recipe

Russia’s Veggie Wow And P.M. Modi

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I serve you a taste of Russia’s magnificent history and cuisine and with it a peek into our Prime Minister Modi’s most recent abode in the stunning St Petersburg. It’s awesome. It is Russia’s largest most beautiful Presidential suite and this is where our very own Prime Minister Modi stayed last month. It sprawls under a dramatic domed gold-leaf ceiling, has its own grand lobby and antique Carl Schroeder grand piano too. Two bedrooms, a private fitness centre, kitchen and this antique rosewood dining table under the magnificent handblown crystal chandeliers where we shot the photograph. In the past 142 years of it’s history, it has played host to global superstars, Hollywood movie moghuls, presidents and royalty. Bill Clinton, Whitney Houston, George Bernard Shaw and many more. The great Russian composer Tchaikovsky (my all time favourite) honeymooned here in the Belmond Grand Hotel Europe. This most iconic landmark has been witness to the history of the stunning St Petersburg.  Its Neo-Baroque and Art Nouveau building is now classified as a historical monument.

RUSSIAN VEGGIE WOWS
It is here in this icon that I get a taste of  Russian history, art, culture and food. Here is the surprise…also vegetarian food. Which of course would please our very vegetarian Prime Minister to no end. The multi-talented Chef Ian Christopher Minnis ensures the finest gourmet dinners here. He also oversees the amazing plethora of restaurants here. From St Petersburg’s most gastronomique L Europe restaurant (serving authentic Russian masterpieces) to the legendary caviar bar to the new Asian restaurant Azia which also serves some Indian dishes and has an Indian chef Dev Kathait. I do a tasting of their Asian vegetarian (including delicious dal, kababs and tandoori) in Azia. And request them for a second taste of the most amazing creation of pumpkin dimsum and he is kind enough to share the recipe of  the very traditional Russian Borscht soup (pure vegetarian). Chef de Cuisine Larisa Kordik conjures superb dishes (tandoor, steam and wok cooking techniques) and Ekaterina Vasiljeva not only helps translate but also coordinates everything seamlessly.

BORSCH SOUP

INGREDIENTS

Beetroot 160 gms/ Cabbage 120 gms/ Onion 20 gms/ Carrot 30 gms/ Vegetable Oil 50 gms/ Vegetable Broth 800 gms/ Tomato Paste 15 gms/ White Wine vinegar 5 gr/ Sugar 25 gr/ Black Pepper  0.5 gr/ Bayleaf  0.5 gr/ Lemon 5 gr/ Garlic 10 gr

Method

  • Clean & cut carrots, onions ( julienne ) and sauté in vegetable oil.
  • Add cabbage as well, ( the cabbage should be cut into julienne the same way as the carrots and onions. Gently sautewithout color to the vegetables.
  • Add tomato paste to the mixture, and gently saute a little further until it is not bitter.
  • Blanch the beet root in the skin until it is fully tender
  • Peel the  beet skin and shred  through a food processor, or Slice in thin long strips, (Keep beet juice  and add to soup just before serving.
  • Add vinegar,vegetable broth, stir and stew.  Add the bayleaf& shredded beet root. mix
  • In 5-10 min till ready, add salt, sugar and spices.( lemon and garlic)
  • Do Not boil hard as the color will disappear.

CAVIAR MASTER-CLASS

What better place to learn about and do a caviar tasting than in the home-country of this supreme epicurean pleasure? And even better in Russia’s only caviar restaurant, Caviar Bar & Restaurant, which serves only the best caviar with ice cold vodkas you won’t find anywhere else in the world. And I am fortunate to do so under the tutelage of Russia’s only full-time vodka sommelier and most knowledgeable caviar master Alexander Dmitriev.

Their menu boasts 15 types of caviar, 12 Dom Perignon vintages, 35 types of vodka and 15 varieties of distillate.

What is caviar? Interestingly, like only sparkling wine made in France’s district of Champagne can be called champagne, only fish eggs produced by the sturgeon fish can be called caviar. Russia’s been eating caviar since before the 14th century. The real black caviar comes from the sturgeons ystick. And this large fish (the biggest is Beluga) lives in the Caspian sea, Siberia and Sakhalin .
Caviar differs in colour texture and size depending on fish AND how it is produced. I learnt all about the production methods of production and preservation(which determine the taste and price of caviar)
Am dazzled by the types of caviar black caviar…sturgeon/ albino caviar from an albino sturgeon. Sturgeon fish family…Beluga fish is the biggest (oldest prehistoric fish) and has the biggest grains. Oscietra fish (16 types) Sevruga Sterlet (smallest grains) and Bester are the main varieties.
I taste the finest caviar, it is creamy, has a fishy flavour, of seaweed and even walnuts. It is intense creamy and not too salty. Is non pasteurised and made by the traditional method. I do a vodka and champagne pairing with it too and end up sipping and tasting Russia’s history in its grandest historic landmark…Belmond Grand hotel Europe.

Moscow Magic

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Its true. A photograph is worth a thousand words. This one which I shot (on the glamorous rooftop lounge of Moscow’s most luxurious and iconic hotel) speaks volumes. We are overlooking the spectacularly beautiful Red square (flanked by the Kremlin and the cathedrals) which has been witness to centuries of Russian history and culture and art. It continues to throb with the vibrance of modern Moscow. The focus of the photograph is the knowledgable and brilliant French executive chef Yoann Barnard who not only knows Russian cuisine really well but also explains the centuries of connection between French and Russian cuisines. At my request, he is holding my favourite Russian Syrniki. It also seems to be the favourite of Russians because it is eaten at breakfast, lunch and dinner. It can be eaten as a dessert too (its has a mild sweetness) and heres the surprise…it is vegetarian.It is made of paneer or cottage cheese (chef Bernard generously shares its recipe with us). So you see how in one photograph there is history, culture, the Franco-Russian culinary connection and the vegetarian aspect of Russian cuisine. And adding yet another dimension is the fact that I shot this photograph in Moscow’s uber hotspot rooftop lounge, perched on the Ritz Carlton hotel which is  clad in the classical gilded luxurious glamor of the Nineteeth century Russia. And this is the destination where the super celebrities, the young and happening parties and rocks together. This landmark of Moscow straddles the deliciousness of modern and traditional Russia and does so with impeccable signature service and graciousness…therein lies the  magic.

THE FRENCH CONNECTION

Did you know that during the reign of the Russian Tsars, the nobility spoke mainly  French? French food was the norm and many French chefs worked in the Tsars kitchens (including the famous French chef Anton Careme) and influenced Russian cooking. This French-Russian style continues to be popular even today. Chef Yoann Barnard explains how even the two cuisines have the same base.He works his magic through the magnificent restaurants of the Ritz Carlton. Here, where the dishes not only impress with their taste, but also delights the eye. Be it in the neoclassical Cafe Russe, the Lobby Lounge Bar in the style of a library with bookshelves and a fireplace hall also offers the  traditional Russian tea ceremonies. The ultramodern rooftop restaurant O2 lounge serves up amazingly vibrant fare.

All these restaurants are housed in the super glamorous Ritz Carlton with its Russian Empire style of the nineteenth century gilded, shimmering glamor. It is here that I first taste the delicious staples of not only the Russian French cuisine but also learn all about the Soviet cuisine.

A TASTE OF RUSSIA.

I learn all about how Peter the Great (ruled 1682–1725), invited a French chef in his court. It was during his reign that Russians began to serve meals in courses, rather than to serve all the food at once. Interestingly when French chefs returned home to France, they introduced popular Russian dishes too.

Also very interestingly Ivan III (ruled 1462–1505) and brought Italian craftsmen to Russia who not only built public buildings but also introduced pasta, frozen desserts and pastries to the Russian cuisine.

Then of course came the decline of Russian cuisine…during the USSR or Soviet period (Revolution in 1917 until 1981). In this period all restaurants were owned and operated by the government. There were food shortages and inefficient store management and food became very basic.  In 1981 President Mikhail Gorbachev started changing all that. Thankfully. And modern Russia began emerging. And there’s plenty more, of course there’s caviar, blinis…but that’s another story.

SYRNIKI

Delightful, soft and kissed with a mild sweetness, this all-time Russian favourite, Syrniki can be eaten on its own or drizzled with honey, sweet dressings, or jam. The ever helpful, brilliant chef Yoann Bernard who has travelled and worked all over the world takes time off to demystify Russian cuisine as do chefs Pavel Belyalov and Artyom Skotarenko. .

Ingredients

Cottage cheese — 200 gr /Eggs — 1 pcs/ Sugar — 10 gr/Flour — 20 gr/Vegetable oil — 20 gr/Sugar powder — to taste

Method

Mix together the cottage cheese, eggs, sugar and form rounds with a height of 2 cm and diameter of 6 cm by 40 cm each approximately. Sprinkle a little with flour and cook it on frying pan in the oil on both sides. Put it into the oven  (180°) for 6 minutes. Optional to devote with seasonal berries. Enjoy!

The Worlds Most Awesome Restaurant

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No two ways about it. This is the worlds most awesome restaurant. Here’s a restaurant where the worlds greatest chefs fly in from all over the world, to volunteer and cook ONLY for the homeless and the vulnerable. And to do so they use waste materials. This is it. The ultimate and most heart-touching and transformative use of gastronomy. It takes within it’s sweep a fight against food waste in support of social inclusion, feeding the homeless and the vulnerable. It’s a non-profit organisation, its aptly named “Food for Soul” and is founded by one of the worlds greatest, most brilliant chefs Massimo Bottura whose mindblowing “Osteria francescana” was judged the worlds best restaurant last year. Lara and Massimo Bottura are blessed alchemists and their non-stop dedication to this selfless work is truly awesome. “Chefs have risen to celebrity heights,” Chef Bottura commented. “I believe we, chefs, can reflect these lights to illuminate the most pressing issues facing society today. Cooking is a call to act.” And sure enough they are using this in many amazing ways to change the world. I could write a book on those, but  due to space constraint have to limit myself to Food for Soul today.

THE AWESOME COMMUNITY KITCHEN

It’s a privilege and a blessing. I came to London, only to be able to volunteer as a part-time waitress in Lara and Massimo Bottura’s truly noble and innovative “Food For Soul”. They’ve set up this community kitchen and restaurant  Refettorio Felix to provide lunch from Monday toFriday for the homeless and other vulnerable groups from surplus produce supplied by The Felix Project. The aim is to serve more than 2,000 meals using five tonnes of recovered food. The community kitchen is based on Food for Soul’s highly successful Refettorios established in Milan and Rio de Janeiro opened during the 2016 Olympic Games.

It was a great experience to be in the beautiful and elegant Refettorio felix. It was set up in St Cuthbert’s Centre in Earl’s Court the historic community space underwent an ambitious six-week makeover by Charles Wainwright and Ilse Crawford. It is a beautiful space infused with art and design  and it brings a new sense of dignity to the table, showing how aesthetics and ethics go hand in hand.

More than 30 leading British and international chefs have already accepted the call to action from Massimo Bottura to cook in the Refettorio.  Michelin starred chefs Alain Ducasse, Daniel Boulud, Jamie Oliver, Ashley Palmer-Watts, Jason Atherton, Monica Galetti, Nuno Mendes  and many more turning surplus ingredients into a delicious menu. I was privileged to watch the brilliant and highly gifted Michel Roux jr and his daughter Emily (of the legendary Le Gavaroche) and Jonny Lake (of the iconic Fat Duck) in action. And on the day that I excitedly watch Georgio Locatelli (of the award winning Locanda Locatelli) the dynamic Charles Reed, chief of the  trailblazing Worlds 50 best restaurant Academy was also there to support this noble venture.

 YOU CAN BE A PART OF IT TOO

Following the month-long June festival, Refettorio Felix will continue to operate and provide a vital community service for years to come. With the support of Food for Soul and its partner, The Felix Project, meals will be prepared by two resident cooks with  assistance from a guest chef. If you are a chef and visiting London you can volunteer to cook for a day. Should you be visiting London and want to volunteer to help to serve or help out you can do so too. Reach out to info@foodforsoul.it

MASSIMO’s Breadcrumb Pesto

Here’s the recipe which maestro Massimo Bottura cooked up on the very first day launch of “Food for Soul” Refettorio felix.

Ingredients
Serves 4- 400g Artisanal dried Pasta (spaghetti)/ 1 garlic clove/120g fresh basil leaves (if you don’t have enough basil, use parsley, mint, and gentle green herbs – not rosemary )/ 50g  breadcrumbs /salt (1g)/100g grated Parmigiano Reggiano / 70g extra virgin olive oil (preferably chilled 3 hours)/ 30g cold water

Place the garlic, bread crumbs, basil and mint, and salt in a food processor and pulse. While the machine is running, drizzle in the oil and the water alternatively through the feed tube, stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides. Transfer to a large serving bowl and stir in the Parmesan.Cook the pasta according to the package directions (al dente).

Strain the Pasta without rinsing, add the pasta to the bowl with pesto, stir gently and serve warm. Enjoy!

The Diverse Flavors of Shanghai

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Today I serve up a taste of the glamorous, vibrant “Paris of the East” I write from shiny Shanghai. Its the most modern, cosmopolitan city of China and it seems to be on steroids. Yet there is a core of history and the grace and elegance of it’s heyday in the thirties that still lives on. So I serve up a flavor  of two of the most icònic landmarks… the històric grand Fairmont Peace on the Bund (it’s founder Victor Sassoon and family made a lot of their wealth in Mumbai and India)  and the very modern Urban resort, The Puli.

LEGENDARY LANDMARK

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AT THE OLDEST SHANGHAINESE RESTAURANT IN THE PEACE ON THE BUND. CHEF MA, GEORGE WEE, JESSICA ZHANG

I not only soak in the luxury of this exquisite classical masterpiece but also lunch at the oldest Shanghainese cuisine restaurant of Shanghai here. The clàssic grand art deco històric Peace on the Bund (it s the only hotel in the world which has it’s own museum was the toast of the Far East in the 30s. It is located on the Bund (overlooking the HuangPo river) which is a centennial epitome of Shanghai itself. This classical architectural masterpiece started off as Sassoon House in 1929 and rich history tangos with modern luxury here. And whoa! Chinese Masterchef Ma coaxes the most vibrant flavors and textures using the traditional caramelised sweetness with soy sauce and more. Sweet and sour, the typical Shanghai taste  shines through and yet the original flavors of the raw ingredients are also preserved. Interestingly while he serves the most classical Shanghainese dishes he also adds contemporary interpretations and plates them artfully. The dynamic George Wee — who helms this landmark along with the ever helpful Jessica Zhang translate Chef Ma’s explanations. I revel in the most amazing bamboo shoots lacquered with soy, the crazily addictive, crunchy skinned Peace Duck , the creamy sago mango dessert to the crunchy marinated cucumbers (Masterchef ma generously shares the rècipe). All the while soaking in the històric rich red and gold details of the restaurant and the serene river view from the large Windows.

MARINATED CUCUMBER

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Cucumber:  500 g /Soya sauce: 80g

Sugar: 160g /Vinegar: 60g

Salt: 5g /Garlic (sliced): 10g

Ginger: 10g /Chili: 10g

Slice the cucumber and marinate with the above sauces for 24 hours and plate it.

MODERN MAJESTY

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MICHELIN STARRED PHENIX, AT THE PULI…Chef MICHAEL WILSON and KELLY KUO

What a super surprising contrast. Glimmering, shiny hoardings of the globe’s leading cosmopolitan brands festoon the gleaming buildings. And in the midst of this crazy cacophonic area in the throbbing heart of Shanghai is located a relaxed, zen like zone of Peace.  Handcrafted textures, the finest of natural materials weave a charming relaxed ambiance in the most modern icon The Puli.  Its been justifiably hailed as a “modern urban luxurious  resort”,  “a seductive sanctuary that guarantees a relaxing escape from the heart Racing city”. And in keeping with it’s sophisticated cosmpolitian essence, it’s French restaurant Phenix is not only hugely popular but has also been awarded a Michelin star. And further in keeping with it’s cosmopolitan essence, the Australian chef Michael Wilson creates light and delightful French masterpieces, which I enjoy with Kelly Kuo in the modren elegant restaurant overlooking the lush green park. Be it the Cod, the yoghurt compressed strawberry desert, violet ice cream.. Even the humble potato is elevated to luxurious creaminess. Its  a very simple rècipe, but its the ratio of the butter to the potato that is important as is the addition of the hot milk. The nutmeg gives it that special festive touch.

Pomme puree

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1kg  potatoes /Good quality butter

Nutmeg /Salt /Fresh truffles (optional)

Peel and cut potatoes into equal size pieces

Boil in salted water till tender

Strain and leave for 3 mins for residual water to evaporate

Mash potato by pushing through a fine sieve. For every 500g of potato add 200g butter.Mix the butter into the potato and add some hot milk to thin the mix

Season with salt and nutmeg

When availaible shave fresh truffles on top just before serving

Luxurious Veggie Wow

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Luxury gets redefined, Claire Huang, Jasmine Webb with Chef Dayan Hartill-Law at Vanitas

I’m in “the worlds most stylish restaurant” . And what am I getting most dazzled by? I am not only amazed at how vegetables parade in their classical, sophisticated swagger yet burst with flavour and freshness, but also with the flavours of our very own Madras Onion and curry powder which is elevated to stratospheric heights (please see photo and recipe) .  Can vegetarian dishes be so luxurious? Or wow with their masterly balance of  textures and flavours? Be art on a plate and a seduction of the palate? For sure. And where else except in Vanita’s, which the internationally acknowledged Harpers magazine justifiably declared  the worlds most stylish restaurant.

It preens stylishly in the worlds first ever fashion-branded hotel, Palazzo Versace which is raising the gold standard here. Palazzo Versace  sprawls luxuriously in the Gold Coast. The transcendence of Italian design shines through the marbles and mosaics, vaulted ceilings hand-detailed in gold.

And luxury just became more unique and bespoke as the stunningly beautiful and everhelpful Jasmine Webb takes me on their unique “Glamour E Lusso“ in their custom made Rolls Royce phantom (Versace cushions et al ). We glide  to the recently revamped  and magnificent Pacific Fare. Not only does the expert stylist guide me through the amazing mall,champagne and chocolates et al  but we also stop by for the Chinese Yumcha.

And on return,  a stone and seasalt Japanese therapy gets me all rejuvenated for Chef Dayan  Hartill-Law’s gourmet dinner in the Vanitas restaurant.

Having honed his skills under the worlds best chefs, like Heston Blumenthal  and helmed many a leading restort, Chef Dayan has developed his own inimitable style. Finedining gets redefined. Dom Perignon sparkles our  winepaired degustation  dinner. Freshest of produce & vibrant flavors implode on our taste-buds. I opt for a mainly vegetarian menu. I love the Evolution of seasonal snacks  from the ceviche  (juicy watermelon, crunchy radish and fingerlime ). The humble potato is elevated to a gourmet status as it is paired with kombu, the fleshy  portobello  and the flavor packed porcini. Its the  Madras onion  that fascinates.  Of course I do try the superb Lamb made intense  with black garlic jus  but its Chef Dayan’s  vegetarian fare that suprises and seduces. The finale  dessert  of the finest French chocolate  and peppermint leaves the sweetest taste. As does my conversation with the vivacious and brilliant Claire Huang  who  helms this iconic landmark. She epitomises style as well as substance, much as the superstylish “Palazzo Versace” does.

Palazzo Versace’s Madras Onion

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Madras curry powder

2 tbsp coriander seeds 1 tbsp cumin seeds /1 tsp fenugreek

1 stick cassia bark /10 cardamom pods /1 tsp black peppercorns /5 dried red chillies /25 small curry leaves

2 tbsp ground turmeric

Toast all individually until fragrant, then grind till all smooth.

Onion

4 brown onions /4 heaped teaspoons curry powder

100ml olive oil /5g sea salt flakes

Peel onions down to the size of a small apple, leaving the top and bottom intact. Place all in sous vide bag and compress on highest setting then, cook at 68 degrees for 8 hours.

Raspberry pickle

500ml white wine vinegar / 1 punnet raspberries

Bring to a simmer and allow to infuse for 2 hours.

Carrot pickle

1 bunch baby carrots / 500ml above pickle

Peel and clean carrots. Then slice on a mandolin at 3mm thick. Then pour over warm pickle and reserve for 1 hour. Once cooled remove the carrots from the pickle and roll into cylinders.

Chef had also included Onion foam  and  carrot and botrytis in the recipe but this maybe difficult to make at home since ingredients are not available here so am not including it. It does take away from the final dish but even just the onion with the carrot and raspberry pickle tastes and looks superb,

Place the cylinders of carrot (carrot pickle)  around in a circle big enough to fit the onion on, Then cut the base of the onion off  and place on the carrots. I tried this myself and home and soft and fleshy onion tastes sublime with tangy carrots.

My Paradise Peru

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Dining at the most Romantic South American resort, with Thomas Moons and Tula Casteneda.

I write from foodie Paradise.  And what a magnificent gigantic one.  From the frozen peaks of the Andes to the roaring Pacific ocean, the deepest jungles of the Amazon, sand dunes, ancient Inca civilizations, Machu Picchu and the bustling gastronomic capital of Lima. Each region produces a staggering wealth of produce, vegetables, fruit, herbs, grains…you name it. And this great geographic and cultural diversity has brought ingredients ranging from highland tubers to tropical jungle fruits to a complex cuisine of Spanish, indigenous, African and Asian influence. For sure this vast country translates to paradise for us foodies. Ceviche with slivers of fiery chili and corn, slow-simmered stews, velvety Amazonian chocolate. I explore the bounty of food markets, sample grilled anticuchos (beef skewers) on the street corners  and (thanks to my co-chairperson of the Worlds 50 Best Restaurant Academy,   Diego Salazar) dine at the finest restaurants of Lima. But most excitingly, I check out Peru for Vegetarians (ably guided by Maria Jose, Sabrina Chaves, Elda Cantu) It’s a deliciously gourmet Vegetarian paradise too.

FROM LIMA TO THE SACRED VALLEY

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Lunching in the Sacred Valley with Chef Cesare Landau and Cesare Chiara

Please take a look at the accompanying photograph shot in the  globally awarded “Most Romantic resort of South America”. Im feasting not just on the superb Peruvian food but also on the stunning views. Dining on this luxurious rooftop with the glorious coastline of the Pacific ocean below,  is one of the many  memorable experiences that Belmond Miraflores Park serves up.  Helming it is the dynamic Thomas Moons with global experience and training as a chef too.  Lima born Tula Castaneda delights with her knowledge of  Peruvian cuisine. I lunch with them at their renowned  Tragaluz restaurant, chef Jean Paul Barbier’s quinoa tabouleh with  beetroot, mushrooms, watercress, makes a masterpiece out of potatoes with the Peruvian Yellow chilli,porcon mushrooms with truffle sauce and more. August Baert’s Tragaluz delights. Not only is the finest Peruvian chocolate used here, but their superb spa gives me a Chocolate massage too. This is definitely my idea of having my chocolate and eating it too.

In the Sacred valley ( an hour’s flight away from the bustling city of Lima) nature preens in all her magnificence. And it is here in the Belmond Rio Segredo,  that I lunch by the shimmering River Urubamba with the brilliant chef Cesar Landau. In the mellow sunshine of the Sacred valley, Chef Cesar’s creative cuisine with Peruvian ingredients delights, be it the tomato tree with water melon gazpacho, vegetarian ceviche with asparagus, mushroom and seaweed from the lake or the quinoa risotto.

I also get a superb Pisco tasting session from the knowledgable Cesar Chiara.

This award winning national drink is the purest brandy, and from the 8 grapes, two types of Piscos (aromatic and non aromatic)are made. I learn all about that famous  lemon, sugar and white of egg based cocktail Pisco sour. All this in the beautiful glassed in bar and restaurant overlooking the stunning gardens of the Rio Segredo. Close by the salt mines of Maras produce the delicious Maras salt from the ancient  times of the Incas. I can taste this vibrant salt in all my food and when it is used as a scrub in the Willka spa, it revitalizes me and Im ready to feast on Rio Segredo’s banquet again.

QUINOA RISOTTO

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Veggie Peru on a plate: Quinoa and avocado in the sacred valley’s Rio Segredo.

Here’s Chef Cesar Landau’s recipe . A delicious creamy way to  cook  the healthy, protein rich, gluten free quinoa. You can add or omit the vegetables.

Ingredients:

70 gr quinoa/40 gr mushrooms/20 gr zucchini

50 gr cream of milk/30 ml broth of vegetables/ 30 gr parmesan cheese/

2 gr chopped garlic/3 spears of asparagus/ 1  cherry tomato/

20 ml olive oil/5 ml truffle oil/Salt

Black pepper

Method

Boil water with rosemary in a pan. When the water is boiling add the quinoa. Cook for 20 minutes. Rinse the quinoa and let cool

In a frying pan, add olive oil, garlic and let cook till garlic turns golden. Then add the mushrooms, the zucchini and sauté. Then add the quinoa and the cream and let it reduce.

At the end check the salt and the parmesan cheese.Before serving, drizzle with  truffle oil.Grill the asparagus and served on  top.

My delicious discoveries

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Whoa ! What talent! What creativity and what a variety! Each time I conduct our “whats hot tasting session”  for home chefs, caterers and bakers in Chennai I get delighted …and impressed. We conduct this just before the iconic grand  dame, The Connemara went under revamp to emerge more beautiful than ever. Today, I serve up three yummy options…from eggless desserts and cakes to ready to cook chapattis and a culinary recreation school too.

SPRINKLES

Looking for  eggless (strictly) cakes and desserts? Cake pop bouquets, dessert cups, cupcakes, brownies and more? 100%veg mousse cups and dessert cups

The forever helpful Afzal Khan not only organises everything but also helps me with the tastings. He points out that their themed cake pops and cupcakes are delicious and sure-fire kiddie favourites.

Call the talented  Ayushi & Akshita Agarwal of  Sprinkles. Both are student entrepreneurs, use only the finest ingredients and take great pains to take ensure that their patisserie delights their clients. They take a minimum Order: for mini cupcakes and cake pops minimum order is 10 pieces while for brownies its 6 pcs

Aminjikarai, near Ampa Skywalk

Phone: 9840277690

Email: sprinklescakepops@yahoo.in

FOODOLOGY

How about celebrating and learning and eating…all at the same time? Unique and interesting food classes?  Mom/Dad& Me, Couples Date Night, Kids Parties, Mom & me, Dad& me etc. Go check out this creative recreational culinary studio.

A great way to have kiddie parties and spend quality time with your kids. Entertaining and Educational Cooking Experience for Toddlers to Teens.

A delicious way to celebrate! Couples that cook together, stay together! Create a meal that will be memorable and romantic!

Take a look the fun group photograph of the founder Shree Periakaruppan as well as a few of her culinary team. From Bee Bee Martinet’s Malaysian fare to, Tasneem Ayub’s Moghlai to Neelima Sriram’s vegan and vegetarian offerings.

Damayanthi Paul, teaches Sri Lankan cuisine. Kamalika Krishmy. Winner of Superfchef is sought after for desserts, baking and Indian Food!Sumi Shroff specialises in punjabi, fusion and kids menuPreethi  Venkatramani ,Baker Shyamala Sivaraman  and ChefNaren specialises in  Arabic  and international cuisine.  The founder Shree Periakaruppan a dynamic IT professional having lived for over a decade in Washington (and honed her cooking skills) set up Foodology two years ago. Since then, she has had Chennai eating out of her hands.

3A, Second Main Road, Kasturibai Nagar, Adyar. Landline: +91 24454885 and 900 305 4885. foodologychennai@gmail.com

DESI FOOD

Here’s an amazing success story built around ready to eat chapattis.  S. Srinivasan  left his successful corporate career and his wife Uma also quit her job  to take care of the production where two other women help her knead, roll out and seal chapattis. She continues to be a foodblogger.   Giving me his expert palatte opinion, is The Conemmara’s brilliant executive chef Jaffer Ali. We conducted this Whatshottasting session The couple began by supplying 350 ready-to-eat chappatis a day. Today, on an average, the unit at Madipakkam rolls out 3,000 every day.

Ofcourse, they did not stop there.  Snacks, healthy options and more. Chapatis, Pooris, Methi Chapatis and Ragi Chapatis, made with hygienic manufacturing and packing process ensures that the  freshness of the Chapati is retained.  High quality whole wheat flour, oil, salt and mineral water are used. Organic food including samosa, ragi rolls and short eats and podis. Bulk orders, snacks for Events are all part of their repertoire.

Plot No 3032, 1st Floor, 6th Main Road, Ramnagar South, Madipakkam, Chennai 600091

Phone: 9500021540 / 9962530871 / 044-22580049

Email:desifoods.chennai@gmail.com

AN OPEN INVITATION

Are you a home chef? Conduct any foodie services out of home? Would you like to be part of our next “Whatshottasting session’? Please mail your details of work and contact to  rashmiudaysingh2016@gmail.com,  instagram, twitter @rashmiudaysingh Please put “Chennai whatshottasting in the subject line.

Whats Hot Tasting Session

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Talent Unlimited: L to R – Varun Ahuja and Anuj Bagri, Bharti and Bhavna Kumar, Mani Vinaik, Mugdha Agnihortri, Geetha Shridhar, Amna Shehzad Furniturewala, Mrudula Putchahas, AN Malhotra (centre) Radhika Ichhpuniani, Baijul Rathod.

Please excuse me if I’m getting carried away. I can’t contain my excitement at discovering Mumbai’s talented home chefs.  And this #Whatshottastingsession is organised specifically for our very own “Times Food guide 2017” which is being readied for  going to press.  On a rained out evening, we meet (fittingly enough) at the city’s landmark, iconic sixty year old Gaylord and the ever gracious AN Malhotra  plays host to Mumbai’s most talented taste-magicians. I’m grateful to the ever helpful team at Gaylord and also to the home chefs who’ve come all the way from Thane, Ghatkopar, Mulund, Mira Road…Im so happy. Cant stop smiling.

Breakfast & Bites | Worli | 9821086711

Looking for healthful and yummy fare? Call Mother-daughter team of Bharti and Bhavna Kumar. Crunchy and nutty bowl of muesli, Honey Nut Granola and Savory Oat Crisps (Matri), yummy trail mixes and Oatmeal Cookies, too.

Amshefs Gourmet | Bandra (W) | 9820769788

Party time? How about  a variety of sinful dessert dips like Cookie dough dip, Nutella Caramel Cheesecake dip and more ? .yum Golden Addictive hotseller (roasted almond n caramel popcorn clusters with a hint of salted caramel)? Amna Shehzad Furniturewala makes all this and more.

Through The Food Door | Thane | 9987090418

Mani Vinaik’s ‘Chocolaticious’ Brownies, boozy bakes and coloured ganache have a fan following. Try her decadent Cream Cheese Pound Cake. This  expert at catering for kiddie parties; is also known for themed cupcakes and Lasagne.

Rainbow Rasoi | Powai | 9892098240

Radhika Ichhpuniani (A highly qualified CA  turned chef)  takes catering orders from her FSSAI certified home kitchen and dishes up delicious vegetarian Italian, Mexican and Indian fare. Mini Pizza Uthapams and Mexican rice are a must-try!

IndiKitchen | Mahalakshmi | 7045313491

This food delivery service  by youngsters from the corporate world ( Alok Shah, Chirag Arya, Varun Ahuja and Anuj Bagri) serves it all…  Breakfast, lunch, snacks and dinner. Try the Biryani, Chicken Kalimiti and the range of Wow Paws.

Cup-a-Luscious | Mulund (W) | 9833042828

Eggless delights: Chocolate Strawberry Dessert Jars, Pushpops, and customized cupcakes with fondant. Blueberry cupcake takes the cake! Baijul Rathod 26-year-old freelance architect take a bow.

The Humble Pie | Ghaktopar (W) | 9880069696

A network engineer turned pastry chef, MrudulaPutchahas adiploma in patisserie from Lavonne Academy of Pastry Arts. Pies, Tarts, Cookies, Brownies, Cakes and Cupcakes, she does them all. My favourite: Sticky Toffee Pudding in a dessert jar.

Indian Food Express | Sion (E) | 9969134995

Found. Home made and fabulous  my favorite Mulgapudi Gunpowder, Sambar Powder, Rassam Powder and the softest idlis. A teacher, marathon runner and social entrepreneur,Geetha Shridhar  has been featured in many cookery shows for her famed BisiBele Bhath.

The Hungry Momma | Mira Road | 9820502049

CallMugdhaAgnihortri for catering orders for Kiddie Parties and house gatherings. Dhansak, Indian Street Food, ChingriMalai Curry, DaalPakwan, dips, and fish pickle. Brownies, muffins, cupcakes to mousse and  Jar Desserts.