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Am a contradiction of sorts. i love going out and having a good time with friends, and i can also stay home chill out over a book or a movie.. Am very passionate about writing, so give me a topic and watch me float away into wonderland... I Am crazy about music,books,friends and my doggie... :)

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Independence Day 1947 Menu, Taj

On August 14, 1947, the entire country waited for the stroke of the midnight hour.. It was sweet moment as it meant India was now free... And at that very moment, the elite across the city of Mumbai had come together at the Taj Mahal Palace hotel's grand ballroom for the celebratory Indo-French feast. The hotel is renowned for its architecture and grandeur. Infact, what is even more fascinating is its role in the country's freedom struggle. Established away back n 1903 by Jamshetji Tata, the Taj Mahal Palace has an illustrious history that interestingly predates the construction of the Gateway of India. 

Another piece of history I came upon is that Sarojini Naidu stayed for long periods of time at the Taj was not charged given her role in the freedom struggle. And it was right here at the Taj that Viceroy Lord Louis Mountbatten bid India adieu while standing on the front steps making his farewell speech. 

[Photo: Taj Mahal archives]]

As the country gears up to celebrate 70 years of Independence, Taj has dug deep into their archives pulling out all stops to recreate the dishes served on the very day at the Taj Mahal Palace to the elite audience. Yes, they have made minor changes, given that times have changed and food scene along with it. But it is such an honour to enjoy the food that was said to have been whipped up by the finest French chef along with their Goan- Bengali counterparts... The portion sizes are fairly large, considering people back then had quite a healthy appetite.. :-) 

What is served at the meal... 




Veloute d'Amandes - Cream of almond soup 

Kebab platter- Paneer, Broccoli and hará bar a palak kebab




 Vegetable Fricassee with herb pilau
 

 Vacherin de Peches liberation

Friandises
The menu will be served between August 12 - 15 across Taj properties -Taj Mahal Palace, Mumbai; Taj Palace, New Delhi; Taj Coromandel, Chennai; Taj Bengal, Kolkata; Taj West End, Bangalore; Taj Krishna, Hyderabad, Taj Falaknuma Palace, Hyderabad and St. James Court, A Taj hotel, London.
Meal for one will be priced at INR 1947 plus taxes

Disclaimer:
The reviews posted on this blog are based on my personal experience. Also remember that restaurants and eat outs sometimes change with time, so does their food and service. So, kindly consider these factors while visiting the places. Remember, no two palates are the same. Bon Appétit  :) 



Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Robin Hood Army out to feed 1 million people on Independence Day!

Have you heard of the Robin Hood Army??  Well, this is a group of people who came together with the objective of providing food to the needy on a regular basis... yes, it is not a one off event, or a campaign, but it is an endeavour to make sure people get food .. 

The Robin Hood Army is a registered NGO, but it doesn't function like one -- it's a volunteer-driven body that's decentralised. Every city has its local chapters, and people and restaurants in each area feed the homeless in their neighbourhood 

Facebook page - Robin hood Army

This year, on independence day they aim to conduct a food drive to serve 1 million people across India and Pakistan. In Chennai, they are are aiming to serve 100k people across the long weekend leading up to Independence day and would appreciate any sort of help. 

If you are an organization that would like to partner with us, you can contact Bhisham at +91 98849 85343.

If you would like to donate food/beverages, raw material you can contact Bhushan at 9790997354.

If you would like to volunteer, you can contact Avinash at +91 90941 04191.

For any other queries you can contact Archit at 9840532143 and if your the shy types write to us at robinhoodarmychennai@gmail.com.

Alternatively you can also go out on your own and distribute food, and tag your city and #mission1million and post on social media or call any of the above numbers and let them know how many people you served.


Sunday, August 6, 2017

‘Spirit of the Earth’- Annam with Rakesh Ragunathan


How many kinds of rice do you know? I probably know about 5-6.. And so it was a revelation of sorts when I discovered there are over 30+ kinds of rice.. And today at the Spirit of Earth's Annam event I learnt about a handful from this lot and how they are not only healthy, but versatile as well. 
I got a chance to meet Smt. Sheela Balaji [Chairperson and Managing Trustee of AIM for Seva] who shared that ‘Spirit of the Earth’ is an initiative that hopes to promote healthy living. Situated in Mylapore, the initiative is born out of AIM for Seva's office. Here they also sell Organic Heritage Rice, handmade products using natural fibre made by tribal women of Anaikatti, Coimbatore, and handwoven cloth and paper creations by the residents of Krupa Home (a residential facility for the differently-abled). One will also find books on good living written by Swami Dayananda Saraswati here. 
Along the shelves you will find raw and par-boiled versions of seven varieties of rice grown in their 40-acre organic farm spread out in the soils of the Kaveri delta in Manjakkudi, Kumbakonam. These varieties of rice are all organic, heritage, non-hybrid, pesticide-free in nature and rich in nutrients. Some of the rice grown and sold are Iluppai Poo Champa, Kaatu yaanam, Kala jeera, Kichali Champa, Karuppu Kauvuni, Mapillai Champa, and Thooya mall.   All these varieties are not only rich in nutrients but come with a plethora of health benefits as well. There is a history to these and it is quite fascinating to hear them today [trying to relate to them to the period they belonged to] 
Not just that, each rice has a peculiar name and there is a story behind that as well. For example, Kaatuyaanam got its name because it grows over 7 feet tall, tall enough to cover a wild elephant and hence the name. Katu meaning forest and yaanam meaning elephant. The rice keeps diabetics and arthritis under control, boosts immunity and protects one against skin problems.
Mapillai champa got its name because back int eh days in small villages, they would invite the newly wed couple to the bride's home for a feast the day after the wedding. This rice variety is known for visor and virility and so a biryani was made with this and served to the groom. ;o) [talk about being forward]
The Kala Jeera rice is from the Koraput region in Orissa [Kora is set of tribal people who hail from a small village and this was all they knew to cultivate]
Aim For Seva had organised Annam event partnering with Rakesh Raghunathan, who is passionate about food to cook and offer inputs on a few of these rice varieties, giving the audience a glimpse into the world of indigenous rice. Across the two hour session, we saw how Iluppai Poo Champa Bonda, Mappilai Champa Halwa using the fibrous rice and  Kala jeera rice pulao was made. Rakesh went on to explain how each of the rice varieties were packed with healthy nutrients, could help deal with various health conditions and how they can replace the regular rice used at home. 
It was quite an insightful and interesting event, esp for someone like me who loved to cook and experiment with ingredients. He also told us about Lila pulao. Apparently the food that Jains eat during the fasting period was called Lila Khaana and so this pulao got its name from the same.  
Well, I got back home and yapped on & on about all these rice varieties with grandmon who herself hadn't heard of half these varieties. We decided to buy a few varieties and try some recipes at home. Now that project is still pending, but shall happen soon. It is amazing the kind of food history we have in our country and across the borders. Just wish some of the lost trends would be reintroduced ... 
The dishes


 The store.. 



Spirit Of The Earth 
Open: Monday – Friday
Timing: 10 am to 5 pm.
3rd Floor, Srinidhi Apartments,
No 4, Desika Road, Mylapore
Chennai – 600 004
(For more information, contact Sumita: +91 95000 82142)


Facebook page - Spirit Of The Earth to know more about their events and products.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

The Nawabi Food festival, J Hind GRT Grand , Chennai













I havent been to GRT Grand in ages and I did read about how the hotel was hit bad by the Cyclone last Dec, which led them to renovating the entire place. Must say, it looks smashing now.. Complete makeover! It had a swanky plush look, as against the slightly outdated earlier look. I was headed to J.Hind, the restaurant on the ground floor that was hosting a Nawabi food festival with the Nawab of Arcot. 

The month-long celebration of Nawabi cuisine will showcase the best-kept secrets of the royal kitchens for foodies in Chennai. Over the last month, the team of chefs from Grand Chennai by GRT Hotels visited the kitchens at Amir Mahal, spent time with the staff, and learned the nuances of the centuries-old cuisine. The Nawabs of Arcot are well-known for their heritage and culture, but not as much is known about their cuisine and so this festival was a good way to introduce the dishes to the world.. 

Some of the dishes on the 12-course degustation menu include saffron infused subzi galouti tikka, Dungara paneer tikka, patti samosa, pathar ka gosht, anda jhinga tamatar, Arcot gosht biryani, sundried tomato roti, and Nawabi paan shot among others [a good mix of veg & non veg dishes].  

The other cool aspect of this food festival is that the Chef shows off various techniques that most of us have seen only on MasterChef or other such international cookery shows. There was Spherification,  sous vide, use of liquid nitrogen, the smoking gun with apple wood and few other techniques as well that were shown off to the guests at the table. Now, while these were fun to watch and I was quite kicked that our Local chefs were incorporating the techniques into the cooking, I hope they are paying heed to safety aspect as well. The dishes were presented in fine dining style, some on a rugged looked plate, while others were served in a jar or a large container of sorts. 

Starting with the trio of amuse-bouches kicked off the meal, followed by the simple yet flavour packed soup - Narwal dodo ka shorba which was poured onto a bowl that had a small potli filled with spices. And then came the 1st show of the evening, the Focaccia Sheermal, a chat dish was prepared with liquid nitrogen in play. And with each dish, we had some element of surprise in either the technique or the way it was presented. Agreed the theatrics was fun, but the bottom line is the food quality, right?!

I enjoyed most of the veg dishes, the tomato based main gravy was odd  I couldn't put my finger on it. Loved the daal and paneer sabzi, with the sun dried tomato roti. There was a veg version of the biryani which was like a well made pulao... With ref to the desserts, I enjoyed the Badam halwa the most. Dont eat paan, so did not try that. And the jackfruit ice cream served with frozen rose was not really my thing- i dont like the fruit nor do i like flowers.. but there were many around who loved the dessert..  My friend who had come along was impressed with few of the non veg dishes but he felt the Biryani was a let down... 

The 12 course degustation menu will be available for lunch and dinner, and is priced at INR 1450++ (vegetarian) and 1650++ (non-vegetarian). More on this festival can be found here

Address:
GRT Grand 120 Sir Thyagaraya Road, T. Nagar; Chennai, Tamil Nadu 600 017


Call for reservations: 044 28150500

Disclaimer:

The reviews posted on this blog are based on my personal experience. Also remember that restaurants and eat outs sometimes change with time, so does their food and service. So, kindly consider these factors while visiting the places. Remember, no two palates are the same. Bon Appétit  :) 

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Food options across the ocean.. Eight AM in San Francisco - 3

It was around 8 when I landed in San Francisco, picked up my suitcase and was waiting for my broinlaw and niece. Once they arrived, we piled in my bags and he announced we were gonna drive around the city, do some touristy things, grab breakfast and then head home around noon. I was happy, but my niece was not too kicked [ I guess it gets boring after a point when you get dragged around to the same places over and over again...]but she was a sport and came along :) 

We headed straight to Lombard Street [ or crooked street, drove down the zig zag roads- quite exciting, thrilling and scary at the same time], parked the car on the lane across from it and went up the steps along the Lombard Street. Up we went one by one, they are steep but not tiring. And then we came down.. By this time, hunger bells began hitting our tummies. My broinlaw suggested we head to 8am for a bite, since it was rated as #1 on yelp. Since it was literally just a few blocks away, he suggested we walk. 

Walking is no problem, but the streets in San Francisco are either going all the way upwards or downwards... So either ways, you have to make an effort to keep going.. This one was downhill, and so going towards it was gonna be easy but coming back up with full tummies ,now thats another thing... We walked,cracking random jokes, commenting on places along the way and the biggest joke was we reached Eight am at 9am, and left there around 10am.. :D

Its a small cafe of sorts and looked like a popular one as the place was packed. They have few tables indoors and some outdoors as well. We had to wait a few minutes for a table, and got to sit outside. The weather was beautiful- chill and bright. The buildings around were either hotels or libraries, & museums. We spotted quite a few walk by with dogs, one such group took the table next to ours. 

Getting down to business, me & broinlaw ordered Frittatas - I chose Haight Ashbury [mushrooms, onions, tomatoes, bell peppers and swiss cheese], while he chose Castro [chicken apple sausage with Manchego cheese, only egg whites], and my niece went for the Crepe-called 9am [ fresh strawberries, cream cheese and chantily cream] 

Along with our breakfast, we also asked for coffee -black, decaf and strong is how it was. Milk here is optional as is everywhere else in the country and comes in little pockets referred to as "creamer". 

Our Frittatas were served with a bowl of fruits and a side of baked sweet potato+potato as well. It makes it quite the filling meal. We enjoyed the view, the food and left there in about an hour back towards the car... Huff puff up the hill, me lugging my backpack [that had laptop, camera and few other valuables*]










* I was lugging my backpack cos the city is renowned for thefts and my browinlaw suggested I remove anything valuable from the car and carry it with me!! There are enough sign boards that scare you about the same... 

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Royal Marwar Festival, The Dining Room, Park Hyatt, Chennai




Milk flavoured with saffron& sugar

Khandvi, Dhokla, Samosa and Hara Kabab served with a medley of chutneys- Tomato and mango. There were also Khakras to nibble on


 Dal Bhati churma where the Bhati had masala stuffing inside.. 

Mango chutney and Lashun ki chutney [Garlic chutney]- sinful  


 The Mains- Paneer Sabzi, Palak Mattar, Gatte ki sabzi, Ker sangria, Dum aloo and Panchmel Sabzi [some of  these keep changing on a regular basis]

The different breads- Besan ka chilla, Moong daal Chilla, Bedmi roti and Palak puri. 

The desserts- Moong Daal Halwa and Kheer made with Rice - Simple and yumm

If there is one cuisine I love, and dont mind eating repeatedly it has to be Rajasthani food. From the very first time I had a Daal Bhati churma I was in love. And so am excited to tell you that The Dining Room, restaurant at Park Hyatt Chennai has converted itself into a Royal Palace from the princely state of Rajasthan for the Marwari food festival. 

Royal Marwar, the land of Maharajas in the princely state of Rajasthan is not only famous for its rich culture. But what makes the state distinctive and popular is its delectable cuisine. Rajasthani's love food and it is evident in the preparations. Dal Bati Churma and Gatte Ki Subzi are the most famous dishes from the state.  

Even though they did have a few dishes from neighbouring states, we shall forgive them. Why? The fare from Rajasthan was simply divine and had me walking on the rugged roads of Jaipur biting into a Ghevar while looking for a place to sit to watch the Teej Festival. Every lane you walk into will have a stall selling hot samosas, kachori, or jalebis. It is a city that loves its food and shows it off proudly...  So, what are you waiting for? Make that reservation already..... 

The Royal Marwar Food Festival will run till 28th June, 2017
Dinner only  - 7 pm to 11 pm
Cost- INR 1600 per person (Excl of taxes). 
For more information or to make a reservation at The Dining Room, please call 044 4991 9965 
or 044 7177 1234.

Disclaimer:
The reviews posted on this blog are based on my personal experience. Also remember that restaurants and eat outs sometimes change with time, so does their food and service. So, kindly consider these factors while visiting the places. Remember, no two palates are the same. Bon Appétit  :) 

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Namaskara Tulu Nadu festival, Madras Pavilion, ITC Grand Chola, Chennai


This Festival is on till June 25. Dinner only @ Rs 2,200+ taxes per person. For details and reservations, dial 044 22200000














Have lost track of the number of times I have been to ITC Grand Chola, the one thing I do remember is that every visit is different... This time I was there to check out the "Namaskara Tulu Nadu festival" at Madras Pavilion... 

Tulu Nadu or Tulunad refers to the small community of  Tulu speaking folks who occupy the region in the Southern part of Karnataka and northern part of Kerala... Mangalore, Udupi and Kasaragod are its important cities. At Madras Pavilion, chef Sandeep tells us this is another feather from the Kitchens of India cap that features dishes made as they would be in the Tulu households, with influences from Coorg, Kerala and Mangalore dominating the flavours. . The one thing that stood out from what he shared was that the people believe in showcasing the main ingredient rather than drowning it in a world of spices, be it vegetarian or non vegetarian dishes. 

The evening began with the refreshing buttermilk- Alai, that was laced with curry leaves, asafoetida and ginger accompanied by the Bana Bairada Juice which was made with tender coconut water, flesh of the coconut blended with ripe bananas.  

As for the soup, we were served hot Bele Saaru, a sort of Daal shorba crossed with our rasam, packed with flavours it was delicious. The highlight of the evening was that we had the honour of eating on Banana leaves, as traditional as it can get.

While there were a few non veg starters, I got to try the mini adai of sorts- Sajji ke taarai da roti [coconut & semolina pancakes] that had a few familiar flavours but different from what I have had at home. Following this came the main courses- Two more kinds of dosa- one was the Neer dosa while other was a thick dosa of sorts, and we also had red rice. 

For the sides, we got Kadla belay kootu (Channa dal tempered with mustard, curry leaves and whole chilli), rich tart spicy Pineapple Gujju (Pineapple cooked over a gentle flame with select Karavali spices) and my favourite Spinach garlic daal that was just perfect, with subtle undertones of garlic. I also got to try some Veg Ghee pulao, all it had was sautéed onions on top and nothing but rich ghee flavour singing through every spoonful. There were quite a few non veg sides- fish, pork, prawns and chicken, and of course the Mamsam Biryani as well. From the reaction of my friends, these were a big hit with them~ 

To finish off the meal, we got two desserts, Bele payasam(Lentils and milk cooked together and flavoured with cardamom) and the divine Ragi manni (Ragi  and jaggery  fudge)- couldn't have enough of the Ragi dessert, I would definitely recommend this for anyone with a sweet tooth.

While the flavours are familiar, there was something comforting about them all and I loved the dishes. 

For the non veg perspective, check out Chennaifoodie blog 

Disclaimer:
The reviews posted on this blog are based on my personal experience. Also remember that restaurants and eat outs sometimes change with time, so does their food and service. So, kindly consider these factors while visiting the places. Remember, no two palates are the same. Bon Appétit  :) 

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Food options across the ocean... Emily's- 2

We were driving down towards Santa Cruz beach on the cool Sunday afternoon. There was crazy traffic, so we had music playing with the kids taking turns to choose from their favourite songs...

And voila, what did we spot along the way- we spotted the name - Emily's which belonged to Emily's bakery, known as "Emily's Good things to eat".

My nephew and cousin went "hey, look, its Emily".. his best friend's name is Emily. 

We decided to stop by on our way back to click picture of the place so he could show it to her :D 

............... Fast forward to a few hours and we were back on the road headed home. This time it involved two stops, one was at Emily's [ofcourse] and another at an Ice cream store. 

The stop at Emily's was meant only to take a quick picture of the name board. But then it turned into a longer stop, with almost all of us hopping out of the car to explore the bakery. The name board had a cute doggy with a butterfly on its nose. But then you enter the main bakery and it is filled with zebras... A zebra toy, a display of zebra based paraphernalia, zebra sitting atop the fridge, zebra rocking toy, zebra prints here and there and some more... My nephew and I tried to see how many Zebra's we could spot while my broinlaw and niece went about trying to pick up some eats from their wide range of dishes.












They had everything from Muffins, breads, croissants, sandwiches, drinks, cakes and few other interesting looking stuff. We could also smell the freshly baked bread coming out of the own beyond the counter.

We grabbed a few eats- brownie, chocolate muffin and I was arm twisted into picking one for myself- apple pie muffin and boy oh boy was it sinfully yumm.... The muffins were quite big in size, and so we took our time devouring them all as we drove back home.... 

With every passing day I have come to realise food is more than just food. It is about the experience, it is the moment, the little stories that come with it and of course the time & place as well.  Today, as I write this post, I remember how the kids were giggling away, we were all generally high and upbeat through the trip. Randomly reading out sign boards, trying to spot buildings, identify songs that were being played and enjoying the drive.. I for one, loved the company and the trip.. more than words can describe!! 


Address:
Emily's Good Things to Eat
1129 Mission St. Santa Cruz, CA 95060
(831) 429-YUMM
(800) 461-2976



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