Chennai

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.

I’m Feeling Hot, Hot …

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Chef Victor Alvarez in the organic garden of Tambo Del Inka.
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Chef Wilfred Das and Ana C Vidal on superfood, Quinoa

Three  very delicious reasons are pumping up my adrenalin: the hot, fiery chillies of Peru, the healthy quinoa here, and now that I’m back in Chennai… our very own “Whats Hot Tasting session”  yesterday.

DELICIOUS AND NUTRITIOUS

I’ve always loved the nutty flavour and texture of Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah). Most people call it a grain, but it’s actually a seed — grown more than 7000 years ago in the Andes Mountains. And  it is in Peru that I get to know it in all it’s glory. Did you know that  it’s the same family as beetroots and spinach?  Enlightening me on this is the well informed chef Wilfred Santana Dass and the everhelpful Ana C Vidal.

Chef Wilfred Das, a Malaysian by birth has not only worked for Sultan of Brunei, Sheikh of Dubai, cooked for Kings and queens and Michael Jackson, but now as   executive chef of Lima’s stylish and sprawling Westin is fully conversant with Peruvian cuisine. Here, I  trip out on his 777″SuperFoodsRx, an amazing menu created together with doctors and nutritionists; antioxidant rich and naturally low in calories.I love the fact that quinoa has the highest protein content (amongst all grains and seeds) it is also rich in fiber and vitamins, minerals and iron. Here’s the best part, it is easy to digest and is gluten free.

Chef Das shares his tips on cooking quinoa. It’s like cooking rice, Don’t throw away the water, after soaking it, reduce the water in the cooking pot. He also recommends soaking it overnight  (1 cup quinoa in 3 cups water).

CHILLI MAGIC

It is on the way to the Machu Picchu, in the Sacred valley that I am thrilled to learn all about Peruvian gastronomy and the amazing chillies that sparkle it.  All this in the sprawling organic garden of the  beautiful “hunting lodge”-style  Tambo Del Inka, set in extensive grounds beside the Urubamba River, amid the

Inca terraces, valleys and rivers and Inca ruins. I visit  the ancient salt mines  at Maras (world famous Maras salt) but most of all it’s chef Victor Alvarez’s cooking and the sharing of his extensive knowledge of Peruvian cuisine that dazzles. The brilliant young chef makes the time to explain the basic of Peruvian bio diversity.   The intense fragrance and tastes of herbs, from huacatay ( its a cross between cilantro and rosemary) or Munya  to the widely used tree tomato and avocado. Fascinating colors and flavours of chillies. The  Aji Amarillo (pronounced Ahi Amariyyo) the most commonly used deep orange colored has a  searing, clear pungency. The Aji Panca is used almost daily for making aji sauces, to flavor most fish dishes, and is popular as a powder to sprinkle over pizza (like oregano). Its the Aji Limo which is the hottest and is used in the making of ceviches. There are a huge number of chillies like the fat round plump Aji Rocoto to the slim, slender Aji Limo. They shine and gleam and sparkle our food with their flavour and heat.

My Paradise Peru

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Dining at the most Romantic South American resort, with Thomas Moons and Tula Casteneda.

I write from foodie Paradise.  And what a magnificent gigantic one.  From the frozen peaks of the Andes to the roaring Pacific ocean, the deepest jungles of the Amazon, sand dunes, ancient Inca civilizations, Machu Picchu and the bustling gastronomic capital of Lima. Each region produces a staggering wealth of produce, vegetables, fruit, herbs, grains…you name it. And this great geographic and cultural diversity has brought ingredients ranging from highland tubers to tropical jungle fruits to a complex cuisine of Spanish, indigenous, African and Asian influence. For sure this vast country translates to paradise for us foodies. Ceviche with slivers of fiery chili and corn, slow-simmered stews, velvety Amazonian chocolate. I explore the bounty of food markets, sample grilled anticuchos (beef skewers) on the street corners  and (thanks to my co-chairperson of the Worlds 50 Best Restaurant Academy,   Diego Salazar) dine at the finest restaurants of Lima. But most excitingly, I check out Peru for Vegetarians (ably guided by Maria Jose, Sabrina Chaves, Elda Cantu) It’s a deliciously gourmet Vegetarian paradise too.

FROM LIMA TO THE SACRED VALLEY

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Lunching in the Sacred Valley with Chef Cesare Landau and Cesare Chiara

Please take a look at the accompanying photograph shot in the  globally awarded “Most Romantic resort of South America”. Im feasting not just on the superb Peruvian food but also on the stunning views. Dining on this luxurious rooftop with the glorious coastline of the Pacific ocean below,  is one of the many  memorable experiences that Belmond Miraflores Park serves up.  Helming it is the dynamic Thomas Moons with global experience and training as a chef too.  Lima born Tula Castaneda delights with her knowledge of  Peruvian cuisine. I lunch with them at their renowned  Tragaluz restaurant, chef Jean Paul Barbier’s quinoa tabouleh with  beetroot, mushrooms, watercress, makes a masterpiece out of potatoes with the Peruvian Yellow chilli,porcon mushrooms with truffle sauce and more. August Baert’s Tragaluz delights. Not only is the finest Peruvian chocolate used here, but their superb spa gives me a Chocolate massage too. This is definitely my idea of having my chocolate and eating it too.

In the Sacred valley ( an hour’s flight away from the bustling city of Lima) nature preens in all her magnificence. And it is here in the Belmond Rio Segredo,  that I lunch by the shimmering River Urubamba with the brilliant chef Cesar Landau. In the mellow sunshine of the Sacred valley, Chef Cesar’s creative cuisine with Peruvian ingredients delights, be it the tomato tree with water melon gazpacho, vegetarian ceviche with asparagus, mushroom and seaweed from the lake or the quinoa risotto.

I also get a superb Pisco tasting session from the knowledgable Cesar Chiara.

This award winning national drink is the purest brandy, and from the 8 grapes, two types of Piscos (aromatic and non aromatic)are made. I learn all about that famous  lemon, sugar and white of egg based cocktail Pisco sour. All this in the beautiful glassed in bar and restaurant overlooking the stunning gardens of the Rio Segredo. Close by the salt mines of Maras produce the delicious Maras salt from the ancient  times of the Incas. I can taste this vibrant salt in all my food and when it is used as a scrub in the Willka spa, it revitalizes me and Im ready to feast on Rio Segredo’s banquet again.

QUINOA RISOTTO

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Veggie Peru on a plate: Quinoa and avocado in the sacred valley’s Rio Segredo.

Here’s Chef Cesar Landau’s recipe . A delicious creamy way to  cook  the healthy, protein rich, gluten free quinoa. You can add or omit the vegetables.

Ingredients:

70 gr quinoa/40 gr mushrooms/20 gr zucchini

50 gr cream of milk/30 ml broth of vegetables/ 30 gr parmesan cheese/

2 gr chopped garlic/3 spears of asparagus/ 1  cherry tomato/

20 ml olive oil/5 ml truffle oil/Salt

Black pepper

Method

Boil water with rosemary in a pan. When the water is boiling add the quinoa. Cook for 20 minutes. Rinse the quinoa and let cool

In a frying pan, add olive oil, garlic and let cook till garlic turns golden. Then add the mushrooms, the zucchini and sauté. Then add the quinoa and the cream and let it reduce.

At the end check the salt and the parmesan cheese.Before serving, drizzle with  truffle oil.Grill the asparagus and served on  top.

My delicious discoveries

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Whoa ! What talent! What creativity and what a variety! Each time I conduct our “whats hot tasting session”  for home chefs, caterers and bakers in Chennai I get delighted …and impressed. We conduct this just before the iconic grand  dame, The Connemara went under revamp to emerge more beautiful than ever. Today, I serve up three yummy options…from eggless desserts and cakes to ready to cook chapattis and a culinary recreation school too.

SPRINKLES

Looking for  eggless (strictly) cakes and desserts? Cake pop bouquets, dessert cups, cupcakes, brownies and more? 100%veg mousse cups and dessert cups

The forever helpful Afzal Khan not only organises everything but also helps me with the tastings. He points out that their themed cake pops and cupcakes are delicious and sure-fire kiddie favourites.

Call the talented  Ayushi & Akshita Agarwal of  Sprinkles. Both are student entrepreneurs, use only the finest ingredients and take great pains to take ensure that their patisserie delights their clients. They take a minimum Order: for mini cupcakes and cake pops minimum order is 10 pieces while for brownies its 6 pcs

Aminjikarai, near Ampa Skywalk

Phone: 9840277690

Email: sprinklescakepops@yahoo.in

FOODOLOGY

How about celebrating and learning and eating…all at the same time? Unique and interesting food classes?  Mom/Dad& Me, Couples Date Night, Kids Parties, Mom & me, Dad& me etc. Go check out this creative recreational culinary studio.

A great way to have kiddie parties and spend quality time with your kids. Entertaining and Educational Cooking Experience for Toddlers to Teens.

A delicious way to celebrate! Couples that cook together, stay together! Create a meal that will be memorable and romantic!

Take a look the fun group photograph of the founder Shree Periakaruppan as well as a few of her culinary team. From Bee Bee Martinet’s Malaysian fare to, Tasneem Ayub’s Moghlai to Neelima Sriram’s vegan and vegetarian offerings.

Damayanthi Paul, teaches Sri Lankan cuisine. Kamalika Krishmy. Winner of Superfchef is sought after for desserts, baking and Indian Food!Sumi Shroff specialises in punjabi, fusion and kids menuPreethi  Venkatramani ,Baker Shyamala Sivaraman  and ChefNaren specialises in  Arabic  and international cuisine.  The founder Shree Periakaruppan a dynamic IT professional having lived for over a decade in Washington (and honed her cooking skills) set up Foodology two years ago. Since then, she has had Chennai eating out of her hands.

3A, Second Main Road, Kasturibai Nagar, Adyar. Landline: +91 24454885 and 900 305 4885. foodologychennai@gmail.com

DESI FOOD

Here’s an amazing success story built around ready to eat chapattis.  S. Srinivasan  left his successful corporate career and his wife Uma also quit her job  to take care of the production where two other women help her knead, roll out and seal chapattis. She continues to be a foodblogger.   Giving me his expert palatte opinion, is The Conemmara’s brilliant executive chef Jaffer Ali. We conducted this Whatshottasting session The couple began by supplying 350 ready-to-eat chappatis a day. Today, on an average, the unit at Madipakkam rolls out 3,000 every day.

Ofcourse, they did not stop there.  Snacks, healthy options and more. Chapatis, Pooris, Methi Chapatis and Ragi Chapatis, made with hygienic manufacturing and packing process ensures that the  freshness of the Chapati is retained.  High quality whole wheat flour, oil, salt and mineral water are used. Organic food including samosa, ragi rolls and short eats and podis. Bulk orders, snacks for Events are all part of their repertoire.

Plot No 3032, 1st Floor, 6th Main Road, Ramnagar South, Madipakkam, Chennai 600091

Phone: 9500021540 / 9962530871 / 044-22580049

Email:desifoods.chennai@gmail.com

AN OPEN INVITATION

Are you a home chef? Conduct any foodie services out of home? Would you like to be part of our next “Whatshottasting session’? Please mail your details of work and contact to  rashmiudaysingh2016@gmail.com,  instagram, twitter @rashmiudaysingh Please put “Chennai whatshottasting in the subject line.