When Foodaholics in Ahmedabad went ‘#FIAwinterenrgezier’

Foodaholics in Ahmedabad group needs no introduction. The most happening group connecting foodies has always thrived with excitement, questions, suggestions, reviews and more. However, December 2014 gave its members another reason to shine and buzzle with excitement. Esha Shah, admin, Foodaholics in Ahmedabad says, “Foodaholics in Ahmedabad is a virtual community on Facebook which brings together people who love food; Love it and Live for it. We decided to throttle the group activities into a much more constructive direction in order to shake the members to challenge their latent talents. Hence transpired the thought of having a community building activity.”

Therefore, Esha Shah & Rohan Bhatt (admins) came with an activity #FIAwinterenrgizer where foodies need to innovate new dishes ever week with the specified ingredients. “All of us are fabulous thinkers and innovators. It is impossible to compare diversity! The idea was to remind all of us that there is much more to food than just eating and 'reviewing' it. There are more interesting disciplines like - planning, creating, making, serving and eating! At the end, it is always about having Fun! And it was so much of that and more”, continues Esha. “The idea behind the contest was to bring out the primary purpose of the online forum, which was – Love for food. Amidst a lot of stuff that was going on, the members seemed to have lost touch with their inner chef. The aim behind the activity was to get the brain cells up and running and bring out the hidden innovators and chefs among members,” adds Rohan.

The Thought behind hashtag #FIAwinterenrgizer

For such a unique thing, you do need a unique tag hence; #FIAwinterenrgizer became the official tag. The tag was Esha idea and she says, “I'm a trainer by profession and in training sessions we inculcate a lot of energizers. What energizers do is to rejuvenate people out of monotony and recharge them for a fresher perspective. And we decided to launch it during winters since it offers the maximum range of produce. Hence the name #FIAWinterEnergizer.”

Esha Shah
Not only that, the entire group was lightened with the energy of members who surprised everyone with their innovative dishes. Regarding this Rohan says, “The members have been really supportive and the best part is, more than us, it was the group members who were eager for the new ingredients. In fact I was extremely sad when the FIAwinterenergizer ended. But, then end results in a beginning as well, so let’s see what ’15 has in store for the Foodaholics.”

Rohan Bhatt
Well, well, there are some beans split from him. Esha adds to it, “Member's response has been fabulous! We had 40 people participate in cumulating of this activity, spread across four weeks. Most of them participated each week! We could feel a newer and stronger vibe in people to experiment and discover their expertise in kitchen. People came up with mind-boggling dishes made out of whacky combinations of ingredients! The positivity, support and increased respect among all of us was overwhelming and we didn't expect any lesser from our group.”

Winner’s Speak

The challenge had two winners Bhumi Rajgor and Shivangi Sharma who won twice on the activity.
Bhumi who won week 1 and week 4 for her innovative recipes Spiced Carrot Cake Waffles and Spiced Carrot Cake Smoothie and Croquembouche says, “The week 1 challenge was to create something innovative with carrots, yoghurt, almonds and cinnamon. While all the ingredients pointed towards a cake, my waffle maker was lying idle since some time and I didn't have much time on hand for a cake so therefore, I made waffles. 

Spiced Carrot Cake Waffles
Spiced Carrot Cake Smoothie 

With the croquembouche, I have always admired a pretty tower especially when I see exquisite wedding Croquembouches with pretty flowers and butterflies. And when I saw Courtney make it on Masterchef, I was dying to try my hand at it. The ingredients for week 5 which were chickpeas, radish, guava, red chilies and cheese were tweaked to make the croquembouche.”

Shivangi Sharma who won two week consecutively, Week 2 and 3 says, “For Week 2, the ingredients were sweet potato, walnuts, mint… Wait sweet potato? I hate sweet potato. At first I made, sweet potato semolina patties with beet-walnut tzakiki and fresh green salad with orange vinaigrette. Then the flood of posts started. I was nothing short of amazed. It was like master chef or something. Maybe I could do it too. So I got my thinking cap on and did a lot of brainstorming. And came up with mint ice-cream oysters (mint ice-cream served with sweet potato tuile, served on a bed of walnut brownie crumble and candied walnuts in caramel cage) And the response was heartwarming. I felt so encouraged. It took me 2 days to make all the components and put them together but was it worth it.

mint ice-cream oysters

For week 3, Spinach was the core ingredient. I was about to make pasta but then I thought 'why not a dessert'… But how? And with cornmeal? This is going to get tough. At first, it seemed impossible. Then came this -Spinach mille-feuille (spinach cake layers, layered with vanilla coconut cream frosting, chocolate shards and served with polenta cookies n strawberry sorbet sandwiches) damn! The best part was the spinach cake turned skeptics into believers.”

Spinach mille-feuille 

Behind the Final Products:

Shivangi says, “Cooking is my guilty pleasure. I love how a beautiful meal brings together everyone, irrespective of anything else. That smile, glint of surprise and childlike wonder that art on a plate evokes, makes me feel mushy. Like the smell of wet soil after the first rain. I have been experimenting a lot recently (despite of the heavy objections and warnings from my family) but never gave it a serious thought. Then there was FIAwinterenergizer! I thought it was interesting and worth a shot. The time period, the limited ingredients and freedom to paint a picture. Not to win or anything but just to take up a challenge and see what I could actually do.

Shivangi Sharma
When I saw d first list of ingredients (carrots, cream cheese, cinnamon, almonds) the first thought was spiced carrot cupcakes with cream cheese frosting. They came out beautifully. Took pics, posted them n voila! I used to like other people's pics n recipes and never thought I'd be at d receiving end. The thrill of being appreciated by everyone in a very positive way was so encouraging n enthralling. I saw what other people made n boy was i amazed! Such creativity! At least I knew for a fact that I would have to get on my boots on d coming week. Yet i felt so accomplished.

For week 4, it was Apple Jalebis served with fig n guava kulfi and cheese tuile. Garnished with pistachios and rose. My family has a new favorite. The apple jalebis were a smashing hit.
I think this initiative has brought out the best in cooking enthusiasts like me and transformed our creative bugs into butterflies. Now that December is over, I miss all the brain storming, mess in the kitchen, and photography sessions.”

Bhumi shares her experience by adding, “The entire contest was so much fun. It really pushed me to think beyond boundaries and get creative. It has made me realize that food is so much more than tried and tested way of making cuisines. Every ingredient is so versatile and gives tastes amazing when paired with unusual ingredients. I feel grateful to have won twice. It is because of all the love and appreciation of fellow foodies whose wonderful comments and likes made me win. I just hope the dishes have inspired many people to get in the kitchen and try their hand at some recipes.

Bhumi Rajgor

I have created all the dishes after a lot of brainstorming. Some dishes were a piece of cake and some took so many trials and errors to be made. Week 1 recipes spiced carrot cake waffles and smoothies were so easy. They took literally 10 minutes to be done. And the wonderful aroma of cinnamon wafting through the house brought in early Christmas. Week 2 was sweet potatoes, walnuts, cream, and mint. I made a cheesecake and churros with dark chocolate mint ganache dipping sauce.  The sweet potatoes are so versatile that churros and cheesecake didn't taste like they had been made out of them. And the chocolate mint ganache tasted like a lot of melted after eights. Amazing. Week 3 challenge was very exciting since it had my favorite fruit strawberries. I wanted to make like 5 items. But settled for 2. This week was so difficult because I had run into many difficulties. Strawberries were spoiled, shortcakes burnt but finally the gorgeous tower of cornmeal shortcakes layered with strawberries and buttercream was made. Along with spinach mint meringue cookies. And spinach pinwheel strawberry trifle.

Oh and how can I forget the famously trending white chocolate Rudolph snowflake? Just in time for Christmas. Week 4 was the herculean item Croquembouche. I made like 600 cream puffs over two and half days for the tower of this size. I never thought I would pair guavas with cream cheese but it tasted mind blowing. And the caramelized red chilies, dark chocolate covered chickpeas and radish butterflies were such whacky innovations. I practiced Spun Sugar for two days and burnt both my hands in the process but finally it got made. All the effort was totally worth it in the end.”

Admin’s Speak on the entire activity:

With so much of vibrancy, it was difficult yet overwhelming for admins to pick up their favorite. “No one, if asked, will pick a favorite. It is impossible to outweigh one innovation from another. A khichu, which had none of the assigned ingredients made by Sadiyah Faruki's mother is as much a winner as Bhumi Rajgor's Croquembouche. All of them were fantastic and worth curation! The fact that 40 out of 23,000 members participated diligently in itself outshines them and makes them all winners! It was an activity and activity never has winners. This has given us a lot of confidence and encouragement to conduct more of such virtual activities! We foresee more and more participation. We will all be a part of interestingly engaging food challenges round the year!”

While to this, Rohan adds, “They were all amazing creations! One’s better than the other! My favorite so far has been Shivangi Sharma’s Spinach Mille Feuille. Who would have thought, right?  The energizer actually got me charged up enough to compile all the ingredients at the end of 4 weeks and make stuff!” -
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