October 2017 - Sugar N Spice

Monday, October 30, 2017

3:42 PM

Revealing a Secret................Semifinal Day Two

Revealing a Secret................Semifinal Day Two


One secret, I want to share here. We were not two persons participating in this contest. During the qualifying round when we were visiting other contestants houses Lopita was having episodes of stomach pain and was feeling sick. She loves fish and meat but at that time she was not liking it. She was suspecting food poisoning or stomach flu. The first qualifying round was over and we were through to next round (semifinal). Even days after finishing the shooting, she was still feeling sick. One day, I just said maybe you are pregnant, check it and yes she was. So, we were three persons (Me, Lopita and little Tavis in Lopita’s womb) in the competition.

Qualifying Round (Gustavo & Luca's Place): I was tired but Lopita was feeling sick


That was a great news but same time she was feeling nervous. Our priority completely changed after this. Her health was more important than taking part in MKR. We discussed it and decided that we will take one day at a time and if required we will pull out ourselves from the competition.

As she entered in her second trimester, she started to feel better and came out of her nausea period. She was ready to go to Oslo, but I was nervous as it was a big responsibility.

We survived the first day in semifinal and Lopita was feeling tired. But she geared up and was ready for the challenge.

Second day in studio...............

We were ready for judges to tell us about the theme or dish we will cook. As Christopher said we have to use Torsk Head (Fishhead), immediately I knew it’s Lopita who will take a lead today. She comes from the eastern region of India where Fish is an everyday staple and she had told me stories about how they prepare it on a special occasion and serve it to the main guest. Eating fish eyeballs is a delicacy in that region. I was sure that Lopita will lead the challenge today. But as we moved towards the table it was full of Torsk head (fish head), we were frightened. Lopita has handled fish head before but not that big. It was monstrously big. But there was no turning back, she was quite brave.
Shocked - Fish head (too big to handle)

We were super excited to take up this challenge. We decided to mix flavours of east and south like curry leaf, coconut, cardamom etc. in the curry based on the ingredients we had in the pantry. She started with the Fish head and I started preparing for curry. The main ingredient for curry was missing from pantry the ‘Curry leaf''. Earlier I saw it in the pantry but suddenly it vanished. I asked everybody but no one had it and we couldn’t start without curry leaf. Lopita was getting stressed and I was also feeling the pressure. Then suddenly, I turned back and saw Farid (other contestant) was holding packet of curry leaf in his hand. I think Tommy and Farid knew from the beginning how important it was for us and was playing a joke on us………………very funny :)
I just grabbed it from him and then I started with curry. We lost some time in this but managed to get back on track.

Me and Lopita have different taste palates. Sometimes it works in our favour and sometimes not. This time it was against us. Constantly we were having arguments on ingredients for curry. She is not used to adding lime, lemon or vinegar in fish curry and I always like to add sour flavour in fish curry or any dish I am making with fish. And there were few more things I wanted to add which she disagreed with.  Every time when she was away from the cooking station I sneaked in one or two additional things in the curry :)

Only a few minutes were left and I decided to make Lachha Paratha (layered flat Bread). It was a risk but it paid off, paratha turned out very crispy and flaky. Lopita finished cooking fish head. But we were not sure if we should serve it whole or disintegrate it. Lopita decided to disintegrate it and removed every ounce of meat from fish head. The whole combination of fish, curry, paratha and rice was heavenly. But I still wanted to add something more, then I ran and grabbed another fish head and asked Lopita to cook it. We decided to take out the eyeball and serve it with curry. By this time, I was so comfortable handling fish head that I was helping Lopita to scoop out eyeball from fish head. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that I will be doing this one day :)

We barely finished on time and when we looked around most of the other contestants had served whole head. We were nervous but sure about the taste and texture of the fish. We followed our gut instinct and believed in what we know. 



Our dish was the best dish of the day. Kudos to Lise for trying eyeball :)

Monday, October 16, 2017

9:54 PM

Tandoori Chicken Fajita on Sizzler with Mint Chutney

Tandoori Chicken Fajita on Sizzler with Mint Chutney
Tandoori Chicken Fajita on Sizzler with Mint Chutney

Ingredients:-

Chicken Boneless - 2 Kg (for vegetarian version substitute chicken with potatoes or Paneer or Tofu)
Paprika - 2 pieces
Mushroom - 15 pieces
Red Onion - 2 medium size
Oil for grilling chicken

Marinade-
Paprika Powder – 2 tbsp
Cumin Powder - 2 tbsp
Coriander Powder – 1 tbsp
Red Chili powder – 2 tsp (optional)
Garlic Minced – 3 cloves
Lemon Juice – 2 tbsp
Vegetable Oil – 3 tbsp

Tortilla
Whole Wheat Flour – 2 cups (optional can substitute with all purpose flour)
Corn Flour (Maismel) – ¾ cup
All Purpose Flour (Hvetmel) – 1 Cup
Spinach – 250 gram
Oil – 2.5 tbsp
Cumin seeds – 1 tsp
Salt – 2 tsp
Water

Mint Chutney
Fresh Coriander Leaves – 1 cup
Mint Leaves – ½ cup
Raw Mango – 1 small size, peel and diced (you can substitute this with lime juice 1 tbsp)
Garlic – 1 clove
Ginger – ¼ inch piece
Green Chilly – 1 piece (optional)
Cumin Powder – 1 tsp
Salt – ¾ tsp

Mango Salsa
Mango – 1 big size
Red Onion – 1 big size
Tomato – 2 medium size
Salt – as per taste
Lemon Juice – 1 tbsp
Green Chilly – 2 pieces (optional)
Fresh Coriander

To serve: Cast Iron Sizzler plate

Recipe

  • Marinade - Cut the chicken into stripes. Mix all the ingredients in a bowl. Combine chicken with marinade and set aside for 30 minutes (if possible overnight).
Spices

  • Tortilla Dough - Mix all the flours and salt together. Blanch the spinach and rinse it under cold water. Make the paste of spinach. Add it into flour along with oil and water. Form a dough and work with it for five minutes. Set aside for at least 15 minutes. 
    • Tips: When you press dough, it should feel soft not too hard and not too wet. If it feels wet add little dry flour and knead it again. If it feels hard add little water and knead it again.
  • Mint Chutney - In a grinder add all the ingredients and grind it to form a paste. Check if coriander and mint are balanced well and adjust the taste by adding more coriander or mint.
    • Tips: first grind garlic, ginger, green chilli and raw mango, if needed add little water then add rest of the ingredients and grind it. 
  • Mango Salsa: Peel and dice mango into small pieces, dice all other veggies into small pieces. Add salt, lemon, green chilli and fresh coriander.
  • Tortilla - Divide dough in portions into small balls. Roll tortilla dough in round shape and roll it thin. Cook it over medium heat on a preheated griddle (stekepanne) for 1 minute on each side or until you see some bubbles and brown golden spots. 
    • Tips: if possible use cast iron griddle to cook tortilla. After cooking cover tortilla with a kitchen towel and put it in a box.
  • Grilled Veggies: Cut all the vegetable lengthwise and add pepper, salt and oil. Grill it until translucent and bit charred. 
    • Tips: you can grill it on a pan or on an outdoor grill or in the oven. If you grill it on charcoal or gas grill, you get best result and taste.
  • Grilled Chicken: Preheat the griddle and grill the chicken with little oil on a pan for one minute each side (cooking time depends on the size of the chicken stripes). Serve it on a hot sizzler plate.
    • Tips: Charcoal or gas grill gives the best result.

Chicken Fajita on sizzler


Please share your views and feel free to ask any question below........

Saturday, October 14, 2017

12:58 AM

Oslo Calling......MKR Semifinal Day 1

Oslo Calling......MKR Semifinal Day 1

It’s time to fly to Oslo for Semifinals. Last few days we were very busy trying new dishes, experimenting and preparing for Oslo (what to wear) :). This time we will be cooking in the studio, so need not have to worry about cleaning the kitchen after the mess :).
At Oslo airport.............
In Hotel……………
We met our old pals Helge and Svein from the qualifying round. It was a bit of relief to see familiar faces. We were taken from hotel to studio. We Couldn’t wait to see the studio and same time was nerve-racking to think about the humongous challenge we were about to face. On the way to the studio, me and Lopita didn’t speak at all. It was more scary for Lopita than me. I had some experience from Kakekrigen but honestly, I was equally nervous.

In studio………….
When we reached the studio other contestants were already there. It was very intimidating to meet these strangers. We also get to meet judges as they were getting ready for the shoot. Scary and same time honoured to meet two big shots of Norwegian food industry.

Judges talking to director
WOW, that was the first word I uttered when I saw the setup. We met director and producer of the program. As it was day one, so they briefed us about the process. They gave us a walk through of appliances, utensils, they had one of the sharpest knives in the drawer and of course along with bunch of bandages and gloves :) 

MKR Studio
There were total 6 stations, as we were 6 pairs to compete against each other. We noticed there were two additional stations. That time we couldn’t understand the purpose of those station.  Each station was equipped with high quality products. Appliances were super hi-fi, even the water tab was quite technical to use. They gave us some time to check the appliances by ourselves. Me and Lopita both smiled at each other, we knew it will be challenging to use these appliances in stress. We were already nervous above this we had these hi-fi gadgets. It took some time for us to understand all. But at last we were comfortable with it, kind of :)
Stations


Listening carefully to director's brief
Then we had a tour of the pantry and immediately a lot of ideas started rushing in my mind. I had to hold my horses as it was too early. Our day has just begun and we knew it will be a long day.
The telecast of the show is only for an hour but the shoot time is almost 12 hours sometimes. Bård (director) was there and he took our first interview before the cooking and made us laugh and again helped us in calming our nerves.
First interview in studio with Bård
 At last, we and crew members were ready to shoot. Me and Lopita both of us were having butterflies in the stomach and was finding it hard to smile but we tried :).
Six pairs ready to compete
A lot of takes and retakes of us entering in the studio then the same was for judges. But finally, the director was happy with all the shots and time came for judges to tell us about the dish we will make. They wanted us to make a dish which reminds us of our dream vacation and we were given only one hour to prepare the dish.

We decided to make Chicken Manchurian (Kjøttboller med Kylling og grønnsaker) and fried rice. This is an Indo-Chinese fusion. In North India, we get a delicious fusion of Chinese and Indian cooking.

At first, me and Lopita were running frantically back and forth to get the ingredients and were confused. Then we paused for a minute and divided the tasks. She started chopping the vegetables and I did too and immediately I cut my finger. The knife is my enemy and as I said those knives were very sharp. Lopita’s chopping skills are better than mine. She immediately took over the task and I started preparing the chicken. Bård is always behind the camera and converse with us all the time. He was worried that half of the time was gone and we were still chopping the vegetables. We needed lots of vegetables (mushroom, capsicum, onion, spring onion, cabbage, coriander etc.) both for Manchurian (kjøttballer) and for fried rice. In the beginning me and Lopita struggled a bit with understanding each other related to chopping or cutting veggies. Though we speak the same language (Hindi and English) but we struggled. Then she asked me to show her, how I wanted veggies to be :) ……….that was better.

Christopher (judge) on our station to check the progress
When I was frying Chicken Manchurian, Bård asked me ‘don’t I have to check the temperature of oil with the thermometer?’ I smiled and said we never do that in the Indian kitchen. We have learned from our mothers that oil is ready when we feel the heat on top of the pan and if we see some fumes oil is ready to fry. It’s a full proof method :)


At one point, I was also worried that we might not finish on time but we did. As we looked around we saw they all made some amazing dishes. I was not worried as I knew our dish was full of flavours. 


It was time for judges to taste................


 

After a long wait, Judges deliberated - Tik and Knut Åge made the best dish of the day. We also received good feedback from judges and were safe from elimination on that day. We were relieved and super happy to deliver so well.

Dag & Helle, Me & Lopita, Tommy & Farid through to next round
Bottom two pairs had to contest against each other for a place in next day competition. Losing pair had to leave the competition same day. There came the role of those two additional stations. They had to cook on those stations. We just had to sit and watch. I was feeling bad for them but same time felt relaxed and relieved.