Brace yourself; this is going to be a longish post….
It isn’t everyday that you get to meet a celebrity chef and taste her food. It isn’t everyday that you get, not just one, but two cookbooks signed by the chef herself at two different occasions.
I was recently invited by noted food blogger, consultant and owner of A Perfect Bite (APB) Cook Studio, Rushina M. Ghildiyal, for a ‘Cook and Dine’ with celebrated chef, restaurateur and cookbook author Ritu Dalmia, who was launching her new cookbook Diva Green at Mumbai. APB Cook Studio is Rushina’s dream project where she conducts workshops and classes and organises parties and book launches like the one with Ritu Dalmia (you can check her website and class schedules here). It’s not difficult to locate the studio once you enter the main building at Saki Vihar Road; you just need to follow where your nose takes you – what with the wonderful aromas wafting out of the kitchen at any time. How any member of the building works without having to visit APB Cook Studio at least once a day is beyond me!
When I arrived at the studio for the event, it was already filled with fellow food bloggers, the media and the diva of the evening – Ritu Dalmia. A feast of various cheeses and drinks were already laid out on a counter, and the place was abuzz with conversation. We witnessed chef and Food Food channel anchor Saransh Goila interview Ritu, while munching on some delicious potato pizza prepared by the chef herself (from her book, Diva Green).
Before we knew it, it was time to settle down around the communal table and interact with Ritu ourselves. We were each given a cook book and a glass of delicious vichyssoise (the first time I had it) and were to make three dishes. The carrot cake, the spicy mushroom salad and the Saint’s Day pasta. While we were to make the first two, we would get to observe Ritu making the pasta.
Once the carrot cakes were happily baking in the oven, we settled down to watch Ritu make her pasta. It was humbling to hear of her story behind the pasta; she spoke of her Italian friend who would make this pasta on Saint’s Day and to who it was dedicated. This is where Ritu told us about the basic Italian tomato sauce – a simple sauce with extra virgin olive oil, freshly chopped tomatoes, one red chilli, bruised garlic and lots of fresh basil! You can use onions, carrots/leeks and red peppers to sweeten and thicken it.
Once the pasta had joined the cakes in the oven, we made our mushroom salads and then feasted on some delicious food. Along with the salads, cake and pasta (which was this warm dish whose flavours simply melted in the mouth) we also had a delicious chicken dish to go with all the vegetarian fare, some samples of RRO Cheese (I loved the stilton with cranberries), and noodles.
This is where I got to interact with some of the well-known bloggers in Mumbai. Senior-most, apart from Rushina, were Kalyan a.k.a The Knife from Finely Chopped (love his food walks and passion for Bandra); Saee from My Jhola (brilliant recipes and photos; you also must check out her fiction section); Harini from TongueTicklers (the only vegan person and blogger I know); and some of the more recent bloggers – Reema, the baking goddess from Bake You; Roxanne, the Tiny Taster :); Pratishtha from The Breakfast Projekt; Sameer – the founder and head of the Food Blogger’s Association of India. We also had a few media persons like Monty (who was also my cooking partner for the day) from The Week and of course Food Food Channel. Ritu was also accompanied by her Editor Paulomi.
Overall, the event was beautifully organised with lots of conversations about food and blogging. I love the book – its so rustic – what with photos that are styled quite unconventionally at Goa during a work vacation said Ritu. The recipes vary from cuisine to cuisine and country to country and are so versatile and at the same time simple to make with ingredients you can get locally. Each recipe has an introduction, much like a blog, in which Ritu speaks about her inspirations from that dish. I can’t wait to cook some of those dishes!
I’ll soon remake the carrot cake, which was so simple and absolutely delicious, and post it here. In the meanwhile, please go and buy the book! And just in case you were wondering, the other event where I had won Ritu Dalmia’s cookbook – Travelling Diva – was at Taste of Mumbai.
I leave you with a pic of me and Ritu 🙂