Category Archives: Uncategorized

Shokupan/ aka Hokkaido milk bun

There is a kind of pull apart bread we eat in Mumbai / Bombay called pav .this recipe doesn’t taste anything like that.

What the$#@&-++, you must be thinking , why bother mentioning it then . because the Hokkaido milk bun hmb for short looks like pav ladi we get in India but tastes far better and is akin to a pav wearing foundation and make up sitting in a fancy car.

So the way to make it is also diffferent slightly more complex. We take a small amount of flour and milk and cook it to a paste. What this does is allow the rest of the dough when finished to get more soft and fluffy.( Because of complex chemical reactions..,you dont want to know all the details.

  • Flour 450+50 g
  • Milk 225+100 ml
  • Sugar 10 g
  • Salt-10 g
  • Yeast active dry-10 g

so now once we have weighed our stuff ,we measure out flour and take 50 g separate and cook it with 100 ml milk till it gets to be like a gel and gluey. This is called Yudane in Japan and tangzhong in china.we are not going to sit and examine which one came first or why they even work. Suffice it to say that they do.

Then you add the rest of the liquid ( milk ) in this case to the gluey mix and whisk it up .cool it till gets blood warm then add the sugar salt flour and yeast in that order.dont change the order otherwise you could kill the yeast.Also don’t put in yeast in hot dough which also is the way of the seppuku( honorable suicide ), because yeast will die above 50 odd degree and you will be left with a stone to pelt at your enemies .Bam blam..whiz..

Add 20 g of butter and 20 ml oil to dough and knead it in

Ok so we have arrived at that happy moment where the dough has been amalgamated and yeast is ready to multiply and make CO2 to make holes and allow your dough to rise. For this at home what I do is heat up water in the microwave and keep the dough next to it .( In a bowl).

Then preheat your oven to 190 deg C…the USA guys have to do a google search to find out what temp they need to achieve. Ok sorry it’s about 425 F.

Then the big piece of dough you knock back or de gas and divide into 20 pieces ..

Shape them into round balls and elongate them slightly.

Put back in the microwave with water till they get nicely proofed.

Then brush with milk and melted butter butter and bake for approximately 15-18 mins

The care and maintenance of knives and other sharp cutting tools.

If you have reached this stage , you must’ve realised by now that you want to be here and cooking good stuff .Now for that to happen you need good cutting implements like knives ,and these need to be sharpened.

Most folk don’t or go the expensive route of using a knife shop which could be ok if they are nice guys like Shannon at house of knives .

These guys have been around for many many years and ive only known Shannon since 2010, but hes a top guy and will give you good advise regarding knives and sharpening. For the high end sharpening i dont bother about it and just take them to his workshop, which sits behind and below their shop around the back.

They are located at 24, Mt Eden road, Auckland .New Zealand.…09-3022980, but then i know the number by heart.

i go to the shop so often that everyone knows me and once in a while ill drop off some goodies for them to quality control with their tastebuds.

so if you see the video above, it gives you a pretty good idea about what needs to get done..

Dal makhani aka coronary heart disease in a bowl

Dal makhani means lentils with butter literally, what it is really is these black lentils traditionally cooked overnight slowly on a tandoor oven.

i know at this stage some of you are going to walk away because it’s not everyone who has a tandoori oven tucked away in their garden or worse Kitchen..So I’ve come with a sort of compromise which will work for most homes sans monster clay oven. We will require however a thick bottomed pot or the quintessential staple of an Indian kitchen ,the pressure cooker, which should be used the world over really. Saves time and gas /power which means a cleaner earth for future generations.

We also will make modified recipe because the traditional one would be cooked with lentil 1 kg+ butter 1 kg+cream 1 kg. Since we don’t want to kill you so quickly..and lose on potential ad revenue from Google, we make a lighter version ,which is just as tasty but lighter .Having said that this is still a rich winter food and you should stop at one bowl.

time to take a break and go do more important stuff.

ok back after a bit so what we need is

  • Black urad dal whole- 250 g( that’s plenty for about 10 people, but the time spent on making it makes it easier to make a large batch and then freeze. Wash really well and soak overnight , do actually is a 48 hr process.dont worry we have a short 24 hrs later bring it to a boil and skim the scum till no black / brown stuff is floating on top. From here on gets interesting , U could slow cook if you have a tandoor or wood burner in your house. Otherwise put the lentil/ dal in a pressure cooker with adequate water about 20 ml oil/ 1T .Add 2 T /30 g ginger and garlic paste ,1/2 T coriander pdr, pinch cumin powder and 1/2 t of bright red chilli powder,not very hot one. Then cook till it gets really mushy/4-5 whistles on low heat.
  • Then in a separate pot , take 1 T oil heat ,add 1/4 t cumin seeds and then about 2 cloves of garlic thinly sliced.Add also about half an onion very finely chopped and saute till lightly translucent.then add about 1T of good tomato paste or about 3T of tomato puree. Add the cooked lentil/dal and slowly simmer .
  • Add a largeish pinch of kasoori methi( these are fenugreek leaves dried ,which I toast and grind to a powder, makes them easier to blend). It’s not exact but you put too much it gets too bitter but gives a nice flavour for want of better words( no smoky peaty , chalky undertones here , most of that takes years to understand and comprehend quite a bit is just pretentious BS)
  • I also add some Julienne of ginger ( gives a bit of texture and also healthy).
  • Now important part , when this thing is simmering U cannot do too much multi tasking , otherwise it’s going to stick and burn. Pop in about 25 g if butter and cream about 100 ml.
  • Eat in miniscule quantities( have a heart ) because it’s quite rich remember though we have put in only a 1/3 Rd of the butter and half the cream of what can go in.

Shawarma like Habibi Ibrahim Hadla..well almost

I first ate shawarma or kebab/ doner as it is also called in Dubai ,in 2000 when I’d moved from Madras ( yeah was still called Madras then).There were a few places which used to sell Shawarma and the better amongst them was the Lebanese village / bistro , which unfortunately no longer exists . So for those who don’t know the Shawarma has come from the Ottoman Empire and each country from the Levant region proclaims that their version makes the bestest version.

So we have lots of chicken / layered with the skin on on a vertical spit/ thick skewer which either slowly rotates or is rotated by hand so each side gets heated and then is sliced of so you get thin slices of cripsy ( no it’s not a typo)chicken and some soft bits ..which then goes in a warm pita bread/ khaboos which is like a wrap but better tasting , a smear of garlic sauce( toom), sliced tomato( panadura in Arabic ), some mint( Nana), some pickled cucumber or pink turnips( don’t ask me why pink, they use beets apparently), and soggy french fries,

Chicken boneless skin on 1kg..this is important, we need the fat from the skin to melt out and keep the meat juicy.if you can get only legs that’s even better, they can stay better with the intense heat..

White vinegar 50ml

Orange juice from 1orange

Allspice powder-1tsp

Clove powder Pinch.

Cinnamon powder -1tsp

Chopped garlic/paste-25gm


Sliced raw onion 100gm

Green cardamom 2-3

Chicken stock powder 2gm

Olive oil-20mlSh

  • Mix all marinade ingredients and bash the chicken a bit to make all the ingredients penetrate better . In any case it needs to sit for a few days to to make it better..the vinegar almost half cooks the most of the levantine countries they use a spice mix called Baharat shawarma, but you are better off making your own.
  • Next keep in the fridge well covered otherwise everything is going to smell of the spices and stuff.
  • Fast forward to day 3.. if you are stressed for time , atleast keep it overnight . Cook in the oven with a roasting pan lined with baking paper ( listen to me, it makes clean up simpler). Temp 200 C for 20-.move it around after about 15 mins ..and allow to rest in oven after turning it off.
  • then shred it up when cooler and roll up in the pita ( you can make your own, if you are slightly cuckoo like me), or go help your brother in need buy buying his pita bread in the packet , with all the paraphernalia i mentioned before..

Biscotti be like Tutto E bene

I had never ever heard of a biscotti till quite late .It was when we went to our flagship hotel in Jaipur called Rajvilas, a hotel which was built be of a palatial kind of opulence and luxury which was unimaginable at the time circa 1997

quite a bit later in maybe 2011 when I was in NZ teaching Culinary arts/ cookery at Whitireia Polytechnic ,in Auckland I introduced this to teach my students something which can be eaten as a biscuit ( cooked twice – that’s what the name implies).

Eggs 2 ea
.vanilla essence 2 ml
Orange flower water 1 ml
Plain flour 150 g
Almond powder 50 g
Baking powder 3 g
Orange or mandarin zest – 1
Cocoa nibs 20 g, don’t worry if you don’t have them..
Almond or cashew or pistachios if U are feeling rich – 50 g soak in warm water for about 5 mins.this is so when these are baked they are fairly easy to slice .
Whisk eggs and sugar and the 2 essences .
Sieve or mix well the flour ,baking powder and almond powder .
Add zest and nuts (nibs )and mix all the things together.easy peasy.
Form a log and bake at 160-175 c 15- 18mins.
Cool down and freeze for long term storage or
Cool down and slice thin, use a serrated bread knife for the job .(My favourite one is the Fdick one ,which I used to get from House of knives in Auckland. Go pay them a visit someday .The Fdick range of knives is awesome and Shannon one of main man there is very knowledgeable about knives .He will be able sort you out.)
Back to our biscotti which need the second baking to finish the job and be crunchy and very moreish.

Bake at 165 c for 12-15 mins.I love these as a crisp garnish for a dessert or a snack when you don’t want something very sweet