A perfect neighbourhood cafe for a sunday brunch – A Cafe

I remember the time I used to stay in Brookefields, Bangalore; and go to the neighbourhood chain cafe for my weekend dose of alone time with a good cup of coffee and my beloved books. I used to love that one hour to myself, to just sit in a quiet corner and spend some quality time with myself. However, humans are not humans if they do not wish for more. So there I used to be, sitting in that cafe, with a cup of coffee I cannot really complain about and a lovely book, looking outside the overtly air conditioned room, hoping to be in a better place.

How could it be better you ask? Well, it could be.

To start with, it could be outdoors, with not too much traffic noise and nice greenery. It could be smaller, to give it that neighbourhood cafe feel. You know what I mean right, the kind of cafe where you go once a week and the owner recognizes you and brings you your usual (Chain cafes can never be like that, plus, they are not expected to be).

Then, they could have more than ten kinds of coffees to talk about. I am not asking for too much, cut those coffees to down to basic cappuccinos, lattes and americanos and add some fresh sandwiches, salads and waffles. A small yet inviting menu.

And most important, it could have staff that does not keep hovering around you . You can actually read your book there and not worry about the background music being too loud. You can take those mid para breaks and stare at the lovely planters while taking a sip of that fresh watermelon juice. You can overdo your stay beyond that one black coffee without being bullied to leave (obviously when there is no waiting). And I can go and on and on.

And believe it or not, I found that place! Right next to my newly shifted house! The place is as low key as its name – A Cafe. Yes, that’s what its called. Its perfect! Its a simple setup with some really good comfort food and a perfect ambience for some ‘me time’. Me and my husband are there pretty much every Sunday. We carry our respective indulgences. Me my book, and he his Ipad. And, we spend a good one hour there having some non tampered fresh watermelon juice, an amazing refreshing sandwich ( I usually go with Mediterranean Sandwich or Scrabbled egg and basil sandwich) or a simple omelette and end it with a perfect black coffee.

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Watermelon Juice & Banana Chocolate smoothie

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The refreshing sandwiches & Omelettes

I kid you not, I do not want it to become famous, because its my neighbourhood cafe and I want it to remain the same; but it would be unfair to not let the world know about it. So go visit the lovely ‘A Cafe’ if you are in the neighbourhood sometime and experience what I experience every Sunday morning!

Location: 11, 7th Cross, 3rd Block Koramangala, Near Raheja residency, Koramangala 3rd Block, Bangalore

Is it a bread? Or is it a cake? Banana loaf – A little bit of both!

Every time dad is in town, there is always an excitement towards baking! He, like me, loves food. He however, loves when I bake more. We both have a crazy sweet tooth, and baking at home at least lets us keep a tab on what ingredients are being used.

So last weekend I tried to bake something a little different from a usual cake. I tried my hands on a Banana Loaf. Before I tell you more about the recipe, something you should know – Its not a bread. There is no yeast involvement. And its easy! really easy!

Banana Loaf, I think gets its name mainly because its baked in a loaf pan. Its ends up into this mildly sweet loaf with a subtle banana flavour. It once baked, can be used like a bread for your breakfast. Cut a slice. Toast it. Put some nutella or peanut butter. And there… perfect breakfast.

I found a lot of recipes online. But I twisted it a lot for my loaf. I tried to make it as healthy as possible

Ingredients –

1 cup all purpose flour

1 cup whole wheat flour (I think you can make both the cups whole wheat flour too, but I did not want to take the risk of getting a very dense loaf)

1/2 cup unsalted butter (most recipes ask for 3/4 cup of butter, I think you can work with even lesser than 1/2)

1/2 cup brown sugar (Again, something which depends on your taste, I did not want the loaf to be too sweet)

2 eggs

2 big ripe bananas – mashed (the more ripe, the better)

1tsp baking soda (no baking powder needed!)

1/2tsp salt

A little bit of milk (this is for thinning the batter if its too stiff. this also makes the loaf softer)

The recipe is pretty simple:

– Preheat the oven at 175 degree celcius. I worked with a 9×5 loaf pan. Worked perfectly for the above mentioned quantities. Do remember to grease the pan. Otherwise you might have to scoop out your loaf!

– Mix up all the dry ingredients together

– Cream the butter and Sugar, Add eggs, and then the mashed banana.

– Mix the dry and wet ingredients. If the batter is too thick, add a little milk

– All the batter goes into the loaf pan, and then into the preheated oven.

– And this where your patience gets tested. It takes 60-65 minutes for this loaf to be made. The lesser number of times you open the oven to see the status, the better. It will take this much time to cook fully.

– After around 60 minutes, put a knife into the loaf to see if its cooked through. People ask you to put a toothpick. but I prefer a knife as it can go all the way till the bottom. If it comes out clean – your loaf is ready!

Let it cool for a while before you attempt to take it out of the pan. If the pan was greased properly, this should be an extremely easy task.

And there you go! Here is your pretty tasty yet decently healthy Banana loaf:

Banana Loaf

Banana Loaf

Pretty ain’t it? It tasted awesome too. I am going to add things like chocolate shavings or nuts the next time I attempt making this. I think it will work beautifully!

Back to baking… Oreo Cheesecake cupcakes anyone?

After a long sabbatical from baking (for no genuine reason) I finally baked again yesterday. I needed something new yet simple to get me back in the flow. So, I hunted for lots and lots of recipes, and finally stumbled on this one:

Oreo Cheesecake Cupcakes with Chocolate Ganache

I have never baked a cheesecake before. Mainly because finding the ingredients for cheesecake in Bangalore is rather difficult. Especially a good quality cream cheese and sour cream. However, in my last visit to 1MG food hall, I managed to pick up 200gms of cream cheese.

As I browsed through the recipe, I looked for the catch. Its too easy for some reason. In any case, I gave it a shot. And, this cupcake has to be in my list of best bakes! Barely any prep, a 20 minute visit to the oven and there you go – Oreo Cheesecake cupcakes are ready!

I did not make the ganache, as I was worried about its sweetness. I also baked just 6 cupcakes for the first attempt. Mind you – these 6 cupcakes took up the entire 200gms of cream cheese! heavy stuff I say.

Another plus of this recipe – No need to flour, baking powder etc. This is a 5 ingredient recipe. I adjusted the ingredients a little because of limited stock in my pantry. this is what I used :

Ingredients:

– Oreos – 10 (6 for lining, 4 for batter)

– 200gm cream cheese

– 1 medium egg white

– 1/3rd cup of caster sugar

– Pinch of salt

Pretty much followed the recipe to the point. I think I over-whipped the batter a little as even after 25 minutes my cupcakes did not look set, but post bringing them to room temperature, I just popped them into the fridge for a few hours, and they were set just perfectly.

These cupcakes are addictive. They melt in your mouth. The base oreo gives the perfect chocolate cake crust feel to the cupcake. And the cream cheese and crushed oreo combination is just brilliant! Try them! I mean it.Try them!

Oreo Cheesecake Cupcakes

Oreo Cheesecake Cupcakes

Take a Chill Pill… At Big Chill!

Most of the people who know me, know how much I love Italian food.  A well cooked Pasta… An overloaded thin crust pizza… The perfect bruschetta… Lots and lots of olive oil… and not to forget the unbelievably awesome desserts…what’s not to like?

So, lets take a step back… where did this love begin? It began in Delhi.. In our very own Khan Market… At Big Chill! If you are in Delhi, or have lived there for a considerable amount of time, you know what I am talking about.

Big Chill is this monument of a place which makes you fall in love with everything they serve. They have many outlets in Delhi now. They keep their theme same and simple everywhere. Low key, and lots and lots of movie posters! Mostly you’ll see young crowd here. But, trust me, it really doesn’t matter… You want good hearty food?… Head to Big Chill!

I’ve tried quite a few dishes there. Here are a few of them from my last visits:

The Milkshakes

The Milkshakes

The thirst quenching and super delicious chocolate Milk shake! Not too rich, just right to accompany a meal.

The thin crust  pizzas!

The thin crust pizzas!

The pizzas there are all thin crust and have a generous amount of topping! I usually top it up with a generous helping for oregano and olive oil! Lip smacking stuff!

The Scrumptious pastas

The Scrumptious pastas

And of course the pasta! The picture says it all now, doesn’t it? Pasta cooked just right… with generous amount of sauce! Happiness follows!

And how can we forget the desserts? I was introduced to this wonderful dessert right here in Big Chill Café :

THE Mississippi Mud Pie!

THE Mississippi Mud Pie!

The legendary Mississippi Mud Pie… Melt in mouth, chocolaty dessert which makes a heavy yet perfect end to a meal.

And then there is the Banoffee Pie. Now I am not a big fan of banana in desserts. However, this one Banoffee pie is not only tolerable, but makes a pretty delicious dessert

Banofee Pie

Banofee Pie

So there you have it. Big Chill. A little pricey specially for the customer segment they attract. But worth it! Italian cuisine amateurs should definitely try it out!

Big Chill – Multiple locations in Delhi – Khan Market, DLF Place Mall – Saket, DLF Promenade

Desserts on my mind… Oh wait… Desserts that blew my mind!!

I am sure all of you agree with me when I say – A below average meal can recover itself if ended by an amazing dessert… right?

Over the past few years, my journey of exploring restaurants and cuisines in Bangalore has brought some fabulous desserts to my notice. In no specific order, Let me present to you some of my precious finds:

1. Light as air waffles – At BelgYum

Waffle love!

Waffle love!

Strawberries… whipped cream… chocolate sauce… beautifully resting on the perfect waffle. One bite, and you float… seriously!

BelgYum – Phoenix Market City, Bangalore, India

2. The super delicate and rich as crazy Mille – Feuille at Café Noir

Mille Feuille

Mille Feuille

This dessert looks like a piece of art in itself. Attempts to share it can be quite tedious! Amazing combination vanilla, custard, chocolate and pastry… this dessert can serve as a meal in itself… And oh so divine!!

Café Noir – Phoenix Market City/UB City

3. The light and creamy Philadelphia Cheese Cake at Smokehouse Deli

The Phily cheescake

The Phily cheescake

The beauty of this desserts presentation sets standards for its taste pretty high in the first go. And trust me when I say it – It lives upto it! This melt in mouth cheese cake is a must have!

Smokehouse Deli – Indiranagar

4. A cupcake… or two!… At Spoonful of Sugar!

Cupcakes... or two?

Cupcakes… or two?

These little cupcakes are the reason I learnt how to bake. The best buttercream icing ever! Team them with a good coffee, and your evening is set!

Spoonful of Sugar – Indiranagar/Kormangala

5. Belgium chocolate used the way it was meant to be! – Belgium chocolate pastry at Crème and Crust

Belgium Chocolate!!

Belgium Chocolate!!

Want to know what being in dessert coma feels like? Have this!! I mean it! Move! Now!!

Cream and Crust – Indiranagar

6. The classic combination of vanilla ice cream with Chocolate… Bomb! At Chianti!

Chocolate Bomb at Chianti

Chocolate Bomb at Chianti

Or for that matter… at Shiros

Chocolate Bomb at Shiros

Chocolate Bomb at Shiros

Absolutely brilliant dessert… in every way possible!

Chianti – Indiranagar/Kormangala

Shiros – UB City

I am sure there are many more desserts which are missing in this list… I will keep adding them to make an insane dessert list here! 🙂