Im celebrating. Im saluting the trailblazing culinary revolution focussing on health, vegetables, naturalness that is taking place here, in Paris, the gastonomique capital of the world. I’ve been researching vegetarian restaurants around the world ( China, Russia, Japan too) and here in Paris I find paradise. This Parisian landmark is synonymous with Dior, Dietrich and diamonds. This is where icons and trends are born since 1913. And it is here in Plaza Athenee that the very best of the best, the Michelin starred maestro Alain Ducasse’s shimmering temple to gastronomy is blazing trails. He serves up the trilogy…vegetables, cereals and fish. It goes without saying that the brilliant chef in the restaurant Romain Meder, ensures that the technical base of French haute cuisine remains intact, including expertise and absolutely precise detailing for vegetable preparation, cooking and seasoning.
NO GARDENER, NO COOKS
Its amazing that here in this temple to high gastronomy the gardener is being given as much importance as the chefs. And there are several reasons for it.
Head gardener of the Royal Grand park de Versailles at the behest of François Delahaye who helms Plaza Athénée have established an exclusive partnership with the Palace of Versailles for the vegetables and fruits supply of the Alain Ducasse restaurant.
The freshest of seasonal Sorrel, squash, broad beans, zucchini, to shallots, rhubarb… dazzle. Also artichokes introduced centuries ago by Catherine de Medicis and were a runaway success at Court because of their hypothetical aphrodisiac virtues .
Needless to say, all these fruits and vegetables are never exposed to phytosanitary chemicals etc. Picked in the morning and in the kitchen with hours. The ever helpful Isabelle Maurin translates whenever I need explanations in the kitchen.
Starting off with the refreshing tomato water flavoured with hibiscus, a parade of masterpieces dazzle, black current in black rice, the kiss of beetroot flavour in amaranth seeds, the crunch of flax or sunflower seed and so on. This approach infuses the work of the talented pastry chef, Jessica Préalpato too.
What do Liz Taylor, Marlene Dietrich have in common with the Parisian landmark Plaza Athenee? Plenty. For sure, they along with legendary figures of the world of glamor and royalty loved to stay here but there is also a deeper connect: a delicious salad dish. I tasted this Salad Mc carthy for the first time in Los Angeles, in Polo Lounge, Hollywood’s most beloved and historic dining institution, when it had just undergone a subtle Tihany-style revamp to celebrate it’s 100th year .It was in Beverly hills (also part of the Dorchester collection) The Polo Lounge that Charlie Chaplin had a standing reservation, Marlene Dietrich, eradicated the “no slacks for women” dress code and dined here. And the gorgeous beauty Liz Taylor honeymooned here four times . Her daily favorite used to be the McCarthy salad . I loved it then and requested for the recipe too, Imagine my delight when the dapper Francois Delahaye (who I met just by chance thanks to my old friend Paul Roll) shows it to me on the menu and has it made too. Ofcourse here in Paris it has been adapted by Ducasse and diced bigger and softer. But I reproduce for you my Hollywood Polo Lounge recipe.
Beverly Hills Hotel McCarthy Salad
1/4 head iceburg lettuce
1/2 head romaine lettuce
1/2 cup grilled, diced free-range chicken
1/2 cup diced roasted red beets
1/4 cup free range egg yolk
1/4 cup free range egg white
1/2 cup bacon
1/4 cup diced tomato
1/4 cup diced avocado
Balsamic Dressing Recipe
1 c. Balsamic Vinegar
1 T. brown Sugar
3 cloves roasted garlic
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
salt and black pepper
Place all ingredients in a blender and drizzle in the vegetable oil to emulsify. Check seasoning
Arrange salad in bowl. Toss with balsamic vinaigrette tableside. You can vary ingredients according to your preferences.
Yoga and Thai salad? What does our very own yogic tree pose (Vrikshansana) have in common with the my most favorite spicy, sweet, sour Thai “Som Tam” (raw papaya salad)? I’m getting a taste of both inside a stunningly beautiful restaurant (Yes! You read that right). That’s only for starters, not only did I get the most authentic and delicious recipe for “Som tam” , the correct way to do the Vrikashana, but also learnt more about rejuvenation and the deep and abiding connection between food and health. I ve been writing about food and wellness for over three decades (including a weekly health column for 15 years and 52 episodes of a TV show on Health) but the “Asaya” experience here, in the stunningly beautiful Rosewood, Phuket is incomparable. It’s a hands on specially curated unique concept. It is rooted in self-discovery. Along with it Im feasting on Rosewood’s “Sense of Place” philosophy and delicious food too. And getting re-energised too!
SOM TAM AND THEN SOME
Ive dined at the finest Thai restaurants of the world (including Michelin starred ones) but none comes close to the experience here at Ta khai which sprawls under ancient trees beside the shimmering Emerald bay . Here aunty Yai and uncle Nun, the most lovable accomplished chef couple cook to authentic recipes..
And they cook here in this alfresco restaurant with it’s
open kitchens and live cooking stations. Ta Khai, which means “fishing net” has not only the most beautiful setting under trees bust also the most authentic food that ricochets in a myriad flavors and textures on my palate.A kitchen-to-table herb and vegetable garden and live fish pond adds to the magic. Many an authentic Thai dish such as Poh Pia Sod (fresh Phuket spring rolls) to KhanomTuay (steamed pandanus and coconut milk custard). They are generous enough to share the authentic vegan version of the Som tam and Yam som tam (Pomelo salad) too.
Som Tam Vegan
Quantity Lts 1 portion
40ml Lime juice
60gr long bean
40gr palm sugar
(Dressing )Mixed sugar ,lime and salt well in the mixing bowl
Pound chili and garlic in the mortar then put tomatoes and long bean and pound again
Add papaya ,dressing and peanut and mixed well
Yam Som O
Quantity Lts 1 portion
40gr White sugar
30gr Roasted grated coconut
20gr Deep fried shallot (Sliced)
30ml Coconut Cream
2gr Chilli powder
50gr Shallot sliced
5gr Coriander leave
10gr Birds chili sliced
4gr Deep fried dried chilli
30gr Tamarind juice
50gr Cashew nut
Shred the Pomelo and set aside
Place the lemon juice,salt,Chilli powder and sugar in a bowl,Mix well
Add thegrated coconut,peanuts, cashew nut and coconut cream.Continue to stir
Add the Pomelo and toss
Transfer to a serving dish and sprinkle with fried shallots
HEALTH & FOOD
The knowledgable resident wellness practitioner, holistic wellness expert Steve Harvey has his own reason for making me eat “Som Tam”. This is the first time that I learn what food helps me when I travel a lot. “Sweet and spicy food will keep you grounded” explains Steve Harvey. This is just the beginning of my self-discovery journey. It truly is very exciting. And eye-opening. I experience their first Asaya, an innovative concept in holistic and integrative wellness journeys. It begins at Asaya’s beautiful “Wellness Atelier” with a consult with Steve Harvey. Here, the garden’s red and sweet basil, kaffir lime, lemon balm,murraya koenigii (Thai curry leaf) and pandanusingredients are crushed and blended into individual recipes for use in customized scrubs, wraps, masks and herbal compresses. The fresh Thai healing herbs are also incorporated into powerful aromatic oils used in Asaya Atelier Body Path rituals of therapeutic massages that give me deep relaxation, energy, mental clarity and relaxation. And then energy rebalancing with Himalayan singing bowls ritual follows.
Not only is my energy being rebalanced through food and therapies but even the environmentally sensitive architectural style that blends organically with the natural surroundings soothes. Through it all Im rejuvenating. And celebrating!
Foodies please note, a few weeks ago, the prestigious Michelin guide has made its entry into Bangkok. And while Im here Im determined to eat my way through the Michelin starred restaurants. Starting at the very top two-starred Michelin and right up to the street food Jay Fei who has been conferred a Michelin star.
Dish after dish has visual and gustatory starbursts. And wow! there is vegetarian caviar too, sublime in taste and texture: a vegetarian’s dream come true. Here the brilliant chef Arnaud Dunand Sauthier dazzles.
My sparkling starry meals in Bangkok begin at the legendary epitome of French fine dining, the best in Thailand (since 1958) Le Normandie. It is truly a connoisseur’s fantasy of splendid cuisine, impeccable service and elegant ambiance.
The tiny gem like amuse bouches implode with flavour and texture. I love the fact that the distinction of many dishes is a judicious intricacy, the strength of others is their focus: how intensely they taste of their central ingredient, like the seabass. And the airy and light Grand Marnier mousse is easily the best in Thailand. It elevates my Michelin starred meal even higher. From the starred French fine dine I go to my other favorites, the British High tea and the Thai Restaurant in the 141 year old historic Mandarin Oriental, But before I do that I request the chef for the recipe of the vegetarian caviar.He sets it in an empty caviar tin. If you cant find one, then any small tin will do. You need cauliflower, spring onion, veg gelatin and a little mayonnaise. No quantities are being given as it depends on the size of the tins you use to set it.Peel the extremity of the cauliflower then chopped finely. Blanched for 1min then refresh in ice bath.
Mix with the chopped truffle ( if not available, use mushrooms), sliced spring onion. Let mixture macerate for 4hrs.
Make the jelly with
and veget gelatin
Roast the cauliflwer until brown color then add water to cover it. Cooked for 2 hrs.
Pass the liquid through a cloth then put the gelatin
Put the cauliflwer couscous inside the box then cover with the jelly.Let it set and finish with some mayonnaise
BRITISH HIGH TEA
It is here in it’s elegant and historic “Authors Lounge” that I sip (literally too) over a century of legendary literary history. I enjoy the classic British High tea. It is here, in Le Grand Dame that the world renowned authors (Somerset Maughm, Noel Coward ) have lived and immortalised it. Dapper dynamic Australian Gregg Lidell who continues to helm this landmark orchestrates everything to perfection, everhelpful Karn Puntohong epitomises best of Thai hospitality. It is here, that the very gifted Patisseur Christophe Sapy constructs (the only suitable word for his amazing work) cakes. Each one a work of art. And his pastries seduce, 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.
And oh! That amazing sourdough bread, freshlybaked and crusty on the exterior and soft and warm inside has me asking for more. The gifted young Danierl Texter not only takes me to the amazing treasure trove of freshly baked bread, cakes and pastries but also shares the recipe of an easy to make bread at home. Should you need it, please email me firstname.lastname@example.org
HIGH ON THAI
It is here too, that Bangkok’s finest Thai restaurant beckons. Time is standing still as I gently glide down the gleaming “River of Kings”. We do so in a beautiful wooden-carved long tail boat. At the other end of the bank Sala Rim Nam, an exquisite restaurant serving authentic Thai food awaits me. But that is yet another story. A delicious one too!
It happens only once in a lifetime. All my senses are getting pampered. And how! Im seeing the most delicious dish being cooked by the lovable legend 84 year young Asha Bhosle AND Im hearing her sing at the same time. And as though this wasn’t bliss enough, I get to touch and then taste the “Chingdi chaap “ Its made to the famed RD Burman’s recipe and it gets even more exciting when Asha ji shares that recipe with me. Her mellifluous honeyed voice sparkles the kitchen in her iconic Dubai restaurant. Almost fifteen years ago, I’d watched her cook in her Mumbai home kitchen when she’d shared her invaluable recipes for my cookbook. I was blown away by her gusto and passion and consummate cooking prowess. How does she stay forever young and exuberant? I got the answer when I tasted the new menu. She tunes in with the times, evolving herself and remaining contemporary and flexible. So while I tasted the classical biryani and chingdi chaap ( RD Burman ‘s recipe) I also tripped out on her brand new barrah lamb chops paired with carrot coconut cream, fried fish with avocado cream and baby chicken with bok choy and makhani sauce, all deliciously made by the brilliant young chef Bobby Retnakumar Geetha. With us is Asha ji s amazing and talented family and also one of the chiefs of Mashreq bank Richa Madan who not only sings well but also cooks equally well. And needless to add is a big fan of Asha ji.
All this was in her elegant flagship Dubai restaurant. The gorgeous singing legend’s award-winning culinary destinations transcend cultures and cross continents and are now in 13 locations in The UK and in the Gulf. Asha ji personally oversees the work of the restaurants’ spice master to ensure the essence of her culinary philosophy is imprinted in every kitchen, and in the experience of every diner.
But, of course, what she is best known for is her singing. She has sung more than 20,000 songs in eighteen languages, and has been showered with national and international awards.
BIRTH OF A GOURMET CHEF
‘I started cooking when I was ten years old,’ Asha explains in her soft, melodious voice. ‘My mother never used to cook, but I really learnt a lot when I had to cook for my father’s shradh . . . puranpoli, kheer, bhajiyas.’ Asha’s father, Pandit Dinanath Mangeshkar, taught her singing and coincidentally, Asha sang her first song ‘Bolte chala chal nava bala’ at the same age as she learnt to cook. Born in Sangli, when they moved to Bombay, Asha led a rigorous and hard life, leaving home at six in the morning and recording till the wee hours. All this seems to have only made her stronger.‘Mera vishwas hai that you must have will power,’ she asserts. ‘I used to love playing gulli danda on the streets and could play all day.’ She also used to borrow a lot of books from a library near the Dadar station, stay awake reading in lamp light and return them the next day. Till today she has retained her curiosity and wonder of the world around her. Her interest in cooking has much to do with this.
So fabulous is her cooking that Randhir Kapoor had once joked to her “aapke gaane se aapka khaana accha hai”. Her enterprising and dynamic son, the driving force of her restaurants, Anand sums it up in one sentence: ‘The world has lost a chef to a singer.’ To which I wanted to tell him, ‘But you have both, you lucky guys!’
THE LEGENDARY RECIPE
200 grams Prawns (tails on headless)
100grams Panko bread crumbs
1 grams sakura cress ( optional for garnishing)
2 grams coriander chopped
2 grams chili powder Kashmiri
10 ml lemon juice (bottle)
10 grams salt iodized
10 grams heirloom tomatoes (for garnishing)
25 grams ginger
25 grams garlic
30 grams kohlrabi salad (for garnishing)
30 grams red onion
1 raw egg
Cooking time: 20 minutes
Ø Remove the shell of the prawns keeping the tail on and clean in chilled water.
Ø Marinate the prawns for at least 3-4 hours before use.
Ø Using a blender, make a paste of onion, garlic, ginger, lemon juice. Add chili powder, salt and coriander chopped.
Ø In a separate mixing bowl, beat the egg and add it with the onion & garlic mixture.
Ø Crumb the prawns, deep fryer it for at least 5-7 minutes with a temperature of 350 degree.
Ø Remove from the fryer; drain the excess oil using a paper towel tap slowly.
Ø Garnish with Kohlrabi salad, Heirloom tomatoes & sakuracress
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.