My earliest memory of being in the kitchen is when I would cook for my family. They really liked the kind of food I made and would often tell me to pursue a career in the culinary industry.

Even at a young age, I enjoyed experimenting. I would try making different desserts and Indo-Chinese dishes. These were always a hit at home.

Since I received so much encouragement to a skill that I acquired over the years, I decided to join a culinary school in Hyderabad. I then worked with the Taj in Mumbai, Oberoi Hotels and then went back home (to Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh) to work with restaurant chains.

It’s only been a year since I moved to Bengaluru and started working with Justbe Restocafe in Sadashivanagar.

When I started working with hotels many years ago, I learnt the art of Continental cuisine. Over the years, I learnt more about vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes in other cuisines as well. When I moved to work in Gwalior, I mostly made Indian food. Working in Justbe Restocafe has changed the way I look at food. From being a person who has made several non-vegetarian dishes to learning the importance of healthy eating, I have a new perspective on cooking and baking now.

I didn’t know about whole foods and that you can make delicious items without using oil, refined sugar, flour and so on. Initially, I thought it was extremely difficult to achieve it but it turns out that I was wrong.

Sugar can be easily replaced with jaggery and dates. It’s best to use whole wheat flour that you can get grinded. Even cheese can be made at home. We use raw banana and potato, among others, to make vegan cheese.

Yes, it’s true that these items may not have a longer shelf life, so it’s best to make it in smaller batches. However, storing it in the fridge will last the food item more than expected.

The same rules apply to ‘Shahi Tukda’ recipe that’s shared today. It’s a whole-food plant-based dessert that even diabetic patients can enjoy. It has no oil or fat added to it; I’ve used freshly-prepared sesame butter and nuts to make the dish.

WHOLE FOOD PLANT-BASED SHAHI TUKDA

Ingredients

For Bread

Whole wheat flour, 160 gm

Dry yeast, 10 gm

Dates soaked and paste, 7 gm

Salt, 4 gm

Warm water, 160 ml

Dry blueberry and raisins, 15 gm

Sesame butter, 1 tsp

For Date syrup

Date soaked and past, 1 tbsp

Water, 100 ml

For Rabri

Almond milk, 500 ml

Date soaked paste, 8 to 10

Roasted nuts, 15 gm

Cardamom powder, 1/3 tsp

Kewra water, 5 drop

For Garnish

Silver leaf, 2

Roasted chopped nuts, 15 gm

Mint sprigs, 2 to 3

Rose petals

Saffron Sprig

Pomegranate seeds, 1 tbsp

Method

In a small bowl, activate the yeast by adding yeast and date paste in 20ml warm water, keep aside for 10 minutes.

In a separate bowl, add flour, salt, blueberry and raisins.

Now add the activated yeast mixture into flour and rest of the water.

Knead the dough fine and smooth.

Keep the dough aside for proofing, covered with a damp cloth for at least 20 minutes.

On the other side (for rabri), take almond milk in a pan, keep it on a medium flame and reduce it to the half quantity.

As it starts reducing it will start to thicken. Add date paste, nuts, cardamom powder.

Keep it for chilling, once it is at room temperature add kewra water, mix well.

Take proofed bread dough and add sesame butter, mix and knead it again.

Place it in flour-dusted bread mold.

Again keep it for proofing for 10 minutes.

Once it is done, keep it in a preheated oven at 180°C for about 30 to 35 minutes.

Cool the bread at room temperature.

Slice the bread, dip it in date syrup and remove immediately.

Place the soaked bread in a plate, spread chilled rabri over it.

Garnish it with saffron sprig, pomegranate seeds, rose petals, silver-coated nuts and mint sprig.

Chef Deepanshu Soni

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