Blogger Event | LumiaApptasting, World Feast by Vikas Khanna… and wholegrain lingonberry thumbprint cookies #wholegrain #cookies #LumiaApptasting #VikasKhanna #RajivMakhni #WorldFeast

“BE OPEN TO new thoughts, to new people, to new principles, to new ideas, to new experiences. “NEW” MAKES US GROW”
Rossana Condoleo

LumiaApptasting and World FeastWith the Chenin Blanc chilled just right and a good wine from Fratelli at that, recommended by Ruchira, it was a nice beginning to the LumiaApptasting event held recently. With the promise of sumptuous food, refreshing drinks and a garnishing of apps , it was an evening of fun brought to us by Microsoft in collaboration with Women on Wanderlust {WOW}.

LumiaApptasting and World Feast The evening was introduced by the sweet and vivacious Poonam Kaul, Director, Communications, Nokia India, and then handed over to the hilarious duo who are quite trademark of LumiaApptasting – Michelin Star Chef Vikas Khanna and Tech Guru Rajiv Makhni, the boys or rather men from Amritsar. Both in perfect sync with each other, with a ‘dress code pink’ ladies only event in place, they soon had all the women literally eating out of their hands!

LumiaApptasting and World Feast Promising a hell of a journey, it took off pretty soon. Blind tasting, blind guessing, songs, dance, drama … the LumiaApptasting had it all. Woven through the evening were the perfect apps to tackle all your pre-holiday tasks, track your belongings and getting acquainted with fellow travelers. Plenty of ice breakers thrown in! Interestingly, the event wove it’s way across the entire group, and at different times you could here applause, sighs, gasps as the spoken word touched various nerves at different times. LumiaApptasting and World Feast LumiaApptasting is a unique concept that take mobile apps out of the tech space and brings them right to consumers in a relevant sort of a way. It’s a fun, innovative way that brings  technology and lifestyle together in more ways that one would ever imagine, possibly in any and every sphere of life. We were a motley group of women … wanderers and bloggers. Bloggers I believe from different fields – food, lifestyle, maybe technology too. LumiaApptasting and World Feast From an app to help discover the unknown treasures of your holiday destination, to immortalising your favourite holiday moments with awesome imagine apps, the line up of apps were creative. They included Face Swap, Wise Quotes, Wacky facts, & the Self Defense App. The latter two my favourites! Did I mention that the trailer of Fifty Shades of Grey was played? Yes that happened too!LumiaApptasting and World Feast The evening ended with the launch of Vikas Khanna‘s new book World Feast. In a departure from Indian cuisine prominent in his last few books, his latest book offers a treasury of multicultured flavours, taking our taste-buds for a journey across the world.  A beautifully photographed book that captures the very essence of New York, and knocks your breath away at times. Being generous to a fault, the chef made sure each lady left with a copy of his book in the goodie bag that evening! That was a real WOW moment for all of us, a book with a 120 recipes so imaginatively created.

World Feast by Vikas Khanna,Lingonberry Thumbprint Cookies Through simple, wholesome and staple recipes to complex combinations of textures and flavors, the book offers it all. Chef Vikas Khanna has brought in inspiration from some of the worlds iconic cooks, cafes and home kitchens, and allows you to add your own imagination and experience as you turn pages.

World Feast by Vikas Khanna,Lingonberry Thumbprint Cookies And that is what I did. The boy has been on my case for stained glass cookies. They were a norm during his growing up years every Christmas, the fascination of candy melting to transparent magic while baking. Turning the pages, I stopped at the thumbprint cookies. Those were ‘growing up’ cookies too, so before I knew it I was in the kitchen.

World Feast by Vikas Khanna,Lingonberry Thumbprint Cookies

I took the liberty of playing with the recipe Ojasvi’s Raspberry Thumbprint Cookie to give it my own wholegrain twist. It worked. Beautifully. The boy was thrilled, and said they were the best ever. Mr PAB took one look and said they were like the ones he used to beg his mother to buy each time he visited his ‘nani‘ or maternal grandmother when he was a kid. Now I was thrilled too! True old fashioned cookies!!

World Feast by Vikas Khanna,Lingonberry Thumbprint Cookies Things I changed. All purpose flour for a combination of wholewheat and almond meal, some baking soda to help them stay light, brown sugar and instead of white, and a wild lingonberry preserve from Ikea to fill. The Slyt Blaber is the son’s favourite preserve. He got hooked on to it several years ago when we first visited Sydney. Thankfully Hong Kong has a great Ikea, so the Swedish preserve supply continues!

World Feast by Vikas Khanna,Lingonberry Thumbprint Cookies The cookies turned out really nice. They flattened out slightly more than those in the book. Perhaps I should have chilled the dough, perhaps added a spoon or two more of flour. Next  batch. Nevertheless they were crisp beautiful and delicious! I made this a Fit Foodie recipe.

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Baking | Wholegrain Holiday Biscotti {chocolate+cranberries+ginger+walnuts} … #‎saffolafitfoodie‬ #wholegrain #healthy #cookies

“Eat clean. Think straight. Work consistently. Speak positively. Motivate others. Believe in yourself.” Toni Sorenson

Wholegrain holiday biscottiWholegrain Holiday Biscotti. It’s strange that I post biscotti every so often. Each time Mr PAB travels I brace myself for the request. “Do you think you’ll have time to make me some biscotti?” Yes he is that predictable. And me? Equally unpredictable. Even if I am torn for time, I know I will definitely bake a batch. The unpredictable bit is that I cannot make the same recipe over and over again.IMG_4322That the biscotti was going to be healthy and wholegrain was a given. The beginning of the holiday season means a lot of additional flavours begin to dance in the head. Crystallised ginger, dried cranberries, orange, and walnuts of course… fun fun fun! Baking the batch gave me a chance to play around with this beautiful Acacia Wooden Cutting Board from Engrave that I recently received. Chopped the walnuts, ginger and cranberries on it, flipped it over and shot some more…Engrave

Meat or mushrooms, this rugged chopping board can handle it all. Hand crafted from a single block of Acacia wood, this rustic looking board is as comfortable in the lap as it on the kitchen counter. If you find one side is worn out from months if frantic chopping, flip it around for a second stint.

engraveEngrave have got a whole lot of fun, innovative and interesting products online. I especially love the Acacia range, but there’s plenty more in the lifestyle range. Their engraving and personalized products really stand out. There is loads of creativity on offer that includes plaques, canvas, name plates, ipad engraving … Wholegrain holiday biscotti 2…. back to baking and the queen of substitutions kicked in. It was going to be a chocolate base. Most whole grains work really well with chocolate, so no question of messing around there. I like that this recipe worked out well. Plenty of wholegrain – buckwheat flour, wholewheat flour and oats, it’s packed with nuts, ginger, cranberries too … all good for the winters. The recipe is a healthier take on the chocolate almond biscotti I made several years ago…. and that brings me to the Fit Foodie meter.

As you might know, I was part of the Saffola Oats campaign led by Michelin Star Chef Vikas Khanna last year to develop healthy and tasty recipes.Using wholegrain and healthy ingredients like oats, buckwheat flour, amaranth flour, whole sugars etc., I discovered a whole new world! There’s been no looking back…Cookshow with Chef Vikas Khanna , Deeba Rajpal Food Food TV, fitfoodieI developed  bunch of fun and interesting recipes. You can now find these on the FIT FOODIE website. There were a couple of videos shot for Food Food Channel as well. They are on the Saffola Fit Foodie site and on you tube too.This year around, I have been invited to hop on board and join their ‘Fit Foodie Panel‘.

Our panel of experts is the one that creates, carefully scrutinizes and approves every recipe that is available on the site. Headed by Michelin starred chef, Vikas Khanna, it includes die hard foodies, eminent chefs, popular food bloggers and renowned nutritionists who ensure that the scale is perfectly balanced on both health and taste. They cook, they taste and yes, they share exactly what works to spin that delightfully healthy meal on the table!

Saffola Fit Foodie Panel

The site offers another interesting concept that’s been developed by the efficient and creative team behind brand Saffola… the Fit Foodie Meter. It works hard to improve normally used recipes and give them a healthier makeover of sorts, yet keeps the tasty factor in place.

Fit foodie meter

The Fit Foodie Meter score is in a comparative format. The meter always shows the score for two recipes: 1) The ‘Regular Recipe’ or the most commonly prepared form of the dish and 2) The ‘Fit Foodie Recipe’ or the recipe presented in this website, which is an improved/modified version of the original dish. For example, if one were to take pizza as the dish, the Fit Foodie Meter would show the score for a regular veg pizza (Regular Recipe) and that for the Green Pizza (Fit Foodie Recipe) whose recipe is presented on this website. The greater the difference between the two scores, the higher the nutritive value of the Fit Foodie recipe in comparison to the Regular Recipe.

So join us at Saffola Fit Foodie as we try and get you healthier takes on recipes. Feel free to request for ‘recipe makeovers’ . Together we can reach our goal of tasty & healthy recipes. You can submit your healthier versions of recipes too. It’s a lifestyle change. Come be part of it!


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Media Fam Trip | Jaipur Marriott … memories of a lifetime #JaipurMarriott #roadtrip #travel #Jaipur #India

“It has long been an axiom of mine that the little things are infinitely the most important.”
Arthur Conan Doyle

Jaipur MarriottIt was a weekend to remember, a road-trip to Jaipur that took us for the most beautiful and memorable time well spent. It was an experience that brought whole new meaning to the phrase “little things that matter”. A visit to Jaipur, the Pink City, will always hold the promise of magic. A visit to the Pink City hosted by the Jaipur Marriott resulted in magic, also doubling the joy and memories.

Jaipur Marriott, JaipurIt was also a ‘WEEKEND of EXCESSES’ … excessive pampering, excessive fun, excessive food and excessive care. ‘Little things that matter’ took whole new meaning at Jaipur Marriott. It was a media fam trip that has left us with withdrawal symptoms and nostalgia. ‘Yeh dil maange mor‘ was the common feeling. The Pink City grows on you. So does the Jaipur Marriott and the brilliant team behind it!

Jaipur, IndiaWe were a small ‘privileged’ group of 7, a mix of media, travel and food bloggers, and many of us were meeting for the first time. With us too was the very sweet and chirpy Binisha who was the best coordinator ever. Someone who never stopped charming us with those characteristic dimples, exuberant energy, positive attitude helping make the weekend totally worthwhile. There was of course the team from the hotel … exemplary in every way.

Delhi Baking Company, JW Marriott, New DelhiIt went like clockwork from word go. Picked up from home on the dot as advised, we proceed to the Delhi Baking Company, JW Marriott, New Delhi to meet for breakfast. Couldn’t have been a better beginning! It was a beautiful start with possibly the best croissants we’ve had in town. Ceramic mugs of hot tea, coffee & chocolate, tall glasses of cold coffee and fresh juice did the rounds. Efficient breakfast service, fresh muffins, cupcakes. Then a stunning handmade card from General Manager Rohit Dar, Jaipur Marriott as a pre-welcome with a  box of goodies from the DBC… and off we went.

en route jaipur The promises of a languishing sleep, resting along the way from Ruchira were blown in the wind as we drove. It was non stop banter, mad laughter and ‘eyes popping-jaw dropping‘ information exchanged as we bonded. Strangely enough, most of were meeting for the first time and we hit it off splendidly. En route Jaipur, November 2014First stop en route … a local dhaba on the way for addictively good stuffed parathas and piping hot sweet tea! Yes indeed, the promise of fun days to follow! The next stop was the Jaipur Marriott. A different world from the dhaba, but beautiful again. I love how we can change gears from one world to another in seconds … from croissants to parathas … and much more.

Jaipur MarriottJaipur Marriott Hotel is entrenched with the cultural legacy of the Pink City and sports refined elegance and a contemporary look. The Hotel displays the finest blend of contemporary architecture with subtle ethnic design elements. Plenty of natural light in play with natural elements of water, plants, stone, bamboo offer a peaceful soothing ambiance. With 317 keys and the option of going up to 365, this is perhaps the biggest hotel in Jaipur.

Jaipur Marriott Given the royal treatment on arrival with tilaks, welcome drinks and silk scarves, we were individually escorted to our rooms, checked in within minutes and soon headed for lunch to Okra. I love the name the Jaipur Marriott has coined for this all day dining restaurant that serves breakfast, lunch and dinner buffet, supported by an exotic ala carte menu available 24 X 7. Okra offers a wide array of continental and Indian delicacies, the ‘world on a plate’, leaving you spoilt for choice! With bakes from the Jaipur Baking Company adding delicious weight to the menu, go prepared and on an empty stomach.breakfast @ Okra, Jaipur MarriottHeading Okra is the affable and talented Executive Chef Sahil Arora, his vast experience and expertise in heading the team shines through. It is easy to see how popular the restaurant is as it is always buzzing with activity, run like clockwork by an efficient and passionate team. The Sunday brunch appears to be extremely popular. Given the range out on offer, and the sumptuous lunch and breakfasts  we devoured there, it is easy to see why.

lunch @ Okra, Jaipur MarriottChef Sahil brings with him the vast experience and multicultural learning through a rich career spanning various countries and diverse cuisines. His areas of expertise include Japanese, Thai and Chinese cuisine. He also possesses strong skills in French and Italian cooking, the influences visible in the extensive laid out menu. Jaipur Marriott, O2 SpaIt was a long, delightful lunch … after which we retired to our rooms to rest, and then set off for a complimentary spa session at the O2 Spa. Located at the pool side, O2 is a celebration of nature, right from ambiance and décor to the luxury treatments. Rejuvenated and fresh from the spa experience, keeping in line with a pretty paced schedule it was time for Lounge 18.

Jaipur Marriott Lounge 18An interesting concept this one. The lounge was conceptualised as an experiment of sorts and is a transitional lounge. By day it’s a lounge for the business traveler, well equipped and stylish, or for friends to get together, unwind and sit back. By night it transforms into one of the most successful nightclubs that Jaipur hosts. With a DJ zone, ample room inside with a spill-out next to the pool, it’s a concept that has even party goers from the NCR heading for a weekend break. Playing  exclusively house and techno rap, the lounge invites DJs to play there over weekends.

Jaipur Marriott Lounge 18 2 We enjoyed an informal earlyish evening there. Sangria, Pomegranate Cosmo and other cocktails did the rounds along with some well thought up mezze platters. With a great assortment of cheese, fruit, cold cuts and crackers, the cheese platter was addictive and is a great addition to the menu as well. Finger foods galore poured in from both Saffron and Okra…and we were pampered once again! Just when we thought we couldn’t have another bite, along came dinner!! Keeping us great company were GM Rohit Dar, Lovesh Sharma, Director of Sales and Marketing and Sudeep Sharma, Director of Food and Beverages. It was a lovely relaxed evening.

Jaipur Marriott Lounge 18 The best end to the day was dessert – the most divine apple crumble with an in house cinnamon ice cream that was to die for! The pictures don’t do justice as the light was dimming quickly, with the bouncers now taking position, queues building up outside and the music beats going up. One peep outside and the lobby was filling up with the young and restless headed to the club! We called it a night as we’d been on the go since early morning.

Jaipur , the Pink City courtesy Jaipur MarriottUp early the next morning, it was a filling breakfast at Okra again, before we headed off into the heart of the Pink City for a day tour. Such a beautiful day, such wonderful company! Looked after like royals once again, accompanied by the ever sweet Ankit from the  Jaipur Marriott and a city guide from the hotel, we fell in love with Jaipur. So much heritage, a city steeped in culture, and so well maintained.

Photo courtesy Maneesh Srivastava @ Mystic Foodie Mantra

‘The Jaipur Gang’ – Photo courtesy Maneesh Srivastava@ Mystic Foodie Mantra

Jaipur CityIt was a day well spent, with most things on our to do list touched on. No shopping as such as Jaipur markets are largely closed on Sunday. We did buy the worlds best ghewar at LMB, some bangles at the City Palace etc.

Around JaipurIt was a long tiring day and heading back to the comfort of the hotel was like coming home! Tranquil surroundings, familiar feel and faces, a special gift bag in our rooms to greet us, we couldn’t have asked for more. A little rejuvenating rest later it was off to a much awaited dinner at Saffron, the contemporary specialty Indian restaurant that offers signature dishes from North India and Hyderabad. Saffron is headed by the enthusiastic, creative and talented Chef Paramjit Singh Oberoi.

Saffron, Jaipur MarriottIt was a nice surprise to see the set up outdoors at the poolside. Interestingly, Saffron opens into a deck along the poolside and is ideal for hosting  small private parties and get togethers. The hotel has been thoughtfully designed and the flexibility to use additional space alongside restaurants, the banquet halls etc is praiseworthy! Little wonder that ‘Weddings by Marriott’ is a concept that has become really popular here.

Saffron, Jaipur Marriott Chef Paramjits enthusiasm and creativity soon had us eating or rather overeating out of his hands. Melt in the mouth outstanding mushroom galouti kebabs,  chicken tikkas, garlic prawns, crisp crumb fried paneer, mutton kebabs,  and plenty more. The poolside ambiance was beautiful yet low lighting meant I abandoned my camera pretty soon. Dinner was set to be served indoors, but given that the party was flowing so well outdoors, an impromptu decision was made to shift the service out poolside. I love the flexibility of decisions, the informal camaraderie and the ease with which the team works.

Saffron, Jaipur Marriott Dinner was outstanding with possibly the best raan {leg of lamb} we’ve had, to a signature smoked butter chicken, , silky smooth saffron paneer, finger licking good maa ki dal and garlic naan to die for. On the side were a plethora of pickles and preserves that Chef Paramjit has learnt from his mother – garlic pickle, amla murabba, ginger murabba. And yes there was dessert too. Award winning crisp brandy schnappes with gulukand ice cream. Also phirini tartlets and an ingenious tomato halwa. Live ghazals played in the restaurant within, while light piped music filled the air outside. A fitting farewell dinner for a pampered weekend.

Jaipur Baking Company, Jaipur Marriott 600Time to bid adieu next morning, and we stopped by briefly at the Jaipur Baking Company. Led by Pastry Chef Anil Dutt, whose parents were incidentally great cooks too, the JBC has a drool-worthy menu on offer. The patisserie counters are magical, the baguettes and sourdough breads freshly baked every morning. There is even a candy counter at this bakery and  café which overlooks the pool. If there was one thing I missed, it was a visit to Chef Dutts bakery to see him at work. I would love to stop by and help him in his kitchen some day. I guess that’ll be another story!

Outside Lounge 18, Jaipur Marriott, Jaipur.Thank you General Manager Rohit Dar and your entire team for looking after us superbly. You have left us rejuvenated, in love with Jaipur and with a lifetime of fond memories.

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