Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Memorable Visit to Chennai

One of the best parts of being a known face, is the opportunity to travel to different destinations and meeting new people. Travelling provides you opportunity to learn about new cultures, places and people. In the process, you as an individual become enriched with experiences which subsequently leads to a change in the way you view the world and the people around you.

Recently, I was invited to Chennai by Ladies Circle to conduct a cookery workshop on 27th February.I was really excited to visit this beautiful city, which has unique culture and vibe. It was a fund-raising event for Vidya Sagar.

Vidya Sagar is a voluntary organization based in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India. The organization works with children and young adults with cerebral palsy, mental retardation, autism, learning disabilities and multiple disabilities: their families and the communities they live in.

The 24 year old organization focuses on the holistic development and education of children and adults with special needs, on demystification of disability, empowering persons with special needs and their families with knowledge and skills, while strongly advocating on issues of inclusion. The organization believes in the right to equality of opportunity, an inclusive society where differences are celebrated, that disability is a development and a human rights issue.

What sets as apart is our belief that all disabled persons (no matter how profound the disability) have a right to education and inclusion.

It is this vision and belief of this organisation that made me want to do my bit for the children of this organisation.

I was greeted by Rakesh and Manjari, two of the many children whose responsibility rests on the shoulders of Vidya Sagar.I was touched by the courage of these children to take up life's challenge with a smile on their face. The show started off with a small speech by Guneet, one of the leading organisers.

It was followed by a demonstration of few of my recipes. The interactive audience made the session truly enjoyable.The event was well-organised and well-attended by 300 women.

Following the demonstration, I along with Mrs. Usha Ramakrishnan, the Chairmerson of Vidya Sagar and Dr. Puna Shankar were asked to a small talk on our respective jobs.

My stay was well taken care by the hardworking members of Ladies Circle group. The members of the group ensured that my needs were well taken care of during the stay. This is one of the few visits that is very close to my heart. I was inspired to continue helping people who are less privileged than we are.

Here are the recipes that I demonstrated to the audience of Chennai...


Preparation Time: 10 mins. Cooking Time: 5 mins. Setting Time: 1 hour.
Serves 6.

For the biscuit base
1 cup digestive biscuits, crushed
1/3 cup butter, melted

For the filling
2 lts full fat milk
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tbsp cheese spread
1½ cups chopped dark chocolate
½ cup fresh (100 grams) cream (rich cream)
6 tbsp powdered sugar
2 tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 cup fresh (200 grams) cream, whipped (rich cream)

For the biscuit base
1. Mix the biscuit crumbs with the melted butter and press the mixture into the base of a 175 mm. (7") loose-bottomed pie dish.
2. Chill until firm.

For the filling
1. Melt chocolate with cream on a double boiler. Keep aside
2. Boil the milk when milk starts boiling after 2 minutes add lemon juice. When it curdles, stir once and strain.
3. Immediately mix prepared cream cheese with milk and sugar and blend well in a mixer.
4. Fold in the melted chocolate mixture, cream and vanilla essence. Keep aside

How to proceed
Spread the filling over the set biscuit base and chill until firm.

Preparation Time: 15 minutes. Cooking Time: 15 minutes. Serves 8.
Baking Time: 20 minutes. Baking Temperature: 200°C (400°F).

4 medium potatoes
½ cup chopped onions
1 teaspoon finely chopped green chillies
2 cups boiled mixed vegetables (broccoli, corn, baby corn, etc.) cut into cubes
½ teaspoon dried oregano
¼ cup fresh cream (rich cream)
¼ cup grated mozzarella cheese
2 teaspoons butter
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

For the tomato sauce
4 large tomatoes
1 bayleaf (tejpatta)
4 to 6 peppercorns
½ cup finely chopped onions
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
2 teaspoons sugar
½ teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon olive oil or oil
Salt to taste

Other ingredients
Oil for greasing

For the tomato sauce
1. Put the tomatoes in a vesselful of boiling water for 10 minutes.
2. Peel, cut into quarters and deseed the tomatoes.
3. Chop finely and keep the tomato pulp aside.
4. Heat the olive oil in a pan, add the bayleaf and peppercorns and sauté for a few seconds.
5. Add the onions and garlic and sauté for a few minutes.
6. Add the tomato pulp and allow it to simmer for 10 to 15 minutes until the sauce reduces a little.
7. Add the sugar and salt and simmer for some more Time.
8. Finally, add the oregano and mix well. Remove the bayleaf and peppercorns and discard. Keep aside.

How to proceed
1. Parboil the potatoes peel and allow them to cool.
2. Heat a small non-stick pan, add the butter and sauté the onions and green chillies.
3. Grease a 250 mm. diameter baking dish and spread the sautéed onions and green chillies at the base.
4. Sprinkle a little salt and pepper and then grate the potatoes evenly over it.
5. Arrange a layer of vegetables over the potato layer and sprinkle salt, pepper and oregano over it.
6. Pour the tomato sauce over the vegetable layer and finally a layer of cream.
7. Top with cheese and bake in a pre-heated oven for about 15 minutes.
Serve hot.

Preparation Time: 10 minutes.
Cooking Time: 15 minutes.
Serves 4.

¾ cup moong dal with skin
2 to 3 chopped green chillies
2 tablespoons chopped fenugreek (methi) leaves
2 teaspoons gram flour (besan)
a pinch asafoetida
¼ teaspoon soda-bi-carb
2 pinches sugar (optional)
2 teaspoons oil
Salt to taste

Green chutney

1. Soak the moong dal in water for 3 to 4 hours. Then wash it very well.
2. Blend the soaked dal in a blender with the green chillies and a little water.
3. Add the fenugreek leaves, gram flour, asafoetida, soda bi-carb, sugar, oil and salt and mix well.
4. Pour a little batter at a time in a preheated waffle iron and bake until crisp. Repeat for the remaining batter.
5. Serves hot with green chutney.


Preparation Time: 15 minutes. Cooking Time: 15 Makes 4 tikkis.

1 tsp olive oil
¼ cup finely chopped onions
1 tsp ginger-garlic paste
1 tsp finely chopped green chillies
½ cup finely chopped broccoli
Salt to taste
¼ cup boiled and grated potatoes
2 tbsp grated mozzarella cheese
¼ cup whole wheat bread crumbs for coating
2 tsp olive oil for cooking

1. Heat the oil in a non-stick pan, add the onions, ginger-garlic paste and green chillies and sauté for 2 minutes while stirring continuously.
2. Add the broccoli and salt and sauté on a slow flame for another 5 to 7 minutes or till the broccoli is almost cooked.
3. Remove from the flame, add the potatoes and mix well. Keep aside to cool.
4. Divide the mixture into 4 equal portions and shape each portion into small rounds.
5. Press a little in the centre of each round to make a depression and put 1½ tsp of cheese and shape them into flat tikkis (approximately 1½” in diameter).
6. Roll them in the bread crumbs. Keep aside.
7. Heat a non-stick pan and cook each tikki using ½ tsp of oil till they turn golden brown on both the sides.
8. Cut each tikki into 2 pieces and serve hot.

Preparation time: 15 minutes. Cooking time: 25 minutes. Serves 4.

½ cup orange segments
1 tsp sugar
¼ tsp ghee
1½ tbsp quick cooked rolled oats
2 cups low fat milk (99.7% fat-free, readily available in the market)
4 sachets sugar substitute (1gm each)
1 tbsp low fat mava (khoya), recipe below
1 tbsp skim milk powder
¼ tsp cornflour mixed with 2 tbsp low fat milk (99.7% fat-free, readily available in the market)
2 tsp orange flavoured drink mix (preferably Tang)

For the garnish
1 tbsp orange segments

1. Heat a small non-stick pan, add the orange and sugar, mix well and cook on a medium flame for 2 to 3 minutes.
2. Remove from the flame and keep aside to cool. When cool, refrigerate to chill.
3. Heat the ghee in a non-stick pan, add the oats and sauté for few seconds.
4. Add the milk, sugar substitute and mava, mix well and simmer over a low flame for 8 to 10 minutes.
5. Add the milk powder and cornflour paste, mix well and simmer for 5 to 7 minutes or till it thickens, while stirring continuously.
6. Remove from the flame and keep aside to cool. When cool, refrigerate to chill.
7. Add the orange drink mix and cooked orange segments to the chilled rabadi and mix well.
8. Serve immediately garnished with orange segments.

Low Fat Khoya (Mava)

Preparation Time: 5 minutes. Cooking Time: 15 minutes. Makes 1½ cup.

1 cup skim milk powder

1 Combine the milk powder with 6 tsp of water in a bowl and make a hard dough.
2 Wrap the dough in a thin cloth and place in a sieve
3 Place this sieve on a pan of boiling water and cover it with a lid. Let it steam for 10 minutes, then it take of the flame and keep aside.
4 Once the dough has cooled, remove the cloth and grate the dough to make the khoya.