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I love Italian, Mexican and Mediterranean food: Bhakti Mehta

Bhakti Mehta, consulting chef with Fat Man’s Café reveals why the three cuisines are her favourite and shares a recipe for aubergine and mushroom lasagna

Bhakti Mehta, consulting chef with Fat Man’s Café and owner of Little Food Company, a catering company, started cooking not for the love of it but simply because she didn’t like the Gujarati food that was made at her home. She says, “My mother would tell me, ‘If you don’t like what is made at home then cook yourself’.” These words urged Mehta to start rustling up items such as pastas and pizzas. Gradually, she started enjoying the process. But as she was already studying marketing, she couldn’t study at culinary school. 


Bhakti Mehta

Few years ago, when her friend was looking for a caterer for an event, the self-taught cook took it up as a challenge and after that, there was no looking back. Mehta set up Little Food Company four years ago. She says, “I love Italian, Mexican and Mediterranean food.”

The 30-year-old is also currently working as a consulting chef with Fat Man’s Café, a recently-launched eatery at Bandra. She says, “I worked closely with the chef to design the menu. Two of my favourite items are beef sandwich and the aubergine and mushroom lasagna. I never liked lasagna. And I don’t know of many people who order it when they are eating out. I took up the challenge and introduced it on the menu. Thankfully, our effort paid off and today it is one of our best sellers. This recipe is really special to me.”

Aubergine and mushroom lasagna

Ingredients

>> 12-15 sheets of lasagne sheets
>> 6-8 tomatoes
>> ½ litre warm milk
>> 1 large aubergine
>> 1 pack of mushrooms
>> A handful of basil leaves
>> 10-12 cloves of garlic, chopped
>> 1 onion, chopped
>> 8-10 tbsp olive oil
>> 2 tbsp butter
>> 2 tsp maida
>> 20 gm Parmesan cheese
>> 40 gm Mozzarella cheese
>> 30 gm Ricotta cheese


Aubergine and Mushroom Lasagna

Method

>> For the red sauce, apply olive oil and salt to the tomatoes. Roast them in the oven at 200 degrees for 30-45 minutes
>> Remove from the oven once they are evenly charred, peel the skin and chop them roughly
>> In a pan, add 2 tsp olive oil, 2 tsp garlic and 4 tsp onion. Cook the onions for 5-6 minutes
>> Add the roasted tomatoes, 2 tsps of chopped basil leaves. Finish with salt and pepper. Cook on low flame for 8-10 minutes. Add ½ tsp sugar if the sauce is acidic
>> For the white sauce, heat 3 tsp butter. Add 2 tsps of flour (maida) and whisk the mixture
>> Add warm milk and continue to whisk. Add salt and pepper
>> Slice aubergine into 1.5-cm wide discs. Apply salt and set them aside for 20 minutes under a heavy surface
>> Wash off all the excess water and salt and pat them dry
>> Heat a grill plate and rub a little olive oil on it. Grill the aubergine slices, 2 minutes on each side
>> To assemble the lasagna, apply little oil/butter to the baking dish
>> Add the first layer of lasagne sheets and cover the bowl
>> Apply 3 tsp of white sauce to the same, add all the ricotta cheese, top up with 2 tsps on the red sauce
>> Add the second layer of lasagne sheets. Again repeat the white sauce.
>> Then add the aubergine slices, another 3-4 tsps of red sauce and add 20 gm parmesan cheese
>> Add the third layer of lasagne sheet. Again repeat the white sauce, add sliced (raw) mushrooms and chopped basil leaves
>> Add another 3-4 tsps of red sauce, sprinkle 2-4 tsps of grated mo>> >> arella cheese and drizzle 1 tsp of olive oil
>> Bake in a pre-heated oven at 220-250 degrees celsius for 30-40 mins (keep an eye on your oven post 25 mins). Serve hot

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