What It Takes To Be A Restaurant Startup?

What It Takes To Be A Restaurant Startup?

7 min read
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Vikrant Batra, a stalwart in the Indian food and beverage industry, is the mind and force behind the ingenious concepts of his stand-alone ventures, Cafe Delhi Heights and Nueva.
He launched Café Delhi Heights in 2011; the restaurant celebrates the saddi Dilli spirit, truly. Another venture by Vikrant is Nueva – a casual-dining restaurant with a luxurious stand-alone bar.
Being awarded numerous times by various food and beverage forums, Vikrant Batra aims to expand his restaurants globally. With the success of his restaurants, he has proven to be a man with great ambition and entrepreneurial skills.
Restaurateur Vikrant Batra, in a tete-a-tete with Restaurant India, speaks about the key challenges while starting a restaurant, and more. Taking up the Family Business Reigns to Launching His Own Restaurants – The Journey
My parents started the Batra banquet in 1989. I started to work part-time while I was still in college. Seeing so much food around at the banquet, the foodie in me inculcated. I used to spend most of my time in the kitchen, with the chefs. I started taking the interest, then, on how the food was served and tried a lot of new cuisines. In 1993, while pursuing my Masters in Hotel Management, I started contributing more to the family business. It’s quite easy to do the business when you are pursuing such a degree; it helps both ways. Later, I started taking full care of the banquet business. I started the outdoor catering all over India at weddings, receptions, birthdays and cocktails. That was quite an exposure for me.
I believe if you have done catering, you’ve done everything within the food industry. You learn a lot starting from taking care of logistics to taking food from one location to another and handling a lot of employees.
The business was booming but I wanted to do something more organized because catering requires a lot of legwork and a lot of one-to-one interaction with the customers all the time.
“Success is a process and not a destination!”
~ Vikrant Batra
I took a break for a while, and in 2011, I opened my first restaurant Café Delhi Heights at Cross Point Mall in Gurugram. My brother looks after finances and projects, and I take care of the food and operations. Introducing Contemporary Cuisines at the Restaurant/s
Café Delhi Heights is a product of change, creativity, marketing, and, definitely, the content! I’ve been travelling a lot in the last couple of years. Whatever excited me or impressed me, I would take it back, and get it on my restaurant’s menu. I observed a continuous change and a lot of concepts evolving. By now, a lot of concepts have come to Delhi; the market is dominated by European and pan-Asian concepts.
During my travel to South America, I saw close relativity between the Peruvian and Indian cuisines. I wanted to make something which is contemporary. We talk about modern or new things at restaurants.
New has its own definition; ‘new’ is acceptable till the time it has an element of familiarity.
I found familiarity in Peruvian cuisines. I instantly knew I wanted to bring modernism in the food. Therefore, I launched Nueva, meaning new in Spanish. The restaurant, basically, is about the influences – the modern and the Peruvian. This is what I wanted to get to the table for people. Serving Peruvian Food in Indian Market
We don’t plan businesses with what we think will work. It is about what customers will like.
With people being very-well travelled now, they are getting experimental. Earlier, eating out was occasion-based activity. Now it’s a need. People used to eat out only on birthdays. Now every day is an occasion. When I opened Café Delhi Heights it was a struggle for 24 months. It took time for people to adopt the concept. People accepted the concept of Nueva, too, and the response has been phenomenal. Key Challenges While Starting the Restaurants
When Café Delhi Heights was launched the casual-dining restaurant format was not in the picture.
Initially, creating awareness was and still a challenge. The word-of-mouth works best in the industry.
When we started the restaurant, it was just the time when the ice-breaking social media was picking up. People were getting on social media, making food groups there was the continuous interaction about the new things happening in the town. That really helped.
With Nueva, it’s different. Now the industry is evolving in days and hours. The acceptability, the knowledge and the means of awareness are accessible in everybody’s hand, practically. The Biggest Customer Engagement Mistakes
No one as an entrepreneur wants to make a mistake. And the biggest risk in life is not taking it.
So it is just about the best communication with your customers. The quality of food and the experience you give. If that is not your strength and you’re not focusing on it then you already made a mistake of being in the restaurant industry. Restaurant Operations in India as Compared to That of Foreign Countries
With the availability of the blessing of the population in the country, the restaurant industry as a whole has been able to give a lot of job opportunity and, thus, the revenue generation. And as far as service standards are concerned it’s majorly about your own internal upgradations and the training you have been through.
Must Read: 5 Growth Strategies For Restaurant Startups
It’s very difficult to compare an ‘A’ country’s culture to a ‘B’ country’s culture. Definitely, if you compare with a particular country where people are time bound by the clock, the standards are different and in restaurants in Western countries, the label is way expensive. For example, the customers, there, are supposed to pour water themselves while here in India, the consumers need to be pampered a bit, the waiting staff has to pour the water, place the napkins, and even refill the glasses all the time. I can’t, really, compare the two concepts; it depends only on the culture. Approach Towards Supply Chain Management
The success of any business depends on the supply chain. It is a much bigger concept than it may seem. It involves the process from procurement to availability, quality audit and reaching to the restaurant. The customers directly or indirectly become part of the supply chain as the end product reaches. It’s the most critical thing to have a great supply chain.
To give you an example, we’d made a central storage system. We have a base kitchen where we centrally procure everything, and dispatch in our vehicles, to maintain the quality. Secondly, the supply chain is very much under our control and the vendor gets the comfort of supplying everything in one place. See that’s a very critical cost consciousness. Advise for Restaurant Startups
– No discouragement but the restaurant industry, right now, has the biggest failure rate which everybody knows.
– To start a venture, you have to be a pre-startup, do things on your own and gain experience as much as you could.
– Your operating plans have to be very clear and focused.
– You have to be passionate about your restaurant startup.
– Don’t make mistakes of overspending from day one.
– Be clear about what you want to do.
– And please don’t lose focus on the main content of the food industry which itself says – food, food and food.
This article was originally published by Sara Khan. More from Entrepreneur Elizabeth’s expertise can help you scale your business, build a personal brand and focus on being a value-driven CEO.

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Oldbury balti house owner admits food offences after shock peanut find

A BALTI house’s former owner was ‘playing with human life’ by falsely advertising a dish as peanut-free, a court heard.
Reza Ul-Islam – the former director of B68 Indian Cuisine Ltd, trading as B68 Indian Cuisine and Takeaway – pleaded guilty to food offences at Birmingham Magistrates Court on February 7.
Tests had discovered the outlet’s lamb korma and rice dish – advertised as peanut-free – contained enough of a trace of peanuts to give someone with an allergy an anaphylactic reaction.
Ul-Islam, 26, from Birmingham, was sentenced to a 12-month community order with supervision and 150 hours of unpaid work.
He was also ordered to pay the prosecution costs of £1,995 plus a victim surcharge of £85.
In passing sentence, magistrates said they were taking the matter very seriously because Ul-Islam had been “playing with human life”.
They added it was his “lucky day” that custody was not the sentence as he had pleaded guilty and had no other offences.
Sandwell Council ‘s trading standards team uncovered the potentially fatal situation at the takeaway on Hagley Road West in December 2017.
Officers were testing food served in takeaways and restaurants to check bosses were complying with strict rules on food allergens and food labelling.
Tests discovered the lamb korma and rice dish which was sold as being peanut-free actually contained over 40g per kg of peanuts.
Experts said this would easily be enough to cause an anaphylactic reaction – which can result in death – in someone allergic to peanuts.
Officers said it was not known how the meal became contaminated with peanut as Ul-Islam had failed to co-operate with trading standards during the investigation.
Forty premises were visited across Sandwell between September and December 2017 and three sold meals that contained dangerous levels of peanuts.
A further two meals tested contained trace levels of peanut but not at a high enough level to cause a reaction.
Businesses are legally required to warn customers about any allergens in food.
Sandwell Council’s cabinet member for public health and protection Councillor Elaine Costigan said: “It’s shocking to think of a business serving food to members of the public putting someone’s life at risk in this way.
“We’ve all heard of the tragic but thankfully rare circumstances of people who have died or become seriously ill after they’ve eaten something without knowing it contains a substance they are allergic to.
“Our trading standards team does vital work in keeping us all safe when we’re eating out and I want to congratulate them for bringing this prosecution.
“I dread to think of the consequences had someone with a peanut allergy eaten this dish.”

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Nom News: February 15, 2019

February 15, 2019 February 15, 2019
Each Friday, we compile South Florida food-related news and events that we couldn’t fit on the site earlier in the week, as well as other local news that piques our interest. Want to be included in our next roundup? Shoot us an email at .
Yolk Celebrates National Pancake Day Pre-Order Burger Beast’s New Book
Save your pennies for Burger Beast’s book “All About the Burger” out April 15, 2019, by Mango Publishing with a foreword by George Motz. Featuring the histories of restaurants that changed the burger game like White Castle, Bob’s Big Boy, McDonald’s, Wendy’s and Shake Shack plus much much more.
Order yours at Amazon , Barne’s and Noble , or IndieBound . The Little Lighthouse Foundation Hosts 10th Annual Hearts & Stars Gala
The Little Lighthouse Foundation’s 10th Annual Hearts & Stars Gala Weekend will take place March 21st with the Hearts & Stars Weekend Opening Party and culminate with the Hearts & Stars Gala: Vintage Vegas presented by E11EVEN Miami on Saturday, March 23rd at Jungle Plaza at the Miami Design District from 9 pm to 2 am.
The Hearts & Stars Gala is a black tie event and guests will enjoy a top shelf open bar featuring Ketel One, Don Julio, Italian wines and sparkling wines from Tita Italia Wines & Delicatessen, and food tastings from some of South Florida’s top restaurants and caterers including Red the Steakhouse, Diez y Seiz at Shore Club, Katsuya at SLS, Amour de Miami, Barsecco, Fresh Meal Plan, Maska Indian Kitchen& Bar, Delicious Catering, Cake Lounge Miami, Lulu’s Ice Cream, and BON Chocolatier.
In addition, guests will enjoy LaCroix sparkling water and FIJI water. E11EVEN Miami will host the official after party. The Hearts and Stars Gala will be produced by the global event designers and the Emmy Award winning team at Live It Productions.
The 10th Annual Hearts & Stars Gala Weekend line up:
– Thursday, March 21st from 8-11 PM: Hearts & Stars Weekend Opening Party.– Friday, March 22nd from 9 PM-1 AM: Private VIP Donor Reception. This is a private, invite only event.– Saturday, March 23rd from 9 PM-2 AM: Hearts & Stars Gala: Vintage Vegas at Miami Design District’s Jungle Plaza.
There are Weekend VIP Passes & VIP Table Packages available. To buy tickets, click here . The Taco Stand Turns 1
The Taco Stand is turning one and we want to celebrate with everyone who made it possible! On Thursday, February 28, The Taco Stand will be offering grilled chicken tacos, al pastor tacos and veggie nopal tacos for only $2.50, plus $3 cervezas all day. Last-Ever Shabbat at Wynwood Yard
The Wynwood Yard is thrilled to host a grand finale last-ever Shabbat at The Wynwood Yard on March 1st from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. in partnership with Anita Sharma and Matthew Webb of Annam Miami.
Inspired by India’s rich culture and cuisine, the mostly plant-based feast fit for a king includes mezze like fine filo Cochin pastel stuffed with burnt cumin, cashew nut, roasted butternut and acorn squash and served with Annam apricot chutney and ancient green chutney hulba (fenugreek) dip served with papadum and made with fenugreek seeds, garlic, lemon, coriander, ginger and green chili.
Main dishes include Olan a Keralan coconut curry with winter melon, green beans, ginger, black-eye peas and curry leaves along with Baghdadi jackfruit biryani, slow- baked and layered aromatic rice with jackfruit, mint, coriander and saffron under puff pastry crust, inspired by the Iraqi Jewish diaspora in India. Optional tandoori-spiced fish tikka skewers are also available.
Visit http://bit.ly/indianshabbatmarch1 for the entire mouth-watering four-course menu, which also includes wine pairing and a welcome cocktail.
All-inclusive tickets for Indian-Inspired Shabbat at The Yard are $65. Doc B’s Launches Brunch Service
Doc B’s Restaurant + Bar, the Coral Gables’ happy hour hot spot, is now expanding its offerings! Brought by popular demand, an all-new brunch menu is now available every weekend to fulfill any and all cravings. Made from scratch daily with high-quality ingredients, Doc B’s serves up a unique menu offering everything from drool-worthy smoked salmon pizza to vibrant and colorful acaí bowls.
Curated for anyone and everyone, the brunch menu at Doc B’s is perfect for those who want a little bit of everything – from sweet and indulgent to savory and nutritious. Guests can start off with shareable light snacks such as the ‘famous’ Candied Bacon made with turbinado sugar, cayenne pepper and golden dry mustard; Smoked Salmon Pizza baked with horseradish cream cheese, capers and pickled red onion; and Avocado Toast with an egg and rustic salsa for those seeking a vegetarian-friendly option.
Brunch also features full-size entrées such as the Simple & Delicious Egg Sandwich made with cheddar, bacon and Doc B’s secret sauce; “Hot” Chicken + Waffles featuring Doc B’s signature hot chicken; Chimichurri Steak + Eggs served with two sunny-side up eggs with crispy breakfast potatoes; a Quinoa Breakfast Bowl packed with tons of “fresh goodies” inside; and assorted Pan-Cakes including traditional, chocolate chip and “cinn-a-swirl” for those with a sweet tooth.
Of course, no brunch is complete without Mimosas and Bloody Mary’s – for only $5 each – they also feature a Pink Mimosa made with freshly squeezed grapefruit juice. The expansive bar area is designed for socializing with friends and carries a selection of beverages.
Brunch is served Saturdays and Sundays from 11:00 a.m. to 2 p.m. The lunch and dinner menu will also be available during brunch hours. Doma Hosts Urbani Black Truffle Dinner
dōma, the quaint neighborhood gem tucked away in Miami’s eclectic Wynwood Arts District, will host an exclusive Urbani Black Truffle dinner on Thursday, February 21st. The multi-course extravaganza will feature a mix of signature dishes as well as unique creations available for one-night-only. Guests can enjoy this indulgent experience for an unbeatable $75 a person (excluding tax, beverages and gratuity).
To start, guests will enjoy dōma’s signature Soft Egg, with sautéed mixed mushrooms, parmesan cheese sauce and topped with shaved black truffle. The second course: Risotto with 24-month aged parmesan cheese, bone marrow, veal jus and shaved black truffle. The entrée, a 6 oz. Filet Mignon with a Barolo wine reduction, shaved black truffle and paired with grilled asparagus and creamy mashed potatoes. For a sweet ending, Millefeuille with pastry cream, raspberry and strawberry compote and limoncello Chantilly.
Reservations are suggested and can be made by calling (786) 953-6946. Yolk Celebrates National Pancake Day
Get ready to flip out! In honor of National Pancake Day, Yolk – Park Place, Boca Raton’s newest brunch destination, is offering their famous pancakes for $1 on Thursday, February 21, 2019. Available during normal business hours, guests can purchase Yolk’s Classic Cakes, which are served dusted with powdered sugar and a side of warm syrup for only $1.
Constantly pushing the envelope with new and creative breakfasts, specialty juices and its own private label premium coffee in urban, upscale settings, Yolk is known for its delicious breakfast and lunch fare. In addition to pancakes, Yolk’s menu includes signature specialty dishes like gourmet Five-Egg Rolled Omelet, Eggs Florentine, a wide range of skillets and scramblers, pancakes, frittatas, crepes and many more scrumptious options, along with all-star menu items from the restaurant’s inventive Test Kitchen. Share this:

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Travelling with Kids: 3 family-friendly villas in Sri Lanka

3 family-friendly villas in Sri Lanka 15 February, 2019 10 Min Read
Thinking about your next holiday in Asia? We review three chic family-friendly villas in Sri Lanka that won’t disappoint!
If Sri Lanka isn’t on your shortlist for family-friendly travel destinations, it should be. It’s got mountains, beaches, adventure, culture, history and a cuisine all of its own. All just a six-hour flight from Hong Kong. And as its popularity increases, so do the country’s service standards, making it a great place to take the kids. Àni Villas Spacious villas
Set on a natural bluff above the Indian Ocean, Àni Villas combines the amenities of a five-star hotel, the ease of an all-inclusive resort and the exclusivity of a private villa. Its two gorgeous villas – one with seven bedrooms and the other with eight – each have two-storey open-living pavilions, large pools with water-park-worthy slides and private pools outside most of the bedrooms. (The ones without are perfect for small children.) The bedrooms are designed with absolute comfort in mind; dressing rooms keep suitcases and toys out of sight, and bathrooms boast oversized tubs, and indoor and outdoor showers. Furnishings and décor are a blend of Dutch colonial and modern tropical styles. Family-friendly rooms
Those of you with large families, lean in. We arrived to find a room with beds for my three kids and our helper already set up; it connected to our bedroom via a large, shared entranceway. Àni Villas is extremely accommodating with whatever room configurations you want, and they have extra beds and cribs to accommodate families of all sizes. Personal service
The idea of a staffed private villa is, of course, not new. But a villa with the size, amenities and service of a five-star hotel is. The property is set on 20,000 square metres and has its own tennis court, gym and Ayurvedic spa. And while having someone to clean your villa and cook your breakfast is wonderful, having an entire team catering to your every desire is a whole new level altogether. The staff – many of whom are former Aman and Four Seasons employees – predict what you want before you even have to ask. Emerge from the pool – they’re waiting with towels. Feel a twinge of thirst – here they come with iced Ceylon tea and canapés. Return from the beach – they’ve set up a station to clean your sunglasses and iPhone. This is the first trip I’ve taken where I thought “Ah, so this is how Oprah travels”. Decadent dining
There is something so very indulgent about wine pairings and dessert with every meal. Cyril, the villa’s executive chef, and his team prepare elaborate, multi-course feasts of Western and Sri Lankan cuisine. Both are heavily influenced by red mullet, sear fish and other locally caught seafood. To keep things interesting, meals and dining locations change for every meal. One day, breakfast of egg and string hoppers and pittu is served in an air-conditioned room off the rock garden. Lunch – a mix of giant prawn, calamari and fresh tuna – is served in an open living sala by the pool. And dinner is a clay-pot service of six curries, tableside-prepared kottu (a popular Sri Lankan street food) and more sambals, mallums and chutneys to count, eaten at the water’s edge. From breadfruit and thumba to custard apple and gamboge, ingredients are a foodie’s dream.
Fun for the kids
If you’re at that stage in life when holidays are really just you running madly after your kids in a foreign location rather than home, Àni Villas is your new best friend. That’s what my five-year-old daughter called Shahani – “my best big girlfriend” – a name our villa butler earned by tending to my three children from sunup to sundown. She and other staff members helped the kids during meals and while we swam. They baked chocolate chip cookies and made flower crowns for their hair. They went on treasure hunts, painted pictures, played board games and made paper boats to float in the ponds. Every time an errant toy or shoe got swept away in the surf, a staffer heroically sprinted into the sea to retrieve it. Kids are in no way an afterthought, as shown each night when three tiny pairs of slippers would appear at turndown service. And for the adults…
All this attention allowed my husband to get in a few matches with the villa’s tennis pro. And me a private morning yoga class (the birds, the breeze, the sea!) and after that an Ayurvedic consultation with the spa manager followed by a four-handed massage in the spa. Shahani and the kids
My husband later said his favourite moment of our trip was a coffee we shared at sunrise by the pool. Aren’t parents funny creatures? When silence is scarce, it’s the simple pleasures that mean the most. The staff here gets that. An all-inclusive stay
Aptly called a “super luxury” experience, a stay here doesn’t come cheap. If you’ve got Winfrey in your name, you’re all set. For the rest of us, a stay here is doable once you factor in that virtually everything is included in the price. And I do mean nearly everything: meals, beverages (including alcohol), spa treatments, sports (tennis, yoga, personal training, cycling tours), laundry, international calls, airport transfers, movies, mini-bar, cooking classes and kids’ activities. Join together with a few families and factor in all the inclusions, and you’re not that far from what you’d pay at a five-star resort. Add in value for the privacy and personal attention of it all, and Àni Villas in Sri Lanka wins every time.
What’s not included? Things like Cuban cigars and Dom Perignon (though you can BYO) as well as day trips to Galle Fort, the tea plantations or safaris to Udawalawe.
A few days here felt like a week, and we’ve been plotting to return since the moment we left. Speaking of leaving, there is no check-out. That moment when you tally up meals, massages and midnight mini-bar raids – it doesn’t happen here. You pay before you go, and then just enjoy. When we left, the kids produced Oscar-worthy wails for “Shahan !” all the way to Galle. Mentally, I concurred. If it was socially acceptable for adults to weep in these situations, I would have joined right in.
The property and the service are immaculate and refined to the smallest detail. Grass is billowy to the foot. Soaps are hand-made. Breakfast milk is poured from crystal decanters. If there was fault to be found, I never found it. The details
Where/when: Dickwella, opened December of 2015 Travel time: 3 hours from the airport via private van with snacks, drinks and Wi-Fi Price: (inclusive of meals, beverages, sports, spa, activities and more) Kumu beach
Another new villa in Sri Lanka with a seaside locale that’s also chic and secluded is Balapitiya’s Kumu Beach. Located between Galle and Colombo, this modern 10-room boutique hotel is set off a stretch of the ocean that is dotted with scenic boulders – both on land and sea. This makes for good climbing, crab watching and dare-devil diving opportunities. Family-friendly facilities
Part of the Teardrop Hotels collection, Kumu Beach was decorated by Paradise Road’s Annika Fernando. Coastal blues and whites awash the suites (book ground floor rooms if you have young kids), which are spacious and come with stone-lined showers, four-poster beds and multiple sets of French doors leading out to the yard.
Yard? It’s indecent what I’ve paid for access to a small strip of grass so the kids have a bit of space to run around on holidays. It’s “condo guilt” in the highest, manifested from a childhood spent in backyards that seemingly had no end. Here, both of our rooms open to a soccer-field-sized lawn. This serves mostly aesthetic purposes for other guests but was the sight of leaping contests, bubble blowing and log rolling for us. A long, slender pool lines the property’s edge, just beyond which lies a wall that connects to the beach. (Note: this wall is low and thus little ones must be watched, as is always the case.) Casual cuisine
Balapitiya is a sleepy town which means guests must inevitably rely on the hotel’s kitchen. Thankfully, food is a highlight at Kumu Beach. We ate dinner by the beach at sunset every night of our stay, a request the wait staff was happy to oblige, though it meant lugging a few tables and lanterns about. Breakfast is on the healthy side with an emphasis on dairy- and sugar-free options. Lunch is best booked as a cooking demonstration. We spent one beautiful Sunday morning with Wasabha, Kumu Beach’s Chef de Cuisine, preparing a vibrant mix of eggplant, dahl, luffa and yellowfin tuna curries. The kids stirred, taste-tested and drew pictures for the chef, which he folded and tucked into his pocket with a broad, gracious smile.
Galle Fort is 50 minutes away, and the hotel can arrange a car and snacks for the ride. My husband and I enjoyed that, but the kids adored the private boat tour of the Madu River for monkeys, monks and Indiana Jones-esque adventures through the narrow passages of the mangrove forests. The details
Where/when: Balapitiya, opened in September 2017 Travel time : 1.5-2 hours from the airport Price: $$$ (includes breakfast) The Wallawwa Convenient location
Kumu Beach’s sister property The Wallawwa is the perfect place to bookend a Sri Lankan holiday with less than ideal flight times (which is often the case when travelling from Singapore). Stop and get your bearings at this 18-room gem which is located only 15 minutes from Bandaranaike International Airport. Travellers with kids can book family suites with interconnecting rooms. Or the sprawling two-bedroom, two-bath Mountbatten Suite, complete with private gardens and plunge pool.
Entertainment for all the family
A former home of an 18th-century chieftain and home to the Royal Air Force during WWII, The Wallawwa sports a large lawn where families can play croquet and cricket in the shade of rambutan and frangipani trees. There are caroms, chess and board games in the library, and a pool hidden in the jungle not far from the hotel’s restaurant (which serves any dish on the menu in kids’ portions). We took the kids to explore the hotel’s two-acre fruit and vegetable garden, and later sipped cocktails with lemongrass and mint plucked straight from it. There are kite- and lantern-making sessions, as well as a Kid’z massage in the spa (with three young daughters, we aren’t quite ready to get that going yet). Tea anyone?
All ages will enjoy the complimentary tea break served on the verandah. We checked in just as the waiter cleared the last slice of cake: he graciously sent a tray of tea, cookies and cakes to our room despite our delinquency. The hotel is well-versed in early morning flights, and guests can request transportation and breakfasts packed to-go at any hour of the night. The details
Where/when: Kotugoda, opened in 2007 Travel time : 15 minutes from the airport Price: $$$ (includes breakfast)

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Living Room Gigs: Music, Poetry, Stories Get A Snug Corner

In the beginning, there was the family parlour—where a thousand stories unfolded, family legends were birthed, regional myths cemented, gossip abounded aro­und ample proportions of aunts and uncles. Further on, the artist’s atelier and the literary salon were specialised extensions—sites of untrammeled debate and intellectual ferment. If late 20th century living rooms had curdled into sterilised areas of polite talk and genteel entertainment, another spell of warm spring is here—a much-needed thaw.
As you approach the living room of Swagata Majumder Bhattacharya in her Bangalore home, you hear the sound of singing: Itti si hansi/ Itti si khushi…. (A bit of laughter/ a bit of gaity…). You’ve just bumped into a ‘living room gig’—which combines the authenticity of a performance with the flower vase cosiness of a drawing room, and it’s catching on with singers, bands and their fans. Referring to the song, now in its dying refrain, Swagata says, “This is a fav­ourite song of mine for a gig. It transports you to a different world.”
Swagata’s ‘Boyaam’ is an event curation platform featuring relatively new performing art­istes. “We choose artistes carefully. Our target is to find a fresh ensemble of performers who are screened and handpicked. They could be singers, elocutionists, thespians, instrumentalists, stand-up comedians, even mime actors—all performing arts are welcome.”
Youngsters enjoy an evening of stories at Ruchika Rastogi’s living room in Delhi
Photograph by Tribhuvan Tiwari Boyaam is a Bengali word for a large glass jar that stored, for generations, savouries and pickles—now largely confined to literary memory and period films, and redolent of pre-plastic childhoods. Swagata says, “It relates to the sheer joy of a jar full of eatables, to be enjoyed of a sultry summer afternoon. Boyaam is a metaphor for the unadulterated joy found in a musical space like this.”
People know they can get live, original music at Boyaam. They turn up at rehearsal sessions too.
Every weekend, Swagata’s living room sheds its mundaneness; near at hand are musical instruments like the didgeridoos from Australia, aboriginal clapsticks, tongue drums, percussion shakers, guitars, the tabla—all collected by Swagata and her husband. Her home is the go-to place for people passionate about music—those who create it and those who devour it. “We have hosted impromptu concerts for a couple of years now. This year, we gave a name to it, and Boyaam Home Concert was born,” says Bhattacharya.
On a concert day, the furniture is rearranged, string lights are hung. Sofas make way for colourful durries that can seat about 35 people. The dining table beyond becomes a food counter laden with fritters, samosa and coffee mugs. However, the pleasures of that table can be partaken only after the two-hour concert. The Bhattacharyas’ spare bedrooms become control rooms; the master bedroom mutates into a green room. People write their comments on the chart-paper covered ‘Boyaam Wish Wall’. Says Swagata, “We have some professional home studio set-up like microphones, audio interfaces, focus lights, the rest is rented. The concert is recorded live, so that we can make videos.”
People know that at Boyaam they can listen to fresh and live music. Though not every Saturday is concert day, musicians gather for rehearsals on most weekends. “We have had people coming over to sit through rehearsals too,” adds Swagata.
Naturally, the Bhattacharyas’ living room gigs aren’t confined to music—they have become a venue for food and fashion pop-ups as well as for theatre, storytelling and recitation performances. Swagata’s poems of choice are those that embody strength and resilience—Amrita Pritam, Srijato, Joy Goswami, Tagore, Neruda and Gulzar. Language is no bar.
“I am requested to read Amrita Pritam’s Main Tenu Phir Milaangi, kithhe kis tarah pata nai… par main tenu phir mil­aangi , a poem about unrequited love, in every concert.”
A dance recital at Gurupriya Atreya’s place in Bangalore.
Manu Mathew of House Concerts India started living room gigs four years ago at a musician friend’s basement in Gurgaon. “It was started as a fun community project at a time when Delhi didn’t have dedicated spaces which encouraged original music and artistes had to fight for attention between sizzlers and TVs screening live sports,” says Manu.
House Concerts India is a first-of-its-kind, artist-focused initiative aimed at creating nooks for art within our urban cacophony. Each concert brings together music, arts and culture to the intimacy of private spaces. The movement is volunteer-driven and strives for a different flavour to each session, derived from inputs by the participating community. “We started off in Delhi and have chapters in Mumbai, Bangalore and Pune. We started with live music; now we host monthly events around art forms like poetry, theatre, film-screening, live art and classical dance like Kathak,” says Mathew.
The vibe of the performing space and the musical inclination of the hosts create an alc­hemy of sorts—an idea takes amorphous shape, then an event is curated. The House Concert Delhi team works on a voluntary basis. “There is a suggested donation amount of minimum Rs 300 per person. All the money collected goes to the artistes at the end of the evening,” adds Mathew.
Ruchika Rastogi from Delhi, who conducts storytelling and book reading sessions from her living room, says, “I started my storytelling sessions from my living room a year back. They help us to return to our roots before television supplanted drawing room conversations.” It is ind­eed a welcome substitute for the unrelenting drone of a saas-bahu regime, or a break from the diminishing pleasures of pubs, malls and restaurants. Ruchika says a book reading session is more interesting if one plans the entire session beforehand.
A Baul song being sung at Gurupriya Atreya’s living room.
Stories are humanity’s oldest entertainment and, when arranged around a theme, are irresistible. Toys and other props are important components of a session if children are involved. The stories themselves can be lightly-spiced real-life events to entirely cooked-up ones, and one can slip in a moral at the end when there are kids in the audience, though tales shouldn’t ever bear the cross of value education. Rastogi states that she prepares by setting up a book corner that displays and stores books. “You can also prepare the corner with small cardboard boxes. Flowers, plants, a carpet and cushions make the session more attractive and inviting. Then I pick a story that I intend to tell; sometimes the audience demands a certain type of tale.”
Gurupriya Atreya’s The Living Room Kutcheri in Bangalore hopes to restore the glory of chamber music. An RJ and a classical singer, Gurupriya is trying to revive chamber concerts, which feature a small ensemble of musicians. It’s a revival of the Indian home jalsa, or its Western equivalent of a quartet, quintet, or a singer at the piano playing in a living room. Says Atreya, “We launched in May 2017. It’s been a good run of over 20 performances. Our kutcheries take place one Saturday a month, based on the artiste’s convenience. My amma, Padmavathy Shrinivasan, was a singer and my fat­her, a composer. My parents hosted bhajans and satsangs at home during Navratri and Shivaratri. My brother and I grew up in a musical ambience.”
The Living Room Kutcheri, thus, is an example of the successful transmission of parental interest. “My husband Akhil Atreya and I decided to open up our home for the performing arts and build an intimate informal community to celebrate music and musicians who passionately pursue it.” Transforming her living room into a musical space came naturally too: “I keep it simple. We connect with people through social media. We ensure we retain the warmth of a home. I just clear the furniture from the living room, some marigold flowers adorn the floor, walls and entrance, fairy lights are put up and we are good to go.”
A pop-up at Ayandrali Dutta’s Noida home, and the fish kalia (left) and dim posto she cooked.
Food pop-ups have been here awhile, but those in the domestic space is a late variation, and the road to a delicious weekend meal no longer leads to a fancy restaurant. Noida-based Ayandrali Dutta’s food pop-ups have made a mark. The best meals, she feels, are spiced with stories and wrapped with memories. As a Bengali who grew up in the industrial town of Rourkela, her forte is Bengali and Odisha cuisine. If the theme for her pop-ups dep­ends on the season, it’s for authenticity. “Tho­ugh these days all ingredients are available throughout the year, there is a special taste to cauliflower during winter and hilsa fish during monsoon,” she says.
When she throws a hilsa-themed pop-up, Ayandrali makes four to five preparations of the fish. This winter, she made koraishutir kochuri (peas kachuri) with aloo dum using baby potatoes at a pop-up. Other dishes included fried brinjal, fish kalia (fish cooked in rich onion and tomato gravy with freshly ground spices), a curry made with spinach and peas, tempered with Bengali paanchforon , and deem posto (egg curry with poppy seed paste).
Living Room Kutcheri seeks to restore the practice of home jalsas of chamber music.
At the root of these delicacies lay the difficulty to adjust to a new palate—years ago, when she moved to Delhi, Ayandrali found it difficult to eat typical north Indian food. “My friends used to come home to eat food cooked by me and one of them suggested that I should organise pop-ups. I had my first pop-up a few years back with very basic Bengali food; it was a big hit.” Ayan­drali’s living space is as inviting as her food—a Buddha corner, a spatula with ‘awara’ written on it, her gramophone and books on travel and food. And all this in a warm, domestic orderly disorder, rather than spit-and-polish kemptness. Further­more, Ayandrali is warm and hospitable, qualities that communicate themselves well to food. But there are lines she has drawn—wastage of food is one. “I hate the idea of people wasting food. I always tell my guests that they can eat as much as they want, but never waste food at my place,” she says.
Plus, Ayandrali belongs to that rare tribe of stellar cooks who don’t stand on mystique—she opens her kitchen to everybody, so that people can have a look at, say, how she is frying the fritters. Starting from the kashundi (Bengal’s tangy mustard sauce) to the spices, Ayandrali only uses authentic stuff. And, since good food is life, it is a complete experience to savour.
Likewise, at other living room gigs and artistic performances: Meeting people, exchanging ideas, glorying in the music, poetry or stories, a perfect communion with kindred souls. Oh, the joy of it!

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Country Vacation India Membership Has Many Benefits For Its Members

Vacation means away from work pressure, relaxing, chilling out with near and dear ones, good food and good location. If we combine all of the above in one package it will be called Country vacation India. Country vacation India offers so much fun and excitement in less time and lesser expenses. Country vacation India Membership has many benefits for its members.Country vacation membership offers many discounts on their product. They also have tie up with so many companies to give their members an exciting discount on goodies on shopping during vacation.
Country vacation India members from all over the world to country club Chankyapuri Kolkatta known for its world class facilities and traditional food culture. Being the member of Country vacation India itself enables you for the heavy discount on hotel booking. Country vacation India staffs are trained for taking well care of customers. Rooms at hotel are elegantly decorated in traditional Bengali style. You can feel the earthy touch of Bengali culture. Located in the lush green surroundings this Country vacation India resort is a perfect getaway for your family. The massage facility in traditional style is very relaxing. Country vacation India has a good variety of traditional food served here. You can relish different variety of fish cuisines at Country vacation India.
Country vacation India is a wonderful companion for the vacations inside India and worldwide. Country vacation India membership allows its patrons to avail facilities at so many shopping outlets in the city. Country vacation India offers discount in leading garment stores, jewelry showrooms, food joints, pizza, and general stores. Its a pleasure to shop in Kolkatta with heavy discounts on almost everything. With the help of Country vacation India membership you can buy gifts for relatives and friends. At Country vacation India there is rain of discounts. With Country vacation India membership I can only say that you name it and they have it.
And not to forget that being the member of Country vacation India you are entitled to stay at Country club India resorts all over the world. In this way the Country vacation India membership offers double benefit.
Country vacation India has a tradition of treating its members with wide variety of entertainment and fun activities. At country club chankyapuri Kolkatta too Country vacation India has entertainment activities organized keeping in mind the taste of Indian family. Once you avail the service of Country vacation India you will become a fan. The service here is world class. Highly recommended for all the travelers.

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The Serious Eats Guide to Beans

The Serious Eats Guide to Beans SERIOUS EATS Feb 16, 02:10 AM
[Photographs: Vicky Wasik, except where noted]
Sure, beans may be the stuff of crass rhymes and penny-pinching diets, but they’re also one of our oldest, most reliable, and most diverse forms of sustenance. In part, that’s because there are more than 18,000 species of legume plants, growing on every continent save Antarctica, a vast number of which yield the edible seeds we know as pulses and beans. “Seeds are our most durable and concentrated foods,” Harold McGee writes in On Food and Cooking . “In fact,” he adds, “seeds gave early humans both the nourishment and the inspiration to begin to shape the natural world to their own needs…ten thousand turbulent years of civilization have unfolded from the seed’s pale repose.” And we don’t just thrive on beans ourselves—we use them to feed our livestock, and even to fuel our machines. In many ways, beans make our world go ’round.
Much of the popularity and proliferation of legumes is due to their ease of growth (legumes are self-pollinating) and tolerance to drought, which keep prices steady and low. Add their widely touted health benefits, a nitrogen-fixing growth cycle, and capacity for long-term storage, and you have something of a superfood. With their diverse range of flavors and applications, it’s no surprise that beans have become cooking staples in almost every cuisine in the world.
And yet, for many of us, beans and pulses remain something of a puzzle. What exactly qualifies as a bean, how do species vary from one another in flavor and texture, and what’s the best way to buy and cook them? Here’s what you need to know.
What are beans, anyway?
Broadly speaking, beans are the edible seeds of a variety of plants in the Fabaceae family. This means that their anatomy includes the necessary elements for continued bean production—an outer seed coat, which protects the bean; a micropyle, just below the seed coat, which allows water absorption; the cotyledon, which houses stored food used for initial growth; and the embryo, from which another bean plant will grow. Beyond this basic definition, beans can be divided into two groups: those that can be eaten pod-on (snap peas, for instance) and those that are shelled for their seeds, which can then be eaten either fresh or dried.
Like most crops, beans are planted in the spring and yield the bulk of their bounty in the fall. But if left on the plant, the small pods grow into shelling beans, which, after the stalks are cut, are allowed to dry in the field. “That’s why you get stones or dirt clods or other organic debris, and why you always have to check your beans before you cook them,” says Steve Sando of Napa Valley’s Rancho Gordo.
What’s the deal with “heirloom” beans?
Heirloom beans are grown from seeds that have not been cross-pollinated with any other varieties; they’ve been the same, genetically speaking, for decades. For this reason, they may not be the easiest to grow, but they tend to be more distinctive in both color and flavor—think marbled skins, vibrant hues, and flavors that range from earthy to mushroom-y to meaty to nutty. The better-known varieties sold at most supermarkets, on the other hand, are commodity beans. These have been bred to produce higher yields with a more consistent appearance, or, in some cases, to grow rounder beans that are easier and more efficient to can thanks to their uniform symmetry.
Both heirloom and commodity beans are cheap sources of protein and great for the soil. “But it’s with heirlooms that you get the really interesting flavors and textures,” Sando argues. “There’s an enjoyment of cooking them. Commodity beans are more about ease of harvesting and production, while heirlooms are more appealing to cooks.”
What’s the difference between dried and canned beans?
Canned beans actually are dried beans—they’re just dried beans that have already been cooked. Unlike with their uncooked counterparts, there’s no need to soak or simmer canned beans, so the process of getting them from shelf to plate is swift, foolproof, and undeniably convenient. That said, the brine in which canned beans are stored does leach out starches, proteins, and plant solids, which often results in a less robust flavor and texture. But, depending on what you’re using them for, this may not have such a tremendous impact. If you want to substitute canned for dried, we won’t judge—we’ll just encourage you to simmer them in your soup or stew for about half an hour so they can absorb some flavor, and remind you to follow our simple conversion chart to get the most bang for your buck.
One downside to canned beans is that, because they’re sold in opaque containers, you can’t see the quality of the beans. With dried beans, it’s usually easy to take visual cues. Whole, unbroken beans will cook more evenly, and fresher ones will require less soaking time, so knowing when they were harvested can be a great asset. Once purchased, dried beans should be stored in a cool, dark place, since direct sunlight speeds up the aging process, causing beans to darken and making them more time-consuming to cook.
Regardless of whether you buy canned or dried beans, it’s always a good idea to rinse your beans before putting them to use. Rinsing dried beans will remove any dirt or particles that may have made their way from field to home. With canned beans, rinsing will wash the beans of their excess brine and sodium, but you may wish to save the liquid they were stored in for other uses—protein-rich aquafaba is a secret ingredient in our vegan mayonnaise, and can be whipped into a meringue just like egg whites.
So I’m going dried. Do I need to soak my beans?
The idea behind soaking your beans is that an extended bath will soften the seed coat, reducing the ultimate cook time while simultaneously leaching out some of the flatulent elements in the bean (more on that in a minute). But we’ve found that black beans (and likely other thin-skinned beans, such as black-eyed peas, pinto beans, and lentils) can actually fare better without a soak. Unsoaked, they take only a bit longer to cook, and there’s no significant impact on their, erm, digestibility.
Sando soaks only if he’s making beans on Sunday and has time to do so. But he eats about a half cup of beans a day on average. For him, it’s simple. “You basically just boil them until they’re done,” he says. If you’re buying what Sando calls “stranger beans”—beans of unknown provenance and ambiguous age—he recommends soaking, since older or lower-quality beans can be tougher to cook. Sando says that beans also lose much of their nutritive value over time, so he advises doing what you can to make sure your beans are fresh, “and just eat a lot of them.”
If you want to skip the soak without extending your cook time, though, there’s no better tool for the job than a pressure cooker. The cooker’s hermetically sealed design creates an environment able to achieve higher temperatures than the standard 212°F boiling point, allowing the beans to cook faster.
What about salt? I’ve heard it can make beans stay harder longer, or burst when they’re cooking.
Should you salt your bean-cooking water? “This question is right up there with ‘Do you stir or shake a Martini?'” says Sando. Lucky for you, we’ve put it to the test—and we’re ready to put the issue to rest once and for all. It turns out sodium ions help bean skins release the magnesium and calcium ions that give them their rigidity. Kenji’s unequivocal verdict? “For the best, creamiest, most flavorful beans, season your bean-soaking water with one tablespoon of kosher salt per quart (about 15 grams per liter), rinse the beans with fresh water before cooking, then add a pinch of salt to the cooking water as well.”
[Photograph: J. Kenji López-Alt]
Wait, so what’s the best way to cook dried beans?
Simmering beans—either on the stovetop or in your pressure cooker—is far and away the most commonplace way to cook them, and there’s not a whole lot you can do to mess them up with either method. But a few rules of thumb can help guarantee more consistently delicious results.
If you’re soaking your beans, don’t shy away from the salt. Skip the soak when cooking thin-skinned beans, like black beans. Use aromatics, like onion, garlic, and herbs, in your cooking liquid—they’ll transform any pot of beans into something far more flavorful. Oh, and don’t worry about making too many beans at once. Beans make excellent leftovers—virtually any kind can make its way into a satisfying bean salad, wintry gratin, or creamy puréed soup.
Why do beans make people gassy?
In the bean-farming industry, it’s known as the Gift of Purchase. To college kids across the world, it’s a fart. Indigestible carbohydrates in beans (oligosaccharides are a notable one) are ultimately what give us gas. Our bodies don’t have the enzymes needed to break these down, and even if they did, many of them are too big to be absorbed into our bloodstream as sugar. So they get pushed to the colon, where bacteria feast on them and, through fermentation, convert them to fatty acids. Gas, or the Gift of Purchase, is a by-product of fermentation. However, if you eat beans regularly, your body will grow more accustomed to and experience less trouble with breaking down the oligosaccharides, thus eliminating much of the gas. Beans and Pulses: The Index Pinto Beans
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The maroon-speckled pinto bean ( pinto means “painted” in Spanish) is the most widely eaten bean in the United States. And it’s easy to see why—though the beans lose their psychedelic exterior once cooked, they do a great job of taking on the flavors of any aromatics and other ingredients they’re cooked with. Pintos can be eaten whole, mashed, or refried, and their earthy flavor and creamy texture translate in a variety of cooking methods. Try them in smoky frijoles charros with bacon and chilies, mixed into this spicy chorizo chili, or as a topping for a plate of chipotle chicken nachos. Black Beans
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Nestled within the seed coat of black beans are three anthocyanin flavonoids, water-soluble pigments that give the beans their midnight color. Mild, slightly sweet black beans become extremely smooth and creamy when cooked, which is why it’s common to find them refried. Whole cooked black beans and rice is a staple in many countries, including Cuba, where the dish is known as moros y cristianos , and Costa Rica, where the preparation goes by the name gallo pinto . Black beans are our go-to in this lazily slow-cooked side dish spiked with orange, a quick and easy pressure-cooker take rounded out with chorizo, and these killer veggie burgers. Navy Beans
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These small, white, oval beans are named for their ubiquity in the pantry of the 20th-century US Navy. Mild in flavor, dense and smooth once cooked, navy beans, like pintos, are ideal for absorbing the flavors of other ingredients. They’re the traditional choice for crowd-pleasing barbecue beans and classic Boston baked beans, but they’re equally at home in a white chili with chicken. Kidney and Cannellini Beans
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Kidney beans, which take their name from their kidney-like shape, are a common ingredient in chili and, because of their dark-red color, make a visually appealing addition to three-bean salad. The similarly beloved cannellini bean is technically a white kidney bean, and the two can be used interchangeably in recipes like pasta e fagioli , satisfying minestrone soup, traditional French cassoulet, or these fully loaded (totally vegan) nachos. Great Northern Beans
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Flat, white, kidney-shaped great northerns are larger than navy beans but smaller than cannellinis. Their middling size and slightly lighter density make them great candidates for soups and purées. Use them in place of cannellini beans in this creamy dip flavored with lemon, or try them stirred into this hearty white bean soup with spinach and rosemary. Green Beans
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Green beans—also known as string beans, snap beans, and, in French, haricots verts —are most commonly eaten freshly picked. Unlike most other beans, their pods are edible even when raw, so cooking times and methods are more about personal preference than palatability. Dry-fried, Sichuan-style, they come out blistered and snappy, aromatic with ginger, garlic, chilies, and Sichuan peppercorns. But we also love them sautéed with mushrooms, grilled for salads and sides, braised with bacon until they’re tender and rich, and, of course, baked into a classic green bean casserole. Lima Beans
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Lima or butter beans are the Brussels sprouts of the legume family in that (almost) everyone claims to hate them. Maybe it’s Sylvester’s fault. Not Stallone, but James Pussycat Sr., whose boisterous catchphrase was “Sufferin’ succotash!”, referring to the age-old dish of butter beans and corn. But give them a shot and you’ll quickly discover just how underrated the smooth, creamy, sweet beans really are.
Thanks to the plant’s high tolerance of hot climates, lima beans have become a staple crop in Africa, parts of Asia, and Peru (particularly Lima, the city after which they’re named). Limas are typically shelled before they’re eaten, and come into season in the late summer and fall. Try them in boldly flavored bean salads, like this warm Spanish-style side dish with paprika and celery, or a Greek-inspired mixture of butter beans, tomatoes, and dill. Fava Beans
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If the lima bean’s faintly mealy texture is a turnoff, you may want to give springtime favas a shot. Like limas, favas are shelling beans, meaning they grow in pods that, while edible, aren’t exactly delicious. Add them fresh to a simple salad with carrots and ricotta, blanch them to top a light and summery tartine with goat cheese and almonds, purée them with mint for a twist on pesto, or pair them with pecorino primo sale (“first salt,” or young pecorino), which, in Tuscany, is ready around the same time fava season hits its stride. Dried fava beans form the backbone of the spicy Egyptian breakfast stew ful mudammas , and bulk up this rich (but totally dairy- and fat-free) Colombian soup. Chickpeas (Garbanzo Beans)
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The garbanzo bean or chickpea is thought to have been cultivated in the Middle East as far back as 3,000 BC. You’ll find two main varieties of the bean—the larger, lighter-hued Kabuli, which is common throughout the Mediterranean, and the diminutive desi , grown primarily in India. Both share a buttery but starchy texture and a creamy, nutty flavor.
Garbanzos hold up particularly well to canning and make great additions to salads, pastas, and curries. Use them to make your own better-than-store-bought hummus; fresh, herb-packed falafel; and a whole host of other home-cooked dishes. Don’t forget to hold on to that aquafaba for all kinds of vegan-friendly recipes. Soybeans
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Soybeans have been cultivated in Asia for thousands of years, where they’re consumed as a whole food (think edamame) and processed for soy milk, tofu, bean curd, cooking oil, margarine, and soy sauce. These days, the US is the world’s leading producer of the crop, but the majority is processed for animal feed and industrial products like biodiesel rather than for human consumption. The versatile crop, once harvested, can be cooked, fermented, or sprouted. Our favorite way to embrace soybeans? A host of tofu recipes that actually taste great: delicate, spicy mapo tofu, grilled chipotle- and miso-marinated tofu, and Vietnamese-style tofu banh mi . Mung Beans
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The mung bean, also known as the moong bean, is a versatile legume, small and green, used in both sweet and savory dishes. Mung beans, though less common in the States, are a regular feature at Indian, Chinese, and Southeast Asian tables, and are available in dried, split, fresh, raw, cooked, fermented, and powdered forms. Mung bean sprouts are among the more commonplace bean sprouts you’ll spot at the supermarket. And, like most legumes, mung beans are high in protein and a variety of vitamins and minerals. Thanks to their smaller size, mung beans also have a shorter cook time, especially if you buy them split. Get to know them in this creamy and sweet porridge with coconut milk, a popular breakfast in Indonesia and Malaysia. Lentils
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Lentils, like mung beans, are quicker to prepare than most other legumes. They also grow in a rainbow of colors, from greens and browns to oranges and reds, each with slightly distinctive flavors and textures. Season them with mustard in a punchy side dish for salmon, add them to an array of soups and stews, enjoy them at breakfast time in a tomato-based sauce with eggs, or sample them in a salad with goat cheese and walnuts. Peas
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Most beans are available year-round, and peas are no exception. Though the springtime staples are definitely best eaten fresh, they can be dried and reconstituted without losing too much of their flavor. The pea is a unique legume in that it has a high starch content, balanced by a delicate sweetness. When fresh ones aren’t in season, frozen peas are preferable to canned peas because they can better retain color and texture, whereas the canning process can take away from these characteristics. Try them in any of these 18 pea recipes we love. Black-Eyed Peas
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Black-eyed peas, also called cowpeas, are named such for the black dot at the bean’s center. As a drought-resistant crop, they grow well in hot, arid climates. In the American South, black-eyed peas are eaten on New Year’s Day as hoppin’ John, along with collard greens, to ensure prosperity in the year to come. But whether you use them in a soup with kale or in a curry, black-eyed peas deserve a spot in your pantry. They’re creamy and slightly sweet, and they cook quickly, so you don’t have to soak them, though many prefer to in order to rid them of their papery skin.
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London’s Best Vegan Restaurants + Delivery Services

London’s Best Vegan Restaurants + Delivery Services Where to dine during Veganuary… by Clementina Jackson 0
It’s no secret that veganism is having a moment. More than 250,000 people participated in Veganuary this year – a higher number than in the previous four years combined. Not only this, but organisers say six in 10 who take part pledge to stay vegan even after January has finished.
Others aren’t cutting out animal products completely, but actively trying to reduce their meat consumption, with an estimated 22 million “flexitarians” in the UK today.
Wondering what the benefits are? We spoke to Anastasia Bertacca, a Nutritionist/Naturopath from Pollen + Grace about why eating a more plant-based diet is so good: ‘‘The universal reason that veganism is so great is that it’s more sustainable – consuming meat on the scale that we currently do is not sustainable, nor compliant with animal welfare. In terms of your health, most people would thrive on a plant based diet, as you’re getting more nutrients from the plants, and reducing your intake of toxins, which are more prevalent in meat due to production methods. If planned properly, and including ingredients such as mushrooms, seaweed and a variety of legumes, a plant based diet can help across the spectrum – from skin and hair health, to energy levels and gut health.”
Tempted to get involved? With all the exciting vegan offerings in London, there’s never been a better time to be vegan – forget dull salads, think fried “chicken” and exciting flavour combinations. We bring you the best vegan restaurants and delivery services in town… The Best Vegan Restaurants in London
Of course, you can make veganism much easier with these vegtastic delivery services… PRESS Fab-in-Four
Taking veganism and a damn-good detox to another level, PRESS, famed for its cold-pressed juices, has introduced its Fab-in-Four concept where customers sign up to a full four weeks of food delivery (you’re allowed the weekends off) – with the aim of shifting up to 4kg. You’ll have to clear the fridge as five days’ worth of juices and soups arrives on the appointed day, along with two snacks, a Breville blender (for juicing) and a cool bag (nifty if you’re on the go). You can choose from a daily intake of 1,250 to 2,250 calories per day, based on an online nutritional questionnaire about your health/weight loss goals.
Rest assured though that all your daily intake of vitamins, protein, carbohydrates and good fats are accounted for in the regime. The morning smoothies are filling with avocado and bespoke protein powder, while the morning and evening soups (and yummy bread) are delicious and creamy (the tomato is killer), so you don’t feel you’re missing out. The great thing about this service is that you can relax the rules a bit at the weekend, though they helpfully provide meal ideas if you want to keep going, either with the plant-based food or the detox – or both, of course! Doing it along with dry January is a no-brainer. You’ll need some will power along the way, but if you do complete the four weeks, there is no doubt you will feel fab.
From £30 per day. press-london.com Detox Kitchen – The Ultimate Re-Set Package Vegan
If December festivities have left you bloated and lacklustre, Detox Kitchen’s beautifully bright, fantastically fresh and surprisingly filling Ultimate Reset Package is the one for you. Even eating this delicious menu for three days can have excellent benefits, helping you to kick the sugar carvings – though the full 20-day package would make a fantastic Christmas present and have you swinging from the chandeliers by the end of it.
Because the food arrives each day rather than a week’s worth in one, you know it’s fresh as can be and we can honestly say the food is delicious. Think mango, aubergine and courgette noodles for lunch and coconut dal and chickpeas with spinach for supper. The thing about Detox Kitchen is that it just all looks so beautiful – and therefore you want to get stuck in – literally and metaphorically.
From £665 for a 20-day service. detoxkitchen.co.uk Nosh Detox VeganKeto Meal Plan
If you don’t know what ketosis is, here it is in a nutshell: it’s when your body burns stored fat for energy instead of glucose. When you plan your meals around this, it means your body will take its calories from protein and fats as opposed to carbohydrates and sugars – hence you’ll both lose weight and get a massive energy boost besides.
Nosh founder, Geeta Sidhu-Robb, has been at the forefront of healthy food delivery services for 10 years and the VeganKeto meal plan is aimed at the new and growing wave of people who are saying goodbye meat, hello veg. A sample week includes dishes filled with good fats and low in carbohydrates, such as garlic and oregano broccoli on cauliflower rice or mushrooms in creamy sauce with pumpkin seeds and konjac noodles.
Vegetables have never been so sexy.
From £64 per day. noshdetox.com And now for the restaurants… Farmacy
This Notting Hill spot is where all the trendiest veggies and vegans congregate – thanks to the cool interiors as well as the wonderful food on offer. Farmacy is the brainchild of Camilla Fayed, who worked with experts to develop a menu of nourishing, healthy dishes that are also mighty tasty. The guacamole is one of the best in town and should be ordered as a side no matter what you’re eating, and is especially good when accompanying the sweet potato falafel starter. The Mexican Bowl is a standout with its bright purple potatoes and ‘sour cream’, while the burger is a classic, made from millet, black beans and mushrooms. Pair with a few cocktails (with added medicinal benefits, or Cannabidiol) from the Alchemy Bar, and save space for the raw chocolate tart. With no refined sugars, additives or chemicals, you can indulge guilt-free. 74 Westbourne Grove, London W2 farmacylondon.com Temple of Seitan c. Felix Dickinson
This vegan fast food joint really is temple-like, with queues around the block and a loyal following of customers who return time and time again for the finger-lickin’ good vegan fried “chicken”, which is actually made with seitan. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that vegans too crave a deep-fried treat once in a while, and Temple of Seitan has proven so popular that they have opened a second restaurant in Camden.. 10 Morning Lane, London E9 templeofseitan.co.uk Deliciously Ella
By now a household name, Instagram sensation Deliciously Ella has been credited with making the vegan lifestyle cool again. Head to her Marylebone deli to give her tasty recipes a go, and boost your mood (and vitamin count!) by digging into wholesome dishes such as Thai yellow coconut curry with brown rice, harissa aubergine with broccoli and quinoa, and seasonal falafel – or if you can’t decide, build your own bowl and combine the lot. Or pop in for breakfast (think blueberry pancakes, sweetcorn fritters or porridge with all the toppings), add a fresh smoothie and you’re good to glow for the day. 21 Seymour Place, London W1 deliciouslyella.com The Best Vegan Beauty Products Essence Cuisine
For those looking to go one step further, Essence Cuisine in Shoreditch is London’s prime raw vegan food destination. With a menu developed by US chef Matthew Kenney, the leading figure in refined vegan cooking, expect to find a variety of his signature dishes including Raw Pad Thai, Heirloom Tomato Lasagna, Bangers & Mash and Cacio e Pepe tagliatelle, all executed with creative flair and impeccably presented. But go with an open mind – the lasagna doesn’t have any pasta, the ‘bangers’ are made from activated walnut and portobello mushroom, and the Cheese Board is nothing like what you devoured at Christmas. The venue is space-age and futuristic, and while the restaurant is perhaps rather niche, it’s the undisputed London mecca for raw vegan devotees. 94 Leonard Street, London EC2 essence-cuisine.com Manna
The 50 year-old restaurant is one of Europe’s first meat-free eateries, evolving its menus alongside the rise of plant-based eating. And there’s much more than salad going on. Manna is closing the gap of gourmet, meat-free options with classic and creative dishes made from fair trade products when available and organic and local products whenever fresh and viable. There is some real joy in the starters at this place. Adventurously healthy types might go for the raw tacos with lettuce leaf shells, sunflower seed chorizo, guacamole, carrot salsa & cashew sour cream, while comfort seekers will be tempted by the vegan nachos. The selection of mains boasts enchilada bake to bangers and mash and warm rainbow panzanella. 4 Erskine Road, Primrose Hill, London NW3 3AJ mannav.com BL by CHLOE.
Yes. It has finally happened. NYC’s best-loved vegan restaurant has arrived in London, finally quelling vegan Londoners’ envious Instagram scrolls of the infamous burgers and salads at by CHLOE. After proving hugely popular at its inaugural Tower Bridge venue, they opened another London branch in Covent Garden, with a third due to open in the ICON Outlet at The O2 this Spring.
The entire menu is vegan, and in the best way: Guac Burgers, Quinoa Taco Salads, Avocado Pesto Pasta, Sweet Potato Fries… The restaurant is also free of artificial flavours and preservatives, a claim to which the beetroot ketchup and chipotle aioli testify mightily. Your celebration of Pesto Meatballs made with portobellos and Spicy Thai Salad with apricot-siracha glazed tempeh should be two-fold as by CHLOE. has now opened two London locations. The Covent Garden and Tower Bridge locations also celebrate the individual flavours of the city with a special Fish n’ Chips (crispy tofu), Royal Roast (sea salt roasted celery root) and, of course, sticky toffee pudding with coconut whipped cream. A host of sweet treats will have you staring at the glass case for ages, but don’t overlook the freezer where you’ll find Push Pops: mini ice creams with toppings including Chocolate topped with Chlostess cupcakes, Salted Caramel topped with banana bread, Matcha Coconut with matcha chocolate babka and Birthday Cake topped with funfetti and rainbow frosting. One Tower Bridge, Tower Bridge Road, London SE1 2SD and Drury House, 34-43 Russell Street, London WC2B 5HA and Drury House, 34-43 Russell St, Covent Garden, London WC2B 5HA eatbychloe.com BL Redemption Bar
Vegan oasis Redemption Bar has all the goods you look for in any outstanding health food spot such as smoothies (and smoothie bowls), avocado toast, buddha bowls, flax bread and veggie burgers. What sets these dishes apart from every other Instagram you’ve ever seen is that they are the ultimate version. New gold standard for burgers? The buff burger, made with protein-packed, fibre-boosting shitake mushroom, black bean and ruby beet, served in an oat bun with tomato, lettuce, caramelised red onion marmalade. Turmeric superslaw and chunky sweet potato fries on the side, naturally (no pun intended). Will you go for sweet: buckwheat pancakes tossed in coconut oil and topped with natural coconut yoghurt, seasonal fruit and maple syrup? Or savoury: roasted sweet potato and red onion hash with mushrooms, kale, spinach, rosemary and a squeeze of lemon? Whatever you do it should definitely include sipping on a Skinny Cacao. The organic Boca pure bean to cup cacao, served iced or hot in nut milk puts hot chocolate to shame (and thats without any sweetener). 6 Chepstow Road, London, W2 5BH and 320 Old Street, London, EC1V 9DR redemptionbar.co.uk BL Tell Your Friends
Lucy Watson has provided an anecdote to South London’s lacking vegan scene and friends, we’re telling you about it. Tell Your Friends excellently tows the line between healthy food, free of anything animal, and comfort food, the kind that doesn’t feel super vegan. Skeptics, start with the ‘chicken’ bites (hemp & sunflower crumbed jackfruit bites with BBQ sauce) and split the Mac’n’Cheese with cashew cream. Cue your transformative experience. Will you go for a gold plated, traditional veggie burger: Turtle bean patty, cheddar cashew cheese, salad, caramelised onions, sundried tomato ketchup, aubergine bacon & chips? Whatever you do, leave room for a giant vegan doughnut or refined sugar free banana bread that will have you wondering what butter really ever did for you anyway. 175 New King’s Rroad, London, SW6 4SW tellyourfriendsldn.com BL Biff’s Jack Shack at Boxpark Shoreditch
After proving hugely successful in both KERB Camden and Haunt in Stoke Newington, vegan hotspot Biff’s Jack Shack secured its first permanent home just in time for World Vegan Day last year. Disappointed at the sad-looking bean burgers on offer in most restaurants, Biff Burrows and Christa Bloom set out to change the conversation around plant-based food – and they’ve succeeded. Biff’s pride themselves on serving up the ‘filthiest’ vegan junk food in the UK: the menu is based around Biff’s unique Crispy Fried Jackfruit, which is braised in secret spice mix and triple-dipped in golden panko to create a selection of tasty burgers and wings. If you really want to indulge, go for the ‘Jack Bauer Tower of Power,’ a double jackfruit patty with deep fried vegan cheese, potato rosti and vegan aioli, served in a toasted brioche bun. Disclaimer – not all vegan food is healthy! Unit 49, Boxpark, 2-10 Bethnal Green Road, E1 6GY biffsjackshack.com The Vurger Co
Plant-powered vegan burger restaurant The Vurger Co began its journey in July 2016 as a market stall in Bethnal Green. After gaining popularity with vegans and non-vegans alike, they opened a permanent venue in Shoreditch, with another due to launch soon in Canary Wharf. There are four core burgers to choose from with rotating monthly specials – go for their bestselling Auburger, made from aubergines braised and baked in Tabasco Chipotle sauce paired with cumin mayonnaise. Still hungry? Their new special works perfectly as a side: Kentucky Dunkers, crispy, deep fried king ‘oyster’ shrooms coated in a delicious crumb, with house Piri Piri sauce on the side. Grab some crispy sweet potato fries or mac n cheese too, and finish by satisfying your sweet tooth with a tasty Chocolate Hazelnut shake. The Vurger Co, Unit 9, Avant Garde Building, Cygnet Street, Richmix Square, E1 6LD thevurgerco.com Wild Food Cafe
Founded by Joel and Aiste Gazdar, the original location for popular vegan eatery Wild Food Cafe overlooks the pretty Neal’s Yard in Covent Garden. They recently opened a second location in the equally desirable spot of Islington: a slightly bigger venue, with more space to expand the menu. If you’re looking for indulgent fast food, this is not the place for you: menus are fully plant-based, raw, vegan and nutritious. But this certainly doesn’t mean the food lacks flavour– dishes are bright, colourful and creative. Think jackfruit sandwich bites, vegetarian burgers, big wholesome salads, vegan laska and coconut-seared plantain stew. Still hungry? Try one of the guilt-free raw desserts, such as wild blackberry cheesecake, banana, walnut and date bread, or salted caramel and chocolate slice. You’ll leave feeling satisfied and suitably smug. Covent Garden: 14 Neal’s Yard, Covent Garden, WC2H 9DP and Islington: 269 – 270 Upper St, London N1 2UQ wildfoodcafe.com SpiceBox
After making a name for itself on the street food circuit at KERB in Camden, vegan curry spot SpiceBox will be opening its first permanent location later this month in Walthamstow. Here classic Indian dishes are reimagined with a plant-based twist: highlights include the Jackfruit Jalfrezi, a fiery vegan spin on the curry house cooked with peppers, onions and jackfruit; and the Brinjal Bhaji, made of charred smoky aubergine and peas in a rich tomato gravy. 58 Hoe St, Walthamstow, London, E17 4PG eatspicebox.co.uk Club Mexicana at The Spread Eagle
From the bar stools to the drinks to the food, everything at The Spread Eagle is 100 per cent vegan, making it London’s first ever fully vegan pub. The food offering is headed up by Merial Armitage, founder of vegan street food truck Club Mexicana , with dishes like jackfruit tacos and Californian-style burritos stuffed with ‘beer’ battered tofish. Small plates are also on offer, including corn esquites and pan seared ‘scallops’, deep fried ‘cheese’ with hot sauce and loaded ‘cheesy’ nachos. Diners can finish things on a sweet note with a deep fried taco dipped in chocolate, rolled in nuts, stuffed with ice cream and topped with salted caramel sauce. Salivating? Us too… 224 Homerton High St, London E9 6AS thespreadeaglelondon.co.uk Wulf & Lamb
“Run with the wolves. Eat with the lambs.” A fitting motto for Sloane Square plant-based eatery Wulf & Lamb, tucked away behind Peter Jones on the pretty pedestrian-only Pavilion Road. For mains go for the Chilli’ Non’ Carne, a smoky dish of spiced mushrooms, lentils and kidney beans with cashew sour cream; or the aromatic coconut curry with sweet potato mash – but be sure to leave some space for the mango and passion fruit cheesecake (no cheese involved, obviously). 243 Pavilion Rd, Chelsea, London SW1X 0BP wulfandlamb.com Purezza
Vegans don’t have to miss out on pizza, as proved by Purezza, a fully vegan pizza restaurant which settled in Camden after making a name for itself in Brighton last year. Instead of the cheese you might expect to see on a pizza, Purezza create their own vegan mozzarella in-house from fermented brown rice milk. Toppings-wise you’ll be spoilt for choice: options range from shaved aubergine to truffle to wood smoked tofu, all placed on top of a tasty sourdough base, with gluten-free or hemp flour substitutes also available. Vegan versions of popular sides are also on offer, including mac’n’cheese and dough balls, as well as a number of tasty desserts – we recommend the salted caramel brownie. 43 Parkway, Camden Town, London NW1 7PN purezza.co.uk Kalifornia Kitchen
Walking down Fitzrovia’s Percy Street, it’s hard to miss the bright pink facade of Kalifornia Kitchen. Inside is just as pretty, with furnishings built for Instagram: flower-adorned walls, a pink staircase, neon signs and sleek white table tops – the perfect setting for a Saturday brunch. Fancy something sweet? The big stack of buckwheat and banana pancakes, served with caramelised bananas, coconut yoghurt and almond brittle, are the stuff of vegan dreams. If it’s more lunch than breakfast time, the Klassic Kalifornia Burger served with smoked paprika & thyme fries is your best bet, or the jackfruit and guacamole tacos. Drinks follow a similar vibe, with a plethora of fresh smoothies and juices on offer, as well as kombucha, matcha lattes and healthy shots (think wheatgrass and turmeric as opposed to tequila). A slice of the West Coast in cold London town, Kalifornia Kitchen is a welcome addition to the capital’s ever-growing vegan scene. 19 Percy St, Bloomsbury, London W1T 1DY Wicked Vegan
Nestled on Balham’s trendy Hildreth Street you’ll find Wicked Vegan, a fairly new addition to London’s vegan fast food scene. Miles away from the raw food salads of some vegan joints, Wicked Vegan serves up everything from mac’n’cheese to burgers to wings. Think jackfruit burgers, aubergine wraps, bean burgers and nachos, alongside zingy smoothies, shakes and cakes. 14 Hildreth Street, Balham, SW12 9RQ
Looking for vegan recipes to try at home? Why not try The Abundance Bowl from Pollen + Grace – find the full recipe here. Sign up to our Newsletter sign up here VIEW MORE POSTS IN Food & Drink share this article

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50% Off on Sheraton Manila’s Breakfast Buffet Gets Extended! | ClickTheCity Food & Drink

50% Off on Sheraton Manila’s Breakfast Buffet Gets Extended! Fri, 15 Feb 2019 3:06 PM Share on
Mornings just got better!
The newly opened Sheraton Manila Hotel extends its incredible 50% off on breakfast buffet until March 15, 2019 . For half the price, indulge in their all-day dining and buffet restaurant, S Kitchen , for every start of the day all throughout the week. Wide selection of hot dishes
As they say, “eat like a king for breakfast!” The widespread buffet at Sheraton Manila is fit for royalty at only Php 725 . Catch morning staples such as sausages, corned beef, honey glazed ham, baked beans, and of course, crisp bacon. Freshly baked breads
The smell of freshly baked breads fills the entire restaurant, while the assortment feeds any appetite – from whole wheat, gluten-free, and flavored muffins and croissants. Several interactive live stations will get anyone in the mood, with eggs cooked as desired or omelets stuffed with any preferred condiments. Pancakes, waffles and French toasts are personalized to please with multiple toppings or syrups to choose from. French toast
What’s not to skip are the Filipino dishes – definitely S Kitchen’s best! It’s like waking up at home – a 5-star one – with comforting local favorites such as pork tocino, beef tapa, daing na bangus, tortang talong, and longganisa from Lucban and Vigan provinces. To warm up, there are arroz caldo and champorado made from rich cacao. Beef Tapa
Breakfast a la Filipino is definitely not complete without the side dishes, including steamed okra, bagoong, tofu, dilis, chicharon, atchara, and the list goes on! Balikbayans and foreign travelers alike are in for a treat as they relish in how Filipinos start their day. Pork Tocino with egg and fried rice
If these sound like a lot already, well that’s just half of what S Kitchen has to offer. It’s a buffet experience after all with the salad bar, cold cuts, cheeses, fresh seafood, cereals, and dim sum. Discerning palates will enjoy other international cuisines from the Asian and Indian stations. Adding an exclamation point are the booster drinks from freshly squeezed fruits such as Slim and Trim (celery and green apple) and Berry Lean (banana, raspberry and orange). Sheraton brewed coffee
How can your day go wrong with that kind of breakfast experience? There is no way anymore. Time to put this at the top of your to-do list or bring those morning meetings over at Sheraton. Just don’t forget to make reservations, call (02) 902 1800.
Sheraton Manila Hotel is located at the Newport City Complex Pasay, Metro Manila. For more information, visit their website www.sheratonmanila.com or follow them on Facebook , Twitter and Instagram . Editor’s Picks

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Fresh on your plate – SUPPLEMENTS News – Issue Date: Feb 25, 2019

Simply Chennai Fresh on your plate As the city’s palate expands, new restaurants are wowing diners with novel themes, truffle-topped pizzas and in one case, an entire library. advertisement ISSUE DATE: February 25, 2019 UPDATED: February 15, 2019 15:44 IST Ashwin Ninan and Roshina Tharakan, founders, That Mallu Joint. Photo by Sumanth Kumar
Hearty Meals/That Mallu Joint We are often told that the best Malayali food comes from the small old eateries in town that are packed with people. Other than that, it’s available at fine dining restaurants with skillful presentation. However, now there’s a new place in town that gives you something in between-a fine dining ambience and delicious homely food. Called That Mallu Joint, this Kerala eatery espouses simplicity in all other aspects including an airy dine-in space with contemporary décor and none of the cringe-worthy touristy boats and elephants.
The lunch-time sadya is quick, affordable and mildly spiced. The a-la-carte menu is short but doesn’t miss out on quintessential Kerala delicacies. The crispy fried prawn varrattiyathu is fresh, delicate and a great way to start your meal. The meen tawa fry is spiced to perfection, comes gently off the bones and makes this place truly worth a visit. The authentically prepared fresh main course makes up for the lack of variety in the menu. The meen maanga curry with its tomato-based gravy and the tang of raw mangoes is a clear winner. Paired with soft, fluffy egg appams, it makes for a meal in itself.
Give the Thalassery mutton biryani a pass for the curries and save space for dessert. The house-made tender coconut ice-cream is smooth and creamy with bits of real coconut and no artificial flavouring. Must try Meen maanga curry, egg appam, tender coconut ice cream At 2nd floor, 159/72, Gopathi Narayanaswami Chetty Rd, Parthasarathi Puram, T Nagar Tel 9384255672 Meal for two Rs 800
Technology on your Plate/ Locofeast Ramesh Velu, owner, Locofeast. Photo by Jaison G
If the existing robot-theme restaurant in Chennai had you excited, here’s another one that will enchant you with the way it serves its food. Walk in and you’ll feel you have hit a mix of a racing track and a railway station. The large dining area is divided into halves, where you either choose to sit in booths named after Chennai’s railway stations, or ones modelled on racing circuits around the world. The walls are covered in similar art work and the mood is condusive for a dinner experience with a difference.
Adjacent to each table is a track leading to the kitchen. Your food arrives in a small Ferrari car or a Shinkansen train (bullet train) depending on which side you picked. The car slows down and stops for you to pick up your order before it returns swiftly to the kitchen. A selfie spot with an engine jutting out of the walls gives you an illusion of posing next to a bullet train. In a first, a London street-style calling booth doubles up as a feeding room for infants.
Most of the novelty ends here as the food ceases to live up to the high expectations set by the themed setting. We suggest you stick to Indian cuisine for the murgh tikka masala and lachcha paratha don’t disappoint. South Indian preparations like kurumilagu kozhi pirattal too hit the right spot with the spice and seasoning. The real surprise comes in the form of a saffron-scented panacotta, firmly set with a hint of golden saffron syrup. Must try Saffron panacotta At Nungambakkam High Rd, Tirumurthy Nagar, Thousand Lights Tel 48606947 Meal for Two Rs 1,200
By the written Word/Stories Library Cafe Ko Sesha, owner, Stories Library Cafe.Photo by Jaison G
It isn’t often that you come across a cafe that has the stuff dreams are made of. And we aren’t talking about the odd collection of books placed precariously on shelves and tables for aesthetic value. Aptly named Stories Library Cafe, this space is as much about the books as it is about the food.
In an attempt to save his father’s lending library, one of the last surviving private ones in the city, lyricist Ko Sesha, 29, turned entrepreneur and decided to open Stories, which is now a café, a performance space and a revamped version of the lending library. While the interiors have been given a facelift and the lighting improved, the essence of the library has been kept intact. The books also make their way into décor, with a wall full of open titles, encyclopaedias turned into lamps and quotes from your favourite authors used generously in the interiors. You can pick a book and settle down at a cozy table for a meal, snack or a cup of flavoured tea.
Though the focus may be literary, the food at Stories is quite the attraction too. The tangy, spiced zucchini crisps make a great first impression and pair well as a savoury snack with a cup of caramel tea from The Hillcart Tales. The thin crust pesto pizza is crunchy with a thick layer of homemade pesto and a generous topping of veggies. There are pastas, sandwiches, waffles and pancakes that make up the rest of the vegetarian menu. All the food here much like the space is warm and comforting, not so much gourmet or experimental.
Must try Zucchini crisps and waffles At 575/2, Alagirisamy Salai, Next to TNSC Bank, Santosh Colony, Sector 9, KK Nagar Tel 99406 58327 Meal for Two Rs 600
With love, from Italy/Nolita Partners Sandesh Reddy, Kanakadhara, Shanmugam Raj, Rakesh Prakash and Shreya Bajaj. Photo by Sumanth Kumar
The newest entrant on the city’s gourmet map is the unimissable Nolita. Housed in an old roomy bungalow in Nugambakkam, the name pays tribute to North Italy and its exquisite food. The vibe is decidedly Mediterranean with white walls and blue doors and windows, the kind that’s so common you can picture it with your eyes closed. The open courtyard with trees and an open pizza oven give you the option of dining outdoors while the weather is still kind.
The menu is divided into two sections-Pizzas and Everything Else, signalling early on that a pizza order may be wise. However, start your meal with a salad. The grape and roasted almond preparation is the right amount of light, crunchy and tart. The pizza bianca anti-pasti is their sourdough bread topped with cheese, herbs and olive oil served with a marinara dip. While a good side to have with your other antipasti order, it is also how you can taste the pizza bread without the toppings.
The true winner here expectedly is the pizza itself. Choose from bianca or marinara sauce and toppings as varied as cauliflowers, prosciutto ham, lamb meatballs and zoodles. The egg, truffle oil and rocket pizza is just that, a white pizza with fresh wild rocket, cheese and topped with an egg. The crust is the right amount of chewy and crumbly and the truffle oil is fragrant.
The lemon cream and tarragon pasta comes a close second for its novelty. If you haven’t had too big a meal already, don’t miss the traditional tiramisu to end your time here. Must try Lemon cream and tarragon pasta, egg, truffle oil and rocket pizza At 6 Nawab Habibullah Avenue, 1st Street, Off, Anderson Rd, Nungambakkam Tel 56206305 Meal for Two Rs 1,500 Get real-time alerts and all the news on your phone with the all-new India Today app. Download from Do You Like This Story? Awesome!

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