What's Cooking?

The Guide chats up with gourmet guru, Karen Anand, on the eve of the launch of her latest book Good Food Good Living in the Pune

For someone who has interacted with a three Michelin star chef at the age of 18, has 15 cook books and three cookery shows to her credit, Karen Anand comes across as an unassuming person and a complete foodie. She is now excited about the launch of her latest book, Good Food Good Living: A guide around the world, a memoir of sorts.

"The book includes about 30 columns selected from 400-odd columns that I have written for The Independent. The idea was to reinvent the content so that it is more relevant in today's times. I didn't do a lot of research since I already had an array of columns to choose from," she says.

The book is also an informative guide for vegetarians who are travelling to countries such as France and Thailand. "Language could be a barrier and vegetarians wouldn't know if an egg or two was snuck into their food," she jokes. The book also mentions the basic words to look out for when ordering food.

Pairing Indian food with wines
One of the interesting sections of the book delves on pairing wines with Indian food. "I personally think that wine and Indian food don't go together at all, but I am all for experimenting. Pairing Indian food with wine is still at a nascent stage; it isn't a part of our culture. For example, North Indian spicy food goes very well with wine while chilli-based dishes don't. Similarly Gujarati, Bengali or Goan food with vinegar cannot be paired with wine."

Pune: A gourmet hub?
Few people know that Anand is a Punekar and has been living in the city for the past two decades. When we quizzed her about how Pune influences her as a gourmet author, food critic and chef, Anand thinks for a bit and says, "The honesty of the vendors and the approach of the people is very endearing. I used to frequent Chitale, Kyani's, and Shivaji market and it was so down-to-earth. I just hope the next generation at Chitale and Kyani's follows the same approach," she adds.

Reality check
Anand is also open to the idea of television shows. "The offers that have come to me aren't exciting enough. I hope something will happen in the near future," she states, adding that she is fond of shows such as Masterchef Australia and Family Cook Off. "I used Nigella Lawson's dessert recipes and I follow Rick Stein as well. But I am not particularly a fan of Jamie Oliver's style of cooking and the current crop of 'cookery' shows on TV aren't exciting at all," she concludes.

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Caramel custard recipe by Karen Anand
Ingredients (Caramel)
>> 200 g (1 cup) caster sugar
>> 625 ml (2 cups) milk
>> 1 vanilla pod
>> 125 g (1/2 cup) caster (superfine) sugar
>> 3 eggs beaten
>> 3 egg yolk
Preparation (caramel)
To make the caramel, put the sugar in a heavy-based saucepan and heat until it dissolves and starts to caramelise.
>> Tip the saucepan from side to side as the sugar cooks to keep the colouring even.
>> Remove from the heat and carefully add 2 tablespoons water to stop the cooking process.
>> Pour into 7 ramekins and let it cool.
>> Pre-heat the oven to 180 C. Put the milk and vanilla pod in a saucepan and bring just to boil.
>> Mix together the sugar, eggs and egg yolks. Strain the boiling milk over the egg mixture and stir well.
>> Ladle into the ramekins and place in a roasting tin.
>> Pour enough hot water into the tin to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins.
>> Cook for 35-40 minutes, or until firm to the touch.
>> Remove from the tin and leave for 15 minutes.
>> Un-mould onto plates and pour over leftover caramel. For a wonderful twist, add 1 tbsp grated orange rind and 2 tbsp Cointreau to the milk mixture.

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