Ladakh: The Desert Cuisine

When the three greatest cuisines of the world are enumerated, Ladakhi food seldom finds mention. Even in Leh, Ladakhi restaurants seem anxious to stand up and be counted by serving Mexican, Israeli, Italian, Kashmiri and North Indian – everything else, in other words, but Ladakhi. The hotel where I’m staying, Shambha La, on the other…

Chapli Kebabs

Will the real Pakistani cuisine please stand up? I have been to no fewer than four hotel food festivals featuring the cuisine of our neighbouring country, and every time the food has been so different that it has not formed a pattern. Deluxe hotels – and it is only they who have the means to…

Chef Manish Mehtrotra (2005)

Tamarai – as the newest restaurant in Rohit Khattar’s stable is called – has one thing in common with its country cousin in Delhi: Chef Manish Mehrotra, for it is he that is the driving force behind both brands. He is thus, in the singularly fortunate position of having worked in two continents, yet within…

The Best of British Food

The problem with English food is that it has either been looked upon as comfort food, or the poor (and boring) country cousin of its Continental neighbour. In other words, food for the nursery as in roly poly pudding, or a cuisine that had so little intrinsic worth that it borrowed its national dish from…

A look back on the year 2008

2007 was the Year of the Chinese Restaurant. Some whoppers opened this year, among them, China Kitchen and China House in Hyatt Regency Delhi and Grand Hyatt Mumbai respectively, My Humble House at ITC The Maurya Luxury Collection, Hao Shi Nian Nian and Noo Ba in Gurgaon each with a slew of chefs from Sichuan…

Coffee Bars

Last fortnight saw major happenings in the tiny world of coffee bars. Barista announced its willingness to be bought out, Starbucks is – finally – poised to enter the country and Barnie’s made its entry into the country, the first outlet being in the National Capital Region. That means that Barista, Café Coffee Day, Coffee…

A Theory of Butter Chicken

Last Sunday, a friend and I were having an animated discussion about where in Delhi one goes for the best butter chicken. Rahul said Mini Mughal; I said Swagath. Many other suggestions came up and were shot down. Both of us thought that Moti Mahal had no consistency between branches; that dhabas got the dish…

Viva Goa

The next time you’re in Goa, if you want to stir up hornet’s nest, try asking a group of house wives for the exact recipe of Goan fish curry. have a riot on your hands in no time at all. The exact details of the recipe may elude you — whether the Gherkin-like bimblim, tamarind,…

The Mystery Spice, Kalpasi

The first time I heard about the mystery spice must have been around 1998. I had just started writing about food, when a youthful chef from Taj Coromandel, Chennai, came visiting Delhi for a Chettinad food festival. He showed me the spices necessary to make the iconic Chettinad chicken, and there it was, nestled amidst…

Not by Bread Alone

Which came first – the chicken or the egg? And no, I’m not asking this with reference to the bird flu scare. It’s the first question I asked Chef Arun Tyagi, Corporate Chef of the MBD group of hotels when I visited a festival of breads that featured 100 different varieties. On the other hand,…