An evening unveiling the Magnum

Who can say no to Chocolates? or for that matter Ice Creams, especially with Summer waiting to sneak up on us? Right! That is exactly what went through my mind when I saw the email invite to the Launch of Magnum Ice Cream event. 

On 27th March’13, evening I landed at  The Hyatt Regency,Teynampet,Chennai along with few other Foodies and bloggers. 

The session began late, instead of 7.30 pm, it started at 8 pm and then went on for a good hour. We had a blast during the one hour session, tasting different kinds of chocolates, ice creams, making our own Sundae and having a few minutes with the Chef. Oh, and we noticed the place was packed with quite a few Page 3 celebs, including Actor Prashanth [who just stood in the background] and I did spot Arya as we were leaving the Hotel. 

The evening began with an introduction to Chef Abhiru Biswas of Barry-Callebaut. After giving us a sneak peek into what to expect, he asked us to turn out attention to the 3 bowls in front of us. They were labelled 1, 2 and 3. We tasted the chocolate chips in the 1st one, and then had to describe the taste; the same followed on 2 and 3. Finally, we were quizzed on which one we thought was the Belgian, Swiss and the French. Not many got it right, but it was fun guessing. 

So, if you are a chocoholic but have no idea what is different between the different kinds, here goes, 

 No.1 The Belgian Chocolate has the perfect blend of all that makes us go ga ga goo goo over chocolate- sweet, dark, bitter, smooth and chocolate flavours. 
 No.2 The  Swiss Chocolate was smoother, creamier and milkier in taste
And finally No.3 was the  French chocolate was very dark and very bitter.

Now, moving on the highlight of the evening, the unveiling of the Magnum Ice cream. From the renowned brand of Kwality Walls, Magnum is a new line of ice creams made with Belgian Chocolate. It comes in 3 varieties- Classic[ good ol plain vanilla], Almond [ the outer chocolate had a lovely almond crunch in it] and the last one was Chocolate Truffle [ chocolate all the way through]

Just like the taste differs in the 3 kinds of chocolates, the ice creams too were different. The Classic was smoother, creamier and quite good. The Almond was less sweet but filled with bags of flavour and finally, the Truffle was rich chocolate in and out. 

So, after we dug into the Classic choco bar, the Chef announced there was a fun activity up for us in the audience. There was a sheet of paper with about 20 ingredients on it. We had to pick 5+ a sauce and create our own Sundae. Whoopie, what fun! The sheet was passed around and we finally had our ingredients –
Orange Cake
      Black Pepper
      Chocolate Sauce
Crushed Hazelnut
and Kiwi slices. 
Since Rosemary was not available, we substituted it with Mint and for the ice cream, we chose the Almond bar. 

Took us about 5 mins, a whole bunch of us all pepped up, shouting out orders to those who were layering the ice cream, and finally it was done. We named our creation “Harry’s Citrus Burst”. Why Harry? well, the connection to Magnum gun from the movie Dirty Harry.   

The Emcee and Chef went around tasting the sundaes, but after about 2 tables, they left it to us to taste and pass judgement. Ours was quite good, I just felt we should have done away with the Orange cake [it was dry]. I loved how the Black pepper worked beautifully with the ice cream. Am definitely going to sprinkle some next time I bring home an ice cream. 

Soon, the event was nearing its end and we noticed most of the crowd disappear. The bunch of us piled onto a table, and started shooting questions to the Chef, satiating our thirst. 

Priced at Rs75, these yummy desserts will be available at the nearest Walls outlets soon. Get ready to beat the heat~!! 

Kettle Tea & Desserts, Chennai

I’m a little teapot,

Short and stout,

Here is my handle, (one hand on hip)

Here is my spout, (other arm out with elbow and wrist bent)

When I get all steamed up,

Hear me shout,

Tip me over and pour me out! (lean over towards the spout)
This is what i was reminded of when i heard the name “Kettle Tea & Desserts“. Friends of mine had mentioned this place, and I also know they had a Tea making workshop couple of months ago. I drink tea, once a day, but now that has changed. I start the day with green tea and also have one more sometime during the day. And have also begun exploring the various brands and flavours available, the latest being Twinnings Mango, Orange & Cinnamon, thanks to a friend [she sent me a goodie basket for some help I did].  Without digressing further, when Nishanth mentioned the meet planned at Kettle, I instantly said “Aye aye cap’n” and looked forward to the evening. The only place that serves up a variety of tea in Chennai was Cha Bar, in Oxford Book store. Unfortunately they shut shop and we lost a nice cafe.Used to be among our favorite haunt. sigh… 

Tucked away in 10th Main Road in Anna Nagar, it is on the road next to RR Donnelley in Shanthi Colony [past Shree Mithai]. Located on the 1st floor, you need to climb up the stone staircase to reach the Tea house. The light, the colours and the space instantly catches your eye. It resembles a small house, with multiple rooms. As soon as you enter, on the right is where the cold stone ice creams are made, when you proceed further inside, you see the counter meant for Tea, displaying containers of varieties of Tea [20 in total], and a blender as well. There is seating in all the rooms, 2s, 4s or more. Apart from these 2, there is a room tucked away with sofas that can accommodate about 10-15people. When the weather is pleasant, or during the evenings, you can enjoy a cup of tea sitting in the outdoor seating area. I wonder if the Metro work noise spills over here, might be a pain.

The room had pastel shades of the wall, and beige colour sofas with a huge center table. We were all packed around it, with a few floating in and out. The menu is quite extensive, not restricted to Tea alone. They serve a variety of Pastas, lasagne, sandwiches, desserts and cold stone ice creams. We were welcomed with the Black currant Tea- it was yumm, though a tad sweet for my liking. It was also the 1st time I tried the scones, they were interesting and I did like them, they were served alongside butter and jam.
The Tomato Basil soup was a hit among most of us, only suggestion was to use plain butter and not salted button on top.  Next up were the salads, us vegetarians got a Sprout Salad – a good, healthy option/also a filling meal/snack. Suddenly i noticed a plate with neatly arranged triangle slices of mushroom on toast, followed by the the egg white omelette served with grilled tomatoes on ciabatta bread (looked more like a hot dog bun), these two were alright! In between the food, I ordered a cup of Chamomille tea that I really liked it especially with honey. Another sandwich we tried was the Pesto Paneer Sandwich – it was alright,I felt the paneer was chewy & dry , and so it was difficult to eat. 

Wait, we were not done. There were a few non veg dishes that floated by, a chicken salad served with banana fritters. Another dish that came along was the Lasagne, which was quite delicious and the pasta stood its ground, but then the Curried Pasta, a Pasta that tasted like an Indian korma, something I’ve never had before came along making us wonder what was going on in the Chef’s mind.. It is good for those who like Indian masalas and flavours. I dint take a fancy to it!!

The sips of tea in between the bites was good, kept us all happy and feeling light.The only tea that was bleh was the Organic white tea- it dint have any taste, felt like I was drinking hot water. Wonder why?! A friend infact commented that it was her favorite and normally quite flavorful. 

“Woah that looks good”- yes that is what came to my mind when I saw the desserts placed on the table. Some of the desserts were excellent. The Tiramisu was nice, I fell in love with the “Love for Strawberry Ice cream” served in a waffle cup and actually liked the Oreo ice cream as well. Oh, how can I forget the Carrot cup cake. The expresso brownie was also good, while the Pot de crème had a weird texture and was not a favorite among the lot. Hang on, I know there was one more dessert, ah yes- White Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake, it was quite good. Few other teas that the group ordered were Masala Chai and Assam tea. 

Overall, it is a fun place to hang out or hold a meeting at. Do visit, am sure you will enjoy Kettle. 

Kettle Anna Nagar, No 3362V, AE Block,
10th Main Road, (Near Anna Nagar Post Office)
Anna Nagar West,
Chennai – 600040

Hours of Operation
7 days a week 
11:00 AM – 11:00 PM

Call Us!
Ph: +91-44-2622-3006/07

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  🙂 

This Monday… Break out

Yep, I completely agree with this poster. Only when you break away, only when you take a risk, only when you step outside your comfort zone will you really LIVE life. There will be uncertainty  there will be chaos, it will be crazy, scary and some more.. but you will do what you love and that will make a difference to your life!!

Go for it!

Cook & Dine, Rhapsody, Chennai- II

There I was, back in Rhapsody, after nearly 8-9 months. And I was here to attend the Cook & Dine event at Rhapsody, Courtyard by Marriott. It is a cool concept, people who are interested in cooking come over, be a part of the event, and get to not only sample dishes made by the Chef but also a lavish buffet lunch at Paprika, the coffee shop. 

I noticed it was all women, and many of them have been regulars, infact 2ladies told me they have not missed a single session. They actually said there was another friend who joined them but she was currently travelling. Another lady I met is an Expat [like most of them who were there for the session] said “I enjoy the food here and so to learn how the Chef makes some of the dishes is fun, apart from this I also get to meet so many other interesting women. There is a contest held during the event, and we partner with whoever is willing, so language, nationality, nothing matters. It is fun”. There were 3 women who had brought their kids, one was a baby in the stroller, while other 2 were probably around 1.5 to 2 yrs of age. The kids were running around, but were quiet, oh and did I mention they were adorable!?

So, what did Chef Paul stir up during the session?? Lo behold, it was all Salads and one dessert. What a treat it was. 

Caesar Salad  came first. With Romaine lettuce being the star of the salad with a dressing made with egg yolk, anchovies, parmesan cheese, worcestershire sauce, Dijon mustard, olive oil, garlic and garlic croutons sprinkled on top for a bit of crunch.. A nice creamy/cheesy salad. For vegetarians, just make mayo minus egg and anchovies or buy them off the shelf. 🙂

Next up was Tuna Nicoise. Pan seared Tuna that had been gently coated with salt and pepper served on a bed of fresh crunchy salad made of green beans, potatoes, olives, cherry tomatoes, iceberg lettuce, lemon juice, aragula [rocket leaves], capers, olive oil, salt & pepper and one boiled egg. I tried the salad minus the tuna and it was good, light and filled with flavour. The chef used boiled baby potatoes, a nice touch [I havent used potatoes in salad, should try]

The 3rd salad was Grilled chicken salad with honey mustard dressing. The salad had Asparagus, cherry tomato, spring onion, mixed lettuce, thyme, honey, boneless chicken breast, olive il, mustard sauce, lemon juice, salt & pepper. The ladies in the row ahead of me exclaimed this was their favorite [after the tasting]. The Chef did add a bit of blue cheese which he said was optional.

Then came the Italian Rustic salad with Balsamic. This was my favorite salad of the day- it had grilled bell peppers, garlic confit, cherry tomatoes, asparagus, zucchini, mushrooms, mixed lettuce, extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, mustard sauce, salt & pepper. It was so yummy, I loved it. You can do away with garlic if you dont like the taste/dont eat.

Now, onto the healthiest salad of the day- Healthy mixed sprout salad – as the name states, it was a salad that had a mix of bean sprouts, green peas sprouts, black chick peas, white chick peas, onions, tomatoes, mixed lettuce. The dressing was Yoghurt based- yoghurt with roasted garlic, thyme, lemon, olive oil, salat & pepper. I make something like this at home, but I prefer the chick peas boiled, not raw. 

And then came the last of the salads- Cobb salad, made the traditional way. Hard boiled eggs, bacon/turkey, cos lettuce, avocado, tomatoes, blue cheese, mustard sauce, red wine vinegar, 
worcestershire sauce, garlic, olive oil, salt & pepper. The salad was bright and a feast for the eyes. 

When I went around speaking to some of the ladies, I came to know there were different Chefs who handled this event, and some better than the other. They all said they enjoyed the contest as it gave them a chance to experiment, test their cooking skills and take home some goodies.. 😀 

Oops, wait, the event is not over. There was the dessert yet to be made.. It was Oats & Honey Granola pie, quite an easy dessert. All you need to do is make the tart, fill it with either oats granola bars, or add oats, raisins, dry fruits, walnuts mixed up and bake in oven for about 25- 30 mins. It was heavenly, loved it. 

Phew, finally, all were glad to get off their seats and walk around. Earlier, in the other section of the restaurant, I noticed a table with various ingredients and wondered the purpose behind it. And the answer was revealed when the Chef announced it was time for the contest, today’s theme was “make a salad of your choice, not necessarily what you had seen during the demo”. There were 5 teams, all had about 5 to 6 members except for one that had just 2 women. Each one churned up an interesting salad, some used all ingredients, while others used minimal. Infact,the team that had used minimum ingredients but packed a punch was the one that WON!

Add caption

And that is when the curtains came down on yet another session of Cook & dine! toodle doo till next time!

If you wish to attend one of these, all you need to do is register with Rhapsody, Courtyard Marriott, pay Rs800 and you get to spend 3-4 hours learning. This event is held 3rd Friday every month. 

Contact: 044 66764000 to know more..

[Recipe] Semiya Dosai

Dinner was Idli… And I will eat Idli only if it is the last thing available on earth, that is when the plants, bugs, and everything else has perished and I was left with nothing but an Idli. So, that evening my mind was buzzing – wondering what to cook for myself. We were watching TV, and suddenly on came Vineet Bhatia, in the Twist of taste show, and where was he? He was in Madurai. 🙂 I sat up straight and glued in, waiting to see the places they featured and if I knew any of them. [background story- we lived in Madurai and that is when I began school]. 
Vineet walked around Meenakshi amman temple, tried his hand at Bun parota [that looked like a fluffly version of the parota], sampled some dosa and nonveg side dishes at Konar hotel. The show then moved to the studio where he announced he was making an interesting version of the dosa[with masala] and chutney.  I noted it all down in my head and quietly snuck away to prep for the Dosa [decided to try the masala and chutney another day]
Semiya Dosai 
Roasted vermicelli- 1 cup
Rice Flour- 2tbsp
Beaten yoghurt- 1.5cups
Water- if required to dilute the yoghurt
Salt- a pinch
red chilli powder- a pinch
green chillies- 2
coriander- a bunch[optional]
Oil- as required
Roasted Vermicelli/semiya
Dosai that I had with a side made with leftover karamani and a nombu adai
In a pan, roast the vermicelli with a tbsp of oil if not pre-roasted. Take it off the heat. In a bowl, pour the yoghurt, and add all the ingredients, finally adding the vermicelli and mixing it well. Set this aside to soak for about 5-10mins. [this is so that the vermicelli will become nice and soft]
Take a dosa making pan, add some oil, pour out a ladle of the batter and allow it to cook on both sides. [Each side will take about 2mins to cook]
Add grated carrots, sliced onions, more coriander, dosa milagai podi to the dosa and make it like an oothappam. 
Bon appetit! 

[Recipe] Spinach Daal

What you need:
Spinach: 2 cups
Onion: 2
Green chillies: 2
Cooked green gram dal/moong dal: 1/2 cup
Tamarind: 1 small sized ball
Tomato: 2
Urad dal: 1/2 tsp(for tempering)
Mustard seeds: 1/2 tsp(for tempering)
Oil – as much as you need
Salt- to taste
Curry leaves – 4-6

Taken on mobile- BB
In a pan, heat oil and add mustard, urad dal and curry leaves. to this, add the chopped onions and green chillies. When they turn to a golden brown, add the chopped spinach and fry well for a couple of mins.
Put a pan and the green dal to cook in it, once that is done, add to the fried spinach and onion along with the tamarind(that has been soaked in water n strained), chopped tomato and salt. Boil for about five minutes..
If you want, you can grind the spinach.. but i like spinach as it is.. and it sure tastes yummy with Roti and Steamed rice.. enjoy~~~

This Monday… Live life to the fullest

It is Sunday evening, but as many of you know am already looking forward to tomorrow.. yes, yes, I know it is Monday! Tomorrow I hope the day is packed, the meetings are fruitful, and I remain sane.. ;-)) 
Have a great [Manic] monday all. 
Submitting this for Manic monday theme from Chennai Bloggers club  

Make me a Master Cook with Shazia Khan

Friday night around 8pm, or was it 9pm? I forgot. All I remember was getting a message from Manju Madhu saying “Congratulations, you have won..  want to take up Masterchef workshop”. I did ask her my other prize options, but then decided to take this workshop ticket up, esp since my gal pals were going to be there! I knew of this event for weeks, or maybe a month earlier cos a dear friend Tasneem Akbari of Konceptz Galore was part of the duo that had conceptualised and brought the show to town.   Who was the other? Maaria Kulsum of Adoniya fame!! 
Honestly, even though I do enjoy cooking, a workshop wasn’t really my thing. I get bored, distracted or tune out and start cracking up [which I anyways do]. And since I was unsure of my plans, I dint pick up a ticket. When a Facebook contest was on, I participated and who would have thought, I won a ticket to the workshop!! 

Cottage Cheese-semolina cake with grilled pimento topping

Bocconcini Cheese [ buffalo Mozerella] 

 Grilled Zucchini cups
Burmese Veg khow suey

There was one more dish, cant find the picture though- Red bean bites with methi cream sauce  & spicy pineapple salsa…

The beautiful light fixture I could not resist clicking
Shahi tukda with caramel sauce and fresh figs 
Half a day spent in the company of good friends
Watching a Master Chef Runner up cook 
A video cameraman who refused to oblige
Hunger pangs building up with every minute… 
I sat there, watching, nodding, wondering
Clicking, observing and drooling
did i mention wondering?
yes, when lunch would be served
Saturday morning with friends
and the evening i knew 
was gonna be fun
for it was going to be in the company of more friends… 
Kudos to the team for a gala event… Next time, just give me a ping if there is a contest going on
Am itching to win some more!! ;o) 

Skywatch Friday… Going back in time

There we were in the crowded area in Hyderabad, Charminar. After walking around the monument, we spent about half an hour in the Choodi Bazaar [ my friend even convinced me to buy a few pairs of glass bangles, some that wore with the help of moisturiser]. Proud of herself, we walked away from the jam packed alley towards the car park but not before picking up a glass of chai and some boiled peanuts from a street side vendor. She then suggested we visit Chowmahalla Palace, which was nearby. 

The place looked deserted, we parked her car and made our way to the gate. The watchman said the place was open and we were free to roam. The first step into the gates and all I saw were open spaces, lush gardens, and a huge palace of sorts at the very end of the road. It was almost beyond eye range. We walked towards the side column of buildings and noticed it was a row of rooms that were probably used by either soldiers to stay in or as storage rooms. Most of them were open, but empty. And then there was the garden in the middle with a clean water way. There were also a few fountains, and friend mentioned they turned on the lights and fountains later in the evening. Soon, we spotted a gentleman strolling and went over to say hello. Turns out, he was part of the group that was maintaining the place. He took us under his wing and promptly showed us around the palace. 

He explained that the palace building in the front was just one of the many. It housed the Durbar hall, a majestic room with a throne flanked by beautiful chandeliers. The lights came on in a few minutes and it looked like we were standing in a room made of gold. Similarly, every corridor, every pillar, every chandelier looked so grand. I was quite curious to know how they were maintained, they looked good as new. He told us they were cleaned regularly, and time to time were polished as well.  
The palace also called Chowmahallat (meaning 4 Palaces) belonged to the Nizams of Hyderabad. It was once the seat of Asaf Jahi dynasty and the official home of the Nizam. When I probed on the story behind the name, he went on to explain that in Persian language, Chahar meant 4 while in Arabic Mahalat meant palaces, and therefore the name Chowmahallat or four palaces. As we were walking out of the building, he shared that the palace was once spread across 45acres but today only 14acres belonged to the palace.
Submitting this for Skywatch Friday and for Flower Friday theme by Chennai Bloggers Club [why? the chandelier reminds me of a flower :D] 
The title made me smile- why? Cos the post is about going back in time with respect to two things- 1. it is about a place soaked in history and 2. it brought back memories of my hydie visit [which was back in 2006 and since then, every time I plan a trip since then, it has fallen flat on my face]