Monday, 30th October 2017

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Here’s how quarantine cooking is challenging these five city chefs

The Telegraph got in touch with five city chefs, who are as different from one another as chalk and cheese

  • Published 24.04.20, 7:58 PM
  • Updated 24.04.20, 7:58 PM
  • 7 mins read
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For chefs, it’s cooking something new and out of the comfort zone Shutterstock

There’s always a first time for everything. For chefs, it’s cooking something new and out of the comfort zone. Chefs who spend years learning and mastering the art of cooking and often creating a niche for themselves. The Telegraph got in touch with five city chefs, who are as different from one another as chalk and cheese, to see what they are rustling up to up their game in their personal kitchen and keep things interesting while under lockdown.

Sambit Banick of Spice Kraft and The Saffron Tree
Sambit Banick of Spice Kraft and The Saffron Tree Courtesy: The chef

Sambit Banick of Spice Kraft and The Saffron Tree, never fails to impress us with his out-of-the-box ideas when it comes to experimenting with food. No wonder we weren’t surprised when he told us how he was going to give a spin to the coffee trend of the moment— Dalgona — by making his first Dalgona Coffee Chocolate Cupcakes. “I thought about this because, as we all know that Dalgona Coffee is trending, I wanted to see how a silky, rich chocolate cupcake would taste with the Dalgona Coffee. Also, all the ingredients like instant coffee, sugar, flour and milk are easily available in the house and someone doesn’t need to step out to make this unique and at the same time insanely tasty dessert,” said the chef-owner of the Hazra and Lake Terrace addresses.

Here’s the recipe that took Sambit a total of 40 minutes to make:

 Dalgona Coffee Chocolate Cupcakes
Dalgona Coffee Chocolate Cupcakes Courtesy: The chef

 Dalgona Coffee Chocolate Cupcakes

Ingredients for Chocolate Cupcakes:

  • Flour, 150g
  • Cocoa powder, 75g
  • Baking powder, 1tsp
  • Salt, ½tsp
  • Eggs, 2
  • Sugar, 150g (granulated)
  • Butter, 50g
  • Milk, 100ml

Ingredients for Dalgona Coffee:

  • Instant coffee, 15g
  • Sugar, 15g (granulated)
  • Hot water, 2tsp

Method for making the cupcakes:

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degree Celsius and line a cupcake pan with paper liners or just a little butter.
  2. Combine the flour, baking powder, cocoa and salt in a bowl and keep aside.
  3. In another bowl, mix the butter, sugar and eggs and slowly fold in the milk.
  4. Now gently mix the ingredients of both the bowls half at a time, until fully combined.
  5. Fill the pan half full each and bake for 15 to 20 minutes. To check, insert a toothpick or a knife and if it comes out clean then your dainty cupcakes are done.
  6. Remove and set aside to cool.

Method for making the Dalgona Coffee:

  1. Mix the coffee and sugar and add in the hot water little by little while whisking vigorously.
  2. Keep on whisking until it thickens and holds a foamy texture.
  3. Your Dalgona Coffee is now ready.

Method for assembling:

  1. Take a spoonful of the foam and put it on top of the fully cooled Chocolate Cupcakes.
  2. To decorate, simply sprinkle some cocoa on top of the coffee foam or garnish with any leftover candies in the house. 
Sumit Chaudhary
Sumit Chaudhary Courtesy: The chef

Sumit Chaudhary, who on a normal day is seen working in The Fatty Bao’s kitchen, cooking Asian dishes, went out of his comfort zone to try something desi and classic — Pindi Chana. “For 10 years I have been cooking Asian but the reason behind cooking this is that my grandfather, who was from Pakistan, taught my father how to make this dish. My dad is a good cook and he used to cook for us. I used to watch him make it but never gave it a try. I wanted to enhance my knowledge in other cuisines and this is the first thing I thought of. Indian cuisine isn’t easy and requires a lot of patience,” said Sumit, who also tried his hands at making jalebis and found it to be challenging.

Here’s the recipe that the chef followed…

Pindi Chana
Pindi Chana Courtesy: The chef

Pindi Chana

Ingredients:

  • Kabuli chana or chickpeas, 1 cup
  • Water, 3 cups
  • Onion, 2 medium and 1 large
  • Tomatoes, 3 medium
  • Cloves, ½tsp
  • Whole cardamom, ½tsp
  • Mustard seeds, ½tsp
  • Ginger-garlic paste, 1tbsp
  • Whole cumin, ½tsp
  • Dry red chilli, 1tbsp
  • Coriander powder, ½tbsp
  • Whole coriander, ½tbsp
  • Red chilli powder, ½tsp
  • Garam masala, ½tsp
  • Kitchen King masala, ¼tsp
  • Chana masala, ½tsp
  • Bay leaf, 2
  • Tea bags, 2
  • Salt, 1tsp
  • Sugar, ¼tsp
  • Dry mango powder
  • Asafoetida or hing, ½tsp

For garnish:

  • Sliced green chilli
  • Fresh coriander
  • Lime wedge
  • Ginger julienne

Method:

  1. Soak the chickpeas in enough water overnight.
  2. Drain off the water and transfer it to a pressure cooker. Add the tea bags and three cups of water.
  3. Take a muslin cloth and tie it up with two medium onions and tomatoes each, along with bay leaf, and transfer to the cooker.
  4. Pressure cook for four whistles.
  5. Meanwhile, cut the remaining onion and tomato into slices and keep aside.
  6. Once four whistles are done, remove the tea bags and separate the chickpeas. Keep the remaining water aside.
  7. Remove the onions, tomatoes and bay leaf from the muslin cloth, grind them together and keep aside.
  8. Now take a pan, heat some oil and put the whole spices — cloves, cardamom, mustard seeds, dry red chilli, whole coriander seeds, whole cumin seeds and asafoetida, and roast until the whole spices start giving off an aroma.
  9. Add the puree of onion and tomatoes and saute until it’s golden brown and aromatic.
  10. Now add the remaining slices of onions and tomatoes and cook until it turns mushy.
  11. Add the remaining spices — garam masala, salt, dry mango powder, red chilli powder, coriander powder, Kitchen King masala and cook until the oil starts to separate.
  12. Add the cooked chickpeas and the remaining water. Mix well.
  13. Cook for about 10 minutes on medium-high flame until it becomes dry.
  14. Now garnish with, ginger julienne, lime wedges, green chilli and serve hot.
Rahul Arora
Rahul Arora Courtesy: The chef

From creating Ranga Aloor Payesh to Bubblegum Paratha for The Telegraph in the past, chef-owner of Bon Appetit and Paranthe Wali Galli — Rahul Arora has never shied away from fusing ingredients in dishes one wouldn’t usually dare. In a way to stay connected to his friends and the patrons of his brands through social media, Rahul has been trying at least one new dish every day and the recipe below is a result of that. “Cooking keeps me stress-free. So, the house kitchen is under me — breakfast, lunch dinner, snacks everything! Having a terminally ill person at home, a lot has to be kept in mind like nutrition, health and freshness. I wanted to make something healthy and light,” said the owner of the Hazra Road and Lake Terrace addresses, on being asked about the reason behind coming up with this dish.

The dhoklas were made using the old method of steaming, just like our grandmothers would do using a pot with water in it and another vessel inside the pot, containing the dhokla batter in it. However, it can also be cooked in a steamer. Here’s how it goes…

Rice Flour Dhokla
Rice Flour Dhokla Courtesy: The chef

Rice Flour Dhokla

Ingredients for the Dhokla:

  • Rice flour, 1cup
  • Dahi, half cup
  • Sugar, 1tsp
  • Salt, 1tsp
  • Eno, 1tsp
  • Ginger paste, ½tsp
  • Chilli paste, ½tsp
  • Water, 3/4cup

Ingredients for tadka (tempering):

  • Mustard, 1tsp
  • White sesame, 1tsp
  • Chilli, 2
  • Hing or asafoetida, a pinch
  • Curry leaves
  • Oil, 2tsp
  • Water, 3tsp
  • Sugar syrup, 1tsp

Method:

  1. Whisk all the ingredients except Eno and keep aside for 45 minutes.
  2. Then put Eno into the mixture, mix well and scoop the mixture in moulds. Steam for 20 minutes.
  3. Cool and take the dhoklas out of the mould.
  4. Then heat oil in a pan and temper with mustard, asafoetida, chilli, curry leaves and sesame.
  5. Add water and syrup, and drizzle over the cut pieces of dhokla evenly. 
 Ritabrata Biswas
Ritabrata Biswas Courtesy: The chef

It was the first time that Ritabrata Biswas of Grace — the vegetarian dine den located inside Kolkata Centre for Creativity — tried his hand at making homemade noodles out of the comfort of a commercial kitchen. For this head chef, cooking this dish had a goal of its own — impressing his mother. No mean feat to achieve, after all! “I made this dish for two reasons. One, it is homemade and healthy and two, it is an engaging activity. I made this dish with my mother and she is not fond of noodles that much. So I thought why not engage her in this activity and make her like it. While making the dish we shared stories and laughter which helped me stay happy and motivated,” said Ritabrata.

Here’s his recipe which is super easy…

Homemade Noodles
Homemade Noodles Courtesy: The chef

Homemade Noodles

Ingredients for noodles:

  • Flour,100g
  • Cornflour, 20g
  • Salt to taste

Ingredients for broth:

  • Oil, 1tsp
  • Garlic, 5/6 cloves, finely chopped
  • Ginger, 10gm, finely chopped
  • Green chilli, 1 (big), finely chopped
  • Soy sauce, 1tsp
  • Coriander leaf, 5g

Ingredients for garnish:

  • An egg cooked sunny side up
  • Lemon wedge

Method:

  1. Mix the flour, cornflour and salt in a bowl.
  2. Add some warm water and knead the dough. It needs to be soft.
  3. Roll with a rolling pin as thin as possible.
  4. Then cut into noodle-like shape with a knife or you can use a pasta machine if you have one. Set aside.
  5. For the broth, saute ginger and garlic in oil. Add 200ml of water into that and allow it to boil.
  6. Then put it on simmer, add green chilli and soy sauce. You can use a lemon leaf if you have any at home. Put the coriander in as well.
  7. In another vessel, boil the noodles in salted water for three minutes.
  8. Once done, place the boiled noodles in a serving bowl and pour the hot vegetable broth over it.
  9. Serve hot with a julienne of lemon leaf, sunny side up and a lemon wedge.
Sneha Singhi
Sneha Singhi Courtesy: The chef

For pastry chef Sneha Singhi of the popular Paris Cafe, Chinese food is something that had been on her to-try list since quite sometime and the requests from followers on her Instagram page, for Chinese recipes, being one of the primary reasons for that. “A lot of people have been asking me to put up Chinese recipes on my Instagram page. And the first recipe that I could think of was gravy noodles because I used to have them as a kid and during quarantine I was really craving them. It was actually pretty great and I was surprised by the outcome because I had never attempted doing it before,” said the ever-smiling chef-owner of the confectionery chain, who is known for her baking skills.

Though the recipe mentions soba noodles, you can try with any noodles that you have at home, including Maggi. Here’s the recipe…

Soba Gravy Noodles
Soba Gravy Noodles Courtesy: The chef

Soba Gravy Noodles

Ingredients:

  • Mushrooms, 1/3 cup, thinly sliced
  • Onions, ½, thinly sliced
  • Babycorn, 4, sliced
  • Bell pepper, ½, sliced
  • Handful of spinach, pak choi, coriander, spring onions and celery
  • Garlic, 4 cloves, grated
  • Ginger, 1inch, grated
  • Noodles
  • Vegetable oil, 2tbsp
  • Water

Ingredients for the sauce:

  • Ginger, 1 thumb, grated
  • Garlic, 5 cloves
  • Cornflour, 1tbsp
  • Vinegar, 2tsp
  • Sesame oil, 2tsp
  • Soy sauce, 3tbsp
  • Pepper
  • Chilli paste
  • Salt
  • Sugar
  • Water, ½ cup

Method:

  1. Heat a pan and pour the vegetable oil.
  2. Next, add ginger and garlic. Saute for one minute and add onions. Sprinkle some sugar and let it caramelise.
  3. Once the onions brown, add the rest of the vegetables. Saute for about two minutes.
  4. Add the uncooked noodles and fill the pan up with water. Cover and let it cook for five minutes on medium-low heat.

Method for making the sauce:

  1. Put everything in a bowl and mix well. Once the veggies and noodles are done, pour the sauce over it and let it cook for another minute.
  2. Serve immediately, with some fried garlic on top.