Food Feature | A Zoroastrian Rhapsody @ The Oberoi Gurgaon with the oldest Parsi chefs Tehmtan and Shernaz Dumasia

“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well”
Virginia Woolf

@ the Amaranta Oberoi for a special Parsi lunch created by the legendary Tehmtan and Shernaz DumasiaJust back from a trip to Leh, an invite to a Zoroastrian Rhapsody with the oldest Parsi chefs Tehmtan and Shernaz Dumasia promised to be fun, exciting, engaging and invigorating. It certainly was. Parsi cuisine is an involving experience,and offers the old world charm of a tradition well preserved. The exclusive lunch created by the Dumasias for a bloggers table of eight filled the ‘Amaranta’, Oberoi Gurgaon with endless cacophony and laughter…aMy first visit to the property wasn’t quite what I expected it to be. The Oberoi stands tall … very modernistic, high ceilings, loads of natural light, minimalistic too, ‘glassy‘ and quiet. Then the lovely Mallika walked in with her positive energy and enthusiasm and the silence was history. We met at The Piano Bar, greeted at the door by a stunning sculpture by new age contemporary artist Valay Shinde.Sculpture by Valay Shinde 2

This stunning sculpture in bronze discs and pocket watches is created by Mumbai- based sculptor and video artist, Valay Shende. He uses non-traditional materials like metal, fibre glass, copper and pocket watches to create stark, traditional images- trucks, animals and this dabbawalla!

@ the Amaranta Oberoi for a special Parsi lunchThere has been a bit of Parsi cuisine in our neck of the woods of late, the first that comes to mind, Soda Bottle Openerwala. Both offered different experiences, starkly different at times, yet both special. SBO with it’s endless energy, loud music,casual dining, constant movement, colour, noise etc while Amaranta is quite the opposite in ambiance. Fine dining, pin drop silence {until we spread our wings of course} … everything working like clockwork.

@ the Amaranta Oberoi for a special Parsi lunchThe Oberoi Gurgaon’s fine dining Indian coastal restaurant offers cuisine from nine coastal regions of the country. Guests can enjoy the best of the morning catch flown in everyday from the 7500 kilometre long Indian coastline, just in time for lunch. What impressed me at the Amaranta was the fusion cuisine we were served. A bit of Indian fine dining coastal in perfect harmony with the Dumanias hand cooked Parsi cuisine. @ the Amaranta Oberoi for a special Parsi lunchWe began with a fabulous in house ginger ale, served alongside some addictive bread with interesting sea salts trademark of the Oberoi Gurgaon. Curry leaf & Coconut Powder, Goan Spice, Kerela spice and Lentil & Curry Leaf … stirred into some olive oil offered a magical accompaniment for the fresh bread. In jugalbandi, or perfect harmony, were papad {crackers} served with the Dumanias trademark carrot date chutney. Finger-licking good stuff!

@ the Amaranta Oberoi for a special Parsi lunch 2Loved the starters, though was a bit iffy about the Parsi Lamb Cutlet coz it was a brain cutlet! Jabbering got the better of me, and before I knew it I chomped my way though them without realising that was brain. It was delicious … full of flavour, crisp with a semolina coating. The Chicken Farcha was yum too.

@ the Amaranta Oberoi for a special Parsi lunch created by the legendary Tehmtan and Shernaz Dumasia What made the meal complete was that the chefs joined us at the table. Parsi food is homey, comforting, traditional is satisfying only in good company. Chef Tehmtan talked us through his life, how his day pans out, the celebrities who love his food, the club he runs in Mumbai, songs he sings at the Christian gym every Friday {there’s nothing he doesn’t do}. Up at 4am every morning, he sets off to buy fresh produce, then comes back to wake his beautiful wife … and off they go to cook! Together since 17, the two are inseprable and you can see the harmony they share. He is outgoing, social, media savvy, a quick thinker, cracks jokes every minute. She is a little reserved, cooks diligently, smiles all the time, and looks completely relaxed.

@ the Amaranta Oberoi for a special Parsi lunch We continued to eat amid incessant chatter. Justice was done to everything we were served.Mutton Dhansak with kebab, Patra ni Machi / Banana leaf wrapped steamed pomphret, Jerdaloo Salli Murghi / Chicken cooked in roasted onion and apricot gravy … a champagne sorbet woven through too! It was good food, great company …

@ the Amaranta Oberoi for a special Parsi lunch Time flew by … and soon dessert was served. This was the part I loved the most. Haven’t had a better Lagan nu Custard {a rich baked pudding served at Parsi weddings} ever. Also excellent was the tender coconut ice cream … both desserts in perfect harmony again, and a perfect end to the meal!

Photo courtesy Anamika  @ Anandini Himalaya Tea

Photo courtesy Anamika @ Anindini Tea

Thank you Chef Tehmtan and Shernaz Dumasia for taking precious time out for a table for us, and for sharing the recipes for Patra nu Machi and Lagan nu Custard.. Thank you also Mallika for hosting us at the Oberoi Gurgaon, and Anamika for organising this.  It was a memorable afternoon indeed!

Bloggers Table | An Oriental Dinner at Pan Asian, WelcomHotel Sheraton, New Delhi

“Tell me and I’ll forget, show me and I may remember, involve me and I’ll understand.”
Chinese proverb

Pan Asian, WelcomHotel Sheraton, New DelhiYet another evening well spent with good food midst good company. This time around the Bloggers Table was hosted at Pan Asian for an oriental meal with Japanese Chef Nakamura. It was set to be an interactive dinner, hosted in a private dining room, a lesson or two in Thai/Japanese salads, and maybe a go at the teppan grill.
Pan Asia, WelcomHotel Sheraton, New Delhi We battled New Delhi’s traffic to get there, resorted to the Google Gods to find the way … and walked in slightly late to be greeted by the very courteous and smiling staff at Pan Asian who escorted us to a private dining room reserved for the table.
Pan Asia, WelcomHotel Sheraton, New Delhi 3The evening took off pretty soon with food, food and more food making its way to the table throughout the evening. I overate … really did. Again. The thing with small bites is that you lose control over how much goodness you can embrace; a definite way to overeat.
Pan Asia, WelcomHotel Sheraton, New Delhi The starters were delicious. An assortment of sushis and tempura, dumplings, dipping sauces, pickled vegetables, boiled soy peanuts … the works. Could have been a meal in itself; should have been a meal in itself! We talked, laughed, giggled, wined and nibbled; ate till we were ready to burst.
Chef Hakamura, Pan Asia, WelcomHotel Sheraton, New Delhi Would have loved a live salad demo with Chef Nakamura but that didn’t happen for some reason. We did have a go at the teppan grill. Much to the chefs horror, we managed to char some silken tofu. We also dabbled at yakitori grill. That was fun, the end result of chicken yakitoris, amazing. The simplicity of Japanese street food, the subtle flavours came through beautifully.
Pan Asia, WelcomHotel Sheraton, New Delhi And there was more! I did small taste tests from here on. The Miso Soup was so comforting. Then came duck. It was the first time my tastebuds met ‘duck’! Indeed a nice first meeting with Peking Duck served with Cucumber, Spring Onion, Pancakes And a Chef Special Sauce  ending up in delicious rolls. Mmmmm…!

Pan Asia, WelcomHotel Sheraton, New Delhi There was tonnes to eat, maybe more than we could handle, me at least. By the time the main course arrived, I could barely eat any more.  The  KaengPhak or Green Curry Thai Style was perfect. I loved it, and wished I could have had more. I also loved the Kung Phad Xo or Pan Fried Prawns With Thai Style Chili X.O. Sauce.

Pan Asia, WelcomHotel Sheraton, New Delhi
Pan Asia, WelcomHotel Sheraton, New Delhi 15Crispy Hua or the Stir Fried Sliced Red Snapper Chili Garlic Sauce was the show stopper as it was flambéed  at the table. Neither me nor Ruchira could take a bite as those eyes stared at us while the flames leapt high!

Pan Asia, WelcomHotel Sheraton, New Delhi It was a sticky sweet end to the meal with Fig And Toffee Pudding served with Darsaan or crisp honey noodles. The dessert was absolutely delicious and I couldn’t have asked for a better and more satisfying end to the meal. The whole Pan Asian experience was very nice; the food, the ambiance and the staff, all excellent. Thank you Pan Asian for hosting us!

The others at the table that night were …
Sushmita @ My Unfinished Life
Sangeeta @ Banaras Ka Khana
Ruchira @ Cookaroo
Parul @ The Shirazine
Mukta @ Bake-a-Mania
Aishwarya @ Aishwarya Eats

Kung Hei Fat Choy… Happy CNY. Today begins the Year of the Snake. Hope it brings good luck for all of you!

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

Bloggers Table | Rose Café, New Delhi … a thorny affair and Pinktober let down

“You can complain because roses have thorns, or you can rejoice because thorns have roses.”

Rose Café, New DelhiIt was the high after an excellent and pampered dinner at The Leela, Gurgaon that carried the Bloggers Table to a supposedly fun filled and leisurely brunch to the Rose Café, Saket, New Delhi the next noon. Not a bunch to miss out on a fun Sunday afternoon together, even though a few of us were eating more than we could accommodate in a single weekend, we were game. Good company is always a promise for good times … Rose Café, New DelhiThe folk at the bloggers table delivered the promise as always … giggly, enthusiastic, chatty and click friendly. Rose Café, New Delhi, however didn’t!  We failed to see the writing on the wall several times, willing to overlook glaring shortcomings, ready to forgive a lacking service standards, ever ready to accommodate an upcoming new venture which showed some promise, even forgave a bit of hair in a glass of water. Maybe we shouldn’t be so large-hearted after all!Rose Café, New Delhi The first impressions were quite nice, but they didn’t last long. They were put to a brutal end by a rather obnoxious young man from the cafe, who, other than using physical force, accosted a few of us women verbally and rather nastily. Catch the horror story at the end … it was something that shouldn’t have happened!Rose Café, New DelhiThe place had this nice English rose look about it, distressed furniture that I love, a play of pastel pinks and blues that gladden the heart. Good overall feel to the place though the seating appeared a little cramped. I had happy thoughts of another good Pinktober blog postshort-lived though!Rose Café, New Delhi It was pretty pink alright, though the stewards in pink shirts were a bit much for me. The other thing about the staff was a lack of any personal touch, eye contact or ‘café warmth‘. They were very robotic from word go … and didn’t get much better as the clock ticked!Rose Café, New DelhiWe were  about 14 of us. That was definitely not too many for Rose Café to completely mess up the orders, more so since we had called ahead. A few got food, the chatty women especially {thank heavens I’m chatty}. Not so the poor men, and that got them rather hot and bothered. 40 minutes without a meal wasn’t happening at lunch time. Also, have you ever been served jacket potatoes with dessert? ROFL … that happened too!Rose Café, New Delhi To be fair, the thin crust pizzas were good. But then again, there are many more places that offer really good pizza with outstanding service, so would rather head there. Try Olive which is a stones throw from Rose Café, else head for Amici in Khan Market. For me, cuisine is the entire ambiance and hospitality experience. I’m certainly not heading back to this pink place in a hurry!Rose Café, New DelhiThe bruschetta was good too with a generous topping of goat cheese and caramelised onions. The spicy chicken bits were very overcooked and hard though the dipping sauce was zingy good with vinegar and green chili. Still, what’s a dip if the ‘main player‘ is bad news? The bunny chow was soft and the baked beans complimented it well.Rose Café, New Delhi The only other thing that deserves some mention was the shepherds pie! The rest of the food was very mediocre. What was really noticeable was service standards, or rather, the lack of them! There was large scale mixing up and slip ups on orders. Drinks either came in doubles, or didn’t come at all. The staff were unable to recall who asked for what, which meant quite a few goof ups. I also heard that the eggplant parmesan was a disaster.Rose Café, New Delhi Dessert was by far the biggest disappointment, especially for the baker in me. Can you possibly serve frozen cake at a table? The macaroons were cold {from the fridge cold}, and so was the lemon cake. The tiramisu was meh! The espresso cake with whipped cream and a caramel sauce was the only saving grace. The grand finale was a cake baked specially for the table, a layered raspberry cake I think. In many ways it looked like it was all dressed up with nowhere to go because it was served frozen. Knives and forks battled the slices which should have been melt in the mouth tender. Quite disastrous and a huge let down. Time for a new pastry chef maybe?Rose Café, New Delhi Time for adieu … and that’s when the drama unfolded. An angry young man from the cafe decided to display his very inhospitable side over a matter which was bothering him. To add injury to insult, he almost physically asked us to step back in. He’d do well with a crash course in hospitality, addressing women, public dealing and social relations. The industry is clearly unsuited to his aggressive personality because this line is not just about food. It’s about the entire experience.Sri Sathya Sai Baba The few happy good memories we packed to take away were rudely snatched away from us just as we left. NOTHING ‘ROSE-Y’ ABOUT IT, nothing worth going back for! The apology that followed did little to douse the fire as it came on demand, and carried on the inflame the situation a wee bit more. Thank you but NO THANK YOU Rose Café!

Others at brunch who shared the ‘not such a pink experience‘ that afternoon…
Sid @ Chef at Large
Sangeeta @ Banaras ka Khana
Sushmita @ My Unfinished Life
Rituparna @ Chocolate & Dreams
Charis @ Culinary Storm
Himanshu @ The White Ramekins
Ruchira @ Cookaroo
Rekha @ My Tasty Curry

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

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