(My apologies for that hopeless pun in the title.)
We saw a lot of food trends in 2015. One of which included a tiny, black seed taking supermarket shelves, cafe menus, and our lives by storm. Salvia hispanica or chia seeds have been included in the Mayan and Aztec diet since the beginning of time. But only recently this ‘superfood’ has gained impetus in our lives.
I first encountered the trend at an all-organic cafe in Bandra, where I found ‘chia seed pudding’ on the menu. That very same day thanks to my local grocer, and recipes off the internet, I decided to experiment with chia seeds. This was roughly six months ago, and since then I cannot stop advocating the benefits of chia seeds to all!
My recent trip to Nashik was an eye opener. I got to see first hand what this season’s dismal rainfall has done to crops. I saw arid, and dry land where I should have been seeing green. I found walking around in the farm so tedious, only to imagine the kind of hardships our farmers must have to face working under that harsh sun, day in and day out. But they do it, with a smile on their faces, waving to us as our car drove by, proud of being able to put food onto our plates every single day.
Freshly returned from my Nashik trip, I was approached to participate in the #SeedTheRise campaign by Mahindra and Mahindra. Call it destiny, or coincidence this campaign happened right around the time I wanted to do something for the farmers, and make a difference in any small way that I could.
Call me conservative, but the charm of cooking with a good ol’ recipe book beats YouTube videos or articles on the web! Which is why I was super thrilled to receive Nisha Katona’s new cookbook – Pimp My Rice – where rice is the supreme star! An entire book with recipes ranging from smoothies, to mains, to dessert all emphasizing on everyone’s staple crop, is a genuinely handy book to have.
I was recently inspired by an interesting article I read on one of the social media platforms, which listed beautiful chocolate desserts that could be made in under ten minutes. That very same evening I came home, experimented, and improvised on a beautiful chocolate oats, no bake cookie. I loved the recipe for two reasons:
1. It is the perfect lazy and easy recipe. It requires basic cooking skills, and if you can mix ingredients in a bowl – you can make this! Also it does not require baking. So major win win for people who do not own an oven, or are skeptical about baking.
2. Secondly, and most importantly it is a comparatively low fat cookie version. I’ve used dates in place of sugar, dark chocolate instead of regular chocolate, and increased the quantity of oats.
One of the many reasons I love the power of food is it’s ability to make you travel. One bite of a dish and you are immediately transported to bustling cities or calming coastlines or old school villages – depending on the origin of that dish. I have never been to Tuscany, or Italy for that matter, but was looking forward to a foodcation at Prego, The Westin Mumbai. Their ongoing ‘Tuscan Trail’ at the hotel’s famed Italian restaurant, Prego, is where I would board my flight to Tuscany’s hearty and simplistic fare. I’ve had a spectacular meal at Prego previously, and I could not wait for this one to begin.
A wonderful evening filled with warm company, delightful conversation, and freely flowing wine – but the food was the real star here. Executive Chef Rahul Dhavale excitedly chatted with us about his newly conceived menu highlighting the best of what Toscano has to offer – Farm Fresh local produce, truffles, sea food, meats, soups, cheese, steaks, ethnic pastas & wine inclusions. Cuisine from Tuscany is simple and hearty with the produce being highlighted. No overdose of cheese, no addition of unnecessary spices, and definitely no overcooked pasta here – everything is as authentic as you can get. I’ve never really been to Italy, but I’ll take his word for it.