Monday, January 25, 2016


One of my favourite trips in the Middle East was when I was in Turkey and another one in Jordan; creamy pots of hummus, smoky kebabs and fluffy pita bread. Back home only Zizo which specialises in Lebanese cooking gives me that same satisfaction and when I heard it’s opened its doors in ‘Mahro’ Gurgaon, we just had to go check it out! This authentic Lebanese restaurant is in a quiet, leafy part of Gurgaon on the Golf course road. If you like a more personal service and know your kibbeh from your falafel, this is an ideal place to take someone special. We were greeted warmly by Chef Danny as he led us to our table. The restaurant is bright and spacious, with wide open windows to the front to allow in lots of natural sunlight. The general style of the place is simple cafĂ© style interesting green beetle logo.
As we decided what to order, we were presented with a plate of pickles, olives and chilies – very Lebanese, the service is very attentive, and the stewards enthusiastic about the food. The menu features lots of starters, a nice grill section and various side dishes and main courses. The food here is fascinatingly familiar for me, it was completely fresh, none of it over-fried and all of it very tasty. The kibbeh was amazing, the best I have ever tried – so succulent and the quality of the ingredients put the others I have tried in various other restaurants to shame.
The same can be said for the falafel, which was freshly fried and featured the unusual addition of sesame seeds. Both dishes are staples with this kind of cuisine, but this is exactly how they are meant to taste. We also tried many dips hummus (of course) and Moutabel, which is very similar but made from aubergine. 

We also dug into some delicious Manushe, thin triangles of dough topped with just Zatar or minced meat, vegetables and herbs, and then baked. Most dishes are accompanied by puffed and warm pita bread baked on the premises in the stone and bricks oven displayed proudly. Simplicity and balance are the buzzwords of Chef Danny Elsoury, enriched by honest to goodness flavours and authentic supreme ingredients. 

The star at Zizo is the community style eating a harbinger of what you get here which is a meal centered on food, laughter and conversation. The food is plentiful and fresh, and sits perfectly on the line of honest to goodness. The service is excellent and personal, and the decor is trendy while still feeling homely and local.

WHERE? Palm Spring Plaza, Sector 54, Gurgaon
TEL: +91 8527588222

Sunday, January 3, 2016


The world is changing fast, but the food industry is changing even faster. This can be seen reflected in the Food trends  which  includes; increased popularity of fine dining stand-alone restaurants, regional and international food restaurants, ‘local’ food sourcing, healthy menus, kid-friendly menus, sustainable food, malls as food destinations and cafe's going international to name a few….we talk here of the trends we foresee in 2016!!
Mishti Doi Cannoli with Amaranth Ladoo
at Indian Accent
Ancient whole grains are the hottest trend; one would come across Ragi, Jowar, Quinoa, Amaranth, Buckwheat, Rajgiri, Nachani and other ancient grains in many kitchens these days as not only are they healthier options but delicious too and come in various shapes and sizes from tiny Quinoa seeds to large kernels ! It is a decadent way to ensure good health and optimum nutrition. Celebrity Chef Manish Mehrotra of Indian accent plays a lot with these grains in his menus.
An age old trend which had got lost in our fast food lives. This movement aims to preserve cultural cuisine and in so doing to preserve the food plants and seeds, domestic animals and farming within an ecoregion. Most chefs are making every effort to find ingredients of the highest quality. ‘Understanding more about our food, how it tastes and where it comes from makes the act of eating all the more pleasurable, I would rather serve what’s in season, fresh, and devoid of chemicals or harsh fertilizers’, shares Chef Manjit Gill, Corporate Chef ITC.
Lemon, Cuciumber sorrel from Chef Sujan Sarkar's tasting lab
Chef Sujan Sarkar pushes the restrictions of modern cuisine and takes one on a journey where science, nature and gastronomy come together using the slow food philosophy in his tasting lab.
Andhra Snapper and Green Gram Dosa at Amaranta, The Oberoi Gurgaon
Fusion as we know and understand is basically an amalgam of things not meant to go together but inevitably, a way or process makes them one and the end product, no matter how original and authentic enough. Many Chefs across the country now use the ‘Kerela Vanilla’ to make their desserts which is easily available and a lot cheaper than importing it all the way from Madagascar or Tahiti. Chef Ravitej Nath also awarded as India’s best chef promotes a lot of Indian ingredients. Chef David Watson Executive Chef, St. Regis Mumbai says, ‘I only try to inspire my Indian Chef. We use European ingredients like fish, lamb, mutton, and sea bass and cook it with Indian ingredients. The result is fantastic.’
Most of us have grown up with eating what Mummy has cooked and whether we liked the particular vegetable or not there was no option as it was a healthy and balanced meal according to her. Fortunately this model does not work in many restaurants and we are given many choices on an a la carte menu. That said, many menus now offer you the promise of a deeper and more engaging experience beyond a usual meal; through experiential and sharing platters and you get drawn to an emotional connection between you and the food.
Teahouse tradition is about companionship, although tea rooms are often associated as a European attraction, they were common at one point in American history too. The growth in health food has given tea huge potential, especially with the release of numerous research studies highlighting tea’s status in the antioxidant elite. It is not so hard to get a good cup of tea, now even though it is much more complex than coffee, as it has such a variety of flavors….and Dimsum Tea Houses and the English Afternoon tea and even local inspired High Teas make for a fashion statement in India now!
A course from the Maharashtrian street food inspired High Tea Menu at The Lemon Tree Aurangabad : pic courtesy - Uday Malhotra...3rd Culinary Arts student at IHMA

First published in ET Travel
On top my unedited version