Monday, April 21, 2014


Park Plaza has been featuring variety of food festivals to familiarize its ever growing clientele with cuisine from different regions of the country and across the world too. This time round it is a ' Lungi Dance' Festival at New Town Café, the 24 hour Coffee Shop, for that special gastronomic experience which expands beyond just Kerala to the four Southern States during its ‘Lungi Dance’ food festival. 
Although this is a rather common theme with Southern restaurants, New Town Café’s advantage is its attention to change the menu every day, which makes it exciting even if you were to drop by each day till the festival lasted.

Executive Chef Dinesh Kapri, strongly believes that South Indian cuisine has a lot more to offer than the common fare provided by most South Indian restaurants and shares that the team decided to pick specific areas to base the food on, so the menu doesn’t lose focus owing to the fact that recipes and food habits can change every 10 km or so in our yummilicious diverse country. Therefore Andhra Pradesh is represented by Nellore, Karnataka by Mangalore and Kundapur, Kerala by Alleppy and the Malabar regions and Tamil Nadu by Chettinad food. A strong crowd puller at NTC has always been the buffet which is value for money and a sensible option for a varied sample of any fare. Specialty starters run the gamut from ‘Podi chapa’ (Andhra Fish fry) to Kerela style ‘Chicken coconut fry’, and Vegetarians would love the ‘Sajjige Baje’ (semolina, yogurt, chillies and curry leaves dumplings, deep fried), or the humble ‘Melagai Podi button Idli’ (baby Idli with gun powder).  The selection of main courses will please everybody; from ‘Kori Gassi’ (chicken Mangalore style) 
to ‘Mamidakkai Pappu’ (lentils and raw mangoes cooked with spices). On a more traditional vein, ‘Karimeen pollichathu’ (pearl spot marinated in tamarind, onions, chillies and ginger, wrapped in a banana leaf and grilled), is a lovely dish to accompany steamed rice. 
The ‘Brinjal Gingelly’ alias Spiced baby brinjals cooked in gingelly oil, peanut, copra & poppy seed salan is redolent with a heady aroma.
Excellent for sopping up the delicious gravy are ‘Appams’ or ‘Kal Dosa’.
The Biryani here is first-rate, served with ‘Mirchi Ka salan’ which is basically a peanut and whole green chilly gravy and ‘Dahi’ with chopped onions & green chilies. Share your desserts as all are gratifying, however the ‘Rawa Payassam’ stands out. End your meal with “Degree Kaapi’ (filter coffee).
New Town Cafe & Lounge, Park Plaza, B Block, Sushant Lok, Phase I,
Tel: 91 124 415 0000
Timings: Lunch and Dinner
Price: Lunch Buffet @999 plus taxes & Dinner Buffet @ 1099 plus taxes
Festival Dates: 11th April until 24th April 2014

Sunday, April 20, 2014


KitchenAid factory and store “experience” offers a neat excursion

On my recent travels I visited Michigan, home of KitchenAid’s global head office and discovered why all foodies the world over are crazy about this brand.
At Whirlpool's KitchenAid division factory here, visitors get to experience the company motto: ‘KitchenAid, for the way it's made.’ Downtown, guests are welcomed at the consumer product centre, called the KitchenAid Experience.
There was a time when it took four days to build a stand mixer. Today a talented work force produces hundreds of mixers every day. The factory is an astonishing testimony to the craftsmanship and quality of KitchenAid products and the people who build them. I thoroughly enjoyed my guided tour of the factory and walking through the entire manufacturing process and understanding what it takes to bring a legend to life.  I think it was the perfect mix of detail and speed for the average person and it was great to have the tour presented by someone who’s actually working on the factory floor. The best part for me was peeking over the shoulder of an assembler as the stand mixer moved into the final assembly stage. The tour highlights some interesting facts, like the fact that this is the only factory in the world making KitchenAid Stand Mixers, the detail in the assembly process and only lasts about an hour. It sure left me with a new appreciation for the way KitchenAid products are made.

The KitchenAid Experience downtown (read 10,000-square-foot building) is more like a factory outlet shopping, and gave me the feeling of being in an adult playground; where mixing, slicing, chopping, blending equipment were my toys.
This has 10 interactive cooking activities, the entire line of KitchenAid portable appliances and staff that can show you how to use any of the products and attachments. Interestingly most of this staff has worked at the factory at assembling the products and have an answer to almost every query and can actually also help you custom make a stand mixer if you so, desire. And while the adults play the children along can be left to be busy in a play area dedicated to them. The first floor is all current line products while the basement is refurbished and their museum which is more of a display area with old mixers and advertisements from various decades. For those who do not know, refurbished does not mean that they sat on the shelf so long, etc., etc. It means they had a slight defect, possibly cosmetic, within the first year of purchase. It was returned to the factory, fixed, cleaned & sanitized, and sold for fraction of the cost of a new product. What caught my fancy at the museum below was one of those first 1919 Hobart stand mixers, which weighs 68 pounds.
    It was sold door-to-door, and most of the sales force, I was told, was women (strong women I am sure).
All in all, I found the centre to be unusual owing to the fact that it stocks every product in the line in all the colours and what’s more, one can also buy from here refurbished units at 40 to 60 percent discounts and with a six-month warranty.
423 S. Broadway, Greenville, Ohio 45331
Toll-Free: 1-888-886-8318
Hours: Monday to Saturday – 9:00 AM - 6:00 PM, Sunday Closed
Parking: Free
Tours at the KitchenAid factory (1701 KitchenAid Way; the address above is for the retail store) are offered at 12:30 Tuesday-Friday for $5 (cash only) 

1.    The retail store offers the most complete collection of first-quality countertop and culinary products available in an expansive assortment of colours and styles.
2.    The demonstration kitchen hosts free cooking sessions, giving you the chance to see the appliances in action while learning tips and tricks of the trade.
3.    The outlet store sells refurbished countertop appliances at a great value.
4.    The factory gives you a behind-the-scenes look at the entire manufacturing process and will leave you with a new appreciation for the way products are made.
5.    The manufacturing facility offers a repair and return service, where trained technicians will make sure your KitchenAid products are performing like they’re brand new.
6.    The museum is home to authentic, vintage KitchenAid artefacts, advertisements, and products that will take you back in time.

Pubished in Food & Wine magazine

Friday, April 18, 2014


Nestled in ITC Maurya’s most upscale location on the rooftop overlooking the verdant greens, ‘West View’ is understatedly elegant and beautifully spaced. With clean lines and welcoming seating, the décor is balanced between luxuriously chic and comfortable.

When I heard about the Czech promotion at the West View and that too a culinary feast by celebrity Chef Marek Svoboda, (also the captain of the Czech National culinary team)I simply had to go with my daughter Akanksha in tow (she’s pursuing Hotel Management at the Christ University, Bangalore and is a complete foodie…all in the family I guess). Having had travelled to the Czech Republic a couple of times before, I quite enjoy those flavours and what better if one gets to relive those food memories, right here in the homeland. Sample this, svickova -beef fillet served in a creamy juniper berry sauce, a hot goulash with bread or vepro knedlo zelo- pork, cabbage and dumplings washed down with a beer. This cuisine has been largely overlooked by the rest of the world and from my personal experience I feel some of these Exotic Czech dishes could just rule the world.

We are welcomed by beautiful young girls dressed up in traditional attire (read on a happy note) and settle in comfortably.
We begin with the Goulash. Chef Marek and we sit down to tussle with the question of authenticity. Then, we get distracted by that Goulash. It certainly helps him make his point though. ‘If the taste is good, if the quality is good…then people will enjoy my cooking.’ On his quest for the perfect meal Chef Marek tends to concentrate on everyday food because ‘people are proud of their local food; it’s the purest expression of a culture’, and Akanksha and me nod our heads in unison. ‘I cannot talk of Czech cuisine and not talk about the beer, don’t forget to try some along with your food’, says Chef Marek and leaves us to enjoy our meal.
As for me I feel  Czech beer  goes very well with  pickled ermine, which is a specific type of cheese, soft on the inside and covered in a thin white film….a foodie’s delight!
As we eat our salad and soup, I bump into Ritu Agarwal Rohatgi, she is a friend, the editor of India Today Travel Plus and we have had some fun times on our travels together and her foodie cousin Rajat, so we shift outside and join them for the rest of the meal. Trust me food becomes even more enjoyable if the company is good and even importantly if the conversation is about food, travel and wine.
Coming back to the food, traditionally, the main meal in the Czech Republic is based around beef or pork which is served with a choice of starchy side dishes such as dumplings, French fries, or other types of potatoes.
The main course out here is a selection of a number of meats, seafood and vegetables on display and we could choose whatever we fancied and the chef promised to grill it to our liking. Sure enough the grills (mine was a plate full of the meats, a few vegetables on the side and the Czech dumplings) came to me exactly the way I like it. By the way Czech Dumplings are not your ‘momo’ type ones, they are the most common side dish which is normally made from wheat or potato flour, boiled as a roll and then sliced and served hot.
Most Czech desserts revolve around three things i.e. sugar, fruit and starch, so I went in for the Apple strudel, the filling was nice and yummy, but I would have surely liked the crust a bit more crisp.  All in all it was an evening well spent and if you are looking for some traditional hearty fare this is the place to go.

West View @ ITC Maurya, Diplomatic Enclave, Sardar Patel Marg, Chanakyapuri, New Delhi
The promotion is on from the 16th of April until the 26th of April only for dinner
Pricing: INR 2950 per person inclusive of one drink.
Reservations: 011 2611 2233


Wednesday, April 16, 2014


Traditional and authentic Italian cuisine with a strong creative element

The decadently opulent Italian marble interior from Carrara has stood the test of time and this stunning Italian restaurant has become a hot spot Bengaluru destination. The buzzy show kitchen designed like an amphitheatre spreads its charm to the restaurant and lounge creating a dramatic effect and elevating the experience to the next level. I was mesmerised by the pearl chandeliers which create a classic ambience for an authentic Italian dining experience. One can choose from alfresco seating, tables around the kitchen or tables that are more private.

The culinary essence of Alba is authentic Italian cuisine with a strong creative element. Head Chef Bruno Ferrari has created a menu that also features a simplified range of comforting Italian classics along with his signature dishes using outstanding quality ingredients which changes with the seasons. Antipasti are innovative, such as ‘Burrata cheese (rather than the predictable Bononcini) served with tomatoes and extra virgin olive oil’, and a few other palate teasers. Less punchy but fresh and aromatic is the mushroom cream soup which manages to be thickly textured without over-dosing on cream. I also recommend the ‘Braised tenderloin cheek in Barolo wine, with black truffle and sautéed vegetables’, if you are entertaining. Your guests will be impressed with its just right succulence and flavours. Several ingredients like sauces and the breads are handmade giving the food a home-made, earthy and fresh feel. With certain recipes tracing back from Alba, the cuisine here finds its roots in tradition. The pasta dishes and mains do not disappoint and some such as the ‘Ravioletti Di Alba- Filled Tenderloin Pasta, Veal Jus’ are truly outstanding. Save a little room for the heavenly ‘Tiramisu’ made from home-made mascarpone cheese which enhances the flavour of this delicious dish to the tee. The chef sure does a smart job in sending out delicately wrought, full flavoured offerings. It is obvious that nothing is compromised here, from carefully engineered dishes, to impeccable service, the ambience is extremely Italian, and it definitely is a cut above the rest. Needless to add that being here is reason enough; soaking in the colonial grandeur of an elegant era while enjoying a selection of viands below reproach.  Good selection of beverages completes a memorable meal. All in all I would say Italian Fare that would surely impress even Mama Bruno! Buon Appetito!

Alba at the JW Marriott, 24/1, Vittal Mallya Road, Bangalore.
For Reservations: +91 80 67188553
Dress Code: Smart Casuals
Meal for two: Approx. 3000 plus taxes.
Timings: 7:00 pm to 11:00 pm (open only for dinner) - Closed on Monday.

Bruno has had a penchant for food since an early age. In his teenage years Bruno had enrolled himself at the renowned Institute of Hospitality Villa Santa Maria (Ch), in Italy. His desire to learn led him to work at the 5 Star Grand Hotel Berti in Silvi Marina for three years, where Bruno ran a team of 17 people for the first time. His first stint as an entrepreneur began at the age of 22, with his own restaurant Maiella, which earned him a review on the infamous Red Michelin Guide in just a short span of nine months of operations.
His dynamic nature and excellent creativity helps to keep himself constantly updated with the newest trends in the world of food. Bruno’s flexible personality with a “Can Do” attitude makes him an excellent trainer and good team player. His outgoing nature helps him communicate well with his guests. Before joining JW Marriott Bengaluru, Chef Bruno served as the Italian Chef at the Grand Hyatt, Dubai and Executive Italian Chef at the Castello di Montaldo Hotel Soul Farm, Italy.

 published in TLF

Saturday, April 12, 2014


Our Notes
I had a great time at the KitchenAid Gourmet Summit in the week of 1-5 April at Enderun College, Manila in the Philippines. The Summit was a whole lot of fun, competitions, hands on cooking classes, eating out at some of the best restaurants, gala dinners, bonding with chefs and like minded foodies, classes on food styling, food photography and the latest food trends.
The class before we tried our hand at the Churros
Amongst the hand on classes my favorite was the Churros making class, so here's my step by step to making this yummy snack and trust me it gets easy if you have the KitchenAid stand mixer with you. Least but not the least my cooking partners Daniel Menezes from Hongkong and James Chen from Taiwan were absolutely delightful to work with.
Firstly what is a Churro?
A churro, sometimes referred to as a Spanish doughnut, is a fried-dough pastry—predominantly choux—based snack. Churros are popular in Spain, France, the Philippines, Portugal, Latin America and the United States.
Recipe Hand out
Combine the milk, butter, sugar and salt and bring to a boil

Add the flour, remove from heat and mix well

Mix well, return to heat until dry and cool 

shift mixture into your KitchenAid stand mixer

Add the eggs slowly

Chill as the KitchenAid stand mixer does all the hard work

Transfer the mixture in a piping bag

Pipe out the mixture ( in straight lines) on a lined tray  and keep it to cool

Heat the raspberry puree and freeze dried pieces together

When the temperature reaches 40 c add sugar mixed with pectin NH, bring to a boil , cook for a minute and add lemon juice

Taste your sauce

Heat the oil for frying

Take out your chilled churros

Cut them into finger size

Fry one to see if oil is hot enough

Fry them all
Roll them in powdered sugar mixed with a hint of cinnamon
Look yummy don't they?

Serve with the raspberry jam , we left some without rolling in the sugar and some rolled...both tasted beautiful

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Feel like treating yourself to a True-Blue North Indian rustic highway cuisine? You’re in great company

The ambience at Dhaba is wonderful with rustic Indian setting complete with rustic furniture and other interesting paraphernalia that one would associate with a Dhaba on a highway. What caught my fancy was the local ‘tharra’ like bar replete with coloured glass bottles et al and yes the Bollywood dance that the staff does in between the meal sets you in the right mood.

Coming to the food, we ordered a few dishes from the blackboard hung on the wall which listed the specialities of the day! The beauty of the blackboard concept also lies in the fact that the menu is changed on a daily basis. 
That said, the a la carte menu also offers an exciting selection of delectable kebabs, delicately flavoured curries, aromatic Biryanis, robust meats and irresistible desserts making this the perfect choice for a gastronomic indulgence. The good old tradition of serving Chatpata Onion lachha, chutneys and pickles is present, with a touch of royalty. The ‘Veg Galouti’ flavoured with cinnamon and cardamom, ‘Tandoor roasted potatoes’ finished with spices, onions and Chaat masala and the ‘Dhaba Murgh Gosht’ were absolutely succulent and I can easily say that here, highway flavours reign supreme lovingly teased by charcoal embers. The ‘Tiffin chicken’ is gleaming fresh, and a pleasure to eat with Ajwaini parantha.
However the piece de resistance is the ‘Balti Meat’, a succulent lamb specialty. For the main course if you are a vegetarian opt for the ‘Dal Dhaba’ simmered to perfection in the most exotic spices or signatures like ‘Baingan ka bhartha’, and ‘Amritsari wadi aloo ’. The bar is replete with the finest selection of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages; most interesting being the ‘tharra’ (read cocktail section). I simply loved ‘Toofan’ a delicious mix of vodka, guava juice, coriander and spices. Your meal remains incomplete without a heavenly helping of the dessert offering. To end on a sweet note go for the ‘Phirnee’ or the ‘Kulfi’. The restaurant had most of the tables occupied and it was a good mix of domestic and foreign customers. The place is raucous most of the time as it is well patronized. Chef Ravi Saxena, Corporate Chef, The Claridges group personally overlooks the brand and researches continuously for traditional recipes to add to the already amazing highway Dhaba repertoire. So people, go desi at Dhaba for it is true refinement for the appreciative Palette. All in all thumbs up! 
Dhaba by Claridges is at First Floor, Cyber Hub, DLF Cyber City, Gurgaon.
For Reservations: 0124 4900155
Timings: 11 Am to 11 pm
Meal for two: Approx. 1,000

Published in Statesman