Travel

THE DEFINTIVE RECIPE FOR HEALTH

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Found. Finally.  The only one of it’s kind. A guiding light. It guides through the  swirling, whirling tidal waves and tsunamis of information and misinformation on “food” and  it’s “health benefits”. Should we reduce our carb intake? Increase our protein? Atlast, there are definitive answers. The reason?

They are based on science and evidence-based medicine from the globally renowned medical center. They are being conducted in the world leader of medicine and reseach, Mayo Clinic (a non profit center). Not only does Mayo Clinic have 150 years of expertise in complex medical conditions, they also have extensive knowledge of how wellness affects our health. They are applying their knowledge and research it so that everyone can benefit.

NINETY YEARS YOUNG VISIONARY

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So here I am then, raising a toast to the ninety years young visionary Dan Abraham. He is the entrepreneur and philanthropist who set up Mayo clinic’s “healthy living program” . It is an amazing program and ofcourse, food forms a very major part of it.

Mayo Clinic, wellness is defined as being healthy both in body and mind.  The dynamic Dr Donald Hensrud  who specialized  preventive medicine and  nutrition points out “What you do, what you eat, and how you handle stress impact your wellness. We designed our program around core pillars of wellness: nutrition, physical activity, resiliency and wellness coaching”.This is an immersive programe and the challenge is not only in making the changes but sustaining them. He guides me through nutrition, data, randomized control trials that they have done. Dr Hensrud has also done studies on  Gluten and led many research papers.

 

SMART & NEAT Approach

What is really exciting is that in this medical center, they are viewing diet, Meditation, Guided imagery and other complementary therapies.

The  SMART ( Stress Management and Resiliency Training) program is being led by our very own Dr Amit Sood. His books on “Happiness” “Stressfree living” are not only based on science but offer practical, do able solutions. It is really interesting to meet this low-profile but high-octane doctor from Bhopal who has more than  Ten published studies. He is bringing timeless spiritual values into mainstream medicine. The most compelling aspect is the integration of neuroscience with spiritual principles and the down to earth practical approach he has taken.
Its so interesting that Consultant and Assistant Professor of Medicine in the department of Pulmonary and Critical Care Dr. Roberto Benzo, M.D not only meditates but teaches it, Jamie Friend, certified wellness coach and ya teacher not only follows his principles but also imparts them brilliantly.

I also try out the NEAT (Nonexercise activity thermogenesis) an amazing way to workout at the desk.

Led by ALynn Kakuk dr of physical therapy Bradly Prigge . Dr Brent Bauer who heads up the integrated medicine explains the studies being conducted on nutrition, massage as a therapy and many others.

 

THE PROOF OF THE PUDDING

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Ofcourse, the proof of the pudding is in the tasting…so I not only taste the food made according to Mayo principles but also learn from the  Wellness Executive chef Jennifer Welper who combines creativity with nutritional principles and produces masterpeices.   Interestingly, while they are not fanatical they do believe in the benefits of a mainly plant and fruit diet. I eat the yummiest lunch in The Mayo clinic center of Healthy Living and do one better than that…I also send you the recipe for it.

P.S.  How amazing is this? That the worlds leading medical and research center Mayo Clinic recently became a sponsor of America Cooks With Chefs, a nationwide health and wellness initiative that connects Americans with celebrity chefs to translate food into healthy, tasty and practical dishes.  I have  many a book and recipe, should you need any information, please mail rashmiudaysingh2015@gmail.com, instagram, twitter @rashmiudaysingh

 

From Mayo clinic, the worlds leading medical center…Dr Donald Hensrud with Executive wellness chef Jennifer Welper
From Mayo clinic, the worlds leading medical center…Dr Donald Hensrud with Executive wellness chef Jennifer Welper

HEALTHY LIVING QUINOA CAKES

 

Serves:  6-7

 

INGREDIENTS:

2 cups            Quinoa, cooked

2 cups            Sweet potato, cooked, mashed or

2 each            Eggs

3 cloves          Garlic, minced

6 ounces         Gruyere or parmesan cheese, shredded

1 tsp.                     Salt

¼ tsp.                    Black pepper

¼ tsp.                    Nutmeg

2 T.               Parsley, fresh, chopped very fine

2 T.               Olive oil for searing

 

PREPARATION:

Preheat oven to 375F.  Spear sweet potatoes then bake in oven for about 45 minutes or until they are completely soft and cooked.  Cook quinoa, then let cool.

Once sweet potatoes are baked allow to slightly cool until able to handle.  Mix cooled quinoa, sweet potatoes, eggs, garlic, cheese, salt, pepper, nutmeg and parsley.

Preheat sauté pan with 1 tablespoon of olive oil unless you have very large sauté pan for all quinoa cakes.  Form quinoa cakes into ¼ cup patties and then sear in pan until golden brown on each side.  To ensure heated through patty you may bake in oven for additional 5 minutes.

 

Chef’s Note:  This recipe should make 14 ¼ cup patties and if serving as a main meal 2 quinoa cakes would be more meal size.

 

Calories: 260 for 2 quinoa cakes,Protein 12 grams, Carbohydrates 26g, Fat grams 12, Sodium 340mg, Fiber 4 grams.

OVER THE TOP IN DUBAI

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Over the top and over the moon in Dubai? How do I define it? Let me count the ways… Okay so Ive dined in the worlds highest restaurant (At.mosphere) in the worlds tallest building (Burj Khalifa). Tripped out on sushi at the glamorous Zeta while the worlds largest choreographed fountains danced and sang. Dined at the glamorous Pierchic which floats like a jewel in the sea. But here in the accompanying photograph Ive captured the over the top spirit of glitzy, edgy, flamboyant Dubai: Tall, gutsy, glamorous chef Silvena Rowe reigns over the hearts, palates and imagination of Dubai with her trio of  Omnia restaurants. The newest one shimmers with it’s three storeyed see through mirrored kitchen and conjures modern magic with Emirati fare. Having eaten an amazing meal in Omnia we invited Silvena to get a taste of what our 26 year old Indian chef Himanshu Saini was creating with modernist Indian fare in Tresind (which has also been the talk of the town) Dubai’s leading brand builders Rita Karanjia Mehta and Leela Dhar updated me with invaluable insights into dazzling Dubai. Ofcourse, as I continue research on the definitive guide to Dubai, Ive been eating at many an amazing surprise …from the fine dining Govindas (without onion and garlic) to Wolfgang’s Puck’s cutting edge steak house where the chef creates vegan fare too. Dubai does dazzle.

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At.mosphere

SPECTACULAR FEAST

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Feasting on the spirit of Dubai with Cynthia Munoz and Chef Alan Gobeil in Zeta
Feasting on the spirit of Dubai with Cynthia Munoz and Chef Alan Gobeil in Zeta

Here’s a feast to beat all feasts. It pampers all my senses…there is light, sound, dance, music and ofcourse food. As though all this were not enough there is also the worlds tallest building and the worlds biggest choreographed fountain to keep me company. If the accompanying photograph had a video and sound track, heres what you’d see and hear… glittering and shimmering fountains leaping and swirling and twirling into the evening sky as different colored lights bathe and sway with them. These fountains dance to music and Whitney Houston’s husky ”I’ll always love you” echoes sensuously as the fountains sway to it’s melody. And as though blessing it all and taking the ringside seat like a benevolent all-caring Pasha is the worlds tallest building, The Burj Khalifa which shimmers glamorously. And right here while feasting on this spectacle I am feasting on the freshest of fare created by the brilliant Executive chef Alain Gobeil . All this is the glamorous Zeta Restaurant where the heart of Dubai seems to throb  in all it’s  glory. In many different ways.

THE FOUNT OF GREAT COOKING

What are the ingredients of great cooking? I not only learn about them but also taste them here.  I am feasting on spectacular food which matches the location, There is freshness, there is tang, there is texture, there is flavor and  Canadian Chef Alan Gobeil’s global travels and training shines through all his cooking. Here, he conjures (only apt word) modern Japanese fare with plenty of Sushi, ceviches, salads and tartares. And with us too is Cynthia Munoz from Peru, a country known for it’s great and vibrant cuisine with many a choice of ceviche. We discuss the absolute necessity of freshness and the chef points out that it is imperative to buy the best you can get. “Don’t alter it” he stresses, “don’t overload it, respect it”.  Yet another tip from his is to concentrate on  ingenius pairings. Like for instance the prawn avocado salad has wedges of orange in it, also crunchy flying fish roe. “You must add crunch to your salads, use whatever you like or whatever you have readily available.” He says. This touch of his is evident in all his creations.  As Cynthya points out the food here is light and refreshing and not greasy. As we nibble and talk, the

The Dubai Fountain, the world’s largest choreographed fountain system set on the 30-acre manmade Burj Khalifa Lake, at the center of the Downtown Dubailights up with its thousands of lights and  colored projectors. Whoa! It is now  shooting water up to 500 ft into the air and what a range of music it has… from  classical to contemporary Arabic and world music. Even

Thriller” by Michael Jackson. I am amazed to know from the chef that some years ago there was only sand here and now

parkland, the worlds biggest mall, homes and nine hotels surround this man-made Burj Khalifa Lake. Including the swanky Address Downtown hotel where I am getting a taste of Dubai. Modern, fresh, cutting edge and gloriously spectacular!!!

 

 


 

ZETA SALAD RECIPE

 

IngredientS

 

Salad:

50 gms Prawn, poached and chilled /  60 gms Avocado /10gmsTomato/ 100 gms lettuce/ 40 gms orange segments/  5 gms chives/  a few sprigs of mixed cress/ 5 gms spring onions/ 5 gms tobiko (flying fish roe) optional/ salt and pepper to taste.

Cocktail sauce dressing:

500 gms Mayonnaise/ 1 ml Tabasco/ 200 gms tomato ketchup /  5 ml lemon juice/ 5 gms fresh red chilli/ salt and pepper

METHOD

Mix all ingredients together to prepare the cocktail sauce dressing, adjust seasoning and spice to taste.  Toss the chilled prawns in the dressing. Place the prawns on a plate and assemble the salad by placing in an attractive manner all ingredients in and around the prawns. Garnish with tobiko, cress, green onions, and place dots of cocktail sauce dressing in a few areas. Enjoy!

SINGAPORE SURPRISES

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Simone Arora, Zarine Khan, Connoor Kripalani Thadani, Urvashi talwar, Sajni Gill SSTANDING Raj Anand and Phillipe Chaumat In Singapore
Simone Arora, Zarine Khan, Connoor Kripalani Thadani, Urvashi talwar, Sajni Gill SSTANDING Raj Anand and Phillipe Chaumat In Singapore

I’m convinced that the very gorgeous Zarine Khan’s family is not only the first family of film in Bollywood but also of food as they are all super-gourmets. So when I met both mother-daughter  (Simone Arora)  super-talented celebrated home decor designers  I couldn’t resist getting all their Singapore foodie secrets from them. I spotted them at  the French showcase of innovations designs and trends in home and dining décor, Maison Objet, which I regularly attend in Paris and now past two years in Singapore. The dynamic Raj Anand and Philippe Chomat  welcomed them  to this  sprawling show, the second edition in Asia which displays cutting edge designs of tomorrow today.. Also here were superstylish Singaporean foodies… Urvashi Talwar, Sajni Gill, Singapore’s restaurateur and  home-décor entrepreneur and  best-selling author Conoor Kripalani Thadani, I not only got updated on the latest in dining trends but also  got the latest on where to eat in Singapore ..please email rashmiudaysingh2015@gmail.com, twitter, instagram @rashmiudaysingh and will share with you. Happily!

OSCARS OF FOOD…INDIAN WINNERS

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Stop press! Hot news for foodies. At the most prestigious “Asia’s 50 best” awards ceremony our very own Indian cuisine came up tops. Gaggan Anand,  a Kolkatta born, Bangkok based chef’s restaurant Gaggan was voted as Asia’s best restaurant.   Making it to this coveted list are restaurants from Mumbai, Delhi and Srilanka too.

 

 

Winners all...SEATED  William Drew (in a beige jacket) , Charles Reed (centre) Tetsuya Wakhuda (Lifetime achievement awardee) STANDING Rajesh Kewalramani, partner Gaggan, (Blue jacket)  JP Singh (Bukhara)  Gaggan (Asia’s best) Manish Mehtrotra (Indian Accent) Bindu Panicker (Bukhara) Dharshan Munidasa (Nihon Bashi and Ministry of crab) in Singapore.
Winners all…SEATED William Drew (in a beige jacket) , Charles Reed (centre) Tetsuya Wakhuda (Lifetime achievement awardee) STANDING Rajesh Kewalramani, partner Gaggan, (Blue jacket) JP Singh (Bukhara) Gaggan (Asia’s best) Manish Mehtrotra (Indian Accent) Bindu Panicker (Bukhara) Dharshan Munidasa (Nihon Bashi and Ministry of crab) in Singapore.

SNAPSHOT OF THE BEST

Please take a look at the photograph I shot in Singapore last week at the most prestigious Oscars of food awards… Asia’s 50 Best 2015. As you can see, there is many a winner from the Indian subcontinent along with Asia’s best our very own Gaggan as well as the lifetime achievement award winner the legendary Tetsuya Wakhuda.  Whoa! what excitement and anticipation there was before the awards were announced. And when Gaggan’s name

was announced there was an uproar of delight and celebration. And the hall was chocobloc with the crème de la crème of the foodie world. Superstar chefs had flown in from all continents, including South America. It’s here amidst all this spectacular talent that progressive  Indian cuisine  was honored.Kolkatta born, ponytailed  Indian chef partner Gaggan Anand and Rajesh Kewalramani’s restaurant “Gaggan” (Bangkok) was declared  “Asia’s best restaurant”.

Ive had the most mindblowing meal in Gaggan, Bangkok. Here this brilliantly creative chef makes art and science copulate in his kitchen and the results are astonishing. Our very own papdi chaat’s tangy, chatpatta flavours are recreated in a quivering white blob. The plump potato filled snack, the samosa appears on a plate in fantasy form and so on. Dish after dish delights.  Also here to receive the award  for India’s best restaurant was the brilliant Chef Manish Mehrotra. He transforms comforting and well-loved ingredients (aam papad, chyavanprash) and teases with surprises.Global favorites (foie gras, smoked salmon, truffle oil) are married with Indian regional dishes with panache.And therein lies the magic.

Interestingly long with this progressive Indian restaurant is the landmark Bukhara which has not changed it’s menu past 35 years. To receive the award for New Delhi’s award winning Bukhara’s rugged charm of the North West Frontier cuisine were chef JP Singh and Bindu Panicker.  Grand corporate chef Hemant Oberoi’s Wasabi was awarded too and he consistently and brilliantly marries authentic with creative and produces Japanese masterpieces follow. Im  delighted  that Dharshan Munidasa’s Ministry of Crab and Nihon Bashi from Srilanka are both  on the list. He dazzles us with outstanding and authentic flavours.

 

 

MUST FOLLOW

This is it. This are the ultimate guiding-lists you must follow if you are a global-foodie. Do you (like me) like to see the world through your tastebuds? I save up and travel to eat and to find the finest. The best. These are the “Worlds 50 best” and “Asia’s 50 best”  the most accurate snapshot of dining opinions. Meticulously, painstakingly compiled from votes of food writers and critics, chefs, restaurateurs and highly regarded ‘foodies’. Powering this initiative is the London based dynamic team of Charles Reed, group editor William Drew, Tim Brooke Webb and Rachel Quigley. Through the year they ensure that the voting process is carried on systematically and accurately throughout the different regions. Each time the  actual award ceremony becomes more spectacular than the last. Each time it has many more who’s who of the culinary word attending it. And each time it delivers an exciting and accurate compass to Asias 50 best and the Worlds 50 best restaurants. As William Drew, group editor  said

“Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants aims to celebrate success, reward innovation and hard work,” he ends with ” and provide diners with guidance on the greatest places to eat across the continent”.  Lets raise a toast of gratitude to that!

 


 

TOP 10 WINNERS 2015

Gaggan – Bangkok, Thailand (GagganAnand)

Narisawa – Tokyo, Japan (Yoshihiro Narisawa)

Ultraviolet by Paul Pairet – Shanghai, China (Paul Pairet)

NihonryoriRyugin – Tokyo, Japan (Siji Yamamoto)

Restaurant André – Singapore (André Chiang)

Amber – Hong Kong, China (Richard Ekkebus)

Nahm – Bangkok, Thailand (PrinPolsuk)

8½ Otto E Mezzo Bombana – Hong Kong, China (Umberto Bombana)

Waku Ghin – Singapore (Tetsuya Wakuda)

Jungsik – Seoul, Korea (Jung SikYim)

RECIPE TO DAZZLE

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Qbara 1 (1)

I’m excited! I call it “to have your dazzle and eat it too”. Not only do I dine in the most exquisite symbol of Dubai but also come away with it’s treasured recipes for you. “Qbara” is the name of this sexily glamorous restaurant. “Qbara” the word is “Arabic” back to front. Qbara itself is Arabic dining inside-out. And so it is acknowledged to be  “the Dubai experience”.  It distills  Arabic flair, glamorizes  it and  modernizes it too.

Here, the glamorously sprawling  space seduces all the senses. Dramatically lit, with a brilliant interplay of light and shadow, it shimmers with a humongous and beautiful chandelier (of what seems to be large pearls). Beautiful hostesses lead you into a dimly lit, two leveled large dining area. As does the surrealistic  wall  with it’s  mesmerizing 3D sound and light effect.From the upper level, guests can look down on the restaurant in all its glory.

The food dazzles: dish after dish had visual and gustatory starbursts.The magic  comes on thick and fast…compressed, refreshing  sweet watermelon off set by the salty luscious shanklish cheese. The delightful falafel salad, followed by mellow, fragrant fish and rice,  succulent, robust  lamb. Delicate, raw Yellowtail and char-grilled spicy quail pieces, wrapped in vine leaves. The list goes on and on. My gracious hosts Alia Bin Hendi and Anass Allouch explain many an Arabic term and I feast on the conversation as I do on the fabulous food. Camels milk icecream in erotic embrace with crushed baklava delights. The piece de resistance? sensational honey and vanilla panacotta, topped with yards of sweet gossamer Iranian candyfloss pashmak.

Creating this magic is the extraordinarily gifted Colin Clague. Born in the Isle of man, Chef Clague  has worked with icons like Anton Mosimann and Sir Terence Conran, Clague has not only worked and travelled the world  but also spearheaded the pre-opening teams of the prestigious Burj Al Arab in Dubai, and executive chef of award-winning Japanese izakaya restaurants – Zuma in London and Dubai.

Coincidentally I have eaten at all the restaurants he worked in, including Pollen in Singapore. And each time Ive been delighted. Achieving such resounding flavors and texture takes serious skill and effort and Chef Colin Clague displays both.His dishes dazzle as does Qbara and I have many atreasured recipe from him. Should you need any please email rashmiudaysingh2015@gmail.com, twitter, instagram @rashmiudaysingh and I’ ll be happy to share them with you

 

Edible soup spoons

HAVE YOUR SPOON AND EAT IT TOO

Am absolutely delighted to present this to you: edible cutlery (spoons, chopsticks, plates and more)  made from flours, like the nourishing Jowar. Its yummy, nourishing, not made with any chemicals or preservatives yet has a shelf life of 18 months and it can even cut into hard foods.Whats more you can get this cutlery made in the flavors of your  choice! hot n spicy, onion and tomato, garlic, ginger, spicy or sweet…take your pick!
An amazing and yummy innovation that addresses ecological concerns like depletion of groundwater No wonder it was    was selected by the CII-USAID-World Resources Institute supported initiative called New Ventures as among the top ten sustainable businesses in the year 2006 – the year it was started. You can order online namaboomi

P.S This delightful information was given to me by Anjali Sharma should you have any such foodie favourites to share and have them written about, please email rashmiudaysingh2015@gmail.com, twitter, instagram @rashmiudaysingh  .

A BANQUET FOR THE SENSES

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Palace Hotel.

What you are holding in your hands is an open invitation to join me at a uniquely spectacular banquet. If you take a look at the accompanying photographs Ive shot, you may begin to get an idea of whats in store. Ofcourse, its just a whiff, a tiny flavor. It begins with the amazing breakfast safari in the magnificent desert and a platter of Bedouin breakfast. It ends with an elegant, authentic Thai meal in a Palace, with the worlds tallest singing and dancing fountains regaling us. In between I not only dine in world class restaurants. Meet world-renowned chefs (our very own Sanjeev Kapoor is here too) but also taste the food of a myriad restaurants in the “Beach canteen”, watch cooking classes, eat at the “Ripe market” in the park. The Dubai food festival not only serves up a flavor of the world but also the homegrown authentic, exoti Emirati ones. And I relish each one!

BREAKFAST IN THE DESERT

Its exhilerating to speed over rolling sanddunes. Nothing can match the vivid blue skies and cool desert  Februrary sunshine as we head towards the Bedouin camp. Here not only do I bask in the sun as I sip on the Arabic coffee (heady with cardamom and saffron,) but also chat with the chief of the Bedouins (looking majestic in his crisp white headgear). A bumpy roller coaster ride on a camel and my appetite is kickstarted. The wholesome Bedouin breakfast (please see photo) of wheat noodles (balaleet) with a whisper of sweetness, the airy light pancakes and “rotis” with zattaar nourish and energise. I couldve stayed on for hours but it’s time to drive on and watch wild animals in the conservation camp

PALACE OF PLEASURE

From the wilds of the desert to a luxuriously pampered dinner in the shimmering majestic, Arabian-inspired Palce hotel in Old Town, right near Dubai Mall. This Palace hotel sprawls langourously around the  placid lake. And it is in this lake that twinkling, dancing, singing fountains leap and piroutte in the sky. They provide an amazing backdrop to our dinner at Thiptara, the authentic Thai restaurant. It is here that Chef Chaiwat conjures  sweet, spicy magic.   In between tripping out on Thai dimsum, succulent Chicken satay and fragrant velvetty curries we converse with renowned chef Yousuf Khumayes from Saudi Arabia. He is here for the food festival and has not only been inaugurating but also sharing his views on healthy cooking at many a Food festival event. Explaining the exciting details of the Food festival (which is on till end of February) the dynamic director, Debora Greenwood elaborates on how this is a treat for foodies,

Through it all, I not only fall in love with this charming, Arabesque hotel which the dapper Fabrice Dufry helms but also nibble on the masterful Thai fare from which lemongrass, galanagal,

Makrut and other Thai herbs leap and delight. Much like the fountains around us.

MIDDLE EASTERN FUSION 

It’s a delight to meet the young, and down to earth,  renowned chef Yousef Khumayes who has been cooking since the age of four. Since then he’s certainly left a track of awards and accomplishments in his wake as an adult! Originally from Jeddah, (his mother is Irish) Chef Khumayes also has international exposure (having honed his skills in leading hotels and restaurants around the world) he has evolved a wide variety of culinary styles and techniques that he often blends in what he dubs ’Middle-Eastern Fusion’, something that is evident in his delicious, exciting, and surprising dishes. He continues to blaze trails in‘Top Chef’ creating  winning dishes and winning hearts too.

He shares with us one of his favorite yummy recipes

 

 

Scallops and quinoa salad:-

 

INGREDIENTS

8 ounces dry sea scallops/

4 teaspoons light soy sauce/4 tablespoons canola oil/

1 1/2 cups quinoa, rinsed

2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic / 3 cups water /1 teaspoon salt /1 cup sliced snow peas.  /1/3 cup rice vinegar/ 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil /1 cup sliced scallions / 1/3cup finely diced red peppers / 1/2 A red chilli finely chopped  /1/4 cup finely chopped fresh coriander

 

PREPARATION

Toss scallops with 2 teaspoons light soy sauce in a medium bowl. Set aside.

Place a large, pan on medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon canola oil and quinoa. Cook, stirring constantly, until the quinoa begins to colour, 7 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add water and salt and bring to a boil. Cover and cook over medium heat until the water is absorbed, about 18 minutes. Remove from the heat and leave to the side, covered, for 8 minutes. Stir in snow peas, cover and leave for 7 minutes more.

Meanwhile, mix 3 tablespoons canola oil, with 2 teaspoon light soy sauce, vinegar and sesame oil. Add the quinoa and snow peas, scallions and bell pepper, mix to combine.

Remove the scallops from the marinade and dry. Heat a big pan on high till it’s really hot. Add the rest of the canola oil and cook the scallops, turning once, until golden brown, about 3minutes each side. Toss the scallops into the quinoa salad. Serve with coriander and a squeeze of fresh lime juice and enjoy.

MUMBAI TO DUBAI

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Atul Kochhar with Mana Al Suwaidi in Dubai
Atul Kochhar with Mana Al Suwaidi in Dubai

Talk of meaningful coincidences! I have a blind date with the Michelin starred Atul Kochhar, from London who sent me a direct tweet to say he wants to meet up in Mumbai. I invite him to TRP. Two days later I go to Dubai for their fab food festival. This time I am invited by the dynamic and hospitable Mana Al Suwaidi and guess where to? To Michelin starred Atul Kochhar’s restaurant in Dubai.High ceilinged handsome Rang Mahal where  this highly acclaimed chef weaves his Indian magic. As one of the celebrity chefs at the Dubai Food festival he also wows Dubai with his cooking demonstrations. He distils the world on our plate while still retaining authentic Indian flavors. Its wonderful how the Dubai Festival makes many a celebrity chef accessible to all,  meeting chefs, watching them cook and getting a taste of their creations too…therein lies the festival magic!

ALLADIN’S MAGIC CAVE

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For the box

Khulja sim sim! And Alladin’s magic cave with it’s amazing treasures is slowly opening up. My kind of treasures…edible ones! It’s the stuff dreams are made of. Other than eating on a flying carpet I am doing it all. Breakfasting (on Balaleet) in the desert  in the bracing cool of the early morning. Gliding on the creek, while dining on a sumptuous gourmet meal. Tripping out on the beach (theres yoga, games too) and nibbling on the fare of eleven restaurants, there are foodtrucks, there is eating in the lush green park too.  And as though all this is not enough there is the helicopter mystery dining which takes you from helipad to helipad of hotels as you eat your way. This happens annually, only in this month of February in the Dubai Food festival. Ofcourse, the world class  restaurants (many helmed by Michelin starred chefs) continue to enthrall in this truly cosmopolitan city which offers over 200 cuisines, suitable to all pockets and palates. Last night I had the most authentic of Thai cuisines (while being regaled by the worlds tallest dancing and singing fountains) in the old world charm of the Palace hotel. Over dinner I hungrily feasted on gourmet details about Dubai shared by the knowledgable Debora Greenwood and Anass Allouch. The young and brilliant  Saudi Arabian Chef Yousuf Khumais     observations on healthy eating peppered our fabulous meal. And what an amazing lunch with Alia Bin Hendi at the truly world class Tasha’s café: still cant get over the extravagant Eaton Messy dessert. My regrets? Still not able to buy an Abaya, meet the king’s son who was lunching at Tashas (when I was) and fly on a magic carpet. You cant have everything can you?

P.S. A million thanks for all your Dubai recommendations on mail, twitter and instagram. Please keep them coming.

MY DUBAI FOODIE BLIND DATE

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Smiling BKK, Dubai with Vaishali, Mohit and Aneesha
Smiling BKK, Dubai with Vaishali, Mohit and Aneesha

“Smiling BKK” thats the name of the Dubai restaurant, recommended by my blind dates.  Mona Lisa (with a moustache) graces this Thai eatery, ( the owner looks like Mona Lisa, we are informed). While the young luxury inventory controller Mohit Bidchandani is holding a gun (given by the waiter to call him) PR consultant Vaishali Chatterjee, trend spotter, dancer is smiling with the menu. As is Tech & digital enthusiast, travel pundit Aneesha Hingorani (thanks @petpujaris). We love the small, vibrant tucked away eatery with it’s Thai curries and fish cakes. Watch this space for more hidden secrets which my blind dates help me sniff out. Be my foodie date  Instagram, twitter @rashmiudaysingh