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February 19, 2015

Korean Food Festival Review: Sheraton at Brigade Gateway


One would probably think what a vegetarian has got to do at a Korean Food festival. This is precisely the reason for the review today. When the PR team at Sheraton reached out to me with an invitation for their ongoing Korean Food festival at Feast, my uncertainties in regard to vegetarian menu were sent out on an email to them. They responded promptly assuring that there was enough on the menu for vegetarians and we would not be in last minute surprises. We made our way through the city to reach Sheraton’s food lounge, Feast where this food festival is currently being hosted. Feast is a well-designed, multi-cuisine restaurant located at the ground floor of Sheraton hotel. Adding to their assortment of multi-cuisine spread, Feast is out to host the exotic culinary flavors from Korea in an anticipation to introduce Korean flavors to Indians.

Chefs Link Chan Jae Chung and Shane Yun-Gi Hong from the Sheraton Seoul D Cube city Hotel have gone lengths to create buffet spread that well comprises of an array of authentic vegetarian and non-vegetarian Korean dishes with no compromise to flavor or ingredients.

Chef Marty and Chef Link walked us through a round of introduction to the Korean cuisine, citing prevue of what goes into their cooking, their techniques, medicinal value, common ingredients and their affinity and influences from the Japanese and Chinese cuisines. It was interesting to know that their National dish – Kimchi, a household staple comes in over 200 varieties and is fermented even up to 30 years for its medicinal value and authentic tart taste. Koreans’ love for fermentation is seen in the liberal use of fermented products such as soy sauce, fermented chilli peppers, fish sauce, fermented radishes, cabbages, etc. This comes through strongly in many of the dishes and the dominance of fermented pastes is quite prominent and could possibly be an acquired taste for many unknown to this cuisine.

The soups on course, the Korean Spicy Squid Soup and Kimchi Soup catered to the non-vegetarian tastes. Chefs at Sheraton put together an appetizing vegetarian version of the soup in Korean flavors. Be warned - fish sauce is often termed to be vegetarian in South East Asian cuisines, hence it would be best if you could check with the chef for its use in their vegetarian menu.

On the menu, we started off with the Gimbap, that has close resemblance to the Japanese Sushi. Layers of sticky white rice and vegetable juliennes, encased in the black seaweed nori sheets make up for pretty, healthy bites. Water Kimchi, made from fermented turnips, radishes, apples, was another interesting dish that tantalized our senses. It has a strong pungency from fermentation and you bet one cannot indulge on this beyond a couple of bites. The Konguksu, which is cold noodles served in soya milk broth was quite similar to vermicelli kheer, minus all the sugar. A dish that I thought deserved an applause was Japchae. The sweet potato noodles, stir fried in sesame oil with vegetable juliennes and garnished with sesame seeds and slivers of chili was delicious and deserved multiple helpings. Although Japchae is most commonly served as a side dish, I could probably eat it on its own as a main course.


The Korean Mini-Pancakes that were served had close resemblance to Indian maida dosa. Nothing exceptional to mention about.

Kimchi Fried Rice was good, but can be passed for the more interesting Bibimbap, a signature Korean dish. Bibimbap is served as a bowl of warm white rice topped with sautéed and seasoned vegetables and Gochujang (chili pepper paste), soy sauce, or salty soybean paste. Yet another dish that had unique flavors from the fermented ingredients used. This is a must try I suggest.

Traditionally Korean desserts are low on sweetness and can actually be termed as healthy! The Honey Rice Cake and Baek Seol Ki were basically cooked rice cakes which tasted very close to the rice modak sheath we make during Ganesh Chaturthi. These did not impress my tastes and left me disappointed for not getting that ‘sugar-kick-kind-of’ dessert. Song Pyon was better with a mild bean filling, although I would still give it a pass and enjoy the Korean tea that soothed our senses with sweet and warm hint of ginger and cardamom.

Unknown to a cuisine and being welcomed into a new world of flavors, I am glad to be a part of this invite at Feast. If are like me and have never tried Korean food in the past, or you’ve assumed it to faithfully non-vegetarian, then put your reservations aside and give into a whole new world of authentic regional gastronomy. It can put you into a cozy surprise! So head out this week to discover the unique culture and rich flavors of Korean food at Sheraton Bangalore Hotel at Brigade Gateway as it invites you to be a part of this celebration between 13th February to 25th February, 2015.

Price – Lunch @ Rs. 1395+taxes and Dinner @ Rs. 1545 + taxes.




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November 27, 2014

Spiced Roasted Walnuts

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Right at the fag end of the year, in midst of the festivals that went by past month and more awaiting the mark of year ending, here I am making every sincere attempt to blog and replenish my repertoire with some recipes to tease your taste buds. With barely a blog post a month in the recent past, I have been panting hard to fuel this space with enough meat off late, more evidently seen from the sparse posts that pop out of my drafts occasionally or my dwindling presence on any social networking forums. The motivation, that has been lacking from several other personal commitments consuming my time and the dear camera lens of mine that gave upon me recently. Yet, at the hindsight of my brain lingers a constant thought to fuel this little space of mine with recipes, even if that means battling a writer's block or picking an offbeat recipe from my drafts for a go.

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It hit upon me hard how fast the time is fleeting by and how much close we are to the year end when the folks at Sheraton reached out to me to be a part of their Cake Mixing ceremony. December already? Almost. I think hard. My thoughts racing by. My heart pounding faster. Where and how did I let the time go? The Indian festivities crept in and they slid by sooner than I had realized. We cooked a lot. Partied, merried and ate well too. The usual course of chalkis, laddus, karjikai, shankarpali, nippattus, masala shenga and whatnot was followed this season too. We made them all at home and saw joy in sharing them with our family and friends. But none of them made it here. And I barely realized it go by.

So I bring about these simple, deliciously spiced and roasted walnuts for the Thanksgiving today. The spices that go in it to tangle the taste buds with measures of salt, spice and sweetness. They are baked and can be stored for a while. They make excellent for gifting your friends and relatives. And I hope they make up for the loss of all those recipes I have been meaning to post here for a while!

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Spiced Roasted Walnuts

INGREDIENTS

1 tablespoon honey
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 cups walnut halves
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 tablespoon ground coriander
1/8 teaspoon red chilli powder

DIRECTIONS

In a large bowl, whisk honey and oil. Add in the sugar, salt, cumin, coriander, and red chilli powder. Toss in walnuts; mix well to coat. Transfer to a baking tray and bake in a pre-heated oven of 200 deg C for atleast 20 minutes. Remove and allow to cool completely. Store in an air-tight container.

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October 18, 2014

Awadhi Food Festival Review: Sheraton at Brigade Gateway

Earlier this week I headed over to the Sheraton Bangalore Hotel at Brigade Gateway located in the heart of city on Malleshwaram-Rajajinagar road to experience the flavors of Awadhi cuisine. I was invited to be a part of this 10 day long food festival hosted by Sheraton in all splendor to celebrate the traditional cuisine of Lucknow - it's warmth, feel and richness you will experience right at the entrance of Sheraton's Feast restaurant where this festival is currently running till the 19th of October. Make your way through the city and be there to indulge in the vivid, rich flavors of Awadhi khana.

Cuisine from Awadh isn't unknown to many. It comes with a legacy from the Nawabs and the kings. With heavy influences from the Mughal cooking techniques such as dum, Awadh cuisine bears striking similarities to those of Persia, Kashmir, Punjab and Hyderabad. It's essence lies in its richness with liberal use of exotic spices including saffron and sandalwood. While Awadhi cuisine is predominantly known for its non-vegetarian delicacies, my eagerness to visit this food festival was to explore the uncharted reigns of vegetarian delicacies of this region. What's in it for me and if it was really worth the visit? A year ago I had a chance to visit Lucknow and savor their local cuisine. However with Sheraton's Guest Chef Rehman and their in-house Chef Maqsood re-creating the Nawabi flavors, this food festival promised to offer more than what I had known and savored in the past. So I put my thoughts to rest and headed for an evening to savor the royal feast put together by the F&B team at Sheraton. Indeed worth every bit.


The food festival is being held at Sheraton's signature restaurant - Feast, which is located on the ground floor of the hotel. As a well designed restaurant in warm shades and rich feel, Feast has 4 counters boasting of live cooking at every counter, each specializing in a particular cuisine. The staff is courteous and willingly helpful beyond what one can ask for.

Accompanying the theme for food festival is a musical stage with live musical play, scoring the perfect background to set traditional mood.

We started off with a platter of starters that catered to both the vegetarian and non-vegetarian taste buds. Through it's course, Chef Rehman walked us through an array of dishes on the menu they had to offer, explaining their history and significance, each unique and rich. Aloo Neze Se and Achari Paneer Tikka served were both delicately flavored with smoky tandoori flavor that's typical of the Nawabi cuisine, a delight to someone like me who loves tandoori food and its grilled flavors. Grilled babycorn was good, but nothing of out the box to state.


Next came along a basket of some delicately fragrant Sheermal Roti and Awadhi Naan. Sheermal Roti was unique with light toned sweetness from saffron and cream. So delicious that you could snack on them by themselves. The Sheermal Roti went through second and third helpings. Awadhi Naan, a crisp and flaky mildly spiced bread with herbs and spices was in the second lead.

On the main course was Nawabi Baigan Bhurta that stole the show away. Unlike the Punjabi Baingan Bharta, Nawabi Baigan Bhurta though not visually appealing, was rich, creamy and delicious. Worth every bite and rightly fit for the kings. The Paneer Begam Bahar, a chic cottage cheese based dish, lightly spiced in gravy of cashewnut and almond paste was another dish I thought was delightful. The chef did highlight that Dal Mumtaz was a must try. This unique dal made of urad dal was simple and grounded and so satisfying to my taste in contrast to its rich, cream laden counterparts. Dhingri Dolma and Subzi Sheek Noorani, both heavy on Indian spices were delicious. Subz Dum Biryani was robust in flavor, but not any spectacular. So was Dal Makhani as a usual accompaniment.

Up on menu for desserts were Shahi Tukda, Balushahi, Malai Sandwich and Anjeer ki Kheer. I loved the simplicity Awadhi desserts had - not cloyingly sweet, nor heavily creamy or fatty as I had presumed. Anjeer Kheer was delicious. Shahi Tukda was unlike what it usually is, distinct, soft and just right on sweet.

The Awadhi cuisine is undoubtedly a royal feast meant to pamper your senses and made to feel like Nawabs. So if you are in a mood to dine out or celebrate an occasion or pamper in some Nawabi indulgence, head out to Sheraton where this festival is currently running till the 19th of October. The Dastarkhwan awaits!

Address:
Feast, Sheraton Bangalore Hotel at Brigade Gateway,
Dr. Rajkumar Road, Bengaluru, Karnataka
Ph. No.: 08042521000 / +91-9880699111



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September 22, 2014

Orange Chocolate Chip Cookies

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I was ruminating over a conversation with an old associate I have known for over three years now and the fact he knew I blogged. That happened a few months ago. It was one of those familiar moments I have encountered when someone says, 'Aah, so you blog and you make food look good? Okay. Let's see, cook us something and let us say'. I get awfully nervous to a point of quivering knees and nervous breakdown. Neither it puts me into shoes of comfort, nor do I blush. I hate being judged. Its the kind of casual statement made to assume that you are a professional at the best. All bars are raised and expectations set too high. It's hard to satisfy such tastes, where preconceived bias swamps the confidence in me. It could turn anyone into cold feet. It's like a stab on your back testing your skills to restraint the blow, bridling any creativity you want to execute. Not really. I have bad days in my kitchen and I am no perfect for sure.

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But little moments of joy come from those folks, unknowing to my penchant for cooking or being irrespective of the fact I blog or not, appreciate my food. For someone who does not know I blog, I post recipes, and yet appreciates that I have cooked good food, that's when you'll see me smile ear to ear. That moment of truth is really a winning moment for me. Honestly, I wish to create memories of food that can be remembered and revived by virtue.

You'll see this often that I don't spill out the fact to many that I blog. A lot of my close friends don't know I have a space out here. And with the ones who happen to know I do, more accidentally or through word of mouth and query about my passion in cooking or blogging in amusement, I wish to bury my face down in my hands and run away miles in embarrassment. Its such a strange awkwardness and I wonder if this has happened to any of you. Most readers whom I know are the ones whom I have never met personally, whom I have never known and strangely I feel the most comfortable posting here for them. Be it musings, my photographs or recipes, there is no prejudice what so ever. That for me is the most comforting factor. I wonder if I would ever be able to write and share so much here if my own folks were so regular at reading my blog. Thankfully I know they are not. That, for me is a consolation in many ways.

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That brings me to this Orange Chocolate Chip Cookies here. A recipe that's strangely simple and unprejudiced. You throw in the said measures of all goodness and you have chocolate-y orange aromas wafting within minutes, it's zest leaving you in an all high. So true to the fact, the matrimony of orange and chocolate cannot go wrong. Sometimes you get the most out of the unexpected and that's what these Orange Chocolate Chip Cookies promise to do. Not just you, to your biased friends too!

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Orange Chocolate Chip Cookies

INGREDIENTS

1/2 cup non-dairy margarine (can be replaced with vegetable oil)
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup white sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/8 cup orange juice
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips (dairy-free for vegan)
Zest from 2 oranges

DIRECTIONS

Beat the margarine along with both the sugars (brown and white) till it's light and fluffy. Next, add in the vanilla extract. Add the flour and salt, mix well. Dissolve baking soda in orange juice and add to mixture immediately. Stir with a wooden spoon and bring the entire mixture to form a lightly wet dough. Next add in the chocolate chips and stir them in. Drop by tablespoonful on to an un-greased cookie tray. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 10 minutes. Don't over bake!

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August 24, 2014

Garden Fresh Pizza & Snapshots from IFMB

I have taken longer than imagined to pen down this post, that I almost assured myself if I may even let go documenting it here. I mentioned about being at IFBM here a while ago. Exactly about 3 weeks ago I was at Aloft, Cessna Business Park being a part of the first-of-its-kind food blogger meet that was beyond any scale I had expected it to be. It was hosted in all splendor and grandeur in true sense. True to its intentions, it brought together the like minded us from various parts of the country and across the globe, with an agenda to meet, greet, learn, share and build a stronger food blogging network. Beyond all, it was meant to break free from our friendships and acquiantances in the traditional virtual world and translate to a real one, which in every sense was truly accomplished.

Its hard to sum up the two days that went by in utter frenzy. If you followed me on Instagram you probably have witnessed the IFMB craze over these 2 days. Its hangover still hitting hard weeks after it's over and settled. I am quite certain that all the bloggers present over this meet may have experienced these hangover and withdrawal symptoms! It had me reeling.

IFBM had way too much to offer that it would be impossible for me to weave them into words and cover it all on a single post. Even tougher would be to justify the depth of effort the organizers had put in. The fabulous ladies Aparna, Nandita, Revati and Arundati deserve a huge round of applause for the length and breadth at which they have gone to put this show together and make this meet a grand success. To sum it up all, there were crazy 50+ fabulous food bloggers packed into a well-decor conference hall of a star hotel with high projectors, a fabulous host (Arundati) and many esteemed speakers nailing interesting substantial topics covering food photography, styling, writing, SOE, self-publishing, social networking and live cooking demos over a well carved program. Interspersed with awesome food, shutterbugs, media coverage, hugs, handshakes and loads of goodies from generous sponsors, IFBM was a one hell of an experience that will stay rooted in our memories for long.

I walk you through a couple of photographs snapped at this event, in a bid to capture as much I could and etch it in my memory for years to be cherished. They cover mainly food, a yet another highlight of this event. It was amazing to see how the team at Aloft had carefully crafted their menu over these two days, each following a theme and artistically put together in place. I've refrained posting photographs of individuals here in due respect to their privacy. However, if you follow me on Facebook, my timelines are currently tagged and loaded with all the action and happenings of this event that you can witness. Walk over to my Instagram feeds for more of its mania.

IFBM ended on electric high notes, positive vibes and ravishing raves garnered from the fraternity of us like minded blogger folks. There was so much to learn, explore, socialize and motivate oneself to better as a blogger that it will take me some time to put all of it into practical use. I came back with a hope that there will more of these interactive sessions packed with fun, learnings and new friendships in the years to come.

Before I close, I bring to you this Garden Fresh pizza that happens to be an all-time favorite of mine. That for the number of times I have baked at home, I presume it should feature here. I am a huge fan of peppers, mushrooms, baby corn and olives on a pizza and when all these feature on a single pizza how can it not taste delightful. This pizza is baked with a whole wheat mixed flour base, slathered with fresh tomato sauce and generously topped with fresh-sliced baby corns & green peppers, mushrooms and black olives. The base is made out of aashirvaad multigrain atta that's popular in India. I suggest you keep the pizza base thin since multi-grain flours have lower gluten in them and hence a thicker base can be less soft and springy as compared to the all-purpose flour counterparts.

Garden Fresh Pizza

INGREDIENTS

For the pizza dough:

1 cup + 1 tbsp. multi-grain flour (I used Aashirwad aata)
½ cup lukewarm water
1 tsp. yeast
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. olive oil

To assemble:

½ cup pizza sauce, homemade or store-bought
1 Green pepper / capsicum, sliced to wedges
6-7 Mushrooms, chopped to quarters
6-8 Baby corns, slit vertically to quarters
5-6 Black olives, halved
3-4 tbsp. mozzarella cheese

DIRECTIONS

In a mixing bowl, blend yeast in lukewarm water along with a teaspoon of sugar. Allow this to rest for 10 mins. This should be frothy by now. Heap the multigrain flour into a large bowl and make a pit in the center. Pour the yeast mixture, salt and 1 tbsp. of olive oil. Knead gently to form a smooth, soft, slightly sticky dough. Cover the dough with a kitchen towel and set aside in a warm place for an hour like an oven until almost double in size. About 20 minutes before baking, punch down, knead a minute or two and then form into a ball. Roll out thin crust pizza base, about ¼ - ½ inch thick. Allow it to sit on the counter for 10 mins.

Pre-heat the oven on 220 deg C. To assemble the pizza, spread the pizza sauce over thinly rolled out pizza crust. Layer green peppers, mushrooms, baby corn and black olives. Top generously with mozzarella cheese and season with salt and pepper. Bake in a pre-heated oven of 220 deg C for about 20-30 mins. Cut into wedges and serve hot with Italian herbs.


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