Tag Archives: desi

Indulge your taste buds, luxuriously

One does not really need an excuse to bite into a piece of sinful decadence – chocolates, I mean. I can never say no to chocolates. But yes, it is not every chocolate that I enjoy. The percentage of cocoa solids and sugar, matters to me, as this indicates the quality and taste of the chocolate. After all, the higher the cocoa content, the less sugar it contains and the more ‘chocolatey’ it’s going to be.

The epitome of chocolate for most chocolate lovers is the indulgent chocolate cake. But today, there’s more to chocolates than just that. Having tasted  many a luxury chocolate across the world, when I tried, Fabelle, our very own desi luxury brand of chocolates,  from ITC, I could safely say they had raised the bar. From now on, it is going to be difficult settling for any other.

fabelle-single-origin-cacaos

A visit to the Fabelle, exclusive boutique at ITC Maratha Mumbai, was a revelation of sorts. Fabelle chocolates have been in the making for almost a decade, with extensive research and innumerable trials in the company’s pursuit to craft the finest luxury chocolates in India that  compete with the best in the world. Fabelle has been created by  international chefs together with ITC master chocolatiers. Small wonder then that the end product is a piece de resistance.

 

The range of Fabelle creations  I experienced, were overwhelming. Fabelle Elements – intricately crafted pralines inspired by the elements of nature, Fabelle Ganache – velvety soft cubes of exotic cocoas delicately churned with butter & fresh cream, Fabelle As You Like It – personalized chocolate cup creations offering myriad possibilities of fillings and toppings, Fabelle Single Origin Cacoas – single origin bars, crafted using cocoa from 6 different countries (Madagascar, Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Ecuador, Sao Tome and Ghana), each asserting its own distinct flavour and Fabelle Gianduja – recreation of an Italian delicacy from the Napoleon era fashioned with infusion of hazelnuts into rich, creamy milk chocolate.

 

I was in a trance, mesmerized and my palate awash with decadence. It was difficult to decide which one I had relished the most. But yes, my instant vote went to the apple and cinnamon ganache. Those flavours, so intricately combined, plunged me into a coma, hitherto unknown to me.

Menu card 21st mar 16 single pages

The chefs at the Fabelle boutique enthralled us with their artistic creations, poetry on plate to say the least.

20170121_161118

 

A chocolate made from a single cocoa sourced from a single country, imparts a distinct characteristic and flavour which is unparalleled. Undoubtedly, chocolates made from blended cocoas cannot match this perfection. The cocoa % in these dark chocolate bars starts from 67% right up to 84% for the chocolate bar made from Ghana cocoa.The Fabelle Single Origins Cacaos – Rich Dark Chocolates were just that and stood apart, like none other. Each pack of Fabelle Single Origin Cacaos is a collection of 6 carefully crafted chocolate dark bars, each perfectly sized for a single serving. This is the most coveted box, a chocolate lover can possess.

img_20170121_164302

The chocolate boutiques also provide a range of exquisitely crafted desserts and cocoa beverages, created live by Fabelle Master Chocolatiers. Additionally,  one can pick up  the exquisite gift packs too for friends and family.

I left the Fabelle boutique, in a trance and of course with my dessert quota for the week. With the best around, there was no way I was not going to give into my guilty pleasures.

 

With the launch of the chocolate boutiques at ITC Maratha & ITC Central in Mumbai, Fabelle  is now present nationally across Delhi, Bangalore, Chennai, Mumbai & Kolkata.

So indulge all ye chocolate lovers!

Rating : 4.5/5

 

 

Very English, Very Desi

Be desi, buy desi. We, Indians, may not really be following this diktat, especially when it comes to desserts, nowadays, as unfortunately, Indian sweets like ladoos, gulab jamuns., pedas et al don’t really find favour with the younger generation, who prefer pastries, cheesecakes etc. But Ranveer Brar, along with the Dakalia family of Gangour Sweets and snacks,  Juhu are going to change that.

With English Vinglish, India’s first desi patisserie, where desi or Indian sweets are served with Western influences, Indian sweets will be fashionable once again.

Using molecular gastronomy, Chef Ranveer Brar presents the best of regional desserts in unique western ways. Fresh mango yogurt parfait with crunchy balushai sticks and smoked cardamom honey lie cheek by jowl with Doodha tartlet, with whipped kesar pista dark chocolate ganache and reduced sweetened balsamic vinegar.

Sweet Potato and Gulab Jamun Cheese Cake.jpg

There is something for every palate in this cute little store. And I was no exception. The Sweet Potato & Gulab Jamun Cheese Cake got my instant vote, even though it did sound like a strange combination at first. The textures meshed well perfectly and the flavours too complimented each other. No where, was the sweet potato an aberration. On the contrary it lent itself well to the dessert.

The Amrakhand cheese cake unfortunately did not entice my palate. I found it cloyingly sweet and my mouth was filled with the overtly creamy dessert.

Amrakhand cheese cake

 

Pineapple halwa and hazelnut creme tart, I thought was an interesting combination. The halwa was firmly ensconced in the tart and laced my palate with a myriad textures.

Other creations include the Double chocolate pudding with khada masala strawberry compote and whipped shrikhand; and the Kheer khadam truffles with five-spiced ganache and toasted caramelized kaddu ke beej.

The fare on offer is truly avant garde and unique, something, one typically expects of a chef of Ranveer Brar’s calibre. Add to that Gangour Sweets’ years of expertise. The result is bound to be wow.

Chef Ranveer says,  “The sweet tooth  of every Indian defines and dictates every relevant moment of our lives. This sweetness just changes form and style with time. What stays is the perennial combination of spices and sweet and the passion for mithai. It’s this perennial love that we try and bring you through English Vinglish – A refined stylised balance between traditional Indian sweets and the modern patisserie is what we strive to achieve here.”

And there are not desserts only, that one can dig into at English Vinglish. Breads, soft-centered chocolates and bars, Indo-traditional Baklawas and fillet-stuffed dates, savoury delights, are also on offer.

I loved the Makai – dhaniya and flaxseed bread, which I relished for breakfast next morning. It was moist and flavourful. Sweet Badam Brioche Loaf, Mini Foccacia, Curried Masala Baguette, are some of the other interesting ones.

English Vinglish proved to be a journey of rediscovering Indian desserts the western way. Definitely, one I was not really acquainted with, but happy to have embarked upon.

 

Be Desi, Buy Desi : Desi Deli

I am a great one for lauding the efforts of home chefs. No wonder Lolita Sarkar, who is a home chef turned entrepreneur, intrigues me and we decide to visit her newly opened, lil’ eatery in Bandra Reclamation, called Desi Deli.

Lolita herself, greets us warmly and patiently explains the concept behind Desi Deli. An Advertising film maker turned entrepreneur in the food space. Impressive. She has always enjoyed cooking for large numbers at home parties and strived to create something new in her dishes. With friends and family, relishing her hot dogs, Lolita began taking baby steps in this direction. A few pop ups across the city, gave her the much needed confidence and then, Desi Deli happened. A logical outcome of her passion and talent.

Wild Thing

The eatery is ordinary, just a few tables, but the menu, excites you immediately. Her interpretation of Desi Deli, delicious Indiagenous food, is appealing. The menu clearly reflects the creativity of an Advertising professional. The choice of words is unmistakable

We decide to skip the Classic desi hot dogs- Amar, Akbar and Anthony denoting, vegetarian, chicken and Pork versions. . Globe trotting desi sound more interesting.  Sonorian, Venetian, Mexican, and yes, even The Goan Desi are some of the options. These come in Vegetarian, Chicken and Pork. Grilled pineapples in a tangy lemon sauce, with peppers et al catches our fancy. Lolita agrees to making a chicken version, as we are not keen on Pork.

Lamb burg

The burger, she suggests. The Tangy Chic Burger. Seems exciting enough. Our burger arrives. The presentation is neat, not extraordinary. A bite into it, gives us a taste of a succulent, juicy chicken pieces and oodles of tangy flavours. Delicious. The freshness of the ingredients is evident. We enjoy it thoroughly.The accompanying fries, more like the Bengali aloo bhaja made of finely shredded potatoes is delectable.

The Hot Dog pales in comparison. The Killer red sauce (so reminiscent of a Goan masala) and lemony sauce do not marry well. The flavours and textures are clearly mismatched. Maybe we should have tried something else? We decide to move on.

While the quality and creative twist in both these is unquestionable, the size of the burger and hot dog, given the price, is unappealing. These are not filling enough and at Rs 275- 300, these are far from pocket-friendly.

We skip the wraps or Tamales and settle for a Ghugni Souk with Mutton, a dish which has its origins in Bengal. Can I resist that? of course not. It has a Moroccon twist to it with the cous cous. I like that. I expect ghugni with couscous, but it turns out to be the opposite. The plate is full of cous cous with a a small helping of mutton infused ghugni in the centre. But the taste makes up for my disappointment, if any. Flavoursome and comforting. The cous cous complements the ghugni. A perfect example of creativity an imagination. Filling too. The house deli fresh salad along with it is crunchy and tingles our palate. This dish gets my vote.

The Usquebaugh blend ice tea that I am sipping is too mildly flavoured and watered down. The hint of tea is not enough even to tease my taste buds. Lolita has warned me of the delicate flavours, but being from Bengal myself, I am acquainted with those. However, this one does not fit the bill.

Screwpine Aam, Begum in crepe, Modak redux, Trucker tycoon. Yes, these are the interesting names of the desserts in the menu. Being a chocolate fanatic, Trucker Tycoon is quite obviously our choice. Tawa toast oozing with chocolate and mascarpone cheese, the dessert promises. I am taken by surprise. Two tiny pieces of toast with the filling. That too not generous, given the price. Reminiscent of what mothers make at home for kids with Nutella.

Lolita personally oversees every order and chats with her guests. Her central kitchen in Khar seems well managed and her staff here too is efficient.

Conceptually, Mumbai needs a Desi Deli with robust and unique hot dogs and thus, while Lolita’s efforts and creativity deserve a pat on the back, the pricing and portion sizes definitely need to be re-looked at to make it viable for customers.

Rating: 3/5

Parisian Choux Pastry Goes Desi

Eclairs au chocolat used to be my favourite. Not surprising at all, as most of us love chocolates and when combined with an eclairs, the combination is pure sin. I say used to, as my preference changed just recently. On my recent trip to Delhi and Gurgaon, I sampled some new divine eclair flavours, which have led me to relinquish my fav chocolate eclairs. And I don’t regret the shift.

Le Méridien Hotels & Resorts recently launched their first-ever global éclair program in partnership with award-winning pastry chef and new LM100 member Johnny Iuzzini. who is from the Catskills region in upstate New York. I was lucky to get an opportunity to indulge in a variety of modern twists to the chic Parisian treat, including both classic flavours as well as unique creations inspired by the destination.

Iuzzini 2

It was an absolute culinary treat as I got to sample some unique eclairs at Le Meridien Gurgaon and then Delhi. As part of the programme, each hotel offered their own modern take on three signature éclair flavours – coffee, chocolate and vanilla – as well as one locally inspired flavour. It was a revelation to see each chef’s creativity and penchant for innovation.

I loved the Mishti doi eclairs at Le Meridien Gurgaon. The Bong in me could not resist that one. The chef had obviously perfected it. The Kalakand one at Le Meridien Delhi was delectable and the winner. Sweet and strongly reminscent of the North Indian sweet Kalakand. Absolutely loved it.

mer-150409-Eclaire Lifestyle

“Through local recipes and a modern perspective on this quintessentially French pastry, Le Méridien éclairs enable us to offer unique, memorable guest experiences in our signature Le Méridien Hubs and restaurants around the world, ”  Brian Povinelli, Global Brand Leader, Le Méridien & Westin, told me  I could not agree more with him.

Through this unique culinary collaboration, Chef Iuzzini will create eight signature éclair recipes exclusively for Le Méridien over the next 12 months, inspired by a global tour of select Le Méridien destinations.

“I am excited to work with Le Méridien in particular because of the brand’s commitment to unlocking the destination through locally-inspired cuisine, and I look forward to reinventing the éclair with the help of Le Méridien’s talented chefs around the world, ” gushed Luzzini.

Darjeeling tea, ginger and jaggery caught his fancy while in India and Luzzini created the Darjeeling Express eclairs. It was an amalgamation of unique flavours, subtle, spicy and sweet.

So the choux pastry—traditionally filled with pastry cream, custard, or whipped cream and topped with fondant icing just went desi. I am lovin’ it!