Whats Hot Tasting Session in Chennai

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Joy of joys!  My latest “Whats Hot tasting session” not only served up delicious surprises but  an amazing range too. Home enterprises run by passionate foodies and look what they are upto. From anti-bacterial, anti-aging healthy fare to traditional, home made Muslim sweets.




Age old flowers, forgotten recipes, organic fruits and vegetables…you name it. Sonya Srinivasan grows them in her own organic farm (be it Avarampu flowers or modakathan) and makes the most delicious Anti -inflamatory anti bacterial, anti-aging chutneys, decoctions et al. We do a tasting of the tasty and wholesome Aragarkovil dosa of Black urad dal. Delightfully vibrant and flavorful chutneys and more. Plenty more. Dual grained atta with a little twist,  wheat and oats spiced with dry ginger powder and a hint of fennel powder, wheat sprouted ragi powder with Jeera powder,  azhagar kovil dosa batter made of whole Urad with skin  and spiced and atta with powdered curry powder and corn flour too.

Sindhi food lovers delight: sweets and savories such as Singhar ki mithai ( made from non – salty sev of besan or gramflour), Tosho ( sweet flour rolls) , Seero Malpuro ( Malpua served with sooji halwa) and Sindhi khicha ( Tapioca). Loved the healthy yummy Peanuts and rock.ginger sweet too.

And all that wasn’t enough, Sonya grows and sells Indian pittu apple  to Dragon fruit  and avocado too.  Ph. 944444-2662

Can home deliver too.



I cant stop eating it. The purest and sweetest taste of the finest almonds in this “badam ke bhukath”.And to think that its  made of only almond and sugar. Making these traditional Muslim sweets are Azra Zafar and her daughter in law Sobia Habibunissa. These traditional Muslim sweets  are made during marriages. Making these sweets is a time consuming exercise and needs lot of hard work such as  Ande ki piyousi (eggs ,khoya ,saffron and ghee ), badam ke loaz ( pure badam and khoya and saffron). And they also make the humble pumpkin into a delight in their kaddu ke loaz ( pumpkin khoya and saffron ) and  dum ke puri ( puri stuffed with badam halwa and baked). When I request for the recipes I am told these are “fiercely guarded recipes, handed down over generations and cannot be shared with outsiders.” Atleast we can eat them, and that’s fabulous!

Call 98405-38889 or mail sobihabibunissa@gmail.com



I have to place on record my thanks to the ever helpful, knowledgable Foodies who helped me taste my way through this tasting session. Brilliant Executive chef Jaffar Ali who has honed his skills over the years, showcases them brilliantly be it in the Connemara’s  Oriental or the Chettinadu cuisine restaurants. Afzal Khan’s amazing knowledge and skills in food and beverage are well known.  Infact it’s thanks to the everhelpful Ahmar Siddiqui, that we hold this whats hot tasting session at the  Connemara hotel. Rakesh

Raghunathan, food entrepreneur, blogger and TV show host peppers the evening with his lively food comments and Anjali Sharma coordinates and puts it together. Thanks to all the participants and foodies our  Tasting session turns out to be a truly “Whats hot”  one!

#WhatsHotTastingSession in Chennai

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Your attention please! Superb surprises ahead. Please take a look at the photograph Ive shot under the trees. What you can see are Chennai’s talented homebakers and caterers. What you cannot see are the interesting and delicious food they brought along. All this for our “Whats hot Tasting session”. I ‘ve flown down from Mumbai for this and each time I conduct this session, I get surprised. Pleasantly. With the variety and vivacity.


Unusual flavors tango on my tastebuds as I taste Sonya Srinivasan’s Avarampu flowers and leaves, Modakathanet al  made to forgotten recipes into healthful, anti inflamatory anti bacterial chutneys and preserves.  Bursting with flavor and texture are Chef Jaffar Ali’s superb repertoire of Chettinadu chutneys. Hand pounded and made of the finest ingredients by

Mani Megaly  and shanti from Kariakuddi, be it the  superb Ginger mango, or the unusual beetroot and broccoli. I taste these again at a memorable Chettinad meal in the Raintree and cant wait to lay my hands on the recipes and share these with you. Infact it’s thanks to the everhelpful Ahmar Siddiqui, Afzal khan, Sanjukthaa Roy and ofcourse Chef Jaffar Ali that we hold this whats hot tasting session at the Connemara hotel.

Fouziya’s line of organic pickles and preserves  is tongue ticklingly good. Especially her date n lime pickle.



How about some traditional Muslim Mithai? Made from the purest of almonds (Badam ke bukath

Badam le lauz)

sobia and noorie zafar  also make a superb Ande ki piyosi and more.

Velvetty creamy home made Casatta icecream made by Sadia gibran’s got top vote as did her Roat semolina cake Mamta ki Rasoi brought along delightful icecream made from natural mint and rose

And an unusual muesli butterscotch

Akshita Agarwal, a student baker’s c

akes in a jar (esp the Pineapple crunchy wit  Praline) was a big hit.

Shivangi Daga’s eggless  dessert classes are in demand. Susan is well known for her  Xmas cakes and Brownies. Cindana of Sugar Monkeys for her

Desserts in jars, especially the Red velvet and  Carrot cake.

Kashish Bathija has just started off and brought along Indian desserts.




How would you like to cook and then party with all that you’ve cooked? All in a beautifully appointed recreational Food studio? Shree Periakaruppan’s Foodology with its many specialty chefs (F

Neelima vegan certified chef and stylist from Canada. Damyanti Paul

Srilankan food and more) is the answer. From 16 flavors in coated cashews to food for kiddies parties are Meena and Nisha chabbria’s specialty.

Ready to cook chapattis? Uma Srinivasan has them for you. She does catering too. Mansi of Foody Palace and her home chefs promote home cooked food and each one actually cooks in her own home kitchen.



Are you  a home baker and caterer and want to be part of this? Or a passionate foodie like Rakesh

Raghunathan, food entrepreneur, blogger and TV show host then emailRashmiudaysingh2016@gmail.com, anjali —— instagram, twitter @rashmiudaysingh


WATCH THIS SPACEDue to space constraint Ive given you only a whiff of our tasting session. For more details (contacts etc) watch this column every other Friday


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Whats Hot Session
WHATS HOT TASTING SESSION: Faarah Mehta flanked by Kavita Srinivasan and Saagar Shewakramani (standing Danielle Sallam and Sridip Ganguli)

Is it possible? Can just one evening tasting session deliver the best of a city’s food-scene?  The very best of cupcakes Gourmet shewaramas, salads et al? yup! possible, but only when the knowledgable foodie hostess and publishing consultant and whiz, the lovely Faarah Mehta generously sources and then equally generously opens up her stylish villa (private beach et al) for my Whats hot tasting session. As does her  foodie husband, retailing tycoon, the dashing  Saagar Shewakramani. High voltage, brilliant editor  of a leading lifestyle magazine Kavita Srinivasan, Sridip Ganguly, software expert are foodies extraordinaires too.

Read the rest of this entry »


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Yo! Exciting discovery times begin. Research  for The Times Food Guide 2016 begins and you are needed. If you bake, make desserts, cook out of home and do so professionally (know of any one who does) and would like to be featured in The Times Food Guide 2016 then please send complete contact details on emailrashmiudaysingh2016@gmail.com, twitter, instagram @rashmiudaysingh. I will contact you and invite you to a “Whats hot tasting session” for this column and for the Times Food Guide. Waitingly yours.

P.S. The many splendored, many textured chocolate cake for Safdar’s birthday was created by Chef Vikas Bagul of The Oberoi Patisserie within a few hours. It has meringue, chocolate fans, and even a chocolate heart shaped box. For Rs 2000 a kg.



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Two joyous whoops! Double celebration time! A shiny brand  new 2015 (I wish you miracles!) . And more of my dreams come true as I discover some amazing talent that creates magic out of home. Ive been finding different ways and means of tracking talent that hums out of home kitchens (so I can include it in our very own Times Food Guides) and this time I find it when I happen to pop in to the dynamic entrepreneur  Shaan Khanna’s Spicy Sangria gathering. It’s at the elegant and stylish Mana Suneil Shetty’s fabulous home store which is buzzing with great food and unique flavours. Heres a taste…



Nidhi Gadia’s waffles

How about some mobile pleasure food? Waffles on a stick. Waffle House specialises in a wide variety of Waffles. The charming Nidhi Gadia is already well loved for her sweet as well as Savoury waffles along with mobile pleasure food – Waffle Sticks ! : +919820026511

Instagram& Twitter: @wafflehouse_in





Raashi’s The Picnik Basket

Make your life into a picnic… add oomph to your table with onion marmalade, slow-roasted bruschetta, cranberry mustard,chocolate peanut butter..or whip up a gourmet meal in minutes with thai curry paste, flavoured mayo’s, marinara & barbecue sauce! The gifted Raashi Sawhney also makes hampers and gifts and  more.




Shweta & Sanya’s Teacharmers

Amazing fragrance and flavors.Superb packaging too. The lovely Shweta and Sanya of Teacharmers have a exclusive range of exotic blooming tea from all around world such as rose,chyrsthameus as well as pyramid silken teabags for the ultimate tea experience .

Shweta/sanya -9821532699/+91 98-70-061617


Nitika and Minnie’s Cocoa Bean

Chocoholics this way please! The talented Nitika and Minnie serve up an array of the most intense and flavourful sweet delights. Cocoa Bean – Their desserts are all about taste and texture!!! Highly recommended are the  malakoffs and truffles.
Nitikakhemani 9820144272
Minnie mehra 9833079217


Srikanta & Neha’s Open Table
Try Open Table’s delicious fresh dips – from a Layered Lebanese Dip to Sundried Tomato Dip, everyone has a favourite! Essence and color-free Cooler concentrates (Simply Rose and their Ginger Lemon Appetizer) Prices: approximately Rs 200 for a box of dip, Rs 220 for a 550 ml concentrate bottle.
Srikanta Taparia 9819592278  Neha Chokhani 9820133487.


Amrita Diwanji…Food Photographer

A photographer with a great passion for food, the brilliant Amrita Diwanji has

shot for Ellipsis, Cheval, & Burgs.

+91 98205 48700


Rohan’s Pack a Pav

In his time off from work, Rohan Mangalorkar potters around in the kitchen whipping up yummy recipes (his mothers) that typically involve bread, meat, and inventive condiments. Tasty, juicy homemade mutton shammi kebabs, chicken seekh kebabs, and veg shammi kebabs sandwiched between fluffy pavs.

Pack-a-Pav, a stall that pops up at  food festivals and can be called for your next party catering too. “This works well at sundowners or parties that need bread to soak the alcohol,” says Rohan.We agree!

Rohan  9920230240,



Sanjnaa’s Ellipsis Bakery

Brownies, cupcakes red velvet Oreo and chocolate chip cookies, freshly baked breads…the  gifted Sanjnaa Talwar of Ellipsis gives a sneak peek of their about to open standalone bakery in Worli. “It is a month or two away” she says, but trials are on …give us this day, our daily bread!



Shweta Parikh 

This talented young home baker, sources the finest of ingredients  and take orders only on weekends. She specialises in customised fondant cakes, cupcakes, macarons, cookies, cake pops, brownies, cheesecakes.  And if you are looking for eggless, she has those for you as well.

Shweta Parikh




P.S. You’ll find ALL the above and much much more in your very own Times Food Guide 2015 (the “caterers and dessert makers” volume). Should you wish to be part of the Times Food Guide 2016 and this column please mailrashmiudaysingh015@gmail.com, instagram, twitter @rashmiudaysingh waitingly yours…


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As the Times Food Guide 2015 goes to press, here’s what I find …


Looking for oven fresh healthy and yummy weight watchers  goodies? brownies, Raggi and oat cookies, assorted muffins  and more by talented Pallavi Dayal.
(9619483431. 02223865852)


Superb Gourmet & Classic Salads, Dips, Dressings, appetizers & Desserts are brilliantly prepared by

the two sisters Janaki Grover  and Devaki Trivedi.  Fashion  and home accessory designer Rakhee Grover Jain swears by their“Saladicious” fare ( 98202 22342
98200 24842).

H.A.S. It All Foods

Call H.A.S it all.  husband, wife and son (Haresh, Anju and Siddhanth) for healthy low-calorie fare to tiffin services and multi-cuisine corporate party orders. Superb roast cashew peanut chaat, swell n simple
Indian and western desserts.( Ph 23517086, 9870408072, 9870008081)


 Sharmeen Indorewala’s rich, creamy, frozen, preservative free , gluten free dessert in 10 fun flavours.

Place your orders for delivery/pick up at (9920029229)


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I am thrilled! As the Times Food Guide 2015 goes to press, am setting up #Whats hot Tasting sessions (to include new talent in the books) Have discovered amazing home baking and catering talent.


Anyone  who bakes or caters professionally out of home can take part. For the past 20 years, I have been regularly  conducting these  sessions (in Mumbai and Chennai) in order to discover and encourage home talent and to include the talented ones  in The Times Food Guide.

I invite and encourage new talent to get in touch with me. For this session I was flooded with Instagrams, tweets and mail requests. I invited dessert makers and caterers  who came all the way from Colaba, Chembur,  and more. We conducted the Session at Andheri’s  Boveda.


Should you want to be included in the Times Food Guide 2015 please email your details (background, specialties, pricing, home delivery, contact details) to rashmiudaysingh2015@gmail.com or instagram or twitter @rashmiudaysingh.

IMPORTANT NOTE Please note that I do NOT have any one coordinating or assisting me so please mail your details directly only to me.



Sorry for the brief one line note on each one of my talented group today. As you can see I am very short of space. Should you be interested do call and check with each one of the dessert makers and caterers for more details.



Odd Hour Kitchen’s Shivani has invented a yummy Brookie (brownie cum cookie)  which is a must try as are the  Yoghurt cake, Nut cookie cup cake

9820009500 (Chembur)

Onesta confections

Superb salted caramel  Gourmet Chocolates, cheesecakes from Neha Chowdary, a New York trained professional.

9820808412 (Juhu)

Sweet Bliss by Ravisha Sharma This Comerce student’s  Nutella cakepops come out tops. Cupcakes, marshmallows, cakes too.

9167155935 (Andheri E)

Cocoa love by harpriya ‘s Blueberry chocoloate mousse and carrot cake worth trying.

9819038623 (Santa Cruz)

Ask for Sweet Escape Nikita bokadia ‘s mango chocolates and flavoured brownies

9833041711 (Khetwadi)

Lakshmi Nambiars Bakery junction Banoffie cupcakes, sugarfree white chocolate butterfly are a must try.

9920211922 (Juhu)

Tooth Fairy by Rachana shah

The best semi-sweet gooey chocolate brownies in town. Oatmeal cookies, banana-chocolate loaf/muffins worth trying too.

9930044960 (Breach candy)

Cheesecakes republic by  Aishwarya Jalan & Shruti Jalan sure takes cheesecakes seriously and serve up seriously good Baked & No bake cheesecakes, tea time cake loaves,

9820302204 (Goregaon)


Bakers hut by Manali Modi specializes in designer cakes. Ask for her  black pepper and pineapple muffin

9619940706 (Parel)




Satvita Foods You name it and Mamta can dehydrate it.  Great for students going abroad too. The

mix vegetable and pav bhaji actually pack a punch.

9821136696 (Saki Naka)

Sama Ankolkar’s The Hungry Bunny’s Haleem and Biryani, Pepper chops are worth asking for. She also specialises in Italian food ( yum eggplant parmesan and pepper lamb chops )

9820028092 (Versova)

T’s Kitchen by Tejas

Looking for homestyle Goan fare? Go  Goan with Tejas’s Cafreal and succulent beef curry.

99203 16702 (Andheri)

Cherina Gamadia’s Mediteranean magic from her ‘Bhuke Plate’ kitchen offers delicious  Labneh Kishk, hummus, pumpkin pasta and more. 9920028472 (Colaba)

Hot Rocks BBQ by Srikar Shetty and Neville Patel

Burger buffs must try Srikar Shetty and Neville Patel’s peanut butter burger,  chicken burger too.

9833911474 (Andheri)

Food Biz by Amar Jog  has catered for Nita Ambani and Amitabh Bachchan, superb chingdi champ litchis stuffed with cheese mousse and firecracker mozzarella. 98196 95223 (Andheri)

Aditi’s Healthy Bowls crunchy home delivered salad packages (cottage cheese salads, barley salads, leafy salads and more)

91 67 157656 (Andheri)


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

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

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



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

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

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





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

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



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

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

lime meringue :

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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



Butter – ¾ cup

Sugar – 11/4 cup

Eggs – 3

Vanilla extract – 1 tsp

Bananas Overipe – 4

Flour – 3 cups

Baking soda, Baking powder – 1 tsp each

Salt – ½ tsp

Cinnamon – 1 tsp

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

Sour cream – ¼ cup


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

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

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

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

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

Now, add the dry and wet ingredients alternatively.

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


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


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

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