Chaiwalli meets Bawarchi

There are some professions in India that have finally received a much needed face-lift. One is the humble Chaiwala. Second is the lowly Bawarchi. With tea salons and chefs becoming page three regulars, no one looks down on you anymore if you say you cook or brew tea for a living. One of the brightest (and prettiest) new faces on the tea scene is tea sommelier Snigdha Manchanda, the brains & beauty behind the beautifully packaged brand Tea Trunk.

I first heard about Snigdha when she very kindly asked for my address to send me a box of her handcrafted tea. It’s always a pleasant shock when a complete stranger acts towards you with generosity and kindness. And when I met her on the sets of Sunny Side Up, I realized that this act of hers was not just a marketing promotion, but that she actually wanted to share her passion for tea with people.

Snigdha lives in Goa and markets her brand from there. I have always admired people who can leave the rat race of the city to go chase their dreams in a less stressful environment. It’s one of my dreams too, to source really special ingredients straight from the people who produce them and share them with the world (a dream that will soon be put into action 😉 )

She brought along a beautiful Marigold Lemongrass Green Tea she had curated for a wedding. Saffron Kahwa Green Tea & a Rose Oolong Tea. I made some Namkeen Biscotti to go with the Kahwa (having just been to Kashmir, I am currently in LOVE with Kashmiri Kahwa), some Momos for the Rose Oolong and a silky Rose Cardamom Caramel Custard with the Rose Oolong.
As we sat sipping her tea (which had been brewed perfectly by her), I realized that it was one of those serendipitous situations where you meet someone who is interested in exactly the same philosophy of life as you. Chances are this doesn’t happen very often J

Namkeen Biscotti

“Biscotti” literally means twice-cooked in Italian. If you think this actually involves more work than a normal biscuit, you are totally wrong. Biscotti is one of the easiest biscuit recipes to make and you can also bake it till the log stage and keep it in the freezer, waiting to pop in the oven whenever you have some friends over for a cuppa tea.

Vegetarian Momos

I’m a big fan of steamed food! Dim sum, momos, modaks- you name it, I love it! In China, dim sum is usually had with green tea. So I thought pairing some momos with the Lemongrass Marigold Green Tea Snigdha was bringing along, would be a perfect match. And momo wrappers are much easier to make than dimsum wrappers!

Rose Cardamom Caramel Custard

My granny used to make the best Caramel Custard! She had learnt it from some English lady who used to teach classics to the Indian ladies who wanted to make “conti” food. To this classic, I added some fresh rose petals (I love pink food ok!) and cardamom to give it a flavor that would match the Rose Oolong Tea Snigdha had brought. Just remember to let the caramel cool in the moulds before adding the milk mixture or else you won’t have the separation clearly marked in the custard.

QnA with Maitri Mehta

Q1.What do I do?
A1.I set up kitchen gardens in urban spaces. I provide consultancy only, or consultancy and execution services to set up kitchen gardens. People who want to start small can also purchase a few potted plants from me.

A2.I do not use any kind of chemical fertilizers or pesticides. Only natural and organic products and methods are used.

Q3.So you switched professions from a regular 9-5 and ended up growing organic plants … How and why?
A3.I’ve studied economics and was working with my husband who is an investor in the stock market prior to starting this Urban Farming Company. We as a family wanted to set up an Agro/Food related business. I came to realise that there is a lot of real estate in urban areas like rooftops, backyards, balconies etc. that can be used to grow edible plants. This and the need for unadulterated food led me to start this venture about a year and a half back.

Q4.What’s the one place in the world that makes u feel sunny side up?

Q5.What’s your ideal sunny side up brunch recipe?
A5.A smoothie made with assorted fresh berries, yoghurt, ginger, lemon juice and chia seeds.

Q6.How do u stay sunny side up?
A6.Eat right and exercise regularly and of course, get some sun.


Plant a Seed

Many people think that organic gardening or farming is something that hippies do. That it takes some kind of hysterical commitment and you need to wake up at 5 am and eat a bird-like diet of only vegetables and seeds.
Maitri Mehta is here to show you that “normal” people in their “normal” kitchens in their “normal homes” can grow and have access to a whole range of fresh herbs and veggies that they would normally buy from the market.
My first exposure to real organic farming came when I went to do a Bio Dynamic Course in Mysore (the baap of organic farming). Started by Rudolf Steiner, it involves a complex system of watching the stars, grinding up crystals with cow horns and being totally connected to the earth.
But before we start doing all that, how about growing a basil plant on your kitchen window? We have a basil plant called George. We water him in the mornings (without wetting the leaves) and pluck the dry leaves and of course, use the fresh ones for a whole bunch of yummy things like pesto!
Like my favorite author Michael Pollan (please read his books if you care about what you eat) says in this age of processed foods where each food item we eat consists of at least 15 different ingredients (mostly chemical & corn derivatives), its extremely important to eat stuff that your grandmother would recognize as Food!
And what better way to know what is in something than growing your own food! So put on your gardening gloves and get started!!

QnA with Esha

Q1.Which place makes you feel sunny side up?

Q2.What is your favourite brunch recipe?
A2.Waffles with maple syrup.

Q3.What was that one ideal moment in your life that made you feel ‘sunny side up’?
A3.When I got my first pet picola I saw her in a pet store in Italy amd immediately it was love at first sight.

Q4.Tips on how to maintain a sunny side up state of mind?
A4.Listen to Bob Marley’s ‘Sun is Shining’.

Spinach Goat Cheese Guiche

Next time you are drooling over a sweet chocolate tart or quiche in the window of a bakery, think of me saying “You can make it at home!”. This quiche dough is one of the basic pastry doughs you learn in cooking school. Add a little sugar and the savoury dough becomes sweet. Add a little cocoa powder and sweet becomes chocolate. Remember to have the butter and eggs absolutely chilled! And you can replace the filling with anything you want!

Looking for recipes click here

Chocolate Cupcakes

One of the things Esha loves and has aced while cooking is a Fondant au Chocolat or Molten Lava Cake. Baking is one of those activities that fills your house with the most amazing smells and its something you can do with kids (especially licking the batter bowl once its done!) Buy little cupcake wrappers and fill the batter straight into them for a professional look.

Looking for recipes click here