Super Duper Delicious Sundried Tomato-Basil Dip

I genuinely love writing about food.  It doesn’t matter how many people I reach, it’s just therapeutic to put down what I feel about food and to share recipes that have worked fantastically for me! Over the last few months, I have been at a crossroads – my small social media and digital marketing agency has taken off really well and that leaves me with very little time to blog! I’m hoping I can change this by installing a WordPress app on my phone to let me blog whenever I have a few minutes! This post is the first using this new app as I head to Bombay. 

Chips and dip are a classic combination! I think it takes a lot of will power for someone to turn down this combo! Perhaps it’s more attractive and comforting because it is enjoyed best when shared with friends and family. Whenever I think of chips and dip, I think of happy faces, casual seating and lots of laughter!

It also reminds me of the time my mom came to visit me in Monterey, where I was studying. She had just come down from India and was rather jet lagged. At 4 AM, I hear a ‘crunch, crunch’ sound breaking the deafening silence of the town. I head to the kitchen to find my mom with a giant pack of chips and a tub of Artichoke-Cheese Dip, seemingly pleased and in a trance! It’s an incident that my brother and I often laugh about while my mom dishes out weak defences every time.. If I concentrate, I can still hear the crunching of the chips and her sheepish look that morning!

This Sundried Tomato-Basil Dip is fabulous!! It’s creamy, tangy and can be made spicy. Perfect for our Indian palates and goes really well with our packaged Salted Chips. I cut out all the mayo and sour cream from the original recipehttp://m.allrecipes.com/recipe/81396/sun-dried-tomato-dip/?page=0 and substituted it with some thick, hung curd. I did keep some of the cream cheese, but reduced the quantity to keep it lower in fat.

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Sundried Tomato-Basil Dip

Ingredients

3 TBSP Cream Cheese (I use Brittania), at room temperature
1/2 Cup Thick, hung curd
1/3 cup chopped, Sundried Tomatos
2 garlic cloves
1/4 TSP ground pepper
Few dashes of Tobasco sauce
1/4 cup fresh Basil, roughly chopped
1 TSP Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt, to taste

Method

1. Rehydrate the sundried tomatoes by letting them soak in a bowl of hot water for 15 minutes.
2. Once the tomatoes have rehydrated, strain the water, keeping 3 TBSP reserved, and let them cool slightly.
3. Add the garlic, pepper, salt, tomatoes in the blender, with a little of the reserved water, and blend till smooth.
4. Then add the cream cheese, curd and Tobasco to the mix and blend again.
5. Finally, add the chopped basil and blend till smooth. Taste the dip for seasoning and adjust to your preference.
6. Remove the dip in a bowl and drizzle the olive oil over the surface. Keep in the refrigerator until ready to serve!

Enjoy this dip with pita chips, potato chips or tortilla chips!

Notes:
I used completely dehydrated Sub Dried tomatoes rather than those preserved in oil to reduce the fat and calorie content.
This dip cannot be stored for too long (2 days, at most) and must be refrigerated!

What’s coming up in the next few weeks?

Its my first Diwali with S and his family so its been quite hectic for me! I am enjoying all the delicious food and snacks being prepared at home and visiting a whole lot of people. I can also tell you that I am mastering the art of wearing and carrying a saree a little more everyday! 🙂 Its a great experience to see snacks being prepared at home and to realize that each house has their own way of making the same snack or sweet.

Delight in Pink is becoming more of my passion and I love writing regularly. My first and foremost passion remains baking. While I have been baking a lot I just haven’t had the chance to put up some more recipes. I have made an amazing Lemon Mousse Cheesecake, gorgeously rich brownies, a very simple vanilla frosting and a decadent chocolate buttercream. Alongside I have been cooking a lot of mains like Chinese stir fried rice, hot Chinese sauce, Mexican rice, Mexican beans, Vegetable Biryani, Raita, a rich potato vegetable and so much more.

The next few weeks are going to be great! I will be taking more pictures, hopefully, and add them to my recipes. We are also going on a little vacation and I am looking forward to taking my computer and feel inspired in a whole new environment. So don’t give up on me and keep watching this space! Its time to have your own little restaurant at home with my tried and tested recipes! 🙂

Tea Time Accessories!

My two favourites meals would be breakfast and ‘teatime’! As kids, tea time meant hot chocolate milk with biscuits or a snack.  I always looked forward to the biscuit part! My favourites were and still are – Bourbon chocolate biscuits and Nice, sugar coated coconut biscuits. I always enjoyed India’s classic biscuit- Parle-G. When I was studying in  California, I would try to find them at the nearest Indian store and dip them in some deliciously spiced, milky Indian tea!

I still enjoy my biscuits dipped in my milky tea.  While I prefer herbal teas, if there are biscuits and if I’m at home, I’m going to get good ol’ Indian sweet,spiced milky tea to dip my biscuits. You definitely enjoy this type of tea on a rainy and slightly cold afternoon.

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I love the versatility of the food you can serve with tea. They’re easy to eat, finger foods that aren’t heavily spiced.  They’re fun to make and you can have interesting shapes. I was having a few friends over yesterday and I decided to get some biscuits, bake cupcakes with a rich chocolate frosting, make a hung curd dip to serve with herbed pita chips and make my shortcut bruschetta!

I had so much fun making everything in bite sized portions and was happy to see that they enjoyed it.

What I enjoyed the most was using a cake stand that S and I got as a wedding gift from my cousin! The plates were Victorian era influenced and u loved the way it all came together. I decided to  make it the ‘sweet station’. I put all the biscuits and cupcakes on the stand and made it my center piece.

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Girls love sugar even if they are publicly obliged to hate it because of all the calories! We totally enjoyed our sugar and  had a wonderful evening sipping our teas and coffees amidst the sound of raindrops.

Delightful Start to a weekend

We have been loving and using our Gaggia espresso machine to the fullest! The coffee is so good and so flavorful that I don’t enjoy drinking coffee outside anymore! The beautiful aroma and richness of the coffee is unparalleled.
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S and I are lucky to have amazing friends and family who get us great gourmet coffee.  I found a package of Kalhua coffee in the fridge and we have had the best time drinking it. The aroma is lovely and fills the house with a heady fragrance. The taste is even better.  Light on the palate and not strong with the caffeine. When we press this coffee, the house smells perfumed!

This morning, we ground fresh coffee. We had this espresso blend coffee beans and thought of starting our weekend with a great cup of coffee.  As soon as I ground the beans and inhaled the aroma, I knew we were in for a treat! The fragrance was gorgeous- rich and caramelly!

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The aroma prompted all of us to try a cup the way we enjoy our coffees. We had espressos, Cappuccino and Americano. The aroma hadn’t prepared us for the beautiful taste and richness of the coffee!! They were all just wonderful.
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What a great start to our weekend! I hope you have a wonderful weekend too! 

Seasonal Tastes, Westin – Pune

Who doesn’t love a good buffet? Buffets signify elaborate, generous and decadent food. While I always feel I can never do justice to a buffet because I cant eat that much, I always enjoy observing how they have set the buffet up and how well they have decorated it.  My favorite counter, without any doubt, has to be the dessert counter. There are always those few standard cakes that you know there will be. There will be a super indulgent chocolate cake, a fruit based cake, some cookies, ice cream and a few Indian sweets.  Its very rare that hotels change the menu of the buffet and sometimes its nice to know exactly what’s there to eat so you can plan beforehand your strategy!

 

The Westin, Pune is a very interesting building. The hotel seems to scream opulence but the décor inside the hotel is clean and modern. I wish I could say it is as impressive as the Taj or Oberoi in Bombay, but it is bigger and lacks in any real character of itself. It’s a grey building and tends to remind me of a commercial building rather than a luxury hotel. Perhaps it is aimed towards the business clientele and hence it is simple and basic in design. I do love the scultptures that they have in the hotel. My favorite is that of a man who seems to be playing some sport. Westin has 3 restaurants that I know of – Kangan, their Indian restaurant; Prego – their Italian restaurant and their 24 hour restaurant, Seasonal Tastes. Apart from these three restaurants, they also have their coffee shop and two bars.

 

Seasonal Tastes offers one of the most elaborate buffets in the city. They have an Asian counter where they will prepare stir fried as well as vegetables or meat in sauces for you. An Indian counter, a salad counter, dessert counter, cheese and nuts platter and my favorite, the Sushi bar! I love Sushi! But since I am a vegetarian, I should re-frame it as I love California Rolls. Westin prepares some delicious sushi and has wonderful accompaniments to it. Some beautifully pickled ginger, pungent wasabi, soy sauce and so on. I normally end up filling my tummy on the delicious California Rolls. I swear, my mouth is drooling as I type this out.

 

I have eaten the Indian food on a few occasions and the last time I had a veg Biryani. It was wonderful. Beautifully cooked with lovely spices and wasn’t dried out as rice sometimes gets in a buffet. The vegetables are always a little less spicy and ‘masaledaar’ than outside, but I am sure that is keeping in mind the tastes of the many foreign guests who stay at the hotel. The only time I actually have eaten the Asian food is when S was with me. S loves Asian food and I am not particularly fond of it. If I remember correctly, it was a little too oily for my liking but they were nice enough to accommodate S’s request for something off their standard menu. The desserts are quite good though I do feel J W Marriott has better desserts. I normally am not jumping towards the dessert counter.

 

I have had breakfast on one occasion and it was a GREAT spread! Wonderful breads, cereals, pastries. They had an egg station which made pancakes and waffles too!  Since this has been quite a while back, I don’t really remember what was on the menu. I remember having a wonderful morning and spending about 3 hours at the restaurant. I was happy with the overall quality of the food and the only complaint I had was that the breads were not very fresh. They seemed a little dried out to me. What I did appreciate was when I mentioned this to the server he promptly called the bakery chef and I could speak to him personally.

 

Westin has a great ambience, but lunch and dinner are always filled with loud, corporate groups. If you are looking for a relaxed, quiet meal, it’s better to try any one of their other restaurants. Seasonal Tastes is dependable and offers food that soothes the palate. For their variety and number of cuisines, it is definitely the number 1 buffet for me in Pune. I give the buffet at Seasonal Tastes a 3.5 out of 5.