Challenges · Creativity Challenge · desserts · Indian

Cometz 2017

The Department of Culinary Arts, Manipal, participated in the COMETZ 2017, a national level intercollegiate competition conducted by Sri Krishna Institution of Hotel Management and we were selected to compete against the other colleges in a number of events ranging from hot kitchen to solo dance and our college bagged the overall prize.

My teammate Venkatesh Lella and I were selected to participate in the Chef Competition wherein we had to prepare a 3 course menu in 3 hours.

We decided to prepare a menu based on the theme ‘India: a culinary masterpiece’. Using the recipes given to us by our Indian cuisine professor, Mr. Manoj Belwal, we tried to prepare a menu that encompassed the traditional regional recipes from all parts of India. 
The Emperor’s Obsession

Shah Jahan, the famous Mughal emperor was intrigued with the colour white which is clearly seen in his construction of the Taj Mahal.

We prepared Dahi ke Kebabs which consisted of fresh white hung curd stuffed with a tomato and onion seed paste and then deep fried. 


Unity in diversity

This dish has components hailing from all parts of India.

The coconut dish you see there is called ‘Daab Chingri’ which is a traditional dish of Bengal. This uses all parts of the tender coconut. Instead of using water in the gravy, tender coconut water is used. The gravy is thickened with coconut milk and cashew nut paste and even though the gravy is already quite rich in flavour at this stage, we’re not done with it yet. We transfer the gravy to the empty tender coconut shell, cover it and heat it directly over an open flame. 

Now is when the beautiful aroma of the burning coconut shell is slowly released while the tender coconut cream (malai) that lines the inside melts into the gravy making it super rich and velvety smooth. 

Accompanied with this is an aubergine stuffed with a toasted peanut, seasame and fennel paste along with Makni Gravy. 

The cones attached to the sides of the coconut are filled with rice of three different flavours: lemon, tomato and coriander. These rice dishes are typically seen in the south of India. Finally paired off with a bundle of Papads, this dish captures the essence of all the flavours of the various regions of India complementing each other beautifully. 


This dessert consists of rasmalai (again, a traditional Bengali sweet meat) flavoured with rose water and saffron and accompanied with flaked pistachios.

 The rasmalai is created by curdling milk with diluted vinegar and then only using the curdled milk solids while draining away the whey. You need to be careful about the kind of milk you use, the temperature of the hot milk, the fat content and even the concentration of acetic acid in the vinegar you use! After a lot of trial and error we finally cracked the code and achieved soft cloud-like rasmalai.

The honeycomb-like disk below the rasmalai is called ‘Ghevar’ which is a traditional sweet dish hailing from Rajasthan. This unique structure is created by slowly dropping a thin batter into extremely hot ghee. As soon as the batter hits the hot ghee, the water in the batter immediately turns to steam while the rest solidifies around it creating many air pockets. The batter is slowly poured layer by layer creating a thick disk. 

We drizzled some strawberry flavoured syrup over it to fill in the air pockets which beautifully complimented the flavour of the reduced milk sauce we served along with it. The soft, spongey texture of the rasmalai was contrasted with the crumbly melt-in-your-mouth texture of the rich Ghevar. 

The judges loved the menu so much that we won first place! 

Challenges · creativity · Creativity Challenge · desserts · Italian · patisserie

Dry Ice Challenge

Deconstructed Pesto Cheesecake 


For our Science of Cooking class, we learnt about dry ice and about how we could incorporate its usage in the Kitchen/Bakery.

To get us interested in the topic, our professor Mr.Prabakar Shastri, conducted a competition where in we had to use dry ice to prepare anything we wanted.

We realized that we could use the dry ice as a quick setting agent for a cold dessert.  So we froze basil leaves using the dry ice and then crumbled it. We then infused it into sweetened hot cream along with gelatin and cream cheese and sped up the setting process by whisking it over a bowl filled with dry ice to create a Sweet Basil Cheesecake.
We made a salty herb biscuit crumble, praline bits and a sweet tomato coulis to go along with it.

We won first place.

you can see us preparing the dessert this video.

Challenges · Creativity Challenge · Indian

Indian Tea-time, re-invented

Masala Chai and glucose biscuit bread


In Bakery Class, we were presented with a bread challenge. We had just finished learning about all kinds of breads and our bakery professor, Chef Vasanthan Sigamany challenged us to create a bread of our own, that was inspired by something typically Indian.

So I put my thinking cap on and tried to recollect everything I learnt in my Indian cuisine class. But no matter what flavours I came up with, nothing seemed to really stand out; just ordinary bread with a mixture of spices. A friend of mine then suggested I try doing something sweet, like an Indian sweetmeat addition or something of the like as pastry is my forte. So after a bit of brain storming, I came u

Chai and Glucose biscuits

p with the idea of using Masala Chai as my inspiration.

All over India, people of all social strata share a thing in common: their affinity for Chai. A common accompaniment to this would usually be some glucose biscuits.

And so I set to work.

I made a rich dough using milk as the only liquid component, but I stewed tea leaves and spices like cinnamon, clove, anise, cardamom and ginger to  infuse the flavour of Masala Chai.

I then made a paste by crushing glucose biscuits (Parle G) and adding melted butter to make a smooth paste. I rolled out my bread dough and laminated it with this paste, rolled it up and then snipped away using a pair of scissors to create a unique design to the bread loaf.

To accompany this loaf, I created a sweetened milk reduction called rabdi (another classic Indian dessert sauce). It complemented the bread beautifully and I got extra credits for it.

Challenges · creativity · Creativity Challenge · desserts · French · patisserie

French Patisserie competition

I went for a French Patisserie course at APB Cook Studio when I was 16 as I was eager to learn as much as I could about the pastry arts. We learnt to prepare numerous classical French desserts and pastry over a span of a month. At the end of the course, the various batches were gathered together for a contest.


We were told to prepare a dessert, with mousse as the main component. Not having much experience back then, I tried the best I could to complete the challenge.

I prepared a chocolate and coffee mousse between layers of chocolate cake, glazed it with chocolate ganache and added some meringue swirls for decoration. The mango cardamom sauce that I decorated the plate with added a contrasting flavour and added colour to the dish.


One of the judges was the owner of the famous Theobroma Patisserie and Boulangerie, Kainaz Messman and she loved the flavour of the contrasting sauce with the chocolate dessert.


Finally, the results were out and I won second place.