Review: KEIBA

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I took a deep breath. And let out a slow, soft whistle. Of admiration! That was my reaction on seeing Mumbai’s latest new Asian beauty that has galloped into Mahalaxmi race course.

Read my full review in today’s Bombay Times!

Beautiful Asian beauty gallops into Mahalaxmi Race course: Keiba.


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The Parisian night  is thick with excitement. I could cut it with a knife and pop it into my champagne glass I raise a toast to this 250 year old historic treasure that has recently been reborn to global applause and been making headlines ever since. We’re dining amid this contemporary palace’s architectural riches of the 18th century which have been transformed into state of the art 21st century modern French art de vivre. 

We re at the tiny intimate jewelbox L’Ecrin, Hôtel de Crillon’s gastronomic restaurant.  Id met the young and brilliant Chef Christopher Hache several years ago and he is in my book “A vegetarian in Paris”  (A Times Group Books publication). Here’s the exciting bit…next day I attended the prestigious Michelin Guide awards and applauded him receiving his very first Michelin star. So once again Crillon is hitting the headlines. Kudos to our very own superstylish, superstar hotelier Radha Arora who as President of the international group has been spearheading this transformation. As we  feast on Chef Hache’s masterpieces of  flavour and texture, Im delighted that my young friend, entrepreneur and pastry chef Pooja Dhingra could join me at short notice (thanks to Instagram). Pooja has been seamlessly and continuously delivering Parisian styled culinary experiences in India. Inspirational journey… from working out of a tiny kitchen at home, to three stores, a café, two books and the 31 year old has exciting plans ahead. We nibble the night away as chef Hache continues to dazzle and the ever charming Pierre Jung ensures we have the perfect flawless French gastronomic starred experience. After all we’re in the world’s most excitingly luxurious modern day palace with an 18th century soul.

In the contemporary palace Crillon:  Pooja Dhingra flanked by Chef Hache, Pierre Jung. 


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For sure, Mumbai needs more regional cuisine restaurants. We welcome the enterprising  Shayna Shetty and her cousin Prakash Rai’s Mangalorean eatery which serves up  moderately priced Mangalorean fare.

Read my full review in today’s Bombay Times!

Ferry Wharf
Mangalorean delights (sampler wooden platter et al) at Shayna Shetty’s Ferry Wharf.

Recipe: McCarthy Salad

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Im celebrating. Im saluting the trailblazing culinary  revolution focussing on health, vegetables, naturalness  that is taking place here, in Paris, the gastonomique capital of the world. I’ve been researching vegetarian restaurants around the world ( China, Russia, Japan too) and here in Paris I find paradise. This Parisian landmark is synonymous with Dior, Dietrich and diamonds. This is where icons and trends are born since 1913. And it is here in Plaza Athenee that the very best of the best, the Michelin starred maestro Alain Ducasse’s shimmering temple to gastronomy is blazing trails. He serves up the trilogy…vegetables, cereals and fish. It goes without saying that the brilliant chef in the restaurant Romain Meder, ensures that the technical base of French haute cuisine remains intact, including expertise and absolutely precise detailing for vegetable preparation, cooking and seasoning.



Its amazing that here in this temple to high gastronomy the gardener is being given as much importance as the chefs. And there are several reasons for it.

Alain Baraton

Head gardener of the  Royal Grand park de Versailles at the behest of François Delahaye who helms  Plaza Athénée  have established an exclusive partnership with the Palace of Versailles for the vegetables and fruits supply of the Alain Ducasse restaurant.

The freshest of seasonal Sorrel, squash, broad beans, zucchini,  to shallots, rhubarb… dazzle. Also artichokes introduced centuries ago by Catherine de Medicis and were a runaway success at Court because of their hypothetical aphrodisiac virtues .

Needless to say, all these fruits and vegetables are never exposed to phytosanitary chemicals etc. Picked in the morning and in the kitchen with hours. The ever helpful Isabelle Maurin  translates whenever I need explanations in the kitchen.

Starting off with the refreshing tomato water flavoured with hibiscus,  a parade of masterpieces dazzle, black current in black rice, the  kiss of beetroot flavour in amaranth seeds, the crunch of flax or sunflower seed and so on.  This approach infuses the work of the talented  pastry chef, Jessica Préalpato too.



What do Liz Taylor, Marlene Dietrich have in common with the Parisian landmark Plaza Athenee? Plenty.  For sure, they along with legendary figures of the world of glamor and royalty loved to stay here but there is also a deeper connect: a delicious salad dish. I tasted this Salad Mc carthy for the first time in  Los Angeles, in Polo Lounge, Hollywood’s most beloved and historic dining institution, when it had just undergone a subtle Tihany-style revamp to celebrate it’s  100th year .It was in Beverly hills (also part of the Dorchester collection)  The Polo Lounge  that Charlie Chaplin had a standing reservation, Marlene Dietrich, eradicated the “no slacks for women” dress code and dined  here. And the gorgeous beauty Liz Taylor honeymooned here four times . Her  daily favorite used to be the  McCarthy salad . I loved it then and requested for the recipe too, Imagine my delight when  the  dapper Francois Delahaye (who I met just by chance thanks to my old friend Paul Roll)  shows it to me on the menu and has it made too. Ofcourse here in Paris it has been adapted by Ducasse and diced bigger and softer. But I reproduce for you my Hollywood Polo Lounge recipe.

Beverly Hills Hotel McCarthy Salad

1/4 head iceburg lettuce
1/2 head romaine lettuce
1/2 cup grilled, diced free-range chicken
1/2 cup diced roasted red beets
1/4 cup free range egg yolk
1/4 cup free range egg white
1/2 cup  bacon
1/4 cup diced tomato
1/4 cup diced avocado

Balsamic Dressing Recipe
1 c.  Balsamic Vinegar
1 shallot
1 T. brown Sugar
3 cloves roasted garlic
1 tsp. Dijon mustard

 salt and black pepper
vegetable Oil
Place all ingredients in a blender and drizzle in the vegetable oil to emulsify. Check seasoning

Arrange salad in bowl. Toss with balsamic vinaigrette tableside. You can vary ingredients according to your preferences.

Isabelle flanked by Chef Romain flanked by chef  Jessica and  Chef Romain at the Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athenee.
Francois Delahaye with the Salad Mc carthy PHOTO OF DISH:  Liz Taylors favorite.

Hot, Haute Parisian Paradise

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Haute cuisine and haute couture are being seamlessly celebrated here. And Im overjoyed that “naturalness’ cuisines’ vegetarian masterpieces are not only being created in Michelin starred maestro Alain Ducasse’s shimmering restaurant located  in the iconic couture landmark Plaza Athenee, but even our very own book “A vegetarian in Paris” (A Times group book publication) is being appreciated.This by the dapper Francois Delahaye who helms this landmark and the charming Isabelle Maurin. Ducasse’s “naturalness cuisine” with the help of his chef Romain Meder is not only healthier and more natural, more respectful of the Planet but it dazzles with flavour and taste. Therein lies its memorable magic.

In the iconic Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athenee…Francois Delahaye and Isabelle Maurin.   


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Former grand corporate chef of the Taj, Hemant Oberoi (who has opened over 100 restaurants in his four decade career)  finally opened his signature restaurant Hemant Oberoi.

Read my detailed review in today’s Bombay Times.

Hemant Oberoi 1
Gloved service and gracious at Hemant Oberoi.

Hemant Oberoi 2


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Did you know that Spain produced the most heady and fabulous black truffles? Or that it’s delicious baby eels cost as much as the price of gold? And nobility and aristocracy for over five centuries continues to  produce the most exquisite olive oil? Im learning and eating and tasting, attending discussions at a rapid speed. Making the most of my time at the most prestigious 16th edition of Madrid Fusion.  This global food congress magnetises the finest from around the world; over a 100 chefs from 15 countries , technical demos, training workshops. Its all here…from discussions on haute cuisine and copyright, wine tastings  to new generation of rebellious cooks. Orchestrating it all is Esmeralda Capel and family,  Ofcourse many a Michelin starred maestro, here, like  Mario Sandoval  ( holding the black truffles)  Im Tasting the finest and rarest olive oils made by Aristocracy (Marques de Grinon, Xandra falcons Alonso Marchesi de Valdueza) going on guided Tapas tours and most importantly devouring knowledge. Bliss!

Delicious Spanish discoveries with  Esmeralda Capel flanked by Chef Mario Sandoval, Xandra falcons Alonso Marchesi de Valdueza.

Review: TANTRA

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Jains and vegetarians,  looking for a swish ambiance  with decent traditional regional food (and booze)? Not too fussed about gourmet and modern versions? This way please. Tantra is your new mantra.

Read my full review on

Tantra 1
At the new vegetarian Tantra: Raageshwari Loomba, Sunil sheth and Mythily Katsaris.


Recipe: Som Tam Vegan

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Yoga and Thai salad? What does our very own yogic tree pose (Vrikshansana) have in common with the my most favorite spicy, sweet, sour Thai “Som Tam” (raw papaya salad)?  I’m getting a taste of both  inside a stunningly beautiful restaurant (Yes! You read that right). That’s only for starters,  not only did I get the most authentic and delicious recipe for “Som tam” , the correct way to do the  Vrikashana, but also learnt more about rejuvenation and  the deep and abiding connection between food and health. I ve been writing about food and wellness for over three decades (including a weekly health column for 15 years and 52 episodes of a TV show on Health) but the “Asaya” experience here, in the stunningly beautiful Rosewood, Phuket is incomparable. It’s a  hands on specially curated unique concept. It is  rooted in self-discovery. Along with it Im feasting on Rosewood’s  “Sense of Place” philosophy  and delicious food too. And getting re-energised too!


Ive dined at the finest Thai restaurants of the world (including Michelin starred ones) but none comes close to the experience here at Ta khai which sprawls under ancient trees beside the shimmering Emerald bay . Here aunty Yai and uncle Nun, the most lovable accomplished chef couple cook to authentic recipes..

And they cook here in this alfresco restaurant with it’s

open kitchens and live cooking stations. Ta Khai, which means “fishing net”  has not only the most beautiful setting under trees bust also the most authentic food that ricochets in a myriad flavors and textures on my palate.A kitchen-to-table herb and vegetable garden and live fish pond  adds to the magic. Many an authentic Thai dish such as Poh Pia Sod (fresh Phuket spring rolls) to  KhanomTuay (steamed pandanus and coconut milk custard). They are generous enough to share the authentic vegan version of the Som tam and  Yam som tam (Pomelo salad) too.

Screenshot_2018-01-24-16-38-34-104_com.miui.gallerySom Tam Vegan

Quantity   Lts 1 portion


180gr Papaya

10gr Salt

40ml Lime juice

60gr Tomatoes

60gr long bean

15gr Chilli

40gr palm sugar

40gr peanuts

30gr Garlic

30gr Carrot


(Dressing )Mixed sugar ,lime and salt well in the mixing bowl

Pound chili and garlic in the mortar then put tomatoes and long bean and pound again

Add papaya ,dressing and peanut and mixed well

Yam Som O

Quantity   Lts 1 portion


200gr Pomelo

10gr Salt

40gr White sugar

30gr Roasted grated coconut

40gr Peanuts

20gr Deep fried shallot (Sliced)

30ml Coconut Cream

2gr Chilli powder

50gr Shallot sliced

5gr Coriander leave

10gr Birds chili sliced

4gr Deep fried dried chilli

30gr Tamarind juice

60gr Sugar

50gr Cashew nut


Shred the Pomelo and set aside

Place the lemon juice,salt,Chilli powder and sugar in a bowl,Mix well

Add thegrated coconut,peanuts, cashew nut and coconut cream.Continue to stir

Add the Pomelo and toss

Transfer to a serving dish and sprinkle with fried shallots


The knowledgable resident wellness practitioner, holistic wellness expert Steve Harvey  has his own reason for making me eat “Som Tam”. This is the first time that I learn what food helps me  when I travel a lot. “Sweet and spicy food will keep you grounded” explains Steve Harvey. This is just the beginning of my self-discovery journey. It truly is very exciting. And eye-opening. I experience  their  first Asaya, an innovative concept in holistic and integrative wellness journeys. It begins  at Asaya’s beautiful “Wellness Atelier” with a consult with Steve Harvey.   Here, the garden’s red and sweet basil, kaffir lime, lemon balm,murraya koenigii (Thai curry leaf) and pandanusingredients are crushed and blended into individual recipes for use in customized scrubs, wraps, masks and herbal compresses. The fresh Thai healing herbs are also incorporated into powerful aromatic oils used in Asaya Atelier Body Path rituals of therapeutic massages that give me deep relaxation, energy, mental clarity and relaxation.  And then energy rebalancing  with Himalayan singing bowls ritual follows.

Not only is my energy being rebalanced through food and therapies but even the  environmentally sensitive architectural style that blends organically with the natural surroundings soothes. Through it all Im rejuvenating. And celebrating!


At the stunning Ta Khai: Andrew Turner with Chef couple Yai and Nun.
 Dynamic and dapper Andrew turner, Jodie Clark, , Rogert Gibson, Steve Harvey do the Vrikshasana…