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!
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
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)
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.
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.
Snacky mood? Hungry? nothing better than munching on Seed crackers
Prathima Manikandan uses only natural sugars with low glycemic index, finest of seeds, nuts and dryfruits to make these.
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!
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) email@example.com or twitter @rashmiudaysingh email firstname.lastname@example.org Call 9884065010
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!
I’m on top of the world. In more ways than one. Not just because Im close to heaven in this sunny cool 360 degree terrace bar. It’s the only one of it’s kind in Munich, the city of sophisticated charm and traditional Bavarian elegance. And right here just a few floors below, I’ve also stumbled upon my all time favorite Japanese maestro’s restaurant. The one hero who took Japanese food out of it’s obscure space and put it squarely on the world gourmet map. I refer of course to Nobu… Matsuhisa Nobuyuki. He infused vibrant Peruvian flavors into the pristine minimalistic Japanese cuisine and voila…conquered the world.
NOBU IN GERMANY
Exciting! When Nobu the Japanese maestro sets up his first outpost in Germany he pays homage to it by creating a very special dish using the local Kohlrabi. And not only is that a treat in itself but the brilliant chef very generously shares the recipe too. I’ve been a Matsuhisa Nobu fan past three decades. He came from Tokyo via Lima Peru and put his vibrantly delicious interpretation of Japanese cuisine on the world map. I’ve been following him around… learning cooking (in Paris) to meeting him in LA (at chef Wolfgang Pucks amazing charity dinner) to dining at many of Restaurants across the globe from Los Angeles to Dubai.No doubt my last visit to Munich was exciting, (for my TV show for ET Now in the October Fest (wearing the traditional dirndl of course) but this visit is amazing. Right here amidst the old city, the Altstadt, I find Nobu in the timelessly elegant Mandarin Oriental which combines modern design, contemporary luxury with it’s amazingly subtle oriental accents.
In the beautiful brown and gold restaurant, enrobed in natural materials including stone, leather and wood I taste bliss. Here, in Munich, his signature miso black cod is as lusciously addictive as ever and the specially created local dish of kohlrabi salad delights. The brilliant executive chef Vasili Papatheodorou and head sushi chef Shigeru Fujita continue the Nobu magic.
NOBU’ S RECIPE KOHLRABI Salad (can substitute with baby spinach).
“We use baby greens a lot at my restaurants. Leaf vegetables turn harsh
and bitter with age, younger ones just naturally taste fresher” says Nobu “Add
some Dry Miso and fried leeks, and you have a salad bowl full of umami.”
SERVES 2 TO 4
3 oz. (90g) Kohlrabi OR baby spinach
DRY MISO AND YUZU
4 tsp. (10 g) Dry Miso
- (30 g) fried leek (recipe follows)
Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (grated)
4 tsp. (10 g)
1 tsp. yuzu citrus juice
Extra virgin olive oil
Diced red bell pepper, for topping
Soak the baby spinach in ice water to crisp and drain.
Combine the baby spinach, Dry Miso, fried leek, Parmigiano-Reg-
giano, yuzu juice, truffle oil and extra virgin olive oil in a bowl and toss.
Arrange on a plate and top with bell pepper.
Makes 1 oz. (30 g)
3 in. (about 8 cm) white part of leek
Oil for deep-frying
Slash the leek lengthwise to open, and discard the inner core. Wash off the sand
between the layers under running cold water. Cut into thin shreds. Deep-fry in
low-temperature oil, about 300°F (150°C), until just before it begins to brown. Drain
on a wire rack in warm spot in the kitchen for 1 to 2 hours.
The just-fried leek looks soggy at first, but don’t worry Keeping the fried leek on a
wire rack in a warm part of the kitchen drains out the oil and turns the leek crispy.
It’s as close to heaven as I can get in Munich. Crowning the stunningly beautiful Neo Renaissance building ( 1880) is the Terrace.
Open during the summer months, The Terrace is one of Munich’s best-kept secrets. Not only do I dine sip cocktails , take a dip in the heated pool but also learn more about Munich from the gorgeous Rabea Keller and Isabelle Winter amid oriental statues and large potted plants. Love the chic Asian touches with a Mediterranean feel.
Feasting on the Asian, Mediterranean and Arabic dishes and the stunning view is a treat enough but then it gets chilli-hot…as the bartender shakes up a cocktail with a chilli. Here’s the recipe…
Virgin Tom ka Mhak
Shake together…Lime juice, pineapple juice, coconut syrup, lemon grass
YOUR ATTENTION PLEASE…WHATSHOT TASTING SESSION
Do you cook? Bake? Provide foodie services out of home? Would you like your work and yourself to be featured in this column? I will be in Chennai on the 12 TH JULY and holding a “Whats hot Tasting session” from 3pm to 6pm At Rajendra hall, ITC Grand Chola, Mount Road. To be part of it please email email@example.com and also firstname.lastname@example.org, instagram, tweet@rashmiudaysingh hashtag #whatshottastingchennai phone 9884065010. Waitingly yours. Excited to meet you and taste your work.