Tuesday, February 19, 2013


Being a true blue foodie, any authentic food fascinates me and off I set to Jamavar@ The Leela Palace Delhi, when I heard that Chef Vinod Saini and his team of Wazwan chefs were cooking up a Kashmiri storm (literally). For those who don’t know, Wazwan is an elaborate, formal, overwhelmingly generous meal integral to Kashmiri Muslim weddings.
I started my culinary sojourn with a cup of kahwa, a refreshing sweet tea, fragrant with saffron, spiced with cardamom and afloat with crisp almond slivers. (This tea is usually served from a silver samovar, which bubbles ceaselessly through the wedding ceremony). The Manager Gurpreet also explained that to make it absolutely authentic  ingredients and specialty items Have directly been flown in from Kashmir like the Himalayan trout, Kashmiri Saffron, Manj achar (kohlrabi pickle), Snow mountain garlic, Vari masala (Kashmiri ver masala) and Gucchi (Morrel mushrooms) to name a few.
As the whiff of kebabs, spice laden curries and hot ghee began to weave its way across the restaurant I sat down for my Wazwan experience. My vote goes all out to the delicious ‘Tabak Maz’ flat rib cuts cooked in spiced milk and then fried in pure ghee till they are dark and crackling. The ‘Tandoori Trout’ and ‘Taali Machhi’ were no less spectacular. Soon the wazwan started taking a fast pace. Chicken red curry served with a huge ladle was poured on the rice, along with a huge meaty piece of chicken. Next came in the succulent Rogan josh, fiery with red Kashmiri chillies and lots more. The piece de resistance for me was the delectably Rista, soft mutton meatballs cooked in a red gravy. Temptations for luxurious indulgences lingers, here, with every morsel of delectable food, and every sip of the coveted wines and aged spirits from the extensive list - perhaps the capital’s most sought after collection. All in all the food here is unpretentious and clearly freshly made and more importantly is delicious to boot! Most of all the effortlessly spontaneous charming staff, with traditional feelings of hospitality and deeply instilled values, made me feel instantly at home on my visit. I relished my meal in an ambience resplendent with Kashmiri pomp, the ceremonial dining spread laden with the finest repertoire of delicacies. Not surprisingly I couldn’t move an inch after I was done, yet I joined in for more kahwa…After all, it was wazwan for dinner!

Dum Oluv -potatoes cooked in yogurt gravy.
Hak- a local variety of greens.
Rista -meatballs in fiery red gravy.
Rogan Josh -tender lamb cooked with Kashmiri spices.
Tabak Maz -ribs of lamb simmered in yogurt till tender, and then fried till they crackle.
Daniwal Korma -a mutton curry with lots of coriander.
Marchwangan Korma -an extremely hot lamb preparation.
Kebab -minced meat roasted on skewers over hot coals.
Gushtaba -a velvety textured meatball in white yogurt gravy.
Yakhni -delicately spiced yogurt curry.

The ‘Vasta Waza’ (head cook) directs and guides his team. This title by the way is a big thing and is conferred on a chosen few after years of apprenticeship

The Leela Palace New Delhi,
Diplomatic Enclave,
New Delhi 110 023
Tel: +91 (0) 11 3933 1234
Operating Hours: Open for dinner from7 Pm to 11-45Pm
Location: The Lobby Level.

Thursday, February 14, 2013


This amazing coconut island of Thailand is fast becoming a tourist hotspot. What with the perfect white sandy beaches, turquoise waters, amazing local hospitality and exotic locales…it certainly is no surprise

To be greeted by the most beautiful airport in the world, it was indeed a good start for our second honeymoon. The airport is essentially entirely outdoors with the departure lounge being a nice little street of quaint shops and bars. And trust me tome is of little importance at Koh Samui from the moment you arrive at the terminal and breathe the frangipani-scented tropical air, you feel yourself slow down and relaxed, which is one of the best things about the island. There is an overriding tranquility that transforms tourists from stress-merchants into serene smiling beings and there is much to do in this natural wonderland. Set on the beautiful and unspoiled beach of Choeng Mon on the northeast coast of Samui was our Hotel Imperial Boathouse. Our every whim was catered by the very friendly and obliging staff, and with so many dining options we were spoiled for choice. One can never get bored here with a host of activities ranging from just cycling around the island, Pre-arranging a romantic candlelight barbeque in front of the sea at leisure; one can wine and dine with the sounds of the ocean under the moonlit sky. For the ultimate indulgence one can retire to one’s sun beds for dessert and coffee and saver the true evening sky.

We decided that we couldn’t just relax by the pool and on the beach every day so we agreed to take a tour together around the island.  I found the first stop a bit strange, though these bunch of rocks look really cool, by the sea. What's weird is that one rock formation resembles the make genitalia and a crevice in another looks like the female genitalia, hence it is named Grandpa and Grandma Rocks. Basically these are rock formations and if you use just a bit of imagination they look like the male and female genitals.  One of the stories about this place being two star crossed lovers who jumped off the cliff there and the only thing remaining were these organs.

Next stop was a temple monastery (Wat Khunaram) where a revered monk's mummified body is kept in a glass case in a meditative position. He has been believed to give up his body during meditation, having predicted his own time of death. It seems like it is not just a tourist attraction but also a shrine for locals. Interestingly there was also a pair of sunglasses put on the monks face. 

We also visited a coconut plantation where trained monkeys climb trees and pick the right coconuts. We then moved on to the  Elephant ride park and hiked on a  hilly trail that  ended at a water fall , where we also indulged in some local street food consisting of Som Tam and grilled duck….mama mia!
That last evening we just chilled in our boat house and ordered room service and I thought to myself “with spectacular views all across, there’s no better place than this to chill out and relax, enjoying the hospitality and tropical ambience of this friendly paradise”. Despite the island’s luxury trend, Samui still has something for every type of traveller on offer. There are bikini-clad, oil-slicked tourists, crowded beach areas where teenage boys peddle mangoes and coconuts, and noisy jet-skiers churning up whitewash on the clear waters.Koh Sumai sure is a melting pot where the past and the present are smoothly blended together, offers a rare beauty that will compel you to return to its shores time and time again….

Getting there: Fly Thai airways from Delhi to Bangkok, then either fly Bangkok Airways or Thai.
Visa Wise: You require a valid passport and Visa is available on arrival too.
Best Time to visit: It is an all year destination.
Currency:  Thai Baht. 1Thai Baht is equal to 1.55 INR
Wear Wise: Loose cotton clothes are essential.
Must Do: learn Thai cooking, Water activities, Elephant Trekking, Visit the snake farm,

Saturday, February 9, 2013


What according to you is the hottest cuisine these days?
Depends where in the world you are. In the US, they are really getting into raw food, New Mexican and some Vietnamese. In the UK they are still talking about provenance and seasonality but we are finally getting some good Mexican in which is adding to its popularity. For me, it is street food from around the world.

What is your contribution to Indian cuisine internationally?
This is not for me to answer; it is a matter of perspective. Some may say I have done nothing, others a lot.

Does molecular gastronomy work with Indian cuisine?
It works as well as it does with any other cuisine. It is about new tastes and textures and allows the cook to enjoy his creativity.

How different was it working with an Indian team of chefs at The Oberoi for the charity event?
I really enjoyed working with the chefs from the Oberoi. It is always great for me to work in India; there is a feeling of camaraderie and familiarity that I love.

What is the most popular Indian dish internationally?
The chicken tikka masala.

Do you have any advice for upcoming chefs?
You need to learn everything you can, immerse yourself into this world and then add you own stamp to it once you have grown enough to understand what that might be. Being over confident to early on gives little.

How do you balance working in the kitchen with a family?
I’m not sure I have balanced both, sometimes one takes up more time, other times, the other. I am always wanting to do more with both (my children and my career) so I am probably Jack of all, master of none! But I wouldn’t want to not have one or the other so it will just have to continue this way.
Do you think it is difficult for vegetarians to survive eating out internationally?
Yes, in some places. For example, Spain was a struggle for my brood this summer but luckily I found an Indian restaurant on day 2 and took a regular take away from there! I’m not joking, in many European cities, I need to find an Indian restaurant to feed my lot a healthy, balanced meal.

Your favourite cuisine and favourite restaurant? Why?
Obviously Indian! Love Bukhara in Delhi, Trishna in Mumbai, Kewpies in Kolkata I know there are many others, newer restaurants around but I haven’t gotten around to trying them. I am always open to suggestions so readers feel free to email me through my website www.anjumanand.co.uk or tweet me on @anjum_anand.

Please tell us one secret handy tip/ingredient/cooking process which enhances your cooking & we can try?
I think cooking with patience and really allowing flavours to develop works well with Indian food. Also, when it comes to a curry, stir often; it makes the sauce creamier and more homogenous.
Blackberries with Violet, Yoghurt and Easy Homemade Granola

I know this dish isn’t Indian of origin but it is so delicious I couldn’t resist putting it in the book. I was working this compote to go with my kulfi but it didn’t work and I ate it for breakfast the next morning with some Greek yoghurt. It was divine and this dish was born. Granola is so easy to make that once you make our own you will never seek it out from supermarkets again and here it adds a lovely crunch and substance to the dish. I haven’t added any dried fruit to this granola as there is some in the compote but you can choose from raisins, dried cherries, dried blueberries or any other and add in with the coconut.
Makes enough for 4
400g blackberries, washed
4-5 tbs. violet syrup (depends on how sour the berries are)
Large handful of dried blueberries or raisins
Greek Yoghurt or thick yoghurt, (stirred to break up lumps) to serve
Granola (store extra in an airtight container)
160g old fashioned rolled oats
80g mix of nuts and seeds (I use pistachios, halved almonds, cashew nuts, pumpkin and sunflower seeds)
20g coconut flakes or desiccated coconut
¾ tsp. vanilla essence
½ tsp. cinnamon powder
1½ tbs. vegetable oil
55-60ml natural maple syrup
11/2 tbs. honey
Good pinch of salt
Preheat oven to 140C. Start with the granola and mix the oats, nuts, cinnamon and salt together in a baking tray. Make a well in the middle and pour in all the wet ingredients; mix well. Bake for 40 minutes, adding the coconut flakes in after 35 minutes. Stir every 8-9 minutes for even baking. Take out once golden, it will continue to crisp up as it cools. Once cool, store in an airtight container and use as needed. 
Place the blackberries in a saucepan with a good splash of water and heat until the berries are starting to soften. Add the violet syrup and raisins and cook for another minute and take off the heat. Add another splash of water if the fruit looks a little dry, there should be some juices. Taste and add some more syrup or a squeeze of orange or lemon juice to balance sweetness.
Serve compote hot or cold with the Greek yoghurt and the granola.

Published in The Man

Wednesday, February 6, 2013



The famed Jhumroo of kingdom of Dreams and also the lad from Gurgaon tells Rupali Dean what he loves to eat in his hometown....

The Monk, Galaxy Hotel Shopping & Spa, Sector 15
I visit this place for Oriental food. This place offers roasted peanuts to munch before you order food. The mind boggling varieties include delicious wok fried delicacies as meal in a bowl, with your choice of noodles, sticky or steamed rice. My personal favourite are the Soba noodles with Chinese greens in Black pepper sauce.

Nirula’s, MGF Metropolitan Mall, MG Road
This ice cream counter caters to quick take away service whenever I wish to satiate my appetite for deserts. The counter offers entire range of ice creams, shakes, sundaes, coffee and sodas.

Navedayam, Orchid Square near Sushant Lok
It’s one of my favourite places. The food here is unpretentious and clearly freshly made and more importantly is delicious to boot!  Filter coffee to start with followed by Mysore Rava Masala Dosa and Dahi Vada. Apart from this, Maharaja Thali is not to be missed. It’s an awesome place to dine at with friends.

Chennai Pavilion, Kingdom of Dreams, Sector 29
Elegant setting with sophisticated South Indian food makes Chennai Pavilion a real winner. A mammoth boulevard of food and retail, The Chennai restaurant offers the one of its kind Gunpowder Dosa, which is surely going to tantalize your taste buds.

Namche Bazaar, Golf Course Road, Sector 43
This institution has become an icon for its signature Dal Makhni and is a must for locals who patronize this place. I like the calm and quiet atmosphere here. The Meetha Paan is surely not to be missed.

Om Sweets, Sector 14
When you come to this part of Gurgaon, leave behind all that new-fad of calorie counting, health-conscious, and low-fat thinking. The scent of asli ghee invades the nostrils all over.  After more than a century and with a long list of loyal clients, it needs very little endorsement. All the sweets and snacks here to die for and the Dhodha here has put Gurgaon on the culinary map.

Published in India Today Travel Plus 

Monday, February 4, 2013



The Lowdown – This restaurant serving superlative food without any nouveau pretension is so popular that making reservations are advised. An extensive a la carte menu offers a comprehensive choice of the finest Korean fare. The highlight is the cooking of your own meats and piping hot food on your own little grill, a neat change to the run of the mill point and order joint. There are nine ‘Banchan’ (side dishes) with every meal you order and all of them have their own flavours, and are amazingly delicious, the standards being cabbage kimchi, bean sprouts and sweet potato and the rest change. And yes fruit is served on the house as ‘dessert’. Many of the ingredients and spices are brought from Korea, ensuring authentic dishes and the owner ‘Mi Hwa Park’ is the chief chef too.
The owner & chief chef Mi Hwa Park

Ambience- Exquisite rosewood furniture coupled with intricately detailed wooden panelling and local paintings add to its elegant ambience matched by food that is equally refined and refreshing. One is seated in a booth on the wood floor on low wooden tables, after taking off one’s shoes to eat in traditional Korean style. The tables are big enough to seat large groups of people, and are also big enough to place a large amount of dishes. They also have buttons on the table to alert your waiter/waitress if they are not around. 

Lip-smacking- Traditional Korean BBQ is one of the restaurant’s specialities including ‘Bulgogi’ (tenderloin beef BBQ) and ‘Daeji yangnyeom Galbi’ (seasoned pork ribs). ‘Kimch jigae’ (spicy Hot Korean kimchi with tofu and pork) served with sticky rice, ‘Bibim Bap’ (rice with vegetables, meat and a fried egg, which is to be mixed with a fruit based sauce), ‘chicken gas’ (fried chicken) and ‘Haemul Tang’ (spicy sea-food soup).
Don't even go there –If you are uncomfortable sitting cross-legged on the floor and dining.
'Man’ speak –I was craving something refreshingly new for my slightly overdone palette and this proved to be an exciting dining experience.
How to get there – Unit 11, Ground Floor, Global Foyer B/D, Golf course road, sector 43, Gurgaon. Next to the Mercedes Benz showroom, the nearest metro station is sikanderpur.
Tel- 0124-4086128 / 4086130
Timings- Open for lunch and dinner.
Cost – A meal for two would be approx. 2,200 without alcohol.

 Published in The Man