Honesty Is The Star Ingredient In Pooja Dhingra’s New Book

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“To try ghee chakli with melted chocolate. The combo tastes like churros, ”said Pooja Dhingra, Founder and CEO of Le15 Patisserie, at the launch event for her new cookbook. Go home. The offhand statement from one of India’s most renowned pastry chefs may sound blasphemous, but it isn’t. The idea is to experiment and have fun, whether you’re cooking or writing a cookbook. She added, “Some of the most popular foods (potato chips, ice cream cones and chocolate chip cookies) were discovered accidentally. So I always tell my bosses: “Make a lot of mistakes; you will never know what you will find.

Dhingra was bursting with positivity and optimism when her book launched last week in Mumbai. Here’s a chef who about a year ago had to shut down his beloved Le15 cafe when dinner was cut short due to the pandemic. It was a childhood dream and the decision to shut it down for good was devastating. For days, she stayed withdrawn and watched shows excessively. During this time, she started to tinker in the kitchen of her house and did some baking to calm herself down. This made her understand why she had decided to pursue a career as a professional pastry chef. It was not a question of drawing up balance sheets – although she is a savvy businesswoman – but of cooking for sheer pleasure. So, she baked cakes and cookies for comfort and recreated recipes from memory, while simultaneously documenting them in an aptly named book. Go home.

“This is my most personal book where I am the most vulnerable. It took a lot of courage, but it was something I really needed to do. The book took a year to complete. I had set a deadline which allowed me to continue, ”explains Dhingra. One of the most rewarding experiences was having the preface written by your favorite chef, Pierre Hermé, nicknamed the “Picasso of Pastry”. “I don’t think Le15 or my macaroon obsession would have existed without Pierre Hermé and receiving the preface on my birthday (in August) was the best gift I could have asked for!

The book is divided into four segments – Nostalgia, Lazy Baking, For The Soul, and Celebrations – with simple sweet and savory recipes. Most of them are egg-free, made with pantry basics, and each recipe is preceded by a personal anecdote. The nostalgia section has recipes like it by nani Gajar ka Halwa, Flapjacks that she baked from Tarla Dalal’s cookbook as a kid and a sticky caramel cake because as a young girl she thought it was a fancy dessert. Honesty is palpable and it is perhaps the star ingredient of the cookbook.

Here is a recipe from the Lazy Baking segment, taken from Go home.


“To try ghee chakli with melted chocolate. The combo tastes like churros, ”said Pooja Dhingra, Founder and CEO of Le15 Patisserie, at the launch event for her new cookbook. Go home. The offhand statement from one of India’s most renowned pastry chefs may sound blasphemous, but it isn’t. The idea is to experiment and have fun, whether you’re cooking or writing a cookbook. She added, “Some of the most popular foods (potato chips, ice cream cones and chocolate chip cookies) were discovered accidentally. So I always tell my bosses: “Make a lot of mistakes; you will never know what you will find.

Dhingra was bursting with positivity and optimism when her book launched last week in Mumbai. Here’s a chef who about a year ago had to shut down his beloved Le15 cafe when dinner was cut short due to the pandemic. It was a childhood dream and the decision to shut it down for good was devastating. For days, she stayed withdrawn and watched shows excessively. During this time, she started to tinker in the kitchen of her house and did some baking to calm herself down. It made her understand why she had decided to pursue a career as a professional baker. It was not a question of drawing up balance sheets – although she is a shrewd businesswoman – but of baking for sheer pleasure. So, she baked cakes and cookies for comfort and recreated recipes from memory, while simultaneously documenting them in an aptly named book. Go home.

“This is my most personal book where I am the most vulnerable. It took a lot of courage, but it was something I really needed to do. The book took a year to complete. I had set a deadline which allowed me to continue, ”explains Dhingra. One of the most rewarding experiences was having the preface written by your favorite chef, Pierre Hermé, nicknamed the “Picasso de la Pâtisserie”. “I don’t think Le15 or my macaroon obsession would have existed without Pierre Hermé and receiving the preface on my birthday (in August) was the best gift I could have asked for!

The book is divided into four segments – Nostalgia, Lazy Baking, For The Soul, and Celebrations – with simple sweet and savory recipes. Most of them are egg-free, made with pantry basics, and each recipe is preceded by a personal anecdote. The nostalgia section has recipes like it by nani Gajar ka Halwa, Flapjacks that she baked from Tarla Dalal’s cookbook as a kid and a sticky caramel cake because as a young girl she thought it was a fancy dessert. Honesty is palpable and it is perhaps the star ingredient of the cookbook.

Here is a recipe from the Lazy Baking segment, taken from Go home.

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Lemon and chilli cookies
Makes: 40-45 mini cookies

Ingredients
160g flour
Cold butter, cubed 100 g
Icing sugar 40 g
Lemon juice 2 teaspoons
Chili juice 1 ½ teaspoon

In a bowl, combine the flour and sugar. Add cubes of cold butter and use your fingers to mix everything together. Add the lemon and chilli juice to the batter and mix well. Cool the dough for 20 minutes. Preheat the oven to 165 C and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Roll out the dough between sheets of baking paper to a thickness of 5 mm. Cut slices using a 3 cm cookie cutter and place them on the baking sheet lined with baking paper. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until golden brown.


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