TASTING TROPICAL PARADISE
I’m getting high. On tropical flavours, but even more on knowledge of the rare and the exotic. And the waltz of local Mauritian flavours with French gastronomique techniques orchestrated brilliantly by the young local Mauritian Chef Didier Jacob. But first, let me tell you all about how I lost my heart to the rare “heart of coconut palm” masterpiece.
OF HEARTS & RUBIES
I lost my heart to the rare coconut heart & to the brilliant young chef Didier Jacob who created a masterpiece from it. Then it is the ruby red jewel of slow cooked beetroot puree that dazzles. It is masterfully sparkled with orange spices the char grill beetroot kissed with star anise. Sonnets & symphonies of the finest of local Mauritianvegetables with classical frenchgastronomic finesse parade.
But first please take a look at the accompanying photograph with the long 60 kilo cylinder from a 15 year old coconut palm tree that the chefs are holding. It is then peeled open in front of us. It is delicious to taste raw and then Chef Didier seduces with the lightest crunchy Coconut Palm Heart tartare sparkled with turmeric and its Carpaccio with lime dressing.
Coconut palms are known typically for their coconuts.
You can eat and drink the nuts in various stages of development and they are all delicious.
However, did you know that you could harvest the heart from a coconut palm and eat it?
The heart of palm is located where the green leaves start to bud from the trunk.
Under the woody palm, leaf stem is a soft, white center.
Removing the heart from a coconut palm kills the tree.
Thankfully, after each purchase of a coconut heart they plant ten more trees.
After that heart of coconut palm course, we move on to the Pumpkin, a masterpiece of smoked nine moths aged Pumpkin, Confit Butter nuts, pumpkin puree with almondcrowned with crispy Spring onions roots The Green Asparagus Variation tantalises with with green apple, and it smoked Asparagus puree
The sweet finale painted on to the table of compressed fruit mascarponecream and more is fingerlicking good.
chef Didier’s years of globetrotting and working alongside starred. geniuses shines.through as he has evolved his unique expression of Mauritian cuisine with classical French influences.
LA BELLE CREOLE MARY
Inspired by the warm currents of the Indian Ocean, La Belle Creole Mary is an interpretation of the traditions of the tropical paradise. Signature touches such as aloe vera juice, coconut, evoke inspired memories of Mauritius. Derived from the Bloody Mary and Virgin Mary this cocktail and mocktail has a fascinating history. And Ive tasted it in all three of it’s birthplaces, Mauritius, New York and Paris (notes on those follow). Here’s how to shake the perfect
Mauritian, St Regis La Belle Creole Mary… INGREDIENTS
3 1/3 OZ / 100 ML fresh tomato juice
2 3/4 OZ/80 ML aloe vera juice
4 TSP/ 20 ML of Worcestershire sauce
4 drops of Tabasco sauce
1 1/2 OZ / 45 ML premium traditional rum (optional if you want a mocktail)
1 pinch celery salt
4 mint leaves
1 coconut curl
8-10 coconut flakes, for garnish
1 slice of lime, for garnish
1 sprig of mint. for garnish
Put the tomato and aloe vera juices and rum (if you choose to). Worcestershire and Tabasco sauces, celery salt and mint leaves into a mixing glass filled with ice. Stir with a mixing spoon for I0 seconds. Strain into a stemless red wine glass and add crushed ice. Place the coconut curl on top. Garnish with the coconut flakes, slice of lime and sprig of mint.
In New York, I zoom in on the timeless yet contemporary, over a century old King Cole bar at St Regis.
Originally founded by John Jacob Astor over a century ago, it is this
magnificent landmark where hotel history was made. The center of Manhattan social life.
not only did St Regis make history with all newsworthy and
path-breaking conveniences (telephone, central heating) but is even credited with the
invention of one of the worlds most famous cocktails the “Bloody Mary”.
It was way back in 1934, Fernand Petiot, bartender at the famous King
Cole Bar, perfected the Bloody Mary-
the iconic vodka and tomato juice cocktail so beloved today. The famed
cocktail was created when Serge Obolensky, a well known man about town
whose penchant for vodka was in keeping with his
aristocratic Russian background, asked Petiot to make the vodka
cocktail he had in Paris. The formula was spiced up with salt, pepper,
lemon and Worcestershire Sauce, Interestingly, the name Bloody Mary
was deemed inappropriate for the elegant clientele of The St. Regis,
it was rechristened the Red Snapper.
I admit. I have a big fat soft spot for Irani cafes. And I mourn their dwindling numbers as also the lack of good Parsi food restaurants in our city. So when I hear about Andheri’s brand new Irani café lookalike “House of Daaruwala” I dash across the city with big hopes through equally big traffic jams.
Read my full review in today’s Bombay Times.
This ain’t a bowl of mere fermented vegetables. It’s Kimchi. It’s magical. It’s origin is centuries old. But it was sent to space on board Soyuz with South-Korean astronaut Yi So yeon.
It was declared ” vitally important to the morale of Korean troops” (President Park Chung Hee).It’s been cited by Health Magazine as one of the world’s five “healthiest foods” and it dates back to the period of the Three Kingdoms (37 BC‒7 AD.
Till today, it’s a very central part of the Korean meal. It is served as “Banchan” a collective name for small side dishes served along with cooked rice.
On my very first trip to Korea, I’m fortunate to not only taste kimchi in the finest three Michelin starred Korean cuisine restaurant but also blessed to get a taste of “vegan” kimchi in a monastic meal ritual cooked by a monk in the mountains. And finally actually got to make the kimchi myself, in the finest kimchi making class of Korea…with Master Lee and two other brilliant chefs.
IN KOREAS BEST RESTAURANT
I’m on top of the world. In every sense of the term. I’m dining in three Michelin starred Layeon perched on the rooftop of Shilla Seoul, the luxury powerhouse.
The gracious and stately Shilla stands behind Seoul’s medieval city walls but continues to reign supreme. La Yeon interprets Korean cuisine with great care and sophistication. Balanced flavors and textures explode …from mellow flavors of Pinenut porridge to the perfect Bulgogi and bibimbap with banchan and the most addictive umami rich kimchi.
I’m not just feasting on the brilliant Chef Sung il Kim’s refined and sublime Korean food but also learning about the basics and evolution of Korean food. Translating for me is the everhelpful Yaeeji Kim.Highest quality ingredients, authentic flavors and creativity infuse the dishes… from mellow and soothing to royal-cuisine Hot Pot here.
BLISSED TEMPLE MEAL
I m in heaven and didn’t even have to die to get here… Just drove four hours in snow to reach the beautiful Naejang mountains. Can spiritual vegetarian meditative monk s food be so seductively gourmet and varied? It sure is I’m Tasting blessings… literally too. All this at the fabulous formal multicourse monastic meal ceremony (barugongyang) The lovable loving and friendly monk.
At Cheongjinam Temple. We sit on the floor with empty bowls baru in front of us. And as if by magic the silent servers glide in and fill them up. Making food and partaking in it is part of the meditative process in the temple and here, they eat only what they farm and make on site. Amazingly gentle and vibrant flavors and textures seduce . We wash the dishes after the meal with the water in each bowl and walk out in a single file.
We move in to the dining area and our eyes and taste buds are luxuriously memorably pampered. After that lunch, monk Jung Kwan takes us on a fascinating walk to see her storage facilities where her “jangs”, sauces and kimchi are being fermented. Since garlic, onions are not used it is these fermented pastes that add a zing to her vegetarian masterpieces.
lovable inspirational monk for delicious blessings which we tasted too. If this isn’t heaven what is?
Note: A unique and blissed out treat. And to be lunching with Koreas finest gourmet chefs, Mingoo Kang ( chef Michelinstarred Mingles)
Hyunseok Choi (chef of ever popular Choi)
Jinpyo Kim, CEO Plating Company
All this made possible thanks to the lovely Editor in chief of Tasty Cookbook,Eunsil Jang.
KIMCHI MAKING CLASS
Its a dream come true. Not only to learn kimchi making from Master Soyoung lee,but to do so with my own hands and then to have the privilege of a home-cooked lunch by her. Kimchi making is done in winter (when the ingredients are available) and its all about bonding and a wonderful family feeling as we chop the vegetables and massage the spices into them. All this with Chef Choi who’s doing pathbreaking research in fermenting and Chef Heesuk Cho a professor in Korean cuisine. Not only have most of the great Korean chefs trained under her but her restaurant (I had an amazing meal here) continues to inspire many others.
It’s all thanks to the super helpful and amazing JungYoon Choi, a chef with 20 years of experience working in Spain, Australia and Korea. Trained at Alicia Foundation and El Bulli and is now executive chef of the Sempio Korean Fermentation Culinary Research Center in Korea. with top chefs and gastronomy-related professionals to research on Korea’s fermentation food culture. She very generously shares the authentic recipe for the kimchi.
– Coarse Salt 7cups
– Chives 200g (Cut 4cm)
– Leeks 200g(Cut diagonally)
– Red Brassica juncea 100g (Cut 3cm)
– Chopped raw shrimps 100g
– Chopped Sea staghorn 100g
– Radish 2kg (Cut 5cm)
– Crushed Chili pepper 6cups
– Chopped Garlic 1 1/2 cups
– Chopped Ginger 1/2 cups
– Salted shrimps 1cups
– Anchovy liqueur 1cups
– Sugar 1/2cups
– Coarse Salt 1/2 cups
- Mixed all the spices and ingredients. (Let this ripen for 30 minutes.)
- Rinse pickled cabbage in cold water to remove moisture.
- Ready to the seasonings between the prepared cabbage.
- Store prepared Kimchi in a container.
The best tasting kimchi is stored in room temperature for an average of six months to reach its full flavor.
After that delicious home style lunch, we all get the fabulous kimchi to take home. As Choi says “my mother will be thrilled with this kimchi, for her and all of us, it is more valuable to receive this than an Italian designer handbag” That’s how magical kimchi is!!!
Here in Seoul’s three Michelin starred Layeon I’m not just feasting on the brilliant Chef Sung il Kim’s refined and sublime Korean food but also learning about the basics and evolution of Korean food. Translating for me is the ever helpful
Yaeeji Kim. Balanced flavors and textures explode …from mellow flavors of Pinenut porridge to the perfect Bulgogi and bibimbap with banchan,. I do it all… beef tasting restaurant “ Born and bred” , fried chicken and beer (Chimac) eatery, Korean palace cuisine Hansikgonggan , Modern Korean “Mingles” European influenced Korean “Toc Toc”. Pure vegetarian temple cuisine in the mountains, a foodie blind date in “Balwoo Gongyang” but that is another story.
Sometimes a restaurant experience extends to more than just the food. It’s drawbacks become it’s charms… its tiny home-style space, its one man service, generous portions of the Korean owner-chef Sun’s (not sure if I’ve got her name right) blazing lustily spiced food.
Read my review in today’s Bombay Times.
Lights. Camera.Eat. So what if its minus two degrees in the Korean capital of Seoul. Here, on the TV set, under the bright lights, its sizzling hot. And what better way to learn about Korean food than from the maestro, 70 year young, legendary actress and chef Soomi Kim? And to be invited to cook and shoot on the sets of her hugely popular TV show. Superstar chef Hyun Seok Choi teaches me more fundamentals as does Jin Pyo Kim the mover and shaker of Seoul’s restaurant scene. All thanks to Jung Yum Choi Im learning how to make “kimchi” the traditional way. And tomorrow driving four hours to the mountains to the celebrated Buddhist monks monastery. To get her blessings and to eat her vegetarian food. Cant wait to learn from her how to make vegetarian kimchi. Need recipes? Please email email@example.com
“… yeh hai Bombay meri jaan”the old hindi song echoed in my ears, when I lunched at Bombay Vintage. It did so not just because I was lunching at a restaurant which serves up Bombay’s melting pot cuisines but even more because of my lovable guests (one was my #foodieblinddate) .
Read my full review in today’s Bombay Times.
It’s been my lifelong quest…to find the secret of how to to dine non-stop gourmet and yet stay healthy. To continue to enjoy all tastes and flavours, to be able to digest it all and then go back for more. I wrote a weekly health column for a national daily for fifteen years. Produced, scripted, directed, presented 52 episodes of a health show on TV and through it all spent lots of time with doctors, specialists, ayurvedacharyas, nutritionists and more. And it was a common consensus, the source of health and energy was the digestive system. And to keep this system working in top form, it was essential to eat healthy (of course) but also to have probiotics. Not too fond of popping pills (even if they are probiotics in a pill) I was thrilled to find the answer. Right here. In Chennai. A home-made solution…Read on to know more
DID YOU KNOW?
Of course, we all know about probiotics and how essential they are to supply the much needed good bacteria into the system. But did you know…?
They have positive effects on the body like improving immunity, detoxifying the system, reducing inflammation, improving digestion, and providing the body with bio- available nutrients, vitamins and enzymes? Energy improves, stress, joint pains, allergies reduce?
Did you know that probiotics are found in delicious edible drinkable forms?
Ginger ale, Kombucha, Milk Kefir, Beet Kvass, Sauerkraut, Korean Kimchi, Hummus to name some.
And here’s the good news, these yummies are being made at home, right here in Chennai by the entrepreneurial Abha Appasamy “I started this for our own family to keep them in good health and we found that we were not catching colds and infections as long as we were taking them”. She explains.
that ginger ale is her latest and most popular product, and has had dramatic effects on some of her friends’ digestive issues. It is fermented with the natural bacteria present in organic ginger.
Abha’s Probiotics includes traditional fermented foods and drinks that have originated in countries around the world and
She personally make all the products and bottle them too to ensure high quality and food safety.
She ensures that all her products are 100% vegetarian and vegan (except for milk kefir.. )Natural, with no artificial colours, flavours or preservatives.
and made from organic ingredients bought from reliable sources ( not exposed to chemical fertilizers, pesticides or hormones.)
All packaged in eco-friendly, recyclable glass bottles too.
Lets raise a toast with a glass of probiotic ginger ale!
firstname.lastname@example.org WhatsApp: 9962575684
If you love to munch and snack…but feel the need to do so healthily then Pratima Manikandan’s ingenious bars and crackers are the answer, as her quinoa Digestive Biscuits and Naan Khatai.
Go for the energy bars, made of natural sugars with a low glycemic index… made of seeds, nuts and dryfruits.
Energy Bars made of Millet and walnut seeds, nuts, berries, millets and natural sugars to bring together a nutritious snack on the go. Ask for Millet and Orange,
Vanilla and cinnamon flavors. All sweetened with the super healthy dates.
I love biting into the wafer thin, savory seed crackers made entirely of seeds and nuts.
That theyre a powerhouse of Omega 3 and 6 is a bonus.
Naan Khatai, made of wheat flour and brown sugar make them extra healthy and thankfully extra yummy too. Quinoa Digestive Biscuits- Packed with the essential amino acids are a must try.
A-218, Bhaggyam Urban Ville,
Industrial Estate Road,
ph: 7358306633/044 48536641
WHATSHOT HOME-BAKER TASTING SESSIONS
I maybe traveling the world but I always circle back to Chennai. Ive been flying in from Mumbai and setting up “whats hot tasting sessions” past 15 years. And with each session I get even more impressed
Infact, in EACH AND EVERY COLUMN there is a local “Foodline” with the latest on Chennai’s home catering and baking as my Chennai based assistant Anjali keeps a tab and has been doing so for over 15 years. We held the last one in ITC Grand Chola , which is where I tasted the probiotics and seedcrackers made by Abha and Prathima. Should you wish to take part in the next whatshot tasting session please mail email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
Sure! I have dined in the gourmet capitals’ worlds best restaurants but this is the first time that I’m getting a taste of freshness redefined. Here under the stunningly vivid blue sky nestled in the north west coast of the beautiful Mauritius island is “On the rocks” Here the brilliant chef Igor Bochia conjures his simply superb and superbly simple magic. Freshest of fish, be it the Dorado, tuna or red snapper is grilled on the table, right in front of each diner. The sporty and sporting Nishal Seebaluck points out that their luxurious landmark not only specializes in food but also in water sports, snorkelling, scuba diving and more. They also serve up gourmet omakase Japanese, authentic Mauritian and Creole tasting menus, Superb Italian and Indian too. Cooking classes as well as Mauritian rum tasting classes. I raise a toast to the exquisite “On the Rocks” with the finest local rum…served up only on ice… on the rocks of course!