When it comes to food, most of us use the ‘in season’ rationale only when devouring fruits. However, the laws of nature also play a vital role on your health when it comes to picking the right vegetables through the year.
“Choosing to eat seasonal food puts your body in tune with the climate you are living in. By not going against the rules of nature, we are eating foods when they are at their peak taste; nutrition is in abundance, and to top it all its not heavy on your wallet,” says Sahil Sablok, executive sous chef, Taj Land’s End.
His contemporary, Vincent Marques, sous chef at The Leela, adds, “We create menus based on ingredients that are abundantly available in particular seasons. Right now, strawberries, snow peas, mustard leaves, red carrots, Brussels sprouts, radish and oranges are recommended.”
Carrot-Ginger Soup (Vincent Marques, sous chef, The Leela, Mumbai
1 large onion n 3 garlic cloves
30 ml olive oil
6 large carrots
1 tsp grated fresh ginger
Half tsp ground cumin seeds
Half tsp ground nutmeg
4 cups water n 250 ml
Half tsp salt
Crisp carrot (for garnish)
Fresh cream (for garnish)
Chop garlic and onions coarsely. Melt butter in a saucepan, add garlic and onions and stir until soft.
Add carrot sliced into half inch thick round pieces. Grate ginger and add.
Sprinkle mixture with cumin, salt and nutmeg. Stir in water and vegetable broth and bring to a boil.
Reduce heat. Let mix simmer until vegetables are tender. Then transfer the mix to a blender and blend to a smooth consistency. Pour in saucepan and check for the seasoning and consistency. Serve hot, garnished with crisp slivers of carrot and fresh cream foam.
(Sahil Sablok, executive sous chef, Taj Land’s End)
INGREDIENTS FOR PASTA DOUGH
300 gm plain flour
3 eggs, lightly whisked
Half tbsp olive oil
1 tsp sea salt
INGREDIENTS FOR FILLING
250 gm fresh green peas pods, shelled
3 spring onions, chopped (green and white parts have to be kept separately)
2 garlic cloves
1 tsp cumin seeds (toasted and ground)
100 gm ricotta
40 gm finely grated parmesan
1 tbsp butter
METHOD FOR FRESH PASTA DOUGH
Add sea salt, eggs and oil to the flour and knead firm dough. Cover in plastic wrap and rest at room temperature for 20-30 minutes.
METHOD FOR RAVIOLI:
Divide dough into three pieces.
Roll out each part into sheets roughly 2 mm thick and cut 3 cm square pieces.
Place filling on each piece, brush edges with water, top with other square pasta sheet and seal. Freeze them.
To cook, bring a pan of salted water to boil. Remove frozen ravioli; cook for 7-8 minutes till the raviolis surface on the water. Reserve some liquid for further use.
Heat butter in a pan till it foams. Add some of the reserved water and boil. Cook until reduced to a thick coating glaze, then add ravioli and toss gently. Serve hot.
Strawberry Almond Cake (Vishal Sharma, executive pastry chef, Taj Lands End, Mumbai)
120 gm almond paste (Marzipan)
120 gm eggs whole
24 gm all-purpose flour, sifted with baking powder
2 gm baking powder
40 gm butter unsalted, melted hot
Whisk almond paste with one egg using an electric whisk.
Add eggs slowly as the paste should dissolve completely.
Whisk till the mix is fluffy.
Gently fold in flour, and in last fold add the hot melted butter. Fold in chopped strawberries; portion them in small muffin moulds or non-sticky bake proof silicon moulds.
Bake in a pre-heated oven at 200 degree centigrade for 15 -20 minutes.
Cool and de-mould to get a clean finish on the edges of the cake. Serve cold or warm with fresh strawberries and whipped cream.Mustard Leaves Pesto Marinated Chicken with Winter Vegetables
(Vincent Marques, sous chef, The Leela, Mumbai)
Half a chicken (breast and leg with skin)
INGREDIENTS FOR MUSTARD LEAVES PESTO
500 gm fresh mustard leaves
50 gm pine nuts
30 gm garlic
30 gm parmesan cheese
100 ml olive oil
10 gm salt
INGREDIENTS FOR WINTER VEGETABLES
40 gm snow peas
20 gm cherry tomato (cut into halves)
20 gm red radish
Mozzarella crisp (for garnish)
Prepare mustard leaves pesto by combining all ingredients in a blender only using ice cubes and slowly pouring in the olive oil to form an emulsion. Adjust seasoning.
Marinate chicken with pesto and leave for 30 minutes. Blanch vegetables and cook by sautéing the snow peas, radish and the cherry tomato.
Cook the chicken skin side down on a hot griddle, turning the side when the skin turns brown.
Cook chicken in oven at 180 degrees for 15 minutes.
Place vegetables on a plate and arrange the chicken on top.