Search

fortheloveofflavors

Smile and welcome to ‘God’s own country’

How often have we read an inspirational quote by Saint Augustine, “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page” which emphasizes that if you never go anywhere, you’ll have a very limited view of the world. And after being inspired by this quote and my love for food for which I love to travel, another journey awaited my arrival and this time it was Palakkad, which is one of the fourteen districts of Kerala and has no coastal line. The district is one of the main granaries of Kerala.

IMG_1268.JPG

 

 

Nature has bestowed Palakkad immensely with rich natural vegetation, mountains, forests, fertile valleys, rivers and mountain streams which makes it a panoramic repertoire and its geographical position, historical background, rural natural, educational status, tourist attractions and above all, the development activities that are carried out, are wide and varied.

IMG_1269.JPG

So on a rainy Friday morning I board a 3-hour flight from Delhi to Coimbatore and then take a road trip to Palakkad which is around 1 1/2 hours drive. On the way are the beautiful Western ghats which is one of the eight “hottest hot-spots” of biological diversity in the world. Along with these you will see lush greens paddy fields, abundance of coconut trees and lots and lots of food which will make you senses go wow. And after passing through Salem-Ernakulam Highway we reached our destination Kairali- The Ayurvedic Healing village in Palakkad which was going to be my stay for the next 3 days.

IMG_1213.JPG

Kairali Ayurvedic Group’s signature property ‘The Ayurvedic Healing Village’ is a nature’s paradise where one can recuperate from stress and strain, undergo preventive or curative treatments, while being on holiday. You are treated here according to the problem you are facing in your daily life. Many were here for weight loss programme while for some this place for the best getaway for detoxification. So you must be wondering how does all this work.

IMG_1736.JPG

You will first need to understand your problem and then accordingly take the Kairali wellness package. From there on the doctor will take over for the time you have enrolled yourself in. He will individually understand your issues, prepare your diet chart and also the treatments needed to cure your problem. The diet here is 100 per cent vegetarian  and at the same time very high in fibre. From the doctor the chart goes to the kitchen and the chef does the rest. Also all the vegetables and fruits that are served here are grown at the backyard and are served right from farm to table.

IMG_1254.JPG

Since I am someone who loves experimenting with food , the food served here was not to be liking but trust me the day I was leaving from the village I absolutely was in love with it. From the soups, to the salads to the main course and even the desserts are all served differently on different days and a special mention must go the soups as they were right at the top of the best soups that I have ever had and the chef told me his love for soups is much beyond anything else.

IMG_1301.JPG

Slowly and gradually, I was starting to fall in love with Palakkad mainly because of the beauty of the nature and the people here. Trust me, they are the most humble people you will ever come across. To give you an example of this, I would love to share an experience with you. We were around 10-15 people walking at 9:30 pm in the night. It was pitch dark and we just kept walking enjoying the serenity of the place and around. A woman from a house comes out and asks us if we were carrying a torch or if we were lost somewhere. On the assurity that we were well aware of the routes she smiled and went back in. This brought a smile on our faces and left us with a wonderful memory.

IMG_1446.JPG

I was in Palakkad for two reason one was of course to try the local food and other was for a Chef Retreat. Healing Secrets By Kairali was a chef-driven retreat focused on the traditional concept of Food to Wellness. A three-day food adventure, it gave us an opportunity to walk with some of India’s best chefs exploring the food and well being connect as they go foraging for fresh produce, cook meals and even create dishes that showcase how taste isn’t about dollops of butter, but keeping it simple. In addition, the team of doctors helped us understand how food eventually can cleanse, heal and refresh through a series of specially designed therapies based on food.

IMG_1601.JPG

While on Day 1, Chef Vikas Seth discussed about localising Global Cuisine- Mexico, he used all the fresh produce from the farm and created a dish which literally had my eyes popping. The dish was a ragi taco which had spiced pumpkin, roasted tomato salsa, dairy free sour cream popped amarnath and micro greens. (Look at the picture and enjoy).

IMG_1522.JPG

Day 2: We were shown and taught how to grow our own vegetable at the farm with resident horticulturist, G Anandan. Like I said they grow all there vegetables and fruits in the backyard. Take my word, the vegetable are grown here organically and are huge in size and shape. (Picture below).

IMG_1365.JPG

In the afternoon, Chef Manjit Singh Gill and Gita Ramesh (JMD – Kairali Ayurvedic Group) discussed on the virtues of Vedic Eating and cooked some mouth-watering yet health dishes for us. Mrs Gita cooked a healthy sprout salad and a staple recipe of the south called Avial. While Chef Gill taught us how to cook Crisp drumstick patties and Moringa remix.

The evening was reserved for the Ayurveda factory visit. We were here show as to how Ayurvedic medicines are made and what goes into the making of this. Trust me I was flabbergasted after looking at the long process of making these medicines and products.

On our way to and back from the factory, we stopped at the local filter coffee vendor and he treated us with one of the best coffee’s that I have ever had. To go with this we had an aloo bonda, vada and an egg cake. And we paid only Rs 345/- for 15 of us.

19875323_10155309370520734_1004259399261657847_n.jpg

The day wasn’t over yet, it was the magic of Chef Arun Kumar TR which was left to be showcased. He has put in successful stints as a journalist and filmmaker. He began his food innings by running a popular pop-up restaurant, Ammi, in the Delhi winter months which shaped his desire to unfold the potential of Southern Indian cuisine. He treated us with a banana smoothie, an uttapam and the best dish of the winning khao suey which was made using the vermicelli, steamed veggies, a healthy broth and some crushed peanuts and oh my god, my taste buds are still thanking me for that treat.

Day 3: The day welcomed us with lots of rains since it’s the monsoon time back in the south. After gorging on some wonderful dinner, we didn’t know what was in store for us, after Chef Abhijit Saha took the stage and starting discussing about super food India. I didn’t know super foods can be as tasty as it seems they are, but Chef Abhijit had something else in store for us. While I joined him on the stage to help him as a sous chef he continued joining all the elements together and presented a wonderful dish which was called the Yam and Millet tikki. Along with this I also had the super food smoothie and my all time favourite dip the hummus which was topped with sauted leafy vegetables, popped amarnath, toasted sesame seeds and sunflower seeds. Oh god, I was starting to fall in love with this place with the amount of choices offered.

After a wonderful breakfast we headed to the local village and tried the toddy which is also called the Palm wine (Toddy is an alcoholic beverage created from the sap of various species of palm tree such as the palmyra, date palms, and coconut palms). At lunch we had the Sadhya (A normal Sadhya can have about 24-28 dishes served as a single course. The main dish is plain boiled rice, served along with other dishes collectively called Kootan which include curries like Parippu, Sambar, Rasam, Pulisseri and others like Kaalan, Avial, Thoran, Olan, Pachadi, Kichadi, Koottukari, Elissery, Mango pickle, Pulinji, Naranga achaar (Lime Pickle), as well as Papadam, plantain chips, Sharkara Upperi, Banana, plain curd and Buttermilk. The traditional dessert called Payasam served at the end of the meal is of many kinds and usually three or more are served.)

IMG_1432.JPG

A close look at the place, you would see that Palakkad is a hidden hamlet that is not yet touched by modernity and beams gloriously when its golden paddy fields are bathed in sunlight. Oh boy, it was time to say goodbye to this beautiful district of Kerala and head back to where I belong Delhi.

 

Welcome to Nueva- India’s first South American restaurant

It’s a breezy Thursday evening and you feel an urge to try something authentic, something unique yet something which will give your taste buds a treat for which they will thank all for life. So after scrolling through my list of go to places, I came across a place called Nueva which is owned by our very own Indian captain Virat Kohli and when Virat is associated with any brand you would not except anything close of perfection. With this move Virat Kohli joins the likes of cricketers like Sachin Tendulkar, Zaheer Khan and Ravindra Jadeja who have forayed into the food business with their restaurants.

IMG_1350.JPG

I had lots of expectation from the place as I had heard so many good things about this South American restaurant and when you have Chef Michael Swamy as its Executive Chef you know you are in for a treat. I have known chef Michael swamy for long now and am well aware of his expertise. Chef Michael is world renowned chef who excels in various cuisines like easy and traditional Peruvian and Latin American food recipes. He is also a renowned food author and a food stylist who has been contributing to the fraternity since long now.

IMG_1358.JPG

Located at Sangam Courtyard, RK Puram, Nueva is country’s very first South American restaurant bringing all the flavours of the entire Latin America to the Indian terrain. As you enter the place you are taken in by the eye catchy interiors of this restaurant which spans two floors. There are different sections at this restaurant, the ground level is dedicated to a lounge/bar (the restaurant is still awaiting its alcohol serving licence) and the first floor is reserved for a fine dine area with a view of the glass walled kitchen. The overall ambiance of the place is beautiful, plush and luxurious with gold and white colour paid much heap than the others.

IMG_1362.JPG

Spicy Dates-Well I have never experienced dates in such form. I have had it sweet and salty both but this was like a first for me. The dates were Pickled and were filled with spiced cheese. I didn’t like them much but you can try if you like dates.

IMG_1354.JPG

Lamb meats with Chimichurri: Chimichurri is a fabulous green sauce that’s been steadily growing in popularity across the American restaurant landscape. This herby, garlicky, tangy, spicy, and very green condiment is great on all kinds of grilled meats. Since this was my first, the dish was juicy meatballs steeped in the garlicky, herby flavours of green chimichurri. The minced lamb was shaped in round balls and the chimichurri was just what it needed. You have to order this if you are a fan of lamb like me.

IMG_1351.JPG

Marinated artichoke hearts tostada-Oh, are you a vegetarian? Have you not eaten this? Then, my friend you are surely missing something in life. And yes if this is your first with artichokes you would for sure find them a little intimidating. But my friend, there’s nothing to not like this super food. From the leaves to the heart, artichokes are simply delicious. As far as the dish goes, the soft artichokes are marinated with lemon and spice and is tossed in a chunky Chilean walnut sauce and is then stuffed in a spongy brioche.

IMG_1352.JPG

Earth salad: Well I can never get tired of saying this, that the plating of each dish was as good as that of a top notch restaurants of the world. Each element on the plate looks so beautiful and each speaks something about the plate. The Earth Salad is a replica of the earth with all its rocks and soil. Everything on the plate looked so real that you at first would believe it’s been converted into a dish by the master chef.

IMG_1353.JPG

Todo Fresco-Since they don’t have the liquor licence, they I must complement have worked really hard on their mock tails. They unlike others use fresh ingredients and the balance of all can be felt in the first sip itself. Todo Fresco is a combination of fresh pineapple juice with the burst of passion fruit, black pepper and fresh lime topped with sparkling water.

 

Pure Verde-Oh I was absolutely in love with this. The perfect way to detox yourself and or before the meal. This concoction of sweet kiwi, fresh cucumber, mint leaves, spicy jalapenos and coriander with lime and sparkling water will as they say transport you to Peru.

IMG_1356.JPG

Red Lamb with paprika and Rosemary sauce: When you are in the mood to have something spicy , what do you do? You order a plate of lamb simmered in red winde sauce with paprika, garlic, rosemary and mysterious bottle masala. Couple this wild rice (Despite having the name rice in the title, wild rice is not that closely related to traditional “Asian” rice, which tends to be smaller, less nutrient-dense, and of a different color. Wild rice actually describes four different species of grass, three of which are native to North America, and one to Asia. Wild rice has a chewy outer sheath that holds the nutrient-dense grain inside, and this type of rice grows on short stalks in shallow water) and you are in for a tasty ride. A perfect main course for the non-vegetarians.

IMG_1365.JPG

Yogurt coconut panacotta: Since I have been writing in my previous blogs too that I don’t have a sweet tooth but that urge after a meal always leaves you with one. A bite of a desserts is always better than not having it at all because who knows you might miss on something you will later regret. A plate of an art arrives on the table and it was designed with a Yogurt coconut panacotta. Sublime is the word for this dessert made with coconut cream and yogurt and served with multigrain granola. The smooth coastal flavours of coconut couple well with wild honey and sweet blueberries.

IMG_1366.JPG

While the cuisine must be relatively new to many of you and you while ordering must be confused as to what you should order, leave that to the Manager there and he will do the rest and guide you according to your taste buds just like he did to me.  While my stomach was full and asked me to stop, my mind said go on as you rarely get this food, take full advantage of it. And while I left, I took with me some wonderful memories and an immense knowledge of a new cuisine.  Book your table now.

IMG_1360.JPG

Happy eating 🙂

Delicacies from Pan-Asian countries at ‘House of Soy’

Situated just outside the capital city of New Delhi, the Radisson Blu Faridabad boasts a convenient location and it offers many five-star amenities to its patrons. The five-star hotel is located in Sector 20 just opposite the Bata Chowk Metro Station which adds to the convenience of many travellers. And to experience the same I made my way to one of their much talked about restaurant ‘House of Soy’ which is serving delicacies from Pan-Asian countries, such as Thai, Chinese and Japanese. The most loved cuisines of these nation are presented beautifully by Executive Chef Avanish Jain. Go here with an mind to try different delicacies and not just limit yourself to Chinese which most of us love. The chef with an experience of more than 15 years has given his heart and soul to the menu and presented it with some of the mouth watering dishes. From vegetable Sui Mai to soups, from Mapo tofu to crispy lamb all will leave you wanting for more. And yes the icing on the cake was the coconut jaggery ice cream without which you would not want to leave. So while I discuss more about the place, food and hospitality it’s time you sit back for this detailed review and enjoy the pan-asian journey through me.

19512298_10154367992701601_141615478_n.jpg

The place is beautifully done with some lavish interiors adding to it’s glory and to add to this, a private dining space for a personalized dining experience has also been set up. Wooden bars on the ceiling really ups the ante for this place as it adds to the beauty of the restaurant. You can comfortably be seated here and enjoy the delicacies that the chef has to offer with a different view in the front and the back. Take the back seat if you like greenery and the front if you like hustle-bustle.

19511787_10154368015091601_1140750557_n.jpg

Now coming to the food, I personally had lots of expectations before visiting the place. I am someone who loves experimenting with the palate and would often not eat the same dishes which I might have had in the past. Being experimental I left the ball in chefs court and asked for his recommendations instead because he is the master of the kitchen and would be the best person to suggest.

 

And while a waited for my first meal in came the peanuts which just blew me away. Being a fan of peanuts they were tossed in sugar, chilli flakes, salt and were topped with sesame seeds. Who would have thought about this but Executive Chef Avanish Jain did and made me hooked to these. Not just this he also shared the recipe with me and when I came back home and tried it turned out to be almost similar. (Now I have the perfect party starter :-p)

19511895_10154367993811601_1063702253_n.jpg

After this came in some refreshers to cool you down in this scorching Delhi heat. It included kala khatta, berry berry, aam panna and watermelon mojito. All these are served in a tube and can be gulped at once.

19550894_10154367993276601_448025894_n

We started the afternoon with tom yum with loads of lemongrass, kaffir lime and bird eye chilli with an addition of lots of chicken. The soup and yum and was balanced perfectly with all these strong ingredients.

19576071_10154367994786601_1618851727_n.jpg

Next came in the vegetable sui mai which were an open-faced vegetable dumplings. Since traditional Cantonese dumplings feature pork and mushrooms, this version is completely vegetarian. Cabbage, and tofu get spiked with hot sesame oil, soy sauce, rice wine, and a few other seasonings and aromatics. If you’ve never tasted them before it’s time to do now at House of Soy.

19551060_10154367994706601_47395356_n.jpg

Chicken and Chives dumplings: This comforting dish with fluffy chicken and chives dumplings were as good as the vegetarians once. What did the justice to these dumplings were the sauces that were served along. We along with the dumplings were served with choice of three different chutneys. The first one was super spicy made of only red chillies, the other had spring onions and garlic and was topped with olive oil which was a little mild but my favourite and the last one was slightly spicy with a little tanginess of sour and sweet.

19512089_10154367993921601_909021454_n.jpg

Assortment of Sushi: The sushi platter has Uramaki, Kappamaki and Salmon Maki and Ebi Sushu. I had ordered an assortment of vegetarian and non-vegetarian together. And oh my word the sushi were actually to die for. From Uramaki to Salmon Maki to other all had a distinctive flavours which went very well with the wasabi and pickled ginger that is served on the sides. Dip your sushi’s in little soy sauce, add a little wasabi and ginger and you will have a complete burst of flavours in your mouth.

19512282_10154367994891601_1330276595_n.jpg

 

Yum Som: Frankly, I had a lot of expectation from this salad. Pomelo is giant citrus fruit which is basically like a mild/sweet grapefruit. It was served to us in pomelo only and was mixed with a little palm sugar and some herbs. Since it wasn’t totally ripe it tasted a little bitter which to me killed it’s flavour. I was told by the chef that they are having extreme difficulties in sourcing the fruit that’s why the result.

19239459_10154368015096601_382633810_n.jpg

After salads, soups, appetizers and lots of chit chat it was time for us to dig into the main course.

Mapo tofu (silken tofu in spicy chilli and bean sauce): It was nice to see and eat tofu after a long. The dish consists of tofu set in a spicy sauce, typically a thin, oily, and bright red suspension, based on douban and douchi. I absolutely loved this.

19512408_10154368021826601_632562865_n.jpg

Kung pao chicken (diced chicken cooked in chilli, garlic and garnished with nuts): This is a spicy stir-fry dish made with chicken, peanuts, vegetables, and chilli peppers. This goes really well with a pot of noodles or any rice of your liking. I in my case had this with jasmine rice and this really completed my meal.

19551220_10154368021861601_1131985373_n.jpg

Crispy lamb with sweet and spicy sauce (crispy fried juliennes of lamb tossed with sweet and spicy sauce): Each Chinese dish reflects a balance of taste, texture, aroma and colour. Be it sweet, sour, pungent, hot, salty or spicy – all the six basic flavours are incorporated deftly in all Chinese dishes and this was no exception either. Lamb was fried and cooked to perfection and the sauces did the complete justice to what was one of the best dishes on the table

19553452_10154368021951601_1808822042_n.jpg

 

Coconut and Jaggery ice-cream: Any meal can’t just be complete in any cuisines. Be it chinese, Indian , Japanese or American. We love our sweets and love to include them in every meal. We asked for the coconut and jaggery ice-cream and this was more of an Indo-Chinese version. 90 per cent Indian and the rest Chinese ( I am still to figure out that Chinese flavour though). It was nice but not one of the best.

19550943_10154368063546601_1007763315_n.jpg

And if you are also one of those who loves experimenting with food and their palette, it’s time I say you head to House of Soy and dig into some Chinese, Thai and Japanese flavours that to some extent will please your taste buds. (Oh the flavours are still reminding me of a wonderful afternoon I had at House of Soy).

Happy eating 🙂

Food from the Royal Family at Yeti

Isn’t it amazing as to how food can relate us to so many wonderful memories and make us a part of its own…One such story was at a recently visited outlet in Hauz Khas village called the Yeti- The Himalayan Kitchen. I was told there by F&B Manager that the food that is there on our plate is right from the Royal Kitchen. No no, not cooked in royal kitchen but presented exactly the way the Royals eat it. A man called Tenzing who is from a Royal family in Nepal came to Delhi and got his cuisine and food along to serve us some dishes which are way beyond words and what’s so good about the food at Yeti is that the chefs who prepare it are from the same region where Tenzing belongs and they themselves have been trained by him. Yeti was a rage when they opened some years back and I became an instant fan of their food. I had my first experience of the place in Hauz Khas village which shut down and has now been taken away by somebody and has very smartly named it as Lamba’s kitchen. Yeti again opened here in April and this time with the feast that promises to take us on a very tasteful ride.

IMG_0331.JPG

Trust me I might have travelled many places in search of some soulful food but the menu here doesn’t fail to impress me a single bit and the items on it flabbergasted me too. Lot of names on the menu were unheard off and lots of ingredients never tasted. Do you know what Aloo sodeko is or kokra wau wai sodeko or have you ever tasted a Newari platter that consists of Choila, Chiura, Phokso, Sukuti Sadeko and Dalmud. I can see a grin on your face and at the same time lot of confusion. Well if you aren’t not too sure about what these are I say it’s time to sit and enjoy the Royal feast.

IMG_0330.JPG

So a lot of Instagram pictures and FB post pulled me to this place and on a hot Wednesday afternoon I stepped in to Yeti which had a very homely feeling. The ambience is nothing to fancy, kept very simple and it gives a very rustic feel.  A lot of buzz was happening in and around and I could see very happy customers enjoying their lunch amongst some foreigners who came here in huge numbers.

IMG_0332.JPG

So it was time for me to sit down and start with my flavourful journey.

Aloo momos took me with a complete surprise. I mean who could have thought have this but guys take my word these are one of the best momos I have had in my entire life. I mean who could have thought of an Aloo momos. Hats off to Tenzing and his chefs for coming up wth this one. The best thing again was that the aloo inside were very juicy and creamy, just like the creamy mashed potatoes. This is a must must try.

IMG_0320.JPG

I tried the mutton and chicken momos too and they were equally good. Again steamed really well and were very juicy from inside, just as it should be..

IMG_0321.JPG

Aloo sodeko: I never loved potatoes much but the dishes here changed my conception completely. This tasted very homely and had that dahi wale aloo taste. Cooked in sesame and mustard oil with some special ingredients from Nepal, these are served cold with a healthy topping of sesame. A great snack to start your afternoons with.

Wai Wai Sodeko: Oh this was something that I can relate to my college or hostel days. I remember how I used to just tear apart a packet of Wai Wai, mix the masala and have it just like that. This here is made the same way and instead lots of tomatoes, onions, green chillies, herbs and masala’s are added to it to give this a taste of a desi bhel. Squeeze the lemon on top and enjoy its zingy flavour. So you know next time how to enjoy your Wai Wai.

IMG_0318.JPG

Newari platter: This has Choila, Chiura, Phokso, Sukuti Sadeko and Dalmud, oh wait let me make it simple for you. The thali consists of fried chiwara ( beaten rice), Choila is a spiced grilled buffalo meat, Phokso-mutton lungs, Sukuti Sadeko-dried meat cooked with lots of garlic and dalmud is a namkeen mixture. Mix each of these with the Chiura and enjoy the delicacy.

IMG_0327.JPG

Gyuma: These are Tibetan mutton sausages which are made in house. These are rich of fat and are very juicy. This recipe is not for the faint of heart. Enjoy this with the spicy peanut and chilli sauce.

IMG_0324.JPG

Thakali Thali: If you want to try something authentic order this and you will thank me later. The thali has pork, dal, Rai ka saag, Piro aloo, vegetables, achaar, papad and rice. Oh god, I am still on able to get rid of that dal on the thali and this was again one of the best I have had tried. Rai ka saag was prepared with very simple ingredients but it still had a distinct taste to it. Even the pork was nice and very well cooked. Have this Thali and you will be sorted for days to come.

IMG_0329.JPG

An experience I didn’t wanted to end.. The food on the plate looked very desi, nothing to fancy but when you bite into it you feel blessed. Tenzing has not paid too much head to the plating or the fancy stuff but he has stick to his basics and concentrated on the taste and at the end that is what matters. Oh lord, thanks for making me eat one of the best meals. I will remember this for a very very long time..I learnt a lot of new ingredients and with that a new cuisine.

Happy eating 🙂

Bella Cucina will transport you to regions of Italy

If you are one of those who now and then have that craving of having a great Italian meal but are bored of visiting your regular favourites in the city, here’s your chance to dine into one of the best Italaian in town and what makes this even better is that it comes for a price which won’t pinch your pocket much. If I ask you what your favourite Italian dish is I am sure 90 per cent of us will say a pizza or a pasta but I say it’s time to move on and try our hands into something different. The menu designed here by Chef Amit will take you to some other world altogether. From compressed beetroot salad to cappuccino of mushroom, from spinach and nuts Ravioli to Australian lamb rack all these wonderfully created dishes will make you go weak on your knees and love them even more. And what’s even wonderful is the fact the way they look on the plate. After clicking like thousand pictures I finally had the courage to dig into these mouth watering delicacies and all of them tasted saporous.

IMG_0243.JPG

Bella Cucina literally means a “beautiful kitchen” and beautiful it is. At the heart of the beautiful kitchen lies an imported Molteni. No two Moltenis are the same and the one in Bella Cucina is especially crafted according to Chef’s needs. The charming decor of sandstone and marble finish, rich colourful leather seating, 3 private dining rooms and playful coming together of artistic pieces will transport you straight to the regions of Italy. It is so wonderful to see the chef cook everything live in front of you and how as the trend goes your preferences are asked. Just tell the chef everything you like and he will do the rest and trust me the chef at this age is very well versed with what he is doing on a plate and he truly is a master of his art.

IMG_0232.JPG

So here is what we ate and loved:

Cappuccino of mushroom: Velvety smooth and richly flavoured, cappuccino of mushroom is made using lots of butter, cream and different types of mushroom. Wonderfully frothed this was served with some fresh breads and mix leaf salad with balsamic.

IMG_0223.JPG

Macerated Green Asparagus: And the moment this is on your table, you will for sure fall in love with this. Trust me I am not a fan of Asparagus but Chef Amit changed my conception and made me fall in love with this wonderful ingredient all over again. Apart from that, the plate is decorated with wonderful flavours of olives shavings, rocket leaves, grape fruits, orange, cream and edible flowers. A must try.

IMG_0228.JPG

Compressed Beetroot: Cooked with a sous vide technique (Once limited to the pros, sous vide (pronounced sue-veed) is a cooking technique that utilizes precise temperature control to deliver consistent, restaurant-quality results. High-end restaurants have been using sous vide cooking for years to cook food to the exact level of doneness desired, every time) this is the best salad I have had in my entire life. The beetroot is compressed to make it softer keeping the flavour intact. Its then topped with baby arugula and goat cheese snow. Trust me this is the best thing you must have had in the recent past. Like for me one plate óf this salad wasn’t enough and I ordered another as soon as I was over with this. I wish I can have this every day.

IMG_0230

Cherry Tomato Risotto: This was something new for me as I have had Risotto but not in this form. The Risotto is cooked in tomatoes to give the dish the citrusy flavour and the sharpness comes in with Ligurian olives. Pangrattato adds bold flavours to the dish.

IMG_0234.JPG

Spinach and nuts Ravioli: Wonton wrappers make perfect little ravioli parcels. These burst with the flavour of spinach, pine nuts and ricotta cheese and the end result is an irresistible vegetarian dish.

IMG_0231.JPG

Chicken Parmigiana: This is one of the go-to dishes when I eat at Italian restaurants. Lots of them do it but only some get it right.  Rich, flavourful, and totally satisfying, Chicken Parmigiana was done to perfection. The sauce was excellent and so was the chicken.

IMG_0237.JPG

Chilean sea bass: When I thought that I have had one of the best meal and shouldn’t expect more in came the Chilean sea bass. What a beautiful plate it was. It looked beautiful and tasted divine. The fish was cooked with the skin on and that added the crispiness to it. The garlic potato flan, brocolli puree and the coriander vanilla sauce was all that was needed to complete a wonderful plate of art.

IMG_0241.JPG

Espresso Coffee Mousse: How can I say no to a dessert here now. The mousse came in a Chocolate dome with raspberry coulis.  Espresso coffee mousse is a lovely and creamy dessert, perfect for those who love coffee’s strong and invigorating aroma.

IMG_0250.JPG

What a beautiful evening it was and thank god it ended on a sweet note with the mousse. Guys whenever you go to dine in here as they are only operation in the evenings don’t miss a chance to meet the chef and let me explain you everything on the plate. I am for sure going back here with no expectations because the chef might just surprise me with something new.

 

Happy eating 🙂

Sip on something a little more indulgent at AMPM

I have to admit this fact that I am not at all a morning person, I remember the times when I used to always get late for my school and till date have never reached office on time. I seriously wish to change my habit and one day be a more disciplined person and to correct that I have started with loads of therapies and meditation and the best being the food therapy. Somebody calls me for a food walk I am up at 8 and reach before many do, a breakfast at 9 and I am usually the first one to be there, at least the thing I love the most; food is helping me be a better person. And continuing this journey I headed for another breakfast table with my friends to AMPM Cafe and Bar in Gurgaon. Ask my friends and they will be shocked to know that I travelled all the way to Gurgaon only for this. They have introduced a new breakfast menu and lots of lickables ( by lickables I mean heavy loaded shakes).

IMG_0182.JPG

Located at 2nd Floor of DLF Galleria, Gurgaon this place is known for its Continental, Italian and American cuisine. Lots of people told me that you get some of the best waffles and shakes here and to try those I immediately made my plan for a hot Saturday morning. Like I said I am trying to be a morning person this time I was the last one to reach on the table and as they say everything has its pros and cons and for me it was a blessing to be late because then I could make a choice to eat the best available on the menu as by then everyone was almost done with their breakfast.

IMG_0213.JPG

So after going through the menu I along with couple of my friends ordered:

Jalapenos and Cheese waffles: The perfect savory grilled morning option. Waffles full of ancient whole grains and superseeds, a hint of heat with jalapenos and melted cheese make this Waffle my new bestie!

IMG_0205.JPG

Scrambled eggs with smoked salmon: This smoked salmon and scrambled egg recipe is to die for – Seasoned with pepper and drizzled in lemon juice, it doesn’t get much better!

IMG_0194.JPG

Nutella Banana and Hot chocolate: Who doesn’t love Nutella and a banana combination and when it is topped with the hot chocolate sauce it’s for sure a match made in heaven. This is served along with melted butter and lots of cream. If you love pancakes and the next time you are here you know what to order.

IMG_0181.JPG

The new range of shakes at AMPM are just phenomenal. Oh my gosh, they are huge and are loaded with so much of calories. But do I really care about calories? I wish I could but all I care about is mouth-watering food and something that can please my taste buds every time I sit to eat or drink. We ordered:

Afrikan Caffine: This is a mix of Ethiopian coffee, vanilla Ice cream and Nutella and the caffine content in this coffee is much higher that you find in your Nescafe and Bru. Of course, if you love coffee this one is surely for you because it has the right blend of everything you need and then it also has Nutella.

IMG_0211.JPG

Don’s lust: Made by using Ferroro Rocher, Doughnut, vanilla Ice cream and Chocolate sauce this is an absolute treat for your eyes. You will not want to drink this because it looks so beautiful. I myself clicked at least 20 pictures of this before I finally tried it.. For me it was a tad sweet and maybe this was because of everything that went into this is high on sugar. But if you are one of those who love sugar, sugar and more sugar than you should try the Don’s lust.

IMG_0187.JPG

Silky caddy: There’s a reason why I go out with friends for a table. That’s because you get to taste and experiment so much more. Like in this case the silky caddy is made by using Cadbury Dairy milk + Vanilla Ice cream + Chocolate shots and this was what I can relate to my childhood. Who doesn’t love Cadbury Dairy milk and this when mixed with the classical vanilla ice cream you can imagine how this would taste. As beautiful as it looked I tasted smooth too.

IMG_0200.JPG

The breakfast menu is priced reasonably well and so are the shakes. Go here when you are super hungry and you for sure will be sorted for the rest of your day.

Happy eating 🙂

Thalaivar is South India’s best known culinary zone

If you are also one of those who think that South Indian food is only vegetarian you need to hold that thought right now. A perception probably driven by the large number of vegetarians who have moved North from South and also restaurants like Sagar Ratna and Naivedyam in Delhi that have fuelled the ‘idli dosa’ vegetarian stereotype.

IMG_0273.JPG

But infact, there is much more to this beautiful cuisine than just the normal combination of Idli and sambhar or chutney and dosa, infact the varieties of non-vegetarian dishes you will find in south Indian cuisine is more than 100 and that too all are done in different ways. From the Coimbatore chicken curry to Chicken Chettinad, from Kerala Karimeen Fry to Prawns Kuzhambu, from mutton roast to nanu podi everything has its own unique flavour and are favourites among so many food lovers.

IMG_0282.JPG

So just to continue this food trail and my love for South Indian cuisine, I went to a place called Thalaivar in Hauz Khas market, which will take you through some of South India’s best known culinary zones. Thalaivar is a unique south Indian experience which caters to all the senses. A cosy ambience, a memorable taste, touching the southern lands from inside and blending your breath with the aroma of ambrosial food is what this place is all about.

IMG_0278.JPG

The hot Sunday afternoon started with a chilled spiced buttermilk which is a blend of lot of herbs, light frothy buttermilk and lots of ice. Very refreshing and much needed for this weather.

IMG_0265.JPG

Then came in my favourite Nanu podi in which I am in love with ever since I had the first bite and I can’t stop thinking about it now also when I am writing. Nanu podi is batter fried crispy chicken which is sprinkled with special ‘in house’ sweet and tangy podi masala. Don’t try to ask the recipe of this as you will surely fail in obtaining one. Instead enjoy the dish and take home as much as you can.

IMG_0285.JPG

Ever heard of a different combination apart from Idli and sambhar or Idli and chutney, well if not then you are in for a surprise. The next dish that came on the table was Idli with Coimbatore curry. The curry usually is medium spiced and is served home style chicken curry which is famous in Coimbatore. Dip your hot steaming Idli into this and take a big bite and you can come back to thank me late. Take my advice, ask the server to make the curry extra spicy as it surely will enthral your taste buds.

IMG_0275.JPG

Masala Ham Egg Appam: Appam with ham and egg sounds interesting, doesn’t it? Well Appam is one of my favourite breads and I can have this at any time during the day. Have it like that or club it with any south Indian curry and you will love every bite of it and when it is ham and egg on top of Appam then you know you are in for a treat.

IMG_0271.JPG

Appam and mutton roast: Appam is considered as a staple diet and is a common food in Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka and when you talk about matches made in heaven, this combination of mutton roast and Appam will surely top the charts amongst others. I have had mutton roast at many places across the south and this was right on top. The mutton is roasted perfectly well and is then cooked in onions and freshly ground spices. Cooked to perfection you surely can’t miss this when you are here.

IMG_0277.JPG

Chicken Keema Dosa: Keema Dosa is a popular variation of the regular Dosa. It is made with a filling of minced chicken (Keema). The dosa was crispy from the outside and the chicken keema was done really well. Just one drawback of the dish was that the filling instead of spread evenly on dosa was places in the centre and keema in each bite was what was missing.

IMG_0279.JPG

Chutneys: The server told me that their chutneys are so good that people don’t even wait for a minute once it is on the table and have it all like that and true it was. They serve beetroot chutney, mint chutney, tomato chutney and the coconut chutney and all 4 of them are exceptionally good.

IMG_0266.JPG

One thing that can have be back here is of course food and the other is the pricing. I simply couldn’t believe what I saw on the menu. Imagine 4 pieces of roast mutton with 2 appams for just Rs 350/-, the nanu podi for just Rs 170 and the 2 Idlis with Coimbatore chicken curry for just Rs 285/-.

 

If you are still awaiting to go to this place, you surely are missing something big in life. Leave everything pick up your car, board a metro, take the bus, walk, cycle or do whatever, but head to this place now.

 

Happy eating 🙂

Tantalize your taste buds at Uttarakhand Food festival

 

I am blessed to be born in a country with so much diverse culture where people from different regions speak different languages, share different religions, architecture and of course different food. I love travelling and exploring food of different regions across India. I have tasted food from major parts of the country and Uttarakhand seems to be one of my favourites till now. It’s because the food is prepared with simple ingredients and is still very flavourful. Like Chef Manoj Rawat from Le Meriden says you can count the spices that are used in major dishes of Uttarakhand food. The one thing that is unique about this cuisine is the fact that they are mostly cooked over burning wood or charcoal, which bestows them with additional nutritional qualities. This is one characteristic that clearly demarcates the food item of Uttarakhand from the rest of the country.

IMG_0120.JPG

So on a very hot afternoon I planned to gorge on of my favourite cuisines after hearing that Uttarakhand festival was being hosted at Le Meriden, Gurgaon and that they have got all the ingredients from the Dev bhoomi as it is called. We were welcomed by one of my favourite drinks and a very popular drink amongst the locals in Uttarakhand, Buransh drink which is made from Rhodedendron flower and is super sweet. The best part about this is that it cools you down and you can go on and on drinking this.

 

Starters

The starters included Dal pakoda which is a split black gram fritter, Daud- A horse gram lentil pooris and Macchon Ka pakwada which is a fried river cat fish and all these are served with some mouth watering chutneys which goes really well with these. The chutneys included Bhangulu which as the name suggest is made with grounded hemp seeds and is mixed with chilli, lemon and cumin, Til chutney was made using sesame seeds, garlic, green chillies and mint and then there was tamatar and dhaniye ki chutney too. The starters and chutneys complimented each other really well and was a treat for the taste buds.

IMG_0114.JPG

 

Mains:

Moving on to try the main course, we were served Shikar which is a roasted lamb curry, Bhutwa-This recipe is very common in Uttrakhand and the meat lovers love this one, Kukadda shurra-Village chicken curry, Kandali bhujji-Kandali is also called nettle leaves and the moment you touch the itching won’t stop but the chef with all his experience created a dish out of this and I have to admit this I absolutely loved this, Jakhiya paneer-wild mustard tempered cottage cheese, Phaanu-minced gahat lentil simmered with onion tomato, Jhungaru-plain barnyard boiled millet, bhaddu dal-this is one of my favourite dals in the world and my colleague keeps treating me with this once a week and I loved the way chef prepared this, mandua roti-another very favourite bread amongst the locals, this is made with buckwheat flour and yes don’t forget to add lots of ghee when you dig into this and last dish on the menu was Mungari roti which is a maize bread which is made using juicy corns, maize flour, onions, salt and chillies.

IMG_0118.JPG

 

Sweets:

I have to admit this fact that this not being my favourite section made me fall in love with it. I always pull myself away from sweets but Chef Rawat is truly a master in this. And trust the mear mention of Bal Mithai (khoya fudge coated with sugar balls) and Singori (khoya with coconut and cardamom wrapped in malu leaves) leaves my mouth watered. The rest of the sweets on the menu were Til Laddoo-gram flour, jaggery and til and Mithu bhath which is a combination of jaggery and rice pudding.

IMG_0119.JPG

Don’t go here with an expectation of a fancy meal but a meal which will make you feel at home and you can relish this all at just Rs 1999/- + taxes. The festival is on from 19th April 2017 to 30th April 2017 and this meal is only available from 7 pm to midnight.

 

Happy eating 🙂

 

 

 

Biryani, a timeless classic

There is something that has become part of my routine that I eat two or three times a week and it is called Biryani and if there is such a thing as foods of the God, it is undoubtedly the biryani. The magic of biryani lies in the way rice is transformed into something ambrosial and at the same time flavourful. Biryani, an evergreen classic, really needs no introduction. It’s aromatic, it’s heavenly and one of the most loved delicacies of the country. It is believed that Mughals were the first to introduce Biryani and thank god they did. Different regions have different ways of preparing the dish like in Hyderabad it is prepared in the form of kachay gosht ki biryani and dum ki biryani, in Lucknow the biryani is prepared with whole spices alone and other khansamas across the regions have their own unique style of preparing Biryani. A wide range of aromatic spices come together to create a beautiful pot of Biryani. The use of spices differs from region to region. Coconut Milk, Cream, Yogurt, Buttermilk are often used in preparing some of the most sensational Biryanis while the spices include the regular affair.

IMG_0082.JPG

We are very blessed to be living in a city that serves Biryani from all regions. From Kolkata to Hyderabadi to Lucknowi you can find all in the city. I have had the privilege to taste some of the best biryanis from all over India made by legendary Khansamas and Ustads. So when a new Biryani outlet comes to the city the excitement level just goes a notch higher. I remember watching the large hoardings of Biryani by Kilo across the city when they were trying to make their way into our hearts. Then I had my doubts and I was in dilemma whether they would be able please us over by one of the most loved dishes Biryani. I started hearing some good reviews about them in the initial stages and was asked by lot of my friends to try their Biryani and Phirni and without much delay I got my handi of Hyderabadi mutton Biryani, kebabs and mutka phirni.

IMG_0083.JPG

Excited as ever I got my order and was super happy to see the way it was packed. The biryani came in handi with the aanch box, the kebabs were well packed in the hot container and the phirni came in handi too. Without much delay I lit the aanch and placed my pot of biryani on it to heat it while I enjoyed my mouth-watering kebabs. I have to admit this the kebabs were out of this world. Tender and melt in your mouth. My Biryani on the other hand was also ready to be removed from the dum and Oh god the moment I did I could smell the aroma of the spices and the meat cooked all in one. The biryani was cooked really well and the dum seized all of the flavours together. The biryani was spicy, aromatic, flavourful and it tasted heavenly. Right layers of rice, the meat was cooked well and the spices were just perfect. Loved every bit of it and I think a pack of raita with this will do perfect justice to it. And after indulging in this heavenly treat I shifted my way to mutka phirni and god haven’t had as good as this. Perfect balance of sugar was what made this an amazing treat.

IMG_0079.JPG

What’s even better is the way they have priced their dishes. 1/2 kg mutton biryani would cost you Rs 350 and 1 kg is priced at Rs 650/. The kebebs are priced at Rs 390/- and 1/2 kg phirni comes in handy at only Rs 250/-. I know your mouth is watering, don’t wait much and dig into this royal treat.

IMG_0076.JPG

Happy eating 🙂

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑