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.

Posted in Design, Food, India, Innovation, Lifestyle, Photography, Review, Travel, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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!

Posted in Bollywood, Hollywood, India, Movie, Review, Uncategorized, Women | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Khyen Chyen … Heaven can wait!!!

Khyen Chyen literally when translated in Kashmiri means “Khaana Peena” (To eat and drink). This was told to me by Nasir, the man who has brought the “wazwaan” from his homeland to the glittering city of Gurgaon. If you have been to Kashmir, you would have noticed the Tshirts with slogans “I am in Kashmir, Heaven can wait!” Khyen Chyen for me was just that … a foodie heaven.

I say this because Kashmiri food, laden with red meat is definitely heaven for meat eating food lovers like me and to “raid” restaurants like these I always trust my heavy weight foodies from The Delhi Foodie Club (TDfc) to accompany me. Located on the ground floor of the DLF Crosspoint mall (the one diagonally opposite DLF Galleria), a mall which has become famous for its eateries, Khyen Chyen is a quaint cosy little place which can seat around 12 guests at the max. So considering there were 10 of us the restaurant completely belonged to TDfc’s private party which consisted CEOs to bankers to journalist and hotel industry veterans. Having a Kashmiri pundit along with us helped a lot in vetting the authenticity of the wazwaan and also receiving some extra gyan on the side.

And we enter ... heaven can wait!

And we enter … heaven can wait!

The Story continues!

The Story continues!

The Logo is synonymous with fire burning in our bellies!

The Logo is synonymous with fire burning in our bellies!

The logo of the restaurant is hard to miss and matches with the fire burning in your bellies when you are hungry. That of course is my version of the logo, though the real thought was told to me by Nasir that he wanted to have something that signifies strength, commitment, something that makes the brain think. They gave the centre of it a perfect circle that signifies their belief in complete satisfaction. The crowns are derived from various Kashmiri designs, like utensils, the famous chinar leaf etc. The logo as one would notice also has the tag line of DISCOVER. TASTE. INDULGE. something that blends perfectly with their cuisine and hospitable culture.

Perfect lighting to lend shades of Red and Yellow, adding to the quaint setup!

Perfect lighting to lend shades of Red and Yellow, adding to the quaint setup!

Till the food arrives ... we appreciate the artifacts!

Till the food arrives … we appreciate the artifacts!

The interiors set the mood for a Kashmiri experience as you enter the restaurant. The hues of red and yellow lighting are what are mostly used in the wooden houses and even the houseboats in Kashmir. The warm colours help in countering the cold climate and it seems Nasir has used the same effect to complete the effect of a Kashmiri dining hall for his restaurant and complementing the quaint setup of the place. Kashmiri’s use a lot of wood and Nasir decided to have wood as the base instead of the usual Plywood and Laminates keeping the lighting simple yet precise so that the focus does not go away from our dishes, rather they could impose the lights on the food served. The place is small but attention to detail has been paid by strategically placing artefacts and elements from the culture and vantage points but not in your face.

Nasir ... the man behind Khyen Chyen!

Nasir … the man behind Khyen Chyen!

The ethnic utensils complete the picture!

The ethnic utensils complete the picture!

Izband .. is called harmal or wild rue seeds, which the Kashmiris burn on auspicious occasions like marriages and throw these seeds on coal in a kangri or izband container to burn the evil spirits away!

Izband .. is called harmal or wild rue seeds, which the Kashmiris burn on auspicious occasions like marriages and throw these seeds on coal in a kangri or izband container to burn the evil spirits away!

Once settled the aroma from the kitchen is what will take over your sense and though one cannot eat from the nose, one definitely can salivate to the aromas of meat. The food which were waiting for as mentioned is called the Wazwaan and while we waited patiently, Nasir once again like the good host he is explained to us what it means. In Kashmiri language Waza means a ‘Cook’ and Wan means ‘Shop’, hence the name. Wazwan is a multi-course meal in Muslim Kashmiri cuisine, the preparation of which is considered an art and a point of pride in Kashmiri Muslim culture and identity.

Tabakh Maaz ... need I say more!

Tabakh Maaz … need I say more!

And no sooner had he finished we had the Tabakh Maaz on the table. The fried Goat Ribs, Tabakh Maaz, which is a signature of wazwaan is golden friend and crisp on the outside and fatty and soft inside. The one served at KC was just that and once the pierced through the crispy skin it was so juicy that it melted in the mouth. A plate of Tabakh maaz consisted of six pieces and being the first dish to grace our tables, I finished two of those plates one after the other. Satisfied with the meat and can of Coke in front of me (sadly no Thums Up) I was ready to take on what Nasir and his Chef Manzoor were planning next.

Mutton Kanti ... simplicity at its best!

Mutton Kanti … simplicity at its best!

Mutton Kanti, with its entire aroma landed on the table even before the Tabakh maaz was fnished, though it had to stay as we kept ordering the maaz till the very end. Kanti is so simple a dish that the sanctity of the mutton remains along with the fragrance and taste of the spices that blend into the meat along with the smoothness of the yogurt in which it is marinated. A mutton dish which was served alongside naan (Indian bread), not sure if done traditionally, but a great combination. A plate of Mutton Kanti along with a complete naan was devoured and though I was eating beyond capacity, the will and intent to keep going was very strong.

The chutneys and pickles ... great accompaniments!

The chutneys and pickles … great accompaniments!

Now this was not even the beginning and some of us were already full. The main course however were an array of heavily loaded BIG GUNS, from the Marchwangan Korma to Wazza Kakur, from the opulent Rista and the full stop to the meal, the mighty Gosthaba. Over a bed of steamed rice, each of these items were served in these traditional metal dishes, keeping it close to tradition and authenticity.

Marchwangan korma ... Mirchi Korma!!!

Marchwangan korma … Mirchi Korma!!!

Wazza kakur - chicken for the non red meat eaters!!!

Wazza kakur – chicken for the non red meat eaters!!!

The Marchwangan Korma or better known as the Mirchi Korma does justice to its fiery name, as this mutton dish is red hot and mysterious. Made in fiery red Kashmiri chillies, this mutton korma when served to us deserved a fresh plate of rice on which the reddish gravy was poured. The hands did the talking as the mouth was full of this spicy concoction of meat, rice and chillies. Never the one to complain about spice, I finished my plate in record time expecting more from the Waza’s kitchen and I was not disappointed as I spotted the bowl of Rista in my peripheral vision.

The fiery Rista!!!

The fiery Rista!!!

Rista, meatballs made out of fine minced mutton which is pounded for hours by a wooden hammer to give it the softness and texture no other meatball can have. To be honest I have had a bigger Rista sitting in a houseboat in Kashmir and there is nothing which can beat that. However, KC has done a good job on this dish and though smaller, I loved the laden red gravy, which just coloured my rice in a hue similar to the warm lights of the restaurant.

The mighty Goshtaba!

The mighty Goshtaba!

A confession … The first time ever I had Kashmiri food, my Punjabi Palate took to the Rista much faster and I preferred it over the mighty Goshtaba. Slowly as I got to know the “King of Meatballs” I took a liking to it and this evening I could not wait for the Goshtaba to grace our plates. The gravy is what makes the Goshtaba and it consists of an elaborate mix of Saunf powder, dry Ginger powder or Saunth (as it’s called) with Salt and Jeera powder with whipped yoghurt added cold to the masala giving it the creamy white character and taste. Since onion and garlic is not used (hardly grown in the valley) the gravy is thickened by rice flour. The gyaan provided to me by a fellow Kashmiri foodie did stuck with me and though I hardly ever go into the details of cooking the Goshtaba has always fascinated me. Nasir however served us smaller meatballs, though the Goshtaba is huge. On sensing my disappointment, I was assured the mighty ball in all its glory was on its way and on arrival, there was a Goshtaba cutting ceremony followed by “Devour the Goshtaba” carnage and a round of “Diet” Coke to down so much red meat which had gone down our foodie pits.

Phirni ... coz one has to end on a sweet note!

Phirni … coz one has to end on a sweet note!

Kaahwaaa!

Kaahwaaa!

We were so full that we had to stop ourselves from ordering anymore though the order of food demanded we finish off on a sweet note and the row of Phirni was too good to resist. With shiny spoons and pure white bowls, the thickly textured Phirni did taste like the “food for gods” on our palates.

After being satiated when I met the kitchen team headed by Manzoor bhai, I realized that despite the challenges that they face in Delhi in finding the right meat for preparation and supply chain (as the dishes are dependent of the quality of meat and the time of preparation) they have successfully overcome them by sourcing all ingredients from Kashmir (besides the meat) which ofcourse is logistics nightmare at times but not impossible. The passion definitely reflects in the cooking and the hospitable nature of the staff. The evening was just beyond words and we ate like there was no tomorrow. A great value for money meal which set us back by 1100 bucks per person, meat lovers if you crave for the rich cuisine from the valley, in Gurgaon or a matter of fact in Delhi, Khyen Chyen, is the place which you certainly cannot give a miss.

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Celebrating food … festival style!!!

Delhi has always been famous for its larger than life culture and over the top celebrations. Be it religion, festivals or weddings, the celebration keeps getting bigger and bigger. How could food, which is a religion in itself, be spared in this grand city. Delhities, live to eat and with the surge of restaurants it is a testimonial to the fact, that we know and love our food.

#TDfc moments from The Grub Fest walk #welivetoeat

#TDfc moments from The Grub Fest walk #welivetoeat

Food festivals which started with the Palate Fest in November last year at Nehru Park, changed the way we look, admire and eat our food. Once the gates opened and the festival started, even the organizers were pleasantly surprised at the surge of people who descended upon the venue to taste, eat, binge on their favourite foods or just celebrate the Delhi winters.  After stupendous success of the Palate Fest, Delhi realized that this was a celebration waiting to be cashed upon with so many perennial hungry souls in our city. The surge of festivals we saw this winter was no joke. Gastro Bazaars, Chef based classes, Food quizzes and the Palate back in a miniature format called the Palate Mini.

The Palate Mini ... a miniature of the Palate fest was a great success like its elder sibling!

The Palate Mini … a miniature of the Palate fest was a great success like its elder sibling!

The latest to join the Food Fest bandwagon is The Grub Fest being held at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, New Delhi. The brainchild of young entrepreneurs Aman Kumar, Arjun Jain, Chaitanya Mathur & Mani Singh Cheema, who I have never met personally but was told are passionate foodies and want to showcase the very best of Delhi’s food scene through the festival. The best indeed have arrived here and with restaurants like FIO, Shiv Sagar, Smokeys, Royal China, Town Hall, Fat Lulu’s, Khan Chacha, Amici, Dao, En – The Japanese Restaurant, Zizo and many more the lawns of the iconic stadium have transformed into a claudron of gastronomic delights for three days.

En - The Japanese Restaurant at The Grub Fest ... The braised pork belly was the star of this booth!

En – The Japanese Restaurant at The Grub Fest … The braised pork belly was the star of this booth!

My favourite food group The Delhi foodie club, TDfc, as we fondly call it did a first day visit and the rainy evening coupled with fresh cool breeze, gave us another reason to binge on some heavy food and our favourite meats. More than ten of us continued our group’s tradition of a Friday binge and landed at En-Japanese restaurant’s booth to start and what a start it was. Sushi, California Rolls, Meat Balls on Skewers and Pork Belly prepared us for the amazing food we were going to sample. From Ghaas Phoos (a Hindi term for Vegetarian food meaning Grass and plants) to NYC Pie, whose Pizzas were again gone in 60 seconds we finally landed up for some meaty delights at Smokeys. From Big Daddy to Super Boy we were spoilt for choices with Hotdogs and Burgers, though we were nice guys throughout the walk and always ordered Vegetarian Grub for our lone Veg-food walker, consequently exploring some good vegetarian options on the way. The star of the evening for me was the Big Daddy Hot Dog and I devoured more than one of those Daddies. Details of course will post soon but right now I am just relishing the after taste and the hangover from #TheGrubFest #TDfc Food Walk.

NYC Pie at #TheGrubFest ... I am biased to Pepperoni but foodies loved the Vegetarian Hawaiian Pizza!

NYC Pie at #TheGrubFest … I am biased to Pepperoni but foodies loved the Vegetarian Hawaiian Pizza!

Smokeys the final stop ... The Big Daddy, The Super boy and the Meat balls along with some pulled tenderloin burgers was bliss ... a must visit if you are at the fest!

Smokeys the final stop … The Big Daddy, The Super boy and the Meat balls along with some pulled tenderloin burgers was bliss … a must visit if you are at the fest!

So if you have not yet attended any of the food festivals dominating the Delhi food scene, you still have 2 more days to make it to the Grub Fest. I really have a craving to visit it again and try out the amazing restaurants I have missed. Be ready to walk a lot, eat a lot and then eat some more … on at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium from 11.00 to 10.30 in the night.

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Happy birthday Steve Jobs … Trying to stay Hungry, to stay Foolish!

“Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes… the ones who see things differently — they’re not fond of rules… You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things… they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.”

Steve Paul Jobs, founder of Apple Inc., Entrepreneur, Innovator, Inventor and above all a great Visionary.

He always knew his time was limited here!

He always knew his time was limited here!

 

The man would have turned 60 tomorrow on February 24th, had it not been for cancer which took him in 2011. Most of us who admire and loved him have had the pleasure to read about his life in the countless books written about him and watch him in a movie about his days in Apple. So much has been said about him that I cannot say anything new but just miss him like a mentor. A mentor who I never met (and sadly never will) but who has taught me the value of seeing things clearly, objectively and with a vision. The love for art merged with the technical expertise is what made Jobs’ and Apple’s product standout. Always striving to design products at the confluence of technology and art, he always said, “Design is how it works”.

Having followed his life pattern and read and re-read his biography did I realize that even though he created perfect products his life was full of ups & downs and far from perfect. He followed his instincts and never changed himself irrespective of what his competitors, customers or even the whole world thought. Jobs was a control freak, for the better, and Apple was a by-product of his eccentricities. The lesser known fact is that after being ousted from Apple in 1984, he made the company bounce back to the “most loved technology company of the world” after his return in 1997.

Never stop innovating, a line which he emphasized a lot and shouted out much more at Apple’s design meetings. His obsession with minimalist design and heated discussions with his employees & management were quite well known in closed quarters of Apple. People who worked with him were well aware of his “Reality Distortion Field” (reference Star Trek) which he created to achieve the impossible. Due to this obsession with giving his consumer innovative “workable” products, we got path-breaking products like the iMac, iPod, iPhone, and his last obsession the iPad. Apple was voted the most valuable company of 2012. Sadly, I hate to add in the same breath that his vision for Apple and the principles on which he ran the company seems to have gone with him. Apple products are becoming run of the mill and the in the last 4 years I have yet to see something which will whisk me away as Jobs’ products did.

Steve Jobs ... the perfectionist he was, he hardly had any furniture could buy any furniture as he never liked any design!

Steve Jobs … the perfectionist he was, he hardly had any furniture could buy any furniture as he never liked any design!

A marketing genius in addition to this, Jobs never believed in doing it small and from his product launches to the companies he created (Apple, NeXT, Pixar), Jobs did them larger than life and gave us products and services that changed the world around us. He made his own rules and once told a journalist who asked him what market research did he do for the iPod, “You can’t ask customers what they want and then try to give that to them, by the time you get it built, they would want something new.”

Jobs ... the family man!

Jobs … the family man!

Truly a man who put a “Dent in the Universe” and inspired me to “Think Different”. Leaving you with his famous Stanford Commencement Address in 2005.

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EGGjactly The Food truck … Food Trucks are here to stay (err… move) !!!

We’ve all seen and drooled over the food trucks on the popular TV series Eat Street. The founders of EGGjactly, Vikrant & Lvanika, which they claim to be India’s first Food Truck, admit to being inspired by Eat Street. More so because the series showcased Food Trucks from all over the world but India, and so the founders decided to be the leaders in this genre of F&B.

In concept for a few months but barely a Week old on the roads of Gurgaon, I finally managed to catch up with this Food Truck eventually, after missing it a few times. EGGjactly which of course germinates from our favourite ingredient EGG, is a GPS enabled food truck which is on the move and parks at a suitable spot for lunch and dinner. We’ve been accustomed to Chinese and Fast food vans in Delhi, but they are stationary at one location and hardly move and ironically easier to acquire a license for. Vikrant Misra the founder says, “A Food Truck makes much more sense than a stationary van, as if someone complains or the spot is nuisance on the road, they can pack up and move to a more conducive location”. I say definitely a point to ponder upon by the authorities.

The Menu and the Truck ... most items are reasonably priced and within the range of 100 to 200 bucks!

The Menu and the Truck … most items are reasonably priced and within the range of 100 to 200 bucks!

Painted in Bright Yellow and shades of Orange, EGGjactly can be easily spotted from the distance. Also in addition to the attractively painted truck, the crowd of curious onlookers, the first timers and the cars slowing down around it to catch a glimpse, do add to the festive spirit of food. We Indians love our food and we love it more if it is served without any pretence, just straight up and on the road side. The only down side to street food nowadays is the hygiene conditions, which this truck seems to have laid stress on. The Insides with their slick Stainless Steel equipment looks well sanitized and extremely clean that one could eat food directly place on the steel tops without any plates.

The Bright Yellow and hues of Orange make it hard to miss!!!   (Source: EGGjactly FB Page )

The Bright Yellow and hues of Orange make it hard to miss!!! (Source: EGGjactly FB Page )

As you can see the excitement of eating at the first food truck in India made me appreciate everything they did, it was time to order the food for which we came for. But arriving at an hour which was just before dinner I had to control myself from ordering too much, lest I disappointed my wife who had already got dinner ready for me. So, on Vikrant’s recommendation we just ordered the Grilled Chicken Sandwich and the Mutton Roll, along with Belgian Waffles with Dark Chocolate Ganache and strawberries to go.

The Grilled Chicken Sandwich, Belgian Waffles, The clean interiors of the Truck, The Mutton Roll and the Happy customers!!!

The Grilled Chicken Sandwich, Belgian Waffles, The clean interiors of the Truck, The Mutton Roll and the Happy customers!!!

A Grilled Chicken Sandwich for me has always meant, bread, chicken, maybe butter/ cheese and no other foreign particle or veggies. I did ask Vikrant before I ordered what it contained, and maybe it was just a connection of one foodie to another, he smiled and said only Chicken and cheese. Nice and crispy, supposed to be had then and there on the street in the yellow cardboard box it is served in and the cheese was extra gooey. Chicken had some spice in it and my Son loved it, especially the crisped edges. Though I did mention it to be a little too compressed and tightly wound, the taste was like the one you would make at home with some boiled chicken, when no one wants to cook. A great item to be had on the go or even if you are driving.

The Mutton Roll was no different from the countless “good” ones I have had before with a fresh egg wrapped in a Parantha. Why I enjoyed it more was that the filling inside was also no nonsense and the mutton was very well cooked (extra bhuna hua) and spiced up to the hilt, just the way I like it. Though noticing me battling the spices, Vikrant did give me a water bottle to help me down it. Talk about personalized service here.

Not very messy and somehow I think the EGGjactly team is taking pains to make items which would not get too messy while eating on the road or taking a break from office. Even the Maggi they served (someone else ordered) was on the drier side and served in a Paper tumbler with fork. Attention to detail always goes a long way.

Belgian Waffles with Dark Chocolate Ganache and Strawberries is what I took home and though it was a 10 minute drive, I would not try to get waffles packed again. The good part was my car was full of fragrance from the freshly made waffles and Nutella. I have tasted a lot better waffles, but then next time I will make it a point to stand there and eat it. My 4 year old daughter however loved them and I guess the fresh strawberries did the trick. Not very expensive the total bill amounted to Rs. 425, which for me is great value for money along with some free chit chat and “food gyan” from the owners.

Lvanika and Vikrant ... Driving their passion!!!

Lvanika and Vikrant … Driving their passion!!!

I would be chasing the truck to try out each and every item on their menu and then try them all over again.Though the critic in me did mention a few suggestions to Lvanika and Vikram, overall they left me thoroughly impressed by “driving their passion”.

You can also track down the truck’s location through their website http://eggjactly.in/ and dine with them.

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