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CaLdron

Jan 2014

Monthly Blogazine

there’s always something cooking

Diners from hell Page 32

Reviews

Cockails & Dreams The Canton Spice Company Turquoise Cottage Dhaba Plan B Loaded Malgudi Tiffin Centre Spaghetti Kitchen Pronto CaLDRON January 2014

Events

A Splendalicious Tea Afternoon Asia’s 50 Best Round Table Who Said Real Men Can’t Cook? Going Stir Crazy with Yellow Chili

Kitchen Kin

Chef Emiliano, Chef Kunal Kapur Roaming Rover in Aloft, Chennai

Spirit-ual

Wine & Food at the Taj Schloss Gobelsburg 19 food and drink recipes, Including recipes from Chef Kunal Kapur and award winning Bangalore blogger, Farrukh Shadab! 1


YOUR TAKE ON

Frozen, Ready to Fry Snacks Our poll this month is about the rapidly growing frozen, ready-to-cook segment. We asked Chef at Large members their opinion and here’s what happened. Interestingly, apart from the two major choices made by members, i.e. Pre-dinner cocktail snack (42%) and Random Snacking (20%), an overwhelming 29% said they wouldn’t use such products, citing reasons such as mechanical separation of meat and overuse of chemicals in these products, among others. What’s your take? Write to editor@chefatlarge.in.

Random snacking 20%

Pre-dinner cocktail snack 42%

Wouldn't use it 29%

Pre-dinner cocktail snack

Wouldn't use it

Random snacking

Lunch box option

Taking a break from cooking

Regular tea-time snack

What are Godrej Yummiez?

Original question: How would you use a frozen, ready-to-fry product such as Godrej Yummiez? Respondents: Ninety Seven (97) Link to Poll: http://bit.ly/frozenpoll 2

CaLDRON January 2014


EDITORIAL & CREDITS

The success of the December issue of CaLDRON, featuring (Indian) Chinese surprised and shocked us all. At the time of writing, it has accumulated 1,47,539 reads and continues to grow by thousands of reads everyday. Yes, I check it with bated breath every single day. From an infant of an idea for a monthly newsletter, CaLDRON is fast turning into a far more ambitious project.

THE CHEF AT LARGE TEAM MANAGING EDITOR SID KHULLAR ASSOCIATE EDITOR NATASHA ALI CONSULTING EDITOR VINITA BHATIA

As you might have noticed, we’re forever experimenting with the content mix in the e-zine, in our quest to find a combination that works for you as well as fits into the overall scheme of things at Chef at Large. Do we have too much text, or too many photos? Are there enough reviews or too many recipes? There are so many questions to be answered and we’re having a load of fun in the process.

EVENTS EDITOR PARUL PRATAP SHIRAZI

In an attempt to showcase a new cuisine every month, we have Vietnamese this month. This series will not only include foreign cuisines, but also Indian cuisines, where we’ll try to include regional dialects too, apart from the mainstream.

SPECIAL PROJECTS RITUPARNA MUKERJI SHRUTI ARORA CHARIS ALFRED BHAGIANTHAN

As always, please do write in with feedback and suggestions. I’m listening. Stay well. Sid

RECIPE CURATOR NADEEM KHAN SUBJECT MATTER EXPERTS SANDEEP SRINIVASA (COFFEE) JASWINDER SINGH (WINE & SPIRITS)

REVIEW TEAM DELHI PARUL PRATAP SHIRAZI SID KHULLAR MUMBAI VINITA BHATIA

OTHER CREDITS Cover photo courtesy, Farrukh Shadab Ansari All other recipe photos used are from the sources mentioned in the article.

CHEF AT LARGE WEBSITE http://chefatlarge.in

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BANGALORE NATASHA ALI GROUP MODERATOR SID KHULLAR

MEMBER ART

SEND US A PRESS RELEASE OR EVENT LISTING listings@chefatlarge.in

Created by Rumi Domadia. Cute huh?

CaLDRON January 2014

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CONTENTS A dinner where we replicated the meal from the movie, “The Hobbit” 4

CaLDRON January 2014


CONTENTS

Snippets Poll: Your Take on Frozen Ready-to-Fry Products, 2 Born this Month: Paula Deen, 6 Reviews Winter Hugs are Made of These, 8 Delight in Every Bite, 10 Turquoise Cottage Goes Uber Asian, 12 The Dhaba’s Full-on Kitsch Experience, 14 Pasta Expedition at Spaghetti Kitchen, 16 Cold Comfort, 18 There’s No Better Plan Than Plan B Loaded, 20 Not Your Usual Airport Fare: Malgudi Tiffin Centre, 22 Holy Grail of Chinese Food, 24 Specials Cover Story: Diners from Hell, 32 Spa Scape: A Day Playing Truant at Renaissance’s Spa, 78 Ask the Experts, 80 Photo Feature: A Weekend in Hanoi, 82 Featured Members, 99

Recipes

Fattoush Salad, 43 Murgh Malai Kabab, 44 Kafta Bel Laban, 45 Chicken Spinoccoli, 46 Double Mushrooms, 47 Tiramisu, 48 Fig Almond Shake, 50 Malai Makai Paneer, 52 Roasted Bell Pepper Suppli, 54 Khubani Murgh Korma, 56 Anaar ke Kalakand, 58 Grilled Aubergine in Mint Cinnamon Sauce, 75 Fish in White Wine and Fennel Sauce, 76 Sauteed Vegetables with Chermoula, 48 Gosht Ka Korma, 38 Pinni Srikhand Granola, 39

Mix Up

Strawberry Eggnog, 66 Winter Punch, 67 Lalune Jaune, 68 Sidekick, 69

Kitchen Kin Prego is Please and Please it Does - Chef Emiliano, 34 The Showman Chef, 36 Events Asia’s 50 Best Round Table Luncheon, Delhi/NCR, 70 A Splendalicious Tea Afternoon, Delhi/NCR, 72 Who Said Real Men Can’t Cook, Mumbai, 74 Going Stir Crazy with Yellow Chili, Mumbai, 77 Spirit-ual A Trail of Wine and Food at Taj Palace, 60 History Steeped Austrian Wine Schloss Gobelsburg, 62 Roaming Rover Style at a Steal - Aloft, Chennai, 26

CaLDRON January 2014

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BORN THIS MONTH

Paula Ann Hiers Deen (born January 19, 1947) is an American celebrity chef and cooking show television host. Deen resides in Savannah, Georgia, where she owns and operates The Lady & Sons restaurant with her sons, Jamie and Bobby Deen. She has published fourteen cookbooks. Though married in 2004 to Michael Groover, she uses the surname Deen, from her first marriage. Information courtesy: Wikipedia, Photo Courtesy: PaulaDeen.com

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CaLDRON January 2014


PHOTO RELIEF

Grab a Coke and start reading

Photo: Sid Khullar Venue: The One, Le Meridien, New Delhi CaLDRON January 2014

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REVIEWS - GURGAON

WINTER HUGS are made of these

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Want to chill out at a fun place that offers good food and generous sized drinks? Check out ‘Cocktails & Dreams Speakeasy’ at Gurgaon, which invites you to sit back, unwind and enjoy the music!

hat Gurgaon can’t seem to get enough of the Cocktails & Dreams Speakeasy is pretty much evident! This watering hole is full up on most evenings. Since the food is good too, there is plenty of action around lunch time as well. Aside from the delicious food, another thing that separates Cocktails & Dreams Speakeasy from other pubs in the city is their choice of music; live and piped, this is a classic place for anyone over 30 years! This place with a killer combo of ambiance, food and music is owned and run by two passionate people – master mixologist Yangdup Lama and his friend Minakshi. They are usually around at Cocktails & Dreams Speakeasy, chatting with their guests and suggesting drinks that will go well with their mood and their food. The easy camaraderie they share with their patrons reminds you of ‘Cheers’, another place where the staff know the regulars by their name. Twice as Lucky our last visit to Cocktails & Dreams Speakeasy was exceptionally fantastic because it was then it had launched the winter beverage menu. Since I am a huge fan of warm, boozy drinks with either coffee or fruity notes of apple, tinged with cinnamon, that menu was sheer bliss to me. On another Friday, I was lucky to find bar stools. But then again, that is part of the joy of being at a bar – even though there are tables everywhere, perching on a bar stool is so much cooler!

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CaLDRON January 2014


REVIEWS - GURGAON I started with a mug (read: beer mug) of Mexican Coffee (Rs 395), a hot coffee cocktail with coffee liqueur, strong black coffee and single cream. It was exceptionally good. Seriously, down two of these and you can sashay back home in a slinky LBD, with the withering cold unable to touch you. I loved how strong the individual flavours of liqueur and coffee were in that drink. If I wasn’t so keen on tasting the Toddy, I would have chugged another one of these for sure.

menu is fantastic and has dishes things like the ‘Anaheim Pepper Halves’ (Rs 200), which are herb cheese stuffed Anaheim peppers halves with some lemon paprika aioli. If you are a vegetarian, this dish will have you hooked.

The ‘Pork Steamers’ (Rs 250) are popper sized spiced mantis steamed with tomato peanut dip and coriander dip. The dumplings are so fine that I could have had a dozen of just these. From Monday to Thursday, the bar also includes pulled pork sandwiches in its menu. I chose the Hot Ginger Toddy It had me wishing that I had (Rs 395) next – a hot, rumnot visited Cocktails & Dreams based toddy with ginger juliSpeakeasy on a Friday night, ennes and ginger bread infused and the chef graciously made us in hot water that is balanced a batch of pulled pork sliders, with lime. It was like the tears of which were stellar. We completan angel and I mean that in the ed our meal with a portion of comforting sense (if you missed ‘Squid Rings’ (Rs 250), which the drift, then yes, it was amaz- were perfect. I only wish we had ingly good). some space left in our tummies for the ‘Pork Chops’, because Drinks to Soothe the Soul the last time we had them, they My company for the evening were delightful. was the designated driver so he had a virgin version of the Cocktails & Dreams Speakeasy drinks. He agreed with me that has completed a year and having it was super stuff. The sheer size visited this place almost every of the drinks gives one such a month, I can safely say they are long window to sit, chat and only getting better and cozier. unwind. The drinks served at All in all, this is a great place to Cocktails & Dreams Speakeasy be! ■ are meant to mellow the harby Parul Pratap Shirazi rowed soul, and they definitely manage to do just that. Visit this pub on the kind of evenings when you need to put your phone away and just relax. Because my guest wasn’t drinking alcohol, food played a large role during this evening. Now, here’s the thing about Cocktails & Dreams Speakeasy – even the CaLDRON January 2014

Rating: 4 out of 5 Price: INR 1500++ (meal for two)

Address: Cocktails & Dreams, Speakeasy, Sector 15, Part II Market, Gurgaon - 122001 Phones: 9810 999086

The drinks at Cocktails & Dreams Speakeasy are meant to mellow the harrowed soul, and they definitely manage to do just that. 9


REVIEWS - GURGAON

DELIGHT

in every bite

The Canton Spice Company is a cross between a tearoom and a Mexican cantina. And the food served here is such a delight that it will have you returning for more.

Chinese Style, Spicy Spare Ribs

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here are times when I would like to thank the God of restaurants for Cyberhub in Gurgaon. This is probably the only concrete monstrosity in the hell; but it manages to redeem itself since it is a hub of some of Gurgaon’s best restaurants. We’ve already established that ‘Made in Punjab’ and ‘Pita Pit’ are great, ‘Nando’s’ is as Nando’s is, ‘The Wine Company’ needs to work hard on its menu and 10

‘Soda Bottleopener Wala’ has good potential. That leaves the regular joints like ‘Dunkin’ Donuts’, ‘Starbucks’ and ‘Red Mango’ that are way too standardized to be affected by the location. And then there is the ‘Canton Spice Company’, a darling Chinese restaurant, a cross between a tearoom and a rustic Mexican cantina. It is probably the bar stools and the metal grid work that gave this impression. We walked in to this place because

we had eaten everywhere else in Cybercity and were surprised to find it packed on a weekday despite a cover size of 80+.The staff is very polite, except for one feisty young man, who spoke too loudly for an urbane place like The Canton Spice Company. A Menu Filled with Happiness The menu of the restaurant had enough items to make us sigh in happiness: pork, duck, seafood, and CaLDRON January 2014


REVIEWS - GURGAON

Char Siu Bao

more. We started our meal with the ‘Char Siu Bao’ (Rs 300), which wasv like pillows of air with some sweet sticky pork filling. These reminded

slurpy bite. On our next visit, we are definitely going to try the ‘Lotus Root’ (Rs 225), sweet and spicy crispy wafers made of lotus stem and the ‘Onion Pancake’ (Rs 200). For the main course, we ordered the For its price points ‘Chef ’s Roast Pork’ (Rs 350), a house and the upscale ambi- special that was done very well. The cooked juicy pork slices ance of Cyberhub, The perfectly were darkened by simmering in Canton Spice Comrich, dark soy, which gave it a lovely sweet and savoury kick. We had pany certainly has a this with the ‘Kung Pao Prawns’ (Rs good thing going. 675), which were very much like the usual sweet and sour variety. However, the inclusion of peanuts (Kung us of Bao, a Chinese immigrant lady Pao) gave the dish a different twist. who used to make these same buns The prawns were nice sized and when we were in college. Bao did fresh too. not speak any English or Hindi and we always wondered how she man- All this went down with a good poraged to get by in the small town of tion of ‘Mixed Fried Rice’ (Rs 200), Manipal. Guess it was her cooking complete with lamb, pork, chicken that got her by! and prawns and none of the unnecessary carrots and peas! For me the We decided to indulge in the ‘Spare true sign of good Chinese food is when you can eat the fried rice with Ribs’ (Rs 300), especially since the description read “slow cooked, chill just a few drops of dark soy, and I garlic or honey pepper glaze”. We loved the flavour this one had! chose chilli garlic and loved every Since no meal of mine is complete CaLDRON January 2014

without noodles, we went in for the ‘Crispy Duck Noodle Bowl’ (Rs 600), which was awesome. The duck was perfectly done – very much like Peking Duck – slivers of which adorned the top of sauce tossed flat noodles, a bit like ‘Kway Teow’ and completely delicious at that. For its price points and the upscale ambiance of Cyberhub, The Canton Spice Company certainly has a good thing going. We loved the interiors, the hardwood furniture, the glimpse of the kitchen from the open kitchen window and of course the food, most of all the food! ■ by Parul Pratap Shirazi

Rating: 4 out of 5 Price: INR 2000++ (meal for two) Address: Cyber Hub, DLF Cyber City, DLF Phase II, Gurgaon - 122002 Phones: 8527954466, 8527964466

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REVIEWS - DELHI

Turquoise Cottage goes UBER ASIAN When a bar known for live music serves up excellent food, it is a win all around. That is what makes Turquoise Cottage a winner all the way.

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for the lunch we partook in the restaurant, we can tell you hose people who have from previous experiences been in the Delhi or that if you are looking for old NCR region long enough will classics like Long Island Iced deeply associate ‘Turquoise Tea or a darned good Bloody Cottage’ with rock music. This Mary, this is the place for it. place played classic rock, had some of the best line-ups even Urban Charm for open mic nights, and was of its Own popular amongst 30-someOnce you thing executives who thronged have it for after-work drinks. It is soaked in still pretty much the same, the rustic except the new Turquoise garage Cottage at DLF Place is much and funk cooler looking (retro chic in a vibes of ‘60s biker bar sort of way) and Turserves much better food. quoise Cottage The establishment is still while steeped in its principles of downing music first, followed by booze a couple and then food, which is obviof drinks, ous in its decor and layout. The don’t forget to dramatically lit corner stage is dig into Chef the first thing you notice when Marshel Lepcha’s you enter the restaurant. The Asian menu, combar is built like a DJ’s console; plete with sushi and a it is raised, beautifully lit and bit of Thai and Indonesian is very well stocked. Since regulars too. We started our drinks were not on the cards 12

meal with ‘Smoked Chicken Noodle Soup’ (Rs 195), which had spam flavoured cured chicken bits. It went well with the Thai chilli

CaLDRON January 2014


REVIEWS - DELHI spiced soup stock. I like spicy soups and not only because they reportedly perk up your appetite! We had two kinds of Dim Sum, though an entire page of the menu is dedicated to these dumplings. We had the ‘Prawn Hargao’ (Rs 465), which thankfully had translucent coating and were stuffed with fresh and sweet prawns. The Chef recommended ‘General Tso’s Chicken Dim Sum’ (Rs 275), a fun take on General Tso’s Chicken gravy. The enveloped and steamed Dim Sum were a nice surprise. Don’t miss the crispy greens topping, which is a lovely texture to go with the softness of the Dim Sum. This by the way is a ‘Dieters Special’ and the menu here is speckled with such dishes, which we must say is a nice touch. We tried three of the sushi rolls, all of which were good and I say this is the nicest way, mainly because good sushi is hard to come by in standalone restaurants. We ate the ‘Tempura Prawn Rolls’ (Rs 275) and the ‘Salmon California Rolls’ (Rs 275) and the ‘Vegetarian California Roll’ (Rs 225). Though fantastically priced, these were beautifully presented and as good as American sushi gets.

CaLDRON January 2014

We tried three of the sushi rolls, all of which were good and I say this is the nicest way, mainly because good sushi is hard to come by in standalone restaurants.

ate that afternoon, maybe after the sushi. The other dishes on the menu that seemed interesting were the ‘Nyonya Lime Curry’ (a sauce from the Singaporean Peranakan cuisine, tangy, spicy and very aromatic), ‘Lotus Stem Honey Chili’ and the ‘Khao Suey’.

With over 80 covers, Turquoise Cottage is nice, big and pretty happening on weekend nights. Remember to grab the right music gig to The ‘Vegetarian California Roll’ is enjoy this place to the fullest; else ideal for those of you who would you could now drop in for a pretty like to try sushi and cultivate a taste extensive Asian lunch as well. It is for it. After the Tempura Rolls we heartening to see typical bar-like were inspired to try the ‘Prawn Temestablishments giving deep thought pura’ (Rs 475). These fresh prawns to the food and bringing both value were crisp and accompanied with and variety to the experience. ■ a lovely plum sauce, but since they were also a bit oily, we couldn’t consume as many as we’d have liked to. by Parul Pratap Shirazi Stick to the Chef’s Recommendations For the main course, we ordered the ‘Chilli Pork’ (Rs 425) which was nicely done, even though the pork was most certainly twice cooked. The ‘King Prawns in XO sauce’ (Rs 525) were very typically Delhi Chinese, but good nonetheless.

Rating: 4 out of 5 Price: INR 2000++ (meal for two)

The Chef asked us to taste the ‘Lamb Rendang’ and when I think back, it was one of the best dishes we

Address: MA 03, Restaurant Block, District Centre, DLF Place, Saket, New Delhi - 110016 Phones: 011-30146033, 9818182812

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The DHABA’s Full On

KITSCH EXPERIENCE

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CaLDRON January 2014


REVIEWS - DELHI

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vour of vegetables. Then came one of their originals, the ‘Amritsari Tawa f you had the chance to dine Chaap; (Rs 445); crispy and meaty, at the ‘Dhaba’ at the erstwhile good sized mutton chops, which Claridges in Surajkund, you might are crumbed and then folded in recollect its chic interiors and quaint masala – very good stuff. The chaap kitschy accents. This establishment has now moved to DLF Place, but The food at Dhaba, the management has managed to up DLF Place remains the ante on funky interiors. The placards along the way will have top-class on the qualyou chuckling your way to your ity front, and with a table, from ‘No Guts, No Galouti’ to ‘Child Water Served here’ to the bar called ‘Theka’, even more elaborate and hilarious their quirkiness will ones! The ubiquitous truck too has made its way into this restaurant, only add to the experibut this time you can enjoy ‘Mock ence of full on Punjabi Tharra’ in the truck itself, which is open from the side and is well khaana. stocked to seat over 16 guests. Don’t miss the ceiling lights shaped like reminded me of my childhood, light bulbs and the wall fixtures because it had the perfect balance of shaped like ‘nimboo mirchi’ that spice like I had savored when young adorn many a shop across the counand you could still taste the meat. try. Despite the likes of ‘Dhaba Prawns’ and ‘Highway Chicken Tikka’, I deThe restaurant is nice and spacious cided to opt for the ‘Bun Omelette’ with a typical counter for ‘handis’, (Rs 145). It was like a blast from the while each table has the adorable past. Bun and omlette was my staple little pickle martabans with condimeal in the town I studied in, when ments. At a whopping 115 covers, being at culinary school meant the Dhaba was still half full on a spending so much time around food weekday afternoon. Despite being that the simple things mattered the a fine dining standalone restaurant, most. the service standards are at par with the original Dhaba at the Aurangzeb For the main course, we ordered property. The management was in the Dhaba standard, ‘Balti Meat’ (Rs the process of getting the restau445)and ‘Brain Masala’ (Rs 325), rant’s liquor license at the time of both of which are lovely dishes from going to press, and thankfully they the seasoned kitchen. The ‘Balti will also have their own washrooms Meat’ has one marrow bone that I soon, so that guests don’t have to use eyed through the meal and this is the ones in the mall. probably one of the few places where I will order it again. Asli Indian We started with the Chef recomJust the Way it Should Be mended ‘Vegetarian Galouti’ (Rs Chef Saxena recommended the 195) and they were really good;al‘Tawa Mutton Pulao’ (Rs 325), a most buttery and with a lovely fladelightful rice preparation with what

CaLDRON January 2014

tasted like mutton boti kebabs and a good dose of tawa masala. I strongly recommend that you have some raita along with this fiery pulao. The good chef also asked us to try the ‘Dhaba Murgh Roast’ (Rs 325), which is their take on Tandoori Chicken and way better than the orange atrocity served in the name of all things tandoori. You can taste the rich, creamy marinade of hung curd with deep flavours of ginger and garlic. This meal is best enjoyed with a kadak ‘Tandoori Roti’, served piping hot and is awesome to sop up the last bits of meat and gravy on your plate. For vegetarians, the fare is straight out of any dhaba on the Delhi-Chandigarh highway: ‘Chilli Paneer’, ‘Kadhi Pakora’, ‘Rajmah’ and the heart warming ‘Yellow Tadka Dal’. The ‘Phirni’ for dessert was lighter than expected and actually quite comforting after a hot and heavy meal like this one. However, I do wish we had ordered the Bailey’s Kulfi instead. Incidentally, you can enjoy Panditji’s paan here as well! The food at Dhaba, DLF Place remains top-class on the quality front, and with a bar called ‘Theka’, their quirkiness will only add to the experience of full on Punjabi khaana. If you prefer Indian food when you eat out, then the Dhaba is a good choice. Throw in a couple of hours of retail therapy and you have a packed day of family, fun, friends and food! ■ by Parul Pratap Shirazi Rating: 4 out of 5 Price: INR 2500++ (meal for two) Address: Second Floor, DLF Place, Saket, New Delhi - 110017 Phones: 011-30146033

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REVIEWS - MUMBAI

Pasta Expedition at

SPAGHETTI KITCHEN

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Spaghetti Kitchen created a special menu for ‘Pasta Expedition’. We would, however, stick to its exhaustive main menu with its thin crust pizza, lasagna and risotto any day.

nter the threshold of Spaghetti Kitchen and you feel as if you have entered the bright and cozy home of an old friend. The walls are painted in lively colors, bottles of spices and condiments line shelves on the walls and wrought iron plaques hang from hooks in the ceiling. The décor is part rustic, part contemporary; but entirely welcoming. This ambience just wants you to sit down and dig into some hearty Italian fare. We recently visited Spaghetti Kitchen at Inorbit Mall, when the restaurant had the ‘Pasta Expedition’ festival. Our first question to the Chef Russell D’Souza was, “Why have a ‘Pasta Expedition’ in an Italian restaurant where the most ordered dishes are pasta and pizza anyway?” He replied, “Why not?” Why not, indeed!

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Time to Get Adventurous Sadly, majority of the people who frequent Spaghetti Kitchen hardly go beyond their pizzas and pasta. Chef Russell said that the idea behind the ‘Pasta Expedition’ festival was to get people to try different variants of pasta, which are not part of the regular menu. Unconvinced about that logic, we nonetheless decided to check out the woefully limited ‘Pasta Expedition’ menu. It had a salad, three vegetarian dishes and four non-vegetarian options. That’s more of a short jaunt than an expedition, if you ask us!

the ‘Pomegranate and Basil Martini’ (450) that we chose were both a little on the sweeter side for us.

What however made our dining experience remarkable was when Chef Russell rolled out a portable cooking station to our table to cook the ‘Tomato Flavored Ravioli’ (435). Suddenly our table was the cynosure of all eyes in the restaurant. Some kids rushed with their smartphones to click photos of whatever miracle they expected the Chef to whip up. While the feta and asparagus stuffed beetroot ravioli was being blanched in the kitchen, the chef made a We began with the ‘Warm Gnocchi flambé of red wine with flourish and then cooked a sauce of sun-dried Salad’ (295), which was not warm but tepid when it reached us, though tomato paste. He added the ravioli, cooked it for a couple of minutes the papaya slices and red lettuce more and then served it to us with leaves did lend this mildly spiced salad a colorful and pleasant look. The ‘Classic Red Sangria’ (450) and

CaLDRON January 2014


REVIEWS - MUMBAI

some rocket salad and thin slivers of Parmesan. We still had a gaggle of gaping kids waiting to see if we would magically turn to toads or keel over after biting into the pasta.

Spaghetti Kitchen probably had the right intention when it added ‘Corn Ravioli’ (350) to the ‘Pasta Expedition’ menu and then proceeded to make it gluten-free. This American corn ravioli is stuffed with garlic,

Sadly for them, and fortunately for us, neither happened, though we We expected the Pasta saw some patrons approach the chef and ask for a similar service at their Expedition at Spatable! in the kitchen, the chef made a ghetti Kitchen to have flambé of red wine with flourish and a lengthy menu filled then cooked a sauce of sun-dried tomato paste. He added the ravioli, with unusual, and cooked it for a couple of minutes perhaps even outlandmore and then served it to us with some rocket salad and thin slivers ish, pasta creations of Parmesan. We still had a gaggle just to give it a touch of gaping kids waiting to see if we would magically turn to toads or of kitsch. Thankfully, keel over after biting into the pasta. that was not the case. Sadly for them, and fortunately for us, neither happened, though we saw some patrons approach the chef blanched spinach, and crushed pine and ask for a similar service at their nuts – a nice, nutty mix. The corn table! pasta however does not do justice to this stuffing, because it was too thick A Bit of This, and doughy. If you must have pasta, A Bit of That and you must have it gluten-free, The ‘Herbed Pappardelle with Ham’ then give this dish a shot. But, we (Rs 525) was slightly sweet, courtesy doubt anyone will end up doing the orange glazed ham. The pappar- cartwheels after eating it. delle was cooked al dente and because of its width, it held its own in The ‘Porcini Flavored Fettuccine the strong brown sauce that would Lamb’ (545) is cooked in a brown otherwise have smothered a delicate sauce that makes you forget that this pasta like spaghetti or capellini. We dish is supposed to prop the pasta were surprised at the very generous as the hero. The sauce, instead, plays accompaniment of ham and also a stellar performance, courtesy the appreciative of it. woody flavor of the porcini, which CaLDRON January 2014

is ground into a fine paste and then cooked with the gravy. The confit lamb is equally rich and succulent, which makes you wonder why did the dish need any pasta at all – a chunk of nice bread would have done well too! The ‘Baked Pasta Shells with Chicken’ (450) seems to have been created keeping kids in mind. The pasta shells are laced with rich Taleggio cheese and are served in a creamy white sauce with small pieces of smoked roast chicken. We expected the Pasta Expedition at Spaghetti Kitchen to have a lengthy menu filled with unusual, and perhaps even outlandish, pasta creations just to give it a touch of kitsch. Thankfully, that was not the case. While still unclear about the objective behind the pasta festival in an Italian restaurant, we are grateful that most dishes from the special menu did what good food is supposed to do – sit prettily on your plate and give your taste buds a great experience. What more can we say, but ‘Buon appetito’! ■ by Vinita Bhatia Rating: 2 out of 5 Price: INR 2000++ (meal for two) Address: Inorbit Mall, Inorbit Rd, Mindspace, Goregaon, Malad West, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400104 Phones: 022-30932030 17


REVIEWS - MUMBAI

COLD COMFORT Revenge is a dish best served cold, they say. However, when you are served cold food at Pronto Pizza and Pasta, it makes you wonder why the restaurant is so vengeful!

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magine entering a small diner on a busy street that promises to offer you a quick meal, which is value for money. Of course, you would be interested in sampling it. Now imagine you got decent portions for the items you ordered and are served within 15 minutes of you placing the order. Of course, you would be happy. Now, imagine that a few of the dishes you ordered arrive absolutely cold, especially on a cool winter evening when you want a hot meal. Of course, you will be disappointed. We went through this range of emotions when we dined at Pronto’s diner in Bandra. At the end of our meal, the overwhelming feeling was one of dejection – of a promise unkept. Stick to the Obvious We started our meal with something that would put Pronto’s claims of fresh produce to test –the salads. The ‘Pronto’s Special Salad’ (Rs 160) has chicken ham and salami, iceberg lettuce, rocket leaves and red onions with the spicy Thousand Island dressing. It was definitely fresh and the croutons added to the crunchi-

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ness of the lettuce. However, the red onions were replaced with pieces of regular onions, while the dressing was a long way from being spicy. We were however grateful that our salad had not been doused with dressing – as many eateries are apt to do.

We went through this range of emotions when we dined at Pronto’s diner in Bandra. At the end of our meal, the overwhelming feeling was one of dejection – of a promise unkept.

pizza – and ordered ‘Zorba The Greek’ (Rs 190 for 8”) and ‘Roast Beef ’ (Rs 210 for 8”) thin crust pizza. The interestingly named ‘Zorba The Greek’ had us visualizing a well layered pizza with lot of greens, black olives and crumbled cottage cheese. However, we got a regular vegetarian pizza with onions, capsicum and cottage cheese – not bad, but nothing out of the ordinary either.

The look of the ‘Roast Beef ’ was actually a turnoff. The pizza was covered with a dark jumble of thin slivers of roast beef, and on first look, one felt that the chef had probably forgotten to take the pizza out of the oven, letting it char. The caramelized onions seemed to have vaporized because we could not discern it, though the roast beef had The ‘Broccoli, Cob and Pasta Salad’ a very homely taste to it. What really (Rs 150) can best be termed as insip- put us off about the pizza was that id. The fusilli was tasteless, while the they reached our tables cold and herbed balsamic vinaigrette lacked a with the centers of the base being punch. We tried to make the saltoo chewy for comfort. ad palatable by adding some chilli flakes, salt and pepper, but realized Tried, Tested, Yet Failed that it was beyond redemption. We decided to try some more popWe figured that we had best stick ular dishes at Pronto thinking that to what Pronto was known for – its these would be tried and tested CaLDRON January 2014


REVIEWS - MUMBAI

enough to taste good. We took the name of Pollo Arrosto (Rs 240) literally and expected roasted chicken, but what we got was wedges of chicken breast stuffed with a filling of spinach and ricotta cheese, served with thick brown sauce, mashed potatoes and stir-fried vegetables. The portions are liberal, and there was a hearty amount of button mushrooms used in the brown sauce, which we appreciated. However, yet again the dish was served cold. We pointed out about our vegetables were cold enough to be unpalatable, but were told that this is how the dish is usually presented! CaLDRON January 2014

The couscous in the ‘Pan Fried Vegetables and Couscous’ (Rs 220) was cooked with spring onions and carrots; it was light, fluffy subtly flavored. The pan-fried vegetables were mixed in a bland and creamy white sauce and served on the side. Had these been cooked in a spicier and heavier tomato-based sauce, the veggies would have lent better contrast to the mildly flavored couscous. Predictably, even this dish was served cold. If we were to sum up our meal at Pronto, then three things comes to mind. Firstly, the service is prompt and helpful. Secondly, the portions are generous. Thirdly, the restaurant

delivers what it promises – everyday affordable food, which is probably their biggest USP right now. The prices on the menu are tempting enough to make you want to order in from Pronto at least twice a week. If the restaurant manages to improve on the quality and presentation of its food, then chances are that more people in Bandra will give in to this temptation. ■ by Vinita Bhatia Rating: 1 out of 5 Price: INR 1000++ (meal for two) Address: 98, Shams Palace, Hill Road, Bandra West, Mumbai - 400050 Phones: 022-30932039

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REVIEWS - BANGALORE

there’s no better plan than

PLAN B LOADED

Plan B Loaded is of the few places in Bangalore that scores on almost all fronts. It offers good food, great drinks and more importantly, prompt and polite service.

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feel; the kind of music you get on classic rock stations; the fabulous isualize a place that prococktails, some of which are served claims ‘Bacon is the new in mason jars; and of course, some vegetarian’. Then add one more darn fine burgers and fries that are picture to this fantasy – one of a crisp perfection! Yes, these are the restaurant where there is no dearth memories I had carried back from of pork or beef on the menu. Yes, my previous visits. And these were these images make me a very happy the memories I wanted to revisit girl indeed. Moreover, this is what once more. ‘Plan B Loaded’ promised to be. So enthused was I by this promise that I managed to convince a few friends to drive all the way from Hebbal, so we could meet up at Plan B Loaded in Shanti Nagar. Located right across from the hockey stadium, this place is hard to miss. I have visited it a couple times and had liked the chilled out atmosphere. The semi-open, grungy garage-like 20

Bespoke Cocktails, Anyone? My two favorite cocktails on the menu of Plan B Loaded are ‘Rude Cosmo’ (Rs 400) and ‘Dirty Mary’ (Rs 400). And luckily for us, the bartender here has been known to whip up a special based on a patron’s preference of alcohol. The range of appetizers one can opt for is vast. We strongly recommend that you

try the ‘Loaded Fries’ or ‘the Nachos’ (Rs 225), which has options in vegetarian, chicken, and delicious pulled pork. Then there is the ‘Fiery Beef ’ (Rs 220), which is spicy and tangy. This is also available in chicken for those who like their meat to be white in color. Even though I am eulogizing the red meat here, vegetarians will also find plenty of choice – fear not! Each time we visited Plan B Loaded, we have loaded up on the starters and then ordered the irresistible gigantic burgers topped with caramelized onion slivers and fried egg. It has been a rare occasion that one of us has managed to polish off these burgers. The menu does warn you that these are a ‘meal by itself ’! CaLDRON January 2014


REVIEWS - BANGALORE

Speaking of the menu, it is a huge wood framed two-sided affair, one featuring drinks and the other giving all the details about the food. I also took a bite of the ‘Pulled Pork Burger’ (Rs 380) which has a sweetish BBQ sauce that I liked. However, it was not such a hit with the person who ordered it, showing that not everyone might dig its taste. Speaking about myself, I can never resist the lure of the blue cheese sauced beef patty burger, but some of the pork sandwiches this time had me reconsidering ordering the same for the future. Dessert is not something that we always make a point of ordering, especially if we are imbibing our favorite drinks and have already gorged ourselves on some delicious food. After all, we do have our respective waistlines to think about on the morrow. But, we saw that the management of Plan B Loaded had written the sweet specials on a chalkboard and having spied Caramel Cheesecake we could not leave without a taste. So we threw caution to the winds and ordered dessert. It helped that there were five of us to finish it, and it was quite good – cheesecake as it should be, with the base and consistency appearing to be just right. Plan B Loaded has become one of my happy places – someplace to CaLDRON January 2014

Dessert is not something that we always make a point of ordering, especially if we are imbibing our favorite drinks and have already gorged ourselves on some delicious food. After all, we do have our respective waistlines to think about on the morrow. But, we saw that the management of Plan B Loaded had written the sweet specials on a chalkboard and having spied Caramel Cheesecake we could not leave without a taste. So we threw caution to the winds and ordered dessert. It helped that there were five of us to finish it, and it was quite good – cheesecake as it should spend a few hours lounging while listening to great music, gorging on be, with the base and consistency artery clogging foods and sipping on appearing to be just right. my kinda cocktails and chilled beer. ‘Twas but a hog heaven Sunday the Plan B Loaded has become one of my happy places – someplace to day I visited this place, and here is hoping for many more such Sundays spend a few hours lounging while to come in the future. wood framed listening to great music, gorging on artery clogging foods and sipping on two-sided affair, one featuring my kinda cocktails and chilled beer. drinks and the other giving all the ‘Twas but a hog heaven Sunday the details about the food. I also took day I visited this place, and here is a bite of the ‘Pulled Pork Burger’ (Rs 380) which has a sweetish BBQ hoping for many more such Sundays to come in the future. ■ sauce that I liked. However, it was by Natasha Ali not such a hit with the person who ordered it, showing that not everyone might dig its taste. Speaking Rating: 4 out of 5 about myself, I can never resist the Price: INR 1800++ (meal for two) lure of the blue cheese sauced beef Address: 13, Rhenius Street, Opposite patty burger, but some of the pork sandwiches this time had me recon- Hockey Stadium, Shanti Nagar, Bangalore sidering ordering the same for the Phones: 9739902745 future.

Plan B Loaded has become one of my happy places – someplace to spend a few hours lounging while listening to great music, gorging on artery clogging foods and sipping on my kinda cocktails and chilled beer.

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REVIEWS - BANGALORE

not your usual airport fare

MalgudiTiffinCentre The time, effort, research and thought that has gone into Malgudi Tiffin Centre has elevated the airport experience for any traveler coming through to Bangalore.

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special invite to check out the food offerings at Bangalore International Airport Ltd’s (BIAL) new terminal had me curious. Since when did airports start organizing exclusive food previews, inviting food bloggers and media to attend? Since December 2013, it would appear! Given the distance to BIAL, one often arrives two hours after leaving home, with the objective of reaching two hours before boarding the flight. And if like me, one is travelling to faraway destinations, this is followed by a four to five hour flight. With so much time on hand, the usual fast food choices of Indian and American fare available at the airport certainly holds no excitement. Can you imagine thinking, “I am really looking forward to getting to BIAL early so I can eat well?” The answer so far, has always been a strong “No!” That is likely to change, however, because 14th December, 2013 saw the opening of BIAL’s 22

newly expanded T1 terminal, and with it, a host of new dining options, including the Southern specialty restaurant ‘Malgudi TIffin Centre’.

tion to restaurants, there is a south India-oriented shopping section, but that is more likely for an airport. The time, effort, research and thought that has gone into Malgudi Tiffin Centre (including the use of the name Malgudi, taken from auThe side dish of thor RK Narayan’s collection of short ‘Murungakai’ was ab- stories that were later made into a TV series called Malgudi Days) solutely delicious, and has elevated the airport experience for any traveler coming through. It we were happy to see is evident that someone has paid a the homely drumsticks close eye to details, if you take one presented in a fashion look at the pillars, burnished copper pots or colonial-era ceiling fans! other than in a samRene Baumann, VP-Commercial, BIAL, explained that they wanted bar, with the ‘Malguto make Bangalore the gateway to di Mango Drumstick South India, given that for many a traveler, this is their first stop. The Curry’. upcoming specialty stores will soon have handcrafted wooden toys from Flying High on Food and More Channapatna and other local wares, and one can get South Indian coffee Despite have a captive audience beans and spices too. on hand in an airport setting, it is impressive that the powers-that-be And that brings us to the food. Is it at BIAL have chosen to create an all hoopla or is the fare on offer truly interesting dining space. In addiCaLDRON January 2014


REVIEWS - BANGALORE

good? Trust us when we say that it is damn good! You get to enjoy fine-dining service and cuisine, with a mind boggling range of dishes. South India has a whole lot more to offer than the ubiquitous idli, dosa or sambar. The style of cooking and the range of spices differs not just from state to state, but even within. Spoilt for Choice So get set to enjoy Kerala and Mangalore-style fish preparations, typical ‘Andhra Gongura Chicken’, the famed, fiery ‘Chicken Ghee Roast’, the ‘colored’ rice like ‘Lemon Rice’ aka ‘Chitranna’ and tamarind rice or ‘Puliogare’, which is typically found in most local eateries of Bangalore. Your meal will be served in an oldschool tiffin carrier, and your appetite and group size can determine how many dishes you order. We were outfitted with hard hats and neon vests in the work-in-progCaLDRON January 2014

ress space, so we did look a bit like construction workers on their lunch break! The ‘Malabar Parotta’ we ate was as flaky and delicious as any I have had, as was the ‘Allepy Fish Curry’ with green mango. The side dish of ‘Murungakai’ was absolutely delicious, and we were happy to see the homely drumsticks presented in a fashion other than in a sambar, with the ‘Malgudi Mango Drumstick Curry’. Malgudi Tiffin Centre’s Executive Chef, Murali started us off with ‘Pepper Rasam’ and ended the meal with a flourish, serving two fantastic desserts – ‘Palada Payasam’, a special Kerala porridge served in temples that takes hours to cook; and an innovative ‘Coconut Custard’, which is essentially caramel custard with a coconut base. We polished off both, despite generally not being into payasams and having eaten a

huge meal. We failed to mention the bhajjis and ‘Kané Rava Fry’ and curry leaves marinated prawn starters, didn’t we? We had a beautiful meal and got to see first-hand the enthusiasm with which the BIAL and HMSHost teams are putting the dining area together in the airport. Hats-off to them for this latest offering, and come January, give yourself that extra hour at the airport to soak in the new sights. by Natasha Ali

Rating: 4 out of 5 Price: INR 1000++ (meal for two) Address: Bangalore International Airport, BIAL Road, Devanahalli, Bangalore, Karnataka 560300 Phones: 080-66784444 23


REVIEWS - KOLKATA

Holy Grail of Chinese Food

Two reputed Chinese restaurants in Kolkata with their impressive legacies come up short when it comes to satiating the craving for authentic Chinese fare.

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China Garden I chose ‘China Garden’ restaurant fter spending almost two over ‘Beijing’, though the latter is decades in Kolkata and the most popular eatery in Tangra, six years away from it, I decided it for a quiet family dinner. I figured was time I paid my first visit to the this would be a good way to avoid heart of Chinese food in the city – the Pujo rush and suffer from bad Tangra or China Town, as it is better service due to more people visitknown. And what better time to ing ‘Beijing’. I had always pictured explore this area than at a time when ‘China Garden’ as a humble but the entire city is agog with excitecozy restaurant and that was exactly ment – Durga Pujo? how it turned out to be, putting me Set in the eastern part of the city, at ease the moment we walked in. Tangra was established some time in Though the place was packed, we 1830s, as a home to Chinese mihad called in advance to make our grants. Given its Chinese heritage, reservations and managed to get Tangra promises to offer authentic ourselves a table. Chinese cuisine at extremely modest prices. 24

What catches one’s immediate attention at ‘China Garden’ is the price on the food menu – it is cheaper than any modest Chinese restaurant I have visited in the last three years. We ordered ‘Butter Chilli Garlic Fish’ and ‘Fried Prawn Balls’. We were served fresh Pabda fish instead of the more commonly used Basa; and it was soft and perfectly cooked. The prawn balls, however, were a disappointment. It tasted more like chewing gum wrapped in a thick batter of flour and cornflour, and then deep fried in gallons of oil. For the main course, we ordered some common Chinese fare like ‘Kung Pao Chicken’, ‘Fish in Hot CaLDRON January 2014


REVIEWS - KOLKATA

Garlic Sauce’ and ‘Chicken Hakka Noodles’. We thought that it would be difficult for a popular Chinese restaurant to go wrong with these three dishes, but we were proved wrong. The waiter apologized for not using cashew nuts in the ‘Kung Pao Chicken’ (which isn’t right to begin with since the original recipe uses peanuts), and proceeded to serve us sufficient quantities of the three dishes. The noodle dish had very little veggies and chicken. It was just about rather blah to a noodle freak like me.

Eaw Chew If I were to compare my earlier memories of the food from China Town to what we experienced, I think it is a result of the establish-

The restaurants are still economical, with a meal for two costing around Rs 600 to Rs 800, but the quality and taste of the food has deteriorated.

research about the restaurant, which is also known as ‘Josephine’s Kitchen’ and hoped this time I would be successful in tasting some authentic homemade Chinese food. After all, according to various sources, this eatery is known for its simple dining room like set-up, secret recipes, loyal customers, welcoming environment and food that promises to be nothing less than a treat. I decided to treat my father to a relaxed weekday lunch at Eau Chew and bond with him over some home-style Chinese food. We opted for ‘Eau Chew Special Soup’ and ‘Dry Chilly Fish’. The soup and appetizer arrived sooner than we imagined, but unfortunately not as tasty as we hoped. The soup had too much going on without any distinct flavour for a so-called ‘special soup’ and the fish, in one word, was forgettable. For the main course we went with the highly recommended ‘Cantonese Soft Noodles’ and ‘Schezwan Fish’. I can assure you that my mom cooks better Cantonese noodles and Schezwan Fish than what we was served to us. Once more, I was let down by an authentic restaurant with a promising legacy.

It is unfortunate that both ‘China Garden’ and ‘Eau Chew’ dish up a fascinating heritage and history, which are interesting enough to The ‘Hot Garlic Fish’ was salty bekeep you engaged. But history is not yond measure and inedible. The fish what guests are looking for when still had a taste of its own, if you ate ments not moving with the times. they visit an eatery – they would init sans the gravy, but the chicken was The restaurants are still economical, stead settle for tasty food with good nothing less than a disaster. After a with a meal for two costing around service, anytime. ■ Rs 600 to Rs 800, but the quality and not so great dining experience, we decided to stay away from ordering taste of the food has deteriorated. by Gaurav Singh further, including desserts. The food, I decided to try my luck at the oldest family-owned Chinese restaurant in most definitely left a bad taste in our mouth and the extremely slow India, ‘Eau Chew’, located at Ganesh Chandra Avenue. I did a bit of service added to our frustration. CaLDRON January 2014

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ROAMING ROVER

STYLE AT A STEAL

ALOFT, CHENNAI As far as business hotels go Aloft Chennai is definitely intent on raising the bar. Leisure or business, we suggest you pay a visit.

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to be feeling at as soon as you walk into any hotel. The check-in proresh. Funky. Fun: The first 3 cess was short and painless and the words that sprung to mind staff friendly and efficient. The fact as I walked through the glass doors that the service-staff were dressed and into the Lobby (aka Re:mix) of for comfort and style in open-neck Aloft, Chennai! For a hotel located T-shirts and pants was in keeping on the IT expressway and catering with the casual-chic feel of the hotel mostly to business travellers and and was not only attractive, but long-stay visitors , Aloft-Chennai practical. A refreshing change from definitely breaks the mould of the the formal and elaborate (read hot typical no-frills business hotel. There and uncomfortable) uniforms that were so many visual and sensory you often see hotel staff in, tropical inputs that I stopped short for a climate notwithstanding. second. The lay-out, the colours, the music, the smell (a signature The Fun Begins scent created for Aloft ), the stack As I waited to take my neon-pinkof brightly lit coloured-cubes, the lit lift to the 3rd floor, I spotted an Art on the walls, and was that a Pool old but beautiful Lambretta scooter table in the far corner?! There was parked at the far-corner of the lifts. so much to take in; less than a few As I walked over to it curiously, I minutes in and I liked it already! was informed that one of the Directors of Aloft is a vintage-scooter Checking-in at the circular afficionado and so different levels Front-Office Desk (Aloha Desk of the hotel have different shining in Aloft-ese), I noticed a sense examples of two-wheeler technology of casual comfort setting in, and from the yester-years. A Maroon whether it was the un-conventional Lambretta on the ground floor, a wraparound desk, the smiling faces military-green James ML 125 cc of the staff or the mix of essential beauty from 1945 on the 1st floor, oils in the scented air, the resuland a Cream-coloured NSU Prima tant mood within a few minutes of D Scooter from 1956 on the 3rd arrival was one of ease, welcome and floor. All in a superb state of mainwarmth – definitely what you want tenance and kept in running-condi-

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tion, but sadly no, not available to be taken for a spin. A long walk down a stripey corridor (striped carpet, striped lights – standard décor common to all Aloft hotels worldwide) led me to my pool-facing room. Now here I was again pleasantly surprised! Very rarely, especially for hotel rooms, does reality turn out to be better than pictures on the Net! I was expecting a smaller, more compact, no-frills room and so, it was a pleasure to find a spacious, well-appointed, cheerful room with a King-sized platform bed, 2 pool-facing desks, a large 42” flat-screen television and a well-stocked mini-bar (no alcohol but a variety of drinks and nibbles). A complimentary tea-tray complete with choice of signature teas and coffee was on offer, but what immediately caught my eye was an unusual device on the desk called Plug ‘n’ play. On closer inspection, this turned out to be a communications-port that allows one to hook-up any electronic gadget you might have (laptop, PDA, MP3 , cellphone, you-name-it), to the large 42 inch flat-screen and navigate it from the comfort of your bed. Is this a big advantage for business people on the CaLDRON January 2014


CaLDRON January 2014

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ROAMING ROVER go? I don’t know, but certainly, having the option of working or playing your music/videos/movies from the comfort of that amazingly plush bed could only be good. The Discovery of Toothsome Food A quick peek through the In-room dining Menu revealed quite a few tempting options, but I decided to keep that for later and go check out what else the hotel had to offer. Heading down to lunch, I passed an interesting looking Grab ‘n’ go station called Re:fuel that was stocked with Fresh juices, milkshakes, sandwiches, assorted muffins, salads, snacks and tea/coffee/hot chocolate dispensers. This would be a boon to busy executives rushing to work, with no time to sit down to a proper meal. I felt plenty of thought and attention to detail had been put into that particular feature. For example, snacks and juices were dated and signed by the Chef who had prepared them, healthy options were aplenty, and brown bags were kept ready for one to just throw their choices in a bag and bill it at the Aloha Desk. The concept may not have caught on fully in India, but is very popular at Aloft hotels abroad, I was informed by the GM. I could easily see why. Aloft, one of the Starwood group’s nine brands of Hotels and Resorts, decided to step away from its Select-Service avatar and do things a bit differently in India. Aloft-India has not one but three F & B Venues (4 counting Re:fuel) on offer. Not bad, considering a Select-Service hotel usually has no on-site restaurant! Dot.Yum is the 24 hour multi-cuisine Coffee Shop that offers buffets as well as a la carte for all its meals. Estia is the Mediterranean 28

speciality restaurant and W xyz is the Bar offering Signature Cocktails and bar-snacks from around the world. The Dot.Yum lunch buffet is large and priced reasonably at Rs 650 plus tax pp, (dinner at Rs 700 plus tax pp.) The starters plentiful, off-beat, and delicious. The Nuts and Dukka Spice crusted Chicken Supreme is a dish I would make a special trip back to the hotel for- it was succulent, flavourful and paired with an excellent Tzatziki sauce. The Cheese Boreks, vegetable and cheese-stuffed spring-rolls, were crisp outside, gooey inside and served with a tomato salsa, an ideal way to whet the appetite. I was spoilt for choice when it came to the Main Course selections but decided Less is More and of the few dishes that I sampled, the Arabian tenderloin Shistawook on a skewer was outstanding – char-grilled to perfection, tender and flavoursome, the Moo Goo Gai Pan (Chicken w/sliced mushrooms) fairly tasty but not too authentic and the Paruppu Urandai Kozhambu (lentil dumplings in a tangy gravy) – simply delicious! If you are a dessert person (as I am!), you might find the Dessert section of the Buffet somewhat lacking. Apart from the mini plum-tart and omni-present Gulab Jamun, there wasn’t much else to justify its existence that afternoon. One step up from Dot.yum and segregated partially by vertical wooden slats, is Estia, the signature Mediterranean Restaurant. With the sights, sounds and smells from the coffee-shop buffet spilling into it, Estia seemed more like an extension of the Coffee-shop than a stand-alone Mediterranean Restaurant, which is pity because the food I sampled from its Menu that evening was outstanding. The Sambusaks (phyllo

cigars stuffed with Spinach and Nuts and served w/tomato jam) melted in the mouth and the Gambas al Ajillo – Prawns sautéed with garlic, were fresh and flavourful and paired with the perfect accompaniment – Chilli mayonnaise. The Sambusaks were more likely Sigara as Sambusaks must be triangular in shape. Made with a variety of pastry and fillings, both can taste the same but must adhere to shape norms – triangular for Sambusaks and tubular for Sigara. The main course, a Charmoula-crusted Sea Bass with Dijon mashed potatoes and grilled Vegetables was delicious. The fish– grilled and crisp outside, tender inside, went perfectly with the subtly flavoured, creamy mashed potatoes and grilled zucchini. But the surprise of the evening and the show-stopper IMHO, was the Vegetarian main course! I know…. what a surprise! Innocuously named Moroccan Vegetable Couscous, the dish was presented with a flourish and looked and tasted so good, I am going to have to go back for it. The cous-cous was light and very flavourful, surrounded by a moat of delicious, Moroccan-spiced tomato gravy and topped with a tender, buttered stem of asparagus. A dish fit for a King, or Queen in this case. ;) Last up was one of two most famous desserts of the Mediterranean coast, Tiramisu. Layers of Coffee soaked sponge, interspersed with mascarpone enhanced whipped cream and dusted with cocoa, served chilled. It was a beautiful end to a fabulous meal. I would definitely go back to Estia for a good meal, and can only hope that future meals meet the high standards that were set that evening. A meal for 2 would set you back around Rs 1800/- approximate CaLDRON January 2014


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ROAMING ROVER ly, which is quite reason- able. Last but certainly not the least is W xyz – the Lobby Bar situated at Ground level with glass walls on two sides and glass windows on the third. All that glass gives one a slight goldfish-in-a-bowl feeling, but in a good way. There is a light and spacious feel to the bar, and being able to see the world go by as you sip on one of the bar’s excellent Signature cocktails is an added bonus. The Snack Menu is extensive, with options for a light bite (e.g. Herbed Fish Fingers/Chicken Satay) or a Big-bite (Chettinad Chicken Paratha Wrap/Beer-battered Fish & Chips). The staff are friendly and the Manager of the bar, an avid mixologist, loves a chance to display his skills. That evening, he mixed up an Aloft signature cocktail, The Year of the Dragon, a delicious combination of Peach Absolut vodka with fresh strawberries muddled with lemon juice, sugar syrup, a little strawberry crush and topped with club soda… to make the perfect cocktail for a hot summer night – refreshing and light. Thoughtful Design Despite its F&B offerings, Aloft’s equal if not stronger focus, is on the tech-savvy and business traveller. This is evident from the plug ‘n’ play comm-port in the room, the free Wi-Fi throughout the hotel and also other such thoughtful offerings like the twin iPads near the main entrance – helpful if you want to make a quick search without pulling out your device, or perhaps print your ticket before you head out to the airport. Away from the main entrance is a quiet corner called In Touch, where full-size computers and office facilities await; a mini business-centre at your disposal. If you need to host a meeting, Tactic could be the perfect place to do it with state-of-the art AV equipment and an ability to host CaLDRON January 2014

upto 45 people at a time. For larger corporate functions or parties there is Hub, almost 3000 square feet of space and an excellent kitchen to back it up. Whether on business or leisure, everyone needs some R&R and Aloft has a few options you would be hard-pressed to find even at a 5-star hotel. At Re:mix you have comfortable seats to catch up on your reading, a high-table and chairs with a choice of board games and… a pool table! If that’s too indoors-ey, head up to the first-floor where you could either lounge in the open-air backyard with a book, catch up with friends with some cool music playing in the background, laze in one of the cabanas by the pool or take a dip in its cool, blue waters. Alternatively, head to The Spa where the Buddha-statue, fragrant air, dim-lighting and vedic-chant music will lull you into a peaceful trance in minutes. A short walk away from The Spa is Re:charge, the compact but fully-equipped gymnasium open 24 hours a day for in-house guests. ‘Style at a Steal’ they say? I agree. Aloft- OMR, Chennai gets two thumbs up for service, style, comfort, and great food. ■

by Kuki Ravindran

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COVER STORY

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ometime in June 2013, a blog post accused Lemp Brewpub in Gurgaon of mistreating a group of customers who visited the restaurant for the Sunday brunch. It alleged that the restaurant’s high-on-testosterone staff and owner misbehaved with the patrons and even hauled them to a police station for non-payment of a bill. This blog post went viral, sending the Twitterati into a tizzy. The issue snowballed in no time as opinions started flying thick and fast about the high-handedness of the restaurant’s officials. While the jury is still out, and we are noncommittal, about what actually transpired and who was at fault to what degree, there is one simple learning from this entire episode – the fiasco could have been avoided if the restaurant’s officials had handled it with tact and diplomacy. Close on the heels of this incident, many other people on social media networks spewed their own ire of wrongdoing they encountered in various eateries across the country. Jaya Khanna, 32, an entrepreneur who frequents 5-star establishments says that these places often lack basic courtesy extended to a guest. “The buffets are the worst. You place your request at the live counter, expecting warm food to reach your

table. But you end up getting cold, undercooked food; despite paying a hefty price for the buffet. It makes your blood boil,” she fumes. Sethuraman N, 25, a sales manager in an IT firm in Bangalore, recalls another incident where he visited a famous coffee chain and was seated at a table that was not cleared of the remnants of the previous guest’s food – for 20 minutes and despite several reminders to the staff to clear the table! “That day, a lot did happen over coffee,” he quips. Most of us would have similar horror stories to share about occurrences in restaurants that left us seething and some of us use social media platforms to rant about it. But are any of us willing to cut the restaurant’s team some slack and understand their perspective at times? From the Other Side Take this case for instance. A group of corporate staffers decides to have a working lunch at an open kitchen restaurant. Now an open kitchen means that there will be some sounds emanating from the cooking area especially when vegetables were stir-fried. One of the men from the group was upset because the noise was disturbing their conversation. He summoned the chef, who politely apologized for the inconvenience,

diners from

HELL

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Empathy usually works when you put yourself in the guest’s shoes and relate to his ire” – Chef Ajay Chopra, Executive Chef of Westin Mumbai Garden City

but pointed out that there was little he could do other than accommodate the group to a table some distance away from the open kitchen. However, the guest was not placated and insisted on speaking to the owner of the restaurant. “Thankfully, the owner understood my dilemma and tried to make the guest understand that little could be done about the noise and smell originating from the kitchen. But the guest left as a unhappy customer,” recalls Chef Ajay Chopra, currently the Executive Chef of Westin Mumbai Garden City, while reminiscing about this story from one of his previous assignments. Nityanand Shetty, Director of Melting Pot,

Every restaurant owner dreads them. Every chef has encountered them. Every hotel’s employee wishes to avoid them. Ladies and gentlemen, meet the ‘Difficult Diners’, for whom the food is never perfect, the ambience always lacks something and the meal experience is always short of ideal.

CaLDRON January 2014


COVER STORY Pebbles and 49 Grills in Mumbai talks about an incident at one of his restaurants. “A celebrity, who is a regular at our restaurant, had booked two tables on a busy night. Another trio of guests was waiting for a while since the restaurant was filled to capacity. We seated them in a smaller table for two with an extra seat, after taking their permission. But when one of the trio saw that the celebrity had booked two tables and a couple of seats were unoccupied he took umbrage to this and accused us of being star-struck and partial to celebrities,” Nityanand remembers.

that a guest expects from a Starwoods property, be it their hotel, restaurant or spa. Another trick of dealing with difficult diners is asking them to suggest a solution to their issue. So, if they feel that they are uncomfortable where they have been seated, ask them where they would prefer to be Nityanand Shetty, Director - Melting Pot moved to do and try to shift them at the earliest. “The reason is simple patient hearing so that they feel that – a nagging customer will spoil the their concern is taken seriously, if dining experience of other guests, not addressed, and that their com- which is something no restaurant plaint was taken seriously. Sadly, not can afford,” adds Chef Deepak Balmany establishments know how to laney of International Wings Factory handle such situations, which leads in New York. to a sticky state of affairs. We spoke The guest kept his diatribe on for 10 to a few chefs and restaurant owners The easiest way out that some minutes, during which time the ce- who shared their tricks of the trade restaurants take to mute demanding lebrity and his friends finished their for dealing with tough customers. patrons is to offer them a comp dish. meal and left. But the guest was still Though this is not the ideal solution, far from happy. Nityanand claims it does help in making amends. Chef Dealing with Tough that his staff listened to this tirade Deepak recommends that a restauCustomers patiently and assured the guest they rant owner should teach his staff to The first and most important habwould not charge him for the food. listen, be polite, be reasonable, but it that any person associated with “At the end of his meal the guest also know when to stop bending the hospitality sector has to imbibe refused to avail of the free food and over backwards. “Just because we are just accepted a token of free dessert, is one of patience and extreme there to give people a good dining restraint. Unless the guest gets because he felt that we had adexperience, but we are also there to physically violent or excessively dressed his issue,” he adds. run a business. We can’t be expected abusive, the staff of the restaurant is to comp a meal every time a diner Difficult diners are a regular facet obliged to understand why the guest disagrees with our food or policies,” of every restaurant’s life. The trick to deal with them is to lend them a is upset. “Empathy usually works he points out. when you put yourself in the guest’s shoes and relate to his ire,” says Chef In short, empathy, patience and the Chopra. willingness to go the extra mile to This is where professionalism saves the day. Many hotels have started investing in training their staff on the right way to welcome, seat, interact and listen to a guest. Starwood, for instance, has even initiated a Guest Experience Index (GEI) where each Starwood staffer’s incentives are tied to the rating they receive in the GEI “A nagging customer will spoil the dining experience of other guests, which filled in by guests. This is to ensure is something no restaurant can afford” that every member of the team can – Chef Deepak Ballaney, International deliver the expected level of service Wings Factory, New York CaLDRON January 2014

ensure that the guest has a good time are the cornerstones of any hospitality venture. If these tenets had been followed by Lemp Brewpub then chances are that establishment would not have been in the news for all the wrong reasons. Let us just hope other restaurant owners learn from this unfortunate episode and give their patrons a reason to keep coming back for more. ■

by Vinita Bhatia 33


KITCHEN KIN

Chef Emiliano De Stefano

Chef De Excellence

The youthfulness of Italian Chef Emiliano Di Stefano belies his eight years of experience in creating Italian dishes across Asia and the Middle East. As Chef de Cuisine, he is now overseeing the kitchen of Prego, the California style restaurant at Westin Gurgaon. My fascination for Italian food is legendary. Whether you have graced my table, cooked my recipes or read my opinions, you will notice that I involuntarily veer towards the flavor-filled warmth of Italian food ever so often. It has the familiar – tomatoes and garlic; the not so familiar – porcini and sardines; the comforting – red wine and olive oil; 34

and the extraordinary – prosciutto and chestnuts. So, whichever way you approach it, Italian cuisine will deliver. This versatile cuisine goes beyond pizza and pasta, which thankfully we now know. It encompasses the entire realm of vegetarian cooking too. But for me, Italian food is beautiful beef,

plump tomatoes, sweet balsamic, aromatic herbs, calamari, tart olives and creamy, milky desserts. This is the mindset I took with me when I met Chef Emiliano Di Stefano, the new Italian Chef de Cuisine at Prego, Westin Gurgaon’s Californian style Italian restaurant. My first question to Chef Emiliano was, CaLDRON January 2014


KITCHEN KIN “Why Californian style?” He replied how wonderfully challenging every that this was because Prego is sunny new destination is for him. and playful, al fresco yet private, beautifully upscale but inclusive. Well, I can vouch that it certainly felt that way. Having eaten at Prego I am a food aficionado several times before, I was keen to see what Chef Emiliano would do and I love to see new differently. I started with a tête-àcountries, new cultête about him and his past. Passion for Food Supersedes Geographies Chef Emiliano has over eight years of experience as an Italian chef in countries as diverse as China, the Middle East and now India. Needless to say, I was intrigued by his choice of appointments. To which he impishly said, “I am a food aficionado and I love to see new countries, new cultures and make people in those countries try what they haven’t tried before!” His career so far includes stints at the Venice Hotel in China, Intercontinental Hotel in Muscat and Hotel Executive in Italy. He also worked as a Pastry Chef at Ghigo, a 200year old patisserie in Torino, Italy, for several years. Later, he served as Sous Chef at The Atlantic Hotel in Italy, under renowned Italian Chef Lucio Antonietti. In addition to his expertise in Italian cuisine, Chef Emiliano also good knowledge of Mediterranean and European cooking. Chef Emiliano seemed to be excited about being in India, especially because of the vast palates Indians are known to have. He spoke of guests who wanted more sauce and then regretted asking for it, simply because the dish was perfect as it was served. He talked about diners who asked for dishes he was thrilled to serve up and most of all, he spoke of CaLDRON January 2014

Tournedos’ (Rs 2300). The ‘Affettati Gnocco Fritto’ was an array of Italian cured meats served with a fried Emilian bread puff; of this, the puff and the prosciutto were stellar. The ‘Open Ravioli’ was a very picturesque dish. The yellow saffron sauce was well contrasted by the dark and mysterious seafood ragout tinted with squid ink – all-in-all it tures and make people was creamy heaven! This dish is so wonderfully Italian it makes you in those countries try wonder why you bother with any what they haven’t tried other cuisine. I could taste the sea, the ravioli was perfectly rolled and before!” – Chef Emilia- so very fresh and I loved every last slurp of the saffron sauce. In fact, no De Stefano that evening I attempted the saffron sauce at home, though it was nowhere as close to Chef Emiliano’s Considering his young age, I won- presentation. But yes, his dishes dered how big a challenge it must spark inspiration in the diner. be to reign as Chef de Cuisine. But However, what stole the show were Chef Emiliano says that he loves the the ‘Tournedos’, medallions of beaustaff at Westin and is especially in tiful tenderloin, pink and juicy in love with the knowledge they bring the center, spiked with the tartness with them. These days he is busy of a balsamic reduction. I had to learning more about Indian food stop myself from using my fingers to and what he calls our ‘wonderful lick it off the plate. It is accompanied spices’! by what you least expect – a chocolate biscotti. I loved the sweet, tart, Wondrous Food, meaty combination so much, that I Lovely Company plan to go back just for this. Chef Emiliano is an avid reader. When he is not creating new dishes Prego is lucky to have the youthful in the kitchen, he takes time out to spirit of Chef Emiliano, a man who concentrate on his fitness regime, doesn’t just understand the nuances and boy, is he fit! He is also keen of ingredients, he senses them, he on learning different languages and feels them. Halfway through our is well versed in Italian, French, chat I realized his mind and heart English and Spanish. After an hour- were in the kitchen and it wasn’t just long friendly banter about family, about appeasing me; he had his eye Italy, India and food, we came down on each and every guest that packed to business, the menu for the day. the restaurant on a warm Tuesday That afternoon Chef Emiliano had afternoon. Pretty darned good for a cooked up ‘Affettati Gnocco Fritto’ city like Gurgaon! ■ (Rs 900), ‘Open Ravioli with Crusby Parul Pratap Shirazi tacean Ragout and Saffron Cream’ (Rs 1400) and the absolutely fantastic ‘Chef Special Veal Tenderloin 35


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KITCHEN KIN Anyone who has watched MasterChef India would instantly recognize Chef Kunal Kapur, and their first recollection about him would be his stern demeanor and blunt feedback, which has many contestants on the TV reality show in tears. But Chef Kunal prefers to call a spade by that name, rather than sugarcoating it. In a freewheeling discussion, he tells Vinita Bhatia how MasterChef India changed his life for the better and how he often ended up learning from the contestants than the other way around. Vinita Bhatia (VB): Most men in your family belonged to the finance sector. So how did you land up in the culinary world?

took an educational loan for my hospitality course. I started my career at Taj Group of Hotels, and later had the chance to work at Made in India at Radisson Hotel in Noida, Dhaba at the Claridges and Diya at the Leela Kempinski Gurgaon. Today, my parents are very happy with the decision I had taken back then.

the contestants. It is important to showcase the contestant is and also show why he is part of the contest. In India people always connect with emotions. Given a chance, I would love to have a show that focused completely on food. However, one can’t hide emotions even in that. Coming to MasterChef India And Junior MasterChef being over-draVB: What are your earliest memo- matized, well, it is a reality show ries about food and cooking? where no one is told what to do. At KK: I vividly recall our short week- the same time, people in India are end trips to India Gate in New Delhi very emotional about whatever they with three or four other families do, even cooking. where each family carried a home cooked dish. Back then, we would VB: But was MasterChef India as also carry a sigdi with us. I remem- popular as the Australian series? ber sitting by the sigdi to help my KK: If you look popularity point of uncle barbecue kebabs. Even toview of both the shows in India, the

the

SHOWMAN CHEF “One has to be a showman on TV besides being a good cook, especially in a country like India where we idolize anyone we see on TV”- Chef Kunal Kapur Chef Kunal Kapur (KK): I can tell you it was not an easy journey. My family expected me to join the banking industry, but unfortunately, I was very bad with numbers. After I completed my school, somebody suggested a course in hotel management as a career option. On further inquiry, I learnt I would land a job in a hotel after completing the course. I saw hotel management as an escape from the clichéd tag of a banker. I had to work hard at convincing my family why I wanted to take up hotel management. Finally, they relented and my father even CaLDRON January 2014

day, I prefer intimate dinners with my family, eating home cooked food, over ostentatious parties. The amount of love, care and affection that goes into making a home cooked meal is incomparable and is all about emotional attachment.

ratings for MasterChef India was much higher as compared to the Australian series in India. MasterChef India became a household name and a huge economic driver for the food business.

VB: Suddenly, the Indian hospiVB: Talking about emotions, many tality scene is cluttered with masfelt that the Indian MasterChef ter chefs and celebrity chefs. Do series was over-dramatized and you think these chefs deserve this it was more about the emotions elevated status, given that most of of the contestants than about the them are of showmen than cooks? food. Do you agree? KK: Master chefs and celebrity chefs KK: For any show to become are names given by the media. I popular, it has to revolve around think MasterChef India TV 37


KITCHEN KIN at Diya, the Indian restaurant at Leela Kempinski Gurgaon? KK: I already do that at Diya, because I use the essence of basic recipes and give it my different touch from my travel experiences. One of Diya’s strengths is using fresh and seasonally available produce for its Punjabi and Awadi cuisine.

Gosht ka Korma

series made the word ‘Master Chef ’ a commonly used term. Television has the capacity to make anything and anyone glamorous. One has to be a showman on TV besides being a good cook, especially in a country like India where we idolize anyone we see on TV. So what is wrong if a chef is appreciated or glamorized? This trade has been looked down upon for a long time and finally is on the progressive track. That makes me feel happy. VB: Trends keep coming and fading in the culinary world. What food fad, do you think, will gain ground in Indian in 2014? KK: Between 2012 and 2013, many restaurants tried their hand at molecular gastronomy, leading to a lot of fusion and confusion. This year, I think going seasonal and combining local flavours with international taste will become more popular. I also foresee restaurants using locally available produce and merging that with international techniques of cooking, with the onus of keeping the flavours simple and fresh. VB: Is that what you will be doing 38

VB: How would you compare running a standalone restaurant to managing one in a 5-star restaurant? KK: Running a restaurant is no joke. It takes the collective efforts of the team to pull of a successful restaurant. In many ways, a restaurant in a hotel has multiple advantages. It has an existing support structure, right from extra hands to the uniform department to systematized stores to round-the-clock maintenance and guests who stay at the hotel invariably patronizing the restaurant. But this advantage can become a disadvantage where the responsibility to meet the budget takes precedence at all times. On the other hand, a standalone restaurant has to do everything by itself. The manager and the chef play the role of parents and need to keep a 24/7 watch on their baby. This means lots of responsibility for the duo without the liberty of sharing most of this with their rest of the staff. While this makes them competitive, it can also lead to stress. While I am happier managing a restaurant in a hotel currently, I would definitely like to have a restaurant of my own sometime in the future.

Gosht Ka Korma Ingredients: • 500gm mutton on the bone • 250g oil • 2 tsp cumin • 1 black cardamom • 5 green cardamoms • 1-inch cinnamon • 4 cloves • 5 black pepper corns • 125g ginger garlic paste • Salt, to taste

• 1 tsp turmeric • 1 tbsp coriander powder • 1 tbsp red chilly powder (adjust as per taste) • 4 cups yogurt • ½ cup cashewnut paste • ½ cup coriander, chopped

Method: 1. Heat oil in a thick-bottomed pan. Add all the whole spices and allow them to crackle. 2. Now add the mutton and cook it on medium heat for 5 minutes. 3. Dissolve ginger garlic paste in 1 cup of water and add to the mutton. Continue cooking for another seven minutes. 4. Add salt, turmeric, red chilly powder and coriander powder. Cook on low heat, till the lamb leaves the oil. 5. Whisk the yogurt and add to the mutton. Increase the heat and keep stirring, till yogurt comes to a boil. 6. Lower the heat and cook the mutton covered on low heat for another 10 minutes. 7. Add two cups water and mix in the cashewnut paste. Stir and then cover and cook till the mutton is soft. 8. Check for seasoning and garnish with chopped coriander. 9. Serve hot with roti, naan or paratha.

Lufthansa to help them upgrade their menu for first and business class. And in the past, I have been associated with the New Zealand Tourism Board.

VB: Wasn’t your name included in the Limca Book of Records a couple of years ago for creating a chocolate tower? KK: Frankly, I alone did not achieve this feat. The Leela Ambience Hotel staff, Chef Ajay Chopra of Westin Garden City Mumbai, contestants of MasterChef India Season 1 and I together put together India’s tallest VB: There was talk about a cookery chocolate tower inside Ambience book that you were authoring. Mall in Gurgaon. The tower was KK: Yes, I am working on my new made of around 20,000 chocolate cookery book with the idea of mak- éclair buns, 800kg chocolate and ing cooking an easy task for anyone 12000 eggs. The height of this tower and everyone. I also work with was 26 feet and 8 inches. I CaLDRON January 2014


Pinni Srikhand Granola Ingredients: • 250gm Pinni • 250gm hung yogurt • 4 tbsp powdered sugar • 2 tbsp rolled oats • 2 tbsp pista, chopped • 2 tbsp corn flakes Method: 1. Mix pinni, rolled oats, pista chopped and corn flakes together. Rub the mixture with hands to make into a crumbly texture. 2. Mix sugar and hung yogurt. In a glass layer alternately with yogurt and pinni granola. Serve immediately

remember we worked all through the night to have this huge tower ready by noon the next day. But the sense of satisfaction on seeing it up was second to none.

Chef Kunal Kapur is a big movie buff. He also loves traveling and exploring new places. On a typical day off, you are most likely to find him cooking for his friends and spending time with his son.

VB: Is your two-year old a fussy eater? As a parent and a chef, how do you get him excited about eating different types of healthy food? KK: Ironically, Ranbir, my son, resents food! He eats only when my wife or I give him lot of hugs and spend time with him. He has a fixed list of things he likes to eat and he wants them cooked in a particular way. I make a point to feed him at least one meal daily, which takes lot of time, but I look forward to it all the same. ■ by Vinita Bhatia

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DROOL SPREAD

Photo: Sid Khullar Venue: Infinity, Crowne Plaza, Mayur Vihar, New Delhi 40

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To celebrate DSF 2014, CaLDRON brings you recipes of the signature dishes of some of the popular restaurants in Dubai. So go on, have fun! 'The 19th edition of the Dubai Shopping Festival (DSF) is underway from 2nd January to 2nd February, 2014. Since it was launched in 1996, the mega-shopping fest has attracted around 51 million participants, who have spent just around $35 billion. And while shopping is the major draw to this event, visitors are equally excited about hospitality and entertainment.

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RECIPES - GLOBAL FUSION

Fattoush Salad

Bursting with fresh vegetables this Middle Eastern salad is served with pieces of crisp pita bread. This recipe from Mirdif City Centre in Dubai is easy to prepare, light on the stomach, and yet filling enough. Ingredients: For the dressing: • 300ml olive oil • 2 lemons, juice and zest only • 1 garlic clove, crushed • 4 tbsp sumac • Salt and freshly ground black pepper For the salad: • 1 pita bread, torn into small pieces • 8 plum tomatoes, seeds removed, quartered • 1/2 cucumber, peeled, cut into 5cm batons • 1/2 green pepper, cut into strips • 8 radishes, sliced • 1 shallot, sliced • Small handful rocket leaves • Small Little gem lettuce • Handful fresh mint leaves Method: 1. For the dressing, place the olive oil, lemon juice and zest, crushed garlic and sumac into a bowl and whisk together to combine. 2. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. 3. For the salad, place the torn pita, tomatoes, cucumber, pepper, radishes, shallot, rocket leaves, Little Gem lettuce leaves and mint leaves into a large bowl and season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper. 4. To serve, pour the dressing, to taste, over the salad and gently mix together to coat the salad evenly. You may not need all the dressing for this recipe, so set the remainder aside in the fridge for up to a week. CaLDRON January 2014

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RECIPES - LOCAL PALATE

Murgh Malai Kabab

Savour the royal flavours of the Murg Malai Kabab and tuck into its mild spices. This recipe from from Gazebo Restaurant in Dubai will transport you to the courts of Lucknow and the North-Western frontier of India. Ingredients: • 500g boneless chicken cubes • 1/2 cup hung curd (thick curd) • 1/2 cup fresh cream • 1/2 cup grated processed cheese • 1 tsp ginger paste • 1 tsp garlic paste • 1 tsp green cardamom powder • 1/4 tsp black pepper powder • 1 tsp butter • Salt to taste Method: 1. Pierce the boneless chicken cubes with a fork and keep aside. 2. In a bowl and mix together hung curd, cream, cheese, salt, pepper powder, cardamom powder, ginger paste and garlic paste. 3. Dip the chicken pieces and rub the marinade on them and refrigerate for a minimum of 2 hours. 4. Skewer the marinated chicken pieces and cook on a charcoal grill turning occasionally and basting with butter until they are evenly cooked. 5. Serve hot with mint chutney and onion rings.

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RECIPES - GLOBAL FUSION

Kafta Bel Laban

Who can resist the authentic flavours of a traditional homecooked Kafta Bel Laban. This recipe from Leila Restaurant in Dubai shows how to cook this healthy Lebanese dish. Ingredients: • 450g ground beef • 1/2 cup parsley, finely chopped • 1/2 cup onion, finely chopped • 2 cloves garlic, minced • 1 tbsp garlic powder • 1/2 tsp ground paprika • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper • 1 tsp salt • 1/3 cup breadcrumbs • 1 egg • 1 cup yogurt • 1/3 cup pine nuts • 2 pieces Lebanese bread Method: 1. Preheat grill to high heat. 2. Mix beef, parsley, onion, garlic, garlic powder, paprika, black pepper, salt, breadcrumbs and egg in a large bowl. 3. Wet fingers and hands and mold meat mixture around skewers in a long log shape. 4. Grill until meat is no longer pink. 5. Coat Lebanese bread with olive oil using pastry brush and place on baking tray. Bake in oven until golden and toasted. Let cool and break it up into medium pieces. 6. Cover bottom of dish with toasted Lebanese bread. 7. Top with meat and generous amount of yogurt on top. 8. Sprinkle with pine nuts. 9. Garnish with slices of tomato and mint leaves (if desired). CaLDRON January 2014

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RECIPES - GLOBAL FUSION

Chicken Spinoccoli

UNO Chicago Grill uses Italy’s old authentic recipes and combining it with the finest meats, fresh cheeses, ripe vegetables and flavourful spices to make pizza and pasta the heartiest meal of all. Here is a recipe from this American-cuisine restaurant in Dubai. Ingredients: • 1 chicken spinoccoli roulade each • 1/2 cup water • 2 slices mozzarella • 1 tbsp pesto sauce • 7 fluid oz alfredo sauce • 11oz penne pasta • 2 fluid oz UNO pizza sauce • 1 tsp parsley, chopped • 1 tbsp parmesan, shredded • 1 piece garnish bread Method: 1. Spray a regular sized pizza pan with pan release. 2. Unwrap the chicken spinoccoli roulade and place into the pizza pan with 1/2 cup water. Place the cut side down. Cover the roulade with 2 slices of mozzarella. Place the chicken spinoccoli into the bottom oven. 3. When chicken is cooked, prepare the pasta. Pre-heat sauce pan, add pesto and alfredo sauce. Stir and bring to a simmer. Place the pasta into the salted boiling water and cook until ready. Drain well. 4. Place the pasta into the simmering sauce and toss. Place pasta in a pre-heated pasta bowl. 5. Place the UNO pizza sauce in a strip down the center of the pasta. 6. Remove the chicken spinoccoli roulade from the pan and place onto a clean cutting board. 7. Slice the chicken into 5 slices – cut on a bias. Layer the sliced chicken spinoccoli down the center of the appropriate preheated bowl. 8. Take end slice and rotate it to the opposite end so that on both sides the colorful filling is visible. 9. Sprinkle chopped parsley and parmesan on pasta and place bread on the side of the bowl.

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RECIPES - GLOBAL FUSION

Double Mushrooms

This recipe from Zafran Restaurant in Dubai offers a contemporary take to a simple mushroom recipe. Ingredients: • 180g button mushroom (cleaned 6 pieces) • 90g panko crumbs (Japanese bread crumbs) • 1 tsp red bell pepper, chopped finely • 2 tsps onion, chopped finely • 1 pinch black pepper, crushed • 2 tbsps plain flour • 1 tsp corn flour • 2 pinches salt • 3 tbsps Amul cheese • Oil to fry Method: 1. Clean mushrooms by scooping out from the centre. 2. Mix grated cheese with red pepper, onion and black pepper. 3. Stuff cheese mixture into each mushroom and club 2 pieces each from the filling side. 4. Make batter with flour, corn flour and water (not too thick). 5. Dip stuffed mushrooms in the batter and coat with panko crumbs (2 times) and deep fry until they are a golden brown colour. 6. Serve with a dipping sauce of your choice.

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RECIPES - GLOBAL FUSION

Tiramisu

Nothing can work wonders for your appetite than Tiramisu, an authentic Italian dessert. Carluccio’s, an all day Italian café in Dubai, shares the recipe for making this light any-time dish. Ingredients: • 200g mascarpone cheese • 160g savoiardi biscuits, sometimes called lady fingers • 200ml espresso coffee • 200ml double cream • 4 egg yolks • 70g castor sugar • 3 gelatin leaves Method: 1. Whisk together the mascarpone cheese and double cream in an electric mixer until slightly stiff, keep aside. In another bowl add the egg yolks and whisk slowly. 2. Mix the sugar with a small amount of water in a pan and bring to boil, boiling for a few minutes. 3. Soak the gelatin leaves in iced water until soft. Drain the gelatin leaves and squeeze out any excess water, then add the gelatin leaves to the sugar syrup. Stir gently until the gelatin has dissolved. Add the sugar and gelatin to the egg yolks, whisk using the electric mixer on high speed. Put the egg yolk mixture in a bowl and gently fold in the mascarpone and cream using a spatula. 4. Once everything is combined, place in the fridge to set. 5. Heat up the coffee adding a little bit of water and pour into a shallow bowl or tray. Soak the savoiardi biscuits in the coffee and line them in a dessert bowl. 6. Spoon the mascarpone mix on top of the savoiardi biscuits making sure it is spread evenly. Add another layer of coffee soaked savoiardi biscuits on top of the mascarpone. Do not press the biscuits. Finish with a final layer of the mascarpone mix. 7. Keep refrigerated until serving and sprinkle with cocoa powder.

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PHOTO RELIEF

Coffee, after dessert?

Photo: Sid Khullar Venue: Nero, Le Meridien, New Delhi CaLDRON January 2014

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T

hat she is passionate about cooking is evident the moment one opens Farrukh Shadab Ansari’s blog page on http://cubesnjuliennes.blogspot.in/. You will be excused if you immediately slip a into food coma after seeing the spectacular photos of food that has been lovingly cooked and endearingly presented. Bangalore-based Farrukh is a microbiologist and naturopath. However, after her marriage she chose to become a home maker, caring for her family comprising her husband and two children. She started experimenting with different types of cuisines and styles of cooking because of her family, especially her husband who loves variety while dining. What started as amateur dabbling in the kitchen soon became a full-fledged passion and she decided to start compiling her recipes and blogging about it. The food photos of her well-followed blog can easily be compared to art on a digital canvas. In October 2013, the Food Bloggers Association of India bestowed Farrukh with the ‘The Best Recipe Blog’ award.

Fig Almond Shake Farrukh Shadab likes this recipe for the high iron content, fibre and vitamins figs contribute and also because it can be consumed during fasts. Ingredients: • 8 nos figs, dried • 2 tbsp almonds, roughly chopped • 400 ml low fat milk • 1 tbsp honey (increase or decrease if preferred) • A few ice cubes Method: 1. Soak the chopped fig in ¼ cup of hot water for 15 minutes to soften them. 2. In a blender, blend together figs, almonds and a little milk to form a smooth paste. 3. Add milk, honey and ice cubes, blend well. Serve as required.

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Malai Makai Paneer Farrukh Shadab, an award winning blogger who blogs at Cubes n Juliennes (http://cubesnjuliennes.blogspot.in), shares her recipe or Malai Makai Paneer with us. Farrukh is also a talented photographer, as illustrated by her photo s accompanying all her recipes. Ingredients: • 200gm Paneer (cottage cheese) • 1 cup Corn, boiled • 1 Bay leaf • 5 Green cardamoms • 2 inches Cinnamon stick • 1 Onion (medium, finely chopped) • 1 tsp Green chili paste • 2 tsp Ginger garlic paste • 1 tsp Black pepper powder • ½ tsp White pepper powder • 1 tsp Garam masala powder • ¼ cup Yoghurt, thick • 1 tbsp Almond paste • 2 tbsp Mawa/khoya (optional) • ½ cup Cream • Salt to taste • 1 tsp Sugar • ¾ cup Water, warm • 2 tbsp Oil Method: 1. In a pan, heat oil, add cardamom, bay leaf and cinnamon. Fry for 15 seconds. 2. Add chopped onion, fry till translucent. 3. Add boiled corn, ginger-garlic paste, green chili paste, black and white pepper powder, almond paste and sauté well on high heat for minute stirring continuously. 4. Add khoya, mix well. Lower the heat, add whisked yoghurt, stir until combined well. 5. Add warm water and simmer for 4-5 minutes. 6. Add salt, sugar, garam masala powder, and cream, mix well. 7. Add paneer cubes and simmer for another 5 minutes. Serve with hot naan, roti, pulao or rice.

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RECIPES - GLOBAL FUSION

Roasted Bell Pepper Suppli Farrukh Shadab shares her recipes for Italian Supplis. These are snacks made from cooked rice and usually have a piece of mozzarella in the center. Though traditionally made using Arborio rice, other forms of plain cooked rice work too. Ingredients: • 2 cups rice, plain cooked • 1 small or half of large red bell pepper • 1 small or half of large yellow bell pepper • 4 tbsp parmesan cheese, grated • 3 tbsp cheddar cheese, grated • 1 nos green chili, chopped (you can add more for hotness) • 3/4 tsp red chili flakes • 5-6 nos basil leaves or 1 ½ tsp of dried basil • 1/3 cup + extra for coating bread crumbs • 75 gms mozzarella cheese, cut in 1.5 cm cube • 3/4 cup milk for coating • Salt as per taste • Oil for frying preferably olive oil Method: 1. Clean and wipe the bell peppers. Apply some oil to the bell pepper’s skin and roast on a gas stove or oven (180 degrees) till its skin turns black and it has a smoky aroma. 2. Remove the skin of the roasted peppers, deseed and chop finely. 3. Put the rice in a bowl and mash it coarsely. Add 1/3 cup bread crumbs, parmesan, cheddar, green chili, red chili flakes, basil, and salt. 4. Mix well. If you feel the rice mixture is too dry, sprinkle a few drops of water and mix. 5. Divide the rice mixture equally , depending upon the size of the suppli you prefer. I divided it into 9 portions from the abovementioned proportions. 6. Take one portion of the mixture, make an indentation and place one cube of mozzarella within. Seal it by forming the rice dough into a ball, oblong or a flat patty. I preferred to make it a flat patty. 7. Repeat the same for all the portions. Refrigerate the patties for 30mins. 8. Dip the patty in the milk and coat it with bread crumbs. Once again dip it in milk and coat it with crumbs again. Repeat this procedure for all the patties. 9. Heat the oil in a pan (not to smoke point as it is olive oil), shallow fry the prepared patties till golden brown. Serve hot with the sauce or dip of your choice.

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Khubani Murgh Korma Another recipe by Farrukh Shadab, which she describes as, “Apricot Chicken Korma - Chicken cooked with Apricot and spices in Mughlai style.” Ingredients: • 1 kg Chicken(with bones), cut in pieces • 1 cup Apricot(fresh), finely chopped OR pureed • 300 gms thick yoghurt, whisked well • 3 tbsp Cashew paste • 1 tbsp Ginger Garlic paste • 6, medium Onion, finely sliced • 2 tsp Kashmiri Red Chili powder • 1 1/2 tsp Coriander powder • 1 tsp Garam Masala Powder • 2 nos Bay leaf • 8 nos Cloves • 8 nos Green Cardamom • 2 Cinnamon sticks of 1 inch size

• • • • • • • • • • • •

8-10 nos Black pepper corn 2 nos Black Cardamom 12-15 nos Dried Apricots 1 big pinch Saffron 1/4 cup Milk A few drops Kevda OR Rose water Lemon juice of 1 lemon 3-4 nos Green chili, slit Salt as per taste Hot water, as required 6 tbsp Oil 2 tbsp Ghee

Method: 1. Soak the dried Apricots in hot water for 3 to 4 hours. Deseed once done. Do not chop. Soak the saffron in warm milk and keep it aside. 2. In a heavy bottom pan, heat oil. Add 2/3 of the sliced onions and fry it till golden brown. Take them out and drain on absorbent paper. 3. In the same oil, add ghee and heat. Add remaining sliced onions and fry till soft and translucent. Add bay leaf, cloves, green and black cardamom, cinnamon sticks and black pepper corn. Fry them with the onion for a minute. 4. Add chicken pieces and saute well on high heat for 2 mins. Add ginger-garlic paste and mix well. 5. Reduce the heat and add whisked yoghurt, cashew paste and chopped or pureed apricot. Cover and cook for 5 mins. 6. Add red chili powder, coriander powder, dried apricots, garam masala powder and 1/2 cup of hot water. Mix and cook till chicken gets tender and oil starts floating on the top. 7. Finally add the crushed golden browned onions, slit green chilies, lemon juice, salt, saffron soaked in milk, mix and simmer for another 2 to 3 minutes. 8. Lastly add few drops of Kevda (Screwpine) or Rose water. Delicious Khubani Murgh Korma is ready to be served with buttery Nan, Kulcha or Phulkas and Pulao of your choice.

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Anaar ke Kalakand The fifth and last of Farrukh’s recipes in this issue, Farrukh says, “Kalakand is a very famous Indian sweet made with milk and chhena (cottage cheese), garnished with dry fruits. I made this kalakand with a twist by adding pomegranate juice. It turned out amazing!” Ingredients: • 2 litres, full fat milk • 250 ml, pomegranate juice (I used fresh) • ½ cup, sugar (may vary if you prefer) • ½ tsp, cardamom powder • few drops of rose essence • 2 tbsp, White vinegar • few ice cubes • Ghee for greasing • Slivered pistachios and almonds for garnish • Few saffron strands for garnish Method: 1. In a heavy bottommed pan, boil one litre of milk. Reduce the flame and let it cook till reduces to half. Stir occasionally to avoid burning. 2. In another pan, heat the remaining 1litre of milk on a medium flame. Stir occasionally to avoid burning. Once the milk starts boiling, lower the heat. 3. Gradually add vinegar and stir; the milk will start curdling. Once milk is curdled, take it off the stove and immediately add ice cubes. 4. Strain the curdled milk in a strainer lined with muslin cloth and squeeze to drain the water. Wash the curdled milk (Chena) under a running tap to remove the traces of vinegar. Add the chena to the reduced milk and let it cook. Stir to avoid burning. 5. Meanwhile in a pan, add pomegranate juice and sugar, heat it. Cook till it forms the thick syrup (strings should not form in the syrup). Take it off the stove. 6. Cook the milk-chena mixture till thick. Add prepared pomegranate syrup, cardamom, powder and rose essence. Mix well. Cook till mixture starts leaving the sides of the pan. Grease the tray or any cake tin with the ghee. Transfer the thickened cooked mixture to the greased tray. Allow it to set. 7. Garnish with saffron strands, pistachios and almonds. 8. Cut in square or diamond shapes, they are ready to be enjoyed. Keep it in an airtight container and refrigerate, consume within 2 days.

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A Trail of

Wine & Food at Taj Palace

The Taj Wine Trail premiered the right wines from Jacob’s Creek and Brancott Estate paired with an almost perfect menu. It had all the elements to convert a rum and coke drinker to a wine snob.

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here was a time when I was a huge advocate of taking small steps to converting a person into a wine drinker with domestic produce. Not anymore. The quality of Indian wines over the past few years has me concerned. So does the pairing etiquette, even by seasoned chefs and professionals. I associate the name Taj with propriety, good wine and food pairing, considering the cumulative experience that this iconic restaurant’s kitchen boasts of, and rightfully so. However, for some reason, a recent evening at the Taj Palace, New Delhi, left me incomplete. The occasion was introduction of the new range of wines from Brancott Estate and Jacob’s Creek. The setting was great and the concept (Taj Wine Trail) was something that I have been experimenting with some of my closest friends.

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SPIRIT-UALITY Hopping restaurants is not very common in the Indian setting as most people dine out with family or are looking to unwind over dinner and drinks. The Spaniards however, love to do it. It offers a much wider range of food and drink pairing options and makes for a better story with friends than sitting in one place and discussing which insurance policy to invest in. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t advise mixing drinks, but sometimes, it is worth a try. However, the catch is getting the food and drink to pair right.

goes well with or without any food. The Jacob’s Creek Reserve Chardonnay was all that and a little bit more. Notes of ripe citrus fruits, grapefruit and peaches and a beautiful smooth texture on the finish paired wonderfully well with the ‘Curry Enhanced Grilled Prawns’. Time for Some Reds With the whites out of the way, it was the turn of red wines from

Jacob’s Creek Reserve Shiraz can do that, perhaps. Paired with a selection of dishes with Mughlai spices, the Shiraz showed a lot of character with its smooth, well-aged tannins and a bouquet of over ripe dark fruits. Not to forget the hint of peppercorns and nutmeg that engulf the mouth over a long finish, making it a perfect pair for most North Indian dishes that are low on chilies.

Still Lacking that Zing Do you remember me mentioning The Australian Shiraz the incomplete feeling I experiThere was a second round happens to be among enced? of that towards the end with the And the Trail Begins dessert cart. The selection of desthe best, competing The Taj Wine Trail evening began serts for the evening, a ‘Red Currant with the French and with a sparkling wine (Chardonnay and Frangipani Tart’ and a ‘Strawand Pinot Noir blend) paired with quite often coming out berry Cheesecake’ paired with a ‘Grilled Chicken with Black Beans sparkling rosé. Again, the tartness of on top. Jacob’s Creek Chili’ and ‘Fresh Summer Rolls with the dessert just did not go well with Smoked Salmon and Capers’ at The Reserve Shiraz can do the slightly acidic sparkling rosé, Blue Bar. I would have preferred that well structured in its own right. A that, perhaps. they had started the evening with late harvest dessert wine would have a light-bodied still wine. Sparkling been better here. The slightly dry wines tend to be a bit more acidic Brancott and Jacob’s Creek to uncheesecake did not help either. But and even though some schools of leash their magic for the evening at I’m willing to discount it as a one off thought believe them to be excelMasala Art. This was the high point incident. lent aperitifs, they leave a stronger of the evening for my friend, who mouth feel that might not be best finally got what I had been ranting Verdict on the wines – Jacob’s Creek suited for an evening with a wide about all night when he tasted the and Brancott Estate have just the selection of food from different the Brancott Estate Pinot Noir with right wines for any occasion, at the cuisines. the ‘Galouti Kebabs’. The kebabs, right price points. Verdict on the done to perfection with lots of aro- food – well thought out and executNext in line was Blue Ginger next matic spices and minimal heat, were ed menu that was almost perfect, door, where a Brancott Estate paired with an excellent Pinot Noir with a little room for improvement. Sauvignon Blanc with ‘Grilled Fish’ with notes of cinnamon, black pep- Verdict on the evening – excellent, awaited us. Now, this Sauvignon pers and just-about-ripe plums and especially with another rum and Blanc should have been the first cherries. The Pinot Noir was a little coke girl converting to a wine snob. drink for the evening. Very light, tannic, showing lack of aging; which ■ crisp and clear with notes of lemon- didn’t go against it. The tannins were grass and green apples on the nose well balanced to give a robust mouth and a hint of residual sugars on the feel that wasn’t bad at all. palette, it made a perfect pair for However, the Aussies are known the grilled fish. Chardonnays tend for their Shiraz. The Australian to have a stronger pale color comShiraz happens to be among the pared to most white wines, and a best, competing with the French creamy texture on the palette that and quite often coming out on top. by Jaswinder Singh CaLDRON January 2014

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History Steeped AUSTRIANWine Schloss Gobelsburg

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enjoy wine, but am unwilling and well, honestly, don’t fancy spending a couple of thousand rupees or more on a bottle, just to try it out. If I am going to splurge my hard earned money then I would rather go with a brand and varietal that I have enjoyed before. This effectually means that there is a whole range of wines, especially European ones, which I have not tasted yet. So, when Aspri Spirits, which manages a number of premium wine, beer and spirit brands in India, offered me a chance to interact with Michael Moosebrugger, CEO of Schloss Gobelsburg of Austria, and taste wines from his vineyards, I accepted with alacrity. In hindsight, I am glad I did. Alongside tasting two of the four wines from the Schloss Gobelsburg winery that are available in India, I got a lesson in wine culture from a knowledgeable and passionate winemaker, who peppered his talk about his wines with the history and geography of wine making. I also learnt that Schloss Gobelsburg has been present in India for almost four years and is going storng.

ery, wherein the casks are moved to different parts of the wine cellars as needed for their development, rather than using temperature controlled steel barrels. With the annual per person consumption computed at 30 litres, Austria could actually consume all the wine it produces internally. It still imports about 25 percent

Schloss Gobelsburg is one of the oldest wineries in Austria, and its CEO Michael Moosebrugger is as passionate about brewing as he is about discussing the aspects of wine making to people around him.

er. This is a white wine that has the same standing as a Chardonnay in Austria. It is a versatile, every-day, any occasion wine, and accounts for 1/3rd of the country’s wine production. It is a light, crisp and very enjoyable wine, priced at Rs 2356 for a bottle. The house of Schloss Gobelsburg also has a Riesling in the market, which I will be buying on my next visit to a liquor store. Michael mentioned that Riesling is considered to be a ‘Sunday wine’ in Austria, while the Gruner Vetliner is the daily drink.

We then moved on to the Schloss Gobelsburger Zweigelt 2008, which is the only red that the company currently has in the Indian market. It retails at Rs 2,180. I did not much care for the red wine I tasted as I prefer my reds to be a bit more robust, though others at our table seemed to like it a lot. But then again, like Michael pointed out, of its wines, and exports the same wine and food pairing is an expercentage. With its bustling tour- tremely personalized thing, based ism industry, Austria gets plenty of on one’s palate. He does not believe travelers who visit and try out the that one must drink a certain wine cuisine and wines. with a certain cuisine or type of meal. If something tickles your palA Winery with a Lineage Austrian wines tend to be dry. Gen- ate then go ahead and try it, naysaySchloss Gobelsburg is one of erally, Austrians enjoy their wine ers be damned. ■ Austria’s oldest winery with a 800with food, whereas Germans imbibe year old wine history. Located in their wine in the afternoon, which Lower Austria, about 50 miles from is why German wines are usually Vienna, it is spread across 35 hectsweeter. Many Austrian winemakers ares and produces over 30 different have embraced modern technolowines. Michael firmly believes that gy, even though the wine making it is his duty to showcase the beauty culture of the country is steeped in and personality of his land through tradition and vineyards are family the wines he makes. Rather than rely owned and operated. heavily on technology, which causes standardization, he prefers to let the them show their individuality. To Pour me a Glass by Natasha Ali this end, he has invented a unique The first wine we tried was the Dosystem of rolling casks at his winmaine Gobelsburger Gruner VeltlinCaLDRON January 2014

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It’s still winter and here are a few cool cocktail recipes to spice up your merry evenings. They’re sure to keep your guests on their feet all night long!

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MIX UPS

strawberry

EGGNOG Eggnog is one cocktail which is a comforting and nourishing cocktail, as easy to make as a fruit smoothie. Traditional eggnog recipe includes liquors either of brandy,rum, whisky, bourbon, etc. This recipe from iBar Mumbai is good even for teetotalers.

Ingredients:

1 cup skimmed milk 10 ml Strawberry syrup 1 egg 1 Table spoon of sugar 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract Nutmeg for garnish Pine Apple for garnish

Method In an electric blender pour milk, 1 egg, sugar, vanilla extract and 2 cubes of ice Blend all ingredients till smooth Pour into a tall glass Add strawberry syrup gently all over Sprinkle nutmeg powder on top Garnish with pineapple

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winter

PUNCH Christmas time is past, but the fog is setting and the mercury still falling. This cocktail recipe by iBar, Mumbai is an amazing combination of freshness of fruit juices and bitterness of liqueurs. Just what Doctor Santa ordered for the end of winter.

Ingredients:

45 ml Orange Juice 15 ml Pineapple Juice 3 drops Angostura Bitter 45 ml Dark Rum 15 ml Amaretto Pineapple slices (to garnish)

Method Fill tall glass with ice Pour apple juice Add dark rum Add Angostura bitters 3 drops Add pineapple juice Float it with Amaretto Garnish with pineapple and a cherry

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MIX UPS

LaLune

JAUNE LaLune Jaune or Yellow Moon as the name translates into English is an amazing combination of Pineapple Juice and XO Brandy from Louise Verenant. Angostura Bitters and anise seeds add spice and warmth, making this a perfect companion for cold winter nights. This recipe comes from master mixologist Rohan Carvalho of United Spirits Limited.

Ingredients:

45ml of Louis Vernant XO brandy 4 chunks of Fresh Pineapple 1 table spook of Anise Seeds 15ml Lime Juice 15ml Sugar Syrup 30ml Pineapple Juice 2 dashes of Angostura Bitters

Method Muddle* Pineapple, anise seeds and sugar syrup in a cocktail glass Pour 45ml of Louise Vernant XO brandy Dilute 15ml of Lime juice and 30ml of Pineapple juice Add some crushed ice Hard shake for 10 seconds and strain it in the glass Add Angustura bitters Garnish it with Pineapple flag and serve * Muddling is the act of taking the ingredients in a container and bruising/crushing them with a pestle so as to release juices.

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SIDEKICK Like every superhero has a sidekick, in this cocktail recipe the roles are played by Brandy and Triple sec* liqueur. Sip it slowly to enjoy the citric taste and warmth of XO brandy. Recipe contributed by United Spirits Limited and recommends Louis Vernant XO brandy. Digestive properties of triple sec make this a good after meal drink.

Ingredients:

45ml of Louis Vernant XO brandy 15ml of Triple sec 10ml of Monin Spicy Syrup 20ml of Lime juice

Method Pour 45ml of Louis Vernant XO brandy in a cocktail glass Dilute 15ml of Triple sec and 10ml of Monin Spicy syrup to it Add 20ml of Lime juice Add some cracked ice to the mixutre Shake and strain it in the glass Garnish it with orange slice and serve

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echnically, this post has nothing much to do with tradition or innovation but that’s been a topic of conversation amongst food professionals I have met lately. From Chef Manjit Gill to Chef Gaggan Anand to Chef Hemant Oberoi, everyone is talking about how traditional foods can be innovated. Varq has it down pat and now Indian Accent is upping the ante, but for me the question is, how much do we know of or explore regional cuisines, before we start ‘innovating’?! Chef Oberoi and Chef Mehrotra aren’t really innovating traditional recipes, they’re essentially applying newer cooking methods and plating practices to very typical, traditional foods and doing a marvelous job of it. Take the Sarson ka Saag Cornetto with Goat Cheese Butter, where the cornetto was made of polenta and cornmeal, and tasted exactly like a bite of good ‘ol sarson da saag and makki di roti! Home cooks are doing this kind of innovating all the time, in their own way! I had another fantastic meal at Indian Accent, while attending

the Asia’s 50 Best conclave, hosted by the gracious Ms. Rashmi Uday Singh, (Academy Chair, India, Central Asia & Subcontinent for both Worlds’ and Asia 50 Best Restaurants) and Host Mr. Rohit Khattar of Old World Hospitality. I could feel the energy as soon as I walked into the venue, packed with scions of the trade, from Restaurateurs AD Singh, Riyaaz Amlani, Raman Macker, Chef Marut Sikka, Chef Rahul Akrekar, Chef Manjit Gill, Chef Arun Kumar; Hotelier Priya Paul, Oenophile Sanjay Menon, Sommelier Magandeep Singh to gourmands like media moghul Aroon Purie, anchors Mayur Singh and Seema Chandra. It was bound to be an unforgettable afternoon! Warmed by the sweet winter sun, we embarked on a culinary journey wrought in restaurant-speak. We spoke of tradition, where Ms. Priya Paul was keen to clarify that Indian cuisine was still the top seller for patrons eating at her hotels. We spoke of innovation, which is completely Chef Mehrotra and Chef Gaggan’s domain today. As we indulged in gastronomically extravagant papri chaat by Chef Gaggan Anand, we traded thoughts like: “as an Indian I have memories of

attending countless Indian weddings where the expresso coffee becomes the cappucino in steam machines. Today my Truffle Cappuccino presented at this lunch brings alive that memory in me. I represent the food of the common man – papri chat and dhokla in Bangkok and am lucky enough that people like it!” We also had the privilege of meeting Chef Dharshan Munidasa, the founder of Nihonbashi and the Ministry of Crab (which by the way is opening in Mumbai very soon!). The loveliest thing about such accomplished chefs is how humble they are, how a few words of praise makes them blush and unlike a lot of Executive Chefs, these 3 in particular are still completely involved in the food production process of their kitchens, which makes a lot of difference in the food, the innovation and the joy! Between Chefs Manish, Gaggan and Dharshan, the whole ambience of the afternoon in the garden was of laughter, banter and hardly any shop-talk, but then that’s what Indian Accent is all about – relaxed luxury! This is what Chef Munidasa had to say when he was asked about his culinary journey – “Japanese food got popular only after 1995 to the extent it is today and exploded as a movement worldwide. Our secret today is common knowledge (smiles). Few things helped: it’s cute and small and healthy – so appeals to the American people. Also it is ingredient specific – you need thousands of tuna to buy one – it is graded – the best is sent back to Japan (laughs) and the bad ones are given to the rest of the world (smiles) – the main point is the close attention to

Asia’s 50 Best round table luncheon at

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CaLDRON’s Parul Pratap Shirazi (seated third from left) with other important personalities of the Indian hospitality world

quality of ingredients”. This February, the world’s greatest chefs will converge in Singapore for two days of gourmet food, culinary conversations and gala events. Attendees at Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants can expect a delicious mix of spicy exchanges, full-bodied flavours and a hearty dose of star power. As part of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2014 awards, members of the public will have the rare opportunity to learn from such leading culinary masters as Manish Mehrotra, Manjit Gill, Joan Roca, Ben Shewry, Yoshihiro Narisawa and Björn Frantzén. The award-winning chefs will participate in an all-day forum on Sunday, February 23 titled ‘The FuCaLDRON January 2014

kandi Chaat ture of Food: Back to our Roots’ and a series of workshops the following • Bihari Sattu & Jalapeno Parantha with Potato Mustard Rassa day. Menu for the Day by Chefs • Old Monk Soaked Tandoori Figs, Manish Mehrotra, Gaggan Anand and Dharshan Munidasa. Indian Accent Daulat ki Chaat Designed and developed by 3 wonderfully talented masterchefs, this • Sarson Saag Cornetto, Chicken menu was a complete delight and Tikka, Goat Cheese Butter an insight into the things to come at • Chowpati Year 2050 (yoghurt the Asia’s 50 Best event in February spheres with date chutney gel, 2014. It is about time Indian food is savoury crisps and chutney air) • No Name Sashimi (sea bream, recognized globally, not just for the standard fare but for regional diversesame & soy sauce) • Churan ka Karela, puffed quinoa, sity, gastronomic innovation and undeniable variety! We wish Indian bitter crisps Accent all the very best! • Tofu & Asparagus Goma Ae (homemade sesame sauce) by Parul Pratap Shirazi • Big Eye Tuna Carpaccio with Wasabi Olive Oil • Crispy Duck, ash roasted Shakar71


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Splendalicious Tea Afternoon

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was at Aap ki Pasand recently, the oldest tea boutique in the country at 32 years of age. Entering the premises one experiences an instant moment of calm or the other way around, calmness in an instant. The sheer contrast with the dusty, hustle-bustle of the outside, with the cool, wooden toned comfort inside is startling; yeah, that’s an oxymoron. Once you’re over the serenity of the interiors, you notice the teas, wall to wall stacks of cubicles, filled with neatly arranged, colorful and elegant packets of different tea laid out in rows, with a sample to sniff, placed in front of each row. We’ve all heard of many different varieties of tea and could probably come up with a dozen names at a moment’s notice. Some of these however, I had never heard of. Now, this may highlight my ignorance about teas or say great things about the inventory at Aap ki Pasand, but Lemon Green Tea, Kashmiri Hyson Green Tea and Earl Gray Green Tea were green tea varieties I’d never heard of, with phrases such as ‘hand rolled virgin tea buds’ sounds Cuban in nature. After a few more minutes of browsing I found Christmas blends, tea cosies and even more tea in nooks and crannies hidden in plain sight all across this little shop. There’s also an inherent danger at such places. I spent 1,500 rupees in 5 minutes, picking up n

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Early Gray Green for Natasha, the Christmas Blend for Indu, a nickel coated teaspoon for the house, a tea-cosy for myself and a test tube of pearl jasmine tea for the house.

even if drinking it black. My newly rejuvenated taste-buds performed quite well when exposed to different types of tea, one served unsweetened and the other sweetened with Splenda, including Masala Chai, Further inside, past the sliding doors Ginger Green Tea and Darjeeling First Flush, known to be one of the finest black teas available. While I believe the session could have been structured better, it did succeed in imparting a few facts, including the one about our sense of taste being limited and our sense of smell, unlimited, among others, which made the afternoon informative and fun. Another interesting thing was that tea must be a little tannic/bitter to truly release flavor and aromas, a fact I was unaware of. Though I could perceive a mild, metallic aftertaste due to the use of Splenda, I’m told it’s safer than AsSanjay Kapur, Master Tea Taster partame, which is associthat mark the end of accessible ated with a host of side effects and territory for walk-in customers, lies disorders. Another interesting thing another world. This world appears is that it’s considered safe for chilto be all about the business of tasting dren too, above the age of 3, which tea as opposed to selecting it in the is a nice surprise, because we don’t previous room. Trays of labeled ce- let Cherie (11 going on 21) consume ramic cups, pens stands stuffed with sugar-free stuff. implements of all sorts from which I could only recognize a thermome- The most lasting impact for me ter and more beckon the untrained however, was understanding that a eye with all the lure of a laboratory little sweet in black tea helps enbelonging to a scientist pursuing an hance the flavors within. The Christunknown but decidedly fantastic mas blend I bought for Indu had a course of discovery. lovely aroma, for example, but its taste lacked oomph, till I added a This is where Sanjay Kapur, Master little sweet. That’s when it bloomed! Tea Taster, took us on a tea tastThat sweet, since I’m diabetic, was ing journey, intended to illustrate Splenda and it did make by my Sid cup Khullar the effects of sweetening our tea, come alive. ■ 73


Samar at the workshop

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considerate side by cooking her a nice wholesome meal. Except that ost men believe that if there’s one spot of trouble – sticks at first they don’t sucand stones might not hurt their ceed in whipping up an impressive bones, but pots and pans will surely meal, they can always order pizza. get them gob smacked! But hope Now that might sail their boat when seems to be on the horizon for those they’re single. But marriage has men who would like to surprise and a way of shaking things up a bit. impress their spouses. And it’s a When the wife’s tired or unwell, the book with a title that says it all – ‘A real man might want to show his Married Man’s Guide to Creative Cooking and other Dubious Adventures’.

WHO SAID REAL MEN

CAN’T COOK?

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Samar Halarnkar has launched this book in association with Godrej Nature’s Basket throughout India. The New Delhi launch of the book was held at Godrej Nature’s Basket store in Defence Colony in the presence of theatre personality Arjun Sajanani. The latter engaged with the audience and got them to share their insights on why men should cook, especially Indian men with doting mothers who ensure they never, ever, enter the kitchen. During the

interactive and fun-filled launch, Samar Halarnkar took the audience through his journey of authoring this interesting concept. A former managing editor of the Hindustan Times, Samar believes that his cooking is like a roadside mechanic’s fiddling and tinkering. “It is inspiring to witness a man cook for his wife and his family and the act is sure to strengthen the love and affection within. The saying, ‘the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach’, is now being taken seriously by men, who are making a definite attempt to enter the kitchen and cook for their family,” said Samar. Samar’s conjecture is that this trend signifies the fact that married men are dividing the responsibility with their wives and bonding through lighter moments in the kitchen over beautiful recipes. “I am glad that I am launching this book at Godrej Nature’s Basket which serves as a CaLDRON January 2014


EVENTS one stop shop for premium quality products, and one can find absolutely all the desired products necessary for a delicious recipe,” he added.

fennel sauce and Sauteed vegetables with chermoula. Some customers even tried them out, and seemed impressed, while others wished Samar had tried his hands on someAt the workshop held at the Defence thing a bit more challenging. Colony store of Godrej Nature’s Basket, Samar enthralled customers The thematic session was designed to unveil key anecdotes on how with his culinary skills, which he sportingly called dubious at best. He cooking helps an individual stay cooked Aubergine in mint-cinnaconnected with his family and culimon sauce, Fish in a white wine and nary tradition, and is indeed one of

the secrets to a successful marriage. While that theory might be open to conjecture, one thing is true – no woman would let a man who can cook slip through her hands. So all you married men out there, here’s a newsflash – a surefire way to win some brownie points with your woman is to make yourself as useful in the kitchen as you might be in the garage. ■ by Vinita Bhatia

Grilled Aubergine in Mint-Cinnamon Sauce

Ingredients: • 400 gm aubergines • 300 gm yogurt • ½ tsp honey • 2 tbsp mint leaves , finely chopped • 1 tbsp parsley, finely chopped • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped • 1 tbsp olive oil • A pinch of salt • ¼ tsp cinnamon powder • ¼ tsp cumin powder (optional) • 2 tbsp chopped black olives CaLDRON January 2014

Method: 1. Whip the yogurt with a fork until smooth. 2. Add all the ingredients, except the eggplant and parsley, to the yoghurt and mix well. Set aside. 3. Slice the aubergine into thin strips, almost to papad thickness. Cut in half if it’s too large to handle. 4. Place these aubergine strips on absorbent paper and sprinkle salt on them. When the water leaches out, pat dry. 5. Grill in an oven on 175°C or on a hot grill pan with a little olive or sesame oil. 6. When cooked, arrange the slices on a plate. Pour yogurt sauce over them. Dress with parsley and chopped olives

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Fish in White Wine and Fennel Sauce

This recipe from Samar Harnkar’s book ‘A Married Man’s Guide to Creative Cooking and other Dubious Adventures’, is perfect for a cosy dinner for two. Ingredients: • 500 gm surmai or kingfish fillet • Juice of 1 lemon • Salt, to taste • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper • 2 tsp olive oil • ½ tsp butter • 7-8 garlic flakes, crushed • 2-3 tsp fennel seeds, freshly roasted and pounded into powder • ½ cup white wine • 2 large tomatoes, pureed • ½ tsp sugar • 2 tsp red chilli flakes (optional if you want a zing) Method: 1. Wash the fish and drain all water. 2. Mix lime juice with fish, sprinkle with salt and fresh ground pepper and set aside. 3. Fry the fish gently in olive oil in a non-stick pan, do not brown. Set aside. 4. In the same pan, lower the heat, melt the butter, add a little olive oil and fry the garlic and fennel powder for 2-3 minutes. 5. Stir in the white wine and reduce slightly. Add the tomatoes, sugar and salt and give it a stir. 6. Add the chilli flakes, if you must, and saute for 1-2 minutes. 7. Taste and adjust the seasoning. 8. Arrange the fish in a warmed serving platter. Spoon the sauce over.

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years after the first ‘The Yellow Chilli’ was introduced in India, Chef Sanjeev Kapoor presented its latest avatar at the Viv-

research on our menu and dishes to deliver exactly what our patrons want. Our food is always created without using colours or preservatives, using the traditional art of tandoor and slow cooking. For ‘Stir

ing Chef Saurabh Saxena and Chef Manoj Radi, were asked to use their imagination and come up with a dish within 10 minutes. One of the winning dishes was ‘Pani Puri and Sol Kadhi Shots’ where the puris

going stir crazy with

Yellow Chilli

iana Mall in Thane on 10th December, 2013. The spacious restaurant, comprising 110 covers, is located on the second floor of the mall, with an open terrace seating.

Chef Kapoor also unveiled a new brand called ‘Stir Crazy’ the same evening. This all-day oriental restaurant was conceptualized by Rohit Narang of the Mars Group, which has managed hospitality brands such as ‘All Stir Fry’, ‘Eat Around the Corner’, ‘Pizza by the Bay’, etc. The new ‘Stir Crazy’ offers dishes inspired by cuisines from China, Japan, Malay-

Crazy’, we have introduced the fastwok cooking and steamed products to create mouth-watering delicacies that appeal to all. Even a 6 year old can create his menu!”

were stuffed with grated cottage cheese, tomatoes and onion with a sprinkling of chaat masala. These were paired with cool and tangy Sol Kadi served in shot glasses.

What Chef Kapoor means by his statement is that diners at ‘Stir Crazy’ can choose from an array of fresh ingredients, mains and homemade sauces on display and ask the chef to toss up their own specialised stirfry. What makes this ‘Marketplace’ concept more appealing is its ‘unlimited’ aspect, so guests can return to create as many dishes as they like. In addition, ‘Stir Crazy’ also offers a selection of a la carte menu serving various oriental dishes.

A few celebrities were in attendance during the launch, including actor Vikas Bhalla, Chef Saransh Golia, TV cookshow anchor Amrita Raichand and TV dance show anchor Naved Jaafrey. They were seen enjoying themselves and creating various types of stir-fry vegetables based on their own preferences.

First launched in 2001, with 30 restaurants spread across India and abroad, ‘The Yellow Chilli’ chain specialises in Indian cuisine, redefined to be more contemporary. The ambience in these restaurants is contemporary and chic with furnishA Quick Compe- ings in muted tones, use of tasteful tition cutlery that set the tone for a refined The launch saw the casual dining experience. The Yelparticipation of low Chilli chain and Chef Sanjeev various cooks, food Kapoor’s other restaurant brands sia, Thailand, Hong Kong, Korea, lovers and media people, besides are managed by Indian Cookery Pvt Singapore and Indonesia. Chef Kapoor’s wife, daughter and Ltd (ICPL) headed by Rajeev Matta. mother. To demonstrate the conAnd according to a little birdie at At the launch of his twin projects, cept of a Marketplace, Chef Kapoor the event, food lovers can expect an Chef Kapoor said, “Thane has been got his chefs to rustle up stir-fry announcement of a few more outlets always in my radar for opening my options for himself and his guests. from ICPL. ■ outlets and I am thrilled to start my Later, there was a cooking challenge by Vinita Bhatia new concept here. We do a lot of where the restaurant’s chefs, includCaLDRON January 2014

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SPA SCAPE

a day playing truant at

Renaissance’s Spa It is always fun to take some time out for spa pampering. Renaissance Mumbai Convention Center Hotel offers a decent enough spa, though you might not get the expected bang on your buck.

I

t was a bright sunny workday when the hubby and I decided to play truant at work and take off for some TLC. Sometimes one just needs an excuse to skip work and devote time to oneself, for no rhyme or reason. This was definitely one of those days. We decided to go to Renaissance Mumbai Convention Center Hotel in Powai , simply because though we are members of the establishment we had never paid their spa a visit. Then something curious happened. While making reservations at their spa over the phone, the person on the other side was keen to know whether the gentleman would prefer a lady therapist and the lady would like a male therapist! It made me wonder if this was one of those places which assured you of a happy ending – though not for the reasons one usually visits a spa. The husband glanced over the top of his laptop with an amused look, while I sternly informed the spa’s representative that we would very much prefer members of our own gender working on us, thank you very much. So we headed out to Renaissance Mumbai Convention Center Hotel – me looking forward to a much-welcome afternoon of weary muscles being coaxed into a happier state, while the hubby just getting into the

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flow because it was easier to concede to the spouse’s request than argue against. Some Hiccups Along the Way I opted for the Soothing and Relaxing Rejuvenation Spa Package (Rs 4950) because the name itself made me smile in happy expectation. The hubby chose the Spa Paramount (Rs 3500), which uses a combination of reflexology techniques followed by a massage of the neck, back and shoulder. “It’s safe and I get to keep my clothes on,” he smirked as he was led to the men’s section.On entering the women’s section I was asked to deposit my valuables but there was a small hitch – most lockers had been taken and the one assigned to me had a broken lock. After changing and depositing my bag with all my valuables in the locker without the lock, I was escorted to the steam room where for 15 minutes I could feel the grime drip off me. Then I was ushered into the sanctum sanctorum of the spa where my therapist rubbed down my entire body with a seaweed scrub. Her initial gentle movements gradually became more insistent, demanding my tired skin yield its dead cells. And yield it did. After 20 odd minutes of being rubbed down, I was asked to wash off the exfoliating cream when yet another unusual thing about the spa struck me. Despite being a 5-star CaLDRON January 2014


SPA SCAPE

property, Renaissance’s spa shower the nape of my neck and my shoul- A quick shower later to wash off the room was pretty utilitarian with its ders, with some herbal olive oil. She oily residue on my skin and I felt blue and white tiles and big plastic was attentive enough to know when elated and aglow. The taciturn hubby grunted that his session was ‘just dispensers for bathroom utilities. the pressure she was applying was too much and reduced it according- fine’, which in hubbyspeak means After I showered, the room wasn’t mopped clean, which means it was more than fine – it was bloody good! after your spa you don’t have ‘On entering the women’s section I An afternoon well spent is how a dry, private area to slip on was asked to deposit my valuables I would look back at my spa your jeans without getting but there was a small hitch – most session. But I do hope that Rethem wet. lockers had been taken and the one naissance extends a little more attention to the finer details An Afternoon Well assigned to me had a broken lock. that help in elevating one’s spa Spent experience. Because at Rs 4950 for Post the shower I was offered a ly. The pummeling and kneading I received was so pleasurable that my treatment and Rs 3500 for the lemon tea and I proceeded to my husband’s, that is definitely what you Swedish massage – the very reason I I requested her to continue even had trudged 10 kilometers away on when my prescribed 90 minutes of expect and deserve to receive. a workday. My therapist, with her the session were over and she kindly by Vinita Bhatia obliged. firm fingers managed to work out the knots I knew were forming in CaLDRON January 2014

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?

ASK THE EXPERTS

ASK THE

EXPERTS

Cooking can sometimes turn out to be an activity fraught with doubts, mistakes and in extreme cases, embarrassing debacles. But fret not. Because we have a panel of experts who are happy to help you out with any questions you have about cooking. So if you have a doubt, just drop us a mail at editor@chefatlarge.in and we will get you the replies from the guys who really know the kitchen like their backyard.

I made cake pops today using a recipe from a site where the cake pops were covered in pretty colors and decorations. The chef used candy melts, which I don’t know where to source. What can I use to coat the cake pops? I plan to use Royal icing for decoration, but what should I cover it with? - Anandi Iyer

I am still learning to cook. Recently, I tried making ‘Coconut Burfi’ but it didn’t turn out to well. Not only did the sugar burn, but the coconut too turned brown. I used 2 cups of grated coconut, 1 cup of sugar and 1 tsp of ghee. Please provide tips on how to make this dish perfectly. - Nimisha Raveendran

Can we add instant yeast to idli batter to make it ferment faster? And will it be a compromise in taste?

Chocolatier Mehernosh Khajotia: You can easily make your own candy melts at home. Just take white chocolate and add some gel-based color to it. These gel colors are water-based, so if you add them to your cake pops, it will make it seize the pops properly. These gel-based colors are available easily available in shops that sell products for confectioneries. For instance, in Mumbai you can buy it from http://www.ipfco.com/.

Chef Kunal Kapur: You don't have to cook the coconut at all. Instead, you can use a type of khoya called ‘Pindi’. You can make this by simmering the milk until it becomes dry and tough. This will lend it the consistency to be rolled into a dough or allow it to be grated with ease. Warm the khoya lightly, till it becomes a little workable. Add sugar to it and cook this on a low flame till the sugar dissolves. Switch the flame off and then add dry grated coconut. Mix this well and transfer the mixture to a plate or mould where this needs to be set up.

Chef Sebastian Fernandes: Yes, you can add instant yeast to the idli batter but ensure that you use the batter the same day. Incidentally, rice is a natural fermenting agent by itself. If you, however, want to use instant yeast in the idli batter, then put in two pinches of the dry yeast powder to 1 cup of the batter and keep the mix in a warm place for 15 minutes to 20 minutes. Do not stir the idli batter during its fermentation process. After the batter has fermented, stir well, set aside for 10 minutes and stir again.

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- Ranjana Deolalikar Sudhalkar

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ASK THE EXPERTS

What can I do with leftover jalebis, besides eating them? Can I freeze it to use them in another recipe? - Anees Mirza

I have a lot of leftover sugar syrup from the last time I made gulab jamuns. Can I use it to make another dish?” - Charu Srivastava

Chef Kunal Kapur: One can freeze the jalebis to reuse it, but it will never have the same taste. I suggest freezing the jalebis and use them in another dessert, which is a little moist. For instance, you can cook custard with little or no sugar and then add jalebis for flavor. You can also make kheer and add jalebis once the rice is cooked. Alternately, you can bake a cake with the jalebi filling. Let your imagination fly with this versatile dessert.

Chef Kunal Kapur: You can use the sugar syrup in another dish. But please remember that this syrup might have the smell of the oil in which the gulab jamuns were fried. If the smell is not there, then you can use. Or else I suggest you avoid using it.

Our Panel of Experts:

Chef Kunal Kapur of MasterChef India fame is a degree holder from Chandigarh’s Institute of Hotel Management and started his career from the Taj Group of Hotels. He is the Chef de Cuisine of Diya Restaurant at Gurgaon’s Leela Kempinski. He also looks after the specialty menu for Spectra and the banquet operations of the restaurant.

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Chocolatier Mehernosh Khajotia received his training at the Richemont Bakery and Confectionery Craft School at Lucerne in Switzerland His operates Celebrations Fine Confections out of a 1600 square feet kitchen in Mumbai and his list of clients includes top international airlines such as Swissair and Singapore Airlines, and reputed Indian corporates like ICICI Bank, Infosys, IGI, Lawrence & Mayo and Auto Hangar.

Chef Sebastian Fernandes heads the production and quality control at Juhu Residency Group of Hotels, which owns the ‘Melting Pot’ and ‘Pebbles’ restaurants. An alumni of Mumbai’s ITC Catering College, he has over two decades of experience, which includes managing operations of the Fusion Cuisine restaurant in the United Kingdom.

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PHOTO FEATURE

A Weekend in

HANOI

by Sid Khullar

A Vietnamese Mooncake. These are prepared during special days and festivals and made available for sale in highly decorational and elaborate packaging, indicating their special status. These cakes were crumbly, densely packed and mildly sweet with an embedded chestnut within.

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I found Vietnamese food to be a delightful blend of non-vegetarian mains always accompanied by a host of vegetarian sides and plenty of texture add-ons, like peanuts for instance. This, was diced, roast duck, with herbs. INSET: Beef with onions and herbs.

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Stir fried Morning Glory, a favorite green on the table. Most tables I ate at were perfect blends of vegetarian and non-vegetarian food. INSET: Boiled Apple Gourd / Tinda.

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Deep fried Tofu is a favorite. Though deep fried, every time I saw this dish, it was bone dry, without a speck of oil to betrary the method of cooking. INSET: The quintessential Vietnamese condiment - salt with lemon and sliced, de-seeded red chili. The lemon is squeezed over it all, the lot mixed and used for dipping.

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Roast duck, served with soft, snow-white buns. The duck was served with a garlicky sauce and the buns were quite similar to the Chinese Bao. INSET: Ginger flavored fish, cooked and served in the same pot, with lemon grass and a spicy sauce.

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Vietnamese coffee looks muddy and has a distinct chocolatey aroma. I always saw it served with sweet, condensed milk, the idea of which seemed abominable, until I tried it. Delicious! INSET: The Vietnamese bake beautiful bread. These, I purchased from a street vendor for 40,000 Dong.

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The most delicious broth I’ve ever eaten. It was fish-flavored and included chives, fried pastry squares and slices of beef. It could be accompanied by a very light bread (inset), eaten by dipping the bread in the broth and letting it soften for a while.

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I found this duck grilling on the street and available for the equivalent of $5 per platter. It’s slowly roasted, then served with a generous sprinkling of sesame seeds.

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Markets usually have roadside shops selling many varieties of shellfish. These, all from a single shop, included mostly live specimens. In fact, those in the third column on the first row on the opposite page, were spitting long streams of water every few mnutes! CaLDRON January 2014

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After walking out of the shop that had just served me the most delicious Pho, I found another little shop with these (main picture) lovelies stacked in public view. After a series of drawings, we confirmed what meat it was (pork) and I ordered a portion. It was grilled, served with a basket of leaves (for wrapping) and lemongrass stalks (for chewing) and an utterly stinky shrimp dip. ‘Twas delicious to say the least. I was later told it might have been grilled cat.

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I ate Pho, the iconic Vietnamese broth-meal in a bowl on three occasions. The first (left, inset) was in my hotel, for breakfast - insipid at best. The second (lower left, inset) was at a chain of restaurants that specialised in Pho - nice, but not quite there. The third was on the streets, where I had to communicate with drawings, to find out just what she was selling. This one (main picture) was absolutely fantastic - full of flavor, meaty and the main ingredient, the stock was absolutely perfect, making street Pho, the best Pho for me.

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Banh My or bread sandwiches, was one of the foods I ate quite a bit of, taking a couple back to my room every day. The Vietnamese, due to the French influence, are prodigious bakers of bread; some of the best bread I’ve eaten, was in Vietnam. Banh My is essentially, pork sliced off a vertical roast, topped with salad vegetables, slathered with mayonnaise, grilled and served for 15,000 Dong, or less than a US Dollar, which was 21,000 Dong. CaLDRON January 2014

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My first meal in Vietnam... a fast food, chicken burger from a chain called Lotteria. I have to say it was quite different and they had a most interesting fast food menu. There was even a Rice burger on the menu, where instead of buns, it was patties of sticky rice, with beef bulgogi sandwiched in between. Not very stable, but certainly delicious. 96

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A variety of foods was served for breakfast, keeping most Oriental tastes in mind. Bacon, noodles tossed with greens, rice paper rolls, soups, Pho, rice fritters, skewered and grilled meats and along with delicious Vietnamese coffee. A fun way to start the day!

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PHOTO FEATURE

The last visual I’ll leave you with is the Vietnamese love for coffee. This is a street shop and nearly every vertical packet you see, is a different variety of coffee - Weasel, Lemon, “Moka”, Arabicah, Vanilla, Robusta, Hazelnut, Cula and Cinnamon! 98

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FEATURED MEMBERS

Chicken and Vegetable Noodle Soup by Muan Lalmuanpuii Vangchhia

Rice paper rolls by Nithya Krishnan CaLDRON January 2014

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Recipes, reviews, Indian and International chefs, events, reviews and an awesome photo feature on Vietnamese food plus loads more!

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