Tag Archives: fusion

Soups for my soul

When the temperatures drop all of us crave for a soup. I know in Mumbai that almost never happens. I mean, it never gets cold, yet, I look forward to my hot soups. It could be a creamy thick soup or simply clear with veggies and meat or even a tangy pepper rasam made with lentils. Pan Asian favourites or even our very own desi shorbas and yes, healthy versions too. I relish them all.

Taiwanese Aromatic Miso Milk Bowl Shizusans signature soup and a one bowl meal

A great fan of red pumpkin, I love to prepare a classic roasted pumpkin soup and do a good job too. A piquant tamatar ka shorba, can be a great option.  Recently I tasted a tangy Sindhi tamatar ki kadhi as a a soup at JLWA in Bandra. It rendered me speechless.

Soups offer endless versatility in terms of textures, ingredients and flavour. That’s what attracts me the most to soups. The cheddar and Beer soup at Theory in Mumbai by Chef Clyde remains an all time favourite.

Taste apart, warmth and immunity are key in this season to boost one’s immunity and thus, the right use of ingredients plays an important role. A careful selection of ingredients can up the health quotient of these comforting soups. Dark green leafy vegetables and seasonal vegetables, are a must addition and should be included wherever possible. Ginger and peppercorns as spices, with medicinal properties, too can do wonders.

Root vegetables, mushrooms and barley with an addition of meat stock makes for a robust and filling soup infused with health benefits.

A roasted sweet potato soup can be nutritious and tasty, as sweet potatoes are packed with nutrients. Roasting the sweet potatoes first intensifies their flavour.

Soups in winter help one soothe and relax in an inexplicable way when one is down with cold, cough and fever. The spice quotient should be perfect to give heat, as well as soothe to the throat. It’s about using the right spices like cinnamon sticks, cinnamon (dalchini) powder, nutmeg (jaiphal) powder, ginger, fresh turmeric, white pepper powder and pepper.

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Who can resist a well-made Pan Asian soup with a myriad flavours? One can have it clear, or with noodles, meats and vegetables. Clear chicken soup with light, fluffy dumplings and a deeply savoury, salubrious broth could be the answer, if one is seeking a light but comforting Oriental soup. A Thai prawn broth with fish stock as the base and fragrant Thai spices is a good option as well, as is the Tom Kha with coconut milk to temper the spice element.

Shizusan has got to be one of my favourite places for versatile and flavourful soups. Chef Paul Kinny serves unique ones.

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Whoever said soups that satisfy you must be western classics or global concoctions only? Pepper Rasam owing to its spice content, is soothing and therefore is a perfect soup for winter. Various mildly-flavoured shorbas from traditional Indian cuisine,  made with vegetables, lentils and beans, are apt for winter. Paya shorba, a meat broth, generally lamb, where the meat is slow-cooked is a good choice as it is extremely healthy and keeps one warm.

 

Seasonal vegetables, meaty mushrooms, tender chicken or lentils. Add what you like to your fragrant soups this season, but make sure it is  hearty and provides you with the requisite nutrients. Bon appetit.

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Nirvana with Teavana

Coffee maybe the beverage you generally step into Starbucks, but things will change hereon. The introduction of Starbucks Teavana beverages, spells good news for tea lovers like me. A good well-made cuppa of this brew is something I have always relished and appreciated. Reluctant to experiment with my cuppa, I stepped into Starbucks with trepidation.

But these range of teas from Starbucks are offerings which are modern and yet, appeal to every tea lover’s palate. Me included. It truly is an unimaginable experience, that is why perhaps they call it ‘reimagined’.

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A range of 18 distinct tea offerings including an Indian signature tea, iced teas, brewed hot teas and tea lattes with bold, layered flavours, is what once can look forward to. Inspired by the rich Indian tea legacy, Starbucks Teavana collaborated with Tata Global Beverages Ltd. to create this signature innovation.

While I enjoyed all the offerings, it was the invigorating blend of full leaf Assam black tea with rich spice infusion of whole cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, pepper, star anise and ginger, rightly called the India Spice Majesty Blend, that bowled me over completely. It perked me up instantly and filled me with warmth on this somewhat wintry evening.

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In addition to the signature innovation, customers can experience global Starbucks Teavana favorites including Youthberry white tea, Hibiscus Herbal Infusion, as well as the limited time handcrafted offerings from Starbucks – Matcha & Espresso Fusion, Black Tea with Ruby Grapefruit and Honey and Iced Shaken Hibiscus with Pomegranate Pearls.

These floral and fruity infusions are light and delightful, rejuvenating you completely and can even appeal to those who are not otherwise too fond of tea.

Around the World With Ten Pizzas

Endowed with an adventurous palate, I embarked upon a gastronomic journey last night at California Pizza Kitchen at Infiniti Mall Malad, Mumbai. After all it was an exciting Pizza Trail with pizzas from across the world!

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Sipping our Malta & Pom and Melon Duo, in virgin avatars, we were sufficiently rejuvenated and got a respite from the humidity outside. The menu looked interesting. A variety of Pizzas from all over the globe, highlighting the varied flavours of each country. Our drinks were well-made, with liberal amount of fresh fruit pieces, fresh juice et al, creatively served in jars. Value for money, all the way!

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To begin with, we settled for the Lebanese Grill chicken. The succulent pieces of chicken were flawless in texture and flavour and grilled to perfection. The marinade too was distinct, as were the herbs. Yet, it was a tad bland for my palate. The Charmula fried fish gave me no scope for disappointment. Crisply fried, the fillet was melt in the mouth and the accompanying lime cream sauce added the right amount of zest.

The Cheeseburger pizza was strongly recommended by the chef. We complied. And it was a great choice. Laden with the goodness of cheese, it was like having a burger in a Pizza form. Delectable. The chicken cubes, generously layered, added to the experience.

Cheese Burger Pizza

As a Vegetarian option, we opted for the Thai curry pizza. While the characteristic Thai flavours were pronounced, something seemed missing in this one and it failed to tease my taste buds. Perhaps it was a bit too dry? I loved the presentation though.

Of course there were a host of exciting options on the menu that Pizza lovers can choose from. Verdure from Italy or Peri Peri from South Africa, in vegetarian and non vegetarian versions.

The Banoffee Bombe was an absolute treat and exploded in my mouth, quite literally. A rather large serving and filled with chocolate and coffee mousse, banana and dulce de leche cream. The marriage of flavours couldn’t be more heavenly. The mousse was creamy, soft and just the way it should be. The banana flavours were not overpowering and enhanced the taste of this otherwise, sinful dessert.

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The prompt and courteous staff at CPK is always a delight to have around. This is my favourite outlet.

The ingredients used struck me as fresh, of the finest quality and the variety, mind-boggling. An enjoyable bit of globe-trotting, I indulged in.

Rating: 3.5/5

South Indian Fare + Global Flavours = Kobri Food Truck

A restaurant on wheels is always a fun prospect to eat from. Of course extremely popular in the West, one does not see too many in India owing to licenses and permission problems, yet, thankfully, a few are mushrooming all over India. Delhi and NCR seem to be leading the way. I was lucky to sample the food from Kobri, a food truck parked at The Heritage Transport Museum, one afternoon, courtesy, Le Meridien Gurgaon.

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The menu for the day was on the blackboard outside the truck and the chefs lead by Rajneesh Kumar, Head Chef, Flavour Labs,  were chopping, mixing, preparing, frying at a frenetic pace. The excitement as building. South Indian fusion food is Kobri’s speciality. After all, Kobri means coconut in Kannada.

This unique food truck is part of a hospitality setup called Flavour Labs and was conceptualised in 2013 during the Stanford Business School’s Ignite program in Bangalore. Launched in October 2014, Kobri is based in Gurgaon and mostly caters to the larger NCR region, Rohan Rajgarhia, one of the partners informed me.

The founding team comprises of entrepreneurial professionals with a passion for incredible food experiences, who have backgrounds in hotels & hospitality, healthcare, corporate strategy, analytics, customer service; and academic/professional affiliations with Stanford, Cambridge, Harvard and IIT.

South Indian food is something most of us enjoy, but the fusion bit was the intriguing part. Spinach and mushroom in a white wine cream sauce topped with cheese and chilly flakes was what I settled for, in a wrap. I had made a good choice. The wrap was crisp and the filling generous. The medley of spinach and mushrooms was flavorsome and the white wine cream sauce, laced with cheese gave it a smooth texture, which led to a burst of flavours in my mouth. It was sumptuous, the veggies crunchy and affordably priced. All the prerequisites to make it work for office goers looking for a quick, filling and healthy lunch. Aaiyyo! Delectable stuff.

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The spiced mutton kababs served with salad greens and an apple and olive salsa were equally unique and interesting. However, I preferred them on idlis rather than in the wrap form.

Other options include Paneer with assorted peppers in a mild chettinad sauce and topped with salad greens, Crispy fish on a bed of beetroot and turnip roulade, served with in-house tartar sauce and fresh greens. I like the twist Chef Rajneesh has given to the dishes. The flavours are contemporary and global, appealing to all taste buds. Yet, if one is craving for a South Indian meal, these, satiate that urge too. The idli subs I thought were cute and yet, filling. With offerings ranging from Rs 140-180, food is an absolute steal.

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Apparently they have another truck called Hoppers that offers healthy comfort food. I can’t wait to try that on my next visit to Delhi and NCR. Alas! we need a Kobri in Mumbai too!

Delectable Global Flavours & More…….

Villa 69 at Juhu Circle, has always intrigued me, but somehow I have never stepped in. The new menu beckoned me and I finally experienced the place. Chef Dev Singh Negi has launched a new South East Asian & Mediterranean menu, incorporating seasonal flavours. That was reason enough for me to pay a visit.

The pristine white plush interiors of the Cafe appealed to me at first sight.  The place spread lavishly over several thousand sq ft. is a treat for the eyes. The fine dining area with a dance floor is chic and sophisticated. There is also an outdoor seating area. It is obviously a popular place with the younger crowd.

With a wide variety of options to choose from and indulge, Villa 69 promises to treat your taste buds with fascinating flavours. The new menu was fairly exhaustive with soups, starters, salads, pizza, pastas, main course and desserts. And plenty of vegetarian options. The drinks menu was an exercise in choices, but we decided to skip it altogether.

Our sea food laksa soup was eclectic. The coconut milk was subtle, compared to several places where it overpowers the flavours of the sea food and other spices. The hallmark of a good chef, I thought immediately. Generous amount of sea food laced the soup replete with spices et al. Heart- warming and flavourful. We had got on to a good start.

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Harissa fish with hummus came next. I am not a great fan of basa fish so thought I will not enjoy it, but was wrong. The chef had astutely pepped up the otherwise bland fish with spices and flavourings. The onion rings offered the right amount of crunch. It ignited our taste buds and we looked forward to our main course.

Chef Dev Singh Negi, I noticed, uses herbs like Tahina in several dishes. He has been inspired by global cuisines and has amalgamated several dishes in his new menu. Balinese dishes like Ayam Pelalah, a Balinese BBQ chicken, Aubergine Pate, Tahina Chicken Skewers, Cottage Cheese Piccata, were other items on the menu as starters. The presentation of all dishes was like poetry on plate. Chef Negi definitely has an eye for details.

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The Mushroom Pepper chicken in the main course was delectable and sumptuous. A value for money meal with a chicken breast, veggies on a bed of mashed potatoes and an interesting sauce. The Pan Fried noodles in a light soya sauce, that I sampled were equally a treat. Lots of chicken pieces and a fair amount of veggies too. The noodles were just meant for my taste buds. No MSG or artificial flavours. Perfect.

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We rounded off a wonderful meal with a jar dessert – a choco molten cake. Gooey and rich, it transported us to heaven. There was a red velvet one too which we skipped.

The service is attentive and prompt, the ambience relaxing with foot-tapping music and Chef Negi’s menu, the raison d’etre to visit Villa 69. I am so glad I did. It was definitely an unforgettable dining experience. No run- of- the- mill stuff here.

 

Delhi’s Guppy Now In Mumbai

It is always a delight to dine at the Olive Bar & Kitchen, Mahalaxmi. Even more so, because it reinvents itself each year, by having a new pop up. First it was the lip-smacking Greek food with Thalassa and the vivacious owner-chef Mariketty Grana and now it is Guppy by Ai, with Japanese fusion cuisine from a popular Delhi based Olive brand restaurant. What particularly appeals to me is how the entire decor is changed and the place transforms itself according to the cuisine being served. Kudos!

 

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There was an exhaustive a la carte menu and a drinks menu, but we decided to skip that and settle for the fixed menu. Less confusing and it offered a great deal of variety too. I opted for a Miso soup( can never resist that) and it was flavourful. as always. Comforting and gentle on the palate. The Mushroom suimono- clear soup with mushrooms was equally delightful. The vegetarian sushi always surprises me and it did here too. It was well rolled, filled to perfection and boasted of authentic flavours. The wasabi, horseradish and soya completed the experience. The non vegetarian sushi of the day was with tuna and was lip-smacking of course.

But what took me by surprise was the salad. Perked my taste buds instantly. The tangy flavour and crunchy texture were married perfectly. Full marks here. The service was prompt, the ambience, vibrant, yet relaxing. 20140810_140503

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Flat udon noodles with mushrooms and chicken arrived next. The fragrant garlic sticky rice enticed me from the bowl itself. My jumbo prawns and the chicken teriyaki complimented these as if they were made for each other. We relished each morsel. A plethora of flavours burst open in our mouth, yet, not overpowering. The prawns were fresh and succulent and the crispy layer on the chicken, imparted an interesting texture to the dish. We were satiated.

The dessert platter with teeny-weeny cakes, was a tad disappointing. Bite sized to the extent that the flavours were non existent on the palate. Maybe serving one or two items, but of a bigger size maybe a better idea? The herbal green tea to round off such a delicious meal, made us feel less guilty. A good inclusion in the menu.

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Tapping your feet to the lively music, enjoying your food and the ambience is all a part of being at Guppy pop up. It is a dining pleasure, you will not want to miss. So make the most of it while it is there.