Breaking foodie news. I am getting the very first taste of the recipe for a culinary Superhit! I just happened to be in Colombo and wow! am thrilling to brand new contemporary Srilankan flavors. In more ways than one. Srilankan beauty Bollywood superstar Jackie Fernandez and Srilankan culinary superstar Dharshan Munidasa have just opened “Kaema Sutra” in the swanky shimmering Shangrila.
Sure the name harks back to “kama Sutra’ our very own bible of all things sensory and for ofcourse this restaurant experience pampers all the senses too. But, to put it in perspective, Kaema is the Sinhala word for food and “Sutra” the Sanskrit word for the study of an art or ideology. And happily (for us) this is definitive of Chef Dharshan’s own philosophy. He has fully understood the intricacies of Sri Lankan cuisine with its many regional and colonial influences, the abundant use of the island’s natural spices and ingredients and age-old cooking techniques. And then he blends with his own masterful modern style to create authentic Sri Lankan cuisine with novel variations.
SRILANKA ON THE WORLD GOURMET MAP
Amazing! Srilanka, the tiny little jewel of an island is on the world gourmet map all because of the brilliant, self taught chef Dharshan Munidasa. Two of his restaurants ( Nihon Bashi and Ministry of Crab) have been on Asia’s 50 best list and that’s an amazing feat. As regional jury chairperson of the Worlds 50 best and Asias 50 best restaurant academy Ive been thrilled to applaud him receiving these awards.
And now in Kaema Sutra, this genius “father of modern Srilankan cuisine” is all set to blaze trails. I love Srilanka as multi-ethnic and multi-religious as it is. And all this is religiously reflected in the cuisine. Whoa! What a magical mix… Sinhalese (predominantly Buddhist) and Tamils (primarily Hindu) Muslims Malays and Chinese too. The Portugese and British colonisation further added several dimensions and layers to the cuisine here.
Dharshan has refined it and put Sri Lankan fine dining on the international map firstly with his two star ingredients – tuna and crab. Nihonbashi and Ministry of Crab feature on every traveller’s to-do list.
And heres’ the amazing bit…he was drawn to cooking only when he was studying computer engineering and international relations at Johns Hopkins University. Since the food was atrocious, the half Japanese and half Srilankan started cooking himself.
And with his passion and genius he is now evolving Srilankan food. So at the stunningly beautiful Kaema Sutra (with its alfresco seaview, located in the super luxurious Shangrila) he creates refined versions of traditional Sri Lankan dishes. From Porksicle, (pork spare rib wrapped in roti and Manioc Floss) the beloved lamprais to “what the hopper” a decadent dessert of crunchy honey hopper.
The most traditional Ambul Thiyal, tuna curry which was cooked for hours is cooked on the table and just for seven minutes, using sashimi-grade tuna. Soft and juicy.I couldn’t resist requesting him to share the recipe…here it is
Tuna Ambul Thial Recipe
150g of skinless tuna (no bones or blood lines) Cubed
5ml Sunflower Oil
10g Garcinia Paste
10g Chopped Onion
5g Chopped Garlic
5g Ginger Slivers
1 Sprig Curry Leaves
1 inch Cinnamon Stick
3 Pandan Leaves
To a clay pot apply Sunflower oil and line with Pandan Leaves.
Place tuna in the pot.
Mix Garcinia Paste, Onion, Garlic, Ginger, Curry Leaves, Cinnamon Sticks, Cardamoms, Cloves and Salt with Water.
Pour mixture onto the tuna.
Close lid and cook on low flame for 10mins.
Would you believe this svelte and shapely beauty is as busy doing food tastings as she is shooting for multiple big banner films? An equally passionate and dedicated foodie, the gorgeous Bollywood superstar, Srilankan beauty and brilliant actress Jacqueline Fernandez takes time off to focus on food and restaurants. She makes time from shoots and brand ambassador commitments for high profile international brands to be partner in kaema Sutra. She is also mall set to open her very own Thai restaurant with her best friend Mishali in Mumbai.
She loves cooking. She loves Srilankan hoppers and “milk rice” as well as muffins. She s learnt these from Kim, her gorgeous mother. And here’s the surprise… she loves muffins and bakes them regularly.
JACKIE’S FAVORITE MUFFINS
1 cup spelt flour (gluten free ofcourse) 1 cup olive oil, 2 bananas, 1 cup walnuts, 1/2 cup Honey or raisins, 2 teaspoon baking powder, 1/4 cup husk (to bind instead of eggs). Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Yum and healthy too!
It’s the cherry on the nostalgia cake. Literally too. Im getting high on the Cherries Jubilee dessert (in the foreground of the photo) invented by the famed Auguste Escoffier for Queen Victoria’s Jubilee celebrations, in 1897. Tasting it here in the 137 year old spectacular Grand hotel, declared a ‘National Heritage Property’ of Srilanka is a treat. Old world Colonial charm infuses the magnificent Tudor building, Victorian fire places, teak wood furniture, shimmering chandeliers and many a traditional recipe is preserved here. High tech comforts and old world luxury fuses together. Tyrone David ensures I get a fascinating taste of the past. From the Scottish cock a leekie soup to the Cherries Jubilee. From taking a cooking class from Executive chef Priyantha Weersinghe to golfing in the 125 year neighbouring beautiful golf course it’s a trip back in time. After all I’m in the cold and sunny “Little England” . That it is perched in Nuwaraeliya, in the mountains of Srilanka is another story.
This aint no chain “Pizza Express” . It’s bahut hyperlocal and thoda whimsical. Its “Bandra project by Pizza Express” and we enjoy it.
Please take a look at the photo, would you believe this is in the concrete jungle of Dubai? I love sniffing out hidden gems all over the world and this one is tucked into a fishing village . Run by a young husband and wife team, it serves up gems of wizardry. And guiding me to it are our very own revered and feared, media baron (Blitz) the late Russy Karanjia’s gorgeous daughter and granddaughter. Discerning gourmets, they are the toast of Dubai. High profile editor Rita Mehta Karanjia makes time from her hectic media and celebrity management work, Faarah Mehta Shewakramani takes time off her pioneering and fully booked up elective educational academy to lunch with me here. The ocean bounty is distilled on our plates. Evolving modern Asian cuisine with a Japanese influence the brilliant young Akmal Anuar serves up one masterpiece after another. The most fresh, delicate and crazily addictive Seaurchin, heady white truffles, refreshing ponzu-spiked Yellowtail tuna and more. The Hairy crab with Piedmonte white truffles dazzles and the feast continues. Ends with the delightful
Kadak chai (you read that right) ice cream. Our lunch at “3 Fils” hits gastronomic stratospheres but the price points are down to earth. Therein lies the magic.
Quirky, cheery décor (please see photo) in this Kala Ghoda Cafe meets Hollywood. Art work of famous Hollywood stars on the walls and chairs et al. Wooden steps lead to a small mezzanine section.
Whoa! Its all about food and fitness. And then, here in glamor-drenched Hollywood, in the iconic queen of hotels, I lunch with our very own beauty queen. She’s a globe-trotting foodie and yet she remains so slender and fit. The forever gorgeous, former Miss India, Manasvi Mamgai, explains that there is a deep and abiding relationship between food and fitness. She dazzles us over lunch in the landmark “Prettywoman” Beverly Wilshire’s BLVD.
Food and fitness: the trump card.
The past few months, we’ve all been fascinatedly watching Manasvi and her father Shalabh Kumar not only campaigning for but also celebrating Diwali in the White House with President Trump. Lighting many a lamp and “diya” for the festival of lights.
For sure, India is shining not only in the White House, but also here in the spectacularly beautiful landmark hotel. Our very own brilliant Chef Samir Roonwal is creating deliciously refreshing magic. The forever gracious and dynamic Ben Trodd (who helms nine hotels) and ever helpful Lauren Dutton Breen are equally fascinated by Manasvi’s journey.
An eventful and exciting journey indeed. From being crowned Femina Miss India in 2010, to making her Bollywood debut with Ajay Devgan to being Republican Hindu Coalition’s Ambassador to India. Manasvi Mamgai sure has come a long way from being a beauty queen and super model to stepping into the midst of US political milieu.
Now that she has set up base in LA, Manasvi is in demand for acting roles and also wants to produce films.In the midst of all this frenetic activity, wining and dining, how does Manasvi remain so fit? She answers my questions as we feast on the most refreshing watermelon salad and grilled fish. “Fitness is something i have always loved. I have been into sports and dance since a very young age” Manasvi points out. “And ofcourse, food is something ive always loved to” she says flashing her infectious smile. And her reason to exercise so munch? “Working out a lot gives me the liberty to eat whatever i want”.
Living in LA gives her time to do all sorts of outdoor activities be it surfing, hiking, horse riding or diving. She is also a regular at soul cycle and barrys bootcamp. She recommends a hearty breakfast and believes in the old adage of “ breakfast like a king eat dinner like a pauper”. And through her hectic life, what keeps her slender and glowing? Balance. Dining at fancy restaurants, tasting menus, exotic menus et al is balanced by drinking smoothies and blended soups. “They are healthy and super easy and if you don’t have time to cook or like me don’t know how to its a great option”.
Balance and passion is the key in all she does. Whether she is working hard at the Republican Hindu Coalition (the brainchild of Manasvi’s father Mr. Shalabh Kumar whose main mission is to create a strong Hindu voice on the policy tables in US and strengthen Indo-American relations in a real substantive way) or acting.
It’s a match made in heaven and it’s most visible here. Here, in Hollywood Los Angeles, the land of eternal youth which tangoes with the freshest of Californian produce. Even more so here in the timeless Beverly
Wilshire which turns ninety at the close of this year yet continues to rock with a youthful rhythm and beat.
Star spangled Hollywood and Bollywood dines ,meets and stays here. From Priyanka Chopra and Anil Kapoor to Tom Cruise. And Chef Chris Ford and Chef Samir Roonwal have them coming back for more. On Manasvi’s request chef Roonwal shares the super simple -to -make watermelon salad which is sweet, juicy, crunchy and well-balanced with the saltiness and protein of cheese.Here it is…
Watermelon and Cheese Salad
Servings: 4 servings
Calories: 325 kcal
- 1 small watermelon (3 pounds), rind removed, cut into 1/2-inch slabs, 4 inch squares, compress in a vacuum bag and seal them with fresh basil leaves, chill overnight
· 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
· 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice or lemon juice ,both are sublime, see which one you prefer
· 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
· Small pinch of freshly ground black pepper
· 1/4 cup Celery leaves, micro arugula, micro basil
· 4 ounces crumbled Kefelatori cheese
- In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, lime juice, salt and pepper.
2. Pour the dressing over the chilled watermelon slabs.
3. Add a few leaves of Basil, Arugula and Celery leaves
4. Toss gently to combine. Sprinkle the crumbled cheese on top and serve immediately, Chef Roonwal presents it with glamorous edible flowers. You can use your imagination to present it your way.
In Mumbai. On a whirlwind three day trip. Internationally celebrated as the worlds finest, highly awarded, three Michelin-starred chef Massimo Bottura is in town. Not only is he the global leader of gastronomy but along with his vibrant wife is spearheading social change, with their NGO “food for soul” (where, in London, I was privileged to volunteer as a waitress). Forever etched in my taste bud memory is my five-hour, 15 course mind-blowing meal at Massimo’s Osteria Francescana in Italy where the genius’s thoughts became deliciously edible.
And now, it’s an exhilarating joy to give the lovable power couple a taste of Indian flavours and most of all to observe their responses and reactions. The sheer bliss on his face when the delicate fragrance of biryani at the finest Indian K and K seduced. Kerman Lalkaka, Chef Sunil Gadihoke had fittingly laid out a feast for an emperor. Lara tripped out on the sweet tangy spicy pani puri in Pinky Dixit’s Soam. Hay strewn cacophonic Crawford market to the serene, stylish Ensemble
to the iconic Taj where chef Amit Chaudhari served up regional flavors. Prateek Sadhu and Aditi Duggar’s cutting edge Masque, Floyd Cardoz and Chef Zachariah’s Bombay Canteen delighted them.
“Indian food is an encyclopedia of overlapping landscapes, cultures, religions and people” says Massimo. “our small sampling has opened our eyes to a world of flavors… strong and delicate, powerful and submissive, fun and serious… Eating is the best way to learn!”
P.S. And even as you read this we will have lunched in Shree Thakker Bhojnalay and they will have landed back home in Italy.
Tucked into the armpit of Raghuvanshi mills, Panayaa, this 6000 sq ft is white, bright and airy, Gilded mirrors et al. A hookah lounge and a bar is piled on top of the restaurant.. Read my entire review on – https://whatshot.in/mumbai/critics-review-does-this-lower-parel-restaurant-live-up-to-its-modern-indian-tag-r-9863
Bangkok, Singapore, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Sri Lanka and now the Nara Thai chain comes to Mumbai. For some inexplicable reason there’s been a famine of Thai restaurants in Mumbai. So when the dapper, high-profile New age Bollywood producer Atul Kasbekar, gourmand amongst gourmets, recommended Nara Thai (after his great meal there) we made a date, And wow! What a date
Read my entire review of NARA THAI on – https://whatshot.in/mumbai/nara-thai-impresses-with-this-luscious-thai-tea-crepe-cake-r-9860