Thursday, 28 June 2012

Summer drinks

The weather has been incredibly good the past couple of days and we have resorted to keeping a bottle of chilled water in the refrigerator and taking glugs from it when needed. Ro's hay fever has flared up and he's irritated with it most of the time, but still refuses to stay indoors, and takes the cycle out for a spin to the nearby parks and such whenever possible. As much as I'm enjoying the heat and sunshine, it sometimes gets to me, especially at night when it gets too stuffy and warm, in spite of leaving the windows open. I should probably take off the duvet and use a normal sheet, but we are always jinxed when we do that, because the very next day after we vacuum seal the duvet and stash it away, it becomes cold and unbearable at night, leaving us sleepless and cranky. Same with taking the floor fan out. The day after we assemble it, it would be raining and cold and windy and we'd never have an opportunity to use it. 

Anyway's, coming to today's post, I have been making these gorgeous cold summer drinks whenever the weather is amazing (read HOT) and have been waiting for the right moment to post them. They are not really precise recipes, but more 'add as you like' versions, and so can be adapted in whichever way you prefer. Today I guess temperatures are soaring at 27C and its perhaps the best day to post the recipes for these summery drinks. I am sooo gonna go ahead and make some Pimms later in the day.

Mango Mood (serves 2 to 3) 
The moment I saw Finla's mango cocktail recipe, I knew I had to try it. To be honest, Ro and I dont crave for mangoes during the season. I mean we will pick some up if we feel like it, but dont crave it tremendously. I like mango flavoured drinks more than the actual fruit and that's why I had to give this cocktail a go. Its perfect to serve while entertaining guests and of course, you can never go wrong with anything vodka based :)

Mango juice- 250ml
Orange juice- 100 ml
Vodka- 100 ml
Lime juice- 20 ml
Ice cubes- as required.
Caster sugar- to rim the glasses (optional)

Take some caster sugar in a plate, rub a lemon lightly on the rims of 2 cocktail glasses to moisten i,t and then turn it upside down and dip the rims in caster sugar. 
Shake off excess sugar and chuck them in the fridge.
Pour all the other ingredients into a cocktail shaker and shake away to glory.
Take the glasses out of the refrigerator and strain the drink into them.
Serve immediately.

Lime mint cooler (serves 4)
This brings back fond memories of college days. We used to hang out at this pretty popular juice joint called 'Fruit Shop on Greams Road,' but since we were all living off meagre pocket money, we could only afford the cheapest drink on their menu- the lime mint cooler which was Rs. 10 at that time (I'm sure its gone up like crazy now) and we would sit with that drink for as long as possible. Ah good ol days.

Its not a drink everyone would like as its got a very distinct mint flavour. Ro hates it, but that doesnt stop me from making a couple of glasses for myself. Add some grated ginger for some added punch, or replace sugar with honey for a lighter version.

Lime juice- 1/4 cup
Lemon juice- 1/4 cup
Mint leaves- 1/4 cup
Sugar- 4 to 5 tbsp (depending on taste)
Water- 4 to 4.5 cups
Ice cubes- as required
Lemon zest and mint leaves- to garnish

Blend together all the ingredients, except the garnish items, in a blender till all the sugar is melted and the mint leaves have broken down.
Strain the mix into a large jug, do a taste test. Add more sugar if needed, more water if its too tart and ice cubes if its not cold enough.
Pour into individual glasses and garnish with some zest and mint leaves.

Pimms- the quintessential British fav. (makes one large pitcher)
No summer in England is complete without a pitcher of Pimms and I for one love it. If you have a bottle of Pimms, making variations with different mixers is absolutely easy, and hardly would you have anyone say no to it. This is the basic version and recipe is adapted from here.

Pimms No. 1- 1 cup
Lemonade- 3 cups, chilled
Mint- a few springs
Cucumber- 1/4 cup
Orange- 1, quartered
Strawberries- 1/2 cup, hulled and halved
Ice cubes- as required (optional)

Into a large pitcher pour in the Pimms. 
Top with lemonade. Add ice cubes if required.
Garnish with cucumber, orange and mint and serve chilled.
while pouring it out, you may want to use a spoon to scoop out some of the fruits and add to individual glasses. 
Its best drunk with a straw and eating the alcohol soaked fruits might be a bit tricky, but after a couple of drinks, who cares if you use your hands :)

Sambharam (Spiced buttermilk- serves 2)
This drink definitely needs no introduction. It's a staple at every South Indian household, especially during the hot and humid summers. I am ashamed to say this, but I have made sambharam only once since coming to London and I had to click pics and record it for posterity. I remember glugging down packets full of this yummy stuff during my under grad days, from this small shack just outside college. God know what all they used to add in it, but it was the most yummiest, spiciest buttermilk I've ever had. Recipe adapted from here, styling from here

Buttermilk- 300 ml, chilled
Water- 100 ml (if required)
Ginger- 1 inch piece, peeled
Green chillies- 2
Shallots- 2 small (optional)
Cumin seeds- 1/4 tsp
Asafoetida- a pinch
Curry leaves- a sprig
Salt- to taste

If the buttermilk is too thick, dilute it with the water. The ones we get here are pretty thick and so i keep adding water bit by bit till i get the slightly loose consistency.
Add enough salt, mix well and keep aside.
Grind/ crush coarsely the ginger, green chillies, shallots, cumin seeds and asafoetida either using a pestle and mortar or a spice grinder.
Crush the curry leaves with your hand and all it to the buttermilk, along with all the crushed mix.
Give a good stir and serve cold.
If you dont like to bite into the spices, then let the buttermilk chill in the refrigerator for a while so the flavours get infused, and then strain before serving.

Bloody Mary (makes 1, double it if required)
My recent fav is the Bloody Mary. If made right, it's perhaps one of the yummiest cocktails ever, but if ruined, it could taste like tomato soup with a kick. I used to make this cocktail a lot back in India because vodka and tomato juice is readily available and there is very little or no effort whipping this up for unexpected guests. You can also make a virgin version without the booze. Recipe adapted from here

Vodka- 50 ml
Tomato juice- 125 ml
Celery salt- 1/4 tsp + enough to rim the glass
Black pepper- a dash
Tabasco sauce- a generous dash (less if you dont prefer it spicy)
Worcestershire sauce- a dash
Ice cubes- as required

Take some celery salt in a saucer. Rub a lemon lightly on to the rim of a tall glass to moisten it ,and then turn it upside down and dip the rims into the celery salt. Shake off excess salt, as you dont want it to be too salty. You can use a salt and pepper mix for the rims, if you dont have celery salt. 
Fill the glass with ice.
Pour in the vodka and top it up with tomato juice. You can dilute it with some water if you think the tomato juice is too thick.
Season with the celery salt and black pepper.
Add the Tabasco and Worcestershire sauces, stir it all in and serve.
If you can get hold of celery sticks, use that as a decoration (and a stirrer).

PS: My sister-in-law (brother's wife) is getting into London on Monday and she's with us for about 3 weeks. I am sooo looking forward to some girly time with both my sisters-in-law (Ro's sister is also in London) and so blog posts may not be that regular. 

Monday, 25 June 2012

Malabar chicken biryani

I am not sure if I have mentioned this before, but I love biryani, in any form that is. Even if its a horrible one, I can pretty much enjoy it with gusto which actually doesn't make me the best judge of a biryani, but surely I can say the difference between a good one and a bad :)

I have been wanting to make a Thalassery/ Malabar biryani for a long time now, and last weekend I was finally able to do so. Thanks to experts from the region, like Shab, a quick text to her and she gave me detailed instructions as to how to go about it. I am very pleased with the way the biryani turned out and like I mentioned before, I am a sucker for any kind of biryani and this was no different. If you insist I still give you a verdict, I'd say I prefer biryani's with some more masala and such, unlike this one which uses very little of the masala's. I understand that in the authentic Thalassery biryani, the only masala used is the special garam masala mix and nothing else, which is also the reason behind the biryani colour I suppose (did I just comment on the biryani colour?????). Also a special type of rice called the Jeerakashaala is used for the authentic Thalassery biryani, something I couldn't get my hands on, but basmati rice worked just fine.

The chicken masala was so good on its own, if it wasnt for my enthusiasm to make the biryani, I would have just said, ok its rice and chicken curry for lunch. I would have to give the chicken curry a go some other time, because it seemed  like a perfect curry for chapathis and such. Now before going on to the recipe, I am not claiming it to be the authentic way (before the blog police heads here and leaves nasty comments)- although authentic is a very strong word and different people have different definitions of it. The biryani was spectacular and thats what matters. Both of us enjoyed it to the last bit.

Taking pics of awesome smelling food, especially when you are hungry, is quite torturous and so I haven't really done justice to how great it actually is, so pardon the pics.

Recipe adapted from here and here
For the chicken masala
Chicken- 500 gms (cleaned and cut into medium size pieces)
Ginger- 2 inch piece, peeled and roughly chopped
Garlic- 10 pods, peeled
Green chillies- 3
Lemon juice- 1/2 tbsp
Fennel powder- 2 tsp
Onions- 2 medium ones, chopped fine
Tomato- 1, chopped
Pepper powder- 1/2 tsp
Chilli powder- 1 tsp
Turmeric powder- 1/2 tsp
Coriander powder- 1 tbsp
Cumin powder- 1 tsp
Garam masala- 3/4 tsp
Coriander leaves- 1/4 cup, chopped fine
Mint leaves- 3 tbsp, chopped fine
Cashew nuts- 5 to 6
Coconut milk- 100ml
Oil- 3 tbsp
Salt- to taste

For the rice
Basmati rice- 2 cups, washed and drained
Cinnamon- 1 inch piece
Cardamom- 2 pods
Cloves- 2
Nutmeg- a pinch
Bay leaf- 1
Ghee- 1 tbsp, heaped
Water- 4 cups
Salt- to taste

For assembling
Biryani masala powder- 1 tsp 
Cashew nuts- about 6 to 7
Onion- 1/4 cup, julienned
Oil- enough to fry
Coriander leaves- 2 tbsp
Grind together coarsely the ginger, garlic and green chillies.
Marinate the chicken pieces with a quarter of the ground mix, lime juice, fennel powder and salt. Keep aside while you prepare the remaining ingredients. You can also marinate it in the refrigerator over night.
Soak the cashew nuts for the chicken masala in the coconut milk and keep aside.
Heat enough oil in a pan and fry the onions and cashew nuts (from the assembling bit) till they turn golden brown and crispy. Drain on paper towels and keep aside.

In a heavy bottomed pan, heat the 3 tbsp of oil. 
Add the chopped onions and the remaining ground mix and cook till they turn a light brown in colour. this could take about 10 to 15 minutes on medium heat.
Add the tomato and cook till they turn mushy and the oil starts to separate.
In goes the marinated chicken pieces and pepper powder. 
Stir in all together, close with a tight fitting lid and let the chicken cook on medium heat. 
Once the chicken is half cooked, add the chilli, turmeric, coriander and cumin powders. Stir well and continue till the chicken is fully cooked.
If there is too much water, leave the pot open and boil it off.
Grind the cashew nuts with coconut milk and add to the chicken once it is fully cooked, making sure the curry doesn't boil, but gently simmers henceforth. You should have a thick gravy by now. 
Also do the salt test and add more if required.
Finally mix in the chopped mint and coriander leaves and let the chicken simmer for about 5 more minutes. 
Then take it off the flame, sprinkle the remaining garam masala on top, close with the lid and keep aside to infuse flavours.
Before layering, give a good stir.

Get the rice ready, once the curry is taken care of.
In a large pan heat the ghee.
Throw in the whole spices and sauté for a couple of seconds, just to get the aromas going, on medium heat. Put a kettle of water to boil at this point.
Add the drained rice and fry for a couple of seconds.
Once the water has boiled, measure 4 cups and add to the rice.

Season with enough salt and close with a tight fitting lid.
Reduce heat to low and let the rice cook for about 10 to 12 minutes or till you can no longer see any water remaining and the rice is cooked but not mushy in consistency.
Remove pan from fire, open the lid and gently fluff the rice using a fork, making sure you don't break up the rice.
Transfer to a separate bowl immediately.
Smear the bottom of a pan with oil or ghee and place a layer of rice.
Sprinkle half a tsp of the biryani masala, half of the chopped coriander leaves, fried onions and cashew over the rice and top with the chicken curry. Spread it out as gently as possible.
Tip in the remaining rice, spread it out and sprinkle the remaining biryani masala powder and coriander leaves.
Close with a tight lid, making sure no steam escapes, reduce heat to the lowest possible and let it warm up for about 10-15 minutes.
When done, scatter around the remaining fried onions and cashews and serve hot with some raita, pappad and pickle.
Notes: Instead of using the biryani masala powder while doing the layer, you can also use garam masala in its place.
You can do the layering in the oven as well. Arrange it in an oven proof bowl and warm in an oven preheated at 150C for about 20 minutes.
You can make the chicken masala a day or two ahead in which case, the flavours would have infused better.
The chicken masala can be made in a pressure cooker to reduce cooking time. Although Shab advices against it.
Try the exact same recipe with mutton, if you prefer that.
Freeze the remaining biryani in a freezer proof container. To thaw, either transfer it to the top compartment of the fridge and let it thaw over night or take it out and leave on the counter for it to thaw by evening. Tip the contents into an over proof bowl and let it heat in an oven preheated at 200C for about 15 minutes. 

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Slow cooked beef and potato stew

I have been hearing so much about slow cooked roasts and casseroles and have been pretty intrigued by it. I mean I'm not one for slow activities which involve a lot of patience and concentration, but I just had to try it out once, after all the ooh's and aah's about how great they tasted and how tender the meat was. Whenever I cook something with beef or pork, I end up using the good ol pressure cooker and although it reduces the cooking time drastically and does the job of cooking the meat, I somehow feel all the curries I make in the pressure cooker tastes the same, no matter what different combinations of masala I use.

So the other day when I picked up some stewing beef, I decided to go ahead and try this whole slow cooking method, not in the oven, but on the hob top..just to see if it was fabulously different and worth wasting all that energy (literally too). I don't have a slow cooker/ crock pot and so I could only experiment with slow cooking using a heavy bottomed cooking pot. The procedure took almost 2 hours and I was thoroughly pleased with the outcome. Unlike a slow cooker, I couldn't just leave it on to do the job, but had to keep checking it on and off- liquid levels, stir to prevent scorching and so on.

I personally thought it tasted much much better than the curry made in the pressure cooker. For one, the masalas had nicely caught on to the beef cubes and the potato was cooked to perfection. Since the stew turned out so well, I decided it was a waste to serve it with frozen chapathi's. So I immediately turned to my trusted appam mix and whipped up some batter and set it aside to ferment. I know I would be a disgrace to the food blogger community by saying this, but I love love love ready mixes of any sort:). 
This appam mix for example, its a brand called Double Horse, and it works wonders. Just mix the powder with with water, coconut milk or milk or a mix of all of these and keep it aside for an hour or so in a warm place and you have nice soft appams ready in no time. I have a flat glass top hob and so cant use the traditional appam chatti, so I make do with the frying pan and dish out the flat appams (I cant for the love of me remember what its called). Its always worked for me and I don't understand why you would waste time and energy making your own batter when the ready made ones work just well. Its either that or its because Ro and I cant really make out the difference between appams made using home made batter and the store bought one. We savour it whatsoever. Same with dosa batter and vada mixes. They work like a charm for us :)

Anyhoo, I lovingly served it for dinner, quite looking forward to the fact that Ro would most certainly notice the difference and sing praises only to be slightly let down. He didn't utter a word even after a few mouthfuls and I finally lost it and asked how the stew was. 'It nice, its the same stew you always make right?' was his reply. I then had to explain to him that it is a slow cooked stew..2 hours I spent slaving over it and it HAS to taste different from the usual. He still didn't get it. His reply was 'you just wasted 2 hours of electricity on a stew that would have taken just 15 minutes to prepare in a pressure cooker???? You talk about energy conservation all the time, what about this then??' I just rolled my eyes and let it pass. I still believe the stew did taste fabulously different from my usual pressure cooker stews. Please, if anyone tries it out, do let me know what you think, so I don't feel horrible about all that energy I could have conserved.

Also, somewhere along the way my blog turned 3, well on may 29th to be precise, and since I don't keep track of stuff like this, it wasn't a big deal. It was only recently when someone asked me how old my blog was, that I realized I should go and check and yes, it had turned 3 :) So I'm gonna consider my first ever slow cooked recipe as a milestone achievement and make a big deal out of it on this 3rd anniv. Hope you enjoy the stew.

Recipe modified from here
Stewing beef- 500 gms, cut into bite size cubes
Potatoes- 2, cut into medium sized cubes.
Shallots- 250 gms
Ginger- 3 inch piece, peeled and roughly chopped
Garlic- 10 cloves, peeled
Green chillies- 2
Tomato- 1, chopped
Curry leaves- 2 sprigs
Turmeric powder- 1/2 tsp
Chilly powder- 1/2 tbsp
Kashmiri chilli powder- 1/2 tbsp
Coriander powder- 1 1/2 tbsp
Pepper powder- 1 1/2 tsp
Garam masala- 2 tsp
Thick coconut milk- 1/2 cup
Mustard seeds- 1/2 tsp
Oil- 2 tbsp + enough to temper
Salt- to taste
Crush/ grind together coarsely the shallots, ginger, garlic and green chillies.
Heat oil in a heavy bottomed pot and throw in the crushed mix.
Saute on medium heat till they turn a light brown in colour. This should take about 10 to 15 minutes.
Add the chopped tomatoes and saute for a couple more minutes, till they turn mushy and the oil starts to separate.
In goes all the masala powders- turmeric, chilly powders, coriander, pepper and garam masala.
Saute till the raw smell disappears and the oil becomes visible.
Add the beef along with the potato, half of the curry leaves and enough salt. Mix it all in, making sure the masala coats the beef and potato well.
Add about 1 cup water, give a final stir and close with a lid.
Cook for about 1.30 to 2 hours on low-medium heat, stirring in between (carefully, as you don't want to mash the potatoes), checking liquid levels and adding water as and when required. However, don't over do it. 
Once the meat is completely cooked add the coconut milk and check for salt.
Keep on medium flame for about 10 more minutes and take the stew off the flame. 
Heat about 2 tsp of oil in a kadai and splutter mustard seeds and remaining curry leaves.
Pour this over the cooked stew and give a final stir.
Serve with chapathi's, appam, bread or even idiappam.
Notes: You can use any cut of meat. The one advantage of slow cooking is that it makes the meat quite tender whatsoever.
If you cant find shallots, 2 medium sized onions would do.
You can omit the coconut milk and just do with water. The coconut milk however gives it a very distinct taste.
The tadka can be done in the beginning as well, before you add the crushed mix.
Try this with mutton or lamb and it would be just as good.
The curry is slightly on the spicier side, so avoid the chilly powder if you are not up to it.
I have also tried adding the garam masala right at the beginning with the oil, and i think i like that better.
If at all you did want to make this in the pressure cooker, do all the steps as above in a pressure cooker, add water and close with the lid.
Cook for about 18 minutes or 5 to 6 whistles (you'd know how long the beef you get usually cooks).
Open, check if meat is done and pour in the coconut milk.
Bring to a boil and then take it off flame. Continue with the remaining steps.

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Cornflake cookies

(Specs: Aperture f/ 3.2, Shutter speed 1/60s, ISO 320. I cropped a bit of the pic on top)

We had guests staying with us the last couple of days and were busy carting them around London and some other nearby touristy places. Every summer we are swarmed with guests (something both of us thoroughly enjoy) and this year is no different. So now I'm taking a breather before my next set arrives :)

After every set of friends/ relatives leave, I go into a slight lull because, as much work as it is when they are around, it is also super fun with all the non stop banter, late nights and food and drinks. The fact that I haven't seen the sun in the last 3 days adds to that lull. Its been raining non stop since Sunday evening and apparently its gonna continue being so till the weekend. What fun!!! We are almost into mid June and its supposed to all summery and hot and nice, not depressing like how it is now. I had put away all my jackets and boots but looks like I will have to dig them out if this scenario doesn't change.
OK so now that the weather dilemma is out of the way, here's a bit about the recipe. I am not a big fan of cookies. I mean I could have one or two once in a while, but certainly not everyday. I also like to eat them warm out of the oven and once they have completely cooled down, its no longer appetising to me. The only chocolate chip cookie that I don't mind eating is the ready to make Betty Crocker cookie mix (yes! I know I'm a disgrace to the entire food blogger community) and the dough is something I can just finish off in no time. Again, they are heavenly just warm out of the oven, but unbearable (to me) once they cool down. Ro loves this cookie mix and begs me to never again make anything but this. Well! So much for all the blogging enthusiasm!!! Weirdly (or maybe not), my favourite ice cream is the Ben & Jerry's cookie dough which I can have even during the coldest of winters. 
And so, this cookie was born not out of my love for them, but because I had some cornflakes I had to finish before they went cold on me. That said, I have fond memories of having these cookies when I was in school. My mum was such a pro at making these awesome evening snacks, that my brother and I on our walk back home from the bus stop would build our appetite like no business by guessing what mummy would have made. We raise our hopes to such extent that we would be thoroughly disappointed if it was just ethakka appam (banana fritters) where we would have anticipated cakes or cookies in its place. 

Back then, these cookies were a favourite of mine and I remember my moms version to be more cornflake-y than the one I made. My mom's been so busy the last couple of weeks that I haven't been able to get her to email the recipe she's been using and so I had to make do with one I got online. I'm not complaining here, these were close to what I used to have and I like biting into the crunchy cornflakes to reveal a softer centre full of buttery flavour. I ate up quite a few of these right out of the oven and to my surprise even after a day or two. I don't know if it were the memories attached that made me want to keep eating them, or they were just too darn good to stop, they got over in a matter of days. Would I make it again?? Yes, I'd probably compare it with my moms recipe and if its different I'll definitely give it a go. In the mean time, I have to break my head wondering what to do with the remaining cornflakes :)

Recipe adapted from here (makes 20-22 small cookies)
Butter- 100 gms
Caster sugar- 75 gms
Egg- 1 large (slightly beaten)
Vanilla extract- 1/2 tsp
Plain flour- 150 gms
Corn flour- 15 gms
Baking powder- 1/4 tsp (optional)
Plain cornflakes- 40 gms (coarsely crushed)
In a bowl mix together the flour, corn flour and baking powder. Keep aside.
Cream together the butter and sugar in a mixing bowl till light and fluffy. You can either use an electric beater or just a hand whisk would do.
Add the lightly beaten egg followed by vanilla extract and mix together for about a minute or so, till they all come together.
Tip in the flour mix and fold with a spatula till no traces of flour is seen. 
Pre-heat the oven to 175C and line a baking tray with baking paper.
Have the crushed cornflakes in a bowl.
Lightly wet your palms and make small balls out of the dough. About 1 tsp in size (approx.)
Roll the balls in cornflakes and place on the tray, about an inch apart.
Bake for 25 minutes or till the cookies become a nice golden brown in colour.
Take the tray out of the oven and leave to set for about 5 minutes after which you can transfer the cookies on to a cooling rack and wait for them to completely cool.
Store them in an air tight container or eat them right away with a cuppa tea :)

Notes: You can replace the caster sugar with normal granulated sugar.
I used Kellogg's cornflakes.
Refrigerate the dough for about half an hour, if you find they are too sticky to make into balls.
I am also sending the first pic to Aparna's Exercise in Food Photography #2: Less is More. I wanted to join in on her first exercise, but time constraints and other irrelevant stuff got in the way and so couldn't. I would like to improve my photography and would like to be regular hence forth. In this exercise, she has asked us to shoot a picture with minimalistic composition, keeping it simple and divert all your attention to the subject. Now, this is a difficult proposition for me, because, I tend to over crowd my pictures with all sorts of prop. It sometimes works to my advantage, but most often than not, is not a really great idea. I love simple food styling, but somehow get carried away with all the various prop I've managed to collect, there-by ruining the picture. So this time, I made a conscious effort to keep it simple and I'm quite proud of how they have turned out. I wanted the texture of the blue board to stand out and over crowding would have made that impossible. I used a roughed up piece of paper and arranged the cookies on it. Kept one cookie separate so you could see it clearly. The lighting is from the back diffused with a white cloth. The stray crumbs were added for effect :)

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Butterscotch-brioche bread pudding- A guest post for Collaborative Curry

Collaborative Curry was one of those first blogs that I stumbled upon, when I was new to the whole blogging scene; and Sunitha was the first food blogger I ever spoke to. We had a loooong skype session once and it was so so much fun:). Again, like I have mentioned before, I have a list of food bloggers I'd like to meet some day, and Namitha and Sunitha definitely make the list. But till then, I guess we will just have to make do with FB, skype, chats and blogs. 

I was mighty thrilled when Namitha wrote in asking me to do a guest post while she was away vacationing in India. I of course jumped at the opportunity and put my mind to work thinking what I'd whip up for a blog that has some amazing recipes and gorgeous pictures. After some brainstorming, we decided on the Bread Pudding and I was glad because it is one of my current favs. But wait a minute, that was not the case till recently. Care to read the story? Well! here goes...
My first taste of bread pudding was when I was in school or something. My mums favourite dessert to make when we had guests over was either the bread and butter pudding, a pineapple pudding or a biscuit pudding. She claimed they were all super easy to make which is why it made its way through to our parties ever so often. Last Christmas, when we were all home in India and while discussing the Christmas menu, we asked her what was dessert and these 3 options came up again. And my brother and myself in unison said, NOT AGAIN!! That's how much we detested the three desserts. (The fact that we still ended up having pineapple pudding after much discussion, speculation and arguments is another story altogether). 

With this aversion to bread pudding in mind, I never really bothered giving it a go anywhere else. It is mostly available in the dessert section of almost every pub menu along with the quintessential British favs sticky toffee pudding and apple pie, but I never really favoured it since it was something I'd grown up with. But it all changed, just recently. We decided to hit a riverside pub on one of those glorious spring evenings when the sun was out and every Londonite was either out in the park or in a pub. You would know by now that the pub culture in UK is so flourished, that even on a Monday afternoon, you can see pubs full of the working crowd. No Monday blues in UK I guess:)
Anyways, we grabbed a couple of beers and ciders and basked in the sun like nutcases who were sun deprived and invariably ended up having dinner there. Pub food is not so awesome, unless you go to a theme pub like a Thai or a Spanish inspired one and other than the usual burgers, fish and chips and bangers and mash, the options are not too varied. But I somehow always love pub desserts which I feel is as authentic as it can get. I'm probably wrong about this, but it works for me. I decided on a treacle tart but as luck would have it, that was sold out and my only other option was a brioche bread pudding. Ok what the hell I thought, never tried a 'brioche' bread pudding, so ordered it without much expectation. The pudding arrived and it looked as unappetising as I thought it would be, but one bite into the warm and gooey pudding and boy was I wrong. It was just absolutely delish.

The fact that it was made of brioche just took it a notch higher and the slight caramel taste was fabulous. The only thing I didn't quite enjoy was biting into the raisins, but that's a small price to pay for a tasty bowl of bread pudding. I called up my mom the next day and told her that the bread pudding she makes is not bread pudding at all and to chuck her recipe out. She replied that if she were to get her hands on bread with such high content of butter and eggs, even her pudding would taste great. I argued and have promised to make it for her when I have a chance. I was determined to replicate it at home and so set about googling the recipe. I was not too successful at it, but with some tweaks and adjustments to this recipe, I was able to recreate something close to what I had envisaged. The recipe is quite forgiving and the options are endless. This is however the basic version which since then, I have made quite a number of times, and the results just keep improving. The final outcome doesn't look all fancy and pretty, but trust me, it tastes so darn good, you have to make a conscious effort to not go for a second bowl.
I couldn't think of a better way to show my gratitude to Namitha and Sunitha than offer them a slice of this fabulous pudding, from across the pond. Head over to Collaborative Curry to check out the recope.
Hope you guys enjoy it and thanks once again for this lovely opportunity.