Category Archives: Cocktails

Pear Lassi with Ginger and Honey

Lassi with pears and ginger

It’s turning out to be one of those weeks when everything happens all at once. Deadlines, errands, events, looking for a new apartment. Not to mention all the work it took to find affordable flights to India for trip in December  and the ensuing visa application. And oh yeah, dark gloomy weather when you’re trying to take pictures.

Or I could just blame it on the pears that were of the perfect ripeness. Just asking to be eaten.

So it came to be that I took the very popular Mango Lassi and made it with baked pears. Was it as good as the One Lassi? I’ll let you decide.

Even with this simple recipe, I had to make a couple of tweaks from what I’d planned. I blended 2 pears with 1 cup of yogurt first and it turned out to be too much yogurt. I added another pear and some honey to make the lassi a bit sweet. Feel free to add sugar or more honey to your taste. I always use freshly ground cardamom when making mango lassi. But the cardamom just didn’t pair well with the pear lassi. I ended up using ground cassia cinnamon instead.

Pears

Baked pear

Makes 2 tall glasses

Recipe

  • 3 pears (I had 2 Bosc and 1 Starkrimson but choose the sweetest ones available)
  • 1/2 inch piece ginger, peeled
  • 3/4 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • ground cinnamon

With a fork or knife, pierce the pears a few times each. Microwave on 80% power for 10 minutes or till pears have softened. Flip them half way through.

Peel, remove seeds and then blend with yogurt, ginger and honey.

Pour into glasses and dust with the ground cinnamon.

Sip and enjoy your dessert in a glass! And enjoy the rest of your week. I can’t wait for the weekend and to dream about all the places I”ll be visiting and all the food I’ll be eating in India!

Cheers!

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Filed under Cocktails, Dessert, Holiday, India, Recipe

Savor the last bits of summer!

Summer was late coming to Seattle. But ever since it got here a few weeks ago, we’ve been hiking almost every weekend. With so many gorgeous vistas from hill tops and trails through patches of wildflower blooms, we’re spoilt for hiking choice here in Washington. And I am ever thankful to live in such a beautiful place.

Mount Rose

We went on a steep hike over the long weekend. By the time we made it back down, we were exhausted, dusty and sore. And thirsty! This buttermilk drink was the perfect antidote to the heat and quenched our thirst.

While South Indians consume buttermilk year round, it is more popular in summer. When you have no AC, a tall cup of buttermilk cooled in a clay pot brings welcome respite from the summer heat.

The term buttermilk is normally used for the liquid that is left over after butter has been churned out of the milk. The same term is used in South India to refer to yogurt thinned with water.

This savory buttermilk ‘cocktail’ may possibly be the easiest recipe ever!

Whipped, smooth yogurt

Savory buttermilk

Pretty wildflowers

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 2 cups plain yogurt
  • 3 cups water
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt or to taste
  • juice of 1/2 – 1 lime
  • 1 thai green chili, quartered lengthwise
  • 1 clove garlic, minced (optional)
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro (optional)
  • lime wedges to garnish

Recipe

  1. Using a spoon, smoothen the yogurt by stirring well.
  2. Make a quick garlic extract by putting pressed garlic in a bit of hot water and squeezing the juice out of the clove.
  3. Add the garlic ‘juice’ to the yogurt along with water and the remaining ingredients.
  4. Mix well and let stand for a few minutes for the flavors to mingle.
  5. Pour over ice cubes into tall glasses.
  6. Garnish with a lime wedge and serve.

Tall glasses of cooling buttermilk

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Filed under Cocktails, India, Recipe

The Perfect Pisco Sour

I first came across it one sunny March day in Lima, Peru over a three-hour lunch at a famous restaurant. One sip and I was intrigued, two sips and I was hooked, a few more sips and I was very ‘happy’! I was on a two-week trip with Crooked Trails, a Seattle-based non-profit that offers the best* cultural exchange trips to Peru, India, Nepal, Bhutan, Thailand and other countries.  One of the first things we did on this trip was check out a local market and then head to a restaurant for a pisco sour demo before a multi-course meal. I mean, how many trips start with an introduction to the national cocktail!

A few weeks ago, my friend Hemangi made Pisco Sours as aperitifs for a dinner party. She had brought back some Pisco from a recent trip to Peru. The Pisco sours were fabulous and set the mood for a fun evening. Ever since then, I’ve had Pisco Sours on my mind again. Sadly, the Pisco Sour is not a drink that you come across at bars and restaurants all that often in the US. And even when you do, they don’t quite taste right. They are however, not all that hard to make as long as you have good quality Pisco. Pisco is a fermented grape brandy produced in Peru and Chile. While there is an ongoing dispute about which country owns the appellation, Pisco enjoys almost national drink status on both countries. The dispute comes from the fact that Pisco was produced in Peru when the Spanish ruled what is now both Peru and Chile. The origin of the name Pisco is also a point of contention. Disputes aside, it is commonly accepted that the best pisco comes from Peru while most of the pisco exported to other countries is from Chile.

There are three types of Pisco – puro, acholado, and mosto. Pisco puro is made from a single grape varietal. Quebranto and Italia are two examples. Ocucaje Puro made from Quebranto is said to be the best choice for Pisco Sour. Acholado is made from 2 or more varietals. BarSol and Don Cesar are good brands. To make Pisco mosto, the brandy is distilled before the grape juice has fully fermented leaving some residual sugar. Pisco mosto is typically the most expensive of the three.

The Pisco Sour drink itself is a variation of the Whiskey Sour. Here is how I learned to make a Pisco Sour which is a classic recipe. The ingredient quantities listed are per drink. Use the same ratio of ingredients to make a full pitcher.

You’ll notice in the pictures that we forgot to blend the ice! If you add ice in at the end, your drink will taste different as the ice melts. Yes, there is raw egg in this drink. Please use fresh eggs or use pasteurized egg white that comes in a carton.

Ingredients

  • 2 ice cubes
  • 3 Oz Pisco puro or acholado
  • 1 Oz simple syrup (see notes at bottom)
  • 1 Oz freshly squeezed lime juice
  • white of 1 egg (1Oz or 2 tablespoons)
  • 2 drops Angostura bitters

Recipe

Blend together all ingredients except the bitters. Pour into a glass and add the angostura bitters before serving.

If you have a cocktail shaker with strainer, shake all ingredients together except the ice and bitters first. Shake well as that’s what creates the silky foam. Then shake again with the ice cubes to chill. Strain into a glass and then add the bitters.

Pouring the cocktail into chilled glasses will earn you bartender points!

Notes

It can be difficult to find Pisco. If your state liquor board or store does not carry it, here are a couple of online sources.

http://www.wheretobuypisco.com/

http://www.johnwalker.com/Home.jsp?refresh=true

Making a simple syrup is easy and much better than adding granulated or powdered sugar. Just mix 1 part sugar to 1 part boiling water, mix well and allow to cool. I’d recommend using turbinado or demerara sugar for better flavor. Demerara sugar is especially a healthier choice than white sugar.

Many recipes call for 1.5 Oz lime juice. While the 3:1:1 ratio is traditional, I personally prefer more lime juice.

In Peru, local bitters are used. To my knowledge, they are not available in the US. Angostura bitters work great though.

Have you made Pisco Sours? What ratio do you use? What is your take on the Pisco debate?

¡Salud!

Veena

*After that trip to Peru, I was impressed with the Crooked Trails mission and served on their board. My opinion is biased!

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Filed under Chile, Cocktails, Peru, Recipe