Im rejoicing. Atlast! SriLankan hopper, kuttu, vattalapam and more are being offered in Mumbai. And this In the catchily named Hoppumm ( Srilankan Hopper meets South Indian appam). No bookings we were told over the phone. So we took a chance and popped in (unannounced) really early for dinner.
Read my detailed review on https://www.bombaytimes.com/
Come feast with me. Feast on a banquet of culinary experiences. Of refreshingly unusual and unique experiences. From one served under the skies and trees to another in the depths of the boiler room. All these in Sri Lanka’s “little England” in the misty beautiful mountain town of Nuwaraelya’s Grand Hotel. Interestingly, long before Nuwara Eliya became the famed Hill station of Sri Lanka, folklore has it that many epic events of the Ramayana happened right here. The early 19th century British planters transformed it into “little England” and Sir Edward Barnes, Governor, built the beautiful bungalow which eventually expanded and became the Grand Hotel. And today this over a century old iconic landmark continues to magnetise the international traveller with it’s sprawling dining facilities, spa, pool, leisure activities et al. But fascinatingly enough continues to reinvent and reimagine many a feasting option.
GOURMET IN THE BOILER ROOM
Tracking global gastronomy is a fun job, but this one experience (in a 127 year old boiler room in the Sri Lankan mountains) takes the cake. It was here in this boiler room of the iconic Grand hotel Nuwaraeliya that the distinguished looking Boilerman provided an unending supply of hot water throughout the day to enable the aristocratic British guests to bathe. After almost nine decades of burning tree logs to keep the water hot, a diesel-fired boiler was introduced. It still keeps the water hot, but there is no dust or soot. It is here, that the celebrated Chef Priyantha serves up a unique dining experience: delicate carpaccio to luxuriously creamy cake. Within the depths of the kitchen they set up a Japanese Teppanyaki table. A violinist plays while the chef conjures light and delicious dishes. On my request the chef shares the recipe of the tasty and unusual Doriyaki pancake.
Gems of delicious wizardry parade with panache. “Unique dining experience” gets redefined.
100 grs Wheat Flour
01 tablespoon Sugar
02 tablespoon Bees honey
01 tablespoon Mirin Vinegar
70 ml Milk.
Pan fry this batter into a pancake.
200 grs Whipped Cream, Chocolate Sauce with Ice Cream.
Optional…10 grs Green Tea Powder / Sweet red bean
BRIT-SRI LANKAN HIGH TEA
I salute Duchess Anna of Bedford for having sent out the invite for “tea and a walk in the fields” over a hundred and fifty years ago. The lovely lady set in motion High tea, the most dainty of all culinary traditions. Over the years, I’ve been sipping and tasting my way through many a high-teas across UK and Europe. From London’s grand historic hotels, The Ritz, The Dorchester, The Lanesbrough to The Ritz in Madrid and The Ritz in Paris.
Which Tea ceremony do I get most high one? The Chinese tea ceremony “Yumcha” server fills the cup just over half way, because the Chinese believe the rest of the cup is filled with friendship. The Japanese tea ceremonies of the Chanoyu, the Sencha are performed sitting on the floor around a low table.
An amazing tradition which evolved with time…of tea service, side plates, bread and butter plates, cake stands, and every conceivable accompaniment, Tea gardens, tea dances , a whole code of etiquette followed. And here in Srilanka at the Grand hotel, they not only serve up an amazing grand tea under the sky, amid it’s beautiful manicured gardens but what excites me is that my most favorite Srilankan wattalpam gets a makeover into a dainty snack. Here it is
01 litre thick Coconut milk, 400grs. Jaggery
14 nos whole eggs,
Pinch of Nutmeg powder, 01 piece Cinnamon stick, 04 nos Cardomons, 150 grs Cashewnuts.
- Boil the jaggery with spices, 2. Cool to room temperature . 3.lightly beat the Egg and add to the Coconut milk. 4.Then mix all ingredients together and strain well. 5. Put in a baking dish and bake with steam for 40 to 50 minutes at 160° C.
WHATSHOT TASTING SESSION
Piggy bread…Look what I tasted in the Chennai’s most interesting and unusual whatshot tasting sessions of home talent. The very talented and lovely Deepasri Kar ‘s creative and innovative breads are in great demand. For the past seven years, her Hamaree rasoi’s Piggy shaped bread (stuffed with robustly spiced kheema ofcourse), chicken Stuffed Braided Bread have been the hotsellers. As have the vegetarian Pumpkin buns. Her large repertoire includes cookies spiked with cumin, which are a musty try too.
Sonali wijerathna. Restaurant Nuga Gama in the heart of Colombo, is centred around a Nuga tree (Banyan tree). Arachchi (village headman) greets us as talented chef Sudath Weerakkody guides us thru the different kinds of rice and curries sparkled with my favorite sambols. Located in the most foodie of all Srilankan hotels (it has ten superb restaurants) Cinnamon Grand’s authentic Sri Lankan restaurant serves it all..,Dried fish curry mutton black curry and more. Jackfruit for dessert? Yum and rustic.
Tracking global gastronomy is a fun job, but this one experience (in a 127 year old boiler room in the Srilankan mountains) takes the cake. It was here in this boiler room of the iconic Grand hotel Nuwaraeliya that the distinguished looking Boilerman provided an unending supply of hot water throughout the day to enable the aristocratic British guests to bathe. After almost nine decades of burning tree logs to keep the water hot, a diesel-fired boiler was introduced. It still keeps the water hot, but there is no dust or soot. It is here, that the celebrated Chef Priyantha serves up a unique dining experience: delicate carpaccio to luxuriously creamy cake. Gems of delicious wizardry parade with panache. “Unique dining experience” gets redefined. Kudos!
It’s a starry superstarry night in magical Macau. Here, at the prestigious Asian Oscars of gastronomy Indians and Indian cuisine is shining as our very own Gaggan Anand’s restaurant is crowned Asias best in fourth consecutive year. Asias 50 best restaurant awards are flagged off under the star spangled sky as culinary superstars mingle amid a feast for the senses by the poolside of the super luxurious Wynn Palace.
The Minister of Tourism, Celebrated chefs, restaurateurs and industry VIPs are in attendance. Asia’s 50 best restaurants in it’s sixth edition this year continues to grow in influence and magnetizes the best. Japan has the highest number of restaurants on the list (11), followed by Hong Kong and Thailand (9 each.)
ON YOUR REQUEST…SUPERSTAR’S RECIPES
Over the years, I’ve been receiving many a reader request for recipes from these superstars. Each one generously shares his. I serve them to you with a delicious scoop of news on each restaurant.
ASIAS BEST RESTAURANT..GAGGAN
“Lick it up” is genius Gaggan’s latest innovation which has already become an icon. The dish is designed to be ‘licked up’ directly from the plate. Constant creative evolution, soulfulness of Indian street food delivered through hyper-modern cooking techniques in a delicious way marks all his 25-courses.
10 g curry leaves 1 gm hing or asafetida 20 gm sesame seeds (black or white) 20 gm urad dal
20 g Channa dal 20 g rice 50 g red chilly of ur choice
Roast all ingredients and rough grind them.
Fish with Curry Infusion
100 g x 4 pcs fish any choice 50 g red onions, finely chopped
25 g ginger, sliced 25 g curry leaves 15 g green chili 15 g turmeric powder 50 g coconut oil, salt to taste .
- Portion filleted fish into 100 g each.
- Heat up the coconut oil, add curry leaves, red onions, ginger until fragrant.
- Roast for 2 minutes, add turmeric powder and chili
- Season with black salt and sugar.
- Blend mixture in blender and chill on an ice bath.
- Marinate the fillets with the curry infusion .
- Steam the fish with marinate
Take 50% cooked rice and 50% coconut milk blend. Place like a small coin in centre.Place fish in centre.
INDIAS BEST RESTAURANT
New Delhi, New York and now London… “Indian Accent” outposts continue to magnetise loyal fan followings. Leading the way, Manish Mehrotra has put modern Indian food on the gastronomic map. Contemporary food with an ‘Indian accent be it galautis stuffed with foie gras. Or pulled pork phulka tacos dazzle with their flavour and texture.
Tandoori Pineapple, summer shahtoot,Jaggery Glaze
I Pineapple / 2 tsp Demerara sugar/ 2 tsp butter/ I tbsp. jiggery/ 1 tsp fennel seeds/
2 Star anise/ 2tsp roasted sliced almonds
- Clean and slice pineapple. Into ½ inch slices.
- Brush with butter and dust with demerara sugar
- Put on the skewers and cook in tandoor or oven till edges are charred.
- MeanwhileHeat Jaggery, Fennel Seeds, &star anise in a pan with 4tbsp of water & cook to a thick syrup. Strain. Cool.
- Add fresh shahtoot (mulberry) to syrup. Toss gently.
- Arrange charred pineapple on a plate and drizzle sugar coated shahtoot on top
- Garnish with sliced almonds.
SRI LANKA’S BEST RESTAURANT
Chef Dharshan Munidasa has single handedly put Srilanka on the world gourmet map. And he is the only chef who has two restaurants featuring on the 50 best list. Set in a preserved 400-year-old Dutch hospital in Colombo “Ministry of Crab” is a Crab lovers paradise. His Japanese “NihonBashi” continues to be on the list.
Garlic Chili Crab
Ingredients – 500g meaty crab
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil/1/2 cup chopped onion/1/4 cup chopped garlic
1 teaspoon chilli flakes /1 tablespoon soy sauce /1 cup chicken stock
In a skillet throw in oil, onion, garlic and clean crab. Add chicken stock. Cook for 8 minutes. Add chilli flakes, cook for 2 minutes. Splash soy sauce and plate up.
Competing with the Japanese restaurants of Japan and still holding it’s own is a matter of pride for us. I refer to Wasabi by Morimoto. What
sets this fine dine Japanese restaurant apart from the others is the amazingly creative and fabulous vegetarian menu. Ofcourse, the gifted chef Sachin Poojary and executive chef Amit Chowdhary ensure that the exquisite non vegetarian dishes are as impeccable as ever. This Japanese salad dressing has My favorite past 14 years…
Soy onion salad dressing:
1- Onion – 8nos/ Soy – 400ml/ Mirin- 76ml/ Rice Vinegar- 200 ml/ Grape seed oil -200ml/ Sesame Oil- 100ml/ Mustard Paste – 16gm / Sugar 26gm/ Black Pepper – 1/4 TSP
Fine chop onion/ In a mixing bowl add all the ingredients except the grapeseed oil. / Mix ingredients well and slowly whisk in the grapeseed oil.store in fridge. Toss into salad when ready to serve.
DYNAMIC DREAM TEAM
Driving these awards and making them into high-octane international influential forces ( in gastronomy and tourism) is the London based dynamic dream team. Helming and driving the awards Charles Reed, Helene Pietrini, Tim Brooke Webb, William Drew Tiago Restani, Laura Price, Rikki Muddie Emer Schlosser Giulia Sgarbi, Rula Danias and Kate Cheverton. and I shoot their photo post awards..under the stars of course!
Hot news. Last week, I was lucky enough to get a taste of the delicious new offering by the father of modern Sri Lankan cuisine, Dharshan Munidasa and the stunningly beautiful Bollywood actress Jacqueline Fernandez.Sure it’s name “Kaema Sutra” harks back to “kama Sutra’ our very own bible of all things sensory and for sure this restaurant experience pampers all the senses too. However, 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 Chef Dharshan’s own philosophy. It seduces… be it the porksicle or “what the hopper”
Whoa! The capital of this tiny jewel of an island is rocking with high-energy. And here in Colombo Im getting high on music and food in it’s newest uber cool sophisticated hot spot. I get a taste of the hugely talented chef Paul Lenz’s giant tomahawk steak, Kathryn Farmer’s smooth as silk singing and Timothy Wright’s gracious charm. Capital Bar and grill shimmers in the shimmering Shangrila which preens on the Indian ocean. Authentic Chinese, modern Srilankan restaurants all under one roof here. Close by, Michelin starred chef Rishi Naleendra opens Botanik, not too far away the Mediteranean Asian fine dine Epicure magnetises. Monsoon with it’s South East Asian fare and it’s tropical eclectic ambiance joins the newness parade.
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.