food

THRILLING THREE – OMAN

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THRILLING THREE

Khulja simsim! I don’t even say those words and magic begins unfolding. I share some of it with you… three totally different experiences, three authentic recipes…what they have in common is the sublime, paradise, Oman. Here the vibrant blue sea kisses the dramatic mountains,  and the very white, low-rise buildings dot the picturesque landscape. Here, in this harsh, arid desert the cuisine is rich and multilayered and the Omani s friendly and warm.  

CHEDI CHARMS

World class cuisine…Chef Sunil, chef Giles and Lorie Koenig at The Chedi
World class cuisine…Chef Sunil, chef Giles and Lorie Koenig at The Chedi

How do they do it? Contemporary and exotic, world class and authentic, Asian serenity and Arab grace all tango superstylishly in this 21 acres of  palmtree lined, beachfront sanctuary.

I cant enough of the Middle Eastern reflecting pools, fountain courtyards or of the Eastern-influenced minimalism Zen pools in the gardens. It’s so calm and relaxed that it’s difficult to believe we are in the middle of the capital city of Oman.  I dine in the main restaurant, simply called The Restaurant. Omani arches, four open kitchens (

Indian, Mediterranean, Asian and Arabic) shimmering chandeliers inside and alfresco seating under the glittering stars outside. Here, I not only taste authentic Parsi patranimachi steamed in a banana leaf ( by chef Sunil Thankappan) but also superb Oriental and European delicacies.  The dynamic Lore Koenig who helms this oasis of luxurious calm not only peppers our dinner with amazing insights into it but also  serves up an unending parade of desserts. For the first time ever, I have French pastry with an Omani sweet ( Chef Gilles Winterberger) generously shares the recipe of the “Pearl of Oman” (with Omani halwa)

 

THE CASTLE ON THE SEA

Gourmet paradise: Chef Michael and chef Shabani.
Gourmet paradise: Chef Michael and chef Shabani.

It’s on the stunningly blue high-seas that I get an authentic taste of Oman. A thoughtfully prepared breakfast rich with Omani flavors enlivens my trip. We zip back to  the arc of the sparkling bay of Al Jissah, I head to the magnificnet Al Husn – inspired by the historic architecture of Omani forts for an amazing Omani lunch conjured by the brilliant Omani chef Shabani and supertalented Michael Pearson. Robustly spiced Lamb Salooni, fragrant rice dish of Kabouli,  lamb shuwa dazzle. What amazes is themindblowingly huge choice of cuisines in these three in one Shangrila hotels with stunning views of the coastline. The name Al Husn means “The Fort” or “The Castle”  and as I walk through the fusion of Moorish architecture in the style of the Alhambra, under palm trees and through courtyards I am bowled over. I eat the worlds best kunafa at their Moroccon restaurant, Shahrazad, the sweetfleshed Omani lobsters made even more delightful by Merrinnage Shammi De. On my request, they share the recipe of the fragrant Omani Kabouli rice dish.

 

 

Home sweet home

At home with Chef Salim and Amal of The Dried Lemon
At home with Chef Salim and Amal of The Dried Lemon

To be welcomed into an Omani home is a treat and then to be served up cutting edge Omani food is a super surprise.  The vivacious and talented couple Chef Salim Al Kalbani and Amal Al Khabori dazzle. “A passion for foodwhere local flavors are into international Cuisines” is the tagline for their cutting edge culinary creator company named “The Dried lemon”

 

They transform the humble dried lemon,  ( black lemon or Loomie Omani) into a gourmet delight by  infusing it into their signature dishes.

And so  not only have they been invited and have wowed many an audience in Oman but also in Italy and New york. They are all set to dazzle the world with yet another gourmet surprise…a restaurant!

Today, they’ve share the recipe of the Omani Sawula and Silqah with us.

PS Should you want any of the unique recipes shared by the three please email rashmiudaysingh2016@gmail.com, instagram and tweet @rashmiudaysingh and I’ll send them to you. Happily!

Review – Miami

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Forever grateful. That’s what I am to all of you who keep me informed about all the holes in the wall eateries (love them). Also all the new ones. Like this one today. Im thankful to Jimmy Thakkar who I met just by chance when I was buying undhiyo, steamed muthiya and Rajkot pedas from his fabulous 18 year old shop in Grant Road.  This is the second new eatery he has pointed me to, so I invited him and Nikunj Patel, his diamond merchant friend to lunch with me. They’re both pure vegetarians.

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Review:Bhol Tikka Hut

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If you are looking to order Bohra Thaals, Mutton and chicken dum biryanis, Raan, stuffed bakra, Kapadwanki seekh and more then call Bhol caterers. Do make a note that in this eatery, the ready to eat are only chicken biryanis and tikkas and wraps.

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Dining at the World’s 7th Best Restaurant – Alinea, Chicago

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At Alinea, the worlds 7th best restaurant, I dine alone (having booked a month in advance and paid 300 USD online). Art copulates with science and produces wonders, like the translucent balloon on a string (dessert).

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This staid exterior houses the worlds 7th best restaurant
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I walk in to commence my meal

 

Currently the only Michelin 3-Star in Chicago, Alinea strives to provide personalized service to every guest.

What a joy to be with the brilliant team at Alinea
What a joy to be with the brilliant team at Alinea

Executive Chef Mike Bagale combines a unique mix of a broadly artistic mind with a calm, pragmatic, and practical approach to running a complex kitchen. Here he prepares this brilliant dessert on my table!

And now for the star dessert, Green Apple helium balloons!

 

MY MEGA FOODIE BLIND DATE IN NYC

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FOR BOX-2

Here it is. My ultimate-mega Foodie Blind date (please see photo). Ive been bonding with foodie-strangers over food in Mumbai, Dubai, LA, London, Paris but this date happened In NYC. thanks to instagram and the lovely  @therestaurantfairy (who I also met for the first time) I landed up in NYC’s newest, hottest, secret Atwood Kitchen and bar, which recreates old New York with a classical and ageless feel by Daniel Rieger, Evan Rosenberg. Here I chatted and ate  with @eatupnewyork @cheatdayeats @cy_eats @food.drunk @ogluttoness @realjayjay @restaurantfairy @thenewforkr @thesweetlifeoflina @womenwhowhiskey @chef_bradleyw@upspringpr Amid the natural brick, reclaimed wood and steampunk decor, we had superb handcrafted cocktails, tartares and NYCs best “mac n cheese”, what else did we do? Sip, snack, snap, eat, tweet, repeat.Would you like to join me on a foodie blind date in Mumbai and check out new eateries? Email rashmiudaysingh2015@gmail.com instagram, twitter @rashmiudaysingh

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.

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CATERERS & DESSERT MAKERS

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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…

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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.

@thepicnikbasket

9987687005/9321954055.

 

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,

@Rohan_power

 

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

91-9930514430

 

 

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…

Review: NUTCRACKER

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Multi-cuisine

I raise a toast with the unique “breakfast in a bottle” along with my guests (please see photo). We re in the week old café “Nutcracker” and we’re celebrating the legendary 86 year young Padmashree Dr RP Soonawala’s forthcoming prestigious Dhanvantari  award (conferred on the likes of Dr Christian Bernard) . Internationally and nationally recognised for his medical inventions and pioneering Family Planing work, the lovable doc has delivered the nation including Juhi Chawla and Jay Mehta’s daugher. The dapper gourmet Jay and RP share over a decade of friendship, passion for cars, food, chocolates and perfection. Though busy with his national and interntional businesses (including restauranting) Jay takes time off to dine at the worlds finest Michelin starred restaurants and the small homestyle ones (like he does today).  He is a pure vegetarian.  “Nutcracker” serves pure vegetarian food too.

 

 

DÉCOR

It’s seriously small. Sits cheek by jowl with Ayub’s Kababwalla in the Kala Ghoda area. Charming in a rustic unfinished way, (three yellow stools suspended on the wall, cardboard framed mirrors et al ) oldworld art deco tiled flooring.

FOOD

Homestyle vegetarian: all day breakfast (go for the Parsi eggs with salli, yum Parsi Akuri, the cracked wheat and barley upma) Burgers & sandwiches ( chunky black bean with garlic mayo has a satisfying bite, home made barbecue sauce on the cheese one delights, classic grilled cheese sandwich deliciously oozes cheese). Healthy options too (Must try the delicious breakfast in a bottle… The Asian Salad.  )

Ask for the square wedge of “Seven Layer Cookie,” (chocolate, biscuit crumbs, almond flakes et al) and the dense yet light Belgian chocolate cake.

MINUS

No booking policy has us waiting. It was packed and the bare room amplified noise levels. No wine or beer in this café. Some of the dishes gloopy (sliders with egg and pesto) lacklustre (buttermilk  pancakes). No  Eggs Florentine or egg Parfait available today. Oversweet French toast.

 

MY POINT

This open through the day, pure vegetarian (eggs included) cafe redefines family-run and homestyle (even the sauces are home made). It follows in the footsteps of “Kala Ghoda café” Pantry” “Teapot café” but is even more homespun. I have a big, fat, soft spot for family run restaurant and this one has the chartered accountant turned restaurateur Anahita Bafna cooking, her sister serving and her investment banker husband helping out too. Together they have delivered Nutcracker. Sure! it is a new born and still needs to find it’s feet. But we (who better than world renowned obs-gynae Dr RP Soonawala) welcome this bonny new baby!

 

The Nutcracker, opposite One Forbes Building, VB Gandhi Marg, Kala Ghoda, Fort, Ph 22842430, Rs 1600 meal for two.

RATING FOOD 3.5 SERVICE 3.5 DÉCOR 3.5

THE SAHIB ROOM & KIPLING BAR

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Indian

My salaam to the Sahib and (never forget) the  Memsahib. Interestingly, now that  current restaurant trends are all about sleek minimalism, molecular gastronomy and global fusion, Palladium Hotel’s four month old Sahib Room is a thrilling blast from the  past, a reminder of how much pleasure can be had just from being tucked into elegance and graciousness. And fittingly my dinner companion is the epitome of style and substance. The ever-gorgeous Dr Jamuna Pai, pioneering cosmetologist is renowned not just for the many firsts to her credit but also for her Bridal TV shows and the innumerable  Miss Universe, and Miss India’s she has been skincare expert to. With cutting edge skincare clinics in Mumbai ,Delhi and Pune she has almost become a household name now in India for skincare, but  she still makes time to cook Indian food brilliantly. Her fabulous recipes have been part of  my Penguin Celebrity cookbook too,.Both Doc and  the soft spoken Suchi Kalia give a thumbs up to the food here.

DECOR

It’s spacious, it’s plush, it offers privacy. We sit under shimmering Ossler chandeliers and Venetian crystals, (plenty of space between tables) and  finely curated prints (that date back to the 17th century) around us. We love the community bar table, the quirky magnifying reading glass, quill pen and gramophone in the adjoining Kipling bar (with many an innovative cocktail) and settle down to a leisurely and fun dinner.

FOOD

Multilayered, rich, spice perfumed flavours from Awadh, Hyderabad, Kashmir and more. Hailing from the Awadh region, 32 year old chef  Angad Rai not only brings his training in the Lucknavi kitchens  but also khada and khushboo masalas pipri, kachri, patherkephool, nag kesar, rose petals. He handpounds them and teases big effects from the superb softest Galouti and equally good  vegetarian waterchestnut and avocado Khaas Kebabs. We trip out on the homestyle Awadhi Purvanchal saag (spiked with bathua And ambada).Exquisite nalli nihari (cooked in Unani masala) must be mopped up with the light saffron flavoured taftan bread.   Succulent Lahori chaampain with whispers of saunf. Kashmiri hand pounded Sasranga  mutton  mellowed with curd, saffron and mogra is a must try. Khaas dal makhni rich with safed makhan too. End with the moist, subtle and flavoursome kache gosht ki Dum Biryani. Plenty for vegetarians (50 percent of the menu)

Try the Kalonjiwale Baigan, tangy Amchuri Bhindi  and Ande ki biryani.

MINUS POINTS

Small portions. We could do with more generosity. The seafood (be it the gongura prawns or the jaituni pomfret) though not below par lacks the masterfulness of the rest of the dishes. The light Broccoli Dak Bangla.with kasundi mustard  is dragged down with it’s Philadelphia cream cheese slathering. Rajbhog, angoodi rabdi are ho hum, the outsourced paan icecream is a little better, but what is fabulous (and we  ask for seconds) is the Khubani ka meetha (unfortunately, on my second dinner I was told it’s not on the menu anymore).My favourite sparkling water (neither Perrier nor Pelligrino) available in this 5 star hotel.

MY POINT

Kudos to The Sahib Room for not taking it’s name literally and serving up clichéd decor or Anglo-Indian food from the Raj. Instead Awadh, Hyderabad and Kashmi distil themselves graciously on our plates in elegant surroundings. I eat two long meals here (pay an average of Rs 5000 meal for 2).There is consistency in the food (except for a few, the desserts and the portions could be bigger), I am told that the chef uses the principles of Unani medicine in cooking to achieve the perfect balance between being rich yet non-greasy. There is plenty of ceremony associated with fine dining  yet there’s a relaxed air, that is in sync with most diners’ temperaments. I raise a toast in delight with their  paan martini  Mera Salaam hai!

 

The Sahib Room & Kipling Bar Palladium Hotel, Lower Parel/

Av meal for 2: Rs 5,000  Ph 61628000

Open for lunch and dinner

RATING FOOD 4 SERVICE 4 DECOR 4


 

TIMES FOOD GUIDE 2015

Booking restaurant tables under fake names, landing up for surprise checks… am busy doing that twice a day. Exciting, exacting and fattening times are here. I am busy eating for The Times Food guide 2015. Would love to incorporate your recommendations, please do share your favourite restaurants and invite you to dine with me (rashmiudaysingh2015@gmail.com) FB @rashmiudaysingh instagram, twitter. Waitingly yours.