Breaking foodie news. I am getting the very first taste of the recipe for a culinary Superhit! I just happened to be in Colombo and wow! am thrilling to brand new contemporary Srilankan flavors. In more ways than one. Srilankan beauty Bollywood superstar Jackie Fernandez and Srilankan culinary superstar Dharshan Munidasa have just opened “Kaema Sutra” in the swanky shimmering Shangrila.
Sure the name harks back to “kama Sutra’ our very own bible of all things sensory and for ofcourse this restaurant experience pampers all the senses too. But, to put it in perspective, Kaema is the Sinhala word for food and “Sutra” the Sanskrit word for the study of an art or ideology. And happily (for us) this is definitive of Chef Dharshan’s own philosophy. He has fully understood the intricacies of Sri Lankan cuisine with its many regional and colonial influences, the abundant use of the island’s natural spices and ingredients and age-old cooking techniques. And then he blends with his own masterful modern style to create authentic Sri Lankan cuisine with novel variations.
SRILANKA ON THE WORLD GOURMET MAP
Amazing! Srilanka, the tiny little jewel of an island is on the world gourmet map all because of the brilliant, self taught chef Dharshan Munidasa. Two of his restaurants ( Nihon Bashi and Ministry of Crab) have been on Asia’s 50 best list and that’s an amazing feat. As regional jury chairperson of the Worlds 50 best and Asias 50 best restaurant academy Ive been thrilled to applaud him receiving these awards.
And now in Kaema Sutra, this genius “father of modern Srilankan cuisine” is all set to blaze trails. I love Srilanka as multi-ethnic and multi-religious as it is. And all this is religiously reflected in the cuisine. Whoa! What a magical mix… Sinhalese (predominantly Buddhist) and Tamils (primarily Hindu) Muslims Malays and Chinese too. The Portugese and British colonisation further added several dimensions and layers to the cuisine here.
Dharshan has refined it and put Sri Lankan fine dining on the international map firstly with his two star ingredients – tuna and crab. Nihonbashi and Ministry of Crab feature on every traveller’s to-do list.
And heres’ the amazing bit…he was drawn to cooking only when he was studying computer engineering and international relations at Johns Hopkins University. Since the food was atrocious, the half Japanese and half Srilankan started cooking himself.
And with his passion and genius he is now evolving Srilankan food. So at the stunningly beautiful Kaema Sutra (with its alfresco seaview, located in the super luxurious Shangrila) he creates refined versions of traditional Sri Lankan dishes. From Porksicle, (pork spare rib wrapped in roti and Manioc Floss) the beloved lamprais to “what the hopper” a decadent dessert of crunchy honey hopper.
The most traditional Ambul Thiyal, tuna curry which was cooked for hours is cooked on the table and just for seven minutes, using sashimi-grade tuna. Soft and juicy.I couldn’t resist requesting him to share the recipe…here it is
Tuna Ambul Thial Recipe
150g of skinless tuna (no bones or blood lines) Cubed
5ml Sunflower Oil
10g Garcinia Paste
10g Chopped Onion
5g Chopped Garlic
5g Ginger Slivers
1 Sprig Curry Leaves
1 inch Cinnamon Stick
3 Pandan Leaves
To a clay pot apply Sunflower oil and line with Pandan Leaves.
Place tuna in the pot.
Mix Garcinia Paste, Onion, Garlic, Ginger, Curry Leaves, Cinnamon Sticks, Cardamoms, Cloves and Salt with Water.
Pour mixture onto the tuna.
Close lid and cook on low flame for 10mins.
Would you believe this svelte and shapely beauty is as busy doing food tastings as she is shooting for multiple big banner films? An equally passionate and dedicated foodie, the gorgeous Bollywood superstar, Srilankan beauty and brilliant actress Jacqueline Fernandez takes time off to focus on food and restaurants. She makes time from shoots and brand ambassador commitments for high profile international brands to be partner in kaema Sutra. She is also mall set to open her very own Thai restaurant with her best friend Mishali in Mumbai.
She loves cooking. She loves Srilankan hoppers and “milk rice” as well as muffins. She s learnt these from Kim, her gorgeous mother. And here’s the surprise… she loves muffins and bakes them regularly.
JACKIE’S FAVORITE MUFFINS
1 cup spelt flour (gluten free ofcourse) 1 cup olive oil, 2 bananas, 1 cup walnuts, 1/2 cup Honey or raisins, 2 teaspoon baking powder, 1/4 cup husk (to bind instead of eggs). Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Yum and healthy too!
It’s the cherry on the nostalgia cake. Literally too. Im getting high on the Cherries Jubilee dessert (in the foreground of the photo) invented by the famed Auguste Escoffier for Queen Victoria’s Jubilee celebrations, in 1897. Tasting it here in the 137 year old spectacular Grand hotel, declared a ‘National Heritage Property’ of Srilanka is a treat. Old world Colonial charm infuses the magnificent Tudor building, Victorian fire places, teak wood furniture, shimmering chandeliers and many a traditional recipe is preserved here. High tech comforts and old world luxury fuses together. Tyrone David ensures I get a fascinating taste of the past. From the Scottish cock a leekie soup to the Cherries Jubilee. From taking a cooking class from Executive chef Priyantha Weersinghe to golfing in the 125 year neighbouring beautiful golf course it’s a trip back in time. After all I’m in the cold and sunny “Little England” . That it is perched in Nuwaraeliya, in the mountains of Srilanka is another story.
This aint no chain “Pizza Express” . It’s bahut hyperlocal and thoda whimsical. Its “Bandra project by Pizza Express” and we enjoy it.
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.
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
- 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.
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.
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 – https://whatshot.in/mumbai/critics-review-does-this-lower-parel-restaurant-live-up-to-its-modern-indian-tag-r-9863
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 – https://whatshot.in/mumbai/nara-thai-impresses-with-this-luscious-thai-tea-crepe-cake-r-9860
THIS MAIDEN TOUCHES THE HEART
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
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.
CHINA CHARMS FIVE TIMES OVER
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.
DIM SUM AND THEN SOME
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
MAIDEN SHANGHAI DIMSUM
– 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