dubai

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!

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

 

Review: TERTTULIA

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European

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I have a big soft spot for Pune restaurants. When I researched and wrote Pune’s first ever restaurant guide more than 15 years ago, I noticed a certain homespun charm and the usage of fresh ingredients here. Ofcourse, one cannot generalize, but I was delighted when Pune’s Imrun Sethi’s Terttulia opened in Dadar, mid July. That, here, I met two friends who have known each other for decades further added to the  charm. Just having flown in with Kamal Morarka, her jetsetting industrialist and politician husband, Bharati, grandmother of five, makes time for Bharatnatyam, Kathakali, classical music, handicrafts and ofcourse gourmet food. “Bharati’s  dinners are always fabulously organised with  exquisite food and personal artistic touches ” says her lively warm friend Nina Vasa.  Rooted in tradition yet modern, charmingly outspoken Bharati has us riveted. We enjoy the food, cocktails and Terttulia (Spanish for social gathering)

 

DÉCOR

This cozy Dadar eatery captures the clubby, chaotic spirit of a handsomely timeworn saloon :

floral sofas, mismatched light-fixtures,  birdcage. antique trunk, chalk art on the walls.mantlepieces with  vintage-looking knick-knacks…get the picture?

 

FOOD

All day dining here…burgers, pizza, pasta, steak, sandwiches , interspersed with some unusual dishes (  bite-sized Bacon ’n Parmesan Wrapped Dates, feta-stuffed  Portobello Mushrooms  are must trys). Veggies go for the flavorsome organic brown rice  with olives, tasty, thin crust pizza, well made paninis crunchy with walnuts and superb with artichokes.

It is chef Parag Naik’s unerringly roasted chicken that comes up tops in the non-veg options. The  Gooey chocolate cake lives up to it’s name.  Cocktail lovers make a beeline for the Ginger pear martini, Melon Sangria, Terttulia special Sunday sangria. Orange basil mojito is a must try.

MINUS POINTS

Sadly the  red snapper was not available. The  Rawas  was dry and lacked flavor. Ditto for the pasta and the Cremebrulee cheesecake.

 

MY POINT

Happy that this stretch of Dadar has got a restaurant like Terttulia.  Charming and open through the day Terttulia ‘s well-stocked bar area whips up a buzz at night.  The standard European  here aims to comfort and not dazzle. Comforting prices too.

 

Ground Floor, Hotel Parkway, Near Natural Ice Cream, Ranade Road Extension, Shivaji Park, Dadar (West). Fo 6002 0202
Hours: Daily, from noon to 1.30am

RATING FOOD 3.5 SERVICE 3.5 DÉCOR 3.5


 

DUBAI

Its cold and sunny here in Dubai ! And boy! Is it teeming with restaurants, gourmets, foodbloggers, foodwriters. instagrammers, tweeters (is that what we are called?). The high-flying,  media-baroness now sought after brand consultant Rita K Mehta, loves the cutting edge “Tresind”. Her gorgeous daughter Faarah, director of an elective educational academy and media house is also busy setting up her granpa (the legendary Russy Karanjia’s) foundation. They update me on all that’s rocking here as we dine at the brand new, super-glam Cle. I also  meet up with Dubai’s leading bloggers @secretsquirrelfood, @thehedonista @ishitaunblogged they guide me through the gastronomique maze of Dubai.  Michelin starred chefs restaurants rub shoulders with cheap and cheerful mall eateries. Want more info? Please mail rashmiudaysingh2015@gmail.com, instagram twitter @rashmiudaysingh

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.

 

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.

1

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!

Review: Picante

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PICANTE

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Vegetarian Italian, Mexican

Shudh vegetarian goes global and upmarket in Breach candy. It also crosses the Indian borders (or does it?) to serve Mexican and Italian cuisines. I lunch with  a gourmet veggie twosome:  a former state level badminton champion, the multi-talented, lovely Jayshree Sanghi of India’s fourth generation automobile pioneering family is not only a Kathak dancer  (trained under Padmashree Sunaina Hazarilal) but a creative cook whose dinners are legendary. Equally sporty  (US champ in racquetball and squash)  Navin Deo, having spent 40 years in a  high profile US government job is back in India and making Impactroses which have been in huge demand. Im bowled over by his long stemmed roses (see pic)with their personalized gold embossed messages on the petals. We eat our way through the entire menu: result?  the roses and the giant cookie dessert are the only highpoints of our lunch.

 

DÉCOR

Happy surprise. The second floored restaurants  pleasant  ambiance with pale purple sofas, yellow-cushioned chairs with  wooden geometrical frames, simple black-and-white caricatures, and graphics.

 

FOOD

Along with their ala carte  Mexican and Italian menu they offer daily (except weekend dinners) a “Sunday food festival” (Rs 999 for one) you can order all  28 dishes. But we are told very strictly that it cannot be shared. So we get 2 of these and plenty a la carte ones too. The Picante Pizza (even a wheat-watchers one,) al dente aglio olio  and lasagna  pass muster. It is the giant, freshly baked gooeycrisp cookie topped with warm chocolate sauce, and the moistwarm Molten Chocolate Cake that saves the day.

MINUS POINTS

Desi palate  tuned fare, with plenty of cheese and ketchup.Soggy nachos,  ketchupy Habanero Cottage Cheese, ditto for the quesadillas

Burrito lacks punch, overdressed salads, a strange Arabic pizza and so on. And on.  No alcohol.

MY POINT

Open through the day, pleasing ambiance, well-presented food, attentive service are the plus points.  Sure! a restaurant is in the business of making money and has to cater to all tastes   but except for a few dishes, the vegetarian Italian Mexican fare bends over backward to please the Indian palate  and tips over to become a mish mash of Gujjutalian and Mexidesi. Tasty no doubt!

Picante Ristorante, 401, Akruti Skypark, Mahalaxmi, Bhulabhai Desai road.Ph 23529393

meal for 2 Rs. 1500.

Open noon to midnight

RATING FOOD 2.5 DÉCOR 3.5 SERVICE 3.5

 


 

MUMBAI TO DUBAI

MY CUP OF TEA...DR RAJEN KILACHAND AND FAARAH MEHTA
MY CUP OF TEA…DR RAJEN KILACHAND AND FAARAH MEHTA

Khulja simsim. Your twitter and instagram messages  as well Dubai foodies guide me through Dubai.  It’s food scene dazzles with world class restaurants (love La Serre, Zuma, La Petit Maison).  I also eat at two brand  new, must-try  restaurants Yuan (Atlantis)  and Katsuya (Dubai mall) with Dubai-based foodie extraordinaire and global philanthropist  Dr Rajen Kilachand. He also takes me to high tea (Fortnum and Mason), along with his friend the legendary Rusi Karanjia’s granddaughter, the gorgeous Faarah Mehta. I trip out on Umai (The Oberoi) cutting edge sushi and cod, Soy (Dubai mall) VFM Chinese, many a local eatery, belly dancing  too. Two “first time evers” … the Awesome Oberoi’s breakfast “Lollipop waffles” (you read that right)  and the fabulous traditional “pre-iftar” dinner at Desert Palm while the spectacular sun sets over the lush green polo grounds behind us. P.S Happy to share info please email rashmiudaysingh2015@gmail.com twitter and instagram @rashmiudaysingh