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CaLdron

Dec 2013

Monthly Blogazine

there’s always something cooking

Reviews Cavalli Caffe Delhi/NCR Cafe Uno Delhi/NCR Smokehouse Deli Delhi/NCR Yauatcha Bangalore Tandoori Nights Bangalore Harry’s Bar Mumbai Serafina Mumbai CaLDRON December 2013

Year ender!

Events Cover Theme Party in the Heavens All about Chinese Cuisine Grape Crushing, Wine Memories of Hong Kong Tasting 5 Chinese Teas Lunch with Gary Mehigan 8 Chinese Cuisines Cooking with Rishi Desai 5 Chinese Desserts Roaming Rover in Westin, Pune

Kitchen Kin Chef Ajay Chopra Chef Veena Arora Chef Dong Long Tested: Philips Saeco Intelia 1


TRIBUTE

Tribute to a Legend: Tarla Dalal Rupa Balachander writes a personal tribute to one of India’s culinary giants - Tarla Dalal. Last night while I was winding down, a message popped up on my screen from Sid Khullar asking me if I would like to pen a few words about Tarla Dalal, about whose passing I had read about just a few hours prior. I did not have to think twice about Sid’s request and immediately agreed to write my thoughts on the most unique talent in the history of contemporary Indian food. However, when I did sit down to write, I was at a loss for words, attempting to describe someone who I knew only through her writing and media. I’ve spent many years learning from her, just like Eklavya did with Dronacharya’s idol, but in my case the medium of instruction were Ms Dalal’s books and recipes. During that hour many important occasions/people in my life flashed in front me like it does for anybody who hears of a loss. Revisiting those memories, I realized that Tarla Dalal was my companion on several of those cherished moments. One such incident I vividly remember is when I moved to the US in my late teens. While deciding what precious things I would carry with me in the two suitcases I was allowed, a book authored by Ms Dalal was on the top of the list. I arrived in the Fall and at my first Thanksgiving dinner in the US, I used her recipe to cook Vegetable Au Gratin; a recipe I consider iconic from the hundreds perhaps thousands she has authored. Needless to say, it was a hit amongst my dinner guests who were amazed that a “vegetarian” dish could taste so delicious and be so easy to prepare. As an author she was able to bring to the traditional Indian kitchen, recipes from around the world. Her Indian recipes were so authentic, one could easily recreate the Idli-sambar eaten at an Udipi restaurant, Dhokla from the best Farsan shop, or Paranthas and achaar eaten at a Punjabi dhaba. Over the next decade I acquired several of her books, all of which I treasure and are amongst the few cookbooks I own, each one with recipes that are well written, easy to follow and most importantly, which result in dishes that taste awesome. A petite person in stature but with a larger than life following, a lady who helped create many happy moments between a husband and wife, a mother and child or just amongst friends, I humbly thank Ms Dalal for helping polish a facet of my personality. She will never know it, but those who read this will understand and wholly agree that she made a big impact on our lives through her books, TV shows, cooking classes and charity. Rest in Peace. We will continue celebrating your life. by Rupa Balachandar

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CaLDRON December 2013


EDITORIAL & CREDITS

If it’s one foreign cuisine that’s become an integral part of our culture, it’s Chinese. Of course, one might say Italian has the same status, which is true to a large extent, however Chinese was the first to occupy that exalted slot, even if it is now unrecognizable to the Chinese, even as a distant cousin to their own food. As the story goes, of the Chinese who came to India to work in sugar mills, some stayed back and adapted their cuisine to local ingredients and sentiments. Given that this happened in the mid 1700s, Indian-Chinese is a cuisine in its own right; a fact some of us need to consider before turning up our noses and claiming to like ‘only authentic Chinese’. We also lost an icon during the production of this issue, Tarla Dalal. Rupa Balachander wrote a few words to express her feelings; a common slice of what most of us would have felt on her passing on. The results of the poll we conducted on the Chef at Large group weren’t very surprising, given how deeply entrenched the cuisine is in our food culture, almost Indian, some may say. In any case, I’m proud to present to you, our third issue, and look forward to learning what you have to say and awaiting your feedback. Stay well. Sid

THE CHEF AT LARGE TEAM MANAGING EDITOR SID KHULLAR ASSOCIATE EDITOR NATASHA ALI CONSULTING EDITOR VINITA BHATIA EVENTS EDITOR PARUL PRATAP SHIRAZI RECIPE CURATOR NADEEM KHAN SUBJECT MATTER EXPERTS SANDEEP SRINIVASA (COFFEE) JASWINDER SINGH (WINE & SPIRITS) SPECIAL PROJECTS RITUPARNA MUKERJI SHRUTI ARORA REVIEW TEAM DELHI CHARIS ALFRED BHAGIANTHAN PARUL PRATAP SHIRAZI SID KHULLAR MUMBAI VINITA BHATIA

OTHER CREDITS Cover photo courtesy, The China Kitchen, Hyatt Regency, New Delhi Cover photo was taken by Sid Khullar

BANGALORE NATASHA ALI

RECIPE CONTRIBUTORS

KOLKATA MEGHA JHUNJHUNWALA

SAYANTINI M. http://www.ahomemakersdiary.com/

GROUP MODERATOR SID KHULLAR

SARANI TARAFDAR http:// http://cocoawind.blogspot.in/

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CaLDRON December 2013

Sugar Paste Flowers and Butterflies by Blessy Bless. 3


CONTENTS 4

CaLDRON December 2013


CONTENTS

Member Poll Your Take on Indian-Chinese Food, 7 Reviews Lunch at Cavalli Caffe, Delhi/NCR, 8 The Kiwi That Flew, Delhi/NCR, 12 An Orchestra of Taste, Delhi/NCR, 14 Delicate Dim Sum and Cool Cocktails, Bangalore, 24 An Ode to a Hole in The Wall, Bangalore, 25 Powai’s New Watering Hole, Mumbai, 26 A Gastronomical Affair to Remember, Mumbai, 28 Product Review: Philips Saeco Intelia: Expensive Convenience, 67 Special Tribute to a Legend: Tarla Dalal, 15 Kitchen Kin Lunch with Chef Dong Long, 16 Meet Chef Ajay Chopra, 70 Meet Chef Veena Arora, 74 Events Party In The Heavens, Delhi/NCR, 59 Grape Crushing, Wine Tasting, Feasting, Bangalore, 60 When Gary Mehigan Cooks Lunch!, Mumbai, 62 Cookfest with Rishi Desai, Mumbai, 64 Cover Theme The ABC’s of Chinese Cuisine, 54 Photo Feature: Memories of Hong Kong, 34 Five Chinese Teas You Didn’t Know of, 88 Eight Chinese Cuisines You Didn’t Know Of, 90 Five Chinese Desserts You Didn’t Know Of, 94 Recipes - Two Flavors of Chili Chicken Chili Chicken I, 28 Chili Chicken II, 32 Roaming Rover A Weekend at the Westin, Pune, 78 CaLDRON December 2013

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YOUR TAKE ON

Indian CHINESE FOOD We ran a quick poll on our Facebook group and weren’t surprised at all by the results. After all, we do know our Indian Chinese food, don’t we?

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Link to Poll on Facebook

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REVIEWS - DELHI/NCR

Lunch at Cavalli Caffe Cavalli Caffe dishes out some excellent fare, with two dishes that may be quite unique, including a one-mm thick pizza. A must-try. Cavalli Caffe’s been here for a while, eponymous with Roberto Cavalli, the fashion brand among other areas of it’s application. In my experience, the application of the word ‘luxury’ is usually a veiled manner of saying, “We have the money to sink into solid gold cutlery, but we really can’t be bothered about the food because we assume you’ll be so dazzled with our solid gold cutlery, that the food will be of little consequence”. This has happened many times in the past, the most recent being the sorry experience that was Pangaea‘s opening night, and you really can’t blame them, not in this city in any case. You see, Delhiites eat with a jeweler’s loupe, evaluating their experience from the point of view of perceived exclusivity and Facebook brag potential rather than culinary value. This also explains why we have celebrity chefs strutting around this city who couldn’t dish out a decent plate of properly scrambled eggs. This, I admit, was my reluctant state of mind when I visited Cavalli Caffe in the very luxurious DLF Emporio Mall, a paradigm that was somewhat justified during my first interaction with staff members who, far from

CaLDRON December 2013

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REVIEWS - DELHI/NCR

being able to seamlessly communicate with customers, appeared to have difficulty with English as a medium, which in this particular setting is definitely below par.

of which was Burrata with Cherry Tomatoes (650), which in itself doesn’t say anything if you don’t know what a Burrata is. Burrata, is a south Italian cheese from Puglia that is essentially a shell of fresh Happily, that was that and events mozzarella stuffed with a mixture proceeded smoothly thereafter. We of mozzarella strips and cream. At chose to sit at the zebra-striped out- Cavalli Caffe, the Burrata was served door area, than the indoor bar and with a sprinkling of halved cherry lounge. Note that, outdoors is still tomatoes, a drizzling of reduced under the mall roof. balsamic vinegar and a drift of crisp, trimmed rocket leaves. Okay Kapil and I picked out a rough three so ‘a drift’ is really more suited to a gathering of quail than a bunch of course meal for ourselves, the first 8

rocket leaves. Every once in a while, one is surprised by a dish, which while speaking volumes about one’s own exposure, is quite a wonderful event, because we end up disproportionately wiser from the experience, exposure and knowledge gained. The Burrata was served with tiny, shallow bowls of (a very nice) extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar and sea salt, and accompanied by two slim slices of pan-fried eggplant. Mild, subtle, tangy, crisp and surprisingly good, don’t bother trying to find the dish in Delhi. Chef CaLDRON December 2013


REVIEWS - DELHI/NCR Kapil insists even restaurants tried Cavalli Caffe’s thin crust must line up to buy a few portions pizza, which, I kid you not, isn’t of the stuff. much more than a single millimetre thick. If you like your pizzas Our splendid starter was followed and want low carb meals, this is by an equally great cold Crema the place to go. We ended with di Porcini (300) and a very well Hot Chocolate Foam with Rum presented, but more-like-pizzaGranita and Red Wine Poached sauce Crema di Pomodoro (200), Figs and Apricot Crumble with a cold mushroom soup and a hot, Wild Berry Semifreddo. The hot very thick tomato soup served in chocolate foam was closer to a a margarita glass and a hollowed mousse and quite delicious; ditto out loaf of bread respectively. My for the crumble and semifreddo. mushroom soup was smooth, resplendent with all the flavor As you can see, preconceptions of porcini and button mushcan be dangerous things. If you’re rooms while Kapil’s tomato soup, in any of the three malls, do try I believe could have used some Cavalli Caffe as an alternative to cheese to cut through it’s thickyour regular lunch. ■ ness, accompanied by a very cold winter draft. It’s true! Sometimes, enjoying the things we order, the way they’re cooked, depend on climatic conditions. In this case, I believe a withering, winter wind and a crackling fireplace were essential elements that really should have accompanied this particular soup. I suggest you try this soup in peak winters and avoid it in summers. After an enjoyable Rucola and Goat Cheese Salad with Pine nuts and Oranges (550) that included a very generous helping of goat cheese, we began on the mains, a Traditional Chicken Cacciatore (450) for me and Caponata stuffed Zucchini Canola (400) for Kapil. I wasn’t too happy with my dish, given it too tasted like pizza sauce, with the same cliched flavors within. Kapil thought while his dish was very well executed, the stuffing needed flavor and seasoning, without which the final result was stolid chewing and little else.

by Sid Khullar

Somewhere along the way we also CaLDRON December 2013

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REVIEWS - DELHI/NCR life. So I was a bit taken aback by I hope Guy Beringer is having a exceptional pre-starter course with the amount of red on the walls of great time in heaven, as that’s the kiwi mayonnaise. Yes, a kiwi mayononly place he should be for having 19, Oriental Avenue. A constant, naise – just like your regular maynagging feeling that I’m about to invented the term and concept of onnaise, with kiwi fruit in it, served brunch. Yes, that word and concept be in the middle of a Triad hit kept with fish, grilled pork and lamb hounding me for some time but like chops that were topped with a kiwi that we are so used to now were everything else in life, I got over it coined in 1895 or 1896 for a magsauce. The look of it made me recoil azine article. Thankfully it found almost as soon as the food started a little – that much acidic fruit on its place in the general lexicon. one plate. Surprisingly, it worked Without it, life would have been just fine. In fact, it worked great. such a drag. I harp on history The mild salt and pepper on the because I found it really interlamb and the rather salty pork esting to read about the origins chops combined with the kiwi of the word that i looked up out sauce was just perfect on the of sheer habit after coming back palate. from Sunday brunch at Shangri-La, New Delhi. Executive Next course was very interesting, Chef Darren Canole, an Austraone of the most amazing dishes lian married to a Kiwi (the nato try. Ceviche is pretty much the A brunch at the Shangri-La where staple street food in most Latin tionality) and his team wanted to do something different with the kiwi was the star and diners were American countries. Every place kiwi (the fruit) and came up has a variation of its own; most treated to innovative food. with a five course brunch with interesting are the Mexican, Chilsome of the best ingredients at ean and Peruvian. What makes their disposal. Center of attenit interesting is the method of tion was, indeed, kiwi fruit from coming out of the kitchen. Well, cooking where fish is ‘cooked’ in Zespri, New Zealand. lime – all you need is fish and lime almost. juice, no stove required. The acetic I had never been to Shangri-La An open kitchen in the middle of acid is enough to cook the soft flesh before. I’m talking about the hotel in the restaurant was the setting for the of the fish and impart a pink tinge New Delhi, not the mythical valley proceedings for the morning where to it, like when lobster is cooked, the in China where you find eternal Darren and his crew belted out an shell turns red. What Darren and

The Kiwi that Flew

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REVIEWS - DELHI/NCR

Wolf Blass – a Chardonnay and a Cabernet-Merlot blend. It was a last moment decision to include wines in the menu and to a snob like me it seemed quite obvious. The Cabernet-Merlot had well-rounded dark fruit notes on the nose and the palate and slightly rough around the edge tannins that gave a rather full Ceviche was followed with a chilled mouth-feel with a hint of bell peproasted pepper, Chinese gooseber- pers on the finish. The Chardonnay was rich and creamy with notes of ry and Jerez soup – much like a gazpacho, very interesting with the citrus fruits on the nose and palate sweet and tangy notes of the goose- and a smooth finish that paired much better with the kiwi inspired berries and the kiwi nicely offset by the roasted bell peppers, and menu than the Cabernet-Merlot. chilled to perfection. I don’t believe it would’ve tasted half as good had Lamb tenderloin with kiwi de menthe jelly and Moroccan jam it been served warm or even at quinoa was served next. The kiwi de room temperature. The speed and efficacy of the floor crew mattered menthe jelly was definitely the most most; they served everything at an interesting part of the assembly of unmatched pace and with amazing medium rare lamb tenderloin done coordination, much like an athletics to perfection on a bed of Moroccan jam quinoa, kiwi de menthe jelly relay team. and garnished with coriander and ginger. The preparation looked and Darren’s team had chosen to pair the food with select wines from sounded simple enough but I’m his crew had done was a clam ceviche with kiwi pesto and rocket cress for us, the lime replaced with kiwi. Kiwi apparently has enough acidity to replace lime. The vegetarian option was with feta cheese instead of the clams, but with equally good results.

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sure the kitchen team toiled over the concept and the recipe of Chef Darren, to get to the levels of perfection he seems to expect and extract out of them. Having lived in India for a good four years now, Darren and his amazing team comprising of so many expat chefs came up with a ridiculously amazing idea for a dessert – sushi with an Indian twist. What they did was replace the sticky rice with kheer and the fish with kiwi fruit. The result – awesomeness. I would’ve enjoyed a good late harvest Riesling or a Chenin Blanc with the dessert but life is not always that kind to you. All said and done, it was one amazing brunch – the food, the wine, the company, friends – everything seamlessly falling in place for a wonderful experience. I’d say this kiwi flew rather well that day. ■ by Jaswinder Singh

CaLDRON December 2013


REVIEWS - DELHI/NCR

An Orchestra of Taste – Smoke House Deli, Hauz Khas

Fine dining at its best, alongside a tranquil lake and a bright clear sky, says Jaswinder of Smoke House Deli, Hauz Khas.

There’s a lot about the labyrinth of narrow alleys that lead you through the interesting neighborhood of Hauz Khas Village that always manages to evoke curiosity in an insatiable mind. The graffiti on the walls, people sitting under the shade of a tree, painting, writing, reading or doing nothing at all make you wonder if that’s really possible in a city like Delhi.

risotto; chicken quiche topped with goat cheese and figs and tomato and mascarpone risotto. To describe each dish will turn this column into a novel, and not to say something about each of them will be a gross injustice to the food and the team at Smokehouse kitchen. Tenderloin steak done to perfection, figs in a tango of taste with the goat cheese quiche; the risotto, the trout and the John Dory with a melt-in-yourWe started off with assorted seafood mouth texture; it was like an orchesand sausage platters followed by tra of taste and we were the audience grilled chicken skewers with lemon- that afternoon. grass and coriander accompanied by a 2012 Jacob’s Creek Chardonnay. The dessert cart followed the main Honestly, life does not get better course with tiramisu, flourless chocthan that. The chardonnay had olate fudge and a roasted almond subtle hints of ripe, juicy grapefruit ganache torte. Except for a slightly and lime on the nose ending with a bitter for my taste buds tiramild note of citrusy raspberries and misu, the rest were just the a creamy smoothness on the palway I like it – sweet. ette that paired beautifully with the seafood and the subtle flavors of the Wine and conversations sausages. flowed into late afternoon on Saturday and after My main course consisted of tenspending about INR 12,000 derloin steak in horseradish and for four people that includrosemary emulsion and jus; pan ed plenty of excellent food seared Himalayan trout with wasabi and wine, it was time to call cream; John Dory with smoked bell it a day. It could be depeppers, creamed leeks and tomato scribed as a well spent five CaLDRON December 2013

hours at lunch. The high cost can be attributed to all the wine that was consumed through the afternoon. The food was priced well with an average meal for two at about INR 3500. Of all the locations of Smoke House Deli, Hauz Khas is undeniably the best. Head Chef Shamsul Wahid’s attention to detail shows in the preparations and the setting of the restaurant. A restaurant I’d visit again any day and encourage you to do so too. ■ by Jaswinder Singh

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PHOTO RELIEF

Slow-cooked pork belly with vegetable rice. :) 14

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REVIEWS - BANGALORE

Delicate Dimsum & Cool Cocktails

tion, though the ice cream served with this one was overpowering – the flavor was too strong and a bit Located as they are, odd when combined with chocolate. in a mall, they decid- Clearly, there’s a reason why the ed to create a special delice gets rave reviews! (Drink some and Dim sum, *tee hee*) We also, with just a little egging on, tried more of the cocktails that will appeal to mall wanderers, and that Yauatcha makes. They have an interesting and large range, as can be availed any day between Monday the well stocked bar which occupies one section attests to. As part and Thursday. You get a basket of eight of the ‘Drink some’ selection, you steamed dumplings can choose from the Thea Martini (veg/mixed; 4 kinds) and the Lalu (vodka, lemongrass, Oolong tea and lychee juice). There and one cocktail/ was also a crushed red grapes, vodka mocktail at a great price point, especial- and champagne cocktail, Cha La Lai, that was quite good, but my favorly if you are doing ite from the lot was the spectacular the cocktails! The Chicken and prawn looking and tasting citrus-y kumshui mai was as good quat fruit infused concoction. as any I’ve eaten in Hong Kong, and the Yauatcha also has an impressive arNatasha checked out the 'Drink some and 17-fold Har gua was ray of teas on offer, and a large menu of all kinds of Chinese food, so I tops too. The two Dim sum' offering at Yauatcha, Bangalore veg selections in the shall be hoofing it back there at the and came away well pleased. earliest to partake of more of their mixed basket were delicious food and drink. This time Crystal and Chive Exactly a week after I got back from Hong Kong, I found myself at Yauat- dumplings. We also tried the Duck it was just about the drinking and cha, the Chinese dim sum specialty rolls, served with a plum sauce. This dim summing. Once you are inside, is not to be missed if you’re a duck you are sure to forget that just below restauyou is a mall and shops, and you can eater – Finnish rant duck, no less, and enjoy a lovely meal in a gently lit, located attentive setting. And if you’re there the taste and texin the at an in-between time, or just in ture were superb. 1 MG the mood for snacking and a drink, Road definitely give the set menu ‘Drink We tried the much Mall. tweeted and talked some and Dim sum’ a try! A meal Now, here will cost you significantly more, about Raspberry this is so this is the perfect way to enjoy the Delice, that looked a chain The famed Raspberry Delice place without breaking the bank. ■ and tasted like a that dream; the tartness of the raspberry began in Soho, London, where the sauce paired beautifully with the term Michelin starred has been chocolate mousse and the fact that earned. They already has an Indiit looked like a velvet rose pincushby Natasha Ali an presence in Mumbai, and I had ion just added to the charm of the been hearing good things ever since it opened its doors in Bangalore in dessert! We also enjoyed the Religieuse, another chocolate concocSeptember and just waiting for a CaLDRON December 2013

chance to partake of the offerings.

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REVIEWS - BANGALORE We all know of such places, the little hole in the wall restaurant that looks a tad dingy and is maybe in a congested or dirty alley, but where the food is so good, you find yourself going, or else ordering take out or delivery from it, often. Soon after I moved to Bangalore 2 years ago, Tandoori Nights in Jayanagar became just that place for me. It serves both North Indian and Indian Chinese fare, and for the most part, my friends and I prefer the latter. There are a couple of kebabs that they make that are outstanding – the Lasuni Tikka (125) has the most tender and moist chicken ever! On an afternoon work lunch, we ordered 4 plates of the tikka, once I’d introduced my colleagues to its delight. The curries, however, are gloppy and sometimes oily, so I usually abstain, though friends and colleagues like them. The Chinese though, is a whole ‘nother story: desi style Chinese at its best.

Manchurian, Szechwan, Hunan – all make their appearance on the veg and non-veg (prawns, fish and chicken) menu. Dragon Chicken (130) is my favorite starter; a sizable helping of spicy and delicious fiery colored chicken pieces. There are numerous prawn starters (140) and I’ve tried and enjoyed the Chilly and Hot Garlic versions. They do a really good job of both fried rice and noodles, so for me its generally a toss up between the Park Inn Special Fried Rice (125) or Singapore Chicken Fried Rice (110), and the Mixed Noodles (120) or Szechwan Chicken Noodles (110). The portions for the rice/noodles are generous and can easily be split between two people or two meals. They have about 20 plus gravy items as well, and the ubiquitous Chopsuey and Chowmein. Pure non-vegetarian that I am, I have never really ventured into that portion of the menu, but my non-meat

eating friends are quite happy to tag along, so that says something. Ordering in lunch or the gang heading to Tandoori Nights happened every so often at my old job, and even when we ordered extra planning to take it home for dinner, usually it would disappear! I sadly now live outside the home delivery area, so I only eat there when I am in the neighborhood and stop in with friends or else bring my favorite order home to enjoy when alone. There have even been times when I have worked my errands around being able to pick up a meal from there. There is talk that this little place will either shut down or have to move next year. I sure hope its not the former, for there are many die-hard fans who would miss the food, yours truly included! ■ by Natasha Ali

Tandoori Nights is one of those unassuming little restaurants that serves up lovely Indian Chinese.

An Ode to a Hole in The Wall

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CaLDRON December 2013


REVIEWS - MUMBAI Once, a banking professional named Nick Leeson was a regular patron of a quayside bar in Singapore. He would head there almost every day after work, shooting the breeze with other financial traders. No one paid him any special notice; he was one of the many bankers who’d visit the pub before heading home. Then one day, Leeson was arrested for his role in losing $1 billion of his company’s, Barings, in speculative dealings, leading the ages-old merchant bank to the brink of fiscal collapse.

outpost didn’t have it, probably because it did not want to inspire any Leesons in Mumbai, which is also the financial heart of India! The twomonth old Harry’s is relatively small and gets cramped once the crowd pours in post 8pm. But its designers have given thoughtful touches to make it a great after-work watering hole. There’s a brightly lit chequered display behind the bar, the volume of the music is not so loud that you have to scream yourself hoarse to make yourself heard to your drinking companion and the lights are The bar that he frequented made dimmed, so that a solo drinker the most of his notorious legacy and doesn’t find himself in the glare of even created a drink after him called curious looks. Bank Breaker. And the day Leeson was released from his Singaporean The alcohol menu is thrice as prison, the staff at the pub wore lengthy as the food menu; the T-shirts that shouted ‘Leeson Learns diminutive 2-page food menu His Lesson’ and served free beer to includes a couple of salads, burgers, patrons for two hours! This is one pizzas and four desserts. But a barfly of the more popular legends about told us that Harry’s is revamping its Harry’s in Singapore, which has food menu because the management around 25 pubs in the island coun- has realized too much emphasis was try. And now it has opened its doors placed on the beverages. And luckily in Mumbai. for them, since they share a common kitchen with Spaghetti Kitchen When we visited Harry’s, we hoped next door, expanding the food menu to try the Bank Breaker, a whiskey will not be a task. Coming to the drink with Midori fruit liqueur beverages menu, some of the drinks and soda water. Sadly, the Mumbai have been Indianised with the help of mixologist Shatbi Basu, though Harry’s Just over two months old and packed the has retained some day of out visit– a harbinger of good times signature drinks from its Singaporean for the first Harry’s bar in India. station. Beer lovers

can choose from German, Irish, Belgian, Danish, Japanese, Mexican, Italian, American and Indian beers. Strangely when it comes to draught beer, you can choose only from the Australian Foster’s or Belgium Stella Artois or Hoegaarden – there’s no Indian beer there at all! We preferred to try some vintage Singaporean Harry’s drinks – the Dirty Harry (229) and Harry’s Old Fashioned (269). The Dirty Harry, served with skinned whole litchis and crushed mint leaves, had too much ice for us to feel the potency of the vodka. We knew the drink came with an ice mist, but what we had was akin to a glacier. Drinking through the straws was challenging as the ice got stuck in them, while drinking straight from the glass was an invitation to laryngitis. If you would like to order this drink, better tell the bartender to go easy with the ice. Whiskey lovers will like the Harry’s Old Fashioned because the slight tang of caramel doesn’t hinder the bitterness of the whiskey that purists prefer, and we could see several dapper men in their work shirts sipping on this particular drink at the bar. As an accompaniment to our drinks, we had the Singapore Chicken Lollypop (189), a safe dish to try if you are not too adventurous while ordering. The fried chicken wings were well charred on the outside, but slightly dry on the inside. A little juiciness in the meat would’ve been welcome, though the spicy chilly sauce drizzled on the lollypops does mask this flaw. The very crispy Fried Calamari is served with aioli and is supposedly amongst the most popular appetizers at

Harry’s: Powai’s New Watering Hole CaLDRON December 2013

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REVIEWS - MUMBAI

Harry’s. It’s perfectly spiced, not too We returned the drink requesting chewy, and can be easily shared in a the bartender to spike it with more group, making it an ideal bar snack. gin, which made it bearable. You could follow our example at the onset while ordering the drink. Apparently, Harry’s sees a steady stream of ladies who prefer genteel The Singapore Sling had too much cocktails, especially the sangrias. We sweetened spirits, and we could not discern the flavor of the classic tried the Red Wine Sangria (269) that is gently spiked with red wine Benedictine and bitters. and has a delightful quantity of pomegranate seeds and apple pieces. It has oft been said that drinking This is the perfect drink for workwithout eating is a surefire way to ing women talking shop who don’t welcome a hangover, which is never want their brains to be addled while a pleasant prospect. So we had the they are at it. We decided to try the Harry’s Jazz Burger, which is loadCaramel Popcorn Martini (229), ed with fried onions, mushrooms, merely because it sounded unusual. bacon rinds and cheese with some And while it’s a pretty looking drink, pickles and fries on the side. Though it tastes as if you are having a choc- the mutton patty was succulent, olate dessert in a martini glass with and accompaniments played a great a couple of popcorn kernels floating supporting role, its sheer size was on top, which then get soggy if you daunting and we couldn’t polish it leave them on the drink for a while. off despite giving it everything we 18

had! Harry’s is located in the busy street of Powai that is populated with several hangouts for working professionals. Its closest competitor is Chili’s that is just a stone’s throw away and has already established itself as the prominent watering hole in the vicinity. The management of Harry’s has calculatedly kept the prices of its drinks reasonable to attract crowds, and the crowd we witnessed on a week night is testimony to the fact that the gamble is beginning to pay off. But it will have to do more than that to keep the crowd coming back. ■

by Vinita Bhatia

CaLDRON December 2013


REVIEWS - MUMBAI Who doesn’t like to hear a fascinating story that traces the roots of a restaurant chain that is frequented by celebrites like Justin Bieber and Eva Longoria? We know we do! So we listened with rapt attention when we were told that Serafina Restaurant Group was conjured when two friends, Vittorio Assaf and Fabio Granato, forged a pact while they were lost at sea in a small sailboat. Suffering from bitter cold, violent weather and severe hunger pains, and clad in just their bathing suits, the two stranded friends got talking about pizza. When they were rescued, Fabio decided to use his architectural skill to construct an avante

Mall, the first thing that strikes you when you enter the restaurant is the frescos of winged angels and flaming sun on the walls. These, we were informed, were specially created by artist Michela Martello to symbolize Northern Italian cuisine, which is what Serafina specializes in. The second thing you notice when you are seated in the spacious restaurant is the open pizza station. This traditional wood stone pizza oven was apparently crafted in the US and then shipped across for fitting in Mumbai. The well stocked bar and the wine rack also reassure you that this is the place to be if you are picky about the drinks accompanying

that the black pepper in the drink was peppered down because several patrons found it too overpowering. One reason we were excitedly looking forward to our meal was because Serafina uses only premium produce in its dishes. The lamb, for instance, is imported from New Zealand while the beef is procured from Australia. And each of the dishes have been personally designed by Vittorio and Fabio, as they dabbled with locally procured and internationally sourced produce and then finalized on which of the two was a better option. So, we decided to test their claims about the worthi-

Serafina – A Gastronomical Affair To Remember We finally know why celebrities like Justin Bieber, Prince and Kim Kardashian head to Serafina for comfort food. The Mumbai outpost of this international restaurant offers the best of North Italian cuisine in a setting that puts you at ease. The prices though, might leave you edgy! garde oven, while Vittorio put his expertise in Neapolitan cuisine to create the perfect pizza. And that, ladies and gentlemen, was how the now popular Serafina Fabulous Pizza came into existence in 1995. Well, there’s one romantic story, though skeptics might gleefully poke several holes in it.

your meal.

ness of their produce by trying the Carpaccio Di Filetto Con Salsa Di We decided to start with the Kaffir Tartufi Neri (1475), which in simple Lime Margarita (599), which thank- English is beef carpaccio. And it was fully was not the sickly sweet or the love at first bite. The carpaccio was utterly acidic variety usually offered. fresh and so thin that you could see The kaffir lime gave a nice Asian the serving plate! The accompanyflavor to the sour mix of the maring tiny cubes of boiled potatoes are garita, making it a perfect summer tossed into the warm black truffle drink. The Pineapple Black Pepper sauce minutes before it’s ready to Whatever Serafina’s history, we were Margarita (599) was tart and sweet be taken off the stove, which is why happy to enter its well lit and cozy at the same time. But the black they imbibe the earthy flavor perMumbai outpost, which is the 15th pepper played a more ornamental fectly. outlet that Vittorio and Fabio have role because one could not taste its opened in the past 2 decades, glob- spiciness. Mrigesh, the solicitous The Lobster Carpaccio (953) is a ally. Located in the tony Palladium bloke managing our table, told us play of subtlety. The sauce is so CaLDRON December 2013

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REVIEWS - MUMBAI sauce, made of Presidence Cheese, is the main protagonist of this dish, while the prawns played the role of a chorus girl. Its presence or absence doesn’t affect the dish per se. Incidentally, one thing that we noted about the pasta is that it is cooked perfectly al dente. But if you want your pasta well cooked, the chef is happy to do that on request. And the substantial portions of all the dishes are good for sharing. We’d suggest you exert judiciousness while ordering, or you’ll end up with a lot of food that you might not be able to polish off.

mild that initially you think it’s too bland. But then you take a couple of bites more and you realize that it’s been kept delicate so that it doesn’t overpower the fine taste of the lobster chunks. Since the genesis of Serafina was pizza, how could we not try that? We decided to go for the Tartufo Nero (1784), which has three types of cheese – Robiola, Fontino and Truffle. And it is cooked in truffle salsa with small slices of black truffle. Of course, it’s a foregone conclusion that this pizza is only for those who love their mushrooms. You can smell the divine fragrance of truffle as you raise the slice for a bite. The entire package is cheesy as hell, but it’s totally worth that additional 20 minutes you’ll have to spend the next day at the gym, 20

working it off. One piece of advice though – eat it when it’s warm; once cold the pizza becomes chewy and too greasy. We decided to check the pasta next, and the first option that sprung to mind was something with mince meat. Mrigesh suggested we try Rigatoni Alla Bolognese (1011). Thankfully, this was not a very saucy preparation; instead the rich meat and tomato sauce coats the pasta well. The Farfalle Al Limoncello (780) pasta is cooked in a rich lemon infused creamy sauce. And rich it surely is, so all the best finishing it, as it does end up tasting monotonous after a few bites. We requested for some salad to break this monotony, which was quickly served. The

For the mains, we opted for Baby Lamb Chops (2252) where the New Zealand lamb is marinated in rosemary and garlic. The delicately spiced chops were tender and juicy, while the mash is what really caught our attention. This too was cooked with Presidence cheese, which gave it its smooth texture and silky taste. The same mash also features in the Brasato Prago Rosso (866). The red snapper was mildly seasoned which helps you truly appreciate the freshness of the fish. We also enjoyed a glass of the full bodied, single grape Baron Philip red, which complemented the chops, while the Woodbridge Merlot went well with the fish. Both were apt suggestions by Mrigesh, which made us realize that the best way to enjoy a meal at Serafina is to go by the recommendations of the captain and just sit back and enjoy the food – especially if the lengthy menu has you flummoxed. And enjoy this restaurant you will, because Serafina does live up to its tagline – where everyone feels at home. We will be back here, sooner than later. ■ by Vinita Bhatia

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PRODUCT REVIEW For us, the best part of waking up is sipping coffee – always. In fact, early mornings seems to have been designed just so that one can sit with a warm mug full of steaming coffee, inhaling its intoxicating aroma, enjoying the tranquility around and wishing that if only things were this serene throughout the day. Even author Anthony Trollope agrees with us. After all, he was the one who asked, 'What on earth could be more luxurious than a sofa, a book, and a cup of coffee?’

After the machine was delivered, a representative from Philips helpfully outlined its various functions and gave us a demo of its uses. When he ran us through it, the sleek looking machine did come across something awe-worthy and something one could only trust a barista with. But he assured us that using it would not be as forbidding as it appeared.

spoon in around 7 grams of coffee powder into funnel for a single 15 ml of single shot of espresso. One note of caution here – do not use instant coffee powder ever in this machine.

The moment you power the machine on, it goes into a self cleaning mode and the dirty water accumulates into a drip tray. In case, you forget to COFFEE AT YOUR FINGERTIPS, clean the drip, don’t worry that the residual water will spill over – there’s LITERALLY The best part about the Philips a tiny red knob that will rise up and warn you to clear the tray. Fill up the Saeco Intelia is that it is plug and Yes, we love our coffee. So when we use, so even gadget-unfriendly folks water container which can take up to 1.2 liters of water. shouldn’t have trouble installing were offered the chance to try out the Philips Intelia Automatic coffee it. You can put around 200gms of coffee beans in the container on top, We stuck to experimenting with machine, we clapped our hands in espresso and cappuccino. For the or use the measuring spoon that glee. later, you need to load the milk caaccompanies the coffee maker, to rafe with full-fat cold milk. Choose how strong you would like your If you are unwilling to compromise on the quality of your espresso or cappuccino, then the Philips Saeco Intelia is for cappuccino to be by selecting the options on the LED display. One you. done, place your mug beneath the dispenser, fill the water container click on the cappuccino option. That’s it. A little whirring later, the machine will first pour out frothy milk, followed by coffee.

Philips Saeco Intelia: Expensive Convenience

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You can choose to have a single shot or two glasses of espresso at a go. Just click the buttons on the panel and the machine will do the rest. The coffee dispensing nozzle can be moved up or down to accommodate different types of coffee mugs. The good thing about the machine is that you can program it to suit the frothing levels and coffee strength to your preference. Once you have fed in your preference, it’s truly a one touch coffee making machine. If you like to sip on your cappuccino slowly, then you can place your mug on the steel panel near the coffee basin, to keep it warm. 21


PRODUCT REVIEW It’s also easy maintenance, or so the Philips representative would have us believe. The 2-year warranty for Philips Saeco Intelia covers any damage to the ceramic grinder within. You just need to refill the coffee basin, water and milk containers; and empty the waste bin and water tray. And the machine will prompt you whenever you have to do any of the above. OUR VERDICT As with every product, there are pros and cons to the Philips Saeco Intellia too. What we liked: • It’s easy to use. Once you know which buttons to press, using this machine is a breeze. • It offers you the choice to use whole coffee beans or coarsely ground coffee powder. • You can refrigerate the milk carafe if you do not want to use all the milk at one go. • It’s almost mess free. The machine cleans itself and it also cleans the milk carafe. All you need to do is clean the container where the coffee palettes gather. What can be improved: • The water container needs to be almost at half level. A little lower and the machine warns that it is out of water. • The drip tray fills up pretty quickly and needs to be emptied often. • The price is on the higher side, putting it out of reach of the masses. Phillips Saeco Intelia Espresso Maker simplifies coffee making for those who like their cappuccino or espresso and would rather have it at home, than head to the nearest coffee shop. But it does come at a steep MRP of Rs 74,995. But if you must have your specific type of coffee and do not mind the price tag, then this machine could well end up taking place of pride in your kitchen. ■ by Vinita Bhatia

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INTERVIEW

A Chat with Jayati Singh Chakraborti

of the aromas, regardless of the type of coffee bean being used. The other important aspect is ease of use. With our machines, everything that requires cleaning is easily accessible by opening the front door, and without removing any parts of the machine.

Vinita also had a chat with Jayati Singh Chakraborti, who heads Marketing for Coffee among other verticals at Philips Electronics You can also choose milk from your favorite setting. Saeco maIndia.

chines remember how you like your coffee best. The patented Saeco milk circuit is automatically steam cleaned every time you use it, and the machine remembers to do it so that you don’t need to. In terms Speaking about taste, only Saeco has of design, only Philips Saeco uses patented its Saeco brewing system premium material like stainless steel (SBS) which helps you choose and and chromed aluminum across the create the crema anyway you like. full range of machines. Unlike other brands, Saeco has Vinita Bhatia (VB): What, accord- ceramic grinders for its full range VB: Who are your target customers that ensure even grinding, no metal for this machine? ing to you, sets the Phillips Saeco taste in your coffee and long lastIntelia Espresso Maker apart from JSC: Philips is targeting coffee conother coffee making machines in the ing grinding performance. Saeco’s noisseurs who know their espresso adapting system automatically opti- and are looking for that perfect country? mizes the grinding phase in order to brew. There are a lot of expats who Jayati Singh Chakraborti (JSC): Saeco is known for its great Italian guarantee the same perfect releases “We tend to underestimate the love for fine (and expensive) things that people have in India.” - Jayati Singh Chakraborti, Marketing Director Health and Wellness, Air and Coffee, Consumer Lifestyle, Philips Electronics India tells us why she believes Indians will happily embrace the Philips Saeco Intelia Espresso Maker.

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heritage in coffee. And keeping up with the respect for its Italian heritage, we focus on taste, ease of use and design.

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INTERVIEW are used to the coffee in the west and search for the same taste, at home. Then there are the luxury seekers – a growing population that wants to experience and possess all new things especially those that represent ‘fine taste’.

group is about the experience and taste of a fresh, self- brewed coffee, just the way they like it, at home. ■ by Vinita Bhatia

VB: But do you think these customers would be willing to invest in an expensive machine like the Phillips Saeco Intelia Espresso Maker? JSC: Interestingly, we tend to underestimate the love for fine (and expensive) things that people have in India. The fact that we ran out of stocks during Diwali speaks volumes of the demand there is for these high-end products. We have been over-achieving our sales numbers for Intelia. VB: Coffee drinking is associated with hanging out with friends in a coffee shop, and is viewed more as means to socialize; or enjoy the experience of a coffee shop. So, why do you think will people prefer brewing their coffee at home to visiting the local coffee shop? JSC: You are right, coffee drinking at cafes and coffee shops are associated with hanging out and a youth phenomenon that has given an impetus to the popularity of coffee especially in the north and west of India. However, with this trend itself, and with the developing taste for coffee, people are now looking for ways and means to get that same taste at home as well and want the perfect brew. The successful Indian youth sees possessing a high-end machine like our coffee maker as a statement of their eclectic taste and of victory. So yes, the cafes are here to stay as a place to hang out, but the in- house coffee experience for our target 24

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KITCHEN KIN your career in Cecil (Oberoi Hotel) in Shimla at a fairly young age. When you took the decision to become a chef, did you get the oft-repeated incredulous question – “Bawarchi banna chahta hai”? Ajay Chopra (AC): Of course! That’s a staple in India, unless you are a chef ’s son. In fact, till MasterChef India happened, my mom still felt I was doing the wrong thing in life.

the immediate family members.

Now it has been re-discovered, or rather chefs are making an effort to discover it. There are chefs who have realized that food is science and are trying to understand why onions are fried before they are ground to paste and other techniques. It boils down to understanding which can be then passed on to the next generation. And that could be why suddenly we are seeing a lot of things happening around traditional Indian cuisine in VB: How did MasterChef India the country. change things for you? AC: It changed a lot of stuff in VB: So you are basically trying my life. It was not limited to the to demystify the aura that is built around certain iconic dishes and fact that I became famous. It also created a different thought cuisines? process in my mind that we are AC: Absolutely. Food always comes with some history. Also you have to not the only ones who create remember that some dishes became magic in the kitchen – every homemaker does it, every day iconic in older times because back in their home. In three months then wars were not fought only with weapons. Kings and emperors would There are some things that you the contestants were able to try to undermine their peers with recreate the dishes that trained just can’t miss about Chef Ajay Chopra. Vinita Bhatia finds them chefs prepare in fully togged up the food cooked in their royal kitchkitchens. This means that they ens or the signature dishes of their out and introduces you to the have the right attitude towards khansaamas. man behind the chef. cooking, if not the correct For instance, the legend goes that aptitude, and that was quite a The first thing you can’t miss about Galouti Kabab came into being so Chef Ajay Chopra is his passion for learning for me too. that the aged emperor Bahadur Shah innovating iconic dishes. The second VB: Slow cooking is a technique that Zafar could enjoy a kabab despite is his penchant of calling a spade a is seeing a resurgence, especially in being toothless. This Galouti Kaspace, even though it has landIndian cuisine. What’s your take on bab was famed all over the Mughal ed him in many a soup (pun empire, and other princes and kings this method? completely intended). But it’s wanted to upstage it someway. AC: Actually slow cooking has his very fervor for the Indian cuisine that has made him trek always been the traditional way for A few years later, the King of Kakori to places like Rampur to unearth the cooking not merely in Indian cuiinvited Bahadur Shah Zafar for a sine, but the world over, because local cuisine there and replicate it in meal and instructed his khaansaama in olden times, people had limited The Westin Mumbai Garden City. to prepare a sheekh kabab as soft as resources to cook food. They used to And which also makes him separate the business of cooking from the joy of cook it on coals while now we cook a Galouti. And that’s how the Kakori Kabab came into being. creating food. Here he talks to Vinita on high pressured gases. But the only problem with Indian cuisine Bhatia about all things food, culture, was that we never had a method to trends, and a bit more. our madness. Recipes were family secrets and weren’t shared beyond Vinita Bhatia (VB): You started

Meet Chef Ajay Chopra

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KITCHEN KIN So you see, food always has an interesting story. All that’s needed is for someone to unearth it. Thankfully more chefs and people at large are going back to their roots and learning why their forefathers cooked the way they did and are trying to emulate their cooking techniques. Call it demystifying or rediscovering – but that’s the trend in food now. VB: A lot of restaurants are now roping in chefs from specific ethnic backgrounds to recreate the food from their respective regions. Do you think that these chefs can actually do justice to the cuisine? AC: Some hospitality establishments are hiring chefs from families that have always been renowned for cooking and helping them set up their signature restaurants. But this might not always work.

right amount or the right kind of masala, the dishes just did not turn out right. And our restaurant’s kitchens had several such masalas like pahadi, potli, hariyali, etc, which the consultant chefs had kept in packets, but no one knew its composition. So I started decoding the masalas and we started making our own masalas. The food at Kangan might not taste like what our erstwhile food consultants had created – but it tastes better! We cook with our heart and we tailor cook our food based on our guest’s preferences and that is what makes Kangan so popular.

VB: As a chef what appeals to you more – cooking new dishes and seeing the smile on a guest’s face or running a successful kitchen? AC: It’s a composite package because people do not go to a restauI don’t believe that a restaurant can rant only for food. If you get the work on the concept of two conbest food with terrible service would sulting chefs who are there today you go for it? So people want a great and gone tomorrow. A restaurant dining experience. So if a chef in is built on its foundation of food. contemporary times is confined to These consulting chefs might have his kitchen, he can never the expericome from families that cooked for ence because it is not in the bowl of the royals but they approach food as curry alone. Good food served in an business now. So they consult a hotel empty restaurant is not good food – on how to source the masala, train it’s a waste. the staff and plan the menu, because that’s part of their business. That’s where chefs have to move out of their kitchen and learn what their But we all know that most business guests really want to give them the do not run on ethics. So for inperfect dining experience. It’s when stance, they might get their masalas the chef comes to meet the guest and in, but will not reveal the recipe people are happy when the person of the masala thereby making the who has cooked their meal comes to restaurant’s management dependent their table and offers to change the on them. dish to their preference if they wish. That’s the experience I strive to offer It happened when I took over the to my guests. ■ reins of Kangan at The Westin Garden City Mumbai too. Our consultby Vinita Bhatia ing chefs had tied each recipe to a particular masala and without the CaLDRON December 2013

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KITCHEN KIN I spent a lovely afternoon a while back, with Chef Veena Arora of Spice Route at The Imperial. Her ethnicity (Indian) combined with the culture she was brought up amidst (Thai) gives her the perfect understanding of what appeals to the Indian diner from her vast repertoire of Thai cuisine. Here’s a little something so you can get to know Chef Arora a little better. Sid Khullar (SK): We heard you grew up in Thailand. What was that like? What sort of cultural perspective did it give you? Chef Veena Arora (VA): It was quite a wonderful phase of my life. Being part of the only Indian family in Phathalung in South of Thailand, we as a family never felt isolated, rather it was a very strong communal bonding which made us feel as if we are from Thai origin. The culture which greets with folded hands and bears similarity to Indian Namaskar made my childhood years incredibly amazing and I grew up in a close-knit family like atmosphere in Thailand. SK: How did you happen to visit India? VA: My dad is from India so we were sent to India to study to get better acquainted with Indian culture and traditions. Later I found my dream taking its form in India, when I started my career as a chef here.

hostile. This was essentially due to the fact that Chef industry in the earlier days didn’t have too many women chefs. But I found my foothold through my skills and knowledge and was determined to succeed in being a lady chef.

SK: What has been your experience with authentic Thai food and the SK: Considering you were in the Delhiite? opening team of Spice Route, what VA: In the beginning, 17 years back about the restaurant is undeniably, it was not a very satiating experi‘you’? ence as Thai food was not a popular VA: I am a Buddhist so being in the palate and guests were not quite environment of the restaurant brings aware of or fond of authentic Thai lot of peace and also gives me a feelcuisine. But with the changing travel ing of sitting in a Buddhist temple scenario, the liking for Thai cuisine as Spice Route has a calming effect has been tremendous in the capital. with it’s temple pillars and mural art. Understanding of flavours and Be sincere, believe in your inspices has seen a sea change. stincts, give your best shot and alWe at the Spice Route get a mixed profile of guests includ- ways speak your mind… the sky is ing domestic and international, yours - Chef Veena Arora’s advise who are not only ready to try to budding chefs. traditional offerings but are also keen to experiment with innovative creations. All this gives me the impetus to change my menus from time to time and come up with unique creations whilst maintaining original flavours.

SK: Today, seventeen years after opening Spice Route, what is your biggest challenge and biggest source of satisfaction? VA: My biggest challenge is to keep guests delighted and content every day. The biggest satisSK: Not having attended Culinary faction comes when I see some School, did you face challenges with of my guests enjoying meals at being credible to the hotel industry? Spice Route for years and still What were they? want to visit the restaurant each VA: Yes, definitely I faced lot of time they are around. challenges in my success path but with my intense passion for cooking SK: Being with the same restauand strong will power, I kept mov- rant for nearly two decades, ing even when the environment was how do you satisfy your creative CaLDRON December 2013

urges? VA: My creative urges find meaning in bringing out new menus, doing unique promotions and catering to global palate. Housing 6 different cuisines under one roof and each time bringing something new to the table satisfies me to the hilt.

Meet Chef Veena Arora

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PHOTO RELIEF

Grind your own beans for maximum satisfaction 30

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KITCHEN KIN SK: What were the adjustments you had to make to adapt to life in India? VA: Adjustments were primarily on the aspects of clothing, food, culture and traditions since I was born and brought up as a Thai national. But later on being a chef I could adapt to anything and everything while training my team consisting of people from various cultural backgrounds. It was a great learning too. SK: Have you developed a palate for north Indian food or do you prefer Thai food as a staple? VA: Definitely Thai SK: What advise would you have for budding chefs? VA: Be sincere, believe in your instincts, give your best shot and always speak your mind‌ the sky is yours. â–

by Sid Khullar

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PHOTO RELIEF

A Sausage, Egg and Toast breakfast, all-in-one! 32

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Lunch with Chef Dong Long at The China Kitchen, Hyatt Regency Understated interiors, a vast menu, a quiet chef and delicious food. What more could I have asked for?

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REVIEWS - DELHI/NCR I visited The China Kitchen at Hyatt Regency, New Delhi recently and met Chef Dong Long over lunch. A quiet, unassuming man who observes more than he speaks, Chef didn’t have to say much. His food did all the talking and I can tell you this, it was one of the finest Chinese meals I have ever eaten. Just like Chef, I’m going to let my photos do the talking. What I will say however, is that the simpler the recipe, the better the dish. Nearly every dish on our table that afternoon was as simple as possible, each dish speaking volumes about itself and its provenance.

Steamed Spinach with Mustard-Sesame Sauce This dish was stunning in its simplicity and depth of flavor, despite using less than a handful of ingredients. I now cook it regularly for visiting houseguests.

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Chicken Sui Mai While the dish itself is common, its execution certainly wasn’t. Perfectly steamed dumplings, stuffed with a firm mixture of subtly flavored minced chicken excellent.

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Ginseng Chicken Soup The simplest dishes satisfy the most. The subtle flavors of Ginseng came together beautifully with those of wild mushrooms and wolfberries in this classic and comforting chicken soup.

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Old Fashioned Peking Duck Old fashioned it certainly was, with crisp, juicy skin and served with the traditional range of accompaniments. Definitely one of Delhi’s best places for Peking Duck.

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Sichuan Poached Lamb Sliced lamb surrounded by fragrant oil and spicy enough to appeal to the traditional Indian palate, this dish was a perfect match for rice we ordered with it.

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Huonzhou-style Pork Braised pork belly is always delicious and always served in the simplest of sauces because it just doesn’t need much more, the scrumptious cut of meat that it is.

Steamed sea bass fillet, picked chili, Chinese wild mushroom and soy sauce

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REVIEWS - DELHI/NCR Chef Dong Long shared one of his recipes with us - Steamed Spinach with Mustard-Sesame Sauce. Not only is this dish exceedingly simple to make, but is low fat, nutritious and delicious to boot! Ingredients: • 3 ml Mustard oil • 10 ml Soya (light) • 8 ml Seasoning vinegar • 600 gm Spinach • 50 gm Sesame paste • 2 gm Breakfast Sugar Method: 1. Wash the spinach and steam it for 5 minutes ( or blanch it) , cut into even size. 2. Add water, sesame paste and mix well. Add sugar vinegar soya sauce and mustard oil 3. Arrange one layer of spinach and one layer of sauce. 4. Sprinkle roasted white sesame seeds on top.

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Chili Chicken I

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RECIPES Ingredients: • 2 pieces, Chicken breast, cut into 1” cubes • 1 large Green capsicum/bell pepper, diced • 1 large Onion, diced • ½ inch piece Ginger, paste of • 5 large cloves Garlic, paste of • 3 large cloves Garlic, minced • 7 Green chilies (per taste, grind half, slit half) • 2 + ½ tbsp Vinegar • ½ tsp Pepper powder • 2 tbsp + 1 tsp soy sauce

• • • • • • • • •

2 tbsp Chili sauce 2 tsp Ketchup 1 tsp Kashmiri red chili powder (optional) 1 Egg, beaten 2 ½ + 2 tbsp Corn flour Oil for deep frying 1/3 tsp Sugar Chopped sprigs of spring onions Pinch of red food colour (optional)

Method: 1. Mix pastes of ginger, garlic and chilies. 2. Marinate chicken with 2 tbsp vinegar, 1 tbsp soy sauce, paste from step #1 and pepper powder for 1 hour 3. Mix the beaten egg with 2½ tbsp corn flour and chicken pieces, once done marinating. 4. Heat oil in a deep pan and deep fry the coated chicken piees till golden brown. Drain with kitchen paper. 5. Mix 2 tbsp corn flour and 3/4 cup water and set aside. 6. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a heavy bottomed pan. Add the minced garlic and the slit green chilies. Fry for 2 minutes on a medium flame. Add onions with a pinch of salt and saute for another minute. Add the bell peppers and saute for a few seconds more. 7. Add all the sauces and ½ tbsp vinegar. Mix in the chicken. Add the salt, sugar and pepper powder. 8. Stir well. Add the reserved corn flour mixture from step #5 and mix well, so everything in the pan is coated with the sauce. 9. Simmer till the gravy is absorbed and the chicken cooked and shiny. - Recipe and Photography by Sayantini M.

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Chili Chicken II

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RECIPES Ingredients: • 500 gm Boneless Chicken 500 gms, diced • 1 tbsp Oil • 1.5 cups Onions, thinly sliced • 2 tsp Ginger and garlic, grated • 5 Green Chilies, chopped thin

• • • • •

1 large Capsicum/Bell pepper, thinly sliced 1 tbsp Cornflour 2 tbsp Soy sauce 1.5 tbsp Vinegar Salt to taste

Method: 1. Boil the chicken pieces in enough unsalted water to cover the pieces, till they lose their pinkish tint 2. Drain and transfer the pieces to a bowl. Reserve the liquid. 3. Marinate the chicken pieces with the soy sauce, vinegar and cornflour 4. Refrigerate overnight or at least for 6 hours. 5. To heated oil in a pan, add sliced onions, grated ginger and garlic and fry well. 6. Add capsicum, chopped green chilies and the marinated chicken pieces. 7. Stir fry on medium-high heat while scraping continuously till the chicken pieces turn darker brown. 8. Add the reserved liquid from Step #2 to the pan and cook till the liquid is nearly gone. 9. Serve hot with rice or noodles. - Recipe and Photography by Sarani Tarafder

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COVER FEATURE

The A, B, Cs of Chinese Cuisine Ranjini simplifies and clarifies Chinese cuisine for us. It’s hard to pare Chinese food down to a single morsel of deliciousness – not even the lumpia (a savory delicacy of Fujian origin, made of cooked vegetables wrapped in a papery rice outer skin, topped with crushed peanuts, usually served cold), possibly the most ubiquitous Chinese food item that’s also a celebratory one to boot – will do justice to the vastness and diversity of the cuisine. While the first thing to summon to mind at the very mention of Chinese food would likely be a localized variety in some nook and corner of the world – the cultural history of Chinese food is rich and has its foundation built on historical trends, among other factors. That said, the Chinese people have always eaten well and continue to do so. The most critical elements in Chinese cuisine are color, taste and smell, which in turn are divided into five main types. The five main colors are red, yellow, blue, 46

white and black. The five smells, represented by five spices, are: fennel, chilli, aniseed, clove and Chinese cinnamon – and they are meant to remove repulsive odors, including fishy, meaty or pungent ones, and pique the diner’s senses. The five tastes are sweet, bitter, salty, hot and sour. In the Lun Yu, or edited conversations of Confucius, this little excerpt outlines Confucius’ idea of ‘proper eating’: “His rice is not excessively refined, and his sliced meat is not cut excessively fine. Rice that has become putrid and sour, fish that has spoiled, and meat that has gone bad, he does not eat. Food that is discolored he does not eat, and food with a bad odor he does not eat. Undercooked foods he does not eat, and foods with a bad odor he does not eat. Meat that is improperly carved he does not eat, and if he does not obtain the proper sauce, he will not eat. CaLDRON December 2013


COVER FEATURE Though there is plenty of meat, he will not allow it to overcome the vitalizing power of the rice. Only in the case of wine does he not set a limit. But he never drinks to the point of becoming disorderly. Purchased wine or dried meat from the market he does not eat. He never dispenses with ginger when he eats. He does not eat to excess.” For an insight into what defines and delineates Chinese food, it would serve one well to go with the compartmentalisation that’s fairly well accepted. It is with good reason too that this eight piece breakdown leads one not only to the provincial flavours and tastes, but also to the long-standing culinary traditions of each. They are Anhui, Cantonese, Fujian, Hunan, Jiangsu, Shandong, Szechuan, and Zhejiang cuisines. Anhui: Anhui cuisine pertains to the culinary tradition of the Huangshan Mountains region in China, and includes the delicacies of South Anhui, Yanjiang and Huai Bei. Anhui food leans towards salty and spicy, and is mainly stewed or braised. It uses mushrooms, bam-

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boo and bayberries quite a bit, as also wild herbs grown in the region. Also characteristic of Anhui cuisine is its use of wild chickens and wild rabbits.

Tea took its place of prominence in Chinese culture sometime around 316 B.C.E., in the Sichuan province. Later, in the Tang Dynasty down south, Lu Yu wrote about tea in his famous book, Chajing, and catapulted its status to very important social beverage. The key focus in Anhui cooking is on the taste, color of dishes and the temperature to cook them. Ham is often added to certain dishes as an

enhancer as also sugar candy, for a wallop of freshness. Cantonese: While Cantonese cuisine is recognised today as one of the most popular regional cuisines of China, it took until the dawn of the Republican era. Volumes have been written about the Cantonese ‘pot,’ which, in Chinese, broadly refers to a boiler. But to the Cantonese, the pot is much more than just a cooking utensil, it is a reflection of how they eat. Dishes are meant to be served directly from the pot, like soups, porridges and gingery broths housing seafood. Chicken, beef, pork, snake, and snails are common meats in Cantonese cuisine, mostly steamed or stir fried. Shallow and deep frying is also favored in Cantonese cooking. Herbs, while not entirely taboo, are not at the core of Cantonese cooking, with the exception, possibly, of chives and coriander as garnishes. Fujian: Commonly known as the Eastern cuisine (south of Shanghai, for the geographically inclined), Fujian cooking is heavy on seafood,

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COVER FEATURE and a perfect melange of sweet, sour, salty and savoury, pretty much Hunan: Hunan foods are strongly in every dish. Fujian food is light flavored, with spicy fish pastes and and less greasy. spicy peppercorns, sour and salty (with the use of cured meat and Popular Fujian foods are soups like pickled vegetables) and rather oily. fish ball and Wangko crab, ribs with The cooking process is fairly elabosweet and sour sauce, and popular rate and complicated even, with ceringredients are pressed curd of bean, tain recipes calling for ingredients to be double fried or triple cooked.

The most common Eightthe Book of Songs are: phoenix’s marrow, leopard’s foetus, dragon’s liver, carp’s tail, roasted osprey meat, yellow weasel’s lip, crispy cicada and bear’s paw.

leeks, pears, crystal fruit, tea, soy sauce, red wine lees (dregs of rice used at the bottom of wine barrels) and soy milk.

Typical Hunan delicacies include steamed pigeon eggs, fried eel, spiced beef, stuffed spareribs, and pickle with minced pork.

Jiangsu cooking are crab shell meatballs – essentially pork meatballs in crab shells, salted dried duck, and Farewell My Concubine (soft-shelled turtle stewed with many other ingredients such as chicken, mushrooms and wine). Shandong: Characterized by the use of ginger and garlic, Shandong food is pungent, fresh and tender. Soups are a major part of Shandong cuisine and other foods are non greasy.

Main ingredients in Shandong cuisine are clams, squid, scallops, Jiangsu: In Jiangsu cuisine, one can cabbage, eggplant, corn, mushroom and vinegar. Some popular dishes often see local freshwater catches cooked in roasted, stir-fried, include braised abalone, calamus in deep-fried or simply braised form. milk soup, stewed chicken and sweet Cooking techniques concentrate on and sour carp. keeping the texture, especially that Szechuan: Possibly the main highof meats, soft, but not to the point light of Szechuan cooking is the of falling apart, and on bringing almost merciless use of chili pepout the sweetness and freshness of pers, particularly brown Sichuan ingredients. The focus is also on seasonal produce. peppers. Also, Szechuan food is salty and sour particularly because of the Common ingredients include mush- liberal use of vinegar. Fish sauce is rooms, fish, crab, tofu, tea leaves and also a common ingredient. pea leaves, bamboo shoots, pears Some regular Szechuan dishes and dates. Some popular eats in

The amount of grain (staple food) or ‘fan’ an average Chinese person consumes makes about 90% of their diet. ‘Fan’ also means meal. It is part of the greeting, ‘chifan,’ to say hello, even though a literal translation would be, “Have you eaten?” Food and cooking were at the core of early Chinese culture. The most critical task for the rulers was ‘shih’ or providing food to the people. ‘Shih’ meant a variety of things, like to feed, to eat and to drink. It also meant good grains, which exemplifies that grain was always an important part of the Chinese diet. So important, in fact, that rulers had custom made bronze canisters to store grains and alcoholic beverages made from the grains. Also, the rulers were buried with them. 48

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COVER FEATURE include hot and sour soup, diced chicken with chili sauce, dan dan noodles (spicy, greasy noodles with minced pork and a dusting of chili bits), kung pao chicken with lots of chili peppers, ribs wrapped in lotus leaves.

subtle tastes.

Zhejiang: With roots in the cities of Hangzhou, Shaoxing and Ningpo, Zhejiang cuisine primarily consists of seafood, bamboo shoots and tea, including tea-soaked dishes. Zhejiang food is fragrant and flavourful, with emphasis on freshness and

Now that the eight styles of cooking have been, if briefly, laid on the table, one might wonder what to take away from them. Especially since the world is inundated with all kinds of doctored and fusion-stylised Chinese food, like American, Singaporean, and of course, Indian.

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streams effortlessly into those pockets that serve Chinese food, Some prominent Zhejiang dishes across the world: knives, to begin include shrimp with Longjing tea, with, have no business on the table, oyster soup, and Westlake soup with and the silverware is mainly comwatershield (a slimy vegetable grown prised of bowls, chopsticks and soup in Westlake). spoons. Coming to the inevitable, cooking techniques, the most significant and commonly employed cooking techniques in Chinese cuisine are:

Steaming (zheng) – Typically done by placing the prepared ingredients in a steamer, to tap into the steam coming off the boiling water to cook Still, one cannot turn away from the efficiently and in a way that prebasic forms and ways of Chinese serves nutrients in the ingredients. cooking, starting with staples like rice (one of the earliest domestiStewing in soy sauce (lu) – Raw cated crops of the Southern China ingredients added to a pot of water province) and conjee, right up to along with soy sauce, wine, salt and the more universally acclaimed sugar, and a muslin bag filled with stir-fried noodles with vegetables select spices dunked into this pot. and the tangy, spicy, hot, sweet Once the sauce is fragrant, meats are sauce-doused meats. Of course, it steeped in the gravy and cooked on is a well-known fact that the sauces a low flame. could be anything ranging from soy, vinegar or fish-based mixtures. Nor Double-boiling (dun) – Ingredients can we forget the beer and rice wine, placed in a stewing container, which with which the Chinese wash their is in turn placed in a steamer, with food down. Also, we mustn’t forget its cover closed at all times. the one food that the Chinese have Baking + Stewing (wei) – Ingredibeen consuming for ages, primarily ents immersed in a broth and baked for longevity, is porridge, or conjee. in a ceramic vessel. A thin, light porridge made from the starch of grain is typically had in Decocting (ao) – A slow cooking the morning. Carrot porridge, they process that enables extraction of say, prevents high blood pressure. nutrients into the base liquid. Used Vegetable and wild herbs porridge is especially in medicine and herbologood for those accustomed to excess gy with the intention of using only meat intake, to amp up essential the decocted brew. vitamins and protect kidneys. Mushroom and bean-based porridges Smoking (xun) – Cook directly over are good for digestion and rich in smoke – typically sugar or tea-based. nutrients. Baking or roasting (kao) – Convection cooking with hot air or broiling Furthermore, the general dining in a closed space. etiquette that the Chinese follow 49


COVER FEATURE Deep frying (zha) – The process of immersion cooking in hot oil or other fats.

chopsticks came about during the rule of the Western Zhou Dynasty (1100 BC – 771 BC), and lacquer chopsticks in the Western Han Pan frying (jian) – Cook in a pan (206 BC – 24 AD) were discovered with very little oil and allow the in Mawangdui, China. Gold and food to brown up. silver chopsticks became popular in the Tang Dynasty (618 – 907), and Stir frying (bao) – Cook with lots of legend has it that silver chopsticks hot oil in a big wok and toss the in- could detect poisons in food. gredients on high heat until tender. And coming back to where we startDressing (ban) – Toss raw or unfla- ed, Confuciusianism had its impact vored cooked ingredients with select on how Chinese food was prepared seasonings and serve soon after. and presented, served and shared, while Daoism dealt with how it afMarinating (yan) – Steep ingredi- fected the body, kept diseases at bay, ents in soy sauce or soy paste and and contributed to longevity. salt prior to cooking. As all good things should come to Cooking of course requires implean end, here’s a sweet note to tie ments and utensils. The wok is quite together our sojourn through one of possibly the most important utensil the most popular and favored cuiused in Chinese cooking. Right from sines. Little fuss is made over desthe Han dynasty to the present day, serts in Chinese cuisine, but when iron woks have been used extenit is, it is generally less sweet than sively for stir-frying, deep-frying, Western desserts. That being said, roasting, sautéing. Woks come in both the steamed and sticky, ricetwo varieties: flat-bottomed and based Gao as well as the deep fried round-bottomed. Mantou buns have their takers, and Some other important tools that are so do the various bean-paste sweets. used in Chinese cooking are: a wok spatula, a cleaver, wooden chopping As the Chinese say, “Eat the whole board, sieved ladle to strain out thing,” whether or not it’s Peking oils or moisture, claypot to prepare Duck – where the skin is relished stews, and a bamboo steamer, and wrapped in pancakes with plum last but certainly not the least, long sauce; the meat diced, fried and eatchopsticks that could be used as en in lettuce-wraps; and the bones ladles or to eat with. used in a soup broth to end the meal with. ■ Speaking of chopsticks, or ‘kuaizi,’ according to the Liji (The Book of Rites) chopsticks were used as early as the Shang Dynasty (1600 BC – 1100 BC). Going by experts, wood by Ranjini Rao or bamboo chopsticks can be dated to about 1,000 years earlier than ivory chopsticks, which manifested in 1100 BC, during the reign of Zhou, the last Shang Dynasty king. Bronze 50

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5 che er Sjs graph o t o Ph

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Chinese Teas You didn’t know Of

Golden Dian Hong is fairly recent tea that first started production in the first quarter of the 20th century, its name being derived from ‘Diān’ (an abbreviated name for the Yunnan region) and ‘hóng’, which means ‘red’ (tea), with ‘Yunnan red/black’ being acceptable monikers for the variety’. A black tea that is considered to be a fairly high-end tea that is occasionally blended with other teas as well, the primary difference between other Chinese dark teas and Dianhong is the number of leaf buds, the tip of the tea plant, present in this tea. The name ‘Golden Dianhong’ comes from this distinction as those leaf buds are also known as ‘golden tips’. Dianhong is typically fermented with longan, rose and lychee, producing a light copper colored brew that exudes a mild, sweet aroma without any astringency, with low-cost variants resulting in darker brews, leaning towards the brownish in color and possibly bitter.

Gunpowder tea gets its name from the small, round pellets that the tea is rolled into, the cheaper teas by machine and the highest grades, by hand. Produced in the Zhejiang province, this rolling method is usually applied to green or oolong tea and is meant to help the tea retain its flavor and aroma for longer durations of time, besides making the physical tea hardier than usual, to survive the long rides export markets. If you’re buying Gunpowder tea, remember to take a good look at the pellets. Smaller pellets are usually indicative of higher quality tea with the degree of shininess relating to the freshness of the tea - the shinier the better. The three primary varieties of Gunpowder tea are Pingshui (original and most available, larger pellets, better color, more aroma), Formosa (grown in Taiwan, its own peculiar aroma, usually fresh or roasted oolong) and Ceylon (grown in Sri Lanka). CaLDRON December 2013

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Pu’er tea or Pu-erh, as it is also known as is a dark tea produced in the Yunnan province, that also undergoes fermentation as of it’s treatments. In this method of tea production, first the tea is dried and rolled, and then subjected to microbial fermentation and oxidation, a Chinese specialty, where the output teas are classified as ‘Hei Cha’, that can be translated as ‘dark/black tea’. Note that what the West calls dark/black tea, which is the completely dried version of tea and most oxidised is called ‘red tea’ in China and different from the Chinese version of ‘black tea’. Pu’er tea is the most well known variety of tea in this category and is named for the place where dark tea was traded hundreds of years ago.

u ansh Hem r e h ograp Phot

Shoumei is a white, fourth-grade tea, being a by product of Bai Hao Yinzhen tea that uses Da Bai or ‘large white’ leaves. The primary constituent of this tea are the upper leaves and tips that have naturally withered, which results in a flavor that’s stronger than that usually found in white teas and which will remind the experienced tea drinker of lighter varieties of Oolong teas. Due to this tea being separated from the bush later than Bai Mudan, the final leaves can be darker than usual in color though still retaining shades of green. Contrary to Golden Dianhong, where the gold color is characteristic of the tea, the presence of gold alongside black and red leaves indicates a lower quality Shoumei tea.

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Da Hong Pao tea is the most premium and prestigious tea in China and also the most expensive in the world. Discovered when a cluster of bushes cured the mother of a Ming Dynasty Emperor, this variety of Oolong tea costs up to 1,250,000 (one point two five million) US dollars. As a matter of fact, three of the four original bushes, which were draped in rich, red cloaks by a grateful Emperor, still survive today on Mount Wuyi and are the subject of much veneration. Based on the original legend of a peasant farmer who reached enlightenment, drinking 10 re-steeps of this tea is believe to increase the wisdom of the drinker as well as impart a glowing blue aura. by Sid Khullar

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Chinese Cuisines

Hunan/Xiang Cuisine

pumpkin cake Characteristics: Chili-hot, high flavors, seasonal menus Typical ingrediwith over 4000 dishes ents: Varied, due to inherently Cooking techagriculturniques: Stewing, al nature frying, pot-roasting, of the braising, smoking region Notable dishes: Beer duck, stinky tofu, dry-wok chicken, stir-fried duck blood, pearly meatballs,

You didn’t know Of Anhui Cuisine

Characteristics: Herbs from land and Notable dishes: Luzhou Roast Duck, sea, simple methods of preparation, most- Sanhe Shrimp Paste, Egg Dumplings ly fresh ingredients Typical ingredients: Seafood, bean curd, Cooking techniques: Braising & Stewing poultry, vegetables, pork, eggs, rice, rice (rare or no frying) flour, flour, leeks, soy sauce

Hunan cured ham with pickled yardlong beans

Fujian Cuisine

Fujian thick soup, or geng

Cooking techniques: Braising Stewing, Typical ingredients: Fish, shellfish, turSteaming, Boiling tles, mushrooms, bamboo shoot, peanuts, Notable dishes: Buddha jumps over the crab

Szechuan Cuisine Characteristics: Pungent, intense flavors

Notable dishes: Kung Pao Chicken, tea smoked duck, Fuqi feipian, dan dan noodles

Cooking techniques: Smoking, pickling, salting, drying, stir frying, frying/deep frying, stewing Typical ingredients: Beef, poultry, offal, Sichuan peppers, garlic, star anise CaLDRON December 2013

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Spicy deep fried chicken - Szechuan cuisine

Characteristics: Flavorful, light, soft and wall, Popiah, Ban mian, Fragrant snails tender, emphasis on meaty flavors/umami in wine


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Jiangsu Cuisine Characteristics: Balanced, Soft, (not mushy), seasonal ingredients, emphasis of visual appeal and the use of soup

Notable dishes: Braised spare ribs, fried gluten balls, fish omelettes Typical ingredients: Fish, pork, eggs, seafood

Cooking techniques: Braising, frying, stewing, slow cooking

Steamed xiaolongbao

Zhejiang Cuisine Characteristics: Nongreasy, mellow, fragrant, soft Cooking techniques: Frying, stewing, braising

pork, west lake fish in vinegar, beggar’s chicken Typical ingredients: Bamboo shoots, poultry, seafood, freshwater fish, livestock

Notable dishes: Dongpo

Cantonese Cuisine Characteristics: Balanced, non-greasy, fresh ingredients, subtle flavors, low chili-heat Cooking techniques: Blanching, frying/deep frying/stir frying, slow cooking, roasting Notable dishes:

Steamed eggs, steamed spare ribs, sweet & sour pork, deep fried pigeon, winter melon soup, chow mein Typical ingredients: Poultry, pork, beef, seafood, offal, vegetables

Shandong Cuisine Characteristics: Light seafood, inclusion of soup, huge array of seafood, use of corn & peanut, excellent vinegars

cicada, corn, peanuts, seafood

Cooking techniques: Stir-frying, deep frying, high heat, braising Notable dishes: Stir fried pig’s kidney, pig’s large intestine, sweet potato with caramelised sugar, deep fried cicada Typical ingredients: Potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant, bell peppers, cabbage, pork, offal,

Braised spare ribs with gluten

by Sid Khullar Siu mei platter, including roast pork, roast goose, smoked ham, white cut chicken, and jellyfish CaLDRON December 2013

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Dongpo Pork, Zhejiang cuisine


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Chinese Desserts You didn’t know Of

While we’re largely served the same boring bunch of desserts regardless of the restaurant we visit, 5-star authentic or downtown Punjabi-Chinese, the Chinese have a good thing going, even in the desserts section. Chinese desserts can be roughly classified into 6 categories: • Bing, usually baked, wheat-flour based, they include parallels from different cultures including Indian, French and Italian items such as rotis, galettes, crepes and pizzas. Bing are a casual-eating food category, but sometimes included in formal meal settings too. The same category exists in Korean cuisine too. • Candies, usually made with cane sugar, malt sugar and honey • Gio, made with glutinous or normal rice • Ices, made with shaved rice and served with sweet condiments and syrups • Jellies, use gelatin based jellies, grass jelly, agar-agar, and aiyu jelly • Soups, consist of mostly hot soups and custards, some of them with healing properties Below, you’ll find a few varieties of desserts that we wish restaurants in India would begin serving up.

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A batch of Chhu-khak-ke in a steamer. It mainly uses glutinous rice flour, sugar, ground cooked paste of Gnaphalium affine.


Red Tortoise Cake, usually made with glutinous rice flour.

Sweet (right) and savory versions of Shaobing.

Zaotang and Tanggua candies - usually used ceremonially. CaLDRON December 2013

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Mooncake - usually comprised of an outer shell and a stuffing


Memories of Hong Kong It was time for my periodic pilgrimage when I head towards food and destinations oriental. This year, the plan was to visit one of my favorite destinations, Hong Kong and it certainly didn’t hurt that college roomie appeared to be nicely settled in a plush area of the city. My room and board budget could therefore be spent on the finer things of life - good food and drink. I also decided to, for the first time in a very long time, photograph and share as much as possible on this trip. So here goes!

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Natasha shares her experience of Hong Kong, which by any measure appears to be a city for foodies.

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A darling little cart filled to the brim with the most enticing vegetables. Doesn’t it look lovely?

Soup Filled Dumplings

Soupy dumplings are always delicious, bursting with hot, delicious soup within. These dumplings tasted awesome with the different, bright colors representing different fillings. 62

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Vietnamese Pho

I picked this from a Dim Sum cart full of the most scrumptious goodies pork, water chestnuts and leeks encased in soft and sticky wrappers, drenched in light soya sauce.

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Rice and Chicken in Bamboo

An all-in-one dish, this dish was a portion of rice, topped with a spicy and delicious gravied chicken, sprinkled with crisp, fresh spring onion stalks and served in a thick stalk of bamboo. 64

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This meat shop had every part of every animal I could think of and some things I didn’t!

The soupy dumplings a moment before I popped them into my mouth. :) CaLDRON December 2013

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A Japanese Hot Pot meal, with beef, carrots, kimchi, sticky rice, peas and corn

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Ginger scented prawn stuffed dumplings.

Snow white and incredibly soft Bao stuffed with soy and spring onion flavored pork. Yum!

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A ridiculously delicious savory crepe from a Frenchman run joint called La Creperie. This one had a whole egg, sunny side up, shiitake mushrooms, chopped parsley, lettuce and a flavored Bechamel sauce. 68

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Fried street food at it’s decadent best, usually picked up by commuters on their way home.

A whole roast Thai-style chicken

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A jumbo portion of Phad Thai noodles with lots of green lime for my lunch.

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Korean Sweet and Sour Pork in a takeaway bowl, for a quick lunch.

Tapioca Fritters CaLDRON December 2013

Pork Buns

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The best egg-noodles I have ever laid eyes upon!

More crepes

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Dessert Crepe with Toblerone

Thai Coconut Custard served in leaf cups.

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Different meats and vegetables being braised in a small street eatery, ready to be ordered.

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EVENTS - DELHI

Party In The Heavens – Suryaa Sky Lounge Opening Jaswinder enjoyed opening night at the newest open air lounge in Delhi and compliments the range of food and drink on offer at Sampan. The Delhi skyline is nothing less when compared to any other place on earth, especially at night. Still, for some inexplicable reason, the authorities are wary of giving operatingl licenses to restaurants with open terraces. It can’t be the logistics involved in operating open terrace lounge spaces that intimidates the authorities for sure; it’s not supposed to be their problem. There have been a few places in the city with open terrace seating for patrons; one after another, a lot of them have closed off such spaces. So obviously, it was a pleasant surprise to hear that Suryaa Hotel in New Friends Colony was opening up the terrace of Sampan (spelled Sam-Pan, as in Uncle Sam and frying pan) to patrons. Sampan has been a place of intrigue for me. Suryaa is known

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to specialize in weddings for the upwardly mobile gentry of Delhi, but its restaurant has still made a name for itself with the range of its menu. Getting oriental salads, sushi, sashimi, tempura, Thai, Chinese, soups – all in one menu and getting it right to quite a degree is bound to be a massive effort and by no means a small achievement. However, it is items like Sarojini Nagar Momo and Gobhi Manchurian – that provide the twist of taste. The wine and alcobev menu features some of the best names and cocktail recipes. I won’t be able to comment on the cocktails, that’s a no-fly zone for me – but in the whiskeys and wines department, Sampan is pretty much sorted. Ranging from the very affordable and palatable Indian produce to the very expensive im-

ported wines – some of which in my opinion are just for showing off, the menu has something for everyone who wishes to unwind after a long day in the bustle of the city. Post recently concluded renovations and opening the terrace for patrons, the one thing that will make a real difference will be the food and drink. From what I experienced on opening night, the magnificent view of the city skyline from the large windows of the rooftop restaurant and the terrace is well complemented by the food and the plans to have an open-counter barbeque during the winters entices me to visit again. Honestly, I wouldn’t mind spending approximately INR 5000 for a meal for two at Sampan, hoping that it’ll still be worth it. ■ by Jaswinder Singh

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EVENTS - BANGALORE

Grape Crushing, Wine Tasting, Feasting Natasha had a lot of fun at the Grape Crushing and Wine Pairing with Kebab Tasting afternoon at Taj West End and says its a great group event for a special occasion! In my last job, I had the misfortune of working the dreaded half-day Saturday. Waste of time and energy, and I had to miss some events as a result too. However, when an invitation to attend a Grape Crushing, followed by wine pairing and kebab tasting luncheon at Taj West End arrived, I decided it was a most worthy cause to take a day off. And so, along with a dear friend to join in the festivities, and wearing my best wino tee, off we went that Saturday. The event began at the Tulip Gazebo, a gorgeous space with little

fountains and statuary that had been set up with barrels and wine and nibbles, streamers of fake bunches of grapes adorning the structure. The cool waters of the pool nearby, and a general atmosphere of serenity and luxury pervading, we helped ourselves to glasses of bubbly and waited our turn to enter the tub where fresh, chilled grapes were poured in as participants crushed and mushed them. This turned out to be super fun and I think quite a few of us would have liked to stay in there a lot longer than etiquette demanded. We did not get dirty as

such, but there was a room provided where one could change/wash up (I felt like I’d had a lovely wine pedicure when I got out of the tub – spa owners take note). The cold grapes underfoot on a hot day, the abandon that came with letting go and just stomp-stomp-stomping away. We then made our way to the signature Indian restaurant at the West End, Masala Klub. Two large tables had been set up on the patio for the guests of the event, and a profusion of wine glasses sparkled and beckoned. Now, I am generally lukewarm at the prospect of an Indian meal, but was I wrong this time! This was fusion food at its best; Executive Chef Sandip Narang and his team created a contemporary and totally delicious spread, with each course bringing wonderful flavors and fun elements on the plate. There were veg and non veg versions of the 3 course tasting menu; we of course went with the latter, each course accompanied by a Grover’s wine. After a nimboo pani granita, the first course appeared: sowa lahsooni jhinga and lal mirch aur ajwain ka seabass, served with moong dal and mini onion kulcha, and

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EVENTS - BANGALORE accompanied by Grover’s Sauvignon ver’s La Reserve Carbernet SauviBlanc. The palate cleanser that came next was cool in every sense of the word: tamarind sorbet served in a bowl with dry ice on the inside and holes, so that the vapors escaped, creating chilled wisps of smoke. We all oohed and aahed and clicked away, before enjoying the tangy sorbet. Grover’s Cabernet Shiraz was the second wine, and to eat we had a succulent methi aur safed mirch ka murgh and dal makhani and olive naan (this was possibly my favorite item of the day – olive in a naan!). Every morsel we ate was divine and the third course of lamb chops from the tandoor, with a lotus stem and water chestnut sabzi and a superb ultatawa paratha was no different (the accompanying wine was Gro-

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... chilled grapes were poured in as participants crushed and mushed them.

gnon & Cabernet Shiraz). Dessert was another lovely plate: rasmalai cheese cake with anjeer ka halwa. I have always been wary of cheesecake+Indian dessert combos, but this rasmalai cheese cake worked very well, and was served lightly chilled.

I think it would make a splendid event for a bridal shower, special birthday or anniversary, reunion, etc. Make sure to call the hotel to book at least 8 days in advance (INR 6000++/person, group size 25 or more) , and get ready for a crushing good time! ■

Text by Natasha Ali Photos by Neha Mathur

Now, this afternoon of grapes, wine and kebabs is something that the Taj will be offering as a package for interested private groups.

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When Gary Mehigan Cooks Lunch!

– the jolly, amiable chef who lights up your TV screen, questioning amateur chefs on whether they have tossed the perfect chicken salad, or putting them through the paces under the strain of a ticking clock. Yes, he’s one of the famous trio that foodies the world over will know, probably better than who the current president of their country is. Yes, he’s Chef Gary Mehigan, better known as one of the three judges on the MasterChef Australia TV series. This British born, Australia-based chef held a select gathering at the Grand Hyatt in Mumbai enthralled, as he took them through a special Master Class. And we have the Australian Tourism and Major Events Minister, Louise Asher, to thank 82

conscious country like India. When we read what was up for desserts, we felt an inkling of trepidation. Who wouldn’t, when they are told that they would now be eating Warm Tuscan Chocolate Cake with Milk Chocolate Mousse, Salty Caramel, Oat Biscuit and Olive Oil Ice-Cream? But you know what they say about looks being deceptive? Well, this was one time when what was mentioned on the menu hardly did justice to the unusual olive oil icecream, the dense cake and the velvety slick mousse. The last part of the meal was probably the only time when people in the room paid more attention to their plates rather than the chef before them.

It was a meal to remember, made all the more memorable because of the beautiful plating. It was simple, intricate and enticing – all in equal measure. In fact, it was crafted like a dream on a plate. And what made the luncheon all the more special was the self-effacing demeanor of Chef Gary Mehigan, which belied his celebrity status. The good chef In between talking about his exdid mention that he would like to periences as a MasterChef judge return to India soon. And we too and also as a hatted chef who runs would like to see more of him – Maribyrnong Boathouse in Melbourne, Chef Gary then proceeded preferably behind a kitchen counter banging out exotic dishes for enthuto create a Salad of new season asparagus with boiled eggs and goat siasts like us. ■ curd with Green Olive Tapenade as well as Roasted chicken breast with baby carrots, hazelnuts and jus gras. If you think that reads exotic, let us say that this authentic Victorian food tasted even more so. Of course, we would have much preferred that he had treated us to the venison or veal, like he keeps urging the contestants on MasterChef to whip up. But then again, we could not fault his logic that he did not want to pull any by Vinita Bhatia culinary faux pas while in a dietary CaLDRON December 2013


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Cookfest with Rishi Desai When this Kolhapur boy made it to the finals week of MasterChef Australia’s Season 5, Indian food lovers could not suppress their grins. After all, Rishi Desai had made the country proud. He was recently invited by Sofitel Mumbai BKC to cook for their hotel guests and select media people, and managed to bowl them over with his creative take on traditional dishes. Gary Mehigan called him the creative bloke who turns Indian food upside down. Matt Preston regularly commented about his well-maintained physique and even called him Muscle Man. And George Calombaris believes that he has the steel and the smarts to open his own restaurant, a dream that the 35-year home cook harbors. Yes, we are talking about the charming, smiling

Soup’. Be that as it may, Rishi has taken his ouster in stride. And these days he is busy juggling his job for IP Australia in Canberra, playing the doting father to his 7-year old son That Rishi was a much-liked contes- and also managing various culinary tant on the TV show is evident from promotion events. the fact that when he was eliminated He was in Mumbai in November in the finals week, his fans took to social media saying that the judges 2013, on a promotional tour for the were too harsh on his ‘Spiced Mussel upcoming ‘Celebrate Australia festival’. And he showcased his culinary skills at Pondichery Café in Sofitel Mumbai BKC to a select audience comprising the hotel’s guests and mediapersons. Rishi Desai, the chap from Kolhapur who gave traditional Indian food an avante garde twist on the popular MasterChef Australia Season 5.

Those who would have followed MasterChef Australia diligently would have noticed that Rishi has always made his respect for Heston Blumenthal wellknown. Like his idol, he too believes that food is not meant to be savored by one taste organ – it should be a celebration for all our five senses. “Gastronomy is one of the key attributes of the Sofitel brand and that is 84

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why I am delighted to be showcasing my creations from MasterChef Australia its all-day dining café,” he said. Rishi cooked his now infamous ‘Curried Mussel Soup’ with Baguette, ‘Karnataka Risotto’, ‘Indian-inspired Lamb Burgundy’ as well as ‘Potato-Cauliflower Gratin’ for the guests and also explained his approach towards gourmetising conventional Indian cuisine. He reminisced about taking recipes from his Pune-based mother who runs a spices shop and then tweaking it to make it more novel and innovative.

Cooking, he said, is something that one should do from the heart and one should never be afraid to experiment with ingredients while doing it. Rishi also spoke to the guests after the cooking demonstration, answering their various queries about the dishes he had cooked and how he had given the recipes a noveau twist. Some of them were hopeful that his dishes would become a regular feature of the Pondicherry Café buffet.

He might have lost out in MasterChef Australia, but the ever-smiling soft spoken home cook sure managed to charm a lot of people – not just those who watched him on the show, but also those you watched him cook at Sofitel Mumbai BKC. ■

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On the sidelines of the event, Rishi spoke to Vinita Bhatia about what cooking means to him and how MasterChef Australia has impacted his life: Vinita Bhatia (VB): You are visiting India after many years. How attached are you to the country? Rishi Desai (RD): A visit to India is always great because it is like coming back to my home and my roots. This time I am back after almost 8 years, that too for just a week, and it has primarily been a very busy tour around the country. I visited New Delhi, Mumbai and Pune. India, of course, needs a lot more time than just a week, especially now when so much has changed in the country. So I look forward to coming back soon with more time to spare. India is my roots and Australia is home now. I especially enjoyed my stay at Sofitel Mumbai BKC because I had heard a lot about this luxurious hotel room in Sydney too. I also found Sofitel's collection of restaurants and bars to be a gastronomic delight and thank them for giving me the opportunity to showcase my skills to their guests. VB: You chose some very traditional Indian dishes during your cooking demo and then changed it entirely. RD: It might appear that the selection of my dishes at the demo at Pondicherry CafÊ was impromptu, but that was not the case. Gastronomy and wine are Sofitel’s brand pillars, so my cooking was well planned with them. Besides I wanted to showcase my top recipes that I stirred during the Masterchef Australia show. Since all recipes have Indian origin, what better place than to showcase in my own hometown. And if the responses of the guests who were present is anything to go by, it seems they loved it. CaLDRON December 2013

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A Weekend at The Westin Pune

The Westin in Pune, besides being ridiculously close to the Airport, is a great place to stay at and home to three lovely restaurants. I visited The Westin at Koregaon Park, Pune last month for a very interesting wine event, that literally crowdsourced the wine menus at the Westin’s restaurants, while also exposing Indian vineyards to the local population and media at large. Having made the trip, it made sense to pay a little attention elsewhere too, and bring you a report on the stay, food and service at this property. It started at the airport. While a prompt pick up isn’t unheard of, a CaLDRON December 2013

twelve and a half minute drive to the hotel largely is. The Westin, Pune is just five kilometres from the airport and a scant ten to fifteen minute ride by car. Arriving, I checked into an Executive Club Room, of which they have seventy three on the fourth floor. With an awesome view outside, complimentary Internet and access to the Executive Club Lounge, this was a nice room to be in. This property has three types of rooms – Deluxe, Executive Club and Club Suites plus a Presidential Suite, that

I was told has been booked by one gent for the entire year. Obviously, one of us counts his money and the other weighs it. Click here to learn more about the different types of rooms at the Westin, Pune. Quite conveniently, I received two room key cards, one to enter and exit and the other to share or to keep the room power on to charge devices etcetera. Radio frequency cards would have been more convenient than those relying on a magnetic 89


strip though I’m still thankful for For those of you who understand the luxury of fully charged devices photography, yes, this one was when out of town. tough because of the overwhelming light coming in from the front The room was well appointed and no, this photo doesn’t use though I’ll never get used to the HDR. My learning for this shot transparent bathroom wall. A large was how to remove unwanted tints enough TV, bottled water, well from glass. To the left is Prego, the stocked mini bar that was quite speciality Italian restaurant and to low on snacks with no sugar-free/ the right are Kangan, the speciality diabetic/healthy options et. al. Indian restaurant, Seasonal Tastes Similarly, the bathroom was well for all day dining plus the buffet maintained and stocked with some breakfasts, lunches and dinners delightfully flavored lotions and and Mix@36, the bar. Both spesoaps, with more bottled water. My ciality restaurants only open for favorites in this room – the lotions dinner – 18:30 – 00:00. etc in the bathroom and the beds. I have a sensitive back and if the We’ll start with Prego as that’s beds aren’t right, I usually end up where I first ate. Apart from being with a sore back the next morning open for daily dinners, Prego is that lasts for a week, sometimes also home to a delightful Sunday up to a month. The beds here were Brunch. The restaurant is huge, soft and supportive, leaving me with live kitchens lining the left perfectly sprightly the next morn- almost all the way to the end. ing. The pillows too belonged to Being a Sunday Brunch, the crowd the baby bear (neither too hard, was lively, the atmosphere friendly nor too soft) leaving Goldilocks (a and garrulous and food and drink black haired, 115 kilo male verin plenty. What made this brunch sion) perfectly happy. stand out from others I’ve been to was the number of permanent live After a brief delay, awaiting my counters that normally cater to a baggage, it was time for lunch, speciality Italian restaurant and Sunday Brunch to be precise, land- were therefore primed for much ed as we had just in time for this higher quality than the makeshift weekly treat. live counters most brunches work with. Also, the food was all Italian, The restaurants at the Westin, Pune which could work both ways. We are located on the second floor, the sometimes want a mish-mash of lobby on the first and the gardens cultures in our brunches and at on the ground. This property also others are at home focusing on a displays a marked preference for single culture. Different types of art of every sort. This, going by my seating is available at Prego, every general liking for the way it’s been seat within a few steps of a food built, greatly enhances the property counter on the right and a lovely itself, the art too being enhanced view with bright natural natural by the vast open spaces the Westin light via a glass wall on the left. sports. The picture below, is of In the picture you can see what I what I saw when I left the elevator mean, as well as observe Chef on the second floor and turned left – an illustration of what I mean. 90

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Anurudh Khanna, who used to be with The Park in Delhi, keeping a watchful eye on things. The first counter you pass on your left is Bread and Pizza. Complete with a wood fired oven, this counter is responsible for the wonderful aroma that knocked me back a step or two when I entered Prego. Doesn’t good bread always do that? This counter also dishes out a bunch of related stuffed-pastry and some derivative products like those inset in the photo above. Everything was fresh and a perfect match for the soup counter opposite. Serving from a large pot of Minestrone, the quintessential Italian soup, the soup counter had a bunch of very color-

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ful large-ish bowls (I’m a little tired of the little white ones most hotels insist on sticking with) alongside a bunch of toppings that included, and I breathed a vote of thanks to any number of divine beings, freshly made pesto. When was the last time

ence people find when they make the switch over from bottled garlic paste to fresh garlic.

The sides too were a little different from other brunches. I didn’t photograph these, but Chef Khanna’s been busy charming vegetable growers, The bottled stuff is, with the result that he now has a constant supply of baby carrots, and I don’t say this which is nice and zucchini flowers, lightly, crap. which is wonderful. He also receives Hadga, an ayurvedic flower that has a wonderful effect as a flavor enyou had freshly made pesto? If it’s been a while, go make some. It’s easy hancer. A pile of parma ham (literally) and chorizo among other cold to make, but you do need the will. The bottled stuff is, and I don’t say cuts were available too. this lightly, crap. If that’s been your staple for pesto, it’s time to change. Apart from the usual pastas and pizzas that serve as mains for You’ll experience the same differ-

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vegetarians, the non-vegetarians mains included roast lamb and a massive grilled fish among other fare we don’t get to see too often in Delhi. The desserts section is suitably populated too though this isn’t the section you’ll find me partaking from. I did notice a few souffles and quite a bunch of fruit trifles among a fair selection of other desserts. At 1699++ and 2299++ (with alcohol) this brunch is a steal and is open from 1230 to 1530 on Sundays.

its own wine storage, Seasonal Tastes appears to be essentially a buffet restaurant. I tried, and I mean really tried to order a dish from the a la carte menu for lunch that day, but the manager on duty was quite insistent I do the buffet and short of refusing outright, did everything else to ensure I ate from the buffet. I wonder why? Considering the man himself was a nice chap, who, noting I wasn’t happy with the slow fried egg that morning, ensured it was done right the next morning, it is a The Wines of India event began at question that I’d love to learn the 1600 hours and I snuck back into answer to. Breakfast was a predictmy room for a quick snooze. At able affair, with two exceptions, this point, I had been awake for one nice and one not so nice. thirty two hours and looking for- The nice one was the presence of ward to the beds every Starwood Indian lunch/dinner dishes. I like property talks about in hushed I understand retones of respect and awe. The wine event done around 1830 hours, I cycling, but seeing indulged in a grilled platter with identical dishes is a Yu Yu Din and then returned to my room with every intention of little unnerving. hitting one of the two speciality restaurants for dinner, but those beds actively prevented me from heavy breakfasts and abhor the doing so. Instead, I awoke at 12am ones where the only such dish is and ordered room service – Mut- Sambhar… and there’s no bacon. ton Biryani, which was delivered Seasonal tastes had a bunch of in about twenty minutes. The lunch dishes as well as my beloved accompanying yogurt was more bacon. The second exception may suited for Kadhi, but the Biryani provide the source of the first. itself was perfectly appropriate for A few dishes during my second a late, night room service order. breakfast there, were identical to A late-night room service order dishes served at lunch the previis essential for every property ous day. I understand recycling, covered by Chef at Large and you but seeing identical dishes is a wouldn’t believe the kind of stuff little unnerving. The standard we experience during these meals. Westin breakfast therefore ends up The Westin, Pune, I’m relieved to with a ‘satisfactory’ tag. report, passed this one. The Spa was an available option, Breakfast was open from 0600 but I skipped it due to not having to 1000 hours at Seasonal Tastes, parameters in the Chef at Large alongside a little, open air pool on Property Checklist for it and inthe terrace. Bright, airy and with sufficient spa experience to wing CaLDRON December 2013

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it. Similarly, I skipped the bar too. By lunch time I was deeply concerned over what I thought to be diabetic gustatory sweating and until a qualified diagnosis could be reached, resolved to take it easy with my meals. Lunch therefore needed to be what I thought to be healthy. Fortunately, Seasonal Tastes withstood this test and provided me an awesome lunch without the carbs. I ate a platter full of delicately flavored and very fulfilling vegetables – french beans, broccoli, snow peas, pok choy, grilled zucchini and tossed bell peppers plus a serving of hummus and bocconcini. There were other items available too, including pizzas from a wood fired oven, a bespoke dessert counter and a starters counter making up to be what a few in Delhi might say could be passed off as a Sunday Brunch.

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nut-garlic, garlic, kadi-patta chutneys nor the methkut or the bhakarwadi. The Sand Gorgon is a scary creature and can only be pacified by The afternoon therefore was spent Bhakarwadi, much like Thimbletack with Mehak Mathrani, who was the Brownie is pacified with honey kind enough to take me to a few in The Spiderwick Chronicles. The great places in Pune to pick up picture on the left is of the staff/ some of their key offerings. We owners packing/recording orders at first stopped at Kayani Bakery at East Street, from where I picked up Kayani Bakery. They’re only open Shrewsbury and Wine biscuits. Both for a few hours each day and jampacked for time duration that they were impossibly crunchy with the Wine biscuits carrying overtones of are. They were out of Wine biscuits and the little bag they salvaged, the rose. I also picked up small cakes that were perfectly sweet and moist. very polite owner refused to charge The next stop was XYZ, where we for. picked up little triangles of baked Now, I couldn’t leave without trying puff pastry, called Khasta biscuits, ending up at Dorabjee’s, which was both Prego and Kangan. Yes, I’d alheaven. I could shop there for hours ready done the Sunday Brunch, but without tiring. Friendly and helpful one really can’t just do a buffet meal staff, hundreds, perhaps thousands at a specialty restaurant. Also, given of food items of different sub-variet- how much I’ve heard about Kangan ies and every price range. I of course from colleagues in Mumbai, it wasn’t an option either. There was a single couldn’t return without the peaDid I mention there’s a little pool outside Seasonal Tastes?

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meal opportunity left and I split that meal between Prego and Kangan. Obviously, I couldn’t do justice to either, but did manage to sample the spirit of both. While the service attitude at both establishments needs looking into, the food was good. As with the last time, a whiff of yeast, baking flour and delicious bread greeted me on entering. The entire restaurant has the low lighting that’s characteristic of fine dining restaurants though reading the menu was easy enough. The wine menu was modest and so were the prices, with a Lobster entree for example, at INR 1300++. We selected an antipasti platter from the menu, Antipasti Misti (800), which was exceedingly pretty to look at and was a

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mixture of ricotta, olives, sun dried tomatoes, batter fried zucchini flowers, portobello mushrooms, provolone cheese, basil leaves, grilled tuna passion fruit and hadga flowers. This is the sort of platter one shares with others on the same table and indulges in different soul-stirring combinations of food that are rarely found together. This was followed by a well done, herb encrusted and plump Rack of Lamb with Dijon mustard and baby potatoes. Part II of my dinner was at Kangan, Westin’s fairly well known Indian specialty restaurant, where I did enjoy the Chicken Dohri Tikki (600), chopped chicken tikka inside a coriander flavored, minced chicken patty, served with star anise flavored charcoal smoke.

Interesting huh? Perhaps it was the rush of the evening or maybe the fact that I could barely see any of the other dishes, but this is the only dish I feel worth mentioning. I’ll save the other dishes for a dedicated review of Kangan and Prego. So that’s the end of that. Pune is a delightful city to visit with loads of food to discover and lots of food shopping to do. The Westin, Pune is ideally located to facilitate and host your stay with Pune with it’s helpful staff, awesome location, soothing interiors, lovely rooms and great food. ■ Text and photos by Sid Khullar

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CaLDRON Year-ender December 2013  

CaLDRON Year-ender, powered by Chef at Large is out! Bunches of reviews, events, columns, products and more from Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata;...

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