Tuesday, November 24, 2015


One of the great joys of Kingdom of Dreams lays in watching arts organizations rediscovering old classics and polishing off under-appreciated gems. This time round has presented the opportunity to revisit one of the most powerful musicals ever created, and to experience an old Mythology classic in a newly revised form.
 A few people are over Nrityashree Pt. Sandeep Mahavir, who has produced and directed the show along with Monty Shah of AMS Events.(Sandeep belongs to a traditional family of musicians and vocalists from the Jaipur Gharana); and what they consider to be his ‘gimmick’ of having the actors dance to kathak and hip hop. To me, it’s just another way of staging a show, no more or less valid than having actors sing, dance, and act in the same show. The question is, does it work for the piece at hand? 

With ‘ Abhimanyu …the fastest feet’, which is currently playing at the Nautanki Mahal the actor/musician conceit makes the metaphorical title of the show resonant in a way that it never has before; some called it preachy and dull, others called it daring and innovative. Sandeep has cut the show down to a lean 3 hours with a 20 minute break, finding the heart of the piece and removing the pretence. Sandeep also demonstrates a sensitive touch in crafting moments and shaping characterizations, which reduces the stilted nature of the original as well as its stuffy self-importance.
The Hello Rama score feels fresh and intimate with the new pared-down orchestrations ( won't share much about this as it's a great surprise). Another highlight is the 'Tandav' ! The cast here is more than up to the task, particularly an extremely appealing and sympathetic Abhimanyu. By the end of the show, I was both in tears and grinning like a fool. Sandeep has taken a truly difficult piece and made it achingly beautiful.  

This heart-warming tale of the turbulent journey of an Indian classical dancer who loses himself, his heartbreaks, shattered hopes and final redemption, Abhimanyu, The Fastest Feet will showcase on stage in the opulent Nautanki Mahal at Kingdom of Dreams every day in the months to come. Tickets to the show are available on www.kingdomofdreams.in and bookmyshow. 

Tuesday, November 17, 2015


From weekly farmers markets offering fresh breads, organic cheeses and recently plucked vegetables to stalls vending fragrant street foods these food markets are trending and how…take a vigorous desire for food and a sense of adventure, and this may be the high-point of your Vacation!!!
The farm-to-table drive is a rage across the world, fetching fresh, local produce, meat and other food items to restaurants led by celebrated chefs and shops with local culinary specialties. Food markets across the globe now offer the most pulsating colours, aromas and visions that will drag you from stand to stand across. These Markets are expected lures for hungry tourists; a rich, entertaining experience of sparkly local cuisine, arts and lifestyle. There is adequate room for interface with locals, the casual to try out dubious language skills and the appeal of a fresh, inexpensive lunch too. Wherever they are, markets can offer a frenzied walking tour of local cuisine and culture, and a delightful way to mark the varying seasons.
For those who do not know ‘Lyon’ is not only the food capital of France but the world as well and its legendary enclosed ‘Les Halles’ a food shrine brought in by perhaps one of the most prominent chefs Paul Bocuse (the father of Nouvelle cuisine);has approximately five dozen booths peddling myriad of epicurean delights. At les Halles there is even a section to learn cooking or you can simply enjoy a sit-down lunch of local produce with some delicious French wine. 
Owing to Noma and The New Nordic cuisine, Copenhagen is definitely on tops for its food trends and ‘Torvehallerne’ is a Gourmet’s delight , rather than Never-ending clamours of stalls flogging the same stuff, they have gone for variety than volume. The multitudes can transport amid the two glass and steel market halls on opposite sides of the square to grab cheese, candies organic sausage, artisanal honey, herring, tapas bars, rye bread, and other bounty, both local and international. And not to forget fortes of diverse areas of Denmark, like the tiny island of Bornholm’s delicacies are very attractively represented. 
At ‘ la Bouqueria’ in Barcelona, a swarm of selling posts, occupied of beaming stalls run by resident merchants you will treasure fresh produce from proximate, there are energetic seafood restaurants and flourishing street food stands, inspirational fresh juices and alluring tapas bars all around
At the outskirts of Paris, Rungis has typical clients and only the freshest, superlative quality foodstuffs are sold here. This makes it a very remarkable place to visit for a travelling Chef or a foodie. That said, entering Rungis is not so easy, and even if you do you requisite a card (And Rungis works between midnight until the wee hours of the morning); but not unmanageable, you could opt for a tour from any company devoted to Gastronomic Tourism that deals tailored tours by Market experts including a Rungis-style breakfast. The tour begins after slipping on the plastic butcher coats and the chic caps. After a dekho of the Fish Pavilion you move onto the Tripe where you would be bizarrely spellbound by the plentiful innards and animal body parts on display.  From Poultry to Meat, tiny animals to enormous ones, the Meat Pavilion has various carcasses. Immediately after the Meat is the Cheese and Dairy. There are fruit, then the vegetables then the flowers pavilions. Before you finally stop for breakfast which is as fresh as fresh can be. Of course, all around Rungis, you will not only observe the market in action, you will also see proof of the sheer size of the place. Fancy this; the roads in the market have street signs. 


published in HT city

Thursday, November 5, 2015


Hines India celebrates Diwali with Food Trucks at One Horizon
In the movie “Chef,” the head cook at a Los Angeles restaurant quits his job and starts off a food truck – which aids him revive his hunger for cooking. It’s that urge that makes us such big fans of food trucks, and an answer to why the food truck festival at One Horizon Center in Gurgaon (a joint venture between Hines and DLF) at its premises has become a hot spot for its tenants these two days on the festive occasion of Diwali during office hours! It isn't a wonder why Hines has been rated as one of the Top 3 commercial buildings in the country!
Some of the food trucks featured at the Truck fest include Drifter’s Café which has on offer oriental favorites and box meals, Frugurpop with fruity and cream flavored popsicles (The Triple Berry, Frutilicious and Oreo and Cookies Cream Bar are selling like hot cakes), Something Saucy and What the Truck which is serving up sliders and fast food
‘Frugurpop only aims to get greater and enhanced and being encircled with the largest multinationals at One Horizon Center developed by Hines certainly gives the brand an exciting push! The coolness of the Popsicles echoes in the employees, who consume this revitalizing delight during their hectic day at work! The association surely lives up to our motto ‘Let Joy Take Over and reaches the highest floor of the tower,’ says Pallavi Kuchroo, Founder, Frugurpop
‘Ever since we started our business we have been considering prospects to step into corporate parks and residential communities as we have intended our product for people on the go, nonetheless only Hines India gave us an chance as they saw food trucks being able to fill an instant prerequisite of food and beverage offerings to their occupants who look for hygienic, delicious and budget options,’ shares Ankur Gupta, Founder, Drifters Café candidly.
A food truck festival in my office or residential area...I would love that..wouldn't you?


At Cilantro tables are large and well-spaced, covered with crisp linen tablecloths and voluminous napkins. Executive Chef Sandeep Klara is in attendance, as he always is and is ably assisting Chef Fabrizzio Renda and Chef Silvano Pintonello who have specially been flown in from the famed Badrutt’s Palace Hotel in St. Moritz. Going by the food history of Switzerland, the cuisine is vastly influenced by various regions like Spain, France, and Italy to speak of few.
I go for the tasting menu; I found a traditional dish from the Graubünden region on the menu ‘capuns’ (Yay!) , essentially a dumpling wrapped in Swiss chard the dish looks a bit small at first mind you, but it is actually really dense and quite heavy, smothered in a creamy cheese sauce. 
The Swiss Polenta
Next was the Swiss Polenta, what makes it unique is addition of Buckwheat to the corn starch, topped with the cheese fondue and a hint of truffle….simply divine!
My favourite dish of the meal was one of Engadina style sliced pork, resting in a meadow mushroom jus thickened with wine, accompanied with Taglierini. The pork was superb and the mushrooms lovely, but the star was the sauce. This had stunningly deep mushroom flavour, creamy and perfectly seasoned.
I would have been entirely happy if they stopped the meal at this point and left me with a saucepan of this and some plain bread. It was one of the finest sauces that I can recall eating, but of course the best dish was on its way!
Cheese figures prominently in many Swiss dishes, so for the cheese lovers, the fondue is enough to make you weep with joy. Here the fondue is ever so authentic, Gruyere, Emmental and parmesan cheese are melted with Kirsch a bit of dry white wine and some garlic flavour in an enamel pot in which you dip chunks of bread, chorizo, olives or whatever you fancy from the gamut of options offered.
Indeed the fondue conjures images of alpine ambience and resonant yodeling and is practically an Institution in Switzerland. At this point the Apple strudel is brought to the table accompanied by a perfect quenelle shaped chocolate mousse topped with fresh red currants. 
Ingredient quality here is impeccable, culinary technique faultless; service was, just as at my last visit, terrific. Basics like topping up of water, wine and bread happens effortlessly, but despite the traditional style of food for the Swiss food promotion the service was not overly formal, the stewards being friendly and enthusiastic. 
Cilantro, Trident Gurgaon. 443, Udyog Vihar, Phase V, Gurgaon 122 016.
Tel: 0124 412 4307
Timings: Lunch - 12:30pm - 3:00 pm. Dinner - 7:30 pm to 11:30 pm.
Swiss Cuisine Promotion is on till the 6th November 2015…but the chef has promised to keep some of the dishes like the ‘Barley soup prepared Grison style’ on the winter menu