Tuesday, August 20, 2013


A Homestay is accommodation provided in a private home, run by the homeowner and this concept is gaining popularity in India both for national and international Tourists. I talk here of the Top 5 where you can experience the difference of Living in a Home away from Home …..

These destinations are an ideal choice of accommodation for places especially where Language is a barrier as most of the home owners are well versed in English and can accompany their guest for sightseeing and shopping in the local markets. Home cooked food as per one’s choice is another unique attraction and yes it is much more economical than living in a Hotel, thus making it an  ideal choice for Single travellers, Pet Holidays, Adventure Holidays, and also makes for wonderful relaxed weekend trips.

‘Puthankayal Island’ was the last island to have been reclaimed in the backwater region for agriculture and is approximately 2 meters below the lake level. The retaining dyke around the perimeter of the island keeps the lake water from entering the farm. This farm houses traditional style, antique filled, open plan affair, with enough space for a couple and an extra bed if need be, waterfront cottages amidst the mango, nutmeg, coconut, and pepper plantations and staying here is an excellent opportunity to enjoy the real Kerala experience in a fascinating location, with a caring family to look after you. Don’t fret your privacy is much assured at these independent waterfront villas with gorgeous ‘sit outs’ facing the peaceful waters. You will be welcomed warmly By Anu and her ‘mummy’ and after a quick tour of the plantation and feasting on the Syrian Christian lunch with the family in their dining room, one can spend the rest of the days eating more Kerela food, doing touristy stuff and chilling out.

Where? - Anu Mathew, Philipkutty’s Farm, Pallivathukal, Ambika Market P.O, Vechoor, Kottayam District, Kerala - 686 144.
Tel: (91)-4829-276530 /275130
Mob: (91) - 98950 75130
Best Way to Reach- It is 75 Kms from Kochi and 27 kms from Alleppy. Though accessible by road (up to the opposite bank), it is the ‘vallam’ (country boat) that will finally take you across.

Sample this, lush farms blooming with sarson, swaying green grass and gentle aroma of freshly baked rotis with dollops of ghee, drinking fresh milk straight from the cow, farm fresh eggs for breakfast and you would know you are in Punjab…Get a peek into the rural life with this and much more at this Haveli. So if you are planning a religious pilgrimage to the Golden Temple, or just passing through Amritsar, Green Acres Haveli and Retreat is sure to provide a relaxing experience plus one can also plan an excursion to the Wagah border or go on a Heritage walk of the Golden city.
Where? 1, Green Acres, Airport Road, Amritsar, Punjab 143002, India
Tel: +91 97 81 983828
Best way to Reach: Take the Amritsar Shatabadi and reach Amritsar. The Farm stay will organize a pick and drop for you.

The best way to enjoy the place is leave on Friday early evening, enjoying the drive. Cheerful dhabas dot the journey. Trucks whisk dust off on the ‘Kuchha’ roads Simbhauli onwards, but all that is fun and adventure. It’s heart-warming to see animals lay outside village homes, familiarity of cow dung appearing in every village. This majestic fort is now managed and operated by Leisure Hotels. A host of modern amenities have been introduced at the fort, where the royal family still lives in one section, making it a perfect spot for family or friends’ getaways. The brilliant white façade of ‘Surya Mahal’ is surrounded by well-manicured, lush verdant lawns. The décor with its understated elegance is a reflection of the time, when style remained a way of life. Activities such as an excursion to the colourful Saturday Bazaar, imparts the true flavour of an Indian Village. One may bask in the solitude in the warm sunshine, sit beneath the orchard trees in the farm, walk along the river, enjoy horse riding on Peshawari breed horses and bullock cart rides, walk through village haat and play billiards, squash, croquet, badminton to name just a few. The food here is really nice and home style and the service makes you feel like the King himself. All in all ,the Fort has been restored to provide comfortable accommodation, whilst retaining the atmosphere of a bygone area, filled as it is with antique furniture, historical photographs, old hunting trophies, a snooker table, etc. The village of Unchagaon is also fascinating, and an afternoon walk reveals traditional activities such as pottery and sugar refining.

Distance from Delhi: 110 Kms. (Gaziabad-Hapur-Simbhauli-Unchagaon)
Best way to Reach- by Road, approx. 3 to 31/2 hours’ drive
To make a booking: Leisure Hotels Ltd., F - 3/6, Ground Floor, Okhla Inds. Area, Phase I, New Delhi - 110 020
Tel: 91-11- 4652 0000

On arrival, one is greeted with beautiful pinewood cottages which give off a cheery atmosphere. There is a huge activity centre for the kids and lots of shady trees. After breakfast one can start off with the adventures, first become familiar with the basic one like climbing a commando’s net, and move on to crossing the Burma Bridge, rope walking and flying fox. A bit of exercise builds an appetite and when your tummy starts rumbling head off for a hearty lunch of Himachali ‘Madra’ and ‘chawal’, which ends on a sweet note with ‘gur ke chawal’, and life is bliss. Do wake up in time for your next adventure, which is a trek to ‘rock climbing’ and ‘rappelling’. The star of the show however is the ‘Village tour and meal experience at a local home’, on Aamod’s activity list. It is a nice drive to the village home and here your culinary sojourn starts with a cup of tea made with freshly drawn milk…absolutely divine. Slide into the kitchen and try your hand at making the rotis on the ‘Chullah’. The ladies of the house are extremely friendly and hospitable and will feed you the most amazing fresh and organic (they grow their vegetables without any chemicals) dinner, and you will end up eating as if there is no tomorrow. However the best part is the dessert… ‘Pure ghee and Shakar’! After this experience it comes as no surprise that you may be planning more such holidays!

Where? Aamod at Shoghi, Village Shalaghat, P.O. Kaiphlighat, Tehsil Kandaghat, District Solan.
Tel: 0177 6532020
Best Way to Reach- Take a Shatabadi/Howrah Kalka Mail till Kalka and then take a cab till the resort which is approximately 2 and a half hours drive uphill.

This is a concept of Mahindra Holidays and Resorts India Limited, and has set up a pan-India network of about 312 homes that delivers the real India through an enriching host- guest interaction.
For complete information on the variety and the range of Homestays that are available with Mahindra’s visit www.mahindrahomestays.com

Published in Tlf

Saturday, August 17, 2013


Feeling Romantic? But wanna sit with your partner while whipping up that something special! No fret! With a KitchenAid Cordless HandBlender you can make a basic recipe like a strawberry smoothie to awesome Martinis. The best part is since it is Cordless, you can even whip up something nice while watching Television!!
For 4 people
Yoghurt: 900 gms; Honey: 4 tsps.; strawberries (sliced): 500 gms; Ice as desired

] Crush ice in the Cordless KitchenAid Blender, best ice-crushing ever!

] Combine all the ingredients, blend until smooth

HOT FACT: Strawberries improve blood flow. Strawberries tipped with chocolate can get the ultimate in desire!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Rendezvous with Chef Rober Salloum, the Senior Arabic Chef@ Fairmont The Palm, Dubai

Starting his career aged 14 in Damascus in his native Syria, Rober has over 14 years’ experience working in Dubai, and during his career he has worked for several luxurious hotels groups, including the Jumeriah Group where he was part of the pre-opening team for the renowned Burj Al Arab.  Joining Fairmont The Palm during the pre-opening period, Chef Rober was the right hand man for Executive Chef, John Cordeaux, leading the opening of the resort’s six restaurants and lounges.  In his role as Senior Arabic Chef, Rober manages over 22 colleagues in the Fairmont The Palm’s main kitchen.  Highly respected by his peers, Rober is revered as one of the best Arabic Chefs in the UAE, but is most proud of his title as ‘father’ of his two young children, aged 1 and 7 years.   

 When did you realize that you wanted to be a professional chef?
I started working in the kitchen when I was only 14 years old in Syria, and it was a natural progression that I went on to become a professional chef.  All these years later I still love what I am doing!

What according to you is the hottest cuisine these days?
In the Middle East, Arabic food is always very popular, and many tourists who visit Dubai enjoy sampling traditional Arabic dishes.  In Dubai, Chinese cuisine seems to be increasing in popularity, and we are looking forward to launching our very own new pan Chinese restaurant at Fairmont The Palm later this year, Bā Restaurant & Lounge, which will feature a full spectrum of regional cuisine.

Do you have any advice for upcoming chefs?
I believe that it’s extremely important that those who want to become chefs are passionate, and don’t just see it as a job.  In my role as Senior Arabic Chef, I create development plans for each and every young chef in my team, tailored around their individual skills.  I ensure that each chef has the necessary training they need, and give advice to help each individual grow.

Do you think it is difficult for vegetarians to survive eating out internationally?
I think today there is a great selection of vegetarian options in restaurants for guests.  Particularly in, the Middle East, a lot of Arabic food is vegetarian, such as Baba Ganoush (primarily made with eggplant, tomatoes, parsley and onion) and Fattoush (a popular salad made with lettuce, tomatoes, and parsley topped with crispy fried bread).

Your favourite cuisine and favourite restaurant? Why?
I love Italian food because of all of the rich flavours.  One of my favourite Italian restaurants in Dubai is Toscana, which is part of Madinat Jumeirah, where I used to work.

Please tell us one secret handy tip/ingredient/cooking process which enhances your cooking & we can try?
Olive oil and lemon juice are the secrets behind Arabic cuisine.  Olive oil adds flavour to any dish while lemon juice adds flavour to the food.

Do you think that visual appeal of a dish has an effect on the customer?
Of course! We all eat with our eyes first, before sampling a dish.

What is a typical day like for you when you are at work?
I start very early in the morning, around 7am.  My day begins with morning briefings with my team, before starting on lunch preparations and getting ready for any events in the hotel. In the afternoon I place food orders, and then we begin dinner preparations.  Depending on the business levels, I can finish quite late.

One cuisine that you feel is overrated?
I believe that this is more of a personal choice, depending on an individual’s tastes and preferences.

One celebrity or famous personality you would like to call for dinner and why?
If I was hosting a dinner party the first people I would invite would be my family.  If I were to invite a celebrity it would have to be George Wassof, a famous Arabic singer from Syria.

Do you cook to live to live to cook?
I most definitely live to cook – it’s my passion.

What does experimentation and innovation mean to you?
Every chef brings their own unique touch to a dish.  When I’m trying out a new recipe, I will look at how many different chefs prepare the dish, in cook books and TV cooking shows, before I create the dish putting my own personal spin on it.

White cheese: 800 Gms; Fresh Zatar leaves: 70 Gms; Sliced green olives: 50 Gms; Lebanese Olive oil: 80 Ml; Finely chopped tomato: 180 Gms; Dry Zatar with sesame seeds: 50 Gms.
1.    Slice the cheese then arrange in serving plate.
2.    Add the Zatar leaves and chopped tomato each on one side of the plate, then the green olives on the top of the cheese as well as the chopped tomato and dry Zatar on them.
3.    Finally, drip olive oil on top.

Beetroot boiled: 2 kgs; Tahina (sesame seeds puree): 300 Gms; Lemon salt: 15 Gms; Garlic peeled and mashed: 50 Gms; Olive oil: 150 Ml; Salt: to taste; Pistachio: 100 Gms; Mini flat: 30 Gms; Plain yoghurt: 600 Gms
1.    Grate the beetroot and strain it, add yoghurt, mashed garlic, salt and lemon salt, mix all together.
2.    Add tahini in to the beetroot and mix it again.
3.    Plate and finish with olive oil, garnish with fresh mint and pistachio sticks.

published in TLF

Sunday, August 4, 2013


An ideal place for after-office sun downers, a pre-dinner aperitif, simply hangout or if you are in the mood for some craft beer and German food

Once inside, the Bavarian ambience makes quite an impression. The décor with its clean lines and Beer Garden theme made me feel every bit the globe-trotting high roller even though for one night. Emphasis here seemed to be on lingering and lounging albeit elegantly so we felt free to recline while taking in the German Micro-Brewery Plant and machinery view and, the large Chestnut trees and brewery lay out completely bowled me over. And well, the sparkle does not end here which I soon realized after looking at the Menu to order some food and drinks. Open until late it offers a collection of the finest beer handcrafter by the German brew-master on site. The restaurant boasts of its quality, unfiltered fresh beers full of Proteins and has on the menu Lager, Wheat, Special and Premium. To start our evening we ordered some Wheat and I would like to add here that it is a must have for any fan of German Food, because it makes a really good food match - and not just for Sausages as you might predict, but for a variety of different foods.

Coming to the food if you are hungry, the menu’s one to return for: everything from the German Potato salad, Salmon platter, pork knuckle to the Schnitzels and scrumptious desserts like Volcanic lava chocolate cake , German Eistorte which is a delicate combination of exotic fresh fruits, ice cream and macaroons has its place. Recommendations go all out for the Original Bratwurst and Munich Sausages, some of the best selections of appetizers which isn’t a wonder as they imports their Sausages’, Meat and Sea food products from Germany, Australia and New Zealand. I had an altogether new epicurean experience! Careful attention to detail, from the palate awakening cocktails right down to the coasters, puts it in a class of its own. From the cocktails of freshly brewed beer dropped on tequila, lemonade, mint chunks to make Brauhaus Refresher, Energy, Shady, Horse, and Mojito as well as the best varieties of Champagnes, Wines, Premium Single Malts, Scotches, Cocktails, Mocktails, Bourbon & Irish Whiskey to the sensational menu, quality and service is paramount- water glasses are magically filled and drinks are presented in sexy glassware. All in all, a luscious drinks list and fast service makes this a great escape from the daily grind- whether you cast yourself into the weekend crush, or slip in midweek for a potion of pow-wow with your friends. This place is heavily guarded by style police so dress up, but once inside slide on to one of the chairs, relax and indulge in one of Gurgaon’s most sophisticated Microbrewery experiences.

7 DEGREE BRAUHAUS, No. 310-311, South Point Mall, Golf Course Road, DLF Phase 5, Gurgaon, Haryana,122002
http://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/images/cleardot.gifFor Reservations: - 0124 667 2000 & 95608 22766
Timings: 11-30 Am to Midnight.

Meal for Two: INR 3,000 with alcohol

published in Statesman

Thursday, August 1, 2013


Want to make these pretty cup cakes?" Its as easy as ABC with a KitchenAid stand mixer" says Pastry Chef Samantha Nunes @Goa Marriott Resort & Spa
Unsalted Butter: 200 Gms; Castor Sugar: 200 Gms; Whole Eggs: 4 Nos; Vanilla Essence: 2 Ml; Refined Flour: 200 Gms; Baking Powder: 4 Gms                                       

Preheat the oven to 180 degree c

In the KitchenAid Stand Mixer pour softened unsalted butter and castor sugar together till the sugar starts to dissolve.        
Check out the light yellow colour
Gradually add whole eggs one at a time while beating continuously.
Vanilla Essence has been added with the eggs
Add the vanilla essence to the batter.
Once all the eggs are added then add the sieved refined flour and baking powder to the batter in the KitchenAid Stand Mixer itself. Keep it on till all the flour combines and becomes a thick batter.

That's the correct consistency

Chef getting her cup cake tray ready

Spoon the batter into cupcake moulds till they are approx. half filled.
A ladle of chocolate ...yummy!

can add chocolate to the mixer as well for chocolate cup cakes

Bake the cupcakes at 180 degree c for about 12-15 mins.


Decorate as you like

That’s All Eat them J

The gorgeous and adorable Chef Samantha 

That's me...Balanced diet...what say ?