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Definition: Blind Baking

Blind Baking: The term blind-baking (sometimes called “pre-baking”) refers to the process of baking a pie crust or other pastry without the filling.

Generally, the pie crust is lined with tin foil or parchment paper, then filled with dried peas, lentils, beans or other pulses, so that it will keep its shape when baking. Metal or ceramic pie weights are also used. After the pie crust is done, the pulses are replaced with the proper filling. Blind-baking is necessary if the pie filling can not be baked as long as the crust requires, or if the filling of the pie would make the crust too soggy if added immediately.

Content Courtesy: Wikipedia

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Definition: Sautéing and Stir-Frying

Sautéing: Sautéing is browning food first on one side and then on the other in a small quantity of fat or oil. When sautéing, which is a type of frying, the fat is placed in a shallow pan, and when it is sufficiently hot, the food is put into it. When cooking, the fat should not come up the sides of the food being cooked, the food basically cooking on a thin layer of fat. Foods that are to be sautéed are usually sliced thin or cut into small pieces, and they are turned frequently during the process of cooking. Sauté is French for “jumping”, used to describe the action of the food in the pan as it is tossed around to prevent burning.

Stir-Frying: Stir-frying involves frying food quickly over very high heat in an oiled pan. While stir-frying, you generally stir continually. A special slope-sided pan called a wok is designed for stir-frying. Here are some tips:

  • Make sure all ingredients are prepared before you begin stir-frying.
  • Heat the wok on medium-high or high heat at least one minute before adding oil. Do not pre-heat the wok if it has non-stick coating, as the heat can damage the coating.
  • Drizzle the oil down the sides of the wok to maximize oil coverage as well as to heat the oil more quickly.
  • Cook meat on high heat in order to keep it juicy. Remove the meat before stir-frying the vegetables. Add the meat back into the mix once the vegetables are almost cooked.

Content Courtesy: Wikipedia

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Definition: Braising and Broiling

Braising (from the French “braiser”) is cooking with “moist heat,” typically in a covered pot with a variable amount of liquid, resulting in a particular flavour.

Braising relies on heat, time, and moisture to successfully break down tough connective tissue and collagens in meat. It is an ideal way to cook tougher cuts. Many classic braised dishes such as Coq au Vin are highly-evolved methods of cooking tough and unpalatable foods. Swissing, stewing and pot-roasting are all braising types.

Most braises follow the same basic steps. The meat or poultry is first seared in order to achieve a good crisp texture. Aromatic vegetables are sometimes then browned as well. A cooking liquid that often includes an acidic element, such as tomatoes or wine, is added to the pot, which is covered. The dish cooks in relatively low heat in or atop the stove until the meat is fork-tender. Often the cooking liquid is finished to create a sauce or gravy.

Broiling (exclusive to American and Canadian English) or grilling (elsewhere in the English speaking world) is a process of cooking food with high heat with the heat applied directly to the food, most commonly from above. Heat transfer to the food is primarily via thermal radiation. As it is a way of cooking without added oil, it is popular in low-fat diets.

In electric ovens, broiling/grilling may be accomplished by placing the food near the upper heating element, with the lower heating element off and the oven door partially open. Broiling in an electric oven may create much smoke and cause splattering in the oven.[1] Gas ovens often have a separate compartment for broiling, as a drawer below the flame.

Content courtesy: Wikipedia

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TGI Fridays, Connaught Place

We decided to have a boys lunch out, so the father, brother and me planned to meet up at TGI Fridays, Connought Place.

First off, the music wasn’t at loud as I thought it would be, which is good. The artifacts style of decor I learnt, it on its way out – sad.

Anyhow, lets come to the food. The chicken wings were served with a large portion of sour cream with vegetables, a few sticks of celery [which could be better] and a little dipping bowl of a vinegary dip. The Nachos with cheese, sour cream, chicken and guacamole came in a huge mountain format. It was nice, but nothing to write home about. Out of all we ate, this was something I’ll probably never order again. Demolished two pitchers of beer. Ordered a rack of ribs and lemon chicken. The ribs were served pre-cut with onion rings [baaaad] and a salad of sorts [baaaad], but in themselves they were wonderfully flavoured and tender. The lemon chicken was a single breast sliced in two, served with a portion of green beans with angel hair pasta.

All in all, a nice experience. The service isn’t top quality though. If the staff could resist the temptation to head to the entry counter and begin yakking, they could probably notice beckoning glances and gestures a lot quicker.

Rating: 2.5/5 | Meal for two: 2000

Sid

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Nirulas No More

[Rating:2/5] We decided to pop over to Nirulas in Sector 2 NOIDA on Friday evening. We have gradually been getting more and more disillusioned with the quality of *every* thing at Nirulas lately, but for ‘old times sake’ always give it another chance every once in 6 months or so. While the quality of service has improved perceptibly, the quality of the food and the quality of the people [human resources] remains at dismally low levels.

The mutton mahaburger [which is unique to Nirulas] was sloppily put together, had chopped onions hastily stuffed into it instead of sliced onions, no slices of tomato as is usual, the bun was falling apart and it tasted like moist saw dust.

The non vegetarian deluxe thali comprised a dal makhani, kadi, butter chicken, dahi bhalla, some salad and a lacchha parantha. Nothing could be eaten! The dal and the chicken were inedible as the gravy wasn’t cooked through and tasted of raw spices, the kadi was bland and didn’t taste anything like I’ve eaten before. I didn’t bother to taste the Dahi Bhalla as by then I had signalled the chap who clears the plates to please please take this away. Did I mention the Parantha? It was rock hard, piping hot with traces of oil on it. Visually, it looked great. Try to eat it and you’ll gag. Here’s what these idiots do. They make the parantha and keep it in a hot location, where it waits till someone orders it. Then they brush it with some oil and serve it to the customer. The problem with my parantha was that it had been made quite some time earlier, and had hardened and dried out waiting for a customer. Since the people they hire are of the lowest possible grade, they really didn’t care and went ahead and served it anyway.

The corn pizza was watery. Whats watery you ask? Watery is when you put frozen corn right from the freezer into the pizza and then top it with cheese. So when it comes out and you bite into it there’s a good amount of water on the surface of the pizza below the cheese.

Anyway, at least the wife was happy with her lime ice cream soda and the daughter delighted with two scoops of chocolate chip ice cream.

Rating: 1/5 | Meal for two: 300

Sid

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Naheeds Recipes

Naheed is a friend who is very fond of cooking. In fact, he’s done what most of us (who like cooking) keep putting off for another day – He’s written a book – The Secrets of Indian Muslim Cooking.

While the book is being compiled into e-book format and should be available for download shortly, I’m going to post one of his recipes every few days. If you’re vegetarian, don’t hold your breath, since most if not all the recipes are non vegetarian.

-sid

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Pasto – Italian Kitchen [Closed]

Pasto is a reinvention of Masala Magic – a very drastic and total transmogrification actually.

Looking for a bite after treating myself to a new phone (Nokia E62) we decided to finally try Pasto. On all earlier occasions I have avoided the place thinking it would probably serve different renditions of the cliched and ubiquitous ‘pasta with cheese’. Whatever I may have thought, nothing, I repeat, nothing could have prepared me for the experience that lay ahead.

The decor has been changed since Masala Magic. It is still minimalistic and nothing too fancy, but looks good at the same time. Still around 30 covers in the area I was seated. Chilli flakes, mixed herbs and a combo container of olive oil and balsamic vinegar at every table.

The owner was here again (I like the way he can be found at his restaurant – unlike most others) and guided us through the menu. He was also nice enough to treat my daughter to a bowl of penne in a cheese sauce. The menu was a single page, with 4 separate sections (or was it 3). I *love* small menus since in my experience they turn out to be backed by good food and this was no exception.

Anyway, here’s what we ate – Chicken Stuffed with Ham, Tuna in a creamy sauce and Herb encrusted Grilled Chicken. Each dish had a distinct taste and and was quite good. The chicken was actually slices of breast stuffed rolled with ham, sautéed or grilled, with some mixed vegetables (quite nicely cut I must say) and topped with a delicate sauce. It was served with a mini helping of spaghetti and two slices of crisp bread with garlic butter. Beautiful to look at and even better to eat. I didn’t get to eat the wife’s tuna, which she devoured, all the while complaining that the portion was too large. My mother in law though couldn’t manage to finish the large portion of herb encrusted chicken. I couldn’t make out the composition of the crust… well actually, I was too busy making sounds of appreciation and chewing the chicken slathered with generous portions of the accompanying sauce of sun dried tomatoes. My daughter too gave up and handed her pasta to me, which I proceed to consume with the same gusto. Here too, the cheese sauce was very delicately flavored (basil?) and an absolute delight.

Did I mention the bread basket with home baked, warm bread and herb butter served whilst our order was being processed?

Pasto certainly doesn’t figure in the economical range of restaurants anymore (unlike Masala Magic) and my eyebrows did go up a tad when I saw the prices, but after the meal I happy signed the card voucher and also added a little something for the excellent service. It is so nice to hear words like ‘balsamic vinegar’ coming from a person waiting on you in a restaurant rather than the grunts and monosyllabic replies to simple questions.

Meal for two: INR 700 – 1000
Rating: 9/10

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Masala Magic

[Rating:3.5/5] (This place has been changed to serve Italian food)

Every once in a while you come across a place that is truly a pleasure to be at. This time it’s Masala Magic.

We were looking for a quick bite at Yo China, the wife had to visit a client and the child was cranky and the husband (me) had to get back to work after buying a new UPS. Looking up around for the familiar yellow billboard, we spotted another sign – ‘Masala Magic, Goan Chettinad and Punjabi’. Now that was one hell of a combination! The adventurer in me sufficiently aroused, we decided to push our luck with another new restaurant. The entrace could have been a little less camouflaged.

Entering, you find a cosy little room (30 covers) with really thoughtful decor and best of all, appropriate music. Here it was guitar based stuff. Since I don’t follow music groups or types much, all I know, is that it matched my mood and the mood of the place.

The menu wasn’t extensive but it was enough. You have to see it to understand what I mean. Some places believe the more items they stuff their menu with, the more $$$ they earn. I’m not sure thats true, since I’ve only seen one place where the menu was chock full and each item was good – Nirose, Jaipur.

We ordered Pork Sorpotel, Nilgiri Vegetable Korma and Rice with tall glasses of chilled peach ice tea. Everything was good and I think I could daresay… homemade. We had a nice time. The service was outstanding, the prices reasonable and the ambience all one could ask for.

I will definitely be going again and would recommend it anyday.

Meal for two: 500
Rating: 8/10
[1 less point for selling bottled water above MRP. While the (very polite and well spoken) owner had a point, I still believe the law is the law and if you’re not adding any value, sell at MRP. Else, build it into the price of the meal and make it seem complimentary]

-sid

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Radisson Coffee Shop

[Rating:2/5]

The Raddison Hotel, Near IGI Airport, New Delhi

On the second day of training, we went to the buffet at the coffee shop at the Raddison. Very good looking buffer and a huge spread. Indian, cold cuts and continental food.

Yum.
Bleeeeaaakhhhh!!!

I’m told my expression was worth recording for posterity as I withdrew a strand of hair from my mouth. Told a waiter, he told the manager and then comes to me with a brief ‘sorry sir’. The manager doesn’t even have the courtesy to talk to me.

Again, they should thank their lucky stars I was part of a group and not paying for it individually.

My friend narrates an incident when he was staying there and following the instructions on the key card, just inserted it and left it in there and tried to open it. It didn’t. The cleaner who was about, told him to remove it and then try the knob. It worked. Since he is a helpful fellow, very unlike me, he decided to tell the manager that it may be nice to include a note on the card to ‘withdraw’, along with the ‘insert’ they had printed. The manager says ‘people who are used to staying in good hotels know this already’. The cheek of the little man! Anyhow, my friend, who is not one to be left behind in such circumstances, especially with cheap people in cheap hotels tells him, ‘the last time i was at the hyatt, they had proximity cards, which didn’t need to be inserted. what is that?’ the manager says ‘ah, that is much better technology than ours’. to which my friend replies, ‘i guess thats what they use in better hotels right?’, leaving the manager looking like what he was… a fool.

After spending two days in close proximity to the hotel, i do not think i will be visiting them again for anything except of course their excellent kabab joint in NOIDA – The Great Kabab Factory

Conclusion: Try it out. If you don’t get hair, its good.

Rating: 8/10 AND 2/10 (Normal / With Hair)
Meal for two: INR 1500 (whereabouts)

-sid