Born in Lucknow, Chef Ranveer Brar has been fascinated with food from a very young age. His Punjabi roots also have a big role to play in the start of his culinary career, which he traces back to the times when he would serve langar at a gurudwara. Brar has been a judge in four seasons of popular cooking reality show Masterchef India. His other shows include Breakfast Xpress, Snack Attack, Homemade, The Great Indian Rasoi, Health Bhi Taste Bhi, Ranveer’s Cafe, Food Tripping and Thank God It’s Fryday. 

Ranveer Brar has come up with his first book called Come into my Kitchen in which he has recounted his culinary journey and also compiled some of his best recipes.

Here’s an excerpt from the “Beautiful Breakfasts and Brunches” Chapter of the book:

Mushroom Chilla Crepes

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Chillas have been a quick breakfast option in India for years. Here is a recipe that I have put together that  makes them a little fancier, because sometimes it is good to make an everyday meal into a celebration. So many times we celebrate the glamorous and forget the plain. When, in fact, it is often the plain that holds things together. Like gram flour (besan), the flour made from Bengal gram (chana dal), a lentil that has been in India for eons. It grows in the most adverse conditions and yet is humble enough to lend itself to preparations of all kinds.

Savoury to sweet, starters to desserts, breakfast to dinner and so much in between. Did you know besan is rich in umami? That is why it is so versatile and why we like it so much. In this recipe, the potli immediately gets us to look at breakfast differently. It suggests a treasure to be discovered and it is one. The soft umami-rich besan pancakes are complemented by the succulent mushrooms that are powerhouses of umami too, subtly balanced by the fenugreek and cottage cheese (paneer). And because umami comes into its own when sour and sweet flavours share the plate with them, the chilla moneybags have been paired with a tangy fig chutney.

YIELD: Serves 2 | PROTEIN: Vegetarian PREPARATION TIME: 25 minutes | COOKING TIME: 15 minutes

INGREDIENTS
For the Chillas
• 1 cup gram flour (besan)
• 2 tbsp green coriander, chopped
• ½ tsp baking soda
• Salt to taste
• 1 tsp red chilli powder
• 1 tsp turmeric powder
• 1 tsp oil

For the Filling
• ½ cup mushrooms, chopped
• ¾ cup cottage cheese (paneer), grated
• ½ cup fenugreek (methi) leaves, chopped
• 1 tbsp oil
• 1 tsp carom seeds (ajwain)
• ¼ cup onion, chopped
• ¼ cup tomatoes, chopped
• 1 tsp red chilli powder
• 1 tsp asafoetida (hing)
• 1 tsp turmeric powder
• Salt to taste

For the Chutney
• 10 dried figs, chopped
• 1 tsp oil
• ½ tsp cumin seeds
• 1 tbsp sugar
• 1 tsp vinegar
• Up to 1 cup water

METHOD

For the Chillas: To prepare the batter, combine the gram flour, chopped coriander, baking soda, salt, red chilli powder and turmeric powder in a bowl. Add water and mix well. Rest the batter for 20 minutes.

For the Filling: Heat the oil in a pan. Add the carom seeds and chopped onion. Sauté for 2 minutes. Then add the tomatoes and fry for a minute. Add the red chilli powder, turmeric powder and asafoetida; stir-fry. Once the raw smell is gone, add the mushrooms and sauté on medium heat for 3-4 minutes. Once it dries out, add the grated cottage cheese and chopped fenugreek leaves. Mix gently till combined.  Add salt and check seasoning. Remove from heat and cool. Transfer to a plate and keep it in the fridge to chill. Once chilled, remove from the fridge. Meanwhile make the chutney.

For the chutney: Place the dried figs in a small bowl and pour ½ cup boiling hot water over it. Leave it aside for 10 minutes to rehydrate and become soft. Heat the oil in a small pan. Add the cumin seeds and allow to crackle. Place the softened figs in the pan with the sugar, vinegar and soaking water. Cook on medium heat, stirring all the while till it becomes a smooth, thick chutney. Adding up to ½ cup more water if required.

Assembly: Brush the same pan with some more oil and heat. Pour a ladleful of batter onto the hot pan and swirl to spread out into a crepe. Cook till golden on one side, flip over. Spoon some of the filling on one side and fold the crepe to form a semi-circle. Then fold the crepe again into a triangle. Once done, transfer to a plate and keep aside. Repeat with the remaining batter. Arrange three crepes on each plate, with their tips facing one direction. Spoon some of the chutney over, garnish with sprigs of coriander.

Vegetable Patch Pancake Platter

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Cabbage is the unsung hero of the kitchen. Cabbage, carrot, capsicum … there was a time when these vegetables did not exist in India. Most of them  were introduced by foreign invaders over the ages. Cabbage came to India in the 1800s thanks to the British (which is why it is still often called an ‘English vegetable’). Today it is one  of the most popular winter vegetables grown in India.

In my mind, cabbage is one of the humblest vegetables. For as long as it has existed, it has been the food of the hungry; a source of sustenance when little else is available. Its abundant leaves and fantastic health properties yield so much fibre and nutrition for a small price. Healthwise, cabbage is like a super hero; rich in minerals and vitamins A, B1, B2 and C (more than oranges!) it is an immune system booster, a detoxifier and so much more. ALSO READ: Healthy Breakfast series: Try these 3 delicious & healthy cup breakfast made in microwave instead of oily parathas

This recipe showcases the textures of cabbage in two ways.  Soft and tender in the pancakes and deliciously crunchy in the stir-fry. Asian flavours are the best complements to cabbage in my mind and the pepper and chilli in this recipe are testament to that. The subtle sweet notes of the carrot and the five-spice powder enhances this and the crunchy sesame and peanut topping plays the bridge to bring the dish together.

Try this dish out and join me in saying ‘Hats off’ to this super ingredient. I like to use older cabbages for long, slow-cooked soups and braises and lighter younger cabbages to shred into dishes requiring less cooking like stir-fries and fillings.

YIELD: Serves 2 | PROTEIN: Vegetarian PREPARATION TIME: 30 minutes | COOKING TIME: 10-15 minutes

INGREDIENTS

For the Carrot Ketchup
• 3 cups carrots, roughly chopped
• ¼ cup honey
• 1½ tbsp white vinegar
• ½ tsp Chinese five-spice powder
• 1½ tsp red chilli powder
• Salt to taste

For the Pancakes
• 1 cup cabbage, finely shredded
• 1 /3 cup capsicum, julienned
• 1 tsp green chillies, finely chopped
• 1 tsp ginger, grated
• 2 tbsp green coriander, finely chopped
• 2 spring onions with stems, finely chopped
• ½ tsp cumin powder
• ½ tsp red chilli powder
• ½ tsp turmeric powder
• Salt to taste
• 2 cups gram fl our (besan)
• 1 tsp baking powder
• Water as required
• 1½ tsp oil for shallow-frying

For the Cabbage Salad
• 1 tbsp oil
• ¼ green cabbage, julienned
• ¼ red cabbage, julienned
• ¼ tsp black pepper, freshly crushed
• 2 tbsp green coriander, finely chopped
• 1½ tsp soy sauce

For the Nutty Garnish
• 1 tbsp oil
• 2 tbsp garlic, finely chopped

METHOD

For the Carrot Ketchup
Pressure cook or boil the carrots till it is cooked. Purée the carrots in a blender, strain and keep aside. Transfer this purée to a saucepan and heat. When warm, add the honey, white vinegar, fi ve-spice powder, red chilli powder and salt. Mix well and bring to the boil. Lower heat and simmer for 3-5 minutes, till reduced to half. Check and adjust seasoning as required.

For the Pancakes
In a bowl, combine the cabbage, capsicum, green chillies, ginger, green coriander, spring onions, cumin powder, red chilli powder, turmeric powder and salt; mix well. Allow to rest for 5 minutes. Add the gram flour and baking powder; mix well. Add enough water to make a thick batter of pouring consistency. Leave to rest for another 10 minutes. Heat the oil in a pan; pour a little batter with the help of a ladle into the pan to make a pancake. Fry the pancake till golden brown on one side. Flip and fry till done on the other side. Transfer to a plate. Repeat till all the pancakes are cooked and batter is over.

For the Cabbage Salad
Heat oil on a flat pan. Add and roast the cabbage in the still hot pan. Add a pinch of salt, black pepper, coriander and drizzle with soy sauce. This will result in a slightly pickled, tender, crunchy cabbage. Stir-fry lightly for a minute to wilt.  Mix well and transfer to a plate. Set aside to cool.

For the Nutty Garnish
Heat the oil in the same pan. Add the garlic and fry till crisp and golden. Add the peanuts, sesame seeds and red chilli flakes; quickly toast. Mix well and transfer to a plate. Add the spring onions and combine.

To Assemble
Take two plates. Using a ring mould cut circles out of the cooked pancakes. On each plate, place a little prepared salad. Place a pancake circle over it. Spread with the carrot ketchup. Place more salad over this. Repeat layers again. Finish with pancake. Decorate the plate with carrot ketchup. Sprinkle nutty garnish. Serve hot.

‘Indulge Her’ Berry Delicious Muesli Tarts

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This is one of those dishes that come together in a stroke of inspired jugaad and go on to become family favourites. I still remember it was a dull, grey morning; the kind where diving back into bed seems far more appealing than trying to be an adult and getting on with life. My wife, Pallavi, was poking around in the fridge trying to put together something cheerful for breakfast but came up with just a half box of strawberries and some imperfect tart shells from a recipe trial earlier. She joked about eating dessert for breakfast.

Now I’m not one to keep such distinctions sacrosanct. So I stewed the berries into a jam and spread it on the tart shells. A big scoop of nutty muesli went on top for the crunch. A few fresh berry slices and dusting of powdered sugar and we were set! We decided to forego the whipped cream for a dollop of yoghurt (it was morning after all). Now whenever she feels blue or wants a pick-me-up, this tart is requested and I am more than happy to oblige.

YIELD: Serves 2 | PROTEIN: Egg | PREPARATION TIME: 20 minutes | COOKING TIME: 20 minutes

INGREDIENTS
For the Berry Topping
• 6 strawberries, washed, hulled and quartered
• 1 tsp honey
• ½ cup dried blueberries
• 2 tsp sugar, powdered

For the Tart
• 2 cups refined flour + more for dusting
• 1 tsp baking soda
• 2 tbsp sugar, powdered
• ¾ cup butter, cold, cubed
• 3 tbsp strawberry jam
• 3½ tbsp muesli

For the Garnish
• Icing sugar to dust
• Mint leaf

METHOD
For the Berry Topping
In a saucepan, heat the honey. Then add the strawberries and dried blueberries. Add the powdered sugar and water. Stir to combine. Cook on low heat till it becomes a thick, chunky sauce.

For the Tart
Pre-heat the oven at 180oC. Sieve the refined flour and baking soda together. In a large mixing bowl, combine the fl our mixture with the powdered sugar and the cold butter. With the tips of your fingers, gently rub the butter into the flour till it becomes sand-like in consistency. Pour the water and knead into a dough. Be careful not to over-work the dough. Wrap the dough in cling film and leave it to rest in the fridge for 20-30 minutes. Dust a working surface with refined flour and roll out the dough into a thin, large circle. Use a knife or mould to cut it into a circle slightly larger than the tart moulds.

Grease the tart moulds with butter and dust with refined flour. Carefully place the prepared rounds of dough on the tart mould with the help of your rolling pin. Trim overhanging uneven edges with the help of a knife and discard. With a fork lightly prick the tart shell. Whisk the strawberry jam in a bowl till smooth and spread a layer on the tart shell. Sprinkle the muesli on top. Bake the tarts in the oven for 12-15 minutes till the shells turn golden brown. Once the tart is baked, remove it from the tart mould and leave it to cool slightly on a wire rack. Spoon the berry topping and dust with powdered sugar. Serve garnished with mint leaf.

Brar’s book Come into My Kitchen will be launched today at TAG Gourmart Kitchen. It’s available for online purchase at Amazon.in.

Published By: Harper Collins India; Length: 184 pages; Price: Rs 363 (paperback)