Cittamani tells about India and its Festival of Lights, with the wishes of a chef who straddles two cultures
Today also in Milan the Indian Christmas is celebrated, Diwali. Indian chef Ritu Dalmia tells us about some dishes she prepared to celebrate him in her restaurant, the Cittamani in Milan.
Cittamani is the female figure of the Buddha. In Milan it is also the restaurant opened in 2017 by the Indian chef Ritu Dalmia, author of cookbooks, famous TV face with dedicated programs and well-known entrepreneur in her country, with eight places that are part of the Diva Restaurants group, restaurants inspired … Italy, because this extraordinary chef is in love with our cuisine, to the point that one of her television broadcasts in her homeland is called Italian Khana. Passionate about the cuisines of the world, ambassador of the excellence of gastronomy and Italian products in India, Ritu Dalmia – who defines herself as a food teller, a storyteller of Indian food – today divides her time between her motherland and our Peninsula, where in addition to Cittamani she opened, with Viviana Varese and also in Milan, Spica, ethnic cuisine from all over the world.
Stuck in India for months with the advent of the pandemic, Ritu devoted herself to researching and studying ingredients she didn't know much about, making them her own and incorporating them into her dishes, with excellent results. "At the time, I knew and used what I now consider a limited number of spicesExplains Ritu«Now I can infuse a true symphony of flavors into my recipes". A forced break that has fortunately transformed into personal and professional growth, an evolution of tastes and colors that today characterizes Cittamani's dishes, which after a long period of delivery only has reopened its doors in Brera, in Piazza Mirabello.
Cittamani is confirmed as a place of comfort, ideal for eating but also chatting, for having a drink, for discovering a new flavor, for sharing a culinary experience with a friend. To celebrate, like today.
Diwali or Festival of Lights
Every autumn, India lights up to celebrate one of its most significant and heartfelt holidays, the Diwali, or Festival of Lights. On this occasion, houses, courtyards, gardens and roofs are illuminated by the light of candles and traditional lamps called diya, to celebrate the victory of Light over Darkness, of Good over Evil. A party that also celebrates health and well-being, a wish for economic prosperity. On November 4th, chef Ritu Dalmia presents a special menu at the Festival of Lights, with dishes like the Badam ka halwa (his favorite dessert) or the Kheer. The chef gives us both the recipe.
Badam ka halwa
Ingredients for 3-4 people: 200 g of almonds – 200 ml of milk – 200 g of sugar – 100 ml of ghee (clarified butter) – 5 strands of saffron, soaked in 2 tablespoons of water – 4 pods of cardamom, crushed in a pestle and mortar, discarded the peel – 100 ml of water – Flaked almonds for decoration – 20 ml of ghee to add at the end
1) To do the day before: soak the almonds in water overnight.
2) The next day, remove the peel, set aside some almonds for decoration. Grind the almonds with half the milk to form a smooth paste.
3) Subsequently dissolve the ghee in a saucepan. Add the water and bring to a boil, then turn off the heat and add the sugar, until it dissolves completely.
4) Then, turn the heat back on over low heat, add the almond paste and balanced with cardamom milk and saffron. Keep stirring over medium heat.
5) You will see thehalwa begin to thicken, on the one hand it will dry out and begin to crack. Continue to mix for about 15-20 minutesuntil it turns a nice brown color. Add the ghee, mix well and serve hot with the almond flakes.
Ingredients for 5-6 people: 80 g of white rice – 1l of semi-skimmed milk – 100g of white sugar – 10g of almonds – 10g of raisins – 10g of unsalted pistachios – 10g of peanuts – 10g of ghee ghee) – 5g of green cardamom – Saffron in pistils for decoration
1) Soak the rice in a bowl with water for 2-3 hours.
2) In another pot, bring to a boil the milk, add the cardamom and rice, and cook over low heat until the rice absorbs 3/4 of the milk, then remove the cardamom.
3) Mix frequently so that the rice does not stick to the bottom.
4) Meanwhile, in another pan, caramelized dried fruit with ghee.
5) At this point, add the rice, sugar and to the pan stir for 5 minutes. Then add half of the dried fruit and mix for another 5 minutes.
6) Remove from heat e let cool. When it's cold, decorated with the rest of the caramelized dried fruit and the saffron in pistils. To be served cold.
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