travel diaries

Recipe: MAIDEN SHANGHAI DIM SUM

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THIS MAIDEN TOUCHES THE HEART

I had no idea that “dimsum” translates to “touch the heart”. All I knew is that over the years Ive loved the little steamed, parcels of Chinese delight. And on my recent visit to China I completely tripped out on dimsum. Of all kinds. On returning from China I was hankering for authentic Chinese food.  Here’s the delicious ironiy: It happened again and again. My heart was touched. And that too in Dubai. It wasn’t just the superb dimsum and authentic Chinese food that did it but even  the stunning views and the  evolutionary designs that represent Chinese culture over the generations. Making waves in Dubai, this sexily glamorous, three floored Maiden Shanghai is strategically located in the  cutting edge, Five Palm Jumeirah Dubai. And  here I am on a perpetual feast, from the moment I enter the sparkling glass-clad jewel soaring directly over the Arabian Gulf, and walk into the  pioneering design and trailblazing, amphitheatre inspired architectural masterpiece .

Within the timeless interiors a

recurring honeycomb

hexagonal pattern runs throughout, complemented by a carefully chosen mix of contemporary

furniture. And Im thrilling to it all as I find my way to Maiden Shanghai.

 

CHINA CHARMS FIVE TIMES OVER

And then wham! the sheer seductive energy of the  three floored Maiden Shanghai takes over. It is an exploration of authentic Chinese cooking   there is  a fresh and imaginative vibe. it invigorates traditional recipes for a modern audience.

It  is set in the heart of the Five Palm Jumeirah  and it lets in dramatic views across the marina from everywhere, its outdoor terraces, indoor bar, private dining rooms and an opulent rooftop bar. I love the décor  which playfully fuses the traditional with the boldly modern, creating spaces that feel open yet connected.

 

It is here that the brilliant Executive Chef Luo Bing revitalises Chinese culinary tradition. Drawing from Cantonese, Sichuan, Shanghai and Beijing influences, he marries  age-old techniques and flavours with imagination and refinement. Flavourful masterpieces result. Luo Bing honed his skills in Barcelona and Hong Kong, and as Executive Chef at Time Out’s 100 Best Restaurants In London.

He offers plenty of Signature dishes including traditional, hand-prepared Peking Duck and  his take on the Sichuan Kung Pao dish.  But what  delightful dimsum…his dim sum bar selection offers exciting flavour combinations beautifully prepared in delicate parcels.  From tiger prawn dumplings with luxurious black truffle to pan fried Wagyu beef buns.

It is here that the dynamic and dapper Aloki Batra who helms this hot happening landmark  tells me all about the uniqueness of this haute hot Five. From the cutting edge design, artistic work here by Joe  Ngai to the amazing Chinese food.

In the cool of the November night, while nibbling on dimsum on one of the stunning terraces I learn all about Aloki Batra’s over 16 years’ experience in equity financial markets. Formidable business and financial skills as well a flair for masterminding the hospitality industry shine through.

 

 

DIM SUM AND THEN SOME

This delightful  dimsun is not unique to Cantonese cuisine. Shanghai has xiao long bao (steamed pork dumplings), and there is chao shou (Sichuan wontons) in Sichuan.  However What sets Cantonese dim sums apart, other than the extraordinary variety of dishes is that it takes years to learn the

finer points of making dim sum take years to learn, which is why it is important to have a demanding “sifu” [“master”). Chef Luo Bing has obviously mastered the art and on my request shares his chicken dimsum recipe

MAIDEN SHANGHAI DIMSUM

Ingredients:

(dough)

– Flour 200g

– 1 egg

– Water 30g

– Salt 1g

 

Method:

-Mix all the ingredients together until smooth.

– Use a rolling pin to roll the dough into 1mm thin pastry.

– Use diameter 3/5 cutter to cut into individual pastries.

 

Filling:

– Minced chicken thigh or breast 150g

– 1 egg

–  finely chopped fresh ginger 20g

– finely chopped onion 30g

– salt to season

– soya sauce 15g

– Sesame oil 3g

– cooking oil 2g

 

Method: Mix all ingredients together and put in chiller until filing.

– put a tablespoon of each filling into the pastry and pinch close

– boil for five minutes

 

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Red Carpet and Mango Dessert

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Here in the cacophonic and frenetic Big Apple, it’s our very own Indian mango which is being celebrated. And that too at the NYC premiere of  Dame Judi Dench’s superb film where she brilliantly plays the role of Queen Victoria (also a great gourmet). Post screening, superstar chef Vikas Khanna created the most amazing mango dessert topped with edible gold. His tribute to the king of fruits for the queen of acting. I tasted, photographed and couldn’t stop smiling.

Veggie Wows in Hollywood

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I’m rejoicing! My ongoing global research on gourmet vegetarian food just got more exciting. In the past few months I’ve tracked the best of the best vegetarian in Japan, China, Russia, Austria and now in the capital of glamor and films…Los Angeles. I’m feeling like a million dollars as I report from a charmed frontier (Hollywood, where else?) where fantasy is blending into reality, and that too in it’s beloved and iconic landmarks. Both close to each other in the glamorously beautiful Beverly Hills. Every square inch of both bristles with star power. Both are the haunt of Hollywood and the global who’s who. Both are legends…

GLOBAL LANDMARK

In this legendary landmark, glamor and luxury drips in every practical detail and human warmth marks every hi-tech comfort. The iconic Beverly Wilshire “Pretty Woman hotel” (the movie was filmed here) turns ninety at the close of this year yet continues to rock with a youthful rhythm and beat.

Star spangled Hollywood dines, meets and stays here, it is also officially on the National Register of Historic Places of the United States. Superstars such as Elvis Presley, Warren Beatty and Steve McQueen have all lived in this luxurious landmark. As does our very own Bollywood. Over the years, I’ve had salad with Priyanka Chopra, muesli with Anil Kapoor and steak with Javed Akhtar here. A favourite of Amitabh Bachchan, Shah Rukh Khan, Preity Zinta, Anil Kapoor, Hrithik Roshan, Karan Johar and others.

I love to soak in the cool sunshine in BLVD, their patio restaurant on the stunning sun-drenched, Rodeo drive designer boulevard to the world. I feast on the brilliant chefs freshest of seasonal California and watch the sun bronzed greek gods with their six pack abs and la-di-da babes with endless legs glide by. And today am doubly delighted: their  brilliant new executive chef is not only our very own Samir Roonwal but he especially cooks up some delightful pure vegetarian dishes which sparkle with the Californian and  Indian touch. Having worked in world famous kitchens and had the who’s who eating out of his hands Samir is now creating culinary magic here.

And it is here in BLVD, ( voted top “Power Tables” … Wall Street Journal) that I catch up with him as well as the dapper, high-energy Ben Trodd, who not only helms this landmark, but also spearheads nine other superb hotels. This discerning gourmet, well-travelled Vice President wears his success and his designer suit with equal panache. We trip out on the Crunchy okra smeared with the velvety dip, which makes for the perfect cocktail snack and I request chef Samir to share the recipe with us. After this the gorgeous Lauren Dutton Breen takes me up to show me Los Angeles very first “Glamping” site.

But that another exciting story…

P.S. Within this hotel itself is yet another superb restaurant CUT by America’s high-priest of cuisine Wolfgang Puck. It specialises in non-vegetarian food. A short stroll away is his landmark Spago, where I taste yet another veggie wow.

Chef Roonwal’s Crispy OKRA

Serves 2

Ingredients

2 cups: Okra Julienne

1 tsp: Toasted Cumin seeds

1 tsp: Chilli powder

1 tsp: Dry mango powder

1/2 cup: Chickpea Flour

1 tsp: Onion Seeds

1/2 tsp: Turmeric powder

Salt to taste

Method:

Wash okra well, dry them out completely and Julienne them.

Add all the dry spice powders and seeds, along with salt, to the okra.

Toss them well till incorporated and set it down for 5 mins.

Then sprinkle chickpea flour on top (start with a few tbsps). Mix them well. Add a few tsps water so the okra gets coated with the flour.

Deep fry them in oil. Serve hot.

Ingredient: Julienne Okra, Spiced Chickpea Flour, Dry Mango Powder

Garnish:  Pomegranate Seeds Fresh, Mustard Flower, Micro Cilantro

PUCK’s PARADISE

He has recently received his own star on the Hollywood walk of fame. So when this superstar celebrity chef, restaurateur, and occasional actor, Wolfgang Puck takes three hours off his busy schedule to lunch with me its celebration time. We do so in his three decades old landmark Spago which continues to play host to the who’s who of the world, to Oscar premieres restaurants and more. Wolfgangs catering services, cookbooks and licensed products are in great demand. We chat about his 27 (and counting) restaurants around the world and I trip out on the outstanding vegetarian tasting menu.  Though Wolfgang Puck is single handedly responsible to introduce gourmet pizzas to the world and his signature dish at his original restaurant, Spago, is House Smoked Salmon Pizza, he continues to introduce flavours from around the world.

Today, his brilliant young chef Tetsuya cooks up an amazing pumpkin baked in salt, tangy sweet plaintain salad served in a half coconut, a parmesan marshmallow and beetroot cookie flag off our multi-course vegetarian lunch which ends with a light and bright melon dessert. And in Wolfgang Pucks Hollywood flagship restaurant in Los Angeles, their Japanese chef cooks up the most deliciously creamy (hold your breath) baingan bharta. And my joy comes full circle.

And The Oscar Goes To..

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Whoa! A gourmet pure vegetarian and vegan menu in Hollywood Roosevelt, the very heart of Hollywood itself. Here, Hollywood history lives, breathes and dazzles. It was here that the first Oscars were held in 1927, it has the “Hollywood Walk of Fame” at it’s feet and is within air kissing distance of the iconic  “Dolby Theatre” where the Oscars are held. Marilyn Monroe lived here, by this poolside. It is right here that along with Andrea Escobar, I get a taste of the brilliant chef Josh Eden’s vegan creations (including the bagel and lox made of carrots and tofu). Having opened over 30 restaurants around the world Chef Eden is all set to add this delicious vegetarian, vegan dimension here. Don Jacinto who helms this iconic landmark ensures that all normal people are treated like movie stars and movie stars like normal people. Therein lies the magic!

India Shines in NYC

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Please take a look at the photograph shot under the beautiful ceiling mural of the Rotunda. For over eighty years, it has been New York’s iconic meeting place. And aptly enough, I’m breakfasting with icons of the culinary world. And India is the focus. America’s most brilliant award winning Food TV producer Geoffrey Drummond (renowned for his shows with Julia Child and Eric Ripert) is working on the ultimate food show on nourishment and India is magnetising him. Putting India firmly on America’s gourmet map, Vikas Khanna, the award-winning Michelin-starred chef, cookbook writer, filmmaker, humanitarian and judge of MasterChef India sparkles the morning. Interestingly though Escoffier, the King of French chefs (and codifier of French cuisine), did all the initial menus at this magnificent stately Pierre. It was here that America’s first Indian fine dine restaurant was located. Today, the brilliant young Keralite chef Ashfer Biju is making history again. He is reimagining classics with a fresh modern seasonal perspective and has NYC eating out of his hands. The joint-degree holder from the finest in America and France, the dynamic Francois Olivier Luiggi who helms this exquisite icon not only ensures that it retains its historic grandeur (hand-painted murals et al) but also rocks ahead youthfully. Jai Ho!

Grains of Magic

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Strange but true! Here in this frenetic, cacophonic New York city, I am not only getting rare insights into Indian grains and spices but doing so in a treasure trove spread over two floors. And our very own Indian superstar chef Vikas Khanna has been getting accolades for incorporating Grains in American cuisines.  Sharing his insights with me is award-winning Michelin starred chef, cookbook writer, filmmaker, humanitarian and  judge of MasterChef India. To top it all, the dashing and yet down to earth Vikas Khanna has  been hailed as the “sexiest chef alive” He combines a rare humility, knowledge and passion and I am blown off my feet when he guides me into his favourite New York hot spot.

We are at this iconic Kalustyans set up in 1944. The haunt of many s great chef. Here, he gives me taste of the finest black garlic pistachios, turmeric a sniff of the finest Iranian saffron of butterflypea and a round up of amazing rare grains. Though he works a lot with vendors in Kerala, Mumbai and Tamil Nadu to bring more organic grains to North America and to find creative ways to incorporate them into American diets.

He always tells people that our ancestors ate much better food than us. Organic, disciplined and balanced. The use of different types of grains and organizing a healthy eating around them is pure heaven for him and me. I had no idea that there was such a staggering number of grains and each had several sub-types. For instance Wheat includes Bulgar, Durum, Einkorn, Emmer, Farro, Kamut, Semolina, Spelt, Triticale. Rice (Red, Forbidden, White, Black) Corn (Flint, Dent, Waxy) Barley (Pot Barly, Pearl Barley) Sorghum (Johnson Grass, Broom-Corn) Millet (finger millet, foxtail millet, kodo millet, pearl millet, proso millet) and so on.

“I still remember the first time I entered Kalustyans. It was a much smaller store back then in 2001.” explains Vikas, “But was an eye opening experience, it was like being a kid in the candy store.”

He had come here to find fresh turmeric. It was not available then, but today it is. He has been a part of Kalustyan family since then. It could be buying new stuff or bringing chefs here or taking spices from here for chefs like Eric Ripert to Jean George’s to Daniel Boulud.

We both agree that spices are more precious than jewels. His latest research has been about Blossoms of spices and their evolution and metamorphosis through time. A lot like Vikas’s own fascinating journey…a boy born in Punjab with misaligned feet (not able to run until he was 13) and who learnt cooking  from his grandmother, came to America with no money at all and rose to be awarded and celebrated. And even today continues to be down to earth.

BARLEY AND ORANGE PUDHA

Vikas shared many a creative bread recipe with me, due to space constraint am able to print only one. Should you need more, please email rashmiudaysingh2017@gmail.com

A great tasting healthy bread made with whole barley flour, which is highly nutritious and recommended for a low-fat diet. Orange juice is added not only for a wonderful citrusy flavour but also because it helps to tenderise the dough.

1 cup barley flour

1 small onion, finely chopped

2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

1 orange, zested and juiced

1 teaspoon chilli powder

Salt to taste

6 tablespoons vegetable oil

Take the flour, onion, cilantro, orange zest, chilli powder and salt in a bowl. Gradually blend in the orange juice and mix well. Add a little water at a time to a smooth batter. Heat a non-stick pan over medium heat and smear the pan with 1 tablespoon oil. Spoon 1/4 of the batter into the pan and spread to it to even thickness. Cook for 2-3 minutes until crispy golden brown, then turn it over and drizzle a little oil around the edges. Continue to cook until the sides turn golden brown, about 1 minute. Repeat with remaining batter.

Serve hot.

Tasting Excellence

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Its a treat to watch culinary history in the making and to get a taste of it too. Here in Berlin, in the large historic hall, high tech sound and light shows are spinning magic and the heart of it all is revolutionary excellence, a dialog oven that is not only being unveiled but also cooking for us. Food forward thinking is being celebrated by the superstars of gastronomy who have flown in to congratulate Dr. Markus Miele. Hélène Pietrini, Director of the prestigious World’s 50 Best, Ana Roš, The World’s Best Female Chef 2017 sparkle the landmark gastronomic event. Oh! The joys of being a food writer!

 

High Energy Cuisine

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Cheers! I raise a toast with the delicious herb infused water in the bottle. Nestled in the beautiful Bavarian Alps, Lanserhof’s organic herb garden ensures the addition of fresh seasonal herbs into the food and of course the water. It ensures that nutritious can be delicious. And that is what excites me the most here in Lanserhof  the medical institution, which has been at the forefront of cutting edge research and is based on a symbiosis of ancient healing and state-of-the-art medicine treating both mind and body. Helming it is Dr Benedetto Resich, the globally renowned expert doctor in individualistic and integrated medicine and under her guidance the brilliant Chef Karsten Wolf creates energy cuisine. At my request they shared some of their recipes. Should you need them please email rashmiudaysingh2017@gmail.com

Food.. Cutting Edge Perspectives

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Foodies! Chew on it. Savor it. Here’s some food for thought. A mind-blowingly different perspective on food and its creation, on the world of food and chefs and restaurants.

I write from an amazing space, where food is not just being cooked but performed, boundaries are being pushed, new cultures discovered and knowledge exchanged. I write from the beautiful mountains of UpperAustria, from Gelinaz.

One thing is for sure, cooking is not just fine dining anymore. It touches different population segments across the world, and it needs to be both cutting-edge and playful, as well as in phase with worldwide pop culture.

And here in the beautiful mountains of Upper Austria I’m getting a taste of this amazingly different perspective. The worlds most brilliant chefs have flown in and are creating and co-creating together. And I am a voyeur.

SUPERSTARS CO CREATING MAGIC.

Every single continent seems to be represented here. The worlds superstar chefs have flown in. Rene Redzepi of Noma (Copenhagen), David Chang of Momofuku (New York), Virgilio Martinez (Of central Lima), May Chow of Little Bao Hong Kong, Heinz Reitbauer of Vienna, Margot Janse from South Africa, Manu Buffara from South America and a dozen more. Equally renowned artists, musicians, scientists, thinkers have flown in from all parts of the world. Is it about food? Is it about music? Art?  Its all this and more. Its “Gelinaz.” The curators Andrea Petrini & Alexandra Swenden are, in essence, ‘agit pop’ curators of a culinary hub that is pushing boundaries.

It’s a world wide think tank of avantgarde chefs performing food and remixing each other’s dishes like in a DJ set giving form to culinary happenings where art, music and cuisine fusion in unexpected and improvisational ways.

NOT ONLY ABOUT COOKING.

Sure! cooking is a big deal, but today it’s not enough: contemporary cuisine needs to find new ways to get in touch with a wider, younger audience, mingling and dialoguing with art, music and other fields of expression.

And here, I am witnessing  how culinary talent and human qualities can coexist harmoniously inside the kitchen.

How, the main stage for a chef is the kitchen, a place where life and art, personal experience and interdisciplinary longings  find a means of expression.

NOT ABOUT COOKING COMPETITIONS EITHER.

After all the “Masterchef” competitions and fierce rivalry, suddenly here is a welcome space, a happy space, there is:

– no competition

– universal sharing

– experimentation in a collective way beyond meritocracy and classified roles (stars, lists etc..)

Instead the collective of chefs were,

– pushing the boundaries, performing food and take risk as a starting point

– discovering new cultures and exchanging knowledge

– exploring the unknown

– zooming in on the beauty of nature, its elegant chaos

FOOD IS BEING PERFORMED.

Here, in the award winning gastronomic, family run restaurant Muhltalhof of the family Rachinger, the experimental culinary performance is taking place. The brilliant father and son chef duo of Philip and Helmut Rachinger have chosen three core ‘Matrix’ dishes. We get to taste them in a magnificent multi-course dinner the night before. Today the international chefs have been working in small teams of three and four. These dishes are being deconstructed, dismantled, cut into pieces and remixed by the 24 participating international and Austrian chefs. Chefs are asked to freely reinterpret every dish, modify some of the original ingredients and add seasonal produce from Upper-Austria to their new creations. And we walked through the different stations set up by each group as they interpreted the three matrix dishes. Rene Redzepi of Noma used moss he had foraged, Virgilio Martinez from Peru and his team interpreted the gulasch in a dumpling, David Chang from NYC along with May Chow from Hong Kong set up under a tree and even served up Schnitzel shots. The finale dinner is to follow…a sit down seven course dinner with these brilliant chefs in orchestra together. Innovative music and art installations by Joachim Eckl reverberate with the sounds of the river flowing nearby. Though sublime, its not just a gourmet dinner anymore. It’s the pampering of all senses. Nature, art, music food, cultures of different countries, good vibrations, morph into a memorable magical experience.  A Magelinaz experience!

P.S

I couldn’t resist requesting for the recipe of the  three matrix dishes of the potato gulasch, freshwater fish and the summerbock venison

Please email rashmiudaysingh2017@gmail.com should you want them.

CHENNAI  FOODLINE

So exciting to be in the mountains of UpperAustria and be in touch with you. Thanks for keeping me plugged into the vibrant home catering food scene of Chennai.

For any queries or recommendations,  please mail rashmiudaysingh2017@gmail.com  or call 98840 65010 or mail anjalisharma966@gmail.com

  • Gazeenasulu Kunhamed from Ormes Road, Kilpauk specialises in exotic cakes and desserts such as the French Jaconde cake (an almond sponge cake), Choco Coffee opera and a variety of cheesecakes. Her latest offerings are jackfruit and tender coconut cake, mango and passion fruit cake, orange and pistachio cake, cherries and chocolate cake which are made with entremets ( layered desserts with multiple flavours and textures). No home delivery. Call 98409 70353  or mail gazeenasulu@yahoo.co.in
  • Harini Sankaranarayanan from Simply Chocolate is a home baker from Abhiramapuram. She can customise cakes according for to customer requirements for  specific flavours, fillings ( types of nuts or fruits) or themes. Home delivery with extra charges. Call 98414 28798.
  • Sudha Shankaran from Pondy Bazaar takes orders for nankhatais. Minimum order is half kg. Call 99400-62327 or mail srinivaas.sudha@gmail.com
  • Anu Prosper  from Mistletoe Cakes is a home baker based in  Choolaimedu. The latest cake flavours in her menu are cotton candy, butter popcorn and bubblegum. She is also taking orders for low carb pizzas and savouries such as chicken croquettes, cheesy bakes ( veg and non veg) etc. Call  9600116757 or mail  anuprosper@gmail.com or visit https://www.facebook.com/mistletoe.cakes
  • Shyamala Sivaraman from Shyamala’s Culinary Classes  is based in Arcot road, Kodambakkam.  She conducts four hours sessions from Monday to Saturday on baking (cakes, cookies, muffins, decorative cupcakes), bread and buns, tarts and pies, puff pastries. She also conducts intensive icing workshops. Call on  98402 51050.
  • Deepika from Aumly is taking orders for  Thai Sweet Chilly Sauce, which is both spicy & sweet, Whole Wheat Muffins which can be stored in the fridge for a week in the following flavours: Apple Crumble Muffin, Carrot & Walnut Muffin and Orange & Dark Chocolate Muffins, organic fresh curd, set in earthenware pots, Idli Podi and organic Curry Leaf Powder. Order by Wednesday for pick up on Friday. Call on 8939774319. Address: 12-Z, Rutland Gate, 4th  St, Aroshree Kailash, Ground Floor. 48 hours notice required.
  • Sara Koshy is conducting a Workshop  on Garden Parties.  On the menu:
  1.  Zucchini Loaf
  2.  Cauliflower Crust Veg Pizza
  3.  Green Olive Tapennade (on Brushetta)
  4.  White Choco Chunk Brownies

Venue: The Gormei Market – 6, CIT Colony, 2nd Main Road, (behind focus gallery on TTK road), Mylapore, Chennai:4

Date: Aug 6th, Sunday. Time: 3:00pm to 6:30pm. Cost: Rs.1200/per person.

Call to register: 4217 2229.