sock which could contain any one of their different gift cards, including Restaurant Gift Cards, discounts on your cheque, free desserts to share, complimentary cocktails or mock tails or even a bottle of house wine to take home. At: Silver Beach Cafe, Jaldarshan Building, near Hare Rama Hare Krishna Temple, Gandhi Gram Road, Juhu On: December 25 Call: 26208930
Bandra's Corniche introduces a dark, milk and white chocolate layered mousse with a crunchy biscuitty cup filled with fresh fruits and cream that just melts in your mouth -- ideal for Christmas. At: Corniche, B-15, Gagangiri CHS, Carter Road, Bandra West Call: 26460147
Yogurtbay has introduced a variety of toppings. The main attraction this season, however, are the healthy Cake Popsicles -- a brand new yogurt topping. You could also choose some Christmas delights as toppings, such as apple cider cake crumbs, brandy schnap tulles, vanilla tulles and marzipan candy canes. At: Yogurtbay, 11 Gagangiri, off Carter Rd, Bandra West Call: 67650385
Make merry at mod
Go donutty with MOD's Xmas Xcites range, which includes specially crafted donuts, and a box of 18 Donut Bites with a unique combination of flavours. At: All MOD outlets in the city Log onto: www.madoverdonuts.com
The seafood speciality restaurant Pebbles is offering a special menu this holiday season. You can sample the ambrosial turkey, Christmas pudding and unlimited Fratelli wine at their Christmas buffet for Rs 999. At: Pebbles, Crystal Plaza, no A 10, New Link Road, Andheri West On: December 23-25 Call: 26208930