December 14, 2020

Pecan Nuts for the Festive Days

Nuts, the bite-size nutritional powerhouses are nature’s way of showing us that great things come in small packages. They are rich in healthy fats, protein, vitamins and essential minerals. While they all are good for health, different nuts have different nutrition credentials that offer various health benefits. We can’t really say one is better than the other, so we are picking Pecan nut as they are widely used during this festive season.

The buttery rich flavoured pecan nut is one of the popular edible tree nuts in the west. Although it is available and cultivated worldwide, it is native to central and southern parts of the United States of America.

Pecans are known for many health-benefiting nutrients that are essential for optimum wellbeing. They are heart-friendly and rich in anti-oxidants which make them effective at lowering cholesterol levels and help you maintain healthy functioning arteries. There is an abundance of oleic acid in pecan nuts that are found in olives & avocado, and are also a good source of vitamin B3 that helps fighting fatigue or sluggishness. To put in simple words, pecan nuts aid in digestion, bone and teeth health, reduce the risk of breast cancer and stroke, help in weight loss and strengthens the immune system as well.

Pecans, like most of the nuts, have an important role in maintaining good skin and hair health too. It is rich in nutrients such as vitamin E, vitamin A, folate, zinc and phosphorous which are essential for flawless skin.  The regular consumption of pecans in moderation will prevent most of the skin problems giving you a glowing and clear complexion. Pecans are also an excellent source of L-arginine amino acids that encourages hair growth and it also prevents hair loss taking care of the blood iron levels.

After this read, we are sure you know your favourite nut a little bit more. So, why not try and include this health booster to your everyday diet and see the results for yourself. And, now that we are celebrating the holidays why not whip up some savoury or sweet goodies with this power-packed nut and give celebrations a healthy twist.

Try making this Chocolate Pecan Roll recipe during this holiday season for your family and friends to enjoy the nutty goodness of pecan nuts in a delightful treat.

December 11, 2020

The Humble Beginning Of Fruitcake

Crisp white icing, boozy soaked dried fruits and the rich sweetness of marzipan say it all about Christmas. Decorated with fondant, icing sugar or even plain, a traditional Christmas fruitcake becomes much more than just a cake. No matter how much you prepare for the festive feast, it will not be complete without a fruitcake, and not to mention the most appreciated symbol of festive hospitality during the Christmas season.

The culinary lore says that fruitcake was not that common until the Roman times. For Christmas Eve, they used to make a ring-shaped dessert called Plum Porridge with a mixture of plums, pomegranate seeds, pine nuts, and barley mash. Later, during the Middle Ages that dessert took a form of Christmas pudding with the addition of fruits, spices, and honey to the oatmeal mixture.

Beginning of Fruit Cake


Towards the 16th century, the oatmeal in the pudding was replaced by cake ingredients such as eggs, butter, and flour. This mixture was then boiled into the plum cake. Eventually, fresh plums were substituted in the cake by dried plums or prunes, which were quite popular dessert ingredients of the time. By the 17th century, plums were completely out of the scene with raisins filling in the gaps, although the name continued to remain the same.

As time passed on, the upper class of the society started using ovens to bake the cake with the addition of dried fruits and spices to it. It was during this time the discovery of fruit preservation was made by soaking it in a higher concentration of sugar which was eventually replaced by alcohol with the addition of candied fruits, during the Victorian era.

In Europe, a ceremonial fruitcake was baked at the end of the nut harvest season, which was saved and eaten the following year to celebrate the beginning of another harvest season. In those days, previous year’s fruitcakes were consumed in the hope that its symbolism would bring another successful year of harvest.

Each successive century seemed to contribute or change yet another element to the cake, and by the early 18th century, the cake became pure decadence and was proclaimed “sinfully rich”, a name the cake has managed to carry till date in all its glory.

Interested in learning the culinary techniques and methods in baking and patisserie?

Head to our Professional Patisserie Program page and learn more about the course in detail.


December 3, 2020

The Rise Of Specialty Coffee

Are you a coffee person? Is it the unreeling aroma of freshly brewed coffee that defines a perfect beginning to your day? Do you feel the unique bitter taste of coffee irresistible to your senses? If yes is your answer to at least one of the above questions, then undoubtedly, your barista plays a very important role in making your day. On several lazy mornings and brain-dead afternoons, this barista person has come to your rescue serving the liquid energy booster that your body has longed for, in the form of Espresso, Cappuccino, Latte, Iced, and all possible caffeinated concoction of this potent drink.

Coffee is an extremely popular choice of drink around the world.  A majority of us start and end our days with a nice steaming cup of coffee. Many a time I have wondered why people, including me, addictively enjoy coffee. Is it because of the energy boost that caffeine provides us, or just the fact that it’s an instant mood enhancer? Whatever the reason, the use of coffee has reached a point where its priority has gone much beyond it being just a beverage.

Making coffee is no more considered as a layman’s job. It is a combination of art and techniques. Coffee is a big deal in itself when it comes to the professional level. People are serious about their choice of taste when they pick their coffee. This is where a barista proves their distinction in the world of coffee.

Like in any other field, it is with a considerable amount of knowledge & skills and practices that a person becomes a barista or simply put, a Pro in coffee. You wouldn’t believe how many lab tests and experimentation a coffee bean might have gone through before it gets categorized as speciality. When a barista tastes a cup of coffee, he/she will taste it more knowledgeably soaking their senses in its distinct flavour and aroma. They don’t just taste the coffee, they feel and inhale the freshness of the beans, the perfection in its roasting & brewing, the robust flavour of naturally processed beans and much more.

Coffee is not limited to being just a beverage but is a big deal in the world of culinary as well. It is a popular taste enhancer and flavour used in desserts, cakes, salad dressings and even in meat marination. It is such a versatile bean that its characteristics can be altered from extreme bitterness to the mellow sweetness that can satisfy all the ends of the palate.

The best part about coffee is, it is not only flavourful but has many health benefits also. Taking these characteristics into account coffee remains by far one of the best discoveries in the world.

If you’re passionate about coffee and are intrigued by the world of Baristas, the Barista Program at ICCA Dubai will give you an insight into what speciality coffee is all about, from seed to cup, including the business aspects around setting up your very own cafe!

To learn more about the Barista Program, request a callback and our Student Admissions Team will get in touch with you...

November 25, 2020

6 Best Types Of Cookies From Around The World

Most of the home baking happens during the beginning of the holiday season, particularly December. And this is the time when people take more interest in even signing up for baking classes, to make sure their festive cakes and cookies are impressive for the season!

Cookies have always been associated with a cup of hot tea/coffee or a glass of warm milk. Tea time certainly calls for some cookies. Most of us have childhood memories of dunking cookies into a glass of warm milk and enjoying the melt-in-mouth texture of the dunked cookie. Those were some fun days, but it’s a different thing that some of us still enjoy doing it. No matter what, one can’t deny the fact that cookies are one of the favourite little bites everyone likes to munch on, with or without accompaniments.

We are all aware of the general concept of a cookie, but there is much more to it when it comes to the regional varieties. When we say regional, we are talking cookies around the world here. This holiday season, we have picked a few interesting regional cookie varieties for you to nudge the baker within.

1. Alfajores – Argentina

Argentinian Cookies - Alfajores

Alfajores are an important part of the Argentinean culture. These are made with two soft, and crumbly butter cookies sandwiched around a luscious dollop of dulce de leche. Indeed a sinful indulgence. I tasted these beauties when our patisserie students made a fresh batch a few months ago and trust me this can easily qualify as a dessert cookie.

2. Springerle – Germany

German Cookies - Springerle

Pretty unusual name, right? Well, in this case, the cookie flavour and form is also a bit special in its own way.  These are anise-flavored German Christmas cookies with a design carved out of rolled dough by pressing a mould onto it and allowing the impression to dry before baking. Quite a serious procedure for a cookie.

3. Nankhatai – India

India Cookies - Nankhatai

This cookie is not as complicated as its name. Nankhatai is an authentic Indian eggless shortbread cookie mostly made during festivals. It has a melt-in-mouth feel, made with Ghee (clarified butter) & flour, flavored with Cardamom or Saffron and topped with Almond or Pistachios. There is no doubt that some of the authentic recipes like this could just take our taste buds to a whole new level.

4. Persian Rice Cookies – Iran

Persian Rice Cookies - Iran

These are rich in texture, gluten-free and rose water & cardamom scented rice flour sugar cookies. The cookies are said to have originated from Kermanshah, a beautiful mountain area in Iran where rice is grown. I am sure this would be a great addition to the traditional sugar cookies for this holiday season to get your friends and family excited.

5. Tahini Shortbread Cookies – Israel

Israel Cookies - Tahini Shortbread

Tahini in a cookie! Surprised? Well don’t be, it’s a great addition that not only adds a nutty flavour but also balances the sweetness and leaves you asking for more. It replaces the butter too in the recipe, making it a healthy option to munch on.

6. Curd Cheese Cookies – Ukraine

Ukraine Cookies - Curd Cheese

Curd Cheese Cookies are mentioned both in American and Soviet cookbooks and they sort of share the same ingredients too, but that’s where the similarities end. The actual name of the cookie is Tvorog cookies; Tvorog being a Russian milk product which is a kind of curd cheese. These cookies are lightly sweet, crisp and crumbly.

Cookies are very simple to put together, quick to bake and are fun to decorate, which makes them the favourites of bakers too. Learning the fundamentals of Baking and Patisserie is the key to handle any kind of intricate cookie recipe from around the world. Try your hands on some of the regional varieties of your choice and enjoy the holiday season over a cup of tea and some light & crunchy homemade cookies with your loved ones.

October 26, 2020

Must Watch List Of Movies And Tv Series For Foodies

Entertainment plays a big role in moulding our interests and hobbies to sometimes even our careers. And, the culinary world is one such industry that has gained a lot of attention after it has been highlighted in the showbiz through various food shows and movies. We can’t deny the fact that being in the kitchen was not a much-fancied career choice for most of them in the earlier days even if they had an interest in cooking. But today things have changed, thanks to the media for taking the culinary industry to a whole new level, where it is considered as a pretty fancy profession for the food enthusiasts.

On that note, today we are here with a list of movies and food shows that are based on food, cooking, baking, chefs and even some memorable food scenes that could trigger the foodie in you.

1. Chef

Movie for Foodies - Chef

The movie ‘Chef’ tells you the story about a head chef taking up a food truck after giving up on his fancy restaurant job because of a controlling owner that comes in the way of his creativity. The most drool-worthy food scene in the movie is where he prepares the cheese sandwich for his son along with other mentionable scenes such as the pasta preparation for Scarlett and also when they taste the smoked meat. The movie also shows the importance of social media in the food business, especially for start-ups.

2. Julie & Julia

The movie is the film adaptation of the book ‘Julie & Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen’ by Julie Powell based on her own blog ‘The Julie/Julia Project’, where she posted about her attempt to cook all the recipes from Julia Child’s cookbook- Mastering the Art of French Cooking. From the beginning to the end it’s a splendid gastronomical journey where an amateur tries her best to cook one recipe from the book for 365 days in her limited spaced kitchen. It has also inspired many aspiring food bloggers or to say it gave a new dimension to food blogging itself. There are many memorable scenes in this movie and it’s difficult to pick just a few.

3. The Hundred-Foot Journey

Movie for Foodies - The 100-foot journey

It is about an extraordinarily talented and self-taught culinary novice and how he grows to a celebrated professional chef in France who is displaced from his native India along with his family and settles down in a French village where they start an Indian eatery which is only 100 feet away from a well-acclaimed and sophisticated French restaurant. Although there are many appetizing scenes in the movie, my favourite is the omelette making scene by Hassan with his secret box of Indian spices that he inherited from his motA mouth-watering dessert show hosted by Harry Eastwood, a British-born pastry chef and cookbook author whose adopted home is Paris, the city of love and food. It is an interesting series where she takes inspiration from walking into traditional French bakeries and biting into delectable French classic desserts & pastries to try at home for her friends and colleagues who visit her often. More than learning a French dessert in every other episode the other good part about this show is that you will get to see the local bakeries in Paris and their delicacies.

4. David Rocco’s Dolce Vita/India

David Rocco is not a chef but he’s a food and cooking enthusiast who learned to cook simple and delicious Italian dishes from his mother and started this television food series called David Rocco’s Dolce Vita where he travels around Italy and explores Italian cuisine and attempts those recipes by himself. It’s not one of those usual cookery shows that you see on TV, it’s more about exploring the Italian culture and lifestyle through food. Other than Dolce Vita he has such series with different places among which is Dolce India where he travels around India to try & learn about foods of an Indian household and their flavour to incorporate them in an authentic Italian dish.

5. Baking Good, Baking Bad

TV Series for Foodies - Baking Good, Baking Bad

A mouthwatering dessert show hosted by Harry Eastwood, a British-born pastry chef and cookbook author whose adopted home is Paris, the city of love and food. It is an interesting series where she takes inspiration from walking into traditional French bakeries and biting into delectable French classic desserts & pastries to try at home for her friends and colleagues who visit her often. More than learning a French dessert in every other episode the other good part about this show is that you will get to see the local bakeries in Paris and their delicacies.

6. Friends

TV Series for Foodies - Friends

Who doesn’t remember this 90’s favourite and evergreen TV series that revolves around six friends and their lives, in a humorous background? For the ones who think that this show is mentioned here by mistake, let me tell you that although the series is all about fun and laughter it had a lot to do with food as well in a subtle but good enough way to trigger the foodie in you. Every season of this show had a Thanksgiving episode with a splendid spread of typical American dinner by Chef Monica who is madly in love with food. It never failed to show how important sandwich is to Joey, and the way he explains how to make a good sandwich is quite tempting. Again, you will always find them at the Central Perk coffee shop sipping coffee and fighting over muffins. And oh, how can we forget Chandler’s Thanksgiving dinner Mac n Cheese and Rachel’s English Beef Trifle?

July 27, 2020

The New Wave of Veganism

Veganism, a philosophical lifestyle choice than just a diet is here to stay. It is a thoughtful way of life where the consumption of anything that is of animal origin is avoided by choice. 

When we say veganism as a lifestyle it is not just about the diet; a vegan is not supposed to use any animal-based products even for clothing or any other purpose. People opt for veganism because of ethical reasons involving animal rights, environmental factors, or health benefits. 

When it comes to the subject of animal rights, the prevention of animal exploitation is the key factor for vegans to choose veganism. Having an emotional attachment with animals also adds to this, but mostly they believe in the right to life and freedom for every sentient creature. As far as animal rights are concerned avoiding animal products in any way is the only solution to animal cruelty.  

The adverse effect due to the consumption of animal products is not only limited to animal exploitation, but it affects the environment as well.  The commercial production of animal products causes an adverse impact on the environment because of the farm to fork processes. The acres of land required growing the amount of crop feed for meat and dairy production adds to serious environmental issues such as deforestation and species extinction. On the other hand, for a vegan diet, the quantity of crops and water required is considerably less, making it an easy and effective way to reduce the harmful impact on the environment. 

Apart from the above-said reasons, nowadays, more people are turning to veganism for health benefits also. This plant-based diet is packed with all the essential vitamins, minerals, iron, protein, and calcium helping you to have flawless younger-looking skin and boosted energy levels.  

The vegan diet is usually low in saturated fat, high in fibre and rich in antioxidants which help you fight against the modern-day health issues such as diabetes, heart disease cancer, and obesity.

Going vegan is easier than ever before with its increased popularity which is making it quite mainstream now.  It is not a difficult routine to follow even if you want to eat out once in a while as you will easily find vegan items on most of the menus. 


July 23, 2020

Salad Party – Cooling off the Heat

Summer brings some refreshing thoughts of lemonades, citrus fruits, ice popsicles, and colourful salads. It is this time of the year when we gear ourselves up to try and shed all the extra calories we had during the winter holidays which was followed by the lockdown during which we all turned towards food for comfort and coped with the stress with our endless rounds of snacking and indisciplined food habits. Now that it is bright, sunny, and open, it's time to take things into our hands and restart the summer on a healthy note with a refreshingly light & tasty salad party. 

As assumed, salad parties are not about healthy and boring food on the counter. It is more of a casual and open-air party that you can set up for your friends and family by the poolside or in your backyard garden on a weekend to enjoy the warm weather with them. Since the party is held in an open-air environment, there will be more physical activities like sports and games involved in making the party more fun.

Throwing a salad party is not only healthy for the guests but time effective for the host also. You don't have to cook much for a salad party, all you have to do is to cut some veggies and fruits, thus making it an excellent platform for you to showcase your knife skills too. 

Serving salad from starter to dessert gives you a variety of effortless options. You can make bite-size starters with raw veggies along with feta or goat cheese, grilled meat pieces, mushrooms, olives, etc. the options are plenty to serve the starters with some bread and dips.

To serve some drinks, you have lemonade, fresh juices, or impress the guests with your own fruit punches.

For the main course, you can choose wholemeal salads like Shrimp Ceasar Salad, Thai Beef Salad, or a Modern Tabbouleh, that provides itself as a complete meal.

When it comes to desserts at a salad party, fruits and nuts come to the rescue. Play with different fruit combinations with your choice of nuts, drizzle some honey or even melted dark chocolate and satisfy your sweet tooth on a healthy note.

As far as kids are concerned, be easy on them and serve them some ice creams, sorbet, custard, or even some whipped cream along with the fruits and nuts, and they would be more than happy to have them. 

When you decide to throw a salad party, remember it is a win-win situation for everyone. It's healthy, relaxing, fun-filled, and satisfying for both the guest and the host.

Let's get a whole new healthy party season started!  


July 18, 2020

Urban Farm to Table

Vegan, organic, farm-to-table, etc. are familiar terms for healthy eating. These days, it is a common trend to see restaurants and cafes adapting to healthier ways of serving food. This is a welcome change that we hope continues to permeate our lives. 

The extreme commercialization of raw food materials has made us realize the importance of organic farming for a healthier lifestyle. We are well aware of the downside of eating adulterated foods, however, we still refuse to take any healthy initiative for our own betterment. We blame our circumstances and changed lifestyle and are averse to taking that extra effort for our well being and continue putting our health in jeopardy. 

When we, as individual households find enough excuses not to do our bit, a recruitment company called Pasona in Japan is doing it all in their office premises.  How would it feel to walk into an office lobby to find yourself surrounded by a rice paddy field? Well, don't be so surprised, this is exactly what you will see at Pasona. They have turned their nine-storey headquarter building into an urban farm-to-table office. It is heartening to know that while everyone is still hesitant to do a little for themselves, a company is taking such a big step for their employees. 

Image Courtesy: Kono Designs

The business house, when renovating an old nine-storey building into their new headquarters, came up with this fantastic concept of bringing together farming, health, and a positive environment under one roof. Materializing the idea, the lobby at the company entrance welcomes you with a scenic view of a rice paddy field giving you a heads up of about 280 types of vegetables, fruits, flowers, and herbs being grown within the office spaces. 

Image Courtesy: Kono Designs

Once inside, you will find tomato wines suspended above conference tables, shrubs, and trees used as partitions for meeting spaces, bean sprouts grown under benches, crops & employees sharing the same space, and much more. In short, the office building atmosphere bursts with freshness and energy. The nine-storey office building has dedicated 1 Acre to green space that is taken care of by the employees themselves supported by a team of agricultural specialists. 

Image Courtesy: Kono Designs

The building uses both soil-based and hydroponic farming. Hydroponic farming is a method of growing plants using mineral nutrient solutions via water without soil. It uses energy-efficient lighting and advanced irrigation techniques.

Image Courtesy: Kono Designs

It is remarkable though to see employees of a company growing their own food in the office, which is to be later served in the office cafeteria. Although the office farm only covers a part of what employees eat, it sure does take care of the company's carbon footprints. When asked, more than 80% of the employees report feeling more energized and thus could perform better at their jobs. The fresh green atmosphere makes them feel positive, motivated, and ready for more. 

This is the kind of initiative that will not only promote urban farming among common people but will also support the future sustainability of farmers.

July 17, 2020

Sandwiches – The travel-friendly food

‘Convenient’ is the word associated with sandwiches. Everyone loves sandwiches for their convenience and versatility in taste. It could be a tasty snack or a healthy meal in itself, depending on the kind of filling that has been sandwiched in between the slices. In the list of foods loved equally by kids and adults, sandwiches have a dominant position.

It is a known fact that kids are more than happy to see their lunch boxes packed with sandwiches and other accompaniments. Moreover, sandwiches are the best way to make kids eat their veggies along with their favourite sweet versions. Remember our childhood picnics and school days when we used to get those yummy butter-jam sandwiches along with the cheesy club sandwiches and chips? Although, growing up has toned down our taste buds to adjust with healthier versions, I must say those were some guilt-free indulgence days.

While travelling, we prefer to carry something light and handy to eat and there is no better option than sandwiches. It is the convenience of all essential nutrients in a meal, neatly stacked and packed in between slices of bread, that makes it an excellent food to carry when travelling. This can also avoid health problems caused by eating from outside. The option of customizing the filling makes it a universal food suitable for every culture. The usual choices of fillings are meat, fish, vegetables, fruits, cheese, butter, jams and sauces. A sandwich could be sweet or savoury.

In the Middle East sandwiches are more in the form of wraps, where the fillings are wrapped inside a flatbread. To name a few some of the regional wrap delicacies are Shawarma Sandwich and Falafel Wraps. These are wraps where grilled meat and fried falafel balls are topped with hummus or tahini and rolled in Arabic bread, which is typically a flatbread and served with pickled and fresh vegetables.

Whether you are travelling or packing up something for a picnic, sandwiches or wraps are the kind of food that makes a perfect healthy light meal to carry along. Sandwiches are portable, easy to eat, customizable and will keep you full and active.

Check out What's Cooking Today? for interesting sandwich recipes and enjoy the goodness of easy to prepare wholesome goodness in a quick bite.

July 16, 2020


Eggtravaganza! That’s what you get when you put the egg to perform myriad culinary tasks with barely a notice. With impressively palatable and health credentials, the humble egg has time and again proved its versatility as a kitchen staple. An intriguing story behind it goes to school chefs, who used to ask new recruits to make an omelette—a deceptively difficult task that can tell you a great deal about a new chef's technical ability and attention to detail.

If packed with flavours and innovation, the egg can be so mind-blowingly rich and is vital to a number of classic recipes. It can be used to prepare pasta, meringues, soufflés, and custards; from pancakes to pies; to bake cakes, cookies and glaze bread; to whisk sauces and whip up mayonnaise; from simple sandwiches to lush gravies; even to glue things together. It's that versatility, both in the number of dishes that you can conjure up and the number of ways you get there, that makes them so appealing and interesting.

Speaking of the healthier side of things, research has shown that eggs are among the most nutritious foods on the planet, containing a little bit of almost every nutrient we need. Omega-3 enriched and/or pastured eggs are even healthier. Besides being a very good source of inexpensive, high-quality protein with all the essential amino acids in the right ratios. It is also an anti-oxidant and contrary to belief also promotes heart health. Eggs contain Choline – an important nutrient that many people do not get enough of.  It is used to build cell membranes and has a role in producing signalling molecules in the brain, along with various other functions. Eggs are highly fulfilling and tend to make you eat fewer calories, helping you to even lose weight.

Even though we have been preparing them for decades, there are still plenty of creative ways you will discover if you get innovative. Carefully transforming an egg into a spectacular and out of the box dish speaks volumes about a chef’s skill and culinary versatility. With some experimentation, practice, and really valuable insights from the experts at ICCA Dubai, you can up your egg game.

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