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Monday, April 29, 2013

Hot out of Punjab!

Punjabi food is exciting if you have an uncompromised appetite. There is no denying that it is one of the heavier cuisines – rich, flavourful and spicy and most of us love it that way. We’ve savored good Punjabi food – sarso da saag, choley puri and daal makhani at many many restaurants in Mumbai. And yet there comes a time when one meal takes your breath away. Without exaggeration, that happened to us when we dined at The Square – Novotel at their Punjabi food festival ‘Zaika Punjab Da’.
What separates good food from excellent food is an abstract concept. Like Po’s father said in Kung Fu Panda, “The secret of my secret ingredient soup is – nothing.” We met a gifted chef who shared the same philosophy. Many years ago Chef Ranveer Brar, executive chef of Novotel Mumbai discovered Sweety Singh, a simple self-taught cook in Punjab, and decided that his food deserved more takers. Singh has been travelling the world ever since, cooking for top hotels and doing personalized menus for celebrities. He sure must be something, we imagined.
Singh conceptualized the menu for Zaika Punjab Da but more importantly, shared his secret recipes with Novotel. “I have no problem sharing my recipes. It is no secret. Even if I gave you the exact recipe you wouldn’t be able to reproduce my food,” he said with inadvertent pride, “that’s because the masalas are specially made in Punjab and you wouldn’t find them here.”
bhatti da murg
We could hardly wait to try the Punjabi food cooked in desi ghee. The buffet was split into two sections, multi-cuisine global fare and pure Punjabi fare. We obviously saved our hunger for the latter. Singh piled our plates with bhatti da murg, chikkad choley, maa ki daal, baingan bharta and mutton curry. Piping hot rotis arrived at the table. The murg and mutton were cooked to melt in the mouth, the choley had a sharp zing without being overly spicy and the rich creamy daal filled our tummies yet kept us asking for more. “But there is no cream, no cashewnut paste in my gravies. What you taste is pure Punjabi food,” he said. We took several helpings of the baingan bharta…doused in a layer of desi ghee, cooked without onion and garlic and yet so full of flavour. “Leave room for dessert,” he said, and served a traditional sweet dish of gaund (edible gum) and jaggery. We forgot its name – but the meal was unforgettable.

By guest blogger Diti Shah

Zaika Punjab Da was on from 13th to 28th April at The Square, Hotel Novotel, Juhu, Mumbai. 

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Belvedere Cocktail Masterclass at Wink

We were recently invited to a cocktail masterclass hosted by Belvedere Vodka alongwith their Global Brand Ambassador and bartender Allison Dedianko at Wink, Taj Vivanta.

The masterclass was a great experience where Allison alongwith the inhouse bartender at Wink taught us how to make 6 exotic cocktails, inspired by Indian ingredients. After the interactive session, participants were allowed to step into the bar and prepare their favourite cocktail out of the six concoctions. Our favourite was the Saffron and Cinnamon Daisy and we prepared the same!
Shaking up a cocktail alongwith Richa of Knead With Love

Here are the recipes of the cocktails: 

Pineapple and Cardamom Martini
50ml Belvedere Vodka
20ml Pineapple Juice
10ml Cardamom Infused Simple Syrup
2 Cardamom pods
2 Chunks of Fresh Pineapple

Muddle cardamom with simple syrup and fresh pineapple. Add rest of ingredients and shake with cubed ice. Fine strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with pineapple leaf. 

Saffron and Cinnamon Daisy
50ml Belvedere Vodka
25ml Saffron and Cinnamon Syrup
25ml Lemon Juice
Dash Premium Triple Sec
Dash Egg White

Dry shake all ingredients to emulsify the egg white and create a foam. Add ice and shake until very cold. Fine strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with a pinch of cinnamon.

Clove Sour
50ml Belvedere Vodka
25ml Clove Infused Simple Syrup
25ml Fresh Lemon Juice
2 Dashes Bitters

Shake with ice and strain over fresh ice into a rocks glass. Garnish with a slice of lemon. 

The Zephyr (Global Signature)
45ml Belvedere Vodka
25ml Pink Grapefruit Juice

15ml Orgeat (Almond Syrup)
15ml Fresh Lemon Juice

Top with Tonic Water

Shake first four ingredients with ice and fine strain into a highball glass over fresh ice.  Top with Tonic Water and garnish with a wedge of pink grapefruit.

Lemongrass Silver Fizz 
50ml Belvedere Vodka
10ml Fresh Lemon Juice
10ml Simple Syrup
2 Inch slice of Lemongrass
15ml Egg White
Topped with Cream Soda

In a cocktail shaker muddle lemongrass. Add BV, lemon, egg white and sugar. Dry shake then shake with ice and fine strain into champagne flute. Top with cream soda.

Belvedere Vodka Tasting Notes

Nose: Faint hint of vanilla along with gentle characteristics of soft cream

Palate: Full and round with medium body and a naturally smooth, rich and velvety

Texture. Some light vanilla notes swaying between sweet and savoury, with a hint of white pepper and spice

Finish: Good length with notes of almond, clotted cream and some faint Brazil nut characteristics

Venue: Wink, Vivanta by Taj
Cuffe Parade

Follow: Allison at @belvedere_ali 
Richa at @kneadwithlove
Mumbai Candid at @ChandniT and @MumbaiCandid


Friday, April 19, 2013

Review: Singkong

When we heard that one of our favourite restaurants The Tasty Tangles had been replaced by a brand new Pan Asian eatery, we were both, disappointed and inquisitive.
Singkong, the latest addition to Bandra's food scene, in one word is 'delightful'! A live sushi counter, a bar and dim lighting are the key features of the ambience. The look and feel of the place is much similar to The Tasty Tangles, which in a way is a good thing.

Browsing through the menu, we realized that the place is priced not as steep as The Tasty Tangles or Sanchos and comprises of Thai, Japanese and Chinese dishes. They also have an extensive bar menu with some unique blends.

We ordered our drinks after scanning through the bar menu, the Tropical Sangria and the Singkong Martini caught our attention. While the Sangria was quite a disappointment, the signature martini was delicious and got better with every sip. The coffee flavour along with the punch of vodka and cinnamon blended perfectly and left us craving for more.


Coming to the food, we were served tasting portions of a lot of dishes out of which our favourites were the following. Roasted Black Pepper Chicken, succulent and flavourful; Oriental Shrimp Nest, served in a shot glass and was definitely a winner, Spicy Aromatic Chicken Dumpling, a signature dish and comprised of a riot of flavours. A special mention to the sushi, even though we are not fans of sushi in general, we thoroughly enjoyed and savoured the ones served here. The chef has done an incredible job of tweaking the flavours for the Indian taste buds.


For desserts we tried the Sesame Honey Mini Cones which transported us back to being kids and the Chocolate Mocha Fudge Cake, dense and sinful.
Overall, Singkong is an ideal destination for lunch and dinner meetings or family get togethers. lovely flavours and spacious seating, give it a miss if you are planning a quiet date!

Venue: Singkong
15th Road, Off Linking Road, Bandra
Landmark: Above Sanchos

Phone: 6709 4444