restaurant review

“My two rules of cooking: keep it fresh and keep it simple.”
Mike Isabella

Unlock the destination with Chef Tanveer, Exc Chef, Le Meridien Gurgaon 600It did seem like a daunting idea to jump onto a chefs bandwagon at 7am. Yet with an itinerary that promised some fun unlocking of a destination, the journey was full of promise. That it was going to be so so fun was something I didn’t envisage. I would do this again in a heartbeat, so what if the mercury rose to almost 50C that afternoon as we literally spilled into the fish market! This is just a peep into the day we spent with the young, very affable, energetic, creative and impressive Tanveer Kwatra, the executive chef at Le Méridien Gurgaon.

We joined Exec Chef Tanveer Kwatra on a typical day as he took us on a culinary journey unlocking CR Park, microgreens, exotic seldom used local produce like phalsa berries and mango ginger etc. Later, he went on to create magic with the food we bought!

A step into the lobby, and the mood is set.  So pleasing to the senses, what welcomes you is a visual delight, a celebration of art! A Pareesh Maity work greets you as you enter, warmth exuding from the yellow figurine. A number of sculptures by Satish Gujral add to the character, as does the large  art wall behind the reception which illustrates natural forces weathering rock shores and land and has been beautifully depicted by PR Daroz.Le Meridien, GurgaonThe hotel has numerous art pieces which starts from the Tree of Life at the entrance by Vibhor Sogani to the chrome installation at the lobby that depict the transformation from day to night. Vibhor Sogani, Le Meridien, GurgaonCreative, creative, creative …it’s a feel good ambiance! ’twas a cracker of a start to the day as the three of us, Sangeeta, Ruchira and I, landed up in the well lit airy lobby, to be greeted by a bright and cheerful Tanveer. He’s one of those people you take an instant liking to – easygoing, friendly, enthusiastic, and as we learnt through the day, large hearted and very talented. Latest Recipe, Le Meridien, GurgaonWith Eye Opener shots that offered intriguing local flavours – ginger coffee {very new to me & refreshing} and mango jeera, we soon headed for a culinary tour of the property. Our first stop was Latest Recipe, the signature dining restaurant at the hotel. It offers bright, picturesque views of the garden outside the hotel and draws in natural daylight that lights up the space. We returned to the venue for all our meals that day!

Latest Recipe, Le Meridien, GurgaonWith a delicious double espresso shot and a smattering of fresh tropical fruit  to awaken our senses, we headed into the chefs den. Well organised work spaces, the men were all busy at work. With the breakfast service already underway at Latest Recipe, the lunch menu was being prepped. Latest Recipe, Le Meridien, Gurgaon We were in the ‘Indian’ kitchen, such a delicious space. Local produce, native ingredients, native cooking utensils and methods of cooking. Butter paneer, dhungaar-e-butter chicken {the gravy smoky, earthy, lip-smacking good; very rich too}, a kachchi gosht ki biryani had our taste buds on red alert. Latest Recipe, Le Meridien, Gurgaon The chef of course got dizzily busy {was hard to keep up with him} readying up a line of the Le Meridien Gurgaons signature breakfast for us. Duck Khurchan Dosa with Mulligatawny Soup, Brioche Burger, Crab Omelette! Latest Recipe at it’s very best. Great beginning. Need I say more?

Latest Recipe, Le Meridien, GurgaonLatest Recipe : An all-day dining restaurant featuring global cuisine presents guests with a sensory world cuisine experience. Located at the Lobby Level, the restaurant exudes a warm contemporary feel and a visual delight for the eyes; the bespoke music, styled to suit the mood of the day, the alluring aroma of food wafting through the restaurant, authentic & delectable world cuisine. It revolves around five interactive show kitchens displaying a sumptuous array of food, a dining concept that brings the excitement of cooking from the chefs.

Latest Recipe, Le Meridien, Gurgaon What strikes you is the creativity at every meal, the small touches, the rustic and earthy feel, above all the chefs personal connect with how he presents things. Bursts of colour from Stappu and Le Crueset dance in the daylight, fresh fruit to make your heart sing, eggs sitting sweetly in ‘nests, ceramic baskets of spice, live counters functioning.

Chef Tanveer KwatraA young lad from Agra who has studied Down Under, he gathers experiences from as far as Fiji to closer at home doing Marwari wedding cuisines, his stories reflect how he picks up and learns on the go. For someone who is as enthusiastic about Agra ki dalmoth and flash fried prawns, Benaras ki chaat and okonomiyaki from Japan, food talk lights up his eyes! Mind you, through the conversation, nothing escapes his eye, what his staff are doing, if anything is incorrectly placed, a runaway crumb. The place runs like clockwork.

Chef tanveer Kwatra It was a packed day. As you read on, {LONG POST ALERT}, you will wonder how much we packed into a day. The chefs day was busier actually. He took loads of time out for us. Before lunch we took a recce of his well organised and well maintained stores, , we sneaked into the pastry room, watched the pastry chef make a TON of choux, piped some wriggly eclairs, inhaled the sweet smell of soft buns baking, then saw them get slathered with butter, got heady with the aromas of lavender and tonka beans … we were welcomed into every nook and corner!Latest Recipe, Le Meridien, Gurgaon That worked up an appetite and ‘those’ colourful dishes with the lunch menu beckoned our famished selves. We ate right off the kitchen counter! Roasted thyme garlic pumpkin with Evoo and feta {we polished it off}…I think it’s the best pumpkin I’ve ever had. Potato daphnoise, fish in a citrusy burre blanc, meaty mushrooms with chicken were just some of the fare. We couldn’t stop eating, pampered under the chefs indulgent gaze…

…and yes, love him or hate him, he swallowed anchovies with great pleasure!

Latest Recipe, Le Meridien, Gurgaon Rolling out were colourful Le Crueset dishes prettily dished with dal, smoked butter chicken, gobhi masala, butter paneer…so much more. In the meantime the kachcha gosht ki Hyderabadi biryani that started cooking on dum in the morning was ready and was being lavished with ghee, saffron, vevetier. We dug in. WOW!! One of the best I’ve had, very authentic, fragrant and done right. On the side, their was a spicy, bursting with flavours mirchi ka saalan!

Latest Recipe, Le Meridien, Gurgaon A quick pit stop at the lab, nice and neat, where food testing is carried out, and we tripped along to stop by at the cafeteria. What a well organised place, with huge vessels with a finger licking good dal, chicken, paneer, boondi raita and the works. Latest Recipe, Le Meridien, Gurgaon Stuffed as we were, we queued up to taste the communal lunch served to all the staff. Completed with refreshing glasses of Roohafza and crisp cucumber, pickles too, it was yet another meal to remember! We were joined in the cafeteria by David Hopcroft, GM Le Méridien, Gurgaon.

Fish Market, CR Park, New Delhi

CR Park, New Delhi With the day flying by, it was time to hop into cars and head into the city. Tanveer was going fish and vegetable shopping to CR Park and even though it was 47C, or more like 50C, we leapt to it. I have a never ending fascination with India {in particular Indian markets and sadhus in no particular order}. My first time in CR Park, my first time at the fish bazaar, and I was fascinated!

CR Park, New Delhi Later when I shared a few fishy images on FB and IG, I was welcomed by the local Bong community as one of their own! “full Bengali accredited” as one said. I was loving it. Tanveer bought loads of fish for dinner that night – hilsa, seabass, rohu, sardines. He was in his element!

CR Park, New Delhi Being a non Bong meant getting the right royal ignore when I tried to buy some block printed fabric. Was far more successful shopping for kasundi and earthenware matkis after we dug into the best mishti doi ever on Ruchira’s recommendation. She knows!! Tanveer bought some more mishti doi for a surprise back at the hotel, while we continued the food indulgence finally wrapping up with an addictive radhabollobhi kachauri. Sigh, the deliciousness!CR Park, New DelhiJust a little more shopping, vegetables this time, and the spring in ‘his’ step was infectious. There too he was in his element – mango ginger, jamrul or wood apples, falsa/phalsa berries. There was a glint in his eye as he thought of what he would make with his loot! One more stop on the way back, a small microgreens unit, where we picked up some beautiful beet greens etc, and we headed back to Le Méridien Gurgaon.Latest Recipe, Le Meridien, Gurgaon While we were ready to expire and were packed off to a much needed and very relaxing spa, the good Tanveer zipped off to get dinner ready. How we were pampered all day! Daylight was ebbing, but not our appetite! An hour or so later, back to the ‘now bathing in sunset’ Latest Recipe, we were gobsmacked to see his creativity. Out of the box thinking, fresh ideas, great pairing, perfect balance of flavours, a party on the palette I tell you! Here’s what he bought that day … CR Park, New Delhi and here’s what he did…

Falsa berries – Burrata with Balsamico Scented Falsa and Ciabata Toast
Jamrul & Mango Ginger – Cabbage Onion and Edamame Bean Salad with Jamrul and Mango Ginger, Ponzu Dressing and Wakame
Seabass & Mango Ginger – Pan fried Seabass with Mango Ginger Chutney and Pan Roasted Sweet Potato
School Shrimps & kasundi – Crispy School Shrimps with Kasundi and Apricot Sauce and Burnt Garlic
Mishti Doi – Mishti Doi Eclaire topped with White Chocolate and Popped Amaranth

Latest Recipe, Le Meridien, Gurgaon Well here’s what we did. W I P E D  I T  A L L  C L E A N!! Not a crumb left. I thought I wasn’t a fish person. I’m not, but am certainly a cooked by Tanveer ‘fish person’! Gosh those school shrimps in the kasundi and apricot sauce with burnt garlic. Mind blowing flavours. Each and every dish was outstanding. I could eat that burrata all day. Paired with falsas & pine nuts, it was to die for! The edamame bean salad saw the flavours waltz off the palette, making magic with textures. And the sea bass with pan roasted sweet potato and beet greens was brought ALIVE with a sharp chili mango ginger ‘kutti’ chutney. AMAZING stuff and so well presented!

Latest Recipe, Le Meridien, Gurgaon …and an amazing way to finish the day! I LOVED that there is huge focus on local produce, an inclusion of native flavours in the menu, that as far as possible, the ingredients are locally procured. There is a system in place, efficiency is high and the place runs like clockwork. It was a day I will remember for a long time, twelve hours that flew by in a heartbeat in the peak of Indian summer!

Thank you Chef Tanveer and Le Méridien Gurgaon for hosting us.

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“Recipes don’t work unless you use your heart!”
Dylan Jones

A day in the kitchen of Corporate Pastry Chef BunglaIt isn’t everyday that you get to shadow a corporate pastry chef at a hotel, so I was in for a pleasant time. The Hyatt invited me to spend ‘A day in the kitchen of Corporate Pastry Chef Bungla‘ … a behind the scenes of the chefs at work! I’ve met the ever so sweet, down to earth and very humble Chef Bungla before, and was more than happy to peep into his happening kitchen.

Valentines Day, Hyatt Regency, DelhiMore so since it was close to the red letter day of love, Valentines Day. I knew the creative chef would be painting his kitchen red, and I wasn’t disappointed. In fact I was overwhelmed. Overwhelmed at his creativity, the ease which which he churns out the best of goodies to ‘feed’ Sidewalk. It was a virtual Charlie’s Chocolate Factory in there behind the steely cold kitchen doors.

A day in the kitchen of Corporate Pastry Chef Bungla, Hyatt Delhi In the kitchen at 7am every morning, a well oiled schedule and a well choreographed team, he is at his creative best. It’s pin drop silence in here. Everyone on his team knows what to do, and they go about doing it professionally and perfectly.

A day in the kitchen of Corporate Pastry Chef Bungla, Hyatt Delhi A candid moment sometimes comes by with an old hand carrying a vintage willow basket that catches the eye. I want to grab it and make a beeline for the door. Oh yes, the envy for old rustic things! I try to ‘capture‘ the man and his basket and the whole kitchen peeps in to see what caught my eye! Then they get back to their routine…

A day in the kitchen of Corporate Pastry Chef Bungla, Hyatt Delhi A giant Isfahan macaron is being prepared under the chefs watchful gaze. Handpicked red strawberries, each chosen of the same size, tops neatly sliced off, then hulled and filled with cream. With clockwork precision, the team works around the huge white marble counter tops as I smile seeing deft hands gently pulling trademark Hyatt red ribbons to complete the V Day look. Ribbons are such a feminine thing in my humble opinion… here you see how male dominated the kitchen is! A day in the kitchen of Corporate Pastry Chef Bungla, Hyatt DelhiThe chef gives his look of approval, then does the honours. A sprinkle of slivered pistachios, a dusting of red rose petals… and we are all set for V day! This is just one of the surprises that they are creating. My favourite of course is the English Mix Berry Cake topped with colourful fruits, decorated for V Day. So European, and to my delight, one of the most popular cakes that comes out of the kitchen.

A day in the kitchen of Corporate Pastry Chef Bungla, Hyatt Delhi The other very popular one and a huge V Day favourite is his luscious Red Velvet Cake. You can tell that V day is around the corner as strawberries paint the kitchen red. Strawberries in white chocolate lay in neat rows on the counter. Not just those. There’s beautiful raspberry mousse for two as well! So much love in the air, what’s not to love a kitchen like his!

A day in the kitchen of Corporate Pastry Chef Bungla, Hyatt Delhi What’s also not to love about a kitchen that has huge loads of bread dough being kneaded, sourdough the all time call. Chef Bungla treats each loaf as his baby, proudly tells me that no yeast is ever used. All bread is baked using sourdough, the culture over a 100 years old! He walks me through the ‘bread basket’ pointing to the slightly bubbled crust one some loaves. This is a sign of good bread he says.

A day in the kitchen of Corporate Pastry Chef Bungla, Hyatt Delhi Having honed his skills mostly in Europe, Chef Bungla is one well traveled chef. He’s been in the Hyatt since 1982, and has mastered every baking and patisserie technique in his time here. To my absolute amazement, ten years ago he even worked under the God of macarons, Pierre Hermes! Yet he is so humble, so nonchalant, so passionate about the bakery.

A day in the kitchen of Corporate Pastry Chef Bungla, Hyatt Delhi We talk about heart shaped chocolate truffles, macarons, choux pastry, profiteroles, recipe development, European trends, Japanese bakeries, panna cotta sans gelatin {you should have seen the twinkle in his eye}, bagels {sourdough again}. He relies on his authenticity, techniques, tradition and finally his intuition to invent his creations. The passion shines through, his humility endearing.

A day in the kitchen of Corporate Pastry Chef Bungla, Hyatt Delhi He accompanies me to Sidewalk, and as I take pictures of his creations, you can sense his pride. Take a shot of this one quick he says. Cakes get sold very fast here. After 4pm we don’t bake. Only the days’ bakes reach the counters, never anything from the the previous day. Sure enough, a patron stops by at Sidewalk and orders 7 cakes. Goodbye beautiful cakes, all boxed and expertly packed on their way to delight someones taste buds!

A day in the kitchen of Corporate Pastry Chef Bungla, Hyatt Delhi We stop by the Café for a bit. It’s buzzing with activity. At the heart of the cafe is the dessert bar, like a candy shop! It’s close to 3pm and there is a heightened sense of activity around it. The chef hovers around, a keen eye, a quick look over, then we head back for Sidewalk where a guest is waiting for him.

A day in the kitchn of Corporate Pastry Chef Bungla, Hyatt Delhi After a happy animated chat, he calls the kitchen below to hurry up and get ‘the cake for the lady from South Africa’. With a huge grin across his face he tells me that she has been a guest at the hotel for years, and the Orange Almond GF Cake is her favourite. She knows him by name, he knows what she’ll ask for… and he always obliges. A day in the kitchen of Corporate Pastry Chef Bungla, Hyatt Delhi In all this, I am the very fortunate onlooker who benefits. I get served a slice as well. I have to say, this is the best cake ever! Simple, flavourful, decadent. My type of cake. No frosting, no unnerving sweetness… just good good flavours. It’s one I like to bake myself, but being served by the chef himself, makes it the best ever!

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“Food is a central activity of mankind and one of the single most significant trademarks of a culture.”
Mark Kurlansky

Rivaayat - A Royal Indian Experience at Saffron, Trident, Gurgaon 600Food is the greatest healer, the greatest giver of comfort, and offers the best form of nostalgia to the culinary senses. It climbs up a few notches higher when it enters the royal kitchen. Imagine next, an intriguing combination of medicine and food. ‘Rivaayat – The Indian Culinary Conclave’ an initiative by The Oberoi Group made this possible with Izzat Hussain @ Saffron, Trident, Gurgaon.Rivaayat“Food is Medicine” is a term which was originally coined by Hippocrates, the father of Western medicine. It was his belief that eating wholesome food is the basis for good health, and it is this belief that forms the foundation of {Dr} Chef Izzat Hussain’s food philosophy. The uniqueness he brings to the table is how he seamlessly weaves Unani medicine and research of ingredients into his repertoire of royal Awadhi recipes. ‘Rivaayat – The Indian Culinary Conclave’ As part of this unique culinary initiative of The Oberoi group, I had the pleasure of experiencing a finely created meal at Saffron, Trident, Gurgaon. The fine dining Indian speciality restaurant has celebrated Chef Izzat Husain unveil secret recipes at Saffron. Rivaayat invites you to experience the magnificence of the royal kitchens of Awadh as he recreates treasured Indian classics like the Kakori Kebab, Gosht Yakhni Pulao, Zafrani Nehari and Baqakhani

Izzat Husain is known for taking Awadhi cuisine across the globe. He is a food enthusiast, working hard for several years to search and revive authentic recipes of Mughlai, Awadhi & Lakhnawi cuisine. He has learnt the cooking techniques and procedures from old cooks, house wives and foodies of royal families. Few of his specialities are Murgh Mewazad, Karhai Ghosht and Kebab Makhmali.

Rivaayat - A Royal Indian Experience at Saffron, Trident, Gurgaon With the ever so sweet Mallika {Manager Comm, The Oberoi, Gurgaon} and Executive Chef Sandeep keeping me good company at aesthetic and beautiful Saffron, I set off on this delicious journey. The starters {or fillers as I call them} were specially good, and for me a meal in themselves. I loved the Gosht Parchay, the Chicken Tikka which were vastly different from any I’ve had before; a melt in the mouth goodness about with addictive flavours. The Galouti Kebab on the little ulte tawa ka paratha was a winner too. The 2 chutneys accompanying the starters were amazing. An Olive Green Chutney {fresh coriander and olive oil} and a Thoom Chutney {emulsified raw garlic chutney} both fresh, bursting with flavour, robust and earthy. Chef Izzat Hussain doesn’t believe in using water in his cuisine. The chutneys had a base of oil, and his curries are cooked in milk!

Rivaayat - A Royal Indian Experience at Saffron, Trident, Gurgaon Time for the main course which arrived in gleaming katoris, little bowls of wonder. Lots of them. The menu is vast, and very interestingly offers a huge selection for both vegetarian and non vegetarian options. By this time the gentle Chef Izzat had joined us at the table. His belief is that milk or dairy cuts the acidity of the meat, thereby allowing easier digestion. I loved his signature Malai Boti Kebab which just melted away into oblivion. Also the Murgh Begum Pasanda, and a Mahi Korma, royal treatment all the way. I liked the way every little katori {bowl}  held its own ground with stand out flavours and spice blends.

Izzat ki roti, Rivaayat - A Royal Indian Experience at Saffron, Trident, GurgaonWhat took my tastebuds to happiness was the Paneer Chukandar. I loved the way the chef brought this pairing together. So creative! The Sabut Moong with saffron was comforting, though cooked with cream, so a little heavy. Next the veg Shahi Korma, pillowy soft vegetable koftas wrapped in a luscious gravy. That tomatoes were not part of the ingredients was something quite enjoyable. This is what I like about Awadhi cuisine….caramelized onions and dairy that bring about beautiful red hues to the dish.{The camera had been done away with by now}. On the side were breads … Sheermal, Gullafi Kulcha and Izzat ki roti. The Izzat ki Roti was by far the best. A multigrain, crisp flatbread that was addictive good, one that you could nibble away at all day long! The name of course comes from the creator …Chef Izzat Hussain. The chef said that this special roti is now very famous across Lucknow.

Rivaayat - A Royal Indian Experience at Saffron, Trident, Gurgaon Did I mention the Buraani Raita? Yum! Found it’s place on the platter alright! Oh yes, and there were 3 biryanis/pulaos that followed. A good to the last grain Kaju Biryani, and a couple of others – Gosht Tursh Pulao, and a Chicken Biryani which I could not try. Alas! Too full. Some Awadhi murrabba might have worked digestive magic here…. was I stuffed! That the meal was royal was obvious. ’twas heavy food I tell you.

Rivaayat - A Royal Indian Experience at Saffron, Trident, Gurgaon Dessert was delightful as dessert should be. Despite obviously being stuffed to the gills, the array of desserts tempted. I sampled the Chhena Kheer, Taar Halwa and Shahi Tukda. The Shahi Tukda was my absolute favourite … a full bodied Stollen like bread with raisins and saffron formed the base. I have to say all 3 desserts were excellent. Not cloyingly sweet as a halwa or kheer can threaten to be. They were just right for me, with Exec Chef Sandeep letting me on Izzat Hussain’s secret. A dash of lime juice will always cut away the feeling of dessert being exceedingly sweet! Nice tip!
 I also came away with a box of the most yum fudge chocolaty cookies, a gift from Exec Chef Sandeep!

Trident, Gurgaon is presenting its Rivaayat, a celebration of the Indian Royal experience at its award winning Indian cuisine restaurant – Saffron between 19th January and 25th January 2015.

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Lucknawi cuisineAwadhi cuisine hails from the city of Nawabs, Lucknow. This cuisine consists of elaborate dishes such as kebabs, kormas, biryanis, kaliyas, nahari-kulchas, zarda, sheermal, roomali rotis, and warqi parathas. The richness of Awadhi cuisine lies not only in the variety of cuisine but also in the ingredients used like mutton, paneer, dry fruits and rich spices like cardamom and saffron.Lucknow mainThe Lucknawi cuisine I have had in the past has been vastly different. Lighter on spices and milder to taste, obviously the food I’ve had in the past wasn’t this royal!! With my mother belonging to Lucknow, it is a city and cuisine which I enjoy a lot. I did ask for a simple, quick flavourful everyday recipe from Izzat Hussain’s vast repertoire. Here it is, a Murgh Hara Pyaz {Chicken with Spring Onions}, and as the tagline goes …  absolutely fresh, delicious and healthy!Hara Pyaaz Murgh It’s a light, summery, quick, fresh dish. I added a dash of cream towards the end to make it a ‘winter comfort food dish’, more lime juice, green garlic and onion scapes and loads of fresh coriander to make it ‘wintery’. It was really good with fresh lachcha parathas!

[print_this]Recipe: Murgh Hara Pyaz
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Summary: Murgh Hara Pyaz {Chicken with Spring Onions}, as the tagline goes,  absolutely fresh, delicious and healthy! A simple, quick flavourful everyday recipe from Izzat Hussain’s vast repertoire.

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

  • Chicken breast boneless julienne – 160 gms
  • Spring onions cut into batons– 60 gms
  • Fresh coriander – 5 gms
  • White butter – 20 gms
  • Salt to taste
  • Lemon Juice – 10 ml
  • Garlic – 5gms
  • White pepper to taste


  1. Heat butter in a pan and add garlic. Add the chicken juliennes and sauté.
  2. To this add the spring onion batons and cook on high flame.
  3. Add salt, white pepper , lemon juice and coriander and mix well.
  4. Serve hot


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