Travel

Review: The Irish House

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American, European

 

AMRITA AND RICHARD KOSZAREK CHEER THE IRISH HOUSE
AMRITA AND RICHARD KOSZAREK CHEER THE IRISH HOUSE

“Ireland se aaya mere dost, dost ko salaam karo”.  A couple of months ago, our very own rocking Irish House (the largest one yet) set up in Andheri. More than a year ago, the first of these Irish triplets was born in  Phoenix Mills, followed by Kala Ghoda. Ive eaten and  “happy houred” at all, also given a thumbs up verdict  as we did in our latest Andheri checkout.  Richard Koszarek is famous for  his steaks, pork chops and beans, while Amrita’s  mutton pickle is legendary.

The well-traveled foodie couple Amrita and Richard Koszarek not only spend a lot of time in London but Richard particularly enjoys the pubs there. They say Yes!  to The  Irish House.

DÉCOR

Everything in this predictably themed, wooden-decored space is larger than life; from the expansive,  high-ceilinged hall to the TV screens. Brick walls with trademark Irish house posters (take time to read them Beer Ladder, the Whisky Wall, Beer Kegsand thePost Box, Community tables…you name it.

FOOD & DRINK

Large (that word again) portions of deep fried fare (be it the blistering chilli poppers oozing cheese, or the fleshy mushrooms crunchy with pine nuts) is tasty. On recommendations from (@mihirsagar @dina_bshah @harpr iya_kohli

@abbas_974@thebombayfoodie) I try the  Chicken tacosBeer Can Chicken cordon bleu and Grande nachos, pail of Popcorn et al . Chicken tenders are better in Kala Ghoda but otherwise all the rest of the fare satisfies.Well-stocked bar, with 42 types of beer from across the globe (draught beer is served in Kegs & Towers) Richard recommends the Erdinger wheat beer and Stella Artois. Try the  innovative cocktails (Irish Trash Can, Irish Car Bomb)

MINUS POINTS

The oven was not working the night we were there so Richard couldn’t get his Steak ‘n Kidney Pie. Too many deepfried, overdone starters. The large wedge of oversweet  Irish Chocolate Torte and the Kahlua Mousse were avoidable.

 

 

MY POINT

Packed, bustling and vibrant…Ive checked out all three Irish Houses at different times of day and night.Each time, I found that  when the high-ceilinged space is  sufficiently crowded, it has a lived-in, age-softened feel.

And when most of the generously portioned dishes appealingly complement the atmosphere, it hits the sweet spot. No gourmet flashes, it’s mostly a mix of pub stalwarts comfort foods at comforting prices. Happy hours ( 5 to 8pm   ) add to the happiness. Want a cheery, beery, noisy time ? (age no bar) this way please !
The Irish House, 1st floor,  Fun Republic, Opp. new link Road, Andheri (West) 61046161

Open,  12 noon – 1am

RATING FOOD 3.5 SERVICE 3.5 DÉCOR 4

Meal for 2: Rs 2000


ROCKING HOLLYWOOD...TONY NUNCIO AND TANYA
ROCKING HOLLYWOOD…TONY NUNCIO AND TANYA

A TASTE OF EMMYCITEMENT

I’m eating and drinking Emmycitement…er excitement. Here, in Hollywood,  this glamorous land of eternal sunshine,  the air is so thick with  excitement over the high-voltage Emmy awards  that I could slice it and pop it into my cocktail glass (which I do too). And its evident through all my eatingsbout (from the Voltaggio brother’s “Ink” Nobu’s first ever restaurant “Matsuhisa” to the king of chefs Wolfgang Puck’s “Spago). But it’s in the iconic rockstar “Sunset Marquis” where for over 50 years not only have Emmy, Grammy, Oscar winners, legends (including our very own Bachchan family) stayed but their bar manager and actor Tony Nuncio  has been making waves in Hollywood with his latest creation of the cognac based cocktail “Breaking Dad”. Not only does it  celebrate the Emmy winner of 2013 of the same name but also George Rosenthal’s love for cars and his son. Bacon and seasalt popcorn compliment the drink and Im excited to be in Los Angeles  on the night of the Emmy awards!

P.S. Ive been overwhelmed  and overjoyed by your  response via instagram posts to my request to #dinewithrashmi. Im so sorry that Ive been away so long and unable to keep my promise. Will surely do so as soon as Im back.

ROCKSTAR FOOD at Sunset Marquis

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ROCKING FARE: ROD GRUENDYKE AND CHEF ROGER EGGLESTON
ROCKING FARE: ROD GRUENDYKE AND CHEF ROGER EGGLESTON

ROCKSTAR FOOD

It is here in this sundrenched glamorous city that I get my first taste of Rockstar food (literally too).

For the past 50 years, Sunset Marquis has been the secret hideaway for actors, writers, artists, filmmakers,  supermodels, restaurateurs, billionaire entrepreneurs and rock stars.

Interestingly, the stories of the Sunset Marquis and the history of rock ’n’ roll are inextricably intertwined. Several bands debuted in the bar here,  The Doors to Led Zeppelin. Neil Diamond ( used to perform by the pool to pay his tab) to  Elton John, Bruce Springsteen, George Clooney, Jennifer Aniston and many other regulars here.

BOLLYWOOD TO HOLLYWOOD

Amitabh Bachchan, Abhishek and Aishwarya Bachchan have stayed here and enjoyed not only the place but also the food. Moreover, it is the worlds only hotel which has a state of the art recording studio where many Grammy-winning songs have been recorded. Madonna has recorded here so has Elton John (to name a few). It is here that the winners of “American Idol” stay for months and even as I eat the most unique “cauliflower steak” Michael Bolton strolls past in the  3.5 acres of Mediterranean oasis tucked away on  a hill just off The Sunset Strip.

Guarding these superstar’s  “peace and privacy” for over 23 years is the dapper and dynamic Rod Gruendyke who is so passionate about his work that he started working as a manager of travel lodge, when he was 15 years old. Since then he has not only launched several prestigious hotels but continues to redefine hospitality. He recounts how actor  Kevin Costner bumped into the Bachchans and concluded a deal without having to go to India. Interestingly Rod is also a believer in Amma, the hugging saint and has a long-standing affinity for India.

TASTY AND HEALTHY

Taking care of the beautiful people’s  tastebuds and balancing it with their health and fitness needs is

the brilliant Chef Roger Eggleston. He believes in appreciating what the earth gives us, to never stop learning and using the braising technique, of searing and then cooking in a liquid. The trick is to keep the temperature

“low and slow” he points out. To intensify the flavor, he uses vegetable stock but adds apple to it. He shares his recipe…

Cauliflower Steak

  • 4 Cauliflower steaks cut 1 inch thick.  Make sure to leave some as the stem to hold it together
  • Vegetable stock
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Sprig of thyme
  • 4 cloves of garlic

Season the cauliflower with salt.  Heat a heavy pan with some vegetable oil just until smoking.  Add the steaks and sear them until a nice color forms.  Flip them over; add just enough vegetable stock just to come up ½ way on the steaks.  Add the garlic and thyme and bring up to a simmer.  Place the pan in the oven and lightly braise just until tender:  about 15 minutes.  When done, remove from the liquid.

Garnish·     Corn grilled on the cobb and then cut off·     Cleaned morel mushrooms, lightly braised just as the cauliflower steaks·     1 tsp butter·     Sliced chives·     Baby fennel shave thin and placed in ice water·     Raw purple cauliflower·     Garlic blossoms

Heat the morel mushrooms up with some of their braising liquid, add the charred corn and finish with a little butter to glaze the vegetables.  Season with salt and finish with the sliced chives

You can make a Truffled Yogurt by

Whisking 4 egg yolks into yoghurt.  mustard, wine, canola oil,

squeezed lemon juice

To Plate

  • Spoon about 2 tbsp of the truffle yogurt onto the center of each plate· Place one cauliflower steak on top of the yogurt
  • Spoon the vegetable mix over the cauliflower steaks· Using a micro plane, grate the purple cauliflower all over the plate·     Garnish with the shaved fennel and garlic blossoms

Enjoy! keep rocking!

Review: Francesco’s Pizzeria

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Pizza and pasta

 

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Happy surprises: I am sure you love them too. I serve up one today. It’s a Value for money, cheery new pizzeria which shot into fame after it started drone delivery services. But that’s hardly why I commend Francesco, especially since I write this from the pizza capital of the world, NYC.

DÉCOR

It’s tucked into the ever evolving urban theme park of Phoenix mills. This seriously small, wooden-floored, white-walled, brightly lit eatery with oval mirrors on the  walls (which  make the café look bigger) has simple, functional  white wooden tables.

FOOD

Fifteen varieries of pizza (we love the  thin and crisp yet fold-able when you crack it,  crust.). You can choose the size of pizza…

7inch (Rs 220) 10inch (Rs 13inch) and 13inch (Rs 475) and your toppings too. For me, pizza has to be in erotic union with pepperoni (thumbs up to Francesco s). The passionate young Mikhael Rajani ensures   plenty of vegetarian options .

The truffle pizza delights but could do with more of my musky favorite.

Try the robustly spiced Peri Peri Pizza, ( paneer and chicken options).

Tasty  ravioli stuffed with beet ( Rs 325)  but too expensive for the small the portion. Aldente  Spaghetti aglio olio. Broffle (brownie waffle),   the tiny, tenderfirm  Cheesecake and the plain looking bambolino buns stuffed with chocolate  come out tops.

MINUS POINTS

Francesco  has stabs of ill-advised innovation, like the

the dryish Bianca Salmone with too little salmon, the ggplanty parmigiano pizza and the red velvet waffle which is just a waffle gone red. Noisy when packed (which it is most of the time). No beer (a must with a pizza) or wine.

 

MY POINT

I welcome this open through the day, cheery, small, well-priced  pizzeria. It is clearly driven by the  mission of feeding you well, as opposed to giving you food for thought or gourmet fare. Of playing to your tummy instead of your imagination. And with it’s  comforting pizzas and pasta it executes that mission more dependably than many other pizzerias with similarly modest but noble ambitions.  Mama Mia (please note my Indian accent when I say that)

Shop 9-11, Next to L’vista Furnitures, Skyzone, High Street Phoenix, Senapati Bapat Marg, Lower Parel, Open 11 am to 11.30 pm

64

ph 67437000

Meal for two: Rs.1000|

RATING FOOD 3.5 SERVICE 3.5 DÉCOR 3


 

GOD IN NYC

Pardon the blasphemy! I’m convinced that God lives in this adrenalin-fuelled dagger-shaped New York City. How else do I explain the  most divine of palate-pleasures on the street to my transcendental experiences in the greatest cathedrals of cuisine? I’ve been in NYC less than 30 hours and am already getting blown away by

dish after dish’s   visual and gustatory starbursts. I write on my laptop from this sublime heaven of haute cuisine (also a shimmering

Parthenon of pleasure ) – Daniel Boulud’s  Daniel, which has been crowned with 3 Michelin stars for the past 21 years and continues to reign supreme.

The ever smiling spectacularly brilliant Daniel’s   creative French 15 course menu dazzles, and pairing these with wines is NYC’s best sommelier, our very own Raj Vaidya (originally from Mumbai). My dinner companion Rahul Nair, NYC based foodie and screenwriter  obviously has food and films in his genes as his father Sameer Nair now heads up a leading mumbai film and TV production company.Last night’s Jean George’s champagne shrimp salad seduced at The Mark, and I had an exciting Lebanese lunch at Ilili thanks to the king of hospitality design Adam Tihany and his lovely wife Marnie.

Within the next five days I will have sniffed out NYCs  cheap and cheerful and worshipped at  many a haute temple. Please email Rashmiudaysingh@gmail.comtwitter instagram @rashmiudaysingh and I will share the good word with you. Amen!

DUBAI’S CULINARY MECCA

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Found. Atlast. Is it tangy? Is it sweet? Is it a salad? Is it a complete meal? Is it squishy? Is it crunchy? Here it is, the authentic recipe of my most favorite refreshing sweet, tangy, juicy, crispy, healthy, refreshing “Rojak”. I taste it in the most unique of circumstance and venues. I marvel at how the world is shrinking into an amazing and delicious small space. So,I bring for you, this recipe of the Indonesian/Malaysian/Singaporean “Rojak”. It is made by a brilliant German chef. And it is on one of my trips to Dubai that I come across this refreshing delight. To make the global gourmetization even more exciting, I taste this dish in a legendary Thai hotel in Dubai, which turns out to be a culinary mecca.

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CULINARY JOYRIDES AROUND THE WORLD 


“Culinary joyrides around the world” those are the brilliant Chef Joachim Textor’s words. This is the joyride that he takes me through his amazing cooking. He has travelled and lived in  the remote corners of the world. From along the Great Wall of China to Irkutsk (the Paris of the East in the 19th century) to the Omul salmon recipe from the largest fresh water lake in the world: From the southernmost tip of South America, steamed Alaskan crab to Traditional Tasmanian recipes…………he has them all. 
Chef  Textor having completed his culinary education and masters in Germany has worked in 11countries and has to his credit the opening of four hotels and dozens of restaurants. His passions are cooking and travel and exploring new culinary horizons. In pursuit of this he has been to 486 cities and 90 countries from the North to South  pole,
As we sit and chat, in the stunning and picturesque Anantara, I am more and more delighted. Set amidst lush landscaping, with the private beach just behind us, beachfront lagoon pools around us, it is difficult to believe I am in Dubai.

I don’t have the time to dine in all six of the restaurants and bars of Anantara, the culinary mecca, but the  specialty Asian, Mediterranean flavors and the Middle Eastern cuisine, the Thai cuisine seduce my tastebuds and my eyes.

Named after the Arabic word for ‘water’, the Mai Bar (which I love) has a terrace shaded by palm trees and a swim-up bar in the pool. There are  Australian-inspired flame grilled delights too but I don’t have the time to try these.

It is in the terrace of the Beachhouse with it’s fabulous views of the Dubai shoreline that I enjoy the Mediterranean cuisine, including pizzas, tapas and seafood. It is here that I taste the Rojak along with the charming and well informed Hayley Burgess.

 

ROJAK REIGNS

I first tasted the Rojak on the street side in Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia. It was a delightful mix of bean curd, boiled potatoes, prawn fritters, hard boiled eggs, bean sprouts, cuttlefish and cucumber mixed with a sweet thick, spicy peanut sauce. Then in Singapore I tasted their version of Rojak with a sweet and spicy chili sauce. I was told that in Penang, where it is a local favourite, it is always called pasembor, but in Kuala Lumpur and Singapore it is called Rojak.

Ofcourse, there are all different kinds of fruits and fritters which are added and mixed into this. From raw mango to green apple to pineapple, benkoang (jicama), bean sprouts, Chinese-style fritters). And many more.  But here is Chef Textor’s amazing recipe, which is a must try…

ROJAK RECIPE

Ingredients

Serves: 6

  1 medium cucumber

  2 small young green mangoes, peeled

  1/2 medium pineapple, skinned

  50 g Papaya

  20 gr carrot julienne

  45 gr pear

  40 g bean sprouts

  35 fried tofu

  1 large yam bean (sengkuang/jicama), peeled

  1 tsp lime juice

  ½ tsp lemon juice

  20 gr dried shrimps

  30g roasted peanuts, chopped coarsely

  35 g fried Chinese bread stick, thin sliced

  ½ tsp sesame oil

  1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds

  For the rojak sauce

  15 dried chillies, soaked and deseeded

  2.5 cl Tamarind sauce

  1/2 cup (125 ml) tamarind juice

  20 g caster sugar

  1 teaspoon (5 ml) dark soya sauce

Directions

1.        Pound the chillies in mortar and pestle until it becomes a fine paste. Put that paste and tamarind juice in a saucepan and cook over low heat for 10 minutes. Add the sugar and dark soya sauce and cook until the sugar dissolves and sauce is thick. Set aside and let cool.

2.        Cut the vegetables and fruits into small wedges and put into a large mixing bowl. Add the rojak sauce and mix well.

3.        To serve, garnish the top of the rojak with dried shrimps, chopped peanuts,and all remaining ingredients and sesame seeds.

 

Chef Textor explains that “Rojak” actually translates to mixing and mingling and denotes  multi-ethnicity. Through this conversation, I urge the brilliant, well traveled chef to compile all these recipes into a book.

I request him to distil all the excitement of discovery and travel in his first of its kind cookbook. It will be so exciting, so
useful and usable and divided cuisine wise as well as through ingredients and courses… and should he have the time and the inclination to put together this global cookbook what would he like to call it?  “Culinary joyride around the world with Joachim Textor” ofcourse!

Gulnaz Ali’s Recipe – Banana Walnut Cake

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SAILING INTO HEALTH

Gulnaz and SamariaWhat on earth is this photo of a sailing regatta  doing in my Food column? The answer is simple, the young sailing champion Samaria is the inspiration and the reason behind her mother Gulnaz, baking the most unique and  healthy cakes. Having tasted Gulnaz’s baking in Chennai at our “Whats hot tasting session” I realized that I had not taken the recipe for her healthy cake. So when I called Gulnaz from Mumbai, they were in the midst of a sailing regatta in Hyderabad which the talented young Samaria was taking part in. I also requested for an on location photo. Voila! Thanks to high speed internet, here it is.

FROM BANKING TO BAKING

The multi-talented Gulnaz Ali having worked for more than ten years in a successful bankers job quit to take care of her daughter and turned to her other passion, baking. “I did this to keep my daughter’s sweet tooth satisfied”. And then ofcourse, ensured that she not only used the finest and freshest of ingredients but also the healthiest. Gulnaz’s healthy cakes are in great demand, as are her regular cakes.  She has studied baking and taken special fondant classes too. Ask for her scrumptious banana walnut cake. Amongst her regular cakes, it’s the   orange and a Almond cake, hazelnut chocolate cake and strawberry pies…which are her signatures. The recipe for Gulnaz’s part wholewheat cake follows, as do her tips for healthy baking.

GULNAZ ALI, 2/157 Karikata Kuppam, Muthukadu, Near Mayajaal, Chennai. Ph 9840943500/ gulnaz13@gmail.com

 


 

Gulnaz’s tips for healthy baking

*Use homemade cream cheese/ mascarpone cheese instead of store bought. This way you can keep a check on the amount of sugar in the product.

* Replace sugar with jaggery.

* Replace maida with wholewheat flour. Start with replacing 1/4 quantity in the recipe and slowly increase the amount of wholewheat flour used.


 

GULNAZ’S RECIPE

healthy cakePart wholewheat banana walnut cake.

Maida – 1 cup
Whole wheat flour – 1 cup
Baking soda – 1/2 tsp
Salt – 1/4 tsp
Banana – 2, large
Unsalted butter – 1/2 cup
Jaggery – 1/2 cup
Granulated sugar – 4 tbsp
Buttermilk – 1/2 cup
Vegetable oil – 4 tbsp
Egg – 2
Vanilla extract – 1 tsp
Chocolate chips and walnuts/ almonds – 1/2 cup



Preheat oven to 180C. Grease one 8 inch pan. 

Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt. In a separate large bowl, whisk together the banana, unsalted butter, jaggery, sugar, buttermilk, oil, eggs and vanilla extract until smooth. Pour the wet ingredients into the flour mixture and fold together with a rubber spatula until completely combined. Coat the chocolate chips with maida and mix into the batter. Pour the mixture into the greased pan and bake at 180C for 30 to 35 mins or till done when checked with a skewer.

 


 

YOUR ATTENTION PLEASE

Do you want to be featured in this column? Like Gulnaz Ali today. Then read on to find out more,The hunt is on, I am looking for baking and cooking talent. Do you bake or cook out of home and so so professionally? Do you know anyone who does so? Please do get in touch with me and we will invite you, along with some others for a “Whats hot tasting session”. After tasting your creations and chatting with you and photographing you, I will then write about you. Please do  email rashmiudaysingsingh2015@gmail.com with the subject CHENNAI FOODLINE. You can also tweet and instagram t @rashmiudaysingh.


FOODLINE

I write this from Gulmurg and I am delighted to hear from you on email, instagram and twitter. Thanks for keeping me plugged to the foodie network of Chennai. Love your foodie news and views…on foodstores, food services, dessert makers, caterers and more. Please do keep calling (9884065010 ) emailing (Rashmiudaysingh2015@gmail.com) tweeting, instagraming, FB (@rashmiudaysingh). Waitingly yours.

THE DIVINE TASTE OF IFTAR

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It is a dream come true and it happens just before the start of the holy month of Ramadan. I am surrounded by the magic of the spectacular sunset of the Arabian desert (the time when the Ramadan fast is broken) and just then I am regaled with the divine taste of Iftar. Each and every traditional recipe is made with authentic ingredients. As the amazing flavors gallop across our taste buds we are reminded that the lush green polo fields stretching around us are where the shining flanks of pedigreed horses   speed past in a spurt of color and sound. I find it difficult to believe that I am in Dubai, the gleaming, glittering  city of high rises and malls. Here in Desert Palm sprawling over 150 acres, there is silence as Mother nature’s bounty overflows. The sun sets, gilding the handsome palm trees which embroider the desert sky. From the most amazing gourmet cooking classes to horse-riding classes, shishas, global cuisines, Desert Palm has it all. Right now, its pre-Iftar time and I taste and nibble on the most traditional main course of succulent, seven spiced  lamb Kahrouf Mahshi infused with cinnamon cardamom. I mop it up with the traditional four Khubs  with fragrant rice and the Superlative Hammour Harra fish too. We start with the traditional Mezze of creamy    Hummus, Moutabel, Tabouleh  and Fattoush. The crisp skinned  Lamb Kebbeh and  Spinach Fatayar  delights, followed by the hearty and nourishing Yellow Lentil soup.

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THE  SWEET BOND OF IFTAR

Please take a look at the accompanying  photograph and you’ll see how the Iftar dinner brings together all nationalities. Ofcourse, the family Sapti (baby Sapti included) are getting set for Ramadan, as is Ahzar. From South of England there is the  dynamic General manager James Reeves, from Italy, the gifted  Executive Chef David Prantera , India is represented by the talented Chef Anoop  and the lovely Karishma Chopra. And wow!

what an amazing feast  of  Ramadan sweets there is: love the Mafourkeh of toasted bread drizzled with milkfat kashta. Equally delightful is the baked filo pastry with pista and ghee, its called Znoud, which means “lady’s forearm”. Chef Ali Hasan guides me thru this yummy buffet and the baked Omali made of velvety milk and airy puff pastry infused with rose water and blossom water is addictive.  Cant get enough of the Kataif pancakes plump with creamy kashta and crunchy with nuts. After that sweet finale, I sit by the rolling Polo fields under the shimmering night sky and go hubble bubble on the tobacco-free peach flavored sheesha.

 


 

 

Here it is. Just in time for Iftar, Chef Panteras very special recipe…

MANSAF RECIPE

1 KG                       lamb leg with bone / or boneless

200 gms                  plain yogurt

200 gms                  red onion                         half sliced , half chopped

1                      eggs                                 egg white , beaten with a fork untill frothy

25 gms                    corn flour

50 gms                    clarified butter

50 gms                    pine nuts

50 gms                    slivered almonds

15 gms                    water

salt

freshly ground pepper

10 gms                    turmeric powder

10 gms                    all spice

10 gms                    cinnamon stick

400 gms                  basmati rice

10 gms                    cardomom seeds

10 gms                    bayleaf

50 gms                    ghee

3 gms                      dry

Lemon

3 gms                      cinnamon powder

½  ltr                       lamb stock

 

1.Place the yogurt in a thick heavy based pot , add beaten frothy egg , corn flour , salt to the pan .Blend gently with a wooden laddle .

2 . Place the pot over a medium heat , stir with a a wooden laddle , lower the heat as the yogurt can split .

3.Lower the heat and gently let it simmer .

4.Boil the lamb in a pot with Water ,  bayleaf , cinnamon stick , cardamom , turmeric powder, salt to season .

5.Skim the surface for froth  the while the lamb is boiling

6.Heat ghee in a frying pan and add pinenuts  , almonds .fry untill golden brown , remove and keep aside .

7.Add sliced red onion to the same pan with ghee and fry gently untill transparent . add turmeric powder , all spice powder , cinnamon stick and mix and saute well .

8.Add the boiled lamb with this spice mixture with the stock .

9. When the lamb is done , remove and shredd the meat with a fork from the bone .

10. Reduce the sauce more and add yogurt sauce , blend well with wooden laddle , let the mixture boil , add the the shredded lamb and reduce the sauce more .

9.After the lamb has been cooked , keep reducing until the sauce thickens .

10.Heat the clarified butter in a pot and saute cinnamon stick , bayleaf , dry lemon ,chopped onion, minced lamb, add soaked basmati rice and add lambstock and let the rice cook ,add cinnamon powder when the rice is boiling .

11.Once the rice is cooked , serve on a large round serving platter , then garnish with fried nuts .

12.Top the platter with the shredded lamb and mansaf sauce , fried nuts .

A SIP OF 125 YEARS OF HISTORY

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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

2 High TeaSure 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.