Food Event | Tom Alter & Anandini Himalaya Tea … when poetry & tea created magic in Lutyens Delhi

ime for you and time for me, and time yet for a hundred indecisions,
And for a hundred visions and revisions, before the taking of a toast and tea.”
T.S. Eliot

Tom Alter & AnandiniIt was when ‘Tea & Poetry’ created magic. In the heart of Lutyens Delhi with Tom Alter and Anamika Singhs Anindini Himalaya Tea, monsoon winds, the 20th floor at Le Meridien, good folk, music too, life was good! So many shades of the uber talented actor, poet, writer Tom Alter and tea, so many!! The event ‘Reflections’ is part of the New Perspective event series, an initiative by the Le Meridien, New Delhi.

DelhiTea was the call and the day couldn’t have begun any better. With Delhi now blessed with the monsoon winds and thundershowers at the blink of an eye, Anandini added deeply to the romance.

Anindini Himalaya TeaThe romance that spells Delhi in the rains …  the smell of wet earth, dark skies, pregnant clouds that threaten to burst,  sudden downpours that catch you unaware, birds taking shelter on ledges … and of course that hot cup of tea! Traditionally chai, but TEA at Anindini created by the effervescent Anamika, tea taster and sommelier.Anamika Singh Tom Alter AnindiniIf you thought it couldn’t get any better, hang on! It certainly did. Thespian actor and poet, Tom Alter, a name we grew up with, who played many a ‘sahib’ in Indian films and Indian freedom fighter Maulana Azad too, blended some evocative poetry with Anindini Himalaya Tea. His deep rich timeless voice made for perfect pairing, the man himself a charmer to boot!

Tom Alter & AnandiniBorn and brought up in India, this son of American missionaries can easily pass off as a local. A brilliant command over urdu and english, the charming Tom held us in rapt attention. Such a beautiful evening. From TS Elliot to Ghalib, from the Beatles and Frank Sinatra to old Rajesh Khanna numbers, the man had us captivated. Absolute pleasure! And to add to the charm, there was Anindini in many different avatars.

Anandini Himlayan Tea“Tea for two or two for tea, me for you or you for me … ” the narrative engaged us as the tea delighted. Tom divided the day into seven sessionss with a special tea blend for each.  From the luxurious morning cup that gently awakens you to the second that relieves you of your sorrows, to the most needed post lunch afternoon digestive, tea came in many flavours …  Rosehip & Chamomile, Rhododendron & Himalayan Tulsi, Rose Petals and Mint, Fire Flame Blush and Mint, Pomegranate Flowers and Himalayan Tulsi.Anandini Himlayan Tea All natural, Anindini presents the finest tea delicately paired with herbs and flowers from the Himalayas. Romantic, intriguing and refreshing. I loved the first serving of tea in tall flutes of cold mint and rose tea. Such a pretty sight to greet you, perfect for the early monsoon evening that we walked in on.

Anandini Himlayan TeaTiny shots of brewed tea followed. You could pick out the slight undertones. We gleefully matched them with the fine print on the pretty containers, all colour coded! Tom Alters deep voice teased, mesmerised, cajoled, questioned the crowd. He held our rapt attention. Every now and then an applause would loudly break out, the gathering so appreciative of his immense talent, an encore heard every now and then!

He ended with tales of his childhood. His eyes gleamed with delight while recalling the memories of  his mum’s fresh cinnamon buns on cold winter days when he returned from school. Those warm buns served with tea were the best thing ever. I knew just what he was talking about. These quick Cinnamon Buns are a favourite in our home too …

Anandini Himlayan Tea & Anamika SinghCouldn’t have asked for a better celebration for this not so humble anymore cuppa. Anindini attempts to redefine the humble chai. Tea that adorns a new garb. Tea, herb & flower blends tease the palette, surprise you with the pairing. Behind the venture, a passionate lady. Anindini Himalaya Tea reflects the depth and beauty that Anamika personifies. She is warm, affectionate, passionate, humble and dedicated. Her passion is what Anindini is about. Try a cuppa and you will see what I mean!

Anandini Himlayan Tea

Thank you Le Meridien for hosting this beautiful evening and for taking the wonderful initiative. ‘Reflections‘, a perfect blend of tea and poetry, made for a great beginning! Thank you Anamika for having us over. And of course, thank you Tom for making the evening magical!

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The Rabid Baker, The Times of India


Food Event | Ty.phoo …Tea & Food Pairing Session with Chef Vicky Ratnani

“Some people will tell you there is a great deal of poetry and fine sentiment in a chest of tea.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Ty.phoo ...Tea & Food pairing session with Chef Vicky Ratnani It was time for Ty.phoo‘s unique ‘Out of the Pot Journey’.  A few of us waded across a city jammed with traffic thanks to Republic day parade practice and massive traffic diversions. We headed for The Park in the heart of New Delhi, overlooking the historic 18th century observatory Jantar Mantar, to attend a tea and food pairing session with entertaining and fun Chef Vicky Ratnani.

Ty.phoo ...Tea & Food pairing session with Chef Vicky Ratnani ,The Park, New DelhiEven though it was promoted as the first of the kind tea and food pairing, I recall an earlier one at the Lodhi Gardens, New Delhi in August last year, with the very sweet tea specialist Anamika Singh doing the honours. I missed that one, so this was very welcome indeed.

Ty.phoo ...Tea & Food pairing session with Chef Vicky Ratnani Why? I am not a tea drinker, as most of my friends know. Coffee is more ‘my thing’ yet I am intrigued by tea lovers and the amount of tea they can sip. The teen is also on a tea binge these days, blackcurrant from Teavirve her favourite to date, so my curiosity ran deeper.

Ty.phoo ...Tea & Food pairing session with Chef Vicky RatnaniSo on a chilly winter morning, we headed for the pool side setting of the cook out to be greeted by the energetic and hospitable Chef Vicky Ratnani dressed in bright tangerine yellow. A cheerful bright beginning to a cold afternoon! Somehow sitting next to a pristine blue pool of water made it a few degrees colder! We were so glad there was tea, loads of it!

Ty.phoo ...Tea & Food pairing session with Chef Vicky Ratnani Ty.phoo ...Tea & Food pairing session with Chef Vicky Ratnani The afternoon began with some cold fruit tea infusions … blackcurrant and orange, with the chef urging us to try the cocktails too. There were tea infused vodkas and martinis. The orange spicer vodka was nice, even though the black currant martini did taste slightly synthetic-y.

Ty.phoo ...Tea & Food pairing session with Chef Vicky Ratnani The chef introduced us to the nuances of tea, perfect pairings like in wine and food, almost similar actually! He talked about how  light green tea goes well with deep-fried stuff like cocktail samosas and barbecued food like chicken tikka {which were doing the rounds} …. the tea acting as a palette cleanser,  contributing to rounding off flavours.

Ty.phoo ...Tea & Food pairing session with Chef Vicky Ratnani The cook off began pretty soon. The  chef made his signature dish “Adrak ki Chai ka Kukkad” aka Masala Tea Poached Chicken. Chicken stock with whole spices like mace was gently steeped in a tea bag, and then the chicken breast poached in it for 8-9 minutes. The fillet was then removed and sliced, while a little cream was added to the tea flavoured stock. Such an interesting concept.

Adrak ki Chai ka KukkadHe also demonstrated a mash potato with an interesting Indian twist…the masala mash reminiscent of South Indian dosa aloos. Really nice and such fun to see the humble mash take a new dimension. Chef Ratnani talked about a cucumber ribbon salad, a 9 minute prep, that’s a great way to get kids especially to eat their salads . I loved how easy it looked. I was sure the kids would love it!

Ty.phoo ...Tea & Food pairing session with Chef Vicky Ratnani It was time to move on to lunch which was served poolside. The first course was Harissa spiced grilled veggies, mint and rocket leaf cous cous with chick pea puree {hummus I think}, paired with a ty.phoo Moroccan mint green tea. Perfect first course. For someone who is not an avid cous cous fan, I really enjoyed it.

Ty.phoo ...Tea & Food pairing session with Chef Vicky Ratnani Was also some of the best hummus I have eaten in a while. I really enjoyed the tea too. Beautifully steeped, the flavours of mint pairing beautifully with the first course. {The second serving of tea was over steeped, and bitter}

Ty.phoo ...Tea & Food pairing session with Chef Vicky Ratnani Onto the main course, the poached chicken in the tea stepped sauce. Sadly it didn’t work for me. The sauce was really nice. Gentle, lilting flavours, slight undertones of tea … but the chicken was too meaty for me. Maybe poaching isn’t my ‘cup of tea‘. While I immensely enjoyed the base sauce, and the masala mash at the bottom, the pickled cucumbers too on top, I had to abandon the chicken.

Ty.phoo ...Tea & Food pairing session with Chef Vicky Ratnani Of course, the good folk at The Park were wonderful and offered me the vegetarian option, which was quite nice. Cottage cheese cooked in mustard oil, pepper and maybe mustard encrusted … overall very interesting.  And soon dessert was announced, something we really looked forward too, yet something that sorely disappointed.

Ty.phoo ...Tea & Food pairing session with Chef Vicky Ratnani It was the promise of a luscious flourless chocolate cake, The Park Chocolate Indulgence, that lit our eyes. Yet something was quite not right in there! It had synthetic, gelatin like overtones … and we were unanimous in our verdict.  The strawberries in a waffle basket were the saving grace, and paired well with a bold Ty.phoo Assam tea {the second serving again oversteeped and bitter}.

Ty.phoo ...Tea & Food pairing session with Chef Vicky Ratnani

Overall an interesting experience, enjoyed in good company and with the personal attention of witty and energetic Chef Ratnani. He’s a hands down foodie … exuberant, full of beans and so forthcoming. We came away with generous well packed boxes of Ty.phoo tea, a box full of enviable flavours! Immense possibilities too as I made Sticky Fig, Orange & Date Puddings with Earl Grey soon after, and Ruchira made Masala Chai & White Chocolate Creme Brulee. Alternatively, brew them with herbs and fruit like Sangeeta did.

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


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