Crab and prawn cuisine
Hype. Hoopla. Awards. Crowned Srilankas “best restaurant 4 times in a row. Ranked 35thbest in Asia 2019, Maestro Dharshan Munidasa’s “Ministry of crab” finally opened two months ago in Mumbai. Having had many a magnificent meal at the Colombo flagship, I was apprehensive about it’s Mumbai debut. Can the same high standard of live Mud crab be maintained? Will the fluffy woodfired Srilankan “kade” bread be as addictive? And wont the Mumbai vegetarian be disappointed? The Colombo MOC has only veg side dishes. It offers only three desserts and we Mumbaikars have a sweet tooth. In short, Is there hope behind the hype?
BOOKED & COOKED
This is the first time that my ploy ( of my assistant booking in a fake name) did not work. Reason? Since we were six diners, they insisted my assistant give credit card details. That would’ve given my name away. So we cancelled. We tried reserving many a time later, but it was all booked up. And much later just two of us booked there. Under a fake name. Ofcourse!
Majestic. Housed in a tall stand alone corner building in Khar. A glamorous highceilinged space with arched glass windows. A sweeping staircase takes you upto the mezzanine bar. On the ground floor the show kitchen takes centre stage. Railings and fluting, wallpaper and mirrors are art deco-inspired. Kudos to Basrai for the artful use of tropical woody natural materials
Go on. Get ready to make slurping noises, put on your bib and crack that perfectly cooked crab bathed in (my favourite) bold lusty pepper sauce.
Take your pick ( Crabs sizes, small, medium, half a kilo, XL, the OMG and 2kg Crabzilla.) Pair it with pepper sauce, olive oil and chilli, soy, or garlic butter and do lick your fingers, every now and then.
My other addiction is the Prawnzilla served in a glistening pool of the bold garlic chilli sauce.
Appetiser? Go for the crab salad scooped into a luscious avocado with a whisper of wasabi, perfect Crab cakes with raw mango sweet chutney. Must ask for the baked crab risotto, a masterly balance of texture and flavour.
Vegetarians, youre in luck, delicious Coastal Indian dishes infused with coconut ( Goan curry with baby aubergine, mangalorean gassi) japanese style stir fried greens too. Keep space for a happy ending… “story of cocoa” . brilliantly presented in a giant cocoa bean pregnant with
bitter chocolate mousse and coconut gel. Equally good is the deconstructed spongy version of French Toast
sparkled with sago pearls and burnt butter icecream. Superb vegan icecreams and signature granitas too.
Crabzilla was not available when we dined there. Kade bread baked in an Irani bakery did not match up to its Srilankan counter part. Singapore Chilly crab sauce needed it’s sweetness to be toned down.
Lacklustre vegetarian ishtew and an oversweet Black pearl dessert were the other minus points.
Peel away the hype, take away the highprofile cricketing legends partners with chef Dharshan Munidasa) and what do we get? A seriously great restaurant dedicated to using only the highest quality of wild caught, even-clawed lagoon crab. Only live fresh crabs are used. And this shows in the glistening sweetness enhanced by the perfect cooking of each crab (no matter which sauce you pick, it has oomph). Vegetarians are taken care of, as are those with a sweet tooth. My apprehension of maestro Chef Dharshan Munidasa not being present in Mumbai is proved base less by the brilliant young chef Jerry Simon Thomas who ensures consistency in quality and recipe. Except for a few dishes which disappoint MOC Mumbai more than claws it’s way to meet up to expectations. Be ready to shell out high prices for stratospheric quality. After all, we are in a three-levelled, high-ceilinged glamorous crab heaven.
MINISTRY OF CRAB
442, Chitrakar Dhurandar Marg, 14th Rd, Khar West
RATING FOOD 4 SERVICE 3.75 DÉCOR 4
Meal for two Rs 8000
EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED
It’s been my passion. Over the years. To track excellence and celebrate it. And while doing so…it’s the unexpected that kickstarts my adrenalin. And here in this magnificent Parisian landmark, I thrill to expect the unexpected. For almost a century, George V has been the epitome and the definition of Parisian luxury and elegance.
Le Cinq, it’s gastronomique restaurant been showered with three Michelin stars continuously. The sheer stratospheric excellence impeccable luxurious detailing has set a global benchmark. It has been home to the who’s who of the world. Located in the most luxurious part of Paris (where its secret aristocracy has lived for ages) the legendary Hotel George V reigns in its Franco-British aesthetic splendour. And amidst this exquisite Parisian splendour are two superlative surprises…Le George a down-to-earth Mediterranean restaurant and an amazing all-vegetarian menu in LOrangerie, it’s other restaurant.
A DOWN TO EARTH MASTERPIECE
Simply superb. Superbly simple.No two ways about it. It’s the worlds most luscious onion, plump with flavour and melt in the mouth too. It took the brilliant chef Simone Zanoni four whole days to cook it to his magical secret recipe, handed down to him by his grandmother. And this is just the beginning of the amazing masterpieces that’s sashay in. The brilliant young chef focuses on organic, local and grows his own vegetables and herbs. I taste one amazing creation after another infused with the chef’s personal influences and inspirations, such as the signature Le George dish the onion tarte tatin with parmesan sorbet. His creation of the Tomato tart with cacciopepe icecream dazzles.
Having worked with Gordon Ramsay, Chef Zanoni now helms Le George which has been making waves ever since it opened and also received i. Le George serves up Mediteranean magic
And does so amid shimmering priceless Baccarat chandeliers, mirrors and Lalique crystal. Healthy and light fare is all about “harmonious cuisine from the heart” an amazingly balanced and healthy menu (plenty of vegetarian too). This Le George more than lives up to the royal legacy it has inherited, after all it is born to the iconic George V, the hotel of kings and the king of hotels.
Chef Zanoni’s pasta is perfection. He generously shares the recipe
Tortelli Ricotta Lemon and Mint Recipe
-550g of flour type 45
-350g of egg yolk
-5g salt, 5g olive oil
-500g of ricotta
-70g grated Parmesan cheese
-40g of pecorino grated
-20g of egg yolk
-Sel, pepper PM
Make the dough by mixing all the elements with the robot cut, knead, well squeezed and let rest in the fridge 2 hours.
Make the stuffing by mixing all the elements in a container and then remove in pastry pockets.
Spread the dough using a rolling mill to have a parte about 2mm thick, arrange the dough on the worktop and prepare hazelnuts of ricotta stuffing the size of your cookie cutter on the half of the dough then fold the dough on itself, then cut the tortelli with the help of your cookie cutter.
Cook the tortelli in salted water for 1 minute,
prepare a pan with water and half-salted butter, a pinch of pepper and 2g of organic Sicilian lemon peel, remove the tortelli in the pan containing the mixture then finish cooking in the pan and at the end added chopped mint, then set on plate.
Great news! The one Michelin starred Lorangerie is presenting the most fascinating and gourmet vegetarian menu Ive ever tasted. When I wrote and researched the Worlds first vegetarian guide to Paris (published by Times of India and partnered by GeorgeV) I ate my way through my beloved city for two years. But this is the first time I actually watch the creation and innovation of a series of stunningly sublime vegetarian dishes.
And I do so in a modern conservatory of 7-metre high glass and–steel structure, which blends seamlessly with the architectural Art Deco style of the hotel with stunning views of the Courtyard dotted with orchids.
Creative Sublime wizardry of simplicity… finest of seasonal ingredients dazzle. Take a bow brilliant chefs!
The genius Christian Lesquer of their gastronomique restaurant and Alan Taudon coax amazing flavors out of the freshest and finest of vegetables and present them with panache. Delicate gems of wizardry dazzle. And sparkle!
Along with Jean Claude Wietzel we taste our way through the concise, seasonal menu in which tradition is updated thanks to elegant, perfumed notes and a delicate blend of flavours.
The chefs reliably turn what’s already enjoyable into something very remarkable. And pure vegetarian too!
ITALY & FRANCE IN LONDON
From freezing cold London, I send you a taste of sunny Italy and gourmet France. And to revel in both these, I don’t need to go out into the windy, rainy outside at all. Both are housed in the iconic, almost a century old, stately landmark the magnificent Dorchester. It overlooks Hyde Park and it fuses contemporary comfort with the timeless glamour and heritage of the property. What also excites me is it’s range of gourmet cuisines.
He’s a legend in his own right. The genial Giuliano Morandinhas been the heartbeat of the fashionable buzzing see and be seen opulent Bar. Ofcourse as a bar manager he has played host to the whos who, his famous champagne shimmer cocktail (with gold flakes and complimentary lip gloss for the ladies) continues to make waves in London. But now Giuliano, the bar manager is making history by serving robust Italian flavors from his hometown. Freshest of handrolled pasta, flavorful pesto, tiramisu…all made to his grandmother’s recipes. Giuliano and his award-winning team of experimental alchemists shake and stir many a magical cocktail. He serves up the champagne shimmer to Helene Pietrini the lovely, dynamic director of the prestigious Worlds 50 best Restaurant Academy. We take a bite of the al dente pasta, go back for a full Italian dinner the next night and get happy high on the shimmering cocktail. All this in the luxurious lacquered mahogany, mirrored glass, velvet and dramatic red bar!
FRENCH FINESSE IN LONDON
It doesn’t get any better than this. At the three starred shimmering temple to French gastronomy we dine in a shimmering cloud… fibre optic curtain at the superglam Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester.
I had dined here 11 years ago when it had just opened. It is better than ever. The dashing and brilliant Executive Chef Jean-Philippe Blondet ‘s French contemporary haute-cuisine is full of distinctive fresh flavors executed with a light and surprising twist.
We. try many a vegetarian masterpiece including the legendary cookpot. The signature “Sauté gourmand” of lobster, truffled chicken quenelles and homemade pasta; Halibut,
oyster and seaweed and Dry aged beef, artichoke and bone marrow dazzle.
——French contemporary haute-cuisine is full of distinctive fresh flavours executed with a light and surprising twist.
We. try many a vegetarian masterpiece including the legendary cookpot. The signature “Sauté gourmand” of lobster, truffled chicken quenelles and homemade pasta; Halibut,
oyster and seaweed and Dry aged beef, artichoke and bone marrow dazzle.
Restaurant Director Enrico Baronetto takes fabulous care of us. We end with the heady chocolate light airy souffle and the traditional baba Rhum.
Ive been fortunate to dine at Alain Ducasses’ haute cuisine restaurants in Paris, Provence, Tokyo, NYC (before it closed down) and Monte Carlo (where I even shot my TV show). Celebrated for his innovation,
attention to detail and dedication to both quality and technique, Ducasse reigns internationally supreme with the largest number of Michelin stars in the world. In all his restaurants Ive had these light, airy spheres of delight…French cheese puffs. Each meal begins with these. On my request Jean Phillipe Blondit shares the r4ecipe with us.
(makes 2 baking trays)
A dedicated part of our guests’ dining experience, these delicate cheese puffs
are served warm and seasoned with paprika, black pepper, and Emmental
300 ml water
8 gr salt
240 gr flour (T55)
110 gr grated Emmental cheese
100 ml dry white wine
180 gr unsalted butter
380 gr whole eggs
1.5 gr ground black pepper
sweet paprika powder/ground black pepper (optional)
In a pot, make a choux pastry by combining water, white wine, salt and
butter and bring this to a boil.
Add the sieved flour to the liquid and continue to cook until a ball of dough
Transfer the warm dough into a mixing bowl and with a paddle attachment at
low speed, blend in the eggs little by little until fully incorporated and the dough is smooth.
Add the grated Emmental cheese and the ground black pepper and mix until
Fill the dough into a piping bag fitted with a 10mm plain round tip and pipe little mounds (4cm apart), onto a tray lined with baking paper.
Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before baking.
In a convection oven preheated to 180°C, bake the gougères for 18 min-
utes or until golden brown and puffed.
Once baked, the gougères can be topped with additional ground black
pepper or sweet paprika powder and transferred to a cooling rack.
Gougères are best enjoyed warm.
Breaking news! Delicious news! Especially for vegetarians and vegetarian food lovers. At the iconic King of hotels and the hotel of kings, George V in Paris, their one Michelin starred Lorangerie is presenting the most fascinating and gourmet vegetarian menu Ive ever tasted. When I wrote and researched the Worlds first vegetarian guide to Paris (published by Times of India and partnered by GeorgeV) I ate my way through my beloved city for two years. But this is the first time I actually watch the creation and innovation of a series of stunningly sublime vegetarian dishes. The genius Christian Lesquer of their gastronomique restaurant and Alan Taudon coax amazing flavors out of the freshest and finest of vegetables and present them with panache. Delicate gems of wizardry dazzle. And sparkle!
Im in Paris to complete my thesis “The rise and the rise of vegetarianism” . And so spending most of my time meeting my mentors and professors in the university. Also part of my research is the most beautiful Parisian landmark. Here, Im not only tripping out on the finest French cuisine, history and culture but also the most amazing vegetarian masterpieces.
For more than a hundred years Plaza Athenee has exemplified modernity luxury and timelessness Any wonder this Parisian landmark is patronised by our very own Prime Minister Modi (confirmed vegetarian) heads of state, royalty, movie moghuls, haute couteriers and superstars from all fields.
Helmed by. Superstar Francois Delahaye over decades it has played host. to. many a superstar. And our very own Prime minister Modi too.
For some inexplicable reason vegetarianism is always associated with asceticism, the opposite of luxury and with tasteless food. But here maestro Alain Ducasse busts all those myths. It’s a starry glamorous experience in every sense of the term…Luxury drips in ten thousand Swaroski pendants which dangle instead of chandeliers.
Its amazing that here in this temple to high gastronomy the gardener is given as much importance as the chefs. And only vegetables cereals and fish are served here.I watch chef Romain Meder create the most delicious luxurious vegetarian haute cuisine. And he shares the recipes too. Should you want any please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Its memorable. Its incomparable. I refer to the amazing spectrum of tastes, flavours, cultures that I am feasting on. Here in France’s most magnificent over a century old landmark, Im not only tripping out on the finest French cuisine, history and culture but also the most amazing vegetarian masterpieces.
Any wonder this Parisian landmark is patronised by our very own Prime Minister ModI (confirmed vegetarian) heads of state, royalty, movie moghuls, haute couteriers and superstars from all fields.
For more than a hundred years this landmark has exemplified modernity luxury and timelessness Helmed by. Superstar Francois Delahaye over decades it has played host. to. many a superstar. And our very own Prime minister Mody too.
Haute cuisine and haute couture are being seamlessly celebrated here. And Im overjoyed that “naturalness’ cuisines’ vegetarian masterpieces are created in Michelin starred maestro Alain Ducasse’s shimmering restaurant located in the iconic couture landmark Plaza Athenee.
For some inexplicable reason vegetarianism is always associated with asceticism, the opposite of luxury and with tasteless food. But here maestro Alain Ducasse busts all those myths. It’s a starry glamorous experience in every sense of the term…Luxury drips in ten thousand Swaroski pendants which dangle instead of chandeliers. And the hushed elegance coddles and pampers like no other.
Michelinstarred maestro Alain Ducasse points out “To eat more healthily and naturally is today both an expectation and a necessity that must be translated into the field of haute cuisine”. And this is done by using only exceptional produce. “This is the cuisine I sincerely love This very personal interpretation is indeed, here, in my restaurant at the Plaza Athénée.” Concludes the maestro.
Alain Ducasse designed his cuisine at the Plaza Athénée around the vegetables-cereal-fish trilogy. Its amazing that here in this temple to high gastronomy the gardener is being given as much importance as the chefs.
It goes without saying that the brilliant chef in the restaurant Romain Meder, ensures that the technical base of French haute cuisine remains intact and delivers the most luxurious vegetarian haute cuisine too.
The food is not only healthier and more natural, more respectful of the Planet but it dazzles with flavour and taste. Therein lies its memorable magic.
I watch Chef Romain Meder in action in the gleaming kitchens and admire the way he delivers a free and nearly instinctive interpretation of Haute Cuisine, revealing the produces’ original flavour, from the noble to the humble, all exceptional.
THE WORLDS BEST FRENCH TOAST
Where did I find the worlds best French toast? In the best Parisian Michelin starred landmark, Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athenee ofcourse. I could write a sonnet to it and still would not be able to express it’s dazzling exceptional texture so moist plump with flavour. Created by Winner of the World Pastry Cup and several other prestigious awards
Meilleur ouvrier de France Angelo Musa and Guillame Cabrol.
Ive always been a fan of The French toast, whose recipe dates back to the 4th or 5th century. Over centuries and in different countries it has had different names aliter dulcia(“another sweet dish”)
Arme Ritter(“poor knights”)But the usual French name is pain perdu interestingly translates to “lost bread”, reflecting its use of stale or otherwise “lost” bread. There are many versions and names but heres not only the worlds the best French toast but also its recipe, generously shared by Pastry world champion Chef Angelo Must.
oatmeal flour 785 g
Salt 15 g
Yeast 330 g
Eggs 480 g
Butter 490 g
Kneat flavour, salt, sugar, yeast and the eggs until the dough is soft.
Add cold butter in three times.
Knead again until the dough is soft.
Leave for 30 minutes.
Form a ball and then a sausage shape.
Put it in a form (height 15 cm large 15 cm long 40 cm)
Leave the dough for 4 hours.
Put it in the oven for 1 hour – 160 °C.
And I actually have this toast at breakfast. The most luxurious way to begin the day…he amazing array of boulangerie baked fresh. Chocolate croissants, butter croissants, brioche, sultana swirls
walnut and lemon croissants, chocolate and pistachio pastries and kugelhopf too.
The menu is in English, Japanese, Russian, Chinese,
Spanish and, of course, French ensuring that everybody can
spread the message to every corner of the globe that breakfast
at the Plaza Athénée is the best in Paris! And it’s French toast the best in the world. Which it is.
The air is so thick with excitement that I could slice it and pop it into my champagne glass. I report from the planet’s largest gathering of chefs, the worlds most prestigious cooking and baking competitions. Im in Lyon, the home town of the “Chef of the century“ the late Paul Bocuse who shaped the history of gastronomy, through his institute and global cooking competitions continues to do so. It’s a joy to meet his son Jerome Bocuse ( several years ago id had the privilege to interview Paul Bocuse for my TV show).Marie-Odite Fondeur s Sirha held once is two years is bustling with global visitors at the displays, exhibitions, discussions , tracking of innovations, hospitality and food trends. The world of gastronomy is celebrating here! With good reason!
This ain’t a bowl of mere fermented vegetables. It’s Kimchi. It’s magical. It’s origin is centuries old. But it was sent to space on board Soyuz with South-Korean astronaut Yi So yeon.
It was declared ” vitally important to the morale of Korean troops” (President Park Chung Hee).It’s been cited by Health Magazine as one of the world’s five “healthiest foods” and it dates back to the period of the Three Kingdoms (37 BC‒7 AD.
Till today, it’s a very central part of the Korean meal. It is served as “Banchan” a collective name for small side dishes served along with cooked rice.
On my very first trip to Korea, I’m fortunate to not only taste kimchi in the finest three Michelin starred Korean cuisine restaurant but also blessed to get a taste of “vegan” kimchi in a monastic meal ritual cooked by a monk in the mountains. And finally actually got to make the kimchi myself, in the finest kimchi making class of Korea…with Master Lee and two other brilliant chefs.
IN KOREAS BEST RESTAURANT
I’m on top of the world. In every sense of the term. I’m dining in three Michelin starred Layeon perched on the rooftop of Shilla Seoul, the luxury powerhouse.
The gracious and stately Shilla stands behind Seoul’s medieval city walls but continues to reign supreme. La Yeon interprets Korean cuisine with great care and sophistication. Balanced flavors and textures explode …from mellow flavors of Pinenut porridge to the perfect Bulgogi and bibimbap with banchan and the most addictive umami rich kimchi.
I’m not just feasting on the brilliant Chef Sung il Kim’s refined and sublime Korean food but also learning about the basics and evolution of Korean food. Translating for me is the everhelpful Yaeeji Kim.Highest quality ingredients, authentic flavors and creativity infuse the dishes… from mellow and soothing to royal-cuisine Hot Pot here.
BLISSED TEMPLE MEAL
I m in heaven and didn’t even have to die to get here… Just drove four hours in snow to reach the beautiful Naejang mountains. Can spiritual vegetarian meditative monk s food be so seductively gourmet and varied? It sure is I’m Tasting blessings… literally too. All this at the fabulous formal multicourse monastic meal ceremony (barugongyang) The lovable loving and friendly monk.
At Cheongjinam Temple. We sit on the floor with empty bowls baru in front of us. And as if by magic the silent servers glide in and fill them up. Making food and partaking in it is part of the meditative process in the temple and here, they eat only what they farm and make on site. Amazingly gentle and vibrant flavors and textures seduce . We wash the dishes after the meal with the water in each bowl and walk out in a single file.
We move in to the dining area and our eyes and taste buds are luxuriously memorably pampered. After that lunch, monk Jung Kwan takes us on a fascinating walk to see her storage facilities where her “jangs”, sauces and kimchi are being fermented. Since garlic, onions are not used it is these fermented pastes that add a zing to her vegetarian masterpieces.
lovable inspirational monk for delicious blessings which we tasted too. If this isn’t heaven what is?
Note: A unique and blissed out treat. And to be lunching with Koreas finest gourmet chefs, Mingoo Kang ( chef Michelinstarred Mingles)
Hyunseok Choi (chef of ever popular Choi)
Jinpyo Kim, CEO Plating Company
All this made possible thanks to the lovely Editor in chief of Tasty Cookbook,Eunsil Jang.
KIMCHI MAKING CLASS
Its a dream come true. Not only to learn kimchi making from Master Soyoung lee,but to do so with my own hands and then to have the privilege of a home-cooked lunch by her. Kimchi making is done in winter (when the ingredients are available) and its all about bonding and a wonderful family feeling as we chop the vegetables and massage the spices into them. All this with Chef Choi who’s doing pathbreaking research in fermenting and Chef Heesuk Cho a professor in Korean cuisine. Not only have most of the great Korean chefs trained under her but her restaurant (I had an amazing meal here) continues to inspire many others.
It’s all thanks to the super helpful and amazing JungYoon Choi, a chef with 20 years of experience working in Spain, Australia and Korea. Trained at Alicia Foundation and El Bulli and is now executive chef of the Sempio Korean Fermentation Culinary Research Center in Korea. with top chefs and gastronomy-related professionals to research on Korea’s fermentation food culture. She very generously shares the authentic recipe for the kimchi.
– Coarse Salt 7cups
– Chives 200g (Cut 4cm)
– Leeks 200g(Cut diagonally)
– Red Brassica juncea 100g (Cut 3cm)
– Chopped raw shrimps 100g
– Chopped Sea staghorn 100g
– Radish 2kg (Cut 5cm)
– Crushed Chili pepper 6cups
– Chopped Garlic 1 1/2 cups
– Chopped Ginger 1/2 cups
– Salted shrimps 1cups
– Anchovy liqueur 1cups
– Sugar 1/2cups
– Coarse Salt 1/2 cups
- Mixed all the spices and ingredients. (Let this ripen for 30 minutes.)
- Rinse pickled cabbage in cold water to remove moisture.
- Ready to the seasonings between the prepared cabbage.
- Store prepared Kimchi in a container.
The best tasting kimchi is stored in room temperature for an average of six months to reach its full flavor.
After that delicious home style lunch, we all get the fabulous kimchi to take home. As Choi says “my mother will be thrilled with this kimchi, for her and all of us, it is more valuable to receive this than an Italian designer handbag” That’s how magical kimchi is!!!
Here in Seoul’s three Michelin starred Layeon I’m not just feasting on the brilliant Chef Sung il Kim’s refined and sublime Korean food but also learning about the basics and evolution of Korean food. Translating for me is the ever helpful
Yaeeji Kim. Balanced flavors and textures explode …from mellow flavors of Pinenut porridge to the perfect Bulgogi and bibimbap with banchan,. I do it all… beef tasting restaurant “ Born and bred” , fried chicken and beer (Chimac) eatery, Korean palace cuisine Hansikgonggan , Modern Korean “Mingles” European influenced Korean “Toc Toc”. Pure vegetarian temple cuisine in the mountains, a foodie blind date in “Balwoo Gongyang” but that is another story.