food love

Review: CAFÉ ARPAN

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I’m an admirer. I have a big fat soft corner for the restaurateurs who use their restaurant not just to make more and more money (nothing wrong with that) but also for a good cause. To help the differently abled.

Read my full review in today’s Bombay Times!

Cafe Arpan 1
FEELING GOOD With Arjun, Siddhartha and Namrata Chatterjee. With the Café Arpan staff 
(Samvit Desai, Anand Jangir, Nazneen Kagalwala, Nandini Rajwade, Aarti Nagarkar  in the background).
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Recipe: DORIYAKI PANCAKE & WATALAPPAM

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FEASTING REDEFINED…

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.

LEAD PHOTO
In the Boiler room Masterchef Priyantha  gourmet dining with Tyrone David and Chinthana Bandara.

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.

DORIYAKI PANCAKE
Doriyaki pancake.

DORIYAKI PANCAKE

(Batter)

100 grs Wheat  Flour

01 tablespoon Sugar

01 Egg

02 tablespoon Bees honey

01 tablespoon Mirin Vinegar

70 ml Milk.

Pan fry this batter into a pancake.

(Filling)

200 grs Whipped Cream, Chocolate Sauce with Ice Cream.

Optional…10 grs Green Tea Powder / Sweet red bean

HIGH TEA.....NATURALLY
High tea..naturally. 

IMG-20180813-WA0276BRIT-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

WATALPPAN
Watalappam for high tea.

WATALAPPAM

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.

METHOD:

  1. 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

Deepasri Kar
Deepasree Kar and her Piggy bread. 

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.

Website: hamareerasoi.com

Instagram @hamareerasoi

9884868162

MY COLOMBO #FOODIEBLINDDATE

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Such fun to not only taste traditional homestyle Sri Lankan cuisine in a village setting under a 100.year old banyan tree but to do.so with my gorgeous #foodieblinddate

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.

FOR THE BOX (18)
At Nuga gama with Sonali Wijeratne my foodie blind date.

Review: EFFINGUT

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Pune’s Effingut opens in Colaba (in place of  Alibaba). Effingut serves up comfort, music, and fun and that’s why it is buzzing and mobbed. And that explains why even on a weeknight it’s Effingut.

Please read my full review on whatshot.in

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

Review: XICO

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Atlast! Mexico in Mumbai. Authentic ingredients, ( Hass avocados, homemade ground Masa for  tortillas, Mexican Cheese  Cotija, Requeson , Queso Fresco, Mole sauce too).

Read my full review on whatshot.in

Xico 6
XICO: Freshly made  guacamole on the table by Deepak Dining with Shamit , Nina and PK Vasa.  

HOME TALENT UNLIMITED

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Please take a look at the accompanying photograph! What you can see are Chennai’s super-talented home-bakers and caterers. The youngest twosome are eighteen years old.  What you cant see are their tasty and innovative creations which they brought along to our “Whats Hot Tasting Session” held a few days ago.

Chennai foodie 1
HOT HAPPENING HOME TALENT…

A SNEAK PEAK

So here it is, just a quick peak at our newly discovered foodie talent. Due to space constraint I can only give a one line intro to each. To get  complete details you’ll have to wait for my friday column every fortnight. Are you particular about home-cooked fare? Looking for gluten-free? Healthful? Vegan? Pickles? Luxuriously sinful? Your search ends here.  From home made probiotics to home made strawberry and gin icecream, from vegan peanut chocolate cups to prawn pickle. Each one brought their samples to taste and set them up in the hall, on the display tables  graciously provided by the multi-talented chef Ajit Bangera in the ITC Grand Chola. We sipped tea and tasted each one’s creations, shot photos on the grand staircase and moved onto the lush green gardens outside, Thanks Anjali Sharma, Chef Sai Chand,  Chef Ajit Bangera, Sanjukhtaa Roy, Sayani Sinha Roy for making this Whats hot tasting session possible.  A memorably delicious evening.

BAGS OF GOODNESS

Palagapattu Bags

We just have to buy these cloth bags…  bags  made by women whose husband’s were farmers and who committed suicide because of drought. The sale of bags is their only source of income.

Sara koshy And Smitha Kuttaya brought these to our “Whatshottastingsession”  These cloth bags are perfect to hold cake boxes, for vegetable shopping, etc (Smitha is holding one in the photograph)

 

VIVA VEGAN

Would you believe that the most delicious peanut chocolate cups, also fudge brownie in a jar, are sans white sugar and actually vegan too? We have two 18 year olds Ranjani  and Akhil of Herbistore to thank for these. Baking Organic vegan chocolate cake is Smitha Kuttayya ‘s specialty. No maida, or preservative. And only Sulpher free sugar. Global theeni is her brand name and Pork chicken prawn pickle are her other specials.

Smitha Kuttayya (4)

 

HEALTHFUL …from sprouts to probiotics

You name it…alfa alfa, moong ,moth, black horsegram, brown horsegram, methi, peanuts, masoor, wheat, ragi ,jowar… Shobha Golecha sprouts it all. From organic grains and only on order basis. She also teaches  and advises on various ways to enrich dishes as well as new recipes.

 

I’m a great believer in the benefits of probiotics. I’m excited. This is the first time that I taste home-made probiotics. Abha Appaswamy makes the most delicious and much needed Kombucha, Milk Kefir, Beet Kvass, Ginger Ale. She also makes  Sauerkraut, Korean Kimchi, Hummus. All products contain live beneficial bacteria.Abha s Probiotics (3)

Snacky mood? Hungry? nothing better than munching on Seed crackers

Granola bars

Prathima Manikandan uses only natural sugars with low glycemic index, finest of seeds, nuts and dryfruits to make these. Pratima Manikandan (3)

WE ALL SCREAM FOR…

Get high on icecream! Literally too! Roasted strawberry in gin,

Bailey’s ice cream cake are Bhavana Arya’s signatures. Feeling particularly celebratory?

She makes Motichoor ladoo ice cream too.

 Named “Intox” (short for intoxication) she adds alcohol to some but ensures  that no colour or essence or sugar is used.

Jumana huzefa bakes tarts from millet and  tops them deliciously with zucchini and cheese. Delightful

Amaranth cookies, Granola with almond, blueberry  and gluten free oats.

Hummus fans, 24 year old Anoli Mavani not only makes ten different hummus flavors but makes the tahini at home too. Ask for her eggless whole wheat Walnut cake too.

Sweet finale? Baking is a passion with 23 year old Samyuktha Vale. The result? Most delicious

Earl grey short bread.

Baked mango cheese cake and the crazily addictive flourless chocolate cake. She also bakes Vegan desserts to Wedding cakes. Go ahead pig out…Ever had a kheema stuffed, pig shaped bread? Deepasri Kar Specialize in bread.Chicken Stuffed Braided Bread Pumpkin buns and more.

Home sick Gujaratis ask for Paruls’ classic Chundo and Methiya Keri.  Many a seasonal vegetable  pickle too.

Juhina Sabrina Samuel’s Andhra Chicken malabar fish konkani prawn pickles are her forte.And her wine (black currant jaggery cinnamon) is in great demand too. Home made! Ofcourse!Hamaree rasoi (2)Samyuktha Vale (2)

Cheers!

BE PART OF OUR NEXT WHATS HOT TASTING SESSION

Should you want to be be part of this “whats hot tastingsession” please email your details (background, specialities, pricing, home delivery, contact details) rashmiudaysingh18@gmail.cominstagram or twitter @rashmiudaysingh email anjalisharma966@gmail.com Call 9884065010

PATIALA IN BERLIN

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Jai ho! In Berlin’s magnificent, over a century old legendary landmark Adlon, there’s a beautiful Indian connection. Not only did the Maharaja of Patiala stay here regularly, ( as did and still do global royalty, heads of state, Hollywood and Bollywood superstars) but he also gifted Adlon a priceless elephant fountain (please see photograph) which occupies pride of place  in the throbbing heart of the hotel. In front of this elephant fountain I catch up with the charming, knowledgeable Sabina Held and the celebrated chef Hendrik Otto of the two Michelin starred restaurant, Lorenz Adlon Esszimmer . Here I have an amazing meal of vegetarian masterpieces too. This, since  Im researching vegetarian dining in Berlin. Masterpieces of flavour and texture dazzle as I dine with Bandana Tewari (who is here to address Ethical fashion at the Berlin fashion week). I taste it all. Including the comfort cuisine, as I  wallop the signature Berlin currywurst  in Adlon’s other restaurant.  In fact Adlon offers it all, including yoga sessions, singing bowl healings, meditations and more by Vijay Kumar Vyas. Jai ho!

FOR THE BOX (17)
Michelin starred Chef Hendrik Otto, Sabina Held, Vijay Kumar Vyas in front of Maharaja Patiala’s Elephant fountain at the historic Adlon.

Review: PLATE & PINT

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Charming surprise! Go past the long, brightly lit, wood-panelled corridor into alcove like rooms. Bakery counter, high table and chairs, booths, black and white floor, huge TV screen, large glass windows with green  foliage complete the decor.

Read my full review in today’s Bombay Times!