I admit. I have a big fat soft spot for Irani cafes. And I mourn their dwindling numbers as also the lack of good Parsi food restaurants in our city. So when I hear about Andheri’s brand new Irani café lookalike “House of Daaruwala” I dash across the city with big hopes through equally big traffic jams.
Read my full review in today’s Bombay Times.
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.
Sometimes a restaurant experience extends to more than just the food. It’s drawbacks become it’s charms… its tiny home-style space, its one man service, generous portions of the Korean owner-chef Sun’s (not sure if I’ve got her name right) blazing lustily spiced food.
Read my review in today’s Bombay Times.
Lights. Camera.Eat. So what if its minus two degrees in the Korean capital of Seoul. Here, on the TV set, under the bright lights, its sizzling hot. And what better way to learn about Korean food than from the maestro, 70 year young, legendary actress and chef Soomi Kim? And to be invited to cook and shoot on the sets of her hugely popular TV show. Superstar chef Hyun Seok Choi teaches me more fundamentals as does Jin Pyo Kim the mover and shaker of Seoul’s restaurant scene. All thanks to Jung Yum Choi Im learning how to make “kimchi” the traditional way. And tomorrow driving four hours to the mountains to the celebrated Buddhist monks monastery. To get her blessings and to eat her vegetarian food. Cant wait to learn from her how to make vegetarian kimchi. Need recipes? Please email firstname.lastname@example.org
“… yeh hai Bombay meri jaan”the old hindi song echoed in my ears, when I lunched at Bombay Vintage. It did so not just because I was lunching at a restaurant which serves up Bombay’s melting pot cuisines but even more because of my lovable guests (one was my #foodieblinddate) .
Read my full review in today’s Bombay Times.
Sure! I have dined in the gourmet capitals’ worlds best restaurants but this is the first time that I’m getting a taste of freshness redefined. Here under the stunningly vivid blue sky nestled in the north west coast of the beautiful Mauritius island is “On the rocks” Here the brilliant chef Igor Bochia conjures his simply superb and superbly simple magic. Freshest of fish, be it the Dorado, tuna or red snapper is grilled on the table, right in front of each diner. The sporty and sporting Nishal Seebaluck points out that their luxurious landmark not only specializes in food but also in water sports, snorkelling, scuba diving and more. They also serve up gourmet omakase Japanese, authentic Mauritian and Creole tasting menus, Superb Italian and Indian too. Cooking classes as well as Mauritian rum tasting classes. I raise a toast to the exquisite “On the Rocks” with the finest local rum…served up only on ice… on the rocks of course!
Rivaaz tucked into a four star hotel surprises with it’s robust and tasty Moghlai fare and it’s generous portions and affordable pricing (average meal for two Rs 1200). Should you happen to be in the vicinity… it s a must visit.
Read my full review on whatshot.in
WAITER, THERE’S A COLA IN MY FOOD
Unusual! Unique! First time ever! I taste a dish cooked in a cola. It has a strangely uplifting and cheering effect…much like the internationally renowned song “waka waka” (sung by the Colombian Shakira). This dish is her favorite…as is mine. It has a memorable deliciousness that ricochets on my taste buds, pampers my senses and stays in my memory forever. And the interesting part is that it is not a funky, innovation or modern fusion dish, it’s a traditional South American dish from Colombia’s beautiful, ancient walled city of Cartagena. And I taste it in the stunningly beautiful Legend of Santa Clara. It dates back to 1621 when it was a convent. Even now, every evening, there is the candle lighting ceremony done by the monks. Here history, lives and breathes and then dapper Richard Launay who helms this landmark ensures that along with high-tech all traditions are preserved. Nobel prize winning author Garcia Marquez has written an award winning book on the Legend of St Clara. Not only does the brilliant chef Dominique Oudin cook up this dish but also shares the recipe with me. And it’s only on checking around and doing my research that I find out that many a president, royalty, Bill Gates and even the internationally renowned singer Shakira (shot into fame with Waka Waka) is not only a Colombian but also a regular at Legend of Santa Clara and this dish along with Arripas huevos (egg in a corn batter) is a favourite of hers.
It has a long name and it s a dish composed of beef (cooked in a cola) plaintain and coconut rice. It has a masterful balance of flavours (savory and a kiss of sweet).
Posta negra Cartagenera, con platano en tentación y arroz de coco
“Cartagenian style beef with Temptation plantain and coconut rice”.
1.5 kg beef
350 g white onion
350 g carrot
1 clove garlic
5 branches of thyme
20 whole pepper
1 stick cinnamon
580g brown sugar
3 Lts water
20 ml vegetable oil
Take the beef meat, and clean it. Put half of the salt. Clean the vegetables and cut them in thick cubes.
In a frying pan, heat up the oil and seared the meat on all sides. Clean the pan with coke and add all the ingredients and the water.
Cook slowly for about 3 hours according the size of the meat.
Remove the beef. Sift the sauce and verify the flavors.
PLATANO EN TENTACIÓN
“ Temptation plantain”
6 ripped plantain
450ml Sweet cola (our icecream soda)
1 stick whole cinammon
10 Ud cloves
Remove the skin from the plantain and cut it in 4 pieces.
In a bowl add all the ingredients, and put the plantain in the mix.
In a sauce pan cook the plantains with the mix and let it cook in low until you get a caramel liquid.
Arroz de coco
I have the coconut rice recipe with me, should you need it please email email@example.com
Cut the beef in thin slices and wash with hot sauce.
Serve with coconut rice and ”temptation plantain”.
As much as I trip out on the traditional beef stew (recipe above) I could with equal joy write poems to avocado weds mango to black garlic weds beef and treetomato weds langoustine.All in Colombia finest legend SantaClara s 1621. And that too by brilliant 27 year young chef Andres Segura .
Brilliant marriage of Avocado with the fresh tartness of green mango in a crazily addictive Cold avocado and ginger soup with Sousvide Lobster tail. The degustation dinner of modern Colombian cuisine dazzles.
FRUITS OF LEARNING
My learning continues the next morning over the legendary breakfast… where chef Oudin escorts me through the authentic Colombian street food stalls… I even watch each dish being made. From the most popular
“patacon” plantain deep fried,
“Arripa de huevo” egg in a corn batter to the superb, freshly brewed Colombian coffee.
And through it all the colorful
“palanquera” in her traditional dress sparkles the breakfast room. The palanqueras are the traditional fruit sellers. So I bite into the juiciest freshest fruit and keep learning too. Having my fruit and eating it too!!!