Global Easter Feasts: A Celebration of Culinary Diversity

While honey-glazed ham, garlic mashed potatoes, and fluffy dinner rolls may dominate American Easter tables, diverse traditions around the world offer a plethora of culinary delights to mark the occasion. Judy Witts Francini, the mind behind the Italian food blog Divina Cucina, shares insights into the rich Easter feasting traditions in Italy, where the celebration is a feast for the senses.

“Italians go all out,” says Francini, highlighting the elaborate spread that graces her Easter lunch table. Starting with an array of antipasti, she then presents a savory tart named torta pasqualina for the first course, symbolizing the 33 years of Christ’s life with its 33 layers of phyllo dough. The main course includes roast lamb, fried artichokes, peas with pancetta, and roasted potatoes, followed by chocolate eggs filled with surprises and a dove-shaped cake called colomba for dessert.

While Italy’s Easter feast is a grand affair, other countries also embrace the “more is more” philosophy when it comes to Easter meals, with distinct dishes that capture the essence of their culinary heritage. Here are five standout Easter dishes from around the globe:

Italy: Pizza rustica

Italy’s pizza rustica, or pizzagaina, offers a savory twist on the beloved circular classic. Stuffed with a delectable mixture of meat and cheese, encased in a flaky crust, and originating from Naples, pizza rustica reflects the diverse regional variations of Italian cuisine. Rossella Rago, author and host of “Cooking with Nonna,” emphasizes the importance of using lard in the pastry dough for an authentic taste experience. The filling, which can vary widely, typically includes ricotta, provolone, mozzarella, soppressata, prosciutto, and eggs, each cook adding their unique touch to the recipe.

Mexico: Capirotada

In Mexico, Easter brings the delightful indulgence of capirotada, a dessert reminiscent of bread pudding. Mely Martinez, creator of Mexico in My Kitchen, describes capirotada as a fusion of salty, sweet, soft, crunchy, and spicy flavors, creating an explosion of taste. Typically made with bread soaked in syrup made from piloncillo, cinnamon, and cloves, layered with cotija cheese, roasted peanuts, and raisins, and topped with bananas and sprinkles, capirotada is a beloved Easter treat with a rich history.

Poland: Żurek

In Poland, Easter celebrations feature żurek, a creamy and smoky fermented soup made from rye flour starter. Anna Hurning, creator of Polish Your Kitchen, explains that żurek’s tangy flavor is achieved through the fermentation process, which infuses the soup with its distinctive character. Served with boiled egg and sausage, and garnished with spicy horseradish, żurek holds a special place as a national treasure in Polish cuisine.

Singapore: Beef murtabak

Singapore’s culinary landscape, a melting pot of diverse cultures, is exemplified by dishes like beef murtabak. Chef Damian D’Silva, of Rempapa in Singapore, underscores the importance of preserving heritage cuisine in the face of cultural evolution. Beef murtabak, an egg crepe enfolding seasoned ground beef, reflects Singapore’s multicultural heritage through its aromatic spices and flavors.

Nigeria: Jollof rice

In Nigeria, Easter celebrations are synonymous with the aromatic and flavorful jollof rice. Lola Osinkolu, from Chef Lola’s Kitchen, describes jollof rice as a spicy and delicious dish, akin to the West African staple jambalaya. Her recipe, passed down from her mother, incorporates a secret step of roasting bell peppers, tomatoes, onion, and garlic, imparting a smoky taste that elevates the dish to new heights.

These Easter dishes from around the world offer a glimpse into the diverse culinary traditions that enrich the celebration of this joyous occasion. Whether it’s the savory delights of Italy, the sweet indulgence of Mexico, the tangy flavors of Poland, the aromatic spices of Singapore, or the flavorful abundance of Nigeria, Easter feasts unite communities in a celebration of culture, heritage, and gastronomy.

UN Report Exposes Global Food Waste Crisis: Over 1 Billion Meals Squandered Daily Amidst 800 Million Hunger Cases

A recent report by the United Nations has brought to light the alarming scale of food wastage globally, revealing that over 1 billion meals are thrown away every day while nearly 800 million people suffer from hunger. In 2022 alone, the world squandered a staggering 1.05 billion metric tons of food, equating to approximately one-fifth of the food available for consumption being wasted by households, eateries, and various segments of the food industry.

Moreover, an additional 13% of the world’s food is lost during its journey from production to consumption, culminating in a distressing one-third of all food being discarded in the production process. These findings sharply contrast with the fact that approximately one-third of the global population grapples with food insecurity, with 783 million individuals suffering from hunger.

The UN Environment Programme’s (UNEP) Food Waste Index Report 2024, published recently, underscores the profound implications of food wastage on both global development and environmental sustainability. Inger Andersen, Director of UNEP, emphasized the severity of the situation, stating, “Food waste is a global tragedy. Millions will go hungry today as food is wasted across the world.” She further highlighted the significant costs incurred by such unnecessary waste on climate and natural resources.

The report makes a crucial distinction between food “loss” and food “waste.” Food loss refers to the disposal of food early in the supply chain, such as vegetables rotting in fields or meat spoiling due to lack of refrigeration, while food waste pertains to the disposal of food by households, restaurants, and retail outlets. Shockingly, households accounted for 60% of the total food waste in 2022, amounting to 631 million metric tons, while the food service sector and retail contributed 28% and 12%, respectively.

On an individual level, the average person wastes 79 kilograms (174 pounds) of food annually, translating to at least one billion wasted meals daily. However, these figures are likely conservative, as the report points out deficiencies in data collection despite improvements in recent years. While data points at the household level have nearly doubled since the UN’s 2021 food waste report, monitoring remains patchy across many countries.

Despite the significant environmental impact of food wastage, only 21 countries have included measures to address it in their national climate plans. Astonishingly, food waste generates 8% to 10% of global planet-heating emissions, surpassing emissions from the aviation sector by nearly fivefold. The report emphasizes that while the climate impact of activities like air travel has received substantial attention, the equally consequential issue of food waste has often been overlooked.

Furthermore, food production is resource-intensive, demanding vast amounts of land and water, and contributes significantly to global planet-heating emissions. Most food waste ends up in landfills, where it decomposes and emits methane, a potent greenhouse gas with approximately 80 times the warming power of carbon dioxide over a 20-year period. Additionally, the report highlights that climate change exacerbates food wastage, with hotter countries experiencing higher levels of food waste due to challenges in storing and transporting food in warmer temperatures.

Importantly, the report dispels the misconception that food waste is solely a problem of affluent nations. The disparity in food wastage between high- and middle-income countries is minimal, with just a 7-kilogram (15-pound) difference per person annually. This underscores the need for global action to address food wastage comprehensively, acknowledging its multifaceted impact on food security, environmental sustainability, and climate change mitigation.

FDA Investigates Lead Contamination in Cinnamon Products; Recalls Recommended

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is currently investigating cinnamon products that may contain lead. The concern extends beyond just cinnamon applesauce to encompass ground cinnamon as well. One particular brand under scrutiny is the desi brand, Swad, which is commonly found at Patel Brothers, a renowned grocery store catering to the Indian community in the US. The FDA’s scrutiny arises from the discovery of elevated lead levels in certain brands of ground cinnamon. Prolonged use of these products could pose health risks. This issue is not isolated, as evidenced by a significant incident where over 460 individuals, predominantly children, suffered lead poisoning due to consuming cinnamon-flavored applesauce containing cinnamon sourced from Ecuador.

In light of these findings, recalls have been recommended for ground cinnamon distributed by six different companies, including Swad from Patel Brothers. Consumers are strongly advised to cease using affected products immediately and to ensure their proper disposal. The implicated brands include La Fiesta, Marcum, MTCI, Supreme Tradition, and El Chillar.

FDA Approves Limited Claim: Yogurt May Reduce Risk of Type 2 Diabetes

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has made a significant decision after nearly five years of deliberation, allowing yogurts to carry a limited claim suggesting their potential in reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes. This marks the first qualified health claim ever issued by the FDA for yogurt. A qualified health claim, as defined by the FDA, is one that “are supported by scientific evidence, but do not meet the more rigorous ‘significant scientific agreement’ standard required for an authorized health claim.” This means that while there is evidence supporting the claim, it does not meet the highest standard of scientific agreement.

The specific claim approved by the FDA states that consuming yogurt regularly, at a minimum of 2 cups (3 servings) per week, may potentially reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes. This is based on limited scientific evidence and is aimed at addressing a disease affecting millions of people in the US and globally. The serving size recommendation is rooted in the FDA’s assessment that this amount is necessary to achieve the claimed effect, as supported by research from two prospective cohorts.

Yogurt, made from milk fermented with bacteria known as probiotics, contains essential nutrients such as calcium, protein, B vitamins, and various minerals including magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium.

This decision came about following a petition submitted in 2018 by Danone North America, a food and beverage company. The FDA initiated a review of existing research on the link between yogurt consumption and type 2 diabetes in response to this petition. Dr. Caroline Passerrello, a registered dietitian nutritionist and instructor at the University of Pittsburgh, acknowledged the submission’s adherence to proper procedures and inclusion of peer-reviewed research.

However, despite the supporting research, it is acknowledged that the evidence is limited and not particularly robust. Dr. Passerrello noted that the studies conducted suggest a correlation rather than a causal relationship between yogurt consumption and type 2 diabetes.

Qualified health claims have been permissible for dietary supplements since 2000 and for food since 2002, though they are infrequently granted. Only a handful of foods have received such claims over the past decade, including cocoa powder high in flavonol for reduced cardiovascular disease risk and certain cranberry products for decreased chances of recurrent urinary tract infections among women.

Dr. Marion Nestle, a nutritionist and molecular biologist, expressed skepticism regarding qualified health claims, labeling them as inherently dubious. She questioned the logic of assuming that simply consuming 2 cups of yogurt weekly could prevent type 2 diabetes, especially considering the prevalence of sweetened yogurts. Dr. Nestle emphasized that the FDA’s review found no significant difference in outcomes based on sugar content, suggesting that sugar is not a relevant factor in this claim.

She also pointed out the multifactorial nature of type 2 diabetes, indicating that while yogurt can be part of a healthy diet, attributing diabetes prevention solely to yogurt consumption lacks context. Dr. Nestle advised consumers to exercise common sense when evaluating such health claims and to consider the overall quality of their diet.

Research suggests limiting daily added sugar intake to less than 25 grams, equivalent to approximately 6 teaspoons. This quantity can be found in various foods, such as chocolate chip cookies, fruit punch, or honey.

Unraveling the Mystique of India’s Beloved Butter Chicken: A Culinary Tale of Origins and Controversy

India’s iconic butter chicken holds a special place in the hearts and taste buds of people both at home and abroad. This succulent dish, featuring tender chicken enveloped in a vibrant blend of tomato, cream, butter, and spices, has been savored by a diverse array of individuals, from truck drivers at rustic roadside stalls in rural India to international figures like Jackie Kennedy.

Now, however, butter chicken finds itself at the center of a legal dispute revolving around its origins. This contentious issue pits the grandsons of the two founders of Moti Mahal, the restaurant believed to have first introduced butter chicken in India, against each other. Monish Gujral, the grandson of one of the founders, asserts, “The suit has been filed to protect my family legacy,” seeking to refute claims made by the other grandson regarding the dish’s invention. The gravity of the matter is underscored by the family’s submission of a voluminous 2,752-page document supporting their stance.

Delving into the dish’s origins unveils a narrative steeped in history. The founders of Moti Mahal, Kundan Lal Jaggi and Kundan Lal Gujral, hailed from Peshawar, a city now in northwest Pakistan. Their journey to New Delhi was catalyzed by the tumultuous events of Partition in 1947, which saw the subcontinent divided along religious lines. Amidst this upheaval, they established Moti Mahal, where butter chicken quickly became a star attraction, drawing admiration from patrons such as the renowned chef and actress Madhur Jaffrey. She reminisces fondly about the distinctive allure of the sauce, describing it as “creamy, melty, and delicious,” a heavenly accompaniment to naan and pickled onions.

The restaurant’s fame soared, attracting luminaries including India’s first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, and international dignitaries like Jacqueline Kennedy. However, the absence of a written recipe for butter chicken from the founders left room for interpretation, leading to divergent claims regarding its inception. The Gujral family, after selling Moti Mahal in the 1990s, launched their own franchise, with signage at their outlets attributing the invention of butter chicken to Gujral. Meanwhile, the Daryaganj franchise, founded in 2019, asserts that Jaggi was the mastermind behind the dish.

Tensions escalated when Jaggi’s grandson reiterated this assertion during a television appearance, prompting legal action from the Gujral family. Despite efforts to trace the dish’s origins back to Peshawar, where Moti Mahal initially operated, conflicting accounts muddy the waters. Residents recall the restaurant and its signature butter chicken, yet differing recollections regarding the chef responsible add complexity to the narrative.

The debate extends beyond mere attribution, raising questions about the dish’s cultural roots. Nilofer Afridi Qazi, a chronicler of Pakistani culinary traditions, notes that butter chicken isn’t widely embraced in present-day Pakistan, suggesting its origins might lie elsewhere. Some speculate that its creation catered to British tastes, given Peshawar’s history as a British garrison town. The dish’s rich, buttery gravy and boneless chicken align with preferences associated with non-Indian palates, hinting at potential colonial influences.

The parallels between butter chicken and Britain’s chicken tikka masala further complicate the narrative. While the exact origins of the latter remain contentious, its evolution mirrors that of butter chicken, catering to British preferences for saucy, flavorful dishes. Lizzie Collingham, a culinary historian, posits that both dishes emerged in response to British culinary expectations, underscoring the interconnectedness of culinary traditions in the colonial era.

Despite the debate surrounding its origins, butter chicken has undeniably become a culinary phenomenon in India and beyond. Revered for its comforting flavors and versatility, it embodies the warmth of home-cooked meals and serves as an entry point to non-vegetarian cuisine for many. Pushpesh Pant, a food historian, acknowledges the dish’s elusive history, likening its invention to the age-old question of who discovered fire.

In essence, butter chicken transcends its contested origins, resonating with diners as a symbol of culinary delight and cultural fusion. Whether enjoyed in upscale restaurants or savored as takeout, its enduring popularity underscores its status as a beloved culinary treasure, cherished by all who partake in its savory embrace.

https://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2024/03/01/1234793757/butter-chicken-origins-india-madhur-jaffrey-recipe

Whisky Pairings in India: A New Frontier in Conservation Cuisine

Move over, wine pairings; it’s time for whisky pairings to step into the limelight in India. And when that whisky not only promises to tantalize your taste buds but also aids in safeguarding a vanishing avian species, it’s even more remarkable.

The subject of our conservation efforts is none other than the Great Indian Bustard, affectionately known as GIB or “godawan” in Hindi, which has been alarmingly categorized as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List. Once a familiar sight in the scrublands of Rajasthan, this majestic bird has been relentlessly hunted for sustenance and sport, pushing it to the brink of extinction. Standing as one of the largest flying birds globally, the GIB boasts an impressive length of up to 1.2 meters and can weigh as much as 15 kilograms. While it may not win any beauty contests with its brownish plumage, elongated legs, and neck, it once vied for the title of India’s national bird.

Recent estimates paint a grim picture, suggesting that a mere 120 GIBs remain in India.

In early 2023, an alcoholic homage to this noble creature emerged in the form of Godawan whisky, crafted as part of corporate conservation endeavors for the GIB. This artisanal single malt, distilled in the town of Alwar, Rajasthan, utilizes locally sourced barley and employs water-efficient methods, paying homage to the arid landscapes of its origin. Infused with a medley of Indian botanicals reminiscent of gin, it boasts flavorful notes of raisin, fig, apricot, and caramel.

Championing the cause alongside the whisky is Chaitanya Raj Singh, a social entrepreneur and scion of the Jaisalmer royal family, who collaborates with Diageo, the parent company of Godawan whisky, to spearhead conservation initiatives. Singh underscores the collaborative efforts between the company and the Indian Ministry of Environment and Wildlife to secure grasslands—the preferred habitat of GIBs—to facilitate breeding and, ideally, revival of the species.

“This conservation initiative is a step in the right direction. And we hope that we will be able to save the bird… the way it happened for the tiger,” Singh remarked, drawing parallels with the successful conservation efforts that pulled the Royal Bengal Tiger back from the brink of extinction in India.

With its velvety texture and nuanced hints of smoke and spice, Godawan whisky proves to be a fitting accompaniment to red meat, akin to the traditional pairing of red wine. Singh favors savoring it alongside his signature laal maas canapés, a contemporary rendition of the quintessential mutton curry synonymous with Rajasthan’s culinary heritage. Traceable to royal kitchens, laal maas allegedly originated with game meats like deer and wild boar, though Singh contends it has always been associated with mutton.

“Meat, especially mutton, has been an integral part of the diet of people here in Rajasthan,” Singh elucidated, noting the dish’s regional and familial variations in spice blends and cooking duration, where a slow simmer enhances its flavors.

The dish comprises a luscious gravy enriched with onions, garlic, ghee, yogurt, and an array of spices including cayenne pepper, cardamom, cloves, and bay leaves, eschewing tomatoes in its classic rendition. Traditionally, it embraces the fiery kick of local Mathania red chili powder, alongside hotter variants, although Singh opts for a milder profile to cater to diverse palates. “The whisky will also complement the mellower flavors of the laal maas canapés,” he added.

Here’s the recipe for Singh’s Laal Maas Canapés:

Laal Maas Canapés Recipe by Chaitanya Raj Singh

Serves 4

This rendition of laal maas presents a drier variant of the curry, served atop Indian flatbread such as roti or naan, ideal for relishing as an appetizer or finger food.

Ingredients:

For the laal maas:

– 250g Greek yogurt

– Turmeric powder

– 500g mutton, cut into 2 ½cm (1in) pieces

– Ghee

– 10g garlic paste

– 10g ginger paste

– Salt

– 50g onions, chopped

– 50g tomatoes, chopped

– 2-3 whole cloves

– 2-3 cardamom pods

– 1 bay leaf

– 10g coriander powder

– 5g cumin powder

– 15g red chili powder

– Coriander leaves and fried garlic, for garnish

For the canapé base:

– 250g wheat flour

– 180ml warm water

– Salt

Method:

  1. In a bowl, combine yogurt with a generous pinch of turmeric. Add the mutton pieces and marinate for at least 2 hours.
  2. Heat ghee in a non-stick frying pan. Add garlic and ginger paste, cooking until fragrant and slightly golden. Incorporate the marinated mutton, seasoning with salt.
  3. Introduce chopped onions and tomatoes, sautéing until onions turn golden. Add cloves, cardamom, and bay leaf, cooking for 10 minutes. Stir in coriander powder, cumin, another pinch of turmeric, and red chili powder.
  4. Pour enough water to cover the mutton, bringing it to a simmer. Cover and cook for 5-7 minutes until the meat is tender. Uncover and simmer until a rich gravy forms.
  5. For the canapé base, mix wheat flour with a pinch of salt and enough water to form a dough. Cover and let it rest for 5 minutes. Shape into balls, flatten into bases, and cook in a non-stick pan until golden on both sides.
  6. Top the bread with mutton pieces, garnishing with fried garlic and fresh coriander leaves. Serve hot.

By combining the allure of fine whisky with the culinary heritage of Rajasthan, Chaitanya Raj Singh endeavors to not only tantalize palates but also contribute to the preservation of India’s natural treasures, one sip and bite at a time.

Indri-Trini: India’s Own Single Malt Clinches Best ‘New World’ Whiskey Title

India’s prideful domestically produced single malt brand from the Piccadily Distilleries, Indri, has once more secured a place among the finest whiskies globally.

Indri-Trini, India’s inaugural triple cask single malt, has clinched the title of Best ‘New World’ Whiskey, accorded by the renowned US-based alco-bev platform, VinePair. This recognition further solidifies Indri’s standing as one of India’s swiftest expanding single malt brands, both domestically and internationally. This triumph follows the previous accolade bestowed upon Indri Diwali Collector’s Edition, hailed as the Best Whisky in the World by clinching the “Best in Show, Double Gold’’ award at the esteemed Whiskies of the World Awards 2023. Since its inception in 2021, Indri-Trini has amassed over 14 international accolades, propelling India to unprecedented peaks in the realm of premium single malts.

Drawing from consumer-oriented tastings of numerous whiskies worldwide over the past year, VinePair handpicks one exceptional bottle from each whiskey category. Assessing criteria such as flavor, balance, depth, and complexity relative to their respective price points, the platform unveils a roster of the World’s Best Whiskeys at the onset of each year. This year, the lineup features Indri Trini as the Best ‘New World’ Whiskey alongside Wilderness Trail Small Batch High Rye Bourbon as the Best Bourbon; Jack Daniel’s Bonded Rye as the Best Rye; Glenglassaugh Sandend Highland Single Malt Whisky as the Best Single Malt Scotch; Teeling Small Batch Irish Whiskey as the Best Irish Whiskey; Mars ‘The Lucky Cat May & Luna’ as the Best Japanese; and Alberta Premium Cask Strength Rye as The Best Canadian Whisky, among others. Notably, Indri stands as the sole Indian brand on this esteemed list.

Expressing his sentiments on this feat, Siddhartha Sharma, the Founder of Piccadily Distilleries, remarked, “The Indian whisky industry is witnessing a glorious emergence, and Indri takes pride in leading this transition. The surge in the popularity of Indian single malts and Indri among consumers and critics worldwide is evident on multiple fronts. The recent recognition by VinePair is yet another feather in our cap. Being acknowledged as the sole Indian single malt whisky is gratifying and bolsters our commitment to crafting high-quality whisky, which has become the preferred choice for consumers.”

Indri-Trini distinguishes itself as India’s inaugural triple-cask single malt whisky, distilled in a facility located in the village of Indri, Haryana. The appellation “Trini” pays homage to the trio of three coveted casks in which the whisky undergoes maturation—ex-Bourbon, ex-French wine, and PX Sherry. The triple cask aging imparts a distinct flavor profile, unveiling delightful hints of caramelized pineapple, vanilla, black tea, raisins, honey, and a lingering finish of sweet fruity nuances. Meticulously crafted utilizing the finest 6-row Indian barley sourced from Rajasthan, it pays homage to the region’s longstanding traditions.

Indri-Trini is readily available across 19 states in India and 18 countries internationally.

Affordable Excellence: A Guide to 10 Outstanding Scotch Whiskies Under $60

Scotch whisky enthusiasts understand the magic that unfolds in the $50 to $60 price range. This sweet spot offers a more refined and special experience, with a tantalizing depth in oak, craftsmanship, and flavor diversity. In this entry-level arena for most Scotch whisky brands, we’ve curated a list of 10 exceptional bottles, all under $60, readily available at most liquor stores. Keep in mind that Scotch whisky prices can fluctuate due to factors such as import tariffs and shipping fees, and regional variations may also play a role in pricing.

  1. Glenfiddich Single Malt Scotch Whisky Aged 12 Years

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $50

Tasting Notes:

Nose: Creamy like vanilla pudding, bright pear orchard vibe, mild toffee, sweetgrass, and hints of oak.

Palate: Soft woodiness, candied pear, vanilla cream, soft cinnamon spice, and gentle malts.

Finish: Light and approachable with lingering pear, vanilla cream, mild spice, and a silken mouthfeel.

This entry-level Speyside whisky, aged in a blend of American and European oak, boasts a creamy vanilla pudding nose with notes of pear, toffee, and mild oak. The palate offers soft woodiness, candied pear, and a touch of cinnamon spice, leading to a light and approachable finish with a silken mouthfeel.

  1. Laphroaig Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky Select

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $56

Tasting Notes:

Nose: Red fruit, plums, nuts, and peated maltiness.

Palate: Fruity with mild spice, Ace bandages, smoked salts, and malt.

Finish: Lingering fruit and wood with a distant wisp of smoke and Band-Aid.

Crafted by Master Distiller John Campbell, this Laphroaig whisky showcases the diversity of casking processes, with a nose featuring red fruit, plums, and peated maltiness. The palate offers a fruity, mildly spicy experience, with a finish marrying fruit, wood, and a subtle smokiness.

  1. Bruichladdich The Classic Laddie Scottish Barley Unpeated Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky

ABV: 50%

Average Price: $53

Tasting Notes:

Nose: Wildflowers, granola bars, brine, salted caramel, orange oils, and softwood.

Palate: Seaspray, tart apples, Caro syrup mid-palate sweetness.

Finish: Sweet oak dominates, fading into a spicy malt with sea salt.

Bruichladdich’s unique philosophy shines in this unpeated whisky with a nose of wildflowers, brine, and salted caramel. The palate delivers seaspray, tart apples, and a sweet oak finish with a touch of spice, making it a great choice on the rocks or in whisky-forward cocktails.

  1. Highland Park Single Malt Scotch Whisky 12 Years Old

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $53

Tasting Notes:

– Nose: Rich holiday cake with dark spices, dried fruits, candied citrus, nuts, and a hint of smoke.

– Palate: Fragrant honey, sweet texture, and a touch of sweetness.

– Finish: Chimney smoke on a snowy day, connecting peated malt and dark bourbon.

– Hailing from Scotland’s far north Orkney Islands, this unique whisky offers a nose of rich holiday cake and a palate with fragrant honey and sweet texture. The finish, reminiscent of chimney smoke on a snowy day, bridges the gap between peated malt and dark bourbon.

  1. The Balvenie Single Malt Scotch Whisky DoubleWood Aged 12 Years

ABV: 43%

Average Price: $59

Tasting Notes:

– Nose: Soft and floral honey, vanilla extract, red berries, and wine-soaked oak.

– Palate: Marzipan, cinnamon, plum trees, tree bark, and leather.

– Finish: Spicy malt, hot cinnamon, and honey tobacco.

– Pioneering the “double aging” trend, this unpeated single malt offers a nose of floral honey and red berries. The palate meanders through marzipan, cinnamon, and plum trees, culminating in a finish with spicy malt and honey tobacco.

  1. Chivas XV Blended Scotch Whisky

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $50

Tasting Notes:

– Nose: Orange marmalade, cinnamon, clove, and mincemeat pies.

– Palate: Dark dried fruits, soft berries, butterscotch, and caramel-laced toffees.

– Finish: Lush and creamy with vanilla, mincemeat pie, brandy-soaked dates, and Christmas pudding.

– A classic Chivas blend aged for 15 years, this whisky delights with a nose of orange marmalade and mincemeat pies. The palate unfolds with dark dried fruits, soft berries, and a creamy, lush finish, making it perfect for sipping on the rocks or in cocktails.

  1. Aberlour Speyside Single Malt Scotch Whisky Double Cask Matured Aged 12 Years

– ABV: 40%

– Average Price: $59

– *Original Tasting Notes:*

– Nose: Brandy-soaked orange peels, almonds, sweet sherry, vanilla creaminess, and a hint of chocolate.

– Palate: Bitter and creamy chocolate, brandy-soaked orange, pear, cherry, and marzipan nuttiness.

– Finish: Stewed fruits, soft tobacco, and vanilla creaminess.

– *Paraphrased:*

– A cornerstone whisky for brands like Chivas, this soft unpeated single malt offers a nose of brandy-soaked orange peels and almonds. The palate features bitter chocolate, brandy-soaked fruit, and a finish with stewed fruits and vanilla creaminess.

  1. Ardbeg An Oa Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky

– ABV: 46.6%

– Average Price: $54

Tasting Notes:

– Nose: Slow-smoked peaches, cherrywood, smoky savory herbs, and black licorice.

– Palate: Butteriness, burnt toffee, nutmeg, walnut, Earl Grey, and woody maple syrup.

– Finish: Salted black licorice, florals, singed savory herbs, and black-pepper-covered brisket fat.

– A quintessential Islay peated whisky, this Ardbeg expression features slow-smoked peaches and savory herbs on the nose. The palate is buttery with burnt toffee and nutmeg, leading to a finish with black licorice, florals, and a hint of smoked brisket fat.

 

  1. Glenmorangie Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky “The Lasanta” Aged 12 Years

– ABV: 43%

– Average Price: $52

-Tasting Notes:

– Nose: Subtle spice, creamy toffee malts, honey, brandied berries, and vanilla tobacco.

– Palate: Dried fruit, leather, nuttiness, spicy orange, and dark chocolate.

– Finish: Creamy vanilla, marzipan, brandied pear, and dark dried berries.

– Glenmorangie’s 12-year-old expression boasts a nose of subtle spice and creamy toffee malts. The palate offers dried fruit and nuttiness, with a finish highlighting creamy vanilla and brandied pear, creating an easygoing sipper.

  1. Oban Little Bay Single Malt Scotch Whisky Small Cask

– ABV: 43%

– Average Price: $57

– Tasting Notes:

– Nose: Smoked prunes, plums, dates, creamy malts, walnut bread, and orange saltwater taffy.

– Palate: Clove-studded oranges, malted vanilla, saltwater taffy, stewed pear, brandy, and spiced nutty apple cake.

– Finish: Spiced nutty apple cake with a buttery crumble along a damp wooden pier.

– This Highland whisky from Oban, aged in small casks, presents a nose of smoked prunes and creamy malts. The palate features clove-studded oranges, saltwater taffy, and a finish reminiscent of spiced nutty apple cake along a damp wooden pier.

 

These 10 outstanding Scotch whiskies under $60 offer a diverse range of flavors and profiles, making them accessible to both novices and seasoned enthusiasts. Whether you prefer the bold peatiness of Islay or the refined sweetness of Speyside, this selection provides a delightful journey through the world of Scotch whisky without breaking the bank.

Sugar Angels India: A Sugar Artist’s Initiative

A Sweet Unity: Indian Sugar Artists come together to “Decorate as One”.

This Christmas season Cake Artists from diverse corners of India came together to to pay homage to the skill and artistry of sugar creators worldwide to form a group called Sugar Angels India: A Sugar Artists Initiative.

The Confectionary Artists have embarked on this shared journey, each contributing their unique flair to make this a vibrant group through collaborations and workshops to support each others businesses.This would be an artistic platform for experimentation and the exchange of innovative techniques.

This collaboration happened quite by chance when through an online interaction on social media, the artists joined a common Christmas Themed Event to showcase the beauty and creativity of the Sugar medium. The creator of this group, realising that many sugar artist were coincidently from the same city, saw it as an opputunity to come together to showcase the incredible diversity within the world of Sugar Artistry.

Coming together like this is an effort to pushed the boundaries of traditional cake design.

It began with meticulous planning and coordination, as artists exchanged ideas and inspirations through digital platforms. Some artists specialise in fondant sculpting, while others excelled in intricate piping techniques or innovative flavour combinations and various sugar mediums.

They plan to showcase their talent each month with a relevant theme and broadcast it on social media. There interaction would also involve frequent group meets and various up-skilling workshops to grow together as a community. Sugar Angels India is a testatment to the collective creativity of cake artists and aimed at bringing the Cake/Sugar community together.

We connected with the creative force behind this group,  Ancy James, a Journalist and Sugar Artist at Ancy’s Sugar Art Academy, Bengaluru.  She brought together some powerful narratives of these wonderful Sugar Artists collective specially for our readers. Each individual Artist’s backstory is a testament of how Sugar/Cake Art has the power to connect and inspire.

With Inputs from Sugar Artists Srijani and Jully Freddy.

Read on as members of  Sugar Angels India: A Sugar Artist’s Intiative  share their incredible journey into Cake Artistry

ancy

Ancy James

Sugar Artist/Chef Trainer, Ancy’s Sugar Art

Fb: Aancy james
Instagram: james_ancy
Email: [email protected]

I read this quote sometime back “..everything in life that matters , requires risk..” It lies at the source of my back story of my journey into the Sugar world. My first experiences with baking came at home with my mom. Baking was our favourite ritual of the holidays . Later I started accompanying my dad in getting our annual Christmas plum cakes baked and spent many long hours learning the recipe and patience required for baking. Both my parents are proficient bakers and Masters of flavour. I was a Television producer for 17 years till my daughters ill-health made me leave my corporate job and consider doing my own business in order to have some sense of discipline in my working hours. At this phase of my life being a Master of my own time was crucial to me. Over the years I had been getting rave reviews about my Signature Christmas plum cakes, recipe handed down by my parents. It seemed like the ideal time for me to learn it professionally in the form of a culinary diploma. I also used this period to also get some certifications of some classic wedding cake techniques from international artists who were travelling to India at that time . I successfully ran my business in New Delhi, India for 2 years doing many customized birthday and wedding cakes . I also designed my signature hanging chandelier cake design in the year 2016, floral displays , 3d carved cakes and 3d royal icing cookies. Unfortunately a year after that I got diagnosed with depleting bone health and I understood that has been the main reason for my recurrent body pains and fatigue. I used this time to write as a reporter writing profiles and interviewing  Master Sugar Artists  around the world for a bakery magazine and continued being a part of the sugar and cake community . I told their stories of how and shared their niche styles of creating Sugar Art. It was also this year where I had enough of the hospital visits for my back pains and soon I started working out and later running marathons to get my energy levels in check and make my bones stronger . I became a fitness enthusiast and a marathoner in the last 3 years. That year with having lost 12 kgs and regained my bone health and energy levels. I also join as a Chef trainer for one year at a culinary institute teaching their diploma course . With the pandemic lockdowns my family had to shift to Bangalore for my husbands work in 2020. Now with this dynamic group, “Sugar Angels India: A Sugar Artists collective “, I feel we have a small family of likeminded sugar artists who can support and motivate each other to consistently keep creating Sugar Masterpieces . The goal is in keeping our ideology based on inclusivity My own goal is to keep improving every month and become a consistent artist and push my artists boundaries with each month’s challenge . I have a vision not just for the Bangalore Sugar/Cake community to be filled with inspiring and kind individuals who keep charming the community with their cake creations. I also hope to learn a lot from my most talented fellow Sugar Artists and build a strong  community.

srijani

Srijani Vengala

Instagram: Srijanivengala
Email: [email protected]

Hi! I’m Srijani, a 17-year-old self-directed learner who loves baking. I take the responsibility of learning, I learn what interests me in different ways, in my own pace, way and style along with my cohort in aarohi community. Baking has been my hobby since I was 10. Back then, I’d make about 4-5 cakes a year, but now I bake that many in a day!

I got into baking by watching fun cake decorating videos on YouTube. When I turned 16, I felt the pressure to find a passion. I have lots of interests like cooking, writing, reading, making reflection games, painting, traveling, dancing but baking is on top of the list.  In the past year, I went deeper into baking and even started my own blog and Instagram page. I’ve baked lots of cakes, cookies, cupcakes, bread, and much more. I explored about each ingredient with series of experiments

I’ve learned a ton by doing research, talking to other bakers, going to events, doing internships, doing projects, attending workshops, reading books, setting up stalls, and, most importantly, baking every day. YouTube has been my main teacher, and as I learned more, my love for baking grew too. Learning to bake is a journey that never ends. We always have to update and upgrade ourselves. This journey of learning to bake on my own not only gave me lots of skills but also shaped who I am today.

I specialize in baking different theme cakes, biscuits, royal icing and cookies. In the plan of setting up my own home bakery. Let’s see what this journey unfolds.

Pritu

Pritu

Fb: Pritu Tandon
Instagram: homelybakesbyp2
Email: [email protected]

? Sharing Sweet Moments with Pritu’s Delights from “Homely Bakes”! ?✨

Come step into my kitchen, where the comforting scent of homemade treats tells a story of family, care, and the simple joy found in every bite. I want to invite you into the heart of my home, where my passion for baking began as a humble solution to the everyday struggles of a family with unique tastes and dietary needs.

A Family’s Sweet Journey: Baking with Love and Purpose ??

Life at home with kids, diabetic parents, and a vegan husband meant navigating through a maze of tastes and preferences. Store-bought treats were a luxury, and I found solace in my kitchen, armed with flour, sugar, and a dash of love. Baking started as a solution, a way to offer something special to those I hold dear.

It wasn’t about extravagant creations but the small, heartfelt gestures that come with a homemade cookie or a slice of cake. Baking became my daily ritual, a way to show love and care through the simplest yet most cherished bites.

Wholesome Indulgence: Baking from the Heart ??

In my kitchen, sweetness is redefined with a unique cake technique that embraces the goodness of whole wheat and fruits. I believe in using less refined sugar, opting for the natural sweetness of jaggery or dates. The magic unfolds as I adorn each creation with premium whipped creams and milk products(dairy/non-dairy), ensuring a delightful treat that not only tastes good but also feels good.

These treats aren’t about following trends; they’re about sharing the love and joy that a homemade slice of goodness can bring. Whether you follow a vegan lifestyle, are health-conscious, or simply love a good treat, my creations are designed to bring a sense of comfort and joy to your table.

A Life Beyond Baking: Tech, Art, and Wellness ??

Beyond the clatter of pans and the hum of the oven, I’m a tech enthusiast with a background in IT. I’m just a home chef who loves to simplify life’s chores with a touch of innovation. Small apps here and there, making daily tasks a little easier, all with the goal of more time for the things that truly matter.

And then there are the quiet moments—drawing with my daughter and taking leisurely walks. These aren’t grand adventures; they’re the small, everyday joys that make life sweet and simple.

So, come on in and join me in this journey of cozy kitchens, shared smiles, and the joy of simple, homemade sweetness. Let’s create memories, one bite at a time. ?✨ #CozyKitchenChronicles #HomemadeJ

manpreet

Manpreet Kaur

Fb: manpreet170619

Instagram: chocolicious_by_manpreet

Email: [email protected]

Hi, I am Manpreet Kaur from New Dellhi

Initially, I started Baking for my family as a hobby. Once, one of my friends asked me to bake a cake for her father’s birthday , I thought of giving it a try thats how I took my first order and all appreciated it and that’s how my baking journey begins. It’s been almost 4 years of baking experience now. Now  baking makes me happy and my cakes make others happy.

I enhanced my cake baking and decorating skills by attending short courses which edit to my learning process and I started executing them in my orders.

deepika

Deepika

Fb: Dee Baker
Instagram: dee_baker
Email: [email protected]

Baking has always been my heart’s calling, an avenue where I could unleash my creativity and bring something new into existence. I’m not just an engineer by degree; I’m an engineer turned baker, merging the precision of designing circuits with the artistry of crafting delectable cakes.

My journey into baking was a natural progression, fueled by a genuine love for the process. The transition from circuits to cakes may seem unexpected, but for me, it was a seamless blend of technical expertise and a passion for creating something beautiful. This unexpected fusion of skills has proven to be a unique advantage, infusing my baking endeavors with both precision and artistic flair.

One of my proudest skills is my piping technique – a game-changer in the world of cake decoration. It’s a seemingly simple yet transformative method that can turn even the most basic cake into a stunning masterpiece. I’ve honed this skill with meticulous attention to detail, ensuring that each creation is a work of art that leaves a lasting impression.

Apart from baking for my business, my free time is synonymous with more baking. It’s not just a hobby; it’s a lifestyle. I find myself constantly experimenting with new recipes and exploring innovative techniques. The kitchen is my creative haven, and I’m always striving to make myself better in this field. My goal is simple: to give only the best to my customers, and I’m willing to master everything that will make that aim a reality. This relentless pursuit of improvement is not just a professional aspiration; it’s a personal commitment to delivering not just products but experiences that linger in the memories of those who savor the magic of Dee Baker’s creations.

Baking isn’t just a profession for me; it’s an ongoing journey of self-improvement and a way to express my artistic inclinations. My unique blend of engineering precision and baking artistry sets me apart, and I view every challenge as an opportunity to enhance my skills. Free time means more baking, more experimentation, and a continuous quest for perfection.

In my world as Dee Baker, every cake is a piece of my heart. It’s not just about the ingredients; it’s about the dedication, innovation, and, above all, love that goes into each creation. Baking is more than a culinary pursuit; it’s a form of self-expression that captivates the senses and leaves a lasting imprint on the palates of those fortunate enough to experience the magic of Dee Baker.

Rajashree

Rajashree – J&J cake house

I love Baking now my passion and I’ve always enjoyed it. I wanted to do something on my own, something that I enjoyed. When I started baking for my family and friends, everyone loved it. Their feedback encouraged me to do more of it. That is how J&J cake house was born.

I  used to decide pricing based on many factors like the material cost, time and effort, amount of customization, design aspects of the cake and delivery.

shraddha

Shraddha Sharma

Instagram: kitchencakes96

Email: [email protected]

From a Molecular Biologist to a A Biology Lecturer i never realised that a creative  baker hidden inside me.I was baking  cakes just for my family and friends  for many years.All thanks to my friends  who motivated me to take up baking as a profession.During lockdown when people were hesitant about buying cakes from outside it was my turn to take up my hobby as a profession.

I started my baking profession with full boom during lickdown and appreciation of my work motivated me to devote more time in baking.Love of my clients always kept pushing me more towards baking when I was still working as a biology lecturer.

I am a self learned baker who turned her passion in to profession.

I am  a proud mother of two kids, Biology Lecturer since last more than a decade and still impress people with my creative cakes and other baked items.I love to sing devotional bhajans and motivate people towards spirituality.

Often people ask me that how do manage with your job, kids and baking?

I smile and say …”Jab aap kisi kaam ko shiddat se chahte hain toh sari kaynaat aapko wo kaam kerne ka time de hi deti hai “

What kept me baking was the appreciation by my clients…many a times people told me that you are PhD and from medical background why are you doing this work…trust me this is something which works as a medicines for me. Baking is not only a source of earning gor me but it’s a  way by which I get so much of mental  peace.When people don’t stop saying thankyou thankyou for my work all my hard work gets paid.

I love baking nothing can stop me doing that.

jully

Jully Freddy

Fb: sweetstation@Delicaciesfromhome

Instagram: urssweetstation

Email: [email protected]

Sweet Station Sweet Station’s story is a tale of resilience and passion. Its founder, armed with a postgraduate degree in MCA, transitioned into the realm of motherhood, setting the stage for a unique journey. Despite facing challenges in pursuing a traditional career, the love for cooking and baking remained a constant source of inspiration. Supported by the unwavering encouragement of family and friends, the dream of establishing a career in the culinary world began to take shape.

The initial steps involved revisiting the basics, honing skills, and seeking knowledge from professional chefs. Basic baking courses provided a solid foundation, gradually building confidence. With faith and perseverance, the dream materialized into Sweet Station—a haven for homemade, homebaked, and handcrafted delights, perfect for all celebrations.

Sweet Station takes pride in crafting flavorful and delectable bakes, distinguishing itself by steering clear of artificial flavors and store-bought ingredients. The commitment to using natural, quality components ensures a taste that stands out.

Beyond merely satisfying taste buds, Sweet Station holds a deeper commitment to societal well-being. A visionary move saw the introduction of healthier options such as Wheat breads and Millet breads. This stems from a profound sense of responsibility towards providing families with wholesome food choices.

The ultimate goal for Sweet Station extends beyond being a mere bakery; it aspires to be the go-to destination for all your healthy baking needs. The vision is clear—to offer a comprehensive solution for those seeking not only delicious treats but also mindful, nourishing options. With dedication, perseverance, and a touch of divine grace, Sweet Station continues to grow, embodying the fusion of passion and purpose in every creation.

Sweet Station is set to strengthen its wings by partnering with Sugar Angels—a like-minded team sharing a common vision. Sweet station eyes at getting a mutual assistance and support also having a mutually business relationship going ahead.

vini

Vini Philip

Instagram: vinscakecrush
Facebook: vini philip
Email: [email protected]

We are all busy meeting our life needs on daily basis.There is no much room in life to nurture any hobbies that you already have or to discover a new exciting hobby to try specially when you are an IT professional and a mother of two kids and also living in a city where your life and time both stuck in traffic.The Pandemic was the time, when really I and for that matter many of us would have found their new likings which eventually would have become their hobby turned into passion. It did n my case indeed, but not to the extent that I choose to leave my current IT job .

So I grew interest in baking during pandemic , by started baking decorative cakes for my kids’ birthdays , as getting cakes during lockdown was not possible . I grew up watching my mother trying out all different delicacies for us and one among them was cake, she used to bake amazing ones . And probably pandemic gave me the opportunity to put those memories into action . When I initially started, all neighbours appreciated the efforts. And finally when I started getting requests for orders, I was thrilled to take up those opportunities to explore the sugar world even more closer. After every cake, the smiles and word of appreciation that I used to receive, gave me a strong push to come up with something better next . Internet is a World Wide Web of ‘Gyan’(knowledge and experiences), all you have to do is look for right information, keep learning and put into practice. I always enjoy doing unique design every time, putting my full heart and soul into making those sugar art pieces.

Each time I bake, I feel a spark of joy in my soul. It feels like, I am born to mix flour and make magic from it.

As I am into full time IT job, it is not possible for me to drive full time parallel baking business alongside . I do take orders occasionally as time permits.

I wish to see this passion of mine growing into a bigger dream with all your support . Please visit the insta handle @vinscakecrush, surf through the content and leave your likes, comments and share the word to support me in this sugar world journey.

prajna

Prajna

FB: Prajna Halambi

Instagram: prajnakh

Email: [email protected]

Bakery products are always my favourite and now my kids also like those, be it cakes, biscuits, breads or puffs.Growing up i always thought that baking was difficult and only done at bakeries since i had not seen anyone in my family baking. This was until Usha athae ( my maternal uncle’s wife) bought a homemade chocolate cake for my 10th or 11th birthday ( can’t remember exactly ). It was amazing to me and my brother and we loved it, it was nothing like the ones we ate from the bakeries and also it was eggless. We always thought that cakes were made only with eggs and we can’t make one at home as we are vegetarians. So this cake from my athae  opened up the possibility of baking at home and that too eggless. Looking at our love for cakes, my mom learnt from my athae on how to bake, and my dad bought an oven ( the old bajaj oven which is round in shape) for my mom. From then on my mom would bake us cakes and butter cookies very often. My school friends would always go gaga about the chocolate cake baked by my mom.

 Strangely i never tried to bake all those years growing up and even after my marriage. Though it was always in the back of my mind, I used to push it away thinking that investing in an oven was not worth it and I would not use it so much. Fast Forward to 2014 with my two boys growing up I thought that I should learn to bake for them. I invested in an otg and started looking for eggless recipes online and trying them out. Some of my bakes turned out good and some were disasters. Nevertheless I learnt from my mistakes and worked on improving myself. First time I tried baking for my elder son’s birthday, though my frosting was not up to the mark but kids loved it. It made my day. From then on till date I bake a cake for my boys birthday every year. Apart from that my close friends trust me and  order cakes on all occasions. With the constant support from my family and friends I am  taking  small steps towards baking as my profession.

Before covid i used to bake cupcakes in large no for schools through a friend who had a catering business. It all stopped with the lock down. With my husband’s encouragement I started taking some online courses from reputed chefs from the industry to improve my skills and knowledge.

This was also the time I officially launched vivy’s chocoffair. Apart from being a passionate baker I am also a chocolatier.I craft my own bean to bar chocolates from the cocoa beans from our own plantation in coorg. All said and done, Vivy’s chocoffair is taking its baby steps and I am learning and growing as a baker. Now being a part of Sugar Angels by Ancy from Ancy’s sugar art is like taking one step away from my comfort zone and stepping into a new world of baking , which will help me grow as a baker and make new friends in the process.

anjana

Anjana Madhusudhan

Instagram: Anjanamadhu271109
FB: Anjana Madhusudhan
Email: [email protected]

“Until my brother and I were 10 years old my Mom used to make cakes for our birthdays and also having a sweet tooth baking piqued my interest. My 1st foray to baking was through Fondbites School of Sugar Arts in Velachery, Chennai with Ms Subhashini Ramsingh. I graduated from The Institute of Culinary Education, New York with a Diploma in Baking and Pastry Arts (Dec 2016 to Oct 2017) & an Advanced Cake Decorating Programme (Feb 2018 to May 2018). While the Baking and Pastry Arts Program focused on baking and science behind the bakes the Advanced Cake Decorating Program focussed on various techniques of decoration like piping with butter cream and royal icing and structural cakes. As part of my externship worked for 3 months in Roots Steakhouse, Morristown, New Jersey(Aug 2017 to Oct 2017). Did a variety of cakes like a chocolate tower cake, carrot cake with cream cheese frosting and various other bakes. Once I graduated worked at Carlos Bakery from Jul 2018 to Jan 2019. Made a variety of bakes like doughnuts, cupcakes, Danish, apple turnovers, croissant, fondant topped cookies. Made various fillings such as apple pie, french cream, lobster tail, whipped cream and chocolate mousse. Having come back to India, found a lot of my family and friends preferred egg free gelatin free bakes so the conception of Kookies Kakes and Bakes came to life. My 1st bake once the inception was for a friend. Made a Kashmiri Kahwa Cake (Recipe courtesy Chef Smriti Iyer of Smriti’s Special). Subsequently made a lot of different cakes for friends and family and other bakes. In Feb 2023 had a stall in Phoenix Mall, Velachery and sold Brownies and Dessert Bars (Apple crumble bar, Almond crumble bars, Biscoff bars and Caramel Cashew bars). Had a good response and it was nice to hear what people liked and preferred and also what people are looking for in a baked item. In Oct 2023 I had prepared 50 hampers for Diwali (10 for friends and the balance for a corporate office). It consisted of the following items: 1. Karachi Biscuit 2. Jeera Ajwain Cookies 3. Masala Granola 4. Pistachio and Almond Bar 5. Brownie with a cookie crumble 6. Dates filled with nuts and Praline This in particular taught me the importance of planning in advance and what are all needed to plan for a Hamper. While the baking portion of the hampers was easy to do, this experience taught me how to have proper communication with client, the quantities of goodies needed for the hampers and the different genre of individuals I had to interact with to get the hampers together. It truly was a learning curve for me. So to stay updated in the field of baking have attended both online and offline classes from renowned Chef’s such as Smriti Iyer, Zulekha Badar, Karthika Shravanti, Zareen Shaukat, Gauri Kekre, etc , each giving their perspective in the baking and arts field. My goal to start the business was to use the funds to provide cakes/pastries to children and families in villages and rural areas.

sujatha

Sujatha Kiran Kattishettar

Instagram: zepellin_treats

I am an IT professional and last worked with Oracle. IT can be a very taxing career over a period of time. In addition to that, there were health issues at home. Thus I quit my IT profession in 2018. Why I got into Food Business? Working as an IT professional was a means to earn money, but making different varieties of food was always my passion. I could always decide on a good menu. As a young girl, I would always suggest to my mother what goes well with a dish. My mother was a perfectionist in whatever she cooked. Together we cooked a delicious meal. In 2019, I, together with my sister in law, started making Indian traditional food. She introduced me to her friends and gave them samples of what I made. Then, towards end of 2019, Covid happened. I stay in a big apartment complex, so with hotels and eateries getting closed, it opened a big opportunity for people like me. I supplied breakfast and lunch. My realisations: Professional shortcomings. Need for a set system. Identifying what to make when. Looking for suppliers of raw materials. Over came professional shortcomings by doing short term online courses. Setting a system is an ongoing process. Today after nearly 4 years, I humbly aim to keep the Indian traditional festival foods available.

● Baking: I keep my cakes simple as decorating them is my weakness. So I make simple, tasty Christmas cakes, Mawa cake, pound cake, coffee cake etc. However, I bake Lasagnes veg and non veg, Spinach and mushroom pie, Gingerbread cookies.

● Chocolates: Started making chocolates for my son, but loved by most, young and old. I make chocolate walnut fudge, truffles, liqueur chocolates,etc.

● Being from Karnataka, I picked up most of the savouries and sweets from my mother, friends, relatives and the training company, Alippo, for festivals like Makar Sankranti, Holi, Ugadi, Ganesh Chaturthi, Dassera, Diwali, Christmas and New Year.

● Then the occasional specialities ordered by my friends and neighbours like Enchiladas, Quesadillas, Falafel sandwich, Various types of cheesecakes (Tiramisu, the most popular of all) for small parties at home.

● Another point I would like to make, my savouries and sweets have gone to Australia, UK, US, Sweden and Canada, when people travel to these places. Covid gave a lot of opportunities, like there was a baby shower happening in US, so they wanted me to send some treats to their relatives in India, so they could have it during the zoom ) meeting. People buy these savouries even to gift their friends and relatives in Bangalore instead of store bought sweets.

● My USP: All orders made only after order is placed, thus assuring freshest dishes.

● Most dishes can be ordered all round the year , except where ingredients are seasonal. Other Interests: Packaging: Always on the lookout for attractive packing materials. If need be, I make my own packaging boxes as well.

shilpa

Shilpa Sajan

FB: Tiramisu
Instagram: mittu436 Email:[email protected]

In my school days, a group of four girls, including myself, stumbled upon the joy of baking on a lazy Sunday. What started as a casual weekend activity soon turned into a delightful venture as we began creating cakes for neighbors’ birthdays. Our diverse team, each with unique talents in decoration, baking, greeting card design, and social media management, quickly gained recognition.

Shik

Our journey took an unexpected turn when a talented artist from the neighborhood joined us, sharing her decoration techniques. This collaboration sparked a creative fire, leading us to venture into selling cakes, complete with personalized greeting cards, using the power of social media.

As college life unfolded, my passion took a back seat, only to resurface when I started working. Baking muffins and banoffee pies for colleagues became a heartwarming experience as their appreciation fueled my desire to explore this culinary path. Slowly, my focus shifted to crafting niche delights—muffins, small event cakes, and banoffee pies—each creation a testament to my evolving love for the art.

Though dreams of a grand bakery persisted, life’s responsibilities often redirected my path. Yet, within my small corner, I’ve built a world where I sell not just baked goods but moments of pure happiness. Join me in this journey of Bake Big Smiles, and let’s create lasting memories through the simple joy of food. ?

mimi

Mimi

Gmail: [email protected]

FB: LinzatortC

Baking makes me happy, and my cakes make others happy. Spreading joy is immensely gratifying.

Cooking was one of my passions and I always had a sharp sense of taste but to me, baking was intimidating, something only to be attempted by bakeries. Though I helped my mom to make the Christmas cakes, never did I think about icing cakes.

During my stay in Uk I attended a baking course which made me think of baking to be an accessible and interesting line of culinary skill which I fell in love with

Started baking for friends and family and the appreciation received encouraged me to take it up as a business. Over time I honed up my skills and added healthy bakes to my repertoire of bakes

Every order is a chance to learn and customer satisfaction is my prime focus delivering quality

swapnali

Swapnali Dutta

I  am from a lovely place in Assam, calemailled Guwahati. I am a Master in Science with a B. Ed degree. I had been a teacher for almost 10 years, I owned a coaching centre too. My husband has a transferable Sjob. So I gave up my job to join him and keep moving from place to place  every 3 years. We have 2 kids of 16 and 10 years. My husband has got a very demanding job and can’t spend much time with them. So I decided not to do any job and stay back at home to take care of them which I did happily with utmost sincerity and dedication.

I always had a passion for baking and now that the kids are quite grown up, I am taking my hobby seriously. I used all these years to learn and upgrade myself and kept making small investments in buying cake tools and other items. Now I am fully equipped to gear up my hobby to a full fledged business.  I am taking up orders now and I am so happy that people are liking goodies. I am getting loyal customers. I make wonderful cakes, cupcakes, tea cakes, muffins, brownies, cookies etc but I am yet to explore the field of bread and bun ( dough) baking.

My journey has started from my small kitchen but my dream is to take my business to a greater platform, I would like to have a chain of outlets for Sweet Treats – that’s the name of my business. I would also like to start a baker’s hub to sell  some amazing bakers’ tools, equipments and other raw materials. I will be happy if I am able to give employment to a few people.

But my most sought after dream is to start an Academy—a patisserie institute( I am a teacher inside, you know)once I get myself sufficiently upgraded. That will be my contribution to the society which will help me to empower the people.

So that’s my story and my dreams. I will strive hard to achieve  them.

Thank you all for reading my story so patiently.

aneeta

Aneeta

Instagram: flourish_by_aneeta

Email: [email protected]

Flourish by Aneeta is not just a home baking venture; it’s a heartfelt journey rooted in my passion for baking. Starting this venture at 58, when most people retire, I aimed to challenge the belief that age limits pursuing one’s passion. Originating from baking for my family, who really pushed me and motivated me to grow my passion, I yearned to offer healthier options and redefine the idea that age is just a number.

Elevate your celebrations with our signature monogram cupcake platters and diverse cake offerings, each crafted with an unwavering commitment to taste and quality. Delve into our exclusive collection of healthy bakes -Anee eggless, gelatin free, sugar-free, and ‘no maida’ – tailored for fitness enthusiasts and those mindful of well-being. Our range extends to pet-friendly treats and Jain-friendly options, embracing diverse dietary preferences.

Looking into 2024, our vision is clear – reaching more hearts with our products, promoting healthy indulgences, and unveiling fresh, imaginative designs. Join us on this flavorful journey!

ashwini

Ashwini

Fb: cake house

Instagram: cake_house_bnglr

Email: [email protected]

I run a home- based baking business called cake house and I have many years of experience. and in this time period I have made more than 100 cakes. Especially I like to make cakes for childrens they give me some customised cakes ideas which I love to do. I felt interesting on this platform is. I liked to bake cakes and and many more. And baking was my passion but now it is my profession. and I will tell us you all a little bit about how started out this. I wanted to do something on my own and like something I enjoyed. When I started to bae cake to my family and friends everyone loved it. Their feedback encouraged me to do more of it. That is how the cake house was born. And slowly people saw my work and orders kept coming. And the thing is we have to believe our self and my family has always been very supportive for what I do. My family was my encouragement for my work and slowly I started to make cakes for my friend and all and their feedback was awesome. and I started a face book and a insta page. and finally a google website. and I am very happy about by decision to start this business. and home baking is a awesome experience for me. I use a quality-based item and I use a hygine way to make cakes. I love to make challenging cakes that many children like to give me. So that was my journey. And I will be very happy to serve you a delicious cake I will be waiting for that. So be believed and trust yourself and start whatever you thing right. and stay tuned.

manuja

Manuja

In the vibrant heart of Bangalore, I’m Manuja—a former lecturer turned passionate home baker. My love for baking has been a lifelong journey, rooted in childhood fascinations and nurtured through unexpected turns.

Right from childhood, I loved cakes, often gazing at bakery products during shopping trips. The tantalizing smell of bread baking lured me towards the bakery kitchen, intentionally making it my preferred study spot. I eagerly awaited the person selling cookies and bread on a cycle every evening, a simple joy that fueled my growing passion for the world of baking.

My journey into home baking began when a dear friend and colleague suggested that I turn my love for baking into a venture. Encouraged by their support and fueled by the excitement of receiving my first few orders, I embarked on this sweet endeavor. The joy of turning my passion into a business was both humbling and exhilarating.

While residing in Germany for a little while, I delved into the world of European cakes and experimented with various icing techniques, often using a plethora of berries. Our Indian friends abroad loved these creations, creating a delightful fusion of flavors that resonated with both cultures. It was a period of exploration and learning that enriched my repertoire.

The most unexpected but vital chapter in my baking journey unfolded when I received an unsolicited yet most required offer—to work in a reputed patisserie. This experience, although unplanned, added significant weight to my culinary expedition. It was during my time in the patisserie that I truly realized baking was my calling.

Working amidst the whirring mixers, tantalizing aromas, and the meticulous artistry of the pastry chefs, I found my niche. Those moments in the patisserie became the most cherishing ones in my baking life. The structured environment and exposure to diverse techniques not only refined my skills but also deepened my passion for the craft.

Being creative right from childhood, my commitment to perfection extends beyond taste to the visual aesthetics of my creations. My cakes, cookies, and pastries are not just delicious; they are works of art. Inspired by the beauty of life, each creation is adorned with vibrant hues, showcasing my artistic touch.

As I continue this delightful journey, I am eager to explore more of the artistic side of baking. My aspiration is to push the boundaries of creativity, experimenting with new flavors, techniques, and designs. I believe there’s always more to discover in the world of baking, and each creation is a step towards unraveling the endless possibilities that lie within the artistry of this craft.

In a city that never sleeps, my kitchen stands as a testament to the enduring power of slow, artisanal craftsmanship. With every batch, I aim to share the love, tradition, and innovation that define my unique approach to home baking, leaving a lasting impression on taste buds and hearts alike.

sravni deepika

Sravani & Deepika

Instagram: meltingswirls_blr
Facebook: meltingswirls
Email: [email protected]

We are a team of 2 homebakers dedicated to customised cakes and desserts for all your special occasions.

We are currently operating from Bellandur, Bangalore.

We both share a common interest in bakinga and have been quite interested to persue a home bakery since a long time. Finally in 2017, when i quit my 10yr IT career, this dream has come into action. We both attended a few workshops and started practising all the recipes. Later, we put up small sales in the apartment and things just took off after that, there have been few orders only at the beginning, but the number just grew year by year and here we are ….

Have been listed as one of the top 50 Homebakers of Bangalore 2022-23 by Homebakers.co.in

We bake for all occasions and needs. Starting from themed birthday cakes, teacakes, healthy bakes and even muffins for school distribution.

shobha

Shoba Sri

Instagram: sophiesgoldenbites
FB: SophiesGoldenBites
Email: [email protected]

Sophie’s Golden Bites is my baby initially I had named it Doodle Bakes. I always believed in the saying ” Everything happens for a reason & creates a purpose in life” & this has always happened with me

My friends & my customers say I make the best chocolates even the confectionery with same sheen.

I entered baking world as a chocolatier in 2014 during a phase where my personal life was on a roller coaster ride and had tried to end my life. Slowly I found peace in baking, came out of depression, was working in a IT firm and baking was a hobby and became a passion majorly. I was baking mainly healthy bakes with wheat flour, oats, diabetic friendly etc., I used to sell Granolas & Nutri Bars for house hold consumption and for health freaks, Now I supply majorly for gyms & nutritionists. In 2020 I took a break from the 20yrs of IT job, took up my passion as a profession since then I am baking with Maida too and frosting cakes commercially. Recently I completed my Diploma in Bakery Training as a Topper of the Batch ? before completion of the Diploma I got hired as a Chef Trainer by HL Bakers School Hebbal where I am currently working.

I want to create a niche as the only Eggless Cafe or Patessiere in Bangalore with healthy options too. Planning to open a Cafe in the year 2024.

Looking forward for a big bang entry in the new year to acquire more skills to be a sugar artist and a chocolatier.

tanika

Tanika

Instagram: @tsttheshudhtreats

Email: [email protected]

? Introducing Tanika: A Passionate Baker and Founder of TST – The Shudh Treats ?

Hello fellow baking enthusiasts! My name is Tanika, and by day, I navigate the corporate world in Bangalore. However, by heart and soul, I am a devoted baker, and I am thrilled to share my journey with all of you.

In the pursuit of turning my baking passion into a tangible reality, I proudly present my brainchild – TST, The Shudh Treats. TST is not just a brand; it’s a manifestation of my love for baking, a journey from the corporate hustle to the comforting aroma of a perfectly baked treat.

Recently, I achieved a milestone in my baking journey by obtaining my NSDC(Skill India) certification in Baking. This certification has not only sharpened my skills but has also added a layer of professionalism to my creations. Now, every cake, cookie, and loaf carries the mark of dedication and expertise.

While I delight in exploring various aspects of baking, my heart beats loudest for the art of bread making and crafting healthy bakes. But the story doesn’t end there – I am also an ardent fitness lover. The balance between indulgence and a healthy lifestyle is crucial to me. As I passionately whip up delightful treats in the kitchen, I am equally dedicated to maintaining a fit and active lifestyle.

In my world, baking is not just a culinary venture; it’s a form of worship. Each ingredient is chosen with care, and every step is taken with reverence for the craft. One of the aspects I cherish most is the art of innovation. I find immense joy in experimenting with flavors and textures, constantly pushing the boundaries of traditional recipes. Whether it’s infusing unexpected ingredients into classic bakes or creating entirely new concoctions, innovation is the heartbeat of my baking philosophy.

Looking ahead, as I continue to gain experience and hone my skills, my dream is to share this knowledge with others. Baking, for me, is not just a solitary endeavor; it’s a communal experience. I aspire to become a mentor and guide for budding bakers, imparting the art and science of baking to a new generation.

Join me on this delightful journey of flavors, textures, and the joy of creation.

Follow TST – The Shudh Treats for a dash of sweetness and a sprinkle of fitness inspiration in your life!

prathima

Prathima

Fb: Prathima Adiga
Instagram: Adigascakehouse

Email: [email protected]

I was very passionate about baking from college days, and used to try baking cookies on kadai with sand. I learnt baking cookies from my grandmother. After I got married, my husband gifted me a 26lts small OTG. It was because of this gift I started experimenting with cookies, cakes, puff, and pizzas. Then I started working as a freelance chef in media and was on cooking shows for 18 years. I have completed more than 3000 episodes in ETV, Suvarna, ZTV and many other channels. With the help of a friend, I started selling my baking goodies to corporates and this went on for 12 years.

In 2016, I started with another one of my interests, growing chemical free food, i.e. rooftop gardening on terrace. I have been conducting sessions for Swadeshi Jagaran Manch and other groups all around Karnataka about composting and organic gardening. I have been recognised for Urban Farming and have won many awards in the field.

In 2018, I met with an accident which left me with a fractured right hand. It took me nearly 2 years to recover and nothing could stop me from baking. I use a part of my earnings from my baking to rescue animals and for their feed. I started my 2nd innings in baking during the pandemic and have continued my mission to win my friends, customers hearts through my yummy bakes.

vanitha

Vanitha

I am a Homebaker with FSSAI Certified. I was a working woman and to take care of my daughter I quite my job and  then after couple of years my daughter watched some video’s and asked me to make those item that tries made me to enter in this baking business.   My husband and family who motivated me to start up with a professional way .My brand name is VF Cake Cafe

VF means it as 2 meanings 1  is variety of Flavors n its my kids name in it veronica n fiona because they are the reason to get me into this baking field.

My simple tries of baking which gave me a unique taste in baking changed me  into a Professional Baking

And I want to make this baking business into a healthy Way and I’m into it .

And My brand as a signature item it’s made out of completely healthy way It’s a cookies made out of drum leaf n it’s a little spicy n sweet cookies which is very good for health.

Enrich Every Movement of love in taste of Cakes and many more @ VF CAKE CAFE and make ur loved ones special with Homemade items.

I wish My passion grows up into a big success with all your blessings and Support.

rutika

Rutika

I am a Homebaker and a YouTuber. I don’t know how the love for cake develop .I am fond of cooking and doing experiment and trying out new stuff as that develop due to the house party where my dad friends use to come and my mom cooks yum , and the cake she makes on every birthday craved me to start baking but when I watch television I loved cake shows I loved the hard work they put and make such masterpiece. I always thought (kese karte hoge wow kya talent hai logo main).But as days passed I thought to atleast give a try to join course for baking then I came across new concept of baking and icing.I remember I joined one baking class with my saved pocket money. When I learnt I thought to give it a try and so we need instruments n OTG and all other small small stuff.

That was then I started saving my pocket money and started buying small stuff. I was just 19-20. As OTG was out of my budget I asked dad for it and he gave me it’s was the 1 st I took my step into the real cake making (icing)and 1 st icing cake I made was for my grandmother’s birthday and everyone loved it. Slowly slowly days passed I made only during occasion as my family was not fond of whipped cream so I stick to my moms ghee cakes which up till now the best fruit cake. Then beside I and my twin sister use to make and experiment on food.slowly when relative come over lunch and dinner they use to love our food and slowly slowly everyone came to know that we are a good cook.

As days passed I completed my graduation in B.Sc biotech and PG in HR and Operation management I joined IT organisation in nagpur and then thought to move to Hyderabad for good opportunity.But then marriage got fixed and there also everyone started liking my food

It was then I started feeling happy when everyone loved my food and cake .That motivated me to do more .When my daughter was 2 I made cake which everyone loved from that onward my actual cake journey began . Now I use to bake on every birthday days and years passed every year the cake looked better than the previous year.

My mother in law motivated me to participate in cooking  competition where I was selected among 300-400 contestant and I was among 10 to be selected for the final round .And I went to Mumbai and got featured in Colours Marathi .Thought I panic as it’s was my 1 st tv appearanceand I made mistakes.But then I started my YouTube journey .

Now for YouTube I use to dedicate lot of time and so to show some unique and to challenge myself I started baking structure cake on my own . I took challenges to make different and tried by dedicating whole day . As I am self taught I made lot of mistakes but this helped me to not repeat it but eventually I wasted my time and affort .

Still now I try to make something new that is challenge to my previous cake.

After all experience and mistake make you experienced .I still bake for my flat friends , relative and home .But trust me everyone loves my cake and they enjoy having it

Which motivates me to do and continue my work .

Lastly I want to thanks Ancy who took the initiate and motivated many bakers to be the part of such beautiful concept.

Do follow my account

It’s #Oneofthosedishes

Bidhya

kavitha

Read other stories:

The Sugar Masters of the World

Series: Season 1

“The Royal Icing Storyteller: Marta Torres”

Marta has earned a distinguished reputation in the Cake and Sugar Industry as one of the few Sugar Masters who create edible art on a canvas of cookies for dimensional piping with coloured royal icing. With decades of pushing the boundaries of creating versatile designs with Royal Icing, Marta is a true Maestro in this fascinating world of Royal Icing Artistry. Each of her unique 3D Cookie Masterpieces are created with the purpose telling a distinctive story. She is world renowned for her distinctive style of edible art and her  innovative approach to royal icing has transformed her cookies into miniature 3D Masterpieces.

With each new edible creation she infuses emotion into her eclectic cookie designs, which range from classic to whimsical and even fantastical.

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Marta Torres is an award winning Sugar Artist from Portugal and is the creative force behind The Cookie Lab by Marta Torres and Marta Torres – Royal Icing Cookie Art. Her expertise lies in creating amazing cookie decorations using dimensional piping with royal icing.

Marta found her passion for cookies by accident around 2013. She came from the banking and consulting industries and knew nothing about royal icing or cookies, but through desire and passion she taught herself anyway. After six months of practice she entered a contest and won! This changed her life.

Marta is now an international teacher of her own dimensional piping techniques with coloured royal icing. She has spent the last 7 ½ years teaching in a very impressive 32 countries to over 2,000 students. She is currently teaching as well on on-line platforms such as Zoom Livestream for over 1.300 students.

She is also frequently asked to judge cookie competitions for prestigious competitions all over the world, including Cake International where she is now an Official Judge. She has been featured in many international magazines, either with her work and interviews, National TV interviews, and even had a Portuguese publication release a special edition of just her work.

– DMAs Finalist on Cookie Artist of the Year 2022
– Global Sugar Hero Finalist 2021 – ACADA (Australia)
– Artist of the Year 2020 – Worldwide Excellences Edible Art (Italy)

– Finalist 2020 Cake Hero Award – ACADA Australia
– Winner 2016 EAGA Awards on “Most Inspirational Royal Icing Artist” (Hong Kong)
– Finalist at the 2015 Cake Masters Magazine Awards (AKA Cookie Oscars)(UK)
– Finalist Peoples Choice Awards 2017 (USA)
– Triple Finalist in Collaboration Category for 4 years in a row
– Cookier of the year Finalist 2014 (USA)

Marta is also gearing up for the Grand finale of the prestigious D’Licious Magazine Awards 2024 where she is finalist along with the World’s best Sugar Artists competing for the titles. She is a finalist for  two Top Notch categories, The “Cookie Artist Of The Year” and The ” Sugar Auteur”.

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We are truly lucky and honoured to have the Royal Icing Storyteller, Marta Torres with us today for this interview. She shares with her some untold and exclusive stories about her journey into this fantastical world of Royal Icing. Read on to get a VIP access to her world and gain insights into the various aspects of Royal Icing Artistry and how she is able to transform each cookie into a visual and sensory experience.

Ancy:

You are acclaimed and beloved around the world as a Royal Icing Maestro specially for your dimensional piping with coloured Royal Icing. How do people address you for making such unique and memorable 3D cookie designs in your characteristic style?

Marta:

The “Royal Icing Storyteller” who gives feelings to her characters, is something I hear very often when I publish my work. Some people thank me for the smile and happy moments they get when they see my work.

I do know that my dimensional piping with coloured Royal Icing is what I’m known for, it’s what make students look for my classes. Every piece is created with purpose, following the rules and techniques I developed myself, and of course, lots of details for a unique piece. I want pieces to tell a story and people appreciate it.

Besides, I often hear people saying that they don’t need to look for my name on a Cookie piece because they know it’s mine.  Without looking for it, somehow, I have created my own style.

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Ancy:

What is your defining technique and what is your approach to tackle each design idea? Do you have a project which is the closest to you heart?

Marta:

Whenever I’m creating a piece, I put my heart and passion into it. My main medium for creating my cookies is Royal Icing, my signature Dimensional Piping style with coloured Royal Icing is what characterises me and I’m recognised for.  Be it a cute figure or a more serious one, anatomy, perspective, the expression on figures, all the little details are essential for the balance and harmony of that piece.  I do have several pieces that I like but, recently, my piece for a Collaboration about Poverty vs Abundance was highly published around the world.

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Ancy:

Which of your designs on Royal Icing cookies are most popular designs and how do you ensure that they stand apart from other artists?

Marta:

Although within my dimensional piping style I create different figures, I guess what people enjoy the most are my cookie “kids”.  I give them personality and expression accordingly to the Story I want to tell. I love putting a smile on my followers face, I even ask them to complement the story that my cookies conveys, and this is a way to interact with them, a way to make them part of the story.Marta Torres 18 Marta Torres 19

Ancy:

One look at your Social medial handles and one can immediately understand that you are probably the most awarded and beloved Master Artist in the industry, winning awards and recognition for close to a decade . Tell us about some of your most favourite and memorable accolades and awards.

Marta:

Being nominated for prizes, or even winning them, are no doubt a highlight in our career. In 2015, shortly after starting decorating cookies I was a finalist for a very well-recognised Award which surprised me since I was new on this field, and completely self-taught (still am), but it felt good of course. 2016 I won the “Most Inspirational Royal Icing Artist” Award. Although I have other prizes that came after, this is probably the one that impacted me much so far due to the incredible comments on my work received from one of the judges, other than Mr. Eddie Spence.

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Ancy:

Who was you inspiration and what are the qualities of Sugar Artist that you admire.

Marta:

When I started, I saw on Facebook a painted cookie by the one and only Calli Hopper and I remember saying to myself that I want to make pretty cookies like that. I ended up making cookies but not painted like Calli.

Usually, when looking for the sugar art works around, we tend to look for designs that are eye catching, but probably, due to my judging activity and experience throughout the years, together my sensibility, I tend to look for the execution, more than the design. I do prefer a simple work with a perfect finish, where all the details were taken care of. I do prefer simplicity, balance, harmony, together with a prefect finish.

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Ancy:

Post-Covid pandemic lockdown has brought about significant change in most industries. What changes did you notice in the Cake and Sugar industry?

Marta:

Covid came and, definitely, changed the way things were done, but not always for the worst. As for the Cake and Cookie designers, this challenging time gave an extra opportunity to be more creative, not just in the conception and execution areas, but also the way things were delivered to the final recipient, either a client or a student.

There was a tremendous adaptation to the times we faced and, we are now less conservative and more open to accept things differently.

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Ancy:

What important insights caught your eye in the Sugar world during this time?

Marta:

Sugar world evolves with time, I see a more open mind, where artists like to try new things, and techniques, getting out of the conventional way.  The slowdown of Covid time, gave the artists the opportunity to try and develop things further.  We see common edible mediums being used and handled differently, as part of their trial and practice, that look like a new product, for instance wafer paper. We see, as well, a tremendous intent in recreating realistic things, from nature, to human features. Generally speaking, sugar art became more alive.

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Ancy:

How did you adapt your business to the new demand of this exciting phase for cake decorating! How do you prepare yourself in this ever-evolving world which demands innovation constantly?

Marta:

Being myself a teacher who is used to travel all the time around the world to teach my art, Covid was an impediment to do so.  But, in truth, shortly after the first confinement, I received a request to teach private classes on Skype, and I said to myself,  why not? Then I jumped into Zoom Classes and started teaching Groups. It worked very well, I planned and chose projects that could fit into this new reality and platform.  For me it’s essential being able to provide an individual guidance to my students, checking constantly on their work, and it’s possible no matter the distance between us.  It has been an amazing opportunity for teaching students from all over the world, sometimes 5 Continents in the same class. I’m still teaching Zoom and loving it, but in person classes are also back.  Changes are happening all the time, we need to be quick on their response, being creative and open-minded gives you preparation to face whatever challenge you may have to face.

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Ancy:

Please share some habits that have helped you continue making innovative designs and meet the challenges of long hours of edible art?

Marta:

When creating a piece, I do like to try different ways of making it, most of the time I envision the result pretended and know that the traditional way will not get me there so, trial and practice makes wonders.  Challenging ourselves is the only way to grow.

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Ancy:

Are you noticing recurrent themes and mediums in the sugar industry.?Which ones will last?

Marta:

Although Royal icing is my main medium, I do like to incorporate here and then a bit of other products, I’m really enthusiastic with the endless possibilities of Wafer Paper and Rice Paper, and we see it often on Sugar Art. These are going to last as the ways of working on it are becoming more and more interesting and sophisticated.

As far as Cakes and cookies are concerned  we see more and more often the increase of busts/faces and its realistic features. It’s becoming a trend and people are trying out difficult techniques in the pursuit of perfection.

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Ancy:

How do you choose you tools and ingredients for your business ?

Marta:

As my work relies in less ingredients, products and tools then the majority of cake decorators. For me and I guess for them, we all look for reliable products and tools that deliver what they promise, good in quality  and performance, a product that can be trusted.

Ancy:

Tell us about your favourite tool?

Marta:

My work relies on Royal Icing and piping tips/nozzles are essential for my work, they must be the best quality available in the market, since it’s the only way to accomplish a good result. Without tips, I can’t work.

Ancy:

How do you recharged from the longs hours that Sugar and Cake work demands. How do you de-stress and how much recovery time would you ideally like?

Marta:

Fortunately, I’m a person that doesn’t need to much time off, actually, it makes me nervous being without my piping bags for too long. Sometimes I do force myself to stop, recharge and go back.  At the end of the day, a bath or shower followed by a chatting moment with my husband, where usually I bring out all the ideas I have and he listens to it, it’s the best way to calm down.

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Ancy:

Some healthy habits or cake decorator to take care of their health as all work such long hours?

Marta:

I do start my day very early (5 am), which I prefer rather than staying up too late, unless the circumstances require differently, for instance when teaching abroad.  Exercise is essential prior to start my working day, it can be a walk/run or lifting weights at the gym, but my physical and mental health needs this. I get lots of energy, an open mind and, I feel more inspired, and my day runs smoother.  Even 30 minutes a day makes all the difference, grab your shoes and move. The benefits are endless.

Ancy:

With so many years into this artistic journey what according you are some habits that Cake/Sugar Artist must avoid at any cost?

Marta:

-Focusing on too much at a time

-Delay on creating System and processes

-Over-promising

-Not taking risks

-Failing to delegate

-Lack of being proactive

-Never taking time off

Ancy:

What would your advice be to new Cake?Sugar  decorators who are just starting out?

Marta:

When starting in this business, the lack of preparation can make us feel a bit lost.  Keep always in mind what’s your goal and, if necessary, ask for help, don’t panic. In order to improve your skills, you have so many incredible instructors out there, choose wisely, and learn as much as you can, and then practice more and more.

Challenge yourself, be part of competitions, being out of our comfort zone is the way to grow.

Don’t compare yourself to others, you are unique.

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Ancy:

Give us a sneak peak into your own goals for 2023 and what is your vision for your business

Marta:

Due to some personal matters, 2023 came a bit different than expected, nevertheless, I’m teaching, which I love, and I’m using my time as well to challenge myself on new techniques with royal icing and a couple of different mediums. I’m also developing a few tutorials for magazines and on-line learning platforms. Basically, I’m busy preparing my future next steps, based on Personal growth goals and Professional development goals.

Ancy:

Your work is admired around the world , share some advice for our readers and existing business owners

Marta:

Put all your love and passion on whatever you do, make sure that not only your business is ready for launch, but you are as well.

Keep focus on your business, be aware of new trends and get prepared for them, but above all, see what works for you, what makes you stand out from others and work to deliver the best.

Be the unique person you are and don’t compare yourself to others. This is a quote that have been with me for so many years now, and being myself really stubborn and focused on accomplishing things. Never give up on something that you can’t go out a day without thinking about (Winston Churchill)

Thanks to all for being with us on this journey with Marta Torres: The Royal Icing Storyteller

Marta’s  flair for highlighting the visual appearance of each her Magical 3D Cookies with her unique, intricate style of storytelling with her cookies makes her stand head and shoulders above many Sugar Artists of the world.

It almost seems like “homage” to each of her characters and their narratives.  This unique creative ability to captivate ones imagination, makes her a trailblazer in in the Cake and Sugar industry. Each one of her innovative designs can be hailed as a  “Magnum Opus” .

Interview by Ancy James

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Read other series:

The Sugar Masters of the World

Series: Season 1

The Queen of Lambeth/Royal Icing and Maestro of Enchanting Gingerbread Houses: Kathleen Lange

Kathleen’s  decades of commitment to her craft and her dedication and innovative approach to sugar as an artistic medium has helped her emerge and remain as a Pillar and a Luminary in the world of Royal icing and the Confectionary industry. By creating the cascading layers of detailed patterns using Royal Icing, over piped delicately over her cakes and Gingerbread houses, transforms her creations into eye-catching masterpieces. An age-old technique thrives even now in her masterpieces, truly in the hand of a Master Artist.

Kathleen’s artistic cakes show her full fledged passion and  a true maestros meticulous hand and eye for detail even as she infuses modern design elements  with an artistry that has a contemporary flair .

Her journey into the world of sugar artistry began with a  fascination for the style of cake decoration that originated in borough of London and her early dabbles with this art form propelled her into an enviable career in sugar artistry 43 years ago.

Kathleen started her teaching career at the age of 16, for Wilton Industries. Youngest instructor to have taught for Wilton in  total 21 years. Kathleen received numerous awards from Wilton; Hall of Fame and Imperial Club Awards; as a top instructor, teaching at the highest volume stores; teaching over 10,000 students as last recorded by Wilton, the year 2000.

Technical precision in showcasing the evolution of an age old technique in the hands of a master artist

She worked in area high end bakeries; consulting and training area bakery owners and employees; owned and operated her own high end wedding cake bakery & supply store in the 90’s. She has taught since the beginning of her career and is now highly regarded innovator and is internationally known for royal icing, foreign techniques and the revival of the Lambeth Method of English Overpiping; adding her own modernized flair.

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Testament to boundless creativity

Most recently, May 2016 Awarded one of the Top 10 International Artist by NY Cake & Baking Show, October 2017; Kathleen Coached Michelle Sohan and competed as Team Trinidad & Tobago in the Milan, Italy Cake Designers’ World Championship FIPGC 2017, winning “The Best Cake Taste in the World 2017” and placed 7th; competing against 19 other countries. In August 2020 Kathleen received the ICES (Int’l Cake Exploration Societe) Hall of Fame award.

Kathleen is an active member, instructor and demonstrator of the USA Division Representative & Int’l Excellence Team Cake Designer of (FIPGC) International Federation of Pastry Gelato & Chocolate – Italy

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“Cake decorating is the art that uses food coloring and frosting as paint, tips for the brushes and cake as the canvas.” Kathleen Lange 

We are truly lucky and honoured to Interview with a maestro who is the contemporary  “Queen of Lambeth techniques” loved and admired around the world. Despite the rush of the holiday season and year-end projects she took out time for our readers to speak candidly about everything from her Royal Icing journey and various milestones, trending sugar designs in the cake world, to practical coping techniques for business’ to thrive in this world Post-Pandemic. Read on to know more about some untold stories from her confectionary world where her exceptional skills in Royal Icing Lambeth technique and enchanting gingerbread houses has been captivating audiences for decades.

Here is Kathleen’s complete interview with our Staff Reporter Ancy James

With each answer you will get a glimpse of her creative journey where she has been weaving passion into every spoken brushstroke of inspiration with her Royal Icing Artistry.

Ancy:

What is the key highlight of you work and most prized design? What is the Niche that makes you a “Class Apart” from other Cake Artists.

Kathleen:

The key highlight of my work would be teaching.  I have enjoyed sharing my love of Lambeth Cake Decorating,  adding a more modernised, romantic flair to older design work. I would say my most prized design would be my Victorian Heart designs, using two different colours in heart cushion work. My first design was in 1985, red & white; no one had ever attempted two colors before. I have since redone the design with “C” Scrolls and pink & white heart cushion’s in 2015

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Ancy:

Who has been your biggest inspiration in the industry? What qualities in Cake Artists catches your attention!

Kathleen:

Eddie Spence MBA-Royal Icing King!  A true gentleman, amazing baker, turned artist.  He has stood the test of time and taught many of the famous royal Icing artist and has one of the longest legacies in his 90’s.  I look for someone who is true to the art, not about pushing their products, all about the actual teaching and love of the art just like my mentors did

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Ancy:

An Award/recognition  close to your heart and why?

Kathleen

This is a hard question, there area actually 2 awards very close to my heart. #1 The  ICES (Int’l Cake Exploration Societe)  Hall of Fame Award in August 2020, since I started teaching at age 16, I met two of my incredible instructors Betty Newman-May who trained me 4 years in Lambeth Style Cake Decorating & John McNamera who taught me the world of figure piping,  they were both ICES Hall of Fame members; incredible artist and instructors.  I felt Hall of Fame would be my ultimate achievement, caring, sharing and teaching as my instructors showed me their love of their students and the industry.  Unfortunately the award had to be given over the phone, due to Covid the convention had to be cancelled, they tried to honor me in 2021 with the award, unfortunately I had to miss the convention due to our move and not being able to find my tools to travel and teach.

#2  Most recently 2017, I had to honor of representing FIPGC (Federation of Int’l Pastry Gelato and Chocolate) Coaching and judging at the World Cake Competition, Milan Italy  as Team Trinidad & Tobago with my student and friend Michelle Sohan, winning Best Tasting Cake in the World. This was one of my highlights, due to the fact I  am very passionate about the taste of the cake, it is the most important part of the cake.  The cake can be the most gorgeous work of art, but if the cake taste terrible, you as a baker and artist have not done your job correctly.  My motto is good until the last crumb ?

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Ancy:

Your favourite products and Trends. Prediction of which ones will last? List 5 and mention the one which is most likely to survive

Kathleen:

 My favourite products are “A Royal Mix” Royal Icing pre-mix by More Than Cake, best no waste, fastest drying and best tasting royal icing.  I also love More Than Cakes Perfect Palate Powder Flavours, takes less flavouring, does not bake out of products and you can flavour anything you eat, drink or bake with as little as 1/16th teaspoon, very economical products.

Edible Icing images – Seems to be popular and staying popular due to logos and cookie designs

Isomalt- Popular and used for so many different applications

Cookies- Very popular, but remind me of cupcakes, a cycle and too much work for the amount of money you can charge. I think the excitement will die down.

Buttercream Cakes – Retro- popular now, it is a cycle like fondant

Fondant- still trending, but people area wanting more buttercream and whip cream.  Always a cycle, every 5-10 years

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Ancy:

Post covid pandemic what changes do you see in the cake world and in your business

Kathleen:

Since covid I have seen things slowly starting up again.  A handful of cake shows slowly started in 2022, some opted to start in 2023. All seem to have lower attendance in the US. The ICES Int’l Cake Exploration Societe had their last convention July 2022 after 46 years. The CookieCon Conventions seems to be growing, 2 per year in the US with attendance of 800 or more and their classes seem to be going strong.

Seems all classes are low in attendance, people seem to not be attending one on one classes, due to travel expenses and most seem to be still watching online courses.  I personally have had more people interested in attending classes, waiting for me to offer, but due to family responsibilities and relocating our residence in another state, I’m in the process of reorganizing my business I have not started back full time.  

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Ancy:

Pl share some insights about what caught you eye in the Sugar and Cake world during this time?

Kathleen:

The things that have caught my eye in the sugar world are the continued social media videos showing what they are calling Retro Cakes, Lambeth style in butter cream is what they are calling it…when basically it is basic bakery piping, not Lambeth at all. Not sure how basic bakery cake decorating designs became retro?  I’m seeing a lot less fondant designs, more interest in buttercream borders, flowers, natural designing with edible herbs, fruits, citrus and dried florals.  Cookies seem to be continuing their popularity. 

Ancy :

How you adapt your business to the new demand of this Dynamic and exciting phase for Cake Decorating and Sugar Artistry in the year 2023! How do you prepare yourself in an ever-changing world which demands innovation constantly?

Kathleen:

I have found throughout my 43 year career and business to always be adaptable.  Fortunately, I learned from the very beginning to be diversified in several areas of the business. In my career I have seen cycles of styles change and come back every 10 years.  I have prepared myself by offering other items in slow times and being able to teach has always been my “Niche”.  I work on perfecting my recipes and love designing dessert cake flavors, fillings and different icings.  I have been designing  and perfecting a few chocolate candy truffles, brittles and caramels along with a few pastries to market in our new area.  I found the changing of times gives me the opportunity to switch around and use other creative talents, which keep me from repetitive decorating.

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Ancy:

What is your advice to all existing business owners ?

Kathleen:

Be diversified in all areas of the art.  Most businesses are seasonal, make sure you can offer several different products and your product taste as good as it looks. 

Ancy:

For our new cake decorators who are just starting out in the industry ! What would you say to them ?  

Kathleen:

As I was told when I started, learn from everyone, each teacher has something different to offer and one on one learning is better than online.  Online learning you do not learn from others and online is not always the correct way of applying applications as they show.  Being a judge, I have found most mistakes on competitors cakes was bad advise on YouTube, tactic or wanna be teachers who are all self taught.  Be well informed and attend the bakery trade shows.

Ancy:

You own goals for 2023 and what is your vision for your business

Kathleen:

My goals are to finish reorganizing my business, starting up local classes and working at the Local Farmers Market, marketing my chocolates truffles and candies during the summer, working with a few exclusive venues in the area for high-end weddings.  Working toward opening a commercial bakery on our property to cut over head cost and also rent when not being used.

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Ancy:

The best business advise ever given to you

Kathleen:

Be diversified, never stop learning and competition is good

Ancy:

Bad habits that cake decorators must avoid.  

Kathleen:

The worst habit is not keeping organised, cleanliness of the bakery, touching cakes and food without gloves when assembling.

Ancy:

Pl share some ingredients that are mainstay in your business and what are the most dependable Sugar tools and ingredients according to you.

Kathleen:

This is so hard, I have a lot of products, depends on the types of cakes or designs I’m working on.  I would say a good tilting  turntable, torting knife/tool  metal angled spatulas, and good quality baking pans/products.  My favourite decorating tubes are PME.  I do not skimp on taste, I try to use the best, most economical quality ingredients;  real butter, cream and the best chocolates staying away from prepared mixes and make from scratch, depending on products.

Ancy:

Out of these which one is your favourite?

Kathleen:

PME Decorating tubes – I can make anything with tubes, icing and decorating parchment.

Ancy:

Which Sugar design Marvel of yours would you say is the most popular and asked for by your  customers?

Kathleen:

My most popular and sought after work are the Lambeth Designs.  When people tell me they love my designs, they say they love my romantic flair and my style of colours.

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Ancy:

Habits that have helped you continue making innovative designs and meet the challenges of Sugar work

Kathleen:

My habit that has helped me continue making innovative designs, is my love of the art and my romantic side.  I love adding a romantic, modernized flair to all my designs. I love Victorian architecture, jewellery, wedding gowns and flowers, all giving me creative inspiration.

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Ancy:

How do you recharged from the longs hours that sugar and cake work demands? How do you destress and how much recovery time would you ideally like between cake projects?

Kathleen:

When the demand is high, trying to get  as much rest as possible is key!  I try not to overbook for my well being.  I make time for me now, by gardening, reading a good book and enjoying the fresh air outdoors.  I guess in my area they call it Forest Bathing, since we live in a forest.  Enjoying nature, clears the mind.

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Ancy:

Some healthy habits or cake decorator to take care of their health as all work such long hours? 

Kathleen:

I have found over the years, if I do  not take care of myself I would have a low immune system.  I really concentrate on a healthily diet, drink a lot of water and take good vitamin’s. I have always stayed away from too much sugar and try to get plenty of rest.  I started going once a year to a Naturalpatihic Dr, after experiencing extreme tiredness, joint pain along with hormonal problems, he was able to run extra blood work and guided me to the proper vitamin’s my body was lacking, helped me tremendously. Once a month I go to Acupuncturist and a Chiropractor, all have helped me keep my optimal health. 

Ancy:

A final question before we end this interview  please share any significant vision that you have for your upcoming year and a few final words for our readers?

Kathleen:

My future plans are to build a commercial kitchen on our property, working exclusively with local resorts marketing wedding cakes, desserts and novelty candy items, continue teaching, writing a few books.  A big dream is to have vacation cabin rentals for visiting international students to enjoy classes and our beautiful state of Idaho, USA. The legacy I would want to leave is my love of the art through my work and eyes.  I would hope to have a few books showing my personal teaching techniques and recipes. My motto is to love the way I want to be loved, share the way I would want to be shared with and to teach the way and want to be taught.  “Keep Piping Alive!” and “It is all in the bag, just squeeze!”

Thanks to all for being with us on this journey with the modern day “Queen of Lambeth”, A Maestro who is a Class Apart in Royal Icing Artistry.

In addition to her prowess in the Royal Icing Lambeth technique, Kathleen Lange has earned acclaim for her enchanting gingerbread houses.It is testament to Lange’s ability to transform the simplicity of gingerbread into elaborate structures that delight the senses.

Kathleen is beloved within the Cake and Sugar Industry for her distinctive qualities and warm personality. Her commitment to sharing her expertise with aspiring sugar artists makes her  one of the most approachable Master Sugar Artists a much loved mentor to many aspiring Sugar artists around the world.  Her generous spirit in imparting her knowledge has fostered a community of sugar artists who continue to be inspired by her Artistic Sugar legacy

Interview by Ancy James

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Read other series:

The Sugar Masters of the World

Series: Season 1

Paul Joachim: A Pioneer in Sculpted Edible Chocolate Artistry

Paul Joachim is an internationally-acclaimed chocolatier, sculptor, speaker, and live performer. Paul has been reaching, transforming and inspiring audiences and Chocolate Connoisseurs through speaking, chocolate sculpting and tasting events. A prolific confectioner, often hailed as the “Chocolate Genius” who can easily be called a modern day “Willy Wonka” .

He is not only famous for his legendary chocolates tastings but also as a world renowned artist whose distinctive traits of pushing the boundaries in the field of Chocolate Art and innovation make him a force to reckon.

He has not only achieved mastery over his art medium with his relentless innovations over the decades. You would have seen this flamboyant Chocolatier, speed sculpting many a jaw dropping chocolate sculptures, “Live”, at exclusive private and corporate parties and public events around the globe.

With a career that spans 10 years, his pursuit of perfection and innovation has elevated the chocolate industry to new heights. From amazing likenesses of celebrity clients to vibrant and detailed icons, logos and architectural structures, Paul, sculpts them all in the highest quality edible chocolate. Attending his Chocolate hosting or speed sculpting sessions is like entering a fascinating world of a sensorial experience with chocolate that transcends the ordinary. The Chocolate Genius has been seen on shows such as CBS’ The Talk, Food Network, and Australia’s Today Show, and his clients have included Oreo, Universal Studios, the NBA, billionaires, and Fortune 500 brands. His wonderful legacy in creating a world of possibilities in the field of Cocoa innovative confections makes him stand apart as a trailblazing Master Chocolatier.

We are truly lucky and honoured to Interview the “Chocolate Genius” himself who despite having busy end-of-year calendar, took time for our readers to share some insights into his career and share with us some candid and exclusive untold stories from his Phenomenal Chocolate world and how decades of commitment to his craft helped him break ground and carve his ‘niche”. Here are some snippets from his interview with our Staff Reporter Ancy James, narrated in his own words.

Maestro unveiled: A Profound Dialogue with a Master Artist and his story of passion and Chocolate Artistry
Ancy:
Please share with our viewers a bit about you phenomenal career path and the milestones that have shaped you as the world’s most renowned chocolatier? How do see yourself reinvent yourself and your Business in the year 2024?
Paul:
“I’ve hosted virtual chocolate experiences for participants in over 35 countries including groups entirely from India,Ireland,Taiwan, and others. I am very proud the experiences resonate regardless of the culture of the participants. I’ve sculpted live with in-person chocolate experiences in Australia, Asia, Europe, Canada, South America, and the US.

I’ve been recognized as one of the top master chocolatiers in the world with audiences in every continent besides Antarctica. I’ve been on national TV shows all around the world including Today Show Australia, UK’s Wonderful World of Chocolate, CBS’ The Talk, Fox and Friends, multiple Food Network shows along with an assortment of other national TV appearances.

Starting in 2024, I will be Vice President of the non for- profit, Heirloom Cacao Preservation Fund giving me further leverage to make an impact on our world, improving the lives of farmers which in-turn helps preserve the beauty of our world for all our children and future generations. Speaking at opening keynotes and hosting high-profile chocolate events allows me to get in front of influential global audiences to educate and inspire them through language, visual chocolate art and perspective shifting tastings.

My dedication for the rest of my career is to enrol, inspire, educate global audiences about the ‘why’ behind sustainability using chocolate as the ultimate case study. Chocolate connects with the widest audience possible and is the perfect medium to move the needle in preserving the beauty of our world. “

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Ancy:
Having achieved so much in your field what would you say are the key, inspiring qualities that you admire in an artist, especially edible art/ Chocolate art which makes them successful and relevant in an ever changing world?

Paul:
“There are so many talents across the world that inspire me on a daily basis. What inspires me the most is a huge leap in skillset from anyone. I’ve watched so many of us grow immensely through the years. Learning to allow
vulnerability to take over giving them new found abilities that didn’t previously exist. The dedication, the passion, the drive, and growth I witness is such an inspiration and drives my own work. “

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Ancy:

What do you feel is the ‘Niche’ quality of your work which keeps you so committed to your craft. Please share some
memorable and unforgettable chocolate experiences or memorable events?

Paul:
“We leverage the connective power of chocolate to engage, educate, and inspire our audience into action. Our work is about mindfulness, intention, education, and purpose. We often work directly with our clients to include their own mission and convey this through our chocolate experiences. For example, we did a chocolate experience in Detroit this year for Children’s Miracle Network to promote children’s mental health. The famous American football player
Barry Sanders was the surprise guest. Knowing this, I decided to tell the story of sports and its impact on mental and
physical health transitioning into the origin stories of the chocolate. The chocolate sculpture was a life-size girl playing football. Late when I addressed the audience, I asked the VIP audience of 225 if they played sports when they
were kids. I asked them to reflect on what impact it made on their mental and physical health. Interacting with them live and part of the benefit was being outdoors, breathing the fresh air and being among the trees. I transitioned that into asking the audience if they knew what wild foraged is. And I told a beautiful story of chocolate manufacturer, Felchlin, and their partnership with the indigenous Chimane’s that harvest cacao growing wild in the rainforest of
Bolivia. And that’s where the chocolate they are enjoying comes from. I also showed then first hand the raw cacao pods that I had brought with me, giving the audience the unique opportunity not just to see a cacao pod for the first
time, but to taste a raw bean right from the pod! Through the work we are doing at Heirloom Cacao Preservation Fund our mmission is to preserve these incredible cacao varietals that represent the beauty of our world in all its
raw authentic flavor and experience. All of these unique, wonderful, and rare cacao varietals are in danger of going
extinct. This is not hyperbole. Talk to a cacao farmer and they will tell you that the struggle of climate change or other economic realities is real and directly affects their ability to harvest, sell, and produce cacao. So, to answer the question directly, the highlight of my work is creating human connections, engaging, educating, and inspiring through chocolate experiences. Our audience experiences the experience of sustainability.”

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Ancy:

How do you prepare yourself in an everchanging world which constantly demands innovation. Post covid pandemic what changes do you see in the chocolate world and in your business. How did you adapt your business to the new
demand of this new phase ?

Paul:
“Great question. It’s tough in any business big or small, especially a small business to continue to reinvent and innovate almost on the fly. I have set up an advisory board which helps to be proactive and future thinking. We discuss what business might look like in 6 months to a year. Then it’s up to me and my team to put things into place to adjust and react to these realities. I keep track of economic and industry news which greatly affects my business. Most of my client base is corporate with corporate moods and trends directly affecting my business. Post covid pandemic, in person chocolate experiences have kicked in.

It was a great time to reinvent our services. We went from one live event during covid, to a multitude of high-profile, exciting in person chocolate events since June. A few highlights include The Chocolate Genius headlining the Kid power Colorado annual fundraiser where I sculpted a life-size child on stage, speaking to the audience of
450 including a plated high end chocolate tasting.I had the honor of being opening keynote speaker at an invite only sustainability conference in Virginia with an audience of the most influential sustainability corporate executives in the world. This included a beautiful chocolate sculpture of a 4 foot jaguar and toucans plus a chocolate and wine tasting. Another was out in Vegas where I sculpted two celebrities and hosted 3 chocolate experiences over three days for a major hotel brand and luxury auto manufacturer. Including 1500 custom shaped chocolate takeaways.

We are still doing a surprising amount of virtual chocolate events as well. December 2023 we will have about the same amount of participants we have had in the past 2 years with over 20 virtual chocolate events each December that have included participants in over 35 countries.”

 

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Ancy:
Tell us about you personal favourite chocolate confections?

Paul:
“It feels amazing to purchase chocolate directly from cacao farmers I know personally around the world. The chocolate is simply the best quality with the sophistication of fine wine varieties. Chocolate from Rex at Puentespina Farms in the Philippines is simply one of the best chocolates I’ve ever had. The 70% dark chocolate color is light similar to the color of milk chocolate. The taste is floral, nutty, and fruity taking on the flavor of the local soil, the air, the plants, and trees of the Davao region. Chocolate at this level makes me pause and reflect on the rare beauty and uniqueness our world has to offer. ”

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Ancy:
Which chocolate events turn out to be most meaningful for you are a profession and remain the closest to your heart?

Paul:
“Being opening keynote speaker for an invite-only audience of the largest corporations in the world and their executives was an incredible honor. This opportunity means more to me than any award or formal recognition. The trust and acknowledgement from my client to have me as opening keynote speaks volumes about my commitment to
positive human connection and my growth as a sustainability educator through chocolate.”

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Ancy:
As an Artist you constantly put yourself and your work out in the world to be judged and admired. You must be used to always having the spotlight on you! How do you motivate yourself to continue being so “high functional” to create such innovative and challenging masterpieces each and every time.

Paul:
“It comes down to giving up labels, societal right and wrongs, good and bad – and discovering and being fully self-expressed through our authentic selves. This allows me to unleash abilities on levels not otherwise possible.
By giving up judgment, I allow the power of the universe to flow through me and generate my performance. I feel the
connective oneness between us all, and it provides me with an immense sense of purpose regardless of how I’m feeling externally or internally. When I’m in this space, I get myself into a flow state where time slows to a crawl, my skills become precise executing at lightning speed. It’s a practice of shifting  consciousness on the fly that connects at the highest levels without relying on language. Giving myself the focus and abilities needed to perform at the highest
levels.”

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Ancy:

What are the qualities that remain the mainstay of your business ? What efforts do you take to retain it ?Pl share with us some memorable visceral chocolate experiences that you offer to you clients in detail!?

Paul:
“I strive for perspective altering experiences. Providing my audience with a new possibility and relationship with chocolate and themselves. Everyone has such a strong, visceral relationship with chocolate. Even those that don’t care for chocolate have a strong response. I am able to offer a platform for altering the audiences relationship with
chocolate showing them new possibilities in life. Life isn’t fixed or static, there is a whole world of new possibilities yet to be discovered.

I achieve this by creating a safe space of mindfulness, discovery, and joy for the audience. I take all the senses into account – all aspects of taste, varying textures, visual senses, and even the audible experience of eating the chocolate. With my chocolate tastings I start with dark chocolate and end with the white. Which is the opposite of any tasting I’ve ever heard of.

This alone demonstrates there really are no ‘rules’ – only the rules that we develop through creating new possibilities. It’s a gorgeous balance and harmony of flavors, textures, visual simulation in each tasting that surprises and delights.

One of my personal favorites is a 35% FelchlinOpus Blanc white chocolate with dried tarragon, raw wildflower honey, black lava salt, and orange zest paired with a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. First of all, the visual look at the chocolate provides a sense of intrigue with green of the tarragon, the medium size grain of black lava salt, the vibrance of the raw wildflower honey along with the fresh orange zest juxtaposed with the creamy off-white color of the chocolate. All of these ingredients have a beautiful origin story in itself. Each element flows beautifully with or without the wine. When the Sauvignon Blanc is added, the acidity of the wine balances perfectly with the sweetness and rich cacao butter creaminess of the white chocolate. New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc has an earthy background that is pulled out by the tarragon’s own earthiness and slight licorice profile. The black lava salt tells your brain you’re in the act of eating and helps create a richer, bolder flavor experience of each and every ingredient. The orange zest’s essential oils are released and coats your palate acting as a bridge for all the flavors simultaneously enhancing the citrus profile of the wine. This is the methodology I apply to all my chocolate recipes and pairings. Whether that be with wine, spirits, beer, or just the chocolate itself. ”

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Ancy:
How do you recharged from the longs hours that Chocolate and cake work demands?

Paul:
“One of my favorite things to do is to be out in the forest. Especially hiking or jogging through winding trails. Taking in the aroma of the trees, the leaves, and the soil. Feeling the impact of my feet on the sand alternating with the roots or hitting splashes of water. Hearing the rustle of leaves dancing in the breeze, or running with a majestic alligator swimming in sync with me along the river bank.
I’ve also been practicing “Hatha yoga” since the past few decades. Yoga practice provides me the physical and mental
balance along with strength and peace that I require I need to offset the stress of high-profile, high-stake chocolate events.”

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Ancy:
Tell us about some healthy habits that you have acquired that help you stay at the top of you professional game?

Paul:
“I recently became vegan to help with my personal health and the health of the world. I was vegetarian for 10 years
when I was younger and then incorporated meat back into my diet. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve dedicated myself to
revitalising our communities and our planet. Becoming vegan is a natural progression of this effort. Another important thing I do is recognise when my stress levels are high I actively pause and breathe and out. This diaphragmatic breathing technique helps me reset and get back to being present, focused, and effective. ”

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Ancy:
Your favourite sculpting tool?

Paul:
“When I sculpt I use a paring knife and one wooden clay tool as my go to’s. Anything else is optional. ”

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Ancy:
What is the best “Business advice” that you have ever been given?

Paul:
“Focus on what you are the most passionate about. Full-stop. Creating a business with authentic purpose will feed your soul and fill your pocket book at the same time. ”

Ancy:
With decades of being successful what advice would you give new sugar and Chocolate aspirants? Do share tips and
techniques you use to stay so highly motivated and creative.

Paul:
“Focus. Focus. Focus. Don’t try to do too many things. Get extremely good at very few things. Take your passion, your skill set and align that with consumer or corporate needs and trends. Look forward 6 months to a year to make
adjustments to these products and services so you’re not left with cash flow issues. If this isn’t your skill-set,
surround yourself with advisors that do have this knowledge. Corporate advisors, marketing, sales, accounting, brand development, etc. Be patient, be smart, be resilient, and be fierce in your approach with the utmost integrity. Find purpose in your business. When this isaccomplished, your business is no longer separate from who you are. It becomes an extension of your authentic self. You get up each day motivated to connect with others regardless of how you are feeling any given day. Take calculated risks and don’t hold back. Give yourself up to the process, be daring and bold in your own, authentic way. Don’t strive to be something you are not. Embrace and accept yourself just asis.

There is no perfection in reality.
There is only the practice of inquiry, observation, and acknowledgement. When we practice this space of compassion, the need for expectation dissolves into irrelevance. Self moves to the background and oneness takes over.

Nothing matters beyond the consciousness of singular oneness where intellect moves the background and the immense knowledge of the universe generates your life. This keeps me motivated regardless of how tired I am, how many negative thoughts come into play, how much my body hurts or if my mind is telling me a “no”. My practice of
vulnerability, letting go and reshifting my mindset into connective oneness and purpose fires me up and gets me past my perceived limitations. “

Ancy:
What according to you are some qualities that an Chocolate/Cake Artist must avoid at all costs?

Paul:
“Being caught up in jealousy of others, lack of innovation, lack of vulnerability, lack of patience, lack of purpose
and/or not honouring the connective power of chocolate/Cake to bring out the oneness in us all.”

Ancy:
Heartfelt thanks for taking the time to answer our questions and sharing you valuably insights. Last question of
the interview. Have you ever travelled to India?Would you like to ?

Paul:
“I have so many connections in India yet I haven’t visited up to this point. I’ve worked in-person with Rintu Rathod from Mumbai. She created India’s very first chocolate Ganesha along with being heavily involved in humanitarian work and sustainability. I’m totally enthralled and proud that we are part of each other’s journey’s in life. I partner with chocolatier Girija Tatke, also from Mumbai, to help create virtual kits for our Indian based participants. I’ve had the immense pleasure of teaching chocolate sculpting to Shobha Tallapaka, who lives in the US, and Harsiddhiba Jadeja Rana from Bhuj, India. In turn, my own personal growth has blossomed to new heights through their sharing and exchange of energy. The results of each and every one of these interactions has been nothing less than a miracle. I have countless fans from India and I appreciate and love you all. The Indian culture, the food, the values, and the people resonate with my soul with any trip to India would be like touching the essence of my authentic self. ”

The Chocolate Genius Paul Joachim A Pioneer in Sculpted Edible Chocolate Artistry 24 (2) The Chocolate Genius Paul Joachim A Pioneer in Sculpted Edible Chocolate Artistry 25

The Chocolate Genius Paul Joachim A Pioneer in Sculpted Edible Chocolate Artistry 27 The Chocolate Genius Paul Joachim A Pioneer in Sculpted Edible Chocolate Artistry 26 The Chocolate Genius Paul Joachim A Pioneer in Sculpted Edible Chocolate Artistry 25 (2)

The Chocolate Genius Paul Joachim A Pioneer in Sculpted Edible Chocolate Artistry 24

Thanks to all for being with us on this journey with The “Chocolate Genius” Paul also went on to tell us how he would like to be known as an individual that helped preserve the beauty of our world for ourselves and our children. Through inspiring and educating the world unforgettable chocolate experiences and allowing them to actively reconnect with their authentic selves, each other, and our earth. Each of his chocolate masterpieces are a culmination of a lifetime dedicated to the perfection of his craft. He is the undisputed enduring world icon in the sweet symphony of Chocolate Art. He not only has emerged an effortless chocolate maestro always bringing his A- game with each of his unique chocolate masterpiece but also has actively contributed to elevating the status of all Chocolatiers worldwide. As he continues to evolve and innovate through his craft his impact on the world of chocolates is defines to endure and that would always be his Legacy. Inspiring a collective and compassionate
appreciations for the art and science of chocolate making .
Interview by Ancy James

The Chocolate Genius Paul Joachim A Pioneer in Sculpted Edible Chocolate Artistry 23The Chocolate Genius Paul Joachim A Pioneer in Sculpted Edible Chocolate Artistry 19 The Chocolate Genius Paul Joachim A Pioneer in Sculpted Edible Chocolate Artistry 20 The Chocolate Genius Paul Joachim A Pioneer in Sculpted Edible Chocolate Artistry 21 The Chocolate Genius Paul Joachim A Pioneer in Sculpted Edible Chocolate Artistry 22

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India’s Permanent Representative To UN Hosts ‘Mission Life’ Event On Millets

Millets have been an integral part of our diet for centuries. In addition to a plethora of health benefits, millets are also good for the environment with low water & input requirement. With the aim to create awareness and increase production & consumption of millets, United Nations, at the behest of the Government of India, declared 2023 the International Year Millets. To commemorate this, the  India’s Permanent Mission to the UN in ccordination with India’s Ministry of External Affairs is hosting various interactive activities around Millets.

India’s Permanent Representative To UN Hosts ‘Mission Life’ Event On Millets 2Mission LiFE, a global initiative for ‘Lifestyle for Environment’ is a groundbreaking step towards sustainable living, according to Ruchira Kamboj, India’s Permanent Representative to the UN. Kamboj was speaking at a reception hosted by India’s Permanent Mission to the UN on December 4, 2023 at the UN headquarters in New York to highlight 2023 as the International Year of the Millet.

According to Kamboj, Mission LiFE and the focus on Millets jointly represent a holistic approach to sustainability. “It’s a clarion call for everyone, everywhere, to rethink their lifestyles and make choices that contribute positively to the Earth’s well-being,” Kamboj said. Earlier at the ‘India Roundtables’ panel discussion at the UN about Mission LiFE, Kamboj had said that the initiative focuses on mindful and deliberate utilization instead of mindless and destructive consumption.

Based on the Gandhian concept of Lifestyle for Environment and Human Flourishing to promote sustainable lifestyles and enduring peace, the Indian initiative was launched globally by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and UN Secretary General António Guterres in February 2023.

Acknowledging the need for global support to the initiative at the reception, Secretary-General Guterres said, “’Mission LiFE’s vision aligns perfectly with the United Nations’ sustainable development goals. It’s a testament to how individual responsibility can foster a sustainable future for the entire planet.”

India is the world’s largest producer and second-largest exporter of millet according to sources. Technically seeds, millets are small grains grown on poor quality soil with very little irrigation. There are nine kinds of millets which grow in India, including sorghum, finger millet, little millet, kodo millet, foxtail millet and barnyard millet. They all differ from each other in color, texture and size.

However, its consumption has largely remained in the rural areas, a scenario which, Modi has been working to change since 2014 to boost millet production and consumption. At the G20 summit in September 2023 in New Delhi, world leaders were served an all-vegetarian dinner predominantly made of millets. At the commemorating ceremony of the International Year of the Millet in February 2023, India organized a special exhibition on the occasion on different kinds of millets grown in India, their nutritional value and health benefits, and a reception with millet-based savories.

Millet and millet based fusion dishes have been introduced by well-known Indian restaurants and gourmet chefs including barley and sorghum salad, millet tortillas and dosas, sorghum pita pockets, ragi pancakes, millet risotto, ragi pizzas, and also millet  chips, chakli, noodles, breakfast cereals, and even millet-based beers.

The push for millets by India is based on their being environment friendly. They require less water and can grow in harsher climates, making them a sustainable choice while the world faces increasing water scarcity and global warming.

One of the highlights of last week’s special reception was a performance by Falguni Shah, a Grammy nominee, of her number, ‘Abundance In Millets’ originally ‘written and performed’ by Falu and Gaurav Shah with the prime minister who came up with the concept and contributed the lyrics and collaborated in creating it.

One of the lyrics by Modi goes, “The shared efforts of our farmers and us….will adorn India and the world’s prosperity with a new radiance.”

3 Indian Restaurants In US Get Michelin One-Star

The 3 restaurants are run by Chefs Vijay Kumar, Chetan Shetty, and Sujan Sarkar

Three Indian eateries received one-star ratings at the first-ever Michelin Guide Ceremony, which was held in New York City and brought together attendees from Chicago, Washington, and New York.

Semma in New York City, Rania in Washington, DC, and Indienne in Chicago were given a one-star rating, which means “high quality cooking, worth a stop,” according to the Michelin guide.

3 Indian Restaurants In US Get Michelin One Star (The Indian Express)Chef Vijay Kumar, renowned for his innovative spin on regional South Indian cuisine, moved from Rasa in San Francisco to run “Semma” in New York. Noting that the restaurant’s “authentic Indian cooking does not pander to American expectations,” the guide advises guests who are not familiar with the flavors and specific dishes to “lean on the staff who know their stuff and are eager to share.”

“Rania” in Washington, DC’s Penn Quarter, is home to Chef Chetan Shetty, who “delivers something entirely enticing here with his inventive menu,” according to the Michelin Guide. “Rania” translates to “queen” in both Sanskrit and Hindi.

According to the guide, Rania’s menu features “plenty of contemporary touches along with a few surprises,” like the braised pig belly vindaloo. Other dishes, like ghee-roasted lamb with a delicate lentil cheela and a buttermilk mousse, have a spicy kick that is balanced with a buttermilk mousse. And finally, there is shiso leaf chaat, which has a playful spirit but elegant overtones.

The guide states that “Indienne” in Chicago is where Chef Sujan Sarkar first gained recognition. For first-timers, it recommends the tasting menu, where Sarkar presents a fresh and contemporary take on Indian cuisine, although there is also an à la carte option.

” Although Sarkar’s cuisine “may seem like works of art, it tastes like well-known favorites from throughout his colorful homeland.” The meal is occasionally infused with a touch of French sensibility, as the guide describes it as “deftly spiced and elegantly presented.”

FDA Approves Zepbound, a Potent Weight Loss Drug – A Game-Changer in the Fight Against Obesity

The recent decision by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to greenlight the weight loss drug tirzepatide has introduced a robust addition to the rapidly expanding array of obesity medications. The drug, set to be marketed under the name Zepbound, shares its active compound with the diabetes medication Mounjaro, which has been utilized off-label for weight loss since its initial approval in May 2022. This FDA approval may pave the way for broader insurance coverage and increased prescriptions.

Zepbound represents the second drug in a novel class of obesity medications sanctioned for weight loss, following Wegovy. According to Dr. Scott Hagan, an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Washington, Zepbound is likely the most effective treatment for obesity, rivaling bariatric surgery. However, the availability of Mounjaro, which shares the same compound, has been limited since its market introduction in the previous year.

Dr. Andrew Kraftson, a clinical associate professor at Michigan Medicine, likened the situation to the demand surge witnessed with another medication, Ozempic. He anticipates a similar clamor for Zepbound among patients due to the heightened interest in weight loss medications.

The FDA has specified that Zepbound is approved for individuals with a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher, categorizing them as having obesity. Alternatively, individuals with a BMI of 27 or more, coupled with certain weight-related conditions like high blood pressure, are also eligible. Regulators recommend using the drug in conjunction with a reduced-calorie diet and increased physical activity.

Manufactured by Eli Lilly, Zepbound is the brand name for tirzepatide when employed for weight loss. When prescribed for diabetes, it goes by the name Mounjaro. Similar to semaglutide, the compound found in Ozempic and Wegovy, tirzepatide works by slowing down stomach emptying, leading to a quicker and prolonged feeling of fullness. Additionally, these drugs target the brain area that regulates appetite, reducing cravings. Tirzepatide, mimicking two hormones compared to semaglutide’s one, is believed to be more effective in inducing weight loss. In a 72-week clinical trial funded by Eli Lilly, participants with obesity taking the highest dose of tirzepatide experienced an average weight loss of around 18 percent.

For individuals already using Ozempic or Wegovy, the efficacy of these medications can vary from person to person. Dr. Janice Jin Hwang from the University of North Carolina School of Medicine emphasizes that factors like other health outcomes should be considered, especially for those at risk of heart failure or liver disease. The risks and benefits of switching medications need careful evaluation, as some individuals may experience excessive weight loss, particularly older people prone to muscle mass reduction.

The issue of insurance coverage and out-of-pocket costs remains a variable, with different plans potentially covering Zepbound for those meeting the FDA’s criteria. Eli Lilly expects Zepbound to be available in the U.S. by the year-end, with a list price of $1,059.87.

As with any medication, tirzepatide is associated with side effects, primarily gastrointestinal issues according to an Eli Lilly-funded study. The highest dose of tirzepatide resulted in approximately one-third of participants experiencing nausea and one-fifth reporting diarrhea. Other reported side effects included abdominal pain, vomiting, constipation, headache, dizziness, burping, hair loss, and gastroesophageal reflux disease, as outlined in the FDA approval. However, due to the novelty of tirzepatide, its long-term effects are not yet fully understood, and individuals using such drugs for weight loss are generally advised to continue them indefinitely.

FDA Proposes Banning Brominated Vegetable Oil from US Food Products

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has put forward a proposal to discontinue the use of brominated vegetable oil (BVO) as an additive in food products across the nation. This move is in response to concerns about its safety and follows California’s recent ban on BVO, making it the first state in the US to do so. It’s worth noting that BVO is already prohibited in Europe and Japan.

James Jones, the FDA’s deputy commissioner for human foods, stated, “The agency concluded that the intended use of BVO in food is no longer considered safe after the results of studies conducted in collaboration with the National Institutes of Health … found the potential for adverse health effects in humans.”

Brominated vegetable oil is a substance created by modifying vegetable oil with bromine, a pungent, deep red chemical. It is typically used as an emulsifier in citrus-flavored beverages to prevent the separation of flavoring. Bromine is also commonly found in flame retardants.

While BVO is still used in some products, especially in sodas, the number of items containing this additive has decreased over the years due to previous restrictions by the FDA. In the 1970s, the FDA reevaluated BVO and determined that it was no longer “Generally Recognized as Safe,” leading to increased regulation of its use.

Furthermore, market pressure and consumer awareness played a significant role in companies voluntarily removing BVO from their products. A petition in 2012 with over 200,000 signatures highlighted the health concerns associated with this ingredient.

Health Risks Associated with Brominated Vegetable Oil

The Environmental Working Group (EWG), a nonprofit organization focused on consumer health and environmental issues, has identified several health risks linked to BVO. These include damage to the nervous system, headaches, irritation of the skin and mucous membranes, fatigue, loss of muscle coordination, and memory problems. BVO can also accumulate in the body over time.

While the studies that prompted the FDA’s decision were conducted on animals, they revealed negative health effects at levels that closely approximate real-world human exposure. One of the observed harms includes toxic effects on the thyroid gland, which is responsible for producing hormones critical for regulating blood pressure, heart rate, body temperature, and metabolism.

The proposal by the FDA to ban BVO is currently open for public comment until January 17, 2024, and it will undergo a review process before a final decision is made. In the meantime, consumers who wish to avoid BVO in their food products are advised to carefully check ingredient lists before making purchases.

Scott Faber, the senior vice president for government affairs at the EWG, expressed his support for the FDA’s move, stating, “Today’s announcement will ensure everyone has access to products that don’t contain BVO.” James Jones of the FDA emphasized that this proposed ban is a result of the agency’s commitment to monitoring emerging evidence and taking regulatory action when safety concerns arise.

India Bans Rice Shipments to Curb Price Rises

India has banned the product of non-basmati white rice trying to avert approaching homegrown cost spikes. Rice prices have increased by more than 11% over the past year as a result of the country’s crops being damaged by heavy rains.

Non-basmati white grain presently represents about a fourth of India’s rice trades, the Service of Shopper Undertakings said as it declared the strategy change. Specialists cautioned the move could push up worldwide food costs.

Emma Wall, head of investment analysis and research at Hargreaves Lansdown, stated, “It’s fair to say this will have quite an impact on global food prices.”

Following Russia’s withdrawal this week from a deal guaranteeing the safe passage of Ukrainian grain, including wheat, food supplies are already under pressure.

India is the largest rice exporter in the world, shipping more than 40% of all rice shipped worldwide. Non-basmati rice is chiefly traded to nations in Asia and Africa.

Last year, the Indian government forced a 20% commodity duty to attempt to beat unfamiliar deals down. It has additionally restricted wheat and sugar shipments. Be that as it may, trading can be more worthwhile for Indian ranchers than selling locally.

The public authority said that ranchers would in any case have the option to send out different sorts of rice, including long-grain basmati, guaranteeing they “get the advantage of gainful costs in the global market”.

The state will likewise consider solicitations to permit shipments to different nations in view of food security needs, the Directorate General of Unfamiliar Exchange said. The invasion of Ukraine the previous year led to an increase in global food prices.

While those tensions have since facilitated at a global level, in India, terrible weather conditions has harmed crops in numerous northern states, provoking the expense of numerous things – including tomatoes and onions – to pointedly rise.

Vegetable costs hopped 12% from May to June, adding to the increasing cost for many everyday items. Expansion rose to 4.8% last month, which was surprisingly high because of the climbing food costs.

The increasing cost for most everyday items has placed political tension on the public authority in India, in front of public races one year from now. The nation will likewise see state-level races before long.

Expert in Indian agriculture policy Devinder Sharma stated that the government was attempting to foresee a production shortfall, with rice-growing regions in the south also vulnerable to dry rain when the El Nino weather pattern arrives later this year. “The government is taking a very, very precautionary kind of approach,” he said.

Coffee Is More Than Just Caffeine

For some individuals, the day doesn’t begin until their espresso cup is vacant. People drink coffee to wake themselves up and get more done because it is thought to make you feel more alert. Portuguese researchers concentrated on espresso consumers to comprehend whether that attentiveness impact is subject to the properties of caffeine, or whether it’s about the experience of drinking espresso.

“There is a typical assumption that espresso increments readiness and psychomotor working,” said Prof Nuno Sousa of the College of Minho, comparing writer of the concentrate in Wildernesses in Conduct Neuroscience and Field Boss Proofreader of the diary. ” It is possible to investigate the factors that may influence a biological phenomenon and even the potential benefits of that mechanism when you gain a deeper comprehension of the mechanisms that underlie it.

A kickstart with caffeine The researchers sought out individuals who consumed at least one cup of coffee per day and instructed them to avoid caffeine-containing foods and beverages for at least three hours prior to the study. They talked with the members to gather sociodemographic information, and afterward did two brief practical X-ray checks: one preceding and one 30 minutes after either taking caffeine or drinking a normalized mug of espresso. During the useful X-ray checks, the members were approached to unwind and allow their brains to meander.

In light of the realized neurochemical impacts of drinking espresso, the researchers expected that the utilitarian X-ray sweeps would show that individuals who drank espresso had higher joining of organizations that are connected to the prefrontal cortex, related with chief memory, and the default mode organization, associated with thoughtfulness and self-reflection processes. They found that the availability of the default mode network was diminished both subsequent to drinking espresso and in the wake of taking caffeine, which demonstrates that polishing off one or the other caffeine or espresso made individuals more ready to move from laying to chipping away at assignments.

However, coffee consumption also increased connectivity in the right executive control network and the higher visual network, which are brain regions involved in working memory, cognitive control, and goal-directed behavior. Waking up on the right side of the bed This didn’t occur when members just took caffeine. At the end of the day, if you need to feel ready as well as all set, caffeine alone will not do – you really want to encounter some espresso.

“Intense espresso utilization diminished the utilitarian availability between cerebrum locales of the default mode organization, an organization that is related with self-referential cycles when members are very still,” said Dr. Maria Picó-Pérez of Jaume I College, first creator. ” After drinking coffee, functional connectivity between the somatosensory/motor networks and the prefrontal cortex also decreased, whereas connectivity between regions of the higher visual and the right executive control network increased. Simply put, after drinking coffee, the subjects were more alert to external stimuli and ready to act.

“Considering that a portion of the impacts that we found were replicated by caffeine, we could expect other jazzed beverages to share a portion of the impacts,” added Picó-Pérez. ” Notwithstanding, others were explicit for espresso drinking, driven by variables like the specific smell and taste of the beverage, or the mental assumption related with polishing off that beverage.”

The creators brought up that it is conceivable that the experience of drinking espresso without caffeine could cause these advantages: this study couldn’t separate the impacts of the experience alone from the experience joined with the caffeine. This study did not test the hypothesis that the benefits claimed by coffee drinkers could be due to the alleviation of withdrawal symptoms.

“The progressions in network were contemplated during a resting-state grouping. The common function assigned to the regions and networks found is used to interpret any association with psychological and cognitive processes, but it was not directly tested,” Sousa warned. Additionally, it would be interesting to investigate individual differences in caffeine metabolism among participants in the future.

Immigrant Chefs Transform America’s Dining Scene Beyond Major Cities

Chef Nok Chutatip Suntaranon’s culinary journey began in her childhood, growing up in Trang, southern Thailand. She recalls, “I grew up helping my mom making curry paste to sell in her little shop in the market.” Little did she know that her authentic southern Thai cuisine would later make a splash in Philadelphia when she opened Kalaya four years ago.

Despite its bold flavors and spiciness, Kalaya has flourished, expanding from a 35-seat establishment to a spacious, sunlit venue that accommodates up to 300 guests. Suntaranon has also been nominated for the prestigious James Beard Foundation award three times. She believes that the key to her success is staying true to her culinary roots: “Once we present it with authenticity — just like being true to yourself and the flavors, I think people would feel the honesty about it.”

Immigrants have always been central to restaurant kitchens, but now they are gaining recognition at the top tier of the industry. The upcoming James Beard Foundation awards in Chicago feature around 75 finalists competing for chef and baker awards, with more than half being immigrants or children of immigrants.

The awards themselves have evolved to address diversity concerns, reflecting a wider shift in chefs’ culinary choices and diners’ preferences. One example of Suntaranon’s innovative dishes is her bird-shaped dumplings with a flavorful filling made from steamed cod, palm sugar, garlic, shallot, radish, and cilantro.

Even Suntaranon’s mother was amazed at how American diners embraced her daughter’s cooking. “‘Can farang eat spicy?’ And I said, ‘you will be surprised!'”

In response to criticisms over diversity, the James Beard Foundation has reevaluated the purpose of its awards. Dawn Padmore, Vice President of Awards at the foundation, explains that the focus is now on rewarding excellence in various forms. The awards have incorporated an emphasis on racial and gender equity as well as sustainability. Additionally, the voting process has been adjusted to include a more diverse range of voices.

Padmore also attributes the success of immigrant chefs to the growing appetite for diverse cuisine among consumers. Younger chefs, in particular, are more inclined to express their culture and background directly through their culinary creations.

One such chef is Serigne Mbaye, a 29-year-old finalist for Best Emerging Chef at his restaurant Dakar NOLA in New Orleans. Born in Harlem but raised in Senegal, Mbaye has honed his skills in multiple fine dining kitchens before opening his own restaurant, which explores the culinary connections between West Africa and the southern U.S.

He is pleased to see increased recognition for immigrant chefs, especially those from Africa, stating, “People cannot deny our existence, you know? It’s great that it’s happening now. But I think that it should have been happening for years.”

Chef Nok Chutatip Suntaranon’s culinary journey began in her childhood, growing up in Trang, southern Thailand. She recalls, “I grew up helping my mom making curry paste to sell in her little shop in the market.” Little did she know that her authentic southern Thai cuisine would later make a splash in Philadelphia when she opened Kalaya four years ago.

Despite its bold flavors and spiciness, Kalaya has flourished, expanding from a 35-seat establishment to a spacious, sunlit venue that accommodates up to 300 guests. Suntaranon has also been nominated for the prestigious James Beard Foundation award three times. She believes that the key to her success is staying true to her culinary roots: “Once we present it with authenticity — just like being true to yourself and the flavors, I think people would feel the honesty about it.”

Immigrants have always been central to restaurant kitchens, but now they are gaining recognition at the top tier of the industry. The upcoming James Beard Foundation awards in Chicago feature around 75 finalists competing for chef and baker awards, with more than half being immigrants or children of immigrants.

The awards themselves have evolved to address diversity concerns, reflecting a wider shift in chefs’ culinary choices and diners’ preferences. One example of Suntaranon’s innovative dishes is her bird-shaped dumplings with a flavorful filling made from steamed cod, palm sugar, garlic, shallot, radish, and cilantro.

Even Suntaranon’s mother was amazed at how American diners embraced her daughter’s cooking. “‘Can farang eat spicy?’ And I said, ‘you will be surprised!'”

In response to criticisms over diversity, the James Beard Foundation has reevaluated the purpose of its awards. Dawn Padmore, Vice President of Awards at the foundation, explains that the focus is now on rewarding excellence in various forms. The awards have incorporated an emphasis on racial and gender equity as well as sustainability. Additionally, the voting process has been adjusted to include a more diverse range of voices.

Padmore also attributes the success of immigrant chefs to the growing appetite for diverse cuisine among consumers. Younger chefs, in particular, are more inclined to express their culture and background directly through their culinary creations.

One such chef is Serigne Mbaye, a 29-year-old finalist for Best Emerging Chef at his restaurant Dakar NOLA in New Orleans. Born in Harlem but raised in Senegal, Mbaye has honed his skills in multiple fine dining kitchens before opening his own restaurant, which explores the culinary connections between West Africa and the southern U.S. He is pleased to see increased recognition for immigrant chefs, especially those from Africa, stating, “People cannot deny our existence, you know? It’s great that it’s happening now. But I think that it should have been happening for years.”

Indian Cuisine Flavors At Cannes

Indian Chef Prateek Sadhu presented “The Journey of India” at the inaugural dinner of the 76th Cannes Film Festival on May 16, 2023. The dinner which served cuisine blending Indian and French flavors was hosted by India’s Ministry of Information and Technology.

Manushi Chhillar, Academy Award winner Guneet Monga, actress Urvashi Rautela, and Indian director Madhur Bhandarkar attended the dinner hosted by India’s Ministry of Information and Technology.

Sadhu created a menu that emphasized regional nuances of Indian ingredients and flavours. He presented a dialogue of India’s diversity with the menu by incorporating Tungrymbai from the Northeast region to the Millet Thoran, to promote the International Year of Millets. Tungrymbai cuisine hailing from Meghalaya is prepared by smoking and fermenting soybeans. The menu also included Bengali Sandesh, Maharastra’s Chikki, Mysore Pak, Malvani-style Sole Fish, and Potato Koshimbir.

“As a Chef, I believe in the power of food to bring people together and create meaningful connections. This dinner is an opportunity to showcase the best of Indian food and culture to a global audience and to highlight the vibrant culinary traditions of our country,” he said. The event was attended by Miss World 2017 winner Manushi Chhillar, Academy Award winner EducationGuneet Monga, actress Urvashi Rautela, and Indian director Madhur Bhandarkar.

Chef Sadhu, executive and co-owner of Masque restaurant in Mumbai, India, was born in Kashmir in 1986. He enrolled at a hotel management school in India and graduated from The Culinary Institute of America with two gold medals. In 2016, the 37-year-old was awarded “Most Innovative Chef of the Year” by the Western Culinary Association of India. He then bagged the “Chef of the Year” at the Conde Nast Traveller (CNT) Top Restaurant Awards in December 2017.

Indian Food, Tea And Turmeric Lowered Covid Severity, Deaths

Indian diet rich in iron, zinc, and fibre, regular consumption of tea, and use of turmeric in meals lowered severity and death due to Covid in the country, according to a study published in the April edition of the Indian Journal of Medical Research by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).

During the Covid-19 pandemic, the death rate was reportedly 5-8 fold lower in India which is densely populated as compared to lesser-populated western countries.

The study, conducted by an international team of scientists including from India, Brazil, Jordan, Switzerland, and Saudi Arabia, aimed to investigate whether dietary habits were associated with the variations in Covid-19 severity and deaths between Western and Indian population.

“Our results suggest that Indian food components suppress cytokine storm and various other severity-related pathways of Covid-19 and may have a role in lowering severity and death rates from Covid-19 in India as compared to western populations,” said the researchers including from Centre for Genomics and Applied Gene Technology at Institute of Integrative Omics & Applied Biotechnology, in West Bengal, and Policy Center for Biomedical Research at Translational Health Science & Technology Institute in Haryana.

“However, large multi-centered case-control studies are required to support our current findings,” they added. The findings showed that the components of Indian diets, which maintain high iron and zinc concentrations in blood and rich fibre in foods, played a role in preventing carbon dioxide (CO2) and lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-mediated Covid-19 severity.

LPS is a common inflammatory mediator to induce inflammatory processes in the brain.

Further, regular consumption of tea by Indians helped maintain high HDL (high-density lipoprotein), also called “good” cholesterol. The catechins in tea also acted as a natural atorvastatin (a statin medication used to prevent cardiovascular diseases) in lowering triglyceride in blood.

Importantly, they said, regular consumption of turmeric in daily food by Indians led to a strong immunity. The curcumin in turmeric may have prevented pathways and mechanisms associated with SARS-CoV-2 infection and Covid-19 severity and lowered the death rate, said the researchers.

On the other hand, increased consumption of red meat, dairy products and processed foods resulted in an increase in the severity and death due to Covid in the western populations.

These foods “activate cytokine storm-related pathways, intussusceptive angiogenesis, hypercapnia and enhance blood glucose levels due to high contents of sphingolipids, palmitic acid and by-products such as CO2 and LPS” they wrote in the study.

Palmitic acid – the most common saturated fatty acid found in the human body – also induces ACE2 expression and increases the infection rate, the team said.

Coffee and alcohol that are highly consumed in western countries also led to an increase in severity and death rates from Covid-19 by deregulating blood iron, zinc and triglyceride levels.

For the study, the team used blood transcriptomes of severe Covid-19 patients from three western countries (showing high fatality) and two datasets from Indian patients.

Gene set enrichment analyses were performed for pathways, metabolites, nutrients, etc., and compared for Western and Indian samples to identify the food- and nutrient-related factors, which may be associated with Covid-19 severity.A

Data on the daily consumption of twelve key food components across four countries were collected and a correlation between nutrigenomics analyses and per capita daily dietary intake was also investigated. (IANS)

Celebrity Chef Vikas Khanna’s Food Secret: ‘I Eat Like A Puppy’

Celebrity chef and restaurateur Vikas Khanna, who’s now a judge on the reality show, ‘MasterChef India’, shared his fitness secret and what all he includes in diet for his physical and mental well-being.

He said: “I am extremely diet conscious. As I live in New York, I do everything on my own, especially cooking. I plan my meals in advance for the whole week. I eat like a puppy. I eat the same food for breakfast, lunch and dinner.”

Appearing on ‘The Kapil Sharma Show’ along with his fellow judges Ranveer Brar and Garima Arora, he revealed all that he loves to eat the entire day.

“In the morning I eat oats with almond milk and cold coffee. But if I am in Amritsar, then I usually end up eating paranthas as my mother starts emotionally blackmailing me. For lunch, I eat roasted vegetables with less carbs and I often eat dinner early. I try my best to finish it before 9 pm as I believe that we should maintain a gap of three hours between dinner and going to sleep.” The Kapil Sharma Show’ airs on Sony Entertainment Television. (IANS)

Nikita Pathakji Wins Masterchef Professionals 2022

Nikita Pathakji, 25 (24 at the time of filming) has been crowned MasterChef: The Professionals Champion 2022. As the 16th professional chef to earn the esteemed MasterChef: The Professionals title, Nikita takes her place in MasterChef history alongside other outstanding champions: Derek Johnstone; Steve Groves; Claire Lara; Ash Mair, joint winners Keri Moss and Anton Piotrowski; Steven Edwards; Jamie Scott; Mark Stinchcombe; Gary Maclean; Craig Johnston; Laurence Henry; Stu Deeley, Alex Webb and last year’s winner, Dan Lee.

Nikita entered the prestigious competition alongside 31 other professional chefs, all aiming to achieve culinary perfection, cooking her way to the top after six weeks of increasingly demanding challenges. Nikita impressed Michelin-starred Marcus Wareing, acclaimed chef Anna Haugh and seasoned MasterChef judge Gregg Wallace with innovative, memorable dishes inspired from her travels, mainly around Asia. Critics and leading chefs also raved about Nikita and her food, with William Sitwell describing her as “a force to be reckoned with” and Michelin-starred Jun Tanaka said of her octopus starter at Chef’s Table: “You absolutely nailed it. It really took me back to when I was a child in Japan.”

Picture : NY Breaking

Reacting to her win, Nikita said: “This is incredible and I can’t put it into words. It surpasses every achievement of my life. I don’t know how I’m going to top this. This is the peak, I think I’ve reached it!” Marcus Wareing commented: “She’s a chef that has grown right in front of our eyes. Her food has been sublime and she’s always come up with an amazing twist.”

Anna Haugh said: “Nikita is on the road to creating a very unique cuisine. And that is why she’s our champion. As soon as Nikita walked into the kitchen I could see she had class.” Gregg Wallace added: “Nikita is using food that she fell in love with from her own travels around Asia. That chef is completely and utterly in love with the food she’s producing. She opened up the larder of the world and brought us stunning dish after stunning dish.”

In an intense Final Week, Nikita was cooking against exceptional fellow finalists in increasingly tough culinary tasks and had to bring the very best creativity, technique and skill to the table, to outperform them. The challenges this week included the chance of a lifetime to cook for 20 culinary heavyweights at one of the most prestigious and unique cooking events in the country.

Chef’s Table was held this year at the five-star Lanesborough Hotel in London, and the guests, who hold 19 Michelin stars between them, included Matt Abé (3* Restaurant Gordon Ramsay), Nieves Barragan Mohacho (Sabor 1*), Lisa Goodwin-Allen (1* Northcote), Jason Atherton (The Social Company 3*) and the much-loved MasterChef judge and renowned chef patron of Mere, Monica Galetti.

The finalists’ imaginations were also stretched as they were tasked with creating a plate inspired by a food memory, to transport the MasterChef judges to that time or place. Another formidable cooking challenge was to deliver a showstopping dish for a discerning dining room full of some of the UK’s leading food critics – Jay Rayner, William Sitwell, Leyla Kazim, Jimi Famurewa and April Jackson.

With the stakes at an all-time high, tonight’s exhilarating last challenge for the final three professionals was producing the best three courses of their lives, in just three hours. Tasting their way through the final menus, were judges Marcus Wareing, Anna Haugh and Gregg Wallace, who expected nothing less than the finest cookery on show.

Nikita’s winning menu started with Sea Bass cured in a Citrus Dressing, Smoked Aubergine Purée, Spicy Red Pepper Purée with Pomegranate, Preserved Lemon, Parsley Oil and a side of Aubergine Crisps. On tasting the dish, Marcus said: “This sings what you’re all about.”

Inspired by her favourite dish from her time in Thailand – Khao Soi – Nikita’s main course was Crispy Chicken Thighs, Tortellini filled with Chicken, Mushrooms and Coriander and Coriander Oil, topped with handmade Sev, finished with a Coconut Curry Sauce and a side of Crispy Chicken Skin dusted with Chilli Powder, topped with a Mango, Cumin and Onion Purée. Anna told Nikita: “When I’m eating this, I’m excited and delighted. To see you developing a dish like this is remarkable.”

To finish, Nikita served Cardamom and Custard Tart, Apricot poached in Honey Syrup, topped with a Honey Tuile and an Apricot, Honey and Lemon Sorbet, to which Gregg reacted with: “The whole thing is delightful.”

Anna added: “You have changed so much since the beginning of the competition. Now what we see before us is a stronger and incredibly capable chef. I’m incredibly proud of you.”

Derby-born Nikita grew up in a family for whom food was always a focus. She now lives in Clapham, London, with her mum, step-dad, sister and Dexter the dog. Nikita says: “I always cooked with my dad and my mum throws elaborate dinner parties with several courses. She also introduced me to the London food scene, taking me to Michelin-starred restaurants. But I’d never considered it as a career because my family is so academic.”

After her A-levels, instead of going to university to study Chemistry, Nikita decided to follow her passion and embark on cooking career. She trained with Westminster Kingsway College and at the end of her apprenticeship, travelled for nine months around Asia. This journey further awakened her appreciation for local flavours and styles of the region. She says: “Because I travelled, it opened up a whole different world of cuisine. It was amazing.” Although Nikita is classically trained and has worked in Michelin-starred kitchens across London ever since, her own food is heavily influenced by her experiences in Asia.

Talking about her time in the competition, Nikita said: “MasterChef is always something I’ve thought about, but never felt ready for. My family always wanted me to do it, especially mum. So I entered partly just to get her off my case! I decided this was the year because I’m now in a restaurant environment where I’m very comfortable and confident… but that’s dangerous! It was time to push myself that much further. The Chef’s Table was the most intimidating moment of the competition. Cooking for that room of people was such an immense challenge. I felt like I needed a shot of something strong before going out there to receive their feedback. Equally though, it was an amazing experience, and for it to be hosted in the hotel where I first joined this industry was utterly incredible.

“I didn’t let myself dream of getting to this point when I entered. I’ve given everything to this. Sleepless nights is an understatement!” Working as a Chef de Partie at the time of filming (now Junior Sous Chef) at Michelin-starred restaurant Kitchen W8 in London, Nikita is looking ahead: “Next, I’d love to do pop-ups and festivals to cook for as many people as physically possible. It would be brilliant to work alongside the other MasterChef finalists to do bespoke menus and events. My long-term goal is to be a chef-owner of a successful restaurant where I get to cook my own food every day. I’d want to foster a great working environment, much like my current workplace. Championing women in the industry, as well as creating a good work life balance, is so important to me.” (BBC.Com)

The Best Indian Restaurants in New York City

Nearly three years after COVID forced the city that never sleeps to dim its lights, New York’s restaurant scene feels like it’s back to its old self. Many of the beloved classics on this list, like Italian charmer Via Carota, Michelin-starred Le Bernardin, and pizza destination Lucali, can now say they made it to the other side.

And with the addition of outdoor dining, some now have even more seats to welcome guests. There are also new genres of restaurants—like Contento, which works to be truly accessible to all, and the wildly spicy Dhamaka that opened during the pandemic and persevered—establishing themselves as important contenders among the best restaurants in New York City.

With tourism numbers back up, the best tables in the city have once again become highly coveted commodities. Be sure to book them in advance, swing by early, or try your luck at the end of the evening for an open seat at the bar.

The best tables in the city prove that if you can make it here (as a restaurant), you can make it anywhere.

Dhamaka

Restaurateur Roni Mazumdar and chef/partner Chintan Pandya have taken the city’s dining scene by storm in the past few years with a string of openings that, without question, match their company’s name: Unapologetic Indian. Their West Village spot Semma, which recently received a Michelin star, is often rightfully in the spotlight, but Dhamaka is the cool older sibling that has their own thing going on.

Picture : TheUNN

Dhamaka is not a restaurant of restraint, it’s one of abundance and exuberance. Pandya and his team’s cooking looks deep into regional cuisines of India to share dishes we rarely see on menus in the U.S like the restaurant’s acclaimed rabbit dish from Rajasthan, which must be ordered in advance. It’s marinated for 48 hours in spiced yogurt and then slow cooked for hours. There is also doh khleh, a chili-laced pork salad with cilantro and ginger from Meghalaya near Bangladesh and chenna poda, a baked cheese dessert from a state in eastern India below Kolkata. Some dishes like the exceptional goat neck dum biryani, which is served in a pot that’s sealed with a thin flatbread, are larger, so check in with your server about the number of items to order.

MICHELIN Guide’s Point Of View: “This rousing Indian restaurant in Essex Market is refreshingly unapologetic with its complex spices, fierce heat levels and inspired preparations of more unusual items (kidneys, anyone?). Dhamaka, which means “explosion” in Hindi, is a bold love letter to the country’s more rustic dishes, many of which are drawn from the owner’s childhood.

“Where else have you had smoky goat belly flecked with coriander seeds and wrapped in cedar wood? How often does your mutton come in a clay pot filled with a deliciously dark chili oil and an entire bulb of roasted garlic? The kitchen grinds many of its spices daily, and the crowds have been quick to recognize such attention to detail. Tables are comically small but bring friends anyway.

Adda Indian Canteen

New York’s neighborhoods are dotted with Indian takeout spots that serve a rotation of standards like chicken tikka masala and paneer.

Picture : TheUNN

Adda, in Long Island City, Queens is not part of this club. Run by Roni Mazumdar of Rahi and executive chef Chintan Pandya, Adda offers, as they say, “‘unapologetically’ authentic Indian food.” That includes the housemade paneer. There’s also junglee maas, or goat curry, and snacks that come with a fair warning on the menu: “highly addictive.” (Conde Nast Traveller)

Established in 2018.

“Adda, meaning “a place where people hang out,” holds up to its name with its bright, casual atmosphere, collage wall of Indian newspaper covers, and rustic, “unapologetically” authentic Indian food. We at Adda believe that food is a conversation of life and want to recreate that dialogue through our ingredient-focused menu. By evoking hints of their own nostalgia, owner Roni Mazumdar and Chef Chintan have created traditional dishes the way it’s meant to be cooked: with a variety of herbs and spices made in-house while staying true to India. It’s unpretentious and unapologetically Indian. Come with your spice-appreciating friends and join us for a sensational feast!”

Semma, South Indian Cuisine Restaurant In NYC, Earns One Michelin Star

Michelin’s 2022 guide to New York City, has 73-starred restaurants and 17 restaurants were awarded single stars for the first time. South Indian restaurant Semma is one of them.

Semma, a restaurant in New York City’s (NYC) Greenwich Avenue, which has been serving heritage South Indian dishes since October last year has earned its first Michelin Star. It’s the only Indian restaurant in the US with a Michelin star in the year 2022. Michelin’s 2022 guide to NYC, has 73-starred restaurants and 17 restaurants were awarded single stars for the first time. Michelin characterises one star as “High quality cooking, worth a stop!” Unapologetic Foods, the team behind Semma and other popular restaurants such as Dhamaka, Masalawala & Sons and more across NYC, set out on a mission to tell the real story of Indian food. Authentically sharing regions and ingredients with a clear perspective without changing the food for anyone else.

After opening Adda and Dhamaka to immense critical success, the team set out to tell the story of Southern India with Chef Vijay Kumar at the helm. Drawing from Chef Kumar’s rural and ancestral background, they put together a menu that is difficult to find even in India. It reflects the deeply impactful memories of the chef and explores ingredients that break the mould of Indian cuisine across the country — snails just as he used to forage with his grandmother to venison that he used to hunt with his grandfather, tells the story of the forgotten side of India, unapologetically. Chef Vijay Kumar, talks about Semma, the unique experience that it offers, influences in curating the menu, and more.

Picture: Hindustan Times
  1. What is that one experience that the guests at Semma get that makes it so unique?

It’s the closest they can travel to those regions and memories without us compromising anything. They get a taste of the distinct flavour profiles that are embedded in Southern India. The cuisine is from all around South India and particularly from Tamil Nadu. It reflects my childhood memories of growing up in my home town in Tamil Nadu.

  1. Where do you source the ingredients from for creating authentic South Indian dishes?

We source all the best ingredients possible that are sustainable and all the spices are imported from India via vendors.

  1. A Michelin star. What’s next?

Just continue to tell our story by cooking unapologetically. For me, cooking heritage Southern Indian food brings immense pride and just getting the opportunity to do so is exciting. We want to continue to push ourselves to bring the guests as close to our ancestral homes as possible and share a sacred moment together.

  1. How did you go about creating the menu? Were the recipes tweaked for the palates of the patrons in the US?

Most of the dishes on the menu were created based on my childhood memories that I grew up eating. There is absolutely nothing tweaked! We just want to be who we are unapologetically!

  1. What are some of the most popular items on the menu?

Every dish on the menu is popular and much appreciated from our guests, but particularly Gun Powder Dosa, Aattu Kari Sukka (lamb dish), Nathai Pirattal (snails) are very popular. (MSN.COM)

Cocktails To Enjoy At Home

It’s a perfect time to chill at home with your favourite drinks as the rain drizzles in the background as the monsoon season descends upon us in all its majesty. A simple DIY cocktail in your hand is the ideal way to enjoy a quiet rainy day. Let the flavour of the conversation permeate as you sip on these delectable whisky and gin cocktails as everyone chatters away.

Here are some of the best drinks for the monsoon season:

Rich & Restless

INGREDIENTS

60 ml Grant’s Distinction

Pineapple — Parsley oleo — 30 ml

Lemon Juice — 15 ml

Paprika salt — to rim

METHOD

Shake all ingredients over ice, strain in a coupe

Pineapple, parsley oleo: 2 Big chopped pineapples, 500gm sugar, 50-gram parsley

Keep overnight in a covered jar.

Strain

Paprika salt — 1:1 of sweet paprika and salt

Grant’s Distinction can unquestionably create an upscale ambiance thanks to its raisin cake richness that makes it very mixable. Grant’s Distinction, which maintains the family’s “House style,” has a powerful, malty character with delicate fresh fruit flavours that add a special blend of sweet and spicy overtones. In order to cater to a younger generation of Scotch Whiskey drinkers, it is made from the finest malt and grain whiskies, which were personally chosen by master blender Brian Kingsman. Grant’s Distinction is only sold in India and costs Rs 2,500 for 750 ml in Mumbai and Rs 1,200 for 750 ml in Gurugram.

Tropical Green Apple

INGREDIENTS

60 ml Grant’s Triple Wood

22.5 ml Green Apple Syrup

15 ml Fresh Lemon Juice

2 sprigs of thyme

Soda to top

METHOD

Pour in a shaker, muddle thyme a little and shake over ice.

Strain into a high ball glass with ice and top up with soda.

Garnish with a thyme twig and dehydrated apple

In order to provide a smoother, richer, mellower flavour, Grant’s Triple Wood is aged in three different types of wood: virgin oak barrel, which adds a peppery strength; american oak, which adds a subtle vanilla smoothness; and the bourbon refill, which adds a brown sugar sweetness. It boasts rich pear and summer fruit aromas, a lengthy, sweet finish, and a little whiff of smoke. It is offered in a few locations around India and costs Rs 1,950 for 750 ml in Mumbai.

Mighty Mizaru (A version of clarified New York Sour)

INGREDIENTS

60ml Monkey Shoulder

Orange Marmalade — 2 bars spoons

20ml Lime juice

Clarified with 30 ml Milk

Shiraz wine float

METHOD

Combine all the ingredients except wine, then put the mixture of monkey, jam and lime into the milk so that it curdles.

Clarify the mixture using a coffee filter and then batch the mixture.

Pour the mixture in an old-fashioned glass over a block of ice.

Pour red wine over the top to float.

Monkey Shoulder is a versatile, fun-loving, and free-spirited scotch whiskey. It is the ideal 100 per cent malt whiskey for combining due to its richness and vitality, fruity smells, and subtle vanilla undertones. It can be sipped neat, on the rocks, or in various cocktail concoctions. In Mumbai, Monkey Shoulder costs Rs 6,050 for 700 ml and is sold all over the nation.

Hendrick’s Martini

Since its invention sometime in the 19th century, the Martini has slinked across our collective imagination in literature, cinema and song. Here we meet the flavours of gin in a primal pure form. This classic of classic cocktails, this melodious master, is further heightened when it entertains Hendrick’s Gin herself.

INGREDIENTS

50ml Hendrick’s Gin

7ml Dry Vermouth

Cucumber slice

METHOD

Stir vermouth and Hendrick’s Gin over ice cubes in a mixing glass

Strain into a martini glass

Garnish with a cucumber slice

Hendrick’s Gin is a delightful, ultra-premium gin that is created with a variety of unique twists. Hendrick’s mixes a unique blend of eleven botanicals with the signature infusions of cucumber and rose petals to give a flavour that is both strange and pleasantly distinctive. The result is a beautifully refreshing gin with a delightfully distinctive scent. Hendrick’s is the only gin that uses a marriage of spirits from both a Carter head and Bennett Copper Pot Still, a combination that results in a divinely smooth gin that has both the necessary character and balance of subtle flavours. Hendrick’s is handcrafted in Scotland in tiny batches by William Grant & Sons. In Mumbai, Hendrick’s Gin costs Rs 5,000, while in Delhi, it costs Rs 3,995. (IANS)

Samosas Dipped In Chocolate And Strawberry Go Viral

Fusion food and culinary experiments continue to trend on social media. However, some experiments tend to baffle people, who are confused as to how the dish ever came into existence. In one such example, social media users were left bewildered after a video of ‘chocolate and strawberry samosas’ surfaced on the Internet. The 18-second video clip, which shows the savory snack being dipped in chocolate and strawberry, has divided people, with many saying that fusion food combinations had been taken too far now.

Industrialist Harsh Goenka shared the video on his Twitter account, captioning it as “Seeing the lollipop idli circulating in social media was ok, but this one,” ending his post with emojis of horrified faces. The idli popsicles that went viral recently did have several takers, but that can’t be said for the latest fusion food fad to hit the internet. Social media users across the spectrum were left befuddled after watching a viral video that shows samosas dipped in sugary chocolate and strawberry and netizens have reacted to the odd fusion with a mix of cringe and confusion.

Putting his shock into words, industrialist Harsh Goenka tweeted the video with the caption, “Seeing the lollipop idli circulating in social media was ok, but this one.” The video has garnered over 24k views so far. The last one shown is a desi samosa with tandoori paneer stuffing. Clearly not pleased by these attempts at fusion, many took to social media to air their opinions. One user even wrote, “What no cheese? Is this even a legit street food.” The video has garnered over 25,000 views till date. Many social media users were left horrified by the food item, saying that such fusion food items should be banned by law.

Many also said that their hunger vanished on seeing his monstrous combination. However, some people were pleased by the image, calling it “payback” for the viral image of popsicle idlis that was circulating on the Internet a few days ago. Some users also wrote that chocolate samosas were a common feature in the Delhi-NCR region, as several restaurants dedicated to just samosas have sprung up in the area, which also serve varieties such as the ones shown in the video.

This is not the only bizarre food combination that has been doing the rounds of the Internet lately. Recently, the image of popsicle idlis that were being served at a restaurant in Bengaluru divided social media users. While some called the dish innovative, others were less pleased.  Even Congress MP Shashi Tharoor waded into the debate, admitting the concept was “absurd but practical”.

Enormous Benefits Of Basil

Basil scientifically called Ocimum basilicum, and also known as great basil, is a culinary herb from the Lamiaceae (mints) family. A common aromatic herb, it is usually used to add flavor to a variety of recipes, but what may astonish one is that there are various health benefits of basil that make it well-known for its immunity-enhancing properties.

Basil seeds or basil essential oil are proven to help prevent a wide range of health conditions, which makes it one of the most essential medical herbs known today. Basil has vitamin A, C, E, K and Omega 3 components including cooling components too. It also contains minerals like Copper, Calcium, Manganese, Phosphorus, Zinc, and Potassium. An ancient Ayurvedic herb, basil has various proven benefits including being anti-inflammatory, ant-oxidant, immune-booster, pain-reducer, and blood vessel-protector.

This herb also contains cooling components thus making it really helpful for summers. It detoxifies the body and maintains one’s body temperature pace. Adding to the benefits Basil contains antioxidant-rich volatile essential oils, which are considered hydrophobic, meaning they don’t dissolve in water and are light and small enough to travel through the air and the pores within our skin. Basil’s volatile essential oil is something that gives the herb its distinct smell and taste, but basil contains some great healing properties.

In the long history of Ayurveda, basil seeds were also called tukmaria seeds. These seeds may support one’s gut health, may complete one’s fibre quota, reduce blood sugar, help in weight loss, and also reduce cholesterol. There are more than 60 varieties of basil, with sweet basil being one of the most widely used. The herb has rounded leaves that are often pointed. It is a bright green plant, although some varieties have hints of purple or red in their leaves, basil makes a colourful and flavorful addition to many different dishes.

It has been observed that many of the cooks use basil to thicken their dessert instead of using any artificial/ unhealthy powder to do so. Sometimes people are not able to differentiate between Chia seeds and basil seeds, to make it clear basil seeds are different in nature they are larger and a bit duller in their colour. These herbs are used in various recipes as a cooling component in desserts, drinks and fruit juices for refreshment, also beating the summer heat.

For better digestion, weight loss and immune system, I suggest this simple recipe which can be easily made at home:

*Take 2 tsp of Basil seeds (sabja) + Add in 1/2 litre of water +10 mint leaves crushed

*1/2 tsp cinnamon powder + A little bit of sendha salt (pink Himalayan salt)

*Or to make a sweeter version one can add organic honey.

*Mix it well and drink it.

This recipe will help to flush out toxins from our body making it feel light and healthy. (IANS)

Four Mushroom Brown Penne W/ Parmesan & Dill

The one highly nutritious ingredient easy to cook with and loved both by vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike,vegans, paleo vegans, keto-people.. almost everyone alike, is mushroom. It’s a delight to not only to cook with mushrooms, but also to taste and learn about a wide range of edible mushrooms.
How I developed this recipe?
Me and everyone else in my family loves mushroom dishes. Dried shiitake and fresh button mushrooms are always stocked up in my kitchen pantry. I love the kinda chewy texture and umami flavour of mushrooms. Mushroom soups, noodles and pastas are a regular thing in the house during vegetarian diet days.
But most of the time it’s always been one or two kinds of mushroom in a dish. Knowing about the amazing varieties of edible mushrooms and their distinct flavours I wanted to try combining quite a few more types of mushrooms in one of my recipes, and went on with the idea that a pasta would be the best thing to try, for a irresistibly creamy bowl of this perfect cooked umami rich pasta dish would never go wrong.
What’s special about this recipe?
Brown penne- Penne is one of the most popularly loved and widely available pasta variety. But brown penne? Although brown pastas are not preferred by many for their chewier texture and nuttier flavour, this recipe is an exception. It tastes just like white penne once it’s cooked al-dente as you follow the below recipe and stir it up in the rich and yummy pasta sauce. So, there’s no excuse on going healthy this time by switching your white pasta with brown.
Different types of mushrooms- Low in calories and rich in micronutrients, mushrooms are always loved and included in the diet for weight loss, antioxidant-anticancerous properties. It’s also one of the most famous umami-rich vegan substitute for meat. Portobellos for burgers, enoki for ramens, shiitake for soups, button/ porcini for pastas, cremini for risottos are all the widely used types of mushrooms loved for their distinct shapes, flavour and texture. This recipe here uses 4 types of mushrooms that I happened to collect in my pantry and is super delicious.
What you’ll need-
. 1 cup of dry brown penne
. Olive oil- as required
. Salt- as required
. 1/4 teaspoon oregano
. 2 pinches of freshly ground black pepper
. 2 pinches (or more, to make it more hot) of red chilli flakes
. 1 tbsp chopped fresh dill leaves
. 1 tablespoon cold butter
. 1 tablespoon heavy cream
. 1-2 cloves of finely chopped garlic
. 1 tablespoon of chopped shallots
. Half cup of vegetable stock
. 2 tablespoons of white wine (optional)
. One small bay leaf
A handful of button, brown shimeji, shiitake and porcini mushrooms.
. Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
How to make-
Start buy cooking the pasta. Bring 3 cups of water to a rolling boil with half a teaspoon of salt . Drizzle a little olive oil and add the dry pasta. Give it a stir, cover with a lid and reduce the flame to med-low. Cook it covered for 5-8 minutes, or *until your pasta has no white ring in between when bitten into (“al-dente”- perfectly cooked), not over cooked.
Drain the pasta and reserve the pasta water. Give your pasta a cold water bath to avoid sticking together and to firm up your carb a bit before cooking further.
For the sauce, start but sautéing the onions, garlic and bay leaves with a pinch of salt in olive oil until the onions are translucent. Add in the mushrooms and sauté until the mushrooms have sweat enough to reduce in volume. Spice it up with black pepper and red chilli flakes, add oregano and half of the chopped dill. Sauté again, pour in the broth and wine. Bring this to a boil and reduce it into half. Now pour in the reserved pasta water and bring it to a boil as the sauce thickens. Stir in the cream and pasta. Stir well on low heat until the pasta is uniformly coated and the sauce the sauce has reached the desired creamy consistency-this would take 1-3 mins. Season it with salt again-if required. Turn off the flame and stir in the cold butter until it melts and coats the pasta nice and creamy.
Serve you yummy pasta topped with rest of the chopped dill and Parmesan.
Notes, tips and suggestions-
  • -*follow this (starred in instructions) tip for the perfectly boiled pasta each time you a pasta dish.
  • -Feel free to substitute the mushrooms in the above recipe with your favourite mushrooms varieties -cremini, enoki.etc., to enjoy your comfort food better.

Mini Dark Chocolate Fondant for 2 (Dairy-free)

Wanna start your New Year with a guilt-free sweet treat? This yummy chocolate goodness is perfect to satisfy your sweet tooth cravings and is quite easy to make as well!

How I developed this recipe-

There are definitely a lot of chocolate fondant and molten lava cake recipes out there on google and many different cookbooks. But trust me, most of them haven’t come out perfect for me. It was always either overdone or undone, cakey or too gooey ..etc. This one here is a never-fail recipe and once you see the results by yourself, you’ll definitely make  it again.
And yeah, it’s dairy-free as well- that simply means it won’t trigger any inflammatory reactions in any dairy allergic or intolerant or restricted person. But yeah, this is a versatile recipe and you can refer notes for more details.

What’s special about this recipe-

Dairy-free & refined sugar-free: Sugar & Dairy are known to mess up with the hormones and cause acne triggers for many. Considering this, along with the rise in healthy fancy diets for lactose intolerant people, this recipe is a saver for almost everyone in the family to equally enjoy a chocolate dessert.

Real goodness of dark chocolate: Known to be rich in antioxidants and mood boosting properties dark chocolate has a high reputation in today’s world. But most of the time, it’s adulterated by low quality fats and dairy in most desserts. This recipe here preserves the purity and thus the goodness of dark chocolate, so that your chocolate would literally feel yummy in the tummy.

What you’ll need-

70 g good quality dark chocolate (* I used Van houten)
50g vegetable oil (preferably avocado/coconut or neutral oils like sunflower or canola. * I used avocado oil)
1/6 cups brown sugar (half of 1/3 cup)
1 large egg
1 egg yolk
Half a tablespoon of vanilla extract
1 tablespoon of white flour
Oil & cocoa powder for greasing & dusting pots, respectively

How to make-

Preheat the oven to 200 degree Celsius. Grease and dust 2 ceramic ramekins or mini oven-proof pudding bowls with oil and cocoa powder respectively.

Combine chocolate & oil in a bowl and melt it in the microwave in 30-second increments, stirring after each 30-seconds until fully combined.
Stir in the eggs and beat until even combined & gloppy. Now mix in vanilla and finally the white flour.

Pour this chocolate mixture into the prepared ramekins and bake for 10 to 13 minutes, just until the sides are little puffed up, whereas the centre is still moist and gooey.

Take it out from the oven and flip it onto the serving plate after cooling for not more than 30 seconds.

Notes, Tips and Suggestions-

. You could you either use 70 % dark chocolate chips or your favourite dark chocolate bar leftovers (chopped up) for this recipe.

. It’s best served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and fresh berries. Also dust your mini dessert with snow sugar (powdered/icing sugar) before serving to make it look more appealing.

. If not preferring to go dairy-free, you could make this dessert the traditional way by substituting the same amount of oil with butter in the recipe.

. Baking for longer time could result in a cakier chocolate dessert rather than a molten chocolate centre, which is undesirable.

Thanks,
Certina Romel

Pretty Raspberry & White Chocolate Swirl Log

Hello peeps!

Got some fresh raspberries from your local store and wondering what to do with them?

Ditch your weekday super berry smoothies.

It’s time for a cheat sweet treat for this weekend. I’ve come up with a fancy dessert this time. Enjoy this with your family & friends. I’m sure you’ll be surprised with the compliments you are going to receive for this lovely treat that could satisfy your sweet tooth cravings.

What makes this recipe special?

. A combination of berries and chocolate is the best when you want your dessert to standout.

. This recipe is easy when it comes to how lovely the final dessert roll turns out to be- it’s not your boring Swiss roll guys!

. No store bought sponge rolls with additives like preservatives & emulsifers tastes as good & wholesome as this vanilla sponge sheet in this recipe.

How did I develope this recipe?

This recipe is basically my favourite vanilla sponge sheet recipe + easiest cream less white chocolate  firm ganache recipe + fresh cream raspberry filling.

I developed this recipe out of my husband’s craving for a white chocolate raspberry cake. But I didn’t want to make the usual boring raspberry cake with white chocolate & buttercream filling as that’s what everyone would go for when they are given these 2 key ingredients or could be a cookie / pannacotta to the farthest for us home cooks.

This recipe here, uses less cream, sugar and butter, it’s delicious and best for a dessert that doesn’t go too far with fat & carbs. And so, this is the kind of sweet indulgence  I would offer my family and now, from me to you

What you’ll need-

Basic Vanilla Sponge Cake Roll-

. 100 g sifted cake flour

. 100 g castor sugar

. 4 eggs (yolks & whites seperated

. 1/4 tsp cream of taster or white vinegar

. 1/2 tbsp vegetable oil (any flavourless oil like canola/sunflower)

. 1/2 tsp Vanilla extract

White Chocolate Rasberry Cream Filling –

. 100g chopped white chocolate

. 125g fresh raspberries

. 125 ml heavy cream

. 2 tablespoons unsalted butter ,at room temperature

White Chocolate Ganache frosting (firm finish)-

. 100g white chocolate

. 100g butter, at room temperature

. Half tablespoon milk (if needed to loosen up)

How to make-

For frosting

  • Melt white chocolate & butter on a water batch (double boil method), stirring constantly until white chocolate is just melted & well incorporated.
  • Let it cool down & refrigerate after cling wrapping for a minimum of 2 hrs.Make it a day ahead and refrigerate overnight if you choose to.

Cake sheet roll-

  • Preheat oven to 230 degree Celsius . Grease & line a sheet cake pan with parchment paper.
  • Beat egg whites with cream of tartar trill foamy. Add in sugar little by little untill well incorporated and soft peaks are formed.
  • On low speed, stir in egg yolks & vanilla too.
  • Gently fold in sifted cake flour little by little and end by folding in vegetable oil, all with a spatula.
  • Pour the cake batter evenly onto the lined pan & bake for 7-8 minutes until it springs back.
  • When done, cover & flip onto a damp cloth & it up when keeping it moist & to avoid cracking.

Filling

  • Mash up the fresh raspberries and cook for 6-10 minutes in a saucepan pan. Then strain out the seeds from this purée.
  • Melt chocolate with the cream in a Microwave for 30-40 seconds & stir well to incorporate the cream every 20 seconds & set aside to cool.
  • Add butter to the above & mix well. Stir in the raspberry purée & whisk well
  • Refrigerate after clingwrapping.

Laying & mounting-

  • Unroll ,Remove parchment paper& cloth, trim-up the sponge sheet & spread a good amount of the prepared filling on it. Roll back tightly.
  • Clinwrap the entire sponge cream roll and refrigerate for 20-30 minutes to firm up.
  • Whisk up the chilled frosting mix using a hand/stand mixer (adding half tablespoons milk- if necessary) until fluffy.
  • Spread it evenly onto the cake roll & run a fork several times on the ganache to create a pattern pf vertical lines
  • Sprinkle chopped pistachios and decorate with raspberries on top.
  • Cut into circle slices& serve after refrigeration.

Notes & tips-

If you don’t have cake flour & all you have at home is All- purpose flour, Mix all – purpose flour to cornstarch in the ratio of 7:1. ie., 14 tablespoons of all- purpose flour + 2 tablespoons cornstarch for 1 cup (16 tablespoons) of cake flour – DIY cake flour !

. You can add in your favourite raspberry / strawberry jam instead of raspberry purée , if you can’t get fresh raspberries.

. You can use butterscotched (praline) nut bits instead of pistachios if you prefer.

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