19 December 2016

Five Must Dos For That Perfect Jaisalmer Getaway

Rajasthan has been calling out to the traveler within me all this year. After a beautiful Jaipur holiday which I took in July (read more about that here), I got a wonderful opportunity to re-live the royal Rajasthani experience yet again during a short getaway to Jaisalmer. Jaisalmer symbolizes everything the state of Rajasthan is famous for - the desert, the camels, the folk music and dance, the forts, and the food! A visit to Jaisalmer may be the best way to experience Rajasthani culture at its best, something that makes that five-hour, back-breaking drive from Jodhpur totally worth it! There is so much to see, and so much to do, but here are my top five recommendations for that perfect Jaisalmer holiday. 

Patwon Ki Haveli

Jain Temple, Sonar Quila

6 December 2016

Not Just An Ordinary Cafe

Two Versova based Cafes go above and beyond the conventional 'Cafe' definition, to provide experiences unlike anything else.

Mumbai has embraced the Cafe culture whole heartedly since over a decade now. But the average diner is now looking for a lot more than simply a coffee and a couch. Both the places which I'm going to discuss today are favourites  each for a different reason. Both these places will ensure you walk out with so much more than just a coffee in your system, or some food in your belly.

1. Leaping Windows Library and Cafe 

Leaping Windows is a one-of-a-kind comic book library that houses an impressive cafe that doles out some delicious food. The entire space at Leaping Windows has posters, drawings and comic book memorabilia adorning the walls  you'll never feel like you're eating alone here. The basement houses an impressive collection of comic books, graphic novels, and manga  a treasure trove in a city like Mumbai where libraries are so hard to find. What I love is that you can drop by anytime, pay a nominal charge to use their reading room, and surround yourself in the magical world of comic books. 

28 November 2016

The Magical Masala Library

I remember the first time I was going to dine at the newly launched Masala Library by Jiggs Kalra. I was counting down days with giddy excitement akin to a teenager attending her first Coldplay concert. Those were the days when 'Molecular Gastronomy' was a fairly unheard term. Those were the days when Bandra Kurla Complex had almost no restaurants and was still relatively under-developed. Those were the days when Indian food was not equated with beautifully plated, fine dine food. Well, so much was about to change for the Indian diner and for Mumbai's restaurant scene post Masala Library.

Molecular gastronomy and its influence was yet to make it's way to India, having been well established across menus in the West, pioneered by El Bulli in Spain. The philosophy adapted in the menu at Masala Library by Jiggs Kalra revolves around progressive Indian cuisine, using elements of molecular gastronomy as
an integral part of the menu to enhance the experience of the dish in terms of not just the flavour and visual appeal but also to introduce an element of surprise into the fray. Because after all food is a multi-sensory experience; going above and beyond taste, incorporating vision, olfaction, and texture into the entire dining experience. We would now start seeing foams, spheres, and fumes included in menus across the city, the word 'molecular gastronomy' being thrown around loosely, with Indian cuisine becoming modern and pretty.

Mains, Assorted Indian Breads, and Dal Makhni

10 November 2016

Jordan Journal - Striking Items Off My Bucket List

'The train had been making good progress, and towards half-past twelve it reached the northwest border of the Great Salt Lake. Thence the passengers could observe the vast extent of this interior sea, which is also called the Dead Sea, and into which flows an American Jordan.' ~ An excerpt from Around The World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne.

I must have been twelve when I first read Around The World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne and accordingly heard about the Dead Sea. A water body so saline that even the heaviest of objects float in it. A water body christened 'dead' because not a single living creature can survive in it owing to the extreme salinity. It is at the age of twelve that I dreamt a little dream, and hoped that I'd get to float in the magical waters of the Dead Sea someday. 

Last month, my mother and I took off for a vacation that was going to mark a major milestone in our lives. We were off to the mysterious and mythical country of Jordan to experience Middle Eastern culture, history and to soak in the Dead Sea, of course. Little did I know that our recent holiday to Jordan would help me strike three major items off my bucket list, including this dream that has been harboring inside of me since the past sixteen odd years. 

Citadel at Amman

Care For An Animal. And Be Remembered For Good

Until one has loved an animal a part of one's soul remains unawakened ~ Anatole France.

I don't recollect when my obsession for animals began. I do remember being extremely fond of them from an early age in life. I remember being in the sixth grade, and getting punished by a teacher for harboring a cat in my desk and feeding it out of my lunch box. I remember telling my parents I don't want any siblings, and to get me a puppy instead. The crazy obsession for animals also stemmed from being an only child, and looking towards pets for comfort and companionship.

Animals are wonderful, wonderful creatures. Pets provide me with a sense of fulfillment and unconditional love in a way no other human can provide. The joy of having a dog run up to you, tail wagging and ears flapping as you return from a dreary day at work is immense. The calm and peace of a purring cat on your lap, even when you're fighting demons inside is undescribable. 

Feeding an animal, caring for it, and providing it with a little love is the best way to make this world a better place, in my opinion. That animal could be a stray on the street, or living in a shelter, or a pet at home. We are blessed being the most superior of God's creations, and caring for an animal is one of the most noble deeds we can do. And that animal - dog, cat, horse, bird - will remain eternally grateful to you. 

1 November 2016

Goodness Ki Shuruaat with Tata Sampann Masalas

No matter where in the world you travel, and what world cuisines you taste, there’s no greater joy in coming back home to a steaming plate of dal chaawal with pickle on the side. My mother and I returned from a trip of a lifetime to Jordan a couple of days ago. And we were craving home cooked, comfort food - a ritual that occurs after every holiday. I go into the kitchen, completely jet lagged and sleep deprived looking for a convenient and easy way to cook my beloved dal-chaawal without compromising on the taste. Which is when Tata Sampann Masalas came to the rescue.

More About Tata Sampann Masala: Tata Sampann Masalas are a range of spices developed by Chef Sanjeev Kapoor to make everyday cooking a bit easier and a whole lot tastier. The spices are sourced from the best of farms, and made from the choicest variety of whole spices - Malabari Black Pepper, Salem Turmeric, Pahadi Cardamom, Teja Chilli and more. These spices also retain their natural spice oils, which adds to the taste and aroma, creating an overall blissful sensory experience when you cook and eat. Quite often natural spice oils are extracted out of whole spices, leaving behind SPENT masalas. The Tata Sampann masala range is made out of 100% UN-SPENT masalas retaining the natural oil, imparting undiluted taste and aroma. The variety of masalas on offer is impressive - from your basic Turmeric and Red chilli powder to masalas like Punjabi Chole masala, Paneer Masala, Chicken Masala and Meat masala for individual dishes. You can read more about Tata Sampann Masalas here.

6 October 2016

A New Menu and a Singing Chef

I've had many wonderful meals at Prego - the fun dining Italian restaurant at The Westin Mumbai Garden City, but I knew this one was going to be different even before I walked in. Reason? Prego's all new Chef de Cuisine - Chef Antonello Cancedda, known for the mastery he exudes over his craft. May that be creating the most exquisite Italian dishes, highlighting the recipes from his hometown in Genoa, or his ability to serenade the diners with his guitar. No wonder why he's called 'The Singing Chef'. 

'Life is incomplete without good food, good music, and good wine. And every good meal should have all three key ingredients', chef exclaims. And it is this experience he tries to recreate every single time. I sat down with a glass of Riesling, to chat with an extremely affable Chef Antonello, and dined on an exquisite meal that was going to last four hours long.

Lobster Bisque
The new dishes on Prego's menu are reflective of Chef's signature cooking style - simple, rustic and letting the produce stand out. Which is how most Italian cooking should be, Chef says. He is a purist in my opinion, one who believes the simpler the recipe the stronger your dish. Chef scoffs when I ask him about the 'desification' of classic dishes to suit the Indian palate. Which may explain why there were no chilli flakes or oregano on my table as I dined.

28 September 2016

Five New Food Delivery Options in Bandra that You Should Try!

Has Netflix ruined your social life and all you want to do is lounge around in your PJs, chilling? Does the rain (or the sun) make it extremely difficult for you to step out and grab a bite? Do you conveniently forget your dabba at home so that you can order in at work? If just like me you belong to all three categories, or even one, read on! Here is a round up of a few delivery options that I've tried (and loved) in the past few weeks. There's something for everyone! 

1. If you're craving some Punjabi Khana Shaana -
If you're cheating in your diet, cheat with something unapologetically sinful like the food from Oye Panjabi kitchen. It is also the sort of food you crave after you're three patiala pegs down, looking for some serious grease to wash it all away. Oye Panjabi takes a detour from their spot on the Nashik highway and delivers out fare from their Khar kitchen. The menu covers all your Punjabi food staples - kebabs, kulchas, cream laden curries, and more. Major plus points to the packaging (not a drop of oil leaked), and the ginormous portion sizes.
The food here is exactly what you'd expect from a Punjabi delivery joint - smokey tikkas, gravies laden with cream, naans and parathas with a dollop of ghee on top. Though Oye Panjabi is a tad bit more expensive than the Punjabi food places we've grown up ordering from in Bandra, they make up for in their generosity.
Must Try: Their Kaali Daal - exactly like how they make it in the dhabhas, Sarson Da Saag with Makkai Roti - all year around, and their famous Chicken 'Peprika' (sic) Kebabs.
Contact: Call 70454 57071/72 for delivery between Bandra and Santacruz.
Available for online delivery on Zomato and Scootsy.

13 September 2016

Bombay Bygone: Colaba through the Looking Glass

'Little Alice fell down the hole, bumped her head and bruised her soul.' ~ Lewis Carroll

Have you ever had an Alice in Wonderland moment? Falling through the rabbit hole, without looking back, only to enter your very own whimsical, magical universe - one that takes you back in time, to a special place that remains embedded in memories. A few places in the city of 'Bombay' manage to evoke such a strong sense of nostalgia for me - Colaba being one of them.

A Colaba of my childhood - Peering out eagerly from the window of the BEST bus, because the journey was just as much fun as the destination. Clutching on to my father's hand with all my life for fear of being left behind in the crowd. Looking up in awe at the magnanimity of the Gateway of India, all through the eyes of a child. Looking down at the choppy waters with a sense of nervous exhilaration, wanting to get close but holding back still. The joy of being treated to a Mewad ice cream cone - synthetic and soggy - but it meant the world to a chubby child!

22 August 2016

Nagold Supermoms To The Rescue

Being a mother is no easy task! As if the task of raising your child isn't daunting enough, there's also the added onus of taking care of the house. Irrespective of whether the lady is a home maker, or a career woman the task of looking after the home is always a challenge. Being a mother is a full time job with no days off. But for your housework there's always help. Appliances and gadgets that help with cooking and cleaning are saviours of most moms out there. And Nagold's Build -In Appliances can be your knight in shining armour. 

I have a faint memory of my mother struggling with house work as well as office work during my younger years. There were always clothes that needed washing, vessels that needed to be rinsed, and food that needed to be cooked. Back then washing machines, dishwashers, microwaves and ovens were still a luxury. Luckily for us younger lot, times have changed and the advent of state-of-the-art appliances has made life easier for the newer mom. If you don't believe me, check out Nagold's range of premium kitchen and household appliances here

For me, my mother has been a Supermom. Having a baby at the tender age of twenty, to completing her graduation via correspondence while I was in school, to following her passion for her teaching career - she's done it all! She did all of this without her housework ever suffering. Every child out there has a story to tell, and believes that their mother is a Supermom! And that is why moms like mine and yours need to be cherished and recognized. 

19 August 2016

Himalaya Herbals Face Scrubs and the Power of Exfoliation

I am a strong believer in the power of exfoliation and the magic it has on your skin. I am someone whose face is a dermatologist's delight - blackheads, white heads, clogged pores and acne! And I found the answer to all my problems years ago when I started using face scrubs on a regular basis. Just a basic cleanse-tone-moisturize routine is not enough, one needs to scrub as well! Using a good face scrub once a week for normal skin, or twice a week if you have oily skin is a must to exfoliate and remove dead skin, which in the long run helps keep a lot of skin issues at bay.

Himalaya Herbals is a skin care brand I swear by - made in India for skin types world over. Very few skin care companies combine traditional Ayurveda with modern skin care to provide their customers the best. I've been using their Purifying Neem Pack since a while now, and I am immensely pleased at how it works on my acne prone skin, keeping blemishes at bay. I was on the lookout for a face scrub that would work on my acne prone skin, without being too harsh. I decided to try their Purifying Neem Scrub recently, and share my experience with you all.

Himalaya Herbals Purifying Neem Scrub brings together the goodness of Neem, Apricot, and Turmeric - three ingredients that are known to work wonders on oily, acne prone skin. While neem's anti-bacterial properties work on attacking acne and keeping pimples at bay, the anti-septic properties of turmeric soothe the skin. Apricot granules act as the exfoliating agent here. The combined effect of all three primary ingredients make this an ideal scrub if your skin is oily and acne prone like mine.

1 August 2016

Potterhead For Life!

My obsession with Harry Potter borders on the abnormal. I've drawn lightening bolt scars on my forehead with red felt tip pens. I've fashioned wizard hats for myself from black chart paper. I wrote myself a Hogwarts acceptance letter after I got tired of waiting for an owl to arrive with mine. I read and re-read the books so much that at some point I could recite certain dialogues by heart. Harry Potter was not just a book for me - I am not talking about the movies here - it was an important part of my childhood. 

(Image Courtesy: Nicole Mody)
And I am not the only one whose life got impacted by the magic that is Harry Potter and the writing of J.K. Rowling. For millions and millions of Potterheads the globe over the 31st of July 2016 was special. It marked the return of the Harry Potter book franchise after a gap of nine years, apart from being the lead character's and the author's birthday. 

But this book is different. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is not a traditional fictional narrative, but is a scriptbook of the theatrical adaptation of the newest Potter adventure. (My apologies to a lot of you who didn't know what you'll were getting into here.) Cursed Child is a play authored by Rowling in collaboration with John Tiffany and Jack Thorne, and is currently playing in London. The story talks about Harry Potter's life 19 years later struggling with his job as a Ministry official, and raising three adolescent kids. Facing Voldemort seems like an easier option now, eh Harry?

16 July 2016

Jaipur Diaries - Painting The Town Pink

Jaipur is a smorgasbord of culture, colour, and chaos. A city that sits on a threshold of a vibrant, historic past and an emerging future. Jaipur is where I decided to take a whirlwind 48 hour getaway and immerse myself head first into the land of palaces, shop for local artisanal crafts, and gorge on some delicious traditional fare. And most importantly decided to spend some quality time with myself.

My previous Rajasthan holiday took place roughly fifteen years ago, though some memories still remained etched in my mind. A wobbly camel ride in the heat. Spotting peacocks on the drive upto Jaigarh Fort. Biting into a crunchy, flaky kachori and then wiping my hands on my mother's dupatta later. Looking up at the regal, ancient forts in amazement, wondering how they managed to build such structures back then. Fifteen years down the line, I experienced a strong sense of déjà vu throughout the trip. Some things never really change, do they?

The Great Wall of Jaigarh

15 July 2016

Bringing In The New At Kangan, The Westin Mumbai Garden City

For some reason a lot of us, including me, tend to look at Indian cuisine as the last resort when considering options for a fine dine meal. Pan Asian - yes! Italian - yes! But some how traditional Mughlai and Awadhi cuisine is never really considered 'fine dine' material. But in the last few years a pleasant change of sorts is visible. Regional Indian cuisine has started receiving the due it deserves. Indian cuisine has become 'cool' again with the integration of modern cooking techniques with age-old recipes as well as futuristic plating. 

And then there are restaurants like Kangan at the Westin Mumbai Garden City, Goregaon that stay true to the desi roots by bringing us dishes that are rich and exquisite - a meal fit for royalty! All of this at a stunning venue - a restaurant perched atop the 18th floor with a beautiful view of the city by night. And a meal put together by a maestro with tons of experience and expertise in the area of Mughlai and Awadhi cuisine - Chef Angad Rai. If these aren't the ingredients for a perfect meal, then I don't know what is!

18 June 2016

Singapore Diaries: Five Reasons to Visit!

I remember my father bringing home a brochure highlighting Singapore Tourism from one of his travels, roughly a decade ago. The 3D-glasses that came alongside the mag brought alive the pages - Toucans from Jurong Bird Park squawked at me, the cable car ride to Sentosa island whirred past, and the white tigers at the Singapore Zoo roared at me, inviting me to come aboard. It is amazing how some small, insignificant memories remain imprinted in one's mind.

A month ago, I happened to remember that magazine, whose pages I so longingly turned through, hoping to visit all of these places someday. And on a whim, we decided to take a family holiday to Singapore! With places such as Sentosa Island and Universal Studios on the itinerary - places that I was looking forward to seeing with my parents, re-living childhood, and becoming their little girl once again. And then there was the lure of Singapore's multidimensional food scene. Dishes that I had heard of, read and even tasted back home, that enticed me to try the real deal.

Singapore is a city for everyone. It gives you umpteen reasons to visit, may it be the food, the nightlife, the shopping, the culture, and dozens of touristy attractions. Here are five reasons to vacation in Singapore, for five different tourist types. And yes, just like me, you could fall in all five categories.

27 May 2016

A Love Letter to Seafood

Dear Creatures of The Deep Sea,
                                                    My love affair with you started as a chubby three year old when I had my first taste of batter fried Bombil from my mother's plate. It was love at first bite. My obsession with you'll only grew stronger with age, and taste. I remember looking forward to Sunday morning fish shopping sessions with mom - my eyes glistening when I'd see you'll naked in the fisher woman's basket, my nose sniffing the aroma you'll would let out, my fingers itching to hold your slimy scaly bodies.

They say you never forget your first love. Mine was my grandmother's Kolmi no Paatiyo - a spicy, tomato based prawn dish served as an accompaniment to basic dal rice. And served with a lot of love. I fell in love within my religion first, indulging in the fishy fare that Parsi cuisine offers. From fish coated in chutney and steamed in banana leaves aka Patra ni macchi, to Kolmi na kebabs or deep fried kebabs made with tiny prawns, to Tareli Boi ni macchi or masala laden, fried mullet fish - Parsi cuisine is a haven for fish lovers. And that's where my love affair for you started, dear creatures of the deep sea.

(Clockwise): Tareli Boi, Patra ni macchi, Kolmi no paatiyo

26 May 2016

Star Anise Patisserie - Keep Calm and Eat Dessert

This is what Hansel and Gretel felt like, I thought. All around me gleaming, pristine counters of the choicest desserts, prettiest cakes, and exquisite macarons stare back at me, inviting me into their world. I was at Star Anise patisserie in Bandra, one weekday afternoon, making a lunch out of sugary desserts. Calories be damned!

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
If Star Anise Patisserie is your chocolate factory, and you are Charlie, then Chef Anees Khan has got to be a real life Willy Wonka. With a lot of culinary experience under his belt, Chef decided to go down the dessert route to give us Star Anise - a classic French patisserie with exquisite desserts. (No, Star Anise is not named after him, but is a tribute to the humble spice that he loves cooking with.)

6 May 2016

All Aboard the Oriental Express - Pan Asian, ITC Maratha

In one corner, behind a gleaming glass counter I can see an artist in a chef's hat rolling out sushi with precision and intense concentration that the art deserves. Right behind me, I can hear the sizzle and boom from the Teppanyaki counter - another Chef whipping up a dish with the theatrical flair that this Japanese form of cooking demands. The primary, open kitchen has an army of diligent chefs, painstakingly stir frying veggies, boiling noodles, or seasoning meat - all under the watchful eye of Commander and Head Chef Liang. There was so much to take in, so much to gaze around at, and so many cuisines to explore at the Pan Asian, at ITC Maratha. 

The ITC Maratha, has carved a niche in the Indian cuisine department, famous for the ITC kaali dal at the highly acclaimed Peshawri and Dum Pukht. Among the seven dining establishments that this sprawling five star property boasts of, the Pan Asian remains highly underrated and deserves a spot in the sun. The restaurant is 'Pan Asian' in the truest sense, with cuisines from China, Japan, Korea, Thailand and Malaysia on offer.

"The food here is authentic, and true to their Oriental roots," claims Chef Liang while we wait patiently for the tasting menu to arrive, sipping on the signature Pan Asian Spritzer - a refreshing melon and sparkling wine concoction. "Flexibility is key while cooking Asian food in India, and one needs to adapt to each individual diner's palate and food preference. Indians love their spices and sauces, while for an expat from China we need to stay true to the original", Chef elaborates and I couldn't insist more. 

Pan Asian Spritzer by the window

2 May 2016

My Take Home Message from the Assamese Rongali Bihu Meal with Gitika Saikia

Food has the wonderful power to make you travel to far off places, while being deeply seated at home. I had been meaning to taste Gitika Saikia's home-style cooking for the longest time now, and take a food-cation with her to tribal Assam. It is thanks to home chefs like Gitika, enterpreneurs like Rushina Munshaw Ghildiyal and APB Cook Studio's Culinary Legacy series that I was introduced to a cuisine unlike anything else I've ever tasted.
Rongali Bihu or Assamese New Year, celebrates the time of harvest and is incomplete without food. The Rongali Bihu meal at the APB Cook Studio was a delightful afternoon spent with like minded foodies where I learnt more about this 'exotic' cuisine from Gitika, sampled tribal Assamese fare, and even shook a leg or two to the Bihu dance.

18 April 2016

The Food Week That Was - Someplace Old and Someplace New

I was on a self-imposed diet last week. Which basically meant I was out every day of the week, stuffing my face with food. Gee, thank you Mr. Murphy. Last week I re-visited an old favourite restaurant, dined at someplace new, and discovered a wonderful, healthy home delivery service. Read on for all the scoop:

Mighty Small Cafe, Lower Parel - 
I had been to the Mighty Small Cafe in January when they launched, and fell in love with the adorable carnival themed cafe that sits snuggled inside Smaaash. It's the perfect place to entertain children and those who are children at heart! The food menu criss crosses over a variety of cuisines and small plates, with the aim of food being fun.

Disco Idlis

I returned back last week and snacked on my favourite Disco Idlis - mini idlis that come generously spiced, fun Chilli Cheese Lollipops, and an addictive Koliwada popcorn chicken. I also remember really loving their Appams with Chicken Ghee Roast the last time I dined here. I also remember thinking, 'what an unlikely place to get such delicious appams.' I absolutely love their ginormous shakes from the Big Fat Treats Dessert Bar. Who can say no to a Nutella + Banana + Peanut Butter + Pretzel shake? The Mighty Small does fun, non pretentious food and serves up meals that are in synch with their location. Game of bowling with Pull Apart Cheese Bread, anyone?

13 April 2016

Udvada - Good Thoughts, Good Words, Good Deeds, Great Food!

A sleepy, little coastal town in Gujarat may be the only place in the world where Parsis are not in minority. Udvada is barely 200 kilometers from Mumbai, but instantly transports you into a different era, with different geography. 
Udvada is a hidden treasure, cut off from the modern outside world we belong to, deeply rooted in culture and religion. Udvada is where Zoroastrians the world over throng to pay homage to the Iranshah Atash Behram - the sacred fire whose sacred flames have been continuously burning for over 1280 years. Udvada is where many Parsis, like me, come to worship their second religion - food!

31 March 2016

Salud Lima, BKC!

An American friend of ours was visiting the city recently, and in the mood for some Peruvian food. She was taken aback to hear that a city as cosmopolitan and global as Mumbai had not a single South American restaurant. Two weeks later, Lima arrived to the shores of Mumbai, and the city received it's first ever South American tapas bar. Better late than never, I'll say!

Lima is yet another ace that emerges from Chef Atul Kochhar's pack of cards - the previous one being NRI at BKC with whom Lima shares a wall. (Read more about NRI here.) But they both are as different as chalk and cheese! While one serves up global Indian fare, the other emphasizes on cocktails and small plates from the South American region, namely c​eviches from Peru, g​rills from Brazil and s​treet ​cuisine from Mexico.

My experience with Peruvian food is limited to a single ceviche dish I had abroad, years ago. So I really have no basis to judge the authenticity of the food here. I know for a fact the cuisine is centered around their local produce, simple preparation, and dishes where the ingredients are the hero. Some dishes also have a Asian and European influence owing to the large migrant population there. 

Tequila Margarita, Kumquat Basil Caipirinha,Multicoloured Quinoa and Mint

30 March 2016

Burger King's Chicken Fries - The Best Of Both Worlds

Have you ever loved two dishes so much that you wish you could eat them both at the same time? That in some magical way they would combine forces to create one, out of the world experience for you? 

I am obsessed with French fries. Well who doesn't like deep fried, potato-ey goodness? Just the other day, I was at Burger King indulging in their good ol' Chicken Whopper with fries on the side, pondering over how brilliant would it be if somehow one was able to combine the goodness of fries with the taste of chicken? The introduction of Chicken Fries on the Burger King menu now, seems like a dream come true!

The Chicken Fries along with the dipping sauces have been proudly clucking away on international shores since a while now. Their availability in India has made the chicken lover in me extremely happy. And the icing on the cake has got to be the adorable Chick & Fries love story that you can check out here - www.chickenfrieslove.tumblr.com

21 March 2016

What Navroze Means To Me

I am a Zoroastrian Irani. Which means that the festival of the spring Equinox or Navroze, which marks the onset of the Persian new year is the primary festival celebrated at home. To a lot of people all over the globe Navroze means a lot of things - a time for prayers, a time to be thankful, a time to remember God, a time for celebration. But for me Navroze is incomplete without three things - tradition, food and family.

Irani Family Navroze Table 2016

Growing up, festivals meant a lot more than they did now. For some reason Diwali or Holi celebrations always seem grander and funner when you look through the eyes of a child. The same holds true for Navroze as well. All through my early years - as a chubby schoolgirl to an adolescent pre teen - Navroze was celebrated at my Mamaiji's (maternal grandmother) beautiful Bandra home. And I have the fondest memories of those. This post is an attempt to clutch on to those few, remaining childhood Navroze memories before they dwindle out in the chaotic mess that is adulthood. And to thank my grandmom (who is an ardent and avid reader of this blog) for introducing me to the magic of the Navroze table.

16 March 2016

My 24 Hour Getaway at Courtyard by Marriott Pune, Chakan

If, like me, you've exhausted all your weekend getaway options close to Mumbai - this post may hold special interest for you. If, like me, putting your feet up and relaxing away from the hustle and bustle of the city is what you crave, then read on!
The sleepy town of Chakan may be barely heard of by most, barring a few car aficionados owing to the large number of international automobile factories it hosts. It is here in Chakan that the Courtyard by Marriott property sits, like a pretty oasis in a sun kissed desert. The sprawling property, scrumptious local food, and trademark Marriott hospitality is how I experienced the past weekend. Read on for a step-by-step account of my 24 hours at the Courtyard by Marriott Pune, Chakan

7 March 2016

New Menu and New Favourites at Desi Deli

In July last year, I discovered a new favourite joint in Bandra. One where we would drop by on many occasions, for their gourmet hot dogs and a Lush Lamb burger that is absolutely divine. One which I have written about previously as well, and recommended. (Read that previous post here.) I love Desi Deli for taking global food out of the delicatessan and giving it a desi twist. Especially those gourmet hot dogs, that combine the most innovative sauces and toppings - brainchild of owner Lolita Sarkar.  

Desi Crème brûlée

I was back again to try a few, new additions on the menu and to see if I could find a new winner. And I did!

2 March 2016

Time Travel at the Future Theory Festival

I am not much of an EDM fan. I fairly like this genre, but then after a couple of hours of listening to it I begin to miss words. And lyrics. But this weekend at the Future Theory Festival my perception of alternative electronic music was drastically altered. The Future Theory festival held on the 27th and 28th of February, comprising an impressive line up in this genre, promised two days of mind blowing music, and kick ass parties. But what excited me the most was the location - Fort Jadhavgadh - a three hundred year old Maratha fort, now converted into a luxury hotel with sprawling lawns and ancient architecture.

My Future Theory Festival experience was like sitting in a time travel machine that oscillated between a cultural past and a modern future. 

Blast From The Past - 
I'm going to paint a little picture for you here - a lone 300 year old fort perched high on a hill, with a birds eye view of the surrounding greenery and sprawling lawns. A gorgeous, rustic fort with it's wood design and stone work yet intact, complete with a beautiful museum providing a glimpse into the Maratha way of life back then. Here we experienced a party like no other!
Jadhavgadh fort and the surrounding property is stunning. Right from the staff that's dressed in traditional attire, to the overall vibe and feel of the fort - Jadhavgadh is a marvel. One I'd love to return back to someday.

19 February 2016

The Food Week That Was - What A Delivery!

Last week I was at my laziest best. I wanted nothing more than to lounge around in my pyjamas, watch MasterChef US re-runs (Marry me, Gordon Ramsay!) and eat take-away straight out of the carton in front of the telly. Helping me fulfill my last wish were two delivery joints who so graciously decided to send food over for some feedback. And I enjoyed the food from both the places so much, I decided to blog about them both. Here is my food week that was!

1. Hyderabad Xpress, Andheri
I've ordered from the Bandra branch of Hyderabad Xpress a couple of times anonymously, and I was saddened to hear that they shut shop. Now even though they're based out of Andheri, they deliver bulk orders all over the city. My office staff will wax eloquent about their Hyderabadi chicken dum biryani, even though it renders you drowsy and incapable of work for the next hour. #FoodComa

Mutton Dum Biryani with Mirchi Salan

The food comes packaged in a sealed, foil packet that ensured the biryani remained warm even as it traveled a mean distance. The biryani at Hyderabad Xpress is a traditional dum version - where the meat, spices, and rice are slow cooked on a dum trapping all the flavours in the rice. I found their biryani - both mutton and chicken - spot on in terms of taste. Though their biryani is a bit more masala laden and spicy than the biryani found in Hyderabad - I am guessing this is because they want to appeal to the Bombay palate where our idea of biryani is heavy on the masala.

6 February 2016

My Authenticook Pathare Prabhu Experience - Maa Ke Haath Ka Swaad

The sun shining down my back, and a growling stomach courtesy the breakfast I'd skipped could not deter the excitement I had building up within me. 
The reason - I was off to try an authentic, home cooked, Pathare Prabhu fish meal, a cuisine I knew very little about. The venue - the host's Versova home, where a balcony overlooking Versova beach created the perfect setting for the sea creatures we were about to feast on. The host - the warm, home chef Geeta Dhairyawan who passionately and lovingly fed us that entire afternoon.

5 February 2016

Take a Bao!

In 2015, we were introduced to the humble yet delicious Bao - a soft, pillowy bun that housed the most delicious meats and sauces within. The bao was featured on every 'Food Trend of 2015' article, and by 2016 has made it's way onto the menu of most mid-level Asian restaurants in the city. But the restaurant that pioneered the trend, and remains my favourite place to bite into a bao is The Fatty Bao!

To celebrate Baos in all their glory, The Fatty Bao brings us the Bao Wow festival, where till the 14th of February you can feast on thirteen new varieties of baos, apart from those on the regular menu. That's right, thirteen! 

30 January 2016

Hungry Duck at Pali - Can a Restaurant Flourish Without Marketing?

Last week post my round of avocado scouting in Pali market, I saw a tiny restaurant nestled away inside Pali village. The Hungry Duck at Pali situated in a tiny lane after Janta bar, can easily be missed especially if you're not proficient with Bandra by-lanes. The next day I dragged Bee down there for dinner, after a quick Zomato search brought out some wonderful reviews. Selling points included the words - roast tongue, Messi burger, and grilled chicken. 

The space is tiny. An open kitchen counter ensures you can smell the meat aromas wafting through the kitchen - no complaints there. The menu is exhaustive and covers meat of every kind - buff, pork, chicken, and the namesake duck - in dishes of every kind - roast, grilled, chops, sandwiches, and burgers the size of your face.

Grilled Chicken for me, Duck Burger for him!

In an attempt to eat healthy I resisted all temptation and ordered the Grilled Chicken (LOL) with mashed potatoes on the side (because balanced diet). The chicken was cooked perfectly with caramelized onions and carrots on top which tasted divine with the creamy mash. I would have loved more sauce on top though. Also when your meat comes with a large steak knife on the side, you know they mean business! Bee's Duck Meat burger was messy, meaty and indulgent - just as how burgers should be - with the meat cooked in a sweet spicy sauce. Overall, delicious food, and the icing on the cake was our bill. We paid Rs 550/- with tip (I heart restaurants that do not shove service charge down my throat), which is a steal considering the portion size, and meat quotient.

21 January 2016

NRI, BKC - Indian or Not Really Indian?

I love restaurants that tell me a story with their food. Restaurants that transport you to a different place or time, with food that enriches and enlightens. Which is what happened when I dined at Not Really Indian - shortened to NRI - the newest addition to the ever increasing list of restaurants opening in BKC. 
I learnt about the lineage of dishes such as South African Bunny Chow, and a Caribbean Goat Curry. I tasted dishes such as the Mamak Lamb Chops, for an authentic taste of which I'd have to travel to Malaysia.
This is the entire concept of twice Michelin starred chef Atul Kocchar's new flagship restaurant - Indian food that has traveled out of the country. This is the food that migrating Indians took abroad with them, and started hybridizing with ingredients and cooking techniques of their new home. Thus, the food is Indian but Not Really Indian!

16 January 2016

One Two Chia Chia Chia

(My apologies for that hopeless pun in the title.)

We saw a lot of food trends in 2015. One of which included a tiny, black seed taking supermarket shelves, cafe menus, and our lives by storm. Salvia hispanica or chia seeds have been included in the Mayan and Aztec diet since the beginning of time. But only recently this 'superfood' has gained impetus in our lives. 
I first encountered the trend at an all-organic cafe in Bandra, where I found 'chia seed pudding' on the menu. That very same day thanks to my local grocer, and recipes off the internet, I decided to experiment with chia seeds. This was roughly six months ago, and since then I cannot stop advocating the benefits of chia seeds to all!
Warm Apple Cinnamon Chia Pudding

Ohh, So Healthy!
Chia seeds are known for their innumerable health benefits - high in fiber, rich in antioxidants, low in saturated fats. They are also a very high source of protein, aid metabolism and help in weight loss. (I can go on, but I suggest you simply read more in the article here.) I have resorted to eating a bowl of chia pudding with honey, post my work out to satiate my hunger pangs, and I've found that I don't crave junk food post workouts anymore. 

15 January 2016

Hyderabad Holiday Highlights

(I love the use of alliteration in titles. It excites me to no extent.)

My Christmas weekend was fun, albeit different this year. I spent it eating heap loads of biryani, exploring the uncharted territory of Andhra cuisine, standing in lines trying to get into tourist destinations, ogling at the opulent lifestyle of the Nizams, and enjoying the chaotic madness the city of Hyderabad has to offer. Most importantly I spent Christmas weekend spending quality time with my folks. And that's all that really matters. Here are the highlights from my quick trip to the Nizam's city - 

Charminar + Makkah Masjid + Lad Bazaar 
Four minarets towering high over a cacophonous marketplace - the Charminar is symbolic to Hyderabad. It is an enthralling experience when the Charminar reveals itself to you, hiding in the midst of this chaotic street. Sadly we didn't have the energy to wait through the serpentine queues to enter, and missed the birds eye view from the Charminar. The Makkah Masjid that sits adjoining the Charminar is one of the largest mosques in the country and is worth a visit. What I enjoyed seeing the most was the presence of a Laxmi temple right under the Charminar, and when we visited the chants of aarti and azaan intermingled in the air, giving me hope for a future filled with religious respect and tolerance. The Laad Bazaar bangles must be on your shopping list for the sheer variety and design, but don't forget to sharpen your bargaining skills!

The Blog And I Made Some Resolutions.....

Resolutions are meant to be broken, they say. Ohh, but not these. This year The Blog and I sat down over a glass of mulled wine and some leftover Christmas cake, and retrospected over the year gone by. 
2015 was fabulous in so many ways - met idols from the food industry, worked on some interesting projects, got recognized for all the hard work at IFBA 2015, and even got to shoot for this season of Masterchef India! We decided that 2016 has got to be equally awesome, if not more. The Blog decided it needs to continue writing consistently and churn out interesting posts regularly for you readers. I decided to make some personal changes that will indirectly reflect on The Blog as well. Here are our resolutions, ones that we intend to keep!