the legend of
fact or fiction?
How to Fast
there’s always something cooking
The ‘from scratch’
to break your fast with
CHEFS, COOKS AND BOOKS
Chef Vikas Khanna was seen
at the Culinary Club at the Imperial with his new book and a dish or three.
ART MEETS COFFEE
The Le Meridien created an interesting mixture of art and coffee with the work
of one barista and two artists.
FASTING, THE HEALTHY WAY
We’ve all tried fasting at some point or the other. The ex-
perts tell us how to do it right.
LASAGNA, FROM SCRATCH
Claudia shows us how she makes her Lasagna. Yes, she even makes the sheets
herself and you can too.
THE CHEF WITH MANY HATS
A chat with Michael Swamy who is a chef, writer, stylist
and photographer, all rolled into one.
SMOKED AUBERGINE DIP
Fasts must be broken the right way and this vegetarian recipe is a great dish
that does it right.
GLUTINOUS CHICKEN DUMPLINGS
Chef Joergen Sodemann of Al Bustan Palace, A Ritz-Carlton Hotel, shares his
recipe for fried chicken dumplings.
YEARS OF DARKNESS
Jaswinder met The Balvenie at an evening he isn’t likely to
forget for some time to come.
SLOW DOWN WITH CHEF FRANCESCO COSTAGLI
Parul was bowled over by Chef Francesco Costagli’s love
and passion for slow food.
LOW OVERHEAD HIGH VALUE
Maitre’d, waiter and chef all rolled into one at this little
gem Antara discovered in Kolkata.
THE NOODLE BAR: ONE WAY OR ANOTHER
Vinita Bhatia checked out the Noodle Bar in Juhu and
found at least one thing she loved about it.
ONE OF A KIND
Nadeem visited Indian Accent and came back with a firm
opinion about the restaurant.
SOCIAL HOUR AT THE SHERATON
A fabulous concept that regularly repeats at the Sheraton,
Bangalore. Even better, it’s all about wine and nations.
IT’S 9: NOT YET TIME
Charis thought the food at It’s 9 Bakery Cafe needed seri-
ous looking into.
A FULL HIVE
Ketan found a great, multi-faceted honey experience at
FRUIT FANTASY WITH TANG
A refreshing summer drink made easily with Tang and fruits, for the last leg of
Learn how to make this classic Nepali soup from Kaajal Lamba. It can be both,
vegetarian and non-vegetarian.
Different types of condiments make cooking fun and make it easier to add new
flavors to old dishes. Here’s Nora’s recipe for Lemon Vinegar.`
WHO THINKS #SIZEMATTERS?
We had a great time talking about Pizza Hut’s 23% larger pizzas on Twitter
along with dozens of enthusiastic folks who loved pizzas.
We visited Aloft Ahmedabad and bring you our experience. We’re happy to say it
passed our extensive QC with flying colors.
We’ve showcased one of Farrukh Shadab’s creations, who is a member and regular
contributor to the Chef at Large group on Facebook.
BRAISED ONIONS WITH WHISKEY
A delightfully quaint recipe that uses whiskey. There aren’t many of these out
there and we thought it’d be an interesting addition to this edition.
Founder & Editor
Sid Khullar firstname.lastname@example.org
Parul Pratap Shirazi
Subject Matter Experts
Publishing, Vinita Bhatia
Coffee, Sandeep Srinivasa
Wine, Jaswinder Singh
Reviewers - Delhi
Charis Alfred Bhagianathan
Parul Pratap Shirazi
Reviewers - Mumbai
Reviewers - Bangalore
Reviewers - Kolkata
Mail the Moderators
Mail a listing/press release
Cover Photo - Chef Vikas Khanna
Here we are with yet another attempt at a different medium of com-
municating with you - an ezine. This has been on my mind for a while
though I didn’t think we could actually pull it off. It took a few well
placed shots at my thick skull by Vinita to get this project off the draw-
Nearly sixty pages of reviews, interviews, recipes and features, from a
blog that didn’t quite get used to being one. Then again, you already
knew that. Since we started as my little recipe blog, imaginatively named ‘Food’ in March 2007,
we’ve constantly been testing our limits. It started with the blog changing it’s appearance and
looking definitely unlike a blog, then came the Facebook Page, which grew, saw quite a bit of
action, then gave way to the Facebook Group that’s the centre of all the food action happening in
the country today. The Chef at Large Blogger’s Table arose, with a mission to enhance the reach
of select food blogs in the country, which in turn gave rise to the Chef at Large University, that
offers Table members blogging related courses free of charge. It takes seventeen of us to keep
the buzz at Chef at Large going strong with a moderator even present in a US time zone and Na-
tasha taking on the job of Associate Editor to help keep content quality high while I learnt how to
lay out an ezine.
If that wasn’t enough, we took on the job of reaching out to you in a different format; one we had
no experience in and had never thought of before in detail. But hey, we’re churning out an aver-
age of fifty original articles a month, which is nothing to sneeze at! That, combined with the fact
that we’re regularly covering Delhi/NCR, Mumbai and Bangalore, with Kolkata starting up soon,
told us we really ought to do it. We’re going to plan our content better moving forward and your
feedback would be invaluable to make that effort a success.
This is an effort that’s here to stay and we’ll keep this ezine going. We’d love to hear from you
on what works and where you think we can improve. Do write in as always and help us keep the
fires going at Chef at Large.
page 4 page 5
Nadeem visited the restaurant and came
away with a unique experience.
One of the most anticipated eating out events with my best
friends turned out to be one of my most memorable. This was
both due to the food and the prelude. We started our journey
towards Indian Accent from Nehru Place (barely 4 kms away),
depending on the GPS voice navigation, nearly lost our way
and finally took a two kilometer detour to find our way, only
to get stranded at Ashram Chowk with our car broken down.
Nearly two hours later, our hands dirty and clothes sweaty,
we managed to find our way to the Manor Hotel where Indian
Accent is located. The first look of the restaurant conveyed an
unmistakable fine dining ambiance. The seating was com-
fortable and cozy with two menus for food (tasting menus),
an a la carte menu and a lengthy beverage list. I like to think
myself a puritan and do not like neo-fusion. The first look at
the menu therefore was a shock to me - the very naming of
the dishes were ‘fusion’ in nature.
Chef Manish Mehrotra has very painstakingly created the menu, and it was difficult for us to zero
in on the dishes for our meal. After a long discussion, we decided on our starters - Wild mush-
room Kulcha (325), Ghee Roast Boti (995) and Tandoori Bacon Prawns (1125). Between our wait
for our starters, we were served a small portion of Cream of Mushroom soup with Garlic naan,
which whetted our appetite, but not much. The anticipation of dining at one of the best restau-
rants in the city was too much for a little shot of mushroom soup to quell.
After a little wait, we were served our starters. Ghee Roast Boti, morsels of meat, slathered in hot
and spicy masalas, and soaked in desi ghee, the taste reminded me of traditional dhaba meat.
The spice levels met everyone’s tolerance though personally I would have loved it spicier and
served with miniature roomali rotis, three chutneys and sliced onions. Prawns are one of the
toughest foods to get right; they are usually either overcooked or undercooked. But this was one
of the best cooked I have seen; wrapped with a nicely cooked strip of bacon it was not too spicy
and went nicely with wasabi-spiced cream dip, the sweetness of the prawns going very well with
the saltiness of the bacon and the strong wasabi. The wild mushroom kulcha tasted more like a
naan, with filling of a strongly flavored mushroom mince, which went nicely to soak up the ghee
from the ghee roast boti.
After completion of the starters, we were presented with a tangy sorbet made of pomegranate
and rock salt, which helped in cleansing the palate. It was now time for the second round table
conference and we debated the many main courses, from which we selected Dal gosht (995) and
Rice Crusted John Dory Meen Moilee (995). For the breads we zeroed in on Applewood-smoked
Bacon Kulcha (325), Chilli-Hoisin Duck Kulcha (325) and Murgh Malai Kulcha (325). Dal Gosht
was presented much like a kofta, with breaded balls of pulled lamb served in a sauce of vari-
ous dals. The sauce was creamy, but the breaded meat was much too innovative for me. Meen
moilee, a Kerala classic was again presented in a novel manner using rice crusted fillets of John
Dory, which was plated with coconut-based sauce. The flavors were mild and aromatic and both
the mains went very well with the three kulchas.
We decided to skip dessert, but requested chef for Phantom Cigarettes, which came with one of
the desserts, a request he immediately granted. Altogether, I believe our dining experience at
Indian Accent was one of a kind, and I strongly recommend a visit.
Photos courtesy, Indian Accent
REVIEWS - DELHI/NCR
page 7page 6
Charis liked the desserts and breads at It’s 9 Bakery Cafe, but
thinks the rest of the food needs serious looking into.
Going to the Yashwant Place shopping complex last weekend brought back wonderful memo-
ries of piping hot momos and cold beers during college. Tucked away in one corner, right next to
Bikanervala, is a quaint place called It’s 9 Bakery Café. A small, forty five cover place, with lots of
space to move around, it’s nice the owners didn’t try to pack in more seating. With cheery walls
and lighting, it lends a feeling of comfort as soon as one walks in.
I didn’t expect as extensive a menu as there was (I thought it’d be largely baked stuff), and was
very pleased to see two separate counters for savory bakes and pastries/cake on one side, with a
selection of freshly baked bread on another. (There were chocolate covered bread sticks that I’m
most definitely going to pick up the next time I’m there.)
As soon as I sat down, the Red berry smoothie (109), one of the specials, was strongly recom-
mended – and am I glad it was! Cold, thick, slightly sweet, with the occasional crunch from berry
seeds, this pink yogurt drink is a perfect pick-me-up. I could taste strawberries and raspberries,
finishing the drink in just a few minutes. My friend asked for a Lemon iced tea (79), which tasted
fine, but looked frothy and slightly odd.
We started with a Chicken and Mushroom Quiche (69) from the savory bakes counter and found
it to be generously stuffed. The crust was a little soft (perhaps because it had just been heated in
a microwave) and the flavours were predominantly Indian masalas – not quite what I’d expect in
a quiche with that name.
We moved on to a signature dish, the It’s 9 Special Sizzler (299). Sizzlers are really the attention
seekers of the food world, aren’t they? This noisy one came with a mutton cutlet (small and dry),
a chicken steak (overcooked and dry), a chicken sausage (tasted more like a mixed meat sausage,
but quite delicious), fries (decent), a fried egg (no runny centre), rice, and extra sauce on the side
– always appreciated, unless the sauce is heavy, gelatinous, and too peppery, which it was. The
Roast Chicken in Mushroom Sauce (229) was nothing much to speak of either; the chicken was
over cooked again, and it was a struggle to get the knife through it. The rich sauce was creamy
and full of mushrooms, so we ate it by itself, resigning the chicken to its sorry fate in one corner
of the plate.
Thankfully Fish and Chips (359) came next and saved the day. The fish was fresh, light, and ten-
der, and the crispy bread-crumbed coating was fried to a perfect golden brown. The tartar sauce
was completely acceptable and we polished off this dish, no complaints.
After this we took a quick look at the pastry/cake counter and decided to try a Brownie Cup (89)
and the recommended Blueberry Cheesecake (89). The Brownie cup was a hit: cake, cream, choc-
olate, and chocolate chips in a cup. Who wouldn’t love that? The cheesecake was not too sweet
(which was great) and had a thick creamy centre (not wobbly and gelatinous). However, I do wish
there had been more of the tart blueberry compote on top.
It’s 9 Bakery Café specializes in custom-made cakes which they create on order. The ones I saw
looked beautifully detailed. As I was told, anything you think of can be put on a cake. The des-
serts are pretty decent, and the breads looked good as well, but the food at It’s 9 Bakery Café
needs a serious revamp.
• 1 medium lemon
• 1 cup white vinegar
• 1 cup dry white vermouth
1. Extract zest from lemon. Use remainder of lemon elsewhere.
2. Combine zest, vinegar and vermouth in a suitable container.
3. Keep covered at room temperature for 10 days, stirring occasionally.
by Nora Henshaw, Oklahoma
REVIEWS - DELHI/NCR
page 9page 8
OnewayoranotherVinita found herself pleasantly surprised by at least one as-
pect of The Noodle Bar’s personality.
For a 2-month old, The Noodle Bar in Juhu has been drawing quite a crowd. More interesting is
this newbie holding its own despite the popular Café Mangii quite close by. Could it be the food,
the service, the price or the ambience? Hungry to learn more, we visited them, coincidentally
during an ASEAN Curry Festival. What luck!
We were suggested Margaritas, a house specialty, we were told and opted for a Virgin Pome-
granate Margarita (250), a Virgin Melon Margarita (250) and a Green Apple Margarita (450). The
pomegranate drink was very refreshing with great flavors within and I felt it to be a lovely sum-
mer drink; as too was the green apple version.
We started our meal with the Steamed Chicken Wonton (325). Expecting a simple steamed
dish, we were pleasantly surprised to be served wontons tossed in chili sauce and crushed gar-
lic, which gave the bland filling a nice, spicy fillip. The vegetarian in our group decided to try
the Asian BBQ Cottage Cheese (285) with the verdict that it was a safe dish to order, especially
for someone who is ignorant about South East Asian cuisine. Sweet and spicy with predictable
appeal to an elderly auntyji and uncleji savoring Far Eastern fare for the first time we thought
perhaps the management was playing it smart by Indianizing some dishes.
The Wasabi Prawns (390) was delectable – medium sized prawns, corn crumb coated, deep fried
and served with a drizzle of mild Wasabi sauce; the perfect finger food with drinks. The Veg
Momos (265) and Veg Sui
Mai (265) however, were
lackluster. The vegeta-
ble stuffing in the Sui Mai
appeared raw and rather
flavorless. Also, our grouse
with the dumplings in gen-
eral was that most wrappers
just fell apart. Luckily, the
three accompanying sauces
that came with the momos
were great, especially the
Steamed Basa in Mountain
Chilli Sauce (475) sounded intriguing. An enquiry informed us it was just a nice name conjured
up by the chef which made us a little wary. Pleasantly surprising was the appearance of a well
steamed fillet of basa topped with deep fried curry leaves. Chewing on the crunchy leaves along
with a mouthful of the fish I thought was the perfect seasoning for the dish. I also thought the
dish elevated by the slightly sweet sauce. Of course those who rather enjoy their fish spicier can
help themselves to the assortment of sauces on the table. We tried the Chicken Lemon Pepper
Coriander Soup (205) next, a clear broth with big chunks of chicken and perfect for a rainy night,
the lemon giving it a zany edge. The Veg Manchow Soup (185) was nice too, especially it’s light
texture, which the chef kept simple and flavorsome.
For our main course, we decided to order from the ASEAN Curry Festival menu. The Kowloon Tofu
(295) was our vegetarian diner’s initiation to tofu and she gave it a thumbs-up. As someone who
has always loved spicy Thai Green Curry, it went without saying that we had to have it at The
Noodle Bar. Luckily, the restaurant did not let us down by giving us a very creamy and thickened
version. Instead the Veg Thai Green Curry (315) was the right mix of sweet, spicy and sour – a
highly recommended dish when you visit The Noodle Bar. The photo of the Lamb Massaman cur-
ry (495) on the menu was so tantalizing that we had to try it – so glad we did! The slow cooked
rich and fiery curry made of coconut paste, tomatoes and nuts makes for decadent, delicious
food. It’s even better when eaten with long grained brown Fragrant Rice (235)!
Dessert was the Fruit & Nut Sizzling Brownie (240), a regular chocolate brownie with some rai-
sins and walnuts served with on a sizzling plate with an ice cream on top. At least the child was
The Noodle Bar does offer value for money, even if the dishes aren’t exotic. The portions of the
dishes we ate took us quite by surprise – so generous that two people can easily share a portion.
I recommend a visit or two for sure.
REVIEWS - MUMBAI
page 11page 10
Honey Hut is a quaint little shop in Seven Bungalows, the first outlet in Mumbai. Having catered
to folks in Shimla and Chandigarh they have now opened their doors for Mumbaikars. As the
name suggests, the key theme is Honey. Honey will be served with most, if not all dishes, here.
Honey Hut retails honey sourced from the Himalayas and has a variety of honeys to choose from
– apple honey, honey and neem, honey and tulsi, honey and ginger etc… In addition to this they
also retail honey based shampoos, soaps and green tea.
The outlet at Seven Bungalows combines café and retail and offers a delightful menu with en-
trees, sandwiches, hot and cold drinks (teas, coffees and smoothies), cookies and ice-creams;
everything with a side of honey. I found the honey fruity with a fresh glow about it.
We stopped by for a bit and decided to take them up on their delightful looking Choco Walnut
Pie. The crust was flaky and I could taste the freshness of the chocolate and walnut filling
within. Totally yummy! The tea crazed nut in me wanted to sample all the teas on offer…
but I wisely settled for a black tea with honey which arrived with the unwelcome
addition of milk. On being told so, the Manager, Ms. Jani, very generously offered to
replace it with another order, on the house! So I ordered a Lemon Honey tea, which
apparently is their best seller. I would have liked a bit more lemon in it.
Honey Hut is about 20 days old, has an excel- lent service
staff and a very good manager in Ms. Jani. She took us
through the journey of Honey Hut, in- formed us how
their honey is sourced and their plans for the future; a
very nice experience. We picked up a bottle of Honey +
Tulsi on our way out.
Slightly pricey, but the offerings
at Honey Hut are totally worth it. Do
try it out.
Ketan found a great, multi-faceted honey experience at Honey Hut
though he did think their prices a little higher than expected.
REVIEWS - MUMBAI
HighValueAntara thought Black Candy to be unconventional,
cutely amateurish, good food - a must visit!
Unusually named and unassumingly located on the lawns of a majestic old bungalow in Hin-
dustan Park, Black Candy does enough to intrigue curious passers-by to sneak in and find out
what it’s all about. At least that’s how we were tempted to hush-step inside the silent porch as
we noticed a guy in a hoodie playing cards by himself. We did not want to disturb him or the
serenity of the place, but then he got up and smiled and asked us where we would like to sit.
One of us, the ever curious one, said “We’ll sit outside but we’d love to look inside”. The seating
both indoors and outdoors is obviously amateurish and cutely so. A couple of retro pink chairs
thrown around, garden umbrellas on the lawn, festively lit up trees lining the lawn, seating area
extended to the garage as well; am not sure how many would agree with me but I like this off-
beat homely feeling. It reminds me of some of the small towns I have been brought up in, where
we would keep our expectations really low and in turn savour every small deviation from what
conventional people term as normal.
The hooded guy, Prithwi, not only made sure we were comfortable and took our orders, but also
cooked and delivered it himself. I’ll be honest that when we saw no one else around, we were ap-
prehensive of how Prithwi would manage the entire deal on his own. But mistaken we were, and
how! Our apprehensions were put to rest when the food arrived in all it’s humble glory. Our or-
der was rather modest as was our appetite that particular evening. We ordered a cream of mush-
room soup and two plates of chicken momos (after the customary ranting by the boys about the
absence of pork in the menu). The soup was good. Real good. Clear, light brown mushroom broth,
not heavy with cornflour or other additives, and with enough chopped mushrooms in every per-
son’s bowl so there was no soup fight (it’s not uncommon given the company I keep).
The bigger surprise, however, still awaited us. It may be considered easy to dish out a fairly good
soup (it isn’t) but making a good momo isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. These momos were huge,
consistently sized, perfectly pleated, thinly wrapped with a sizeable chunk of ground chicken
filling, correctly seasoned, served with the customary broth and a freshly made momo chutney
that felt as if it had been coarsely grounded in a mortal pestle instead of a conventional mixer.
Carefully done, they satiated our appetite, and ticked all the right boxes. Even though Kolkata
is a city where momos are found in abundance at every street corner, these were by far the best
momos I’d had in quite a while.
Encouraged by these pleasant surprises, we decided to order something more and zeroed in on
an American Chopsuey. It came as a bowl of crisp fried noodles topped with gravy and a fried
egg. Sadly the noodles had lost their crunch by the time they landed on our table - something
we attributed to the fact that both the noodles and the gravy were not thick enough to hold their
own together. It was tasty, nevertheless, and we did mop up our the last bit of gravy from our
Prithwi asked us if the food was good, and we gave him our two cents on the chopsuey, I suggest-
ed maybe it would be a good idea to serve the noodles and gravy separately to avoid that risk.
He seemed slightly sad that it wasn’t perfect, and we complimented him on the momos and the
soup to bring his smile back. “Did you make those amazing momos yourself?” we asked when he
shyly nodded to his accomplishment; ditto when we asked him if he was the same fashion chore-
ographer whom most of the city’s showbiz knew. I know what you’re thinking. Perhaps next time
we will use our charm to get him out of his shell and share his story.
Black Candy has quite an expansive menu (mostly Chinese and Tibetan regulars) considering its
just one man running the show. And yes, they also serve hookah. Prices at Black Candy are quite
reasonable if you ask me. We ordered 2 soups, 2 plates of momos and a Chopsuey and paid 320
bucks with full tummies and gladdened hearts.
REVIEWS - KOLKATA
page 15page 14
You really must check out the Sheraton Social Hour.
Natasha did, and found herself having a wonderful
time with friends, wine and great food.
I have a special fondness for the brand Sheraton, with Sheraton Bangalore being a place I fre-
quent and feel rather affectionate about. You see, the name Sheraton takes me back to my col-
lege days in Massachusetts. We used to attend conferences and events at the Springfield Sher-
aton, and I recently discovered (at the 75th anniversary celebration party of the brand) that that
Sheraton, was the very first one in the chain! A few weeks ago, the Sheraton did a global ‘Toast
around the World’, a wine and hors d’oeuvre evening that I attended with fellow food blogger
friends. It was quite the evening, with the wine and conversation flowing and spectacular eats
doing the rounds.
The idea behind the event was that different chosen Sheraton properties around the globe
would, on the same date, promote the Sheraton Social Hour. At Sheraton Bangalore, you can
enjoy this wine time on Fridays from 6pm – 7pm at the Lobby Lounge. For INR 850++ per per-
son, you get a wine flight of 3 varieties, red or white, and light snacks. Six wines were proffered
from the American brand Chateau Ste Michelle/Columbia Crest. I generally go for red rather
than white, but on this occasion, there was a Columbia Crest Riesling that called out to me, and
I returned to that as the wine I wanted to finish the evening with as well, having tried some of
the others. It was crisp, lightly sweet and on a hot summer evening, hit just the right notes. The
Merlot and Syrah were quite good too.
Interested attendees could sit at a beautifully set table and participate in a wine flight, and learn
about each wine as they tasted it. The canapes kept coming all through the proceedings, and
I have to give a special shout out to the very friendly and enthusiastic servers walking around
bearing the lovely morsels. From salmon and crab, to roast beef and roast duck, and with equally
tantalizing options for the vegetarians like mushroom and roasted fig tarts, we devoured them
all. At evening’s end, we were all tipsy and giggly, but also enjoying the glow that comes from a
good party. It was one of those times when you meet new people, have lively conversations, and
a grand old time. Salude, Sheraton, for this lovely concept!
REVIEWS - BANGALORE
A chef, food stylist, writer, restaurateur, food photogra-
pher – Chef Michael Swamy does all of these and more.
A chef, food stylist, writer, restaurateur, food photographer – Chef Michael Swamy does all of
these and more. A graduate of London’s Cordon Bleu Culinary School, he had the opportunity
to work with several Michelin-star chefs, who were impressed by this Mumbai lad’s inclination
to be innovative with food and encouraged him to enter the world of food media. It helped that
his mother was a successful documentary film-maker, and Michael could closely study various
aspects of media from handling cameras to editing, since he likes to joke that he literally grew
up in studios! This exposure to the technical aspects of food media, with his training as a chef
is what set Michael down the path of food styling and photography. And in between these as-
signments, he travels the length and breadth of the country to discover different cuisines and
blog about them. He has also written ‘The East Indian Kitchen’, which like the name suggests was
about the food Michael grew up on, and which won the Gourmand Award, 2011 for India.
He has worked with hospitality giants like The Taj Group of Hotels in Mumbai, Bombay Brasse-
rie in London and as the menu planner for Kuwait Airways (Kuwait) before he decided to take
the plunge as as restauranteur and set up The Bowl House chain of restaurants in India. But his
moment of glory came when he was the food consultant on MasterChef India’s seasons 1 and 2,
where he tried to impart his own quest for perfection in participants as they prepared their dish-
es to impress the celebrity chefs.
Here he is in a free-wheeling chat with Vinita Bhatia.
Vinita Bhatia (VB): What prompted you to pursue a course in the Le Cordon Bleu Culinary School
(LCB) in London? Was there any special subject that you were especially interested in?
Michael Swamy (MS): It was a dream to specialize. I wasn’t happy with what was being done
at the catering college here in Mumbai. In fact what we learnt in three years here, we did in 3
months at the LCB. I always wanted to get into the world of food media and that’s why I wanted
to be a food professional before writing about food. I did the Patisserie course and then spent
my scholarship time doing the culinary course.
VB: You have quite an interesting career trajectory, don’t you?
MS: You can say that! I am a graduate of HAFT from Sophia Polytechnic which I attended after fin-
ishing my 12th grade at St. Xaviers College in Mumbai. After finishing HAFT, I worked a bit at The
Taj Hotel in Mumbai and then moved to London to work with with Noon Products before joining
While I was in London, I worked with The Bombay Brasserie (a Taj property) and then headed to
Australia, backpacked a bit and then headed to Kuwait where I was a Menu Planning Officer with
Kuwait Airways. But I felt homesick and returned to India, to teach at a catering college for two
years. After that I set up my base as a chef consultant and food stylist.
VB: Impressive! Since you have travelled a bit and worked with all types of chefs, who are some
chefs who you look at for inspiration?
MS: I worked under UK’s famous Pastry Chef Claire Clark and Australian Chef Andrew Males as an
assistant. I head the food team for Michelin-star Chef Vikas Khanna’s projects in India. The chefs
that I look up to are Gary Rhodes, Anton Mossiman and Raymond Blac. Though considered old,
these are the chefs who depended a lot on technique.
VB: From a chef to a restaurateur, to a food blogger, to an author to a food stylist – how do you
make the transition from one to another? Today, which of these hats would you like to doff the
MS: When you look at the fact that everyone can cook, but only few can be chefs, you reach the
point of ‘what next’. Most go the way of consultants but assisting a stylist and chef at LCB put
me on the track of styling. With styling my creative skills are put to the test, wherein work goes
beyond just cooking but creating.
Making the transition is easy, considering I have a great team in Mugdha Savkar, Ganesh Shedge
and Mrunal Savkar. Together we are able to adapt to different situations quite easily. I would be
wrong to say I did it all by myself. The hat I doff the most is that of Food Stylist and Food Critic
and one can carry it off well what with having a culinary backing.
VB: When did you open your own restaurant – The
MS: Hotelier Vijay Kamath is a good friend and one
day asked me to help him launch the restaurant
which I did. Though it’s not mine on paper the at-
tachment is still there. I wouldn’t dream of opening
a restaurant in India – it takes a heart of iron to face
the sheer craziness!
VB: Your book, ‘The East Indian Kitchen’ won the
Gourmand Award in 2011 for India. But it does not
get place of pride in bookshelves throughout the
country! What’s wrong here?
MS: Several reasons. Sadly in today’s internet age,
most people don’t value research as it was done in
old times. Neither do they value physical books –
the trend of PDFs is on the rise at an alarming rate.
The digital version of my book is doing great business. Another major reason is that bookstores
don’t display the less popular authors. We don’t value our own culinary heritage so books on
rare cuisines are hardly seen on the shelves. The books stores need to have more faith in other
authors besides the popular ones. Publishers also need to support their authors. Yes, it’s under-
standable that they handle hundreds of books at the same time, but they need to understand
that for an author, his or her book is the manifestation of months – perhaps years – of effort,
struggle and study.
VB: How was the experience as food consultant in MasterChef India Seasons 1 and 2?
MS: As head of the food team my role was to support and drive a team who groomed and trained
the contestants, designed tasks for each episode (Yes! The food team does that!), setting up the
set and counters with all the ingredients and equipment and, keeping a record of all that was
being cooked. Plus, we took care of food shots, formatting the recipes cooked by contestants to
make them available on the website, made a full functional kitchen complete with exotic in-
gredients available in the middle of nowhere (this with the complete support of the Production
Team) and put up with contestants’ tantrums! It was a fun but physically and mentally challeng-
ing time. The food team doesn’t eat or sleep – just delivers that too with no thanks or credit for
VB: You often say that fantastic chefs in big hotels rarely get the appreciation they deserve.
What’s the basis of this feeling?
MS: One, they don’t get as much exposure by way of workshops, books, etc, and large hotels
never put their Chef in the limelight – they always want the branding for the hotel. They need to
understand that sometimes people will come to eat if they know more about the chef. In India
if you are on TV you are considered a Masterchef. To be a Masterchef you have to do an interna-
tional exam every 5 years, so are our so called Masterchefs qualified? Cooking on TV and cook
page 21page 20
ing in reality are two different things. We don’t give value for a Michelin star chef, more value is
given to a TV chef and that is the sad reality.
VB: That’s quite sad. But let’s move on to what your likes are. What’s your favourite cuisine?
MS: The healthy and clean aspect of Japanese cuisine, the refined techniques in French cuisine
are my favorites. I also like a dash of Italian for the freshness of the flavors.
VB: How would you define your cooking style?
MS: Mine is a contemporary style with a modern look. Taking comfort food and making it exotic.
I play a lot with natural flavours and keeping the food on simple lines. A few spices can make a
dish, dishes where one can taste the meat or the vegetables.
VB: And what’s your go-to-comfort food?
MS: Pasta and khichdi, when am sick or down these bring up memories of my childhood, cook-
outs amongst friends in days when it was the easiest thing to cook.
VB: Who according to you is the best chef you have met. Please don’t say your mother, grand-
mother, aunt, sister, wife, father – that’s passe!
MS: (laughs heartily) My mum and cook? She was a businesswoman first and after my father’s
passing away, she had to become the ‘man of the house’ so cooking was never her thing. Her
thing was going out to eat and we kids being dragged along which was good for I was hitting
hotels at a very young age. Chef Claire Clarke, Chef Andrew Males and Chef Filip Tibos were
instrumental in grooming me to go beyond cooking, to look at food as more than the obvious and
achieve more. With Chef Vikas Khanna – he put Indian food into a whole new perspective for me.
One dish that you never seem to get right?
Dal. Even a simple dal is something I just don’t get right.
The one celebrity you would like to cook for?
President Obama, who is known for his love of good food, or
Sonam Kapoor, the actress; not only is she a pleasant person
and erudite, she is someone who I am sure will appreciate good
food and give an honest opinion of it.
If not a cook then what would you have become?
Definitely a full-time wildlife photographer or travel journalist.
Chef Michael Swamy
Parul was bowled over by Chef Francesco’s love and passion for slow food!
Humility thy name is Chef Costagli! Custodian of a Michelin starred restaurant, he blends into
the evening despite his ethnicity, in the heart of the capital, at the ITC Maurya, New Delhi. Even
though I love the food at The Pavilion and ITC is in one sense, home for me, I was here to meet a
man who speaks a language I more than understand. Chef Francesco Costagli is a part of and pro-
motes the Slow Food Movement, which is an international movement founded by Carlo Petrini in
1986. Promoted as an alternative to fast food, it strives to preserve traditional and regional
cuisine and encourages the farming of plants, seeds and the rearing of livestock native to the
local ecosystem. He is also the ultimate locavore and is known as the 0 km chef because in his
restaurant, Ristorante Albergacio in Castellina a village in Chianti, Italy, he serves dishes made
with produce found in his immediate vicinity. Chef Francesco also works closely with many Chi-
anti wineries as catering head chef and has a 1st level sommelier certification.
I had the pleasure of partaking of a dinner he cooked... with him at my table; truly a treat! Even
though we barely spoke each other’s language, it felt like that didn’t matter because his gestures
conveyed his passion and his flowing tone was evident of someone filled with love, patience and
lots of history. My other dinner companion, the wonderfully engaging, Alessio Secci (Co-own-
er, Fratelli Wines, India) was kind enough to translate back and forth as we spoke of great food
while we ate exactly that. I am personally intrigued by the concept of Slow Food; our depen-
dence on fast foods troubles me no end and I strive as far as possible to cook with local produce,
but this is a man who takes it up a notch. He makes traditional, regional Italian food, commer-
cially! Fratelli Wines has brought Chef Costagli here to India in association with ITC. Since chef is
also a sommelier, he has designed a wonderful menu complimented by exclusive Fratelli wines
and is taking this menu across Delhi, Agra, Bangalore and Mumbai. I loved my time with Chef
Costagli and I hope his movement gains momentum across the globe. We need to slow down and
think about what we eat, what we put in our systems and those of our children; we need to start
meeting at the table, like a family, commune over a meal and bring the good ‘ol days back!
I had a few questions for chef and he was more than kind to answer them, you can sense the way
he feels about his country, his cuisine and his craft!
Parul Shirazi: How challenging is it to be titled the 0 km chef and does it Inhibit you from exces-
Chef Francesco: With the belief that you are what you eat, I believe that food has to be healthy
and fat free. It has to be balanced between carbohydrates, proteins and vitamins. Taste and
flavours are very important so fresh and tasty ingredients are vital in my cuisine. To guarantee
zero Km cuisine, you need to live in a place, as mine in Castellina, where you can find and rely on
local, high quality producers who provide me with anything that I may need. My cuisine is always
made according to seasonal products. It is based on tradition but it does not mean I cannot inno-
vate by using traditional ingredients with a modern interpretation.
Parul Shirazi: How do you feel about reviving or keeping alive traditional recipes? Is culture
Chef Francesco: What I cook, what I preserve from tradition is my life. So anytime I revive old
recipes, I preserve and make it live my past. Most of my recipes were inspired during my adoles-
cence, thanks to my grandmother. Many recipes that I propose also in India i.e. acqua cotta, is a
flash back as my grandmother used to make it for me when I was 5 years old.
Culture is our history and it is valid in all countries, hence it is a must to preserve it and the best
way to achieve this goal is to make it commercially also.
page 25page 24
Parul Shirazi: Has real Italian food really reached
global tables or are we still eating commercial Ital-
Chef Francesco: Real Italian food is reaching more
and more global tables. Everything depends on
knowledge and ingredients. If you really know Italian
cuisine in depth, then you can use local ingredients
to re-create the same flavours. We need not to adapt
too much, our Italian cuisine to the given country
where you make it, otherwise it risks to become too
Parul Shirazi: How hard or easy do you think it is to
people who are not entirely familiar with Italian
Chef Francesco: Not many people all over the world
appreciate food like Italian one which is tasty but
light. While having a good Italian dish you can easily
recognize all flavours if fused properly. Italian food
is so diversified that can easily meet any palate; veg
and non-veg for example.
Parul Shirazi: Do you think ‘slow food’ as a concept can be adopted globally? And why?
Chef Francesco: It is a mission to spread “slow food” culture. The more we go further the less
time we have for ourselves and food sometimes is treated as a loss of time. Making food is in-
stead the real momentum where you can sit around a table and share your daily life. Healthiness
counts a lot and slow food is a guarantee of quality. In addition, it preserves tradition. This is true
for Indian cuisine as well. Our kids shouldn’t grow with junk food.
Parul Shirazi: Being a sommelier how do you grade Fratelli wines?
Chef Francesco: The wines from Fratelli really surprised me. I never thought to find such high
quality wines in India. Fratelli wines are fresh, tasty, elegant and very healthy. Each label is very
varietal and perfectly pairs with Indian and Italian food. My favourite is Chardonnay among
white wines and Sette together with Sangiovese amongst the reds.
Parul Shirazi: What is your opinion on India and wine culture, are we ready for boutique wines?
Chef Francesco: India has many common aspects with Italian culture especially on food. The
basic ingredients are very common. Wine culture, as I see, is catching up in India, I feel Indian
people are becoming more health conscious so they will become more and more aware about
balanced food and drink. Wine is healthy, low on fat and calories as compared to hard liquors.
Boutique Wines are always welcome but I believe in quality and that can be delivered.
We’re not sure if #SizeMatters, but we did have a whale of time talking
about Pizza Hut’s 23% larger pizzas.
The Indian market is all about value for money, paisa vasool
(return on investment) being one of the most common con-
cepts prevalent in a consumer’s mind, in more than 30 differ-
ent languages. Every Indian looks for bargains, is undeniably
attached to the sasta-tikaoo (cheap and long-lasting) para-
digm and regardless of where on the globe he lives, will ask
kitna degi (how much will it give) before he buys a car. Pizza
Hut India (the only chain pizza in the country whose crusts I
enjoy eating) obviously recognized this and decided to bring
out 23% larger pizzas at no extra cost. Given that this new development translates to nearly
one whole pizza free for every four pizzas bought, and our gratitude when it comes to all things
free, I’m fairly sure the management of Pizza Hut India could run for public office and be elected
without much hassle.
In any case, you might have noticed the ‘#SizeMatters’ in the title of this piece and enlightened
soul that you are, might have associated it with some social media platform or the other. Con-
sidering the hashtags on Facebook appear to be on their way out for most part, if you thought
‘Twitter’, you’re right! No prizes though, sorry. In its quest to let a deserving Indian public know
of their generosity (why not add the extra 2% BTW?), Pizza Hut India decided to run a series of
campaigns on Twitter. These campaigns included Twitter biggies like Miss Malini and VJ Rannvi-
jay Singha and also some of us little people who Lighthouse Insights generously calls ‘Influenc-
Our Twitter handle, @yourchefatlarge conducted a contest where we gave away INR 5k worth
of Pizza Hut India vouchers to 5 people, for answering 5 questions related to pizzas. Apart from
#SizeMatters trending for a few minutes in Delhi, the biggest surprise was the warmth and en-
thusiasm of the Twitter community we interacted with. In a little over 2 hours, we made so many
friends, found so many connections and experienced so much spontaneity that it’s changed my
perspective on Twitter and Tweeple!
The winners were @tweety_cutey, @swaty_here, @Deckle_Edge, @twisted_al, @mehek-
mahtani. We had a great time and look forward to the next.
page 27page 26
I’ve almost always seen Art paired with wine. Perhaps some artists require their work to be
viewed in an altered state of mind or maybe it’s the overall sense of relaxation and reduction
in inhibitions. Surprising therefore was the announcement of an event from Le Meridien, Delhi,
where they promised to combine coffee and art into an event that I can only assume they wished
to keep us thinking about, wide-eyed into the night.
Poor attempts at humor apart, the event certainly was an interesting combination that we at
Chef at Large, being the food people we are, are rarely summoned to. Hosted by Gallery ESpace
at New Friends Colony Community Centre, the afternoon showcased the works of two artists,
Suddhasattwa Basu and Mala Marwah. As I spent most of my time at the lower level, I could only
marvel at the capabilities of Mr. Basu’s hands and the extent of his imagination – surreal imagery
was brought into sharp focus through the use of muted, yet high contrast colors and his special
talent in capturing the realism of motion on canvas. From afar, some of his work, especially the
pieces that illustrated a garden appeared nearly photographic, such was the magic wrought by
Mr. Basu’s brush. There was one piece that I thought had skewed 3D perspective, which I can
only assume was an aberration, given the finesse of the rest of what I saw. These lovely, sooth-
ing works of art we were privileged to enjoy over cups of fine Illy coffee, each mug crafted by
Barista and Trainer, Nicola Scognamiglio. Multiple styles of coffee were available to us, including
Cappuccino Vienesse, Marocchino Caldo, Cappuccino Freddo and and the Espresso Greco, based
on the powerful little shot of espresso.
Sandeep Srinivasa, coffee aficionado said, One of the highlights of the meet was Nicola waxing el-
oquent about the number of variables in brewing a cup of espresso with the right amount of crema.
Though I have attended many meetups over coffee (and indeed, very expensive coffee), I have never
spoken to an expert in “making espresso”. Nicola was that man. tI was very intrigued when I saw
him constantly fiddling with the grinder settings over the course of the evening. When asked about
this, Nicola launched into a discourse about adjusting grind sizes with the number of people and
humidity in the room to compensate for a superlative cup of coffee. We were able to pick up a few
gems around brewing espresso by just talking to him for 10 minutes.
This event was an awesome bridge between art and coffee, combining the best of both very
gracefully. Overall, a very interesting event and one I hope to see repeated soon.
Le Meridien conducted an event around art and coffee, which was a first for
me, and I had a lovely time.
his book was a treat. A thorough people person if I’ve ever seen one, Chef Khanna manages to
connect with every member of his audience. He’ll make no bones about who he is and where he
comes from, while simultaneously coming across as the guy next door. Chef Khanna demonstrat-
ed the making of Kaju Kothambir Vadi from Maharashtra, Khubani Ka Shahi Tukda from Lucknow,
Guava and Cottage Cheese salad from Allahabad, Kacche kele ki Asharfi from Hyderabad and
Chicken Cafreal from Goa.
The recipes illustrated in both cases weren’t so simple so as to invite condescending disdain nor
so complex that the average cook would feel it beyond their capabilities in the kitchen. Inquisi-
tive home cooks usually have a bunch of questions, all of which were welcomed by the demon-
strating chef, including Chef Khanna, who managed to find an anecdote for every other element
or question during the session.
I also had an opportunity to examine Chef Khanna’s book, ‘Savour Mumbai’ though I’m not quite
sure if the phrase ‘his book’ applies considering it’s contents. It mostly comprises a selection of
recipes of revered dishes from Mumbai’s iconic restaurants. The rest of the book contains rec-
ipes for a bunch of dishes from the streets of Mumbai. Each recipe is accompanied by an intro-
duction, is similarly organised, has a picture and a well-explained method. An indicator of which
restaurant the recipe belongs to would have been nice. The book has a nice Index that makes it
easy to find specific recipes from a generic class; e.g. Balti Gosht (Wok cooked mutton) from the
section Mutton, Beef and Pork. Another useful section is ‘The Indian Pantry’, which contains an
explanation of a bunch of Indian spices, which presumably are used extensively in the book.
If you’re interested in cooking and like the idea of spending an afternoon a month in the compa-
ny of like-minded people, mostly ladies, I suggest checking out the Imperial Culinary Club. You’ll
probably have a great time.
The Imperial has a great on-going pro-
gram that not only encourages en-
gagement with it’s services, but is also
informative for its patrons.
Going by the current efforts by brands today, it is heartening to see one that makes a genuine
effort to connect with consumers. Connecting with customers in a city like Delhi isn’t easy. Spoilt
for choice as we all are, it takes a great deal of innovation to get us off our easy chairs and pres-
ent ourselves at a venue. Even when there, unless the event is truly engaging, quite a few of us
would plead unavoidable business and leave. The brand I speak of here, is The Imperial and the
effort in question is the Imperial Culinary Club.
I attended two of their sessions; one in July and the other in August. The essential concept is of a
professional grade cook (both sessions featured Chefs) illustrating the making of different types
of dishes to a mixed audience. Chef Prem did the first event I attended, and he took the audience
through a remarkable variety of dishes, starting with a ridiculously simple but inventive Hot
Sweet Corn Fried Chaat with Peanuts to fairly complex creations like Warm Deep Fried Daily Milk
and Toffee Chocolates, alongside showing us how to create spun sugar, which was very interest-
The second session was in partnership with Westland Ltd., featuring Michelin starred, Chef Vikas
Khanna and his new book, ‘Savour Mumbai’. Watching Chef Khanna demonstrate recipes from
page 31page 30
With people across religions and com-
munities fasting for long periods, here’s
a look at some ways that will improve
lifestyle habits during this time, and
result in a better sense of well-being.
The world over, devout Muslims are observing roza, a fast from
sunrise to sundown, during the ongoing month of Ramadan.
Jains too fast rigorously during Paryushan, during which some
pious Jains observe Ekasana (having boiled food once a day)
from a period ranging one day to a month, while others stick
to drinking boiled water. Hindus too fast during the month of
Shravan, but their regime is more forgiving since they prefer to
abstain from meat and alcohol. Irrespective of the religion in
question, in most cases these fasts culminate in a feast. Fasting
then feasting and fasting again puts the body on a dangerous
yo-yo diet which can have severe repercussions.
Fasting has its upsides and we are not talking merely about the religious aspect here. During
fasting, the body can better flush out accumulated toxins and the digestive process is rejuve-
nated since the digestive organs get some much deserved rest. This results in better digestion,
clearer skin, weight loss, detoxification, and better immunity, combating the very ills that con-
temporary sedentary lifestyles wreck on the system.
Chef Joergen Sodemann of Al Bustan Palace, a Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Oman, adds that fasting can
lower the risk of coronary artery disease and diabetes, influences a change in blood cholesterol
levels and reduces other cardiac risk factors too. More importantly, fasting is known to promote
healthy eating habits and boost immunity.
There are the downsides to fasting too, especially amongst those who fast for prolonged peri-
ods. The body needs to adjust to any change in the dietary pattern and sometimes this could
result in headaches, nausea, tiredness, stomach cramps and assorted muscle aches. Usually these
side effects ease up after a few days of fasting, once the body is used to the regimen. Nutrition-
ists however, warn that it’s important to fortify the body and replenish it properly while observ-
ing any fast.
wait for a while before eating the main meal, which should have a generous portion of salads,
like Baby Green Salad with Date Blue Cheese, Honey Vinaigrette and bite-sized nibbles like Glu-
tinous Chicken Dumplings.
And one should avoid sleeping immediately after breaking their fast or catch up on their daily
consumption of caffeine by drinking several cups of coffee into the night. Fiona Hunter points
out that while breaking a fast in a communal envi-
ronment like an Iftar it’s very easy to eat too quickly
and eat too much, particularly if one is presented
with a vast spread of food. This can lead to problems
like indigestion. “Also it’s a time when people often
compensate for the fasting period by overindulging,
particularly on foods that are high in fat and or sugar
when they can eat, so this can lead to weight gain,”
Chef Joergen Sodemann puts it nicely when he points
out that the body is like a dry sponge. Your blood sug-
ar level drops down during the day pretty much while
fasting and all of the body’s systems will react very
sensitively to any intake of food and fluid. The opti-
mum way to supply water to the body while breaking
a fast is to drink small amounts of warm water or tea over a longer period.
People often presume that they will be awarded with a lean and mean physique after they have
SMOKED AUBERGINE DIP
A great recipe to break a fast with.
• 2 aubergines, about 350g each
• 3 garlic cloves, crushed or finely chopped
• 1 tablespoon lemon juice
• 2 teaspoons ground cumin
• 1 teaspoon ground coriander
• 3 tablespoons olive oil
• Seasoning, to taste
• 3 tablespoons chopped fresh coriander
• Freshly ground black pepper
• Seasoning, to taste
Recipe by Just Falafel.
1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas 6.
2. Prick the aubergines all over with a fork
and place on a lightly greased baking
sheet. Bake for 30-45 minutes until the
skin is wrinkled and the flesh is soft.
3. Allow the aubergines to cool. Then cut it
in half lengthways and scoop out the flesh
with a spoon.
4. Place the aubergine flesh, garlic, lemon
juice, cumin, ground coriander and olive
oil in a food processor and blend until
smooth. Stir in the chopped coriander and
season to taste. Chill until required. Serve
with oatcakes or wholemeal pita bread.
Bad Habits Inculcated During Fasts
Though said to be a purifying experience, some folks inculcate some
bad eating habits while fasting. The most common amongst them is to
eat excessively when they break their fast, for instance at Iftar during
Ramadan. Binging after a long day of fasting burdens the system and
causes indigestion, leading to acidity, heartburn and nausea.
The other bad habit is indulging in fatty foods in the mistaken belief that the body needs more
calories after a long period of fasting. But wellness instructor and nutritionist Karan Hebbar
warns that high calorie intake, courtesy deep fried food and red meat, coupled with inactivity
can put one at high risk of gaining weight. Similar is the case with the consumption of sugar-rich
food and drinks. “Sweets and juices are concentrated sources of empty calories that will contrib-
ute to your weight gain. Hydrate yourself with water and opt for dried fruits, fruit popsicles and
dark chocolate instead,” he advises.
He recommends that before starting a fast one must try to eat lots of fruits and vegetables as
these are treasure troves of fiber, vitamins and minerals. Chef Sahil Sabhlok, Executive Sous
Chef, Taj Lands End also warns against the tendency of people to skip their breakfast before
starting a fast, case in point being the Suhoor during Ramadan. “The pre-dawn meal should be
a wholesome, moderate meal that is filling and provides enough energy for many hours. Avoid
fast-burning foods that contain sugar and white flour or fatty food like cakes, biscuits, chocolates
and sweets,” he recommends.
Often it is said that one should also try to break a fast with water first and keep drinking small
amounts frequently. Why water? Fiona Hunter, Consulting Nutritionist at Just Falafel notes that
this is because it is easy to confuse thirst with hunger. “So if you satisfy your thirst first you are
less likely to overeat,” she says.
Fast Unto Health
There is a reason why Muslims prefer to have dates or dried figs first during Iftar. These foods
provide an instant burst of sugar and energy. After imbibing these energy-rich foods, one should
KEEPING FIT WHILE FASTING
• Eat complex carbohydrates, unsaturated fats with adequate protein like fruits, vegetables,
cereals, legumes and grilled lean meat.
• Break your fast with small sips of water and then aim to drink at least 5-7 glasses of water
before and after your fast.
• Try to engage in basic physical exercise regularly to keep fit and avoid inactivity.
• Avoid sleeping immediately after you have broken your fast.
• Limit your intake of coffee and concentrated fruit juices.
• Avoid overeating.
• Avoid eating lot of pickles, spices and pepper.
page 35page 34
Ingredients for about 12 dumplings:
• Glutinous flour 150 Grms
• Minced chicken 100 grms
• Chopped black Chinese mushroom 50 grms
• Chopped Spring onion 25 grms
• Chopped ginger 10 grms
• Soy sauce 10 ml
• Sesame oil 5 ml
• Corn oil 250 ml
1. Mix 100 c boiling water with glutinous
flour keep mixing until you obtain a smooth
2. In a wok, heat little corn oil ml corn.
3. Sauté the spring onion and ginger so to get
the flavour of the two ingredients.
4. Add the minced chicken and sliced mush-
room to it and keep stirring in the wok until
the chicken is cooked, around 3 minutes
5. Season with salt, soy sauce and sesame oil
stir well for another 2 minutes, set aside
6. Using a pastry roller, roll out the dough
thickness of 0.4 cm amd cut out circles of
about 4 cm in diameter
7. Divide the chicken stuffing equally in half
of the circles, then cover with the remaining
dough pressing the edge tight together
8. Fry the dumpling in hot corn oil to a
9. Serve with a sweet chili or Soya sauce
Recipe Courtesy: Chef Joergen Sodemann of Al
Bustan Palace, a Ritz Carlton Hotel
fasted for a few weeks. But a look at the mirror after the fast speaks of a different story, leading
to disappointment. The answer lies in the way people fast, whether for religious purposes or
sometimes to try and shed weight.
Karan Hebbar explains that fasting is sometimes as harmful as feasting in terms of fat gain. “The
body tends to go into storage mode due to long gaps between meals. Also there is a certain
amount of muscle loss due to infrequent feeding and hydration. This leads to lowering of metab-
olism which can lead to further fat gain and muscle loss,” he says.
The way out is quite simple. Include complex carbohydrates, fiber and vitamins in the diet in
the form of whole wheat products, vegetables and fruits. Avoid white bread, fizzy drinks, fried
food, excessive sugar and sweets and don’t forget to drink lots of water. Fasting should be about
moderation in all aspects, whether it be the diet, exercise regime or one’s approach towards life.
For instance people worry that exercise while fasting will lead to weakness. But on the contrary,
health experts say that by engaging in moderate activity while fasting helps the body to burn fat
in our cells in an optimum way. This minimizes the risk to gain weight and increasing the body
fat during the fasting period.
A good idea would be to prepare for the fast a few days before you intend to start the actual fast.
“A trained body can store more water and absorb more oxygen which makes one’s body more re-
sistible against headache, dizziness, lack of concentration and weakness,” suggest Chef Joergen
Fasting can offer a number of health benefits, but only if one monitors their diet and doesn’t use
it as an excuse to become indolent. More than knocking off the kilos during fasting, one should
use it as a time to adopt healthy habits and gain a more relaxed perspective of their life.
page 37page 36
Baking Dish Size: 22 cm / 8.5 inches
For the Lasagna Sheets
• 150 gm Flour
• 1 to 2 Eggs
• ¼ tsp Salt
• 50 ml Water (approx.)
For the Filling
• 2 tbsp Pomace Olive Oil
• 1 Soup Cube (Maggi Magic Cube)
• 250 gm Chicken, minced
• 2 Onions
• 2 to 3 pods Garlic
• 1 Packet Button Mushrooms
• 1 Bunch fresh Spinach
• 100 ml fresh Cream (Amul Tetrapack)
• 100 gm grated Cheese
• Some Pomace Olive Oil for the Baking dish
Haven’t you always wanted to make Lasagna from begin-
ning to end, including the sheets? Most of us want that ‘from
scratch’ experience at least once in our cooking careers, so we
know we can do it. Claudia Barbara Tanna takes us through
her Lasagna recipe.
page 39page 38
1. The Lasagna Dough
1. Sieve the Flour in a bowl or on the platform.
2. Make a well and add the eggs and the salt.
3. Start stirring with your fingers and slowly add water until you have a soft dough.
4. You should knead it for about 10 minutes to loosen out the gluten and to avoid lumps.
5. Wrap with cling-film and keep aside.
2. Preheat Oven to 180°C.
3. The Filling
1. Clean and finely chop the mushrooms and spinach.
2. Chop the onion and garlic.
3. Heat 2 tbsp oil in a wok or frying pan.
4. Add the minced chicken, onion and garlic and stir-fry for 5 minutes.
5. Add mushrooms and spinach and stir for 5 more minutes.
6. Add some water, the soup cube and the cream
7. Add salt and pepper and a teaspoon of Herbs de Provence.
8. Let it simmer for five minutes and keep aside.
4. Grate the Cheese.
5. Make the Lasagna
1. Divide the dough into 4 portions.
2. On a lightly floured surface roll out a thin sheet of dough as per the size of your dish.
3. Cut it into shape and place the first sheet on the oiled dish.
4. Add 1/3 of the filling and spread it out evenly.
5. Sprinkle some cheese over it.
6. Add the next layers of dough sheet, filling and cheese
7. Finish with a layer of dough, some liquid from the filling and a litle cheese.
6. Bake either with a lid or cover with aluminum foil.
7. After 30 minutes remove lid/foil and bake until cheese is slightly browned.
8. Cool for 5 minutes before serving (cutting gets easier).
Chef Vikas Khanna’s new book isn’t as much about home cooking as it is about
cooking at home. He takes the reader through a series of recipes of some of the best
loved dishes from some of Mumbai’s best known restaurants. A sprinkling of street
food recipes some indications of a great team behind the book later, and you’re left
with a book that I really can’t call a tribute to great cooking, which I can definitely say
is one for your bookshelf.
Published by Westland Books.
Retail price: Rs 895
Format: Hardback, 332pp
The last few weeks of summer heat are in progress and here’s
a recipe shared by Tang to make them interesting. It’s an easy
one that’s great for friends and family alike.
Poorna Banerjee’s Lasagna recipe from
her blog ‘Presented by P’ will proba-
bly go well with this drink! She’s made it
with minced meat, tomatoes, garlic, cot-
tage cheese, heavy cream and mozza-
rella cheese. Doesn’t that look divine?
Learn how to make Kaudi soup from Kaajal Lamba. The
dough is made to look like sea shells hence the name ‘Kaudi’,
which in Nepali means ‘sea shells’.
• Iuseddalle thelocalredchiliesfoundinKalimpongandSikkim.
page 45page 44
Jaswinder spent an evening in the company of the
many faces of The Balvenie, a single Malt with a repu-
tation, and came back with only good things to say.
There was an invite in the inbox one beautiful day, announcing a night with Balvenie Single
Malts. In true Punjabi fashion, whiskey-shiskey has always been a preference. Just to clarify here,
whiskey is whiskey, the ‘shiskey’ part covers wine, Scotch and Cognac.
There was a time I did not get the heads or tails of single malts. I guess I was keeping company
that had the inclination to just get high with anything they could lay their hands on. Some grow-
ing up and research later, I’m happy to announce that things have changed for the better. Learn-
ing about the drinks business and the making of various tipples has been one of the most ful-
filling hobbies I’ve picked up over the years. The process of brewing, tasting, blending and aging
gives me an altogether different high that no spirit can.
Coming back to Balvenie. The Hilton Gurgaon is one of the most beautiful properties I know of.
The evening kicked off to a great start with the Triple Cask 12 Year Old. I have a personal rule
when selecting whiskey and single malts: never less than 12 years old. That doesn’t make me
James Bond, but close. Actually, a little better.
The Balvenie 12 Year Old Triple Cask comes with a long nose of sweetness with hints of vanilla,
dried apricots and a liberal smattering of cinnamon. The palate is smooth and sweet with under-
tones of vanilla and cinnamon very elegantly placed in contrast with the toasted oak from the
barrels. If you think that’s the best there is from the house of Balvenie, you’re wrong.
I’ve tasted two other Single Malts from the Triple Cask series of Balvenie on another occasion.
The 16 Year Old Triple Cask is smoother, with richer texture hiding under the amber sheen with
vanilla and well-rounded toasted oak. Undertones of honey and licorice on the palette make this
a drink worthy of nobility. Just like a person, every drink mellows down as it ages in a cask. The
harshness of aggression gives way to a gentle aura of experience and maturity in expression.
That’s what the Balevnie 25 Year Old shows, on the nose and the palette. A superbly rich texture
entwined in layers of aromas of gentle spices, cinnamon, cloves, hints of nutmeg and cardamom
with a palate of honey-dew, licorice and dark chocolate on the long, warm finish, the 25 Year Old
Triple Cask is a class apart when it comes to single malts.
This is not to say that the 12 Year Old is any less than its 16 and 25 year old siblings, it’s just that
I would prefer a 25 Year Old Triple Cask any day. However, not all 12 Year Old Single Malts are
the same. In fact, take a dram of the 12 Year Old Double Wood from Balvenie and a whole new
experience awaits you.
As the name suggests, the whiskey goes through a process of maturation in two different types
of wood casks. The first stage is in a traditional whiskey cask that lends a softer note and adds to
the whiskey’s character. The second stage is in a first fill European Sherry cask, giving the whis-
key a fullness that is rare for a 12 Year Old. The Balvenie 12 Year Old Double Wood comes with a
nose of honeydew and vanilla and tastes of bitter-sweet toasted nuts, cinnamon and sherry on
the palette with a long finish.
There was a surprise for the evening. A 17 Year Old Peated Cask from the private stash of the
master blender David Stewart. Only 65 odd bottles of this beauty were ever rolled out to Indi-
an shores and one of the last few was opened up for the guests. An experiment by the Master
Blender at Balvenie in 2001 produced the extremely rich, smoky, floral, spicy notes in this whis-
key. The nose on the 17 Year Old Peated Cask is long and deep with notes of lavender, cinna-
mon, nutmeg and vanilla engulfed in peated oakiness. The palette offers a layered oakiness,
smoothened out by sweetness of honeydew, cinnamon and vanilla with hints of nutmeg.
The chef at The Hilton had prepared an eclectic menu to pair with the whiskey. But, like always, I
was not paying as much attention to the food as I paid to the whiskey. It is a misnomer, especially
in the Indian context, that whiskey and scotch is for chugging or you can drink it with anything on
the table. On the contrary, whiskey and scotch pair with food just like wine. The taste, the tex-
ture, the aroma, the finish – everything matters. Chugging is for kids who have yet to learn a lot,
about a lot.
So much ‘gyaan’ about whiskey-shiskey? Well let me end with one more line of ‘gyaan’ – please
do not drink and drive after that much whiskey. I don’t.
BRAISED ONIONS WITH WHISKEY
A quick recipe that you can try with a Single Malt as well if you like.
• 2 tbsp Olive oil
• 2 tbsp Butter
• 4 Onions, sliced
• 1 tsp Salt
• 1/2 tsp Finely ground pepper
• 1/4 cup Beef or chicken broth
• 1/4 cup Whiskey
Melt oil and butter in a saucepan. Add onions and cook over high heat for two minutes. Add
salt, pepper and broth, then reduce heat. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Add whisky and let
the sauce cook down slightly. As a variation, soak two tablespoons raisins in the whiskey be-
fore you cook the onions, and add this at the end.
0710 - Reached Terminal 1D at Delhi and was amazed by the crowds clustered around the entry
gates. I was looking forward to a breakfast of bacon, eggs and butter slathered toast with hash
browns at Fresc Co. Didn’t look like that was about to happen. Once inside, the crowds were even
more threatening, with a collective conspiracy actively working against my dreams of a piggy
breakfast followed by a leisurely cup of coffee accompanied by the morning paper. I love air-
ports, and look forward to flights with breaks in between, trying to schedule loads of time be-
tween connecting flights, wandering around the premises. Yup, me and Tom Hank, both.
0735 - Checked in, security checked and tried hard to visualize gobbling rashers of bacon, gulp-
ing the coffee, paying the bill and leaving within ten minutes. Sighing, I accepted the inevitable
and proceeded to KFC, coming away with a packed Zing Kong box (fried chicken, chicken burger,
coke, fries) and made a beeline for the smoking room. A chap asked if he could bum a cigarette. I
held out the pack, telling him anyone in the room would be happy to help him out; after all what
right did he have to live any longer than the rest of us?
0830 - Ate cold, oily chicken, tough, leathery chicken burger and limp, soggy fries. This stuff
wasn’t meant to be eaten cold. Tried hard to sleep. Tried.
1030 - Reached Aloft after being promptly picked up at the airport by a friendly Aloft driver who
was kind enough to find me a matchbox. Shared the ride with Michael Swamy, a very quiet man
with an unassuming manner and a lovely smile. We agreed it bored our knickers off when people
insisted on talking only food around us. A chilled, damp towel later, as we signed pre-filled
Stylish,funanddifferentWe were invited by Aloft to check out their new property at Ahmedabad, by
staying as a guest for two days, along with more folks from the industry and
media. Here’s what happened.
customers of the property. Quite like a gatecrashing a wedding, to use a phrase coined by my
fellow writers. The food and arrangements were reminiscent of one too.
2200 - Returned to my room and chatted away with new found friends and discovered the possi-
bility of Aloft investing in Neuro marketing; subliminal advertising to be more precise. As I men-
tioned earlier, Aloft has cordless phones installed in the rooms, which are a great feature. They
should however, have important extensions printed on them, as should the main phone unit.
also, some bathrooms have soap racks and some didn’t, one of a few inconsistencies, which the
folks at Aloft may like to remedy. Interestingly, Avnish’s TV had four Gujarathi channels while the
rest of us had the whole lot (new opening issue).
0830 - Breakfasted from a buffet at dot.yum. A hotel should be able to do a better job than an
airport lounge. The service though was prompt and impeccable. Returned to my room to find it
cleaned and prepped, which was surprising, since the ‘Do not disturb’ switch was still on to the
best of my knowledge. I don’t like people entering my room when travelling and usually keep
the switch on throughout the duration of my stay. Why would they enter? Going to photograph
the property shortly.
1200 - Hung around for a while,
then attended the press conference,
where the Global Brand Ambassa-
dor of the brand, Brian McGuinness
introduced the Aloft brand and
what it stood for (though I didn’t
seem to have an Apple TV in my
room or much options at Re:Fuel
as shown in the slideshow), Dilip
Puri, Managing Director of Star-
wood Hotels in India and Regional
VP of South Asia, reaffirmed their
commitment to the state and the
city, whilst introducing journalists
to the owner of the property Kumar
Sitaraman, Chairman of Auromatrix
Holdings Pvt. Ltd.
1330 - Visited Swati Snacks, Gandhi
Ashram alongside the Sabarmati
river and Vishala, which besides
being an outdoor restaurant that
serves traditional Gujarati food, is
also home to a museum housing a
registration forms, I noticed a signature
area labeled ‘Talent’. I asked the lady at
the counter who was busy checking in
another guest. To my surprise, the chap
who was handing out chilled towels, who
I can only assume was a very junior mem-
ber of the staff, answered, “That’s for a
staff member’s signature Sir. At Aloft, all
staff members are designated as talent”.
Suitably impressed, both by the young
man’s quick response and the Aloft orien-
tation programme, which I assume exists,
I collected my room keys and Starwood
Preferred Guest card (loyalty card) and
reached my second floor quarters.
1050 - Walked into a small, well appoint-
ed and neatly furnished room. A utility
desk, similar study desk, both window
facing, with a neatly made bed facing a
nice, large LCD TV were what I first saw.
The room also contains a couch (conve-
nient, considering there’s no place for
extra chairs), an ironing board and every-
thing else one expects in a hotel room.
The telephones were wireless, a nice
touch. The air conditioner wasn’t working, which was fixed in ten minutes. My free wi-fi was en-
abled very quickly and was blazing fast. Caught up with work, posts, Facebook and emails, then
grabbed a little shut-eye before making my way downstairs for lunch.
1300 - Joined the rest of the very interesting group of journalists from all over and introductions
went all around. Starting with mildly spiced Paneer Tikka and Murgh Malai Tikka we lunched on
Dal Makhani, Mutton Curry, Navratan Qorma, Shahi Paneer and hot tandoori rotis. Very balanced
homestyle food, with neither a surfeit of flavors or oil, except for the sweet overtones in the
paneer of course. Michael explained that the sweetness found in Gujarati food began due to the
salty nature of water found natively, continuing on as a matter of tradition or habit thereafter.
1500 - Checked out the Four Points by Sheraton close by, a property I stayed in a few months
ago when it was the Royal Orchid, an experience I wouldn’t care to repeat. Stayed for tea and a
spread of snacks whilst the GM expounded the virtues of the brand, including a special section
on the care given to selection of the beds.
2000 - After a little rest, descended to Lobby level for a banquet of sorts, with guests and
page 53page 52
large number of traditional Gujarati cooking utensils and related implements. Also figured out
why Housekeeping entered my room - the DnD light wasn’t working.
1930 - The bar, wxyz, home to a small mocktail menu, naturally, and very cosy wood-floored
interiors, featured a group of three singers with unplugged instruments who put up quite a nice
show. Finger snacks did the rounds, of which their version of Seekh Kebab was nice, though I
wouldn’t quite call it that. An inconclusive game of pool at the lobby level between Avnish and I,
a short trip to the street market at Law Garden followed by a filling vegetarian, Gujarati meal at
Agashiye was the end of our day.
0730 - Breakfasted on a cheese omelette, chicken salami, chicken cocktail sausages, baked beans
and melon, then rushed to the airport, forgot to buy snacks for Sandeep and returned to good ‘ol
Prawns with Kiwi and Leek, by Farrukh Shadab, a regular group contributor.
alcohol-enabled Delhi. Which reminds me - the hotel is happy to arrange for alcohol licences for
guests who’re staying for more than three nights, per government regulations.
To conclude, let’s take a quick look at what’s great about Aloft, Ahmedabad?
• Friendly, effective staff
• Low overhead, easy to interact with features
• Easily accessible, very social lobby level
• Comfortable rooms, with most amenities available without asking for them
• Very fast, free wireless Internet
... and what needs improvement at Aloft, Ahmedabad?
• The food and drink
• In room inconsistencies and ergonomic/usability issues
Aloft, Ahmedabad is a lovely hotel, resplendent with all the features Aloft has plugged into it’s
properties to make them friendlier for the business or budget traveler. A few bugs exist, that will
be ironed out shortly, considering it’s a new property. Having said that, I found the staff effective
(bottle of water delivered within 10 minutes to my room, at 3:00am), eager to please and most
promises made by the brand, met. The only area I’d suggest immediate improvement in is the food
and beverages, which were average at best and lackadaisical at worst - nothing earth shattering;
improvement here will add yet another badge to their already impressive bling board. They very
easily made it through with high points on our checklist, which is saying a lot, considering the list
consists of 155 check points of pure grouchiness. If you’re visiting Ahmedabad, a stay at Aloft is
highly recommended. It offers all the comfort of a five star, in a format that ensures you’re always
at ease and well taken care of.
page 57page 56