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Sunday, 5 April 2020

Choco-Banana Halwa Barfi

Banana Halwa, Barfi, Chocolate

This is an adaptation of the banana halwa that is made during Navratris in North India, to break fasts(vrats). The recipe is fairly simple and several variations can be made depending on ingredients you have in the pantry. Skip the cocoa powder and you have a traditional banana halwa. This can be had hot as well like a regular halwa. Nuts to be used depending on availability, though I find that walnuts and cashew nuts go particularly well in this recipe. This recipe makes about 250 gms of the sweet.

List of Ingredients

1 Cup Chopped Ripe Bananas
1 Cup Grated Khoya(200 gms)
1/2 Cup Coarsely ground nuts(Walnuts, Cashews)
1/4 Cup Milk
1/2 Cup Sugar
1/4 Cup Cocoa Powder
Ghee for greasing

End of Step 3 - Mixture Turns BrownStep 1: Grease a small 6 x 8 straight edged pan with ghee, to be used for setting the barfi. Skip this if you want to have it hot.

Step 2: Heat a tbsp of ghee in a thick bottomed non-stick vessel. Add in the entire quantity of Banana and Khoya and cook on low-medium heat, till ghee oozes out from the mixture. Stir constantly to prevent scorching of the bottom layer. This should take around 5-7 minutes apprx.

Step 3: Add Sugar and coarsely-ground nuts and mix well. Continue to cook and stir for another 10-12 minutes, till the mixture turns brown.

Choco-Banana Halwa BarfiStep 4: Add the milk and cocoa powder and cook till it starts leaving the side of the pan.

Step 5: Transfer the contents into the greased pan from Step 1, level it and allow it to cool. Cut into desired shapes and serve. The consistency will be slightly gooey/fudgy when hot.

Thursday, 26 March 2020

Chanar Payesh (Angoori Rasmalai) Recipe

Chanaar Payesh is a popular Bengali dessert that is easy to make and doesn’t require a lot of ingredients. Chanaar means ‘Made of Paneer’(Cottage Cheese) and Payesh roughly translates to milk-pudding. There are several variations to this dish, including using grated Cottage Cheese instead of round dumplings, or the use of condensed milk to speed things up. This recipe however is closer to the traditional way of making Channar Payesh. It is pretty similar to Angoori Rasmalai.


·       Full Cream Milk 1.5 litres
·       Lemon juice 1 1/2 tablespoon
·       Sugar 1/2 cup
·       Rose Water 1 Tsp
·       Corn Flour or Rice Flour: 1 Tsp
·       Saffron (kesar) a few strands
·       Cardamom Powder  ½ Tsp
·       Almonds blanched and chopped 5-6
·       Pistachios blanched and chopped 7-8

Step 1: Making Paneer/Cottage Cheese(If you have paneer at home, skip to step 3)
Boil 500ml of milk. When it starts boiling, add lemon juice and keep stirring till all the milk curdles.

Step 2: Making Paneer/Cottage Cheese
Strain the whey and tie up the residue(chenna) in a muslin cloth and dip in ice water till it cools. Squeeze out the excess liquid and set aside.

Step 3:
Mash the paneer from step 2, add a dash of corn flour for better binding, and make small dumplings out of it. You can store these in a fridge for 5-10 mins, to make sure they don’t unravel. Also, make sure the dumplings are very small, else the milk will not get soaked till the center, leaving these hard!

Step 4:
Take 50 ml of milk, add Rose Water, Saffron, Cardamom Powder and mix lightly. Set aside.

Step 5:
Taking the remaining milk(slightly less than a litre) in a thick-bottomed deep vessel. Start boiling it on a medium flame stirring continuous, so that the milk doesn’t get scorched from the bottom. Keep scraping the sides of the vessel and add back into the milk. Keep going till the milk gets creamier and the color changes to off-white. (It took me about 25 minutes, but depends on several factors including quality of milk and vessel surface-area)

Step 6:
Add in sugar and the flavored milk from step 4 and cook for 2-3 minutes, while stirring continuously.

Step 7:
Gently add in the dumplings you made in Step 3 and cook for 5-6 minutes.

Step 8:
Turn off the gas and transfer to a container and let it cool. Refrigerate it for at least an hour, so that the dumplings absorb the milk completely. Garnish with chopped pistachios and almonds

Pro-Tip 1: Quantity of Sugar is indicative and will vary depending on the type of sugar (brown, granulated, powdered) used. Also note that milk when reduced acquires a mild sweet taste due to caramelization, so adjust accordingly.

Pro-Tip 2: Homemade Paneer tends to have a slight sour taste, which is essentially coming from lemon. You can used vinegar as well to avoid it. Also, make sure to squeeze out as much of the whey as possible and pour over cold water when straining the paneer.

Monday, 9 March 2020

WFM - Working From Merak

Merak, JW Marriott Bangalore, Co Working, Cowork,Pool Side
Being a part of the IT Industry, a lot of us have the flexibility of working remotely, and I recently worked from Merak, JW Marriott's co-working space, and it is hands down, the coolest place I have worked from yet. And how often have we complained about bland and unappetizing cafeteria food? None of that here with bespoke cocktails and excellent food! 

The Best Part: Pay only for food and drinks that you order; the space and wi-fi is complimentary! Here is a review of the food and cocktails at Merak:

Bhel Puri, Bhel, Thai Bhel
BBQ Pork, Barbecued Pork, Pork Belly'Not the Usual Bhel' – A unique twist to the bhel puri, this has Thai herbs and a sweet-chili dressing added to the bhel. It is topped with crispy chicken bits. Honestly, anything is good with fried chicken!

Pork Char Siu -  A Cantonese favorite, these are sticky Chinese barbecued pork belly pieces served with braised pok-choy leaves and sprinkled with toasted sesame seeds for a bit of crunch.. If you like pork, you will love this dish.

Cantonese-Style Lobster - Striking presentation aside, this was batter-fried lobster pieces with scallions, soy, ginger and celery. Extremely delicious, though I would have preferred something that brings out the delicate flavor of the lobster.

Creme Brulee, Saffron, Indian Creme Brule
Zaffran Crème Brûlée and Almond Biscotti – An unusual variation to a regular Crème Brûlée, this creamy dessert had saffron infused into the custard instead of vanilla. The end-result was a richer, fragrant and much more satisfying Crème Brûlée.

Gin Garden, Gin Cocktail
Merak has some of the snazziest glassware I have ever seen, and they complement the excellent cocktails that they have here.

Merak Garden - Hendrick's gin infused with Hibiscus Tea, Rose Water, Cucumber and spices on a bed of preserved moss. This is one unforgettable cocktail and one that I would order every single time at Merak. Beautiful herbal notes as you take your initial sips that transforms into something far more complex, with the floral hibiscus and rose notes dominating the body of this cocktail. 

Gin Garden, Gin Cocktail
Martini Gazer - Blue Pea flower decoction, Cointreau, Martini Bianco, Beefeater Gin and a dash of Ginger Ale. This one had lovely herbal notes from the gin complemented by the earthiness of blue-pea flower and sourness from the lemon. 
Abhishek Chatterji
Co-Working Space:

While the food and beverage aspect is well taken care of, the work aspect is also well-thought through. Lots of seating options, like chairs and sofas for personal space, longer tables for community meetings and several cabanas setup well-spaced apart for a private conversation/meeting. Add to that a gorgeous view of the pool and I can easily say that my work-space at Merak is better than yours.
Merak-JW Marriott Hotel Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Verdict: Unobtrusive yet efficient service from JW Marriott, superb food and beverage options and a lovely pool-side view, hard to dislike a space like this! Highly recommended!

Saturday, 7 March 2020

KCK - To The Roots and Back

Malyali Food, Idli, Kerala
The food of a region not only reflects the local produce, but also the influence of cultures and dynasties that have ruled the place, to innovations of migrants who moved here. Kerala is no exception, and the food from this region is so diverse, it would take several blog articles just to go over their food history! To give some context, here are a few ‘Kerala’ dishes that capture the essence of what I mean:

Kerala Sadhya – An epic feast of vegetarian food and the universal symbol of the food of Kerala, their origins lie with the Namboodhari Brahmins, who associate their immigration from Tamil Nadu with the divine creation of Kerala by Parasurama, hence the name, ’God’s Own Country’.

Beef Ularthiyathu- A slow-roast beef dish made with pepper and curry leaves, this is a dish popularized by the Syrian Christian community.

Alisa/Harees – An Arab origin dish of Broken Wheat and Meat, this dish was brought here by the Mapilla Muslim community
Prawn in Banana Leaf

Kallu Shappu Meen Curry – Toddy or Date Palm Wine or Kallu is a mild, slightly sweet alcoholic beverage, that goes really well with extremely spicy food, sold in Kallu Shops. The Kallu Shappu Fish Curry and Beef fry are legendary Toddy Shop 'Touchings' that are not to be missed when in Kerala.

This is but information relevant when reviewing a place like Kappa Chakka Kandhari (KCK), where not just recipes and ingredients, but also local and home chefs who have been brought in from various parts to Kerala to recreate the magic in Bangalore using traditional methods. Ah Nostalgia! That is the beginning of so many great things; art, architecture and of course, food! Chef Regi Mathew, veteran chef and co-owner at KCK went back to his roots to get recipes that he his mother made for him when he was younger. That was the start of a mammoth journey spread over 3 years where the owners visited over 250 homes and 70 toddy shops, tasting, collecting and mastering recipes and techniques.

Squid Rings, CalamariBy the by, KCK is named after these ingredients, Kappa – Tapioca, Chakka – Jackfruit, Kandhari - Bird’s eye Chilli, which quite brilliantly summarizes the diversity of Malayali Cuisine in three words. That being said, let’s have a look at some of the dishes I had here:

Koonthal Roast: Very much a toddy-shop favorite, these are deep-fried calamari rings with Bird’s Eye Chilli. They very much hit the spot! Like fellow blogger and Keralite Abhilash Mithren (GulpnMunch) jokingly said, this is our version of the Ghee Roast.
Seer Fish, Peppercorn MAsala
Ayikoora Nellika Masala: Seafood is as much a part of Kerala food as coconut and bananas. The inspiration of this dish is from the fisherman who roast fresh catch on the salty shore rocks, with nothing much but pepper and salt. This was a grilled seer fish which had this lovely sour aftertase from the sundried gooseberries and a hit of spice with young peppercorns and chilli.
Beef Cutlet, Cutlet, Syrian Food in Kerala
Irachi Cutlet: Another favorite from the menu, these cutlets are a Syrian lunch specialty and are made with braised and shredded tenderloin chunks coated with egg and no breadcrumbs, which really brings out the taste of the meat. If you are a beef fan, this is priority number one!

Ramassery Idly, Idli, Kerala FoodRamassery Idli : These are nearly flat, similar to a dosa in shape and only about half an inch thick, but the tastiest idlis I have had. The secret to making these delightful idlis lies in the 3-tiered unglazed earthen clay pot structure with the mesh in which these are made. The origin of these idlis can be traced to the Mudaliar community of weavers who migrated from Tamil Nadu and settled down in Ramassery, a village 12 kms from Palakkad, Kerala

Puttu and Kadala CurryPuttu draws its name from the Sanskrit Pishta’ – which means jutting out, referring to the cylinder-like vessel in which it is made. This is generally a combination of Rice Flour, coconut and salt.

Kadala, Black Chickpeas,ChickpeasFish Curry, Toddy Shop Fish Curry, ToddyKadala Curry is a creamy gravy of black channa(kondakadalai), roasted, grated coconut, chilli and other masalas with a tempering of curry leaves. I could have this combination for lunch every-day and not regret it, one bit. Extremely homely and super-delicious!

Shappu Meen Curry: Spicy, Tangy and a fiery red coloured gravy, this toddy-shop style fish curry is everything you can hope for in your main course. Mop it up with idiappams(rice string hoppers) or pathiris(paper-thin rice flour ‘rotis’)
Tender Coconut Pudding. Pudding, Tender Coconut
Desserts: Here are 2 desserts that are a little off-the-beaten path, but with core ingredients from Kerala and deserve a place on this review:

Kandhari Ice-Cream – Truly, one of a kind, this is ice-cream made only with full-fat milk and Bird’s Eye Chilli, and the incredible spice hit as you savor your dessert, and the beautiful creaminess that lulls that initial blow. Unique, beautiful, regional. Just like KCK

Cloud Pudding – A dessert that has quickly become the talk of town, this is a tender-coconut pudding that is light as a cloud, jiggly like a jelly and as tasty as it gets. The best damn tender coconut pudding that I have ever had. Period!

Nannari Sherbet, Sarsapilla
Verdict: This place has a lot in common with the best restaurants in the world, local produce, indigenous cooking techniques, sustainable source and a chef who understands the regional intricacies. KCK and Chef Regi Mathew bring long-forgotten recipes and age-old techniques from Kerala to Bangalore, and the end result is homely, utterly delicious food. A place to watch out for and a definite contender for the India's Top 50 Restaurants in my opinion. Highly recommended!

Kappa Chakka Kandhari Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - ZomatoP.S. : Fun Fact : The Logo of The Uncliched Blog was inspired by the Nannari Sherbet. Checkout the origin story here.

Wednesday, 8 January 2020

Hummus By Yummus!

Hummus, Yummus, Carrot Hummus, Bell-Pepper Hummus, Spinach Hummus, Beetroot Hummus, Roasted
Some pronounce it 'Hommos', others a more guttural 'khamas', be that it may, the opinion is unanimous when it comes to the deliciousness of this middle-eastern delight. Origin stories are aplenty, but it is safe to say that the origin is Middle-Eastern, given that Hummus means 'Chickpeas' in Arabic. Basic Hummus recipe calls for just chickpeas, tahini, lemon, garlic and olive oil. The rest as you know is History. This is a review of the Hummus variations that are made by Yummus.

In the Indian Market, there are not many ready-made Hummus options, and even fewer focus on the health aspect. The best part about the hummus made by Yummus is that they are free of preservatives and baking soda(and thus, a low shelf life).

Hummus, Yummus, Carrot Hummus, Bell-Pepper Hummus, Spinach Hummus, Beetroot Hummus, Roasted

Here are the 4 variations I tried. All 4 variants were smooth, creamy and had none of that excess olive-oil dripping through which I liked,

1. Spinach Hummus: Spinach is generally not everyone's favorite veggie, and to add it in Hummus might not seem the best idea. However, the beautiful richness of blended chickpeas is the perfect foil to the rich,earthy taste of spinach. It was seasoned with mixed herbs and this is a very unique and healthy twist to the traditional hummus.

2. Carrot Hummus: A beautiful orange hummus variation, this hummus brings out the sweetness of the carrots beautifully, without ruining the whole hummus experience. I can see this being devoured as a breakfast spread

3. Beetroot Hummus: The colour of this hummus needs to be seen to be believed. A lovely lavender colour with a zing of lemon and the earthiness of the beetroot mellowed out, this is among my fav. variants of the the four.

4. Roasted Bell-Pepper Hummus: Hands down,my favorite of the lot. Who would have thought that the humble 'capsicum' will result in such a delightful hummus variant. Tangy, Smoky and Luxuriant, I could have this with any meal of the day.

Verdict: A lot of ready-made Hummus I have tried tend to over-complicate recipes or add so much of artificial flavouring/preservatives that the hummus loses its originality. Hummus from Yummus is as close as it gets to an all-natural and home-made hummus. Highly recommended!

P.S.:You can order Hummus from Yummus by logging onto their website or DM them on their Instagram handle, Yummus.In. They require at least 18 Hours of advance notice since all batches are freshly made. All variants are priced at INR 225 for 200 grams.