Sunday 7 August 2022

the kitchen espion: Chavi Rajawat - a woman of substance ...

the kitchen espion: Chavi Rajawat - a woman of substance ...:                                             Two months back I was in Jaipur for a conference with my fellow    speaker RJ Divya of R...

Sunday 31 March 2019

The hot chick at the Mango Kitchen and Bar .

For the past few weeks on Facebook , I had been reading some good reviews with beautiful and colourful food photos of Mango Kitchen and Bar.  The name "Mango" attracted me alot as I love both ripened and raw mango. Mango chunks mixed with pomegranate seeds is my favourite summer mid night snack. Anyway finally last thursday I planned to have lunch at the Mango. Keeping in mind that the restaurant will have mango based dishes and drinks as well.
As you enter the restaurant , you will find bright yellow sofas with few blue ones in contrast and to enhance the beauty of the ambiance. The place has minimalistic decor and a positive vibe.  My friend Rohan Monga was supposed to join me and he was little late , so I tried to check the menu to select mango based dishes . I realised there were hardly any mango based drinks and dishes and I really dnt know why I was going crazy for having mangoes . So I found one mango based cocktail and asked the bartender to make it for me . It was a gin based drink but I was expecting fresh mango pulp or chunks on it . It was good in taste though. Chef Himanshu suggested me to  have a light salad with the drink. It was Acovado Caprese with bocconcini, tomato, pesto and fresh avocado. I loved it . So in the meantime Rohan and Chef Pawan Bisht , the corporate chef of the unit joined me and I was super excited to have mango based main course and left it all to the Chef to select dishes for us .

Chef is well aware of my food choice so he served me Pork Chops and Spicy Sriracha Chicken Tacos as starters . There was a light green salsa as a condiment with tacos, which was looking like green mango salsa with my dreamy eyes  . It was actually a nice refreshing fresh avocado salsa which was  pairing perfect with the Tacos.   Pork chops were beautifully presented with beetroot relish, mashed potatoes and pan tossed veggies .   Meanwhile waiting for the main course chef served us Mango sorbet and I was happy like a kid that finally I am having fresh mango chunks with mango sorbet sitting at Mango.  So finally the server served us Katsu Chicken Bowl which was like a meal in a bowl. It had stir-fried vegetables with crumb fried chicken cutlet and soft boiled eggs with fried rice. Again a soul-satisfying bowl but without any trace of Mango .

I was done with my maincourse and by this time  my friend Sushmita Subba came to say hi to me . I thought we three can share a dessert as i have a big sweet tooth . Since I love cheese cake , we all agreed for cheese cake with rose icecream . But why not mango icecream in a restaurant named " Mango" ? Chef Pawan insisted us to try the JD Chocolate Mousse from his side , and he was right . The JD Mousse was the rockstar of the day. Each dish was delectable and gave me immense happiness with tummy ful satisfaction.

But somewhere in my mind " Mango " was still itching . Why the name mango when there is hardly any mango based dish. So after the meal, Chef Pawan took me around to check the entire property. I saw a beautiful metallic tree at their terrace . Winters or evenings in summers will be perfect to sit at their terrace . Looking at the tree, I couldnt stop myself and asked Chef Pawan : Why Mango as name of the restaurant ? Why not any other name of the fruit ? I know I was sounding stupid with my questions but I took the liberty of being his good friend . So Pawan's reply was : Maam! the name has nothing to do with the fruit . Actually Mango in cuban slang language is " THE HOT CHICK GIRL "  and we  want this place as hot as a MANGO, the Hot Girl .    I laughed aloud and promised him to visit him again soon for trying other super delicious dishes . Chef and his entire team has really worked hard to curate the menu of " MANGO" . Do try and thank me to have a scrumptous meal in this restaurant . Till then ....

Thursday 7 March 2019

Chavi Rajawat - a woman of substance ...


Two months back I was in Jaipur for a conference with my fellow    speaker RJ Divya of Radio city ,  radio channel.  Divya wanted to interview a lady sarpanch and keep mentioning about her work and dedication that I was intrigued with her narration and stories .  She insisted me to meet her and I was like Neki aur pooch pooch. 

 Before meeting her Divya was trying hard to fix an appointment and always murmur " she is in her village soda and very busy" . " Her phone is not connecting as she is in interior of the village"
With her murmuring I was imagining a lady with traditional rajasthani costume with husky voice . I really dnt know what made me even imagine the voice too. Anyway finally she managed to fix an appointment with Chavi Ranawat who is known as the youngest sarpanch in India .   We went to hotel  "Kailruggi" to meet her . In the heart of the noisy city I found a peculiar calmness as soon we stepped into the hotel. I was informed that all the cooks working in the hotel kitchen are women from Soda village and most of the ingredients used are also from her village . When we reached I saw a beautiful young girl in her mid 30s wearing blue denims and light blue kurta with a dupatta around her neck.  She was Chavi Ranawat who welcomed us and made us comfortable . I was speechless for few seconds . I found her very  humble and warm . Graduated from Lady Shriram college in Delhi and topped her MBA in Indian Institute of Modern Management , Pune and later at London school of economics , she gave up her plum job abroad and decided to serve the underprivileged of her ancestral village "Soda" , Rajasthan. 

I found her a true example of beauty with brain. Soda is 60 km away from Jaipur with a population of 7000 , had been officially declared as most backward area by the govt . As soon as she got elected as sarpanch she has laid down her priorities to sanitation, forestation, self employment for women , adult education and vocational training. Being a foodie I was also keen to know about her hotel Kailruggi . She told me because of lack of sufficient funds , she devotes some of her time in her family run hotel to support her projects . Named with her parent"s names Kailruggi is a beautiful hotel with 24 rooms and a cafe with Indian and International cuisines .  Most of the ingredients are local and grown in the fields of her village Soda . She has engaged her village women in her kitchen giving them employment . It is a vegetarian cafe where you will not miss nonveg atall.

Life of this sarpanch is not easy as she had been attacked physically in the past . But her dedication to serve her people hasn't moved her away. After a certain period we all look for a break and holiday to travel around , but this beautiful young sarpanch never travels for her holiday . Or you can say there is no holiday for her . She is a dynamic and determined personality who is not attracted to any plush holidays or entertainment . She has recently adopted a girl's school in her village which is in bad shape with lack of funds. I am so fortunate that she could spare some time for us . We exchanged our cuisines, food thoughts and discussed alot about food of our regions and convinced her to visit Northeast with me .

I am dedicating this year's women's day to Sarpanch Chavi Ranawat , the youngest sarpanch in India as the world knows her like that .
I also want to thank RJ Divya Vasudeva  for introducing  me to Chavi

Monday 31 December 2018

That feeling you get in your stomach when you see him .....

Well I mean to say that feeling when you get in your stomach when you see food and not him.  
We crave what we dnt have , and I always get such cravings mostly  at  midnights . This year in 2018 I had some fantastic food for which I can visit the place frequently and I often get cravings for them.
If you ever visit these restaurants / Cafes , you must try these dishes . I am sure you will thank me  because there are certain special stuffs which you might not know. 

1. Sibuya  
Cheese tarts and Truffle Edamame dimsums
Oh. the tarts at shibuya is like food porn and I can have four of it at one go.

2. Baar Baar 
I recently had food at my fav chef Sujan Sarkar's place and I fell in love with their fried chicken and Duck Kulcha. Chef is very generous to grate the truffle over the kulcha.

3. Perch
Try their Coffee Wine and Scotch eggs if you are pork eater .

4. Molecule 
First thing which i like at molecule is their terrace. This place has some positive vibe. In food I crave for their Laal maas Tacos and Lamb chops  .  I had the best Kahwa made by Chef Anas Qureshi . 

5. The Drunken Botanist 
Mahy's white lady cocktail , Chef Vaibhav Bhargava's Salmon pizza , Pork belly and Bread Pudding. Their bread pudding gives food orgasms.

6. Town hall , Gurgaon
Sushi platter .

7. Prankster 
Fateer . I had this dish at their launch and since then I never miss ordering this dish whenever i visit them. Do you know Chef Harangad makes an awesome rum and coffee based cocktail ? I also crave for their rose kheer which they have removed from their menu.

8. Philtre
All the cocktails made by Bartender Ammy Dua

9. Too Indian 

I crave for their special Navratra menu which Chef Santu Maite specially curate during Navratri days.

10. Pra Pra Prank
Oh their Lobster is to die for .  I can eat one big lobster of their menu.

11. Dhaba -Est 1986
Balti Meat and Rabri

12. Lolz , Ghaziabad 
I crave for their Messy Bum Burger .  The man behind  #TheBigBhaangTheory Kama K M owns the cafe and you must try this burger if you ever visit the place.

13. The Park 
The seasonal menu curated by Chef Abhishek Basu at their Indian restaurant "Fire". They use 80 percent organic ingredients in their menu and are helping farmers to sell their vegetable at their premises on every sunday .

14. Lavaash by Saby
Mutton Puffs  . Although I love all their dishes but I get bad cravings for their mutton puffs . Btw their cocktails are very potent .

15.Piano Man 
Pizza con Patata . I never had such amazing Pizza with potato slices on top anywhere else.

16. Amarjyoti 
Mutton Seek Kabab. Their preparation and way of serving the dish is very different than other restaurants .

17. Fig & Maple The refreshing Fig and Maple Salad .

18. Nagaland Kitchen 
Fried Pork ribs.
Whenever I miss home, I head to Nagaland Kitchen .

19. Dzukou
Pork Momos
Although this restaurant is under renovation, I am going to rush on their first day of opening for momos and King chilli chutney .

20. Neung Roi
Tub Tim Knob
I have not tasted such delish dessert anywhere else .

21. Off the Hook ( Desi Dakshin) 
Mutton Sukka and Manglorean Biryani

22. Curry Singh Kitchen 
Bhatti Murg and Punjabi Mutton curry

23. Lantern 
Chapta Kabab. ( You will not get this kabab in any other restaurant )

There are thousands of dishes which I crave for but right now I am remembering these most and let me write about other dishes on  my next blog . Till  then drool ....


Tuesday 3 April 2018

Pra Pra Prank - Secret visit which turned into a fun dinner .

 After checking few tempting food photos of Pra Pra Prank, in social media, I planned a secret visit to the place. Since it is a restro-bar, I planned to visit in evening for an early dinner.  I took a risk of not prebooking a table ,  Luckily I  got one but my mission of secret visit  failed as I met  the owner  due team of - Inderjeet Banga and Jasmeet Banga along with their chef  Kaustabh Haldipur. 

Although its not so big in area , the place is quirky with modern art pieces on the wall . You can say it has been build aesthetically, dividing the restaurant and bar into two divisions. Bar door has miniature liquors which is slightly confusing as a wall of the restaurant. Both Inderjeet and Jasmeet  are  well travelled  and have great aesthetic sense. You will find white porcelein smilies as wall mounted lights and giant ants have been handpicked by them.  Each crockery has been well taken care of while selecting for the restaurant.

Lets talk food

Their menu is huge keeping in mind to satisfy the palates of all kind of generations  with indian and pan asian cuisines . Being from northeast , i wanted to try their soup with dumpling with Nepali broth.( 245/-)  It was more like a thukpa with burst of flavours . I was quite impressed with their crockery . The candle beneath the bowl kept the soup warm till my last spoon.  By this time I kept the menu aside and asked Chef Kaustubh  to serve with his choice of dishes . So with his recommendation , this carnivorous enjoyed their "Rainbow Sushi" (495/-)  . It was not only beautiful to look , but was full of flavours .  Sushi had no artificial colour.  Chef wanted me to try their wild mushroom rice but my love for  seafood demanded their baked Lobster (1048/-). Generally people kill the natural flavour of the lobster with overpowering it with spices , but this baked lobster had that natural mineral taste with a tinge of black bean sauce  over it .  Infact this dish was the rockstar of the dinner, to which Inderjeet said " We want to interplay with the flavours of Indian and Panasian cuisines" . 

Rainbow Sushi

Pork on skewers

24 carat Palak Patta Chaat

By this time I was already feeling full but still the gluttony in me wanted to have just a spoonful of more flavours  and ordered a plate of  Kozhi ghee roast (chicken)  with Appam (545/-) . Meanwhile Chef served me 24 Carat Palak ki Chaat (275/-) . Though I am not a chat person but after my first bite I guess I finished half of it . I must say the palak patta was crispy till I finished my meal.
Now came the ghee roast , Appams   had strong coconut milk flavour and was  slightly sweet to taste . Ghee roast was authentic and was not tempered for any innovation.
I was so happy to hear Inder asking the bartender Sanchayan Jana " She loves bacon so serve her the cocktail with bacon washed whiskey" , to which I also happily nodded and there comes the bacon washed whiskey cocktail with crispy bacon strips and berry pickle . On the other hand Kaustav too brought " Pork belly on skewers (545/-) . .A pork dish should always have fat with it , and thats the reason why I always avoid pork dish here in Delhi NCR . Also people here kill the natural taste of pork with loads of sauces and spices . And when I saw the fat sticking to the pork belly , I grabbed my plate and forgot all table manners . With "aah" and "ooh" , I ate three sticks of pork belly. Gluttony me . The Nigella , Aam shotto , pork fat and meat was like perfect marriage

I was so full that i couldnt do justice to the plate of cannoli as dessert (325/-) .  I couldnt enjoy the platter so kept it pending for my next visit to try with few more sweets.
I must say my secret visit turned the table into a dinner with laughter , food discussions, the heart to heart coversation of how each piece of art or cutleries have been handpicked from different parts of the world . And why it took a long time to open this beautiful restro bar .
The food menu and the presentation , shows the hardwork of Chef Kaustubh and Chef Harangad Singh and entire team of the kitchen. I am a fan of Chef Harangad for his creativity and innovations with age old home recipes  and now Chef Kaustabh has also won my heart with his long list of dishes with robust flavours .  On the other side , behind the miniature door , there is a hispter bar managed by bartender Sanchayan Jana  , creating magic in concoctions with rare and exotic ingredients .

A cocktail based on bacon washed whiskey served with bacon strips and berry pickle

Baked Lobster

My quest to know more about the concept and more dishes with burst of flavours is on and I am going soon to try more .

If you enter  Pra Pra , donot forget to turn your left and see a lady's brain moving and working constantly, with "naughty" naah rather "thoughty" mind  . Also check the uniforms of the staff.  Each staff member  is wearing a different logo on their coat which resembles Pra Pra Prank's theme , and all the logos have been designed into one , which you will find in their menu book and the banner .  Let me not explain more . You need to visit this restro-bar and solve the mystery.  The team has not left any scope to criticise . But still I want to recommend the baked lobster and sushi(s) a must  to try .
The Bar

Till then ........

Pra Pra Prank
Cyber Hub , Gurgaon. 

Sunday 11 February 2018

The Italian Market Place by Chef Subrata Debnath

There was a masterclass of Chef Subrata Debnath at Taj City Center, Gurgaon on last Saturday with chef's expertise in regional Italian cuisine, and I learned a classic Tiramisu from scratch. Foreign desserts are always a difficult task for me but the chef had made it so easy for me with his detailed description and demonstration. 

Masterclass followed by the chef table of Chef Subrata showcasing traditional epicurean delicacies of Calabria, Tuscany, Sicily, Puglia and Campania. Inspite of being a hardcore nonvegetarian, I recommend the pizza with truffle cream and aged parmesan as "a must try dish" in this 10 days culinary extravaganza started from 9th of this month to 19th feb'18 at their restaurant  Culina 44. 

Pizza with truffle oil and aged parmesan

smoked turkey breast , olive , jalapeno calzone

It was a sunny and warm day and the antiplasti with fresh fig , melon slices . arugula with aged balsamic was very refrshing . 

Prosciutto, melon slices , fresh figs, arugula and aged balsamic
With a brief interaction with the chef , got to know that having  almost 25 years of experience in career , Chef has started his journey from Taj Bangalore and after working in best hotels across 10 countries in south asia and middle east, he is now leading a team of 60 odd chefs and culinary experts at one of the Taj's iconic hotels .

On my curiosity to his best dish , he said he loves preparing rustic Italian fare and "Lamb bolognese" is one dish which he always loves to cook.

With ingredients like Tuscan , Puttanesca sauce , Truffle oil , Taggiasca sauce etc  used in the menu , I was wondering the take of Delhi NCR people  where most of them know Italian food as only pizza and pasta with lots of cheese and white or red sauce .  I was curious to know Chef's opinion , to which he said " The Indian culinary world has progressed phenomenally over the past few years and it is encouraging to see a deepened interest towards authentic cuisines - both international and local . Italian cuisine is all about fresh flavours and quality ingredients and it is much appreciated in the Indian culinary world ".

What I understood of Italian cuisine with my discussion with Subrata is,  there is minimal use of spices and the flavours are delicate , aromatic and easy on the palate  For the "Italian Market Place ", his preparations are all about rustic and regional Italian . Chef is using the freshest ingredients available and the special menu is more than just mozzarella and pasta . For example the "Beetroot Orzottto" is a classic made with pearl barley while  "Tiramisu classico"  is made the authentic way using pasteurised eggs and mascarpone

Beetroot barley , mascarpone cream risotto

Rockstar of the day - Classic Tiramisu
When the masterclass was going on , I could see how passionately chef was answering all doubts on making a classic tiramisu. They say keep your passion alive and here is the chef who left his engineering and graduated from hotel school.
I wish Chef Subrata Debnath my best wishes and thank Ananya Mukherjee , who heads the PR and marketing of the hotel , to introduce me with this "Persona Eccellente" 

To head for "The Market Place by Chef Subrata
- Culina44
Park City Center

Wednesday 29 November 2017

Philtre - A love potion

Bustling bar culture has become new hallmark of any metro city.

Socialising is an inescapable phenomenon and everybody wants to meet over a couple of drinks which has lead the restaurants and bars to rise and grow .  If we go back to our history, the discovery of late stone age Jugs suggest that fermented beverages existed at least as early as the Neolithic period ( 10.000BC). The earliest evidence of alcohol in what is now China are Jars from Jiahu which date to about 7000BC . The early rice mead was produced by fermenting rice , honey and fruit . Beer was the major beverage among the Babyllion and as early as 2700BC. They worshipped a wine goddess and other wine deities. Egypt brewing began in the city of Heiraconpolis around 3400BC. Alcoholic beverages in the Indus valley civilization appeared in the Chalcolithic era. These beverages were in use between 3000BC -2000BC . Sura a beverage brewed with rice , wheat , sugarcane , grapes and other fruits was popular among kshatriya warriors.

You must be wondering what am I up to with the history of alcohol consumption. Actually, I will blame it the newly opened bar "Philtre". I avoided their launch party as I thought it would be like any other bar/pub. Few weeks back I saw couple of their cocktails with very interesting presentation at my friend's social media post and I decided to go anonymously to try those drinks . Finally five of us booked a table at their terrace and planned to order five different drinks to try out their flavours. Their drink menu is huge but we preferred to try their five signature cocktails from which Botany of desire, Quin were repeated among us. 9th Ladder was interesting which actually led me to read the history of alcohol. Each of their cocktail has a story or theme of ancient era .   There was no smoke , no molecular gastronmy either in both their drinks and food menu.  I was informed by the server that  even the bitters used in cocktails are inhouse.

Lets talk about Food -
In food , loved their curry leaves flavoured lamb chops and crab masala is to die for. I must say that my third hobby is listening to good music and this place impressed me with their good numbers and I could not stop myself to avoid the dance floor.  Slowly as the evening turned into night , music went loud and so our laughter , suddenly a young boy came to our table enquiring whether everything is okay at our table . Sometimes simplicity of a person wins your heart and within no time we were friends and he too joined us . 

I was amazed to know that this simple man , Neeraj Sharma , owner of Philtre has a strong hospitality background of working in Oberoi group, Lite bite foods and MRG hospitality. While chatting Neeraj told me " Since the day I entered the industry , I always dreamed of opening my own restaurant with perfection" .  Although it was my first meeting but I couldnt stop myself and asked him with little hesitance, how he takes his Bar/Restaurant in this world of modern techniques of making cocktails and cooking with molecular gastronomy. To this Neeraj said " We want to bring back our ancient culture of drinks where metal mugs /Jugs were being used and even want to give fusion in our food without disturbing the originality of the dish" . Now if I recall , we were served most of their cocktails in brass lotas , square box and ceramic bowl .

With a glace of house full ambiance  I found most of the crowd was young , which was giving a clear hint of acceptance of the theme and motive of Philtre in modern society. I hope they introduce more such cocktails with interesting stories and give me a reason to drive down to sector 29 , Gurgaon.