Chennai

Spicy Secrets

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I’m so excited…here in China, in the finest global capital of spice, I’m sniffing out the spicy secrets of the king of spicy cuisines…Sichuan ( also called Schezwan). In India, not only do we  love Chinese food but it’s the spicy Sichuan version that we all enjoy. This ancient cuisine is the cuisine of the South Western Sichuan province of China And here in Chengdu, the fast growing capital of Sichuan I am not only getting a taste of the authentic Sichuan but also learning it’s secrets. And Im doing so in the best of best places and from the greatest most knowledgable chefs.

 

SPICES…signature Sichuan dishes

Whoa! Big live woks sizzle and I actually take part in a cooking session by the brilliant chefs under the leadership of Master chef Frank Zhuang. All the ingredients are on display in Spices, this vibrant restaurant of the most luxurious landmark of Chengdu, The Ritz-Carlton. A truly seductive taste of Sichuan here is due to their global “scenography” (sense of place) reputation. Here too the local Sichuan flavors are vibrant and palpable and delicious. And the Kungfu tea show is mindblowing.

Here, in Spices, the fiery wok creations and local favorites like Kung Pao chicken, ma po tofu and twice-cooked pork complement delicate dim sum at the live Chinese stations. World cuisines are on offer here too but I am focussed on the Sichuan. Im happily surprised by the exquisite vegetarian masterpieces at the  renowned fine dining Chinese restaurant, where the dynamic Vito Romeo (who honed his skills under the likes of Alain Ducasse and Joel Robuchon) and Chef Michael impressed with their knowledge and flavors of sophisticated interpretations of classic Cantonese and Sichuanese dishes. Each time, it’s the unmatched standards of excellence, be it in service or food that dazzle.

In Spices, Vito and Chef Steffen Gube not only guided me through the daily creations inspired by Chengdu’s rich “Tea Culture” but also of course the step by step cooking of the two main signature Sichuan dishes… Mapotofu and Kung Pao chicken.

Ooh and I’m addicted to the signature Kung Pao chicken (named after Ding baozen, governor of Sichuan in the Qing dynasty. His title was Gongbao, literally “palace guardian”)

 

Chef Frank’s  KUNG PAO CHICKEN

Ingredient: Chicken breast, fried peanuts, vegetables, chilli peppers, Sichuan peppercorns, ginger, sugar, vinegar, Shaoxing wine

Method: Marinate the diced chicken in Shaoxing Wine and salt for 10 minutes. Rinse it. /  Boil the oil on low fire, drop peanuts into the wok then deep-fried until golden brown and take out for later use / Heat the oil over big fire, add in the chicken, flash-fry till chicken turns white and take out for later use/ Add the chilli peppers, Sichuan peppercorns, soy, sugar, vinegar and vegetables into the wok and stir to mix them all /  Put back the pre-cooked peanuts and chicken into the wok, mix everything up and dish up. Yum!

 

THE SOUL OF SICHUAN CUISINE

I’m excited to learn the basics of this bold spicy 4000 year old Sichuan cuisine in the Sichuan province itself. Guided by brilliant chefs Michael and Frank and also in the worlds first museum dedicated to a regional cuisine. If Sichuan pepper and chilli pepper are the heart of Sichuan cuisine, then doubanjiang Chilly Bean paste is the soul. Sichuan’s version is made with dried fava beans, also known as broad beans, mixed with fresh red er jin tiao chilli peppers and salt (and wheat flour) and fermented.Did you know that this chilly bean paste is as painstakingly made as champagne? ..almost.
They have different vintages for it…put it through “dewing” flipping” (like the champagne riddling) and “sunburning” I happily only take part in this “flipping” amid the stunning array of standing pots of fermenting chilli bean sauce (doubanjiang), which is churned twice daily for a year, with exposure to the sun and open air.

Here’s the soul of this addictive “chillybean paste”. Sichuan peppercorns were used over 2500 years ago. Garlic  was brought in when the trade route was opened in the Han dynasty 2000 years ago, Chillies were introduced during the Ming dynasty 400 years ago. And so was born the Chilly bean paste.

P.S. Thank you Vito Romeo, Sue Fan and Chefs  for  this authentic taste of Sichuan…and it’s seven basic tastes…Salty, sweet, bitter, sour, heat (from chillies) numbness ( from Sichuan peppercorns) and spiciness.

The Diverse Flavors of Shanghai

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Today I serve up a taste of the glamorous, vibrant “Paris of the East” I write from shiny Shanghai. Its the most modern, cosmopolitan city of China and it seems to be on steroids. Yet there is a core of history and the grace and elegance of it’s heyday in the thirties that still lives on. So I serve up a flavor  of two of the most icònic landmarks… the històric grand Fairmont Peace on the Bund (it’s founder Victor Sassoon and family made a lot of their wealth in Mumbai and India)  and the very modern Urban resort, The Puli.

LEGENDARY LANDMARK

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AT THE OLDEST SHANGHAINESE RESTAURANT IN THE PEACE ON THE BUND. CHEF MA, GEORGE WEE, JESSICA ZHANG

I not only soak in the luxury of this exquisite classical masterpiece but also lunch at the oldest Shanghainese cuisine restaurant of Shanghai here. The clàssic grand art deco històric Peace on the Bund (it s the only hotel in the world which has it’s own museum was the toast of the Far East in the 30s. It is located on the Bund (overlooking the HuangPo river) which is a centennial epitome of Shanghai itself. This classical architectural masterpiece started off as Sassoon House in 1929 and rich history tangos with modern luxury here. And whoa! Chinese Masterchef Ma coaxes the most vibrant flavors and textures using the traditional caramelised sweetness with soy sauce and more. Sweet and sour, the typical Shanghai taste  shines through and yet the original flavors of the raw ingredients are also preserved. Interestingly while he serves the most classical Shanghainese dishes he also adds contemporary interpretations and plates them artfully. The dynamic George Wee — who helms this landmark along with the ever helpful Jessica Zhang translate Chef Ma’s explanations. I revel in the most amazing bamboo shoots lacquered with soy, the crazily addictive, crunchy skinned Peace Duck , the creamy sago mango dessert to the crunchy marinated cucumbers (Masterchef ma generously shares the rècipe). All the while soaking in the històric rich red and gold details of the restaurant and the serene river view from the large Windows.

MARINATED CUCUMBER

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Cucumber:  500 g /Soya sauce: 80g

Sugar: 160g /Vinegar: 60g

Salt: 5g /Garlic (sliced): 10g

Ginger: 10g /Chili: 10g

Slice the cucumber and marinate with the above sauces for 24 hours and plate it.

MODERN MAJESTY

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MICHELIN STARRED PHENIX, AT THE PULI…Chef MICHAEL WILSON and KELLY KUO

What a super surprising contrast. Glimmering, shiny hoardings of the globe’s leading cosmopolitan brands festoon the gleaming buildings. And in the midst of this crazy cacophonic area in the throbbing heart of Shanghai is located a relaxed, zen like zone of Peace.  Handcrafted textures, the finest of natural materials weave a charming relaxed ambiance in the most modern icon The Puli.  Its been justifiably hailed as a “modern urban luxurious  resort”,  “a seductive sanctuary that guarantees a relaxing escape from the heart Racing city”. And in keeping with it’s sophisticated cosmpolitian essence, it’s French restaurant Phenix is not only hugely popular but has also been awarded a Michelin star. And further in keeping with it’s cosmopolitan essence, the Australian chef Michael Wilson creates light and delightful French masterpieces, which I enjoy with Kelly Kuo in the modren elegant restaurant overlooking the lush green park. Be it the Cod, the yoghurt compressed strawberry desert, violet ice cream.. Even the humble potato is elevated to luxurious creaminess. Its  a very simple rècipe, but its the ratio of the butter to the potato that is important as is the addition of the hot milk. The nutmeg gives it that special festive touch.

Pomme puree

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1kg  potatoes /Good quality butter

Nutmeg /Salt /Fresh truffles (optional)

Peel and cut potatoes into equal size pieces

Boil in salted water till tender

Strain and leave for 3 mins for residual water to evaporate

Mash potato by pushing through a fine sieve. For every 500g of potato add 200g butter.Mix the butter into the potato and add some hot milk to thin the mix

Season with salt and nutmeg

When availaible shave fresh truffles on top just before serving

Luxurious Veggie Wow

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Luxury gets redefined, Claire Huang, Jasmine Webb with Chef Dayan Hartill-Law at Vanitas

I’m in “the worlds most stylish restaurant” . And what am I getting most dazzled by? I am not only amazed at how vegetables parade in their classical, sophisticated swagger yet burst with flavour and freshness, but also with the flavours of our very own Madras Onion and curry powder which is elevated to stratospheric heights (please see photo and recipe) .  Can vegetarian dishes be so luxurious? Or wow with their masterly balance of  textures and flavours? Be art on a plate and a seduction of the palate? For sure. And where else except in Vanita’s, which the internationally acknowledged Harpers magazine justifiably declared  the worlds most stylish restaurant.

It preens stylishly in the worlds first ever fashion-branded hotel, Palazzo Versace which is raising the gold standard here. Palazzo Versace  sprawls luxuriously in the Gold Coast. The transcendence of Italian design shines through the marbles and mosaics, vaulted ceilings hand-detailed in gold.

And luxury just became more unique and bespoke as the stunningly beautiful and everhelpful Jasmine Webb takes me on their unique “Glamour E Lusso“ in their custom made Rolls Royce phantom (Versace cushions et al ). We glide  to the recently revamped  and magnificent Pacific Fare. Not only does the expert stylist guide me through the amazing mall,champagne and chocolates et al  but we also stop by for the Chinese Yumcha.

And on return,  a stone and seasalt Japanese therapy gets me all rejuvenated for Chef Dayan  Hartill-Law’s gourmet dinner in the Vanitas restaurant.

Having honed his skills under the worlds best chefs, like Heston Blumenthal  and helmed many a leading restort, Chef Dayan has developed his own inimitable style. Finedining gets redefined. Dom Perignon sparkles our  winepaired degustation  dinner. Freshest of produce & vibrant flavors implode on our taste-buds. I opt for a mainly vegetarian menu. I love the Evolution of seasonal snacks  from the ceviche  (juicy watermelon, crunchy radish and fingerlime ). The humble potato is elevated to a gourmet status as it is paired with kombu, the fleshy  portobello  and the flavor packed porcini. Its the  Madras onion  that fascinates.  Of course I do try the superb Lamb made intense  with black garlic jus  but its Chef Dayan’s  vegetarian fare that suprises and seduces. The finale  dessert  of the finest French chocolate  and peppermint leaves the sweetest taste. As does my conversation with the vivacious and brilliant Claire Huang  who  helms this iconic landmark. She epitomises style as well as substance, much as the superstylish “Palazzo Versace” does.

Palazzo Versace’s Madras Onion

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Madras curry powder

2 tbsp coriander seeds 1 tbsp cumin seeds /1 tsp fenugreek

1 stick cassia bark /10 cardamom pods /1 tsp black peppercorns /5 dried red chillies /25 small curry leaves

2 tbsp ground turmeric

Toast all individually until fragrant, then grind till all smooth.

Onion

4 brown onions /4 heaped teaspoons curry powder

100ml olive oil /5g sea salt flakes

Peel onions down to the size of a small apple, leaving the top and bottom intact. Place all in sous vide bag and compress on highest setting then, cook at 68 degrees for 8 hours.

Raspberry pickle

500ml white wine vinegar / 1 punnet raspberries

Bring to a simmer and allow to infuse for 2 hours.

Carrot pickle

1 bunch baby carrots / 500ml above pickle

Peel and clean carrots. Then slice on a mandolin at 3mm thick. Then pour over warm pickle and reserve for 1 hour. Once cooled remove the carrots from the pickle and roll into cylinders.

Chef had also included Onion foam  and  carrot and botrytis in the recipe but this maybe difficult to make at home since ingredients are not available here so am not including it. It does take away from the final dish but even just the onion with the carrot and raspberry pickle tastes and looks superb,

Place the cylinders of carrot (carrot pickle)  around in a circle big enough to fit the onion on, Then cut the base of the onion off  and place on the carrots. I tried this myself and home and soft and fleshy onion tastes sublime with tangy carrots.

The Worlds Best High Tea

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MY CUP OF TEA…AMANDA HYNDMAN, CHEF AURELIEN POIROT AT THE HISTORIC AUTHOR’S LOUNGE.

Over the years, I’ve been sipping and tasting my way through many a high-teas across UK and Europe. From  London’s grand historic hotels, The Ritz, The Dorchester, The Lanesbrough to The Ritz in Madrid and The Ritz in Paris. And strangely enough, the very finest of this very British tradition is the best in the cacophonic, exuberant but exasperating, 200-year-old, over-populated, traffic-choked Bangkok.

Right here in this tumultuous city, there is a space which is not just  stunningly beautiful and gracious but also a cocoon of comfort. Since over 140 years, this gorgeous Mandarin Oriental hotel has retained it’s essentially, stylishly Oriental soul and still manages to preserve its British colonial spirit.

SIPPING LITERARY HISTORY

It breathes timelessness. It is here in it’s  elegant and historic “Authors Lounge” that I sip (literally too) over a century of legendary literary history. Two of my passions come together in a sacred union…High tea and English literature.  I enjoy the classic British High tea, served in the Author’s Lounge.

I have been going back regularly past three decades. Each time fall even more in love with it. Helmed by the dynamic Amanda Hyndman, the Mandarin Oriental continues to breathe colonial charm and high end luxury. The brilliant and charming dynamo Amanda takes me through the colourful and amazing history of the Authors lounge through all the photographs, paintings, books  and many an interesting anecdote. The Oriental has welcomed world renowned authors, celebrities and heads of state over 140 years and has long been famous for its service, style and elegance. The whopping USD18 million restoration last year has recreated the magic of the past

The la grande dame has been immortalised by globally renowned authors who lived and wrote here. “The Oriental is the worlds most glamorous hotel in the world” said the prolific British Romantic novelist  Barbara Cartland, who lived here regularly and her suite bears her name.

In 1923 Somerset Maugham contracted malaria and almost got evicted from The Oriental. But he loved it so much that he came back and wrote “The gentleman in the Parlour” here.

Through it all we nibble on superlative finger sandwiches (cucumber,chicken, ham). Outstanding pastries, tarts, madelienes and a meltingly, rich, chocolate cake. And the most delightful scones with clotted cream and  rose petal and pomelo jams.

The well known Noel  Coward wrote “Lord Jim” and “The heart of darkness” here. Amanda explains that it was originally an open roofed garden featuring a pond signposted ‘please don’t feed the tortoise’, the Authors’ Lounge has since 1976, featured a glass roof and is the place to enjoy afternoon tea. In keeping with the great literary heritage of the hotel, it has been recently restored  and the ‘Heritage Authors, are now immortalised in four new private lounges.

HIGH TEA CEREMONIES

I salute Duchess Anna of Bedford for having  sent out the invite for “tea and a walk in the fields” over a hundred and fifty years ago. The lovely lady set in motion High tea, the most dainty of all culinary traditions.   Now, Tea Council Inspectors check standards and coveted annual awards are given  for the Top London Afternoon Tea. Which Tea ceremony do I get most high one? The Chinese tea ceremony “Yumcha” server fills the cup just over half way, because the Chinese believe the rest of the cup is filled with friendship. The Japanese tea ceremonies of the Chanoyu, the Sencha are performed sitting on the floor around a low table. But it’s the fabulous historical elegance and daintyness, the graciousness of Amanda Hyndman and the charm of the Authors Lounge that sets part this high tea in Bangkok as the worlds best, It sure is my cup of tea.

Scone

The brilliant French maestro, Executive chef Aurelien Poirot infuses  French gourmet excellence into food here. He keeps to the traditional British Scone recipe and very generously shares it with us.

500 g Butter /1,900 g Flour /500 g Icing sugar /100 g Baking powder /800 ml Milk /200 g Raisins

Method

Mix dry ingredient together/  Add butter little by little  until it become crumbly / Add milk  and beat until dough combined / Take the dough out & knead by hand until the surface is smooth / Roll out & cut /Turn each scones upside down onto tray / Brush with egg wash / Bake at 180ºc for about 15 mins (Rotate tray after 7 mins)

Indian Food Tops Asia’s Food Oscars

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GAGGAN WITH DAUGHTER TARA , WIFE PUI AND PARTNER RAJESH KEWALRAMANI SACHIN POOJARY, DHARSHAN MUNIDASA (Centre) MANISH MEHROTRA (beard)

It’s the most delicious hat trick ever!  One that received a standing ovation at Asia’s most prestigious and coveted Oscars of food in Bangkok held a few days ago. For the third time in a row,  putting Indian food on top of Asia’s 50 best was our very own Kolkatta born,  innovative, exuberant and affectionate Gaggan Anand. At a glittering ceremony of  Asia’s 50 best restaurant awards (now in its fifth edition,)  Gaggan along with his partner Rajesh Kewalramani received the award. This is the most awaited awards night by the Foodie fraternity, not only do the who’s who and the crème de la crème jet down  but thousands more watch live streams from around the world.

“I’m humbled. This is for my country where I came from, India. For Tara my daughter and my family” said a visibly emotional Gaggan “The 67 people in my restaurant are the best team I’ve ever worked with.”  And after the awards “The unofficial after party that followed in Gaggan’s restaurant not only served up Bangkok’s best street food, tattoo, henna, DJ music, Polaroid photo stations et al. It was also Gaggan’s birthday and as a special surprise, his wife Pui brought along Tara, their daughter in a chefs uniform completing the celebration.

INDIA’S BEST RESTAURANT

New Delhi s “Indian Accent” s very creative,talented and soft-spoken Chef Manish Mehrotra not only walked away with the award for India’s best restaurant but also conducted a cooking masterclass and gave a talk on “spices” to  packed houses.  Their progressive Indian Accent has also opened in New York to rave reviews. From Mumbai the gifted Chef Sachin Poojary received the award for the exquisite Japanese Wasabi by Morimoto.

SRILANKA’S BEST RESTAURANT

Srilanka’s best restaurant “Ministry of Crab’s”  multi-talented  Dharshan Munidasa also received an award for his superlative  Japanese Nihon Bashi. He has single-handedly put Srilanka on the world gourmet map.

THE TOP TEN

  • Gaggan, Thailand • Restaurant Andre, Singapore• Amber, Hong Kong• 8-1/2 Otto E Mezzo Bombana, Hong Kong • Nahm, Thailand• Narisawa, Japan • Nihonryori Ryugin, Japan• Ultraviolet by Paul Pairet, China • Odette, Singapore• Burnt Ends, Singapore

P.S Asia’s 50 best winners followed voting by 318 independent experts led by six academy chairs across the region.As chairperson of the Indian subcontinent I’ve had the good fortune to attend  these amazing awards. Having tracked global gastronomy for three decades, I can only say that these are not just prestigious lists of award-winning restaurants which the foodies of the world follow but they have also changed the course of tourism Made restaurants into landmarks to visit and made their countries proud and created  “Gourmet tourism” .

SWEET SUCCESS

A meal at Gaggan is  truly is THE Gaggan experience.  Gaggan ensures that Imagination and science, creativity and art copulate to produce masterpieces of flavour and texture and yet retain their authentic Indian flavors. Therein lies the Gaggan magic. Be it the Bombay Bhel, idli sambhar, smoked eggplant cookies and more. Gaggan’s  multi-national young dedicated brilliant team of 67 delivers a mind-blowing experience in the two leveled bungalow (we dined in the new “den” which has recently been added on). It was a delight to meet the brilliant  Chef Garima Arora  and the team. Also the  French trained patisseur Solanki Roy from Kolkatta whose desserts are memorable. I can still savor the flavour of  the Indian ghewar and Japanese strawberry…a lyrical jugalbandi!

THE DREAM TEAM

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ASIAS 50 BEST DREAMTEAM: Charles Reed (centre) flanked by Helene Pietrini (white) William Drew Laura Price and Francesco. Left Rikki Muddie, Tim Brooke Webb, Emer Schlosser, Tiago Restani

Asia’s 50 best,  The worlds 50 best, Latin America’s 50 best restaurant awards have changed the course of global gastronomy. Driving these awards and making them into high-octane international influential forces ( in gastronomy And tourism)  is the London-based   dynamic dream team. Helming and driving the awards Charles Reed, Helene Pietrini, Tim Brooke Webb, William Drew work the memorable magic.  As do Tiago Restani, Francesco, Laura Price, Rikki Muddie and Emer Schlosser and together they ensure clockwork precision.  Worlds 50 best, Latin Americas 50 best and Asia’s 50 best are not just  influential list-makers but also taste makers. Riveting talks and cooking sessions are also held around  each award ceremony. And through the year foodies around the world follow each and every deliciously informative step the Academy takes.

Millet Magic and More

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I confess, I am a millet-fan. Millet rotis (made yummy with finely chopped onions and mint, and soft with ghee) are my staple diet.Not only is this a gluten free grain but also has magical healthful properties (more about that later in this column). I am also an idli fan…those soft, fluffy, pillows of steamed delight. So imagine my joy when I chanced upon “millet-idlis”.

This at my latest “whats hot tasting session”

Millet idlis by Phokkisham

Millet fans, this is your mecca. The gifted Nandini Gopinath of Phokisham is obviously not only a millet fan herself but also aware of it’s many health benefits too. She makes the most unique Millet icecream  and millet idlis and dosas  too. And here’s the best part, she sells idli dosa batters in packets too. And it gets even better for us millet-buffs, Nandini makes millet based milagai podi, millet based chapatti atta and millet based dosa flour with herbs like methi leaves and mudakathan keerai too.  Please make a note: all millet based dosa batters are made to order except for red rice and bajra batters which are readily available.Along with the millet based batters, Nandini also makes the traditional rice based idly and dosai wet batter made from pure, traditional rice varieties like red rice, kambu, thinai kudhirai vaali etc. Nandini  has pure mountain honey for sale and also prepares tomato chutney.

Nandini Gopinath from Phokkisham at 4202 89 89. Address: #1-A, Mangadu Samy St, Nungambakkam (opposite Perumal temple).

Did you know? Magic Millet

Did you know that  millet is extremely heart-healthy? It’s  a good source of magnesium, which is known to reduce the severity of asthma and to reduce the frequency of migraine attacks. Magnesium has also been shown to lower high blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart attack, especially in people with atherosclerosis or diabetic heart disease.

Did you know that phosphorus provided by millet plays a role in the structure of every cell in the body?

Did you know  that the magnesium in millet  can also reduces risk of type 2 diabetes? And studies have shown that eating millet (high in insoluble fiber,)  helps avoid gallstones. Millet is rich in iron, calcium and B vitamins. I love millet’s taste and texture too, is it any wonder

I’m a confirmed millet-fan?

La Vita Buono

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Elizabeth’s home baked cake.

Balance. I believe in that magic word “balance”. So when Elizabeth, the talented passionate young IT professional changes careers to bake cakes, its time to revel in them..

Elizabeth from La Vita Buono  lives in Mogappair West, takes orders for cakes  Barbie cakes, brownies. She specialises in Baked dishes and Italian food, especially veg and non – veg pastas, lasagna, white sauce etc . Can home deliver.  Call 89 39 45 07 42

Foodline

It’s all thanks to “Foodline” that I am able to get plugged into  the magnificent foodie network of Chennai. When you write in to Foodline, I not only include your details in this column but also invite you to our “whats hot tasting session” .

What follows that tasting session is a write up (like in the column above) . So please do keep in touch.

Mamta Ki Rasoi

From 2 nd cross street lakshman Road ,CBI colony Khandanchavadi Omr is having a workshop on chocolate making, wrapping, packing, storing and n bouquets on 3rd Jan, professional Baking workshop on different types of cakes  & cup cakes, different types of icing n cake decoration ,Muffins,Brownies, doughnuts, tarts,Cookies, Breads, buns,  puffs,Pizzas,burgers  etc on 4 & 5 Jan. call 98407-24819. visit mamtakirasoi.blogspot.com

Narayani is a home baker specializing in brownies and also takes baking classes. She has conducted 30 episodes of cookery shows in Captain TV and won numerous competitions. Ph. 8056014246

Baked Delightss by home baker Smitha Kuttayya and Global Theeni by Smitha Kuttayya has an offer for new year that you can’t miss!! Order the new year meal for 2 that includes a veg quiche, 4 pieces of roast chicken, herbed baked rice, cheesecake and Irish cream. The package is priced at Rs.2000 and is valid from the 1st to the 10th of January 2017. Ph. Do call at 9444385425 to book your order.

Home caterer Deepika from AUMly  is now  offering the following items:

  • Marinated feta in thyme and extra virgin olive oil which is perfect for salads or on your cheese platters. Rs 262.50
  • Organic tea from Makaibari estate
  • Bai Mu Dan  Darjeeling peony white tea. Ra 249 for 25 gms
  • Darjeeling oolong tea Rs 331 for 100 gms
  • Summer solstice muscatel Darjeeling second flush black tea. Rs 578 for 100 gms
  • Silver green tea. Rs 605 for 100 gms
  • Lime pie Made from organic farm limes. A buttery crust with tangy lime curd filling. Rs 126 per slice.
  • Lime Ginger Syrup. Farm-grown limes are used to make this syrup. No chemicals, no preservatives. No extra sugar necessary. Perfect thirst quencher for our warm days.Rs.315/- for a 500ml bottle. (Makes approx. 20 glasses)
  • Organic Rajma from Uttrakhand (Mix of 4 varieties of rajma, Rs.37/- for 100gms)
  • Organic Raw Rice (Farm-grown, unpolished rice for everyday eating. Rs.221/- for a 3kg bag)
  • Bread Crumbs (Made on the farm, with no added preservatives Rs.52.50 for 300gms). Order by Wednesday for delivery on Friday. Ph. 89 39 77 43 19. Address: 12-Z, Rutland Gate, 4th  St, Aroshree Kailash, Ground Floor. 48 hours notice required.

For any queries or recommendations, call  98840 65010 or mail anjalisharma966@gmail.com and  rashmiudaysingh2017@gmail.com

Home Talent

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Its been my passion! Past three decades I’ve been collecting deliciously useful and usable information which you can’t get for love or for money.In Chennai and in Mumbai. I’ve compiled many a Times Food Guide of these home caterers and bakers. From ordering cakes from chefs who work out of home, health tiffin dabbas fabulous seafood to more.

HOW I GOT TO THIS PRICELESS INFO

I did this through word of mouth, through readers calling and writing to me, through my Foodline, and the latest through email and twitter too. Now I know what Columbus must’ve felt like. Except that he, the compulsive explorer, did not have the benefit of twitter… like I do! Here’s how I went on my voyage of discovery: I tweet requested for recommendations of favourite caterers, dessert makers, tiffin dabbawallahs and shops.

HERE’S HOW I DID IT…WHATS HOT TASTING SESSIONS

Anyone who bakes or caters professionally out of home can take part. For the past 3 decades, I have been regularly conducting these sessions (in Mumbai and Chennai) in order to discover and encourage home talent. I get flooded with instagrams, tweets and mail requests. We hold “tasting sessions” where we invite all those who had gotten in touch with us. They brought along their goodies and we try, taste and test each one.

HERE’S HOW YOU DO IT…

Should you want to be be part of this “whats hot tasting session” please email your details (background, specialities, pricing, home delivery, contact details) torashmiudaysingh2016@gmail.com or instagram or twitter @rashmiudaysingh email anjalisharma966@gmail.com Call 9884065010.

It was in my latest “Whats hot Tasting session: that  I got a taste of Chennai’s amazing home bakers and caterers.

AUMLY

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AUMLY’S DIPIKA AGARWAL WITH RICHA GOENKA AND EXECUTIVE CHEF DHARMEN MAKWANA ; AUMLY S KOZAMBHU PAROTA SANDWICH AND STRING SPAGHETTI WITH JHAAL MUDI.

Fabulous fusions. All home made. Creative, innovative and yum. Be it one where Italy tangoes with Kolkatta street food or whisky infused icecream. We loved the Innovative string spaghetti sparkled with spice and with Kolkatta’s popular street food, jhal moodi. As also the unique and tasty North India meets South India Kozambu parota sandwich. The Black label infused icecream was deliciously heady. Helping me with the tasting was Leela Palace’s  brilliant executive chef  Dharmen Makwana. We sampled it all Badam halwa cup to Rice kesari moghlai malai kofta and it was a delight to meet her fashion desinger daughter Richa Goenka too.

It’s not just all this that the creative Dipika Agarwal conjures up but also many a healthy and organic option. organic rice flour for Rs 63/- a kilo, homemade and preservative free chocolate and hazelnut spread at Rs 210/- a jar, coconut macaroons made from organic coconuts from her farm and baked in a wood fired oven for Rs 84/- for a pack of 6, multi-grain pao buns which go well with vada and bhaji for Rs 15.75/- a piece.

Order by Wednesday to pick up by Friday.

Ph. 89 39 77 43 19. Address: 12-Z, Rutland Gate, 4th St, Aroshree Kailash, Ground Floor. 48 hours notice required.

OH MYY

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OH MYY’S APARNA PHILLIP AND HER HOME MADE SAUCES.

Looking for delicious salted caramel sauce? extra fudgy hot fudge sauce ? and that too home made and preservative free? The dedicated and talented Aparna Philip from “Oh Myy” has  them all for you. These are great any which way you like them, lick them, slather them on bread, on a biscuit or top up your sundae.  She also makes a rich, lemony and tangy lemon curd which goes well with a hot buttered toast or  as a filling for tarts, crepes, cakes or meringues. Check out Oh Myy’s honey roasted peanut butter  which can also be give a savoury twist by adding some spices to make an exotic satay sauce.

Contact Aparna from Oh Myy!  @ 98410-29931.

Home Talent Unlimited

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I’m rejoicing! It’s a joy to discover Chennai’s amazing home-bakers and catering talent. To fly down from Mumbai for our”Whats hot Tasting session” and to get a taste of the delicious and  healthy variety too that is cooked up at home. Today,  I feature two of the talented participants. More follow in the fortnights to come.

Warm brown Baking Studio

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WARM BROWN‘s SURESH AND VYANJANA NAMBIAR with CHEF DHARMEN MAKWANA AND SHVETHA JAISHANKER

Please take a look at the accompanying photograph. I shot it in the midst of our “whats hot tasting session”. You can see the array of home made goodies which   Suresh and Vyanjana Nambiar  from Warm Brown Baking Studio  bake up. Not only are some of these healthy and tasty but have many a nutrient benefit too. They use flaxseed, millets, amaranth and more.  Some are low calorie and others gluten free too. They are gifted home bakers who  take orders  for  organic and regular cookies, brownies, cakes, breads and also pesto, hummus, pickles  etc. Their USP is no margarine or preservatives in both the organic and non-organic products . Vegan, organic, glutenfree can all be sourced from them.

Before I tell you more about their creations, let me introduce my official tasters. Shvetha Jaishanker, former Miss India International not only painstakingly tasted through each and every item of each and every home baker (as did Chef Makwana) but also shared her opinion. Not only is she a discerning foodie but her book Eat well, look great will be a treasure trove of foodie-secrets to looking as fabulous as her. And ofcourse, the official taster-in-chief, was the brilliant and creative executive chef Dharmen Makwana. He  heads up the stunningly beautiful Leela Palace by the sea. Having honed his skills  nationally and internationally, Chef Makwana  now masterminds the  Leela Palace’s  authentic Chinese and Indian restaurants and a versatile all day dining restaurant too. So together we tasted our way though  “Warm Brown’s” organic 100% Whole wheat bread, gluten free Millet cookies, Vegan cookies, Organic, gluten free cakes and muffins, Organic savouries, Organic breakfast cereals, amaranth Ladoos, Millet Ladoos, Flaxseed sesame dates Ladoos, Fruit and nut energy bars.

We all loved the texture and flavor of the amaranth cookies the most. Delicious flaxseed onion crackers,   Millet ladoos, and flaxseed sesame date ladoos too. We all  agreed that those looking for Gluten free items have found their mecca here. As though all this wasn’t enough they also make the most delightful Hummus and Pesto to add zing to your snacks and meals and home made drinks like Jaljeera  and Ginger Nectar. Cheers to that.

Warm Brown Baking Studio, 30/18, 2nd Main Road, CIT Colony, Mylapore.  Ph. Tel 98840-60652

Milagro

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SRIHARI SHETYE of MILAGRO’S HERBS

If you are looking for Italian herbs to spike your dishes with zing, but are particular about them being organic and grown with utmost care, then look no further. Sreehari Shete & Ishwarya Thirumalai  from Milagro grown these herbs in their farm in Ooty. They do so  with utmost care. They do not use any chemical pesticides or fertilizers and ensure that their herbs are completely organic. These herbs are then airdried.  Ask for their Oregano, Rosemary & Thyme  herbs. Here’s the best part, you can get them Bottled, Fresh and also Potted. Rosemary Crackers, Rosemary Scrub, Herb Regalo, a festive offering too.

Visit them on  www.themilagro.org or facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/themilagro/?fref=ts&ref=br_tf or pick up the herbs from them at  J block, No. 47, 7th street, Annanagar East.

YOU ARE INVITED

Discovering. Tasting. Writing. Especially about home bakers and caterers has been my passion for the past two decades. I ve done this in Pune and Delhi and continue to do it in Mumbai and Chennai. This column was a result of one such #whatshottastingsession.  Are you a home baker? Provide foodie services out of home?  want to be part of our next #whatshottastingsession? And be featured here? The please mail  mail rashmiudaysingh2017@gmail.com,Anjalisharma966@gmail.com, instagram, tweet @rashmiudaysingh. Call 9884065010 Watingly yours.

You are Invited

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I write this column from Chennai, where I am conducting an exciting #whatshottastingsession too. Are you a home baker? Provide foodie services out of home?  want to be part of our next #whatshottastingsession? mail rashmiudaysingh2017@gmail.com, instagram, tweet @rashmiudaysingh.  Dr Rajul Matkar, from Dubai (a gynaecologist who for a passion, bakes, develops healthy recipes, caters malwani food too) came specially. As did Sameer Malkani, dynamic chief of the Food Bloggers Association of India who has been conducting many a #homechefmatters session.  All are welcome.