Saturday, 29 December 2012

Whats in a Banquet !

There are only two tangential views that exist on banqueting; one, it is a gluttons paradise and for the other it is a distasteful concept of communal dining !

The debate is not about which side you are on, it is about something which we can just not ignore. So what exactly is trending in banqueting and what makes this traditional service more inviting and connected to the present genre.

What is trending in contemporary banqueting.....

  • Customised live cooking stations
  • Customised cooking methods
  • Live modular kitchens with modern equipments
  • Customised menus
  • Snazzy beverages in exquisite glassware 
  • Focal point - a great beverage bar
  • World cuisines
  • Micro menus
  • Ethnic cuisines
  • Health trends in popular fare; large hand tossed salad and pizza bar etc, seafood, world barbecues, Japanese food.
The upscale client needs..

  • Food and beverage styling
  • Fresh ingredients and their visibility
  • Cooking concepts in each finalized stations
  • Amuse bouche instead of appetizers in plenty
  • Modern-ethnic serviceware
  • Great variety and greater detailing
 A WOW banquet menu..

  • Selections and combinations offered
  • Customised menu and concepts by one to one discussion with the chefs
  • Food styling by one to one discussion with specialized chefs
  • Diversity in cuisines
  • Tasting menus
  • A great cocktail menu. Good wines.
 What executes a great party event.. 

  • Trained and enthusiastic personnel
  • Quantum of manpower
  • Synchronization of services and crispness in delivery
  • Logistics
  • Themes
  • Timing
Mark your USP..
  • Planning and its implementation
  • Concepts and its implementation

By : Devraj Halder

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Mulled Wine

Winters are back and beautiful as always. The hillscapes already done a sparkling new white blanket and the flatlands enjoy the refreshing cold breeze. The nip in the air is great for the heartwarming wines mulled to perfection. It is an exquisite art to heat certain wines with some subtle aromats thrown in. The release of the inherent flavors of the terroir along with the dash of added flavors create a warm elixir just perfect for another new winter.

The best fruit for making mulled wine is rough dark red grapes. It has the right equilibrium of sugar, acids (tartaric, malic, ascorbic ), yeast nutrients, tannins and water content.
Country wines with plenty of tannin do well. Bilberry, damson, blackberry, black plum and blackcurrant.  The rough wines do better than the good ones when mulling them. That also suggests a smart way to improve and enjoy these wines which is also just right for the season.

Wines from Portugal, Spain, Hungary, Italy or Chile suit better as they typically have a deep fruity flavor and lots of rustic structure, again perfect for mulling.
Casa Lapostolle Chardonnay from Chile, Marques De Riscal Rueda from Spain, Alfa Romeo Red from Italy are to name a few. Martel XO and Hennessy XO are my personal favorites to compliment the mulled wine.

Dried and pitted fruits like, apricot, punes are great. Also spices like, sweet cinnamon, vanilla go well. 

Traditionally mulled wines go well in a glogg wine glass or mug which is a  dual-walled thermal glass and help keep contents warmer in cold winter night outside. Mulled wine pitcher or warmer and festive felt wool coaster pack are also available. A brandy snifter is also a practical glass to serve it.

Happy mulling this winter !

By :

Devraj Halder

Sunday, 2 September 2012

The meat and potato man !

At times I wonder how this phrase would have come about to be coined. Since the evolution of mankind the meat was hunted and cooked with potatoes ( read ‘roots’ ). This was among the first staples of the human man. The one-pot cooking processes were congenial to this kind of food and their preparation/s.
I can already visualize those mammoth steaming cauldrons of thick soupy meat set over logs of smoldering wood awaited by cold and hungry folklore.
Fancy colored vegetables are relatively modern in relation to the discussion at hand. They are all discoveries or rather inventions of mankind. What existed with the test of time were the fleshy tubers. The colored vegetables seem feeble and quite alienated in combination or comparison to the might of the meat ! Only a true vegetable of the soil could match up !.. The potato.
There is something similar to how the meat and potato ( read ‘roots’ ) behave while they are cooked. The slow cooked meats with the tubers lend, body, texture, volume and depth to the preparation. It is a great example of balance, homogeneity and basic yet intrinsic well-being.
The slow release of the sugars and starch and the tenderizing effect it lends each other is quite delicious. This is comfort food in true sense. This is no nonsense food in true sense.

It would be safe to say that the meat not only compliment the potato (it can be turnips !) in terms of combination but also supplements in terms of nourishment, satiety and satisfaction.
There is something extremely earthy about this comforting amalgamation of food. It is like a warmly-welcoming and home-coming proposition when you actually look forward to this meal. This is also the meal for the true toiler.
No feast is complete without this duo at the centre-spread inviting hungry eyes and turning salivating heads waiting for you to just roll up your sleeves and dig in !  
Steak and potato, hearty meat stew with chunky onions, turnips and potato, chops and onions, chicken and fries, roast and mash, grills and wedges, shalgum gosht, all have a story to tell.
Well I know lot of men who give two hoots about any clan of vegetables that come their way. They believe that a meal can only be complete with these delicious potatoes and chunky caramelized meats.
I don’t find anything wrong in that belief after all we are creatures of the soil. In fact it also goes that these very men live to eat than eat to live and interestingly are the most boisterous and earthy individuals you can come across.

Hail the meat and potato man !
By : Devraj Halder

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Nostalgic Food Tour of Hyderabad

Specially we in India and connoisseurs of food all over the world have had a special corner for Hyderabadi food. In Hyderabad's 400 year history the Hyderabadi cuisine has, like its culture, stood high and quite unmatched by any other place in the Indian subcontinent. In fact, Hyderabad is known for the spectacular way its aristocracy entertained. The erstwhile rulers of Hyderabad were connoisseurs of food and insisted that their cooks lay out elaborate ten-course meals on a daily basis.

The Hyderabadis do have rather unusual ways of seasoning their food. Hyderabadi cuisine is a distinct dialogue in food, based on the traditional method of combining the sour and the sweet, the hot and the salty. Hyderabad has taken the highly developed and refined Mughal cuisine of the North and imbibed it with the zesty sauces and spices of the South to create a vast and seductive repertoire quite its own. Hyderabadi food, as it has come to be known, like the city's culture, heritage and language, is a mélange of several influences--Hindu, Muslim, North, South, Indian and foreign.

As they say here, food is best created with fursat and mohabbat -- that is with time and love. Being devoted to Hyderabad means being devoted to food. Here, food is not just something to fill the stomach; it is the very essence of life. The quintessential Hyderabadi is known for his nawabi lifestyle - a gracious but rather laid-back way of life. But when it comes to food, the Hyderabadis won't tolerate any laziness and have very exacting standards.

Welcome to the treasure trove of heritage Hyderabadi cuisine at its best, whether in the form ustaad’s legacy or nawab’s rendezvous.

In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful... !

Spectaculer dishes include Jhinga Talawa( a delicately pan-fried prawn), Khorme Ka Kebab( pounded meat kebabs served with til ki chutney), Dum Ka Keema( charcoal flavored minced meat with papaya and serve with garlic raita), Mutthi Ke Kebab( from old world muslim elegance a  with spicy gravy), Bina Masale Ka Murg ( a simple marination representing the true essence of the tender chicken ), Shami Kebab (Pan-fried kebab prepared with lamb and tastes best after you get to see the sacred moon of Eid ! ), Nizami Lukhmi( a traditional preparation), Kheemey ki Lukhmi, Tootak (The baked delicacy has rich semolina dough encasing a appetizing cottage cheese and potato filling), Aloo Ke Garlay( This is an ostentatious version of the popular batata wada )Boote Ke Samose (crispy samosa with spicy green gram filling) ,Hari Bhari Mirchi (stuffed chili with mint chutney ), Faluda( a refreshing dessert) and finally the Irani Chai( popular tea from a Charminar fete ! )

By : Devraj Halder

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Life and Career as a Chef..

“ .. Hi chef , can you tell me the recipe of… ”

“ …. egg less cakes ! how do you make them… ”

“ ……. am looking for some real low cal stuff, can you help.. ”

“ ………. how about some quick party snacks.. ”

…. Only a chef is familiar with these relentless, unavoidable questions the moment he steps out of his domain, trying to take time off his chefs jacket.. welcome to the social life of a chef .. off course he is a ladies man.. but to the extent of good food & recipes !

Nevertheless, life as a chef is highly interesting and varied. The package includes action packed days, tense moments, great ups and equally great lows, a lot of different people to meet and also a lot of riddles to solve. Overall, it is not as monotonous and routine as so many other professions.

A chef needs to have his creative juices flowing, it is a profession which needs skill as well as a lot of thought process. Results achievable are quite delicately balanced as the job involves coming out with the best, from the team. The job of the chef, incorporates most of the important management subjects; he needs to be a great organiser and planner, he is also a quality manager and materials manager and he needs to know his cost accountancy thoroughly. He also needs to understand the varied human resources aspect, as he works with so many different kind of people. He knows the best, as to how to market his food and he is also well versed with the technical angles and infrastructure of his kitchen. Overall the job is quite diverse. Added to this, leadership and charismatic skills go a long way, in making a great chef.

All these don’t come easy, a good chef is a product of years of toil and going through the grind, in understanding these finer aspects of his profession. It needs a lot of self motivation, self initiation and also a ‘go-getter’ attitude.

A fresher usually joins the kitchen brigade with the armoury of his love for food and cooking. He also finds it a lucrative profession. As he proceeds further, the diversity and magnitude of the operation , awes him. This is where it is most crucial. This is where he gets to see the realistic content of the profession , this either releases his ambitious nature and fuels his aspirations to get to the top and ignites his passion in true sense, to make a mark in the industry and go after his primary likeness, for food and cooking or it deflates his hopes as the going gets tough. This is where comes the saying, ‘when the going gets tough the tough gets going’ .

Once the young chef has decided and embarked on his journey in the culinary field, everyday becomes a myriad experience, he learns and becomes mature, he correlates his job with his own creativity and overcomes one hurdle after another. It is like a ‘mirage’ , each opportunity opens up newer challenges and the taste of success prompts to explore for newer and tougher challenges.

This profession does provide attainment of a high level of job satisfaction and the hard work and perseverance required, then looks quite worth it.

Just a word of caution though, fresh aspirants in the profession should understand that the foundation of the building needs to be strong for it to grow tall, any aspirations based on glamour does not last for long, it is the focused approach to learn the basics well, without shortcuts, and practise and perfect their skills, which take a chef a long way.

Life and career as a chef, is quite an experience. Go for it, if the words which describe you are, passionate, tenacious, creative, physically fit and you want to do something meaningful. In true sense, it is a profession for the brave yet warm hearted.
By : Devraj Halder