Archive | June, 2013

School of Cooks

26 Jun
The students and teachers of batch 1 at OCA post a lovely lunch.
I am an admirer of Sabyasachi Gorai, or Chef Saby as he is known among the restaurant going crowd in the NCR. Even though he has global exposure, there is a part of him which remains quintessentially the boy from Asansol. So when Saby invited me to come and have a meal at the newly opened Olive Culinary Academy inside the Mehrauli Olive, I was curious enough to accept.
Chef Saby, hands on as always.
First things first, the spiel according to Saby. The Olive Culinary Academy offers a one year course pretty much concentrated on culinary skills. You get five hours of kitchen every day. That’s twenty-five in a week. It’s not a cheap proposition at 2 lakhs a pop, but then you’re getting an ‘international accreditation’ and more importantly in my view a six-month solid work session at Olive followed by a certificate from Olive. Buoyed by the propaganda, and surrounded by the efforts in the kitchen by Batch 1A, I was hungry and expecting good things.
Enough funda, now for the meal. The students are a mix of those who have worked in hospitality to mature students to those wanting to do something fun (and having the means to do so).
The meal about to begin!
The meal was a mix of students and teachers and the outstanding dish of the day was a ratatouille which was perfect in its balance and flavours and softness of the veg. It showed care and intelligence in cooking. Other elements of the meal needed minor tweaking, like the creme brûlée for instance. I’m sure the students with their intensive sessions in the kitchen will be able to perfect their techniques. I was also very very happy to see the bread made by the students, being an absolute zero in the baking section myself.
The students have a lot to live up to, since they have taken over the greenhouse, an area where I have enjoyed many fab meals while Saby was at the helm of things at Olive, Mehrauli.

What I was happiest about though was to see a bunch of students who were confident, alert and aware of what was happening around them and I think a huge responsibility lies on their shoulders as they’re also the academy’s brand ambassadors. A good meal and a fun interactive session. I’m hoping to be invited again, because the only way is up and the food is already pretty good.


The Perfect Sunday

26 Jun
There is something welcoming about a good breakfast. I consider it my favourite meal. In fact, I can have breakfast three times a day, if it wasn’t for the damned arteries! It’s also the only meal of the day where I welcome repetitiveness. Living in Delhi, Sunday brunch has always been a bit of a sore point. Restaurants and five stars have lots of choices, as long as you have the cash, or a story to write. Eating your way through to a profitable experience though, is far from easy.
Take my example, I am usually hungry all the time. I have been a morning person for as long as I remember. On a Sunday morning, my appetite is at its peak and everything I see on a brunch menu, usually laid out like a scrumptious Persian harem, is fair game. But after half-an-hour of eating, I’m full and most of the dishes stay untouched.
Tired of trying to stretch our stomaches to their individual limits, a couple of friends and I, decided to start a brunch club in Delhi. With great gusto we began sculpting the perfect breakfast, consisting of eggs benedict, mushrooms, grilled tomatoes, sausages and bacon. This may seem too English to many, but its still my favourite Sunday meal, and usually keeps me full till 6 in the evening. And we had a parantha session, a Bengali breakfast of luchi and alurdom, but the egg theme recurs with unerring regularity.
I’m happy to report that our brunch club is doing quite well, as long as the three founder members are in town. Others have fallen by the wayside because of scheduling issues, but we have remained true.

The most recent meal included a dish which I have perfected over the years, scrambled eggs. Now, don’t turn your noses up, my version of scrambled eggs is just eggs and butter. It’s cooked over a low fire and stirred continiously, like a risotto. It takes time to come together, mine usually takes half an hour, but the result is light, yellow and needs just a touch of salt and pepper (since I use salted butter) and melts in your mouth. I think the perfect scrambled eggs needs a minimum of 3 eggs and a good dollop of butter (entirely to taste), per head. This is for Sunday brunch, not everyday breakfast, mind you. Let the butter melt before you whip the eggs with a fork to a omlette mix consistency, then stir over the low flame till it reaches a creamy texture. Take it off the heat when you consider it 80 per cent done, because it will continue cooking. The result, as you you see in the photograph above, makes my Sunday special.
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