Category Archives: Master Chef India

Kheer Pana Cotta with saffron sauce

Kheer Pana Cotta with saffron sauce

It will be one year since I auditioned for Master Chef India. It has been an incredible journey and I loved every minute of it. It started with just a casual conversation with friends, them pushing me to go for the audition. I never in my imagination thought that one simple audition could lead me to the most exciting time in my life.

When I got selected from San Francisco and reached India for the next rounds, I met so many wonderful people and little did I know that we will friends for lifetime.

I am so thankful to God for this wonderful opportunity. This post is dedicated to all that I am thankful for, my family, friends, food on the table, and here is many more such amazing opportunities to come!

I always have loved the traditional recipes, the history behind them, the love you feel when you eat them, all the memories they bring back. I feel it is up to us to preserve them and pass them on to the next generation.

But there are always new things to learn and expand your horizons. New spice, new technique, new way of plating or a new ingredient, it changes everything about the dish completely.

So today’s recipe is a new take on a age old recipe, Kheer. Made in many ways, but it always signifies celebration, joy, festivities. Rice, Milk and sugar cooked together, it is that simple and yet that comforting. So many cultures have variations of this, Isarel, Syria where its called ‘Roz Bhaleeb’, Iran and even Mexico where you get to eat ‘Arroz con leche’ which is flavored with cinnamon.

Its amazing to see how food connects people, does not matter what is your nationality, religion, sexual orientation or political affiliation. One of my favorite books ‘Korma Kheer Kismet by Pamela Timms. It is a fascinating chronicle of the author who lived and experienced five seasons in Delhi and her food memories

Korma,Kheer and Kismet; Five seasons in old Delhi by Timms (2014-07-01)

Just like her I fell in love with Old Delhi. Old Delhi is a walled city established by the Mughal Emperor Shaha Jahan in the early 1600s. You must visit old Delhi if you want to some of the best delicacies. Especially during the festivals like Ramdan ( Eid-ul-Fitr), the whole area is filled with aroma that is so inviting. Fried chicken, samosa, Jalebi, Faluda and so much more.



When I visited Old Delhi, I had to visit the Kheer shop, Bade Miyan ki Kheer. I must say that by far is the most delicious thing I have ever had. The shop only sells Kheer, and it is to die for.  My insta story says it all.

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Today I decided to take that Kheer and present it in a little differently. I have tried to keep the essence of the dish intact, I hope you all enjoy it.

Kheer Panna Cotta




Panna cotta

  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup cream
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3-4 star Anise
  • 3-4 green cardamom
  •  3/4 cup rice
  • 1 tsp agar agar powder


  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 pinch of saffron
  • 1 tsp rose water
  • water as needed


Panna cotta

  • Take 2.5 cups of milk and whipping cream, sugar  and warm it in a sauce pan.
  • Slightly crush the star anise and cardamom and add to the milk mixture, until it almost comes to a boil. Turn the heat off
  • Let the mixture cool for a few hours.
  • While the milk mixture is resting, take 1 cup of milk and rice, and cook on low heat for at least 40 mins. You don’t want to rush this step and this is what gives you a creamy texture.
  • Stain the milk cream mixture and discard the spices
  • When the rice is almost cooked, add the spiced milk and cook more
  • While the rice is cooking, take 1/2 cup of Milk and warm it up to 100 F
  • Mix agar-agar in the 1/2 cup warm milk and mix thoroughly
  • Add the agar mixture to the cooked rice
  • Pour it in glasses and set it in the fridge


Mix all the ingredients in a bowl, use water if need to thin it to a pouring consistency


To serve

When ready to serve, keep the glass in warm water to loosen it. Pour the sauce on a plate and gentle put the unmolded pudding/kheer on the plate.

I garnished it with dried rose petals and a pistachio tuile with rose. I will share that recipe soon.


Eid Mubarak!



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Blood Orange-Meyer lemon tart


Master Chef taught me many things and one of them was that desserts are not as difficult to make as they seem. I normally don’t bake as much however the new year resolution is to try to new baking recipes.

Today’s recipe started from my Farmer’s market visit. I went to the market after a long time and as usual got excited and picked up a whole bunch of things. Market is full of citrus and all cold weather vegetables like Kohlrabi, Cauliflower, Ash gourd and so much more. Amongst the citrus, there was blood orange, Meyer Lemon along with pomelo etc.

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Blood orange is a very short season so I try to make as many things as I can while its available in the market. I also make Blood Orange Marmalade to enjoy later in the year. I have not posted a recipe for it , but I promise I will soon. Meyer lemon is another citrus which is so versatile and I love it.

I also found some fresh red chilies. I love cooking with these but most of all I always end up making Harissa when ever I get these in the  market.

When I got home, I looked at my market loot and thought of making use of these citrus and chili to make something that helps me keep with my new year resolution of baking more, so here is what I made.

I love combining flavors and today I decided to play on the classic combination of Chili, Lime ( here lemon), Cumin and sugar. Some how I feel it just makes it perfectly balanced dessert. Blood Orange curd is inspired by ‘Bojon Gourmet’

Blood Orange- Meyer Lemon Tart with Chili Jam


Now you might ask, what is the difference in a Pie Crust and a Tart base. There are two main differences:

  1. How you make the dough-
    • When you are making a pie-dough, you take the fat ( in most cases it is butter), and cut it into the flour to make a bread crumb like texture. You add ice cold water to bring the dough together.
    • For the tart, you make a ‘Pâte Sucrée’, which is basically a sweet short crust. For this, you cream the butter and sugar and then add the flour.
  2. Egg or no egg
    • For the Pie Dough, you use ice cold water to bind the dough
    • Tart dough is an enriched dough with some egg yolks. This also makes the dough a lot more crumbly than the pie crust.

So here now you know the difference, lets make that crust.



  • 250 g Flour
  • 100 g Sugar
  • 100 g unsalted butter
  • 1 eggs
  • 1/4 tsp coarse ground Cumin
  • 1/8 tsp salt


  • Cream the butter and sugar in a stand mixer
  • Add the egg and mix well
  • Add the flour, Cumin, and salt mixture
  • Bring it together with a wooden spoon. Don’t overmix
  • Make two discs and wrap it in plastic
  • Refrigerate it for at least 2 hours


  • Take out the dough and roll it to fit a 9 inch Tart pan
  • Bake it at 350 F for about 25 mins




  •  1 tbsp Zest of 1 blood orange
  • 1/4 tsp chopped chilies ( seeds removed)
  • 3/4 cup Blood Orange Juice
  • 3 tbsp Meyer Lemon Juice
  • 1 cup Sugar
  • 3 eggs plus
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 6 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into small cubes


  • Make a Bain Marie or Double boiler. I use a 2 quart saucepan and fill it with 2 inches of water and bring it boil. I add all my ingredients in a steel bowl and cook it over the boiling water. I feel this helps the eggs from scrambling and you get a smooth curd.
  • Mix both the juices, sugar, eggs, egg yolks and whisk well to combine
  • Cook over a double boiler till the mixture thickens and reaches 160F.
  • I have learnt that using a thermometer makes it easy to know when the eggs are cooked ( from food safety perspective)
  • Now take the bowl off the heat and quickly whisk in the butter pieces
  • Pour it into the cooled tart
  • Bake for 20-25 mins in a 350 F ovenimg_7190
  • Cool the tart in the fridge for at least 4-5 hours


Chili Jam

This recipe is super simple and I feel it adds the heat and salt needed to balance this desert.


  • 3-4 chopped red chilies ( try and take out as many seeds as possibile
  • 4 tbsp white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • a pinch of salt


  • Mix everything and cook on a slow flame till the mixture thickens


To serve

Cut a piece of tart.Serve with whipped cream, blood orange supreme and some chili jam

Star Anise Panna cotta with Khubani

This is where my Master Chef  journey began. A very close friend really pushed me to sign up for Master Chef Auditions. The auditions were on Saturday and Friday evening at 7:00 PM I had not idea what I would bring for the auditions. I decided to make this recipe which has been my family favorite. I walked into the auditions with the Panna cotta and heart beating fast.

Star Anise Panna cotta


 Panncotta is an italian word that translates to ‘ Cooked Cream’. It is such an easy to make dish and yet it is very easily customizable. You can change flavors, pair it with different things and the best part, it looks super fancy.
I tried quite a few recipes till I settled on this one.  It tastes just like the panna cotta served at Italian restaurants. I like to serve it with fruits or even chocolate sauce, or stewed fruits.
Today I have flavored it with one of my favorite spices, Star Anise & served with stewed apricots. In Hyderabad ( India) there is a sweet, Khubani ka Meetha, and my inspiration for  today’s dessert comes from that.

Panna Cotta



  • 1/2cup  milk
  • 1 (.25 ounce) envelope unflavored gelatin ( I used Knox powder today)
  • 2 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 6-8 Star anise
  • 5-6 Whole black pepper


  1. Blooming the gelatin: Pour milk into a small bowl, and stir in the gelatin powder. Set aside.This will help gelatin absorb the milk and mix well
  2. Pound the spices in a mortar and pestle. Keep them coarse
  3. In a saucepan, stir together the heavy cream and sugar, and set over medium heat until it is lukewarm, and set it aside for 1 hour or so. Longer the better.
  4. Setting aside the cream helps the flavors of spices seep into the cream beautifully.
  5. Bring to a full boil, don’t let it over flow. Pour the gelatin and milk into the cream, stirring until completely dissolved.
  6. Cook for one minute, stir so the gelatin does not form a lump.
  7. Remove from heat, strain and pour into  individual ramekin dishes.
  8. Cool the ramekins uncovered at room temperature.
  9. When cool, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, ideally  overnight before serving.

Stewed Apricots


  • 10-12 Dried Apricot
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 2-3 Star anise
  • 2-3Whole black pepper
  • 1/2 cup water


  • Chop the apricots fine
  • Add sugar, water, spices and apricots in a small sauce pan
  • On a low flame cook till the apricots are softened and the water gets nice and syrupy.
  • Remove the spices before serving


Pistachio Rose caramel

Will Update the recipe soon.

To serve

Demold the pannacotta and serve with the stewed apricot. I also love to use candied Pistachio while serving.