Utsav at Hamsa, till 29th Oct…

The Table set up…

The lamps used as the main feature point

Napkin held in place with a bangle

The Utsav Menu
Gulab jamun  

The Starters –
Sabudhana moongphalli thalipeeth;
kuttu aur paneer ki kachori;
shakarkandi tuk chaat;
singhare aloo tikki

The mains- Kuttu alu parantha, puri, Mathura Aloo, Vrat ka pulao
[Saamai with nuts & spices]
Three gravies- Paneer shahi gulabi; dahiwale singhare ki subzi; annanas ki subzi
The Desserts – Sitaphal basundi & Mewa ki kheer [with Makhanas]
During Navaratri period [9 days], most families refrain from having onion and garlic in their food. Infact, for me it is quite the norm as 99% of the time, the food at home is made this way, heck I cook it this way. Very rarely will I add garlic or onions to a dish, and even if I do, there would be a smaller portion without it reserved for gramma [ she stopped eating onions and garlic decades ago]. And so, Sattvic food [ it is the kind that is light, made with simple ingredients and easy on the body] is nothing new. But then when I heard there was a Utsav festival happening at Hamsa, and saw the copy of the menu, I was intrigued. Most of the dishes were made with ingredients I had tried outside Chennai. 

Off I went with a friend in tow to explore this menu for lunch. Would like to make a mention that Rakesh Raghunathan has curated this menu.. It incorporates ingredients that are not too commonly used in TN. The dishes were also gluten-free,  nutritionally balanced and light on the stomach(?)… Most of the dishes were traditional ones from across the country, mainly originating from  Maharashtra, UP, Bengal, Jharkhand and Gujarat..

This was the 2nd visit to Hamsa, the 1st time was around when they had just launched. I remember enjoying the food and thinking it is a good option for those looking for veg food and a lovely ambiance. The decor is lovely, tad dark but very plush. The cutlery and serving ware are all quite rich, adding to the feel of the place. Not surprising considering the brand belongs to Sukra Jewellers, who are known to have a keen eye for detail and design.  And then the food, well, it is yummilicious alright, courtesy Chef Robi Roy who’s been there since inception..  From the minute you walk into the building, the wall with the huge birdcages behind them, to the dark interiors of the restaurant, you are enthralled and curious… The place does not let you down.. 

Infact, when I was invited to be a part of the Jury for The Week’s top 10 restaurants in Chennai, Hamsa was on everyone’s list and there were no doubts they deserved a spot there… 

At the Utsav festival menu, some of the dishes stood out for me- the Dahiwale Singhare ki sabzi [water chestnut gravy], Annanas ki sabzi [pineapple gravy], Kuttu alu parantha [buckwheat flour flat bread] and Sitaphal Basundhi [ Custard apple basundhi]. While the other dishes were also good,  the one dish that was sweet & heavy was the Paneer Shahi Gulabi [ probably cos of the creamy base and rose essence that had been blended in]

But then, I knew my gramma would love this food- it was right up her alley, the different flavours, textures, and the biggest selling point being “no onion no garlic”…. So, if you are curious about what Vrat food is all about, and haven’t been to Hamsa, this is a good time to visit… Utsav by Hamsa is on till 29th October and these Vrat dishes can be ordered along with dishes from the a la carte menu as well.. 

Meal for two – Rs 1,500 + approx

Hamsa 40, 
B. Ramachandra Adithanar Road [ past Gandhinagar club & Mun veedu, straight down the road]
Adyar 600020. 
044 24459999

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  🙂

EAT, all about home chefs…

A food delivery app.. 
So, whats different you ask?
Well, this one is food from one home to another…
Yes, you read it right..
EAT, the new app is all about connecting home chefs with hungry souls… 
A new delivery app, whole new concept that makes a start in Chennai city,
all thanks to Arun Bhaktavatsalam & his team/crew… 

Right now there are 12 home chefs on board and another 25 should be on by the end of this week. And with time, there are bound to be more home chefs who make it possible for others in the city to try their home cooked food. 

All you do is download the app, enter the locality,  scroll through the list of home chefs available in your locality/3km radius, order and wait for hot food to arrive at your doorstep. These guys have their own fleet, so delivery is taken care of by them. Infact, Arun was saying that down the road they hope to be servicing the enter city, and delivery time would be under 30mins..

They vouch for the quality of food and the kitchen, plus FSSAI License, which means the food being sent out is of the best quality…  So next time, hunger strikes give this app a shot…. 

There was an event to launch the app on Sunday which also featured about 9-10 stalls by home chefs, showcasing their dishes , giving the audience a chance to sample what they were in for… 

Here is a video from the launch- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YdEkm7LcS4M

For details, visit: www.eatalltime.com

Solkadhi… the drink!

I had seen images and posts on this, but never really thought too much about it. Infact, going by its name- Solkadhi, I kinda assumed it was part of the Kadhi family [ the curd based dish that is made both in north & south and eaten with rice].. 
During my recent trip to Goa, a friend asked for Solkadhi at a hotel, but they did not have stock.. And that is when my curiosity got piqued and I wanted to taste this, especially upon discovering it was a drink, specific to that region. 
The moment came when we were getting back to Bombay from Goa.. We had stopped at Kamat for a break, and that is when I sipped my 1st Solkadhi… Loved it, so much so that we had a 2nd one as well. It was pink in colour, which I attributed to Kokum, and was packed with flavour- garlic to whole bunch of other spices.. Since I love kokum [ my very 1st taste of this tangy fruit was during my 1st trip to Goa], I loved this drink as well… I was told this particular version we had was from a packet and the home made ones are even better… 
Wikipedia says
“Popular in Goa and the Maharashtra’s coastal region, it is made from coconut milk and kokum, also known as Aamsol or Aamsul. It is the dried fleshy skin of a fruit called Garcinia indica, deep purple-pink in color, full of antioxidants that the pigment anthocyanins provide{{citation needed}}. Garcinia indica, or Kokum, owing to the presence of a high concentration of anthocyanins, is a great antioxidant that works like an anticarcinogenic and anti-aging agent. It is known for its digestive, refreshing, cleansing and cooling properties. The preparation is prepared from liquid extracted from fresh coconut known as coconut milk; however, nowadays you can also get this extracted milk in TetraPak. The coconut milk so obtained is usually mixed with kokum, a little bit of salt and/or chili-garlic paste is added for taste and enhancing the probiotic contents.”
Look forward to exploring more local cuisine on my next trip…

10 years of On the Rocks, Crowne Plaza, Chennai

Bring out the candles and the band, it is time to ring in the 10th birthday of this fabulous restaurant- On the Rocks in Crowne Plaza Chennai.. The place has been delighting customers for a decade now, with their yumm food and the amazing drinks that Anand whips up! He is one of those who’s been around since the beginning days and continues to serve with a big smile on his face..  I don’t remember asking for anything specific and am one of those who will watch in glee as he pulls out all the stops in creating a drink… This evening, he served us something called Crefe, that had so many ingredients and quite a bit of theatrics as well.

The place also offers a new menu, well some of the old & popular dishes have been retained, like the Baked Camambert served with garlic & honey reduction and few others as well. The new menu is just as good, if not better. The Eggplant Parmesan was a clear show stopper plus it was served piping hot.. same goes for the Falafel salad  & Pumpkin ravioli… 
Among the non-veg dishes I saw the guys enjoy the Chicken and cheese involtini, served on a bed of glazed carrots & a few asparagus on top with a side of Jacket potato.. I did sneak out some of the veggies & they were delicious.. 

As for the desserts, while I love my berry treats, this time it was the Hazelnut crunch that won hands down.. The flavours, the textures were all amazing.. this is one of the dishes from the old menu that continues its journey onto the new menu…  

If you are looking for a place that offers amazing drinks, good ambiance and fabulous food, then On the Rocks is a place you should head to. Worth the indulgence… 

Happy birthday On the rocks and here’s to many more milestones~ 

Taj West End’s Masala Klub pop-up in Chennai at The Verandah ,Taj Connemara, Sep 20 -29

The lobby that was once very familiar looked new, it had been completely revamped but then there stood the majestic staircase I had gone up & down mulitple times on. It looked the same.. The place had undergone a change, and yet felt familiar. I was at Taj Connemara after a year of their reopening..  As I made my way towards The Verandah, the familiar photographs of Chennai welcomed me, plus there were also a few new installations [ interactive ones]  … 

Few minutes after settling in, we got to meet and spend a few minutes with Chef Paramjeet Singh, Sous Chef at Masala Klub.. He was infact heading back to Bangalore [had been called back urgently] but managed to spare a few minutes for us… He is known for his progressive Indian cuisine with some innovative creations like Crispy Edamame Pepper PotliVilayati Mirch ka JheengaSukhe Gulab ki Raan to name a few and over the course of our conversation he spoke about how he & his team would wander various regions across our country to come up with new ingredients or dishes they could recreate. One of them was the Motia Chole Palak, a dish that he had given his twist to. He also told us that each dish had just one or two spices that stood out, ensuring there was a good balance in flavours and the main ingredient was the highlight… 

Some of the signature dishes that stood out at dinner were Achari Ambi Paneer Tikka (Paneer flavoured with raw mango with a whole blend of homemade spices, finished in the tandoor), the Motia Chole Palak [ channa cooked down with spinach and served with roti] and not to forget the tangy spicy Tamarind sorbeta palate cleanser (The tamarind used is picked up from a 130-years-old-tree that overlooks the Masala Klub restaurant). 

 A few of the other dishes that I tasted during the course of the meal were – Bhunne Butte ka shorba (a thick soup made with corn, subtle flavours of coriander served with a spicy cracker) Dahi singada aur aloo bukhare ki tikki (spiced yoghurt with water chestnut patty stuffed with prunes and griddle fry) this was delicious, loved the varied texture; Paneer khatta pyaz (a paneer based gravy that was mild and unlike other paneer gravies I have had..) and Luckhnavi subz biryani (a fragrant assortment of garden fresh vegetables and basmati rice, flavored with saffron and mace, a specialty from ‘Lucknow’, a town I have been meaning to visit for a while now…).

Well how could I not make a mention of the desserts, the Green apple kheer [ you would not believe this was a green apple kheer- it was more like Basundi blended with apples and saffron]- truly sinful & rich ; and my favorite, the Baked anjeer halwa (mashed figs topped with thickened milk, baked and served hot)- I highly reccommend this , esp for those who love figs… 

All this awaits you for Lunch & Dinner at The Verandah, Taj Connemara from 20th through to the 29th September… 
Please call  +917825890094 for more details or reserve a seat… 

Psst… there are equal veg & non veg dishes on the menu and going by the reaction on my non veg loving friend’s faces, go indulge…… 

Psst Psst…all images shot on my new Samsung M30 [ i did use my DSLR, but decided to use the images from the phone and they are quite good, if you ask me ]

 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  🙂

The Birthday & Goan flavours

The Birthday came and has gone by… As with the past few years I did manage to escape.. But the ttrip this year was different and special.. I know I say similar things every year,but then this year it truly was different and I felt special… Why? Cos this time it was not a solo trip, it was not a trip to a new destination but infact was to a place I have been to before but it was a whole new experience.
I have done trips with friends and random groups as well, but then it is always good to travel with someone who ensures you have a good time, who takes the effort to do things for you and is someone you get along very well with… Makes sense?

My 1st trip to Goa was almost a decade ago, alone and one where I did plenty of touristy things- see all the popular sights, walk around the beaches, take the local transport and melt away in the heat of October- November. This trip on the other hand was a total contrast, I was not alone [ as mentioned earlier], the weather was awesome [ crazy rains to cool breeze] and I did explore a side of Goa I hadn’t seen before.. Above all this, got to try local Goan dishes that I dint venture much into last time around. It was a culinary treat for both of us… 🙂 
The only Goan food I had tried & loved was Bibinca, the layered dessert… That apart I had tried their Feni, and cashews.. but then this time around, I got to taste some of their popular dishes and enjoy the variety of flavours & spices.. some were too spicy to handle, while others were simply yummilicious. 
From Day1, we steered clear of all generic dishes like pasta or pizza and ensured the main meals had one goan dish in them. For breakfast, we were ok to do omelette toast, pancakes hash browns etc, but then when it came to lunch and dinner, we went to places that served authentic Goan food.. One afternoon we went to Brittos, in Baga Beach. The place is situated right on the ocean front, so you get to enjoy the cool ocean breeze, watch people enjoy themselves as you sipped on chill beer and dug into the freshly made fries and food. Oh boy, the fries were sinful, they were fresh soft and just amazing.. almost like the hand cut fries I had few years back at a restaurant in Chennai.. We finished up the meal with a slice of Blueberry Cheesecake, which was alright.. I like my cheesecake tad sour but this was fresh cream & sweetish…. 
Another evening we decided to order in [it had been pouring non stop and so we were in no mood to get dressed, drive out], but then as luck would have it, we had to do just that… We had ordered  at Lio Loco burgers and drinks via Zomato, but 45mins passed and no update. When we checked, came to know the delivery guy had a flat tire and hadnt even reached the restaurant, zomato wasnt being helpful, and so we decided to cancel the order & request a refund. A call to the cafe and we were told food was ready, and waiting for us. Since the place wasnt too far, we grudgingly got off our asses and headed over to the place. The poor guy [also the owner] had kept the place just for us [ he said he usually shuts at 8pm], reheated the burgers, made us fresh fries & drinks to go as well. During the course of the conversation came to know the place was quite popular among students, there was a school/college nearby…  We sat there, chit chatted with him a while as we dug into the juicy burgers. One of the burgers was double patty, I was unable to go beyond a few bites, heck I couldnt even get my mouth around the ginormous thing.. Friend took it and polished it off in minutes.. 🙂 The place had a few cool posters on it and a seriously gorgeous wall art – a Lion’s face that was vibrant and details blew us away… 
One of the dishes that I was told was a MUST in Goa was the lobster Thermidor, my companion had tasted it a decade plus ago, remembered how amazing it was and wanted to give me the same experience. One after, braving the crazy rains, we drove down to Calangute and he walked ahead, declining my offer to get under the umbrella and walked towards Souza Lobo, located right along the ocean… The place was fairly huge and was near packed when we walked in… mmmm… 
One more… The night before we were to leave Goa, we headed to a place called The Hangout, a small resto pub of sorts [ that was open for the 1st time this year during monsoons] where I tasted Sorpotel..served with a side of Goan Pav… This is a dish that traces its history to the Portuguese but is now cooked across the coastal Konjan region, mainly in Goa and Mangalore. A simple stew, it had masala made with vinegar and not just red chillies.. The spice factor was fairly low and went very well with the pao bread. While talking to the owner of the place, he mentioned that this was a dish that you would find at all special occasions, even weddings and was made by slow cooking the whole thing.. He also went on to share that many had this dish for breakfast with eggs and bread… 
Well, I could go on and on about the dishes I tried and the rich flavours… But the bottomline is that food is also about the company, the place,and  the experience… not just the flavours and the taste… 

The Elephant’s found its pair at Flying Elephant, Park Hyatt Chennai..

Breads with hummus & dips

Negroni [said to go well with the Paccheri]

Nick’s pizza

Achari Broccoli 

Asian Bowl- Tofu

Sangria served with Broccoli

Ricotta cake with strawberry compote

Paccheri with Lentils & Lobster

Hazel butter, choco lava, vanilla caramel fudge ice cream

Desi Tres leche

The Elephant’s found its pair
Yes, thats what they are calling this new menu that is being rolled out at Flying Elephant. I have heard of food being paired with drinks [ alcoholic/non alcoholic], seen it on TV cookery shows, but this was the 1st time I was experiencing the same. 
All kinds of questions were running through my mind- how do you pick a drink for a dish, veg/non veg, alcoholic/non alcoholic, mains and desserts.. the questions were endless… I did ask some of this to the staff, but still need more insights into the world of pairing! I wonder if it is as complicated as human beings, when we look for a partner… 🙂 
Anyways, coming back to the evening, it was all about amazing flavours and textures. The evening began with the spicy Achari Broccoli that was served with a glass of Sangria [ was told this was one of the popular pairing] and well, I enjoyed them both.. 
Then came the Nick’s pizza, quite a twist to the regular pizza- it had thin crust, palm sugar and cheese topped wit a handful of arugula.. Oh boy oh boy, we loved it..  Apparently it was a pizza put together thanks to a regular guest at the Hotel, Nick~ Thank you Nick, we loved it… 
There was also a version of the Asian bowl [I opted for one with Tofu], served with Thai green curry that was good, but it got cold by the time we dug into it. Along came a pasta dish, Paccheri- a big tube shaped pasta served on a bed of lentils cooked with tomatoes [ it also had a lobster sitting pretty on top], the veg alternative would be mushrooms & water chestnut… Oooh then came the yummilicious warm Ricotta cake with strawberry compote- surprisingly it is listed in the savories section and not dessert. [maybe cos it had a few romaine lettuce leaves on the side and salty notes]. I dint care, it was warm, comforting and yummm.. 
For desserts, we got to sample both the new items- Desi Tres leches  [ a take on our humble rasamalai] and Hazel butter, Choco lava, vanilla caramel fudge ice cream[ the ice cream was sinful, the lava cake was molten & gooey] … We also requested for their signature Churros that comes with three dipping sauces-  the best of them being the apple puree.. Hubba hubba… 
This new paired menu seems quite interesting and while some from the old menu would remain, these new dishes sure had us grinning away…. 
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  🙂

New beginnings at Golden Dragon, Taj Coromandel…

Golden Dragon, Taj Coromandel one of those restaurants that has been in Chennai forever.. And so it was lovely to hear they had a new Chef taking over the kitchen. Master Chef Lian Yun Lei comes with over 20 years of experience from across the globe, including Taj Bengal.. His cooking style is simple, less spices, and allowing the food to speak for itself. 

Some of the popular dishes from Golden Dragon’s old menu will remain on the new menu as well, worry not!.. Among the dishes from Chef Lian’s menu, I loved the steamed Okra with soya garlic (This Al Dente okra is steamed to perfection and drizzled with Chinese light soya and garlic)- could not for the life of me fathom how the okra had been steamed and yet not gooey/sticky…. Apart from that, the other one I loved was the Steamed enoki mushrooms in pickled chili, it was OMG, nothing I have ever tasted before. I remember having enoki mushroom soup in Bangkok, but haven’t seen the variety in Chennai. 

One of the highlights of this meal experience is that Chef helps us discover the hidden secrets of these regions by sharing interesting anecdotes, gastronomic journeys and experiments that have enhanced his culinary repertoire. Innovating with the most-simple ingredients is his forte…

A quiet unassuming person, Chef Lian seems to be a whiz in the kitchen with flavours, and textures.. My friends who dined with me that evening, enjoyed their non veg dishes as much, especially the scallops and lobster.. It just goes to show how vast the cuisines are, and how food connects souls…

For further information please call 044 66002827

Golden Dragon
Taj Coromandel 
#37, Uthamar Gandhi Rd, 
Tirumurthy Nagar, 
Nungambakkam, Chennai- 600034


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  🙂 

[Recipe] Kewa Datshi

Off late during my trips to familiar towns, I make it a point to do something different.. Last time I was in Delhi, I explored not one but nearly 5 book stores and this time I decided it was going to be all about food. 

In the morning I went to Lunch at Whiskey Samba [DLF] and had a fabulous lunch with Chef Vikram for company… And then from there I headed all the way to East Delhi [ well, it is the other end of town from DLF, took me an hour plus one way to meet with the lovely Anita [a_madteaparty] who I have been following and interacting with for a while on Instagram [ i love that platform, it comes in super handy when you are travelling to a new town or connecting with interesting people]…  

Anyways, without digressing, by the time I reached her place it was past 3pm, and we sat down to yap a bit.. Her sourdough breads and bakes, her workshops have always fascinated and I kept wishing I was in Delhi during one session… That afternoon we spoke about her breads, her garden, the kitchen and soon she went on to talk about her love for fermentation as well. 

I tried two kinds of Kombucha she had made- black grapes and green grapes. It tasted a lot like wine  [distinct difference between the two was there].. She showed me her sourdough starter, how it blossoms during summer vs the time it takes during winter.  We chit chatted with her husband for a bit, before moving on to talk about some food dishes she had cooked recently, which had caught my eye.. One of them was Kewa Datshi.. I asked her about it and she explained the the Bhutanese dish is the easiest to make.. Traditionally it is just Cheese & potato, but her version was slightly different… 

I came back to Chennai and since then have made it a couple of times and it is quite a hit at home and with friends as well. Here is how I made it… 

Garlic – 2-3 pods [ smashed/ Chopped up]
Green chillies- 2 [ Chopped up]
Onions – 2*
Tomato – 2*
Potato – 2*
Cheese slices – 4-5
Water – 1/2 cup

Psst-  * Slice the vegetables in rings [ like you would for bhajji]

The process
In a pan, add the butter/oil
Next add the garlic and chillies, giving it a few mins to saute
Now add the tomato slices
On top of it layer the onion slices 
Gently place the potato slices on top
No stirring ~
Add the water
Place the cheese slices on top 
Cover with a lid and let it cook for 5-8 mins [ till the potatoes go soft, again no stirring]

Serve or just eat from the pan directly… ta da… There is something comforting about this dish. Oh and there is a variation to this, called Ewa datshi, which has tonnes of chilli 

Kommune, Chennai

You step out of the elevator onto a huge open space with multi level seating arrangement and a DJ spinning tracks at the far end. Well, that is what I saw when I stepped into the 3rd floor at Kommune on GN Chetty road.  The word “Kommune” is of German origin and simply put, translates to “local community” or “group of people”or “village”.. 

Located almost opp Accord Metropolitan hotel, this space is spread across three floors, two inside and one rooftop [which is yet to open]. They had just got their booze license and I got to try not one but two interesting cocktails whipped up by Mohit Kothari, Bar Manager at Kommune.  Along the way to the stairs I noticed there was a shelf with a bunch of books, and seating spaces at different levels as well. Quite cool~!

Taking the stairs, I went up to the 4th floor and found a cozy corner seat with friends of mine taking the sofa like seating on the other side. It was again a huge space, one that is ideal for big groups. There were tables with high chairs as well, if you dont like low seating. At first glance, I loved the colours- wood finish and turquoise on upholstery giving it a bit of pop. The tables are large, rustic and have shelf space below that is used for plates. Simple, neat and functional… 

The first drink I had was Whiskey sour with egg white on top, served in a fancy glass, with a dehydrated slice of lemon sitting pretty on top. The 2nd one was a Vodka based drink with nannari sherbat.. What stood out in the 2nd one was the slice of dehydrated orange peel with the brand name “Kommune” on it..

As for the food, I noticed the menu was quite extensive, unlike any other Restopub menu I have seen. The menu here spans across cuisines – ranging from Indian, Italian, Middle Eastern and even Continental. The first dish I opted for were the Avocado Fries [simply cos I have never heard of it and I love Avocados].. The crisp fries were served with two dips, both of which were very good. 

Then came the divine Greek Salad with plenty of beetroots, feta cheese, walnuts, pomegranate and lettuce. The dressing was tad sweet, but hey I was happy digging into the bowl nevertheless. Along with a few non veg dishes, in came the Schezwan Paniyaram- a twist on our humble Chettinad paniyaram, this one had been doused in schezwan spices and was quite hot for me..  The menu went on for pages, but we were stuffed and so chilled for a while sipping our drink, taking in the ambiance, catching up on life before our bladders yelled out to us and we made our way to the funky restroom. 

Oh yes, am gonna talk about the restroom as well. It is situated in the space behind the Dj, and as you walk into the restroom, you dont find a giant mirror throwing your face at you. Nope, no mirrors here, well there are but you gotta find em…  Imagine walking in her drunk, you would be lost… lolz..  

Before I forget, they also have a cozy private space if you wanna do a party or a gathering of sorts… So if you are looking for a new place to check out, this would be a good place to start….Have already made plans to hit the place one afternoon for lunch.. 

Meal for two: Rs 1500 or so..

Timings- 11am to 11pm
60 & 62, 3rd and 4th Floor, 
GN Chetty Rd, T. Nagar, Chennai- 600017

Call 078688 00077for reservations!


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  🙂