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!
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.
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
Today, I send you the most delicious, queen of a traditional recipe which is versatile and reigns supreme. I also send you the recipe for good cheer by the global cocktail king. I taste the very traditional Spanish Salsa verde and watch the cocktail king stir the original Martini in the most iconic Maria Cristina in the stunningly beautiful san Sebastian by the sea. The luxurious iconic century old San Sebastian landmark is named after Queen Maria Cristina. It is the superstar hotel of superstars. Not only was it a beloved of Liz Taylor, Bette Davis and others but even today the charming and dapper Ned Capeleris ensures that it magnetises the best. Chef Miguel Piniero distils delicious Spain on our plates. And somewhere through my gourmet meal here, I get to know that Shah Rukh Khan stayed and loved it here too. History and luxury waltz in the elegant, high ceilinged marbled interiors. Since 1912 it has been magnetising the whos who of the world. And with good reason. Not only does it boast of amazing gourmet fare, superlative service, glamorously elegant surroundings but also has the world famous Dry bar and a cooking school (Mimo food, where I attend a cooking lesson) in it’s premises.
GREEN GOURMET QUEEN
Over the years and through my travels, I have been tasting this green-sauce in different countries. Ive been told that the basic recipe is probably 2,000 years old and has an Italian origin. But there is no documentary evidence. Sure! In Piemonte, I dipped the boiled meats (bolito misto) in it and I loved the cold Italian salsa verde. Rich with coarsely chopped parsley, vinegar, capers, garlic, onion, anchovies, olive oil, and mustard. In France the
So I was pleasantly bowled over when the Spanish version turned out to be the most memorable.
Also the most sparkling. In every way. We dined, under the shimmering chandeliers of the stunningly beautiful restaurant with it’s mirrored tables. The talented young chef’s masterpieces were served up one after the other. The pintxos (Basque tapas) delighted with their varied textures and flavors. The well traveled and well informed Ned Capeleris’s knowledge of the local and global cuisines had me riveted. Beans from.Tolosa, Hake and asparagus and the most amazing cloud of sweet bliss…Basque curd with honey followed by petitfours. Everhelpful Bryan Owen paired the finest wines, the local txakoli and champagnes
Ned Capeleris and Chef Miguel share the easy to make recipe
- 2 gloves of very finely chopped garlic
- Extra Virgen olive oil to wet the pan
- A pinch of Salt to taste add
- 100 ml of White wine or
- 200 ml of fish stock (optional) and then the parsley.
- Parsley very finely chopped in abundance stir in the
- 10g (soup spoon) of flour to give the salsa more body. Keep stirring till it has a pouring consistency.
Use it as a dip, a sauce or even spread. Yum!
Here im privileged to watch the maestro himself stir the most perfect dry martini. The World famous entrepreneur author charming cocktail maestro Javier de las Meulas founder of the iconic dry martini concept world over and a fab one in Maria Cristina also shares the perfect recipe.
From James Bond’s “shaken not stirred” martini to Ernest Hemingway’s quote “I’ve never tasted anything so cool and clean…They make me feel civilized,” this gin-based beverage is an iconic one. And fittingly enough, it finds its home in the iconic hotel in the “Dry bar”
FROM THE MARTINI MAESTRO
2-3 dashes of dry vermouth
l glass at Bombay
Optional: a twist of lemon
Garnish: a green olive
Type of glass
l Pour the vermouth and the gin into the mixing glass togethr
with plenty of ice
2 Stir tor l5 s
3 Serve in a cocktail glass
4 Garnish with a green olive
5 Optionally add a twist of lemon
Stop press. I report from gastronomy’s seventh heaven…what else can a city be called when it has the second largest number of Michelin stars in the world? And not only is this stunningly beautiful seaside city of San Sebastian the nurturing ground for these awesomely brilliant chefs but (aptly enough) hosts the world famous food conference Gastronomika.
High-octane discussions and talks by leading chefs, real time tastings while the cooking is taking place, cooking classes, pintxo tours and more. The chefs from the third and fourth best restaurants in the world (Joan Roca and Mauro Colagreco) share their secrets. At the glittering launch event, Juan Marie Arzak the father of modern Basque cuisine graced the occasion, Michel Bras was felicitated by the dynamic director Roser Torres (who sportingly wore an Indian salwar kameez).Also sharing their knowledge and experiences were many an awesome international chef. And to top it all, our very own Indian chefs were the guests of honour.
Together, they served up a delicious overview which was mind-blowingly comprehensive and at the same time personalized. India’s thousand-year-old tradition and the latest avant-garde innovations glittered with equal intensity.
FIRST TIME EVER…
First time ever. An Awesome star cast of award winning Indian chefs from around the world got together. Ive attended many an international conference, but never has there been such a constellation of superstar Indian chefs.
Each one a maestro in his own right gave the world a taste of incredible India. Literally too. Happily ive not only dined at each ones superb restaurants in London Bangkok Delhi Chennai Mumbai and Sanfrancisco but also given them our very own Times Food Awards and applauded them as chairperson of the Indian subcontinent of Asias50best and Worlds50best Restaurant academies. Each one dazzled through their presentations and cooking demonstrations held in the huge auditorium of the sprawling and well-equipped Kursaal .
Crowned Asias best chef three years in a row and the worlds7th best, Gaggan Anand enthralled the audience as he shared his secrets and cooked up his Indian progressive magic. Presenting the philosophy and diversity of our cuisine was Manjit Singh Gill.
,the treasure house of knowledge Ayurveda and cooking. From San Francisco, Michelin starred Quilon’s Srijith Gopinathan kept us fascinated with his presentation of “India de luxe” As did our other Michelin starred chef Sriram Aylur of London’s Quilon on “Extreme spices of the South”. Yet another Michelin starred chef Vineet Bhatia of Indego ‘s fascinating presentation on “harmony and complexity” was followed by the deliciously riveting one of the only Indian restaurant (from India) on Asias 50 best list, Manish Mehrotra of Indian Accent’s talk and demo on “Indian emotional avant-garde”.
The secrets of the North: “Dum” cooking were wonderfully revealed by Dum Pukht’s Gulam Quereshi.
Exotic flavors of the South were brilliantly presented by Praveen Anand of Daksin as was “Tandoor explosion” by Bukhara’s J.P. Singh Bombay Canteen s gifted Thomas Zacharias presentation on “Wild India” was eye-opening. “European language, Indian feelings” was the fascinating subject of Masala Library s bright young chef Saurabh Udinia’s talk.Team incredible India received thunderous applause. Well deserved. Kudos.
Through it all, we were delighted at how each and every chef cooked and served up atleast one dazzling vegetarian dish. From Manish Mehrotra’s chat patta chaat with a twist to Royal Vega’s Varun Mohan’s “Timoori aloo” . The highlight is that not only Varun himself vegetarian but Royal Vega our only purely vegetarian pan Indian fine dine restaurant. He shares with us the recipe he demonstrated in the Gastronomika.
RECIPE.. TIMOORI ALOO
½ kg Baby Potato
2 cup Greek yoghurt plain
Salt To taste
½ tea spoon Fresh lemon juice
1tea spoon Green chilies paste
1 tea spoon Ginger paste
½ tea spoon Timoor freshly pounded (Himalayan Pepper)
½ tea spoon Red Chili flakes
1 tea spoon Cardamom powder
¼ tea spoon Nutmeg powder
¼ tea spoon Mace powder
1 cup Cream
2 Table spoon Ghee
2 pieces TejPatta
¼ tea spoon Cumin seeds
½ cup Onions, finely chopped
¼ tea spoon Saffron, dissolve in a tea spoon of warm water
Wash, pat dry, prick cut potatoes into halves
Boil with salt until tender.
Drain and cool.
In a bowl add yogurt, lemon juice, ginger paste, green chili paste pounded timoor, red chili flakes, cardamom, nutmeg, mace powder, salt and cream, mix well.
Marinate potatoes in this mixture. for 35 – 40 minutes.
On medium heat, in a heavy bottom pan, put ghee tejpatta, cumin, stir 30 seconds, saute onion.
Add marinated potatoes. Bring to boil, stir. Cover. reduce heat. cook for 10 to 12 minutes. Sprinkle saffron. Serve.
P.S. Aptly enough, I was taken to lunch to KM.0 (hold your breath) a pure vegetarian restaurant by Gemma Moliner and dream team. It served up delicious and amazing creations. And ofcourse I feasted on Michelin starred restaurants…what a line up…Arzak (Juan Marie Arzak and his daughter Elena Arzak thrill) Mugaritz, Akellare, Mirador de Ullia…Was dazzled by them. As by the Gastronomika and our very own team Incredible India.
I’m rejoicing! My ongoing global research on gourmet vegetarian food just got more exciting. In the past few months I’ve tracked the best of the best vegetarian in Japan, China, Russia, Austria and now in the capital of glamor and films…Los Angeles. I’m feeling like a million dollars as I report from a charmed frontier (Hollywood, where else?) where fantasy is blending into reality, and that too in it’s beloved and iconic landmarks. Both close to each other in the glamorously beautiful Beverly Hills. Every square inch of both bristles with star power. Both are the haunt of Hollywood and the global who’s who. Both are legends…
In this legendary landmark, glamor and luxury drips in every practical detail and human warmth marks every hi-tech comfort. The iconic Beverly Wilshire “Pretty Woman hotel” (the movie was filmed here) turns ninety at the close of this year yet continues to rock with a youthful rhythm and beat.
Star spangled Hollywood dines, meets and stays here, it is also officially on the National Register of Historic Places of the United States. Superstars such as Elvis Presley, Warren Beatty and Steve McQueen have all lived in this luxurious landmark. As does our very own Bollywood. Over the years, I’ve had salad with Priyanka Chopra, muesli with Anil Kapoor and steak with Javed Akhtar here. A favourite of Amitabh Bachchan, Shah Rukh Khan, Preity Zinta, Anil Kapoor, Hrithik Roshan, Karan Johar and others.
I love to soak in the cool sunshine in BLVD, their patio restaurant on the stunning sun-drenched, Rodeo drive designer boulevard to the world. I feast on the brilliant chefs freshest of seasonal California and watch the sun bronzed greek gods with their six pack abs and la-di-da babes with endless legs glide by. And today am doubly delighted: their brilliant new executive chef is not only our very own Samir Roonwal but he especially cooks up some delightful pure vegetarian dishes which sparkle with the Californian and Indian touch. Having worked in world famous kitchens and had the who’s who eating out of his hands Samir is now creating culinary magic here.
And it is here in BLVD, ( voted top “Power Tables” … Wall Street Journal) that I catch up with him as well as the dapper, high-energy Ben Trodd, who not only helms this landmark, but also spearheads nine other superb hotels. This discerning gourmet, well-travelled Vice President wears his success and his designer suit with equal panache. We trip out on the Crunchy okra smeared with the velvety dip, which makes for the perfect cocktail snack and I request chef Samir to share the recipe with us. After this the gorgeous Lauren Dutton Breen takes me up to show me Los Angeles very first “Glamping” site.
But that another exciting story…
P.S. Within this hotel itself is yet another superb restaurant CUT by America’s high-priest of cuisine Wolfgang Puck. It specialises in non-vegetarian food. A short stroll away is his landmark Spago, where I taste yet another veggie wow.
Chef Roonwal’s Crispy OKRA
2 cups: Okra Julienne
1 tsp: Toasted Cumin seeds
1 tsp: Chilli powder
1 tsp: Dry mango powder
1/2 cup: Chickpea Flour
1 tsp: Onion Seeds
1/2 tsp: Turmeric powder
Salt to taste
Wash okra well, dry them out completely and Julienne them.
Add all the dry spice powders and seeds, along with salt, to the okra.
Toss them well till incorporated and set it down for 5 mins.
Then sprinkle chickpea flour on top (start with a few tbsps). Mix them well. Add a few tsps water so the okra gets coated with the flour.
Deep fry them in oil. Serve hot.
Ingredient: Julienne Okra, Spiced Chickpea Flour, Dry Mango Powder
Garnish: Pomegranate Seeds Fresh, Mustard Flower, Micro Cilantro
He has recently received his own star on the Hollywood walk of fame. So when this superstar celebrity chef, restaurateur, and occasional actor, Wolfgang Puck takes three hours off his busy schedule to lunch with me its celebration time. We do so in his three decades old landmark Spago which continues to play host to the who’s who of the world, to Oscar premieres restaurants and more. Wolfgangs catering services, cookbooks and licensed products are in great demand. We chat about his 27 (and counting) restaurants around the world and I trip out on the outstanding vegetarian tasting menu. Though Wolfgang Puck is single handedly responsible to introduce gourmet pizzas to the world and his signature dish at his original restaurant, Spago, is House Smoked Salmon Pizza, he continues to introduce flavours from around the world.
Today, his brilliant young chef Tetsuya cooks up an amazing pumpkin baked in salt, tangy sweet plaintain salad served in a half coconut, a parmesan marshmallow and beetroot cookie flag off our multi-course vegetarian lunch which ends with a light and bright melon dessert. And in Wolfgang Pucks Hollywood flagship restaurant in Los Angeles, their Japanese chef cooks up the most deliciously creamy (hold your breath) baingan bharta. And my joy comes full circle.
Strange but true! Here in this frenetic, cacophonic New York city, I am not only getting rare insights into Indian grains and spices but doing so in a treasure trove spread over two floors. And our very own Indian superstar chef Vikas Khanna has been getting accolades for incorporating Grains in American cuisines. Sharing his insights with me is award-winning Michelin starred chef, cookbook writer, filmmaker, humanitarian and judge of MasterChef India. To top it all, the dashing and yet down to earth Vikas Khanna has been hailed as the “sexiest chef alive” He combines a rare humility, knowledge and passion and I am blown off my feet when he guides me into his favourite New York hot spot.
We are at this iconic Kalustyans set up in 1944. The haunt of many s great chef. Here, he gives me taste of the finest black garlic pistachios, turmeric a sniff of the finest Iranian saffron of butterflypea and a round up of amazing rare grains. Though he works a lot with vendors in Kerala, Mumbai and Tamil Nadu to bring more organic grains to North America and to find creative ways to incorporate them into American diets.
He always tells people that our ancestors ate much better food than us. Organic, disciplined and balanced. The use of different types of grains and organizing a healthy eating around them is pure heaven for him and me. I had no idea that there was such a staggering number of grains and each had several sub-types. For instance Wheat includes Bulgar, Durum, Einkorn, Emmer, Farro, Kamut, Semolina, Spelt, Triticale. Rice (Red, Forbidden, White, Black) Corn (Flint, Dent, Waxy) Barley (Pot Barly, Pearl Barley) Sorghum (Johnson Grass, Broom-Corn) Millet (finger millet, foxtail millet, kodo millet, pearl millet, proso millet) and so on.
“I still remember the first time I entered Kalustyans. It was a much smaller store back then in 2001.” explains Vikas, “But was an eye opening experience, it was like being a kid in the candy store.”
He had come here to find fresh turmeric. It was not available then, but today it is. He has been a part of Kalustyan family since then. It could be buying new stuff or bringing chefs here or taking spices from here for chefs like Eric Ripert to Jean George’s to Daniel Boulud.
We both agree that spices are more precious than jewels. His latest research has been about Blossoms of spices and their evolution and metamorphosis through time. A lot like Vikas’s own fascinating journey…a boy born in Punjab with misaligned feet (not able to run until he was 13) and who learnt cooking from his grandmother, came to America with no money at all and rose to be awarded and celebrated. And even today continues to be down to earth.
BARLEY AND ORANGE PUDHA
Vikas shared many a creative bread recipe with me, due to space constraint am able to print only one. Should you need more, please email email@example.com
A great tasting healthy bread made with whole barley flour, which is highly nutritious and recommended for a low-fat diet. Orange juice is added not only for a wonderful citrusy flavour but also because it helps to tenderise the dough.
1 cup barley flour
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1 orange, zested and juiced
1 teaspoon chilli powder
Salt to taste
6 tablespoons vegetable oil
Take the flour, onion, cilantro, orange zest, chilli powder and salt in a bowl. Gradually blend in the orange juice and mix well. Add a little water at a time to a smooth batter. Heat a non-stick pan over medium heat and smear the pan with 1 tablespoon oil. Spoon 1/4 of the batter into the pan and spread to it to even thickness. Cook for 2-3 minutes until crispy golden brown, then turn it over and drizzle a little oil around the edges. Continue to cook until the sides turn golden brown, about 1 minute. Repeat with remaining batter.
Foodies! Chew on it. Savor it. Here’s some food for thought. A mind-blowingly different perspective on food and its creation, on the world of food and chefs and restaurants.
I write from an amazing space, where food is not just being cooked but performed, boundaries are being pushed, new cultures discovered and knowledge exchanged. I write from the beautiful mountains of UpperAustria, from Gelinaz.
One thing is for sure, cooking is not just fine dining anymore. It touches different population segments across the world, and it needs to be both cutting-edge and playful, as well as in phase with worldwide pop culture.
And here in the beautiful mountains of Upper Austria I’m getting a taste of this amazingly different perspective. The worlds most brilliant chefs have flown in and are creating and co-creating together. And I am a voyeur.
SUPERSTARS CO CREATING MAGIC.
Every single continent seems to be represented here. The worlds superstar chefs have flown in. Rene Redzepi of Noma (Copenhagen), David Chang of Momofuku (New York), Virgilio Martinez (Of central Lima), May Chow of Little Bao Hong Kong, Heinz Reitbauer of Vienna, Margot Janse from South Africa, Manu Buffara from South America and a dozen more. Equally renowned artists, musicians, scientists, thinkers have flown in from all parts of the world. Is it about food? Is it about music? Art? Its all this and more. Its “Gelinaz.” The curators Andrea Petrini & Alexandra Swenden are, in essence, ‘agit pop’ curators of a culinary hub that is pushing boundaries.
It’s a world wide think tank of avantgarde chefs performing food and remixing each other’s dishes like in a DJ set giving form to culinary happenings where art, music and cuisine fusion in unexpected and improvisational ways.
NOT ONLY ABOUT COOKING.
Sure! cooking is a big deal, but today it’s not enough: contemporary cuisine needs to find new ways to get in touch with a wider, younger audience, mingling and dialoguing with art, music and other fields of expression.
And here, I am witnessing how culinary talent and human qualities can coexist harmoniously inside the kitchen.
How, the main stage for a chef is the kitchen, a place where life and art, personal experience and interdisciplinary longings find a means of expression.
NOT ABOUT COOKING COMPETITIONS EITHER.
After all the “Masterchef” competitions and fierce rivalry, suddenly here is a welcome space, a happy space, there is:
– no competition
– universal sharing
– experimentation in a collective way beyond meritocracy and classified roles (stars, lists etc..)
Instead the collective of chefs were,
– pushing the boundaries, performing food and take risk as a starting point
– discovering new cultures and exchanging knowledge
– exploring the unknown
– zooming in on the beauty of nature, its elegant chaos
FOOD IS BEING PERFORMED.
Here, in the award winning gastronomic, family run restaurant Muhltalhof of the family Rachinger, the experimental culinary performance is taking place. The brilliant father and son chef duo of Philip and Helmut Rachinger have chosen three core ‘Matrix’ dishes. We get to taste them in a magnificent multi-course dinner the night before. Today the international chefs have been working in small teams of three and four. These dishes are being deconstructed, dismantled, cut into pieces and remixed by the 24 participating international and Austrian chefs. Chefs are asked to freely reinterpret every dish, modify some of the original ingredients and add seasonal produce from Upper-Austria to their new creations. And we walked through the different stations set up by each group as they interpreted the three matrix dishes. Rene Redzepi of Noma used moss he had foraged, Virgilio Martinez from Peru and his team interpreted the gulasch in a dumpling, David Chang from NYC along with May Chow from Hong Kong set up under a tree and even served up Schnitzel shots. The finale dinner is to follow…a sit down seven course dinner with these brilliant chefs in orchestra together. Innovative music and art installations by Joachim Eckl reverberate with the sounds of the river flowing nearby. Though sublime, its not just a gourmet dinner anymore. It’s the pampering of all senses. Nature, art, music food, cultures of different countries, good vibrations, morph into a memorable magical experience. A Magelinaz experience!
I couldn’t resist requesting for the recipe of the three matrix dishes of the potato gulasch, freshwater fish and the summerbock venison
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org should you want them.
So exciting to be in the mountains of UpperAustria and be in touch with you. Thanks for keeping me plugged into the vibrant home catering food scene of Chennai.
- Gazeenasulu Kunhamed from Ormes Road, Kilpauk specialises in exotic cakes and desserts such as the French Jaconde cake (an almond sponge cake), Choco Coffee opera and a variety of cheesecakes. Her latest offerings are jackfruit and tender coconut cake, mango and passion fruit cake, orange and pistachio cake, cherries and chocolate cake which are made with entremets ( layered desserts with multiple flavours and textures). No home delivery. Call 98409 70353 or mail email@example.com
- Harini Sankaranarayanan from Simply Chocolate is a home baker from Abhiramapuram. She can customise cakes according for to customer requirements for specific flavours, fillings ( types of nuts or fruits) or themes. Home delivery with extra charges. Call 98414 28798.
- Sudha Shankaran from Pondy Bazaar takes orders for nankhatais. Minimum order is half kg. Call 99400-62327 or mail firstname.lastname@example.org
- Anu Prosper from Mistletoe Cakes is a home baker based in Choolaimedu. The latest cake flavours in her menu are cotton candy, butter popcorn and bubblegum. She is also taking orders for low carb pizzas and savouries such as chicken croquettes, cheesy bakes ( veg and non veg) etc. Call 9600116757 or mail email@example.com or visit https://www.facebook.com/mistletoe.cakes
- Shyamala Sivaraman from Shyamala’s Culinary Classes is based in Arcot road, Kodambakkam. She conducts four hours sessions from Monday to Saturday on baking (cakes, cookies, muffins, decorative cupcakes), bread and buns, tarts and pies, puff pastries. She also conducts intensive icing workshops. Call on 98402 51050.
- Deepika from Aumly is taking orders for Thai Sweet Chilly Sauce, which is both spicy & sweet, Whole Wheat Muffins which can be stored in the fridge for a week in the following flavours: Apple Crumble Muffin, Carrot & Walnut Muffin and Orange & Dark Chocolate Muffins, organic fresh curd, set in earthenware pots, Idli Podi and organic Curry Leaf Powder. Order by Wednesday for pick up on Friday. Call on 8939774319. Address: 12-Z, Rutland Gate, 4th St, Aroshree Kailash, Ground Floor. 48 hours notice required.
- Sara Koshy is conducting a Workshop on Garden Parties. On the menu:
- Zucchini Loaf
- Cauliflower Crust Veg Pizza
- Green Olive Tapennade (on Brushetta)
- White Choco Chunk Brownies
Venue: The Gormei Market – 6, CIT Colony, 2nd Main Road, (behind focus gallery on TTK road), Mylapore, Chennai:4
Date: Aug 6th, Sunday. Time: 3:00pm to 6:30pm. Cost: Rs.1200/per person.
Call to register: 4217 2229.
I serve you a taste of Russia’s magnificent history and cuisine and with it a peek into our Prime Minister Modi’s most recent abode in the stunning St Petersburg. It’s awesome. It is Russia’s largest most beautiful Presidential suite and this is where our very own Prime Minister Modi stayed last month. It sprawls under a dramatic domed gold-leaf ceiling, has its own grand lobby and antique Carl Schroeder grand piano too. Two bedrooms, a private fitness centre, kitchen and this antique rosewood dining table under the magnificent handblown crystal chandeliers where we shot the photograph. In the past 142 years of it’s history, it has played host to global superstars, Hollywood movie moghuls, presidents and royalty. Bill Clinton, Whitney Houston, George Bernard Shaw and many more. The great Russian composer Tchaikovsky (my all time favourite) honeymooned here in the Belmond Grand Hotel Europe. This most iconic landmark has been witness to the history of the stunning St Petersburg. Its Neo-Baroque and Art Nouveau building is now classified as a historical monument.
RUSSIAN VEGGIE WOWS
It is here in this icon that I get a taste of Russian history, art, culture and food. Here is the surprise…also vegetarian food. Which of course would please our very vegetarian Prime Minister to no end. The multi-talented Chef Ian Christopher Minnis ensures the finest gourmet dinners here. He also oversees the amazing plethora of restaurants here. From St Petersburg’s most gastronomique L Europe restaurant (serving authentic Russian masterpieces) to the legendary caviar bar to the new Asian restaurant Azia which also serves some Indian dishes and has an Indian chef Dev Kathait. I do a tasting of their Asian vegetarian (including delicious dal, kababs and tandoori) in Azia. And request them for a second taste of the most amazing creation of pumpkin dimsum and he is kind enough to share the recipe of the very traditional Russian Borscht soup (pure vegetarian). Chef de Cuisine Larisa Kordik conjures superb dishes (tandoor, steam and wok cooking techniques) and Ekaterina Vasiljeva not only helps translate but also coordinates everything seamlessly.
Beetroot 160 gms/ Cabbage 120 gms/ Onion 20 gms/ Carrot 30 gms/ Vegetable Oil 50 gms/ Vegetable Broth 800 gms/ Tomato Paste 15 gms/ White Wine vinegar 5 gr/ Sugar 25 gr/ Black Pepper 0.5 gr/ Bayleaf 0.5 gr/ Lemon 5 gr/ Garlic 10 gr
- Clean & cut carrots, onions ( julienne ) and sauté in vegetable oil.
- Add cabbage as well, ( the cabbage should be cut into julienne the same way as the carrots and onions. Gently sautewithout color to the vegetables.
- Add tomato paste to the mixture, and gently saute a little further until it is not bitter.
- Blanch the beet root in the skin until it is fully tender
- Peel the beet skin and shred through a food processor, or Slice in thin long strips, (Keep beet juice and add to soup just before serving.
- Add vinegar,vegetable broth, stir and stew. Add the bayleaf& shredded beet root. mix
- In 5-10 min till ready, add salt, sugar and spices.( lemon and garlic)
- Do Not boil hard as the color will disappear.
What better place to learn about and do a caviar tasting than in the home-country of this supreme epicurean pleasure? And even better in Russia’s only caviar restaurant, Caviar Bar & Restaurant, which serves only the best caviar with ice cold vodkas you won’t find anywhere else in the world. And I am fortunate to do so under the tutelage of Russia’s only full-time vodka sommelier and most knowledgeable caviar master Alexander Dmitriev.
Their menu boasts 15 types of caviar, 12 Dom Perignon vintages, 35 types of vodka and 15 varieties of distillate.
What is caviar? Interestingly, like only sparkling wine made in France’s district of Champagne can be called champagne, only fish eggs produced by the sturgeon fish can be called caviar. Russia’s been eating caviar since before the 14th century. The real black caviar comes from the sturgeons ystick. And this large fish (the biggest is Beluga) lives in the Caspian sea, Siberia and Sakhalin .
Caviar differs in colour texture and size depending on fish AND how it is produced. I learnt all about the production methods of production and preservation(which determine the taste and price of caviar)
Am dazzled by the types of caviar black caviar…sturgeon/ albino caviar from an albino sturgeon. Sturgeon fish family…Beluga fish is the biggest (oldest prehistoric fish) and has the biggest grains. Oscietra fish (16 types) Sevruga Sterlet (smallest grains) and Bester are the main varieties.
I taste the finest caviar, it is creamy, has a fishy flavour, of seaweed and even walnuts. It is intense creamy and not too salty. Is non pasteurised and made by the traditional method. I do a vodka and champagne pairing with it too and end up sipping and tasting Russia’s history in its grandest historic landmark…Belmond Grand hotel Europe.