EVENTS

So you want to be a pastry chef?

September 16, 2016

I’m lucky to bake cakes for a living, write about it, teach it and travel the world in the name of research.

I’ve slowly paved a path for myself as my career has seen me working as a freelance food journalist, being the food editor for BBC Good Food Magazine, running a little dessert delivery business in Bombay, winning prestigious scholarships to study at Le Cordon Bleu Paris and at Centre de Formation d’Alain Ducasse Paris, and most recently penning my first cookbook (Barnes & Noble New York; releasing March 2017). I’m not saying this to hear the sound of my own voice. I’m only saying all this because I get tonnes of emails from you guys asking how I did it all. The truth is, sometimes I knew where I was going, sometimes I didn’t.

The emails grew in numbers – so much so that I had to create a separate email folder titled “Requests for LCB, scholarships, etc.” I couldn’t always answer them all but they’re still marked Unread with the hope that I can spend a few days answering them and be helpful in any way I can.

These emails have a common thread – Le Cordon Bleu, Alain Ducasse, working at Michelin-starred restaurants, writing a cookbook, living in France, is it worth taking an education loan, following your passion and so much more.

Now that I’m in Bombay for a couple of weeks teaching my baking classes, I thought it would be nice to share my experiences, answer your questions and give you some clarity of chasing that cherished dream of working with food.

So! Blue Tokai Coffee has graciously offered to host us for the evening!

Date: 27 September 2016 (Tuesday)
Time: 4-6PM
Venue: Blue Tokai Coffee, Unit 20-22, Laxmi Woollen Mill, Opposite Khazana Furniture, Off Dr E Moses Road, Shakti Mills Lane, Mahalakshmi, Mumbai.

The event is free, but please add your name to the list below should the demand be overwhelming.

baking classes EVENTS

New Baking Classes in India: Mumbai, Bangalore & Delhi

August 4, 2016

Baking classes in India with London based and Le Cordon Bleu (Paris) & Alain Duccase (Paris) trained pastry chef Shaheen Peerbhai.

PurpleFoodie Posh Pastry Baking Class

I’m so very excited to announce that I’ll be in India for my first ever baking tour covering Delhi, Bangalore and Bombay this September! I’m teaming up with my friends running beautiful spaces in food and design, bringing the baking classes to new cities. I’ve got an exciting mix of new recipes to share with you ranging from quick bakes to elaborate layered desserts, as well as a class on breads and savoury bakes.

With each new class, I incorporate fresh recipes with a simplified approach so you can feel confident replicating the bakes in your own kitchen. I use only the best ingredients that are locally available and easy to find. All the classes are demo-based and last 3-3.5 hours. For those looking for eggless recipes, you can sign up for Plated Desserts and Breads & Savoury, classes that don’t depend on eggs for flavour and texture.

To register for the classes and see the dates & timings, please go to classes.purplefoodie.com

I hope you will join me.

x Shaheen

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baking classes EVENTS

Fall ’16: Baking Classes in India

July 25, 2016

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I am so very excited as I plan a baking class tour across India! I’m collaborating with some amazing friends in new cities to share my baking style with you to create delicious bakes, breads and French-style pâtisserie at home (and yes, there will be eggless options!). I hope you will join me and help spread the word to your friends and families in Bangalore and Delhi!

I’ll share more in the coming days. If you’d like to be the first to know about baking classes in India, please sign up to the special class announcement list below. If you’re already signed up, keep an eye on your inbox for first dibs on registrations.

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DESSERT Paris TECHNIQUE

Eclairs On My Mind

June 21, 2016

Eclairs mirabelle Everybody loves choux these days.

At first I wasn’t a fan. Not until I tried choux with the modern, crunchy craquelin, which transformed choux buns and eclairs from soft and neutral to crumbly, textured and sweet. And when you see artists like Cedric Grolet work their magic creating a hazelnut loaded Paris Brest who wouldn’t want one?

I thrive on being in the kitchen, but just as exciting is the process of imagining what I want my pastry to be like on paper. The different elements, their arrangement, the kind of piping tip I’m going to use, the flavours (always classic with a twist when feeding a large crowd), the processes to achieve different textures (cremeux, mousseline, meringue, caramelised nuts, pate de fruit, fruit confit, guimauves, feuilletine, chocolate coated crispies, crumble) and the looks (gold spray, cocoa butter spray, flowers, gold leaf, spun sugar, isomalt sugar shards). Here’s a sketch of the eclairs I will make for a special event in July.

PS: In other news, I’m almost done with the manuscript for my first cookbook – Paris Picnic Club (we also finally have a name!). It basically feels like writing a reaaaaalllly long blog post. Hopefully after two iterations it will be off to the printers, and you can have a book in your hands next March!

TRAVEL

Juices and Paletas in Mexico

May 29, 2016

paleta rainbow

I can’t rave enough about Mexican cuisine. We ate incredibly well for barely any money at all and we felt good and healthy eating that food (two days in NYC undid it all). We would wash down every meal with a massive glass of fruit juice, tamarindo or horchata, and I’d buy paletas whenever I spotted them.

TRAVEL

Food Markets of Oaxaca, Mexico

May 26, 2016

Oaxaca, Mexico

We made it a part of our routine to go to a market every day that we were in Oaxaca, Mexico. We mostly walked everywhere, peeped into courtyards selling handicrafts, and in the evenings we sat in the city square by the church with tamarind and strawberry paletas. The riot of colourful houses and rugs, the smell of tortillas toasting on terracotta comales, the abundant cacti, agave and jacarandas left us utterly charmed.

Of the three markets we went to, we like the one that a local recommended to us by telling us to simply follow the “big tree” up the street. We did just that and ended up at a simple, everyday market that wasn’t packed with tourists and boasted of the “best” tamales in Oaxaca City made by a lady who sits with a big pot of steaming tamales – we ate two tamales and a quesadilla with cheese, courgette flower and epazote, happily washed down with massive glasses of fruit juice. Best breakfast ever.

These are the markets we visited in Oaxaca, Mexico:

Mercado 20 de Noviembre, Oaxaca, Mexico

This is a very busy market. Filled with a mishmash of stalls – juices, eateries, Mexican chocolate and a million type of moles. At the back of the market something really interesting is going on. You have vegetable stalls and meat stalls – you buy whatever you like from them, then go to the barbecoa stand to have it barbecued for you on the spot. Delicious stuff, but I only wish all the shopkeepers here didn’t overwhelm with solicitation. At the SE corner of the market on the outside is a really lovely chili shop where we stocked up on a bunch of dried chilies to bring back home.

Mercado de Benito Juarez, Oaxaca, Mexico

This one sits next door to Mercado 20 de Noviembre. It’s a market that’s sells fresh produce, leather and meat (heads up, the carcasses hang in plain sight, so maybe not for you if you’re used to seeing them in packed in plastic film and foam boxes). Here’s where we sampled the popular local drink Tejate.

“Follow the tree” market, Oaxaca, Mexico

I couldn’t find the name of the market written anywhere at the market and it’s not a place you will find on Google maps. You walk up Prolongación de Porfirio Díaz to #708G, where you can’t miss the aroma of freshly pressed tortillas. Walk into the bay right across from the tortilla shop and enter the market! All these photos are taken here.

TRAVEL

Travel Guide: 24 hours in Puebla, Mexico

April 7, 2016

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20.3.16: Arjun and are visiting Mexico for two weeks. A country we have long been fascinated with and finally booked our tickets when a dear friend of our announced he’s getting married in the picture perfect town of San Miguel de Allende.

After much research and planning we picked three cities to visit in addition to the wedding venue: Puebla, Oaxaca and Mexico City. All picked solely for being great food cities. People also tend to throw a beach into the mix, but we weren’t too keen because it would be way too hectic and also, right before Mexico we were in Miami for a weekend.

Right off the airplane at Mexico City, we converted currency to Pesos (with clear instructions from a friend to do so after we exit customs for better rates) and bought local SIM card from Oxxo, the convenience store chain, also at the airport. We went to the counter to buy bus tickets to Puebla, a 2 hour ride away. There’s a bus every hour, so there’s no need to buy them in advance and the prices don’t change for last minute bookings.

First impressions – even for a bus ride, we had to go through a security check, baggage tags were handed out and once we were on the bus a security guard walked around to take photos of every passenger! That wasn’t all, every 30 minutes a security guard paraded the aisle. Comforting and unnerving at the same time. Peering outside the bus windows it’s like a slightly more developed India. Soon enough we hit the highway and were on our way out of the city.

So, our first stop, Puebla.

Home of the famous mole poblano, the legendary city created by angels for mortals, Puebla is distinctive for its Talavera tiles, college culture and exemplary street food.

ORIENT

Get a map of the city from the tourist info centre at the Zocalo and check for leaflets on the current events in the city. The one with the local gastronomic calendar caught my eye, it enlists seasonal specialties in Puebla ranging from huitlacoches (corn fungus) to their famous Chile en Nogada.

EAT in Puebla

Taqueria y Jugueria Los Angeles

Calle 25 Ote. 411, 72530 Puebla, Pue., Mexico
We landed up at the Taqueria at 8AM, right when it was scheduled to open. They clearly don’t see many early-risers because the chairs were still turned over on the tables and there was just one cook and the owner. We hesitated a little, even considered walking to the Mercado Melchor Ocampo nearby, but the warmth of the owner won us over. Just as we were talking, the owner brought out a table and chairs. Even a personal coat hanger. And I’m only glad we stayed. We communicated with him through smiles and gestures and the two Spanish words we had quickly learned – comida (food) and jugo (juice). We tried to decipher the menu and ordered a breakfast better suited for a heavier meal. But we didn’t care. We were ravenous, and the choices tempting. We started with large, and I mean large jugs of fresh juices. A mix of orange, pineapple and watermelon for me and a horchata, a rice and cinnamon drink for Arjun. [This turned out to be the best horchata I had during the entire two weeks in Mexico]. Everything we ate was superlative. I even made a little note in my notebook stating a) Great customer service is a joy. b) Pastor + pineapple = genius. We walked out with happy bellies and a handshake from the owner who wondered how we found out about this little restaurant that was a mile away from the tourist centre.

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La Cemitas y Tortas Poblanita

Av 5 Ote, Centro, Puebla, Pue., Mexico
Cemita is a very innocuous word for a sandwich that could feed a monster (scroll all the way down for a better photo that showcases the sheer height of this sandwich). Turns out, cemitas are the pride of Puebla. The ingredients that sit between two pieces of bread are (usually, but not limited to) breaded fried chicken, avocado, boiled egg and capsicum salad, soft cheese, stringy Oaxacan cheese (quesillo) and a special herb, papalos. Plus a gazillion condiments placed alongside as is de rigueur in Mexican cuisine. We didn’t stop at cemitas. We ordred a torta, an open faced taco made with a thick, crispy tortilla and a pozole, a simple, comforting chicken and hominy soup. Excellent, all around. With stuffed bellies and half a cemita packed to go, we headed onward to our next destination.

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Fonda Santa Clara

Av. 3 Poniente 307, Centro, 72000 Puebla, Pue., Mexico
A bit touristy, but great nonetheless, these are probably the kind of places where you’d be able to sample three different types of mole on a plate. Thoughts on mole: interesting…but not for us (for now). Photographed below, red pipian mole, the famous chocolate mole and green pipian mole.

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SHOP in Puebla

El Parián

At the Mercado El Parián, you can shop for local ceramics and handicrafts. I did fancy a few things but held back because because I was worried I’d get ripped off because it was such a tourist magnet.

Ceramic Shop

Around the corner from the El Parián market I discovered a ceramic shop where I bought a few dessert plates. Beautiful, hand-crafted pieces. Definitely haggle here.

Siuamej

I read about this little artisan collective in Puebla on the Oaxaca culture blog. I was instantly drawn to the design. I even caught up with the updated address but this was nowhere to be found.  If you do find it, remember me, and share a pin maybe so I can go there on my next visit (fingers crossed).

Talavera Uriarte

Av. 4 Poniente No.911, Centro, 72000 Puebla, Pue., Mexico
For supremely beautiful local ceramics that you will consider getting a shipping container for.

WALK in Puebla

Everywhere. The zocalo is a good place to start your wanderings. And if you’re looking for more touristy things to do, have a look at the local city site.

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A local health store in the historical centre of Puebla, Mexico.

puebla-9 A little bakery we walked past and tried some of their sweet breads on Avenida 16 de septiembre

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A fruit vendor at a street corner in Puebla, Mexico.

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The impossible-to-eat sandwich at Cemitas y Tortas La Poblanita. This cemita is made of a chicken Milanese, boiled eggs, green peppers, stringy cheese, soft cheese and avocado.

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When we have eaten too much, a town square or a beautiful church is our rest stop.

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COOKBOOK

My first COOKBOOK!

February 1, 2016

cookbook-announement

I’M WRITING A COOKBOOK!

I can’t believe I can finally say that out aloud.

I’m writing a cookbook in collaboration with chef and illustrator extraordinaire, Jennie Levitt. It’s due to be published in the spring of 2017 by Sterling (Barnes & Noble), USA. It’s a book filled with recipes and stories from our time cooking and sharing meals in Paris for our little pop-up restaurant. It’s got recipes for small plates, sharing platters, creative desserts and contemporary drinks.

Okay, so here’s the long version.  Continue Reading