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
THIS MAIDEN TOUCHES THE HEART
I had no idea that “dimsum” translates to “touch the heart”. All I knew is that over the years Ive loved the little steamed, parcels of Chinese delight. And on my recent visit to China I completely tripped out on dimsum. Of all kinds. On returning from China I was hankering for authentic Chinese food. Here’s the delicious ironiy: It happened again and again. My heart was touched. And that too in Dubai. It wasn’t just the superb dimsum and authentic Chinese food that did it but even the stunning views and the evolutionary designs that represent Chinese culture over the generations. Making waves in Dubai, this sexily glamorous, three floored Maiden Shanghai is strategically located in the cutting edge, Five Palm Jumeirah Dubai. And here I am on a perpetual feast, from the moment I enter the sparkling glass-clad jewel soaring directly over the Arabian Gulf, and walk into the pioneering design and trailblazing, amphitheatre inspired architectural masterpiece .
Within the timeless interiors a
hexagonal pattern runs throughout, complemented by a carefully chosen mix of contemporary
furniture. And Im thrilling to it all as I find my way to Maiden Shanghai.
CHINA CHARMS FIVE TIMES OVER
And then wham! the sheer seductive energy of the three floored Maiden Shanghai takes over. It is an exploration of authentic Chinese cooking there is a fresh and imaginative vibe. it invigorates traditional recipes for a modern audience.
It is set in the heart of the Five Palm Jumeirah and it lets in dramatic views across the marina from everywhere, its outdoor terraces, indoor bar, private dining rooms and an opulent rooftop bar. I love the décor which playfully fuses the traditional with the boldly modern, creating spaces that feel open yet connected.
It is here that the brilliant Executive Chef Luo Bing revitalises Chinese culinary tradition. Drawing from Cantonese, Sichuan, Shanghai and Beijing influences, he marries age-old techniques and flavours with imagination and refinement. Flavourful masterpieces result. Luo Bing honed his skills in Barcelona and Hong Kong, and as Executive Chef at Time Out’s 100 Best Restaurants In London.
He offers plenty of Signature dishes including traditional, hand-prepared Peking Duck and his take on the Sichuan Kung Pao dish. But what delightful dimsum…his dim sum bar selection offers exciting flavour combinations beautifully prepared in delicate parcels. From tiger prawn dumplings with luxurious black truffle to pan fried Wagyu beef buns.
It is here that the dynamic and dapper Aloki Batra who helms this hot happening landmark tells me all about the uniqueness of this haute hot Five. From the cutting edge design, artistic work here by Joe Ngai to the amazing Chinese food.
In the cool of the November night, while nibbling on dimsum on one of the stunning terraces I learn all about Aloki Batra’s over 16 years’ experience in equity financial markets. Formidable business and financial skills as well a flair for masterminding the hospitality industry shine through.
DIM SUM AND THEN SOME
This delightful dimsun is not unique to Cantonese cuisine. Shanghai has xiao long bao (steamed pork dumplings), and there is chao shou (Sichuan wontons) in Sichuan. However What sets Cantonese dim sums apart, other than the extraordinary variety of dishes is that it takes years to learn the
finer points of making dim sum take years to learn, which is why it is important to have a demanding “sifu” [“master”). Chef Luo Bing has obviously mastered the art and on my request shares his chicken dimsum recipe
MAIDEN SHANGHAI DIMSUM
– Flour 200g
– 1 egg
– Water 30g
– Salt 1g
-Mix all the ingredients together until smooth.
– Use a rolling pin to roll the dough into 1mm thin pastry.
– Use diameter 3/5 cutter to cut into individual pastries.
– Minced chicken thigh or breast 150g
– 1 egg
– finely chopped fresh ginger 20g
– finely chopped onion 30g
– salt to season
– soya sauce 15g
– Sesame oil 3g
– cooking oil 2g
Method: Mix all ingredients together and put in chiller until filing.
– put a tablespoon of each filling into the pastry and pinch close
– boil for five minutes
Predictable Chinese fare. And for sure, predictable doesn’t have to mean disappointing. It can be comforting and reassuring provided it is cooked right.Read my review of House of Mandarin on https://whatshot.in/mumbai/critics-review-will-house-of-mandarin-become-your-new-go-to-for-chinese-r-9857
Sorry! Bad news! Okay so we love the name “Thangaballi” (villain of “Chennai Express’?) but why did they make the food from South India so villainous too? However, despite the disappointing food and service we had a superfun afternoon.Read more on – https://www.whatshot.in/mumbai
Today, I send you the most delicious, queen of a traditional recipe which is versatile and reigns supreme. I also send you the recipe for good cheer by the global cocktail king. I taste the very traditional Spanish Salsa verde and watch the cocktail king stir the original Martini in the most iconic Maria Cristina in the stunningly beautiful san Sebastian by the sea. The luxurious iconic century old San Sebastian landmark is named after Queen Maria Cristina. It is the superstar hotel of superstars. Not only was it a beloved of Liz Taylor, Bette Davis and others but even today the charming and dapper Ned Capeleris ensures that it magnetises the best. Chef Miguel Piniero distils delicious Spain on our plates. And somewhere through my gourmet meal here, I get to know that Shah Rukh Khan stayed and loved it here too. History and luxury waltz in the elegant, high ceilinged marbled interiors. Since 1912 it has been magnetising the whos who of the world. And with good reason. Not only does it boast of amazing gourmet fare, superlative service, glamorously elegant surroundings but also has the world famous Dry bar and a cooking school (Mimo food, where I attend a cooking lesson) in it’s premises.
GREEN GOURMET QUEEN
Over the years and through my travels, I have been tasting this green-sauce in different countries. Ive been told that the basic recipe is probably 2,000 years old and has an Italian origin. But there is no documentary evidence. Sure! In Piemonte, I dipped the boiled meats (bolito misto) in it and I loved the cold Italian salsa verde. Rich with coarsely chopped parsley, vinegar, capers, garlic, onion, anchovies, olive oil, and mustard. In France the
So I was pleasantly bowled over when the Spanish version turned out to be the most memorable.
Also the most sparkling. In every way. We dined, under the shimmering chandeliers of the stunningly beautiful restaurant with it’s mirrored tables. The talented young chef’s masterpieces were served up one after the other. The pintxos (Basque tapas) delighted with their varied textures and flavors. The well traveled and well informed Ned Capeleris’s knowledge of the local and global cuisines had me riveted. Beans from.Tolosa, Hake and asparagus and the most amazing cloud of sweet bliss…Basque curd with honey followed by petitfours. Everhelpful Bryan Owen paired the finest wines, the local txakoli and champagnes
Ned Capeleris and Chef Miguel share the easy to make recipe
- 2 gloves of very finely chopped garlic
- Extra Virgen olive oil to wet the pan
- A pinch of Salt to taste add
- 100 ml of White wine or
- 200 ml of fish stock (optional) and then the parsley.
- Parsley very finely chopped in abundance stir in the
- 10g (soup spoon) of flour to give the salsa more body. Keep stirring till it has a pouring consistency.
Use it as a dip, a sauce or even spread. Yum!
Here im privileged to watch the maestro himself stir the most perfect dry martini. The World famous entrepreneur author charming cocktail maestro Javier de las Meulas founder of the iconic dry martini concept world over and a fab one in Maria Cristina also shares the perfect recipe.
From James Bond’s “shaken not stirred” martini to Ernest Hemingway’s quote “I’ve never tasted anything so cool and clean…They make me feel civilized,” this gin-based beverage is an iconic one. And fittingly enough, it finds its home in the iconic hotel in the “Dry bar”
FROM THE MARTINI MAESTRO
2-3 dashes of dry vermouth
l glass at Bombay
Optional: a twist of lemon
Garnish: a green olive
Type of glass
l Pour the vermouth and the gin into the mixing glass togethr
with plenty of ice
2 Stir tor l5 s
3 Serve in a cocktail glass
4 Garnish with a green olive
5 Optionally add a twist of lemon
I’m stumped. Call it “thaali” call it “thaal” but how do I define this fingerlicking (literally too) shortcut to : bliss? guiltfree non stop eating ? Taste of culture? Yes all this and more. Over the years I’ve been on a thaali- high be it at the South Indian (A RamaNayak Udipi or Mani Bhawan) or the Gujarati (Shri Thacker Bhojanalaya). Till now it is been only about vegetarian thaali’s (except for a fly by night wannabe non veg Bohri thaal restaurant in Grant road). And then along comes the gourmet of all gourmets, the high octane award winning charismatic actor who has four generations of film and gourmet genes. Rishi Kapoor s passion and gourmet gusto is infectious. Inspite of his hectic schedule he drove all the way to taste Gordon Ramsay’s cooking (when I was shooting with Gordon for channel 4). Over the years the charmer has guided me to his favourite foodie haunts. Once again this knight on a white charger (er SUV) fetches me and drives me to his tried tested and tasted Bohri thaal restaurant (!). He does not reveal the name or wherabouts. ” Its all part of the experience and mystique. And I have already booked” he insists.
I’m star-struck in Spain! From the sparkling with flavour and texture pintxos and other dishes to the superstar chefs I meet and dine with. From the legendary Juan Marie Arzak, the father of Modern Spanish cuisine to our very own Chef Vineet Bhatia who has just received a Michelin star. Even the luxurious iconic century old San Sebastian Hotel, named after Queen Maria Cristina is the superstar hotel of superstars. Not only was it a beloved of Liz Taylor, Bette Davis and others but even today Ned Capeleris ensures that it magnetizes the best. Chef Miguel Piniero distils delicious Spain on our plates. And somewhere through my gourmet meal here, I get to know that Shah Rukh Khan stayed and loved it here too. Starry, starry Spain!
Stop press. I report from gastronomy’s seventh heaven…what else can a city be called when it has the second largest number of Michelin stars in the world? And not only is this stunningly beautiful seaside city of San Sebastian the nurturing ground for these awesomely brilliant chefs but (aptly enough) hosts the world famous food conference Gastronomika.
High-octane discussions and talks by leading chefs, real time tastings while the cooking is taking place, cooking classes, pintxo tours and more. The chefs from the third and fourth best restaurants in the world (Joan Roca and Mauro Colagreco) share their secrets. At the glittering launch event, Juan Marie Arzak the father of modern Basque cuisine graced the occasion, Michel Bras was felicitated by the dynamic director Roser Torres (who sportingly wore an Indian salwar kameez).Also sharing their knowledge and experiences were many an awesome international chef. And to top it all, our very own Indian chefs were the guests of honour.
Together, they served up a delicious overview which was mind-blowingly comprehensive and at the same time personalized. India’s thousand-year-old tradition and the latest avant-garde innovations glittered with equal intensity.
FIRST TIME EVER…
First time ever. An Awesome star cast of award winning Indian chefs from around the world got together. Ive attended many an international conference, but never has there been such a constellation of superstar Indian chefs.
Each one a maestro in his own right gave the world a taste of incredible India. Literally too. Happily ive not only dined at each ones superb restaurants in London Bangkok Delhi Chennai Mumbai and Sanfrancisco but also given them our very own Times Food Awards and applauded them as chairperson of the Indian subcontinent of Asias50best and Worlds50best Restaurant academies. Each one dazzled through their presentations and cooking demonstrations held in the huge auditorium of the sprawling and well-equipped Kursaal .
Crowned Asias best chef three years in a row and the worlds7th best, Gaggan Anand enthralled the audience as he shared his secrets and cooked up his Indian progressive magic. Presenting the philosophy and diversity of our cuisine was Manjit Singh Gill.
,the treasure house of knowledge Ayurveda and cooking. From San Francisco, Michelin starred Quilon’s Srijith Gopinathan kept us fascinated with his presentation of “India de luxe” As did our other Michelin starred chef Sriram Aylur of London’s Quilon on “Extreme spices of the South”. Yet another Michelin starred chef Vineet Bhatia of Indego ‘s fascinating presentation on “harmony and complexity” was followed by the deliciously riveting one of the only Indian restaurant (from India) on Asias 50 best list, Manish Mehrotra of Indian Accent’s talk and demo on “Indian emotional avant-garde”.
The secrets of the North: “Dum” cooking were wonderfully revealed by Dum Pukht’s Gulam Quereshi.
Exotic flavors of the South were brilliantly presented by Praveen Anand of Daksin as was “Tandoor explosion” by Bukhara’s J.P. Singh Bombay Canteen s gifted Thomas Zacharias presentation on “Wild India” was eye-opening. “European language, Indian feelings” was the fascinating subject of Masala Library s bright young chef Saurabh Udinia’s talk.Team incredible India received thunderous applause. Well deserved. Kudos.
Through it all, we were delighted at how each and every chef cooked and served up atleast one dazzling vegetarian dish. From Manish Mehrotra’s chat patta chaat with a twist to Royal Vega’s Varun Mohan’s “Timoori aloo” . The highlight is that not only Varun himself vegetarian but Royal Vega our only purely vegetarian pan Indian fine dine restaurant. He shares with us the recipe he demonstrated in the Gastronomika.
RECIPE.. TIMOORI ALOO
½ kg Baby Potato
2 cup Greek yoghurt plain
Salt To taste
½ tea spoon Fresh lemon juice
1tea spoon Green chilies paste
1 tea spoon Ginger paste
½ tea spoon Timoor freshly pounded (Himalayan Pepper)
½ tea spoon Red Chili flakes
1 tea spoon Cardamom powder
¼ tea spoon Nutmeg powder
¼ tea spoon Mace powder
1 cup Cream
2 Table spoon Ghee
2 pieces TejPatta
¼ tea spoon Cumin seeds
½ cup Onions, finely chopped
¼ tea spoon Saffron, dissolve in a tea spoon of warm water
Wash, pat dry, prick cut potatoes into halves
Boil with salt until tender.
Drain and cool.
In a bowl add yogurt, lemon juice, ginger paste, green chili paste pounded timoor, red chili flakes, cardamom, nutmeg, mace powder, salt and cream, mix well.
Marinate potatoes in this mixture. for 35 – 40 minutes.
On medium heat, in a heavy bottom pan, put ghee tejpatta, cumin, stir 30 seconds, saute onion.
Add marinated potatoes. Bring to boil, stir. Cover. reduce heat. cook for 10 to 12 minutes. Sprinkle saffron. Serve.
P.S. Aptly enough, I was taken to lunch to KM.0 (hold your breath) a pure vegetarian restaurant by Gemma Moliner and dream team. It served up delicious and amazing creations. And ofcourse I feasted on Michelin starred restaurants…what a line up…Arzak (Juan Marie Arzak and his daughter Elena Arzak thrill) Mugaritz, Akellare, Mirador de Ullia…Was dazzled by them. As by the Gastronomika and our very own team Incredible India.
India is shining. And how! I’ve never seen such a full-on star cast of Indian chefs together. I write from the stunning seaside city of San Sebastian (which has the largest number of Michelin starred restaurants in the world). Fittingly enough the gigantic gourmet Gastronomika is taking place here. Eye-opening sessions, cooking demos with tastings, tours and more. And amid all this high-end gastronomy, India is the guest of honor. The dynamic director Roser Torres dons a red salwar kameez especially to welcome dream-team India. Our very own, worlds 7thb est, Asia’s best Gaggan Anand has flown in from Bangkok. What a cluster of Michelin stars: Vineet Bhatia (London), Sriram Aylur (London), Srijith Gopinathan (SanFrancisco). Saurabh Udinia and Manish Mehrotra (New Delhi) and covering both North and South India are Manjit Singh Gill and his dreamteam, And from Mumbai our very own chef Thomas Zachariah are making India proud. Jai hind!