CaLDRON January 2014


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CaLDRON January 2014

  1. 1. CaLdron Jan 2014 Monthly Blogazine there’s always something cooking Diners from hell Page 32 Reviews Cockails & Dreams The Canton Spice Company Turquoise Cottage Dhaba Plan B Loaded Malgudi Tiffin Centre Spaghetti Kitchen Pronto CaLDRON January 2014 Events A Splendalicious Tea Afternoon Asia’s 50 Best Round Table Who Said Real Men Can’t Cook? Going Stir Crazy with Yellow Chili Kitchen Kin Chef Emiliano, Chef Kunal Kapur Roaming Rover in Aloft, Chennai Spirit-ual Wine & Food at the Taj Schloss Gobelsburg 19 food and drink recipes, Including recipes from Chef Kunal Kapur and award winning Bangalore blogger, Farrukh Shadab! 1
  2. 2. YOUR TAKE ON Frozen, Ready to Fry Snacks Our poll this month is about the rapidly growing frozen, ready-to-cook segment. We asked Chef at Large members their opinion and here’s what happened. Interestingly, apart from the two major choices made by members, i.e. Pre-dinner cocktail snack (42%) and Random Snacking (20%), an overwhelming 29% said they wouldn’t use such products, citing reasons such as mechanical separation of meat and overuse of chemicals in these products, among others. What’s your take? Write to Random snacking 20% Pre-dinner cocktail snack 42% Wouldn't use it 29% Pre-dinner cocktail snack Wouldn't use it Random snacking Lunch box option Taking a break from cooking What are Godrej Yummiez? Regular tea-time snack Original question: How would you use a frozen, ready-to-fry product such as Godrej Yummiez? Respondents: Ninety Seven (97) Link to Poll: 2 CaLDRON January 2014
  3. 3. EDITORIAL & CREDITS The success of the December issue of CaLDRON, featuring (Indian) Chinese surprised and shocked us all. At the time of writing, it has accumulated 1,47,539 reads and continues to grow by thousands of reads everyday. Yes, I check it with bated breath every single day. From an infant of an idea for a monthly newsletter, CaLDRON is fast turning into a far more ambitious project. THE CHEF AT LARGE TEAM MANAGING EDITOR SID KHULLAR ASSOCIATE EDITOR NATASHA ALI CONSULTING EDITOR VINITA BHATIA As you might have noticed, we’re forever experimenting with the content mix in the e-zine, in our quest to find a combination that works for you as well as fits into the overall scheme of things at Chef at Large. Do we have too much text, or too many photos? Are there enough reviews or too many recipes? There are so many questions to be answered and we’re having a load of fun in the process. EVENTS EDITOR PARUL PRATAP SHIRAZI In an attempt to showcase a new cuisine every month, we have Vietnamese this month. This series will not only include foreign cuisines, but also Indian cuisines, where we’ll try to include regional dialects too, apart from the mainstream. SPECIAL PROJECTS RITUPARNA MUKERJI SHRUTI ARORA CHARIS ALFRED BHAGIANTHAN As always, please do write in with feedback and suggestions. I’m listening. Stay well. Sid RECIPE CURATOR NADEEM KHAN SUBJECT MATTER EXPERTS SANDEEP SRINIVASA (COFFEE) JASWINDER SINGH (WINE & SPIRITS) REVIEW TEAM DELHI PARUL PRATAP SHIRAZI SID KHULLAR MUMBAI VINITA BHATIA OTHER CREDITS Cover photo courtesy, Farrukh Shadab Ansari All other recipe photos used are from the sources mentioned in the article. CHEF AT LARGE WEBSITE JOIN THE CHATTER ON OUR FACEBOOK GROUP DOWNLOAD THE ANDROID APP GROUP MODERATOR SID KHULLAR MEMBER ART STAY INFORMED WITH OUR FACEBOOK PAGE MAIL THE EDITOR AT BANGALORE NATASHA ALI FOLLOW US ON TWITTER SEND US A PRESS RELEASE OR EVENT LISTING Created by Rumi Domadia. Cute huh? CaLDRON January 2014 3
  4. 4. CONTENTS A dinner where we replicated the meal from the movie, “The Hobbit” 4 CaLDRON January 2014
  5. 5. CONTENTS Snippets Poll: Your Take on Frozen Ready-to-Fry Products, 2 Born this Month: Paula Deen, 6 Reviews Winter Hugs are Made of These, 8 Delight in Every Bite, 10 Turquoise Cottage Goes Uber Asian, 12 The Dhaba’s Full-on Kitsch Experience, 14 Pasta Expedition at Spaghetti Kitchen, 16 Cold Comfort, 18 There’s No Better Plan Than Plan B Loaded, 20 Not Your Usual Airport Fare: Malgudi Tiffin Centre, 22 Holy Grail of Chinese Food, 24 Specials Cover Story: Diners from Hell, 32 Spa Scape: A Day Playing Truant at Renaissance’s Spa, 78 Ask the Experts, 80 Photo Feature: A Weekend in Hanoi, 82 Featured Members, 99 Recipes Fattoush Salad, 43 Murgh Malai Kabab, 44 Kafta Bel Laban, 45 Chicken Spinoccoli, 46 Double Mushrooms, 47 Tiramisu, 48 Fig Almond Shake, 50 Malai Makai Paneer, 52 Roasted Bell Pepper Suppli, 54 Khubani Murgh Korma, 56 Anaar ke Kalakand, 58 Grilled Aubergine in Mint Cinnamon Sauce, 75 Fish in White Wine and Fennel Sauce, 76 Sauteed Vegetables with Chermoula, 48 Gosht Ka Korma, 38 Pinni Srikhand Granola, 39 Mix Up Strawberry Eggnog, 66 Winter Punch, 67 Lalune Jaune, 68 Sidekick, 69 Kitchen Kin Prego is Please and Please it Does - Chef Emiliano, 34 The Showman Chef, 36 Events Asia’s 50 Best Round Table Luncheon, Delhi/NCR, 70 A Splendalicious Tea Afternoon, Delhi/NCR, 72 Who Said Real Men Can’t Cook, Mumbai, 74 Going Stir Crazy with Yellow Chili, Mumbai, 77 Spirit-ual A Trail of Wine and Food at Taj Palace, 60 History Steeped Austrian Wine Schloss Gobelsburg, 62 Roaming Rover Style at a Steal - Aloft, Chennai, 26 CaLDRON January 2014 5
  6. 6. BORN THIS MONTH Paula Ann Hiers Deen (born January 19, 1947) is an American celebrity chef and cooking show television host. Deen resides in Savannah, Georgia, where she owns and operates The Lady & Sons restaurant with her sons, Jamie and Bobby Deen. She has published fourteen cookbooks. Though married in 2004 to Michael Groover, she uses the surname Deen, from her first marriage. Information courtesy: Wikipedia, Photo Courtesy: 6 CaLDRON January 2014
  7. 7. PHOTO RELIEF Grab a Coke and start reading Photo: Sid Khullar Venue: The One, Le Meridien, New Delhi CaLDRON January 2014 7
  8. 8. REVIEWS - GURGAON WINTER HUGS are made of these T Want to chill out at a fun place that offers good food and generous sized drinks? Check out ‘Cocktails & Dreams Speakeasy’ at Gurgaon, which invites you to sit back, unwind and enjoy the music! hat Gurgaon can’t seem to get enough of the Cocktails & Dreams Speakeasy is pretty much evident! This watering hole is full up on most evenings. Since the food is good too, there is plenty of action around lunch time as well. Aside from the delicious food, another thing that separates Cocktails & Dreams Speakeasy from other pubs in the city is their choice of music; live and piped, this is a classic place for anyone over 30 years! This place with a killer combo of ambiance, food and music is owned and run by two passionate people – master mixologist Yangdup Lama and his friend Minakshi. They are usually around at Cocktails & Dreams Speakeasy, chatting with their guests and suggesting drinks that will go well with their mood and their food. The easy camaraderie they share with their patrons reminds you of ‘Cheers’, another place where the staff know the regulars by their name. Twice as Lucky our last visit to Cocktails & Dreams Speakeasy was exceptionally fantastic because it was then it had launched the winter beverage menu. Since I am a huge fan of warm, boozy drinks with either coffee or fruity notes of apple, tinged with cinnamon, that menu was sheer bliss to me. On another Friday, I was lucky to find bar stools. But then again, that is part of the joy of being at a bar – even though there are tables everywhere, perching on a bar stool is so much cooler! 8 CaLDRON January 2014
  9. 9. REVIEWS - GURGAON I started with a mug (read: beer mug) of Mexican Coffee (Rs 395), a hot coffee cocktail with coffee liqueur, strong black coffee and single cream. It was exceptionally good. Seriously, down two of these and you can sashay back home in a slinky LBD, with the withering cold unable to touch you. I loved how strong the individual flavours of liqueur and coffee were in that drink. If I wasn’t so keen on tasting the Toddy, I would have chugged another one of these for sure. menu is fantastic and has dishes things like the ‘Anaheim Pepper Halves’ (Rs 200), which are herb cheese stuffed Anaheim peppers halves with some lemon paprika aioli. If you are a vegetarian, this dish will have you hooked. The ‘Pork Steamers’ (Rs 250) are popper sized spiced mantis steamed with tomato peanut dip and coriander dip. The dumplings are so fine that I could have had a dozen of just these. From Monday to Thursday, the bar also includes pulled pork sandwiches in its menu. I chose the Hot Ginger Toddy It had me wishing that I had (Rs 395) next – a hot, rumnot visited Cocktails & Dreams based toddy with ginger juliSpeakeasy on a Friday night, ennes and ginger bread infused and the chef graciously made us in hot water that is balanced a batch of pulled pork sliders, with lime. It was like the tears of which were stellar. We completan angel and I mean that in the ed our meal with a portion of comforting sense (if you missed ‘Squid Rings’ (Rs 250), which the drift, then yes, it was amaz- were perfect. I only wish we had ingly good). some space left in our tummies for the ‘Pork Chops’, because Drinks to Soothe the Soul the last time we had them, they My company for the evening were delightful. was the designated driver so he had a virgin version of the Cocktails & Dreams Speakeasy drinks. He agreed with me that has completed a year and having it was super stuff. The sheer size visited this place almost every of the drinks gives one such a month, I can safely say they are long window to sit, chat and only getting better and cozier. unwind. The drinks served at All in all, this is a great place to Cocktails & Dreams Speakeasy be! ■ are meant to mellow the harby Parul Pratap Shirazi rowed soul, and they definitely manage to do just that. Visit this pub on the kind of evenings when you need to put your phone away and just relax. Because my guest wasn’t drinking alcohol, food played a large role during this evening. Now, here’s the thing about Cocktails & Dreams Speakeasy – even the CaLDRON January 2014 Rating: 4 out of 5 Price: INR 1500++ (meal for two) Address: Cocktails & Dreams, Speakeasy, Sector 15, Part II Market, Gurgaon - 122001 Phones: 9810 999086 The drinks at Cocktails & Dreams Speakeasy are meant to mellow the harrowed soul, and they definitely manage to do just that. 9
  10. 10. REVIEWS - GURGAON DELIGHT in every bite The Canton Spice Company is a cross between a tearoom and a Mexican cantina. And the food served here is such a delight that it will have you returning for more. Chinese Style, Spicy Spare Ribs T here are times when I would like to thank the God of restaurants for Cyberhub in Gurgaon. This is probably the only concrete monstrosity in the hell; but it manages to redeem itself since it is a hub of some of Gurgaon’s best restaurants. We’ve already established that ‘Made in Punjab’ and ‘Pita Pit’ are great, ‘Nando’s’ is as Nando’s is, ‘The Wine Company’ needs to work hard on its menu and 10 ‘Soda Bottleopener Wala’ has good potential. That leaves the regular joints like ‘Dunkin’ Donuts’, ‘Starbucks’ and ‘Red Mango’ that are way too standardized to be affected by the location. And then there is the ‘Canton Spice Company’, a darling Chinese restaurant, a cross between a tearoom and a rustic Mexican cantina. It is probably the bar stools and the metal grid work that gave this impression. We walked in to this place because we had eaten everywhere else in Cybercity and were surprised to find it packed on a weekday despite a cover size of 80+.The staff is very polite, except for one feisty young man, who spoke too loudly for an urbane place like The Canton Spice Company. A Menu Filled with Happiness The menu of the restaurant had enough items to make us sigh in happiness: pork, duck, seafood, and CaLDRON January 2014
  11. 11. REVIEWS - GURGAON Char Siu Bao more. We started our meal with the ‘Char Siu Bao’ (Rs 300), which wasv like pillows of air with some sweet sticky pork filling. These reminded slurpy bite. On our next visit, we are definitely going to try the ‘Lotus Root’ (Rs 225), sweet and spicy crispy wafers made of lotus stem and the ‘Onion Pancake’ (Rs 200). For the main course, we ordered the For its price points ‘Chef ’s Roast Pork’ (Rs 350), a house and the upscale ambi- special that was done very well. The ance of Cyberhub, The perfectly cooked juicy pork slices were darkened by simmering in Canton Spice Comrich, dark soy, which gave it a lovely sweet and savoury kick. We had pany certainly has a this with the ‘Kung Pao Prawns’ (Rs good thing going. 675), which were very much like the usual sweet and sour variety. However, the inclusion of peanuts (Kung us of Bao, a Chinese immigrant lady Pao) gave the dish a different twist. who used to make these same buns The prawns were nice sized and when we were in college. Bao did fresh too. not speak any English or Hindi and we always wondered how she man- All this went down with a good poraged to get by in the small town of tion of ‘Mixed Fried Rice’ (Rs 200), Manipal. Guess it was her cooking complete with lamb, pork, chicken that got her by! and prawns and none of the unnecessary carrots and peas! For me the We decided to indulge in the ‘Spare true sign of good Chinese food is when you can eat the fried rice with Ribs’ (Rs 300), especially since the description read “slow cooked, chill just a few drops of dark soy, and I garlic or honey pepper glaze”. We loved the flavour this one had! chose chilli garlic and loved every Since no meal of mine is complete CaLDRON January 2014 without noodles, we went in for the ‘Crispy Duck Noodle Bowl’ (Rs 600), which was awesome. The duck was perfectly done – very much like Peking Duck – slivers of which adorned the top of sauce tossed flat noodles, a bit like ‘Kway Teow’ and completely delicious at that. For its price points and the upscale ambiance of Cyberhub, The Canton Spice Company certainly has a good thing going. We loved the interiors, the hardwood furniture, the glimpse of the kitchen from the open kitchen window and of course the food, most of all the food! ■ by Parul Pratap Shirazi Rating: 4 out of 5 Price: INR 2000++ (meal for two) Address: Cyber Hub, DLF Cyber City, DLF Phase II, Gurgaon - 122002 Phones: 8527954466, 8527964466 11
  12. 12. REVIEWS - DELHI Turquoise Cottage goes UBER ASIAN When a bar known for live music serves up excellent food, it is a win all around. That is what makes Turquoise Cottage a winner all the way. T for the lunch we partook in the restaurant, we can tell you hose people who have from previous experiences been in the Delhi or that if you are looking for old NCR region long enough will classics like Long Island Iced deeply associate ‘Turquoise Tea or a darned good Bloody Cottage’ with rock music. This Mary, this is the place for it. place played classic rock, had some of the best line-ups even Urban Charm for open mic nights, and was of its Own popular amongst 30-someOnce you thing executives who thronged have it for after-work drinks. It is soaked in still pretty much the same, the rustic except the new Turquoise garage Cottage at DLF Place is much and funk cooler looking (retro chic in a vibes of ‘60s biker bar sort of way) and Turserves much better food. quoise Cottage The establishment is still while steeped in its principles of downing music first, followed by booze a couple and then food, which is obviof drinks, ous in its decor and layout. The don’t forget to dramatically lit corner stage is dig into Chef the first thing you notice when Marshel Lepcha’s you enter the restaurant. The Asian menu, combar is built like a DJ’s console; plete with sushi and a it is raised, beautifully lit and bit of Thai and Indonesian is very well stocked. Since regulars too. We started our drinks were not on the cards 12 meal with ‘Smoked Chicken Noodle Soup’ (Rs 195), which had spam flavoured cured chicken bits. It went well with the Thai chilli CaLDRON January 2014
  13. 13. REVIEWS - DELHI spiced soup stock. I like spicy soups and not only because they reportedly perk up your appetite! We had two kinds of Dim Sum, though an entire page of the menu is dedicated to these dumplings. We had the ‘Prawn Hargao’ (Rs 465), which thankfully had translucent coating and were stuffed with fresh and sweet prawns. The Chef recommended ‘General Tso’s Chicken Dim Sum’ (Rs 275), a fun take on General Tso’s Chicken gravy. The enveloped and steamed Dim Sum were a nice surprise. Don’t miss the crispy greens topping, which is a lovely texture to go with the softness of the Dim Sum. This by the way is a ‘Dieters Special’ and the menu here is speckled with such dishes, which we must say is a nice touch. We tried three of the sushi rolls, all of which were good and I say this is the nicest way, mainly because good sushi is hard to come by in standalone restaurants. We ate the ‘Tempura Prawn Rolls’ (Rs 275) and the ‘Salmon California Rolls’ (Rs 275) and the ‘Vegetarian California Roll’ (Rs 225). Though fantastically priced, these were beautifully presented and as good as American sushi gets. CaLDRON January 2014 We tried three of the sushi rolls, all of which were good and I say this is the nicest way, mainly because good sushi is hard to come by in standalone restaurants. ate that afternoon, maybe after the sushi. The other dishes on the menu that seemed interesting were the ‘Nyonya Lime Curry’ (a sauce from the Singaporean Peranakan cuisine, tangy, spicy and very aromatic), ‘Lotus Stem Honey Chili’ and the ‘Khao Suey’. With over 80 covers, Turquoise Cottage is nice, big and pretty happening on weekend nights. Remember to grab the right music gig to The ‘Vegetarian California Roll’ is enjoy this place to the fullest; else ideal for those of you who would you could now drop in for a pretty like to try sushi and cultivate a taste extensive Asian lunch as well. It is for it. After the Tempura Rolls we heartening to see typical bar-like were inspired to try the ‘Prawn Temestablishments giving deep thought pura’ (Rs 475). These fresh prawns to the food and bringing both value were crisp and accompanied with and variety to the experience. ■ a lovely plum sauce, but since they were also a bit oily, we couldn’t consume as many as we’d have liked to. by Parul Pratap Shirazi Stick to the Chef’s Recommendations For the main course, we ordered the ‘Chilli Pork’ (Rs 425) which was nicely done, even though the pork was most certainly twice cooked. The ‘King Prawns in XO sauce’ (Rs 525) were very typically Delhi Chinese, but good nonetheless. Rating: 4 out of 5 Price: INR 2000++ (meal for two) The Chef asked us to taste the ‘Lamb Rendang’ and when I think back, it was one of the best dishes we Address: MA 03, Restaurant Block, District Centre, DLF Place, Saket, New Delhi - 110016 Phones: 011-30146033, 9818182812 13
  14. 14. The DHABA’s Full On KITSCH EXPERIENCE 14 CaLDRON January 2014
  15. 15. REVIEWS - DELHI I vour of vegetables. Then came one of their originals, the ‘Amritsari Tawa f you had the chance to dine Chaap; (Rs 445); crispy and meaty, at the ‘Dhaba’ at the erstwhile good sized mutton chops, which Claridges in Surajkund, you might are crumbed and then folded in recollect its chic interiors and quaint masala – very good stuff. The chaap kitschy accents. This establishment has now moved to DLF Place, but The food at Dhaba, the management has managed to up DLF Place remains the ante on funky interiors. The placards along the way will have top-class on the qualyou chuckling your way to your ity front, and with a table, from ‘No Guts, No Galouti’ to ‘Child Water Served here’ to the bar called ‘Theka’, even more elaborate and hilarious their quirkiness will ones! The ubiquitous truck too has made its way into this restaurant, only add to the experibut this time you can enjoy ‘Mock ence of full on Punjabi Tharra’ in the truck itself, which is open from the side and is well khaana. stocked to seat over 16 guests. Don’t miss the ceiling lights shaped like reminded me of my childhood, light bulbs and the wall fixtures because it had the perfect balance of shaped like ‘nimboo mirchi’ that spice like I had savored when young adorn many a shop across the counand you could still taste the meat. try. Despite the likes of ‘Dhaba Prawns’ and ‘Highway Chicken Tikka’, I deThe restaurant is nice and spacious cided to opt for the ‘Bun Omelette’ with a typical counter for ‘handis’, (Rs 145). It was like a blast from the while each table has the adorable past. Bun and omlette was my staple little pickle martabans with condimeal in the town I studied in, when ments. At a whopping 115 covers, being at culinary school meant the Dhaba was still half full on a spending so much time around food weekday afternoon. Despite being that the simple things mattered the a fine dining standalone restaurant, most. the service standards are at par with the original Dhaba at the Aurangzeb For the main course, we ordered property. The management was in the Dhaba standard, ‘Balti Meat’ (Rs the process of getting the restau445)and ‘Brain Masala’ (Rs 325), rant’s liquor license at the time of both of which are lovely dishes from going to press, and thankfully they the seasoned kitchen. The ‘Balti will also have their own washrooms Meat’ has one marrow bone that I soon, so that guests don’t have to use eyed through the meal and this is the ones in the mall. probably one of the few places where I will order it again. Asli Indian We started with the Chef recomJust the Way it Should Be mended ‘Vegetarian Galouti’ (Rs Chef Saxena recommended the 195) and they were really good;al‘Tawa Mutton Pulao’ (Rs 325), a most buttery and with a lovely fladelightful rice preparation with what CaLDRON January 2014 tasted like mutton boti kebabs and a good dose of tawa masala. I strongly recommend that you have some raita along with this fiery pulao. The good chef also asked us to try the ‘Dhaba Murgh Roast’ (Rs 325), which is their take on Tandoori Chicken and way better than the orange atrocity served in the name of all things tandoori. You can taste the rich, creamy marinade of hung curd with deep flavours of ginger and garlic. This meal is best enjoyed with a kadak ‘Tandoori Roti’, served piping hot and is awesome to sop up the last bits of meat and gravy on your plate. For vegetarians, the fare is straight out of any dhaba on the Delhi-Chandigarh highway: ‘Chilli Paneer’, ‘Kadhi Pakora’, ‘Rajmah’ and the heart warming ‘Yellow Tadka Dal’. The ‘Phirni’ for dessert was lighter than expected and actually quite comforting after a hot and heavy meal like this one. However, I do wish we had ordered the Bailey’s Kulfi instead. Incidentally, you can enjoy Panditji’s paan here as well! The food at Dhaba, DLF Place remains top-class on the quality front, and with a bar called ‘Theka’, their quirkiness will only add to the experience of full on Punjabi khaana. If you prefer Indian food when you eat out, then the Dhaba is a good choice. Throw in a couple of hours of retail therapy and you have a packed day of family, fun, friends and food! ■ by Parul Pratap Shirazi Rating: 4 out of 5 Price: INR 2500++ (meal for two) Address: Second Floor, DLF Place, Saket, New Delhi - 110017 Phones: 011-30146033 15
  16. 16. REVIEWS - MUMBAI Pasta Expedition at SPAGHETTI KITCHEN E Spaghetti Kitchen created a special menu for ‘Pasta Expedition’. We would, however, stick to its exhaustive main menu with its thin crust pizza, lasagna and risotto any day. nter the threshold of Spaghetti Kitchen and you feel as if you have entered the bright and cozy home of an old friend. The walls are painted in lively colors, bottles of spices and condiments line shelves on the walls and wrought iron plaques hang from hooks in the ceiling. The décor is part rustic, part contemporary; but entirely welcoming. This ambience just wants you to sit down and dig into some hearty Italian fare. We recently visited Spaghetti Kitchen at Inorbit Mall, when the restaurant had the ‘Pasta Expedition’ festival. Our first question to the Chef Russell D’Souza was, “Why have a ‘Pasta Expedition’ in an Italian restaurant where the most ordered dishes are pasta and pizza anyway?” He replied, “Why not?” Why not, indeed! 16 Time to Get Adventurous Sadly, majority of the people who frequent Spaghetti Kitchen hardly go beyond their pizzas and pasta. Chef Russell said that the idea behind the ‘Pasta Expedition’ festival was to get people to try different variants of pasta, which are not part of the regular menu. Unconvinced about that logic, we nonetheless decided to check out the woefully limited ‘Pasta Expedition’ menu. It had a salad, three vegetarian dishes and four non-vegetarian options. That’s more of a short jaunt than an expedition, if you ask us! the ‘Pomegranate and Basil Martini’ (450) that we chose were both a little on the sweeter side for us. What however made our dining experience remarkable was when Chef Russell rolled out a portable cooking station to our table to cook the ‘Tomato Flavored Ravioli’ (435). Suddenly our table was the cynosure of all eyes in the restaurant. Some kids rushed with their smartphones to click photos of whatever miracle they expected the Chef to whip up. While the feta and asparagus stuffed beetroot ravioli was being blanched in the kitchen, the chef made a We began with the ‘Warm Gnocchi flambé of red wine with flourish and then cooked a sauce of sun-dried Salad’ (295), which was not warm but tepid when it reached us, though tomato paste. He added the ravioli, cooked it for a couple of minutes the papaya slices and red lettuce more and then served it to us with leaves did lend this mildly spiced salad a colorful and pleasant look. The ‘Classic Red Sangria’ (450) and CaLDRON January 2014
  17. 17. REVIEWS - MUMBAI some rocket salad and thin slivers of Parmesan. We still had a gaggle of gaping kids waiting to see if we would magically turn to toads or keel over after biting into the pasta. Spaghetti Kitchen probably had the right intention when it added ‘Corn Ravioli’ (350) to the ‘Pasta Expedition’ menu and then proceeded to make it gluten-free. This American corn ravioli is stuffed with garlic, Sadly for them, and fortunately for us, neither happened, though we We expected the Pasta saw some patrons approach the chef and ask for a similar service at their Expedition at Spatable! in the kitchen, the chef made a ghetti Kitchen to have flambé of red wine with flourish and a lengthy menu filled then cooked a sauce of sun-dried tomato paste. He added the ravioli, with unusual, and cooked it for a couple of minutes perhaps even outlandmore and then served it to us with some rocket salad and thin slivers ish, pasta creations of Parmesan. We still had a gaggle just to give it a touch of gaping kids waiting to see if we would magically turn to toads or of kitsch. Thankfully, keel over after biting into the pasta. that was not the case. Sadly for them, and fortunately for us, neither happened, though we saw some patrons approach the chef blanched spinach, and crushed pine and ask for a similar service at their nuts – a nice, nutty mix. The corn table! pasta however does not do justice to this stuffing, because it was too thick A Bit of This, and doughy. If you must have pasta, A Bit of That and you must have it gluten-free, The ‘Herbed Pappardelle with Ham’ then give this dish a shot. But, we (Rs 525) was slightly sweet, courtesy doubt anyone will end up doing the orange glazed ham. The pappar- cartwheels after eating it. delle was cooked al dente and because of its width, it held its own in The ‘Porcini Flavored Fettuccine the strong brown sauce that would Lamb’ (545) is cooked in a brown otherwise have smothered a delicate sauce that makes you forget that this pasta like spaghetti or capellini. We dish is supposed to prop the pasta were surprised at the very generous as the hero. The sauce, instead, plays accompaniment of ham and also a stellar performance, courtesy the appreciative of it. woody flavor of the porcini, which CaLDRON January 2014 is ground into a fine paste and then cooked with the gravy. The confit lamb is equally rich and succulent, which makes you wonder why did the dish need any pasta at all – a chunk of nice bread would have done well too! The ‘Baked Pasta Shells with Chicken’ (450) seems to have been created keeping kids in mind. The pasta shells are laced with rich Taleggio cheese and are served in a creamy white sauce with small pieces of smoked roast chicken. We expected the Pasta Expedition at Spaghetti Kitchen to have a lengthy menu filled with unusual, and perhaps even outlandish, pasta creations just to give it a touch of kitsch. Thankfully, that was not the case. While still unclear about the objective behind the pasta festival in an Italian restaurant, we are grateful that most dishes from the special menu did what good food is supposed to do – sit prettily on your plate and give your taste buds a great experience. What more can we say, but ‘Buon appetito’! ■ by Vinita Bhatia Rating: 2 out of 5 Price: INR 2000++ (meal for two) Address: Inorbit Mall, Inorbit Rd, Mindspace, Goregaon, Malad West, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400104 Phones: 022-30932030 17
  18. 18. REVIEWS - MUMBAI COLD COMFORT Revenge is a dish best served cold, they say. However, when you are served cold food at Pronto Pizza and Pasta, it makes you wonder why the restaurant is so vengeful! I magine entering a small diner on a busy street that promises to offer you a quick meal, which is value for money. Of course, you would be interested in sampling it. Now imagine you got decent portions for the items you ordered and are served within 15 minutes of you placing the order. Of course, you would be happy. Now, imagine that a few of the dishes you ordered arrive absolutely cold, especially on a cool winter evening when you want a hot meal. Of course, you will be disappointed. We went through this range of emotions when we dined at Pronto’s diner in Bandra. At the end of our meal, the overwhelming feeling was one of dejection – of a promise unkept. Stick to the Obvious We started our meal with something that would put Pronto’s claims of fresh produce to test –the salads. The ‘Pronto’s Special Salad’ (Rs 160) has chicken ham and salami, iceberg lettuce, rocket leaves and red onions with the spicy Thousand Island dressing. It was definitely fresh and the croutons added to the crunchi- 18 ness of the lettuce. However, the red onions were replaced with pieces of regular onions, while the dressing was a long way from being spicy. We were however grateful that our salad had not been doused with dressing – as many eateries are apt to do. We went through this range of emotions when we dined at Pronto’s diner in Bandra. At the end of our meal, the overwhelming feeling was one of dejection – of a promise unkept. pizza – and ordered ‘Zorba The Greek’ (Rs 190 for 8”) and ‘Roast Beef ’ (Rs 210 for 8”) thin crust pizza. The interestingly named ‘Zorba The Greek’ had us visualizing a well layered pizza with lot of greens, black olives and crumbled cottage cheese. However, we got a regular vegetarian pizza with onions, capsicum and cottage cheese – not bad, but nothing out of the ordinary either. The look of the ‘Roast Beef ’ was actually a turnoff. The pizza was covered with a dark jumble of thin slivers of roast beef, and on first look, one felt that the chef had probably forgotten to take the pizza out of the oven, letting it char. The caramelized onions seemed to have vaporized because we could not discern it, though the roast beef had The ‘Broccoli, Cob and Pasta Salad’ a very homely taste to it. What really (Rs 150) can best be termed as insip- put us off about the pizza was that id. The fusilli was tasteless, while the they reached our tables cold and herbed balsamic vinaigrette lacked a with the centers of the base being punch. We tried to make the saltoo chewy for comfort. ad palatable by adding some chilli flakes, salt and pepper, but realized Tried, Tested, Yet Failed that it was beyond redemption. We decided to try some more popWe figured that we had best stick ular dishes at Pronto thinking that to what Pronto was known for – its these would be tried and tested CaLDRON January 2014
  19. 19. REVIEWS - MUMBAI enough to taste good. We took the name of Pollo Arrosto (Rs 240) literally and expected roasted chicken, but what we got was wedges of chicken breast stuffed with a filling of spinach and ricotta cheese, served with thick brown sauce, mashed potatoes and stir-fried vegetables. The portions are liberal, and there was a hearty amount of button mushrooms used in the brown sauce, which we appreciated. However, yet again the dish was served cold. We pointed out about our vegetables were cold enough to be unpalatable, but were told that this is how the dish is usually presented! CaLDRON January 2014 The couscous in the ‘Pan Fried Vegetables and Couscous’ (Rs 220) was cooked with spring onions and carrots; it was light, fluffy subtly flavored. The pan-fried vegetables were mixed in a bland and creamy white sauce and served on the side. Had these been cooked in a spicier and heavier tomato-based sauce, the veggies would have lent better contrast to the mildly flavored couscous. Predictably, even this dish was served cold. If we were to sum up our meal at Pronto, then three things comes to mind. Firstly, the service is prompt and helpful. Secondly, the portions are generous. Thirdly, the restaurant delivers what it promises – everyday affordable food, which is probably their biggest USP right now. The prices on the menu are tempting enough to make you want to order in from Pronto at least twice a week. If the restaurant manages to improve on the quality and presentation of its food, then chances are that more people in Bandra will give in to this temptation. ■ by Vinita Bhatia Rating: 1 out of 5 Price: INR 1000++ (meal for two) Address: 98, Shams Palace, Hill Road, Bandra West, Mumbai - 400050 Phones: 022-30932039 19
  20. 20. REVIEWS - BANGALORE there’s no better plan than PLAN B LOADED Plan B Loaded is of the few places in Bangalore that scores on almost all fronts. It offers good food, great drinks and more importantly, prompt and polite service. V feel; the kind of music you get on classic rock stations; the fabulous isualize a place that prococktails, some of which are served claims ‘Bacon is the new in mason jars; and of course, some vegetarian’. Then add one more darn fine burgers and fries that are picture to this fantasy – one of a crisp perfection! Yes, these are the restaurant where there is no dearth memories I had carried back from of pork or beef on the menu. Yes, my previous visits. And these were these images make me a very happy the memories I wanted to revisit girl indeed. Moreover, this is what once more. ‘Plan B Loaded’ promised to be. So enthused was I by this promise that I managed to convince a few friends to drive all the way from Hebbal, so we could meet up at Plan B Loaded in Shanti Nagar. Located right across from the hockey stadium, this place is hard to miss. I have visited it a couple times and had liked the chilled out atmosphere. The semi-open, grungy garage-like 20 Bespoke Cocktails, Anyone? My two favorite cocktails on the menu of Plan B Loaded are ‘Rude Cosmo’ (Rs 400) and ‘Dirty Mary’ (Rs 400). And luckily for us, the bartender here has been known to whip up a special based on a patron’s preference of alcohol. The range of appetizers one can opt for is vast. We strongly recommend that you try the ‘Loaded Fries’ or ‘the Nachos’ (Rs 225), which has options in vegetarian, chicken, and delicious pulled pork. Then there is the ‘Fiery Beef ’ (Rs 220), which is spicy and tangy. This is also available in chicken for those who like their meat to be white in color. Even though I am eulogizing the red meat here, vegetarians will also find plenty of choice – fear not! Each time we visited Plan B Loaded, we have loaded up on the starters and then ordered the irresistible gigantic burgers topped with caramelized onion slivers and fried egg. It has been a rare occasion that one of us has managed to polish off these burgers. The menu does warn you that these are a ‘meal by itself ’! CaLDRON January 2014
  21. 21. REVIEWS - BANGALORE Speaking of the menu, it is a huge wood framed two-sided affair, one featuring drinks and the other giving all the details about the food. I also took a bite of the ‘Pulled Pork Burger’ (Rs 380) which has a sweetish BBQ sauce that I liked. However, it was not such a hit with the person who ordered it, showing that not everyone might dig its taste. Speaking about myself, I can never resist the lure of the blue cheese sauced beef patty burger, but some of the pork sandwiches this time had me reconsidering ordering the same for the future. Dessert is not something that we always make a point of ordering, especially if we are imbibing our favorite drinks and have already gorged ourselves on some delicious food. After all, we do have our respective waistlines to think about on the morrow. But, we saw that the management of Plan B Loaded had written the sweet specials on a chalkboard and having spied Caramel Cheesecake we could not leave without a taste. So we threw caution to the winds and ordered dessert. It helped that there were five of us to finish it, and it was quite good – cheesecake as it should be, with the base and consistency appearing to be just right. Plan B Loaded has become one of my happy places – someplace to CaLDRON January 2014 Dessert is not something that we always make a point of ordering, especially if we are imbibing our favorite drinks and have already gorged ourselves on some delicious food. After all, we do have our respective waistlines to think about on the morrow. But, we saw that the management of Plan B Loaded had written the sweet specials on a chalkboard and having spied Caramel Cheesecake we could not leave without a taste. So we threw caution to the winds and ordered dessert. It helped that there were five of us to finish it, and it was quite good – cheesecake as it should spend a few hours lounging while listening to great music, gorging on be, with the base and consistency artery clogging foods and sipping on appearing to be just right. my kinda cocktails and chilled beer. ‘Twas but a hog heaven Sunday the Plan B Loaded has become one of my happy places – someplace to day I visited this place, and here is hoping for many more such Sundays spend a few hours lounging while to come in the future. wood framed listening to great music, gorging on artery clogging foods and sipping on two-sided affair, one featuring my kinda cocktails and chilled beer. drinks and the other giving all the ‘Twas but a hog heaven Sunday the details about the food. I also took day I visited this place, and here is a bite of the ‘Pulled Pork Burger’ (Rs 380) which has a sweetish BBQ hoping for many more such Sundays to come in the future. ■ sauce that I liked. However, it was by Natasha Ali not such a hit with the person who ordered it, showing that not everyone might dig its taste. Speaking Rating: 4 out of 5 about myself, I can never resist the Price: INR 1800++ (meal for two) lure of the blue cheese sauced beef Address: 13, Rhenius Street, Opposite patty burger, but some of the pork sandwiches this time had me recon- Hockey Stadium, Shanti Nagar, Bangalore sidering ordering the same for the Phones: 9739902745 future. Plan B Loaded has become one of my happy places – someplace to spend a few hours lounging while listening to great music, gorging on artery clogging foods and sipping on my kinda cocktails and chilled beer. 21
  22. 22. REVIEWS - BANGALORE not your usual airport fare MalgudiTiffinCentre The time, effort, research and thought that has gone into Malgudi Tiffin Centre has elevated the airport experience for any traveler coming through to Bangalore. A special invite to check out the food offerings at Bangalore International Airport Ltd’s (BIAL) new terminal had me curious. Since when did airports start organizing exclusive food previews, inviting food bloggers and media to attend? Since December 2013, it would appear! Given the distance to BIAL, one often arrives two hours after leaving home, with the objective of reaching two hours before boarding the flight. And if like me, one is travelling to faraway destinations, this is followed by a four to five hour flight. With so much time on hand, the usual fast food choices of Indian and American fare available at the airport certainly holds no excitement. Can you imagine thinking, “I am really looking forward to getting to BIAL early so I can eat well?” The answer so far, has always been a strong “No!” That is likely to change, however, because 14th December, 2013 saw the opening of BIAL’s 22 newly expanded T1 terminal, and with it, a host of new dining options, including the Southern specialty restaurant ‘Malgudi TIffin Centre’. tion to restaurants, there is a south India-oriented shopping section, but that is more likely for an airport. The time, effort, research and thought that has gone into Malgudi Tiffin Centre (including the use of the name Malgudi, taken from auThe side dish of thor RK Narayan’s collection of short ‘Murungakai’ was ab- stories that were later made into a TV series called Malgudi Days) solutely delicious, and has elevated the airport experience for any traveler coming through. It we were happy to see is evident that someone has paid a the homely drumsticks close eye to details, if you take one presented in a fashion look at the pillars, burnished copper pots or colonial-era ceiling fans! other than in a samRene Baumann, VP-Commercial, BIAL, explained that they wanted bar, with the ‘Malguto make Bangalore the gateway to di Mango Drumstick South India, given that for many a traveler, this is their first stop. The Curry’. upcoming specialty stores will soon have handcrafted wooden toys from Flying High on Food and More Channapatna and other local wares, and one can get South Indian coffee Despite have a captive audience beans and spices too. on hand in an airport setting, it is impressive that the powers-that-be And that brings us to the food. Is it at BIAL have chosen to create an all hoopla or is the fare on offer truly interesting dining space. In addiCaLDRON January 2014
  23. 23. REVIEWS - BANGALORE good? Trust us when we say that it is damn good! You get to enjoy fine-dining service and cuisine, with a mind boggling range of dishes. South India has a whole lot more to offer than the ubiquitous idli, dosa or sambar. The style of cooking and the range of spices differs not just from state to state, but even within. Spoilt for Choice So get set to enjoy Kerala and Mangalore-style fish preparations, typical ‘Andhra Gongura Chicken’, the famed, fiery ‘Chicken Ghee Roast’, the ‘colored’ rice like ‘Lemon Rice’ aka ‘Chitranna’ and tamarind rice or ‘Puliogare’, which is typically found in most local eateries of Bangalore. Your meal will be served in an oldschool tiffin carrier, and your appetite and group size can determine how many dishes you order. We were outfitted with hard hats and neon vests in the work-in-progCaLDRON January 2014 ress space, so we did look a bit like construction workers on their lunch break! The ‘Malabar Parotta’ we ate was as flaky and delicious as any I have had, as was the ‘Allepy Fish Curry’ with green mango. The side dish of ‘Murungakai’ was absolutely delicious, and we were happy to see the homely drumsticks presented in a fashion other than in a sambar, with the ‘Malgudi Mango Drumstick Curry’. Malgudi Tiffin Centre’s Executive Chef, Murali started us off with ‘Pepper Rasam’ and ended the meal with a flourish, serving two fantastic desserts – ‘Palada Payasam’, a special Kerala porridge served in temples that takes hours to cook; and an innovative ‘Coconut Custard’, which is essentially caramel custard with a coconut base. We polished off both, despite generally not being into payasams and having eaten a huge meal. We failed to mention the bhajjis and ‘Kané Rava Fry’ and curry leaves marinated prawn starters, didn’t we? We had a beautiful meal and got to see first-hand the enthusiasm with which the BIAL and HMSHost teams are putting the dining area together in the airport. Hats-off to them for this latest offering, and come January, give yourself that extra hour at the airport to soak in the new sights. by Natasha Ali Rating: 4 out of 5 Price: INR 1000++ (meal for two) Address: Bangalore International Airport, BIAL Road, Devanahalli, Bangalore, Karnataka 560300 Phones: 080-66784444 23
  24. 24. REVIEWS - KOLKATA Holy Grail of Chinese Food Two reputed Chinese restaurants in Kolkata with their impressive legacies come up short when it comes to satiating the craving for authentic Chinese fare. A China Garden I chose ‘China Garden’ restaurant fter spending almost two over ‘Beijing’, though the latter is decades in Kolkata and the most popular eatery in Tangra, six years away from it, I decided it for a quiet family dinner. I figured was time I paid my first visit to the this would be a good way to avoid heart of Chinese food in the city – the Pujo rush and suffer from bad Tangra or China Town, as it is better service due to more people visitknown. And what better time to ing ‘Beijing’. I had always pictured explore this area than at a time when ‘China Garden’ as a humble but the entire city is agog with excitecozy restaurant and that was exactly ment – Durga Pujo? how it turned out to be, putting me Set in the eastern part of the city, at ease the moment we walked in. Tangra was established some time in Though the place was packed, we 1830s, as a home to Chinese mihad called in advance to make our grants. Given its Chinese heritage, reservations and managed to get Tangra promises to offer authentic ourselves a table. Chinese cuisine at extremely modest prices. 24 What catches one’s immediate attention at ‘China Garden’ is the price on the food menu – it is cheaper than any modest Chinese restaurant I have visited in the last three years. We ordered ‘Butter Chilli Garlic Fish’ and ‘Fried Prawn Balls’. We were served fresh Pabda fish instead of the more commonly used Basa; and it was soft and perfectly cooked. The prawn balls, however, were a disappointment. It tasted more like chewing gum wrapped in a thick batter of flour and cornflour, and then deep fried in gallons of oil. For the main course, we ordered some common Chinese fare like ‘Kung Pao Chicken’, ‘Fish in Hot CaLDRON January 2014
  25. 25. REVIEWS - KOLKATA Garlic Sauce’ and ‘Chicken Hakka Noodles’. We thought that it would be difficult for a popular Chinese restaurant to go wrong with these three dishes, but we were proved wrong. The waiter apologized for not using cashew nuts in the ‘Kung Pao Chicken’ (which isn’t right to begin with since the original recipe uses peanuts), and proceeded to serve us sufficient quantities of the three dishes. The noodle dish had very little veggies and chicken. It was just about rather blah to a noodle freak like me. Eaw Chew If I were to compare my earlier memories of the food from China Town to what we experienced, I think it is a result of the establish- The restaurants are still economical, with a meal for two costing around Rs 600 to Rs 800, but the quality and taste of the food has deteriorated. research about the restaurant, which is also known as ‘Josephine’s Kitchen’ and hoped this time I would be successful in tasting some authentic homemade Chinese food. After all, according to various sources, this eatery is known for its simple dining room like set-up, secret recipes, loyal customers, welcoming environment and food that promises to be nothing less than a treat. I decided to treat my father to a relaxed weekday lunch at Eau Chew and bond with him over some home-style Chinese food. We opted for ‘Eau Chew Special Soup’ and ‘Dry Chilly Fish’. The soup and appetizer arrived sooner than we imagined, but unfortunately not as tasty as we hoped. The soup had too much going on without any distinct flavour for a so-called ‘special soup’ and the fish, in one word, was forgettable. For the main course we went with the highly recommended ‘Cantonese Soft Noodles’ and ‘Schezwan Fish’. I can assure you that my mom cooks better Cantonese noodles and Schezwan Fish than what we was served to us. Once more, I was let down by an authentic restaurant with a promising legacy. It is unfortunate that both ‘China Garden’ and ‘Eau Chew’ dish up a fascinating heritage and history, which are interesting enough to The ‘Hot Garlic Fish’ was salty bekeep you engaged. But history is not yond measure and inedible. The fish what guests are looking for when still had a taste of its own, if you ate ments not moving with the times. they visit an eatery – they would init sans the gravy, but the chicken was The restaurants are still economical, stead settle for tasty food with good nothing less than a disaster. After a with a meal for two costing around service, anytime. ■ Rs 600 to Rs 800, but the quality and not so great dining experience, we decided to stay away from ordering taste of the food has deteriorated. by Gaurav Singh further, including desserts. The food, I decided to try my luck at the oldest family-owned Chinese restaurant in most definitely left a bad taste in our mouth and the extremely slow India, ‘Eau Chew’, located at Ganesh Chandra Avenue. I did a bit of service added to our frustration. CaLDRON January 2014 25
  26. 26. ROAMING ROVER STYLE AT A STEAL ALOFT, CHENNAI As far as business hotels go Aloft Chennai is definitely intent on raising the bar. Leisure or business, we suggest you pay a visit. F to be feeling at as soon as you walk into any hotel. The check-in proresh. Funky. Fun: The first 3 cess was short and painless and the words that sprung to mind staff friendly and efficient. The fact as I walked through the glass doors that the service-staff were dressed and into the Lobby (aka Re:mix) of for comfort and style in open-neck Aloft, Chennai! For a hotel located T-shirts and pants was in keeping on the IT expressway and catering with the casual-chic feel of the hotel mostly to business travellers and and was not only attractive, but long-stay visitors , Aloft-Chennai practical. A refreshing change from definitely breaks the mould of the the formal and elaborate (read hot typical no-frills business hotel. There and uncomfortable) uniforms that were so many visual and sensory you often see hotel staff in, tropical inputs that I stopped short for a climate notwithstanding. second. The lay-out, the colours, the music, the smell (a signature The Fun Begins scent created for Aloft ), the stack As I waited to take my neon-pinkof brightly lit coloured-cubes, the lit lift to the 3rd floor, I spotted an Art on the walls, and was that a Pool old but beautiful Lambretta scooter table in the far corner?! There was parked at the far-corner of the lifts. so much to take in; less than a few As I walked over to it curiously, I minutes in and I liked it already! was informed that one of the Directors of Aloft is a vintage-scooter Checking-in at the circular afficionado and so different levels Front-Office Desk (Aloha Desk of the hotel have different shining in Aloft-ese), I noticed a sense examples of two-wheeler technology of casual comfort setting in, and from the yester-years. A Maroon whether it was the un-conventional Lambretta on the ground floor, a wraparound desk, the smiling faces military-green James ML 125 cc of the staff or the mix of essential beauty from 1945 on the 1st floor, oils in the scented air, the resuland a Cream-coloured NSU Prima tant mood within a few minutes of D Scooter from 1956 on the 3rd arrival was one of ease, welcome and floor. All in a superb state of mainwarmth – definitely what you want tenance and kept in running-condi- 26 tion, but sadly no, not available to be taken for a spin. A long walk down a stripey corridor (striped carpet, striped lights – standard décor common to all Aloft hotels worldwide) led me to my pool-facing room. Now here I was again pleasantly surprised! Very rarely, especially for hotel rooms, does reality turn out to be better than pictures on the Net! I was expecting a smaller, more compact, no-frills room and so, it was a pleasure to find a spacious, well-appointed, cheerful room with a King-sized platform bed, 2 pool-facing desks, a large 42” flat-screen television and a well-stocked mini-bar (no alcohol but a variety of drinks and nibbles). A complimentary tea-tray complete with choice of signature teas and coffee was on offer, but what immediately caught my eye was an unusual device on the desk called Plug ‘n’ play. On closer inspection, this turned out to be a communications-port that allows one to hook-up any electronic gadget you might have (laptop, PDA, MP3 , cellphone, you-name-it), to the large 42 inch flat-screen and navigate it from the comfort of your bed. Is this a big advantage for business people on the CaLDRON January 2014
  27. 27. CaLDRON January 2014 27
  28. 28. ROAMING ROVER go? I don’t know, but certainly, having the option of working or playing your music/videos/movies from the comfort of that amazingly plush bed could only be good. The Discovery of Toothsome Food A quick peek through the In-room dining Menu revealed quite a few tempting options, but I decided to keep that for later and go check out what else the hotel had to offer. Heading down to lunch, I passed an interesting looking Grab ‘n’ go station called Re:fuel that was stocked with Fresh juices, milkshakes, sandwiches, assorted muffins, salads, snacks and tea/coffee/hot chocolate dispensers. This would be a boon to busy executives rushing to work, with no time to sit down to a proper meal. I felt plenty of thought and attention to detail had been put into that particular feature. For example, snacks and juices were dated and signed by the Chef who had prepared them, healthy options were aplenty, and brown bags were kept ready for one to just throw their choices in a bag and bill it at the Aloha Desk. The concept may not have caught on fully in India, but is very popular at Aloft hotels abroad, I was informed by the GM. I could easily see why. Aloft, one of the Starwood group’s nine brands of Hotels and Resorts, decided to step away from its Select-Service avatar and do things a bit differently in India. Aloft-India has not one but three F & B Venues (4 counting Re:fuel) on offer. Not bad, considering a Select-Service hotel usually has no on-site restaurant! Dot.Yum is the 24 hour multi-cuisine Coffee Shop that offers buffets as well as a la carte for all its meals. Estia is the Mediterranean 28 speciality restaurant and W xyz is the Bar offering Signature Cocktails and bar-snacks from around the world. The Dot.Yum lunch buffet is large and priced reasonably at Rs 650 plus tax pp, (dinner at Rs 700 plus tax pp.) The starters plentiful, off-beat, and delicious. The Nuts and Dukka Spice crusted Chicken Supreme is a dish I would make a special trip back to the hotel for- it was succulent, flavourful and paired with an excellent Tzatziki sauce. The Cheese Boreks, vegetable and cheese-stuffed spring-rolls, were crisp outside, gooey inside and served with a tomato salsa, an ideal way to whet the appetite. I was spoilt for choice when it came to the Main Course selections but decided Less is More and of the few dishes that I sampled, the Arabian tenderloin Shistawook on a skewer was outstanding – char-grilled to perfection, tender and flavoursome, the Moo Goo Gai Pan (Chicken w/sliced mushrooms) fairly tasty but not too authentic and the Paruppu Urandai Kozhambu (lentil dumplings in a tangy gravy) – simply delicious! If you are a dessert person (as I am!), you might find the Dessert section of the Buffet somewhat lacking. Apart from the mini plum-tart and omni-present Gulab Jamun, there wasn’t much else to justify its existence that afternoon. One step up from Dot.yum and segregated partially by vertical wooden slats, is Estia, the signature Mediterranean Restaurant. With the sights, sounds and smells from the coffee-shop buffet spilling into it, Estia seemed more like an extension of the Coffee-shop than a stand-alone Mediterranean Restaurant, which is pity because the food I sampled from its Menu that evening was outstanding. The Sambusaks (phyllo cigars stuffed with Spinach and Nuts and served w/tomato jam) melted in the mouth and the Gambas al Ajillo – Prawns sautéed with garlic, were fresh and flavourful and paired with the perfect accompaniment – Chilli mayonnaise. The Sambusaks were more likely Sigara as Sambusaks must be triangular in shape. Made with a variety of pastry and fillings, both can taste the same but must adhere to shape norms – triangular for Sambusaks and tubular for Sigara. The main course, a Charmoula-crusted Sea Bass with Dijon mashed potatoes and grilled Vegetables was delicious. The fish– grilled and crisp outside, tender inside, went perfectly with the subtly flavoured, creamy mashed potatoes and grilled zucchini. But the surprise of the evening and the show-stopper IMHO, was the Vegetarian main course! I know…. what a surprise! Innocuously named Moroccan Vegetable Couscous, the dish was presented with a flourish and looked and tasted so good, I am going to have to go back for it. The cous-cous was light and very flavourful, surrounded by a moat of delicious, Moroccan-spiced tomato gravy and topped with a tender, buttered stem of asparagus. A dish fit for a King, or Queen in this case. ;) Last up was one of two most famous desserts of the Mediterranean coast, Tiramisu. Layers of Coffee soaked sponge, interspersed with mascarpone enhanced whipped cream and dusted with cocoa, served chilled. It was a beautiful end to a fabulous meal. I would definitely go back to Estia for a good meal, and can only hope that future meals meet the high standards that were set that evening. A meal for 2 would set you back around Rs 1800/- approximate CaLDRON January 2014
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  31. 31. ROAMING ROVER ly, which is quite reason- able. Last but certainly not the least is W xyz – the Lobby Bar situated at Ground level with glass walls on two sides and glass windows on the third. All that glass gives one a slight goldfish-in-a-bowl feeling, but in a good way. There is a light and spacious feel to the bar, and being able to see the world go by as you sip on one of the bar’s excellent Signature cocktails is an added bonus. The Snack Menu is extensive, with options for a light bite (e.g. Herbed Fish Fingers/Chicken Satay) or a Big-bite (Chettinad Chicken Paratha Wrap/Beer-battered Fish & Chips). The staff are friendly and the Manager of the bar, an avid mixologist, loves a chance to display his skills. That evening, he mixed up an Aloft signature cocktail, The Year of the Dragon, a delicious combination of Peach Absolut vodka with fresh strawberries muddled with lemon juice, sugar syrup, a little strawberry crush and topped with club soda… to make the perfect cocktail for a hot summer night – refreshing and light. Thoughtful Design Despite its F&B offerings, Aloft’s equal if not stronger focus, is on the tech-savvy and business traveller. This is evident from the plug ‘n’ play comm-port in the room, the free Wi-Fi throughout the hotel and also other such thoughtful offerings like the twin iPads near the main entrance – helpful if you want to make a quick search without pulling out your device, or perhaps print your ticket before you head out to the airport. Away from the main entrance is a quiet corner called In Touch, where full-size computers and office facilities await; a mini business-centre at your disposal. If you need to host a meeting, Tactic could be the perfect place to do it with state-of-the art AV equipment and an ability to host CaLDRON January 2014 upto 45 people at a time. For larger corporate functions or parties there is Hub, almost 3000 square feet of space and an excellent kitchen to back it up. Whether on business or leisure, everyone needs some R&R and Aloft has a few options you would be hard-pressed to find even at a 5-star hotel. At Re:mix you have comfortable seats to catch up on your reading, a high-table and chairs with a choice of board games and… a pool table! If that’s too indoors-ey, head up to the first-floor where you could either lounge in the open-air backyard with a book, catch up with friends with some cool music playing in the background, laze in one of the cabanas by the pool or take a dip in its cool, blue waters. Alternatively, head to The Spa where the Buddha-statue, fragrant air, dim-lighting and vedic-chant music will lull you into a peaceful trance in minutes. A short walk away from The Spa is Re:charge, the compact but fully-equipped gymnasium open 24 hours a day for in-house guests. ‘Style at a Steal’ they say? I agree. Aloft- OMR, Chennai gets two thumbs up for service, style, comfort, and great food. ■ by Kuki Ravindran 31
  32. 32. COVER STORY S ometime in June 2013, a blog post accused Lemp Brewpub in Gurgaon of mistreating a group of customers who visited the restaurant for the Sunday brunch. It alleged that the restaurant’s high-on-testosterone staff and owner misbehaved with the patrons and even hauled them to a police station for non-payment of a bill. This blog post went viral, sending the Twitterati into a tizzy. The issue snowballed in no time as opinions started flying thick and fast about the high-handedness of the restaurant’s officials. While the jury is still out, and we are noncommittal, about what actually transpired and who was at fault to what degree, there is one simple learning from this entire episode – the fiasco could have been avoided if the restaurant’s officials had handled it with tact and diplomacy. Close on the heels of this incident, many other people on social media networks spewed their own ire of wrongdoing they encountered in various eateries across the country. Jaya Khanna, 32, an entrepreneur who frequents 5-star establishments says that these places often lack basic courtesy extended to a guest. “The buffets are the worst. You place your request at the live counter, expecting warm food to reach your table. But you end up getting cold, undercooked food; despite paying a hefty price for the buffet. It makes your blood boil,” she fumes. Sethuraman N, 25, a sales manager in an IT firm in Bangalore, recalls another incident where he visited a famous coffee chain and was seated at a table that was not cleared of the remnants of the previous guest’s food – for 20 minutes and despite several reminders to the staff to clear the table! “That day, a lot did happen over coffee,” he quips. Most of us would have similar horror stories to share about occurrences in restaurants that left us seething and some of us use social media platforms to rant about it. But are any of us willing to cut the restaurant’s team some slack and understand their perspective at times? From the Other Side Take this case for instance. A group of corporate staffers decides to have a working lunch at an open kitchen restaurant. Now an open kitchen means that there will be some sounds emanating from the cooking area especially when vegetables were stir-fried. One of the men from the group was upset because the noise was disturbing their conversation. He summoned the chef, who politely apologized for the inconvenience, diners from HELL 32 Empathy usually works when you put yourself in the guest’s shoes and relate to his ire” – Chef Ajay Chopra, Executive Chef of Westin Mumbai Garden City but pointed out that there was little he could do other than accommodate the group to a table some distance away from the open kitchen. However, the guest was not placated and insisted on speaking to the owner of the restaurant. “Thankfully, the owner understood my dilemma and tried to make the guest understand that little could be done about the noise and smell originating from the kitchen. But the guest left as a unhappy customer,” recalls Chef Ajay Chopra, currently the Executive Chef of Westin Mumbai Garden City, while reminiscing about this story from one of his previous assignments. Nityanand Shetty, Director of Melting Pot, Every restaurant owner dreads them. Every chef has encountered them. Every hotel’s employee wishes to avoid them. Ladies and gentlemen, meet the ‘Difficult Diners’, for whom the food is never perfect, the ambience always lacks something and the meal experience is always short of ideal. CaLDRON January 2014
  33. 33. COVER STORY Pebbles and 49 Grills in Mumbai talks about an incident at one of his restaurants. “A celebrity, who is a regular at our restaurant, had booked two tables on a busy night. Another trio of guests was waiting for a while since the restaurant was filled to capacity. We seated them in a smaller table for two with an extra seat, after taking their permission. But when one of the trio saw that the celebrity had booked two tables and a couple of seats were unoccupied he took umbrage to this and accused us of being star-struck and partial to celebrities,” Nityanand remembers. that a guest expects from a Starwoods property, be it their hotel, restaurant or spa. Another trick of dealing with difficult diners is asking them to suggest a solution to their issue. So, if they feel that they are uncomfortable where they have been seated, ask them where they would prefer to be Nityanand Shetty, Director - Melting Pot moved to do and try to shift them at the earliest. “The reason is simple patient hearing so that they feel that – a nagging customer will spoil the their concern is taken seriously, if dining experience of other guests, not addressed, and that their com- which is something no restaurant plaint was taken seriously. Sadly, not can afford,” adds Chef Deepak Balmany establishments know how to laney of International Wings Factory handle such situations, which leads in New York. to a sticky state of affairs. We spoke The guest kept his diatribe on for 10 to a few chefs and restaurant owners The easiest way out that some minutes, during which time the ce- who shared their tricks of the trade restaurants take to mute demanding lebrity and his friends finished their for dealing with tough customers. patrons is to offer them a comp dish. meal and left. But the guest was still Though this is not the ideal solution, far from happy. Nityanand claims it does help in making amends. Chef Dealing with Tough that his staff listened to this tirade Deepak recommends that a restauCustomers patiently and assured the guest they rant owner should teach his staff to The first and most important habwould not charge him for the food. listen, be polite, be reasonable, but it that any person associated with “At the end of his meal the guest also know when to stop bending the hospitality sector has to imbibe over backwards. “Just because we are refused to avail of the free food and just accepted a token of free dessert, is one of patience and extreme there to give people a good dining restraint. Unless the guest gets because he felt that we had adexperience, but we are also there to physically violent or excessively dressed his issue,” he adds. run a business. We can’t be expected abusive, the staff of the restaurant is to comp a meal every time a diner Difficult diners are a regular facet obliged to understand why the guest disagrees with our food or policies,” of every restaurant’s life. The trick to deal with them is to lend them a is upset. “Empathy usually works he points out. when you put yourself in the guest’s shoes and relate to his ire,” says Chef In short, empathy, patience and the Chopra. willingness to go the extra mile to This is where professionalism saves the day. Many hotels have started investing in training their staff on the right way to welcome, seat, interact and listen to a guest. Starwood, for instance, has even initiated a Guest Experience Index (GEI) where each Starwood staffer’s incentives are tied to the rating they receive in the GEI “A nagging customer will spoil the dining experience of other guests, which filled in by guests. This is to ensure is something no restaurant can afford” that every member of the team can – Chef Deepak Ballaney, International deliver the expected level of service Wings Factory, New York CaLDRON January 2014 ensure that the guest has a good time are the cornerstones of any hospitality venture. If these tenets had been followed by Lemp Brewpub then chances are that establishment would not have been in the news for all the wrong reasons. Let us just hope other restaurant owners learn from this unfortunate episode and give their patrons a reason to keep coming back for more. ■ by Vinita Bhatia 33
  34. 34. KITCHEN KIN Chef Emiliano De Stefano Chef De Excellence The youthfulness of Italian Chef Emiliano Di Stefano belies his eight years of experience in creating Italian dishes across Asia and the Middle East. As Chef de Cuisine, he is now overseeing the kitchen of Prego, the California style restaurant at Westin Gurgaon. My fascination for Italian food is legendary. Whether you have graced my table, cooked my recipes or read my opinions, you will notice that I involuntarily veer towards the flavor-filled warmth of Italian food ever so often. It has the familiar – tomatoes and garlic; the not so familiar – porcini and sardines; the comforting – red wine and olive oil; 34 and the extraordinary – prosciutto and chestnuts. So, whichever way you approach it, Italian cuisine will deliver. This versatile cuisine goes beyond pizza and pasta, which thankfully we now know. It encompasses the entire realm of vegetarian cooking too. But for me, Italian food is beautiful beef, plump tomatoes, sweet balsamic, aromatic herbs, calamari, tart olives and creamy, milky desserts. This is the mindset I took with me when I met Chef Emiliano Di Stefano, the new Italian Chef de Cuisine at Prego, Westin Gurgaon’s Californian style Italian restaurant. My first question to Chef Emiliano was, CaLDRON January 2014
  35. 35. KITCHEN KIN “Why Californian style?” He replied how wonderfully challenging every that this was because Prego is sunny new destination is for him. and playful, al fresco yet private, beautifully upscale but inclusive. Well, I can vouch that it certainly felt that way. Having eaten at Prego I am a food aficionado several times before, I was keen to see what Chef Emiliano would do and I love to see new differently. I started with a tête-àcountries, new cultête about him and his past. Passion for Food Supersedes Geographies Chef Emiliano has over eight years of experience as an Italian chef in countries as diverse as China, the Middle East and now India. Needless to say, I was intrigued by his choice of appointments. To which he impishly said, “I am a food aficionado and I love to see new countries, new cultures and make people in those countries try what they haven’t tried before!” His career so far includes stints at the Venice Hotel in China, Intercontinental Hotel in Muscat and Hotel Executive in Italy. He also worked as a Pastry Chef at Ghigo, a 200year old patisserie in Torino, Italy, for several years. Later, he served as Sous Chef at The Atlantic Hotel in Italy, under renowned Italian Chef Lucio Antonietti. In addition to his expertise in Italian cuisine, Chef Emiliano also good knowledge of Mediterranean and European cooking. Chef Emiliano seemed to be excited about being in India, especially because of the vast palates Indians are known to have. He spoke of guests who wanted more sauce and then regretted asking for it, simply because the dish was perfect as it was served. He talked about diners who asked for dishes he was thrilled to serve up and most of all, he spoke of CaLDRON January 2014 Tournedos’ (Rs 2300). The ‘Affettati Gnocco Fritto’ was an array of Italian cured meats served with a fried Emilian bread puff; of this, the puff and the prosciutto were stellar. The ‘Open Ravioli’ was a very picturesque dish. The yellow saffron sauce was well contrasted by the dark and mysterious seafood ragout tinted with squid ink – all-in-all it tures and make people was creamy heaven! This dish is so wonderfully Italian it makes you in those countries try wonder why you bother with any what they haven’t tried other cuisine. I could taste the sea, the ravioli was perfectly rolled and before!” – Chef Emilia- so very fresh and I loved every last slurp of the saffron sauce. In fact, no De Stefano that evening I attempted the saffron sauce at home, though it was nowhere as close to Chef Emiliano’s Considering his young age, I won- presentation. But yes, his dishes dered how big a challenge it must spark inspiration in the diner. be to reign as Chef de Cuisine. But However, what stole the show were Chef Emiliano says that he loves the the ‘Tournedos’, medallions of beaustaff at Westin and is especially in tiful tenderloin, pink and juicy in love with the knowledge they bring the center, spiked with the tartness with them. These days he is busy of a balsamic reduction. I had to learning more about Indian food stop myself from using my fingers to and what he calls our ‘wonderful lick it off the plate. It is accompanied spices’! by what you least expect – a chocolate biscotti. I loved the sweet, tart, Wondrous Food, meaty combination so much, that I Lovely Company plan to go back just for this. Chef Emiliano is an avid reader. When he is not creating new dishes Prego is lucky to have the youthful in the kitchen, he takes time out to spirit of Chef Emiliano, a man who concentrate on his fitness regime, doesn’t just understand the nuances and boy, is he fit! He is also keen of ingredients, he senses them, he on learning different languages and feels them. Halfway through our is well versed in Italian, French, chat I realized his mind and heart English and Spanish. After an hour- were in the kitchen and it wasn’t just long friendly banter about family, about appeasing me; he had his eye Italy, India and food, we came down on each and every guest that packed to business, the menu for the day. the restaurant on a warm Tuesday That afternoon Chef Emiliano had afternoon. Pretty darned good for a cooked up ‘Affettati Gnocco Fritto’ city like Gurgaon! ■ (Rs 900), ‘Open Ravioli with Crusby Parul Pratap Shirazi tacean Ragout and Saffron Cream’ (Rs 1400) and the absolutely fantastic ‘Chef Special Veal Tenderloin 35
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  37. 37. KITCHEN KIN Anyone who has watched MasterChef India would instantly recognize Chef Kunal Kapur, and their first recollection about him would be his stern demeanor and blunt feedback, which has many contestants on the TV reality show in tears. But Chef Kunal prefers to call a spade by that name, rather than sugarcoating it. In a freewheeling discussion, he tells Vinita Bhatia how MasterChef India changed his life for the better and how he often ended up learning from the contestants than the other way around. Vinita Bhatia (VB): Most men in your family belonged to the finance sector. So how did you land up in the culinary world? took an educational loan for my hospitality course. I started my career at Taj Group of Hotels, and later had the chance to work at Made in India at Radisson Hotel in Noida, Dhaba at the Claridges and Diya at the Leela Kempinski Gurgaon. Today, my parents are very happy with the decision I had taken back then. the contestants. It is important to showcase the contestant is and also show why he is part of the contest. In India people always connect with emotions. Given a chance, I would love to have a show that focused completely on food. However, one can’t hide emotions even in that. Coming to MasterChef India And Junior MasterChef being over-draVB: What are your earliest memo- matized, well, it is a reality show ries about food and cooking? where no one is told what to do. At KK: I vividly recall our short week- the same time, people in India are end trips to India Gate in New Delhi very emotional about whatever they with three or four other families do, even cooking. where each family carried a home cooked dish. Back then, we would VB: But was MasterChef India as also carry a sigdi with us. I remem- popular as the Australian series? ber sitting by the sigdi to help my KK: If you look popularity point of uncle barbecue kebabs. Even toview of both the shows in India, the the SHOWMAN CHEF “One has to be a showman on TV besides being a good cook, especially in a country like India where we idolize anyone we see on TV”- Chef Kunal Kapur Chef Kunal Kapur (KK): I can tell you it was not an easy journey. My family expected me to join the banking industry, but unfortunately, I was very bad with numbers. After I completed my school, somebody suggested a course in hotel management as a career option. On further inquiry, I learnt I would land a job in a hotel after completing the course. I saw hotel management as an escape from the clichéd tag of a banker. I had to work hard at convincing my family why I wanted to take up hotel management. Finally, they relented and my father even CaLDRON January 2014 day, I prefer intimate dinners with my family, eating home cooked food, over ostentatious parties. The amount of love, care and affection that goes into making a home cooked meal is incomparable and is all about emotional attachment. ratings for MasterChef India was much higher as compared to the Australian series in India. MasterChef India became a household name and a huge economic driver for the food business. VB: Suddenly, the Indian hospiVB: Talking about emotions, many tality scene is cluttered with masfelt that the Indian MasterChef ter chefs and celebrity chefs. Do series was over-dramatized and you think these chefs deserve this it was more about the emotions elevated status, given that most of of the contestants than about the them are of showmen than cooks? food. Do you agree? KK: Master chefs and celebrity chefs KK: For any show to become are names given by the media. I popular, it has to revolve around think MasterChef India TV 37
  38. 38. KITCHEN KIN at Diya, the Indian restaurant at Leela Kempinski Gurgaon? KK: I already do that at Diya, because I use the essence of basic recipes and give it my different touch from my travel experiences. One of Diya’s strengths is using fresh and seasonally available produce for its Punjabi and Awadi cuisine. Gosht ka Korma series made the word ‘Master Chef ’ a commonly used term. Television has the capacity to make anything and anyone glamorous. One has to be a showman on TV besides being a good cook, especially in a country like India where we idolize anyone we see on TV. So what is wrong if a chef is appreciated or glamorized? This trade has been looked down upon for a long time and finally is on the progressive track. That makes me feel happy. VB: Trends keep coming and fading in the culinary world. What food fad, do you think, will gain ground in Indian in 2014? KK: Between 2012 and 2013, many restaurants tried their hand at molecular gastronomy, leading to a lot of fusion and confusion. This year, I think going seasonal and combining local flavours with international taste will become more popular. I also foresee restaurants using locally available produce and merging that with international techniques of cooking, with the onus of keeping the flavours simple and fresh. VB: Is that what you will be doing 38 VB: How would you compare running a standalone restaurant to managing one in a 5-star restaurant? KK: Running a restaurant is no joke. It takes the collective efforts of the team to pull of a successful restaurant. In many ways, a restaurant in a hotel has multiple advantages. It has an existing support structure, right from extra hands to the uniform department to systematized stores to round-the-clock maintenance and guests who stay at the hotel invariably patronizing the restaurant. But this advantage can become a disadvantage where the responsibility to meet the budget takes precedence at all times. On the other hand, a standalone restaurant has to do everything by itself. The manager and the chef play the role of parents and need to keep a 24/7 watch on their baby. This means lots of responsibility for the duo without the liberty of sharing most of this with their rest of the staff. While this makes them competitive, it can also lead to stress. While I am happier managing a restaurant in a hotel currently, I would definitely like to have a restaurant of my own sometime in the future. Gosht Ka Korma Ingredients: • 500gm mutton on the bone • 250g oil • 2 tsp cumin • 1 black cardamom • 5 green cardamoms • 1-inch cinnamon • 4 cloves • 5 black pepper corns • 125g ginger garlic paste • Salt, to taste • 1 tsp turmeric • 1 tbsp coriander powder • 1 tbsp red chilly powder (adjust as per taste) • 4 cups yogurt • ½ cup cashewnut paste • ½ cup coriander, chopped Method: 1. Heat oil in a thick-bottomed pan. Add all the whole spices and allow them to crackle. 2. Now add the mutton and cook it on medium heat for 5 minutes. 3. Dissolve ginger garlic paste in 1 cup of water and add to the mutton. Continue cooking for another seven minutes. 4. Add salt, turmeric, red chilly powder and coriander powder. Cook on low heat, till the lamb leaves the oil. 5. Whisk the yogurt and add to the mutton. Increase the heat and keep stirring, till yogurt comes to a boil. 6. Lower the heat and cook the mutton covered on low heat for another 10 minutes. 7. Add two cups water and mix in the cashewnut paste. Stir and then cover and cook till the mutton is soft. 8. Check for seasoning and garnish with chopped coriander. 9. Serve hot with roti, naan or paratha. Lufthansa to help them upgrade their menu for first and business class. And in the past, I have been associated with the New Zealand Tourism Board. VB: Wasn’t your name included in the Limca Book of Records a couple of years ago for creating a chocolate tower? KK: Frankly, I alone did not achieve this feat. The Leela Ambience Hotel staff, Chef Ajay Chopra of Westin Garden City Mumbai, contestants of MasterChef India Season 1 and I together put together India’s tallest VB: There was talk about a cookery chocolate tower inside Ambience book that you were authoring. Mall in Gurgaon. The tower was KK: Yes, I am working on my new made of around 20,000 chocolate cookery book with the idea of mak- éclair buns, 800kg chocolate and ing cooking an easy task for anyone 12000 eggs. The height of this tower and everyone. I also work with was 26 feet and 8 inches. I CaLDRON January 2014
  39. 39. Pinni Srikhand Granola Ingredients: • 250gm Pinni • 250gm hung yogurt • 4 tbsp powdered sugar • 2 tbsp rolled oats • 2 tbsp pista, chopped • 2 tbsp corn flakes Method: 1. Mix pinni, rolled oats, pista chopped and corn flakes together. Rub the mixture with hands to make into a crumbly texture. 2. Mix sugar and hung yogurt. In a glass layer alternately with yogurt and pinni granola. Serve immediately remember we worked all through the night to have this huge tower ready by noon the next day. But the sense of satisfaction on seeing it up was second to none. Chef Kunal Kapur is a big movie buff. He also loves traveling and exploring new places. On a typical day off, you are most likely to find him cooking for his friends and spending time with his son. VB: Is your two-year old a fussy eater? As a parent and a chef, how do you get him excited about eating different types of healthy food? KK: Ironically, Ranbir, my son, resents food! He eats only when my wife or I give him lot of hugs and spend time with him. He has a fixed list of things he likes to eat and he wants them cooked in a particular way. I make a point to feed him at least one meal daily, which takes lot of time, but I look forward to it all the same. ■ by Vinita Bhatia CaLDRON January 2014 39
  40. 40. DROOL SPREAD Photo: Sid Khullar Venue: Infinity, Crowne Plaza, Mayur Vihar, New Delhi 40 CaLDRON January 2014
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  42. 42. To celebrate DSF 2014, CaLDRON brings you recipes of the signature dishes of some of the popular restaurants in Dubai. So go on, have fun! 'The 19th edition of the Dubai Shopping Festival (DSF) is underway from 2nd January to 2nd February, 2014. Since it was launched in 1996, the mega-shopping fest has attracted around 51 million participants, who have spent just around $35 billion. And while shopping is the major draw to this event, visitors are equally excited about hospitality and entertainment. 42 CaLDRON January 2014
  43. 43. RECIPES - GLOBAL FUSION Fattoush Salad Bursting with fresh vegetables this Middle Eastern salad is served with pieces of crisp pita bread. This recipe from Mirdif City Centre in Dubai is easy to prepare, light on the stomach, and yet filling enough. Ingredients: For the dressing: • 300ml olive oil • 2 lemons, juice and zest only • 1 garlic clove, crushed • 4 tbsp sumac • Salt and freshly ground black pepper For the salad: • 1 pita bread, torn into small pieces • 8 plum tomatoes, seeds removed, quartered • 1/2 cucumber, peeled, cut into 5cm batons • 1/2 green pepper, cut into strips • 8 radishes, sliced • 1 shallot, sliced • Small handful rocket leaves • Small Little gem lettuce • Handful fresh mint leaves Method: 1. For the dressing, place the olive oil, lemon juice and zest, crushed garlic and sumac into a bowl and whisk together to combine. 2. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. 3. For the salad, place the torn pita, tomatoes, cucumber, pepper, radishes, shallot, rocket leaves, Little Gem lettuce leaves and mint leaves into a large bowl and season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper. 4. To serve, pour the dressing, to taste, over the salad and gently mix together to coat the salad evenly. You may not need all the dressing for this recipe, so set the remainder aside in the fridge for up to a week. CaLDRON January 2014 43
  44. 44. RECIPES - LOCAL PALATE Murgh Malai Kabab Savour the royal flavours of the Murg Malai Kabab and tuck into its mild spices. This recipe from from Gazebo Restaurant in Dubai will transport you to the courts of Lucknow and the North-Western frontier of India. Ingredients: • 500g boneless chicken cubes • 1/2 cup hung curd (thick curd) • 1/2 cup fresh cream • 1/2 cup grated processed cheese • 1 tsp ginger paste • 1 tsp garlic paste • 1 tsp green cardamom powder • 1/4 tsp black pepper powder • 1 tsp butter • Salt to taste Method: 1. Pierce the boneless chicken cubes with a fork and keep aside. 2. In a bowl and mix together hung curd, cream, cheese, salt, pepper powder, cardamom powder, ginger paste and garlic paste. 3. Dip the chicken pieces and rub the marinade on them and refrigerate for a minimum of 2 hours. 4. Skewer the marinated chicken pieces and cook on a charcoal grill turning occasionally and basting with butter until they are evenly cooked. 5. Serve hot with mint chutney and onion rings. 44 CaLDRON January 2014
  45. 45. RECIPES - GLOBAL FUSION Kafta Bel Laban Who can resist the authentic flavours of a traditional homecooked Kafta Bel Laban. This recipe from Leila Restaurant in Dubai shows how to cook this healthy Lebanese dish. Ingredients: • 450g ground beef • 1/2 cup parsley, finely chopped • 1/2 cup onion, finely chopped • 2 cloves garlic, minced • 1 tbsp garlic powder • 1/2 tsp ground paprika • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper • 1 tsp salt • 1/3 cup breadcrumbs • 1 egg • 1 cup yogurt • 1/3 cup pine nuts • 2 pieces Lebanese bread Method: 1. Preheat grill to high heat. 2. Mix beef, parsley, onion, garlic, garlic powder, paprika, black pepper, salt, breadcrumbs and egg in a large bowl. 3. Wet fingers and hands and mold meat mixture around skewers in a long log shape. 4. Grill until meat is no longer pink. 5. Coat Lebanese bread with olive oil using pastry brush and place on baking tray. Bake in oven until golden and toasted. Let cool and break it up into medium pieces. 6. Cover bottom of dish with toasted Lebanese bread. 7. Top with meat and generous amount of yogurt on top. 8. Sprinkle with pine nuts. 9. Garnish with slices of tomato and mint leaves (if desired). CaLDRON January 2014 45
  46. 46. RECIPES - GLOBAL FUSION Chicken Spinoccoli UNO Chicago Grill uses Italy’s old authentic recipes and combining it with the finest meats, fresh cheeses, ripe vegetables and flavourful spices to make pizza and pasta the heartiest meal of all. Here is a recipe from this American-cuisine restaurant in Dubai. Ingredients: • 1 chicken spinoccoli roulade each • 1/2 cup water • 2 slices mozzarella • 1 tbsp pesto sauce • 7 fluid oz alfredo sauce • 11oz penne pasta • 2 fluid oz UNO pizza sauce • 1 tsp parsley, chopped • 1 tbsp parmesan, shredded • 1 piece garnish bread Method: 1. Spray a regular sized pizza pan with pan release. 2. Unwrap the chicken spinoccoli roulade and place into the pizza pan with 1/2 cup water. Place the cut side down. Cover the roulade with 2 slices of mozzarella. Place the chicken spinoccoli into the bottom oven. 3. When chicken is cooked, prepare the pasta. Pre-heat sauce pan, add pesto and alfredo sauce. Stir and bring to a simmer. Place the pasta into the salted boiling water and cook until ready. Drain well. 4. Place the pasta into the simmering sauce and toss. Place pasta in a pre-heated pasta bowl. 5. Place the UNO pizza sauce in a strip down the center of the pasta. 6. Remove the chicken spinoccoli roulade from the pan and place onto a clean cutting board. 7. Slice the chicken into 5 slices – cut on a bias. Layer the sliced chicken spinoccoli down the center of the appropriate preheated bowl. 8. Take end slice and rotate it to the opposite end so that on both sides the colorful filling is visible. 9. Sprinkle chopped parsley and parmesan on pasta and place bread on the side of the bowl. 46 CaLDRON January 2014
  47. 47. RECIPES - GLOBAL FUSION Double Mushrooms This recipe from Zafran Restaurant in Dubai offers a contemporary take to a simple mushroom recipe. Ingredients: • 180g button mushroom (cleaned 6 pieces) • 90g panko crumbs (Japanese bread crumbs) • 1 tsp red bell pepper, chopped finely • 2 tsps onion, chopped finely • 1 pinch black pepper, crushed • 2 tbsps plain flour • 1 tsp corn flour • 2 pinches salt • 3 tbsps Amul cheese • Oil to fry Method: 1. Clean mushrooms by scooping out from the centre. 2. Mix grated cheese with red pepper, onion and black pepper. 3. Stuff cheese mixture into each mushroom and club 2 pieces each from the filling side. 4. Make batter with flour, corn flour and water (not too thick). 5. Dip stuffed mushrooms in the batter and coat with panko crumbs (2 times) and deep fry until they are a golden brown colour. 6. Serve with a dipping sauce of your choice. CaLDRON January 2014 47
  48. 48. RECIPES - GLOBAL FUSION Tiramisu Nothing can work wonders for your appetite than Tiramisu, an authentic Italian dessert. Carluccio’s, an all day Italian café in Dubai, shares the recipe for making this light any-time dish. Ingredients: • 200g mascarpone cheese • 160g savoiardi biscuits, sometimes called lady fingers • 200ml espresso coffee • 200ml double cream • 4 egg yolks • 70g castor sugar • 3 gelatin leaves Method: 1. Whisk together the mascarpone cheese and double cream in an electric mixer until slightly stiff, keep aside. In another bowl add the egg yolks and whisk slowly. 2. Mix the sugar with a small amount of water in a pan and bring to boil, boiling for a few minutes. 3. Soak the gelatin leaves in iced water until soft. Drain the gelatin leaves and squeeze out any excess water, then add the gelatin leaves to the sugar syrup. Stir gently until the gelatin has dissolved. Add the sugar and gelatin to the egg yolks, whisk using the electric mixer on high speed. Put the egg yolk mixture in a bowl and gently fold in the mascarpone and cream using a spatula. 4. Once everything is combined, place in the fridge to set. 5. Heat up the coffee adding a little bit of water and pour into a shallow bowl or tray. Soak the savoiardi biscuits in the coffee and line them in a dessert bowl. 6. Spoon the mascarpone mix on top of the savoiardi biscuits making sure it is spread evenly. Add another layer of coffee soaked savoiardi biscuits on top of the mascarpone. Do not press the biscuits. Finish with a final layer of the mascarpone mix. 7. Keep refrigerated until serving and sprinkle with cocoa powder. 48 CaLDRON January 2014
  49. 49. PHOTO RELIEF Coffee, after dessert? Photo: Sid Khullar Venue: Nero, Le Meridien, New Delhi CaLDRON January 2014 49
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  51. 51. RECIPES - LOCAL PALATE T hat she is passionate about cooking is evident the moment one opens Farrukh Shadab Ansari’s blog page on You will be excused if you immediately slip a into food coma after seeing the spectacular photos of food that has been lovingly cooked and endearingly presented. Bangalore-based Farrukh is a microbiologist and naturopath. However, after her marriage she chose to become a home maker, caring for her family comprising her husband and two children. She started experimenting with different types of cuisines and styles of cooking because of her family, especially her husband who loves variety while dining. What started as amateur dabbling in the kitchen soon became a full-fledged passion and she decided to start compiling her recipes and blogging about it. The food photos of her well-followed blog can easily be compared to art on a digital canvas. In October 2013, the Food Bloggers Association of India bestowed Farrukh with the ‘The Best Recipe Blog’ award. Fig Almond Shake Farrukh Shadab likes this recipe for the high iron content, fibre and vitamins figs contribute and also because it can be consumed during fasts. Ingredients: • 8 nos figs, dried • 2 tbsp almonds, roughly chopped • 400 ml low fat milk • 1 tbsp honey (increase or decrease if preferred) • A few ice cubes Method: 1. Soak the chopped fig in ¼ cup of hot water for 15 minutes to soften them. 2. In a blender, blend together figs, almonds and a little milk to form a smooth paste. 3. Add milk, honey and ice cubes, blend well. Serve as required. CaLDRON January 2014 51
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  53. 53. RECIPES - LOCAL PALATE Malai Makai Paneer Farrukh Shadab, an award winning blogger who blogs at Cubes n Juliennes (, shares her recipe or Malai Makai Paneer with us. Farrukh is also a talented photographer, as illustrated by her photo s accompanying all her recipes. Ingredients: • 200gm Paneer (cottage cheese) • 1 cup Corn, boiled • 1 Bay leaf • 5 Green cardamoms • 2 inches Cinnamon stick • 1 Onion (medium, finely chopped) • 1 tsp Green chili paste • 2 tsp Ginger garlic paste • 1 tsp Black pepper powder • ½ tsp White pepper powder • 1 tsp Garam masala powder • ¼ cup Yoghurt, thick • 1 tbsp Almond paste • 2 tbsp Mawa/khoya (optional) • ½ cup Cream • Salt to taste • 1 tsp Sugar • ¾ cup Water, warm • 2 tbsp Oil Method: 1. In a pan, heat oil, add cardamom, bay leaf and cinnamon. Fry for 15 seconds. 2. Add chopped onion, fry till translucent. 3. Add boiled corn, ginger-garlic paste, green chili paste, black and white pepper powder, almond paste and sauté well on high heat for minute stirring continuously. 4. Add khoya, mix well. Lower the heat, add whisked yoghurt, stir until combined well. 5. Add warm water and simmer for 4-5 minutes. 6. Add salt, sugar, garam masala powder, and cream, mix well. 7. Add paneer cubes and simmer for another 5 minutes. Serve with hot naan, roti, pulao or rice. CaLDRON January 2014 53
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  55. 55. RECIPES - GLOBAL FUSION Roasted Bell Pepper Suppli Farrukh Shadab shares her recipes for Italian Supplis. These are snacks made from cooked rice and usually have a piece of mozzarella in the center. Though traditionally made using Arborio rice, other forms of plain cooked rice work too. Ingredients: • 2 cups rice, plain cooked • 1 small or half of large red bell pepper • 1 small or half of large yellow bell pepper • 4 tbsp parmesan cheese, grated • 3 tbsp cheddar cheese, grated • 1 nos green chili, chopped (you can add more for hotness) • 3/4 tsp red chili flakes • 5-6 nos basil leaves or 1 ½ tsp of dried basil • 1/3 cup + extra for coating bread crumbs • 75 gms mozzarella cheese, cut in 1.5 cm cube • 3/4 cup milk for coating • Salt as per taste • Oil for frying preferably olive oil Method: 1. Clean and wipe the bell peppers. Apply some oil to the bell pepper’s skin and roast on a gas stove or oven (180 degrees) till its skin turns black and it has a smoky aroma. 2. Remove the skin of the roasted peppers, deseed and chop finely. 3. Put the rice in a bowl and mash it coarsely. Add 1/3 cup bread crumbs, parmesan, cheddar, green chili, red chili flakes, basil, and salt. 4. Mix well. If you feel the rice mixture is too dry, sprinkle a few drops of water and mix. 5. Divide the rice mixture equally , depending upon the size of the suppli you prefer. I divided it into 9 portions from the abovementioned proportions. 6. Take one portion of the mixture, make an indentation and place one cube of mozzarella within. Seal it by forming the rice dough into a ball, oblong or a flat patty. I preferred to make it a flat patty. 7. Repeat the same for all the portions. Refrigerate the patties for 30mins. 8. Dip the patty in the milk and coat it with bread crumbs. Once again dip it in milk and coat it with crumbs again. Repeat this procedure for all the patties. 9. Heat the oil in a pan (not to smoke point as it is olive oil), shallow fry the prepared patties till golden brown. Serve hot with the sauce or dip of your choice. CaLDRON January 2014 55
  56. 56. 56 CaLDRON January 2014