Vegetarian

Secret squirrel Karen McLean dazzles

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SHHH! SECRETS AHEAD

Im about to share a very yummy secret with you. Correction: many secrets that will help you cook and eat healthy as well as tasty. And creating  these recipes and sharing them freely is a slender, slim and sunshiny young girl. I was  so rivetted by her instagram posts that I requested to meet her. Whoa! What an amazing success story…Karen McLean , this Australian-Vietnamese girl moved to Dubai only two years ago and since then has millions of fan followers. She’s a qualified CA who came to a foreign country (Dubai), loves cooking and her dad and grandpa are amazing cooks. But healthy eating recipes are her very own and it was accidentally that Karen started sharing them on her website and instagram and voila! her fan following hit sky high.

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OUR ANNAM WOWS AMERICA

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I’m rejoicing! Im about to share some very heartening food news with you! It’s news that makes our country proud. It’s all about our very own pure vegetarian “annam” which not only stunned the carnivorous gourmets of the world but had them asking for more. This happened in the foodie city of New Orleans at the very prestigious “Dinner lab” and presenting this pristine “annam” along with its benefits as “supreme medicine” was our very own knowledgable and talented, author and chef, the Chennai based Viji Varadarajan.

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#MyDubaiDiaries: La Petite Mansion

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I dine at the wondeful, La Petite Maison, where we  trip out on the worlds best French toast and Burrata. This restaurant has been rated amongst the World’s 100 best restaurants. Local produce, notably artichokes, courgettes, lemons, olives, tomatoes, peppers and girolles are used generously with sea food, meat and fresh pasta to produce a style that’s light and healthy at La Petite Maison.

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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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Review: THE ROLLING PIN

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Vegetarian bakery, patisserie and cafe

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Are you a vegetarian who does not eat eggs ? Read on and you will be happy you did.  Over the years Mumbai has spawned many a shudh vegetarian Gujarati, Maharashtrian, Mexican, Italian, multi-cuisine  restaurant. This is the very first dedicated Patisserie-Bakery-café serving not just vegetarian but  “eggless-vegetarian” fare. “it’s a brilliant idea. India has the largest population of vegetarian Hindus in the world” opines my guest and blind date, London’s Michelin-starred Benaras restaurant  ‘s  Atul Kochhar (see box) To check out the patisserie I invite two gorgeous French ladies, Stephanie d Aboville who curates unparalleled access to Paris and beyond. Francette Harrison, a French “Jain” (she does not eat onions and garlic). She has moved here ever since her husband has been heading the Four Seasons and  knows Mumbai amazingly well. We also meet two regulars Hiloni and Surabhi who swear by this café.

DÉCOR

The large glassed in TRP stands right opposite the Phoenix High street. It is well light, airy, has an open kitchen and many a counter stacked with pastries, breads and cakes.

FOOD

This includes eggless and gelatin free desserts, breads, croissants, burgers, sandwiches a few multi-cuisine light meals too. Amongst the savories, the soft  paneer bursting with peppery notes is everyone’s favorite. Our Jain Francette loves the  3 jain sliders. The masala corn served in a cone is chatpatta good.   The opinion starts getting sharply divided when it comes to the sweet stuff.  The chocolate bar is everyones favorite.

The rest are not our favorites, But here again, the “eggless-vegetarians” like Hiloni Punatar point out that the

Madagascar mousse Chocolate mousse bar
and Raspberry princess are the best eggless desserts you can get in the city.

MINUS POINTS

While some of the savory dishes like the  Patti samosa are  too spicy or too stodgy, the vada pao is okayish, the khao suey lacklustre. Many of the  desserts are too stodgy, not light enough, the macarons chewy.

MY POINT

Kudos to the Guptas for catering to the niche vegetarian consumer (theyve set up pure vegetarian Mexican, molecular gastronomy restaurants too). In TRP, there are over 65 varieties of eggless and gelatin -free pastries and desserts. Here are some reactions on my instagram and twitter page… @anupa30Eggless macaroons is just absurd ! This is echoed by

@divyabarmecha and @chefkunal . say  @chef_sandeep @tulsi78  “it is heaven for me as I always wanted to try macarons cos of eggs couldn’t try”. So while some of these desserts are yum, many more do not match up to the ones made with egg, but they do fill in a huge need out there. “Eggless vegetarians” this way please!

 The Rolling Pin

Janta Industrial Estate, opposite High Street Phoenix, Lower Parel.
24979952

Open 9.30 am to 11.30 pm

RATING FOOD 3 DÉCOR 3.5 SERVICE 3.5

Meal for 2: Rs 800

 

Review: VIHAR COFFEE HOUSE

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Multi cuisine

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Kya idea aaya! I love hunting. Hunting out lesser known foodie joints. Over the years, Ive been finding differenct ways of doing so. But 29th january’s idea was unique! Id already sniffed out “Kamdar sweets” in Prathnasamaj. And met the young entrepreneurial owner, the young Jimmy Thakker (Parsi nahi, Gujju chhe). I had bought yum undhiyo by the kilo (Rs 360) from him. So I requested him to not only help me check out the colorful cacophonic Prathnasamaj area (I love it) but also dine with us. One happy coincidence led to another. My guests Arjun Divecha high-flying financial genius from SanFrancisco, along with the foodie couple Amrita and Richard Kozarack first popped into Jimmy’s shop (we bought lots of savory and sweet stuff) . Then Jimmy took us to the brand new Vihar café, further round the corner.

DÉCOR

Perched on the corner of the intersection (opp Tewari brothers) Café Vihar looks very handsome from outside. Inside it is a brightly lit, canteen like space with wooden tables and benches. The mezanine level (going to serve Mexican, Italian etc) was not ready when we visited.

FOOD

While the basic South Indian fare is better than the rest of the dishes, it is nothing exceptional. Crisp vada, flavorsome sambhar, a tasty Chilly cheese rawa dosa are worth trying.The Bissi belli though overloaded with cinnamon is tasty, as is the Lemon rice and crisp ragi dosa (on offer are palak to nutella dosa). The banana stuffed Mangalore buns have the perfect sweetness, plumpness and crispness.

MINUS POINTS

Limp and tasteless Akki roti. Ditto for the Amma’s appam, idiappappam. oversweet .sheera and gloopy payasam. Rasam lacks punch and the Paneer makhanwala et al not worth trying.

MY POINT

A pity that the South indian fare here does not pass muster. Friendly quick service, affordable price points (Meal for 2: Rs 600). They are still to get their act together and have plenty other cuisines planned. We wait and watch.

P.S MUST DO. Do you love authentic Gujju vegetarian savories (undhiyo, muthia, khakhra, rajkot se chutney…) sweets (kesar peda, raas malai) then head to Kamdar sweets. Jimmy has over 300 savory items and over 80 sweet ones. Go check out. Kamdar sweets, prathnaSamaj.
VIHAR CAFÉ
Girgaum
524, SVP Road, Opera House, Girgaum. 23821116
Meal for 2: Rs 600
RATING FOOD 2.5 SERVICE 3.5 DÉCOR 3

FROM DUBAI…BREAKING NEWS : YOU ARE NEEDED

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I write from Dubai and Im not only going to share some exciting news but also make a plea to you for you to share your inputs. Your tips on vegetarian restaurants in Paris made our book “A vegetarian in Paris” (published by the Times of India) comprehensive and also the worlds first. Now once again, The Times of India is all set to pioneer the definitive vegetarian guide to Dubai.

Guiding me skilfully through Dubai (and also through this fabulous Le Petit Maison restaurant, it has Indian owners I am informed) are two true-blue, well-traveled  Dubai based foodies who spearhead the dynamic Dubai Tourism offices and are it’s spokespersons. Hoor Mohammad Noor Al Khaja having worked in a high-profile government role in the Prime Minister’s Office holds a degree in Business Administration.

Mohamed Essa Alshaikh – double majored in Finance and has a bachelor’s degree in General Business and Administration. We  trip out on the worlds best French toast and Burrata here. Just this morning I had the most fabulous breakfast of an astounding array of  home made Lebanese cheeses, rare honeys, Egyptian omlette and waffles as lollipops in Nine 7 one.  Also dazzling   in the world class Oberoi is the Cutting edge Japanese Asian and an equally promising Indian restaurant.

Last night, along with the legendary Media baron Russy Blitz Karanjia’s daughter Rita Mehta and grand daughter Faarah we had attended the preview of Cle (Modern Lebanese by a Michelin starred chef). Dubai’s food scene continues to rock. Please do help me keep a tab on it… share your recommendations of Dubai  vegetarian restaurants (mail rashmiudaysingh.Dubai@gmail.com  instagram, twitter @rashmiudaysingh By the time you are reading this, I will be in New york, but waiting eagerly to hear from you.

 

Sweetest Fairy

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SWEETEST FAIRY

Looking for unusual and personalised Diwali  Cupcakes? Need eggless cupcakes, desserts et al? Low calorie, Low fat, and Sugarfree? 3D Mickey Cookies ? 3D Batman and Spiderman ? Voila!  The “Sweet fairy” conjures them all. Tops the diwali specials with   chocolate diyas, festoons them with rangoli and more.

I don’t know about you, but I believe in Santa Claus and elves and fairies. And for our “Whats hot tasting session” when I met “ Sweet  fairy”  I  was delighted. “I was always obsessed by fairies since my childhood”Apeksha Agarwal explained and so when this daughter of the Kitchen Queen title winner of Jaipur took to baking “Sweet fairy” was the most natural name for her home kitchen company.This young lady  learnt her first recipes from her mom and heres the good news, she bakes only eggless desserts.

“Since my closeones are vegetarians and prefer eggless,  food, I ve specialised in EGGLESS baking” Apeksha clarified. And sure enough all her creations are soft and sweet and yummy… be it cupcakes, teacakes, custom made cakes, cookies, customized cookies, desserts (Apple Pie, Tiramisu, cheesecakes, Trifle puddings and  eclairs), homemade breads, chocolates .

Particular about the finest  ingredient and  freshness she keeps introducing new desserts in their menu, Red Velvet Cupcake, “I have also started making the Green, Yellow and the Orange Velvet Cupcakes. The major change here is flavour of icing, these are frosted with Cardamom flavour cream” she explains. I have yet to try these, but enjoyed the ones I did.

“There is a common misconception in baking that eggless bakes are not as soft as those made with eggs. This is not true at all and the proof of the pudding is in the eating.” Literally and otherwise.

  1. “Sweet fairy” kiddy specials include designer cupcakes with any cartoon characters, 3D mickey cookies, cake pops, designer cookies (doremon, mickey, winni the pooh), designer cakes (for example doll cake for girls, car cakes, cricket cakes for boys).

Apeksha Agarwal, Sweet Fairy
Call – 9677267380
email – sweetfairy@outlook.com
Velachery
www.Facebook.com/SweetFairy01
One can call, email or contact her through their Facebook page and place orders and pick their desserts.


 

SWEET FAIRY CHOCOLATE CAKE

1/2 can (400 gms for a full can) condensed milk
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
125 gms all-purpose flour
1 tbsp Cocoa
1 tbsp Chocolate powder
60 ml, melted butter
1 tsp Vanilla essence

– Sieve flour, cocoa, chocolate powder, baking powder and baking soda.
– Mix the condensed milk, flour, 75 ml water, vanilla essence and melted butter thoroughly
– Grease and dust a 7″ diameter pan
– Pour the cake mixture in the prepared pan.
– Bake in a hot oven at 190 C for approx 20 min (check by inserting a toothpick, when inserted it should come out clean)
Take it out on a wire rack and cool it away from the fan

Review: Spice Klub

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North Indian. Molecular Gastronomy.

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Taaza Khabar: A month old pure vegetarian Indian restaurant goes the Molecular gastronomy way. I was lucky enough to have dined at Ferran Adria, Spanish wizard’s El Bulli (it is now shut) and also at the  London’s Fat Duck, Spain’s “El Celler de can Roca”,  Stockholm’s Oaxen where I was blown by each one’s amazing creations using cutting edge scientific techniques, ingredients and methods to make the familiar look unfamiliar and vice versa. The question always remains: does this unlikely transmogrification of ingredients and other cerebral shenanigans taste good or not?

DÉCOR

This Lower Parel 100 seater restaurant seems to have been kept deliberately non descript ( semi-industrial fit-out with exposed brick walls) to keep the focus on food.

FOOD

Ever had a vada pao which has a mousse aerated by infusing nitrogen in it?chutney in edible plastic pouches ? Quivering explosive orbs of papdi chat with coriander chutney foam? Happily, they also taste good. As does the pao bhaji fondue.    The passionately dedicated owner Aditya Gupta studied up and ensures the use of liguid nitrogen, dry ice, dehydrator  a( for  dahi bada and dhokla. Siphon for chilli palak soup, alginate bath and more. Rose caviar partners The chocolate flower pot is filled with rasmalai and saffron mousse and sprinkled with pista chocolate soil. Regular North indian fare marks the mains, be it Paneer Kadai, Veg Kohlapuri, Amritsari vadi aloo or the must try dahi pakodi. Gluten free & multigrain Rotis too.

MINUS POINTS

Some dishes are just gimmicks—and lackluster to taste too. The Pani Puri served in test tubes and syringes, being a case in point. Slushy with masala, Rajma in the mains. The Bubbling kulfi ( liquid nitrogen et al) is all show and no go, with over sweet, synthetic sauces. I just couldn’t get myself to try the soap cake with it’s Dairy foam.  No alcohol.

MY POINT

I commend this pure vegetarian eatery’s efforts ( starters and desserts) at Molecular gastronomy  ensuring  measured eccentricity. These dishes validate the  experimentation and they reflect a thoughtful,  equilibrium between what’s merely edgy and what’s tasty.Not always cutting edge, some dishes tip over into gimmickry. The North Indian mains are predictably comforting and so provide the much needed balance. Jaded vegetarians looking for newness this way please!

SpiceKlub, 8A Janata Industrial Estate, Senapati Bapat Marg, Lower Parel (W)

Ph 24925544

Open 12 to 4pm 6.30 to midnight.

Meal for two Rs 2000

RATING FOOD 3.5 SERVICE 3.5 DÉCOR 3