Monday, 20 July 2015

Hello There!

Hello peeps! Thought I'd say a quick hello at the start of the week. We are having some lovely weather here in Gurgaon, well lovely only if you are indoors, not so lovely if you're commuting and having to face the chaos of the roads here in NCR :)

So I got a nice little surprise a few days ago, when Seema shared a picture of a lovely reading nook she has created in her home. She calls it her little sunshine corner and it's the place she enjoys her morning cup of tea or a nice long read. 

Isn't it just so warm and cosy looking? 

Seema, thanks for writing in and for sharing this beautiful space with us! 

Have a great week ahead guys!

Monday, 13 July 2015

The Colors of the Monsoon

I have been very irregular with my posts lately. I have a good reason, but I need to get back to blogging regularly. I miss it so! Today I've managed to squeeze out some time- Adhi is napping, all is quiet and I can hear myself think! Today I post on decor. Much, much over due, I know! What can I say. Time is now a precious commodity that is in very short supply for me now that my dd is on the scene and blogging has become near impossible. Just the other day I was trying to get some drawings done for a deadline I had the next day. The dd just had to climb up on my lap and 'supervise' what I was doing. I turned my head for like two seconds and she had somehow managed to delete an entire cadd drawing!

Having a toddler who seems quite determined to 'understand the workings of a camera', figure out death defying ways to climb onto the couch when no one is looking and, one who waits for a chance for the fridge door to open so she can pull stuff out, means our house looks very different to what it did a few months ago. And working on nice little vignettes of the apartment is practically impossible! I have a term for it- Life before Adhi :) Don't get me wrong, I love my dd, but an angel she is NOT! But I do miss being able to create cute little corners of prettiness and then spend a few hours taking pictures. Most of all, I miss sharing my ideas with you guys!

But, as luck would have it, I was looking through old pictures and realised I have a stash of images which I had shot for a magazine a few months ago. It was supposed to be for a Spring issue, got delayed to a Monsoon issue, and then never really happened for some reason or the other. So now I can just share these images with you. I hope you like! I do think this set is so in keeping with the weather we've been having the last few days. I hope they remind you of the rain and the cool breeze that comes with it, and the smell of wet earth that is heavenly and sweet. Enjoy!

More soon, I hope :)

[All images by Shalini Pereira. Please do not use without prior written permission] 

Sunday, 12 July 2015

An Italian Master Class by Chef Giuseppe Lioce at Westin Gurgaon

Yesterday, I was lucky enough to be invited to attend a culinary masterclass by Chef Giuseppe Lioce who is the Italian Chef at The Westin Pune Koregaon Park. Even the rain gods, who have suddenly decided to wake from their slumber, showering huge amounts of rain down, turning gurgaon roads into rivers and lakes, couldn't keep me away :) 

The masterclass was all about teaching us how to prepare simple and authentic Southern Italian food. These culinary masterclasses, held regularly by Westin, are such a great way to learn about your favorite cuisine as well as interact with chefs who are experts in their fields. Chef Giuseppe, who is from Bari in the South of Italy, explained to us the difference between Northern and Southern Italian cooking. While the food from the North of Italy is richer, using cream and butter, Southern Italian cuisine has a lot of mediterranean influences. He underscored his point by telling us how his own mother would throw a royal fit if he ever added butter to his preparations! While showing us how to prepare some simple dishes like Broccoli Calabresi (Broccoli fritters) to Cavatelli Pugliesi (semolina eggless pasta with a delicious tomato mushroom sauce), he regaled us with funny anecdotes about traditional Italian food and Italians passion for their food. 

After watching chef Giuseppe prepare these dishes, we sat down together and got a chance to savour the food! Everything we learned was part of a special promotional menu starting from 8th July -18th July. So if you enjoy a taste of authentic Italian food, stop by at The Westin Gurgaon before 18th July.

Here are some images of what we learned and then enjoyed! They are all on the promotional menu, along with a host of other delicious options. 

The process of making this semolina pasta reminds me of the 
traditional Goan kul kul making process

These Broccoli Calabresi or Broccoli fritters are traditionally served as 
an insalata and usually enjoyed with a cold glass of beer :) I guess some things 
never change... beer and fried things will always be a winning combination

The Cavatelli Pugliesi was so simple and so delicious. A bowl of pasta 
that warms the soul

This is the Branzino Livornese- oven baked sea bass served with a 
polenta cake, sauteed spinach and a delicious olive, tomato and caper sauce

This is one of Chef Giuseppe's signature desserts- The Millefoglie is a 
warm puff pastry layered with Italian custard, blueberry and vanilla ice cream

[All images are by Shalini Pereira. Please do not use without prior written permission]

Friday, 10 July 2015

Food Theatrics at LCA- the Air Bar, Rajouri Garden

Lights Camera Action- the Air Bar in Rajouri Garden, the latest baby of restauranters Varun Puri and Viveik Bhargav, opened around the end of May, and my good friend and guffing buddy, Sneha of The Kitchen Espion and I were invited to come try what was on offer. Now I'll be honest, the idea of going all the way from Gurgaon to Rajouri Garden in peak summer seemed a little too painful. But I had been hearing so many good things about LCA, and boy was I glad I did make it there!

Too often you to a bar and you think, 'Ok, decent drinks, interesting ambience and some ok food'. Not so with Lights Camera Action or LCR for short. This is not some average run-of-the-mill bar. It's a place for good food that's unabashedly Indian and very quirky. It's a fun place that has a real filmy Hollywood-Bollywood ambience that's quite trendy. But most importantly it's a place where the emphasis is very much on the FOOD! They are also doing some really interesting things with Molecular Gastronomy, to which I confess I know nothing about, but I was quite bowled over by what I saw and tasted.

So First things First... The Drinks

The Margarita

This was probably the only area where I was disappointed. Sneha & I both ordered margaritas and we both felt the lemon/lime used was not fresh as the drink had a very bitter aftertaste, even after we requested they make our drinks a little sweeter. That's it, my only criticism. The rest of our experience was great!

The Food...
The large, Bollywood inspired menu has something for everyone, vegetarians and carnivores alike! First up, chef Aman, the young and talented head chef at LCA suggested we try the Dahi Puchka (Dahi Puri) shot. It's a deceptively simple name for what is essentially a sexed up version of a very popular Indian chaat that is sweet, salty, spicy & cooling all at once. The LCA Dahi Puckha is created using liquid nitrogen and is so refreshing, innovative and elegant to look at.

The oh-so-sexy looking Dahi Puckha shot

Rajnikanth Chai

Next up we tried Rajnikanth chai, which was one of my favorites. Hot rasam is poured from an aluminium tea pot into a cutting glass having fried curry leaves and fresh coconut milk dehydrated using maltodextrin powder. It's really a wonderful take on a rasam and I loved this one, from its tongue-in-cheek name to its taste. 

The Chammak Challo salad was next up and was a light and refreshing salad of orange segments, lettuce and red peppers. We also tried the Rara Gosht Quesadilla which was good and the Chicken Chameli which was basically really juicy tandoori chicken.

The Chammak Challo salad

Chicken Chameli served in a mini tandoor

The last savoury thing we tried was the show stopper as far as I was concerned. Simply called Dhokla Chaat, this dish had everything, drama, innovation and it tasted DIVINE! I couldn't stop eating it! This delicious dish is made right in front of you and consists of all the classic ingredients of dhokla chaat, but presented in a totally new way. Chef Aman uses liquid nitrogen to freeze the curd and I loved to contrast of the icey curd with the crispy fried spinach leaves and the nitrogen dhokla. This is a must try in my books!

Dhokla Chaat
Click here for more images on the dramatic process of creating this Dhokla Chaat

We were pretty stuffed by now, but we made room for a taste of the Jalebi Churros which can only be described as YUMMY!

Jalebi Churros

We visited LCA in the afternoon, but it was still pretty crowded and had a good vibe, so I can only imagine how buzzing it must be at night. A definite must visit, if you like innovative takes on Indian food. I plan on taking the hubs there coz I'm sure he would love the veg fare on offer :) 

[All images by Shalini Pereira. Please do not use without prior written permission]

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