Review: Bake House Cafe

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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.

Read my full review:

Bake House Cafe 1
At the brand new Bake House café: Trailblazer Sonu Shivdasani and Ranvir Bhandari (in the waistcoat).


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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
  1.        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.

“To India with love”

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“To India with love” …Lara and Massimo Bottura



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.

Panayaa – Modern Indian Kitchen

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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 –



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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 –


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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

recurring honeycomb

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.



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.




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




– 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


Review: House of Mandarin

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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



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At Thangabli with Akanksha Agarwal, CK Sabeesh, Dr Nasreen and Dr Anil Tibrewala( in white shirt)


South Indian

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 –




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in the shimmering palace: gourmet date: Ned Capeleris and Chef Miguel Piniero

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.



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  parsleyvinegarcapersgarliconionanchoviesolive oil, and  mustard.  In France the

verte au pain  is more of a thick mayonnaise flavoured with tarragon, and parsley and sage.  In Frankfurt the

Grüne Sosse  of seven fresh herbs, parsleychiveschervilboragesorrelgarden cress, and salad burnettogether with sour cream, oil, vinegar, mustard, salt and added hard boiled egg is  delicious.

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.

The cocktail KING Javier de las Meulas


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”




2-3 dashes of dry vermouth

l glass at Bombay

Sapphire gin

Optional: a twist of lemon

Garnish: a green olive


Type of glass

Martini 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