Tag Archives: salad

{Restaurant Review} Go to The Meat Co. for a hearty meal and a great time

8 Aug

How many times in life we miss out on great opportunities only because we hold preconceived notions about them. They slip by because we are hesitant and limit our imagination and thus our experiences in life. I had a similar experience very recently when I went to The Meat Company when I was graciously asked to review them. I was quite hesitant considering The Meat Co. held a reputation of being a steak house and I do not eat steak. Going to a steak house and then eating vegetarian fare would never be a fair deal. But The Meat Co. ‘s PR persuaded me to try their non-steak menu and promised that it would be just as delightful, if not more.  Armed with my camera and a non-steak eating husband, I tottered off to The Meat Co. on a sultry evening during Ramadan.

Upon entering the restaurant, we were greeted by the gracious hostess who showed us our table.  We are asked promptly about the beverage of choice and we opted for water at room temperature. I made an additional request for hot water because I wasn’t keeping well. The request was dealt with spontaneity which impressed me as a pot of boiling water was kept on my table. We were introduced to the server, Alex who was more than pleased to help us figure out the menu and how we could get the best out of it despite belonging to the category of the non-steak eating lot.

MC1

While we spent time perusing and contemplating the options on the menu, we were served a crusty wholemeal bread with balsamic and olive oil to dip into. Just perfect start to what was to be a fine dining experience. In the beginning, we were seated on the ground floor where the lighting wasn’t the best for food photos. We were escorted to the first floor which was less crowded and that helped my cause. It meant having the freedom to take pictures from all odd angles which would have otherwise drawn a lot of eye balls. Such is a life of a food aficionado! Sigh!

Well, I digress. The moot point is, we were treated exclusively with Alex giving us all the information we needed about the cuisine and what to expect from dishes we hadn’t tasted before. He told us about the South African food that is The Meat Co.’s origins and how it is different from other kinds of cuisines.

 

MC8

Alex & Amit

For the starters we ordered the Wild Mushroom and Spinach Vol-au-vent which was sauteed wild mushroom in a creamy spinach sauce, stuffed into a flaky pastry and topped with cheese which I suspect was Parmesan and Mozzarella.  The pastry was crunchy and flaky while the stuffing was a creamy deliciousness of a match that was made in heaven.

MC12

Wild Mushroom and Spinach Vol -au-vent

We also ordered for a warm goat cheese salad as a starter which was slightly sweet and tangy which could be credited to the mild honey balsamic dressing on the salad. Oh somehow I forgot about this third starter – Scallops on the bed of risotto! How could I,  considering this was my first time trying scallops. And tell you what; I loved it!!  The risotto was comfort food at its best with a mild cheese flavour and a kick from the pepper balancing the subtle flavours of the pan- fried scallops. Somehow, both the salads, scallops were so filling plus the bread was so hearty that we felt, we could have easily skipped the main course. But we had already ordered for it and were feeling completely intimidated by the portions! ( What were we thinking!)

 

A warm goat cheese salad

A warm goat cheese salad

 

MC2

Scallops on a bed of risotto

The the main courses arrived, we realized that The Meat Co. definitely doesn’t believe in less is more! The portions were LARGE and HEARTY and so TASTY. It was a pity that we over -ordered ( is there such a term??) our starters and didn’t take the steakhouse definition too seriously.

For the main course we ordered the grilled fish ( hammour) with steamed vegetables for me and a ‘well-done’ chicken burger for my husband with fries and onion rings. It was an absolute pity that we were up until our mouths with all the wonderful food, that the main course went largely unappreciated. I made it a point to doggy bag my left over fish because leaving it felt like a criminal waste. The left overs served me well the next day for lunch where I marveled at the succulent texture of the fish.

Grilled Hammour with vegetables

Grilled Hammour with vegetables

Chicken burger

Chicken burger

Alex entertained and encouraged us to eat more and heartily but I told him that if I had a morsel more, I might just die there. To which he said, ” Not yet!”  You have to try our chocolate fondant with vanilla ice cream and creme anglaise for dessert. My heart just stopped at the words, chocolate and fondant. I had to have atleast a spoonful, even it meant falling into a food -induced coma for life.

MC11

Was the chocolate fondant dessert everything that I hoped it would be? Perhaps, no. The dessert was the only downer among all that we ordered. But that is alright since I was too stuffed to even enjoy anything beyond a spoonful. All in all, it was such a pleasant evening spent at The Meat Co. with its pleasant staff, who made sure we were attended exclusively. The food was the star of the night and there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that The Meat Co. ‘s food has been one of the best meals I have had in a long time.

Having a meal there, changed my perception about the place. The Meat Co. has a lot more wonderful food to offer than just steaks for which is widely popular. An engaging and customer friendly staff is an asset to any restaurant. The Meat Co.’s staff had been very hospitable and they knew their food. This really impressed me. I am definitely going back there with my friends some time soon because a lot of my friend’s, like me, have avoided going there for the same reason. I need to show them that there is so much more to The Meat Co. than simply steaks.

*This is a sponsored post but all the views expressed are solely mine. 

{Restaurant Review} Vapiano – fresh and delicious

31 May

What do they say about never saying never?

Insalata di arance e noci

Insalata di arance e noci

Well, I experienced it myself very recently. Vapiano in Bahrain City Center always looked promising but the previous two dining experiences at Vapiano were sub-par and less than delightful that I was quite sure I wouldn’t want to try them again. But with a little coaxing from Obai & Hill’s Zainab, I thought about giving Vapiano’s summer, fresh menu a try with a disclaimer that if I didn’t like it (again), I would refrain from doing a review on my blog.

On the scheduled day, my family and I stepped into Vapiano to sample their new menu. We were ushered in by a very friendly server who then educated us about all the new dishes and desserts. On her recommendations we settled for 1 starter, 2 main courses, 1 salad and a dessert. All this was to be accompanied by freshly squeezed orange.  For the starters we ordered the Caprese  that had cherry tomatoes with buffalo mozzerella on the bed of basil and rocket leaves. The cherry tomatoes were sweet and juicy and the rocket peppery as its supposed to be – all fresh and crunchy.

VP6

Caprese

This was just the right antipasti to whet our appetite for the remaining courses to come. The hubby had ordered Estiva – a tender chicken breast pasta drenched in semi- dried tomato sauce, with a mild kick of ginger, mint and rocket . We specially asked our server to request the chef to cook the pasta a bit more than the “Vapiano” al dente. As per our request, the pasta was just perfectly done with succulent chicken pieces and  flavoursome tomato sauce and herbs.

Estiva with conchiglie

Estiva with conchiglie

My daughter who is notorious for shunning restaurant food was content with her bread and butter. She particularly enjoyed the fresh orange juice with her simple grub. As for me, I had ordered a barbecued chicken pizza which was sumptuous to say the least. It was quite a large portion unexpectedly and so we had the rest of it in a take away bag.

barbecued chicken pizza

barbecued chicken pizza

All the wonderful food was balanced by a very citrus-y , sunshine salad adorned by pistachio called the insalata di arance e noci. To my mind, it feels like summer on my plate with juicy orange fillets, pistachios, lamb’s lettuce and chicory. The flavours were heightened by a very light walnut and orange dressing. This was the highlight of my meal at Vapiano and it would be something that I would keep going back to Vapiano for many times over.

Insalata di Arance e noci

Insalata di Arance e noci

The close of the meal was marked by the unavoidable chocolate dessert called the Cioccolata e espresso which is Vapiano’s own homestyle chocolate espresso mousse, cantuccini (literally translates as coffee bread or popularly known as biscotti)  refined with grape juice and sweet amarena cherries.

Cioccolata e espresso

Cioccolata e espresso

Feeling happily sedated after such a wholesome meal, we thanked our hostess for the day and returned home with the lingering memories of the summer food at Vapiano. Thank you Vapiano for a wonderful experience that was so fresh and delicious that I don’t think I can have enough of it this summer!!.

 *This is a sponsored post but the opinions expressed all solely mine.

On how important it is to be selfish and a healthy grilled chicken, quinoa, mango and wilted kale salad

23 May

Just yesterday I was invited to a colleague’s birthday lunch. It was great to catch up with my colleagues ( 8 women and 1 guy) and to say that the lunch was hearty, would be an understatement. In between the talk turned towards what the birthday girl was going to do in the evening. I was told that she had her celebratory birthday breakfast with her fiance, lunch with her favourite acquaintances and friends from work (that would be us) and evening would be devoted to another grand meal with her family of sisters and parents. To me that sounded absolutely perfect. A day planned around food!! What a perfect birthday indeed!

GCQ2

The topic from there on turned towards how important it is to make sure that one enjoy’s her/his birthday to the  fullest. Birthday is one day where everybody is entitled to having  their wishes granted and being the center of attention. I nodded my head to all of it except to the one about being the center of attention. My modest and fiercely grounded upbringing and related conditioning refused to accept any claim that suggested being the center of attention was a good thing. It’s because being the center of attention was akin to being selfish and being selfish meant being a bad person. No way was I going to be a ‘bad person’. And if that meant, shunning attention and allowing the limelight to fall on someone else, so be it.

GCQ3

One of colleagues, a young Bahraini girl – 20 something old, known for her love of celebrating her birthdays spoke up. I listened to her in rapt attention. She talked about how she put a countdown on her iPhone counting down days, hours, minutes and seconds to her birthday. Everyday she took pains to remind her family and friends about her up coming birthday, giving everybody enough time to plan something special for her. After all, family and friends were supposed to do something memorable on her birthday as they were in her life for a purpose which was to see her happy. She described with stars in her eyes about how excited she felt every year when it is her birthday month. Each year she saved up enough money to buy herself the gift of her choice. This year too, she had already bought herself, her own ‘surprise gift’!!!!!

GCQ5To me, all of it sounded preposterous. Attaching so much value to one day is equal to setting yourself up for disappointment. Yet I listened to her in fascination. She rambled on about her love for gadgets and precious stones, clothes and branded shoes and her father’s credit card. In my head, I was judging her against my will as someone who was so self – absorbed. I couldn’t ever be like her and  concluded  how different individuals we were. Suddenly the shine in her eyes, the unbridled happiness on her face drove me to think beyond the obvious. While I was this 30 -something, unexcited professional; she was this 2o – something, full of hope professional at the other of the table. What was so different that our worlds couldn’t meet? Why was I so resentful of her happiness which was self-generated and did not depend on anything external? Materialistic it might be, yet it was genuine.Truth be told, I envied her sitting on the other end of the table. I wanted to be enthusiastic like her about my own birthday, about my life and everything around me. I wanted to make each day count until it was my big day. I wanted  to celebrate. Growing up has cost me. It has taken away from me my enthusiasm for self – created small joys.

GCQ7

No wonder I felt trapped between my contempt for her selfishness and my readiness to trade places with her and her attitude towards life.  What was that exact point in life where I lost my uncontainable curiosity and enthusiasm for life? Sitting there among all the chatter and immensely enjoying my chocolate lava cake, I tried to trace back the path in vain. The change had happened so slowly and in many ways, irreversibly. To watch this girl revel in her selfishness, was the takeaway for me that afternoon over good food and other interesting conversation. As women, after we get married and have children and  how soon we forget that we need to be selfish. The word feels abusive because as wives, mothers and hence caretakers, it has no business being around in our dictionary. But with that don’t we also forget to find joy from within us. Our children, our families become our sources of joy. Ofcourse they are. It is not debatable. But isn’t it important to find our own joy. Our self-generated joys such as gifting ourselves what we think we deserve or spending time doing things we love. For most of us, what we deserve is decided by what our family or children think we deserve.

GCQ6

Just sit back and think hard. What do you really enjoy? Let that not include (for once) your child’s smile, his/her achievements, your spouse’s appreciation or your boss’s dependency on you for work. What do you as a person enjoy doing/thinking/creating? Make a list and take a positive step towards achieving it. I did my list which I define as my sources of self- generated joys. One of them is developing healthy and tasty recipes. The Salad pictures that you see interspersed along with all this ‘selfish’ monologue is my own creation.  I enjoyed creating it and executing it. Well to tell you the truth, I didn’t bother sharing this salad with any one else. I enjoyed it for lunch and felt good about it. May be I am being necessarily rebellious but this concept of finding my own joy for my own selfish reasons has taken root in my mind. The recipe is so simple that it shouldn’t take more than half hour to bring it all together.

GCQ1 (2)

I would recommend that you use a sweet dressing for this salad as it complements the flavours of the tart mango, the delicious dullness of the wilted kale and the hearty goodness of the pepper crusted grilled chicken. The quinoa provides the much need foundation to hold all the flavours and gives it roundness of a complete meal.

Hope you enjoy this and spend some time contemplating selfishly about what makes you smile and your heart jump with joy.

In other news, my blog has been rated as one of the TOP 10 Blogs cooking blogs in India. Woohoo!! I am thrilled to bits. Check out the post here

Also, this is my 250th post on this blog. It is such a huge milestone for me personally because I cannot begin to explain how difficult it was at times to keep going – developing, creating content, taking pictures of food and presenting it in an interesting format each week. I am relentless about my blogs because perhaps because this is MY space and I am stubborn about not allowing it to wither away!

With this note, wish you all a happy weekend! Be creative.

My feature in the “What to expect” website + a Quail egg salad

23 Nov

Pregnancy was the best time of my life.

Largely because I was in beautiful country (UK) during the best of weather (the English Summers), busy moving houses ( 3 in total in the span of 8 months) and reading. I read a lot books and one of them never left my bedside – What To Expect When You are Expecting  . This book has been my friend and my guide during all the times I felt unsure about several things during my pregnancy. Soon after Mimi was born, I got the sequel to it called What to expect in the first year which was equally helpful. Every topic, question, discussion is covered in these books which is comprehensive and so easy to read. I gave my book away to another couple who were expecting and I am sure they would have found very useful too.

I was very excited when  What to Expect contacted me to contribute to their ” Word of Mum ” column. They wanted me to do a piece about my life as a food blogger mum in Bahrain. I have regularly chronicled my life as an expat on the pages of this blog and to put it all in 600 word format was quite interesting a challenge for me. I tried to highlight my transition from someone who felt lost to someone who enjoys doing a multitude of things. Here is an excerpt from the article and for the rest of the article you can go to the website.

“What would you do in a situation where there are too many variables out of your control? We experienced this firsthand four years ago when we moved to Bahrain, a tiny island country in the Middle East. As consultants, my husband and I had experienced several episodes of settling and unsettling in new countries for work, but now the crucial difference was: We had a six-month-old baby. Also, after several years of working, I had chosen to become a stay-at-home mum.

Therefore, I was forced to solve a complex equation: my new role as a mum plus a new baby plus a new stay-at-home status plus a new country…how would it all add up?”

For the rest of the article, click here

Now for a beautiful salad recipe that I would like to share here. It is healthy and oh-so- yummy.

QES8

I always wanted to taste Quail eggs but never got around doing it. So I put it up on my culinary bucketlist and this is my opportunity to tick it off.

QES2

QES5

This salad recipe has very few ingredients but it is full of flavour from the toasted walnuts, mandarin pieces and a tantalizing sweet chilli vinaigrette. Addition of Quail eggs makes it nutritious and filling and I did not think it any different from normal chicken eggs. So I would recommend Quail eggs to anyone who loves chicken eggs.

Hope you enjoy reading the article and let me know your thoughts in the  comments section.

All photos courtesy – Namit Bhatia

An Experiment that was a White Bean Salad

12 Dec

“I repent of my diets, the delicious dishes rejected out of vanity, as much as I lament the opportunities for making love that I let go by because of pressing tasks or puritanical virtue.”

These compelling lines are from a book that I finished reading many weeks ago. This book is called Aphrodite which was authored by the famous Chilean writer, Isabel Allende. I picked up her book from my trip to India this year when I was scouting for books about food ( not cookery books per say, but books written about food in various shades). She had me at the opening line itself. Personally, I have had a love -hate relationship with food for ages. Probably it is only now that I feel quite comfortable in my skin and about food in general. Well this post is not about my see-saw relationship with food, but about a little experiment I conducted on unsuspecting folks to see for myself if there is any truth in the claims made by the author. I read the book in a matter of 3 days as soon as I had it delivered in my hands. I fell in love with the way she described food in all its glory and what it does to our body. We are what we eat – the author drives home this point with her sensual writing style that is so addictive.

The book talks about how food influences the different senses within us and has the power to awaken our sensuality. In her opinion,  it is difficult to really separate eroticism and food as one is inextricably linked to the other through memories and  sensual pleasure.

Also, some food is more Aphrodisiac than others, she says. For eg. vegetables and legumes have known to have fewer aphrodisiac properties compared to the meat and sea creatures. Infact, cleaning meat to prepare a sumptuous fare in itself is a sensual activity, she reckons. I do not think there is any truth in that, but it is my humble opinion. Having said that, I haven’t ever felt sensual trying to chop onions or peel potatoes. Maybe Ms. Allende finds it desirable to be flamboyant even in the most disagreeable acts of cooking which is definitely not the case with me. Anyways, this book piqued my curiosity more than I thought it would. Being a vegetarian (90% of the times), I thought I might want to give her hypothesis a little test and gathered a few vegetarian ingredients. I could have tested it with non vegetarian ingredients like chicken or such but I didn’t have them on hand when the urge to experiment was at its climax.

Now I needed some unsuspecting volunteers and calling friends home for a meal seemed the most plausible option. So I quickly tossed up a white bean salad along with other wholesome fare. The salad was much-loved since it was beautifully seasoned and looked very appetizing at the same time. Little chunks of feta cheese provided the much needed diversion in taste when the beans got a bit heavy on the tongue.  The meal also included other kind of wholesome food that would be considered aphrodisiac in their own right. Watching my friends eat with such gusto, I rubbed my hands in anticipation ( ofcourse only in my imagination). After the meal, they went home, without a clue about the conspiracy that they had unknowingly become a part of. Next day, I duly dialed their numbers asking them of how they ended their night, only to be disappointed to know that the experiment was a colossal failure. I could hear peals of laughter echoing at the other end of line and that only strengthened my resolve to try the same experiment with a different set of people. So I made the same salad for another set of people only to be embarrassed again. I feel lucky that I have a wonderful set of friends who understand me and wouldn’t lie to me because they know that whatever I do, I do with fair amount of seriousness. They also know that all the odd things I do are entirely in good spirit so that we all can have  a good laugh at the end of it.

They asked me that I should have tried the experiment on myself first before extending it to others. Well, they were right in stating this, but it wouldn’t have really worked in my case as I already knew what to expect. That would have given me the power to tilt the scale in the favour I desired at that time. So all in all, I still enjoyed tossing up this wonderful salad for my wonderful friends.  So to make the salad and test whether it works for you, follow my lead.

Recipe for White Bean Salad with Cherry tomatoes, Onions and Feta Cheese

Loosely adapted from the BBC Good Food Magazine

Ingredients

White Kidney beans, soaked for a few hours and boiled – 1 cup

cherry tomatoes chopped into halves – 6-7 nos.

Red onion (small) – sliced finely

Balsamic vinegar –  a little more than half a tbsp

Mint/basil/ Coriander  (torn) – for garnish( optional)

Feta cheese – crumbled

Salt according to taste

Pepper according to taste

Lemon juice – just a small squirt.

Preparation

1. The boiled beans need to be rinsed to get any scum off it and they look neater this way.

2. Mix all the other vegetables with the beans.

3. Season well with salt and pepper and garnish if you want

4. drop crumbled feta pieces on the salad

5. Add balsamic vinegar and toss well.

So the world was a little more happy because of this  silly experiment. Aphrodisiac or not, this salad is lovely and refreshing and I feel it would be a bonus if it does anything to your sensual appetite. Try it and tell me if you felt anything!

Restaurant Review Project 19- Salad Boutique

31 Aug

It has been such a long time that I haven’t made an addition to my ongoing Restaurant Review Project. Not that I haven’t been eating out. I have been too lazy to take pictures and write about the food. I have had excellent opportunity to sample some extraordinary food and that is the reason why I had little patience to keep it waiting to take pictures. When there are no pictures to support the gastronomic crime committed, posts cannot be written, simply because a picture is worth a thousand words.

But my reviews have pictures and thousand words! 🙂

Anyways, on a day when I wasn’t extremely ravenous but wanted a nibble, I was reminded of a new place in town called, Salad Boutique. This quaint little place is located in the heart of the posh Block 338, Adliya.  As the name suggests, they specialize in serving Salads as the main course.

Salad Boutique sports a charming, candle lit opulent interior. It has a cream and purple decor with sparkling chandeliers that oozes indulgence and elegance in the same breath.

Upon entering, we were given a warm welcome by a smartly dressed server and were shown our seat. Since it was Ramadan, there weren’t many diners even on a weekend. That was perfect for us since it meant, Mimi could roam around the restaurant being friendly with the staff.

Soon, we were presented the menu and that I suppose is what has the potential to set this restaurant apart. We were handed the Apple iPad that functions as a menu card. This is such a novel idea and it was supremely exciting to peruse through a comprehensive menu. When the initial excitement was over, we made our order to the server. That is where I felt it had a failed a little. Having an iPad and not using it to its full potential is a waste, in my opinion. It is like having a cell phone only to scroll through the contacts and not actually being able to make a call!! It should have been possible to even place an order through the iPad instead of the server taking down notes. Anyhow, we did place our orders and it was surprising to note that they not only had a wide variety of salad, but also sandwiches, burgers, risotto, pastas and all kinds of sides.

We ordered a Falafel Salad – which consisted of Falafel, lettuce, Cucumber, Parsley and Rocca  and served with Tahina Dressing. Not exactly low-calorie food, I was hoping for. But when it arrived it looked like a sumptuous meal that I could eat at the restaurant and then later pack the leftovers back home. It tasted as good as it looked on the plate.

and a refreshing drink called Vanilla Rocca. I would recommend this restaurant for this drink alone. It has the power to change the world! Okay, I may be exaggerating a little bit, but you get the drift.

Some Grilled Chicken  Sandwich – which had a Grilled Chicken Breast, Lettuce, Rocca, Parmesan and Mozzarella Cheese with Special Sauce. This sandwich wasn’t the best chicken sandwich but it was filling with a coleslaw side.

And Grilled Veggies Sandwich – Grilled Zucchini, Eggplant, Green Bell Pepper, and Rocca Leaves, Mixed with Light Mayonnaise-Tahina Sauce. This sandwich was really tasty and I would recommend this even if you are a meat lover. The eggplant and the tahina sauce combination gives this sandwich a meat-y  flavor.

Apparently, all the sandwiches are presented in similar manner so the photographs of the chicken and the vegetable sandwich look the same.

and a bottle of chilled water in a glass bottle designed by Paul Smith which I took home to plant my money plant.

Overall, the dinner was definitely not light as I had assumed it to be, but it was sure sumptuous. The total bill came to 20 BD for 3 adults.

So I am proud to announce that Salad Boutique has been SLICED and the verdict is as follows,

Food – 3/5

Ambiance – 4/5

Service – 3/5

Overall – 3/5

Salad Boutique has other outlets in Kuwait and Jeddah.

 

Weekend Dinner – Veg. Lasagne, Whole Meal Loaf & Tomato – Feta Salad

26 Aug

You must all know Mimi by now. What you may not know about her is, she is a very peculiar toddler. While I know of kids who love to eat out and gorge on fried chips, munchies, chocolates, biscuits, flavoured milk, burgers and cola, my child detests it with all her might. She prefers eating home-made meals. Hot and piping, right off the stove. Going out with her never means a break for me from the kitchen. I have to make her meal, feed her and only then step out. Else I have to carry her dinner of roti & sabji or dosa & sambar and feed her on the go. When I rant about it to my girlfriends, they feel, I am blessed. They narrate to me their struggles of trying to get their children to eat home cooked meals.

After all this while, I realize, I am truly blessed, for various reasons. Mimi’s habits not only ensure that she eats  healthy and fresh meals  but also prompts me to try different cuisines in my kitchen. One such weekend dinner was about experimenting with Italian. Vegetarian only.

I prepped up for some vegetarian lasagna, a crusty loaf and some easy tomato – feta gorgeousness of a salad.

Vegetarian Lasagna : The silly thing about reading recipes is that they make you feel that it is the simplest thing in the world to do. But when you get around doing it with your bare hands, you realize you completely lack co-ordination. It happens to me all the time. Lasagna was tricky to make especially the boiling of the sheets. I wanted it all ‘al-dente’ and micro observed to get it right. But when I was done, peeling them off of each other was a task that took me the maximum amount of time. The vegetable part was easy since it was just about going chop, chop, chop. The white bechamel sauce was something I make  regularly so that did not take any time either. Layering was enjoyable like artwork. Cheese scraping was done by my friend Namit to help me get the dinner on the table before the clock struck mid night. The result was remarkable and worth all the effort. Mimi loved it and had an extra  helping. This is definitely winner of a recipe.

Recipe for Veg. Lasagna

Ingredients

Lasagna sheets  – use as required, I had to use about 24 of them since I had a large tray to fill

Salt to taste

White Sauce* – 1 1/2 cups – 2 cups

Cheddar cheese grated – 1 cup ( more the better)

Oil – 2 tbsp

Butter- 2 tbsp

Garlic crushed – 8 cloves

Onions chopped – 2 medium

Mushrooms  chopped finely – 7-8 nos.

Brinjal / aubergine chopped finely – 1 large

Zucchini chopped – 2 medium

Capsicum chopped – 1 no.

Tomatoes chopped – 4 medium

Dry Basil – 1 tsp

Dry Oregano – 1 tsp

Maggi vegetable stock – 1 small cube

Fresh Parsley chopped  – about a handful or less

Preparation

1. Heat a lot of water in a deep pan. Add enough salt such that the water tastes like sea water. Add lasagna sheets and a little olive oil to the water. Boil it for 10 minutes and take them out. Spread them out carefully without burning your fingers and cover with a damp cloth.

2. In a separate pan, heat oil & butter. Saute the chopped onion till they are translucent and then add crushed garlic. Add the Maggi vegetable stock cube. You will see it dissolving in the oil in sometime.

3. Add all the chopped vegetables except capsicum and tomatoes. Let them cook. Add salt but with care since the Maggi vegetable stock has a lot of salt in it already.

4. Now add the tomatoes and cook for about 2-3 minutes. Once they turn soft add capsicum, dry basil, dry oregano and parsley. Mix well and cook for some more time. Take it off the stove.

5. Preheat the oven to 200C  and butter your baking dish.

6.First lay down a the first layer of the pasta and then the white sauce on top of it. Then put another layer of pasta and a layer of the vegetable mixture. A layer of pasta and then the white sauce. Alternate layers like that and fill up the baking dish.

7. Once the last layer of pasta has been laid, spread grated cheese on top and cover completely. Shove it in the preheated oven for about 20-22 minutes or until the cheese has turned golden. Serve hot.

*Notes – For the white sauce/bechamel sauce,  you need 4 Tbsp of all-purpose flour, 2 cups of hot milk, 2 tbsp of butter, salt to taste and pepper.

To prepare- Take a heavy bottomed pan, put it on the stove and melt the butter first. Add the flour and stir well. Do not let it brown and cook well for about 2 minutes. Add the two cups of hot milk and stir continuously. You will find that the sauce has thickened. Add salt and pepper and let it cook for another 2 minutes. Remove from fire and let it cool. While using if the sauce has thickened too much then you could add a wee bit milk and heat it a bit to loosen it.

Whole Meal Loaf – Sometimes I feel, we demand a level of convenience that is immodest. But when you make bread with your bare hands, kneading and toiling , it presents itself as the most humbling experience. I followed the same recipe as in the post about Nigella Lawson’s bread. Only that I shaped it like a baton and made some deep gashes  atop to give it a rustic feel. The loaf was crusty on the outside and on the inside the crumb was a delight to bite on. I made some garlic infused olive oil which was such a splendid accompaniment along with blobs of butter.


Tomato-Feta Salad – First, this salad is such a stunner to look at. Second it demands nothing out of you except a few firm and sweet tomatoes sliced and arranged on a plate adorned with a few pinches of feta. No seasonings required to perk it up. The feta does what is required of it, that is, give it that tangy-salty twist.

 

 

The dinner goes down as one of the most memorable ones. To be able to put a smile on my family’s and friend’s faces makes it worth my while. Every attempt that I have made that seemed outside my comfort zone has met with mixed results. But it is only practising the craft again and again that has made all the difference.

There is so much more that I yearn to learn through such wonderful dinners.

For the beautiful collage and photographs I have my friend, Namit to thank. While I was busy preparing the dinner, he made use of that time to click some wonderful frames. Thank you so much for your patience.

%d bloggers like this: