Thursday, 8 October 2015

October's Here - Lot's of Fun Things to Do

[Image courtesy- The Grub Fest]

The nip in the early morning air is unmistakable, and the cooling down of temperatures signals the start of the festive season here in Delhi. If you are a lover of food, as well as art and design, then October is the best time of the year to be in Delhi/Gurgaon. There is something happening almost every weekend, and the added bonus is, with the pleasant weather, it’s actually fun being outdoors!

So here is a list of some of the events happening in and around Delhi this Month.

Gurgaon Farmers' Market by Karen Anand  (10th & 11th October)

Kicking things off is the Gurgaon Farmers' Market  at DLF Cyber Hub, which will be on over the weekend. You can expect to see some exotic as well as local produce ranging from fruit and vegetables to meats, cheeses, confectionery and a whole lot more! Check out their FB page Here.

A Festival of Art, Design & Music  (17th & 18th October)
Expect to see everything from home wares to saris as well as art and photography, and a vintage flea market to boot! And all in a beautiful old Haveli. The Festival of Art, Design & Music at Serendipity promises to be a great way to spend the day, with some good food and bring in the sun set with some great live performances. More on this festival Here

Ode to Earth Market Event  (23rd – 25th October)
The annual Ode To Earth Market at The Epicentre, Gurgaon, will showcase handcrafted products of more than 40 artisans from across the country. So a must visit if you like ethnic Indian wares. More on this event Here

Grub Fest 2.0 (23rd – 25th October)
It's time to #‎GetGrubbed again! This year the Grub Fest will be held on the Ambience Lawns, Gurgaon. Grub Fest 2.0 promises to be bigger and better this year. I went last year and had a blast. More on The Grub Fest Here.

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Chor Bizarre Pop Up at Drift Epicenter till 30th September

The Chor Bizarre is a restaurant located in the Broadway Hotel in Old Delhi. While it's menu covers food from all over India, it specializes in Kashmiri food. The highlight of Kashmiri food is the Wazwaan, a multicourse meal (36 courses to be exact) consisting of a lot of meat preparations. The food is served on a large, ornamental metal platter called ‘Tarami’ and is meant to be shared communally. This gem of a restaurant has been in the capital for 25 years and is a bit of an icon. I can't believe I've never visited! Just shows you what a novice I am when it comes to food :)

To commemorate their 25th year, Chor Bizarre has organized a Pop up in Drift, in Epicenter, Gurgaon, (running for a limited time, until 30th September) and I was lucky enough to be invited to sample some of the delicious fare on offer. The Pop up was curated by Mr Rajiv Kumar Malhotra , executive Chef at Old World Hospitality and an expert in understanding the minor nuances that differentiate  the Kashmiri Pandit and Kashimiri Muslim styles of cooking.  The food celebrates the culinary traditions of both the Pandit and Muslim communities of Kashmir.

I am not at all knowledgeable about Kashmiri food, so for me the chance to get even a small understanding of this style of food was an incredible experience and one that I will cherish for quite a while.

Nadru Churma or crispy fried lotus stem

For starters we were served Nadru Churma or crispy fried lotus stem with a mooli (raddish), yogurt and walnut chutney called Munj Chatin. I normally despise mooli, but I loved this dip where the mooli was so subtle and the walnuts added a nice crunch and richness. We also had some Kashmiri mutton sheekh kebab which just melted in the mouth, and was one of the highlights of the meal.

Kashmiri Mutton Sheekh Kebabs and Nimbu Murg Tikka flavoured with lemon grass

After a few more starters, we were presented with a traditional Kashmiri Thali or Tarami. Courses included haaq (a green leafy vegetable from the mustard/cabbage family), Gushtaba (hand pounded meat balls), Roganjosh, Rajma, Tabakmaaz (style grilled lamb ribs that are so tender they fall of the bone), Nadru Yakhni (lotus stem cooked in a thin yogurt gravy with mild spices like cardamom, ginger and clove and dried mint), Dum aloo, Khatte Baingan and Mutton Yakhni. The platter consists of a few of the courses all served on a bed of fragrant, steaming rice and covered with an ornate dome shaped metal lid. Other courses are served as the meal progresses which ensure that one gets to savour the meal and each course slowly.While I enjoyed the flavors of the delicious food in front of me, I remembered a meal I had years ago in a home of a Kashmiri friend of mine. One of the best things about good food is that just a tiny mouthful can take you back in time to a moment in the past and it seems like you are experiencing that moment all over again.

The Tarami

The meal is quite filling so you must go on an empty stomach, and remember to keep some space for some traditional Kashmiri dessert and Kahwa tea, a traditional Kashmiri tea flavoured with saffron and almonds.

Shoofta, Phirni & Kulfi 

Kahwa tea

The Chor Bizarre Pop up is at Drift, Epicenter until the end of September and you must visit to experience some of their signature dishes and to get a taste of Kashmir. Enjoy the delicious, simple food, that is subtly spiced and flavored and cooked with lots of love and attention. 

[All images by Shalini Pereira. Please do not use without prior written permission]

Thursday, 27 August 2015

The Fatty Bao is Finally in Delhi!

The Fatty Bao has finally come to Delhi! Yay! Ever since it opened in Bangalore, I would have to hear from my Bangalore friends how awesome it is and how ‘I didn’t know what I was missing’. Well, no more! The brainchild of Chef Manu Chandra and restaurateur AD Singh, this much loved Bangalore restaurant, hailing from the same F&B family as Monkey Bar, is now here in Delhi.

Housed in the swanky Sangam Courtyard in R.K. Puram, this restaurant with a Panda for its mascot, serves up delicious Pan-Asian delicacies that leave you wanting more. Or so I’d heard. Well, when you consistently keep hearing such glowing reviews of a restaurant, you just have to visit when said restaurant finally comes to your city. And so a plan was made and some fellow foodies and I decided to head there for lunch with stomachs empty and expectations sky high :)

On arrival, we were quickly seated and ordered some Bira beer and a plate of California rolls from the Sushi section, as well as some Baos (you can't go to The Fatty Bao and not order the Baos).While we waited for the food to arrive, we took in the ambience. I have to say I love the way this restaurant is done up. Colorful walls dotted with quirky graphics, custom made lamps and multicolored chairs gave the place a playful, yet chic vibe.

California Roll with crab meat

 First to arrive was the Sushi. The California roll (with crab meat) was good, but not exceptional. I was a little worried. Was I going to be disappointed? You usually tend to be when you visit a restaurant with such high expectations. The after a short wait, the Baos arrived. We had ordered the Char Siu and the Tenderloin Bulgogi. I bit into the Char Siu and it was love at first bite, a foodgasm for all three of us. The pork belly in the Bao was the best pork belly I have ever had! It was juicy, tender & melt-in-the-mouth and worked so well with the green apple kimchi. WOW! With a glass of chilled beer and a plate of Char Siu and I’m pretty sure the problems of the world could be solved :) Admittedly the Char Siu is a hard act to follow, and sadly we made the mistake of trying the tenderloin Bao after it. All three of us were a little disappointed. The let down for me were the strips of tenderloin, which I felt weren't tender enough.

The Char Siu

The Tenderloin Bulgogi

On the advice of the manger, we ordered the Pan seared scallops with Fujiko Butter and The Fatty Bao PB&J from the Small Plates section of the menu. Once again we were very impressed with the quality of the pork in the PB&J which was delicious, and the scallops which were plump and succulent, literally melted in the mouth.

The Fatty Bao PB&J

Pan seared Scallops with Fujiko Butter

With just enough space left for dessert, we settled for the Zen Forest, which is a Yuzu Parfait (Yuzu is a citrus fruit that has a lemony flavour), with a black sesame seed sponge, beetroot ice cream and sesame nougatine. When the dessert was placed in front of us, we were floored by how beautiful it was- almost like a little forest on the plate. And it tasted as good as it looked, with the exception of the black sesame sponge which I found to be very dry. The lemony parfait was refreshing without being too tart. And I loved the earthy taste of the beetroot ice cream.

The Zen Forest

Overall, The Fatty Bao met all my expectations and exceeded them too with a few dishes. It is a little pricey, but understandable considering the quality of the ingredients used. Aside from the taste, every item was beautifully presented and I was very impressed with their attention to detail. I definitely plan to visit again. I plan to try some of their signature cocktails as well as the dim sums among other things.

The Fatty Bao is definitely worth a visit or two or three :) It’s not just the food that’s great, but the entire dining experience, from the d├ęcor, the service and the presentation of the food. I would give it a 4/5. The highlights for me were the Char Siu Bao, the Pan Seared Scallops and the Zen Forest dessert. Keep up the great work guys!

*Disclaimer: All Things Nice reviewed this meal anonymously and paid for the meal

[All images clicked by Shalini Pereira. Please do not use without prior written permission]

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Carl's Jr Burger Chain- Now in Delhi

Carl’s Jr, one of America’s most famous burger chains, launched a few weeks back in Delhi. Located in the ever happening Select City Skywalk, this Californian brand has opened shop with a menu that has been modified for the Indian palate, one that offers a selection of vegetarian and non-vegetarian burgers.  

Carl's Jr specialises in chargrilled burgers (their patties are grilled, not fried) and is positioning itself as an upscale QSR that offers quality burgers and various other items like hand breaded chicken tenders. And freshly battered onion rings as well as beer on tap. The restaurant has an ambience with a somewhat industrial, edgy look compared to its other counterparts and I’m sure the addition of beer on the menu will make this a popular and more pocket friendly hangout joint for the office crowd as well as the below 30s’. Finally a burger chain that gets that burgers and beer are a winning combination!

I was a little disappointed to hear that chicken is the only option on the menu for non-vegetarians. Sana Chopra, the executive Director and Marketing Executive Sameer Chopra explained that the brand wanted to start small and work out any kinks in the existing menu, before adding more options. While I understand the logic of this, I do think they have played it overly safe. When one hears the word burger chain, one immediately thinks of red meat! So I think if they also had a lamb option, meat lovers would be much happier.

For the burgers, some of the options are the Mile High Burger with hand breaded onion rings & Santa Fe Sauce, the Star Burger with Moroccan spiced chicken with cheese, Char-grilled Chicken fillet with Mango Jalapeno Pepper and many more. For the vegetarians there is the Char-grilled Tandoori Paneer Burger, Paneer Tikka Masala with Mint mayo, Fenugreek Burger, and more! They also have some interesting shakes like the Tiramisu and Pina colada which were quite nice, as well as the regular strawberry and chocolate shakes.

From the burgers I tried, I loved the Mile High Burger and the Chargrilled Chicken fillet with Mango Jalapeno Pepper. I also loved the breaded chicken tenders and the onion rings. The Fenugreek Burger was a veg option that I really liked, but it’s not for everyone since it has a very strong Fenugreek flavor. One thing I must commend the team for, are their Wasabi-Fries, which are really a great idea and really delicious. The fries come with a wasabi flavored powder on the side so one can add as much or as little wasabi flavor as one likes.

Compared to other QSRs, I was impressed with the burgers overall, but I really look forward to seeing a more varied menu in terms of different kinds of meat or seafood burger options. 

[All images clicked by Shalini Pereira. Please do not use without prior written permission]

Friday, 14 August 2015

Xiao Chi, Westin Sohna - New Menu Launch

Sohna Westin sits on a beautiful naturally landscaped property and felt like a welcome getaway from the chaos, grime and stress that has become Gurgaon. The best part is that it's just under an hours drive out of the city. In the midst of the natural beauty and curious emus (that's right, emus!) that follow you around, lies Xiao Chi, offering authentic chinese fare. Xiao Chi launched their new menu and I was very happy to be invited to have a taste, along with a few other food bloggers.

As soon as I entered the property, it was love at first site. I just fell in love with the natural beauty, so different to the pristine, almost clinically landscaped resorts you so often come across. I loved the way the different buildings that dotted the property were planned keeping in mind the magnificent trees that have been standing there for at least a hundred years!

Xiao Chi is located in a building that has a very tropical feel to it. The large glass openings give guests a spectacular view out onto the property, and the impressive open kitchen concept lets you look at the chefs while they cook up delicious treats. 

The first thing we tried was a selection of dim sums served steaming hot in the basket- Shoaling Pork Dumpling, Prawn Har Gau, Seafood Dolphin Style Shao Ma, Chicken Shao Mai, Chengdu Jiao Zi and Spinach Jiao Zi. I love my dim sums and these were really good and most were so beautifully presented that it seemed almost shame we had to eat them... almost :) The dim sum were thin, almost transparent casings with juicy fillings that had so much flavour. 

Seafood Dolphin Style Shao Ma & Chicken shao mai

Next came Batter fried prawns, which were golden and crispy on the outside and the prawn still juicy - everything a batter fried prawn should be. These were served with three different accompaniments- a spicy mayo, a chilly sauce and some pickled cucumber. YUM!

Crispy Batter fried prawns

After these small bites, we moved onto mains! There wasn't much room left in the tummy, but everything looked so good I tasted small bites of everything. Some of the mains we tried were Spicy Prawns with Minced Chicken, Steamed Sea Bass, Steamed Eggplant, Guangdon Roast Chicken & Five Spiced Duck. My favorites were the Sea Bass, the Raost Chicken and the Steamed Eggplant, which was so good even someone who didn't like eggplants tasted it and was converted! Think I'll get the hubs, who despises eggplant, to try this when I take him :)

Steamed Sea Bass, Spicy Prawns with Minced Chicken, 
Chicken with Chilli and Black Bean 

Steamed Eggplant & Guangdon Roast Chicken

And then came dessert, which was baked egg coconut custard. OMG! I love egg custard, or caramel custard, but I've never tried the version with coconut milk. The custard was served with lightly roasted almond flakes that just made it even better. I've brought all the ingredients needed to make it and am waiting for a chance to make some. I'm sure it won't taste as amazing as Chef Kedar's, but I can't go to Sohna Westin every time I crave this dessert :)

Egg Coconut Custard with Almond flakes

I found it quite intriguing that a restaurant that serves authentic Chinese fare has an Indian chef, and not someone from China, but Chef Kedar Bisht seems more than ready to meet this challenge and really impressed us all with the amazing fare he cooked up! The menu is also very well balanced and has something for the carnivores, something for seafood lovers and some very nice choices for vegetarians too. 

The highlights for me were - Pretty much all the dim sum options, Steamed Sea Bass, Steamed Eggplant, Guangdon Roast Chicken, Baked egg coconut custard

Thursday, 6 August 2015

Just Checking In...

Just a small post today. The weather is lovely, and I just felt like saying a quick hello. Things have been quite crazy lately and as usual the blog suffers :(  

A lot of design work has suddenly come up. Finally some work coming in! It's been tough setting up my design firm in Gurgaon and honestly I was feeling like calling it quits because work was trickling in so slowly. But I think Adhi is my lucky charm, and all of a sudden that sad little almost non-existent trickle seems to be becoming a steady flow. Some big stuff, some small stuff, but hey you gotta start somewhere right? 

Working like a crazy person has been quite exhausting, but fun too. I've missed the exhilarating high of working on crazy deadlines and drafting cadd drawings till the palm of my hand resembles a claw :)

So just a warning, I have a ton of posts pending and you will be seeing back to back posts over the next few days. Bear with me. 

Till then it's bye from me. Have a great weekend!

And in case anyone is interested you can check out my firm's website here and its Facebook page here. Please follow and like and spread the love!

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

My SelectED Experience

Do you know when you see posts about certain events on blogs, and you think to yourself, "Hmm, I wish I could experience a bit of that." well that happened to me when I came across a few  blog posts about the SelectED experience. Selected Dining & Events, or SelectED is actually a catering company that provides a bespoke luxury dining experience, with a very big emphasis on the words ‘luxury’ &  ‘experience’. Whether small intimate gatherings or the ‘big fat Indian wedding’ SelectED is no ordinary catering service. It provides its client with a very special, one of a kind, ‘concept’ dining experience with artfully curated menus.

I was happy to get a taste and feel of this experience, when I was invited for a special sit down lunch with SelectED CEO, Ishaan Sarkar and a few other bloggers. Ishaan Sarkar is himself a chef and a passionate foodie and has tremendous experience in the industry. While he briefed us about SelectED, it surprised me to hear that SelectED takes on only one event per day, such is the attention to detail that they endeavor to deliver to their clients. Some of his stories describing to us the extent to which the SelectED team has often gone to create an unforgettable experience were quite impressive.

Our meal, which was carefully created by Chef Gaurav Mathur, who is the director of cuisine and has more than a decade of experience with ITC. The meal was a typical representation of what SelectED specializes in- fusion cuisine, with European and oriental influences, all beautifully and innovatively presented, with a little theatre thrown in.

On the menu for our lunch was Smoked Dill Atlantic Salmon with Garlic Sea Salt and Tandoori Murgh Wasabi Malai, both served in a mason jar filled with smoke and sealed off with a poppadom lid. Next up came Lobster Tortellini with a real hit of chilli. The presentation of the starters was beautiful and theatrical and tasted lovely.

Between courses we were served with a Jamun Gelato. It was a welcome treat that refreshed the senses and made me look forward to more :) Also, can I just say that I’ve been dreaming about this Gelato ever since that afternoon! If only it could be packaged and retailed- my freezer would be overflowing with cartons and cartons of it!

The main was a traditional Indian Thali which consisted of crispy fried bhindi (okra), aloo curry, prawn coconut cream curry, Sarson Maach (fish marinated in a mustard sauce and steamed in a banana leaf) and a Koh-e-Awadh, not to mention Lamb Biryani and dal Makhani. It was quite a spread, one that was both delicious and varied and had something for every kind of palate.

For dessert we had a tasting platter of three desserts. One was a miniature Jalebi with a delicate orange cream, which was my favourite of the three. The second was a coffee creme brulee which was rich and creamy and quite delicious. The last was a chocolate sponge with a mousse and a strawberry glaze, topped off with a macaroon. This was the most spectacular of the three in terms of looks, but my least favourite in terms of taste. For me the glaze had an artificial, almost synthetic taste which I didn’t like. This was the only thing I wasn't a big fan of.

While I thoroughly enjoyed the creations of Chef Gaurav Mathur, what I enjoyed more was the learning from Ishaan Sarkar about the effort, innovation and quick thinking that is needed to succeed in this business. I hope I get a chance someday to attend an event handled by the team at SelectED. I’m sure it would be an unforgettable experience.

[All images clicked by Shalini Pereira. Please do not use without prior written permission]

Monday, 20 July 2015

Hello There!

Hello peeps! Thought I'd say a quick hello at the start of the week. We are having some lovely weather here in Gurgaon, well lovely only if you are indoors, not so lovely if you're commuting and having to face the chaos of the roads here in NCR :)

So I got a nice little surprise a few days ago, when Seema shared a picture of a lovely reading nook she has created in her home. She calls it her little sunshine corner and it's the place she enjoys her morning cup of tea or a nice long read. 

Isn't it just so warm and cosy looking? 

Seema, thanks for writing in and for sharing this beautiful space with us! 

Have a great week ahead guys!

Monday, 13 July 2015

The Colors of the Monsoon

I have been very irregular with my posts lately. I have a good reason, but I need to get back to blogging regularly. I miss it so! Today I've managed to squeeze out some time- Adhi is napping, all is quiet and I can hear myself think! Today I post on decor. Much, much over due, I know! What can I say. Time is now a precious commodity that is in very short supply for me now that my dd is on the scene and blogging has become near impossible. Just the other day I was trying to get some drawings done for a deadline I had the next day. The dd just had to climb up on my lap and 'supervise' what I was doing. I turned my head for like two seconds and she had somehow managed to delete an entire cadd drawing!

Having a toddler who seems quite determined to 'understand the workings of a camera', figure out death defying ways to climb onto the couch when no one is looking and, one who waits for a chance for the fridge door to open so she can pull stuff out, means our house looks very different to what it did a few months ago. And working on nice little vignettes of the apartment is practically impossible! I have a term for it- Life before Adhi :) Don't get me wrong, I love my dd, but an angel she is NOT! But I do miss being able to create cute little corners of prettiness and then spend a few hours taking pictures. Most of all, I miss sharing my ideas with you guys!

But, as luck would have it, I was looking through old pictures and realised I have a stash of images which I had shot for a magazine a few months ago. It was supposed to be for a Spring issue, got delayed to a Monsoon issue, and then never really happened for some reason or the other. So now I can just share these images with you. I hope you like! I do think this set is so in keeping with the weather we've been having the last few days. I hope they remind you of the rain and the cool breeze that comes with it, and the smell of wet earth that is heavenly and sweet. Enjoy!

More soon, I hope :)

[All images by Shalini Pereira. Please do not use without prior written permission] 

Sunday, 12 July 2015

An Italian Master Class by Chef Giuseppe Lioce at Westin Gurgaon

Yesterday, I was lucky enough to be invited to attend a culinary masterclass by Chef Giuseppe Lioce who is the Italian Chef at The Westin Pune Koregaon Park. Even the rain gods, who have suddenly decided to wake from their slumber, showering huge amounts of rain down, turning gurgaon roads into rivers and lakes, couldn't keep me away :) 

The masterclass was all about teaching us how to prepare simple and authentic Southern Italian food. These culinary masterclasses, held regularly by Westin, are such a great way to learn about your favorite cuisine as well as interact with chefs who are experts in their fields. Chef Giuseppe, who is from Bari in the South of Italy, explained to us the difference between Northern and Southern Italian cooking. While the food from the North of Italy is richer, using cream and butter, Southern Italian cuisine has a lot of mediterranean influences. He underscored his point by telling us how his own mother would throw a royal fit if he ever added butter to his preparations! While showing us how to prepare some simple dishes like Broccoli Calabresi (Broccoli fritters) to Cavatelli Pugliesi (semolina eggless pasta with a delicious tomato mushroom sauce), he regaled us with funny anecdotes about traditional Italian food and Italians passion for their food. 

After watching chef Giuseppe prepare these dishes, we sat down together and got a chance to savour the food! Everything we learned was part of a special promotional menu starting from 8th July -18th July. So if you enjoy a taste of authentic Italian food, stop by at The Westin Gurgaon before 18th July.

Here are some images of what we learned and then enjoyed! They are all on the promotional menu, along with a host of other delicious options. 

The process of making this semolina pasta reminds me of the 
traditional Goan kul kul making process

These Broccoli Calabresi or Broccoli fritters are traditionally served as 
an insalata and usually enjoyed with a cold glass of beer :) I guess some things 
never change... beer and fried things will always be a winning combination

The Cavatelli Pugliesi was so simple and so delicious. A bowl of pasta 
that warms the soul

This is the Branzino Livornese- oven baked sea bass served with a 
polenta cake, sauteed spinach and a delicious olive, tomato and caper sauce

This is one of Chef Giuseppe's signature desserts- The Millefoglie is a 
warm puff pastry layered with Italian custard, blueberry and vanilla ice cream

[All images are by Shalini Pereira. Please do not use without prior written permission]

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