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Wine & Dine

Kebabs, not canapês

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Change the rules of Sunday brunching by introducing desi elements to it. We teach you how to put together a summer-friendly Indian luncheon.

It's Sunday and you're craving for a plate of fluffy pancakes. But wait, the Marwari moong daal chilla can work just as wonderfully if you dress it up right. How about adding a dash of rocket leaf pesto on its buttery, yellow skin;topping it with a spoonful of herb-roasted peppers and just when you are about to plate it on sparkly white china, throwing a few sprinkles of crumbled gorgonzola cheese on it?

As our perception of the Indian breakfast is limited to dosas, idlis, poha and parathas - it is hard to look at the brunch in a new light. This setback, coupled with eateries offering only dedicated international or local fare during brunch hours, makes experimenting even more farfetched. But truth be told - with a touch of innovation, you can turn Indian staples around and make them suitable for your brunch party.

According to Chef Rajesh D'Silva from F Lounge. Diner. Bar, Mumbai, brunch is a combination of breakfast and lunch. Giving examples of classic staples such as eggs, cr?p?s, sandwiches and salads, he says that ideal brunch food should be eatable during any part of the morning. "As long as it has the lightness of breakfast coupled with heartiness of lunch, " says D'Silva.

When it comes to Indian food, many deem it to be too heavy on the stomach. This is hardly appetising while planning a summer afternoon's repast. However, with simple innovations such as reducing portion sizes, adding interesting sides, swapping sauces, etc, a lot of difference can be made in one's perception of Indian brunching.

To tackle the first course of the meal (appetizers), D'Silva suggests, "You either stuff Indian hors d'oeuvre with gourmet ingredients or give traditional starters a foreign twist. " Take into account ideas such as stuffing paani puri puchkas with bits of spicy prawns or slathering basil pesto on slivers of cottage cheese kebabs. Alternatively, give an Indian flavour to foreign appetizers by topping baguette slices with a quenelle of paneer burji or dressing up jacket potatoes with achaari mayo.

Another offbeat way to beat the summer heat is by experimenting with shorba shots. India's answer to broth, shorba is typically served hot. "However, keeping in mind the weather condition, you can experiment with cold soups, " says Chef Wilson D'Souza from Courtyard by Marriott, Pune City Center. His recommendations tilt towards fruit and spice paring. Take into account blending watermelon pieces with mirchi powder,

pineapple with elaichi, mango pulp with star anise or apple juice with dal chini powder to create gazpacho-like shots. D'Souza feels that fruits work better than vegetables during summer since they are loaded with anti-oxidants, are more refreshing and highly palatable with their sweet-tangy taste.

'MAIN' CONCERN

The reason why a classic Indian main course doesn't work on the brunch table is because most dishes are deemed to be boring or snooze-inducing. But that is not always the case. According to Dehli-based Chef Manish Mehrotra from Indian Accent, this can be changed by experimenting with lighter, refreshing main course options. "For instance, fill a short crust tart with an Indian sabzi like subjz miloni or make the Spanish paella using poha instead of rice or stuff the classic Indian kulchas with gourmet ingredients such as wild mushrooms, stir fried vegetables and cheeses, " says Mehrotra.

In addition to this, he also recommends notching up the experience by fusing side dishes as well. Mehrotra's ideas include roasted baby potatoes tossed with desi ghee, butter flavoured with Amritsari masala and mustard oil-tempered mashed potatoes.

The rules for the last course of the meal are also similar. Baker Sabina Gupta from Not Just Desserts by Sabina, Mumbai, says, "In order to make Indian desserts brunch-friendly, team them with light foreign flavours. " She explains this with instances from her own menu. "With simple innovations such as pouring cream and mascarpone mixture over pieces of gulab jamun to make a cheesecake or adding slices of juicy rasgullas in a bowl of chocolate mousse - a whole new dessert can be created. " And if you are too kitchen savvy, whip fresh fruit barfis with cream and slather the mixture on soft sponge cakes to create a summer-loving, fluffy cake, suggests Gupta.

CRACKED WHEAT, COUS COUS AND RAW MANGO PUCHKAS

Ingredients |

10-15 puchkas 30 gm cracked wheat (steamed) 30 gm cous cous (steamed) 20 gm boiled potatoes (finely chopped) 10 gm raw mango (finely chopped) 2 green chillies (finely chopped) ? tsp chaat masala ? tsp rock salt 10 gm tamarind chutney 20 gm green chutney 1 tsp pani puri masala salt as per taste

Ingredients for tamarind chutney |

50 gm tamarind (soaked in water) 50 gm dates 1 pinch coriander seeds 1 pinch cumin seeds 5-6 green cardamoms 100 gm jaggery 1 pinch chilli powder

Ingredients for green chutney |

100 gm fresh coriander leaves 50 gm mint leaves 4-5 chillies, 10 gm garlic 5 gm ginger 2 pinches chaat masala 10 gm hung curd salt to taste

Method |

To make tamarind chutney, blend all the ingredients in a mixer until they achieve an emulsion-like consistency. Transfer it into a bowl and keep aside. To make green chutney, mix all the ingredients and blend it into a fine puree. Add paani puri masala, rock salt, chaat masala to it and mix well. Add water to thin the mixture and allow the paani to chill in the refrigerator. Meanwhile, make the filling by mixing cracked wheat with cous cous, potatoes, raw mango and green chillies. Fill it into the puckha and top it with a spoon of tamarind chutney. Pour the paani into shot glasses and place the stuffed puchka on top. Serve immediately. ( R e cip e c o u rt e s y C h ef R aje s h D' Silv a fr o m F L o u n g e. Din e r. B a r, M u m b ai)

 

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