Thursday, December 25, 2014


Sample this bouquet of hot spiced mulled wine, handcrafted Christmas presents, more schnitzel, wurst, gingerbread and sausages than you can imagine, medieval castles, tree decorations, candles, lambskin shoes and carols sung 24/7…you get this and more traditional delights at Germany’s Christmas markets.. These are 3 of my favourite ones
Cologne is presenter to numeral Christmas markets all-round the run-up to Christmas. Boasting not one, but six total Christmas markets, to say it is big is an enormous understatement. The most popular of these is held in the shadow of the Cologne Cathedral, the largest in Germany and a UNESCO World Heritage site. With the impressive Gothic backdrop and the gigantic Christmas tree in the Rhine, the ‘Am Dom’ Market offers over a hundred and sixty stalls selling the traditional yuletide wares and their famous Glühwein (mulled wine). Customary music fills the air, providing the perfect ambience for Christmas shopping. If you are looking for a large, hackneyed German Christmas market, Cologne is the place for you. You could spend over a day there ambling amongst the stalls and taking in the sites. It makes for a great starting point on any trip around the Rhineland and to German Christmas markets. I spent most of my afternoon in Cologne lengthening my neck trying to see to the top of the fifth tallest church in the world with stuffing my face with Hot Dogs and hot mulled wine. A great memory to carry back home!
Stuttgart was on my radar owing to the fact that it has one of the oldest Christmas markets in Germany, and there are five castles and palaces to be found around town. Home to Mercedes-Benz and Porsche, I couldn’t have possibly missed those holy automobile shrines. Indicated as one of the most pleasing markets in Europe, the main Stuttgart market is held beneath the gorgeous Old Palace. Inside the palace the festivities continue as you stroll through the stalls of the Resurgent inner courtyard, the whiff of cinnamon and vanilla filling the air. It surely is an extravagant destination, providing easy access to other must-see markets; just 20km away are the famed Ludwigsburg (north) held in the baroque market square and promises visitors romance and history and Esslingen (south-east) Christmas markets.
Held in the old town, In Esslingen you can see high-wire artists performing breath taking feats at dizzy heights, fairy-tale figures on stilts, fire-eaters, minstrels, and acrobats ruffling around the streets in wheels of flame. This medieval market a theme that almost feels like the Christmas market meets a Renaissance festival, provides an unexpected atmosphere with must see attractions including the Land of Dwarfs, archery and medieval arts and crafts. While I haven’t been to every market in Germany, I would say this one is filled with a lot of character!  Do not miss the huge steaming tubs shaped like beer barrels with people in them. And go for a dip if you can.
The Christmas market is huge, sprawling and almost everything is homemade and authentic, and the stalls are decorated beautifully! The horns of signalling angles are substituted by hunting horns in this quaint town’s Christmas Market nativity, but the animals yelping in the manger are real and pet-able. Baby Jesus and Santa make an impression in a horse rather than a sleigh or cart─ hunting horns and a children’s choir announcing his arrival. Orchestras, bands and more choirs conduct in front of the Kurhaus─the town hall which gets its peristyle done up in lights that diverge from it lighting up the charming parts of the town. By the way, they don’t get snow here as the famed thermal ground puts a stop to any thoughts of a white Christmas, but it’s still cold enough to enjoy a drama of Glühwein and bunch close to your sweetheart for affection as you stroll around stalls selling all the things Christmas markets are known for and wood carved gifts being a local favourite.


published in Statesman

Tuesday, December 23, 2014


‘The way to a man's heart is through his stomach is an age old saying and I think it's true, feed anyone good food and they are happy. For me cooking is not only a hobby but also a passion and a profession. What could be a better combination as a table is a place to gather, be festive and celebrate, for me baking is to give and to be a reason for other's joy’ shares young aspiring pastry chef  Archana Mehra a 3rd Year Culinary Arts student from IHM – Aurangabad.
She shares this beautiful recipe made using the KitchenAid stand mixer with me, which took me back to my training days when we used to make in numerous Camembert souffles using the KitchenAid stand mixer, hers is a sweet one just like her!
Read on…
1 cup strawberries; 2 tbsp sugar; 1/4 teaspoon vanilla essence; 4 egg whites;
1/2 cup water
1. Slice the strawberries and heat them with a little water and sugar till it forms a thick jam. Let it cool down.
2. Beat 4 egg whites in the KitchenAid stand mixer till u get a soft peak. Gently fold the strawberry puree into the egg whites.
3. Pour this mixture into 4 greased ramekins and wipe the mouth of the ramekins for the soufflé to rise easily.
4. Bake in a preheated oven at about 350F until it has risen and is golden brown on top.
To serve
Drizzle with some icing sugar and top with a sliced strawberry. 


A wine, beer or spirit gift is just the thing to make Christmas or New Year very special. That said, some wines and liquors have been dismissed off late for being ‘just a regular gift’, and growing appreciation of adding spice to them is giving them a reputation as quality quaffs. Handmade gifts are the best kind, particularly when they are delicious and daintily packaged and show the best sentiments of the season.
‘Mulled wine’ aka Red wine that has been heated, and flavoured with spices makes the perfect gift for someone who enjoys its warm, spicy undertones. A good idea is to choose a good Red and tie the spice sachet to the bottle, along with a gift label with instructions on how to Mull it. One kit should be enough to make around six glasses. ‘Limon cello’ another interesting drink can easily be made by putting lemon peels ( about 8 lemons) in a carafe, pouring vodka ( 2 litres) on it,  and letting it infuse over a week, of course remember to shake it well every day. A week later just adds the strained liquid into hot sugar (with 1 kg sugar) syrup carefully, cool it and pour into bottles and leave it aside in a cupboard for about 10 to 15 days, decant into smaller bottles and give away as gifts. Take about a quarter of any fruit flavour sugar boiled sweets, mash them up and leave them at the bottom of a jar. Top up with a litre of vodka, stir and keep it airtight. Keep shaking and stirring once in a while for a couple of days until the sweets have dissolved.
Pour it into bottles, create your own special label and gift it in a nice fancy wine bag. Since this drink is very sweet and already has a nice kick a great idea is to serve it with some lemony soda. 
If you are not the types to create a gift, a good idea is to pick up something unique like an ‘ice-wine’ which is a sweet dessert wine with a rich, golden colour. Picked while still frozen solid the sweetness of the grapes juices are held, creating the extra sweet flavoured wine. Another good buy is ‘Madeira’ as it’s so traditional and you would love its heady, smooth, nutty flavour. Nothing better to go with the Cake; uncork on Christmas Eve and it will be as fresh and zesty on New Year’s Eve. You can buy a good variety of wine from or even
For those who do not know, the shape of the glass is determined by the grape and the content commands the shape so you could even pair some ‘Riedel’ Crystal wine glasses with your hamper. The final icing on the cake comes with the mounting popularity of bar accessories. With most major Lifestyle stores now retailing and even online stores like the celebratory drinks are being served in style at high-end soirees everywhere. Christmas time there is no reason why you can’t drink a glass of wine amidst your gift planning and packing. It is also the time to indulge in some of the tastiest wines around. Drink and be Merry!

Monday, December 22, 2014


Arriving here with a minimum of fuss, I took a walk through the quaint town surrounded by misty mountain landscape and lush green tea plantations to familiarize myself with the layout. It’s a city with some character that’s for sure; embracing all this is good hospitality, from the warm welcome of a Hotel door, restaurant or shop owner, to the friendly Indonesian who’ll help you find your way. Interestingly this capital of West Java province, Bandung in ancient times was known as Parijs van Java (Dutch) or “Paris of Java”, needless to add I spent the entire afternoon browsing the different Factory Outlets of expensive brands (read Louis Vuitton, Burberry etc.) starting off with Cascade and moving on to the best one in the evening which was Rumah Moda, for the best designs and prices.
Next morning we embarked in our car at the break of dawn, with a hot cup of Javanese coffee. We drove down thirty kilometres north to the fabled crater of Mt. Tangkuban Perahu (translates into upturned boat in Sundanese), which happens to be the only ‘drive-up’ volcano on the island. The road entered an enchanted pine forest and two kilometres after that: right on the crest was a marked turnoff to the left; and just when I thought we were lost on the serpentine road, the crater revealed itself in all its splendour. The first thing to strike me on the approach to the summit was the stench of sulphur, which reminded me of rotten eggs. Once at the crater rim we had a beautiful view down below into the bubbling grey liquid at the bottom. That said, do not be fooled by its quiet demeanour, it is very much active though it has not vented its fury lately. It is believed that mild eruptions occurred in 1969, when Kawah Ratu spewed ash 500m high. This mountain has 3 craters; Kawah Ratu (Queen's Crater), Kawah Domas and Kawah Upas. We only got the chance to see Kawah Ratu as to see the other two craters; we had to hike through mountain trails and I certainly wasn’t up to it.
Being true Indians we shopped at the market stands for souvenirs other local crafts. I also ate eggs that were cooked on the surface of the volcano! Our drive back was via a lake which is a sort of weekend break for many Javanese people. It had a lot of stalls and attractions you would associate with the tourist market, but I did enjoy the fruit stalls and tasting the different offerings. Back in Bandung we dropped by at a Wayang show which was really impressive with all the dancing and the beautiful customs, something we were glad to witness. 

Best Way to Reach- Delhi to Jakarta by Malaysian Airlines and from there it is a 3 hour drive to Bandung, which is a sleepy city that is situated 768 meters above sea level.
Visa & Currency- Visa is on arrival for Indians and costs 25 Dollars. 10,000 Indonesian Rupiah equals to approximately 540 INR.
Best Place to Stay- Savoy Homann Bidakara Hotel, Jl Asia Afrika No.112 Bandung. Tel : (+6222) 4232244
For more information log on to

published in Hm's Food & Wine


Being a Food & Travel writer it’s my constant endeavour to keep my weight in check, so when I received a Kenstar Oxyfryer as my Christmas gift in the first week of December itself; needless to add I was super thrilled.
Mainly because I had heard that it fries food evenly devoid of any oil whilst retaining most of the nutrients. I mean who doesn’t like fried food…sans the oil; yes the Oxyfryer does what it says and further ensures that your cholesterol levels are in check. What I love most about this Oxyfryer is that its food basket has a great capacity (read 3 litres), so it makes it easier even if you have called a few friends over for dinner. There are a few things that fry in just a few minutes, but there are quite a few things for example ‘Paneer Tikka’ which takes a bit too long…but then I guess if you want it completely oil free you got to be patient.
Read on this recipe that I tried from the recipe book of Kenstar's OxyFryer that comes along with the product. The product is available exclusively at Flipkart

Cooking Time: 10 - 12 min
Temperature: 200°C (The temperature setting which ranges from 80°C to 200°C, enables you to set the ideal temperature required for different food items.)
Maida: 1 cup (100g); olive oil: 1 tbsp; salt: ¼ tsp; Warm water - as required to make soft dough.
For filling:
Olive oil: 1 tbsp; onion: 1 shredded; garlic-finely chopped: 2-3nos; ginger-garlic paste: ½ tsp; carrot-juliennes: ½ cup; cabbage-shredded: 1 cup; capsicum-shredded: ½; pepper: ¼ tsp; green chillies-deseeded and finely chopped: 1-2; soya sauce: 1-2 Tsp; salt to taste.
For sealing:
Maida dissolved in 2-3 tbsp water: 2 tbsp
Step 1- For wrappers
Mix Maida, salt and oil together. Add warm water gradually and make smooth & elastic dough. Dip a cloth in water and squeeze well. Cover the dough with this moist cloth and keep it aside for half an hour. Divide the dough into 4-5 equal parts. Roll out each part using a little dry flour if needed, into a big thin chapatti. Heat a griddle/tawa. Place a rolled chapatti on the tawa. Cook lightly on one side for about a minute and then turn. Reduce heat and cook the other side also for 15-20 seconds till light brown specs appear. Remove from heat. Keep warm tortillas wrapped in a cloth napkin or foil.
Note: Do not overcook wrappers, otherwise they do not remain soft and will not roll well. Always wrap in a thick cloth napkin or in foil to keep them soft.
Step 2- For filling
Heat the pan with 1 tbsp olive oil. Add finely chopped garlic. Sauté for 30 seconds. Add sliced onions and stir till soft. Add green chillies and ginger-garlic paste. Stir and cook for 1 minute till onions becomes shiny. Add carrot, cook for 1-2 minutes. Add cabbage. Stir for 1-2 minutes. Add capsicum and stir for 1 minute. Add soya sauce, salt and pepper and toss it well. Transfer the filling in a plate and allow it to cool.
Step 3
Take one wrapper and place some filling on one side. Fold the wrapper and seal the edges with Maida paste. Brush the rolls with milk. Repeat with all other rolls and keep in a tray covered for 5-10 minutes.
Step 4
Preheat Oxy Fryer for 5 minutes at 200°C. Arrange spring rolls in fry basket and close it properly. Keep the Oxy Fryer at 200°C for 10-12 minutes. Cut into pieces and serve hot with sauce.
Kenstar has appointed ShahRukh Khan to promote the Oxyfryer Range

Sunday, December 21, 2014


Furthering the food philosophy of Delhi’s landmark Italian Restaurant that Delhi embraced ever so lovingly, Tonino recreates the playfulness of the expanse to locate its spirit in the bohemian lifestyle of the city’s true heart Connaught Place . Stylish setting, a refreshing menu and Chef Suman’s soul in his food make Caffe Tonino an appealing choice. The panoramic windows offer a nice market view and the Chef is ever ready to explain every dish on the menu with great gusto. This New kid on the block sure does pay tribute to the much-needed All day Breakfast joint like never before with a very unique menu and must tries including Egg white Omelettes’ for the weight watchers or the quintessential Frittata whilst nursing a Cappuccino.
Synonymous with leisurely sojourns, this is where morning meetings turn into afternoon lunches and evening coffee gives way to sundown sessions, effortlessly. Without limiting its ability to switch from a laidback daytime hangout to a refined nightfall space, the surroundings mirror multi-faceted creativity. You can choose the vibe you desire over a hot cuppa or a mocktail whilst mulling over the menu focusing on easy to eat, all day munchies made from the finest ingredients and cultivated to create the most delightful taste, flavour and texture.  
But of course there is much more than just Breakfast out here, The Beetroot Salad With feta and toasted sunflower seeds is a great prelude of things to come. There are the predicted Indian favoured Italian dishes aplenty, as the name suggests. Signatures such as the Grilled Sole with Cous Cous and some grilled vegetables on the side make for a robust lunch along with a Cup of Herbal Tea for a rich palate of flavours. I would definitely recommend the pizzas, it’s interesting to watch the chef whip up your pizza in a special wood fired oven at the counter, served piping hot to your table. The pizzas out here maintain the lightness, fragrance and originality with a special thin, delicate base. Forget calorie counting as you indulge in the sweet decadence of ‘Tiramisu’ or the ‘Flourless Chocolate cake’….it is to die for! This place is definitely value for money.
Caffe Tonino, 1st Floor, PVR Plaza Building, H-Block, Connaught Place, New Delhi.
For Reservations: 011-23320081
Timings: 8:30am -11:30pm
Meal for two: Rs 1500​(without alcohol)

Friday, December 19, 2014


Mercedes-Benz Museum is the number one attraction in Stuttgart in Germany and even if you are not a car fan (like me); it is worth paying a visit to the Mercedes-Benz Museum when in Stuttgart…. 

I am the last person on earth one would talk to or ask about cars.  I drive a Ford, a gift from my husband and the only vehicle I own! I prefer getting driven in my husband’s Renault Scala which takes us to places .But that is all about my enthusiasm for cars. However, finding myself in Stuttgart, a city in Germany known for being the birthplace of the spark plug (Bosch was founded, and is headquartered there), I came to cherish the industrial German city and so needless to add visited one of the best allures of the place. Located nearby is also the Porsche Museum, one can tell that most visitors of Stuttgart are car aficionados. Mercedes-Benz a luxury vehicle is more than just a car brand; it’s an iconic name that has played its indispensable role in the world’s history for the last 88 years.
Though the building has a very contemporary, awe inspiring design, it’s quite a solo traveller-friendly museum. With the ticket, you get an audio self-guided tour that is quite candid and easy to use. Naturally, the first exhibit was the very first Mercedes-Benz creation. It’s only natural that they started with a motorised bicycle. Mesmerized enough from the first level of the museum (vintage 1920’s cars and all other creations) I was surprised when I saw a life sized horse in the middle of the ‘vintage cars’ level. For those who do not know Emil Jellinek, 1 of the 2 founders of Mercedes-Benz, named the first line of cars after his daughter, Mercédès Adrienne Ramona Manuela Jellinek. The name clearly stuck as this is what we all recognise and know. The building is almost barrel shaped and has 7 levels. Starting from the top level, you cascade as every level represents an era and decade. And along with the actual car models of the time, there are details, clips and information shown of how Mercedes-Benz played a role in history and events. It was very enthralling to see the connection of Mercedes-Benz in the world’s history, most especially during World War II. Then known as Daimler-Benz, the factory manufactured submarines, aircraft and tank engines. As Stuttgart was then (and still is) an industrial city that manufactured cars and rail transport technology, it was one of the most heavily bombed cities in Germany during World War 2.
There’s a complete level in the museum devoted to the ‘working cars’ of Mercedes-Benz. By the way, in around Europe, there are a lot of Mercedes-Benz vehicles that are used in the agriculture, medical, and transportation industry. In the world of motorsports, Mercedes-Benz had its golden age from the 1920’s to 1939. From 1954-1955 it returned to the Formula One racing. From 1994-2009, Mercedes-Benz’s participation in motorsports is only on the engine contribution front. However since 2010, the brand has recurred to a full-constructor name in racing. The star of the show for me was the mini race car simulator that allows me to be behind the wheels of all the sports cars through the years. The last level features the cars of the present and future. Trust me you don’t have to be a car-lover to appreciate the world of Mercedes-Benz. What kindled my interest was that a lot was the first 20 years of the company, how it started and how it was involved during the war. It’s an alluring inside-journey to see how Mercedes-Benz has sculpted and progressed throughout the years.
The Mercedes-Benz Museum is open daily from Tuesday to Sunday, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. The ticket desk always closes at 5 p.m.
Reservations: 0711-17 30 000, E-mail-
Mercedes-Benz Museum
Mercedesstraße 100, 70372 Stuttgart, Germany

published in Statesman

Thursday, December 18, 2014


The first and only Hard Rock Hotel in Europe, this five-star property is a vibrant mix of style and energy on Ibiza’s effervescent island setting. The absolute and astounding entertainment adds a personal touch that makes Hard Rock Ibiza more than just a hotel…as music is the uniting essence.

Strategically located in the heart of Ibiza, the hotel is easily accessible from the beach and shopping amenities too. The moment I entered the gates of Hard Rock, I paused taking in the famous collection of memorabilia once owned by great musical icons. The ceiling illuminated the lobby with ambient hues that I felt I was in a different world altogether. To enjoy Ibiza like a rock star is no longer impossible. Or at least live like one for a few days…out here! 

Out of the four hundred and ninety three rooms, two hundred and thirty five are suites, with each of the twelve categories offering a feel that rock music is a way of life. Music lovers, adventurers, daredevils...all have a place to pay tribute to innovations that break the mould while still enjoying the luxury of a five-star hotel whose spirit is music. It succeeds in creating mind-blowing experiences from the very first moment you arrive at the hotel. Throughout the day, at any hour and any place, I was astounded by exciting activities. Arrays of the most current styles of music were performed in amazing settings. My Deluxe silver room was luxurious and cutting edge 33 square-meters in size featuring cool, relaxing tones and a modern design, lights are low, everything is sleek and understated down to the colours used – it is intimate and inviting, even sexy. What I loved most was my private terrace where I could enjoy views of the pool, main stage and the sea. 

One can choose from two grand ‘aquatic areas’ throughout the resort. Sample this….the rock music gushing through underwater speakers so that you don't miss a beat in between your dips. The Swim-up rooms offer another level of privilege with personal access to a nomadic pool from a 5 square-meter terrace where you can simply chill under the sun or the stars. The ‘Rock Spa’ is exceptionally modern comprising both indoor and outdoor spaces with all that you need to revitalize your body and mind. The star massage table is outfitted with speakers that vibrate with the rhythm of the music. ‘Body Rock’ offers top of the line workout facility replete with outstanding equipment and original and innovative sports activities. 

Each experience at the four restaurants and seven trendy bars was top drawer and offered a great variety of both drinking and dining! At ‘Estado Puro’, two Michelin star Chef Paco Roncero, spices up Spanish cuisine with innovation and experience to perfect the revered tapa. ‘Sublimotion’ is an unprecedented alternative dining experience situated in a unique space where Paco presents a new way to enjoy his cuisine by converting it into experience for all five senses. ‘Sessions’ is not your typical buffet restaurant and I think it serves the best breakfast with captivating sea and pool views. If you are in a snacky mood, ‘Munchies’ is there to satisfy all kinds of cravings. The ‘Beach Club’ is where sea breezes enhance exquisite dining replete with live music and a stunning ambiance.  ‘3rd half’, also happens to be the first Sports Bar inside a hotel in Ibiza, lets guests view their favourite sporting events on giant screens with a a stage for live shows and other surprising events. ‘The ninth’ sky lounge which looks like a luxurious sky bridge yacht, is absolutely impressive and is the ‘place to be’ to enjoy Playa d’en Bossa’s best sunsets. ‘Constant Grind’ is synonymous with leisurely sojourns, this is where early morning meetings turn into afternoon lunches and evening coffee gives way to sundown sessions, effortlessly. At ‘Floyd´s’, the cocktail bar a luscious long drinks list and fast service makes it 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 and don’t miss the Gin Floyd here. Nothing quite beats the romance of pool side lounging with a tantalizing menu to match at the two pool side bars at Hard Rock Hotel in Ibiza. 

The young staff speaks fluent English, is happy to run up to your room a hundred times, to show you how the various cool machines work – the Led light Chromo therapy, the iPod dock, etc. They have an answer to everything from providing you with a USB (I needed one to download my images) to suggesting a drink for the evening. Throughout the resort, high-speed Wi-Fi and the largest bandwidth on the island carried by fiber optic reaches each and every room. 

Hard Rock Hotel Ibiza, Carretera Playa D’en Bossa S/N, 07817 Sant Jordi De Ses Salines, Ibiza-Spain
Tel: + (34) 971 31 42 10
Other facilities at Hard Rock: The Rock Shop offers Hard Rock merchandise and an exclusive Ibiza collection. The Roxity Kids Club gives little ones a chance to hang with the coolest crew around, the Roxtars. These colourful characters bring an undeniably awesome mix of personality and pep making it the ultimate Hard Rock hang-out for kids of all ages. The hotel also features a 600-person capacity convention Center, equipped with the latest technology and light projection, adjustable in a multipurpose lounge measuring 550 square meters. The Center also features two private conference rooms. The Hotel also features Interactive Kiosks to check day and evening activities planned throughout the Resort. A tablet area is available for guests to share their experiences on their social networks.
Verdict: Stylish & Cutting Edge 

·Take a tour of the Parque Natural de Ses Salines (Natural Park of Ses Salines).
· Route around the West of the Island, covering small towns and coves like  Es Cubells, Sant Josep, Sant Agustí
· Have lunch in a Typical Restaurant ‘El Carmen’ with magnificent views of the iconic island Es Vedrà.
· Visit the legendary hippy market ‘Las Dalias’.
· Walk around ‘Dalt Vila’. The old town of the island city of Ibiza which was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1999.
· Watch the sunset over a drink at Café Del Mar or Puesta de sol.
·Have one dinner at ‘Can Berri Vell’, located in the town of Sant Agustí

published in Tlf's anniversary issue

Wednesday, December 17, 2014


Osama Jalali and his Ammi Nazish
As most of us know, driving from Gurgaon to New Friends Colony can be quite cumbersome in case there is traffic but when I saw posts after posts of people sampling Osama Jalali and his Ammi Nazish’s delectable looking food, I simply had to go! Luckily for me the traffic wasn’t that bad and we reached without much hassle. I have known Osama Jalali for a few years now, but this was the time I met his Ammi Jaan for the first time and as the meal progressed I discovered that though she has no formal culinary training, she worked her way up owing to her passion for cooking. In Rampur her maternal home, her father used to be gifted dishes from the Royal Gharana, and she would leave no stone unturned to learn each recipe with all the trade secrets from the royal cooks and even replicated the same for her own family until she perfected each dish. Post her marriage she settled down in Jama Masjid and eventually mastered the art of cooking Old Delhi style food. It was her daughter-in-law who counselled her to share her incredible talent and the amazing cuisine to the rest of the country.
The irresistible Nalli Nihari
Coming to the food this was arguably the best meal experience to take a reasonably tasty culinary journey across Shahjanbad. The Kababs were a delectable beginning to a delightful evening and as I moved on to the main course the luscious taste of the delicious Nalli Nihari with Khameeri Roti lingered on my tongue indefinitely. The Saag Gosht was an epicurean satiation of the highest order; the mutton Biryani served with red chilli chutney is best enjoyed eating with your hands. To end on a sweet note go for the rustic  ‘ Doodh Emarti’ or the ‘Zarda Pulao’ Most dishes served have a balance of flavour and texture, the beauty of simplicity, and the understated sensuality. Foodies will appreciate the careful detail given to each dish, from the superior ingredients to the expert hands that craft each dish.
The Hari Mirch Queema is to die for!
Where? Ssence at the Suryaa, New Friends Colony, Delhi
Timings: Part of the Dinner Buffet where Ammi Nazish cooks four starters, four main courses and two desserts every day.
For Reservations: 011 26835070
Price: INR 1950
The festival is on till 21st December

Thursday, December 11, 2014


Rawalpindi Atishi Chaamp
Lahore and Amritsar have a significant relationship. A common history binds them together in more ways than one and more so in the food, so when my friend Simarjeet Singh, General Manger at The Park Plaza, Gurgaon invited me for a culinary journey from Amritsar to Lahore at The Great Kabab Factory, there was No way I could say No!!
Atishi Paneer Tikka
“This food festival is an attempt to take you on a culinary journey from Amritsar to Lahore and bridging the gap between two Punjabs (east and west) that were divided by Radcliffe Line 67 years ago”, shares Simarjeet. He is right when he says this for antecedent to independence, although the cuisine was similar but had its own individual character. That said post-independence the cooking style changed perilously owing to the regional availability of ingredients in their specific countries and a couple of other factors. Anyway what’s Important is the passion for food; there is good food to be had at any given time from Amritsar to Lahore.
Jalandhari Seekh
Coming to my dinner as the tempting scents of smoky kebabs, spice-laden curries and smoking-hot ghee began to weave its way to my nose, my brain signalled, Decadent! Dinner began with kebabs but of course! We ploughed through an almost impossibly smooth ‘Galawati kabab’, flavoured with an array of spices, and a more traditional ‘Jalandhari Seekh Kabab’. They were followed by ‘Bhatti da Kukkad’ and luscious ‘mushroom tikkas’ topped with sharp, squishy blobs of butter,
Machli Amritsaari
Machhi Amritsari’, the lip- smacking ‘Murgh Seene de Pasande’ ( and more), And those were just the starters!! The main course included Indian breads of various kinds, a fragrant and beautifully cooked Gosht Biryani. They came with a mutton curry, thick and spicy and two lentils, for the vegetarians there was paneer but naturally. For dessert there were various hot and cold options running the gamut from exotic Jalebi, with Rabri, moong dal halwa to Kulfi, (all as much as you can manage!). The bottom line? Kudos to Chef Vakil for creating this decadent culinary journey, a true feast for all the senses! And in consonance, the best single malts with their peaty flavour match brilliantly with smoked grilled kababs. This is a place to head to for the whole experience: a long, leisurely dinner under the stars (not literally), company and conversation. Service at this well-appointed restaurant is near faultless.
The Great Kabab Factory
TGKF- Park Plaza Gurgaon
Festival Dates 5th December-21st December 2014 
Time: Dinner only – 07:00 pm to 11:30 pm all 7 days
For reservations: 9711878936

Following the ‘Serving an Unlimited Dining Experience’ through a unique and brand synonymous ‘sit in buffet’ concept; the uniqueness comes with the fact that all the menu items are served to your table in a pre-decided sequential chronological order. 

Eat Stay Chill at The Table, Mumbai

Tuesday, December 9, 2014


Watch out pastry chefs....this baker boy's Macarons can give anyone a run for their money- pic courtesy- Ankit Vyas
"The future king of macarons (I hear there is already a queen), I can travel to Uganda and back if it means learning more about food. Extremely curious about the culinary world and its secrets so much so that it might lead me tied up in a trunk of a random car, quite exceptional in presentation (My instagram account can speak for it) and I never get tired of whisking (some call me “the Kitchen Aid”)...says Dhanesh Gandhi, a 3rd year Culinary Arts student at IHM- Aurangabad by Taj.
This young Baker boy has developed this Macaron recipe which is truly without much ado let's read on what makes it click!
Fresh orange blossom Macarons
Egg white: 37.5gms; sugar: 100gms; Water: 37.5gms
Almond flour: 100gms; Icing sugar: 100gms; 37.5g egg white (For the French meringue) {the missing element in most recipes); orange blossom water: 2 tbsp.
Butter softened: 0.5 cups; Cream cheese softened: 100gms; Orange zest: 1 tbsp; milk: 2 tbsp; Orange juice: 2 tbsp; A drop of yellow food coloring.
Preheat the oven to 115 degrees Celsius 
Method: - In a pan heat 100g sugar with 37.5g water until 119 degrees Celsius with a candy thermometer or firm ball stage, in your handy dandy kitchen aid stand mixer start beating the egg whites with the whisk attachment while gradually adding the sugar syrup, switch the machine on high speed and stop once stiff peaks are formed.
Voila...stiff peaks using the KitchenAid
Clean the mixing bowl and add the egg whites to prepare the French meringue (This step is skipped in most recipes but according to me this gives the macaroon its stability) beat until stiff peaks are formed!
A nice trick for those with the urge to show off is to lift the bowl above your head! I guarantee you that not a single drop will fall. 

Mix all the dry ingredients with the French meringue and fold in the Italian meringue to the dry ingredients with the orange blossom water and food coloring, I emphasized on fold because if this step is done wrong then you will achieve flat macaroons. 
Finally line a tray with butter paper or a silpat and pipe the macrons evenly. Let it sit at room temperature for 20 minutes to develop a skin. Bake at 115 degrees for 15 minutes and start celebrating because these little beauties are going to rise in the oven and bring a smile to your face.
Fresh orange butter cream
Using your kitchenAid with its paddle attachment beat the butter, cream cheese and orange zest at medium speed, gradually add powdered sugar and milk and beat at low speed until creamy and smooth. Pipe the butter-cream on the macaron shell and sandwich it with another shell and tada!! Your macarons are ready.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

“A subtle taste of innovation-Bacon Jam”

I am proud to share a beautiful write up by one of my students ( Food Writing Workshop at IHM - Aurangabad) after a tasting of the Bacon Jam ( courtesy Holy Smoke Restaurant, Cyber Hub- Gurgaon)
As long as we have known about food ,chefs have been altering and creating it to the likes of the masses. Today the food scene is not only limited to an artistic approach of inventing new dishes and presenting them artistically, but realization of the importance of pre-packed goods has dawned upon people. Canned, bottled, packed and ready-to-eat is what is growing and proving to be a tough competition for chefs around the globe. So what to do when you have to counter this problem? The answer is pretty simple. You innovate. The Bacon Jam is one such approach. I must say that the creator of this product must be a true culinary genius. I must appreciate the boldness of the maker of bacon jam because taking a long cherished and sought after food item i.e. bacon and putting all your time and efforts in creating such wonderful relish because it is one thing to have a vision but to succeed is a totally different thing altogether.
I have to acknowledge here Mrs. Rupali Dean, a renowned food writer, for introducing me to this bottled goodness. She was able to bring a bottle of Bacon Jam from the Holy Smoke restaurant situated in Cyber hub, Gurgaon to the awesome Food Writing Workshop she conducted at my Institute i.e. Institute of Hotel Management-Aurangabad. Being a Culinary profession aspirant this was one of the best exposures to the food world for all of us participating.
Talking about the Jam now, the packing of the Holy Smoke restaurant was old school since it was in a glass bottle with a tin screw-on lid. You open the lid and the smoky aroma will instantly get through to you. Looks wise it looks quite dense and settled. As soon as you put it in your mouth the diverse flavors settle on your taste buds and take you back to your home and the memories on early morning Sunday breakfast with family. The sweet salty flavor of real bacon presents itself first with a contrast of slight tanginess and ends leaving a sweet savory note on the tongue. Not only that but it has mini chunks of real bacon in it which adds on to the texture quotient. Imagine a glass freshly squeezed orange and hot crisp toasted bread with Bacon Jam on top of it. This is the ultimate paradise for a foodie since it cuts back on two things in particular, cooking and cleaning. The Bacon Jam experience was quite a riot in my mind since I’m not sure when I will get to taste it again. None the less it’s worth every last scoop (I say this because all of  us finished a bottle within minutes)
Holy Smoke, the newest restaurant at Cyber Hub Gurgaon, pays homage to the Texas style barbecue with their time-burnished, rich tradition of cooking meat slowly over a wood fire comes alive at Holy Smoke, an 60-seater restaurant with a bar, by promoter Rohan Jaina.