Haute Vegetarian Cuisine

first_imgKalyani Shah, a schoolteacher from Mumbai, remembers eating out during her school and college years as a dull, drab and fumbling affair. “There we were, in our neighborhood joint, ordering from a selection of pav bhaji, cheese pav bhaaji, rawa dosa or paapri chaat. And there was Schezwan paneer or Kashmiri pulao whenever we wanted to splurge. Eating out had nothing to do with the food. We just wanted to give my mother a break from her kitchen duties,” she says as she dig into a bowl of Kele ke phool.The raw banana flower curry cooked with tomato, green chilies and deftly flavored with hing (asafetida) and other spices is a unique preparation at Tuskers, Sofitel Mumbai’s plush all-vegetarian restaurant.Specializing in traditional Rajasthani, Gujarati and Marwari food, this stylish fine dining place is a far cry from Shah’s childhood haunts. And it is only one of the several new age eateries to coax maximum juice out of humdrum vegetables, pushing vegetarian culinary into the realm of “haute cuisine.”Spinach, beetroot, kale, snow peas — ingredients that were once used to merely embellish the meat on your plate — are now at the center of pricey meals, served a la mode by top chefs. The table turnsPinki Dixit, owner of popular Mumbai eatery Soam, attributes the rise of quality vegetarian dining options to increasing awareness and a changing lifestyle. “People are much more food-smart than they were a few years back. They are more open to new tastes and more tolerant towards extrinsic ingredients. The winning formula is to offer a strange-yet-similar taste that appeases maximum palates,” she says.Her restaurant is known for carrying the tradition of vegetarian cooking forward, albeit with some modern twists. The Jain Paanki (rice pancakes steamed in banana leaves) is a fitting starter to an enticing meal of Maharshtrian, Parsi and Gujarati vegetarian specialties. Whether it’s the graceful Shrikhand Puri or the regal Veg Dhansaak with kebabs, every meal at Soam is a celebration of pure ingredients enfolded in fascinating flavors.“People eating out more frequently has also worked to the advantage of restaurateurs like us, who want to break the mold, create new tastes and push the envelope,” Dixit says with pride.While a strong culture of vegetarian cuisine (regional street food, thaalis, et al) has always existed in India, it is only recently that Shudh Shakahari is finding its mojo.One of the first restaurants to start the trend of fashionable vegetarian dining was Little Italy serving authentic Italian fare. What started, as a small Pizzeria in Pune is now a strong culinary brand of over 25 restaurants, present in several Indian cities, Dubai and Kathmandu. With its professed aim to open “at least 75 restaurants over the next four to five years,” there is no doubt which way the future of vegetarianism is headed in India.“Although vegetarian cuisine has a very strong hold in India, owing to religious and cultural beliefs, the bar has been raised in the last couple of years. Not only are people more health conscious but are genuinely curious about food,” says Naveen Shetty, CEO of Little Italy.Innovation is the secret ingredient“Trying to explain the growth of vegetarian cuisine with the predictable narrative of health, religious, cultural beliefs, is only scratching the surface of a complex phenomenon,” says Baidik Sarkar, a chartered accountant and food enthusiast from Chennai, a city that is rapidly shedding its inward looking dining culture. “Demography plays a critical role in culinary innovations. Gone are the days of the indiscriminate consumer, be it in food, fashion or art,” he says, citing the example of Chennai’s Khader Nawaz Khan Road — a breeding ground of global fashion and high street labels that is also a culinary melting pot. “One can find everything from vegetarian Greek and contemporary Indian to avant-garde Asian cuisine,” he says.Modern fine dining leans heavily on the principle of mélange, or assimilation, leading to gastronomic diversity. Mix-n-match obscure ingredients like banana stem and pumpkin flower, combine odds-and-ends such as Zucchini blossoms and fresh fennel, discover the joy of cooking with Ash gourd and pea shoots — the possibilities of vegetarian cooking are endless.If you are partial towards fusion Asian food, head to Mamagoto (restaurants in Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore) for their ingenious crispy lotus stem or coal fired eggplant that can give the ubiquitous crispy lamb a good run for its money. Or enjoy an enchanting meal at Moshe’s, a restaurant chain specializing in Turkish, Moroccan and Jewish delicacies, where the Egyptian Fondue and crisp potato skins are as delightful as their meat and seafood preparations.“Vegetable based cuisine is well respected the world over, wherever chefs believe that ingredients should be the star of the meal. It is not so much about the number of vegetarian preparations you create but how creatively you can employ the ingredients,” says Alex Sanchez, executive chef at Mumbai’s exclusive eatery The Table. Sanchez, with culinary roots in the San Francisco Bay Area, honed his skills in some of America’s finest kitchens before moving to Mumbai four years ago. The Table offers high-end international food, everything from grills to tacos, decadent pastas to Risottos. The piece de resistance however, is Sanchez’s Zucchini Spaghetti, where the vegetable is cut lengthwise to create the spaghetti shape, cooked with almonds and topped with some Parmesan. Wonderfully simple and a best-seller at the restaurant.According to food entrepreneurs Ankit Gupta and Chirag Chajjer, the growth in the number of vegetarian restaurants coincides with an explosion in the interest in food. Together they spearhead the culinary innovations at Burma Burma, introducing the heady flavors of Burmese cuisine to the city of Mumbai. But how does this all-vegetarian restaurant entice its guests with a culinary legacy that is generally believed to be dominated by meat, shrimp paste, seafood, etc.? “Yes. Creating a vegetarian Burmese menu can be quite challenging, as the food has to be exciting even for non-vegetarians, who are familiar with traditional Burmese recipes. This is where food innovation comes in,” they say.There is a lot of emphasis on being creative in terms of flavor, colors and shapes, when making a dish for children or young guests as their tastes are very different from adults’. “The Budhi Kyaw Thoke has a bottle gourd fritter salad, so the children can have the humble lauki with a fun twist,” they explains. Healthy can be indulging tooAlthough healthy eating is still one of the main guiding forces of vegetarian gourmet, there is also a flourish of concept-restaurants, where meals are more than a bunch of vegetables thrown into the pot. Ayurvedic restaurant chain Cholayil Sanjeevanam has a menu based on the Ayurvedic principle of detoxification and harmonizing the body and soul with the right diet. The Rajakeeyam Thali is a multicourse meal that starts with fruits and shot glasses of various juices and vegetable extracts, followed by raw, semi-cooked and fully cooked vegetable preparations, to be consumed in a particular order.If that sounds too much like the doctor’s prescription disguised as gourmet meal, enjoy a delectable spread of vegetarian comfort food accompanied by live jazz events, magic shows or stand up comedy at The Piano Man Art Café in Delhi’s Vasant Vihar.If you are someone who believes in the power of yoga, combine this ancient tradition with some modern macrobiotic recipes at Mumbai’s one of a kind wellness café The Yoga House, a modern citadel of holistic food. Enjoy Quinoa Taboule after a session of Iyengar yoga or pamper the taste buds with a slice of carrot cake prepared with wholesome, pollutant free ingredients.How difficult is it to create decadent meals out of grains and vegetables? “Not very,” says Ajit Bangera, senior executive chef, ITC Hotels who is leading a gastronomic revolution at the opulent vegetarian restaurant The Royal Vega at Chennai ITC. “Vegetarianism is very deep-rooted in our culture and honed to perfection through many millennia,” he adds.The Royal Vega dives deep into India’s rich culinary art to produce a menu, overwhelming in its scope and repertoire. The recipes are inspired by the royal kitchens of India and adjusted to flatter modern sensibilities. The flavorsome Krishna Til Alu and the sophisticated Shvet Paneer are as awe-inspiring as the Chandragupta Malpua, whose recipe dates back to 300 BC.One of the problems in setting up an all-vegetarian menu is the availability of ingredients that change according to the seasons. Restaurants in the luxury hotel chain The Leela Palace, Chennaim confront the conundrum by revising the vegetarian part of the menu frequently, introducing variations with food festivals.“The demand for vegetarian gourmet is always high in this part of the country, given the religious and cultural practices: the demand shoots up during special banquets,” says Executive Chef Dharmen Makawana.What about pairing vegetarian food with a glass of wine? It may look like a daunting task but G.Subbaraman, assistant food & beverages manager of the hotel says the same principle of matching the food’s taste with the wine’s character applies to the vegetarian world too. “It may be difficult to pair specific vegetables with particular wine, unlike meat but one can pair a vegetarian dish according to the spices, herbs and sauces that are incorporated,” he says. “The creaminess of a mushroom risotto for instance, can be beautifully enhanced with a young Chardonnay.”In what could be the best homage to vegetarian cooking in India, MasterChef, a world-renowned culinary brand and an inspiration for cooking fanatics, decided to make the fourth season of MasterChef India an all-vegetarian show. “Season 4 will give a chance to the vegetarian cooking enthusiasts to display their skills, who could not participate earlier,” says celebrity chef Sanjeev Kapoor who hosts and judges the season, which is currently airing.Fellow judge and celebrity chef Vikas Khanna is equally ecstatic. “The contest will be tougher, but it will also be the best season,” says this ardent admirer of vegetarian cooking.But won’t cutting out meat and fish restrict the culinary skills of the participants? Khanna scoffs at the idea: “India is the land of vegetarian cooking. There are hundreds of vegetables, each with a different flavor, texture, zest and essence. So that’s hundreds of different approaches to cooking. Restrictive, did you say?”   BUDHI KYAW THOKEIngredientsBottlegourd (lauki) – 200 gmRice flour – 100 gmBesan – 20 gmGinger paste – 1 tspBaking soda – a pinchSalt – as requiredOnion – 1 medium (fried)Tomato – 1 mediumLettuce – 1 cupCabbage – 1 cupSpring onion – choppedTamarind pulp – 1 tbsp.Roasted besan – 1 tbspRoasted chili powder – 1 tspOil for fryingProcedurePeel and cut the bottle gourd into batons (fingers).Mix rice flour and besan in ratio 3:1; add ginger paste, salt, water, and a pinch of baking soda to make a thick batter.Dip the bottle gourd fingers in the batter and deep fry till golden brown.Cut the fried bottle gourd (Budhi kyaw) and put in a mixing bowl.Add roasted besan, fried onion, tomato, and lettuce, cabbage, spring onion, salt and tamarind pulp.Toss and serve.  SOYA GALOUTIIngredientsSoya Bean – 100 gm.Bengal Gram Dal – 150 gm.Ginger Paste – 10 gmGarlic Paste – 10 gmBread – 4 slicesBlack Cardamom – 5 gmChaat Masala – 5 gmBrown Onion – 100 gmCashew Nut – 25 gmYellow Chili Powder – 20 gmSalt – 5 gmRefined Oil – 100 mlProcedureBoil soya bean and gram dal with ginger and garlic paste until the water is totally reduced.Allow it to cool and make a fine paste of the boiled mixture.Add black cardamom powder, yellow chili powder, chaat masala and salt. Mix well.Add fried cashew and onion paste to it. Check seasoning and make small galettes.Pan fry on both sides until brown and serve hot.    Related Itemslast_img read more

Budgeting Basics: How to Save on Inconsistent Income

first_imgThe views and opinions expressed in this video are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or view of Intuit Inc, Mint or any affiliated organization. This blog post does not constitute, and should not be considered a substitute for legal or financial advice. Each financial situation is different, the advice provided is intended to be general. Please contact your financial or legal advisors for information specific to your situation. If you aren’t able to automate your savings based on percentage, commit to doing it manually. For instance, at the end of each month I’ll sock away a percentage of all the income that came in for estimated taxes. I’ll divvy up the remainder for my savings goals—retirement, a “fun” fund, an art fund (to buy art and for my own personal projects), emergency fund, and a fund for gifts (holiday spending stress is no joke).   Research says “set and forget” money management is the best way to achieve your financial goals. However, it’s tough when your income fluctuates wildly. One easy way to avoid this is to set up an automatic saving withdrawal for the times when you do have extra money. For instance, auto transfer when you get paid, suggests Kristen Berman, co-founder and principal of Common Cents Lab.“It’s even better to withdraw a percentage of your paycheck versus a fixed amount,” says Berman. “This means that that money will only be taken  if you have money, and leave the rest for you to spend.” For instance, instead of committing to $500 each paycheck, set up an auto transfer of 10 percent of each paycheck. Apps such as Qapital have the “Freelancers Rule,” where you can set up a percentage of each paycheck to go toward your savings.   If you work a bunch of side hustles and get paid every Friday or every other Friday, there are two months of the year where you get an “extra paycheck.” While tempting, avoid spending this money on today’s wants, suggests Berman. Instead, spend it on tomorrow’s needs.” Put the extra money toward paying off your credit card, going to the dentist or into your car repair rainy day fund,” says Berman.  You’ll want to make sure it’s going toward something intentional that will help you in the long run. One thing I’ve tried to do as a freelancer is to “get ahead by one month.” So by the end of November, I’ll have enough cash in the bank to cover my living expenses for the following month. So guess what you can do with those two extra paychecks each year? That’s right, it can go toward your “get ahead” fund.   Contribute Annually   Save for Estimated Taxes   Saved Based on Percentage  If you’re having a hard time making contributions regularly, try to do so every few months or once a year, recommends Pamela Capalad. “If you don’t make more than your minimum expenses are a given month, don’t feel pressure to save,” says Capalad. “If you try to save in a low earning month, you may end up putting expenses on a credit card or trying to catch up on expenses in a high-earning month instead of saving it.”  Contribute to savings, retirement and other long-term goals on your flush months. Or opt to contribute to a retirement account once a year instead of every month so you know exactly how much you can afford to contribute, says Capalad.  While budgeting on inconsistent income will forever remain a challenge, keeping these pointers in mind will help you live within your means, and have some money saved up for the future.   Post navigation Save When You Get Paid   Map out your projected income for the year and do a 12-month cash flow to see what your actual peaks and valleys in income are, suggests Pamela Capalad, a certified financial planner and founder of Brunch & Budget. “Often freelancers live month to month because income feels ‘unpredictable,’ but you’ve been freelancing for a while, you will have seasons of income, explains Capalad. “Being aware of when those are will give you an idea of how to plan for the low- and high-income months.”  To drum up a budget, try to calculate what earn yearly, suggests Berman. Research conducted by Common Cents reveals that looking at your income on an annual basis will help you make decisions for your future. “For example, instead of thinking about yourself as making $15 an hour, think about yourself as making $30,000 a year,” says Berman. “This annualized number makes saving a little bit for retirement feel more in reach.”  To figure this out, track how much you’ve made on average in the last three months, or the last six months. If you’ve been freelancing for more than a year, you can base your yearly income from last year’s. I know it’s not a perfect science, but it gives you something to work off of.  center_img Anchor Yourself on Your Lowest Paycheck  While an emergency fund is an essential part of any budget, how much should you save when you experience variable income? The general rule of thumb is three to six months of living expenses. When you have to deal with peaks and valleys in your cash flow, you’ll want to keep a robust rainy day fund as possible. I aim to have at least six months of living expenses, more if I can swing it.  Besides an emergency fund, having a buffer fund to get you through any gaps in income will help you pay your bills on time. I aim to keep about one month of living expenses in my savings account. That way I can transfer money directly to my checking and access money if possible. While the freelance life commonly touts flexibility and greater earning potential—cue the Instagram photos typing away on a laptop in an exotic locale—there are also financial downsides. A major one? Struggling with variable income. For freelancers, artists, and other members of the gig economy, it’s awesome sauce when you experience a spike in your income one month, but pretty terrible when your income drops the next. And as a lot of common budgeting advice is based on the assumption that one gets a steady paycheck, how can you come up with a spending plan? One that helps you not only stay afloat but where you can make steady progress on your savings goals?  Here are some tips on how you can budget when you deal with inconsistent income:  First things first. Here are parts of a budget that day-jobbers don’t normally worry about:   When your income fluctuates from paycheck to paycheck, depending on how many sources of income you have, try basing your budget on your lowest paycheck. For instance, if you are a rideshare driver and rake in about $800 a week, but also work part-time as a virtual assistant and make $250 a week, create a budget based on the $800 a week as a driver.  “It may be tempting to tell yourself you make $600 a week, but if you’re only making that every other week, you’ll end up overspending,” says Berman. “When you anchor yourself on your lowest paycheck, you’ll feel better. Plus, all the additional money that comes in on good weeks will feel like a bonus!”  Because I don’t have much of a regular income, I personally give myself a minimum income goal each month, and base my budget off of that. And if I surpass that goal, the rest technically can go toward my savings goals. Plus, I learn to keep my expenses low, so I don’t struggle with financial stress when I have a lull, which is inevitable.   Make the Most of “Extra Paychecks”   Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window) RelatedHow to Make a Budget Using the 50/20/30 Budgeting RuleJuly 20, 2016In “Saving”Freelancer Money Woes: How to Beat ThemApril 24, 2019In “Early Career”Budgeting 101: How to Create a BudgetAugust 19, 2019In “Budgeting” Total Up Your Income  Keep a Robust Rainy Day Fund   One of the many joys of freelancing (not) is to pay Uncle Sam every quarter for estimated taxes. If you’re not saving consistently, this could blindside you. In turn, you may be left owning a lump sum at the end of the tax year, or incur late penalties. Instead, you’ll want to sock away each paycheck toward estimated taxes. I know, it hurts to see a portion of your income get devoured each month by the government. But not doing so will just lead to panic down the line.  I get it. All these extra financial considerations is a tall order, especially when you’re just trying to get your rent and bills paid on time each month. Here are a few tips and tricks for budgeting on inconsistent income:  last_img read more