Hilton Turns 100, Celebrates With A Big Bash

I had the pleasure of being part of a very special birthday bash, last weekend, and am here to tell you all about it!

Hilton Hotels & Resorts has always been known for its hospitality and excellent service. The chain completed 100 years this May, an event that was celebrated with a grand bash last weekend at DoubleTree Suites by Hilton, Sarjapur, Bangalore. I thoroughly enjoyed the celebrations, along with some other bloggers from the city.

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The in-house restaurant at DoubleTree Suites By Hilton, Sarjapur – Asia Alive – beautifully decked up for the birthday bash

Asia Alive, the restaurant at DoubleTree Suites By Hilton, Sarjapur, was home to a lavish brunch affair on this day. A unique brunch was served to us to commemorate the special occasion, including favourites from Hilton hotels across the globe. Specially curated by Executive Chef Tanmoy Majumder, the brunch spread was quite elaborate – from North Indian curries to maki rolls, various salads and desserts to dimsums and noodles!

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Some of the dishes from the extensive brunch buffet at Asia Alive

I loved most of the food I tried out from the brunch buffet, but the Aloo Methi Masala, Waldorf Salad, Ratatouille Stuffed Peppers, Avocado Sesame Rolls, Lauki Ka Kofta, Papdi Chaat and Chocolate Brownies stole my heart. The live music playing at the venue kept us humming throughout the brunch.

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Scenes from the dessert counter at the 100th birthday-special brunch buffet by Asia Alive

After the brunch, we were shown a demonstration on the making of the chocolate chip cookies that DoubleTree is known for, the world over. It was a treat to watch the pastry chef take us through the steps in the baking of these sweet treats. The freshly-baked cookies were nothing short of fantabulous, and I now understand why they are so much loved!

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Left: DoubleTree’s famed chocolate chip cookies, straight out of the oven; Top right and bottom right: The making of the said cookies

Mr. Subhabrata Roy, General Manager, DoubleTree Suites By Hilton – Bangalore, then went on to deliver a note of welcome. He was joined by Mr. Bhojraj Sharma, F&B Manager, DoubleTree Suites By Hilton – Bangalore.

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The Hilton team, addressing the bloggers at the birthday bash. From left to right: Ms. Megha Garg, Assistant Manager – Marketing & Communication; Mr. Subhabrata Roy; Mr. Bhojraj Sharma; Mr. Tanmoy Majumder

The guests present at the brunch and the bloggers then joined the Hilton team in lighting earthen lamps, to commemorate the special occasion.

Check out those pretty diyas in the shape of a 100!

The afternoon ended with the cutting of a magnificent cake that was just as unique as the brunch. Check it out for yourselves!

The grandiose cake that was cut on the occasion of Hilton’s turning 100

Would you like to experience the beautiful brunch that I enjoyed, too? The brunch is open for all at Asia Alive on June 2 and 9, 2019, between 12.30 and 4 PM. The buffet is priced at INR 1299 per head with soft beverages and at INR 1699 per head with alcoholic beverages, plus taxes. This is something you must try out, people!

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I’m sharing this recipe with Fiesta Friday #279. The co-hosts this week are Liz @ Spades, Spatulas & Spoons and Jenny @ Apply To Face Blog.

 

 

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Experience Flavours From The Streets Of India, Now At Bombay Brasserie

The bustling 12th Main in Indiranagar is home to several restaurants, serving a variety of cuisines. Bombay Brasserie, one of the eateries on this road, has managed to create a loyal clientele for itself, in the two or so years of its inception. The place is almost always packed, especially so on the weekends. There is a Street Food Festival running at Bombay Brasserie now, and I was recently invited over to sample the special festival menu. I ended up having a lovely experience!

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Street Food Festival, now on at Bombay Brasserie, Indiranagar

Ambience

I have always loved the charming, rustic decor of Bombay Brasserie and the warm, lively vibes here. Think lots of blue and white wood, good use of glass, ample natural light and greenery, rope-strung lights and cutesy antiques on display. The inside can get a bit noisy, but the outdoor seating is simply lovely, and that is just where I was seated to sample the Street Food Festival Menu.

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Check out those swings!

This is just the sort of eatery you can unwind at with your family. This is not a cramped, dull space, but a spacious one, youthful and vibrant, full of chic.

Ain’t that pretty?!

Street Food Festival at Bombay Brasserie

The regular menu at Bombay Brasserie is a good blend of interesting food and drinks from around India, which is something I love. There are classics from across the country, some of which have been retained in their original form while some have been given an unique twist. The Street Food Festival menu is an extension of this – it includes flavours from the streets all over India. There’s Juhu Beach Gola or Bhatiyar Galli (Ahmedabad) Mutton Tikka, for instance, or Benares-style Mattar Stuffed Kulcha & Aloo Rassa, Chinese Bhel and Cochin’s famed Kulukki Sherbet.

What I tried out

Here’s a low-down on the things I sampled at Bombay Brasserie, and those that I loved the best.

From the drinks menu, I had:

Kairi Sherbet A sweet and sour and salty sherbet made with raw mango, which hit all the right spots. It was delightfully refreshing, especially so on the hot summer’s day when I visited.

Kutchi Beer – This is a ‘beer without beer’, as the folks at Bombay Brasserie put it. It is, in fact, buttermilk mixed with black salt, cumin, green chillies, mint and coriander, served in a beer bottle. The Kutchi Beer I was served was a bit too high on salt, which prevented the other flavours from coming through.

Cochin Kulukki Sherbet – This is a lemon-green chilli-ginger sherbet that is always shaken, never stirred, from the bylanes of Cochin. A potent concoction this is, perfect for hot days. The Bombay Brasserie version was quite different from the sabja seed-laden Kulukki Sherbet of Cochin, but was delish nonetheless.

From left to right: Kairi Sherbet, Kutchi Beer and Cochin Kulukki Sherbet, at Bombay Brasserie

From the appetisers, here’s what I sampled:

Aam Puri Chaat – Staying true to the current mango season everywhere, this is Bombay Brasserie’s version of aam golgappas. Crispy puris are served with a sweet-spicy-tangy mango paani, topped with lots and lots of sev. The abundance of cold paani in the puris was a tad overwhelming for me, but I understand this dish has received rave reviews from most mango lovers.

Crispy Suji Bites – These savoury cakes are made using suji (semolina/rava), crisp on the outside, soft and gooey on the inside. They are served topped with coarsely crushed fine peanuts from Bharuch, fried garlic and chilli, along with some in-house dips. Quite an interesting play of flavours and textures this was, and I loved it.

1960 ‘Atho‘ Salad – This is popular street food in Madras, made popular by the Burmese immigrants in Tamil Nadu. It is a cold salad made with noodles, wheat crispies, tamarind, cabbage, onions, chilli and garlic – does that sound like a weird combination? I wouldn’t say I loved this, but I liked it quite a bit.

Top Left: Aam Puri Chaat; Top Right: Crispy Suji Bites; Bottom Right: 1960 ‘Atho‘ Salad; Bottom Left: A close-up of the Aam Puri Chaat

What did we have for main course? Here goes:

Mattar Stuffed Kulcha & Aloo Rassa – This was one exquisite platter, hailing from the streets of Benares, that had me licking my fingers. The Aloo Rassa was beautiful, potatoes cooked to perfection in achaari masala. It made for the perfect complement to the kulcha, supremely soft and stuffed with a delectable green-pea filling. This is a must-try at Bombay Brasserie, according to me.

Tarkari Masaledar – I absolutely loved the Tarkari Masaledar, a melange of vegetables and paneer served in a spicy, slightly sweet, caramelised onion gravy. It was perfectly done, cooked just right. The fragrant spice mix used in the sabzi bowled me over!

Top: Mattar Stuffed Kulcha & Aloo Rassa; Bottom: Tarkari Masaledar

I ended the meal with two sweet treats:

Juhu Beach Gola – This was one soul-satisfying affair! The kala khatta ice gola was simply perfect, a lovely blend of sweet and sour. It instantly transported me back to my childhood when I would patiently wait for my final exams to get over, so I could get my hands on an ice gola off the streets. This gola, though, was prepared in a highly hygienic manner! Served in a cutting chai glass, this was a delight to eat and photograph. I would highly recommend you to try this out!

Bombay Falooda – This was another beautiful dessert by Bombay Brasserie! The falooda was perfectly made, everything in it just right – from the sevai and the toasted nuts to the rose milk. It brought back fond memories of summer holidays spent sipping on cool, fragrant, home-made rose milk. Don’t miss this, I say!

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Left: Juhu Beach Gola; Right: Bombay Falooda

I hope you guys had fun on this gastronomical journey with me!

Do check out the Street Food Festival at Bombay Brasserie, Indiranagar, too. There’s a range of interesting dishes up for grabs. The festival is on till May 31, 2019.

Valet parking is available.

Cost for two: Rs. 2000-2500

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I’m sharing this post with Fiesta Friday #275. The co-hosts this week are Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook and Laurena @ Life Diet Health.

Aamlicious: Rajdhani’s Mango Festival You Simply Must Not Miss

The moment summer sets in, most of us begin to dream of mangoes. The love of mangoes is what gets most Indians through the intense heat of summer. And who can blame us? Eating a mango is an unparalleled experience – be it the sweet and juicy, yellow-orange flesh of the ripe fruit or the lip-puckeringly sour raw mango. Using raw and ripe mangoes in various culinary confections is de rigueur in India in the months of summer. That’s what the Aamlicious festival at Rajdhani, Bangalore, is all about – the play of mangoes in various forms, dishes, textures, ingredients and flavours.

Aamlicious is a hugely anticipated affair at Rajdhani every year, and why not? The kitchen team comes up with a huge variety of dishes made with the mango, the ‘king of fruits’, each one surpassing the other. I had the pleasure of experiencing the Aamlicious feast at Rajdhani’s Indiranagar outlet a few days back, along with a few other foodies from the city, and ended up utterly awed by all of it.

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The mango-licious thali we were served at Rajdhani’s Aamlicious festival. Isn’t that simply magnificent?

There is no better way to describe the mango-laden thali we were served, other than calling it ‘a veritable feast’. The Rajdhani team has come up with an astounding array of over 30 dishes with mango, mostly from the states of Gujarat and Rajasthan. Aam Ki Launji, Kairi Ka Panna, Aam Palak Patta Chaat, Raw Mango Muthia, Kairi Samose Ki Sabzi, Mango Pulao, Kesar Aam Thandai, Aam Jalebi, Aam Ras and Aam Basundi are just some examples of the stuff that is on offer. There’s a mind-boggling variety of mango-based appetisers, curries, daal, kadhi, drinks and desserts – what’s to not love?

Some of the appetisers we were served as part of the Aamlicious festival at Rajdhani. Check them out!

Mr. Sugata Sengupta, Corporate Chef – Rajdhani, spoke to us food bloggers about the sheer hard work that has gone into creating the thali for the Aamlicious festival this season. This feast has been designed after over a month of research, trials and testing, and the hard work surely shows!

A glimpse of the main course dishes that are part of the Aamlicious festival this year. Top Left: Kairi Samose Ki Sabzi, a unique offering; Top Right: Aam Ki Launji; Bottom Row (from left to right): Gol Amboliya, Rajashthani Kaju Aur Aam Ki Sabzi, Ker Sangri Amboliya, Gujarati Fajeto

I loved most of the ‘aam‘ creations on offer at Aamlicious, but I will share my top picks here.

Among the drinks, the Kesar Aam Thandai (a delicious mango twist added to the regular thandai) and Kairi Panna (a traditional Indian-spiced raw mango cooler) were brilliantly done. From the appetisers, the Kaccha Aam Na Muthiya (Gujarati steamed wheat-flour dumplings made with raw mango) tantalized my taste buds.

The Aam Ras (ripe mango pureed with milk and sugar) was delectable too, bringing back fond memories of hot summer afternoons spent lunching on it with pooris, back in Ahmedabad. The utterly delectable Kairi Samose Ki Sabzi (raw mango samosas cooked in a spicy-tangy gravy, based on a traditional Rajasthani recipe) was something very new to me. I also adored the Aam Ki Launji and Ker Sangri Amboliya too, both Rajasthani dishes made using raw mangoes.

Top: Kacchi Kairi Khichiya Masala Papad, a special type of rice-flour papad popular in Gujarat and Rajasthan. Bottom (from left to right): Marwari Kacchi Kairi Ki Biryani (biryani cooked with raw mangoes); Aam Pista Pulao (pulao made with pistachios and mango); the three drinks on offer – Aam Ras, Kesar Aam Thandai and Kairi Panna.

Both the mango-special desserts served to us bowled me over. Mango Jalebi Rabdi (jalebi stuffed with ripe mango and served with creamy rabdi) and Gulkand Paan Malpua Mango Rabdi (malpua made with ripe mango, served with rose jam and pureed betel leaves on top) were extremely well-done, supremely decadent and lip-smackingly delicious.

Top Left: Mango Jalebi Rabdi; Bottom Left: The king of fruits, crowned, and justly so!; Right: Gulkand Paan Malpua Mango Rabdi; all part of the Aamlicious festival at Rajdhani

This is one festival you don’t want to miss. Do check it out – it’s on till May 31 at all Rajdhani outlets in Bangalore! Please do note that the dishes are served on a rotational basis, so it is best to call them and check in case you are interested in a particular dish.

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I’m sharing this recipe with Fiesta Friday #273. The co-host this week is Mollie @ The Frugal Hausfrau.

 

Eggless Steamed Christmas Pudding| Steamed Fruit Cake

It’s almost Christmas! I absolutely have to share this Christmas-sy recipe with you – one for an Eggless Steamed Christmas Pudding!

Bangalore is extremely beautiful right now. There’s a nip in the air, the weather just gorgeous, the diffused light perfect for photographs. Big Christmas trees, Santa Claus cut-outs, reindeer, red and green bobbles, lanterns, silver snowflakes and golden stars are everywhere. Plum cakes and other Christmas treats have started making an appearance in the bakeries of the city. There are Christmas tree lighting ceremonies and Christmas-special menus galore. Little and big shops, homes, and shopping malls (and food bloggers too!) are getting ready to usher in Christmas.

Our humble little Christmas tree is all set up, but we are yet to decorate it. That will be an afternoon project for the bub and me, one of these days. Did I tell you that the bub’s year-end holidays have started? She is already running amok in the house, wreaking havoc. 😛 This Eggless Steamed Christmas Pudding was prepared with her in tow, over the weekend, to keep her from getting into too much trouble. 😀 Well, I can’t say the pudding served its intended purpose, but I did have loads of fun making it! Also, it did turn out absolutely delicious, a sweet treat just perfect for the holiday season! You can make a sauce to go with this pudding if you want, but you don’t really need one – just dust it with powdered sugar, and it turns into one stunner of a looker!

What do I say about this pudding? The name says it all. It is an eggless dessert, a steamed one made in a pressure cooker. It contains loads of fruit and nuts, cinnamon and cloves, like a Christmas fruit cake. Texture-wise, this is less dense than a fruit cake, a bit softer. Taste-wise, this is an almost-fruit cake.

If you are looking for something different, yet awesome to make for the Christmas season, do try this Eggless Steamed Christmas Pudding out. The process is a bit time-consuming, but I wouldn’t call it laborious. Put the pudding in the cooker to steam, turn the flame to low, and you don’t need to hover around the stove-top. Not really. The end result is totally, totally worth it, I can assure you of that.

Now, without further ado, let’s check out the recipe for this Eggless Steamed Christmas Pudding.

Recipe Source: Adapted from Lite Bite

Ingredients (makes 1 medium-sized pudding, serves 8-10):

  1. 2-1/2 cups of mixed fruits and nuts
  2. Juice of 2 oranges
  3. 1-1/4 cup demerera sugar
  4. 1 cup maida
  5. 1 cup bread crumbs
  6. 4 cloves
  7. A 1/2-inch piece of cinnamon
  8. A small piece of nutmeg
  9. A pinch of salt
  10. 1 tablespoon oil
  11. 1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence
  12. 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  13. 1 teaspoon baking powder
  14. A little butter, to grease the pudding mould

Method:

1. Chop all the nuts (like cashews, almonds) you are using into small bits. Similarly, chop the candied fruit (like oranges, ginger, kiwi, pineapple) into small pieces. If you are using fresh apples, grate them medium-fine. Take all the prepared fruit and nuts in a bowl.

2. Squeeze the juice out of the 2 oranges. Pour this over the prepared fruit and nuts in the bowl. Cover and let the fruit and nuts soak for 20-30 minutes at room temperature.

3. Pound the cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg using a mortar and pestle. Powder them together in a small mixer. Keep aside.

4. In a large mixing bowl, place the maida, bread crumbs, salt, the cinnamon-cloves-nutmeg powder, the baking powder and baking soda. Mix together. Keep aside – these are the dry ingredients for the pudding.

5. Place the demerera sugar in a pan, and place it on high heat. When the pan gets hot, reduce the flame to low. Wait till the sugar is dissolved, and switch off the flame – don’t cook the sugar for too long, otherwise it will turn hard. Immediately, pour 1/2 cup of room-temperature water into the sugar and mix well. You should get a dark brown caramel syrup.

6. Pour the caramel syrup into the fruit and nuts, once they are done soaking. Add the oil and the vanilla essence to it, and mix well – these are the wet ingredients for the pudding.

7. Add the wet ingredients little by little to the dry ingredients in the mixing bowl. Mix well, ensuring that all the wet and dry ingredients are thoroughly incorporated together. The batter should be thick, and not very runny.

8. Grease a medium-sized vessel or pudding mould with a little butter. Pour the batter you prepared (in the step above) into the greased mould/vessel. Cover the mould/vessel with aluminium foil, and secure it with a piece of string. Keep ready.

9. Take 10 cups of water in a pressure cooker bottom. Place it on high heat and allow the water to come to a boil. Place the covered pudding mould/vessel with the batter (which we prepared in the step above) into the water. Cover the pressure cooker with the lid, and turn the flame down to low-medium.

10. Let the pudding cook on low-medium heat for 2 hours. It is ready when a knife or toothpick inserted into the centre of the pudding comes out clean. You can serve this Eggless Steamed Christmas Pudding warm or at room temperature, dusted with some powdered sugar.

Notes:

1. The mixed fruits and nuts should come to roughly 500 grams. I used one apple (grated), 50 grams of broken cashewnuts, 50 grams of black currants, 100 grams of raisins, 100 grams of candied oranges, 100 grams of candied pineapple and a few chunks of candied ginger.

2. You can use any odourless oil to make this Eggless Steamed Christmas Pudding. I used refined sunflower oil.

3. You can use ordinary white sugar to make the caramel here, instead of the demerera sugar. However, demerera sugar adds a lovely dark brown colour and a beautiful flavour to the pudding, so I would suggest you use that instead.

4. Make sure you don’t burn the sugar while making the caramel. Keep the pan on low heat, and switch off the gas as soon as the sugar dissolves. Add water immediately. If these steps are not done correctly, the sugar might become too hard, making it difficult to prepare the caramel.

5. Stand away while pouring water over the dissolved sugar. It sputters.

6. You can use any permutations and combinations of fruits and nuts, while making this Eggless Steamed Christmas Pudding. However, I would suggest you not miss out on the candied orange and ginger, grated apple, cashewnuts and black currants, for it is these ingredients that add a lovely touch to the pudding. Bananas, candied mixed fruit peel, cranberries, dates, cherries, candied kiwi, slivered almonds, etc. are some other things you might use.

7. Ensure that you place adequate water (10 cups) in the bottom of the pressure cooker while steaming the pudding. Keep checking at intervals, and refreshing the water in case you find it has come down.

8. The time that this pudding needs to get completely steamed would differ, depending upon the make of the cooker and ingredients used. Keep checking after 1-1/2 hours (by inserting a toothpick in the centre of the pudding – it should come out clean), and steam till fully done. Mine took exactly 2 hours to get done entirely.

9. Cover the pudding mould securely with a sheet of aluminium foil, and tie a piece of string around it. This will prevent any water from getting into the pudding.

10. If you don’t have a pressure cooker, you can use any large vessel or pan with a lid to steam the pudding.

11. Allow some space for the pudding to rise, in the mould that you use. I didn’t have a pudding mould, so I used an ordinary steel vessel for the steaming.

12. I have not tried making this Eggless Steamed Christmas Pudding with whole wheat flour yet, but I think it should be doable.

13. I have used store-bought bread crumbs here. You may make the bread crumbs at home, instead, too – just pulse 6-8 slices of day-old bread in the mixer till you get crumbs.

14. Make sure you steam the pudding on a low flame, to ensure even cooking.

15. You can soak the fruits and nuts in the orange juice a day in advance, before you make this pudding. In that case, take the fruits and nuts in a bowl, pour the orange juice over them, and allow them to soak in the refrigerator, covered. I just allowed the fruits and nuts to soak for about 30 minutes, before I started making the pudding.

16. Once the pudding is completely steamed and ready, set it aside for 20-30 minutes before unmoulding and slicing it.

Did you like this recipe? Do tell me, in your comments!

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Foodie Monday Blog Hop

This post is for the Foodie Monday Blog Hop. The theme for the week is ‘#ChristmasSpecial Recipes’.

I’m sending this recipe for Fiesta Friday #254. The co-hosts this week are Antonia @ Zoale.com and Kat @ Kat’s 9 Lives.

Panel Discussion: Resurgence Of Millets In My Plate

Last week, I was thrilled to be offered the opportunity to be part of a panel discussion, titled ‘Resurgence Of Millets In My Plate’, by eminent personalities from the state of Karnataka. This discussion, organised by the Government of Karnataka’s Department of Agriculture in co-ordination with the Department of Home Science of the Mount Carmel College, Bangalore, was held at The Capitol on Raj Bhavan Road on December 7, 2018 .

The panel discussion was a lead-up to the next Organics & Millets International Trade Fair, which is scheduled between January 18 and 20, 2019, at the Bengaluru Palace. As always, the discussion opened up to me the immense world of millets, all that one can do with these wonder grains, in one’s own kitchen and at the country level.

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The event started with a welcome speech by Dr. K.G. Jagadeesha, IAS, Commissioner – Department of Agriculture. He spoke about the mammoth scale of the Organics & Millets International Trade Fair 2019, and of how the fair has already proved to be a great success in the past years.

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Dr. A. Sundaravalli, introducing the agenda of the panel discussion

Post this, Dr. A. Sundaravalli, Head of the Department of Home Science, Mount Carmel College, Bangalore, spoke about the panelists and the agenda of the discussion, i.e. how to enable millets to make a come-back on the plates of the common man, after the ancient grains having been considered as ‘poor man’s food’ for so long. She spoke of how, considering the immense health benefits of millets, it is critical for them to start gaining a wider acceptance than they already are.

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The panel discussion started, moderated by Dr. Santha Maria, Dean, Faculty of Home Science, Mount Carmel College, Bangalore.

Dr. Santha Maria, introducing the esteemed panelists to the audience

The esteemed panelists included:

  • Dr. Manjunath C.N., Director, Jayadeva Hospital
  • Dr. Mahesh D.M., Consultant Endocrinologist, Aster CMI and Medpoint Diabetes & Thyroid Clinic
  • Ms. Sheela Krishnaswamy, President, Indian Dietictic Association
  • Mr. Sihikahi Chandru, Actor, Producer & Director
  • Mr. Prashant Parameshwaran, Managing Director, Soulfull
  • Mr. Vilasbhargav, Managing Director, South Ruchis Square
  • Mr. Suresh Hinduja, CEO, Gourmet India.com
  • Mr. Ashish Kumar Ballal, Former Indian goalkeeper of Indian Hockey
  • Dr. Swarnalatha Chandran, Swarayu Wellness Clinic
The panelists, in the course of the discussion. From left to right: Ms. Swarnalatha Chandran, Dr. Mahesh D.M., Mr. Vilasbhargav, Mr. Suresh Hinduja, Dr. Santha Maria, Mr. Ashish Kumar Ballal, Mr. Prashant Parameswaran, Ms. Sheela Krishnaswamy, and Mr. Sihikahi Chandru

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Putting forth his views about the importance of using millets in today’s world, Dr. Manjunath stated that there has been a stark increase in the incidence of lifestyle diseases in India, in the last couple of decades, both among males and females. What is even more alarming is the age group among which the incidence of these diseases is on the rise – more and more people in their 20s and 30s are being affected by rising blood pressure and cholesterol as well as heart problems, which is something very serious. At this rate, the day is not far when India will be the ‘disease capital of the world’. There are several factors which are leading to this negative development, as per Dr. Manjunath – including improper food habits, sedentary lifestyles, improper work situations, high stress levels and rising air pollution. Millets can go a long way towards bringing this alarm-inducing situation under control, he strongly opined.

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Dr. Manjunath putting forth his views at the panel discussion

The primary prevention of most lifestyle disorders starts with food, Dr. Manjunath stated. A lot of these diseases that are prevalent among today’s Indian youth can be controlled by increasing the consumption of millets, as well as consuming more vegetables and fruits (at least the minimum recommended dietary requirement for an adult). Dr. Manjunath stated that awareness among people about the various health benefits of millets needs to increase further, which will in turn bring about a better acceptance of them.

He went on to appeal to the audience not to think that the consumption of millets will automatically resolve all of one’s health issues. Millets are not a panacea. They should be used in combination with other components in one’s diet, like fruits and vegetables, dairy products, fats, wheat and rice. Every food group is important, he said. A 60:40 combination of millets:other ingredients will go a long way towards making them more palatable to the general public, he stated.

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Dr. Mahesh then went on to further elaborate on the various benefits that the consumption of millets offers. He stated that millets are the only food that offer everything to the human body, from fat, protein and antioxidants to vitamins and minerals. They are of great help in exercising the gut, and ensure the slow release of sugars into one’s blood stream. Considering this, it is very important for millets to start gaining wider acceptance among the general public, he stated.

The panelists, engrossed in the discussion

Prevention is better than cure. To cut short lifestyle diseases before they occur, it is high time we start paying close attention to what kinds of foods we are putting into our systems, Dr. Mahesh stated. It is high time we started recognising the importance of these wonder grains called millets, and gave them pride of place on our dining tables, he added.

Dr. Mahesh also spoke about the criticality of inculcating good eating habits, millets included, among children and youth, which will go on to ensure that we grow up into healthier adults and a healthier nation. Educating them about healthy eating will go a long way towards increasing acceptance, he stated.

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Ms. Sheela Krishnaswamy went on to bust some common myths about the consumption of millets in India:

  • There seems to be a misconception among some Indians that eating a dark-coloured millet like ragi or finger millet will cause one’s skin to become dark. That is so not the case! Millets do not affect the colour of your skin, or that of your unborn child during pregnancy!
  • Millets are not a panacea for all diseases. Increasing the consumption of millets in one’s diet does not mean that all one’s ills will be cured.
  • Millets cannot replace everything else in your lunch or dinner plate. Your meals every day cannot be all-millet. A balanced diet, including good portion of all food groups, is more important. Moreover, millets might not be suitable in large proportions for certain people, such as those with digestive ailments.
  • Using millets in any proportion and in any way does not help. Using a small portion of millets in a dish, while the rest is made up of sugar or fat is not a healthy way to consume them. You don’t get the health benefits of the millet in your system, that way.
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Ms. Sheela Krishnaswamy putting forth her views about millets at the panel discussion

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Mr. Sihikahi Chandru spoke about how he started reading up about millets a while ago, when he heard about the numerous health benefits they possess. He was surprised to discover that millets are not some new-fangled marketing drama, but an age-old grain that has been in use in India since centuries. He spoke of how his grandparents and ancestors grew up regularly consuming millets, and lifestyle disorders never seemed to affect them. Further, he went on to speak about how, when he himself tried to inculcate millets in his daily diet, it took a while for his system to adjust to them. He urged the audience to give millets a chance, to give their bodies enough time to get used to them, to not give up on them too soon. Mr. Chandru also spoke about the need to cook millets in a way that is palatable to the general public, so as to improve their acceptance.

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Mr. Sihikahi Chandru, speaking at the panel discussion

In conclusion, Mr. Chandru stated that millets need to be made more affordable, so as to enable common men and women to consume more of them. The production, distribution and affordability of millets needs to be worked upon.

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Mr. Prashant Parameshwaran spoke about how his firm, Soulfull, is working towards making millets more palatable and acceptable to the kids of today and the younger generation. He went on to speak about how Soulfull is making millets easier to use, so that they can get wider acceptance by the general public.

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Mr. Parameshwaran also talked about how the onus of change (from a largely wheat- and rice-dominant diet to a millet-inclusive one) lies on several people, including doctors, media, teachers, bloggers, food critics and housewives. All of these stakeholders need to work towards this goal, for it to be successfully achieved.

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Mr. Vilasbhargav talked about increased awareness among his customers at South Ruchis Square, a fine-dining restaurant located in Bangalore, about the health benefits of millets. He spoke about how customers today are more willing to try out various dishes made using millets, and of how such dishes are getting a good response in his restaurant. There is scope to do a lot more using millets in the culinary world, he added.

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Mr. Suresh Hinduja spoke about the need to tackle the non-acceptance of millets among children and adults alike. It is critical to introduce millets to children early on, so they are more receptive of them at later stages in life, he rightly stated. Also, there is a need to educate adults about the many ways in which millets can help them lead a healthier life, he said, which enable them to accept the grains more readily.

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Mr. Suresh Hinduja, speaking at the panel discussion

Mr. Hinduja also re-emphasised the need to serve millets in a way that is more acceptable to the children and youth of today. Millet-based drinks, energy bars, chocolates, pancakes and snacks are good ways to introduce the younger generation to the wonder grain, he stated.

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Mr. Ashish Kumar Ballal talked about how the inclusion of millets is important for sportspeople and those are conscious about their health. Millets are a gluten-free food filled with nutrients, thus making for the perfect pre-game food. He spoke about how he began including millets like ragi and jowar in his own daily diet and that of his team, at the recommendation of doctors, and how that benefited them hugely.

Mr. Ashish Kumar Ballal addressing the audience at the panel discussion

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Dr. Swarnalatha spoke about how millets are loaded with health benefits, but might not be suitable for all types of personalities, all age groups, and all times of the day. For instance, she stated, the system of someone with a kapha-dominant personality would be more acceptable to millets rather than someone with a vata– or pitta-dominant personality. Millets take time to digest, which is why they should preferably be consumed earlier in the day, between 6 AM to 2 PM, she said. She also spoke of how what you consume the millets with affect what nutrients you absorb from them – for instance, cooking them with an acidic substance like lemon or tamarind helps in better absorption of the iron in them.

Dr. Swarnalatha addressing the audience, at the panel discussion

Dr. Swarnalatha went on to state that it would be wrong to say that millets cannot be consumed by goiterous people or those with thyroid issues. The consumption of millets only has a very small bearing on goiter and thyroid problems, she stated. It would be best to consult a qualified dietician or doctor for better clarity on these aspects, she added.

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The event concluded with the answering of audience questions by the panelists. This was followed by a vote of thanks to the panelists on behalf of the Department of Home Sciences, Mount Carmel College, Bangalore.

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As always, there are several events planned to the run-up of the Organics & Millets Trade Fair 2019, including cooking contests, millet fairs, runs and more. Stay tuned! Also, don’t miss marking your calendars for the gala fair that is slated to happen in January 2019!

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I’m sharing this post with Fiesta Friday #254. The co-hosts this week are Antonia @ Zoale.com and Kat @ Kat’s 9 Lives.

A Class With Ben Ungermann, Of The MasterChef Australia Fame

If you have been watching MasterChef Australia, I’m sure Ben Ungermann needs no introduction.

Ben Ungermann, runner-up at MasterChef Australia 2017, was recently in Bangalore for a few days, conducting events for World On A Plate. Last weekend, I had the pleasure of attending a masterclass by him, at Lavonne Academy of Baking Science and Pastry Arts yesterday. It was an experience that I will cherish for a long, long time to come.

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Ben Ungermann, regaling us with tales from his MasterChef Australia days, at his recent masterclass in Bangalore

Ben demonstrated to us, a fascinated audience, some really unique dishes –

1. Beer Can Chicken With Smashed Potatoes
2. Coffee-Cardamom Ice Cream With Cream Cheese Mousse, Butternut Pumpkin Puree, Shortbread, Rum Caramel & Micro Greens
3. Fish En Pappilote Roasted Tomatoes & Fennel Mayonnaise
4. Sake Ice Cream With Matcha Microwave Sponge, Puffed Rice & Wasabi Mousse

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Ben at the masterclass, demonstrating Beer Can Chicken With Smashed Potatoes

Ben kept us spell-bound by creating these fantastic dishes right before our eyes.

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Ben demonstrating Fish En Pappilote Roasted Tomatoes, i.e. the French way of cooking fish in a bag

He wowed us with his understanding of various ingredients and cooking techniques.

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Ben demonstrating how fennel mayonnaise can be prepared in exactly 30 seconds, which is then used to plate the Fish En Pappilote Roasted Tomatoes

Ben regaled us with anecdotes from his life and MasterChef Australia 2017. He told us of how he had children early on in life, and how he was forced to make a living selling shoes back home in Australia while he actually wanted to cook in a professional setting, just because he couldn’t support his family on an apprentice cook’s salary. MasterChef opened the doors to the world of professional cooking to him, as risky as it was for him to take a chance, quitting his job to enter the competition. Ben also told us of how his quest to make good-quality, healthy ice creams for his family led him to open up Ungermann Brothers in Queensland, Australia – now, a bucket list destination for me. 🙂

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Ben demonstrating Coffee-Cardamom Ice Cream With Cream Cheese Mousse, Butternut Pumpkin Puree, Shortbread, Rum Caramel & Micro Greens, at the masterclass

All through the masterclass, Ben’s humility and down-to-earth nature, his warm and friendly personality, shone through. It is evident that this person takes pride in his roots, and that he loves being a family man. Cooking for his loved ones is the highest form of adulation for them, it was clear, and this did win us over.

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Ben involving the participants of the masterclass in little tasks

Ben made us smile by involving us in little ways throughout his demonstration. He spoke to us of how India will always occupy a special place in his heart, because of the immense love that the country has given him and MasterChef Australia in general. Being the sweet person that he is, he indulged us by taking posed photographs and selfies with us, giving us personalised autographs, and giving the go-ahead for short video clips with him.

 

Ben at the masterclass, indulging his big and little fans with autographs

At the end of it all, we felt we had met a friend, Ben, from Australia, not watched THE Chef Ben in action.

Ben, thank you for being the lovely person that you are!

World On A Plate, thank you for making this experience possible for me!

 

 

 

Dragon Food Festival @ InAzia, Sheraton Grand, Whitefield

I have had the pleasure of dining at InAzia, the Pan-Asian restaurant at the Sheraton Grand Bengaluru Whitefield Hotel & Convention Center, a couple of times. Last week, I was invited to partake of another feast there, to check out their ongoing Dragon Food Festival, along with some other food bloggers.

Experience Chef Shishir Rai’s Magic At The Dragon Food Festival

The Dragon Food Festival, as the name suggests, will showcase dishes from the exotic land of China. The festival menu has been carefully curated by Jr. Sous Chef, Shishir Rai, who is also spearheading the campaign.

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Chef Shishir Rai, the mastermind behind the ongoing Dragon Food Festival at InAzia

I loved how the Dragon Food Festival menu has a good selection of dishes for vegetarians as well as non-vegetarians alike. Both exotic and popular Chinese dishes feature on the menu, which is something that won brownie points with me.

(For more pictures from the Dragon Food Festival, check out my Facebook post!)

What did I try out?

Chef Rai suggested the foods we absolutely must not miss out, from the food festival menu. Each dish came to our table beautifully presented, and most of it managed to bowl me over.

Here is a sneak peek into all that I tried out at InAzia’s Dragon Food Festival, the vegetarian, non-alcoholic part of it that is.

Cucumber & Cilantro Soup: Decked with slivers of cucumber, delicately flavoured with coriander, this subtly spiced soup was served warm to us. I loved how it was so simple yet hearty, neither overwhelming nor overly bland. It was done just right!

Assorted Mushrooms Truffle Blast: These dimsums were, again, simple but extremely delicious. The filling was a mix of hon Shimeji enokitake and shiitake mushrooms, scented with truffle oil, and I loved them to bits.

Top left: Cucumber & Cilantro Soup; Bottom left: Assorted Mushrooms Truffle Blast; Right: Vegetable Sichuan-Style Pan-Fried Dimsums

Vegetable Sichuan-Style Pan-Fried Dimsums: Stuffed with celery, carrot and asparagus, these pan-fried dimsums were absolutely perfect. They were mildly spiced, but so delicious! The garlic oil they were seasoned with added a whole lot of oomph to them.

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Wok-Tossed Tofu, Sichuan-Style, at InAzia’s Dragon Food Festival

Wok-Tossed Tofu, Sichuan-Style: Cubes of silken tofu were marinated, then tossed with Sichuan chilli paste to create this dish, which was a real beauty indeed. The outside was crunchy, the inside deliciously soft, the sauce a burst of flavours.

Jasmine Tea: We were served some jasmine tea, to cleanse our palates after the appetisers, in preparation for the main course. Now, I have had jasmine tea at a few places, but never loved it, thanks to it almost always feeling like insipid lukewarm water. The jasmine tea at InAzia was an entirely different story, though! It had a mild and subtle flavour, the gorgeous scent of jasmine, and the power to perk you up. Love!

Traditional Moon Fan: Here, steamed rice was flavoured with traditional Chinese five-spice, topped with sesame soy sauce and assorted veggies. This dish wasn’t bad, but felt quite bland to my tastebuds, as opposed to all the other dishes that were filled with taste.

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Left: Dry-cooked Hoo Fun Vegetable Noodles; Top right: Traditional Moon Fan; Centre right: Tofu, Asparagus & Water Chestnut With Malak Paste; Bottom right: Jasmine Tea

Dry-Cooked Hoo Fun Vegetable Noodles: I loved these flat rice noodles cooked with Napa cabbage, sweet peppers and bean sprouts. Flavoured with sesame oil and seasoned with fermented bean sauce, they were oh so flavourful!

Tofu, Asparagus & Water Chestnut With Malak Paste: With melt-in-the-mouth silken tofu, asparagus, water chestnut and green onion cooked in a sesame-chilli paste, this dish was such a flavour bomb! It was absolutely delicious, and paired beautifully with the rice and noodles.

Cranberry Mint Cooler: Along with the food, we were also served a Cranberry Mint Cooler, an extremely beautifully done mocktail. The sourness of cranberry and the freshness of mint leaves paired together really well. This was something I absolutely loved at InAzia!

Left: Chilled Mango Pudding; Top right: Rice Cakes With Ginger Syrup & Ice Cream; Bottom right: Cranberry Mint Cooler

Chilled Mango Pudding: This pudding with mango jelly was served chilled, with pieces of fresh mango and cream. I loved that the pudding had a mildly sweet taste, and that it was not tooth-cloying. I also loved the bits of fresh mango and cream (of course!), but overall, the pudding felt like it had a bit too much of gelatin in it. While I loved the taste of this dessert, I didn’t quite enjoy the satiny consistency.

Rice Cakes With Ginger Syrup & Ice Cream: This dessert was quite unusual, at least to me. A sweet filling made with adzuki aka red beans was stuffed into rice flour shells, then steamed, and served alongside a mild ginger syrup and vanilla ice cream. The rice flour cakes were not unlike the Tamilian kozhukattai, although a bit thicker. The red bean stuffing takes a bit of getting used to. The ginger syrup was simply brilliant, and went wonderfully with the vanilla ice cream. Overall, this made for a very interesting choice of dessert!

A must-visit!

Like I said earlier, I enjoyed my time previewing the menu for InAzia’s Dragon Food Festival. Most of the food I tried, I loved. I would highly recommend you to pay a visit too, and check out the many foods and beverages the festival menu has on offer.

Intrigued? The Dragon Food Festival is on at InAzia till September 30, 2018, from 7 PM to 11 PM, and a meal for two costs about INR 2,000 plus taxes.

Berry Vanilla Gateaux @ The Academy Of Pastry Arts, Bangalore

Desserts are like mistresses. They are bad for you. So, if you are having one, you might as well have two,” said French chef Alain Ducasse once, and I heartily agree.

Desserts are important in my life. I have a huge sweet tooth, and absolutely love desserts. They are something I always, always save space for, especially if they are made of good-quality chocolate. That said, I don’t stop at just chocolate – I believe in exploring different types of dessert, going through dessert counters systematically, trying to figure out what I like the best. It might not be the best thing for me to do, considering my constant battle with increasing weight, but hey, I’m not one to spoil a day of indulgence with guilt.

With this background, you can imagine just how thrilled I would have been, recently, to receive an invite from The Academy Of Pastry Arts, Bangalore, to be part of a dessert demonstration. It did turn out to be quite a scintillating experience. Yours truly, alongside a bunch of other food bloggers from across the city, watched agog, as Chef Kimberly Rozario of the Academy gave us a live demonstration of a magnificent Berry Vanilla Gateaux.

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Check out the Berry Vanilla Gateaux that we learnt to make at the Academy. Isn’t she a stunner? Don’t miss those gorgeous fresh berries and tiny macaroons on top!

Making the Berry Vanilla Gateaux

Baking requires a lot of precision and patience, specially so when making as elaborate a dessert as this Berry Vanilla Gateaux. This particular cake required a number of steps, some quite complex and requiring special expertise – first making a chocolate sponge, then vanilla mousse, berry jelly, the red glaze that goes on top and, finally, the gold button, chocolate belt and little white macaroons that are used to decorate the cake. Each of these components was then assembled masterfully to create the stunning whole – the Berry Vanilla Gateaux.

Some pictures from the live demonstration of the Berry Vanilla Gateaux. Can you tell how many painstaking steps lie behind that one finished product?

Chef Kimberley took us through each step of the process very patiently, talking about the right kind of ingredients and apparatus to choose, clarifying doubts, answering questions and sharing her expert tips throughout. She made the entire process look almost magical, I must say, flawlessly building up that red confection from scratch.

Chef Kimberly Rozario of The Academy Of Pastry Arts, Bangalore, with the Berry Vanilla Gateaux that she demonstrated to us

We also got to sample this red beauty and, I must say, she blew my mind away. The flavours of vanilla, berries and chocolate came together so beautifully!

Chef Kimberly with her team at The Academy Of Pastry Arts, Bangalore

Head to my Facebook page to see more pictures from the demonstration!

About The Academy Of Pastry Arts

The Academy Of Pastry Arts is an esteemed professional culinary and dessert school with a Pan-Asian presence. In India, the Academy has branches at Bangalore, Delhi NCR and Mumbai, with the Bangalore branch being located on Sarjapur Main Road, Jakkasandra. Apart from this, they also have a presence in the Philippines and in Malaysia.

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The reputed chefs who are part of The Academy Of Pastry Arts, Bangalore

The Academy boasts of having a number of world-class chefs on board, who work with the school either on a permanent or visiting basis. State-of-the-art infrastructure and cutting-edge technology are their points of pride. There are several long-term and short-term courses on offer, wherein students can learn various aspects of culinary and dessert arts. The Academy assures small batch sizes, one-on-one attention to every student, hands-on training, the passing on of top-notch culinary dexterity, internship with hospitality brands of repute, and placement in five-star hotels and patisseries on the completion of courses.

From the walls of The Academy Of Pastry Arts, Bangalore

The Academy Of Pastry Arts has participated in several national- and international-level competitions, winning a few of them too.

The Academy Of Pastry Arts in the news

In Conclusion

As an amateur baker, I was way out of my depth in the demonstration of this beautiful, but complex cake. However, I was impressed with the clean kitchens and the state-of-the-art technology the Academy uses, not to forget Chef Kimberly’s expertise and patient handling of us. For someone who is serious about making a career in the culinary or dessert arts, this is definitely a place to head to.

Details

Address:

Bangalore Centre
9, 1st Block, Sarjapur Main Road,
Jakkasandra, Koramangala,
Bangalore

Phone:
+91-8095719222
+91-8095442277
+91-8025505222

E-mail:
info@academyofpastryartsindia.com

Website:

http://academyofpastryartsindia.com/

 

Kashmiri Wazwan @ Radisson Blu, Marathahalli

I consider myself incredibly lucky for having had the chance to visit Kashmir, the land touted as ‘Paradise on Earth’, not once but twice so far. I am glad I have had a chance to explore a little of the cuisine of this beautiful place, to delve deeper into the food that nourishes the people of this land. Kashmiri cuisine has always surprised me with its out-of-the-box (at least for me) preparations, the use of spices to make food magical, and its simplicity. So, when I was recently invited to partake of a Kashmiri feast at Saffron, Radisson Blu in Marathahalli, I absolutely had to go. I ended up having an absolutely lovely time here, with some great food being served.

This is one food festival you must head to!

Kashmiri Wazwan food festival at Saffron

Saffron, the restaurant at Radisson Blu, Marathahalli, is celebrating a Kashmiri food festival till August 20, 2018. Kashmiri chef Irshad Ahmad Wani and his team are all set to serve to the citizens of Bangalore a feast full of the flavours of his hometown.

The special menu curated for the food festival, called Kashmiri Wazwan, is available only for dinner at Saffron, on an a la carte basis. There are loads of options for vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike, which is something I loved. I also loved that the menu encompasses more than Kashmiri pulao, kahwah and dum aloo, which is what Kashmiri food means to a lot of people.

If you are in ‘uru and have always wanted to try out food from the valley, this is your chance to do so! The food for the festival is being cooked by an actual Kashmiri chef and his team, and is hence as authentic as can be. How cool is that, right?

The ambience at Saffron

Saffron exudes an old-world charm, with its dark wood furniture, high ceilings, and large windows. The decor is simple and understated, yet elegant. There are little, classy pops of art here and there, which add to the charm of the place.

Glimpses of Saffron, the restaurant at Radisson Blu, Marathahalli

The restaurant feels airy and bright, in spite of having a generous number of seats. This is not a dimly-lit place, but one filled with natural sunlight, and I absolutely loved that.

The open kitchen at the back lets you have a view of all the behind-the-scenes action, building up your appetite in the process.

The service was impeccable, the staff attentive yet not hovering. They were brimming with Radisson Blu’s characteristic courtesy, warmth and friendliness.

Food and drinks

Now, let’s take a look at the food and drinks we sampled at Saffron!

We started our meal with Sabzi Badami Shorba, a light vegetable soup with slivers of almond in it. It was subtly spiced, the perfect foil for all the beautiful dishes that were about to be served to us in the course of the meal.

Top: Subzi Badami Shorba; Bottom left and right: Papads and fries with assorted dips

Along with the soup, we were presented a basket of papads and fries, with an assortment of Kashmiri dips. The dips – spicy onion, walnut and curd, radish, and green chilly and mint – were so very lovely. We loved munching on these, especially so because they brought back fond memories of hearty meals we have had while holidaying in Kashmir.

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The starters we tried at the Kashmiri Wazwan food festival. Top Left: Paneer Tikka (Picture Courtesy: Avril’s Food Journee); Bottom Left: Makai Malai Tikki; Bottom Right: Nadru Ki Shaami; Top Right: Zaam Doodh Kebab

Then came the starters. The Paneer Tikka (cottage cheese marinated in spices and grilled) and Makai Malai Tikki (corn and cream cutlets) were presented first, both of which were decent. The paneer was supremely soft and the corn tikkis melt-in-your-mouth, but, again, I felt they could have done with a bit more flavour.

The next starter, Nadru Ki Shaami, cutlets made with lotus stem, didn’t really titillate my tastebuds. They were really well done, but I would have loved some more flavour to them.

The Zaam Doodh Kebab or hung curd patties that were brought to the table next were beautiful – the star of the starters for me. They were just the right amount of sour, perfectly made, and the walnut stuffing within took the taste up several notches.

And then, it was time to move on to the main course.

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The main course dishes we sampled at Kashmiri Wazwan. Top: Assorted vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes; Bottom Left: Assorted flatbreads with Modur Pulav and a non-vegetarian gravy; Bottom Centre: My main course platter; Bottom Right: Al Yakhni, which stole the show for me

With some wonderful, pillow soft flatbreads, I sampled four vegetarian Kashmiri curries.

The Kashmiri Dum Aloo, baby potatoes cooked Kashmir-style with a yogurt- and tomato-based gravy, was just beautiful.

The Tamatar Chaman, deep-fried cottage cheese cooked in a tomato-fennel gravy, though, was quite average.

The Schuk Wangun, baby eggplants cooked the Kashmiri way with a tomato-and-tamarind base, literally had me licking my fingers. Yes, it was that delish!

It was the Al Yakhni, a yogurt-based preparation with bottlegourd, that stole the show for me. It was so mild, so simple, yet so delicious! Who would have thought bottlegourd could be this fantastic?!

The Modur Pulav that came next – a sweet Kashmiri preparation with basmati rice, dry fruits, nuts and herbs – was brilliant too. It was so fragrant, so subtle, yet an absolute delight to eat.

Left: The First Kiss, a mocktail at Saffron; Top Right: Black Magic, another mocktail; Bottom Right: Kashmiri Kahwah

Along with our meal, we sipped on a couple of mocktails from Saffron’s extensive drink menu. I tried out The First Kiss, a medley of orange, apple and lemon, was very well made and refreshing. I also sampled Black Magic, a mocktail with cola, lemon, ginger and mint that I loved to bits. Please note that the mocktails are not part of the Kashmiri Wazwan menu, but they can be served to you from the regular bar menu if you so desire, at an additional cost.

We washed the food down with some Kashmiri Kahwah, a warm and mildly sweet concoction that was very well brewed.

Phirni and Kesar Ras Malai at Saffron

Our meal ended with the two desserts that are on offer as part of the Kashmiri Wazwan menu – Phirni and Kesar Ras Malai.

I have never been a big fan of the grainy texture of phirni or its taste so, as always, it didn’t excite me too much. The Kesar Ras Malai? Now, that was a different story altogether. It was so very well done, with just the right amount of sweet and thickness. Served cold, with a hint of saffron to it, it was heavenly!

In hindsight…

All of us had a thoroughly enjoyable meal at the Kashmiri Wazwan food festival. I loved most of the food that was served to us, and Saffron’s wonderful hospitality ensured that we had a great experience overall.

Like I was saying earlier, the food took us back to our holidays in Kashmir, making us remember some lovely meals we have had there. The food is, indeed, true-blue Kashmiri, or at least to the extent that that is possible in Bangalore.

Don’t miss this! Head to Saffron at Radisson Blu, Marathahalli, on or before August 20 for your fix of Kashmiri flavours.

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I’m sharing this post with Fiesta Friday #237. The co-hosts this week are Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook and Diann @ Of Goats and Greens.

Highlights: World On A Plate – 2018

VR Bengaluru in Whitefield, Bangalore, saw a 3-day culinary festival, World On A Plate, happening between June 8 and 10, 2018. For the uninitiated, World On A Plate (popularly called WOAP) is one of Bangalore’s biggest foodie festivals, which aims to bring together food enthusiasts from all spheres, from across the globe – foodies, food brands, masterchefs, stalwarts from the food industry, restaurants, food critics, food bloggers and journalists, and the likes. I thoroughly enjoyed being a part of World On A Plate – 2018, the third edition of this festival, which happens to coincide with VR Two, the second-anniversary celebrations of VR Bengaluru.

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Chefs Sarah Todd and George Calombaris at the World On A Plate – 2018 media meet

Chef George Calombaris and Sarah Todd (both of the MasterChef Australia fame), famed Indian chefs Saransh Goila, Ajay Chopra and Ranveer Brar, and pop star-cum-culinary enthusiast Anaida Parvaneh were some of the chefs associated with the event this year. At the exclusive masterclasses held as part of WOAP – 2018, foodies got a chance to learn from these celebrity chefs. Patrons were also offered an opportunity to engage in a tete-a-tete with the chefs and to pose for photographs with them. This year, Chef Calombaris had also curated a special 4-course meal for WOAP-2018, in co-ordination with Toscano. I could not be part of the masterclasses or the Calombaris-special menu because of paucity of time (and thanks to not keeping too well!), but I loved the little of WOAP – 2018 that I insisted on being a part of.

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Chefs Saransh Goila and Ranveer Brar in a solemn mood, talking about celebrated food writer Anthony Bourdain’s recent demise, at the media meet

At an exclusive media meet held on June 9, Jermina Menon (VP-Marketing, Virtuous Retail – South Asia) spoke of her excitement at being associated with World On A Plate the second time in a row.

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Ms. Jermina Menon speaking at the media meet for World On A Plate – 2018

Kiran Soans (CEO of Gold Rush Entertainment, the principal organiser of this festival) said, “This edition of World on a Plate is bigger in scale and size and guaranteed to be an unparalleled culinary journey for connoisseurs and aspiring chefs.

He also spoke of GiftAMeal with HUG – an initiative to collect funds for the underprivileged as part of a hunger management program, something that World On A Plate and Gold Rush have supported for three years now. In the year 2018, the program aims at giving away 1,00,000 free meals, something that I absolutely love and highly appreciate.

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Mr. Kiran Soans speaking at the media meet for World On A Plate – 2018

The media meet was quite enlightening and interesting, with Chef Ranveer Brar speaking of the differences in food culture among the various cities of India. He spoke of how Bangalore is a great space for food innovation, thanks to the people being quite open to experimenting.
Chef Saransh Goila spoke about the need for a formal body to certify food bloggers and writers. He also went on to speak, very interestingly, about the need for a chef to balance humility with social media popularity, especially in these modern times.

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Top: Chef Saransh Goila, speaking at the media meet for World On A Plate – 2018; Bottom: Chef Goila’s Goila Butter Chicken, presented at the venue

The media meet also offered us, food bloggers and journalists, a chance to sample a few dishes put together by Chef Sarah Todd, Chef George Calombaris, Chef Saransh Goila and Chef Ranveer Brar.

Chef Goila presented his signature Goila Butter Chicken, which Chef Calombaris fondly referred to as ‘the best butter chicken in the world‘.

Chef Todd presented Kolhapuri Slow-Cooked Lamb On Betel Leaf, while Chef Calombaris presented Potato Skordalia With Black Garlic & Walnut.

Chef Ranveer Brar, known for his innovative fusion ideas, presented Burnt Miso & Chocolate Matcha Modaks.

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Left: Chef Sarah Todd speaking at the media meet for World On A Plate – 2018; Right: The Kolhapuri Slow-Cooked Lamb On Betel Leaf, presented by Chef Todd at the venue

I didn’t sample the non-vegetarian dishes, of course, but loved the two vegetarian ones that I did. Chef George Calombaris’s Potato Skordalia With Black Garlic & Walnut was exquisite, with curry leaves adding an Indian touch to the jacket potatoes.

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Left: Chef Calombaris speaking at the media meet for World On A Plate – 2018; Right: Potato Skordalia With Black Garlic & Walnut, presented by Chef Calombaris at the venue

Chef Ranveer Brar’s dish was utterly gorgeous! It was sheer beauty inside and out, a very well-executed blend of Indian and international cuisines. The green matcha modaks were oh, so pretty, the miso-and-chocolate filling complementing the exterior perfectly. The aam ras the modaks were served in added a burst of flavour to the dish!

Left: Chef Ranveer Brar speaking at the media meet for World On A Plate – 2018; Top Right and Top Bottom: The Burnt Miso & Chocolate Matcha Modaks presented by Chef Brar at the venue

Some of the best-known restaurants of Bangalore city set up stalls at the event, including Caperberry, Smally’s, Punjab Bistro, Sindh Kitchen, Nasi & Mee, Sodabottleopenerwala, The Whitefield Arms, Rajdhani and Siam Trading Co. The atmosphere at these stalls was charged, not unlike that at a fair.

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A few of the food stalls at World On A Plate – 2018, at VR Bengaluru

Many of these restaurants are places I have always wanted to try out. Every single one of these stalls had some really lovely food on offer, and I had a tough time trying to figure out what to taste and what not.

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The Sodabottleopenerwala stall at World On A Plate – 2018, at VR Bengaluru

Patisseries like Smoor, Aubree and Lavonne: Academy Of Baking Science & Pastry Arts offered some of their beautiful creations for sale at World On A Plate – 2018. I had a gala time walking through these stalls, checking out this and that, taking pictures.

Some gorgeous sugary confections on sale at the Aubree stall, at World On A Plate – 2018

I abstained from treating myself to a dessert, but was still on a high by the time I had finished ooh-ing and aah-ing over all of those delightful confections, merely by looking at them! 🙂

Top left: Melting Apple, a very interesting-looking dessert from Smoor; Bottom left: Cake pops from Lavonne; Top right and bottom right: Special desserts created for World On A Plate – 2018

I love events like this because they help me discover unique food products and ingredients. World On A Plate – 2018 was no exception. Soya-based vegetarian meat by Good Dot and beautiful, beautiful, organically grown cherries sourced from Jammu by Healthy Buddha were my cherished discoveries at the event.

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Left: Vegetarian Meat by GoodDot, on display at World On A Plate – 2018; Top right: Vegetarian Meat Chilli Chicken; Bottom Right: Vegetarian Keema

I loved the Vegetarian Meat Chilli Chicken and Vegetarian Keema that I sampled at the GoodDot stall and, now, I can’t wait to cook with these products in my kitchen!

The cherries from Healthy Buddha were so fresh and lovely, they disappeared within minutes of my bringing them home. Now, I’m all eager to get my hands on more of their gorgeous produce!

Left: A sweet decorative piece at World On A Plate – 2018; Top right: Green burgers at Smally’s; Bottom right: The gorgeous cherries that I picked up at the Healthy Buddha stall

Overall, it was such a beautiful experience for me, being a wee li’l part of World On A Plate – 2018. I wish I could have done more, explored more, tasted more, learnt more, but I am glad I got to do at least this. Well, next time…!

I hope you were part of the event this year, too!

Were you at World On A Plate – 2018, too? How was your experience there?