Saturday, 3 May 2014

New Zealand Cook- Up at APB Cook Studio

It’s better late then never … so true in this case ….

Social media and network plays a very important role in bringing like minded people closer and making the world smaller. Just a couple of weeks back I came across a contest conducted by Beacon Holiday in association with New Zealand Tourism and FBAI, which was divided in 2 phases. First they asked us to write in 12 words what we want to experience about New Zealand cuisine.

I immediately responded saying ‘I would like to experience Urban New Zealand cuisine infused with Maori cooking technique.’  To be honest the prizes were something that sparked my interest to participate in the contest J.  

In a few days I was told that I am shortlisted for the second phase of the contest which was a cook-up at APB Cook Studio owned by Rushina Munshaw Ghildiya. There were five others who had also won the 1st phase of the contest along with me. They told us to email them the recipe using selected ingredients.
  • ·         Kiwi
  • ·         Lamb minced
  • ·         Boneless Lamb

We were given a freedom to use any of the three ingredients or a combination of 2-3.  I chose Lamb mince and Kiwi. I came up with a fusion dish with Indian and New Zealand flavors.  This was a combination of my own creation and research done online.  “A fusion here too” u may say and the answer is YES J.  My recipe was ‘Pomegranate Lamb Kebabs with Kiwi Chutney’ and the next day we were supposed to cook-up at APB CookStudio directly.  I was a bit tense with the thought that I will be cooking a completely new dish for the first time directly at the contest, but was all set and excited about it.

The next day I woke up with a slight migraine and gave it a second thought of taking part in the contest.  Finally decided to participate, as for me it was not a contest but a commitment.  I took some medicine, felt a little better and set off to the venue.  I was the last contestant to enter (no excuses on my late coming !!!) . Rushina welcomed me with open arms, when I apologized for my delay she very sweetly said “Don’t worry we will give you some extra time”.

 All my fellow contestants had already started cooking and were totally engrossed in their creation. The entire kitchen was filled with aroma from all the dishes.  Then all of sudden again something triggered my migraine attack … “OH NO, NOT NOW, NOT AGAIN …. The medicine has not been effective” I said to myself L.  But now that I am here I can’t look back, my only path was to move ahead no matter what.

I started collecting my ingredients and cooking. This was the first time I was cooking this dish and that too directly at the APB CookStudio. Infact I had never ever cooked the lamb before, so I was not aware how long a lamb would take to cook. Nor did I know how to identify whether the lamb is properly cooked or not. I was even unable to check the seasoning for the chutney due to migraine. Now my focus was only on completing my dish ASAP (not the result) and sending it out for judging (as the smell /thought of food was giving me a nausea due to the migraine). While I was still cooking all my fellow contestants had already set their dish on to the table and I could overhear others praising their dishes. Finally, I was done with my creation, plating and sent my dish for judgment. I was the last one to complete it but was happy that I finished it without struggling.

I would like to give special thanks to Mohit Choitrani for helping me grind the chutney and sharing tips, he made a 3 course meal starting from Kiwi Smoothie, Classic Shepherd Pie and Sweet Brushetta. My blogger friend Pushee made Minced Meat Pie, which looked tempting.  Rentia presented traditional New Zealand dessert Palova and running neck-to-neck with me was Purabi Neha who made Kiwi Lamb Cutlets with Kiwi sauce.

As I sat by the table I saw good spread of all the above dishes, wines and snacks prepared by Rushina and her team.  They all were enjoying the food spread with the glass of wine. 

Unfortunately I couldn’t make Kebabs for the team, but couldn’t help it. I just wanted to reach home and rest. I informed the same to Heena Munshaw, Rushina Munshaw Ghildiya and Sameer Malkani who understood my condition and came with the result immediately. A special Thanks to them too for understanding.

Rushina said “all are winners in their own ways, but the winner has won by one point” and she pointed out at me. I was literally in a ‘SHOCK’ not surprised but ‘Shocked’. I just could not believe it, am I dreaming? How can I be a winner, was something that was going on in my mind. I was not able to taste my dish due to nausea. Was the lamb properly cooked was the first question I asked myself? Was the seasoning correct? So many questions suddenly clustered my mind. It actually took me some seconds to come to a conscious state and out of the clusters of questions. It was then that I walked up to the center of the table where Rushina was waiting with a smile. Can u believe it all of sudden I started feeling better, forgot the weird nausea that had caught me all this while and I was excited.  I was enjoying all the attention that I was getting from others and social media who were covering the event. Never felt so special before, totally unbelievable. 

Judges Rushina Mushaw and Sameer Malkani said that the kebabs I made had different textures and surprising elements in every bite. They further said that the Kiwi Chutney was very tasty and amazing. She asked others whether they had tasted my dish but as I mentioned earlier, I had made only 5-6 kebabs (enough only for judges) which got over. But Ya, had made enough Kiwi Chutney for the team to taste. Before others could start tasting and giving me the feedback, migraine knocked at my door. “Hello !!! just because I overlooked you does not mean I am gone”, was the signal. So I told the judges that now I had to leave and reach home before it reaches its peak.  

Overall it was an amazing experience. Wish my health was on the better side, so I would have enjoyed the food that was prepared. Never mind there is always a next time.

This has made my belief more stronger in Slokas from Bhagavat Gita:
“Karmanye Vadhikaraste Maa Phaleshu Kadachana”,
“Ma Karma Phala Hetur Bhurmatey Sangostva Akarmani”
Which means, “Do your duty and be detached from its outcome, do not be driven by the end product, enjoy the process of getting there.”

Guys you want to know my winning recipe??? Here is it…

Pomegranate Lamb Kebabs
·         1/4 cup pomegranate juice
·         1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
·         1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
·         1 Tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves
·         1 Tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
·         1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
·         1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
·         1/8 teaspoon dry mustard pd
·         1/2 kg lamb minced shoulder or leg
·         Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
·         2 tsp chilli flakes / paprika
·         2 – 3 finely chopped green chilles
·         2 – 3 grated cheese (cheddar or mozellerla)
·         2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
·         1 tablespoon lemon juice
·         1 red and yellow bell pepper
·         3 tbsp cornflour
·         Breadcrumbs for coating
Whisk  pomegranate juice, olive oilgarlic, balsamic vinegarrosemarythyme, chillie flakes/ paprika, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauceallspice, salt, pepper and dry mustard in a bowl. Add this to the lamb mince and let marinate for ½ hours – 45 mins. 

Stuffing: Mix together grated cheese, finely chopped green chilles, finely bell pepper (red and yellow) and salt to taste

Remove lamb from the marinade with a slotted spoon and place on a large platter. Make into small flat puri and stuff the filling. Now form this into small kebabs. Coat these kebabs in the cornflour, dip them in water and then coat them into breadcrumbs.

Heat a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add enough olive oil to the hot pan to barely coat the bottom. Sear the lamb kebabs, turning only once until browned on each side. Sprinkle some chat masala on top. Serve hot with Kiwi chutney, lemon and onion rings.

Kiwi Chutney

·         kiwifruit, peeled and sliced
·         1 sweet onions, chopped fine
·         Grated zest of 1 lemon
·         Juice of 3 lemons
·         1 cup brown sugar
·         1 teaspoon ground ginger
·         1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
·         1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
·         1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
·         2 tbsp white vinegar
·         2 – 3 tsp raisins or dates
·         Salt to taste
·         Few coriander leaves

Place kiwifruit, lemon zest, brown sugar, ginger, raisins/dates, cayenne pepper, allspicenutmeg, salt, and white vinegar into a heavy saucepan.

Bring to a boil, lower heat, and simmer uncovered until thickened. Let this mixture cool or comes to a room temperature. Now grind this into smooth paste with coriander, lemon juice.  Remove this in a bowl and add finely chopped onion for the crunch. Serve with the lamb kebabs.