Monday, September 24, 2012

Cook & Style Workshop with Michael Swamy and Gautam Chaudhry at Pink Poppadom @ Ista Bangalore

As promised I am coming up with more details about the food workshop after being there and experiencing the exotic dishes presented in style by the chefs. As the event was connected to Blogadda, I went there with great hopes of meeting some fellow bloggers, but did not find anyone familiar over there. A bit of disappointment, as it is always a great experience to meet your virtual fellow bloggers and friends in real.
What had attracted me to the workshop was my passion for trying out new recipes since the times I was in VHD Home Science College. The workshop promised to present us novel and ground breaking recipes that introduce genuine Indian food in a present-day international style with flamboyance.  Our own Indian dishes were going to come out in all new avatars. I wanted to be there and learn the trick of styling the food which I love to do.
Check out for pictures of the event HERE
Waiting for the workshop
to begin
As I entered the venue, it looked empty at first,  but after a while Sagarika welcomed me with a huge smile and big hug. It was lovely meeting her after chatting a lot on facebook. 
On entering the Pink Poppadom, I felt relaxed as it was not a big hall which tends to overwhelm people. It was a small place, which was exotic and simple at the same time. I was greeted with a glass of refreshing cool coconut water. After coming to Bangalore from Byndoor, I was missing that a lot J
After a bit of waiting the workshop began with the introduction from Sagarika followed by a short speech by Mr. Cheema, General Manager of Ista Bangalore, which was a brief look at the way cooking has been breaking barriers and making progress on styles and presentations.

Michael Swamy took over from there. There were tips galore about food, styling, and particularly about Indian food. Some of the participants went ahead and asked questions or got their doubts cleared. Not being a food blogger or photographer, I did not have much to ask.
During my short chat with Michael Swamy, I learned something and cleared a doubt that has been bugging me for a long time. On my visit to USA, I had cooked a delicious dish of my native place for Paula, but she insisted that it is French Crepe which was tough for me to believe, because my mom had told me that it was their traditional delicacy that was specially prepared for the bride groom.  Michael confirmed it could be true, and went to ask me
“Where do idlis come from?”
I said, “Tamil Nadu”
“ and the traditional Puttu?”
I scored ‘0’ in that quiz. The right answers were Indonesia for both. Imagine that! Though I have been eating since the day I was born, I was very much ignorant about food.
When Michael started cooking the ‘Organic tea cured slow roasted Chicken with roasted radish in spicy organic honey vanilla sauce’, I was expecting some great drama to take place; but surprisingly it was so simple and easy. The chicken was slowly roasted in the pan on medium flame. Lots of ingredients went into garnishing this dish, which included citrus orange juice, organic tea, cream, balsamic and chilli flakes which were used in reduction.
 I learned that we tend to overcook our food a lot.  The style with which he presented the chicken was what made the dish something very special and extraordinary.
Next he presented ‘Vegetables in a tomato Concasse’. Now again it was the way he served it which made it so special.  The dish was a mix of colorful vegetables, roasted and served with  something like a tomato sauce, served along with crackers. Michael Swamy used  a ring mould to place the veggies in the centre of the plate, while he slowly poured the sauce around it. He was careful not remove the ring before the vegetables set in tightly.  The pictures will tell you more about this.

Even though I don’t want to be partial, I have to confess that the Aroma which emanated when Gautam Chaudhry started cooking was very enticing and made me hungry immediately.  The dishes he prepared and the style of his presentation was great too. He was quick, simple and well prepared for the event. I want to take back my kids to Pink Poppadom so that they can get to experience and enjoy this great food, when I can afford it ;) as it was nearly a crime to enjoy those delicacies all alone without them.

He prepared ‘Goat Cheese and Yoghurt Medallions’ which looked great. The dish was prepared using hung curd, goat cheese and cottage cheese. The salsa was prepared in the workshop to go with the kebabs. What surprised me was the use of roasted and ground chana dal to coat and hold the kebabs together. It had some simmering of Californian grapes in sugar syrup with curry leaves to flavor it as compliment.

But according to me the most captivating and attractive of all the food in the workshop was the ‘Nilgiri Lamb Rack and Cannellini Beans’. As I mentioned earlier the aroma that came out of that dish was really very good to be true.He used something very new to me, a nilgiri paste to come up with great aromatic lamb shank.  The process of marinating the lamb had to be cut short for the workshop, but we learned how to poke the lamb piece with a fork well, before rubbing it with marinating paste; which would allow it to absorb the spices properly. It was served with cannelloni beans and potato crispies.
We were served with some snacks and given two written quizzes in the workshop.  Though I felt a bit out of place with all food photographers, I had great time in the workshop. I learned a lot about present day cake baking from a blogger Priya, with whom I shared table.
It was three hours of informative and fun filled afternoon, with Gautam, Michael ,and blogadda where we got many tips on culinary skills, details about food styling and food photography by the masters of the craft as we munched on the delicious tarts and sandwiches. The chefs had some great styling and presenting skills for food lovers. 
With the workshop coming to an end, we were waiting for our lunch to be served, while we discussed about food, I mentioned how I felt disgusted with fish after my marriage as that is what was consumed by my in-laws day in and day out and Priya said ‘that happens to her with Panneer. Call it the joke of the day, as we both were served with fish and Panneer LOL.  The fish did not taste good either.. .. but the chicken made it up for the fish ;). Also the lamb which was followed was too yummy.. loved the taste and aroma of it. It was great lunch which also included a gola, but what stole the spotlight was the Paan Punch, it was just one of the best foods I have tasted. It has lots of flavor which were all subtle but made their presence felt. Chef Gautam deserves a loud applause for creating it. I was so lost in the taste that I forgot to photograph it.
When it was time to bid adieu the organizers presented us  with a gift hamper and voucher for two at Barbeque Nation, JP Nagar. Thank you blogadda for the wonderful experience.
One special mention I cannot skip is about the two great Chefs, who were very nice, down to earth people and were wonderful in their interaction which was so helpful to all the participants. I really appreciate them as wonderful people without airs, more so because our local cook carries such a big attitude ;)

Chicken with moong. I loved the way Chef
Gautam glazed the plates. The paint is made
of beetroot with other edible ingredients
The lamb not only tasted good, but gave out
lovely aroma
Yummy!!! A Gola

The Mango Jamoon was my Favorite
The chocolate spread on which the samosa is placed
looks great, doesn't it?
Delicious Tarts

Watch out the impeccable styling here

The aromatic lamb

Looks like I have learned quite a bit of
food photography ;)

Another presentation of the lamb

Yummy sandwiches

The venue

Friday, September 14, 2012

I am Excited about Cook, Style & Click

This Saturday afternoon I am attending a culinary, styling and food photography workshop with a leading celebrity chef and executive chef of one of the most premier restaurants in Bangalore. After that I am promised a sumptuous lunch with blogger friends. Am I excited? Off course yes. 

As promised earlier to their bloggers,  BlogAdda is finally presenting latest food workshop with Pink Poppadom, Bangalore – led by celebrity chef Michael Swamy and executive chef, Gautam Chaudhry, Pink Poppadom.

Like every bloggers events, this comes with gift hampers, gifts, goodies and some tease. As a bonus Blogadda is offering the first 15 bloggers who sign up two buffet passes worth Rs 1600, from Barbeque Nation along with a gift hamper from Ista Bangalore.

More about the event on Saturday, as seeing is believing ;)

A video of previous workshop conducted by Blogadda.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Just Married, Please Excuse - Book Review

Click the image to buy from Flipkart
I just finished reading ‘Just Married Please Excuse’ by Yashodhara Lal who blogs regularly on “Y On Earth Not”. The author is a Marketing Professional and more impressively, a mother of three. She has been married ten years and currently lives in her hometown of Delhi.
The back page of the book tells you what to expect. Caution! Marriage Ahead……
Yashodhara, a quick-tempered gal from the big city is hitched to Vijay, a laidback desi boy from a small town, in one word- Trouble! The young couple must learn to adjust to married life and to each other - whether it is Yashodhara's 'tamper tentrums' or Vijay's foot-in-mouth syndrome with a little help from their idiosyncratic staff, Zarreena and Vinod, their nutty friend Vivi and, of course, their respective families.
With the unexpected arrival of baby Anoushka a.k.a. Peanut, the battles escalate, fueled by their vastly divergent views on raising a child. Will their many differences - so endearing at the start of their romance, actually turn out to mean that they are just incompatible? Will they ever manage to agree on anything? Or have they just bitten off more than they can chew? 

A fresh and honest take on marriage and parenthood, and all the chaos that comes with it. This is a story of self-discovery that will have you laughing out loud - and sympathizing wholeheartedly with its quirky and likable cast of characters.

Yashodhara just solidified what I have known earlier. Husband/wife relationship is just opposite of mother/child relationship because mother and child begin as a single individual who later up end up as different individuals, whereas husband and wife begin as different individuals but try to become a single individual after being married. I have learned from my personal experience that human beings are unlike magnets. Remember those days in childhood when you tried playing with magnets where opposite sides attract and stick in a jiffy together. Well, when opposite people attract each other and try to be together; it will require a lot of work unlike the magnets.
Just Married Please Excuse by Yashodhara Lal is a book, which is not only entertaining but would really end up saving some marriages because it has touched all those problems young couple goes through. May be those who have read this book will end up laughing when they are going through similar situation instead of fighting over it.
I felt related to narration and also to the author, because I had been through some o f similar situations in my life and also tried to writeabout it, but my other half opposed to it as he was not interested in being featured on my blog, hence, I had to drop down the idea just after two blog posts. I know he will be wringing his hands in regret when I become famous. ;)
Though the problems gone through by the couple is not something to laugh about, the hilarious narration of Yashodhara makes us bellow out in loud bursts of laughter. The couple having problems, not talking to each other often, no new upgrading of romantic ventures which is leads them to marriage counseling, should have been a sad situation, because we worry about the little Peanuts, and how their marriage is going to end. At this junction Yashodhara brings in three Reema’s in the story when in reality there is none; making the whole situation so funny, that we lose track of the seriousness of the situation.  That is life, take problems with dollops of humor and the seriousness will fade away. I also enjoyed the land deal they had with Dilip. 
No wonder the lady is mistaken to be a bhookamp, after reading the book I do feel she is one bhookamp of a wife. A working woman, who is well settled down professionally, has loving husband and lovely daughter, two beautiful sons, the author is not like many women we find in India, neither she is like me, but all the questions about love, security, life which arises in her mind are similar to those lots of women go through. This is where she builds the connection with her female readers.  It is not easy for people to talk about their insecurities, especially the ones they feel in their married lives. I feel it must be the fear of being a failure that makes hypocrites out of us, but the author has confessed so many of the insecurities openly, that she really deserves a pat on her back for being that strong.
I really have to praise Yashodhara for being honest in her narration. There is no glorifying heroism on part of neither the hero nor the heroine. There are ordinary human beings with their own positive and negative points to be dealt with.  Kajal, is another hilarious character and unlike movie comedian maids, she is something you have come across in your life. An Indian woman who has not handled Atta is something unbelievable for me, because even though I did not cook before being married, I remember playing with Atta and making dolls with dough, plus I have watched both my kids do that when I cook.  
The books go through various episodes of adjustments and adaptation the couple make to create a happy relationship. We never get to see what Vijay Reema  oooppsss Vijay Sharma is thinking about the situation because the book is written through the wife’s point of view. It is all about love, marriage, children, and family of the new couple who are sailing in a boat on the rocky ocean.
I enjoyed reading the book and could finish it quickly. The real life narration of the book has the touch of a personal blog, no wonder as the author is a blogger.  The incidents are something which has been picked from everyday life events, but they have a hilarious twist and good narration which will hold our attention. I feel ‘Y’ has a long way to go seeing the good beginning she has made here. Good luck with your life and writings Yashodhara.
Book :Just Married, Please Excuse          
By:          Yashodhara Lal
ISBN:     9789350292273
Cover Price:        Rs. 199.00
Format:                B/Paperback
Extent: 264  pages
Category:            Fiction


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