I’ve been wanting to bake a ratatouille for a while now, and an opportunity presented itself last weekend. I’d decided to throw a small banquet on the occasion of my birthday, and had called a few friends over. Ratatouille was to be the first item on the menu— a super simple vegetarian starter.
The last week has been amongst the most stressful ones I’ve been through this year. It had started to reach a point where I felt like the stress was starting to have an actual, physical impact on me, making me listless and unwell, like I had a hangover, except with zero alcohol consumption.
The Pineapple Upside-down cake was never my favourite sort of cake. Most of the time it’d be dry or overtly sweet, and somehow, cooked pineapple was never something I was a really big fan of (case in point, Hawaiian pizzas). I do remember growing up with picture of this cake in magazines and cookbooks with its perfectly circular rings of pineapple with bright red cherries in the middle as a symbol of a ‘higher’ culinary artform that I never expected to achieve.
I’m always on the lookout for easy recipes that are quick to put together and cook up, while also being nutritious— a perfect workday meal. This recipe was a product of things I found in my fridge and pantry that I realised would work beautifully in a roast.
The average and sometime sub-par canteen and mess food of my college years often saw us venturing out to restaurants for a culinary break of sorts, where the dish that nearly everyone would most easily agree on ordering was Palak Paneer. When in doubt, order Palak Paneer.
Delhi carrots have been in season for a while, and one of the best things to do with them is to turn them into delicious Gajar halwa— a light (if prepared this way) and relatively healthy preparation for the winters. This is something I cook up more than twice a year, and have been working on a recipe that maximises its nutritive value (in providing adequate fibre, beta carotene and potassium).
Inertia and procrastination have kept me from posting here for a while now, but I plan to fix that this month. I’ve always wondered how many people out there actually read these posts; not just follow but actually read them. Then the other day I actually ran into someone at a party who has been a regular reader of both my blogs and I felt like I ought to get back to it, even if it were for a small group of people.
I’ve been looking for a recipe for a good boozy chocolate cake for a while now. Not the ones with a ‘hint’ of brandy or vodka or rum, but one that punches you in the face like a tequila shot (while not necessarily having to be tequila), while still being delicious enough to want to finish the rest of the slice that booze-punched you in the face.
I’ve been contemplating buying a deep fryer for the longest time, with a list of recipes to try out (samosas and super crisp French fries top this list). While I was researching samosas the other day I realised that one of the qualities that makes a samosa delicious is its explosively crunchy and super flaky crust, with the flavour of salt and ajwain within it.
Sometimes, I bake when I’m blue. As therapeutic as the exercise is, I think I enjoy baking and cooking as a celebration a lot more. I’ve had a pretty tough bunch of months in the recent past, and I thought I’d commemorate the (hopeful) end of this period (and the arrival of winter) with apple pie.
Many recipes (especially custards and lemon tarts) call for the use of multiple yolks, but most of these recipes aren’t thought through completely, and end up with large amounts of egg white that mostly have to be thrown away. Some people make egg white omelettes out of them, others find different uses, from thickening corn soup (Indian restaurant style), egg washes or even face masks.
I bought a bag of hazelnuts last month, and I’ve been looking for things to do with them ever since. I’d bookmarked this recipe for chocolate hazelnut biscotti a while back, but only recently did I realise that this recipe used ingredients (other than the hazelnuts) that would already be in the home of anyone who bakes.
Today is Onam. Though I’m not cooking up a hardcore Onam lunch, designed to knock the persons experiencing it into a food coma, I decided to make something that to me is symbolic of Kerala, and home (even though it might not be necessarily part of an Onam lunch). Coconut chutney is the ubiquitous component of almost every south Indian breakfast, whether it be served with idlis, dosas or even poha (they used to do this at the college canteen at CEPT, it was an oddly fantastic combination).
Almond biscotti is a deceptively simple thing to make. While you’re mixing up the batter, you’re thinking, “well, this is all very easy, it barely calls for any special technique or wrist action, hand skills or wild hand-eye coordination”. It starts getting complicated right after this. The initial assembly takes about half an hour, but at the end of a 134 baking minutes (a loose 150 counting the spaces between sticking things in the oven, taking them out and rearranging) I figured that this didn’t qualify for the “easy” category anymore.
Eggs are amongst the most versatile ingredients for a cook with a limited pantry, equipment and time. They form the perfect medium to suspend and assortment of vegetables, flavours and textures in while still packing the satisfying fullness of a proper meal (even though they’re usually only considered breakfast-worthy).
This is a strange transition month. Circumstances have rendered me homeless for exactly the month of August, and I’ve been relegated to a sort of frontier living. I have at my disposal one knife, one skillet and once saucepan, so everything I cook for the days ahead have to be worked out with this limited set of implements and utensils.
After recently discovering that soufflés aren’t as difficult a deal as they’re made out to be, I’ve been dying to try cooking up a savoury soufflé. In principle it’s just about combining two parts, a flavour base, which is usually a liquid concoction with milk, yolks and the main flavouring elements and an light airy part, usually made with egg whites whisked senseless.
I’ve never tasted a dish quite like this one before. It has a flavour profile quite unlike anything I’ve ever cooked or had at a restaurant. The sweet sourness of the plum (quite different from the sweet and sour of eastern flavours I’m more used to) melds with the umami richness of the meat in way that can’t be described with words.
My earliest memory of choux pastry is from college. We used to order up éclairs, because as impoverished students, the moderately priced chocolate éclair was just about within budget. The lightness of the pastry convinced me quite early that to make this would be an act of great skill and workmanship.
Cherries are now in season here in Bombay (and possibly other parts of the country too). I’ve never been a big fan of Indian cherries as they always seem to cook in a bland way and lose flavour and colour. This season however, has seen the plumpest, darkest cherries ever.
This is probably the second or third post (and surely not the last) I’ve put up that has been a product of a relatively sudden and massive chocolate craving. The humble soufflé has been made out to be this complicated thing that requires great finesse and skill and has a 50:50 chance of collapsing on itself and being an utter flop.
I had a massive chocolate craving last week, which I decided to satiate with these salted caramel tarts. I’d picked up this really nice Valrhona 70% dark chocolate (with little cocoa nibs in it) at Changi Duty Free in Singapore and I felt guilty not putting it to some good culinary use. I’d devoured alost a third of it (35g, in fact), but there was just enough left to make a batch of tarts.
Over the course of three visits to Singapore, I’ve been introduced to a whole new world of flavours, cuisines and preparations. On this trip, I decided to try something new every day and write about it here on Magic Marinade.
Once in a month or so, I buy a whole chicken and stock it. Stocking is one of those processes that is wildly efficient — it uses the entire chicken (some even use the head and feet) and a lot of vegetables without any fancy preparatory techniques or special skills. The flavour they contribute to anything you make with it will put any factory extruded bullion cube to shame. It’s so good that someone even put it in a cocktail (the Velociraptor, is made with 1½ Oz vodka, 4 tablespoons of stock and three dashes of Tabasco sauce).
Spaghetti aglio e olio is one of my lazy day staples. If you’re quick and careful, you can easily put this together in just around 13 minutes. Traditionally, spaghetti aglio e olio is meant to be a celebration of the quality of the best olive oil money can buy, but when I make it (with my imported brand of olive oil of questionable repute), I also throw in some mushrooms to up the nutritive value of the dish.
Mulberries are amongst the most underrated fruits that are available quite freely here in Bombay. Their simple mild sweetness possibly doesn’t compete with the strength of other fruit flavours like mango and strawberries, but they do contribute beautifully to pies and tarts.
Mango season is almost ending, with the onset of the monsoons here in Bombay. But there still are parts of the country where you’ll find mangoes in the markets.
The idea to make this cake happened spontaneously one day, when I thought to myself that chocolate and mango would work so well in a dessert together. A short bout of Googling later, I came across this recipe and I knew I had to make it one weekend. So I did.
The traditional approach when it comes to making mango desserts is to always use Alphonso mangoes. I believe this is a little unfair to the absolute abundance of different varieties of mangoes available in the country, each with it’s own special flavour, texture and sweetness.
Until I actually made it myself, I always thought making cheesecakes was something reserved for the advanced baker. This cheesecake is actually put together in a blender in just moments.
I always end up buying spinach and letting it wilt before I get down to putting it to any use. I finally broke this spinachy jinx of sorts with this quiche. This would have made for a perfect vegetarian quiche, if it weren’t for all the eggs.
I love pizzas because they’re such a breeze to prepare and there’s really no limit to the flavour you can pile onto it. The one in the picture above is a lamb pepperoni pizza laid out on a base of caramelised onions (sliced onions, sautéed in olive oil with a teaspoon of honey), mozzarella cheese (I tucked a few globs of mozzarella under each little lip of pepperoni, and over it too, which is why it’s so gooey and melty in the picture).
This recipe is a little off season at the moment. It’s best made when you find Delhi carrots in the markets and they’re usually a winter (or early year) phenomenon. Delhi carrots (the really red ones) lend themselves to a far more vividly orange cupcake than the regular orange carrots.
I love seafood and amongst the easiest and least messiest sea-foody things to cook are prawns. So it goes without saying that this was my go-to prawn curry dish and I make it almost every time I have a seafood craving. The recipe is quite a versatile one; this also works with squid.
My first Jamaican Jerk Chicken experience was a little disappointing. I ordered it at a restaurant in a business park after a meeting (to their credit, the standard of food was higher than what you’d expect at a business park lunch). The chicken was sweet, mildly spicy and a little red.