Feature | A day in the kitchen of Corporate Pastry Chef Bungla, the Hyatt Regency, Delhi …behind the scenes for Valentines Day

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

Food feature | RIVAAYAT … A Royal Indian Experience at Saffron, Trident, Gurgaon, & a Murgh Hara Pyaz recipe from Chef Izzat Hussain

“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!

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

Restaurant Launch/Review | Burger King comes to India … #ChefVickyRatnani #RockyandMayur #BurgerKing

“I never needed much, and I never thought I’d get more than what I had. A trip to Burger King was the biggest thing in the world to me. Heaven.”
Dave Grohl

Burger King IndiaDriving down to the Burger King launch yesterday and I noted how funny it is that a foodie focuses on food signs on the way. A sign whizzed by ‘Chicken biryani masale wali’. It had me thinking about the key word there …  masale wali or spicy. It’s a word that we in India associate with tasty food. It’s  universal acceptance across the length and breadth of this land … spicy is good! Add juicy and crisp to it, and the party is on!!

Burger King IndiaLittle did I know the thread of thought would continue. I was headed to Burger King as I was thrilled it was opening in India, a chain I have long waited for to show up. It’s possibly the one I enjoy most and have a nostalgic connect with. Back in my days with British Airways, the blistering cold winter days meant heading for Burger King to sink our teeth into a juicy crisp burgers. Flame grilled called my name. On a shoe string budget, and an outlet on every high street, Burger Kings flame grilled burgers were the ultimate nirvana.

Deeba and Rocky, Burger King India

Photo courtesy Ruchira @ www. cookaroo.com

And that connect completed my chain of thought once the launch took off. To enter the yet to be opened to public restaurant on time to find the sweet hosts already there and waiting warmed the cockles of my heart. I was swept with nostalgia seeing the ever sweet Rocky Singh, my old buddy from my days in British Airways. A big bear hug later meant all was well in the world, followed by hugs from the warm {and rather huge} Mayur, and then Chef Vicky Ratnani and I couldn’t have asked for more. I was in comfort ozone, familiar trappings, the old nostalgic burger king crown….India launch Saket, New DelhiBurger King India Launch, Saket, New DelhiYou need to talk to the large-hearted and down to earth Rocky {of Rocky & Mayur fame} to understand his passion for food, and importantly here the conviction with Burger King. One to call a spade a spade, this rather no nonsense very clear headed stalwart held a mesmerised audience hand in hand with the equally affable Mayur. Of course I wanted to know why fast food, why the burger chain association, why an international brand …. what brought them together.

Burger King India Launch, Saket, New Delhi

And there is much. He spoke in depth about the association, the passion, their journey together, the tasting sessions, the trappings, menu development, the team behind it, the research specialist Dr who was quiet and charming. I was convinced. I might not be the daily burger chomper, but I am happy to reach out for the once in a while burger. Burger King meets me there. The taste, the selection and the old world charm with a special menu developed for India!

Chef Vicky Ratnani, Burger King launch, Saket, New Delhi

The menu is has been developed in India and is based on 3 parameters that popped up in every research held locally – JUICY, SPICY, CRISPY! A special addition, the Chicken Tandoor Grill, a tandoori chicken burger developed by the very sweet Chef Vicky Ratnani that he demonstrated at the launch too. You will be spoilt for choice. I’d recommend the Chicken Tandoor Grill which is already promising to be a runaway success, the Whopper of course, and the Chicken Royale. Oh and don’t miss the onion rings … they were delicious good!

Burger King launch, Saket, New Delhi The vegetarian line is impressive. I absolutely loved there paneer cheese melt burger and the red bean burger too… quite a leap of taste & creativity from a rather insipid aloo tikki burger that we see elsewhere. Now your chance to go to Burger King India! Burger King launch, Saket, New Delhi Oh did I mention that we made burgers behind the scenes too? Yes we did, and the cleanliness and the routine followed is impeccable as it is impressive. Not an easy job to do, it makes you sit and look at the team behind the counters with greater respect and admiration!

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