CROWNING MASTERPIECE

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It doesn’t get any better than this. I’m getting a taste of the most sublime “lemon tart” which is made to the same recipe for the past many centuries and I am doing so on the worlds beautiful city’s most beautiful terrace. And it is acknowledged to be so even by the perfectionist Parisians. It has a 360 degree panoramic  view of Paris and it has the city’s landmarks within kissing distance of each other. Please take a look at the photograph and you’ll see the terrace we are on, you’ll see the Eiffel tower right there, what you cannot see in this photograph is the other landmark of Paris, The Arc de Triomph (which is also within kissing distance.) This picturesque terrace is not only located between historic landmarks but also crowns one of the city’s most loved iconic landmarks, Hotel Raphael. Did I begin this paragraph by saying “it doesn’t get any better than this”? It does. Because with me is the fourth generation owner of the Raphael, the charming, well-travelled, dynamic Veronique Valcke

Baverez. Her family Baverez, since 1898 has been dotting the city of Paris with historic landmarks, Regina, Majestic and ofcourse Raphael.I not only get a first hand account of the history of Paris and Raphael but also the recipe of the most sublime”Lemon tart” .  Every last detail (from the cuisine to the plants on this terrace) is overseen by  Veronique and her mother. “My mother loves roses” points out Veronique as we inhale their fragrance and are surrounded by more than 100 kinds of flowers,. lavender, Japanese apple trees, Box trees. We sit under a snow white linen umbrella, the terrace has a refined floral atmosphere in a Belle Epoque style and right next to us is the giant marble chess board, a tribute to the founder Leonard Tauber, also the cofounder of the chess club of France.

Chennai times
French elegance at it’s best, Veronique Valcke with her culinary team

 

SUPERSTARS SPARKLE

Movie buffs will instantly recognize the Raphael, because not only have many a super hit film (Love in Paris, Place Vendome been filmed here but many a film star has stayed here.) And this includes legends like Marlon Brando, Ava Gardner, Kylie Minogue.Statesmen, political leaders, academics, film directors, actors, writers have favoured The Raphael over all other hotels.

It’s not just the movie world, even the art world has been dazzled by the collection of original masterpieces here. These are normally housed in museums but find place of pride in The Rapahel. From masterpieces by Turner to those by Classical artists…Raphael is a mini-museum.  It even has origianl louis xv and xvi pieces of furniture, sofas, table et al.  The young patisseur Nina metayer bakes to the time tested recipes of centuries, Thomas Chagray cooks to classical ones too. Overseeing it all, is the vivacious Veronique who ensures that every last detail is a masterpiece. Like the Lemon Tart (whose recipe follows).

P.S. Interestingly,  the plot to eliminate a dictator was hatched in The Raphael and the conspirators were known as Raphaelites. I didn’t take part in any such conspiracy, but Ive succumbed to the Raphael magic and am also happy to be known as a Raphaelite.

 

Lemontart

 

Sweetdough

  • butter               300g
  • icingsugar        190g
  • almondpowder        60g
  • salt           1g
  • eggs         113g
  • Vanillapowder 2g
  • Flour                500g

In the butter, icingsugar, almond powder, salt, vanilla powder and flour.incorporate the eggs. obtain a homogeneous dough, keep in the fridge. Roll out the dough to 3 mm thick and place in the tart moulds about 1.5cm high on 7.5 cm diameter each. Bake  at 170°C

 

lemoncurd

  • Sugar                       480g
  • eggs                 500g
  • Butter                      400g
  • Gélatine                   3 leaves
  • Lemon zest              10 units
  • Lemon juice            10 units

Combine in a big pot lemon zest ( grate the skin) and juice.  Place the gelatine leaves in very cold water.. Mix it all, slowly little by little with a spatula. Keep in fridge. When its cold put the lemon curd into the pastry shell.

lime meringue :

  • Eggs white               200g
  • Sugar                       100g
  • Lime zest                 2 units

Whisk the eggwhites, add the sugar, add  the lime zest more delicately with aspatula.Garnish the lemon tart with a piping bag. Bake for a few seconds in the ovenjust for a little color

THE SAHIB ROOM & KIPLING BAR

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Indian

My salaam to the Sahib and (never forget) the  Memsahib. Interestingly, now that  current restaurant trends are all about sleek minimalism, molecular gastronomy and global fusion, Palladium Hotel’s four month old Sahib Room is a thrilling blast from the  past, a reminder of how much pleasure can be had just from being tucked into elegance and graciousness. And fittingly my dinner companion is the epitome of style and substance. The ever-gorgeous Dr Jamuna Pai, pioneering cosmetologist is renowned not just for the many firsts to her credit but also for her Bridal TV shows and the innumerable  Miss Universe, and Miss India’s she has been skincare expert to. With cutting edge skincare clinics in Mumbai ,Delhi and Pune she has almost become a household name now in India for skincare, but  she still makes time to cook Indian food brilliantly. Her fabulous recipes have been part of  my Penguin Celebrity cookbook too,.Both Doc and  the soft spoken Suchi Kalia give a thumbs up to the food here.

DECOR

It’s spacious, it’s plush, it offers privacy. We sit under shimmering Ossler chandeliers and Venetian crystals, (plenty of space between tables) and  finely curated prints (that date back to the 17th century) around us. We love the community bar table, the quirky magnifying reading glass, quill pen and gramophone in the adjoining Kipling bar (with many an innovative cocktail) and settle down to a leisurely and fun dinner.

FOOD

Multilayered, rich, spice perfumed flavours from Awadh, Hyderabad, Kashmir and more. Hailing from the Awadh region, 32 year old chef  Angad Rai not only brings his training in the Lucknavi kitchens  but also khada and khushboo masalas pipri, kachri, patherkephool, nag kesar, rose petals. He handpounds them and teases big effects from the superb softest Galouti and equally good  vegetarian waterchestnut and avocado Khaas Kebabs. We trip out on the homestyle Awadhi Purvanchal saag (spiked with bathua And ambada).Exquisite nalli nihari (cooked in Unani masala) must be mopped up with the light saffron flavoured taftan bread.   Succulent Lahori chaampain with whispers of saunf. Kashmiri hand pounded Sasranga  mutton  mellowed with curd, saffron and mogra is a must try. Khaas dal makhni rich with safed makhan too. End with the moist, subtle and flavoursome kache gosht ki Dum Biryani. Plenty for vegetarians (50 percent of the menu)

Try the Kalonjiwale Baigan, tangy Amchuri Bhindi  and Ande ki biryani.

MINUS POINTS

Small portions. We could do with more generosity. The seafood (be it the gongura prawns or the jaituni pomfret) though not below par lacks the masterfulness of the rest of the dishes. The light Broccoli Dak Bangla.with kasundi mustard  is dragged down with it’s Philadelphia cream cheese slathering. Rajbhog, angoodi rabdi are ho hum, the outsourced paan icecream is a little better, but what is fabulous (and we  ask for seconds) is the Khubani ka meetha (unfortunately, on my second dinner I was told it’s not on the menu anymore).My favourite sparkling water (neither Perrier nor Pelligrino) available in this 5 star hotel.

MY POINT

Kudos to The Sahib Room for not taking it’s name literally and serving up clichéd decor or Anglo-Indian food from the Raj. Instead Awadh, Hyderabad and Kashmi distil themselves graciously on our plates in elegant surroundings. I eat two long meals here (pay an average of Rs 5000 meal for 2).There is consistency in the food (except for a few, the desserts and the portions could be bigger), I am told that the chef uses the principles of Unani medicine in cooking to achieve the perfect balance between being rich yet non-greasy. There is plenty of ceremony associated with fine dining  yet there’s a relaxed air, that is in sync with most diners’ temperaments. I raise a toast in delight with their  paan martini  Mera Salaam hai!

 

The Sahib Room & Kipling Bar Palladium Hotel, Lower Parel/

Av meal for 2: Rs 5,000  Ph 61628000

Open for lunch and dinner

RATING FOOD 4 SERVICE 4 DECOR 4


 

TIMES FOOD GUIDE 2015

Booking restaurant tables under fake names, landing up for surprise checks… am busy doing that twice a day. Exciting, exacting and fattening times are here. I am busy eating for The Times Food guide 2015. Would love to incorporate your recommendations, please do share your favourite restaurants and invite you to dine with me (rashmiudaysingh2015@gmail.com) FB @rashmiudaysingh instagram, twitter. Waitingly yours.

OOOH CALCUTTA

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I go back to my city of joy regularly…I have shot TV shows, eaten at and written about (sometimes all three at the same time) many a favourite place  here..be it Jhalmoodi and puckas on Russel street, Chinese in Tangra, breakfast on the street in Bentick street,  Bhojohari Manna, Oh Calcutta,  6 Ballygunge, Kewpies, Mocambo Jhalfarezi, Nizams (Flurys is not on my list). Rossogullas, sandesh and kheerkadam capital, (Nakur, Ballaram Mullik, my favourites). Was fortunate enough to be invited to my  brother’s birthday banquet to the latest, hottest happening restaurant making waves in Kolkatta…Yauatcha (in Sanjeev Goenka’s brand new mall). It was as good as ever.  Next trip, am going to eat club kachori, Kesariya jalebi at  Gupta brothers new Alipore (recommended by @justcookies_mumbai) Also

Anjan Chatterjee’s Mezzuna, Shaun Kenworthy’s——- Tea at Mrs magpie, Aaheli at Peerless Inn (recommended by chocolate_and_zucchini Sliders at Smokehouse Deli, Cocomalai and daab sherbet in Paramount shakes in college street  (@dishabrokenwings) @anamikachatterjee @skydiverprotima thanks for your recommendations.

P.S. My timeless Calcutta favourites? The 125 year old  Chittaaranjan rossogulla and rabdi, 2 century old Royal Calcutta Golf Club and the gracious,iconic Oberoi Grand,  which work the Calcutta magic..

Review: KOLKATTA CALLING

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Lunching with the genius Dr Bhabatosh and Naina Sahu at Kolkatta Calling
Lunching with the genius Dr Bhabatosh and Naina Sahu at Kolkatta Calling

Bengali, chinese, North indian

I love Kolkatta and also Calcutta (just got back two days ago).  And so the opening of Andheri East’s “Kolkatta Calling” has   me and the charming Naina and Dr Bhabatosh Sahu  very excited. We not only have a long discussion on Bengali food (he cooks brilliantly) but I am floored by the fact that this genius did not complete school (studied till the ninth standard) but went on to complete his Masters in H.R. Phd in management (from prestigious institutes), is a professor in IIM. Fellow in Wharton and heads up a cutting edge company  which is driven by high end chemistry and makes building blocks for DNA/ RNA, I love these happy ending stories, does our restaurant review have on?.

DÉCOR

Frayed copies of “The adventures of Tin Tin” (in Bengali, please note)   nakshi pakhas (traditional hand fans), Tagore poetry scrawled on walls…make up the décor. Old Bengali songs resound in the in the very rustic small eatery with it’s benches, Pepsi fridge and  wall clock.

We bought some of the popular Kolkata-based farsan brand Mukharochak (kept in a shelf for sale)

FOOD

Bengali, Chinese and North Indian fare here. Stick to the Bengali starters (chops, cutlets and rolls) in the appetiser section. My favourites Bekti paturi  and prawn malai curry have just the right balance of texture and flavour. The succulent mutton in the robustly curry Thakur Barir Pathar Mangsho

just about passes muster. MINUS POINTS

Skip  the Gobi Manchurian and Chilly Chicken on the menu.Avoid the  dry and tasteless Kobiraja, as also the  Cholar dal. Sadly there was no  Radhaballabi or   mochar ghanto.  Very sadly too the sweets were dry and tasteless be it the rossogulla or the Payesh.

MY POINT

Rustic ambiance in the small eatery tucked into Andheri East’s crammed streets. Okayish and moderately priced (Rs 1000 meal for two) Bengali fare with disappointing mishti. Maybe it was just an off day for them, so I am making plans to go back with my Bengali gourmet buddy Kalyan Karmakar (@finelychopped) meanwhile do share your experiences with me (rashmiudaysingh2015@gmail.com, twitter and instagram @rashmiudaysingh)

Plot No.285
Near Sher-E-Punjab Colony and Tolani College of Commerce
Andheri (East)

2836 8733

Open noon to 3.30pm, 6pm to 11.30pm

RATING 3 DECOR 3 SERVICE 3.5

WOW MEAL DEALS #GW2014

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Your response to Amex presents Timescity Gourmet week (15th to 21st September) has been fabulous. So many restaurants are already fully booked up, because of the irresistibly low prices at which they are offering their meals Making this fabulous offer possible (across cuisines and throughout the city) is the one and only Timescity.com, Indias acknowledged leading destination for restaurants, bars, movies and events. And fine dine has always been the prestigious American Express’s   national and international forte. And so was born American Express presents Timescity Gourmet week.

FREE DINNERS? Plenty of contests being run on Facebook.com/TimesCity

Twitter.com/TimesCity. Check them out.

 

ALREADY BOOKED UP

The early birds got bookings in these restaurants and they are already booked up…Souk, China House, Zodiac Grill, Masala Library, Yauatcha.

 

BOOK NOW

Dont say I didn’t warn you, these super star restaurants are also almost already booked up and the sooner you try your luck at booking the better  … Japanese (Wasabi, Kofuku)  Chinese ( Royal China, Golden Dragon,  Mainland China)  Thai (Thai Pavilion)  Italian (Vetro, Celini, Trattoria, Lorenzo) to Indian (Dum Pukht, K &K, Dakshin. Saffron) to Coastal (Konkan café, Gajalee, Trishna) Bengali (Oh Calcutta) Tex mex (Sanchos) Shiro, Cheval, Goa Portugesa, Rajdhani, Tuskers, Amadeus, Diva, Levo, 022.

What you waiting for? (only 3 days left, including today) Log onto timescity.com /GW NOW

CULINARY CHENNAI CHARMS

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Here it is. The best inheritance we can ever receive. The legacy of legacies…the passing on of recipes and cooking styles from an older generation to the younger one. Each time I conduct my “Whats hot” tasting session in Chennai, I get even more delighted by the keen interest in cooking and baking here. Especially in all generations.   And more often than not this transgenerational transfer of recipes happens from mother to daughter. Twenty six year old talented and hardworking Nahla Fathima not learnt baking from her gifted  mother Amira Kalifulla but also from her mother’s equally talented sister Yasmin. “I have been baking as a kid, thanks to my mother and aunts who sparked this interest in me, and were also the cause of my sweet tooth” Nahla explains. She used to bake cakes for mostly family parties and special occassions at home. Since then, Nahla has been taking  orders for customized cakes, theme based cakes and cupcakes. She set up H H Gourmet cakes and cupcakes and in September 2013, put up a Facebook page too. She joined the Home Bakers Guild Festive show case too. Her customized cakes are fondant based but she also does special buttercream frosting. What is particularly commendable is that she makes it all at home and uses only the freshest and finest ingredients. 

Nahla started with the classic chocolate cake that uses melted liquid chocolate rather than cocoa powder. Initially, it was buttercream and freshcream cakes, but now her specialisation is themed and customised fondant cakes, although her clients do call her for buttercream cakes which she still does. she use french and swiss meringue buttercream which isnt like the popular and easier American buttercream available in all the bakeries. 

Nahla is quick to point out “As I am a homebaker, it is mostly a one-man show, so I take only limited orders and well in advance. Especially for fondant cakes”. Nahla is happy to customise and cakes and make them as elaborately as possible usually with the client’s own reference picture. Another popular theme right now is the 2 or 3 tiered cake, especially for 1st bday parties, weddings as they rightly steal the show and look quite magnificent when placed at the venue with the themed set up. So it is Nahla’s two tiered cakes that are mostly in demand right now. Animal shapes, Barbie dalls, cars…you name it, Nahla will create it.

NUTRITIOUS & DELICIOUS

“The recipe i am sharing with you is a Banana Cake recipe, which is one that

i do frequently as a way to get my son to eat the fruit and also to use up those overipe bananas which no one wants to eat”. Nahla points out. The cake is not very sweet as most of the sweetness comes from the fruit. It also has all the healthful properties of the fruit.

The recipe is versatile as it lends to being made a pound cake, cupcakes, loaves or even as cake layers for stacking.

DSC_0491

Ingredients

Butter – ¾ cup

Sugar – 11/4 cup

Eggs – 3

Vanilla extract – 1 tsp

Bananas Overipe – 4

Flour – 3 cups

Baking soda, Baking powder – 1 tsp each

Salt – ½ tsp

Cinnamon – 1 tsp

Buttermilk – 1 cup ( 1 cup milk with 1 tbsp vinegar )

Sour cream – ¼ cup

 

Preheat oven to 180 C. Line 2 9” pans.

Cream the butter. Add sugar to creamed butter. Mix until smooth.

To this add the eggs 1 at a time until fully incorporated. Add the vanilla extract and bananas to this mixture.

In another bowl, sieve the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.

In a third bowl, mix together the buttermilk and the sour cream.

Now, add the dry and wet ingredients alternatively.

Pour into lined pans and bake for 30 – 40 mins until springy to touch.

 

Ph. 99442-60015.  www.facebook.com/Nahlabakes.  WWW.Facebook.com/Nahlabakes.  Mail add: nahlanavfal@gmail.com

FOODLINE

Do you work out of home? Would you like to be featured here?

Are you a home baker? Home chef? Please email (Rashmiudaysingh2015@gmail.com, Anjalisharma965@gmail.com) FB, instagram, tweet @rashmiudaysingh your contact details and the work you do and we will revert to you asap. We will conduct a “Whatshottasting session and invite you to it. Look forward to hearing from you and featuring you here…

Gaggan Rockup in Mumbai

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The wow never wavered. I loved every moment of   hosting  the Gagganrockup (not popup, please note) alongwith Timescity.com
It was a rocking exclusive 5 hour gastronomical experience. Flamboyant, articulate  36 year old, Kolkatta born Gaggan Anand, globally acknowledged for his cutting edge Bangkok restaurant (Gaggan. Judged as Asias 3rd best and no 17 on the Worlds 50 list)) performed (that’s the only word) thru the evening, wearing his signature golden. Onitsuka Tiger keds et al.   Along with his 6 member team (4 nationalities) he used science to deliver traditional indian flavors thru a 15 course dinner(be it the quivering white orb
which exploded with thepapdi chaat flavor or an ethereal dhokla). In the Four Seasons  swish “The Kitchen at The Mansion”     applauding his   wizardry and relishing his magic were the creme da la creme of gastronomes….
… Ambika Hinduja, Raman Macker, Riyaaz Amlani AD and Sabina Singh, Sanjeev and Alyona Kapoor,   Jay Singh, Shobhaa De with Arundhati,  Avantikka and Pramod. Farokh Khambata, zeba and Rajesh Kohli,  Kabir Bedi wt Parveen Dusanj. Camelia Panjabi, Aroon Purie Kalli Purie, Gayatri Rangachari Shah, Anil Dharkar. Amy Fernandes. Also present was the dashing young brigade of Anandita De Raaj Sanghavi and Karan Bhojwani.