The Drop, Pan Asian, ITC Grand Chola



My mantra when it comes to food- be open, be prepared to try something new, it could be a dish, it could be a vegetable or meat, sauce, anything… Once you get to this point, life is nothing but awesome.. 


This is probably why last evening was special, no doubt about that~! When Chef Vikram calls and invites you over for dinner, you go with a big grin on your face and excitement bubbling within- that is the reaction he & his food evoke in us.. And these evenings are where I realise how much I have changed over the years, in terms of food- palate, preferences, being open to new flavours/textures,etc… 


Last evening was simply fabulous, romantic even… actually I am constantly looking for new adjectives- no no , not being cliched or any such, it is truly magical. Chef Vikram always has a story to tell, he talks about using art from various parts of the world, uses local produce [can transform a humble lauki into something fancy] and believes in giving the guests a truly WOW experience. This dinner was all about “The Drop”- the essence, the trees of life where it all begins, falls on concrete & splatters, lands on Earth,  moves towards water, and so on… Each course had a story to tell, each element on the plate had a role to play and the flavours simply play with your senses not to forget the surprise as you pop it into your mouth.  

Here is the journey we took through dinner, the 10 courses… 

The drop – lychee bubble served on a betel leaf- we were asked to lift the leaf with the drop, pop the drop in our mouth and then take a bite of the leaf. It was accompanied with celery smoke.. He stood next to us, waited for us to try and asked us what we thought of it with a gleam in his eyes… 



 Pumpkin soup in a bulb, with a splash of chilli oil combined with truffle pate.. The minute you unscrewed the top, the truffle flavour hits you. It was served alongside a chinese bun coated in pumpkin powder. Soup was super spicy while the bun was fun to nibble on.


I took a glug of the soup straight from the bulb and nearly burnt my tongue, but it was fun, I paused but continued while my friend drank out of his spoon. Chef came over and asked us if we had used the spoon, almost in a reprimand tone.. Now these little bits are what makes him so special..





The tree of life- A quinoa salad [almost like a risotto] served with mushrooms, brazilnut pesto, drops of sauces -beetroot,carrot and few others…  and there was also these circles made with melted cheese.. Dont ask me for details, every spoonful was heavenly-creamy, rich, flavour packed… 


The drop splatters- My favourite dish of the evening… I had three croquets of sorts made with onion shell that had miso & few other ingredients mixed together sitting on a black bean sauce served on top of cabbage mash and a dehydrated Chinese cabbage leaf. Oh my, don’t ask me how it was- you have to taste it to understand it..


 And the drop spreads as it splatters- This dish was a mystery- the bottom layer resembled radish, yet tasted different, above it were more veggie layers topped with sauce and burnt leek ask around for bitterness. Chef told us the art form in this was Coded graffiti that Hitler had used to send out messages. 

 The drop slowly moves towards water- the crab sand [art form from Orissa- the sand was made with Japanese fermented chilli paste and olives- it was sweet yet super hot], a base of onion mash, with a serving of wasabi with few other elements and a dehydrated orange slice. We bit into the orange first and then moved to the other elements. Once again, every spoonful was fabulous. 



 Basil Sorbet- to give our palates some relief.. Boy oh boy, was this fun to eat, sitting pretty in a bowl made of ice, with some dry ice adding to the smokey effect, we had fun playing with it. 





Main course- Corn steak, the sauce smeared on the plate was Wow, there was also a dehydrated powder made with pineapple and something else [can’t remember for the life of me what that was]





 Lasagna – Pumpkin sheets with tofu mash in-between, slices of beetroot and little circles of betel leaf on the side. It was served along side a sauce that was strong, had Thai flavours and was quite a power packed dish. We had jasmine rice to go with this. Loved every spoonful of it. Infact, I was able to have only half of this, was beyond filling. 

Drum rolls please… Here comes the show stopper- The dessert- A plate arrived on the table, Chef then handed me a rose, I could hear music in the background, it was so beautiful, my mind was slowly drifting away till I heard his voice telling us to smell it and then smash it on the plate.  What smash, yes he replied giving a nod asking me to do it. I dint do a great job, he took the rose and smashed it all over my plate… Egads… wait, this was beautiful.. Art in its truest form. There was dark chocolate, cranberry, cherry, cool ice cream, the sweet rose petals, oh the elements were playing games with my head, leaving me dizzy…. 

What more can I say? If you are ever curious about food that looks and tastes like this, you should head over to Pan Asian and try out the food there. And don’t go with the familiar dishes, ask the Chef for his recommendations- you will be in for a special treat~! 
As for me, I sure am glad to have connected with Chefs of this calibre, and those who truly madly enjoy food.. All they want is for their guests to love their creations, relish the dishes and come back for more.. A meal like this costs around Rs2250/- [but then it this is not something you will find on their menu, lemme tell you that!]

Delhi Street Food at Buzz, The Gateway Hotel IT Expressway Chennai till 30th Sep

Imagine squeezing your way through the crowded lanes in Chandni Chowk or Jama Masjid in Delhi- the aromas of freshly made samosa, the kebabs, hot paranthas wafting in the air and then there are the vendors selling nimbu pani, shikanji , thick creamy lassi or even the kulfi in a matka to those who stop for something to give em the energy to go further..  Infact during my recent trip to Delhi I did visit Chandni Chowk and we had a blast… [Have written about them here and here]

All this and more is what we got at the Delhi Street Food festival at Buzz in The Gateway Hotel IT Expressway.. The only difference is you get to taste all the yumminess of street food in a beautiful ambiance with good cutlery and of course cooked in a hygienic surrounding [But then, I do agree that the charm of eating along the street side is something else].. With Navratri around the corner, Delhi and the food is something I always think about [ the food at Ramleela event on the last day is just mind blowing]

So, as part of this festival, the spread at Buzz was outstanding. They had flown down a Chef from their property up North and the food was absolutely amazing. I also got to meet their in house Chef Meril who explained how the whole thing came about. We got to try Rahul ka anda, Gupta ke Burger, Bishan swaroop chaat[fruit chaat] and so much more that beautiful evening. 

The evening opened with the two divine drinks- 
Angoor Sherbet & Malai Lassi- Loved the Angoor drink, it was grapes with subtle blend of spices [ mint, jeera, black salt]. The Lassi was thick and perfect.


Chat counter 

Samosa Chaat – the filling was so different from what we usually get, loved it

Palak Kachori with Subzi- this was my favourite- loved the kachori 
Bishan swaroop chaat (fruit chaat) – this was humble papaya with boondi and chaat masala on top 

Aloo tikki – served with a spoonful of channa masala the tikki was soft , crisp and hot.
Golgappe (served with variety of flavored water)
Potato Bajji – the familiar bhaji was served hot , which makes it that much more enjoyable.

Live stations

Kadi Chawal – loved it, was the perfect comfort food.. 
Gupta Burger counter – a different version of vada paav, the bun was crisp and the patty nice and soft.

Rahul Anda counter- this was basically toast with egg on top 





Appetizers from onsite Live stations

Paranthe counter – Mooli, Aloo , onions – oh this took me back to the Paranthe wali galli and these were sinfully yumm with a dollop of curd. 

Amritsari kulcha with chole – it had masala in filling and generous spread of ajwain on top

Chole Bhature- the Bhature was just so soft, i couldn’t resist having a few bites with the gravies..

Mains
Roti and Plain rice are available with the gravies- 
Bharwan Tinda Masala, Chui
mui kofta & Dal Sultani   [there were two kinds of biryanis and few sides for the Non vegetarians]


Dessert
counter
Rabdi Falooda / Jalebi / Teel
wali Kulfi / Phirni
There was barely any space, we were all comatose with the bites I had greedily had over the course of the evening. But managed to make some space to try the desserts.Loved the kulfi and falooda. The jalebi was tad too sweet for me.


This Buffet Dinner is priced at Rs. 1200 plus taxes [works out to about Rs1470 per pax] . If you have wine/alcohol, the rates will differ. This festival is on till the 30th, so if you have fond memories of Delhi Street food or have been craving any of these, do a reservation and head over there right away.. It is well worth the drive.. 

Address309 Rajiv Gandhi Salai (OMR), Sholinganallur, Chennai, Tamil Nadu 600119
Phone044 6680 2500
URL: https://gateway.tajhotels.com/en-in/it-expressway-chennai/

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  🙂

Multi Cuisine Vegetarian restaurant- Entree, E hotel, Chennai

Pure vegetarian restaurant… South indian cuisine?
No, its not South indian, actually outside of breakfast they don’t have south indian on their lunch or dinner menu..

Wait, you are saying they are Multi cuisine
Yes indeed, how awesome is that.

Well, sometimes these restaurants tend to go overboard with paneer since its pure veg
Oh no, you are mistaken

What is the one dish here that stands out?
Their rice and thai curry is to die for… 

Have had this kinda conversation with people over the past few days. Where did it all begin? I told them I had lunch at Entree in E Hotel, inside Express Avenue [the only luxury vegetarian boutique hotel in the city]. People assume veg means boring blah food and same x y and z options. This restaurant is one that has been proving them wrong since they opened doors 3yrs ago.  It has also been one place that a friend and I have frequented quite often when in the mall. We enjoy the food and it is total value for money deal as well, plus it is nice and open, spacious and airy, with a lovely view of the outside. You get to spot a butterfly, a snail or even a frog out in the garden. 
I was chatting with the General Manager of the Hotel when he mentioned they had an eatery outlet in the food court as well. When I enquired, he mentioned it was called “Pleeease Mom” and had a children’s play area the doubled up as a birthday party venue upstairs. It was then I realised that was an outlet I loved, infant whenever am in the mall with this particular friend, we end up ordering from there[ it is also a pure veg outlet] and we order their Rice and Thai green curry and slurp away happily… They also have good waffles and Chinese stuff. 
For those still wondering  about the place and food, well here is a photo journey of some of the dishes I had during my recent visit. Oh and they have a buffet for lunch & dinner apart from an a la carte menu as well. During weekdays the buffet works out to Rs 400ish and weekend it is around Rs600 . I came to know they have a weekend beer brunch as well, how about that~!
The lovely arrangement that greets you as walk in through the main entrance…
 The waiting space which also doubles up as an ideal spot for a quick meeting
[Image courtesy: E hotel]
The Restaurant  
Vibrant coloured chairs and simple decor.
[Image courtesy: E hotel]
One of the buffet counters 
[Image courtesy: E hotel]

The Food 
A simple creamy mix veg soup 
The cheese spring rolls- almost like a chilli cheese toast rolled up- divine!
Galouti kebab with peas– oh how I loved these..  
Ta da.. The infamous Rice and Thai green curry– perfect as it can get. 
Papad ki Kadhi [served with roti] – i was having this for the first time, and it was yumm- tangy, sour 
with intereseting blend of spices.
Baked vegetables– ah such a comfort dish .. Was packed with a medley of vegetables 
The dessert platter– Chocolate cake, a soft cream, nougat sprinkled on top, cherry that had been soaked in spices and juices, a little chocolate ball that burst with caramel and a slice of fresh fig.. Beautiful textures and flavours.
Address: 
Entree
E Hotel, Ground Floor, Express Avenue Mall, Whites Road, 
Royapettah, Chennai
Ph-   044 28463333

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  🙂


TV show recipe – Siruthaniya Kathirika Soya Pulao [Brinjal millet pulao]

Jaya TV has these cookery shows that is telecasted daily at 6pm.. Gramma watches it religiously, esp on Mon & Tue, she isn’t a big fan of the ones that come the rest of the days…

One such Tuesday had Mallika Badrinath showcasing a recipe to make Brinjal Millet rice. Within a few days we decided to try this out and it came out absolutely yummilicious…

Here is the Video, this particular recipe starts at 08:13 mins

Ingredients:

Brinjal- chopped small
Onions- 1 big
Capsicum – 1 chopped up
Ginger garlic paste- 1tsp
Bay leaf- 1
soya chunks- 1 cup – soak in hot water [ optional, we did not use it]
Dhania powder – 1 tsp
Jeera powder- 1 tsp
Garam Masala – 1/4 tsp
Red chilli powder – 1 tsp
salt- to taste
tomato puree – 1/2cup

Grind into a coarse paste-
Small onion – 6
Green chillies -2

The process:
1) In a pan cook the millet with required amount of water [ else you can substitute with rice as well]

2)In a pan, add some oil, bay leaf, onions, ginger garlic paste, brinjal, capsicum and sautee for a few minutes.
Next add the onion- chilli paste
Now add the tomato puree
Add all the masala powders to this along with salt
Cook till they all come together
Finally add the rice/millets and serve hot.

It was absolutely divine.. we loved it…

Benjarong, Alwarpet – Restaurant Week India [till 25th Sep]

Oh well, what do you know. Restaurant
Week India
is back and this
time they have partnered with Ola Prime and John Jacobs. It sure is good to see
this concept catching on and if this is any sign becoming a regular thing. The
coolest feature about the whole #RWI is that people get the opportunity to dine
at high-end restaurants without feeling the pinch on their wallets.

Restaurant Week is a celebration of the finest
culinary experiences at formal fine dining restaurants across India.
Currently held across Bangalore, Chennai, Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai and Pune,
Restaurant Week showcases three-course prix fixe menus priced at a fraction of
a la carte rates.
The meals are all priced at Rs700 for lunch and Rs950
for dinner [excl tax]. It also comes with offers on Ola Prime rides..
How it works
    Ø  You visit the website, pick the restaurant, lunch
/dinner, and make a reservation by paying Rs60 [
non-refundable reservation
fee ]

    Ø  The restaurants typically have a specially designed menu
for this festival that you can scan through on the website before making a choice.
    Ø  On the chosen day, you visit the restaurant, pick dishes
from the menu and well all that is left is to enjoy the meal…



“Sawasdee
Ka ” is how you greet a lady in Thai… yes, you guessed it right, I am
here to rave about my all time favourite Thai Restaurant in the city… No
prizes for guessing I 
chose Benjarong, one of my all-time
favorite Thai restaurants in the city.  Reservations were made for lunch,
and I dragged a friend along [ I knew she loved Thai food and hadn’t visited
this restaurant yet]

Since we were two of us [and both of us were
vegetarians], between us we tried nearly all the dishes available on the menu
under the Vegetarian banner [and mind you this restaurant has quite an
extensive menu for Vegetarians]
Here is a round up of what we had…


APPETISER
Tofu in Pandanus Leaves 
Loved the soft Tofu and subtle flavours of spices it had marinated in. This was
my favorite 
appetiser.

Grilled Assorted Veg 
Along with the peanut sauce it was heavenly.
Spicy Mushroom Satay- simple tender mushrooms that was served with a spicy sauce.

Crispy Broccoli in Tender Peppercorn Sauce– this was quite nice with the sweet chilly sauce.

&

SALAD
Raw Papaya Salad – yet another signature dish at this restaurant. My friend couldn’t believe that such a dish was possible with the poor papaya.

Spicy Assorted Mushroom Salad – 
a medley of mushrooms tossed with some garlic and onions- yumm&


Soup
Tom Yum Tofu Soup –This is my all time favorite soup, infact
that day I found it low on spice factor, but flavours were intact

Tom Kha Veg Soup – this is a subtle version of the Tom Yum with
coconut milk making sure your palatte is kept cool


MAIN COURSE
Assorted Vegetables in Thai Curry Powder and
Celery Sauce 
When the chef told us it had Thai curry
powder, my mind took a minute to process it as I was only familiar with Thai
curry sauce [it also had celery]. The dish was beautiful; friend and I polished
it off right from the serving tray.

Tofu in Red Curry Paste and Long Bean
Sauce 
Loved how the Tofu had been cut, it had those
funny v  kinda edges. Again the tofu was
delicate.

 Babycorn, Broccoli, and Fresh Greens in Spicy
Yellow Bean Sauce –
as the name
suggests, this was a simple stir fry.
STAPLES
Spicy Holy Basil Fried Rice Veg Steamed Rice
Veg Soft Noodles with Bean Sprouts
Thai Flat Noodles in Black Bean Sauce with Veg
All
three were good, I loved the flat noodles in black bean sauce, it had wood ear
mushrooms apart from few vegetables. It was good on its own, did not need any
sauce/gravy.


DESSERT

Water Chestnuts in Coconut Milk –
Ah,
was good to dig into a bowl of this familiar dessert. It has the rich sweet
coconut milk and the crunchy water chestnuts just play around your taste buds.  They
also have three other desserts to choose from.
Tender Coconut Ice cream- Creamy ice cream that burst in your mouth
filling it with tender coconut flavour..


Now, since I had been to this restaurant earlier, I
was quite familiar with their food and so was curious to know what my friend
thought of their food. She was spot on when she said each dish had distinct
flavours and most of it were new to her. She definitely loved the place, the
food and service and even contemplated bringing her family over for a visit.
Benjarong doesn’t disappoint, infact every time I come
here, I fall in love with Thai food all over again…  There you go, a place to pick from the list
of restaurants in Chennai for this Restaurant Week India edition.
Address:
#
146, T T Krishnamachari Road, Alwarpet, Chennai- 18
Telephone:
044
2432 2640
Timings:
Lunch:
12:00 PM-3:00 PM
Dinner:
7:00 PM-11:00 PM

Dehlavi Food Festival at ITC Grand Chola, Chennai


It was a walk down the narrow lanes in Chandni Chowk, enjoying the aromas wafting from the various food stalls and spice bundles in the stores nearby. There was Chaat, kebabs cooked in Ghee, thick mango lassi, delightfully flavoured veg/non-veg biryani and just about everything else you could dream up. And all this was served up in fancy crockery in the lovely setting of Madras Pavilion at ITC Grand Chola. They were celebrating it under the title of “Dehlavi cuisine”. that had been put together by Chef Mohammed Mofid from Sheraton new Delhi and Chefs at Madras Pavilion.. It was truly an evening that took us back to Delhi… the old Delhi to be precise.  
Delhi as most of us know is a blend of cultures, and each of them brought in their influences with respect to clothes, food and art as well. And today Delhi continues to enthral us with the blend of  Mughal, Punjab, the Vaishyas, the Kayasthas and the Marwaris. It can be quite an assault on the senses for the uninitiated, but if you ever do a trip to Delhi do set aside few hours everyday to explore the local food , you will be in some kind of heaven.. [not an exaggeration]
Let me take you on a journey through the dishes we were served as part of the Dehlavi Food Festival…


Nadru ki Shammi [Yam kebab]… it was soft, melt in your mouth and rich with Ghee flavours.


BADAM KI
GALOUTI- it had Badam slivers, badam paste and bit of channa mashed up and slow cooked. Was again a melt in your mouth dish…


From the Chaat section– Pani puri, Aloo chat and Dahi Bonda 

 The three veg side dishes [served alongside lachhca paratha, roti and naan]- 
MATAR PANEER NEZE
Green peas and
cottage cheese cooked together in curd based gravy with a generous sprinkle of pine nuts that added to the richness of the dish…

Dahi Bartha 
A gravy made with yoghurt and brinjal cooked down with mild spices..

Hing wale Aloo
Baby potatoes boiled and cooked with simple flavours


Veg biryani.. we also had Mirchi ka biryani [NIMONA
PULAO
Basmati rice cooked
with green chillies stuffed with green pea mash]

The trio of Desserts-JHINGORA
PHIRNEE in the cup,  Ladoo on a rose petal and Kulfi served with some falooda.. I skipped the lad but the other two were quite nice, not over the top sweet or rich..



Stop drooling and book yourself an evening of indulgence. Remember this festival is on only till the 13th Sep. 


Venue: Madras Pavilion, ITC Grand Chola

Date: Till the 13th September, 2016

Time: 7:00 pm – 11:30 pm (Dinner Only)

Price: INR 2200 plus taxes (per person)


Address: No., 63, Anna Salai, Guindy, Chennai, Tamil Nadu 600032
Phone:044 2220 0000
Website : http://www.itchotels.in/hotels/itcgrandchola.aspx


Disclaimer: The reviews posted on this blog are based on my personal experience. Also remember these were just my views!! Remember, no two palates are the same. Bon Appétit 🙂