Wednesday, June 24, 2015


The décor is elegant and serves very refined Thai cuisine executed by Chef Kesinee and her staff. Interestingly the menu is one of its kinds and offers a range of flavours and dishes, the use of a broader range of seasoning leads to multiple flavours, textures and tastes in a single dish. 
My daughter Akanksha Dean and me with Chef Kesinee at a previous cooking class at Basil
As befits a country which has never been conquered or colonized (something which cannot be said about many countries), the food of Thailand is unique. Thai create bold combinations of flavours to make the resulting dishes quite individual.
These fish cakes are to die for
Food presentations at Basil are a feast for your eyes on a range of bespoke tableware: weaved bamboo containers, heavy ceramics. A more classic starter of DIY betel leaf wraps with coconut, chilli, peanuts and dried shrimps was extremely successful, and fun. The kindly waitress demonstrated how to fold them properly. The main course was refined, with the Chef integrating the multitude of aromatic spices to a tangy, sweet, spicy and savoury whole. Stir-fried morning glory with garlic and soya sauce was delicious. The vegetables were cooked just right and maintained a touch of crunchiness, and the use of soya sauce was not too overpowering. 
The Green curry is amazing too
What’s Thai food without curry? I am a huge fan of the southern yellow curry because of its high coconut milk content and spiciness. The one here with snow fish certainly didn’t disappoint and is in fact, the best rendition I had yet. The curry is so well-balanced and addictive. Rice served was also interesting as there was free flow of the usual white jasmine rice, basil rice or the more chewy black glutinous rice. All were good for me!
Traditional desserts make for a sweet ending to a potentially ‘chili hot’ meal. I would recommend the ‘Khao Niew Mamuang’ sticky rice with fresh mango and coconut cream. The glutinous rice was steamed to such perfect degree of hardness, while the coconut cream was brilliantly served in the form of ice cream. Paired with sweet Thai mangoes that would never disappoint, there’s simply no better way to end the meal! Basil is a benchmark for good, authentic Thai food. Friendly waiters and prompt service also make dining here a great experience. All in all Basil offers an unprecedented and amazing dining experience that takes one on a unique voyage through Thailand’s rich gastronomic diversity.
Don't miss the Som Tam here
Knowing a few terms will help you navigate your way through the Menu: tom yum(soup),yum(salad),khao (rice),mee (noodles),Kaeng Phed(hot soup or curry),nam prik(hot dipping sauce),nam oi(sweet sauce),pla (fish), kai (chicken), pak (Veg), poo (crab),kung (prawns), and moo(pork).

Where: Sheraton Grande Sukhumvit, a luxury collection hotel, 250 Sukhumvit Road, Bangkok 10110, THAILAND
TEL: (66) 02 6498888 

Monday, June 22, 2015

Peshawri ITC Maratha, Mumbai

Rupali and Sailesh dig into some scrumptious food at the famous Peshawri restaurant at the ITC Maratha Hotel 
in Mumbai.


Japanese businessmen love dining here for the Fresh sashimi and other seafood treats. True to the Japanese concept of Zen harmony dining at Trident Gurgaon’s ‘Konomi’ brings in the fine taste of Japan set in a noticeably contemporary ambience. A highlight here is the complete Kaiseki menu, a traditional Japanese full course meal that prides it as much on the presentation as it does on taste. Let your taste buds be harmonized by the meal that always comprises of different cooking styles: grilled, steamed, deep-fried and boiled.

If a light meal is what you want go for the varied assortment of Sushi and Sashimi from the live counter teamed with some Yakitori, Teriyaki and Donburi. The Sushi is fresh and in generous portions. For lunch I would recommend ordering the signature Bento Boxes. These are tasty, well-sauced and well-portioned. Sashimi is Konomi’s forte. Obviously not only the freshest sea food will do, but also the best quality. The tasty morsels of maguro (tuna) are delicately smooth and shake (salmon) is divinely creamy in texture and taste.  If you are a soup lover, go for the ‘Miso’, it’s divine. The cuisine is complemented by an exclusive range of Sake’s and Shochus but you could also opt from one of the
Speakeasy cocktails, absolutely worth it! Service at this well-appointed restaurant is flawless. 

Konomi, Trident Gurgaon. 443, Udyog Vihar, Phase V, Gurgaon 122 016.
Tel: 0124 412 4307

published in Statesman

Sunday, June 21, 2015


This All-day dining brings five bountiful show kitchens which add to the excitement and energy that is unmatched to the lobby level of the brand new Le Meridien in Gurgaon, with a stylish yet relaxed atmosphere that extends onto a skylight section overlooking luscious greenery; featuring global cuisine offering guests with a sensual world cuisine experience along with tailored music, designed to suit the mood of the day. It offers absolutely wonderful buffets and the a la carte menu seems inviting too. I would definitely recommend it for its Sunday Brunch, perhaps the most striking of all brunches.

Wander by the scrumptious food across live stations created by culinary maestro Chef Tanveer Kwatra featuring global flavours with local appeal; it sure is one to return for. Try any of the pizzas with a topping of your choice; it will surely transport you to Italy.
The Indian section is no less spectacular and the Burrah kebab here is hands down one of the best in India! There are a number of dishes in each section (my favourite is the Asian) that allow you to sample widely. 
From sparkling and artisanal wines and innovative cocktails to a kids corner with entertainment options tailor-made for the children, while you sit back and enjoy, ‘Latest Recipe’ ensures you have the perfect Sunday. You can end this gastronomic delight with a pick from the exotic dessert counter including fresh hot waffles, creamy Tiramisu made with fresh mascarpone, a slice of gateaux or just fresh seasonal fruits. Delicious food, set against the gorgeous ambience, with flavours that linger in your mouth – that’s the essence of the Latest Recipe menu! 
Operational hours: 0630 hrs to 2400 hrs
The breakfast buffet is priced at INR 950 + taxes for adults and INR 450 + taxes for children
Lunch is priced at INR 1750 + taxes for adults and INR 900 + taxes for children
Dinner is priced at INR 1850 + taxes for Adults and INR 900 + taxes for children.
Sunday Brunch starts at 2450+ taxes and goes up to 3250+ taxes.

Thursday, June 11, 2015


I was chatting up with Chef Apoorva; a bright young chef of Indian origin who is doing some great stuff in terms of cuisine at The Westin Dhaka. Interestingly in fact his two dishes Dhokla and Khandvi that he has been teaching at the Hotel were an integral part of Modi Sir’s (this is how he is stated to in Bangladesh, amongst the youth) vegetarian menu on his first ever visit to Bangladesh. And the conversation of course lead to more food talk and then he mentioned about some gluten free recipes and how he thinks the KitchenAid Diamond blender is a good kitchen accessory to have and is so affordable. And but of course I pestered him to share at least two recipes for my readers…so here we go …gluten free with Chef Apoorva Kunte…
“Summers are all about  vitalizing the body with essential nutrients because the body tends to perspire and loose essential salts and hydration , the recipes' featured are quick fixes that can be made  before heading out into the summer heat and returning from a tiring day outside because they are  rich in anti-oxidants, vitamins , essential salts and amino acids .The recipes are completely gluten and lactose free so will not make the body feel bloated up  after you have them at the same time would completely revitalize and refresh the body”, says Chef  Apoorva Kunte, Chef de cuisine, The Westin Dhaka
Preparation time: 8-10 mins; Serves 2
Fresh /frozen Blueberries: 30 Gms; Passion fruit puree: 20 ml; Almond milk/soy milk: 150 ml; Sunflower seeds: 20 gms; Chia Seeds: 10 gms; Basil leaves: 2 gms; Sugar (optional): 5-10 gms; Salt: 2 gms; Ice cubes: 4-5
1. Bring in all the ingredients into the KitchenAid diamond blender jar.
2. Using the pulse setting on the diamond blender at 3, blend the ingredients to a smooth thick mix.
3. Put the smoothie into a tall glass and enjoy over a summer afternoon.
The above recipe is gluten and dairy free
Preparation time: 5 minutes; serves: 2
Frozen coconut water: 150 Gms; Fresh pomegranate juice: 50 ml; Fresh coconut meat: 50 gms; Juice of Meyer lemon: 10 ml; Sugar: 8 gms
Meyer lemon wedge; Mint sprig; Fresh raspberry
Bring in all the ingredients into the KitchenAid diamond blender jar. Using the pulse setting on the diamond blender at 4, blend to form an ice slush, being careful that the end product has to be icy and not watery. Immediately spoon the mixture out into chilled glasses and garnish with lemon wedge, mint sprig and fresh raspberry.
Serve immediately.

The above recipe is gluten and dairy free

Monday, June 8, 2015


With Mumbai speedily being restructured (more so near the Sahar area) the city has aplenty dining destinations, buzzing with hotels, fine dining and fashionable restaurants. Not surprisingly, Dakshin at the ITC Maratha is possibly one of Mumbai’s evergreen restaurants, has quietly beaten everyone to the draw and still remains a favourite with many.
This is owing to the fact that Dakshin focusses on traditional home cooking. It expands beyond just Kerala to Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. Although this is a rather common theme with Southern restaurants, Dakshin’s advantage is its attention to seafood, which makes up a significant part of the menu; which makes the juicy Jeeri Meri, prawns tossed in onions, bedgi chillies and vinegar pleasantly appropriate.
The food, in care with the décor, is worthy without being unusually extravagant or fussy. Thanks to the fact that they’re being quite fixated about ingredients, every dish has a characteristic flavour, which is quite a luxury in these days of ‘one spice fits all.’ The highlights are the ‘Pandi Roast’ rich and roasted with crushed red chillies teamed with Kal Dosa; also the ‘Gutti Vankai koora’ spicy baby eggplants in traditional rich gravy redolent with nuts. Then there was the Gassi, intended to go gorgeously with steaming rice. The ‘Karwar yeti fry’ is interesting if you like the brisk crispiness of semolina on your bay prawns.

Although they serve a dauntingly large thali, Dakshin’s selection is best tasted slowly. I always approach cuisine as an exploration of the culture of a place, since every cuisine or for that matter dish is individual in taste so I would recommend to go slowly taking in each and every dish enjoyably. Mix and match thoughtfully, for example Fish and rice, Appam with Ishtoo, Delicate Neer or Kal Dosa with, well, almost anything. A yummy Basundi is a must try to end on a sweet note; the milky liquid is delicious. At Dakshin, they have strived to recreate the splendour of Southern style of cooking and resuscitate the vanishing lifestyle of Peninsular India. It is a venue exceptional for its authentic presentations of the finest creations!


Dakshin Coastal ITC Maratha- a Luxury Collection Hotel, Sahar, Andheri (E), Mumbai- 400099
For Reservations- + 91 022 30151633

Open for dinner

Sunday, June 7, 2015


I did go for the launch which happened over a brunch, some great company and brilliant live music and I was pretty impressed with the space, so decided to go back another day to try the food the way it’s meant to be in a restaurant, sitting down and ordering from the menu, so between my travels I ended up going there on a Saturday with my family, luckily I had made a reservation (making a reservation is something that my travels has taught…but we will take on that another day) as the place was packed…it seemed that Delhi’s new Food & Nightlife destination had arrived!
While the Indigo in Mumbai prospers on its old-world charm, the Indigo in New Delhi is modern and generously spaced, with clean lines that stunningly blend glass, steel grey, wood and green creating a place that is sleek. Options are  aplenty one can either melt into a chair and soak in the al fresco atmosphere offers striking views of the water fountain, hang out at the tastefully designed trendy cocktail bar that also opens on to the deck, with your favourite cocktail, or then settle down to a languid meal in the area dedicated to dining. During the day, the large windows flood the room with sunlight while the evening allows an ideal atmosphere for an intimate candlelight experience. Here’s a space transformed and morphed so ingeniously; the ‘out of city’ feel gives the space an edge over the others so as to embark on a crusade to taste simple plates of food. 
Shitake & Chestnut Gyoza with Seared Tofu
We settled in at the lounge bar first with a glass of wine and some bar snacks before moving into the dining area.
Spinach & Cheddar Macaroni Lasagne
The Menu celebrates flavours and styles of Modern European cuisine which are modern-day in construction, bearing distinct Asian influences, interpreted in an original and innovative way but never forgetting that good produce is at the heart of the best food. Executive Chef Nitin Kulkarni amalgamates international culinary trends and new style cooking marrying unique blend of ingredients with an array of innovative creations. The chef encourages an improved lifestyle and has established a network of organic and natural farmers to procure local produce and meats with a strong focus towards what’s best , seasonal products are given a new look, channelled by merging striking flavours and interesting combination of foods rarely prepared together. 
Potato crusted Rawas
Characteristic favourites from Indigo in Mumbai such as the ‘Beer and cheddar soufflé’ and the ‘Chicken Caesar salad’ share space with the ‘Cinnamon spiced grilled quail with quail biryani’ and ‘Potato crusted rawas with Kairi curry’ from the prized menus that positioned the restaurant on the global culinary map. Yes there are enough vegetarian offerings which are equally commendable.
Truffle mascarpone polenta
For example my ‘truffle mascarpone polenta, textures of vegetables with arugula sauce’ was beautiful and just the way it reads. I loved my Rawas, cooked to perfection and served with ginger and carrot puree, crunchy baby spinach and delicious tangy sweet raw mango sauce. My daughter settled in for a ‘tandoor roasted jerk chicken’, which I too dug into …was perfect with fork mashed scallion potatoes, ginger broccoli and jus! Hubby didn’t want to share his Medallions as he just loved the dish and true enough; his plate had no morsel left.  Share your desserts as all are gratifying. And for someone like me who is always trying to lose weight (hazards of being a food writer) there is also the ‘Warm sugar-free chocolate tart with orange sorbet and orange butter’, which is designed to hit the spot. Sumptuous offerings here focus on taste without forgoing the presentation. The inspired fare is balanced and amplified by one of the best wine lists that I have seen. The restaurant indeed has all perfect ingredients for a great dining experience!
Where: One Golden Mile, Netaji Nagar, Bhikaji Cama Place.
Tel: 011 33106032
Timings: Lunch 12 noon to 3:30 PM, Dinner 7:30 PM to 12:30 PM
Meal for Two: INR 5000 approx.
On the upper level is the grand private dining facility, open to sky, which can be booked for banquets and private functions.

Saturday, June 6, 2015


It is strange that Delhi Heights has been around nearly for four years but I managed to get there only until yesterday. Reason being, the restaurant is always packed and I never managed to get a table, so last evening when I made a plan to go the Ambience Mall in Gurgaon , I made a reservation as I really had to know why the place is so packed always!

The place is quirky with various kinds of seatings from dhaba style to booth, menus are designed in a funky manner…the bar menu reads ‘the book of booze’, LCD's galore means that you would not miss your favourite soap, the menu is huge which means there is something for everyone, the regular water served is flavored with fresh mint….to cut it short Delhi Heights has caught the ‘pulse’ of the Dilliwaalas!
Coming to the food, I tried a couple of things, to start with a ‘meat platter’ which consisted of Shish Taouk, Chicken wings and meatballs in bbq sauce. To be honest it wasn’t even close to authentic but was ‘chatpata’…just like how most of us Dilliwaalas would like it…with desi masalas and zing …perfect to go with your tipple. My ‘Minty lemonade’ was absolutely refreshing and I loved the jar in which it came and was equally impressed with the thick straw which made it so much easier to enjoy the drink with.
The main course, sampled quite a few things which I was told by the chef are a must try, ‘Laal Maas with Bajre ki roti’, ‘Juicy Lucy burger’, ‘ Chennai Geeli Biryani’, ‘Schezwan chicken chilly garlic noodles’ and the ‘ Sole with lemon butter sauce’! And wait…No I wasn’t being greedy; I had company to share my food with!!
Guess what all the food had in common…the ‘Desi Tadka’...for example the Geeli Biryani brought me back memories of my sister-in-law cooking a pan fried quick fix biryani with some lamb curry which I must say she is quite a pro at and makes it rather well. This Geeli Biryani at Delhi Heights though had nothing Chennai about it but I kind of liked it, was enjoyable.
The Schezwan Noodles took me back to a recent friend’s party where he showed off his culinary skills by making something similar…which became the hottest dish of the day as we all just ate that and everything else on the menu almost remained untouched.
The point I am trying to make is that Delhi Heights has got the pulse of the Delhi market…food here is comfort food…a kind of restaurant food that the lady of the house sometimes likes to try making at home and the whole family enjoys! And that led me talking to Kartik (who was coincidently there at the outlet), when he came to ask what I thought of the food and he shared that the restaurant was started by his Grandmom who also ran a famous banquet called ‘Batra Banquet’… that put everything in place…a woman’s touch was evident…someone who knew the Punjabi fusion with any cuisine would definitely work with the Dilliwaalas!
Meal for two: Rs. 1200 plus taxes.
Timings: 11 am - 11.30 pm
Cafe Delhi heights locations:
Delhi- DLF Promenade, DLF place Saket
Gurgaon- Cross point Mall, Ambience mall, Cyber hub
They also have an ongoing Mango Festival for the month of June.
Cafe Delhi Heights at the Cross point Mall is their flagship outlet, Apart from the regular Menu, on offer are Special Breakfast Combos running at CDH Cross point only. 


Jaydeep Mukherjee, fondly known as JD, is well known as the force behind the crazily popular and much celebrated Indigo Delicatessens, Colaba outlet being the first which has for a decade been a showcase of his pioneering innovations in this category. He started his career with the Taj Mahal Hotel, Mumbai, as a Chef Trainee in 1994, and it was at the Zodiac Grill, back then measured the first-rate European food restaurant in the country, that he learnt the elementary ethics of cooking. Moved on to Cunard Cruise Lines in Miami, where a long and remarkable influence on board the iconic luxury liners, Queen Elizabeth 2 and the Royal Viking Sun gave him a revelation to the world of high-end gastronomy. In 2002 he took on the mantle of Chef de Cuisine and later that of Executive Chef with deGustibus Hospitality, the maverick company that had given character to the iconic Indigo and re-written the rules of fine gastronomy in Mumbai. The Indigo Delis were recently awarded the ‘Best Restaurant in Mumbai’.

The menu hasn’t changed much since inception except for daily specials which they offer on a tidy blackboard. The star of the show however is the ‘Reuben Sandwich’ of which they have sold over a million portions already. This hearty sandwich is an absolute labour of love as the making of the home made Pastrami (the only standalone restaurant in the country that makes it in-house) is a 23 day process. The brisket is cured in a traditional process for 21 days, smoked for 12 hours and cooked for 6 hours before it goes into the Rye Bread for being toasted brown, buttery and crisp and the cheese melted just right to ooze out. The best part about the sandwich here is that the filling is regulated and in balance, so when you bite into it you get a pleasant and luscious mouthful.

Housed quaintly just behind the Gateway of India  Indigo Deli at Colaba marks a clear departure from often seen soul-less sleek minimalist restaurants, celebrating the nostalgia of the good old neighbourhood places replete with a kitchen store and a matchless offering of bakery, patisserie, a café menu and gourmet retail, set in an environment of social conviviality. Whether your bliss lies in the first lustful bite of a warm croissant or at the bottom of a freshly brewed cup of coffee, in that decadent forkful of eggs on the beach or the last crumb of an Almond cake… You are sure to find it and make it your own out here. With the philosophy of using the finest seasonal produce available to achieve a menu that is all at once eclectic, skilled, and unpretentious, JD presents Deli cooking at its best. The place is raucous most of the time as it is well patronized. After more than a decade and with a long list of loyal clients, it needs very little endorsement.

Chef JD was carefully chosen by Taste and Travel, a few years ago as one amongst the top ten young chefs in the country and was presented in the October 2010, Anniversary issue of the Vogue magazine on its cover story on young icons from various walks of life. ‘No profession on earth enhances the mind, body and soul like mine does…’ he says!!

Address: 5, Ground Floor, Pheroze Building, Chhatrapati Shivaji Mahrishi Marg, Apollo, Bunder, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400039
Cuisine type: Delicatessen
Tel: 022 6655 1010
Timings:  8:30 am – 12:00 am

Reservations: Recommended

Friday, June 5, 2015


Typically, the best way to ease dehydration is with a tall glass of water. But, when the scorching summer heat gets to you, I’d suggest a few fresh fruity drinks to beat the heat. 

The norm these days is to make’s one’s own house a hip spot to party hard. And it sure take in a lot of effort but it’s worth it, as at home you don’t have to elbow your way to the bar and stand in a queue to use the bathroom. The art of partying has changed to some extent; more and more people are opting out of alcohol though the desire to host a fashionable and memorable party has not. One among three adults prefers non-alcoholic beverages. To have your own rocking party at home, you need a good music system, good music, good food and of course a well-stocked non-alcoholic bar. Going back to history alcohol played an important role in religion and the beverages were served as sources of needed nutrients and were only used for their medicinal, antiseptic, or analgesic properties. Of late it has become an important ingredient in Parties and can even be raucous. Definitely there’s a life beyond alcohol.
So what does one do for those who don’t drink alcohol and those who’d like to switch a party without alcohol? Good news! For not all great beverages need to have alcohol in them, non-alcoholic beverages include punches and mocktails and are a great idea to offer to guests while holding a party as an alternative to alcoholic drinks. Non-alcoholic mocktails allow one’s guests to partake and benefit the spirit of the occasion responsibly. They are much better options for non-drinkers than simply sipping on fresh lime and coke all night. Blending, pureeing or mixing innovative drinks just take a little imagination and using simple to use equipment like a KitchenAid Diamond blender can be done with easily available fruits and ingredients.
Fresh fruit puree with seasoning of lemon juice and a dash of pepper or mint can give you a colorful drink. With the little effort and an equal dose of imagination, we can make these or some new coolers at home. A nutritious and cool drink that I prefer to take daily is - seasonal mix vegetable juice or mix seasonal fruit juice blended with ginger and mint.
Abstaining from drinking is the only way not to suffer from any drink related side effects, examples being heart disease, weight gain, and the worst being a hangover and driving can never be fatal. Remember healthy drinking is a great way to add nutrients! Iam sure with the increased focus on health and wellness the non-alcoholic beverage trend is here to stay. Also drink at least eight glasses of clean, cool water per day.  
  • Aam ka Panna: - Charcoal grilled raw mango blended and seasoned with rock salt.
  • Fruit Smash Tropical: - Blend together half a banana, crushed ice, half a slice pineapple, 30 ml toned milk, 90 ml pineapple juice until smooth, serve frozen garnished with pineapple slice.
  • Fresh Fruit Smoothie- Blend of any seasonal fresh fruit and low fat yogurt.
  • Water Melon delight: - Fresh watermelon juice with lemon, dash of Tabasco and a hint of black pepper.