Marwari, Gujarati, chaat
Dissapointing. That one word sums up the whole review of Makhan in Kalbadevi. I love diving into the cacophonic, colorful Kalbadevi area, but my excitement to check out this new pure vegetarian eatery from the Brijwasi mithai chain was short-lived. Sadly.
Functional décor marks the smallish air conditioned space with it’s mithai counter running alongside. Stainless steel tables and ochre walls complete the decor. A narrow staircase leads to the even smaller mexanine area (open for dinner only.)
I ate alone… with determination and (you’ll agree) with optimism and hope. Please take a look at the accompanying photograph…I tasted my way through all those dishes (with the hope of coming across delicious ones, the eternal optimist that I am). But it is only the Delhi dahi bada papdi chaat (I hold close up) drizzled with tamarind chutney and squishy and crisp under the chilled dahi that delights. Crisp pappad chudi and the robustly spiced Samosa chaat are just about above par.
They also serve Upvas food (which includes French fries) and thalis. (Rs 130 to sp Rs 240).
The Marwari and Gujarati fare (which I absolutely love) is either undercooked, overcooked or just plain dull that no measure or mingling of seasonings could save it.
While the Kair sanger is okayish the accompanying parathas are greasy, the stuffed pyaz paratha is doughy. My most favorite Dal batti and it’s soggy churma disappoints. As does the watery Gattey ki sabzi with oily thin ajwain paratha. Jodhpur’s famous Mirchi vada is crisp but stone cold. Can the silky superb Gujarati kadhi actually be rendered so tasteless? Ditto for the Punjabi kadhi and the stodgy Gujarati Handvo. The bhaturas are plump but kacha and the cholley tasteless. Ofcourse, the Dhansak is not even a pale imitation of the Parsi original. I could go on listing the dishes I ate, but suffice it to say that it’s all below par and all the accompanying rotis, bhakris, parathas are undercooked and overgreased.
Parking is impossible.
Im a Kalbadevi area addict. Shree Thacker Bhojnalaya tops my reasons for popping in to this throbbing, pulsating part of the city.
Im a fan of the exquisite gourmet vegetarian Gujarati and Marwari cuisines. So that’s why I determinedly ate my way alone through Makhan’s menu (paid Rs 2000, no credit cards accepted) . Generously portioned dishes, modestly priced (meal for 2, Rs 300- 400), swift service but none of these reasons make up for the food which lacks luster. And which (heres that word again) disappoints.
Makhan 192/194 Kalbadevi Road, Opposite the Cotton Exchange, Kalbadevi (2240-2597). Open noon- 11pm. Meal for two R300-R400
RATING FOOD 2 SERVICE 3.5 DÉCOR 3
Been flooded. Overwhelmed. A zillion thanks for all your recommendation on twitter, email and instagram Awesome recommendations from South Indian Udipis to Bengali Roll places, and from Chaat corners to Dessert shops, we’ve got it all.
@HungryMumbai @WheelsOnOurFeet @rbhotica @DelishDirection @Rulerofmind @RassiBomb @ZeniaIrani thanks ever so much. Sorry cant thank each and every one of you, due to space constraint, but look forward to hearing from you on email@example.com, twitter and instagram @rashmiudaysingh and eating about with you too.
NEW, NEWER, NEWEST
Tried. Tested. Tasted. It doesn’t get any better than this. Find out the latest about the greatest, know all about the brand new restaurant openings from the chotta to the motta all delivered to you with speed, accuracy and comprehensiveness. “It’s the best biryani in South Mumbai” posted @abhinitk (on my instagram account, I still have to find out his full name) I went instantly to check out this newest, cheapandcheerful eatery and takeaway which has just opened in South Mumbai. It’s called Kyamiyaa, its seriously small, is it worth dashing down to? Is it Value for money? … to find out more you have to log onto Timescity.com. What you waiting for? Go for it. Tcity.me/kyamiyaa.
Excuse me for speeding! I’m on a mission. I’m on the look out for one single dish which captures the essence of each of my favorite cities. Surely! It cant be Bhelpuri for Mumbai? Though it is a lot like the city itself, it’s tangy, crisp, sour, sweet, squishy…but it doesn’t distil the high-end, highrise glossy life or Bombay- to- Mumbai’s chequered history. And here in Kolkata my heartbeat is quickening with joy. Here, many centuries coexist seamlessly. Here, in this undecipherable amalgam of modernity and oldness, human warmth and apathy, rickshaws and limousines throbs the soul of the city which I love. Sure it is proudly Bengali, it is multi-cultural but it still hark backs to the Colonial Raj. And here amidst all this cacophony and glamour I hit the jackpot. I find that one dish which distils the Bengali heartbeat and the cosmopolitan nature.
Sure! Enough this dish has stood the test of time. Its recipe has been passed down generations of masterchefs. And time stands still in the Historic handsome Oberoi Grand with it’s stucco ornamentation, colonnaded verandahs and balconies. The glory and style of the Raj coexists seamlessly with modernization. Here I trip out on Chef Saurav Banerjee’s “smoked Hilsa” a masterful combination of the Ilish (Hilsa) fish which every Bengali loves done to a very Anglo-Indian style. Having studied in the prestigious catering college of West Bengal, opened many a restaurant around the country, Chef Banerjee has also traveled the world working in Singapore and London.. He brilliantly executes this dish.
This recipe probably existed way back in the early nineteenth century when the site of the hotel was the private residence of a Colonel Grand, which went on to be converted into a boarding house by Mrs. Annie Monk, bought over by Arathoon Stephen an Armenian from Isfahan who redeveloped the site into an extravagant neoclassical style which looks like the hotel today. The hotel soon became a popular spot amongst the English population of Calcutta. It was known, in particular, for its annual New Year party with iced champagne and expensive gifts and for sure this smoked Hilsa dish. Rai Bahadur Mohan Singh Oberoi took over and bought this property in 1939 and it stands handsomely and serenely in the cacophony of Chowringhee. A meal at the multi-cuisine all day dining restaurant,a authentic Thai restaurant, a dip in the limpid blue pool in the heart of the hotel are some of the must-dos. The dapper dynamic George Kuruvilla ensures that history and modernity do a memorable tango and this dish of Smoked Hilsa is the epitome of both.
THE GRAND SMOKED HILSA
The intensely flavored Ilish or Hilsa has been the Bengali favorite (and mine) forever. Chef Banerji very thoughtfully provides substitutes for it (though we both agree that no fish can really match it in texture or flavor). Ditto for the Bengali mustard paste…kasundi. However you can always use any other ready mustard paste. Try it and be transported to the most historic and legendary of Kolkata’s Grand landmark. One bite of it’s smoky-tender-firmness and the flavor of Kolkata with it’s centuries of colorful history will seduce you. A truly unique legendary dish from a Grand legend.
Smoked hilsa (if hilsa not available you may substitute with rawas or sole) fillet 250gm, Baby potato 4 to 6/ Baby carrot3 to 4/ Broccoli 2 small florets/ Baby corn2/ Chopped parsley A small bunch,
Salt 2gm/ Cracked pepper1gm/ Kasundi mustard sauce 2tbsp (can be substituted by any ready mustard paste).
For the sauce
Fish stock 2cups/ Kasundi 1tbsp/ Butter 2 tbsps, Cream Half a cup,
·Take out the hilsa fillet and put it in a pre-heated 180 degrees medium oven till its nicely hot.
·Par boil all the vegetables and season with salt and pepper.
·Sprinkle chopped parsley on the vegetables and arrange it in a plate.
·Place the fillet carefully on the plate and pour the kasundi mustard sauce on it.
·For the sauce reduce the stock to 50%. Add the kasundi mustard.
·Take it off the fire and whisk in the cream and the butter.
METHOD FOR SMOKING
Hilsa fillet de skinned 350gm, 2) Anchovy 5 gm, (use tinned anchovy 1 small piece,) 3)Kasundi mustard 2tsp, 4)Refined oil 2tsp,
5) Lemon juice 1tsp, 6) Salt to taste.
· Remove the scales from the fish and cut out the fillets. In a large container take cloves on a burning ember of coal and pour ghee on it.Trap that smoke . Chef uses ·mango wood dust for smoking but he has given the coal alternative for home cooking. .
Marinate the fillet with (anchovy, kasundi, oil, lemon juice and salt) the ingredients no. 2 – 6 and leave it for one hour.
·Cook the fillet in a pre heated oven.
·De bone the fillet by taking out strips vertically from the fillet.
·Remove the bones feeling them with the knife.
·Join back the strips and cling wrap the fillet carefully, ( should you want to, you can store this smoked hilsa for 4 to 6 days too)
I raise a toast with the delicious“Iron man” juice and ask a few questions: Can delicious also be nutritious? Tasty food be healthy? Contradictory? Not possible? But worth finding out, don’t you agree? After all, food delivers the much-needed energy and the vitality to work and to enjoy life in all it’s manifold aspects. And so it’s been my life-long quest to find food that combines taste with health. And especially in restaurants. Having eaten my way through all my travels around the world and through all my 33 books, I have to admit that very, very few restaurants serve up food that combines these two aspects. Most coax flavors and enhance textures with dollops of fat, frying to a crisp, layers of cream and so on. India’s restaurantscape continues to grow and expand with multiple cuisines and options. And each year, as I research The Times Food Guides I eat non-stop in restaurants here.
You can imagine my delight when in the heart of bustling South Mumbai, I find a cafe, an oasis of calm which creates, innovates and serves up the most amazing spa menu. And this is a glassed off space ( outdoor verandah et al), surrounded by trees. This jewel of a open-through-the-day café is part of the Taj’s Wellington Mews, their swanky serviced apartment property. Sure! You can imbibe the tranquility and coffee and snacks but even more exciting is the light and delightful menu of the Jiva spa complemented by a variety of fresh fruit and vegetable juices. Ofcourse, the comprehensive short menu with it’s sandwiches and pastas also offers a flavorsome Goan prawn curry and the ever popular Chicken kathi roll. But it’s the healthful yet yummy Steamed Sea Bass, the Mediterranean-spiced Chicken Breast and the healthy Wholewheat Ravioli with Spinach and Mushroom and Stir-fried Spring Vegetables served with Tofu that Chef Shrutika Koli excels in. Here I not only trip out on their crisp salads, but also their addictive roasted pumpkin soup spiked with cumin and the homestyle drumsticks.
From chef Shrutika Koli and the dynamic, health-buff Parveen Chander Kumar, who helms the serene spa and the property, I get a rejuvenating taste of health. “The soup is full of antioxidants” explains Parveen and I chip in “and what a unique lingering whisper of cumin it has”.
P.S. The Iron Man is a refreshing apple, guava and pear juice. Weli Deli’s Pineapple and Ginger with Mint and Celery is another favorite of mine too.
HEALTHY COOKING TIPS
Chef Shrutika shares some of her tips and recipes with us.
· Always use only seasonal and fresh vegetables and herbs, instead of canned or dried ones.
· While making juices of fruits and vegetables try and squeeze last minute without adding any sweeteners .
· · · Try to best capture flavors retain the nutrients in food without adding excessive salt and fats
· Cooking with minimal heat and a la minute tossing of food help to maintain colour and texture of food .
· Avoid excess use of all the white food stuffs eg. Sugar , salt , rice , milk, refine flour …..
CUMIN SCENTED ROASTED PUMPKIN BISQUE
Amount Measure Ingredient Preparation Method
500 grams pumpkin red
15 grams cumin seeds roasted and powdered
15 milliliters extra virgin olive oil
10 grams sea salt to taste
10 grams pepper corn crushed
20 grams shallots chopped
20 grams garlic chopped
20 grams leeks chopped
Peel & cut pumpkin in to wedges. Marinate pumpkin with olive oil, salt, peper & garlic.
Roast marinated pumpkin in the oven until well-done. Puree the roasted pumpkin to a fine paste.
Sauté garlic, shallots, leeks, cumin seeds & add pumpkin puree. Add vegetable stock, and seasoning.
Simmer the soup till smooth and creamy. Strain and return to fire.
Check for seasoning, color and consistency. Serve hot garnished with roasted cumin powder.
THE PERFECT PUMPKIN
- Very low calorie (100 gms of pumpkin has 26 calories)No saturated fats or cholesterol.
- Pumpkin has many anti-oxidant vitamins such as vitamin-A, vitamin-C and vitamin-E.
- but rich in fiber, anti-oxidants, minerals, vitamins.
- Recommended by dieticians in cholesterol controlling and weight reduction programs.
- High quantity of Vitamin A, a powerful natural anti-oxidant.
- Plenty of B-complex group of vitamins.
- A rich source of minerals like copper, calcium, potassium and phosphorus.
This ain’t no restaurant, it’s a timeless experience. I step in and out of nostalgic centuries, seamlessly. By the serene river Ganga (in the village of Raichak, an hours drive from Kolkatta) stands “Sonar Tori” a mindblowing restaurant which I discovered two years ago (now I know what Columbus must’ve felt like) and then went back and shot as a judge for the Times Now Foodie TV show. Did I just call it a “restaurant”? It is much more. It is a tribute to the old and rich Indian tradition, it is an art centre, the Bengali idiom has been infused into the coastal architecture of the place in a contemporaryfashion.
Sonar Tori is a visual recreation of the of the rich and layered facets of the socio- cultural- literary – ritualistic elements of Bengal; There is conservation of nature and culture here. The nostalgia of yesteryears has been infused by the usage antique articles and utensils and whoa! The multi-layered and flavorsome Bengali fare delivers magic.
SPRAWLING BY THE RIVER
I was floating on air with joy here. The sheer melding of the beauty of nature with manmade buildings is a triumph of art and science. The existing grooves and water bodies have been conserved. Minimalist thatched roof buildings have been built without disturbing a single tree or water body. Around the 11, 000 sq ft restaurant there is a a scattered look with walkways connecting them. Walk in to the restaurant which sprawls languourously on many levels and like Alladins cave, fabulous rooms keep opening up one after another. The Rabindranath Tagore room (main dining area) the Shisha Bar, main bar, an open air dining area and a sit out by the riverside here. There is also a separate cozy Private dining area within the restaurant.
I cant peel my eyes off the amazing collection of old windows, doors, old photographs, nutcrackers, betel boxes, traditional accounting books, 4 poster beds and trunks. Rabindranath Tagore’s famous poems and sketches adorn the ceilings, as do vintage chandeliers, old-fashioned handheld fans and other bric-a-bracs adorn the interiors, all put together to create nostalgic grace.
“It has been a privilege to say the least, to have been privy to the myriad sensitivities and sensibilities of Bengali cuisine” says the brilliant Harsh Neotia, the driving force behind it “and to offer the assimilation of years of gorging on both the palate and tradition”. His gorgeous wife Madhu Neotia shares his passion for it and works hands on here as an advisor.
THE JOURNEY OF BENGALI CUISINE
How does the brilliant Chef Sumanta Chakrabarti manage to showcase the influence of the Mughals, Europeans and of course the indigenous agrarian ones in his Bengali menus?
He explains that the much relished Bengali fare like polao, kosha mangsho, korma, kofta have been derived from Mughlai cuisine. The Nawab of Awadh (then Oudh) who took refuge in Kolkata during the British Raj brought with him hundreds of cooks and masalchis (spice mixers) who brought in chat, chop & cutlet, pauruti or bread and more.
I find out more about Ghotis (the people of West Bengal who use poppy seeds liberally) and Bangal ( from East Bengal
who favor dal and fish). Ghotis prefer fish bred in ponds or estuaries, like magur and topshe while Bangals prefer fish from big rivers. But the hilsa or ilish is a universal favorite. And Chef Sumanta Chakrabarti, Mathemetics Honours, Bachelor of Architecture and a master in hotel management, combines years of working with Indian and international masterchefs to seamlessly deliver an amazing experience. He serves three varieties of cuisines, namely Zamindari, Grameen & Musalmanir. Each one is served in different metals of thalis and in it’s own pristine orders. Freshest of seafood catch, flavorsome of curries, plumpest of rotis, sweetest and most delicate of milk based desserts…it’s a never ending feast for the senses. I can fill a book about it, instead I request the chef for his recipes. Should you want more please email me (Rashmiudaysingh2014@gmail.com, twitter @rashiudaysingh )
SONAR TORI RECIPE
Channar narkol paturi
Fabulous recipe of chenna steamed in a banana leaf
120 gm Chenna – Bengal cottage cheese
50 gm Grated coconut
2 tea spoon Ginger Paste
1 tae spoon Garlic Paste
3 nos Green chili paste
2 tea spoon Mustard paste
1 pinch Black cumin seed
1 table spoon Khoyaa
1 no Green chili slit
To taste Salt
½ tea spoon Sugar
1 no Banana leaf
2 tea spoon Mustard oil
Blend with the end of the wrist chenna into smoothness, and then add the grated coconut, ginger paste, garlic paste, green chili paste, mustard paste, khoyaa. Mix the entire ingredient nicely.
Crackle the black cumin seed, sprinkle on top, wrap the mixture in banana leaf, add green chili slit on top and drops of mustard oil and seal the banana leaf. Serve preferably with bangla pulao
Steam it for 4-5 minutes
I raise a toast to the very British tradition of high tea (ofcourse I do it with a cup of the finest Earl Grey tea)!
BRITISH HIGH TEA
Over the years, I’ve been sipping and tasting my way through many a high-tea in London’s legendary hotels and each time I salute Duchess Anna of Bedford for having sent out the invite for “tea and a walk in the fields” over a hundred and fifty years ago. The lovely lady set in motion the most dainty of all culinary traditions.
I raise many a toast to the most legendary, the highly-awarded and the worlds best High teas (which Ive partaken of)…London’s grand historic hotels, The Ritz, The Dorchester, The Lanesbrough and even The Ritz in Madrid and Paris. An amazing tradition which evolved with time…of tea service, side plates, bread and butter plates, cake stands, and every conceivable accompaniment advancing across the drawing room. Tea gardens, tea dances , a whole code of etiquette followed. Now, Tea Council Inspectors check standards and coveted awards are given every year for the Top London Afternoon Tea and Top Tea Place.
Not just the domain of the society grand dames, this tradition is hugely popular with the younger fashionable set too.
CHINESE TEA CEREMONY
Quite different from the British High tea is the Chinese Tea ceremony. I have attended only one such ceremony where tea was made in small clay teapots. The pot rinsed with boiling water and then tea leaves added to the pot using chopsticks or a bamboo scoop. “The art of preparing and making tea is called Cha Dao” informs my Chinese host. I enjoy the way the cups are arranged in a circle and the server pours the tea in all of them in one go.
I notice that he fills the cups just over half way. I am told that the Chinese believe that the rest of the cup is filled with friendship and affection. What a delicious thought!
JAPANESE TEA CEREMONY
Known for their stylish and elegant Chanoyu, the Sencha ceremonies, these are worth partaking of.The Chanoyu ceremony takes place in a wooden or bamboo teahouse called a Chashitsu. Plenty of wonderful rules around being calm, washing hands enjoying the Teishu making the tea using powdered green tea called ‘matcha’ and sitting on the floor around a low table.
THE BEST OF THE BEST
Sure all the High teas and tea ceremonies Ive attended have been fabulous, but this one, here in Bangalore is easily the best. Please take a look at the photograph Ive shot. Time stands still, luxurious high tea from another era is flamboyantly served under the 150 year old Rain tree. Every detail in this 125 year old beauty of a landmark Taj Westend hotel is perfect. The Taj West End was started as a 10 bed genteel boarding house for upper class English Gentlemen by the Bronsons in 1887 and today remains at the top of the world class hotels. I take many trips back in time here in all their bespoke experiences they’re offering to celebrate history. From getting high on their Heritage Champagne Walk, admiring the oldest and first red colored Post Box operational till date, soaking in the Art Corridor to sitting under the magnificent Rain tree which is older than the hotel and has stood tall since 1848. Here with the charming colonial 1905 block as backdrop in the Mynt Lawns, I choose from a selection of delectable treats.
Along with this Art of High Tea an inspiration from the Colonial era (with a menu crafted for both vegetarians and non-vegetarians)The brilliant executive Chef Sandip Narang having honed his mastery all over the world and set up award winning restaurants in India also offers a well contemplated Anglo Indian Menu that draws inspiration from the British Raj, of western dishes infused with spices and other local ingredients. At the Westend’s High tea, take your pick… open sandwich of smoked salmon, cucumber and dill sandwich, crispy fish finger with tartare sauce, lemon tart, frosted cupcakes, coffee macaroons, strawberries in chocolate to name a few. Pair it with a wide ranging tea selection from Darjeeling to Monking Jasmine, Earl Grey and Egyptian Camomile.
I’ve been passionately in love with The Westend and been visiting it since many decades. It’s old world charm and colonial architecture blends with the high tech and amazing restaurants (including India’s first Vietnamese restaurant, Blue Ginger) weave a memorable spell, The dynamic Somnath Mukherjee ensures that each and every detail is perfect. Over the years, staying in these cottages interspersed over 20 acres of lush greenery and spreading canopies of trees has always been magical for me. I’m fascinated to learn that it was under these trees that Nobel prize winner Ronald Ross discovered the cure for malaria. It was here that Sir Winston Churchill often dined as a Cigar – smoking war journalist; and later went on to become the Prime minister of Britain. It is here that under the ancient Rain tree that I sip (literally too) 125 years of legendary history. This is most certainly, my cup of tea.
NEW YORK FOOD GUIDE
Pardon the blasphemy: I write from the original Biblical Paradise. I am convinced that it was this very Big apple that Eve tempted Adam with. So here’s a teeny taste of New York’s vast, tentacled food scene’s eternally evolving everythingness. My son Dhruv and his friend Tracy help me check it all out…from the low and high, faddish and fun, diabolically tasty, heartbreakingly expensive to the cheapest… happily vegetarians have plenty to eat everywhere.
NYC CULT FOOD AND STREET FARE
Go on. Take to the streets and you’ll be spoilt for choice, from calzones, falafel t to combined papaya juice/hot dog stands corndogs, grilled chestnuts and more. Go for the steaming, paper thin heaps of pastrami overflowing from a sandwich ( Katz Deli ) Manhattan is pizza lovers haven. Lombardis (Spring street) is still my choice though you can pick up a slice most anywhere. A BITE OF HISTORY NYC is where the Delicatessan (Deli) was created by the East European jews as also the Reuben sandwich, Steak Diane,Vichyssoise and the Waldorf salad . Cronuts being the latest. Crunch on the apple and walnut rich Waldorf salad at the Waldorf Astoria like we do or step back in time in the old-word charm of Café Carlye (76th and Madison) where music legends have played, we were lucky to hear Woody Allen on the clarinet as we dined on the classic Lobster bisque and Branzino. Cant keep eating fancy ? Do what I did went into the iconic Plaza hotel’s brand new Todd English Foodhall (1 W 59th street) for affordable fare.
If you have deep pockets (or like us save up and not shop) then a five hour Italian meal at celebrity chef Mario Batallis 24000 sq ft elegant Del posto (85, 10th Ave) is a must. I ate at Perse (Columbus Circle) last trip and found it too frilly and predictable,
FINE DINE DEMOCRATISED
Its also called the “Momofuku effect” And it all started with my favorite fabulous Michelin starred Changs Momofuku Ssam bar (East village)superlative food. We dine with Viveka Purandare at Will Guidara’s fabulous NoMad’s (1170 Broadway) lacquered roast chicken with truffles and foie gras to the mindblowing simplicity of red radishes enrobed in a thin shell of butter. On my last trip we had dined at their “Eleven Madison Park”(10 Columbus circle) …astounding though more formal. OUR CASUAL FLAVORITES Innovative yet comforting Mediteranean fare at Atrio (Conrad hotel, Battery park) chef Antonio Cardoso excels here. Innovative, inspired supercharged dimsum at Red Farm ( Second Ave East Village) buzzing Parisian bistro. Balthazar (Spring st) are must visits
Michelin starred Junoon (means passion in hindi) (27 W, 24th St) lives up to it’s name and serves up an authentic, yet elegantly modern take on Indian cuisine. And four of us speakers (Hemant Oberoi, Zorawar Kalra Rajesh Bhardwaj and me ) from the Columbia Business school food panel dine in this handsome, high ceilinged packed and noisy restaurant where the hot sexy chef Vikas Khanna creates magic. With us are Revti Gupta, Divya Surana and Kersi Shroff the brilliant masterminds of Columbias Inspiring India.
Whoa we feasted on the glittering 360 degree view of NYC from the swanky Top of The Standard (848 Washington street)– formerly Boom Boom Room –luxurious 70s-inspired glam, with starburst chandeliers, gold plated chairs et al. Equally popular is that oasis of luxe urban cool, Dream hotel ( Midtown West) owned by Vikram Chatwal) exclusive puny Electric Room nightclub And PH-D, their rooftop nightclub.
DOLLOPS OF GLAMOR
Asia is on steroids at this sprawling new Tao Downtown (92 9th Ave) loud music, seabass satay, dimsum, sake flight tasting and Patrick Duxbury insists we trip out the most decadent dessert platter. We do happily. Beauty& Essex… Walk through a jewellery pawn shop into this gem of a restaurant with sharing mutli ethnic plates. Purvi Thacker and I trip out on Lobster tacos to eggplant pizzettas Love the vibe and Italian fare at Robert di Nero’s Greenwich hotel.The fluffy pancakes at Three Guys Restaurant (Madison Avenue) and the Greek manager proudly informs that the worlds most beautiful actress Deepika Padukone has eaten here.
ROOHI JAIKISHEN RECOMMENDS It was a virtual miracle: it was on Instagram that I got recommendations from Roohi Jaikishen, the discerning gourmet New York addict and followed them too. Amongst them were, Jean Georges Vongerischten at 1920s Paris meets New York, Mark hotel (super steamed shrimp salad.) Tao, Beauty and Essex, Top of the Standard, Dream hotel Schiller and Arlington recommended by Roohi.
NYC CHEAPAND CHEERFUL I sniffed out some great finds on my eatabouts all thanks to instagram and twitter (@rashmiudaysingh) I got some amazing recommendations from NYCfoodtastic, Rikin Kadakia and many more. * Artichoke pizza on Mcdougal, * Xian famous food’s famous lamb burger ( St. Marks street) all for $3 *Malai Marke for Indian food beats chote nawab or bricklane * Ippudo For ramen noodles and burgers * los taco no.1 (chelsea market,) salts of 100 flavors to finger licking lobsters too. * Woorijip Authentic Korean food, for buffets with 40+ options
I am breathing art, seeing art, hearing art and ofcourse tasting art. In Barcelona, this city of culture, knowledge,creativity and innovation Spanish genius has been nurtured over centuries…be it Gaudi or Dali or Picasso. Culinary heros like Ferran Adria have blazed global trails and now many more are making an international impact. Infact the first ever culinary book was written in Barcelona in the 12th century. Barcelona with it’s architectural masterpiece buildings with floral motifs, stained glass windows, wrought iron balconies and neo gothic details really is like an open air museum.
In the heart of it all, is the oldest Majestic which opened it’s doors in 1918. It is timeless, elegant and luxurious and always has been even when it’s nightly rate was just oven ten cents. Today the third generation of the founding Soldevila-Casals family continues to ensure that this “art hotel” not only houses a collection of priceless art but many great artists like Picasso and Miro have lived here too.
Did you know that Barcelona is the capital of Catalonia, a small nation pursuing independence within a united Europe? And though it has assimilated cosmopolitan cultures, over a 1000 years, it continues to hold it’’s own roots, culture, language and cuisine in high regard.
I am fascinated by this complex yet amazingly simple cuisine and the high state of gastronomy in Catalonia. Daylight bathes the timeless elegance of the Majestic located in the throbbing heart of Barcelona. It is here that Michelin starred chef Nando jubani weaves his magic. Along with the masterpieces which regale the diners, it is here too that I request to taste the most Catalan of all dishes…the simple (and now in season) “Calcotada”.Please take a look at the photograph and you’ll see what I mean. There is an art to eating this specialty which takes a little practice: tip the head back and open your mouth wide, then hold the long white stalk high above and then bring it between your teeth and enjoy it…it’s the ancient ritual of Calcotada, the great green onion feast, which attracts thousands of devotees ever year and has acquired an essential place in the economy of the entire region. It is said that Xat de Benaiges was the first to grill the green onion over a flaming fire over a hundred years ago. The green onions (harvested November till January) are grilled in advance . I request Chef David Romero to make this ancient specialty and voila! What a fantastic job he does. As done for more than a century, the dynamic Santiago Martin, the knowledgable Montse Subirana and I peel away the smoke-blackened skin and dip the green onions in the”salbitaxada” sauce, a piquant sauce of tomatoes, almonds, peppers, vinegar and oil and the simplicity and freshness of the flavors not only seduces but also energises me.
Sauce for the calcots …green onions
2 tbsp blanched almonds, 2 bitso peppers, (substitute with red chilli peppers)6 cloves of garlic, 2 ripe tomatoes, skinned and iced, 1 tbsp chopped parsley, 1 tbsp red wine vinegar, half cup olive oil, salt and pepper. Method…Heat a dry skilled and toast almonds, crush them coarsely in a morter pestle. Chop garlic and peppers (after deseeding) coarsely, mix with almonds. Add tomatoes, parsley, vinegar and then pour in olive oil gradually. Whisk into a thick paste. Tip: you can use a mixi if you are short of time.
It is only in Catalonia that even the war which they lost (in 1714) is celebrated by Michelin starred chef Jordi val in his restaurant “300 el born” where typical Catalan dishes are cooked to their hearty recipes interpreted by jordi in his own brilliant way.
THE BEST OF THE BEST
I landed in Catalonia only day before and have already been regaled by the most amazing restaurants…At the hot, happening, new bar Brutal Can Cisa in the old city, not only are amazing Catalan Tapas served but also only “natural wines”.
I taste it all…from the three Michelin starred Carme Rustadilla’s masterpieces in texture and flavor to the homestyle Catalan flavors of the Garrega family kitchen. The 62 year young Carme weaves magic in her seafront restaurant. Each dish is a work of art and artistry and our three hour long meal is a memorable parade of 23 courses. At “Tickets” the Adria brothers, vibrant and fun tapas bar with a twist (and what a twist) wizardry and skill results in quivering spheres which look like olives and implode with olive flavor, tempura pistachio, artichoke ravioli, the worlds first gourmet beer (with hints of fennel and liqourice) which pairs brilliantly with he food…all created by the famous El Bulli brothers Adria. At their Peruvian-Japanese fusion “Pakta” I am blown away by the ceviches and sushi withPeruvian overtones and Bodega 1900 is a nostalgic return to the good old days. Tomorrow early morning I leave for Girona to eat in the “Worlds best restaura nt” crowned by the London based “Worlds 50 best restaurant academy”..it is called “El Celler can de Roca” and it is a part of Catalonia. Viva Catalonia!