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!

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

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!

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