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.

Dessert|Saffron Pistachio Indian Bread Pudding {eggless} … with Mauviel1830 @thekeybunch #copperware #dessert #Indian #Diwali

“I put the kitch into kitchen.”
Nigella Lawson,

Saffron Pistachio Indian Bread Pudding Saffron Pistachio Indian Bread Pudding {eggless} …. this is a post about bread pudding, the festival season, travel, cookware, memories, possessions, obsessions, food props & styling, connects and so much more. To begin with, a bit about the dessert. Fascinatingly, almost every culture across the world has it’s own version of bread pudding.Saffron Pistachio Indian Bread Pudding with Mauviel 1830 In many cases, eggs are an intrinsic part as they help to firm up the custard to offer a rich pudding. That version is often baked. We grew up with a no bake eggless version, quintessential in this part of the world. Locally referred to as Shahi Tukda, its translation quite literally ‘the royal bit{e}’!Saffron Pistachio Indian Bread Pudding with Mauviel 1830 Inherent ingredients … bread of course {day old if possible} clarified butter, sugar, full cream milk, often  khoya {milk solids also known as mawa}, dry fruit. Saffron if you want to add to the flavours and give it that special touch. I love using saffron. A nice generous teaspoon and you have seductive, lilting flavours in your dessert.

edible rose petals & pistachios Mauviel1830Pistachio slivers, rose petals, beaten silver foil, more saffron … anything to make it even more festive. I thought it fitted right in with my newly acquired {read received as a gift} Mauviel1830 rectangular roasting pan. And there begins another connect … a food prop connect!

Food photography metal I am fascinated by food props. Metal, stone, wood, ceramic, stoneware. However, metal is my first love. Copper to get even more precise. Most folk who know me know well of my love for food props, vintage mostly. A trip to the Kashmir valley in March this year left me virtually breathless. The people, the places, the architecture, scenic beauty, an old world charm …Srinagar March 2014 Also old markets, spices and of course copper-ware. Loads of it. Old Srinagar market is filled with the most beautiful intricately engraved copper. The natives use it in everyday cooking; it’s a part of their life. There was only so much I could carry back. I had been warned about excess baggage!!

Food photography metal

Srinagar March 2014And then last week came something that I had never imagined. More copper. A gift all the way from Normandy, France. Not vintage, but something that left my heart going THUD THUD THUD!! A set of the most beautifully crafted, stellar quality copper and steel cookware form the iconic French brand Mauviel 1830! Take a look.

Mauviel 1930Around the same time, Sharon @ The Keybunch asked if I could do a guest post for her in October, maybe a travel destination with a recipe woven in for Diwali. Her blog is about beautiful spaces, stories, people,travel destinations, art, food, culture….love! I had Srinagar in mind it is one of the most stunning places on earth.

Srinagar, India ... paradise on earthSrinagar means a lot to me. A childhood connect, copper-ware, shikaras, houseboats, snow, saffron, rogan josh, goshtaba, bakeries, fruit, beautiful people … For the recipe, I wanted to use saffron. I’ve done a really nice Caramel Saffron Panna Cotta earlier, so this time opted for a simple eggless Indian Shahi Tukda or bread pudding.

Saffron Pistachio Indian Bread Pudding with Mauviel 1830 This Mauviel1830 rectangular pan offered me a perfect choice even though it’s a roasting pan. You can bake an egg custard bread pudding in the pan for a variation. Here is what I did. I tried to use as many of the beautiful creations from Mauviel1830 in this simple recipe. The adorable little pan was used to melt the clarified butter in. The copper bowl for whisking the milk, cream, and condensed milk, the heavy bottom saucepan for reducing the milk concoction…and of course the rectangular pan for final plating.

Saffron Pistachio Indian Bread Pudding with Mauviel 1830 It’s a really nice set, and using Mauviel made my experience totally memorable. I felt royal. You got to experience it to believe it. Each piece screams quality, feels great to hold, is crafted with care, and beautiful to look at of course…About Mauviel1830… as a friend rightfully commented on FB, Mauviel1830 is an investment.

Saffron Pistachio Indian Bread Pudding with Mauviel 1830 Do head off to Sharon @ The Keybunch to find my simple, rich and indulgent yet rich Indian Shahi Tukda or Saffron Pistachio Indian Bread Pudding {eggless} recipe. It’s a quintessential Indian dessert, kept light by toasting the bread. Feel free to play around with spices and or/ingredients. The recipe is pretty basic. Use cardamom or star anise, maybe nutmeg for a change in flavour. Skip the condensed milk and use ricotta, mawa/khoya and sugar instead.

Saffron Pistachio Indian Bread Pudding with Mauviel 1830 Have a warm and happy Diwali!

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Also find me on The Rabid Baker, The Times of India




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Restaurant Review | SodaBottleOpenerWala, Khan Market …. a second branch of the quirky Irani Cafe, this time in Delhi #parsicuisine #SBOW

“The belly rules the mind.”
Spanish Proverb

SBOW Khan MarketSodaBottleOpenerWala, Khan Market. It was just going to be a matter of time. When AD Singh opened the now almost iconic SodaBottleOpenerWala in Gurgaon it made waves across the NCR. Soon there were groans from folk across Delhi, pleading for a branch in their part of town. With many iconic Irani cafés, a quintessential experience of a near extinct culture and cuisine, downing shutters of late in Mumbai, one might have wondered why Delhi would even consider a rebirth here. Then again, this is AD Singh & Olive …he got it spot on! Again.

Soda Bottle Openerwala, Cyberhub, Gurgaon You know I loved the first SBOW that opened closer to home in Gurgaon. I never stopped talking about it. Recently we heard whoops of joy from the Dilliwalahs. A Bawaji joint was opening in the heart of Delhi, and they were loving it! What better location for an iconic Delhi Parsi Cafe than the iconic Khan Market, vibrant and bustling. Tucked away in the heart of Khan market, Olive pays tribute to the dying legacy of the Irani café … bringing it to life in style!

SBOW KhanSBOW at Khan is located on the first and second floor off a long winding food lane, very old world charm. Quite unlike the Cybercity venue which is very retro, French cafe street feel on the outdoors, set amidst new architecture. The feel within is the same … chaotic, crowded, bustling, colourful, quirky, eccentric and real world Irani café. Up the steep stairs in Khan Market and you are once again ushered into a different world. Framed pictures in sepia and black and white from generations of Parsis unknown, actual antiques, quirky quaint mirrors, quotes so reflective of this small tight knit community. Barni glass jars, tiffin carriers, taxi meters, cuckoo clocks, tin boxes…paraphernalia galore, it’ a feast for the eyes!

SBOW Khan Market

Photo Courtesy Lavina Kharkwal

It was a cozy small get together at the launch … food enthusiasts from across the NCR, AD Singh in gentle attendance, drinks and food flowing non stop. Such a fun opening menu brought together by an ace team , drinks did the rounds with the heady Bawaji Nu Thullu and Raspberry Soda amongst the most popular, with the Shikanjiben following a close second. It was time to abandon the camera and nonsensical light headed banter took over!

SBOW KhanWith drinks can food be far behind? The menu sees several new additions and make overs from the first branch. My absolute favorites in starters were Mushroom on Khari, Breach Candy Awesome Okra, Tareli Macchi, Chicken Baida Roti. The egg lovers didn’t stop ranting about the Dukkar Galli John’s Famous Egg Sandwich, and couldn’t tear themselves away from it either. Everyone ate lots. LOTS!

Berry Pulao, Soda Bottle Openerwala, Cyberhub, GurgaonSoon came main course. Main course? I was stuffed already but one look at the Berry Pulao, a lamb berry pulao at that had everyone grabbing forks again. It is the best offering from SBOW and one not to be missed. It’s a must try on their vast and intriguing menu. Add some Bhendi Bazaar Sheekh Paratha and Kolmi Fry and this gastronomic Parsi journey is even happier. Did I mention the sweetest and funniest young stand up comedian Danesh Irani? That too. He had the captivated audience roaring with laughter with ‘The Last Parsi’ written by Meherzad Patel.

Soda Bottle Openerwala, Cyberhub, Gurgaon

SBOW Khan 5Dessert anyone? I groaned as I was ready to burst but can you keep the fingers away from the delicious to the last crumb 5 Star Brownie? Not possible at all. Also impossible to resist is the Toblerone Mousse which is smooth, silky, indulgent … divine. Glass scraping good stuff. Another very interesting dessert addition is the Bun Maska Jam. Pillowy soft white buns smothered with butter and jam send you right back into a nostalgic journey into the past. Yes they’ve got it spot on. Again! SBOW KhanSoda Bottle Openerwala, Cyberhub, Gurgaon It’s a celebration of a cuisine that faced possible extinction and exposure to a community which is very small and largely unknown for it’s cuisine in North India. Ad Singh with his wonderfully talented team has given Delhi a memorable foodie destination, not once, but twice over! Kudos to the team behind this legacy … very talented and quite unassuming Mohit Balachandran from the food blog Chowder Singh who’s been active with Olive for several years, Head Chef Kulbeer, Cuisine authenticator and Parsi Chef Manager Anahita Dhody

Don’t miss a post Also find me on The Rabid Baker, The Times of India

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