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A delicious book

TEMPTING CREATION Rabri French toast

TEMPTING CREATION Rabri French toast  

Chef Ranveer Brar's book is about melding cuisines and culinary practices

When he was five, he discovered the hustle and bustle of cooking food in a Gurudwara langar in Lucknow. When he was 13, he cooked meethey chawal – sweet rice – for the community kitchen. When he was 15, he prepared rajma at home when his mother was unwell -- and quite floored his father.

These little tales don’t surprise me at all, for I knew that Ranveer Brar wielded the magic spatula when I first met him more than 10 years ago. He was then the executive chef at The Claridges, the youngest chef to hold the post there. He served me a pork dish that I can still recall.

Since then, of course, he has gone places – literally and metaphorically. He set up and ran Banq in Boston, a restaurant that went on to win many awards. He was in Mumbai Novotel for a while, hosted a few food shows on television and was one of the judges of MasterChef India. He has been planning out restaurants menus. And now he has written a delicious book.

‘Come into my Kitchen’ (published by HarperCollins) was launched in the city on Friday. I have a copy of the book and whenever I feel the world is hurtling towards disaster (think Trump!), I pick it up and go through his little anecdotes and detailed recipes. They never fail to lift my spirits.

The book has six sections. The first two deal with his childhood and career, and his food philosophy. The remaining four deal with food: Beautiful breakfasts and brunches; Small bites; Main meals; and Desserts.

What I find greatly interesting about Chef Brar’s food is the way he melds cuisines or culinary practices. I know that we often baulk at the word fusion, because in the name of fusion, some terrible acts have been committed. But his food union is always drool-worthy. You will find in the book recipes for such dishes as Curry leaf pesto crusted fish with daliya couscous and Gnocchi sorse with garlic butter crab khurchan.

The dishes straddle different worlds. For his Dal khichdi risotto with dried prawn chutney, he cooks the khichdi with Arborio rice, which is the preferred rice for the Italian risotto, moong dal, vegetable stock, cumin seeds, oregano, dried thyme and white wine.

The dishes don’t just celebrate the coming together of the Orient and the Occident. You will, for instance, find Kolkata shaking hands with Mumbai in a dish called Kolkata chicken stew with chilli maska pao, or the north and the northeast doing a tango with Tandoori chicken momos.

He also encourages you to cook with whatever you have in the larder or the fridge. Once when he found that there was nothing but some strawberries and empty tart shells in his fridge, he stewed the strawberries into a jam. He put that in a tart shell, added a big scoop of nutty muesli to it, topped it with some slices of fresh strawberries and sprinkled powdered sugar on it. This was their wacky breakfast. Now (he writes) whenever his wife is feeling blue or wants a pick-me-up, he prepares this for her.

I want to try out his Rabri French toast – for I love both rabri and French toasts. To serve two, you need six slices of a day-old loaf, 1½ cups of refined flour, 1 egg, 1 egg yolk, 2 tablespoons of powdered sugar, 1 teaspoon cardamom powder, a pinch of saffron soaked in 1 tbsp water, 1½ tbsp butter and 1 cup rabri.

Using a ring mould, cut out circles of the bread slices. In a bowl, combine all the other ingredients except the butter and the rabri. Beat well. Heat the butter in a pan. Coat the bread slices in the batter and cook till golden brown on both sides. On a plate, spoon out some rabri. Place a French toast circle on the rabri. Put some rabri on the toast, add another French toast circle, rabri and then French toast again. Finish with the rabri. Garnish with pistachio flakes, candied cherry and mint leaves.

Now you know why I doff my cap to Chef Brar.

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Printable version | Apr 2, 2020 12:01:50 PM |

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