food

Review: BOTANICA CAFÉ AND DINER

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Perched opposite the Opera House, Botanica is  a 65 seater modern, bright, cheery and tile-floored space. The interiors are a mix of classic and contemporary with floor-to-ceiling glass windows. Read my detailed review on whatshot.in

At BOTANICA with superachievers, Ashiesh Shah flanked by Bimal Parekh (specs) and Sheetal Talwar
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THE DNA OF EATING RIGHT

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Deliciously exciting news! I’m getting definitive, scientific advice on what I should eat to lose weight, to detox, to be healthy. It’based on hardcore scientific genetic research. Nutrigenomics cracks the connection between diet and health and ensurethat everyone benefits from the genomic revolution. And all it takes is a saliva test. And that simply cracks the genetic code.

Spearheading this is renowned Biotechnologist Dr Vice Soljan of Nutrigenext Sàrl. He’s based in Switzerland but I’m fortunate to meet him in Dubai, after the Master Class given by him at Faarah Mehta’s amazing Maison Imperiale educational academy for adults.

And in the photograph, the food they are holding are what Faarah should eat to reach optimal health. Through that one simple saliva test for her genetic profile she has learnt what to eat and what exercises to do, simply superb and superbly simple. 

Faarah Mehta flanked by Dr Vice Soljan and fitness professional Danny.

ASTRONOMY WEDS GASTRONOMY

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Im tasting stars! Here in this remote and sensationally beautiful Thai island, many a magnificent  dinner based on cosmic cycles and Biodynamic viticulture  is redefining gastronomy. Do you see the huge telescope in the photograph? visiting astronomer and well-known scientist, Dr. Massimo Tarenghi used it to explain the relationship between the Cosmic/Lunar cycles and the pattern of water, earth, air and fire on our planet.  Brilliant chef Kengo Tomita’ creates  food  to match these rhythmic cycles and the knowledgable beverage maestro Melroy Fernandes pairs it with  unique biodyanamic and organic wines. As we dine on the lunar deck, time stands still in this magnificent back to nature Soneva Kiri surrounded by the shimmering Andaman sea. Love their philosophy of S.L.O.W.(  Sustainable Local Organic and Wellness) life. Its not just about serving up delicious experiences but also educating about the philosophy of Bio-dynamism and Sustainability. Holistic, barefoot luxury gets redefined.And my learning continues!

FOR THE BOX
Cosmic gastronomy: Chef Kengo Tomito flanked by astronomer scientist Dr Massimo Tarenghi and Beverage maestro Melory Fernandes.

Review: TALAIVA

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It’s not just about the Talaibagh (read Talaiva) palace food here. It’s about drinking…..dining,,,,,and dancing!  Disco lights, DJ music and entertainment in the nights (I went back a second night only to check this and Talaiva was packed). Plenty of innovative cocktails too.

Read my full review on whatshot.in

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Talaiva’s Rajasthani and continental fare.

Talaiva 2

ONCE IN A LIFETIME RECIPE

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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!’

 

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ASHA & R D BURMAN CHINGDI CHAAP.

THE LEGENDARY RECIPE

CHINGDI CHAAP

Ingredients
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

Method:

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

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ASHA BHOSLE DAZZLES.
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ASHAJI FLANKED BY ANAND BHOSLE, CHEF BOBBY GEETHA AND SUSAN POTTER.
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ASHA BHOSLE FEEDING RICHA MADAN.

GARMAGARAM NEWS

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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”

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Jacqueline Fernandez and Dharshan Munidasa at sizzle at Kaema Sutra.

REVIEW: PLENTY

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Comforting, quirky, cheerful. Nudged into cacophonic Fort, this two-levelled café is an oasis of calm.

Read my detailed review on whatshot.in

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At the heartwarming PLENTY with my foodie blind dates Namrata and Sapna Bajaj.

SUPERSTARS’ YUMMY SUPERHIT

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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

Chef Dharshan and Jacqueline
Superstars Jacqueline Fernandez and chef Dharshan Munidasa at “Kaema Sutra”
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Dharshan Munidasa, Savithri Rodrigo and Timothy Wright discuss Modern Srilankan cuisine.

 

 

Tuna Ambul Thial Recipe

Ingredients

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 

2 Cardamoms

2 Cloves

5g Salt

100ml water

 Method 

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.

FOR THE BOX (2)
Tuna Ambul Thial

GOURMET SUPERSTAR

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!

A TASTE OF LITTLE ENGLAND

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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.

FOR THE BOX (1)
Sweet history with Chef Priyantha and Tyrone David