Cherry blossoms at the Leela, Mumbai

Mumbai, India

cherry blossom leela (1)

A bento-box in one hand, camera around the neck and picnic mats in the other are a common sight as hordes of tourists akin to locals  throng the Ueno Park in Tokyo, just one the many venues but a very popular one during the Cherry blossom season.  In a practice called Hanami or appreciation of the Cherry Blossom flowers (Sakura) which represent new beginnings and also transient life; Japan is happy and high. Cherry blossom themed colas, lattes, crisps, cakes, restaurant promotions, mall decors etc turn the city pink. The Sakura blossoms in the south in January and slowly moves up north to Tokyo and Kyoto before turning Hokkaido pink in May.

The Leela Mumbai is currently hosting the Cheery Blossom fest at Citrus and I experienced the same dressed up in the colours. As a vegetarian the choice of ‘sushi’ perhaps is universal in the country and all that matter is the quality of ingredients.  The pricing for the same at Rs 599 offered the best value in the city as Chef Constantine happily rolled us a creamy avocado and a crisp tempura variant. We snacked on the steamed edamame in salted and chilli garlic styles during the entire course of our meal.  The silken tofu in teriyaki could be scooped into and the crispy rice cracker fried Asparagus called for a wine with bracing acidity to match.  Spring brings exciting times in a continental region; it fills the heart with cheer and joy and so did it our Soba bowl. It exudes the warmth and the simplicity the Japanese culture is known for.

Cherry Blossom leela

A Mango and Mascarpone from the mango specials menu brought a delightful end to an evening which was gastronomic and of course incited the travel bug in me.  To endless discoveries in Japan, someday!!!

P.S: Miso ramen, katsu curry, yakitori are some of the dishes that non-vegetarians could look up to.

 

21st March, 2000 Chefs, 2000 Menus, Good France!

On Tuesday, 21 March 2017 the world will celebrate the third annual edition of the great global event “Goût de France or Good France”. 2000 chefs across 5 continents will dish up 2000 menus at the same time and showcase  gourmet French cuisine making this a massive culinary endeavour.

This initiative was launched by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development under the aegis of celebrated chef Alain Ducasse. It aims, over the space of a dinner, to salute the excellence of French cuisine, its innovative skills, and the values that it conveys: bringing people together over a shared meal, the pleasure of taste, and the balance between human beings and the products of nature.

Once again this year, the event will be celebrated with particular relish in India, where more than 65 restaurants have been selected across the country by chef Alain Ducasse– so there’s no way you can miss it! Diners can pick their preferred ambience as they will be spoiled for choice: bistro, coffee bar, contemporary or haute cuisine restaurants.

Gout e France

Mr Yves Perrin and the Mumbai Chef brigade

We were at a preview of Gout De France at the residence of the French Consul General Mr Yves Perrin in Mumbai where chefs from the participating restaurants showcased their culinary might. Chefs including Ashish Bhasin, Irfan Pabaney, Nitin Kulkarni, Amaresh Nandan, Satbir Bakshi, Amit Pamnani, Robin Batra were at their skillful best showcasing dishes like the Goat Cheese Creme brulee and figs, Asparagus, Hollandaise and Brioche, Fruit Savarin, Marquise Pompadour etc.

Join the party on the 21st. Good France!

Here is the list of Mumbai restaurants:

Aaheli,Kolkata serves at Jamavar, Leela!

Mumbai, India

Mumbai has seen the popularity of Bengali cuisine rising over the last one decade and enthusiastic non-bengali diners can now discern between the good and the not so. I have been upping the ante with Bong food given all the Kolkata travels and a host of eateries opening up in the city whilst still struggling to find some love for Potol. Recently when a Leela billboard on the airport road spoke about a Bong food promo, I was kicked and even more when I understood that Aaheli a 2 decade old Hilsa destination in Kolkata is running it.  I had to go!

Aaheli Jamavar

Welcomed by the hostess draped in the cult red and white Korial, my journey to didi’s land had begun. Jamavar looked as pristine and inviting and I was all set for a big meal.  Aam pora sharbat to begin and a quick chat with Chef Hafiz of Aaheli gave me the ‘itinerary’ for the evening.  Date and 2 mango chutneys with papad kept us company till the Piyaz Poshto Bora, Chenna patishapta and Mochar chop came in.  Dhokar Dalna, Aloo Poshto, Kasundi begun, Chanar ushtab with radhaballabhi and the fragrant Gobindbhog rice were brilliant.

Now coming to where Bengalis could come to fists, mishthi, the Rajbhog in nolen gur, Doi with nolen gur and nolen gur payesh brought in a sweet ending to our Saturday evening.  The food was brilliant and the ambiance luxurious.  Go Jamavar, eat Aaaheli !

aaheli jamavar leela

Gaylord celebrates 60 years

Mumbai, India

Gaylord Restaurant Mumbai founded in 1956 by the Kwality group, today celebrated its 60th anniversary in Mumbai along with the launch of a special Gaylord Wine Label making it indisputably one of the city’s most loved iconic restaurant. A landmark destination and a culinary pit-stop in the heart of South Mumbai, Gaylord has been serving exquisite North Indian, Mughlai and Continental cuisine to generations with a priceless reputation.

Gaylord Mumbai celebrates 60

“Gaylord’s 60th anniversary is an opportunity for us to honor our heritage and commitment to serve best quality food both of which have made us the beloved brand that we are today. We believe in keeping up with the times and hence we recently introduced some new items in our menu. New additions like Dahi Cheese roll, Kulhar ki Tangdi and Cooker da Kukad are doing well and it is heart-warming to see continuous support of our loyal guests who make us a part of their everyday routine”, says Mr. Dhruv Lamba, Executive Director, Kwality Group.

Gaylord Mumbai Lamba family

The Lambas

Gaylord’s signature dishes range from succulent Kebabs to aromatic Curries, Lamb Stroganoff, Chicken a La Keiv, Vegetable Irish Stew and more.  Along with the restaurant, Gaylord’s Bake Shop adjacent to the beautiful garden cafeteria also enchants its visitors with its European bistro charm as the rich aroma of coffee wafts through the air.

Mr. Noel DSouza, General Manager for the last 30 years at Gaylord, says, “As a restaurant we’re honored to be celebrating this remarkable milestone. In an industry where the attrition rate is so high, we have employees working here for more than 30 years. All these years, Gaylord has remained true to its concept and charm of flattering its customers through the unchanged taste, glory and heritage. With the completion of 60 years and the increase in competition we cannot afford to be complacent, we will continue to change with times upgrading and experimenting with everything from food to décor but staying true to our roots.”

P.S: To continue the celebration Gaylord Mumbai is inviting customers all around the city to join the party with festivities planned throughout the month. On 16th November guests, can enjoy a 60% discount on lunch & dinner at Gaylord. Along with discounts visitors will also get surprise giveaways, merchandises, hampers and gift coupons.

(Excerpt from a press release)

Karwari Cuisine gets its due..

Mumbai, India

Who thought of Karwari food in a five star setting… in fact not many people know of Karwari food because everything is South Indian or Madrasi Khana. Trident BKC,Mumbai has come back with its Rivaayat series and this time, Karwar. Karwar an erstwhile sleepy coastal town in Karnataka bordering Goa is on its way to become the biggest naval base in the eastern hemisphere, Project Sea Bird in its second phase will propel it to the top. An agriculture and fishing led economy; Karwari households have a lot to offer in terms of the cuisine, not as much the local restaurants there.

Karwari Cuisine

Chef Ashish Bhasin this time joined hands with Smita Hegde Deo a cook book author and a home cook to bring forth the cuisine from Karwar. Smita who has her roots from Aversa, a hamlet in Karwar has put together a menu which has a variety of vegetable and fish in very classic Karwari preparations. Fresh coconut, Coconut oil, Tamarind, Kokum, Cumin, Coriander, Asafoetida, Mustard and red chilies are the core of the cuisine and Smita has put out the flavours as I would get it at home. Yes, I hail from Karwar too and the food at the Maya passes my litmus with flying colours! Please see the image below for the menu, unheard of names all in Konkani

Karwar Cuisine

Last words, brave job Ashish Bhasin for running a promo of a largely unknown cuisine and fab job Smita Hegde Deo for keeping the authenticity intact. 11th -21st October .. Maya at Trident BKC brings Karwar to you. Dali Toi Sheeth anyone!

Master Chef India Season 5 to begin on October 1st

 

Master Chef India Season 5

After 4 successful seasons, MasterChef India is back with its 5thSeason. This year, the show aims to change the way cooking in perceived in this country and prove it to be a serious talent and pursuit. So gear up for a game of ‘Glocal’ recipes, exotic destinations, toughest challenges and most demanding judges for the fifth season of MasterChef India. After all, it is #NotJustAHobby but a journey to win the title of the best culinary artist in the country. The show will telecast its first episode on 1st October on STAR Plus!

Get ready to meet a brand new judge, ‘Prince of Indian Cuisine’ -Zorawar Kalra – the man behind the popular restaurants like Farzi Café, Masala Library, Masala Bar and more. Geared up for the new season, we will see the culinary heartthrob, Chef Vikas Khanna along with the master of culinary art, Chef Kunal Kapuron the show.

Commenting on his first venture with Indian television, Zorawar Kalra said, “MasterChef India, over the years, has not just created a platform for those who have a passion for cooking to showcase their talent, but has also brought forth the profession to the international centre stage, taking the art of cooking to a whole new level. Today are witness to a huge audience from around the world, irrespective of age & gender, looking at making their passion for cooking as a full time career choice, which was a rarity a few years back.”

Deepak Dhar, MD and CEO Endemol Shine India, the production house behind the show, said,“Endemol Shine India will this year take the best of Master Chef India and make it better than ever before! Season 5 will be an all new rebooted, refreshed and aromatically flavoured season of Master Chef India with a celebrated Jury combining the old faces and the new, brilliant guest chefs, bright new talent, exciting challenges and beautiful flavours and locales from India and across the globe to create a truly remarkable series. For Indians everywhere eating food is a delightful experience and therefore every dish served this season with have to touch the heart, while pleasing the eye with its appearance and enticing the taste-buds with its taste.”

 

When I dated a Truffle!

Mumbai, India

‘Sometimes love doesn’t come to us. We have to go out hunting. It’s like pigs looking for truffles. It’s called dating.’ said Patti LuPone. I read  too much in between the line and went on a date with the black truffle. The evening was exciting, sensuous and the love in small doses kept me wanting for more.  Truffle is the most expensive fungus in the world and is pegged at upwards of a couple of thousand dollars for a kilo. Not that expensive means good, it is all about once taste buds. This wore a nutty and an earthy scent and was enough to get me weak in the knees. Surely for the very discerning!

Vichyssoise with Truffle, Le Cirque ,Mumbai

Truffles are rare and I found mine at the Le Cirque Signature at the Leela, Mumbai. Le Cirque celebrates the Black Truffle. Le Cirque for many needs no introduction, for the others it is a series of restaurants which started in New York and are now placed in prestigious venues like the Bellagio Las Vegas, aboard Holland America line and more. The signature version of the Le Cirque serves some signature dishes from across their global restaurants plus it gives a freehand to experiment and cater to the local market. The Le Cirque Signature offers cuisine which is an amalgamation of French and Italian, when Provence meets Piemonte kinds.

White Asparagus and Hollandaise

The menu du jour for me was created by Chef Lorenzo Severini and it was paired with wines by wine specialist Jimmy Writer. I was glad to see a classic Vichyssoise as an amuse bouche, the potato and leek soup named after the town Vichy was served tepid with a truffle shave perched on top. It worked well with a glass of G H Mumm. I continued my Champagne with white asparagus and the prosperous hollandaise, of course with truffles. The hand-made Tagliatelle in a creamy mushroom ragout with truffles was an umami bomb and was enhanced with good acidity and fruit from the Pinot Grigio. My savouries ended with pommes a la Dauphinoise, another layered potato classic but this time with the Le Cirque touch, the crunch of carrots and the potatoes left al-dente just like them work beautifully and thankfully it was not as loaded with cream as the original. I preferred the Pinot Grigio over the Marlborough Pinot Noir with this.

Potato Dauphinoise

Potato Dauphinoise with Saffron Cream

You cannot have enough of Truffles and I didn’t mind the dessert with cappuccino foam, fresh raspberry and the earthy shave of black gold. I loved this one as it was more dessert than entremet, French!  No coffee no tea just the lingering aftertaste of a very engaging date brought an end to my Saturday evening.

Le Cirque only has a handful of them from Marche and they have them on offer till it lasts….Go hunting!