Kitchens of India: Royal Repast – The Cuisine of Akheraj Ancestry at ITC Grand Chola

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An
evening packed with some interesting stories, brief peek into our rich history
and ofcourse the food that came from all these stories was what I experienced
at ITC Grand Chola- Madras Pavillion . I was there for the Kitchens of
India: Royal Repast  – The Cuisine of Akheraj Ancestry  festival
which is on till the 5th August. 
Akheraj
Deolia founded by Rao Akheraj the grandson of Rao Chandrasen of Jodhpur has
always been under the Sultanat of Delhi[ from the time of
Prithviraj Chauhan till 1956, when it became part of Rajasthan].
Infact, the Royal Akheraj dynasty lies between the borders of Marwar and
Mewar. The cuisine of this region carries influences of both the regions – by
sheer presence, trade, travels and then through marriages/relationship
ties. 
During
the chat with Akshraj Jodha, he mentioned how vegetables, ingredients had moved
from one region to the other. And then there was the strong influence of
Gujarati food thanks to a marriage that happened eons ago. This led to dishes
carrying a sweet note along with the savoury flavours.  Incidentally,
Chef KS Akshraj Jodha is the 14th descendent of Rao Akheraj,
and currently holds the position of Custodian of Rajasthani food for ITC Hotels… 
Apart from the usual Ker Sangri, Daal Baati churma I
discovered a whole host of dishes that was from this region – like the Bajra
Tikki, Baby Mirchi Wada, Mangodi Saag & Mangodi pulao, Hare Tamatar Ki
Launji which was delicious and the Amaranth dish which was my favourite [haven’t
eaten greens made so yummm].. Chef joked saying he had ensured the Daal baati
was also on the menu, just to give people the sense of familiarity…. 

In the dessert counter, there were quite a range- from Malpua, Pista Rabdi, Ghevar and Sago pudding to few others.. The menu is on a rotational basis, so you might be in for a surprise when you go over… This festival is on for Lunch & Dinner at Madras Pavilion in ITC Grand Chola… 






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 🙂

Pumpkin tales, Chennai

Sourdough bread with butter- the bread had a lovely sour flavour, and crisp crust…

 Yumm pumpkin soup 

 Spicy Tempeh- Fermented soya bean slices that have been cooked with spices on the grill.. 

 Fermented soya bean slices.. I quite liked the pungency of it…. 
 The mains [Clockwise order]- Mezze platter, Prawn Tacos, Bibimbap [veg] and Mexican bean rice salad[with chicken]

Bibimbap – I had this last year in the US and loved it.. It is basically a bowl that you put together with various ingredients [cooked & raw]. Here we are served it pre plated in a hot hot bowl- it has greens, tofu, sprouts, the Gochujang Sauce (Korean Chilli Paste), rice and few other ingredients. It is fun digging into the bowl and scraping the bottom bits stuck to the bowl… Loved this one as well.. 
 The desserts- Mango Gelato, Tiramisu Gelato with strong coffee flavour, Tiramisu and Pumpkin Pie [ which is one that I dug into and loved]
Ok, now that I have given you something to drool over.. Here is a quick recap of the evening that was. I had seen Pumpkin tales a few times in the passing, but hadn’t had the opportunity to hop in and try their fare. So, few days back we decided to head over for dinner. I soon discovered they were 10months old, and had just revamped their menu as well.. 
The brainchild of 3 women entrepreneurs – Chind Vardarajulu [Chindi- who is also the woman behind the menu, thanks to her extensive travels], Raja rajeshwari and Bhuvana, Pumpkin Tales is a place that offers cuisines we havent heard off and dishes that we might have seen only on TV shows or recipe books. The place has a very casual comfortable feel to it, with bright coloured chairs and plenty of space all around. 

They have a store in the ground floor that sells croissants, cookies, breads and other products, worth a look, especially the gelatos..

The menu at the restaurant is quite extensive, with a small explanation beneath the name of the dish. Chindi also told us none of the dishes were deep fried, and they use the best produce available. The tempeh for example- Chindi & Rajarajeswari patiently explained  what it was, how it was made, showed us the raw product and gave a headsup about the strong flavours in it.. For someone like me who is eternally curious and always excited to try new things, this was an eye opener of sorts. The stories behind the dishes excite me more than the dish itself.. and I enjoyed the whole evening immensely cos it had plenty of good food and interesting stories.. Looking forward to going back for their breakfast!! Care to join?  
Address:
37/20, Bheemanna Garden St, Alwarpet, Chennai – 600018
[The road next to Kirtilal jewellery on CP Ramaswamy road]
Ph-  044 2499 5510

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 🙂

On the plate at On the Rocks, Crowne Plaza hotel, Chennai

There are a few restaurants in the city that have me all excited from the minute I walk in till I get back home. One of them is On the Rocks at Crowne Plaza Chennai. We have been going to this hotel from my early days, family outings to Residency for their Sunday Brunch brings back quite a few memories. 
So having evolved from that, to now doing some fine dining at their other restaurants, it has been quite a journey. On the Rocks restaurant has now launched a new concept with their new menu – On the plate.. What does it mean? Well, for the non-veggies, it is about meat being sliced and served at the table [ they have a 3 meat or a 5 meat course option]. For us veggies, it means trying out new dishes… 🙂 
I was there for dinner last friday, and the evening opened with their signature bread, which is served with garlic and a tomato relish. This is something we can dive into over and over, shamelessly asking for extra portions…  And then came my fancy drink called Kutla [a village in Himachal Pradesh], the drink came encased inside a dome that was filled with smoke. It was pineapple juice, dark rum, and some bitters with some rosemary infused in it. Oh and the drink had quite a lovely smokiness to it as well. My friend had a Pomegranate juice with Cinnamon & vodka, which was quite good as well, the vodka hits you at the back of your throat [it is an award winning drink from the restaurant]. 
As for the meal, I had Mushroom soup served with a crispy slice, Ravioli and Beetroot risotto. All three were amazing, packed with flavour, different textures and had me smiling.. For the Risotto the in house Wine Connoisseur- Krishnan recommended a Red wine [from Oregon]. He patiently answered my million questions on wine, and how it is paired with food, what works with what etc… 
He served me a glass of chilled White wine [Sula] which was slightly sweet and went well with the 1st dessert that was all about coconut and sour flavours. Subsequently for the Chocolate based dessert, he said I should do a red wine, but I had some left from my earlier glass, and promptly went on to finish it. The desserts looked like they were straight out of a Masterchef pressure test, so many different shapes, textures, and flavours.. Loved them both, felt like a child with a new toy, except here it was flavours playing games on my palate. 

 Kutla- pineapple juice, dark rum, and some bitters with some rosemary infused in it

Mushroom Soup
 Ravioli
Beetroot Risotto
 Dessert 1- Coconut and sour flavours [forgot the name cos we couldn’t wait to dig into it]

Dessert 2- Chocolate based dessert.. 
[forgot name cos we were too busy having fun trying it out]

 This menu is on here at On the Rocks [the restaurant that is open for dinner only]. Do give it a try, am sure you will enjoy it!! 
Psst- pardon the photograph quality, went from work and so had to make do with Mobile camera..
Address:
Crowne Plaza Chennai Adyar Park,
TTK Road,
Austin Nagar, Alwarpet,
Chennai
Ph- 044 2499 4101
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 🙂

Revamped menu at Bombay Brasserie, Chennai







This wasn’t my 1st or 2nd visit to Bombay Brasserie, I have been here numerous times and love their food. Infact, not just me but my family too loves the food. And now they have revamped their menu a bit, giving it a new look and feel. 

I was back there for lunch, and it was heavenly as always … I opted for the melon based drink, it was melon- orange crushed and it had pieces of the fruit which I loved. The other drink was a grape based drink, which came in a small glass bottle.. 

The plate of papdam/crisps came in a pretty tray with four kinds of chutneys, each of them was completely different flavour profile, one was tangy, another sweet, a spicy one & last one was a simple capsicum tomato chutney… 

The starters and main dishes that followed were yummm as well.. The one dish that stood out, I wouldnt mind going back for was the Bombay canteen lunch served with coconut rice wrapped in banana leaf. Oh my God, it was heavenly. The glass jar had a veg curry, topped with a big handful of crisps[ almost like vadam] on the side was the rice [Basmati rice cooked in coconut milk] which was simple yet delicious. Polished it right off the plate, not leaving a morsel behind. 

The meal came to an end with 2 different desserts -one was an Anglo indian bread pudding served with custard and the other was a flavour packed kulfi with falooda on top.. I loved the pudding!! 

If you are looking for a place to go do a relaxed fun lunch at, I would highly recommend Bombay Brasserie.. I know they have another outlet in Adyar, though I haven’t been there, if the food standards are what they are in Nungambakkam, you can go with blind faith!! 

Address:
No. 3, College Lane, 
Nungambakkam, Chennai -600034
[Beside The Marina restaurant]

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 🙂

[Home cooking- Recipe] Gobi Tawa Masala

Few days back, I spotted this lunch shot by Lifewithspices and she had sweetly shared the recipe for the Gobi tawa masala as well… It had me drooling and wanting to try the recipe, mainly cos it looked good and seemed quite easy to whip up 🙂

I love cauliflower and guess what, we had cauliflower and broccoli at home… Since it was Sunday, we decided to make something different for Lunch [gramma & I love trying out new recipes, she finds some on Facebook feed, and many from her fav Tv cookery show by Revathi Shanmugam]…  But then since it was just me & gramma, decided to just make one version, minus onions & garlic.. It came out well, and tasted yummilicious..

Oh well, does not looking anything like what K has created but we enjoyed the flavour and taste, esp the flavour added by cauliflower that had been taken to the edge on the tawa… Sharing the recipe screenshot from her feed and the final product that we dove into..

[Reipe courtesy: http://instagram.com/lifewithspices]

Pind da Khana with Chef Lucky Singh at Courtyard by Marriott Chennai

 Side dishes.. All were laid out in neat wooden pots

 Kulcha with Pind chole..
 Roti with Sarson ka saag, butter and jaggery
 Pani puri with spicy water 

Gajar ka halwa [carrot halwa] & Kala Jamun [slightly different version of our Gulab jamun]
The Jalebi station

 The dessert platter- Moti choorladoo, Plain Jalebi , Pineapple jalebi and carrot halwa ice cream with nougat bits

Medley of ice creams- Carrot halwa, Moti Choor Ladoo ice cream Rose and Kala jamun… 

Punjabi khana is something different.. it is not what you get in Delhi or Bombay or anywhere else.. The cuisine from Punjab and Pind region stands apart from every other North Indian food you would have eaten. And that is what had me curious about the Pind da Khana at Courtyard by Marriott Chennai..
Yes, the food has a lot of butter and ghee, but the beauty is it does not feel heavy at the end of the meal. During the course of dinner, had the opportunity to chat with Chef Lucky Singh is from Courtyard by Marriott Mumbai where he currently works as the Chef de Partie. With over 10 years of experience with food, he specializes in Indian Cuisine, with focus on Indian Curries and the Tandoor. When I told him how food to me was more than just the dish, it was about the journey, the history, he was very humble and responded that he cooks from the heart, and that is the only way he knows how to cook. 
This was his 1st visit to Chennai and he did share a bit about how he was still finding his foot and how the ingredients were different, therefore he wasn’t able to achieve the exact taste what you would get in Punjab /Amritsar… He went on to say that the water from the region makes a world of difference for the cuisine..  I guess that is true.. The way you cook, the temperature of the place, the vegetables, the quality of milk, butter and paneer, all of this makes a difference to the final dish.. 
But for someone like me who has been to Amritsar and eaten at the numerous dhabbas there, had lassi from their local stores, it was quite an experience to eat food that was straight from that region. Loved the flavours, the medley of spices that were used [ Chef makes his own spices and said nothing store bought works]. 
If you are a fan of Pindi chole, Rajma masala, Amritsari Bharta and the various kulchas, you should give this festival a visit. There was quite a range of options for the vegetarians and that was heart warming! You must also try the Roohafza drink or maybe the Mango lassi or if you are a fan of the Amritsari Lassi, then go for it. Served up in small glass bottles these are perfect for our warm summer evenings. 
Apart from these, you have a live Chaat counter, and a small salad bar as well. Oh and the highlight of the evening was the Dessert section- Jalebi, Pineapple jalebi[ it had a slice of pineapple that had been dippled in jalebi batter, deep fried and soaked in Jalebi syrup- was yummm], the North indian sweets and interesting ice creams that the Chef has whipped up just for the festival.  Btw, the festival is on in Bangalore subsequently… 

For further details Contact: +91 7338836320 / +91 9500120882

This festival is on till 8th July 2018 and for Dinner only [7.30 pm – 11.00 pm]

Address:
Paprika Cafe, Courtyard by Marriott Chennai
564, Anna Salai,
Teynampet,
Chennai 600018

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 🙂