Sunday, August 30, 2015


When Vistara had just launched a few months ago, I had booked myself on it on the Delhi to Goa sector and I was pleasantly surprised when they upgraded me to the Premium Economy. I was busy writing throughout the flight but couldn’t help enjoying the leg room and certainly the food. It was a mid-morning flight and we were served ‘chicken Dumplings’, and to my joy they were so delicious that I couldn’t help asking for a second helping to which the ever smiling flight attendant happily obliged. It was quite an unparalleled dining experience that validated their hospitability and made a memorable mark in my mind.
Executive Chef - Taj Sats Delhi
So when I got an invitation for a Chef’s Table at Taj Sats Delhi to try out their various offerings, I simply had to go! We were welcomed with a choice of beverages like coconut water, Buttermilk and kokum sherbet, I was already impressed. Honestly which airline on the domestic sector goes to this extent to showcase the best of local produce even in their beverages?
Mr Giam Ming Toh 
Mr Giam Ming Toh (Chief Commercial Officer of Vistara (TATA SIA Airlines Limited) headed the table along with the Chef , explained very simply that ‘Illustrating upon both the opulent miscellany of India’s gastronomic legacy and  immeasurable span of epicurean treasures that flourish in global cuisines, our menu has been intricately intended to feature delectable dishes which suitably replicate modern India dining at its best – traditional yet modern, native yet global, acquainted yet different’! Vistara also claims to be the only airline that also offers Sea food on the domestic sector and more than just a regular choice of vegetarian or Non vegetarian option. Next we moved on to a beautiful display of the food offered on the various classes and trust me their menus seemed attentively planned to satisfy even the most jaded flight. 
My Cajun spiced chicken and Zucchini steak was delicious

Anyways the proof of the pudding is in the eating so I ordered a ‘Cajun spiced Chicken and Zucchini steak’ and also asked for a helping from the Indian selection.
The salad accompaniment to my main course
The starters were common for everyone which was the regular kebabs but again the flavours were different than a normal chicken Tikka or paneer Tikka. I really enjoyed my meal and thought not only it was more than average for a flight meal it was nourishing and healthy as well owing to the quality ingredients and alternative cooking methods in the preparation.
‘Our menus are frequently refreshed so that frequent customers always have something new to look forward to.
Love the Breakfast options
We innovate constantly, coming up with seasonal and festive delicacies which showcase the best of local produce and enhance the celebratory mood on flights. With more generous portions, our meals satiate even the keenest of appetites’, added Giam Ming.
Needles to add services are heightened in Business Class with the crafty arrangement of freshly prepared food in fine bone china crockery and glassware and have special meals options from a wide range of options! 
The starter is exactly served the way it appears in this picture.
So if you are one of those travellers who like to enjoy a good nourishing meal even on a flight…Vistara is for you!!

Sunday, August 23, 2015


This latest entrant to Mumbai’s culinary landscape celebrates the old in a new style and is undoubtedly the fieriest dining ticket in the city right now, tables are tremendously hard to get and are much sought after. As you walk into this airy 4,000 sq. ft. of radiantly done up space, you will be enchanted by the Bombay reminiscence in this unfinished ‘bungalow’ with its stained glass, long rustic bar, printed tiles, manually lettered pricing boards at once. Once seated the Chintus aka a unique take on bar snacks, and are passed around the restaurant on large trays (of course with a price). They variate on a daily basis but if you get a chance, don’t miss the Kamal Kakdi Chips, paper-thin lotus-root fryums sprinkled with chaat masala; great to go with your tipple.
Chef Thomas Zacharias with Akanksha Dean ( daughter and dining companion)...If the chef is talented we have to get the manadate pic :)
Coming to the food, Indo American Chef Floyd Cardoz with his roots in Goa is back to Indian cuisine with a bang! Formerly helmed the kitchen at North End Grill and Tabla restaurants (New York) and together with Chef Thomas Zacharias (earlier the executive chef of Olive Bar & Kitchen, Bandra), Floyd has constructed a menu which is ‘India-inspired’ and takes a simple, seasonal and chic slant to regional Indian cooking. Innovation knows no bounds here, as one of the Chotas (starters) Arbi Tuk proves; with crispy arbi roundels as papdi, this version of sev puri is spirited and yummy. I also tried the desi tacos made with methi theplas and filled with Goan pulled pork vindaloo, Interesting, but I perhaps I may not order it again. 
Decadent and Innovative ..the methi and arugula salad

I would order many more times the novel Methi and Arugula salad, this one is a marriage made in heaven with mungphali, sesame and lime honey dressing.
A winner of the dish here is the entertainingly named Kejriwal Toast; (this certainly takes you down the memory lane, if you have tried the club version) Enthused by the Eggs Benedict, the egg (fried, not poached) in this one is crowned with a chutney made by blending green chillies with coconut oil and has just the right thrill in it. Among the Badas (the mains) the Banana Leaf Wrapped Roasted Fish cooked in an aromatic tomato and coconut masala is a stellar preparation and will leave you craving for more and yes the Uncle’s Mutton curry is another good bet. 
The Banana leaf wrapped roasted fish ....yummmm

However you could give the Corn and paneer Bhurji a miss, it’s overtly complicated for the palate with coconut and too many other ingredients. To end on a sweet note, float back on a misty cloud to babyhood treats, the Falooda Sundae that comes in a mason jar with strawberry jelly cubes, bits of caramelised pista, rose ice cream and sabza (basil seeds) is certainly the best in town. Cocktails are certainly innovative; I would recommend the Royal Ginfield with gin, amla juice, bitters and jaggery. It is open ‘Din Bhar’ and also offers ‘tiffins’ for a quick lunch. Would I go here again? Certainly, it’s a fun place to hang out at and I do need to try so many more recommended dishes and of course yet another helping of the kejriwal toast which has become one of my favourite dishes now.
The Kejriwal Toast
Ground Floor, Process House, Kamala Mills, Near Radio Mirchi Office, S.B. Marg, Lower Parel, Mumbai.
RESERVATIONS: 022 49666666.
TIMINGS: Open Tuesdays through Sundays 12 Noon to 1 Am (currently closed on Mondays)
MEAL FOR TWO: Approx. 1,600 (without alcohol), 2,400 (with alcohol)
AGE LIMIT: Persons below 18 are not allowed after 7pm.
The Gulab nut ( nothing to do with rose)..this one's a mix of Gulab Jamun and Doughnut with lots of Old if you like an alcoholicy dessert...go for It!!

Sunday, August 9, 2015


When it comes to food, the Mughals sure knew their way around. And, nothing captures the essence of ‘Lost Recipes of the Mughal Era’ quite like sampling it at The Oberoi Gurgaon at their ongoing food festival from 7th to 16th August 2015.
There are schools of thought in the empire of antique cooking that frown on this nonchalant attitude toward technique — and yes, the historic-recipe trend is big enough to contain schools of thought. ‘Trust me refreshing antique recipes is more than just some new age experiment in authenticity… its real social science’, shares Chef Ravitej Nath, Executive chef.

For Osama Jalali and his Begum (wife) Nazia Khan whose travel research ( read of meeting old ‘Khansamas’ ) is on the cuisine from the lost recipes of the Mughal Era; bringing the hunted recipes into their kitchen has made them more conscious of the way the world worked centuries ago.For example, the existence of certain ingredients like spices, exemplifies the degree of trade networks at the time, while the lack of others like baking soda and other modern leavening agents shows how far science still had to go. Following the research the trio ….yes including Osama’s mother Nazish Jalali has unearthed and also documented more than a hundred recipes, from the familiar ‘Patode’ (a roulade looking dish made of arbi leaves, rolled in chick pea flour and steamed) to the pleasantly peculiar ‘Pista ka queema’ (this creation of lamb mince cooked with Afghani pistachios and spices id from the Era of Bahadur Shah Zafar who was captive at the red fort).

Parinde mein Parinda
For the more daring, there’s ‘Parinde mein Parinda’ (stuffed birds), a highly skilled dish where smaller birds are stuffed into a bigger in descending order of their size cooked on dum in a Parat.  Interestingly in the days of the Mughals, it started with a camel followed by stuffing smaller animals into the belly…of course this dish was made only on occasions for the whole community. ‘We use different marinades for the different birds as each bird has its own cooking time’, explains Chef Ravitej Nath. Out here this decadent dish featured chicken, quail and egg. 

Murgh Zameen doz

Another stellar preparation that I tried is the ‘Murgh Zameen Doz’ aka chicken marinated with almonds, yoghurt and spices, wrapped in dough and cooked in an earthen pot under the earth; tasted slightly tart and divine. The ingredients for these dishes are a bit more uncertain, but it’s the process, not the components, that marks these recipes as decidedly lost. 
So how do the chefs know what it tasted like in that era?,‘We allow ourselves more springiness once we get into the kitchen’, shares Ravitej. ‘Usually we have no choice: The lack of specificity makes reproducing these dishes more of an instinctive process, but we manage keeping in account exactly what we learnt during our research’, adds Osama. ‘ We worked very hard doing lots and lots of trials, at a certain point you have to just let go of precision and see what happens’, shares Ravitej ‘If it turned out to be like what we tried and learnt , well, then we knew we had done something right’, smiles Osama. The recipes are centuries old, but the desire of eating is timeless. All in all I can see the impulse to painstakingly reproduce centuries-old dishes as a trendy one, the home cook’s outcome to a chef’s garden of bequest produce!
All the desserts are to die for! This one is called Gulathi
Executive Chef RaviTej Nath along with Osama Jalali unearth the culinary traditions during the Mughal Era
WHERE? The Oberoi, Gurgaon, 443, Udyog Vihar, Phase V, Gurgaon – 122016
TEL: +91-124-2451234
WHEN? 7th to 16th August 2015.