Look, Ma, There’s Rat..a..touille On My Pizza!

Ratatouille Pizza

Pizzas spell comfort from the word go – stringy, bubbled-over cheese, crackling yet cushiony crusts, and the deeply satisfying medley of sauce and vegetables (or meat, if that’s your thing). They’re what you indulge in when you’re feeling low for no rhyme or reason, enduring heartache, or just facing weekend woes after slaving all week long and have nowhere to turn save for the feed-us-something-delicious-we’re-famished look on the faces of your child and spouse. Also, you are fully aware that the stuff out of your neighborhood Pizza Hut or Papa John’s box just won’t do. And keeping in mind that the pizza you serve them (and yourself) has not only to favor taste, but also factor in nutrition, you get kneading, pounding, and while the dough rises quietly in a warm corner, you hash up a batch of that tantalizing Provençal stew, Ratatouille, to top it with, not to mention the chock-full of cheese. The result is something magical: a peerless lattice of tastes, flavors and textures that rises above and beyond just satiating hunger pangs.

Ratatouille Pizza

 

For the Semolina Pizza bread -

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour/maida
  • 1 cup semolina/fine suji 
  • 1 ½ teaspoon instant yeast
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil plus more for drizzling
  • 1 cup to 1 ¼ cups lukewarm water
  1. If mixing by hand – stir together the ingredients (with 1 cup water) in a large bowl, then let the dough rest, covered, for about 15-20 minutes; this will give the flour a chance to absorb the water, which will make kneading easier. Knead well by hand or using a food processor to get a smooth and soft dough, adding more water if required.
  2. Clean out the bowl and oil it lightly. Shape the dough into a ball and roll it around in the bowl to cover lightly with oil. Cover with a kitchen napkin.
  3. Allow the dough to rise in a warm place, for about 45 minutes.
  4. Divide the dough in 4 parts. Cover and set aside.
  5. Working with one piece of dough at a time, pick it up and let gravity gently stretch it lightly. Move your hands around the edge of the dough to stretch it out into a 6 to 8 inch circle or oval. Set aside and cover with a light cloth. Repeat with the remaining dough to make 4 pizzas in all.
  6. Let the pizza rest while you heat your oven to 200°C.
  7. Baking: After about 30 minutes, transfer the pizzas to a baking tray and place in the oven.
  8. Bake for 6 minutes. Remove the breads from the oven. Brush lightly or drizzle with olive oil if desired.

Ratatouille Pizza Topping

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, diced
  • 4-5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into medium dice
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, cut into medium dice
  • 2-3 baby eggplant, cut into medium dice
  • 1 medium zucchini, cut into medium dice
  • Salt and fresh cracked pepper
  • 3 tsp Herbs de Provence or 1 tsp each dried basil, thyme and oregano
  • 1 tsp crushed red chillies
  • 5 tomatoes, blanched, peeled and chopped with their juices
  1. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet placed on medium heat and add the onions. Cook for a few minutes until softened.
  2. Add the garlic and continue to cook for 2 minutes.
  3. Add the peppers and eggplant, toss frequently for 2 minutes on high heat. Now add the zucchini and toss well.
  4. Lower the heat and season the vegetables with salt, pepper and the herbs.
  5. Add the tomatoes with all the juices. Bring the sauce to a boil, then cover and simmer for 6-7 minutes or until thickened.
  6. Cool and use as the pizza sauce.

Ratatouille Pizza

  • 4 pizza breads (recipe above)
  • 1 recipe Ratatouille topping (as above)
  • 200gms mozzarella cheese, grated
  • ½ cup Parmesan cheese
  • Olives or fresh basil leaves for topping
  1. Top the pizza breads generously with the ratatouille sauce. Sprinkle the cheeses, return to the oven and bake for an additional 6-8 minutes, or until the crust turns slightly golden and the cheese melts.
  2. Garnish with sliced olives or fresh basil and serve hot.

Ratatouille Pizza

Posted in Bakes And Cakes, Bread Binder, Funnibles, Globe Food-Trottin', Snack Attack | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Speed Date with Tamarind Chutney

Date and Tamarind Sweet Chutney Chutneys, the magnificent creations of Indian kitchens that run across many melodies, from high-pitched spiciness to tingle-toned sourness and everything in between, are the darling elements of our parties, trusty condiments that are employed perennially, to woo our guests. Could they get anymore sublime? Does making them have to call for all the elbow grease an already overworked mistress of the kitchen can afford? We don’t think so. We like to take a slightly less painstaking, and more fleet-footed approach. And we’d like to call on all the persevering party hosts to kick back with a glass of wine while this sweet chutney practically makes itself in a couple of blinks. And no, we don’t believe in cutting down on the flavor quotient, so just a dollop of this snappy chutney can be the star of any party platter.

Quick Date and Tamarind Sweet Chutney
Quick-fix Date and Tamarind Chutney

(Makes 1 cup)

  • 2 tbsp raisins
  • 1 cup jaggery powder
  • ½ cup water
  • 2 tbsp tamarind concentrate
  • ¼ cup date syrup (We used Lion’s brand)
  • Salt or rock salt (kala namak) to taste
  • ½ tsp red chilli powder
  • ½ tsp powdered sonf (fennel seeds)
  • 1 tsp roasted cumin powder 
  1. Soak the raisins in a little water and set aside.
  2. Stir the jaggery and water together in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and then simmer until the jaggery melts.
  3. Mix in the tamarind concentrate and date syrup. Simmer for 2-3 minutes.
  4. Add the salt and spices. Drain the raisins and add them to the chutney. Simmer for another minute or so. Taste and check for the balance of flavours and adjust the seasoning as needed.
  5. Cool completely and it is ready for use. Leftovers can be refrigerated in a closed container for a month.

Date and Tamarind Sweet Chutney This chutney is great drizzled over dahi vadas or as a dip for samosas and pakodas. And of course you can use it in all your favourite chaats.

Date and Tamarind Sweet Chutney

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The Mystery of the Impossible Pie

Impossible Pie

Whether you’re looking to use up that carton of golden-yolked omega 3 eggs before their date with the trashcan or finish up uninspiring leftovers in the fridge at the end of the week, there are umpteen egg-based preparations that you can whip up. Omelettes, frittatas, quiches, strata, casseroles..the ideas for this culinary genre just keep on coming, like the proverbial bottomless pit.

However, what we encountered not only sounded exciting, it also made us question, and ponder, which almost always leads to good things – the Impossible Pie. Now, what is impossible about this pie, you might ask, and fortunately, it is not a pie that’s impossible to make (phew!). Rather, it is an impossibly easy pie to make. If you’re not convinced, take this – the pie is made from a single batter that magically separates into a top, bottom and filling layer while baking. Now doesn’t that sound really impressive?

There’s so much more about the Impossible Pie that is enticing. No fussing with pastry dough, rolling pins, dainty crimping or blind baking involved. The baker is even relieved of the heartache that a doughy, soggy bottom, burnt edges or worse, a soupy middle might bring. Just put all the ingredients together, pour the batter into the pan and bake. The trouble though, comes from expecting too much, but more on that later.

Our search revealed that while most Impossible Pies started with Bisquick (a pre-packaged baking mix), the flavours varied from sweet to savoury, and we chose the latter, naturally. We experimented, and tried one with the trusty trio of onions, peppers and sweet corn. Spinach and garlic went into one pie and broccoli with three kinds of cheese into the next one.

Tupperware containers with last night’s vegetables, surplus steamed corn, chicken mince, those last bits of cheese, our leftovers now had a place to go to but not everything was falling into place. The pies were all delicious, but could we really call them pies? The promised bottom crusts weren’t what you might call ‘crusty,’ though we could surely claim fluffy middles and cheesy tops. Couldn’t we just settle for a frittata instead of this mad hankering for something that might be, well, impossible?

After a few trials, we finally hit upon a recipe that works pretty well for us. The pie (yes we’re calling it that) does not have a crisp bottom, but to be honest, that’s a tall order with only one tablespoon of butter in the batter. The overall texture is like that of a crust-less quiche. But when something is this easy to put together, gets greeted with shouts of delight and helps clean out the fridge, well, you’re not getting too many grumbles out of us.

Impossible Pie

Garlicky Spinach Impossible Pie (Serves 2-3)

  • 2 tbsp oil, divided
  • 2 tbsp breadcrumbs
  • 1 large onion
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, smashed and minced
  • 1 small bunch spinach, lightly steamed and squeezed to remove all the liquid
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour or whole wheat flour
  • ¾ tsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 2 eggs, well beaten
  • 1 cup milk
  • ½ tsp salt or to taste
  • Fresh ground pepper
  • ½ cup grated Cheddar cheese
  • ¼ cup crumbled paneer
  1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC / 350ºF.
  2. Grease the bottom and sides of a 6-7″ pie or baking dish with a tablespoon of the oil and sprinkle the breadcrumbs all over. Set aside.
  3. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and add the onion. Cook on low heat until soft. Add the garlic and continue to cook for 2 minutes. Stir in the spinach. Use a fork to fluff the spinach and separate the strands if they are clumped together. Season with salt, pepper and freshly grated nutmeg. Set aside to cool.
  4. Meanwhile, in a blender or mixie place the flour, baking powder and butter. Run the blender for a few seconds to mix the butter in. Then add the eggs, milk, salt and pepper, and blend until smooth.
  5. Transfer the cooled spinach mixture to the prepared pie dish and spread it out. Sprinkle the cheese and paneer evenly all over. Pour the egg mixture all over the spinach.
  6. Bake for about 35-40 minutes or until puffy, lightly brown and set. Cool for about 10 minutes before slicing to ensure neater slices.

Impossible Pie
This pie tastes bests when served fresh and warm. It is not really something that you’d want to make ahead of time. Since it takes just a few minutes to put together, you could even prep the filling ingredients the previous night and bake the pie the next morning for breakfast, brunch or snack time.

Impossible Pie
We’ve found that this recipe is quite versatile and works well with many leftover veggies or meats. When you’re in a rush you could raid the fridge for anything that is fairly dry and spread it out on the pie dish. Then add the cheese and pour the egg mixture all over.

Here’s another Impossible pie that we made with corn, onions, potatoes, peppers and basil..

Impossible Pie

If you have leftovers refrigerate the slices in a covered container. To re-heat – microwave for about 30 seconds. Then place the slices on a preheated frying pan or tava and crisp up the top and bottom.

And, to wind-up the pie saga comes this beauty – the Three-cheese Broccoli Impossible Pie.

Impossible Pie

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A Chocolate and Mango Tango

Mango Brownies

Mango lovers will vouch for its lusciousness, lingering nectar-like after taste, and above all, its versatility. The grand fruit lends itself, and graciously so, to all manner of flavors and fares. It could be dunked in a sweet and spicy chutney base, or juiced up and slurried into mocktails. What you could also do with it, if you’re left, by the end of the season like us, with a truckload of the king of fruits, is pair it with chocolate and whisk up a batch of gooey, gorgeous brownies. It’s the kind of recipe that, just like the fruit, is malleable and lets you tinker and tussle until you have the perfect tango of tastes. Not that we endorse any other fruit in it, just yet. We’re still relishing the last crumbs of this mangoey, chocolicious dessert..

Mango brownies Mango-nut Brownies (Makes 16)

  • Dry Ingredients – 
    • ½ cup (65gm) all purpose flour / maida
    • 3 tbsp (20gm) cocoa
    • ¼ tsp baking powder
    • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ cup (113gm) butter, melted
  • 1 cup (200gm) sugar, ground fine
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • ¼ tsp mango essence
  • 1 cup fresh mango puree
  • ½ cup walnuts, roasted and chopped (reserve 1 tbsp for garnish)
  • ½ cup white chocolate chips (reserve 1 tbsp for garnish)
  1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC / 350ºF.
  2. Grease an 8″ or 9″ square pan, line with parchment paper and set aside.
  3. Sift the dry ingredients together and set aside.
  4. Melt the butter in a large mixing bowl and stir in the sugar. Set aside to cool
  5. Once the butter is cool whisk in the eggs, vanilla, mango essence and mango puree.
  6. Mix in the dry ingredients.
  7. Finally stir in the walnuts and chocolate chips.
  8. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 40 min. Cool the brownies in the pan. Make the mango-sugar glaze (recipe follows).
  9. Cut the brownies into 16 squares but do not remove them from the pan. Drizzle with the mango sugar glaze and sprinkle the reserved walnuts and chips on top. Then place the brownies on a serving plate or storage box.
  10. If you are not using the glaze you can also put a teaspoon of icing sugar in a sieve and dust the brownies with it.

Mango Brownies

Mango-sugar glaze

  • 1 tbsp fresh mango puree
  • ½ cup icing sugar, sifted
  • 1 tsp cold milk / mango nectar or as required 
  1. Stir together the mango puree and icing sugar. Add milk/mango nectar one teaspoon at a time until you get a flowing glaze. Pour the glaze over the brownies.

Mango BrowniesStore the brownies in the refrigerator in a covered container for 2-3 days. Or, freeze the unglazed brownies, well wrapped, for a couple of weeks. Thaw at room temperature for a few minutes before serving.   

Mango Brownies

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Crunch! Munch! Roasted Makhana

Roasted Phool MakhanaLotus seeds or phool makhana have umpteen health benefits and with minimal effort, can be turned into a delightful snack option to use as a filler between meals, after a rough exercise session, after school or work, or while simply acquiring couch potato status to binge watch a favorite TV drama series. They are brimming with antioxidants and fiber, and can be nibbled on guilt-free, as they’re low in calories and fat. Oh, and they’re simply delicious, as they graduate from being pillowy little buttons to crunchy puffballs.

Roasted Phool Makhana

Roasted Phool Makhana (Lotus seeds)

  • 2 teaspoons ghee
  • 2 cups phool makhana
  • Fine sea salt to taste
  • Fresh cracked pepper
  1. Heat the ghee in a kadhai or heavy bottomed pan placed on low heat. Add the phool makhana. Roast on a low flame for about 10 minutes, tossing frequently.
  2. Sprinkle the salt and pepper all over. Switch off the heat and allow the makhana to cool completely in the pan before transferring to an airtight container. They stay well in a tightly closed container for about a week.

Roasted Phool Makhana

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Velvet ‘n Cream, Chocolate Pudding Supreme

Chocolate Pudding

There’s only one thing to turn to as a mood enhancer when us Tadka girls get together after a long gap, having each succumbed to the despair of illnesses alternating with inertia – chocolate. We’d say dessert, but it wouldn’t possibly have the same bearing unless it comprised cocoa. And so one sunny afternoon we huddled together to gorge on a delicious, spicy, homely meal that hit most of the right spots, as we caught up on this, that and the other. We then settled cozily into our alcoves on opposite sides of couches, thumbs twiddling in anticipation for the clock to tick at least a minute or two before we could barge into the kitchen and dive face-down into the lavish depths of rich chocolate pudding waiting for us in the refrigerator. There wasn’t much to be said once we did – just experienced, the way you would a Broadway musical – with all your senses open and in the moment. Figuratively speaking, of course, because coming to think of it: you wouldn’t want to eat this in public.

Chocolate Pudding

Intense Chocolate Pudding

(Serves 5-6)

  • 1/3 cup plus 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 2½ tbsp cornflour/ cornstarch 
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1¾ cup milk
  • ¼ cup cream
  • 120gm good quality dark chocolate, chopped
  • ½ teaspoon instant coffee 
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  1. In a medium, heavy bottom saucepan, stir together the sugar, cocoa, cornflour and salt.
  2. Place on a low flame and slowly whisk in the milk and cream. Stirring continuously cook for about 10 minutes or until the pudding thickens and starts to bubble on the sides.
  3. Stir in the dark chocolate and coffee. Once the chocolate melts into the pudding take the pan off the heat.
  4. Stir in the vanilla.
  5. Pour the pudding into a jug and then into individual ramekins. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a few hours.
  6. Dust with cocoa powder and pile on dollops of whipped cream, if desired. A few chocolate shavings on top would be a lovely finishing touch.

Chocolate Pudding

Adapted from here – Alice Medrich’s Chocolate Pudding

Chocolate Pudding

 

 

 

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Here’s to Healthy Snackin’ – Zucchini Chillas

Zucchini Chilla

We’re back on the school routine wagon, with umpteen mails urging parents to stick to healthy snack and lunch options flooding our inboxes, from the kindly coordinators. A seemly plot, if you ask us, when our own preferences are taken into consideration, what with the mounting piles of organic fruits, especially mangoes, and crisp green vegetables in our weekly takings. We never miss an opportunity to slink typically boring vegetables into everyday meals, and here we did just that by tossing in some grated zucchini with that yesteryear classic from Mom’s recipe repertoire – besan chilla. The outcome was delicious, and it showed in the smiles of contentment on our super hungry school goers’ faces. These are great as a breakfast option too and they’ll keep your little champs filled and fulfilled, even if it’s only until the time that the much awaited lunch bell dings!

Zucchini Chilla

Zucchini Chilla (Chickpea flour crepes)

(Makes 6)

  • 1.5 cups grated zucchini (One medium zucchini)
  • 1 cup chickpea flour/besan, sifted
  • 2 tbsp brown rice flour
  • Salt to taste
  • ¼ tsp red chilli powder
  • ½ tsp chaat masala
  • Pinch of turmeric
  • 1 green chilli, de-seeded and minced, optional
  • Handful of fresh coriander leaves, chopped
  • ¼ tsp lemon zest
  • ¼ cup of water, or as needed
  1.  Mix together all the ingredients except the water in a large mixing bowl. Set aside for 15 minutes. The zucchini will start to release its water and make the flour wet.
  2. Add enough water to make a pancake batter type consistency. Mix well.
  3. Preheat a nonstick tava or griddle, grease lightly. Pour in a ladle of batter in the centre and use the ladle to spread the batter into a 6″ circle. Cook on medium heat until the chilla browns on the bottom and then flip and cook the other side.
  4. Serve hot, with tomato ketchup, chutney or raita.

Zucchini Chilla

 

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Restaurant Review: Mango Festival at Grand Mercure

It has often been said that the towering piles of mangoes in all their green-gold hued glory are the only thing that make summers bearable in India. Celebrating the mango season with an over-the-top meal featuring the raw and ripe fruits in every dish seemed just the thing to do at a time when the heat had invaded even the usual pleasant climes of Bengaluru. The Grand Mercure, nestled in a quiet side street of Koramangala showcases the king of fruits in a mango festival every summer and this year we decided to head over and see what the fuss was all about.

Grand Mercure Mango2

The meal started with a light appetizer – a vegetarian Mango Caprese salad (above bottom-right). This was beautifully plated and looked really pretty. We enjoyed the pairing of juicy slices of mango with halved cherry tomatoes and the more intensely flavoured slivers of sundried tomatoes, mild mozzarella, crisp lettuce and micro greens. The non-vegetarian version (above top right) had shrimp and raw mangoes, with a soy chilli dressing. Both the salads were fairly lightly dressed and it would be good to call for some extra dressing on the side so that the flavours come through.

The other item on the appetizer menu is the Mango poppadams, in a choice of Falafel or Chicken (above left). The falafel version wins this one hands down. The bite-sized crispy falafels, with a light mango salad and creamy tzatziki dressing went well together and looked cute in the little dish made of papad. The chicken version could have used a little more seasoning..it lacked a little something to make it pop. Eat these quickly since the papad bowl starts to get soggy with the salad inside!

Grand Mercure Mango1

The mango-based cocktails that we had were a tad disappointing. They lacked the zing and freshness that one might expect from a fresh mango drink, and also perhaps, a garnish or two to up the glamour quotient. We sipped on the cocktail on the left in the picture above; this had mango and apricot juices, with a lot of pulp messing with the consistency of the drink. The Aam panna (Non alcoholic, but the version we tried had vodka in it) had a nice punch to it and was assertively spiced.

Grand Mercure Mango3

The vegetarian entrees were definitely the highlight of the mango menu. The balsamic grilled vegetables (above left) were tender-crisp and nicely glazed. They came perched on a scoop of Parmesan Mango Polenta that was really creamy and flavourful. The ravioli (above top right) had spinach, ricotta and raw mango inside and was served with a mango sauce..again this dish was enjoyed by everyone.

We’re always happy to see a good Thai curry (above bottom right) and this one was done really well, with succulent chunks of sour raw mango providing a nice twist to the regular curry. This was served with a wonderfully fragrant jasmine rice.

Grand Mercure Mango4For the non-vegetarian entrees there was a choice of fish, chicken and tenderloin. The Chicken breast stuffed with raw mangoes and mushrooms (above left) was delicious. The Grilled Fish with raw mango piccada (above top right) had a lot of elements on the plate but somehow lacked oomph and the sprouts that it was topped with struck a slightly discordant note in the dish. 

Grand Mercure Mango The eagerly awaited mango dessert course had some hits and misses. The Mango Panacotta with the Basil Raspberry Coulis (above left) was not set too well but the cubes of fruit with the custardy creaminess of the pannacotta were pleasant enough. The Passion fruit and Mango Tart had a hint of rosemary and came topped with thick slices of fresh mango..a little doughy-ness in the bottom crust needs to be addressed here. We did find the Thai inspired Kaffir lime leaf crepe stuffed with fresh mangoes and drizzled with a mango sauce a little heavy on the kaffir lime but folks who enjoy the intense flavour might like this dish.

It was definitely a novelty and a pleasure to savour the flavours of the season’s best mangoes highlighted in each and every dish. Mango lovers will enjoy this menu and the chef’s efforts to present the King of fruits in new and delicious avatars.

 
Promotion Period: Available everyday from 2nd May 2014 – 17th May 2014, 7pm to 11pm
 
Phone: 91-80-4512 1212
 
Accepts Cards: Yes
 
Parking: Valet
 
Address: 12th Main Restaurant,
Grand Mercure Bangalore,
12th Main, 3rd Block, Koramangala,
Bangalore- 560034 
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Restaurant Review: Monkey Bar, Indiranagar

Monkey Bar1

Monkey Bar has been on our must-go list ever since we moved back to Bangalore. We’ve heard and read so much about Chef Manu Chandra, the quirky Monkey Bar ambiance, the superb food, and of course the cocktails. So, it is safe to say that we were pretty kicked about being invited to check out their new restaurant in Indiranagar, Bangalore.

First impressions..the decor looked warm and interesting but not overly cluttered. Small and large knick knacks were scattered around, the odd carved wooden frame sharing space with rustic chalk boards, wacky posters and framed pop art, scooters and liberal doses of the trademark monkey accents. The seating was casual, a few booths and the bar at the ground floor and more seating in the mezzanine floor that also houses pool and foosball tables for those inclined towards a slightly more active rendezvous with friends.

Monkey Bar2

We started off sampling a couple of the cocktails. Wild Leaf with vodka, lime leaves, passion fruit and orange was pleasingly citrusy and refreshing. The Ginger Rogers in the cute ceramic cup with gin, ginger ale and peach juice in it had the expected kick from the ginger and a nice background fruitiness.  

Monkey Bar3

There’s no dearth of conversation starters at Monkey Bar; every wall, window and niche has something to remark on, and your table top is no exception. Blair’s Sudden Death Sauce was what we chatted about while waiting for the food to arrive. This of course led to the sweetish sauce served with the first appetizers being kicked up with a healthy dollop of the aptly titled Death Sauce and the results were really not pretty to watch. This sauce comes with a skull and crossbones on the label and several well-deserved warnings. It should ideally be served out with a tiny medicine dropper!

Monkey Bar4

There’s really nothing that one can gripe about when handed a plate of hot and crisp fried dumplings. The Crab Rangoon, with real crab meat and cream cheese are an American-Chinese classic, with the volume turned up by the chef. The brown and crunchy edges, the gooey, melted cream cheese and a nice, sweet crab flavour inside all combine to make this dish a real winner.

We ate a lot of the mild and slightly sweetish Thai-style deviled fish since it was one of the first dishes served, and we were ravenous at that point. The Tempura Calamari that came next was great for slow snacking, the fried calamari tossed in a dry mixture of green curry, wasabi and plenty of green onions.

Monkey Bar5

We loved the Sloppy Joe! The shredded pork had been mixed with just the right amount of (not too sweet) barbecue sauce and served with crunchy coleslaw and a pickle on the side. A paper cone of sweet potato crisps completed this delightful platter.

Another sandwich that we tried was the Goan Chorizo Pao, this had a vinegary and garlicky filling. The Polish-style Pierogis (pan-fried dumplings) served with sour cream come with a choice of chicken, chilli cheese or pork sausage fillings and reminded us of the popular Mom and Pop Pierogi joints in Chicago strip-malls that we used to frequent.

Monkey Bar6

If you can’t rise from the table without partaking of a rice dish, there is a very hearty Parsee Orderlies’ Mutton curry served with savoury rice and finished with a sprinkling of cheese (Amul?)! The Berry Pulao – an Iranian-style pulav with chunks of chicken and a generous measure of nicely caramelised onions is perfectly cooked and very tasty.

We also tried the Pork Belly sliders that were not overly fatty and come in share-able mini portions, but if you’re going for a pork dish then the Sloppy Joes mentioned earlier would get our vote.

Monkey Bar7

The desserts featured two of our favourite flavour combinations – chocolate with caramel and lemon with strawberry. Both the sweet plates were quite delectable. We’d love to carry a bucket of the Monkey Bar caramel popcorn to our next movie date! The Chocolate Pot de Creme that it was served atop was chocolaty, lush and very satisfying. The slices of a slightly dry cake served with this dessert seemed unnecessary though, and didn’t really stand up to the bold chocolate-caramel flavours and the textures of the dish.

The Lemon Cake is a lemon lovers delight and has several components that help amp up its no-holds-barred tartness. It is served with a scoop of ice cream and sliced strawberries (and again, a couple of lady finger cookies that were really not needed on that beautiful plate).

Yes, Monkey Bar at Indiranagar gets our thumbs up, it is a pretty cool place to spend an evening with friends and linger over the cocktails, small plates and big flavours.

Address: #610, 12th Main, HAL 2nd Stage, Indiranagar, Bangalore (Diagonally opp SBI Bank)
Phone: (80) 44114455
Cuisine: Mix of flavours from everywhere, Breakfast
Alcohol: Yes
Accepts Cards: Yes
Parking: Valet

 

 

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Crackling & Crisp: Khara Biscuits

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It’s amazing how a little cookie can be the key to a flurry of memories. Memories that are awash with the most endearing pastiche of smells, tastes, textures, and sights – of butter, spice, sweet, crumbly, golden brown, crisp, carom, cumin, laughter, and lips smeared with crumbs that stuck on to tell a tale or two. Butter cookies, both the sweet and savory varieties, were hot picks for evening snacks all through the growing up years in India. In the pre-oven era, they were made right on the stove top, with a bed of sand warming up in a heavy-bottomed pan, and the doughy blobs, neatly placed on a tin sheet over the sand, heaving and puffing slowly, before reaching a mesmerizing light brown edge.

With a few tweaks here and there, years hence, this is the way our Khara Biscuits crumble, having careened from rudimentary kitchens and ovens to slightly more refined ones.

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Crackling and Crisp: Khara Biscuits
(Yield: about 15 biscuits, depending on size)

  • All-purpose Flour/ Maida – 1 1/2 cups
  • Whole Wheat Flour – 1/2 cup (WWF can be substituted with Spelt Flour too)
  • Salt – 1 tsp
  • Butter, softened – 1/3 cup
  • Sugar – 3-4 tsp
  • Thick Yogurt (at room temperature) – 2 tbsp
  • Green Chillies (minced) – 1 tsp (or according to taste)
  • Coriander Leaves/ Cilantro (minced) – 1 tbsp
  • Roasted Cumin Seeds/ Jeera – 1 tsp

Preheat the oven to 170 C. Line the baking tray with parchment or grease with butter/ oil. Set aside.

Sift the flours and salt together in a bowl and set aside.

In another bowl, cream butter and sugar till soft, add the 2 tbsp yogurt and continue to beat. Add the flours and mix slowly, adding a little bit of extra yogurt if required. Mix in the chopped chilies and coriander leaves/ cilantro and roasted cumin/ jeera.

Roll the dough to preferred thickness and cut with cookie cutters of your choice. Place on baking tray and bake for about 15 minutes.

Cool on a wire rack and transfer to an air-tight jar when completely cooled.

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