Friday, July 31, 2015

Chef Hanumanta Dhotre, pastry chef Sofitel BKC, Mumbai whips up an amazing recipe using his favorite aid in the Kitchen

Cooking for me is' Therapeutic. It is my comfort zone as I know that I am doing the best I can do in life in the kitchen and have my passion reflected in my desserts'...says Chef Hanumanta Dhotre

Hanumanta Dhotre, Pastry Chef has over 15 years of Hospitality experience and enjoys crafting culinary delights at the Sofitel’s flagship property in India, the Sofitel Mumbai BKC. Chef Hanumanta Dhotre completed his 3 years of apprenticeship from Taj President and began his gastronomic journey with some the finest hotels including Shangri-la, CremaBrulee Foods, J.W.Marriott and Novotel Hotel Juhu Beach Mumbai. Trained in à la carte desserts, artistic breads and chocolates, Chef Dhotre won many accolades and awards through his stint at the Marriott including the Gold Medal for the best “Plated Desserts” In January 2010. Bringing myriad Food & Beverage innovations for his Indian audience by combining his international skills, Chef Dhotre works well with chocolate and vanilla for his dishes plates up beautifully crafted wonders to the table each day.

For one tray of 40x60 cm/ 15x23 inches
Dacquoise Sponge:
Egg White: 190 Gms; Sugar: 40 gms; TPT (1:1 sugar/ almond powder): 300 gms; Cocoa Nibs: 35 gms           
Jelly Red Currants:
Frozen Red Currant Purée: 200 Gms; Icing Sugar: 50 gms; Gelatine Leaf: 2 gms
White Chocolate Mousse:
Whole Eggs: 25 gms; Egg Yolks: 60 gms; Sugar Syrup: 75 gms; Gelatine Leaves: 4 Gms    ; Edelweiss 33% Couverture: 140 Gms; Whipped Cream: 200 gms           
Dacquoise Sponge:
1. Line a baking tray about 60 x 40 cm / 15 x 23 inches with non-sticky baking parchment.

2. To make the sponge, whisk the egg whites until it is stiff in the KitchenAid stand mixer. Use a large metal spoon and fold in the TOT and the Cocoa Nibs.
3. Pour into the prepared baking ray and bake in the oven at 200°C / 392°F for 4 minutes. Then reduce the temperature to 160°C/ 320°F and bake until golden brown.
Jelly Red Currant:
4.  Put all the ingredients into a bowl and fill up in small round  Flexipan moulds. Freeze.
White Chocolate Mousse:
1. Make an English cream. When the cream reaches 35°C / 95°F, fold in the whipped cream.
2.  Place the pastry mould on a silpat sheet. Fill the white chocolate mousse into the pastry mould.
3.  Turn the Flexi pan mat with dome shaped pastries 60 x 40 cm / 15 x 23 inches. Place individual pastry moulds on top.
4.  Fill the white chocolate mousse halfway into the pastry moulds. Place Frozen Red Currant balls well in the centre.
5.  Fill with White Chocolate Mousse up to 1 cm / 0.39 inches to the edge. Also place disks of Dacquoise. Freeze.

Saturday, July 25, 2015


Replete with ornate curios of south India, those adorn the restaurant and the aroma of fresh hot Kal Dosas impresses when one first enters GlassHouse (the world cuisine restaurant) at the Hilton Garden Inn which has turned into God’s own country till the 30th of July. The restaurant is raucous most of the time as it is well patronized anyways but perhaps the word has spread that visiting Chef Ashok Eapen from Trivandrum is cooking authentic culinary delights featuring the very best of authentic Kerala cuisine so the restaurant seemed busier than usual. An absolute stickler for perfection Chef Eapen has brought his spices with him which he sources for his restaurant back in Trivandrum.

Start with buttermilk, just the right refresher and if you like your drink spicy, rasam and Papad it is. Though the festival is a part of the buffet (read separate section), it’s made fresh batch by batch. The menu changes every day, so the day I went I got to sample ‘Kozhi Kurumelagu’, ‘Kuttanadan Duck Curry’, ‘Pork Varattiyathu’ and a host of other dishes like the ‘Karimeen pollichathu’ (pearl spot marinated in tamarind, onions, chillies and ginger, wrapped in a banana leaf and grilled), are all cooked in a traditional way to enhance flavours. 

The ‘Kerala home style fish curry’ is exceptional and Excellent for sopping up the delicious gravy is the ‘Kerela Red Rice’ or ‘Kal Dosa’.
Desserts like ‘Elneer payasam’ (tender coconut morsels in coconut milk and cardamom) are richly heavenly. I would definitely recommend this festival…worth a try!!

WHERE? Hilton Garden Inn, Baani Square, Gurgaon
The Kerala Food Festival is at Glass House, the world cuisine restaurant, from July 18 to 30, 2015, only for dinner.
PRICE? INR 1,495 plus taxes per person.
RESERVATIONS: 0124-44200000

Wednesday, July 22, 2015


Walk through the charming flowery ‘Paris Café’ name board and French door to the Paris Cafe and delicious aromas, wafting out of the open kitchen will engulf your senses. Once inside, you will be instantly transported to a quaint café in small town France, as the delectable array of goodies at the confectionary counter and the quirky knick-knacks – spot the cushions which read Paris, the French style chairs, mirrors, lace work,beautiful chandeliers - tickle both your gustatory and visual senses. Take away from or sit down at this casually elegant café; its peach-and-cream interiors could very well become your secret space.
Bring a book and sit by the window to relish a minute of ‘me-time’ with a steaming cup of Latte made with organic coffee beans and a slice of cake, or pop in with a friend for a quick, fresh casual lunch. Or bring the kids around for a treat in the evening. Paris Cafe promises to be your special place for every occasion!

 “Upon returning to Kolkata from my work experience in Paris and London, I wanted to bring the experience of eating something quick, fresh, and light without going into the hassle of driving to a mall or sitting down at a fancy restaurant. I wanted a fresh baked sandwich or a dessert, much as one would find in small-town artisanal bakeries in Europe, food that had not been made in commercial centralized kitchens,” says the young and talented Chef owner Sneha Singhi. Her training in the prestigious Cordon le bleu, Paris, work experience under Pierre Herme and later La Duree in London combined with her passion for food and artisanal baking skills, gave birth to this venture, which, Sneha hopes, will grow over time and include other offerings such as baking lessons for young food enthusiasts and adults alike. 

Sneha’s strength is her decisive pairing of unexpected ingredients, which works best with simple dishes. So the Baked Chicken inspiration, stuffed with a delicious pesto and served with spaghetti just flavoured with garlic and olive oil is spectacular and yes salads, grills, bakes and sandwiches make a good lunch from the Deli section. Macaroons are a specialty here with flavours like raspberry, lemon, and chocolate to name a few. They are amazingly crisp discs of ground almonds with a soft middle, sandwiched together with flavoured cream. Desserts like their incredible red velvet cake, Rainbow cake, macaroon, and chocolate raspberry dome and choux pastry with Chantilly cream have already attained legendary status. With its wide selection of authentic French breads, desserts and savouries, conveniently located with ample parking next door (I tried the Salt Lake Outlet), Paris Cafe promises to serve up happiness with every slice!

Paris Café currently has 2 outlets, one which started in 2013 and the second in 2014
Outlet 1: 1/1, Ashutosh Chowdhury Avenue, Near Ice Skating Rink, Ballygunge, Kolkata
Outlet 2: Block EP XI-I, South City Pinnacle, Sector V, Salt Lake, Kolkata
Open all days in the week: 8am-11pm
USP: Innovative and untouched recipes right from the heart of Paris
Signature items: Macaroons, Rainbow Cake, Choux pastry with Chantilly cream
Must Try: Something savoury from the menu that changes every week. From the regular menu try the spinach crepe, mushroom quiche, pasta, Panini, and the grilled chicken steak.
Booking and delivery: Orders can be placed over the phone.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

ARTISANAL BAKING aka a gourmet vision

ARTISANAL BAKING aka a gourmet vision
Artisanal conjures images of foods being made by hand using traditional methods. This perception is justified, considering Webster’s definition of an artisan as ‘a manually skilled worker’. That said the word gourmet is used liberally. India’s bakery scene is in evolution, with the rise of quality artisan bakery and patisserie operations all across the country!! MEET some of our celebrity pastry chefs who use the KitchenAid while creating these goodies.

Name: Avijit Ghosh
City: Bengaluru, India
Brief Background: A Gastronomic Mastermind who specializes in Pastry, Bakery and Chocolates has immense work experience in his field for 22 years. Started his career as a senior kitchen trainee at the Oberoi School of hotel Management, New Delhi. He has worked with the Oberoi group since then in Kolkata, Bangalore and New Delhi. Trained at “Le Notre” a renowned Pastry school in Paris, we can say he is one of the best in his field. He is also bringing a wide international exposure with his association with Chef Mikeal Azouz, Patissier and chocolatier from France, Chef Luc Eyrie of Valrhona Pastry school, France. He is also the ambassador of the Belgium Chocolate company “Callebaut”.  Chef Avijit Ghosh is the Corporate Pastry Chef. The Leela Palaces, Hotels and Resorts

Name: Daniel Koshy
City: Bengaluru, India
Brief Background: Chef Daniel’s culinary journey began at the Institute of Hotel Management, Chennai in 1995. Having topped the institute, Chef Daniel was selected for the prestigious Oberoi Management Training Programme. Chef Daniel joined JW Marriott, Bengaluru in 2013; a long cherished dream of working with one of the best hospitality brands in the world. At JW Marriott, he has been instrumental in opening the Bengaluru Baking Company. 

Name: Savio Fernandes
City: Mumbai, India
Brief Background: Chef Savio Fernandes has to his credit over 19 years’ of experience in Bakery operations in the hospitality industry in India and Dubai. Currently, he is the Executive Pastry Chef with JW Marriott, Mumbai. He possesses extensive experience in setting up a Pastry / Bakery unit and in creating menus. His forte is Flavours and textures which he incredible at. Chef Savio has gained his commendable experience over the years at different 5 star properties like Madinath Jumeirah: Al Qasr, Dubai, Hotel Oberoi Towers Mumbai, Ramada Hotel Palm Grove, Mumbai and Goa Marriott Resort. He became a part of the JW Marriott, Mumbai in Aug.’03 as Chef De Partie 1. He then moved on to the Goa Marriott Resort – where he spent 3.5 years - as Pastry Chef to further hone his skills. Since July ’08, Chef Savio has been creating pastry delights at JW Marriott, Mumbai and tempting the strongest of will powers to indulge in his mouth-watering creations.

NAME: Pablo Morales              
CITY:  La Coruna, Galicia, Spain (Home town) but based in Delhi
BRIEF BRACKROUND: He began his career when he was 16 years old in Barcelona with one of the best Pastry Chef around Europe “Carle Mampel”, he spent 2 years with him alongside his studies at the renowned pastry college “EPGB” (Barcelona). He moved on to working in a few classics patisseries before he got the opportunity to work in “ME” melia Hotel (Barcelona) as a Pastry Chef. His travels took him to Kuwait to work for the Real Family in the Project “I Love Food” and the last 3 years he spent in  London UK working at the “Luxury Sheraton Park Tower” Hotel , “One O One” restaurant (top 4 best restaurant in the UK) and “Harrod’s” ( the best Store of the world). Today he is with the “The Leela Ambience Gurgaon” as the head pastry chef.

An excursion of Italy with Guest Chef Giuseppe Lioce @ Westin Gurgaon's PREGO!!

This July, take an excursion of Italy, right here at The Westin Gurgaon’s Californian Style Italian Venue- PREGO with Guest Chef, Giuseppe Lioce.

So, just like you would expect in Italy, you can choose to enjoy your meal indoors or out on the open deck with a backdrop of a busy restaurant. In order to deliver the quality that he is so particular about, Giuseppe Lioce personally ensures that he buys only the best and the freshest ingredients. With certain recipes tracing back from his home town aka Bari in the south of Italy, the cuisine here finds its roots in tradition. Giuseppe takes pride in every dish served to you and ensures it is as true to its roots as he himself is with a beautifully crafted A la carte menu, for lunch and dinner.  Veritably Italian!
To start with let me tell you this dynamic Chef Giuseppe comes with 13 years of experience, having worked in a range of boutique restaurants and 5 Star hotels throughout Europe and is currently the Italian Chef at The Westin Pune Koregaon Park specially flown in for this promotion. What do you do when you’re far away from home and you crave for Mama’s cooking? You cook like her, Giuseppe did just that, his promotional menu is concise, classic with his signature twist and his sumptuous offerings focus on taste without forgoing the presentation.
The ‘carpaccio di funghi’  which are seasonal fresh mushrooms marinated in Italian lemon dressing, mint, shaved parmesan, rucola and balsamic reduction is a great prelude of things to come. Every dish that follows from the pasta to the mains will not disappoint- a consistency of standard that adds to the dining pleasure. Try the gnocchi; it is given a fresh twist with tomato sauce, basil, baked in the oven with mozzarella sauce. Not to be missed is the  ‘Paccheri al ragu di Agnello’, here the Paccheri is filled and topped with fork tender slow cooked lamb ragout  is so beautifully cooked and tastes so divine, that it leaves you wanting for more. His specialities ‘branzino livornese’ baked sea bass, tomato sauce with olives, anchovies, capers served with fried polenta and spinach and ‘pollo alla pizzaiola’, chicken fillets cooked in tomato sauce, black olives, oregano, chilli, served with mashed potato are absolute winners. Dessert is a dip into the pool of divine decadence with chef’s version of the ‘millefoglie’, layered warm puff pastry with Italian custard, mango and vanilla ice cream … simply a sweet piece de resistance. Buon Appetito!
The promotion is on from 8th July until 17th July 2015
The WestIn Gurgaon, New Delhi, No 1 MG Road, Gurgaon-122002
For Reservations: 0124 4977777. Extension 7841

Tuesday, July 7, 2015


As I walked through the doors twice (yes I had a meal here on two consecutive evenings) of this Italian Adventure, I was overwhelmed with the majestic feel of a multi levelled restaurant replete with a 25 feet high ceiling , two flights of stairs, a vibrant show kitchen and exotic fragrance of Italian food. The restaurant consists a rich bar (as in the wine is excellent!) and of course I cannot talk of the bar and not mention ‘Ema’ the vivacious bartender ever ready to whip you up a heady cocktail of your choice and she keeps her bar like a Laboratory where she is forever experimenting with new flavours only to present her best and boldest creations: drinks like the Oak-aged Negroni with cherry wood smoke and the JW style spiced Old Fashioned with homemade garam masala syrup.
A visit to the kitchen revealed that there truly are a lot of specialists working in here and chef keeps them all busy. Pasta dishes are made in-house, and completely by hand, in the old artisanal way. For example to make perfect Tortellini (round shaped) one needs talent, experience, dedication, a professional environment and simply a lot time and trust me this and the rest of the handmade pasta menu that includes a wide range of delicacies like Gnocchi (made of potatoes only), a series of artfully shaped of pasta pockets like Raviolo (square-shaped) as well as noodles that vary in size from very thin ones Angel Hair to very broad ones Pappardelle are no less spectacular. 
But before that, savour the selection of antipasti, soups and chef’s salad selection. The vibe is homey, comfort Italian chow like ‘Minestrone’ and ‘Aglio olio’ are done to perfection.

Recommendations go all out for the Burrata, which means ‘buttered,’ a luscious, creamy fresh cheese made by mixing cream and unspun mozzarella curds together,  this is one simple dish which tastes good only if done right  and here kissed by sweet basil pesto alongside heirloom tomatoes was absolutely decadent to the core. The warm mushroom salad wasn’t bad either with parsley and roasted garlic, though it could have done with a little less salt.It was the exceptional sea bass baked in parchment paper, fragrant with lemon sauce and clams that was the most stellar preparation. The menu is concise and changed seasonally; in keeping with the spirit of Italian cooking, everything is fresh and the flavours are kept simple so they balance each other. Desserts, too, are exemplary especially the ‘Tiramisu’ a fluffy sponge combined with exotic flavours of espresso and cocoa ,layered with mascarpone served out of a porcelain dish which one is allowed to gorge on unlimited and trust me you may end up eating half of the bowl, so do save space.
Romano’s is at the JW Marriott Hotel Mumbai Sahar, IA Project Road, Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport, Sahar, Andheri East, Mumbai
Tel: 022 33956233
Timings: Open only for dinner all days of the week.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Blue Elephant Cooking Class, Bangkok


Indians must give up bad habit of not making prior reservations at restaurants. RUPALI DEAN cracks the whip 
 Being a Food & Travel writer I happen to know quite a few chefs across the world and some of the chefs also happen to be my friends so many I times I get calls saying, ‘Hey I’m not getting a table at Masala Library, can you please put in a word’? Which may be at least a day’s advance notice but there are those who call me on reaching the restaurant, ‘Get us a table at Bukhara (ITC Maurya) please, we have important foreign clients but I just slipped making a restaurant’ and I can’t help thinking why couldn’t you make a reservation if they were so important. And sometimes there are even strange requests like, ‘We are going to Indian Accent, do you think you could get us a reservation and a discount too please’? HELLO…and what makes you think I would want to take unnecessary favours from any restaurant? It doesn’t surprise me. Being a regular in the hospitality sector, I have often come across such bizarre requests, sometimes from even strangers. I humbly refuse at most times. Not because I am not willing to help people, it’s just that I am ruthlessly against our nonchalant habit of not making reservations in advance. I do help a friend if the request is genuine but I am extremely averse to the idea of not making a reservation at a restaurant where you know it is compulsory, or it happens to be an extremely popular eating hub.
If you are rich or influential, it doesn’t make a difference to the restaurant. Everyone who has a reservation is a paying customer and is equally important to the restaurant. So kindly stop threatening, ‘Don’t you know who I am?’ Bullying restaurants is immoral and expect them to cooperate when it’s difficult to do so is unrealistic. Remember, you are not the only guests eager to dine there. They can’t call a person and call off the booking just because you are some big shot or have threatened to write something nasty on social media. Imagine their plight…or think if you are the customer they cancel the reservation of? There have been instances when restaurants have been forced to accommodate such a request which actually incurs business loss to them, as the person who’s made a booking and has been called to cancel, not only black lists them but also tells hundreds of other people about the restaurant being so callous. All in all, the restaurant suffers for no fault of theirs.
‘Noma’ in Copenhagen or ‘Jiro Dreams of Sushi’ in Tokyo are some of the best restaurants in the world and the hardest to get into! At Jiro, for instance, the endorsed rule is that you should call in the first day of each month to reserve for next month’s seating.  At Noma, when you try and book online (read months in advance), you are given a token number even to make a booking. Thankfully, Noma has added a shared table. While reservations for the systematic restaurant tables are booked a couple months in advance, the shared table is booked only a few weeks in advance. There are many legendary conditions at several popular food joints abroad where you have to be very particular about their policies and conditions. Connections do not work everywhere!
There are popular restaurants which have no reservation policy. But one has to plan in advance to grab a table. 
File photo: Farzi Cafe at DLF Cyber Hub, Gurgaon
If you follow the dos and don’ts of making reservations at a restaurant, it will help you to have the experience you merit and keep you on respectable standings with the restaurant. Proper etiquette, particularly as a consistent customer, can only profit you at the end. Most restaurants have two-seating, like at ‘Olive Bar & Kitchen’, they serve dinner at 8pm and 10pm. As much as you anticipate the restaurant to keep your reservation and follow your limitations and preferences, the restaurant expects you to hold up your end of the deal and to respect their policies.
Believe it or not, the act of making a reservation tells us a lot about your personality; whether you are an organised person who commands great perfection at deals, or a messed up individual who just looks for ‘jugaad’ at every step. Some people are so absurd that they just want to throw their weight around or fall back on their connections and there are people who just use this as an excuse to get some money OR ALL OF IT off their bill!!
·   When you make a reservation, specify date, exact time and the number of people. Specify allergies if any.
·  In case there is any change in the reservation even if it is cancellation, notify the restaurant.
·   Respect the Reservation policy of a restaurant; some may not want to hold a table for too long.
·  Wait for the hostess to confirm your booking, don’t just call up …check for availability and hang up.

Specially written for my friend Karan Bhardwaj’s new venture his web magazine