The Gourmet Studio … extravagant food at affordable prices!!!

A Saturday afternoon and an opportunity to sample an Indian six course meal curated by Chef Harjeet at the Diya, The Leela, Gurgaon. The thing with Indian food is that we all love the tried and tested dishes and then we complain that we never get anything different. The Chef along with the founders of the Delhi Gourmet Club – DGC, seem to have foreseen this issue and created this menu which is both comfortable but tweaked with certain details to give it an innovative edge.

Chef Harjeet has curated a wonderful six-course menu and affordable prices!

Chef Harjeet has curated a wonderful six-course menu and affordable prices!

The Leela at Gurgaon’s Ambience Mall is one of the few luxury properties in the city frequented by business travellers, compulsive shoppers (with its proximity to the shopping mall) and people who just want to have a quick Staycation over the weekend. An obvious choice for celebrating a special occasion, though I have been to Spectra (the multi-cuisine restaurant) and Zanotta (Italian), this was a first for me to the Indian restaurant Diya.

Diya has been done up in a fusion of classical and contemporary interiors!!!

Diya has been done up in a fusion of classical and contemporary interiors!!!

Done up in a fusion of modern and classical interiors, Diya has the correct blend of fine dining etiquettes with a dash of informality along the bar. I spotted a performance area adorned with Tablas and classical music instruments, presumably for dinner gatherings. The hanging glass lantern lights, the silky smooth table covers, the comfortably cushioned seating and the fresh flowers on the table set the mood for customized meal.

The watermelon and rasberry shooter served in style!

The watermelon and rasberry shooter served in style!

... and an explosive start!

… and an explosive start!

The food was simple, honest and very rich. A quality which is unmatchable, the Chef was glad to be part of The Gourmet Studio, as he felt it would give him a farther reach, with value for money prices. From the Dahi ke kebab to the Baingan Katli (a first one for me) … the appetizers started tantalizing the taste buds but the pleasure came with the Gilawat ke Kebab and the Murg Malai Kebab. A Daal ka Shorba and a Tamarind sorbet which informs you to change gears to the main course is something one should look forward to midway through the meal.

Daal ka shorba ... the veggies lapped it up!

Daal ka shorba … the veggies lapped it up!

If I am having Indian it has to be non-vegetarian otherwise the meal is not complete. However, this time I was in for a surprise. What looked like a kofta and served to me in a rich masala, was the Bhune Pyaaz (onion) ki sabzi. A complete onion roasted and cooked in the spices, which blew me away. Lapped it up with a butter naan and this is a must try no matter how big a carnivore you are. Next to it on the plate was the Nalli Korma, a large lamb shank cooked up in Awadhi style with the meat ready to fall of the bones into the mouth. These two for me completed the main course along with some butter naan. But, being a guest, I did get to try the Tawa Murg with a thick gravy and the Malabar Seafood curry. The menu well balanced and a gravy dish with each of the meat, it is easier to choose depending on one’s choice of the meat.

The Star of the meal ... Bhune Pyaaz ki sabzi!!!

The Star of the meal … Bhune Pyaaz ki sabzi!!!

DGC and Nearbuy have curated a wonderful Indian meal which is second in the series of The Gourmet Studio initiative by the club offering food lovers to relish extravagant fine-dining experiences at unbelievable prices. So when I was told that this 6-course meal is available to a diner for Rs. 1500/- (all inclusive) on the nearbuy by Groupon website by clicking here on the link, I was sure this would be crowded soon by the food lovers of Delhi NCR. Sadly, the deal is for a limited period, which means I would be hurrying back for more.

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A Smokey evening …… Hot #Dogfight!!!

They call ’em Sliders … some say the term was coined by the US Navy (Maverick loves that fact) which meant a greasy burger small enough that slid in easily. Now the burger might be small but the passion with which it was made at Smokey’s was and always would be huge. Also they have taken it a step ahead and introduced Hotdog sliders with some amazing meats. And, the sliders pulled pork, grilled pork, pulled lamb, bacon hotdogs … And many more which I raided with my favourite foodie pirates from TDfc.

The industrial style interiors set the mood to party!

The industrial style interiors set the mood to party!

A Friday evening, hungry souls and amazing retro music is what Shivkaran (the man behind Smokey’s) promised us and right on dot, we landed to put the long hectic week behind us. A split level restaurant and one walks into industrial styled interiors, with exposed brick walls, MS framework combined with wooden panelling and flooring and high ceilings giving whole place a warehouse effect. The place gives a sense of history and Shivkaran did inform us that even though Smokey’s is an year old, Smokehouse grill in which he played an active part too, was one of the pioneers of real, rich American food with meats one could only fancy in our city before. Subtle ambient lighting, with yellow & orange hues peeking from behind the coves washing the recently painted white exposed brickwork puts one in the mood to party as soon as you enter. Minimalist wooden and iron furniture is functional yet never overpowering. The best part however, is the bar on both levels and the loud mouthed people we are, we chose the upper level.

Shivkaran Singh ... the man behind Smokey's

Shivkaran Singh … the man behind Smokey’s

The servers took over and each table was given the menu for the evening. And then the sliders started to slide out from the kitchen. Chef Babu made sure there was not a table which was empty among the 45 diners. A great chef is one who gauges the taste of his guests and Andhra Chilli Tenderloin dog along with the Bacon Wrapped Pork Sausage Hotdog just was what the company needed. Innovation in ingredients which enhances the taste of a dish is always a pleasure the above mentioned fillings in the dogs, though a far away break from the originals, did tickle our taste buds till they were satiated. But that was just the start and though we hardly have any in our group, the chef took care of the veggies too. The Crispy Veg and the Veg Cous Cous with some amazing sauces kept the vegetarians busy, some very busy.

Chunky Chicken Sliders!

Chunky Chicken Sliders!

Pulled Tenderloin Burgers!

Pulled Tenderloin Burgers!

But when we talk of sliders, how can we forget burgers. The Smokey Lamb with buttered Onion and the Pulled Tenderloin burgers were as messy as it can get. I only rate the burger with the degree of messiness it can create on my fingers and though these were small sliders, the pulled tenderloin had meat falling off from all sides as you bit into it and squeezed the buns, hope you get my drift. Curried Veg Burger in the Veggie series and one would feel they just bit into an Indian dish, with an American twist. When one has red meat, Chicken for me is as good as vegetarian, but I would recommend the Chunky Chicken, to the uninitiated or the cautious ones.

Andhra Chilli Tenderloin Hotdog ... you cannot return without having one!

Andhra Chilli Tenderloin Hotdog … you cannot return without having one!

The stars though, were yet to arrive, and arrive did they, in style. Someone spotted the larger than large Veg Cous Cous Hot dog and started screaming as if they just spotted a celebrity. Guess even the kitchen felt that they should not let the veggies in the group feel left out and sent in the huge Veg hot dog first. The sauces creamy and spicy and the cous cous fresh, the veggies and even the non veggies devoured this one in no time. Vegetarians taken care of the next in the line was the Smokey’s Super Boy burger. Super boy or more like an overgrown kid would be an ideal entry for the Man Vs Food episode and I doubt if Adam would have the superhuman strength to take on it singlehandedly. That night it was more of Men Vs Superboy and our men did good. A little over a minute and boy it was gone. The tenderloin patty which was slightly well done with no frills and some secret Smokey sauce left the foodies hungry for more. And then the lights dimmed and slid in the star of the night.

The stars of the evening ... the humongousaurus .... Veg Cous Cous Dog, Super Boy Burger, Pulled Tenderloin Hotdog!

The stars of the evening … the humongousaurus …. Veg Cous Cous Dog, Super Boy Burger, Pulled Tenderloin Hotdog!

The Smokey's Chilli Sauce ... hawwttt!

The Smokey’s Chilli Sauce … hawwttt!

The Humongousaurus Pulled tenderloin Hotdog and it was carnage till the end. Men & girls just jumped over each other for a glimpse before 2 overzealous meat lovers started on it from either side. Some of us just got a glimpse of it, but then there is always a next time. The thing about Hotdogs at Smokey’s are that they are so generous on the meat, it is falling from between the bread even before you lift it. The cuts enormous and the tenderloin chunky and well done, the meat chewy and just the way it should be. The best part, the chef, servers and our new best friend Shivkaran were all there egging us on to keep at it. The cocktails from Lock, Stock & a Smokin’ Barrel  to the Martinis & beers, are all great accompaniments, in fact necessary when you eat so much meat, but I’d rather have you try them than let the words spoil their actual “nasha”.

Dogfight starts!

Dogfight starts!

Man Vs Food

Man Vs Food

A dogfight is a term given to the mid-air battle between fighter planes, another naval concoction like the sliders. And the Hotdogfight we had though not as dangerous was equally exhilarating. The crispy buns, tender meat and the melange of sauces just left us gorging on one after the other.

Lock, Stock & a Smokin' Barrel  & Watermelon Mojito!

Lock, Stock & a Smokin’ Barrel & Watermelon Mojito!

The team at Smokey’s made sure we partied hard with their signature cocktails and good burgers have always been a ‪#‎TDfc weakness. But now Smokey’s has ensured that Hotdogs trumps our love for burgers and as a “friend of Smokey’s” I reckon you give it a chance too.

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Bajrangi Bhaijaan … hum kabhi jhooth nahi bolte!!!

Eid has become synonymous with a Salman Khan release whether he plays a secret agent, a human with superhero strength or most recently a Hindu Pundit who blindly follows Lord Hanuman, does not touch meat or thinks a million times before entering a mosque. It is mandatory for a Bhai’s film to generate mass hysteria, advance bookings and traffic snarls outside each and every multiplex in every city it is released.

Bhai has always been a trendsetter ... with his first look and the Hanuman locket, he has started another one!

Bhai has always been a trendsetter … with his first look and the Hanuman locket, he has started another one!

The religious innuendoes in the movie though clichéd never take the colour of a preaching. From the name Bajrangi which we lovingly call our Superhero god Hanuman to the Muslim community being referred to as Mohamden, the movie steers clears of any controversial religious overtone and each dialogue and situation is treated in a simplistic manner. Even when Nawazuddin Siddiqui’s character of a Pakistani journalist asks Bhai’s character, “Wahan tumhari madad kaun karega?” & gets a reply “Bajrang Bali.” He laughs and says “Pakistan mein bhi?”, keeps the mood light-hearted even in heavy emotional scenes.

The chemistry between Salman & Harshaali is spot on bringing a tear to the eye!

The chemistry between Salman & Harshaali is spot on bringing a tear to the eye!

India & Pakistan, two countries which have had a history richer than any Oil magnate’s coffers, have always been great fodder for movie makers. Kabir Khan who in his previous outing with Salman showcased the love of 2 spies from these rival countires, in this one takes the emotional quotient a notch higher minus Salman Khan’s histrionics and his aura.  Pawan Kumar Chaturvedi aka Bajrangi ‘Bhaijaan’, when crosses path with a mute girl from Pakistan who is lost in India, takes it upon himself to take her home safely. The plot revolves around the story of this simple and gullible guy, who ardently worships Bajrang Bali and greets everyone with a soft “Jai Shri Ram”, and despite the odds never falters from speaking the truth. His chemistry with the mute girl played by newcomer Harshaali Malhotra, gives us some heart wrenching and emotionally charged sequences. Salman Khan plays an ordinary human being after a long time and does it with enough conviction which makes him more humane and less of super human. His idiosyncrasies and his signature moves are missing, he will not take of his shirt or send bad guys flying at the drop of his hat. The Salman as his fans know him though absent will not fail to leave a mark, though secretly, I did wish I could see over the top action and his signature moves.

Harshaali Malhotra as Shahida is the Pivot that keeps turning the plot and gives Bajrangi’s life a focus and an aim. Commendable performance by the young lady, and kudos to the casting director for finding this innocent kid to star opposite the biggest superstar in the film industry.  Playing a mute girl and emoting through eyes, Harshaali definitely will be a sought after child artist for a while now.

The trio carry the movie through out the second half!

The trio carry the movie through out the second half!

Nawazzudin Siddiqui as a Pakistani reporter, who helps Bajrangi to achieve his goal, is funny, intense and perfect for the role of Chand Nawab. Great dialogues and impeccable timing makes him a dependable actor and a star in his own sense. Kareena Kapoor is more in a supporting role than a heroine along with the big man Sharat Saxena.

Kareena is there but not exactly there!

Kareena is there but not exactly there!

After Ek Tha Tiger, Kabir Khan readies to deliver another hit with Bhai, but also has taken a calculated risk by upping the melodrama with an actor like Salman, whose aura precedes him days before the release.

Chal beta ... selfie le le re!

Chal beta … selfie le le re!

It has become fashionable to criticize Salman and his movies, but even those who supposedly “trash” him bow down to his fan following. Even Bajrang Bali would be pleased that a man with such a cult following, portrays his bhakt (devotee). Bajrangi shows  that love truimphs over religion, boundaries, egos & hatred, and as a die-hard Salman fan you don’t need to read my review to watch Bajrangi Bhaijaan. Though if you would really like to see Bhai breakaway from his own stereotype, do watch it and take a selfie.

Jai Shri Ram & Eid Mubarak!!!

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Let’s Walk up an Appetite!!!

It is that time of the year again when we look forward to the delightful food offered during the month of Ramzaan and though most of us don’t fast we are love to be around the beautiful Jama Masjid area around Iftar (the time when the fasting community breaks their fast for the day)! Like every year this year too my food group The Delhi foodie club #TDfc visited the Jama Masjid and its mystic lanes and bylanes to experience the meaty delights that are being cooked up before Eid.

The Jama Masjid, Delhi ... Majestic and in all its glory!

The Jama Masjid, Delhi … Majestic and in all its glory!

#RamzaanFoodWalk which has become a #TDfc tradition, shows how much #welivetoeat. With a lot of first timers and a few of our dependable foodies we choose to visit the Jama Masjid and witness it in all its glory! Our food walkers kept asking us what’s next, what’s next and the 3 of us who led the walk kept leading them from one delicacy to another. The initial shyness, the inhibitions connected to street food, the indecisiveness all vanished as we moved deeper into the food paradise. Thank you all for making it to the walk and your continuous support to TDfc encourages us to keep on continuing the legacy which has germinated from the love for food.

The troops gather!

The troops gather!

Inside the Masjid ... the hungry souls wonder when the Iftar would be announced!

Inside the Masjid … the hungry souls wonder when the Iftar would be announced!

Wudu ... The ritual of washing hands and feet before breaking the fast!

Wudu … The ritual of washing hands and feet before breaking the fast!

The community prefers and enjoys eating together!

The community prefers and enjoys eating together!

The places we covered this time were both tried and tested and some dishes were new, but one thing is a fact, no matter how many times you come here you will be wanting more of it!
1. Lalu Kebabbe & Al Nisar for Buff Kebabs (opposite Gate No.1)
2. Paneer Jalebi at the Matia Mahan entrance
3. Aslam Chicken for Cream butter plus the amazing Chicken Seekh kebabs which are by far the best we tasted.
4. Watermelon Sharbat right after Aslam Chicken Corner on the left
5. Haji Shabrati for Nahari, Bheja & Nalli with the moti roti
6. Taufeeq’s (Dilpasand) Biryani
7. Gur ka Sharbat by Akheel Ahmad
8. And finally Al Jawahar (again chose this over Karim’s) for the mutton burra and changezi chicken.
9. The desserts like always at Shahi Tukda stall accompanied with some Phirni and Mango ice-cream.

Lalu Kebabbe and Al Nisar (Opposite Gate No. 1, Urdu Bazaar, Jama Masjid, Delhi)

First stop ... Lalu with my favourite Buff Kebabs!

First stop … Lalu with my favourite Buff Kebabs!

Who doesn't like butter ... Buff kebabs laden with butter, chutney and curd concoction ... just the way we like it at Al Nisar!

Who doesn’t like butter … Buff kebabs laden with butter, chutney and curd concoction … just the way we like it at Al Nisar!

The #TDfc army ready to attack the soft, succulent kebas!

The #TDfc army ready to attack the soft, succulent kebas!

Paneer Jalebi, Matia Mahal Road.

Paneer (Cottage Cheese) Jalebi ... The sweetshop right at the entrance of Matia Mahal road!

Paneer (Cottage Cheese) Jalebi … The sweetshop right at the entrance of Matia Mahal road!

Aslam Chicken Corner, Matia Mahal road.

The best chicken seekh kebabs at Aslam Chicken Corner!

The best chicken seekh kebabs at Aslam Chicken Corner!

Aslam Chicken Corner ... The pioneers of cream butter chicken ... no one does it better!

Aslam Chicken Corner … The pioneers of cream butter chicken … no one does it better!

Watermelon Sharbat, right after Aslam Chicken Corner on the left!

Apple & Watermelon sharbat to wash down those buttery kebabs

Apple & Watermelon sharbat to wash down those buttery kebabs

Haji Shabrati Nahari Waale!

Haji Shabrati ... a must stop if you love Bheja & Nahari!

Haji Shabrati … a must stop if you love Bheja & Nahari!

Taufeeq’s famous Dilpasand Biryani!

Dilpasand Biryani ... Taufeeq bhai to sabki dil ki pasand hai!

Dilpasand Biryani … Taufeeq bhai to sabki dil ki pasand hai!

Time to Dig in and one can see how well the meat is cooked along with the saffron flavour in the rice!

Time to Dig in and one can see how well the meat is cooked along with the saffron flavour in the rice!

Akheel Ahmad’s Gur (Jaggery) ka sharbat, Chitli Kabar road!

Akheel Ahmad's shop which has been serving the Gur ka sharbat for 65 years and now his son who has been on the job for 35 years ... told us that his dad started selling it for 1paisa and now over the year it is 10 bucks ... still a steal we say!

Akheel Ahmad’s shop which has been serving the Gur ka sharbat for 65 years and now his son who has been on the job for 35 years … told us that his dad started selling it for 1paisa and now over the year it is 10 bucks … still a steal we say!

We created a mini traffic jam gulping glasses after glasses of Gur ka sharbat

We created a mini traffic jam gulping glasses after glasses of Gur ka sharbat

Al Jawahar Restaurant, Matia Mahal Road.

Al Jawahar Restaurant ... this time this was our last food stop where we settled instead of Karim's!

Al Jawahar Restaurant … this time this was our last food stop where we settled instead of Karim’s!

Mutton Burra Kebabs ... could not get any better!

Mutton Burra Kebabs … could not get any better!

Shahi Tukda, Mango Ice-cream & Phirni, Matia Mahal Road.

Shahi Tukda always completes the meal!

Shahi Tukda always completes the meal!

The man who kept serving us Mango ice-cream one after the other!

The man who kept serving us Mango ice-cream one after the other!

It was dessert marathon and now Phirni or Kheer!

It was dessert marathon and now Phirni or Kheer!

The satisfied lot!

The satisfied lot!

The mehman-nawaazi and the rich culture of this place is what food stories are made of and TDfc loves to visit it again and again!

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Jurassic World 3D … More teeth!!!

Jurassic World 3D … the island has developed and looks very 21st century with a futuristic train system & glass ball shaped rides, streets and avenues like the Disneyland (which was a very cool design by the way) and more dinosaurs (some a hybrid between 2 species).

Jurassic World finally opens again!

Jurassic World finally opens again!

The Plot, a newly developed, aggressive & intelligent, predator dinosaur gets out of it’s cage (well hardly a cage) and goes on a killing spree, killing both humans and other dinos. The poor dinos look like mice in front of this monstrous creature, who is named Indominus Rex, and our bad ass hero, who trains, talks and is friends with these extinct creatures, tracks the monster and brings him down … well not technically, but still!

Jurassic is now like a Disney theme park!

Jurassic is now like a Disney theme park!

Chris Pratt as the ex-Navy, dinosaur loving, monster hunting kick-ass hero along with Bryce Dallas Howard (you might know her from Spider Man 3) form an awkward (both physically and chemically) army of 2 to fight the formidable Indominus Rex (I crack up every time I say the name). Joined by to 2 young boys who are more courageous than the combined complete population of the Jurassic Island. A proud moment for us Indians is Irrfan Khan who owns the Jurassic World, works on principals than profits and has a meaty role with hardly any reference to his accent or his roots.

Irrfan Khan ... the man who owns the island and plays it well!

Irrfan Khan … the man who owns the island and plays it well!

The kids loved it and my young one did not take of her 3D glasses for a second. She was hardly scared of the monster and cheered every time it ate someone up. The scene to watch out for is when the croc-styled dino leaps out of the water to feed on a shark. Even after more than 20 years, since the first Jurassic movie, I am still enamoured by these large species and find it exciting to go watch them on the big screen.

Indominus rex ... more teeth this time!

Indominus rex … more teeth this time!

My suggestion is go and have fun, enjoy the larger than life sets, watch it in 3D and gorge on a lot of pop-corn. The original park is showcased in some parts, so I even promise nostalgia.

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Bespoken and SelectED … A royal experience!

We Indians love to party, celebrate and throw a bash at the drop of a hat. Be it a birthday celebration, entertaining friends at home or something as huge as a wedding, we as individuals love to give it a 100% to it. It is rumoured that parents work hard all their lives to spend it in one go hosting a grand wedding for their children. Most would think, the ambition is too superficial, but as a society, a large-hearted host with a flair for style is what a lot of us secretly or at times openly aspire to be.

An ambition to be the most talked about host needs to be combined with an equally innovative and personal Event organizer, who takes your passion and delivers in a manner customized only for you. SelectED Events & Dining does exactly that and brings a customized experience, very similar to a Michelin Star one, to you rather than you taking the trouble of going to it. A perfectionist and an avid art collector, Arjun Sharma (the chairman of SELECT Group) known for his subtle sense of luxury and affinity to design gives Select Events & Dining the necessary “edge”.

SelectED ... creating magic with food ... a personalized experience like this Indian DastarKhwan!

SelectED … creating magic with food … a personalized experience like this Indian DastarKhwan!

The team of SelectED believes that a bespoke experience has to be controlled by a Master Curator and that is where they come in.

One does feel significant when one is SelectED for an experience so bespoke, that it takes personalization to a completely different level. Why I say this is because I had good fortune of being SelectED for a three meal experience at their Heritage Village resort in Manesar, an hour’s drive from Delhi and 30 minutes from Gurgaon. A property commissioned in the late 1990s designed with a mix of traditional classical vocabulary and contemporary interiors, the motifs and grand arches greet you right at the entrance. Manicured lawns, organic landscape with clusters of rooms built around a courtyard, transfers the guests into an era of Havelis.

I was SelectED for a bespoke experience!

I was SelectED for a bespoke experience!

The rooms clustered around a common courtyard at the Heritage Village with manicured lawns!

The rooms clustered around a common courtyard at the Heritage Village with manicured lawns!

The invite however was to experience something entirely different. A three meal experience by SelectED, as we walked in my family and I were checked into the resort in the most personalized, efficient and delightful way. Escorted by a member from the SelectED team to our room after a refreshing Watermelon cooler and a traditional Indian welcome, our chaperone animatedly explained to us how the 2 days were planned for the adults and the kids. The pleasant surprise as we entered the room was a personalized cupcake bouquet (with a picture of the guest on a cookie) which the kids fell in love with and we were floored by such attention to detail. The list of guests was short but distinguished and SelectED over and above that seemed to have mastered the knack of making each one feel like a member of the royal family gearing up for a royal event.

Customization and SelectED are synonymous ... from personalized cupcake bouquets to Menus, they keep surprising the guests!

Customization and SelectED are synonymous … from personalized cupcake bouquets to Menus, they keep surprising the guests!

The bespoke event started with the High Tea. A concept alien to us before 20th century or more precisely a legacy of the British, High Tea has evolved into a full-fledged meal before dinner, though an air of snobbery still surrounds it. So as expected the spread was monumental and the build-up of expectations huge for the first bespoke meal. SelectED fused the now-Indian concept of “Shaam ki Chai” (Evening Tea) with a High Tea and kept its best foot forward to present to us a spread so lavish, that it seemed to me a little over the top. I would have preferred a consolidated menu of specific items but flowing from one to another. This overzealous treatment of the High Tea left me a bit confused whether to gorge on the fried items or check out the street snacks, while I try a milk shake with cookies. The kids loved the variety but I this seemed more like a hurried attempt to me, which I did express to the Chef and the host Ishaan, like I would have if I was part of a wedding they were catering to.  Much to my pleasure they were receptive and the next two experiences were sublime and beyond words, still I would try.

The Hi' tea spread!

The Hi’ tea spread!

But something about food which is laid out so well and with such passion, does make me gorge, and gorge is what I did. The Cocktails and Dinner was up next, so a quick swim at the resort pool was the only way to work up an appetite for the evening. And glad I did that because the dinner that was an affair to remember. Cocktails along with the hors-d’oeuvres were delectable, with bar tenders taking care of the drinks in a professional and efficient manner.

Whether it was the Lychee and Prunes stuffed with Wasabi feta to offer a unique concoction of seemingly opposite flavours, or Bi-fing Prawns placed in ceramic spoons, a benchmark of great food with immaculate presentation, the food and the service had that edge to it. This extra zing from the attention to detail is what sets SelectED apart, for me. Even a simple fusion of Golconda meat with Ajwaini Crips which were devoured by the no. stood out subtly.  Though, the guests were spoilt for choices with some signature cocktails from SelectED’s bar, I enjoyed my beers (a couple, since this time I had to walk and not drive back to my room) and headed for the well laid out dining room. This, ladies and gentlemen, was the highlight for both the guests and SelectED. And, though perfection is hard to achieve, if a host managed a sit down dinner like this for his or her guests, it would be something which would be talked about for long in his circles.

Cocktails and Dinner ... the setup was sublime!

Cocktails and Dinner … the setup was sublime!

The Sit-down Dinner with silver service was a STATEMENT, a statement which captured the radiance of SelectED and its concept. As for the guests, we were dazzled as soon as the huge wood panelled doors revealed the dining space. Victorian chandeliers showering a diffused yellow light on the tables, along with the back lit Corian wall panels with leafy motifs and Brass coloured metallic chairs all set the scene for royal feast. Ushered to the designated spots which were marked by name cards, we settled only to be greeted by a personalized menu. The mood already alleviated further by such bespoke service, the courses of food that flowed were subtle yet individualistic in flavours and beyond delectable. Something quite simple like Makki di Roti and Sarson the Saag, staple food of Punjab, is presented in the form of Sarson ka Saag Mousse with Makki Biscotti. Keeping the flavour intact and not altering ingredients from the original, only the presentation and the combination changed this staple dish into an innovative first course.

String Hoppers with Griller Lobster in Saffron Gravy!

String Hoppers with Griller Lobster in Saffron Gravy!

The courses, as the meal progressed, showed the ingenuity of the kitchen team. The String Hoppers with Lobster grilled to perfection served with a Saffron Gravy dealt with Mustrad Cress just made the meal more savoury. Lobster which itself has a distinctive taste, was complemented by the Saffron cream sauce and mustard, all ingredients having a strong presence on your palate. Coupled together it was an explosive dish. A Sugarcane Granita (a crushed ice drink) was a welcome break just before the star of the evening arrived. Who would think a boring Khichadi (A rice and lentil preparation) can be made so delectable by adding Pulled Lamb to team it up with Lamb Chops. I however did not stop there and orderd the non vegetarian option of Murgh Nahari with Pulled chicken Khicadi. The lamb chops were no doubt the show stopper for me. The culmination was the dessert platter with a Gulab Jamun Tart, Tiramisu Ghevar and a Chocolate Cup, sweets were never my strong point.

The star of the dinner ... Lamb chops with pulled lamb Khicadi!

The star of the dinner … Lamb chops with pulled lamb Khicadi!

You would realize that the food was delectable and well thought of, but the USP was the butler service, attention to detail, never over the top and the server realizing what the guest desired before they even asked. There were 2 tables of 15 each and each of the 30 guests was WOWed by this curated experience. It was like being among friends (considering a lot of us were strangers a few hours ago) and Ishaan Sarkar, the CEO of SelectED, in tow with Chef Gaurav Mathur along with the resort GM Gopal Vaideswaran, left no stone unturned to make all of us feel at home.

The laws decked up for the Brunch!

The laws decked up for the Brunch!

A sound sleep, a few kms jog and another quick swim, I was ready to take on the mighty Brunch which our host had given hints would be the most elaborate affair. Being an early riser, and the brunch scheduled for 10.30 am, I was the first one to raid the brunch menu, which was setup both outdoors and indoors. Simply putting it, the brunch was exquisite. A perfect blend of a relaxed “after morning” food and exclusive fare which is available at high end brunches through 5-star properties, SelectED proved that they don’t do anything thoughtlessly. Even an informal brunch had the team burning midnight oil, literally.  And, this shown amply in the extravagant spread they had laid out for the guests.

Attention to detail and use of Props is the team's forte!

Attention to detail and use of Props is the team’s forte!

From the usual suspects at a breakfast spread Cold cuts, Fresh fruits, Eggs station, Sausages, bacon and many more, there were first time surprises like Baobun Wraps. A live station for Steamed Baos with mouth watering filling like Charsui Pork, Shrimps, Chicken & Tofu, this one had each one of the guest vying for a plateful. A Jhinga (Prawn) cooked on “dum” gave the Biryani and the steam rice a great accompaniment. I could go on and about the meat and veggie selection on the Tawa and would fill entire pages with description.

Rarely does one witness Quality along with Quantity ... The never ending brunch spread!

Rarely does one witness Quality along with Quantity … The never ending brunch spread!

The lazy Sunday morning, the setting informal, the servers cheerful, the food filling, the beer flowing and the banter playful, SelectED ended the experience professionally on an extremely high note. They have etched themselves as Master Curators of events and dining. Ishaan along with Chef Gaurav have truly been behind the germination of this Haute-cuisine driven catering company. We were first hand witnesses to the mantra the SelectED team breathes i.e. “Creating magic through food” and the experience was a fairytale one.

Our gracious and fun hosts ... SelectED CEO, Ishaan Sarkar & Chef Gaurav Mathur

Our gracious and fun hosts … SelectED CEO, Ishaan Sarkar & Chef Gaurav Mathur

A truly Customized Experience, I would definitely recommend SelectED if you are looking to have a magical bespoke catering experience.

Bespoken and SelectED … A royal experience!

We Indians love to party, celebrate and throw a bash at the drop of a hat. Be it a birthday celebration, entertaining friends at home or something as huge as a wedding, we as individuals love to give it a 100% to it. It is rumoured that parents work hard all their lives to spend it in one go hosting a grand wedding for their children. Most would think, the ambition is too superficial, but as a society, a large hearted host with a flair for style is what a lot of us secretly or at times openly aspire to be.

An ambition to be the most talked about host needs to be combined with an equally innovative and personal Event organizer, who takes your passion and delivers in a manner customized only for you. SelectED Events & Dining does exactly that and brings a customized experience, very similar to a Michelin Star one, to you rather than you taking the trouble of going to it. A perfectionist and an avid art collector, Arjun Sharma (the chairman of SELECT Group) known for his subtle sense of luxury and affinity to design gives Select Events & Dining the necessary “edge”.

The team of SelectED believes that a bespoke experience has to be controlled by a Master Curator and that is where they come in.

One does feel significant when one is SelectED for an experience so bespoke, that it takes personalization to a completely different level. Why I say this is because I had good fortune of being SelectED for a three meal experience at their Heritage Village resort in Manesar, an hour’s drive from Delhi and 30 minutes from Gurgaon. A property commissioned in the late 1990s designed with a mix of traditional classical vocabulary and contemporary interiors, the motifs and grand arches greet you right at the entrance. Manicured lawns, organic landscape with clusters of rooms built around a courtyard, transfers the guests into an era of Havelis.

The invite however was to experience something entirely different. A three meal experience by SelectED, as we walked in my family and I were checked into the resort in the most personalized, efficient and delightful way. Escorted by a member from the SelectED team to our room after a refreshing Watermelon cooler and a traditional Indian welcome, our chaperone animatedly explained to us how the 2 days were planned for the adults and the kids. The pleasant surprise as we entered the room was a personalized cupcake bouquet (with a picture of the guest on a cookie) which the kids fell in love with and we were floored by such attention to detail. The list of guests was short but distinguished and SelectED over and above that seemed to have mastered the knack of making each one feel like a member of the royal family gearing up for a royal event.

The bespoke event started with the High Tea. A concept alien to us before 20th century or more precisely a legacy of the British, High Tea has evolved into a full-fledged meal before dinner, though an air of snobbery still surrounds it. So as expected the spread was monumental and the build-up of expectations huge for the first bespoke meal. SelectED fused the now-Indian concept of “Shaam ki Chai” (Evening Tea) with a High Tea and kept its best foot forward to present to us a spread so lavish, that it seemed to me a little over the top. I would have preferred a consolidated menu of specific items but flowing from one to another. This overzealous treatment of the High Tea left me a bit confused whether to gorge on the fried items or check out the street snacks, while I try a milk shake with cookies. The kids loved the variety but I this seemed more like a hurried attempt to me, which I did express to the Chef and the host Ishaan, like I would have if I was part of a wedding they were catering to.  Much to my pleasure they were receptive and the next two experiences were sublime and beyond words, still I would try.

But something about food which is laid out so well and with such passion, does make me gorge, and gorge is what I did. The Cocktails and Dinner was up next, so a quick swim at the resort pool was the only way to work up an appetite for the evening. And glad I did that because the dinner that was an affair to remember. Cocktails along with the hors-d’oeuvres were delectable, with bar tenders taking care of the drinks in a professional and efficient manner.

Whether it was the Lychee and Prunes stuffed with Wasabi feta to offer a unique concoction of seemingly opposite flavours, or Bi-fing Prawns placed in ceramic spoons, a benchmark of great food with immaculate presentation, the food and the service had that edge to it. This extra zing from the attention to detail is what sets SelectED apart, for me. Even a simple fusion of Golconda meat with Ajwaini Crips which were devoured by the no. stood out subtly.  Though, the guests were spoilt for choices with some signature cocktails from SelectED’s bar, I enjoyed my beers (a couple, since this time I had to walk and not drive back to my room) and headed for the well laid out dining room. This, ladies and gentlemen, was the highlight for both the guests and SelectED. And, though perfection is hard to achieve, if a host managed a sit down dinner like this for his or her guests, it would be something which would be talked about for long in his circles.

The Sit-down Dinner with silver service was a STATEMENT, a statement which captured the radiance of SelectED and its concept. As for the guests, we were dazzled as soon as the huge wood panelled doors revealed the dining space. Victorian chandeliers showering a diffused yellow light on the tables, along with the back lit Corian wall panels with leafy motifs and Brass coloured metallic chairs all set the scene for royal feast. Ushered to the designated spots which were marked by name cards, we settled only to be greeted by a personalized menu. The mood already alleviated further by such bespoke service, the courses of food that flowed were subtle yet individualistic in flavours and beyond delectable. Something quite simple like Makki di Roti and Sarson the Saag, staple food of Punjab, is presented in the form of Sarson ka Saag Mousse with Makki Biscotti. Keeping the flavour intact and not altering ingredients from the original, only the presentation and the combination changed this staple dish into an innovative first course.

The courses, as the meal progressed, showed the ingenuity of the kitchen team. The String Hoppers with Lobster grilled to perfection served with a Saffron Gravy dealt with Mustrad Cress just made the meal more savoury. Lobster which itself has a distinctive taste, was complemented by the Saffron cream sauce and mustard, all ingredients having a strong presence on your palate. Coupled together it was an explosive dish. A Sugarcane Granita (a crushed ice drink) was a welcome break just before the star of the evening arrived. Who would think a boring Khichadi (A rice and lentil preparation) can be made so delectable by adding Pulled Lamb to team it up with Lamb Chops. I however did not stop there and orderd the non vegetarian option of Murgh Nahari with Pulled chicken Khicadi. The lamb chops were no doubt the show stopper for me. The culmination was the dessert platter with a Gulab Jamun Tart, Tiramisu Ghevar and a Chocolate Cup, sweets were never my strong point.

You would realize that the food was delectable and well thought of, but the USP was the butler service, attention to detail, never over the top and the server realizing what the guest desired before they even asked. There were 2 tables of 15 each and each of the 30 guests was WOWed by this curated experience. It was like being among friends (considering a lot of us were strangers a few hours ago) and Ishaan Sarkar, the CEO of SelectED, in tow with Chef Gaurav Mathur along with the resort GM Gopal Vaideswaran, left no stone unturned to make all of us feel at home.

A sound sleep, a few kms jog and another quick swim, I was ready to take on the mighty Brunch which our host had given hints would be the most elaborate affair. Being an early riser, and the brunch scheduled for 10.30 am, I was the first one to raid the brunch menu, which was setup both outdoors and indoors. Simply putting it, the brunch was exquisite. A perfect blend of a relaxed “after morning” food and exclusive fare which is available at high end brunches through 5-star properties, SelectED proved that they don’t do anything thoughtlessly. Even an informal brunch had the team burning midnight oil, literally.  And, this shown amply in the extravagant spread they had laid out for the guests.  From the usual suspects at a breakfast spread Cold cuts, Fresh fruits, Eggs station, Sausages, bacon and many more, there were first time surprises like Baobun Wraps. A live station for Steamed Baos with mouth watering filling like Charsui Pork, Shrimps, Chicken & Tofu, this one had each one of the guest vying for a plateful. A Jhinga (Prawn) cooked on “dum” gave the Biryani and the steam rice a great accompaniment. I could go on and about the meat and veggie selection on the Tawa and would fill entire pages with description.

The lazy Sunday morning, the setting informal, the servers cheerful, the food filling, the beer flowing and the banter playful, SelectED ended the experience professionally on an extremely high note. They have etched themselves as Master Curators of events and dining. Ishaan along with Chef Gaurav have truly been behind the germination of this Haute-cuisine driven catering company. We were first hand witnesses to the mantra the SelectED team breathes i.e. “Creating magic through food” and the experience was a fairytale one.

A truly Customized Experience, I would definitely recommend SelectED if you are looking to have a magical bespoke catering experience.

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PIKU … The emotional motion!

PIKU … PIKUUU … PIKUUUUUU …. (spoiler alert)

The movie is as simple as the female protagonist name. A movie without agenda or a reason and just an average family with their average problems which are laughed away as soon as they are solved.

Amitabh ... always the star!

Amitabh … always the star!

Constipation forms the basis of the whole movie, yup, you heard that right, it is about those difficult bowel moments which are at the core of the story. However contrary to the difficult state of being constipated, the story of PIKU flows effortlessly, culminating into a relaxed climax much like the best and the last “shit” our protagonist (Amitabh Bachchan) takes.

The highlight of the movie though is not the protagonist’s bowel movements but the relationship between the ageing Dad and his independent, High IQ (opposite of Low IQ) daughter. The emotional quotient is so high that one does not need to shed tear to understand it but a smile is more apt for it. Amit jee and Deepika portray a Bengali Dad and daughter living in Delhi’s Bong capital of CR Park with effortless ease.

The Daughter-Dad duo Roadtrip is funny and full of emotions supported by the amazing Irfaan Khan!

The Daughter-Dad duo Roadtrip is funny and full of emotions supported by the amazing Irrfan Khan!

The movie belongs to them from the start to the end and Amitabh with his histrionics and nuances of a Bengali uncle (Uncle hoga tera baap) is as funny as he is irritating. Irrfan Khan as the “Non – Bengali” Chaudhary is the saving grace when the Bongness crosses bounds of tolerance both for Deepika and the audience. Even the invisible servant keeps on chipping in with his two bits where required along with the yesteryear actress Moushmi Chatterjee. Detailing and casting along with a simple story has been Shoojit Sircar’s forte and he keeps getting better with each of his outings.

PIKU is a must watch for any movie buff and to feel good about life. Lots of small instances where one can recognize, empathize, cry or laugh with the characters and walk out of the theatre with a smile on their faces!

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