Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Lets all switch to canola oil!

           Firstly, let me begin this post with a heartfelt apology because I have delayed this post a lot. Had been tied up by a few festivals that took up all my time. So this poor little post was sitting patiently in the drafts folder, biding its time to make an appearance. Anyway, better late than never, so here we are!! :) P.s. This is going to be a LONG post. I enjoyed the event so much, that I couldn't bear to let go of even a little bit :)

           This event was organised in the first week of September by (go check out the website, its very informative), to spread the awareness about the wonderful, nutritional values of canola oil. The event was being held at the Four Seasons Hotel, Worli and the event had a line up of exciting events and and the most amazing panel of speakers which included, Mr. Bruce Jowett - VP- Market Development, Canola Council of Canada; Ms. Naini Setalvad - a well known nutritionist and columnist; Dr. Aashish Contractor - HOD: Preventive Cardiology and Rehabilitation;  and last but not the least (the person I was SO excited to meet) Chef Ajay Chopra - Executive chef at The Westin Mumbai and celebrity judge on Masterchef India.
Speakers from L -R : Dr. Contractor, Ms. Setalvad, the Communication head for the Canola Council, Mr. Jowett, and Chef Ajay.

            It was a modest gathering of about 25 to 30 people, but what made it so memorable was that all those present, were food lovers. I had such a wonderful opportunity to meet new people from the field I love so dearly, talk to them, listen and learn to so many new things. I was able to meet so many knowledgeable people who have been in the food blogging arena for so long, I felt like a baby among them :) . And most importantly, I was introduced to a life - changing food medium, i.e. canola oil.
P.s Thats me in the red next to Chef Ajay! :) 
             The session began with Mr. Jowett introducing us to the reality of oil consumption in India. Trust me, I was shocked to know that we consume 17 million tonnes of vegetable oil a year which is increasing at the rate of 1/4th million tonnes extra each year. Out of this humongous quantity, our country is able to produce only 7 and a 1/2 million tonnes and import the rest. Gosh, we are a country who love their fat and fried food, aren't we? :o Cooking without any oil or fat is not for the faint -hearted (I'm faint hearted, I love my pakoras; don't judge me! :P ) So if we are going to continue this way, we must  look for healthier options within oil, or else, the future of our health looks very bleak :(

           Canola oil comes in like a miracle option for us, with the lowest amount of trans - fat, no cholestrol, a very high smoking point, clean in taste and light in color and density!! I would really request you to visit their website that I mentioned above and go have a look!! I am now going to get on with the details of the event! Mr. Jowett was followed by Ms. Setalvad who was able to eloquently put the current food habit issues we Indian's face into  perspective.  Dr. Aashish Contractor was able to tell us shocking realities of the Indian health scenario. We are slowly turning into the diabetes capital of the world and the need for healthy food and healthy habits is increasing to the point where medication may stop providing any sort of help in the future. :O
             And after being shocked so much, came my favorite part (yes, it involves cooking and eating :D ) Chef Ajay Chopra spoke about canola oil being an efficient kitchen mate and substitute for all things oily! There was a demo kitchen set up in the room for Chef Ajay to demonstrate a few recipes using canola oil, so that we could experience the difference right there! There were three well chosen recipes, which were all deep fried food - stuffs. Also, we were each given a sample of canola oil accompanied with some sourdough bread to look, feel, smell and taste. Believe me when I say that I was as shocked as you are! It was everything it claimed to be! Odorless, very light and non - sticky, almost tasteless and yet a wonderful medium to cook in ! :O Along with plain canola oil, Chef Ajay whipped up three flavored oils for us to taste - Red chilli, Thai Basil and Rosemary. Honestly, you could serve the flavored oil and bread combo as  hors d'oeuvres to your guests!
The Sourdough bread
The Plain Canola oil
The Rosemary Flavored oil

The Chilli Flavored oil

The Basil Flavored oil



                   Chef demonstrated three recipes - Green pea karanjis, chocolate samosas and kothimbir vadis in detail. The room was full of the aromas wafting around, making everyone terribly hungry! All the speakerss were so nice and friendly that it was a very happy and interactive session. The results for the recipe contest was announced too. The recipe that one the contest they had had, was by Pradnya Desai. She runs Go check her out! She sent in an amazing recipe for cupcakes using canola oil ! I was certainly impressed!  Lastly the event was closed with high tea, where they served loads of yummy delectable bite sized foods and plus the deep fried yummies that Chef Ajay Chopra had made. During the High tea, I had the opportunity to speak to Chef Ajay and discuss a few things I needed some professional advice on, and my, wasn't he an absolutely refreshing person to talk to! It was the icing on the cake. So patient, friendly and polite. No wonder he is counted in one of the top chefs of the country!




                    All in all, the event was an experience in itself, I returned home tired but happy; having made a few new friends (Neiyaati!! If you are reading this, Hi! :P ), and learnt numerous new things. In the beginning, I was skeptical, having never tried Canola, but now,  I'm certain that I will give canola oil a fair chance in my kitchen, I suggest that you give it a try too! And while leaving we were all gifted a little goodie bag with some lovely stuff.. Here's a picture :)

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         PS. A big shout out to Radhika Vyas and her team for pulling off such a wonderful event so smoothly. You were an absolute delight to speak to, and I'd like to thank you for giving me the chance to experience something so awesome!

            I am going to leave you guys with a few more amazing food bloggers whom I had the opportunity to interact with (and their blog addresses). They are truly brilliant at what they do and they inspire me to keep doing better :) . Please visit them and show them some love! 

Priyanka Sirohi runs -
Purabi Naha runs -

So until next time,

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

A Modern twist to a Traditional Delicacy! and my Canola Oil food blogger's meet!

       I have had a very eventful week so far. I took part in the Canola Oil food blogger's meet at the Four Seasons in Worli, organised by . There was a recipe competition as a part of the event, and below is the recipe I submitted.
       Canola oil is one of the lightest and healthiest oil available today. Our task was to use canola oil in a creative recipe... even though I did not win, I thoroughly enjoyed being a part of such a wonderful experience.
       In this post, I'm just giving out the recipe. In my next post, I'll tell you guys in detail about the wonderful day I had! ;)

So here goes,


This is a healthy, yet tasty twist to a decadent traditionally Indian dessert which is a favorite in every household. Substituting a few ingredients for healthier options, not only makes it lighter on the stomach, but also adds a different facet to the dessert.
Prep Time – 20 Minutes
Cooking time – 45 Minutes
Serves – 4
For the Malpuas
·        150 gms of whole wheat flour
·        50 gms of jaggery
·        ½  tablespoon of fennel seeds
·        1 tablespoon of vanilla extract OR 1 fresh pod of vanilla (pod always preferred)
·        ½ tablespoon of freshly ground cardamom powder
·        1 cup of warm water
·        3 cups of canola oil  
·        A few saffron strands (for presentation)
For the Sour cream
·        1 cup of whole cream
·        1 tablespoon of buttermilk
For the fresh fruit syrup
·        100 gms of fresh fruit of your choice.
·        50 gms of granulated sugar
·        3 tablespoons of water
For the Malpuas
·        Dissolve jaggery in the cup of warm water completely; see to it that no lumps remain undissolved.
·        To the wheat flour, add the fennel, vanilla (either extract or slice open the pod scrape the insides of the pod and empty into the flour), and the cardamom powder.
·        Pour in the jaggery water slowly, and mix till you have a paste like consistency (pancake – like batter)
·        Heat a oil in a frying pan. Wait until it is hot, but not smoking hot.
·        Drop little pancakes of the wheat flour batter into the oil, slowly. Make sure that the pancakes are small. Eg – around 5 cms in radius.
·        Fry till golden brown and crisp on both the sides. As canola oil is light, your malpuas will hardly soak any kind of oil!
·        Remove from stove and keep aside
For the sour cream (in case you are planning to make some of your own)
·        In a double boiler, heat the cream till it almost boils.
·        Remove from heat and let it cool down to room temperature.
·        Once it is cool, put it into a storage container with a lid and add the tablespoon of buttermilk to it.
·        Do not replace the lid; instead place a paper n napkin on the mouth of the container.
·        Wait for 24 hours; keep checking occasionally to see how thick the cream is. Once it is as thick as desired, shut the container and store it in the fridge until use.
For the fruit syrup
·        Whichever fruit you have chosen, dice it into small cubes.
·        In a heated pan, mix 50 gms of sugar and 3 tablespoons of water.
·        Once the sugar melts a little bit, add the fruit bits and cook them till the syrup develops honey – like thick consistency.
·        Remove from flame and keep aside.

·        On a plate, place two malpuas.
·        Drizzle on them with the fresh fruit syrup and top with a few pieces of the fruit.
·        On the side, serve a dollop of cold sour cream with one or two strands of saffron on it.
·        Your dessert is now ready.

·        In the malpua, always use jaggery as it compliments wheat very well, something that sugar just cannot manage.
·        Traditionally, malpuas are pan fried in rich ghee, which lends beautifully to its flavour and aroma. But as we have opted for a very healthy alternative of using canola oil instead of ghee, we have added vanilla extract to the malpua batter, in order to avoid any different smells that may not go well with the dessert.
·        Coming to the sour cream, it takes a minimum of 24 hours to make at home. If you are running short on time, please help yourself to market bought sour cream; though homemade cream is always better.
·        Be careful while choosing your fruit for the fresh fruit syrup. Do not go for citrusy fruits like oranges and sweet limes as there is already a sour component in the dish. Try fruits like apples, pears, peaches and even bananas which will subtly enhance the dish.
·        You could do a variety of changes in this dish to suit your taste and choice.
·        You could top the sour cream with pistachio granules and compliment it with rose – petal syrup!
·        Also, you could add lemon zest to the malpuas itself and eliminate the sour cream, serving it with a scoop of delightful low fat vanilla ice cream!

Try this recipe out on a family lunch, or simply on the day you feel like indulging in sinful food!

Until next time!