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!

Event | Food Styling Workshop at Indian Food Bloggers Meet, Bangalore 2014 – ‘food-o-graphy’

… where food tells your story!

THEMEDo moods, colours, stories, ingredients, seasons, connects, props and everything in between paint your daily canvas?  They do for me, an obsessed baker and cook, a ‘locavore’ by design, who enjoys getting food to the table with seasonal ingredients and local produce. Phalsa ka Sharbat Give me an ingredient, offer me an idea … that’s enough for the magic to begin! Thoughts flow, the lens focuses and I begin to dream!

Phalsa ka SharbatWriting my food blog since Aug 2007 made me move from just baking, to baking and taking pictures. Then came the abundant inspiration from the magical internet. Styling the food for the lens became second nature; stuff my dreams are made up of.Amaranth Oat Walnut Ginger Cookies I want to tell my story, and most of the time it is through pictures with some words to tie the post together! I am seldom lost for inspiration as seasons, colours, ingredients, people all inspire me. When I hit a road block, you will probably find me at Pinterest.

Mango Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta I devour cookbooks for meals. I am fascinated as I turn pages of my favourite authors … Ottolenghi, Donna Hay to name a couple. They inspire me. I dream food, FOOD in pictures actually. Vibrant, rich, colourful, moody, picturesque … then wake up with thoughts of how to capture my dreams.Coffee Shortbread Cookies I am also an obessive prop collector, hardly a secret from those who know me. I’ve been one for years, even before I began food styling. Vintage and rustic props make my DNA! So when Aparna asked if I might be interested in doing a Food Styling workshop at the IFBM in August, I said YES PLEASE!

Hazelnuts and kumquatsFood styling is something I love, and something I find engaging. The good thing…the more you see, the more you share, the more you learn. Creativity is very individual, and for me, it exposes a part of me in every frame. Moody more often than never, I sometimes step across to the lighter side too … whatever tells my story!

Roasted bell peppersHomemade evaporated milk for Tres LechesSo hope to see you at the Indian Food Bloggers Meet at Bangalore for a little ‘ food-o-graphy

Summary of the Food Styling Workshop – Every food story is unique, rich and worth a share. Through the lens, I’m here to discuss how to capture the story behind your food. Connecting the ‘dots’ or rather crumbs, let’s try and see how we can slowly develop our trademark style!'food-o-graphy' by Deeba Rajpal. A Food Styling workshop at the Indian Food Bloggers Meet 2014

Will discuss basic planning, building a frame, setting the mood, using props to tell your story.

PAB food stylingHope to see you there! Would love to hear your thoughts, suggestions, thinks you might like included etc. Look forward to catching up with you!

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

Cooler | Phalsa Berry Sharbat – ‘Blendit’ like Vikas Khanna #summer #cooler #inseason #kitchenaidindia

“The more you know, the more you can create. There’s no end to imagination in the kitchen.”
Julia Child

Phalsa ka Sharbat Phalsa Berry Sharbat … the much dreaded ‘loo‘ or hot summer winds, dry and dust laden, sweep across the plains of North India. Summer here becomes intolerable at times, with ‘fry eggs on the sidewalk‘ like temperatures threatening your very existence! Then along come some of the best fruit that nature has to offer … and life becomes worthwhile again! This Phalsa Berry Sharbat helps you survive…

Phalsa ka Sharbat With a slew of summer fruit now being offloaded by the truckloads, we could not have asked for more. Red, luscious, juicy cherries, mangoes falling off hand carts, watermelons piled sky high on roadsides, peaches just about beginning to surface, Indian java plums too. And then the phalsa berry, a beautiful, tangy, astringent much awaited native Indian berry!

Phalsa, Grewia asiatica Packed with vitamin C and antioxidants, this humble little berry, Grewia asiatica, brings alive childhood nostalgia. Back then, almost 40 years ago, the silent afternoon would be pierced by the shrill cry of the ‘phalsa wala‘. You’d find him with a wicker basket, topped with a very wet gunny bag which he gently peeled back to reveal the precious little berries. The very fragile and perishable phalsa would change hands for a few pennies. Washed gently and tossed in rock salt, we would hungrily suck them, trying to extract the most from the almost impoverished looking fruit.

Phalsa ka SharbatSometimes if we were lucky enough, we would be rewarded with phalsa ka sharbat! It was pain staking to make and a special treat. Life is a little easier now, with gadgets that make life in the kitchen a breeze. Just one sip of this amazing cooler, in colours that uplift the soul,  memories of a quintessential part of Indian summer comes alive! Sharbats or ‘fruit and flower based coolers‘ are the answer to the beat the heat!

Kitchenaid Blendappetit  with Vikas Khanna Hymns from the Soil This takes me to the launch of the KitchenAid Pro Line Cordless Hand Blender in association with Masterchef Vikas Khanna in Delhi. The launch is a part of multi city #Blendappetit Tour spanning across India starting from May 20, 2014. While, the cordless blender is a unique, first of its kind, versatile product, it comes with an ultimate experience of ‘anytime anywhere’ blending.

Kitchenaid Blendappetit  with Vikas Khanna Hymns from the Soil This new blender from Kitchenaid India is a magic machine, ergonomically designed, a thing of beauty. It comes equipped with a rechargeable 12V lithium ion battery which gives it the power to perform efficiently. The super blender can blend, mix, whisk, chop, froth, puree, shred and whip up anything in a flash.

Kitchenaid Blendappetit  with Vikas Khanna Hymns from the Soil The very sweet and charming Vikas {I was fortunate enough to shoot with him recently} blended a lip smacking good kiwi smoothie from his new book.  The chef was affable as ever; entertaining, engaging, humourous! He connected instantly with the expectant crowd and soon had the gathering mesmerised. Ripples of laughter flooded the studio in Gurgaon with Vikas holding court, spinning out one anecdote after another. Stories of his home, his mother & grandmother, his inspirations, his journey from cooking a Rs 20 meal in Punjab to a Rs 20 lakh meal for Obama … yet humble and grounded as ever, a philosopher at heart!Kitchenaid Blendappetit  with Vikas Khanna Hymns from the Soil The afternoon witnessed the launch of his book- .Hymns from the Soil, his first book on Indian vegetarian food and a tribute to Mother Earth. It is full of nostalgic tales of his childhood, and in many ways ‘our childhood’. The ‘mitti ki khushboo‘ or the smell of the wet soil, planting his own vegetable patch, the vegetable vendors with fresh vegetables, seasons that spelt fresh produce {unlike now when you almost get everything round the year} … a touching evocative connect with the soil of the land. The book is beautifully written, with stunning pictures and recipes that call your name.

Phalsa ka Sharbat With so much talk of the connect of the earth, including the shrill call of the vendor that pierced the afternoon silence then, it’s a good time to share this recipe. I make the Phalsa Berry Sharbat every year, changing the recipe as I evolve, always in panic like the berries might disappear or go out of fashion. The phalsa season is a short one here just through May and June. Juicing these in my Thermomix is a breeze … which is why I make this quite often.

Phalsa ka Sharbat 6Phalsa ka Sharbat Not sure if taste buds change as the years go by, or the flood of flavours available and sugar laden options in packaged juices snatch simple pleasure away. Maybe it’s the slightly astringent aftertaste, but unfortunately, this isn’t the kids favourite sharbat. The boy loves his aam panna or raw mango sharbat, the daughter her cranberry juice. Thankfully both also love the daily fresh watermelon juice & smoothies.

Phalsa ka SharbatThe Phalsa Berry Sharbat takes the summer heat away, refreshes the soul, gives you a generous dose of vitamin C and antioxidants … what more can you ask for in these ‘oven like’ months? Oh yes, and if it takes you on a trip down memory lane, that’s even better! I’m loving it!!

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

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