Thursday, May 28, 2015

Anna Perenna Pizzas

Healthy 'eating out' may sound oxymoronish, but as they say there is no harm trying. Hence, I wander. Skeeter ended up at Anna Perenna Pizzas, a gourmet, handmade pizza place, trying to do things differently. Anna Perenna is the Roman Goddess of long life & renewal, health & plenty. This delivery/takeaway service does top notch pizzas, making dough from the scratch and yes they are wholewheat (some, even multigrain) with no processed cheese whatsoever! While the last line may be hard to digest, the pizzas are rather easy on the stomach.


The Mint cooler lemonade served in a glass jar with the right amount of sweet and tang will quench your thirst and make you forget the sweltering heat outside for a while. The olive-studded bread and hummous were a great starter. The hummous was creamy and full of flavour and the olive-studded bread was wholewheat. What else could one ask for? I know it's gonna be on my dinner table again and again, and more!


From the pizza selection, Skeeter tried the 'Roast zucchini, tomato and basil pizza', that has a light and crisp base. The base sauce is made in-house and was finger-licking good. The pizza was overall perfect and I did not realise the absence of cheese. I would've loved a crispier base and if the zucchini was char-grilled it would make for a better sight on the plate, but then that's just being greedy and asking for more. This pizza makes for a perfect treat for weight watchers, as is.

The 'Jalapeno, pineapple and rocket pizza was rather inspirational and it'd be my go-to pizza in the days to come. If there is poetry on a plate, this is it, this is it, this is it! A crisp base, smeared with tomato sauce, topped with generous helpings of pineapple slices and rocket leaves. You get your pizza fix, you eat your dose of the favourite fruit and you munch some salad, all at a go. Oh did I mention, they have a low cheese and no-cheese option as well. Just ask them and they oblige. They claim to procure as many organic ingredients as possible. Plus ten for that. Vegan pizzas, anyone? Almost everything on the menu can be made vegan if it already isn't. They even cater to the needs of those suffering from celiac or gluten allergies.
The Pizza cannot get hotter than this!


Meal for two: Rs 750
For more information, check their website  

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Mr Choy, Khan market

Replacing The Kitchen in Khan Market is Mr Choy, run by the very people behind the popular eatery Townhall in the same vicinity. If their experience in the industry is anything to go by, Mr Choy already promises tall, delivers those promises, and how! I've visited Mr Choy twice in a  week at different times of the day and have come back impressed. The only bummer being that the tables are placed too close for comfort. They can surely do by removing a table or two for some breathing space and still have people queuing up for the grub.


The dimsums

For your meal, begin with an assorted dimsum platter which they call the snackbox. Plated in a no-fuss, old-fashion steel tiffin box on top of a banana leaf, the simple presentation ensures the focus is on the food. There are six dimsums in a portion, so you try all and order the next portion on the basis of what you like. Our Veg assortd snackbox contained a piece each of: Vegetable dimsum in kinchin sauce, Green beans and celery, Four seasons, Assorted mushroom, Tofu Bok choy and the Bok Choy roll. Skeeter's favourites were the vegetable dimsum in kinchin sauce and the Assorted mushroom. The Vegetable Sticky Rice and Cheung Fun were ordered separately. While the Sticky Rice was decent, though not great, the Cheung Fun failed miserably as it came dunked in soy from the kitchen and fell apart on the very touch of the chopstick. Pouring soy at the table could salavge the Cheung Fun for them.











The drinks

If you, like me, are fed up of the calorie-laden, insipid beverages on offer in most Delhi restaurants, the Minty Chang and Bitter Lemonade will have you asking for seconds. Minty Chang comes with muddled mandarin chunks, kaffir lime leaves, lemon, a hint of sugar, topped with soda. The Bitter Lemonade is constructed with Kaffir lime leaves, tonic, angosutra bitter and lime juice and stands true to its name. Both the drinks go well with most of the menu, especially the dimsums.
Small plates

When you've had your share of dimsums, move on to the small plates. The Sauteed Enoki, Shimeji, Shiitake, Eryngii With Garlic And Fried Glass Noodles is a haven for fungi lovers like yours truly. The subtle flavours infused in this dish coupled with just the right amount of garlic, bring out the flavours of the assorted mushroom so well that I was almost heartbroken after I polished it off. The portion is good enough for it to be labelled a small plate and with that variety of fungi, it is good value for money. 




Asian noodles (Meal in a bowl)

These are rather meals in a jar. I tried two of them. The Mr. Choy Special has Filipino and Chinese style rice and flour noodles with black bean sauce. While these were nice, the Raman Style noodles make for a better order. They are actually Ramen, either misprinted on the menu or they are called Raman elsewhere in the world. A quick google search failed to help. Vegetarian Ramen noodles are fun, fun, fun! The Japanese style soupy noodles with a soy and miso  base with oodles of vegetables make for a complete meal, stuff that I call comfort food. The portion is not super large as usually the Ramen elsewhere goes. Go grab some!

Mr. Choy Special noodles

Ramen noodles
For the full menu and prices, click here. An average meal is approx Rs 1500 for two people.  

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Slow Food Movement catches up in India- Good, Clean, Fair food @ Olive, Qutub

I booked myself for a dinner showcasing the Slow Food Movement in India last week at Olive, Qutub. Having had many a memorable meals at Olive, Qutub, I go back again for the love of the place - The pebble strewn outdoor seating being my favourite. It makes me feel that I am in a different land, away from the blaring horns of a crazy city life and under a giant tree with sunshine making its way through the leaves, landing on my plate.

This time round, I took my seat in their GreenHouse to sample the best of local produce from India. It is only opportune to salute the sheer brilliance of Chef Sujan Sarkar and team who have taken modern gastronomy to another level in India. There are no gimmicks involved. Only. Real. Food. The 9-course Slow food dinner with a welcome drink was pegged at Rs 1900. The same menu is available with wine too.

Here are my top picks from the fairy-tale like dinner

Pumpkin and Goat Cheese,Fermented Gooseberry, Oreo
Crispy pumpkin strands, cape gooseberry fermented in lactic acid with a slight tang and a gorgeous faux oreo made with black olive shortbread to get the colour right, filled with creamy citrus scented goat cheese mousse to make a fab filling. Brilliant trailer, this! Sorry, not sharing a pic as the one I have is half eaten.



Best of 'The Green Bean' farm
This brilliantly plated salad was a riot of colours, textures and tastes. It consisted of confit parsnips, beetroot, black radish and baby carrots tossed in an apple cider vinaigrette, drizzled with nasturtium oil, complete with a nasturtium leaf and topped with a wheat grass crisp. If this doesn't sound, HOT already, the Best of The Green Bean farm had a sprinkling of black garlic powder which was the very reason I signed up myself for this dinner. Having read up about the process of making black garlic that takes upto two months to show results, this plate simply couldn't have been missed and was worth a million bucks. Best of 'The Green Bean' farm was unlike any salad that I've tasted and will remain etched in my mind.



Wood sorrel, Gondhoraj Lime sorbet
Gondhoraj lime is the Indian equivalent of Kaffir lime and is a favourite of the Bengali community. Its flavours were combined with wild wood sorrel to form an aromatic sorbet served in a gondhoraj lime shell. The natural notes hit the spot and the taste lingered in my mouth for a long, long time.



Kalari, Gucci and walnut Thecha, a slice of Kashmir
All regional Kashmiri flavours on a plate! This dish is a modern gastronomical tribute to the valley. You may have had the Kashmiri Tarimi a million times, but this dish belongs right up there. Sautéed Kashmiri Morels (the prized fungi from the valley) came in a white onion and mushroom gravy, topped with pan-seared Kalari Cheese from Kashmir and sprinkled with a walnut and coriander thecha crumb that gave the dish a crunch. The walnuts, again coming from the valley, are much sought after. Overall, the dish had an earthy flavour from the morels, woody rendering from the nuts and robustness of the Kalari cheese. The white onion gravy helped the flavours merge well. It was wilderness on a plate with unparalleled textures.




Ash gourd, Radish, 4S Buttermilk
Buttermilk (from 4S brand) was churned into an ice-cream and served along with a candied ash gourd strip which is actually our petha and a thin strip of caramelized radish. While buttermilk ice-cream was a first for me, who knew it'd taste so nice and go well with radish? The candied ash gourd rendered sweetness and blended with the rest of the flavours like no other. These were topped with a pretty red apple blossom flower (from Krishi Cress) that made the dish ooze oomph as if it has descended right from the ramp and walked to my plate. Whee!




Priya rice, burnt butter, chocolate, coconut
Honestly I would've ended my meal with the Ash gourd, Radish, 4S Buttermilk course, but when you are being fed so nicely, you are eager to know what’s next? There are paeans written about the Japanese trying to get their Soba noodle right, their Sushi perfect, we have the Pootharekulu from Andhra as the Indian candidate. The Pootharekulu is a rice paper sweet. But the dish at Olive had unsweetened rice paper made from Jaya rice, burnt butter solids(the stuff left over after your mom makes ghee), coconut foam and a slightly nutty sesame chocolate rock served with chocolate ganache and mandarin ice-cream.

If you sign up for this meal, you’d come back feeling you’ve cheated Olive of their money. That good! Aye!




About Slow Food movement

The Slow Food movement supports local produce and respects the environment. To know more click here

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Rustom's Parsi Bhonu

Tucked between the nondescript shops of Adchini is a small restaurant called Rustom's Parsi Bhonu. As you climb up the stairs, you get a whiff from the kitchen and experience the kind of pang you get when you enter your favourite aunt's kitchen. A tiny yet comfortably spaced dining hall makes you feel you've dialled a wrong number. It almost seems like you've entered someone's private space. You stare into a wooden crockery stocked cupboard, some yesteryear pictures neatly framed and an antique clock. The white/cream curtains behind, remain drawn. The sunlight trickles in and slightly warms up the air-conditioned room.


That's the idea behind Kainaz Contractor and Rahul Dua's Parsi Bhonu. Kainaz belongs to the Parsi community and was born and brought up in Mumbai. With Rustom's, she brings to Delhi, food that is found nowhere but in her house as well as that of her relatives. The food speaks and here's how! 


Greeted by a complimentary plate of Parsi Saria or fried sabudana and onion chips, we ordered Pallonji's Soda, Raspberry  flavour (Rs 60) and Raspberry iced tea (Rs 120) to start with. The Pallonji's soda is available in Mumbai's famous Parsi cafes and is imported to Rustom's from that city. Pallonji's is quite sweet on its own but goes well with heavily spiced food. The Raspberry iced tea on the other hand was refreshing. On another visit, I even requested the same with Soda and my customised drink was heaps better than Pallonji's.


We were informed by the serving staff that the portions are heavy and we should order to our appetite. We went ahead and ordered the egg-free version of Soya Pattice (Rs 225). A portion contains two pieces. I bit into a crisp layer followed by a fluffy potato mash in which were hidden the spicy soya granules. If this is not comfort food I don't know what is. The pattice comes without the usual accompanying condiments and are a welcome change as they are good on their own.


We picked the Dhansak Veg combo (Rs 395) from Rustom's combo specials for the main course. The Dhansak or spiced masala dal is a Parsi staple and comes with caramelised rice topped with onions and vengna kababs (eggplant kebabs) and a side of kachumber salad drizzled with Parsi cane vinegar. Though this wasn't my first experience of having dhansak at a restaurant, it definitely was the best. It was a robust preparation, not too thick and very unlike the dal we are used to eating up North. It went well with the slightly caramelised rice and the vengna kababs were one of their kind. It was my first taste of kebabs made from eggplants and if you are an eggplant lover like me, chances are you'd love what Rustom's serve. Rustom's may have the distinction of being the only ones in Delhi serving them. If you know of more such places, do tell me! I ate them with a Malai na Parantha (Rs 80) which was soft and tasted something like what you'd carry in your school/office tiffin. Nothing exceptional there, and no need either. A parantha is a parantha.


The Caramel Custard (Rs 225) was a delight. Light, and not too sweet with a perfect caramelised top, this beauty held itself with elegance. The Lagan Nu Custard (Rs 225) studded with nuts and raisins with a hint of cardamom was a delight too. It was heavier than the Caramel Custard. It is meant to be so as Parsis tend to make it for special occasions like birthdays, weddings and such. I paid a special solo visit to Rustom's to try this one and it did not disappoint. 


My only regret: if one has to taste more from the menu one has to go back two/three times. I am going back to try their other vegetarians options and update this space. The staff at Rustom's are helpful, interactive, non intrusive and well-informed. On my way out I picked a packet of Dhansak Masala to help me cut my dhansak making time at home to a great degree. Rustom's also stocks pickles, Parsi cane vinegar and more. Go pick!  


Address:
Aurobindo Marg - 94 A/B, Adchini, Aurobindo Marg
New Delhi 110017
Phone: 011 33106450

Monday, March 23, 2015

Radish cress, Microgreens

While I spoke about Red Cabbage cress in my last post here, I laid my hands on a tray of radish cress from Krishi Cress who grow them at a farm in Chattarpur...It is such a pleasure to pluck these tiny greens from the tray, wash and just throw them in salads, soups, sandwiches and so much more! An edible garden at hand...what more can a food lover ask for? Freshness and flavour! 
Radish cress will make you feel you are eating radish without actually eating it. Radish cress has sharp, pungent notes. It accentuated my Labneh and tasted great in a no-oil tomato-apple broth.

Below, I photographed the young and wilted greens. My tray lasted me one whole week lending an opportunity for many a experiments in the kitchen.


The no-oil sweet tomato and apple broth was enlivened with the sharpness of radish.


Trays of Microgreens at Krishi Cress ready to be delivered to restaurants on demand.


Radish cress sits pretty on the dining table.


Monday, March 16, 2015

Trendy Microgreens

New things on my plate eliminate the mundanity of table regulars. Stuff, that we eat daily. As a child I often used to wonder if our life would ever move ahead of the normal dal, roti, peas, carrots, rajma, aloo and so on. Will there ever be born again vegetables? My wishes were heard, a little late in life, but they were. Growing up I discovered foods that I had not eaten earlier. And as late as now, I also discovered microgreens. 
Let me begin from the beginning. A few years ago, I was introduced to exotic salad leaves like Rocket and Arugula, which are now quite common at Delhi dining tables. Recently, I discovered many chefs were using mini greens or micro greens to enhance the flavour of their dishes as well as add a charming visual appeal. Mostly, I've seen chefs using microgreens to add a curious, visual factor while plating their food. And very often, I find myself being 'educated' that I have microgreens on my plate. So, it would only be apt to talk about them on the blog. 
Microgreens are nutrient dense and are typically sown and harvested within 7 to 14 days. There are quite a few of them available on supermarket sheleves. They come in varied colours and flavours like Radish cress, Cilantro cress, Arugula cress, Mustard cress, Lolo Rosso, Beet cress and so on. Microgreens are grown in plastic trays and need good monitoring, the right amount of sun, shade, air and basically quite a lot of care. Some, use sprouting pads to grow them (mostly outside India) and others use cocopeat. I've got some Red Cabbage Cress Microgreens to showcase. They have a red stem and green leaves and could make for many a pretty plates. They taste like well, cabbage, and are as crunchy. I planted them in my hummus pot to up the visual factor. Have a look and stay tuned for much more, pretty soon! 




Thursday, March 05, 2015

Guppy by ai - a weight watcher's delight


If there is one restaurant in Delhi, I visit again and again, and again, it is Guppy by ai. For their vegetarian Sushi, ofcourse. The Japanese vegetable rolls at Guppy are a favourite and the fact that they now use black rice (which they source indigenously) for the rolls, makes them taste better and a tad nutty. A recent visit on an invite to taste their winter menu left me wide eyed. Their food is always spectacular, but what I've always appreciated about them is that being a vegetarian is no hindrance at this restaurant. They do full justice to vegetarian diners by coming up with a fair menu. Veg Sushi being an oxymoron for some, is a way of life for Skeeter. 


This time round, they had on offer a Nasu Dengaku inspired grilled aubergine. It is one of the better dishes I've tasted this year. It is their version of Nasu Dengaku. An aubergine shell is scooped out and filled with aubergine pulp, onion and cherry tomatoes cooked in miso. It is then baked and topped with crispy garlic flavoured panko. Panko crumbs are a favourite and when used well, they accentuate any dish dramatically. The mushy aubergine and the crusty panko made for an excellent textured combination. The sweetness of the cherry tomatoes came through well. This Nasu Dengaku version had me hooked till there was none left. A must try for those belonging to the 'I hate bharta' club. I washed it down with Akane, a winter special Guppy cocktail made from Vodka, beetroot, strawberry, sugar and lime juice. You drink your fruit, you have your superfood (beetroot), and you enjoy your dose of alcohol. A mixologist once told me that use of fresh fruits and vegetables in cocktails is the way trends are headed. After having Akane at Guppy, I am sure he was right. 







The other stars of the evening were a Beetroot and Plump Avocado tartare. Slowcooked, tender beetroot and avocado tartare in a citrus dressing. A weight watcher's delight. I also had my usual fix of Sushi.

Blueberry crepes and seasonal fruit flambe made my dessert. Bite sized crepes filled with marshmallows, sitting besides a bed of seasonal fruit, in brandy and berry sauce and flambeed on the table. You can ask for a weight watcher's version of this dessert and they will happily remove the berry sauce. 

Weight watcher's please note!

Japanese food is known for its fresh, raw ingredients and is easily one of the healthiest cuisines served in restaurants. Pickled vegetables, light broths coupled with superfoods like matcha make Japanese food popular across tables world over. I am not sure of calorie counts and other stats, but the food I had at Guppy, could be consumed by any weight watcher and they'd walk out with a full tummy and a non-guilty gait. A superfood and fruit cocktail (read beets and berries), Sushi, salads, baked vegetables and loads of them, and a dessert sans a sweet sauce.  Wash it all down with a cup of Matcha, if you must. What more can you ask for?