Posts Tagged ‘cooking’

AFLATOON – A Nourishing Winter Dessert

December 27, 2009

AFLATOON – A Nourishing Winter Dessert

A Rare Baked Delight

By

VIKRAM KARVE

Here is a recipe for Aflatoon – a rich fortified sweet ideal for winter. Aflatoon is a rare baked delight.

Cooking is more a qualitative art, rather than a quantitative science.

The other day, a friend of ours dropped home a packet of scrumptious Dharwadi Pedhas.

My dear wife [who does not believe in the dictum: “There is no greater love than the love of eating”] promptly put them in the fridge and forgot about it.

Now what greater inanity can be there than consigning fresh soft flavorsome mellifluous Pedhas to harden up in some remote cold corner of the fridge?

So when I first discovered the packet of cold hard Pedhas lying hidden deep inside my fridge during one of my surreptitious midnight raids, when my better half was fast asleep, I was first miffed, then improvising, decided to soften them up in my microwave oven.

I put a piece of warm softened-up Pedha in my mouth – Lo and Behold! – The Dharwadi Pedha had metamorphosed into a Lal Peda.

Yes, it tasted like genuine Banarasi Lal Peda with its unique wholesome “crispy roasted milky taste”. Now that’s serendipity. I’ve searched for Lal Peda all over but nothing could match the authentic Lal Peda I used to enjoy near Sankat Mochan in Varanasi.

I love sweets – especially Indian Sweets – Pedhas, Barfis, Rosogulla, Gulab Jamun, Kala Jamun, Cham Cham, Sandesh, Jilebi, Imrati, Son Papdi, Mysore Pak, Petha, Mahim Halwa, Malpua, Karanji, Anarse, Chirote, Lavang Lata, Ladoos – you name it, I love it – and one of favorites is a superb wholesome treat called “Aflatoon”.

Now the only place I’ve had Aflatoon is on Mohammed Ali Road in Mumbai, at Suleman Mithaiwala near Minara Masjid, and I think also at Zam Zam a little distance down the road.

Aflatoon not only satisfies your sweet-tooth; it provides rich nourishment and is blissfully satiating too.

I’m in Pune now.

Like my search for Lal Peda, my search for Aflatoon also remained elusive, so I decided to improvise and hope for the best.

Now remember, My Dear Reader, I’m no great cook, nor am I a high-falutin connoisseur, nor a culinary expert; I’m just a simple down-to-earth trencherman, an avid foodie, so I asked around, searched around, explored, extrapolated, reverse-engineered, and here is what I improvised, a purely ingenious adventurous concocted experimental recipe.

[Try it at your own risk!].

First, with a fork, I thoroughly beat three fresh eggs till fluffy, added one cup [vati or katori] of sugar (add more if you like it sweeter) and then vigorously whisked away till all the sugar dissolved and the mixture was nice and fluffy.

I had already switched on my oven – yes, Aflatoon is a baked delight – one of the rare Indian sweets which are baked in an oven.

I rubbed pure ghee on the palms of my hands and kneaded half a kilo of fresh Khoya [khava, mawa made from buffalo milk] till it was slippery smooth.

Then I blended in and coalesced the Khoya into the feathery egg-sugar emulsion and whipped strongly with my hands till my wrists pained, and my biceps and triceps strained, and the khoya had fully dissolved and merged into the mélange and the fusion was complete, the rich blend velvety smooth.

Now in a plate, I mixed together one cup of rawa, half cup of maida, and a pinch of baking powder, and gently folded this mixture, spoon by spoon, into the egg-sugar-khoya amalgamation and robustly swirled and pasted the batter with my hands, till my hands got tired again and my muscles ached.

Here, there is no exact proportion of how much rawa- maida mixture is to be added to the batter; my hands tell me when to stop – later I can always add a bit as and when required to get the right baking consistency.

Now the interesting part – I lovingly blended in three katories or vaties [yes, three full cups – one cup per egg] of pure ghee and churned with my hands for a long time till the ghee fully dissolved into the delectable mixture, indiscernible.

Now here is the difference in sequence of ingredients – while baking a cake you start of with creaming the butter, than blend in the sugar, then eggs, then maida; here you start off with beating the eggs, then the sugar, the khoya, the rawa-maida flour, and now comes the pure ghee (clarified butter).

Hey, remember to lick your fingers from time to time and taste the delightful mélange at each stage and plus-minus the proportions accordingly.

Also, your fingers will tell you when the consistency is perfect.

That is why I never use mixers, blenders, juicers, measuring cups and all those hi-fi gadgets when preparing dough and batter for baked delights, or cooking dishes – I always rely on my own tongue to tell me the precise taste, use my hands to cream, blend, the concoction to the right consistency, improvise the ingredients and proportions accordingly – if you want to cook creatively, there is nothing to beat your own sensory perception, isn’t it?

And yes, don’t forget to use your nose too – food must be fragrant, appetizingly aromatic, besides looking deliciously mouthwatering and tempting to feel and touch!

Now I mixed in the spices – powdered jaiphal, dalchini, elaichi, lavang – and, while gently stirring with my hand, slowly poured in yummy thick creamy buffalo milk, about half a cup, till the consistency of the smooth paste becomes soft and silky, and ready for baking.

Remember to always have the rawa-maida flour ready in stand-by mode to even up the batter, if required.

Then I mix in kismis, manuka, crushed pasted khajur, squeezing my fingers.

Oh, just a minute, I thoroughly mix in a few drops of vanilla essence to make even the slightest trace of the smell of eggs go away.

Finally I embellish with crushed dry fruit like badam, pista, kaju etc.

I now pour in the rich creamy dough into pure-ghee greased baking trays and bake it in my conventional pre-heated oven at medium heat till the characteristic mouthwatering aroma wafts through the kitchen and the Aflatoons looked appetizingly brown.

With all the khoya, creamy milk and rich ingredients it sometimes takes almost an hour or so to be done. Time doesn’t matter, when cooking, as in eating, I like to be unhurried – the slower the cooking the tastier the food. I always like to keep the heat moderate and my senses, especially olfactory, alert.

The proof of the pudding is in the eating.

I was dying to sample the result of my culinary experiment, so I didn’t even wait till it cooled – Oh yes, it tasted wholesome, sumptuous, appetizing, good.

Just imagine if you fortify milk-cake with eggs, enrich it, spice it up, and roast it well – that’s the nearest I can describe how aflatoon tastes.

I wonder if aflatoon can be made by roasting it on a tawa instead of baking it!

I relished my homemade “aflatoon” – but then nothing can beat the original aflatoon for which I’ll have to head to Mumbai.

Till then, I’ll keep savoring these – I’m sure with all the pure ghee imbibed in them these aflatoons will last for days – provided I keep them hidden away from craving children and other insatiable trenchermen like me!

Dear Reader, and fellow Foodie – why don’t you too improvise, be creative, experiment, use your own ingredients and proportions, conjure up your very own aflatoon, savor it, try it out on your family and friends, and tell us all about it.

And if you happen to live in Mumbai, why take all this trouble – just go ahead and relish the original.

Happy Baking!

Dear Reader and Fellow Foodie: For more such appetizing dishes do read APPETITE FOR A STROLL, a treatise on The Art of Eating, Easy to Cook Recipes and Foodie Adventures in Pune and Mumbai.

Click the links below to know more about this delicious book:
http://www.expressindia.com/latest-news/Food-for-soul/358363/#

http://books.sulekha.com/book/appetite-for-a-stroll/default.htm

http://www.indiaplaza.in/finalpage.aspx?storename=books&sku=9788190690096&ct=2

http://www.flipkart.com/appetite-stroll-vikram-karve/8190690094-gw23f9mr2o

Happy Eating

VIKRAM KARVE

Copyright © Vikram Karve 2009

Vikram Karve has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com

http://www.linkedin.com/in/karve

Appetite for a Stroll

vikramkarve@sify.com


http://books.sulekha.com/book/appetite-for-a-stroll/default.htm

A CLEAN WELL LIGHTED PLACE – MOMO Cafe Courtyard by Marriott Hinjewadi Pune

August 10, 2009

A CLEAN WELL-LIGHTED PLACE

“A Clean, Well-Lighted Place!”

That’s the first thought that instantly comes to my mind the moment I enter Courtyard’s MoMo Café on Saturday afternoon.

A Clean, Well-Lighted Place is the title of my favourite Ernest Hemingway Short Story – the phrase depicts the café where the story is set.

Well that’s what MoMo Café is – a Clean Airy Well Lighted Spacious Friendly café with wonderful feel-good ambience and superb food, tasteful décor and pleasant aesthetics which make you feel fresh, cheerful, comfortable and relaxed. Yes, the bright vibes of the place certainly lift my spirits and make me feel good the moment I enter the lobby of Courtyard.

We walk in the spacious “courtyard”, past MoMo 2 Go, the “to go” grab and go deli, stocked with tempting baked delights, for those in a hurry.

Well, I am not in a hurry, so I leisurely stroll past the spic-and-span counter adorned with tempting goodies and the appetizing buffet spread. There are pickles, in traditional jars, a mix and match and toss your own salad counter, and soups and broths. Everything is so visually pleasing that I can sense the appetite being built up inside me.

It is heartening to see the immaculate open display kitchen – it always feels reassuring to see your food being cooked in front of you with impeccable standards of hygiene and quality.

I look around. MoMo Café is a happy place and the seating is comfortable, ample, user-friendly and well-designed.

It is a leisurely Saturday afternoon cosmopolitan crowd comprising a delightful assortment – joyful families, young IT executives, couples, singles, friends, business guests, eager foodies, relaxed tourists and cosy friends spending a leisurely afternoon over a chilled beer, a tasty bite and snug conversation. There is plenty of space, there is plenty of light, freshness in the air, and everyone, the kids and the adults, seems to be having a pleasant time, enjoying the food and the friendly atmosphere.

A discerning yet innovative menu features an imaginative choice of select dishes from a variety of cuisines, from the Orient and the Occident, ranging from starters, soups, salads, sandwiches, pizzas and pastas to Kebabs and an astute selection of traditional Indian dishes, sumptuous main course delicacies, and exclusive desserts to round off your meal. Despite the impressive array of multi-cuisine, it is a short and sweet uncluttered concise well thought-out menu – a sure sign of a restaurant that takes its food seriously.

We are wondering what to order, when Subhash, the Executive Chef, joins us, so we leave it to him to do the honours. He asks to select anything we fancy from the impressive array of dishes laid out for the lunch buffet and then we’ll try his recommendations from the a-la-carte menu.

I pick up some Seafood Broth – it’s non-spicy with a combination of seafood and lots of vegetables and nourishing, just like a basic Seafood Broth ought to be. The buffet seems to be very popular perhaps because the spread is so elaborate and I wonder what to sample. I start off with some bhuna gosht – it is excellent – succulent flavoursome pieces of mutton in luxuriant gravy. The scrumptious Mustard Fried Fish and Stroganoff tempt me to try out the whole buffet lunch but Subhash has already ordered a pizza from their wood fired pizza oven – I’ll only say this: The thin crust pizza is probably the best pizza I have ever tasted – it’s light, the crust melts in the mouth and allows the tongue to fully relish the taste of sauce, cheese and delectable toppings.

“Let’s have a Momo,” I say, harking back to mouth-watering memories of my Shillong days when I first relished the yummy wholesome Momo. At first I thought that maybe MoMo Café was a Momo place but Vyshnavi and Subhash educate me – the name MoMo Café exemplifies the concept of Modern Living and Modern Eating. But surely, isn’t it apt that MoMo Café has Momos on its menu – maybe next time!

Subhash orders Nasi Goreng for me and Conchiglie Pasta for my darling vegetarian wife. There is an interesting choice of wines, spirits and cocktails, but we prefer freshly squeezed orange juice as an accompaniment.

We are indeed fortunate to have an opportunity to interact with Subhash who is a veritable human encyclopaedia on wining and dining and all things culinary. The enlightening “foodie” conversation is sheer delight and Subhash’s  sincere love of food, passion for cooking and impressive repertoire of culinary knowledge enhance the eating experience and make our meal even more appetizing and intellectually stimulating.

The Nasi Goreng, Spicy Prawn Fried Rice with soft fried egg and Chicken Satay, is lip-smacking and fulfilling. I have a bite of the vegetarian Conchiglie Pasta too, savouring its inimitable taste of spinach in basil flavoured sauce, as Subhash explains the intricacies – the foam and the way this delicate dish is made.

For dessert, we have Tiramisu, the pièce de résistance of the meal. MoMo Café’s inimitable signature Tiramisu is marvellous – a fitting climax to a splendid meal. Subhash tells us it is a non-alcoholic Tiramisu, to cater to children and local preferences, but let me tell you that it is the best Tiramisu I have ever had and the delightful symbiosis of delectable tastes lingers within me for a long long time.

I will cherish mouth-watering memories of this lovely Saturday afternoon forever. I am sure MoMo Café is going to be a hit, a boon to the foodies of Pune, due to its unique location, superb food, vibrant ambience, impeccable standards of hygiene and quality, and the warm and friendly service.

I am certainly going to eat at MoMo Café again. And this time I am going to check out the Indian Cuisine. I’ll start with melt-in-the-mouth dissolve-on-your-tongue Galawat Kebab, savour a Nalli Nihari – let’s see how it compares with the authentic versions of this luscious fortifying breakfast dish I’ve relished in the heart of Delhi and Mumbai. Then I’ll try some Dum Biryani and end with a soothing Kulfi Falooda.

A true Foodie eats twice, first in his mind’s eye, and then with his taste buds. So whenever a Foodie ventures out to a new place he builds up some expectations – MoMo Café certainly exceeded my expectations in all aspects and we thoroughly enjoyed the overall dining experience.

VIKRAM KARVE

Copyright © Vikram Karve 2009

Vikram Karve has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.

Dear Reader, if you enjoyed reading this, and want to relish more such delicious foodie adventures, do read APPETITE FOR A STROLL


http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com

http://www.linkedin.com/in/karve

vikramkarve@sify.com

http://www.indiaplaza.in/finalpage.aspx?storename=books&sku=9788190690096&ct=2

http://www.flipkart.com/appetite-stroll-vikram-karve/8190690094-gw23f9mr2o

http://books.sulekha.com/book/appetite-for-a-stroll/default.htm