About Me

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Am a contradiction of sorts. i love going out and having a good time with friends, and i can also stay home chill out over a book or a movie.. Am very passionate about writing, so give me a topic and watch me float away into wonderland... I Am crazy about music,books,friends and my doggie... :)

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Sunday, October 9, 2016

Smoked Tofu and a salad in a jiffy

Last weekend was the By Hand from the Heart event at Crowne Plaza.. For the last few years I have been attending this event, it all began with a friend having a stall, and over the years well it has become a tradition of sorts. The event is different from others because it is a Maker's market, all products on sale are hand made - ranging from clothes, cheese, honey, chocolates, jewellery, bags, etc etc... 

So, on Saturday a friend and I made plans to visit, it was the 2nd day and we wandered about checking out the stalls. The 2nd stall right at the entry point was by Aurosoya, and there we met Dhaval Chandarana who spoke to us about their products and got us to taste the Smoked Tofu. It was love at first bite, we picked up a packet each along with few other items from the stall. 

I have always enjoyed Tofu and was quite excited about using this product in salads or stir fries.  Anyways, after about an hour we were done here and wondered where to head for lunch. I asked friend if she had been to Benjarong and she said it had been ages. It was down the road and within minutes we were in the restaurant and shown to a table. 

I have been here way too many times and the Chef [Ramkumar] is a good friend as well... But that day, I dint tell him I was coming and hoped to get away... [Wishful thinking]. We decided to try the Vietnamese set meal that started with the delicious Vietnamese coffee. Just as we were getting ready to dig into our soup, he came over and we chit chatted. I told him about the exhibition and proceeded to give him the packet of Smoked tofu to try. 

Voila, next thing I see him back at our table with a plate that looks divine. He has managed to whip up a salad using the smoked tofu and raved about its flavours. The salad was simple, yet packed a punch. It had lemon juice, garlic, some peanuts, chilli oil , cherry tomato and few other elements. The one thing about the dish was that it heroed the Smoked tofu...  How amazing is that. Friend was stumped and excited at the same time... 

As we wound up the meal and left the place a statement my friend made plays in my head often... "It is amazing how you connect people and are more than happy to do that"... :-) 

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Fabelle comes to town, ITC Grand Chola, Chennai

There were Quality Street chocolates in those round tin boxes when I was growing up. And then I discovered the world of Lindt, Ghirardelli and Godiva… But then I am not a big chocolate fan, and am reminded of this every time the entire family comes together. They laugh about how they would have me in the room and wipe out the entire Quality street box and I wouldn’t cry asking for one. Well, am pretty much the same today when it comes to chocolate. Only difference is if there is dark chocolate around, you will see me come back for a second piece a day or so later. That apart my appetite for information has grown multi fold over the years, am constantly curious – origin, the process that transforms the humble cocoa pod into the chocolate and beyond… How fitting that I got to visit a Chocolate boutique when am reading a book called The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier which is about students and chocolate boxes.

When I heard about the newest entrant in the chocolate arena in the city, I was curious to say the least. Fabelle is the brand am referring to, they have partnered with ITC Hotels across the country and opened swanky chocolate boutique within the property.  In Chennai, ITC Grand Chola is where you find the Fabelle boutique.

If you are the kind who enjoys chocolates, loves to just let them linger in your mouth and allow the taste buds to have a party, then this is where you should head to. Sit down in one of the plush sofas, browse through some interesting and quirky books, walk around the place listening to the staff give insights/facts about the chocolates and finally do indulge…

You can choose from the box of Ganache [dark or milk chocolate], the one called Elements [Earth, wind, fire, wood and water] or maybe a dessert made with these fine chocolates [ranging from chocolates from Saint Dominican, Madagascar and so on] along with cinnamon, cocoa nibs, ancho chilli, nectar, almonds, salted caramel, coffee, berry, and some more to create the most amazing chocolates. The best part is, you pop the chocolate in your mouth and just let it melt, and enjoy the burst of flavours... Sinful ~!! 

I watched the Chef put together this beautiful dessert- Chocolate Flower [similar to a dessert created on MasterChef Australia]- she patiently arranges the mousse in the center with precision, and steady hands place the chocolate Petals around it, then the tiny drop of flavours all around; Wait, here comes the drama- a warm liquid made of orange and white chocolate is poured all around it and the petals fall down one by one. The mousse also has layers within- raspberry coulis and a crunchy pistachio layer.

 Oh and you can also create your own little cups of heaven - "As you like it" [on the tablet available at your table] - pick a base, add a filling, now the topping and voila and can bite into it within minutes.  Looking for something to wash it all down with- well choose from their hot or cold beverages.  ITC sure is turning things up a notch- be it food or these chocolates. What more could you possibly need? I loved the dark chocolate Ganache, it was just yummilicious. Oh and I also tried the 100% cocoa mass, and 84% dark chocolate- both of which I love love loveddd… 

The plated desserts are priced around Rs575 while the box of 5 pieces [Elements] is priced at Rs 400, and the box of 20 Ganache pieces is around Rs675. I must make a mention of this- their  attention to detail, if you were to ask for a box of the "As you like it" or the Ganache, it comes with a special ice pack to ensure the chocolate retains its texture and form till you reach your destination.  

Disclaimer: The reviews posted on this blog are based on my personal experience. Also remember that restaurants and eat outs sometimes change with time, so does their food and service. So, kindly consider these factors while visiting the places. Remember, no two palates are the same. Bon Appétit  :-)

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

The Drop, Pan Asian, ITC Grand Chola

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What more can I say? If you are ever curious about food that looks and tastes like this, you should head over to Pan Asian and try out the food there. And don't go with the familiar dishes, ask the Chef for his recommendations- you will be in for a special treat~! 

As for me, I sure am glad to have connected with Chefs of this calibre, and those who truly madly enjoy food.. All they want is for their guests to love their creations, relish the dishes and come back for more.. A meal like this costs around Rs2250/- [but then it this is not something you will find on their menu, lemme tell you that!]

Sunday, September 25, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

Chat counter 

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

Palak Kachori with Subzi- this was my favourite- loved the kachori 

Bishan swaroop chaat (fruit chaat) - this was humble papaya with boondi and chaat masala on top 

Aloo tikki - served with a spoonful of channa masala the tikki was soft , crisp and hot.

Golgappe (served with variety of flavored water)

Potato Bajji - the familiar bhaji was served hot , which makes it that much more enjoyable.

Live stations

Kadi Chawal - loved it, was the perfect comfort food.. 

Gupta Burger counter - a different version of vada paav, the bun was crisp and the patty nice and soft.

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

Appetizers from onsite Live stations

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

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

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


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

Dessert counter

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

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

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

The reviews posted on this blog are based on my personal experience. Also remember that restaurants and eat outs sometimes change with time, so does their food and service. So, kindly consider these factors while visiting the places. Remember, no two palates are the same. Bon Appétit  :-)

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Multi Cuisine Vegetarian restaurant- Entree, E hotel, Chennai

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

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

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

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

Have had this kinda conversation with people over the past few days. Where did it all begin? I told them I had lunch at Entree in E Hotel, inside Express Avenue [the only luxury vegetarian boutique hotel in the city]. People assume veg means boring blah food and same x y and z options. This restaurant is one that has been proving them wrong since they opened doors 3yrs ago.  It has also been one place that a friend and I have frequented quite often when in the mall. We enjoy the food and it is total value for money deal as well, plus it is nice and open, spacious and airy, with a lovely view of the outside. You get to spot a butterfly, a snail or even a frog out in the garden. 

I was chatting with the General Manager of the Hotel when he mentioned they had an eatery outlet in the food court as well. When I enquired, he mentioned it was called "Pleeease Mom" and had a children's play area the doubled up as a birthday party venue upstairs. It was then I realised that was an outlet I loved, infant whenever am in the mall with this particular friend, we end up ordering from there[ it is also a pure veg outlet] and we order their Rice and Thai green curry and slurp away happily... They also have good waffles and Chinese stuff. 

For those still wondering  about the place and food, well here is a photo journey of some of the dishes I had during my recent visit. Oh and they have a buffet for lunch & dinner apart from an a la carte menu as well. During weekdays the buffet works out to Rs 400ish and weekend it is around Rs600 . I came to know they have a weekend beer brunch as well, how about that~!

The lovely arrangement that greets you as walk in through the main entrance...

 The waiting space which also doubles up as an ideal spot for a quick meeting
[Image courtesy: E hotel]

The Restaurant  
Vibrant coloured chairs and simple decor.
[Image courtesy: E hotel]

One of the buffet counters 
[Image courtesy: E hotel]

The Food 

A simple creamy mix veg soup 

The cheese spring rolls- almost like a chilli cheese toast rolled up- divine!

Galouti kebab with peas- oh how I loved these..  

Ta da.. The infamous Rice and Thai green curry- perfect as it can get. 

Papad ki Kadhi [served with roti] - i was having this for the first time, and it was yumm- tangy, sour 
with intereseting blend of spices.

Baked vegetables- ah such a comfort dish .. Was packed with a medley of vegetables 

The dessert platter- Chocolate cake, a soft cream, nougat sprinkled on top, cherry that had been soaked in spices and juices, a little chocolate ball that burst with caramel and a slice of fresh fig.. Beautiful textures and flavours.

E Hotel, Ground Floor, Express Avenue Mall, Whites Road, 
Royapettah, Chennai
Ph-   044 28463333


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  :-)

Sunday, September 18, 2016

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

It was absolutely divine.. we loved it...

Friday, September 16, 2016

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

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

Restaurant Week is a celebration of the finest culinary experiences at formal fine dining restaurants across India. Currently held across Bangalore, Chennai, Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai and Pune, Restaurant Week showcases three-course prix fixe menus priced at a fraction of a la carte rates.

The meals are all priced at Rs700 for lunch and Rs950 for dinner [excl tax]. It also comes with offers on Ola Prime rides..

How it works

    Ø  You visit the website, pick the restaurant, lunch /dinner, and make a reservation by paying Rs60 [non-refundable reservation fee ]

    Ø  The restaurants typically have a specially designed menu for this festival that you can scan through on the website before making a choice.

    Ø  On the chosen day, you visit the restaurant, pick dishes from the menu and well all that is left is to enjoy the meal…

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

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

Here is a round up of what we had…

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

Grilled Assorted Veg  – Along with the peanut sauce it was heavenly.

Spicy Mushroom Satay- simple tender mushrooms that was served with a spicy sauce.

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

 Babycorn, Broccoli, and Fresh Greens in Spicy Yellow Bean Sauce – as the name suggests, this was a simple stir fry.

Spicy Holy Basil Fried Rice Veg Steamed Rice
Veg Soft Noodles with Bean Sprouts
Thai Flat Noodles in Black Bean Sauce with Veg
All three were good, I loved the flat noodles in black bean sauce, it had wood ear mushrooms apart from few vegetables. It was good on its own, did not need any sauce/gravy.


Water Chestnuts in Coconut Milk –
Ah, was good to dig into a bowl of this familiar dessert. It has the rich sweet coconut milk and the crunchy water chestnuts just play around your taste buds.  They also have three other desserts to choose from.

Tender Coconut Ice cream- Creamy ice cream that burst in your mouth filling it with tender coconut flavour..

Now, since I had been to this restaurant earlier, I was quite familiar with their food and so was curious to know what my friend thought of their food. She was spot on when she said each dish had distinct flavours and most of it were new to her. She definitely loved the place, the food and service and even contemplated bringing her family over for a visit.

Benjarong doesn’t disappoint, infact every time I come here, I fall in love with Thai food all over again…  There you go, a place to pick from the list of restaurants in Chennai for this Restaurant Week India edition.

# 146, T T Krishnamachari Road, Alwarpet, Chennai- 18

044 2432 2640

Lunch: 12:00 PM-3:00 PM
Dinner: 7:00 PM-11:00 PM