Sunday, July 28, 2019

Saffron Rose and Honey Ice cream -- No Ice Cream Maker needed

Saffron Honey Rose Icecream


Last year for Spring break we were on vacation.This year, it's summer and I have not finalized our vacation plans yet.😭😭

So, of course I am wallowing in my own sorrow and perusing pictures of the past. And that is when I remembered this Gelateria in a small town called GELATERIA DONDOLI IN San Gimignano, Italy. #throwbacktoholidays



Dumping us off at this quaint medieval town in Tuscany, the pretty Italian tour guide had ended her historic spiel about the town with "And don't forget to have gelato at the Gelateria Dondoli which has the best gelato in the world. it is the winner of the Gelato world cup( that's a thing?)"

Tossing her auburn curls she wagged a finger and warned "When you enter the piazza, there is one more store with a sign "World's Best Gelateria"-- but don't go there, it is fake😱. The only real World champion is Dondoli and you will see it."😎

Armed with this knowledge we strode into the beautiful piazza surrounded by medieval stone houses in gothic architecture, towers and beautiful church. But of course I paid little attention to this as my focus was on Gelato. True to the guide's words there were couple of gelaterias all proclaiming themselves to be winners of "Gelato World Championship". Modest crowds hung at each and I pitied the tourists who did not have my knowledge and thus would never taste the world's best gelato.

Unfortunately there were plenty prepped like us by the guide and there was a serpentine queue in front Gelateria Dondoli. To taste a World Champion gelato, you do need to put in some hard work after all.

Since the girls only wanted gelato while we wanted to see the town too, we went on a quick round of the small town while the girls waited patiently in queue.

By the time we were back, our turn had come but the hardest part was still not over. The hardest part being, choosing a flavor in the deluge of the flavors that Dondoli offered. The unique thing about the gelato here was they had a range flavored with spices and herbs like rosemary, lavender, saffron and more aromatics. We were very excited to see a flavor dedicated to Michelle Obama and I of course took that one. It had saffron and was delicately sweetened with honey.

I don't remember if it was the best as I loved almost every gelato around every corner I have had equally but I do remember the girls getting very excited that there was a photo of Priyanka Chopra as well as Michelle Obama in that tiny gelateria.

I am not yet sure if Sergio Dondoli makes the best gelatos but he indeed is a genius in creating unique flavors.



Inspired by Dondoli's Michelle flavor, and remembering his gelato, I made a Saffron and Honey flavored ice cream today.  

Saffron is a spice derived from the flower of  "crocus saffron". It is the stigma and styles of these flowers. Known as Zafran it is grown mostly in Mediterranean regions.   I love Zafran or Saffron but since it is expensive, I always use it sparingly. For this ice cream I used half of a 1 gram pack.

Of course mine was not a gelato but generously flavored with fragrant saffron and hints of rose water, the ice cream did taste delicious. I added honey and reduced the amount of condensed milk for sweetness. This gave the ice cream a subtle sweetness which I really liked.

And it was my favorite 3 ingredient ice cream that requires no ice cream maker. I had learned this ice cream recipe from my neighbor and use it as a base to add different flavors. The Nolen Gur er Icecream too is based on the same recipe.


Thursday, July 04, 2019

Best Mutton Biryani Recipe -- from Sanhita


If you have been following me for a while you know about my Biriyani woes. How I am never able to get that perfect Biryani rice

This year I was on a quest to a perfect my Biryani and the journey started with Neha Murad's Mom's Kolkata Biryani. It is a beautiful recipe and worked perfectly well and everything was good until it came to the rice part, when I faltered. It was always the rice which I either overcooked or it had extra moisture or something. I never got the "jhor jhore" Biryani rice where every grain is separate and independent.

Now two of my friends make excellent Biryani -- Moumita and Sanhita. Their Biryani is literally to die for and beats any restaurant Biryani that we get. I realized that the only way to salvage my Biryani was to shadow these experts in their kitchen and correct my errors.

Say Hello to Sanhita

My friend Sanhita kindly volunteered to teach me her excellent Biryani a couple of days back. Her approach to the dish was very simple, which caught my interest. She did not ask for any fancy ingredients and her style of Biriyani making seemed pretty simple with delicious results.

So I packed up 5lbs of goat meat, long grained Basmati rice, and arrived at her home on a hot summer afternoon to learn tricks of the trade.

Since none of us had time, we went with store bought Shan Bombay Biryani Masala. Next time I will be making Neha's mom's masala.

I am uploading 2 videos to show how the mutton was made and the rice was layered. The mutton is made with almost no water. After "koshaoing" or "bhuna-ing" for an hour, the mutton was transferred to a pressure cooker where it finished cooking. Point to be noted -- the oil from the mutton was not used in the Biryani.

 Cooking Mutton for Biryani

The rice grains were cooked al-dente and cold water was run through them to stop further cooking. The rice was then spread out in a tray and left to dry.

Layering Biryani


We made a very simple but utterly delicious Biryani. We did not waste our time in making the Birista(fried onions) to layer etc. The taste was subtle and clean, with the meat, spices, kewra and saffron flavoring each grain of rice.

Looks like my Biryani quest has finally come to an end with this delicious stop.