Saturday, December 31, 2011

Tomato Kurma-Happy 2012

 This post is special because its the end of the year post. Here's to new beginnings, I will be relocating to Singapore, I hope things work out well for me. I'm surprised I'm saying this but I'm going to miss Chennai terribly. Here's wishing all my readers and friends a happy and prosperous 2012. A big thank you to all Chennai bloggers, you guys are amazing. This side dish has always perked up my breakfast. It tastes amazing with idly and dosa. Check out the recipe.


Tomatoes-6( big)
Ginger-Half an inch
Garlic-10 pods
Fennel seeds-1 tsp
Cinnamon-3 sticks
Coconut-3/4 cup (big coconut)
Chili powder-3/4 tsp
Dhania powder-11/2 tsp
Turmeric-1/4 spoon
Jeera-1 tsp
Bay leaf-1 
Curry leaves-a sprig
Coriander leaves-a handful
Oil-1 1/2 tsp
Salt to taste

Method- Take oil in a pan. Fry the cinnamon and clove, add onions and tomatoes garlic,ginger and curry leaves. Add in the powders too(chili,turmeric and dhania). Let this cool. Take coconut and grind fennel seeds along with it. Add the fried ingredients to this. You can also add coriander and curry leaves to this mixture. Make a nice paste. Now add jeera and bay leaf to the remaining oil in the pan. Add the ground ingredients.Add required salt.Allow this mixture to boil well till this mixture reaches a thick consistency .Garnish with coriander leaves. Have a super breakfast.Happy New Year once again. 

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Crown- A review

                                A four tiered chandelier. A show stopper at the CROWN

Level 20 it was this time, with fine dining under the dome! I have been to the CROWN  by Residency Towers on many occasions but I do not have a distinct food memory of the place. So I was eagerly looking  forward to check out the food this time. The setting was luxe and regal,  the architecture with  its high ceiling and columns reminded me of a basilica. Truly this chamber befits a king, and is aptly named the CROWN.

                                        The place was totally decked up for Christmas

    This is the view of the pool from the deck. Head there for alfresco dining and to get a scenic view of the city.

           The tables that were reserved for the CFG gang                                        

                                                            Shirley Temple

We were served Shirley Temple a mocktail at the onset of the meal . It was a blend of soda, lemon juice and grenadine syrup, this explains the red color of the drink. It was a perfect aperitif for me and it did stimulate my appetite.

Paneer Tikka,Mewa Mutter Seekh and Chutney Firdausi Aloo

For starters we were served Ramgari Paneer Tikka, Mewa Mutter Seekh,Chutney Firdausi Aloo and Chouki Tikki. For me the smooth operator was the paneer tikka. Initially when the paneer was served it was a little hard when sliced, but when the chef heard about it he ensured the second round was perfect. The paneer was soft and succulent with a nice smoky flavour. This is truly a delight for paneer lovers. 

Dips and Pickles that were served to go  with the starters and papad. 

                                  The Chouki Tikki- Another starter

For the main course we were served the parathas ,nans side dishes and pulao. I simply loved the aloo parathas with a sprinkling of kalonji or onion seeds on top. They were so soft and I wanted another helping of this . The side dishes that were served was a paneer gravy and handi ki sabji. They did not stand out for me. Dal makhani was fabulous simmered for 24 hours and cooked perfectly with butter. I did spoon myself some pulao, maybe I should have tried more of it. This did not make a dent for me too.

             The main course with lovely soft parathas,paneer labaddar and handi ki sabji

                 Dal Makhani and Vegetable Pulao

                                           Chef Gopal's stress relieving drink

This is the drink that Chef Gopal fixes for himself when he feels stressed out. He did not tell us the name of the drink or the ingredients. I guess it had basil, ginger and blue curacao syrup. I liked the taste it was mild and the whole concoction was balanced out.

Finally for dessert we had the chocolate mud cake 

The Chef asked me if I wanted the Indian or western selection when it came to desserts. I chose the western option. I liked this dessert and the presentation.

            Chef Gopal Jayaram

We did chat up with Chef Gopal Jayaram. He was telling us that the menu at the CROWN is Indo western with seven sets of menu intermixed everyday. This is exclusive to the dome and is open for dinner. The menu we had that day was from the Indian selection, a three course meal which is unlimited. I think this is a magic formula given the ambience and the quality of ingredients used. The cost of the meal is Rs 679 for veg and 798 for the non-veg option. He says that the response has been good for the new set menu because the menu changes everyday and there is value for money. He also sources the anardana and mugga(cassia) from Amritsar. So head out there eat as much as your heart desires under the dome!   

Thanks to CFG for another lovely meet. I truly cherish your company. Thank you to Chef Gopal for the lovely meal and thank you to Jikku Chandy the PR person for making this happen. For more information check this out

Friday, November 25, 2011

Millet Dosa for Blog Birthday

I started this blog in 2008, and this is the first  time I'm celebrating it. I started cooking only after marriage and I'm no expert in cooking. I have a long way to go. But this journey has been nice, I have met so many people who have gone on to become very good friends. I must thank the blogging community for all the support, I could not have done much with out you guys. I thank all my readers and blog friends who encourage me with their constant comments.  Instead of making something sweet I decided to do something healthy for a change. Do check the recipe.


Thinai (Italian Millet)-1/4 cup
Samai (Little Millet)-1/4 cup
Varagu (Kodo Millet)-1/4 cup
Ragi (Finger Millet)-1 fistful
Kambu(Pearl Millet)-1 fistful
Bengalgram Dal-1 fistful-(optional)
Green Gram Dal-1/2 cup
Toor Dal-2 fistfuls
Urad Dal-2 fistfuls

Other ingredients
Asafoetida-2 pinched
Red Chillies-3-4
Pepper-1 teaspoon
Ginger-Half an inch
Coriander and Curry leaves
Salt to taste

Soak the millets and dals for four to five hours. Grind all ingredients to a smooth consistency and prepare thin dosas. This is an incredibly healthy recipe. Thinai, Samai and Varagu are traditional millets and are a good source of proteins, fibre and calcium. They are also filling and is good for diabetics. Even Barnyard Millet or Kuthiravaali millet can be added to make dosa. Serve with chutney of choice.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Azulia-A review

Azure blue is one of my  favorite colors and reminds me of the cheery bright blue skies. Blue represents tranquility and personally for me it is a color that represents infinity.   Azulia by GRT Grand an authentic Mediterranean restaurant is derived from the word Azure and this color is visible right from their logo and uniforms to their souvenirs. I liked this consistency in their branding efforts. Their menu looks like a coffee table book and it spans ten countries that border the Mediterranean Sea like Lebanon, Turkey, Greece, Morocco, Spain ,Italy, Egypt, Israel, Malta and South of France. Reading the menu is like taking a dip into the Cerulean blue seas of the Mediterranean, a journey by itself. The menu is more of a guide it has 122 pages and is  really humongous and has 150 dishes.  Incidentally Azulia is the  winner of the Miele Guide Award for being the finest restaurants in Asia (2010-11). So lets check out the food encounters that I had on that day.

      Some decor sights from Azulia

                              The Med region explained at Azulia

                     Turkish Magic. The futuristic paper cube filled with rose water  which expands in size when it comes in contact with water and turns into a hand towel.This was the perfect perk me up for my frayed nerves. Did you know that the cutlery comes coated with Titanium and is imported from the Med region. I have never heard of Titanium cutlery before!!

For starters we were served the Hot and Cold Mezze platters.

                                                           Kuboos(pita bread)

The Cold Mezze consisted of  Hummus, Tzatziki,Dolmades, Mutabal and Moussaka Marrakech . I liked the Mutabal(smoke roasted egg plant, blended with garlic, tahina, lemon juice & olive oil) and the Moussaka Marrakech ( Fried aubergine, diligently cooked with chick peas, red pepper, garlic, mint & tomato). The Mutabal was redolent with a distinct smoky flavour. The Dolma dish was vine wrapped with onion, rice, raisin,pine nuts and parsley stuffing. The grape leaf had a slightly bitter taste.The Kuboos tasted great with these authentic dips. 

Next the hot Mezze platter arrived on our table. 

                                                               Bourak Bel Jibneh(Cigarillos)


                                                                    Kebbe Laktine    

        (Spinach mixed with pomegranate,sumac and onion)

I have tasted the ubiquitous Falafel many times so the novelty factor for me were the Cigarillos. This was so yummy and light filled with three types of cheese Halloumi,Feta,and Gruyere Cheese infused with onion and dry herbs. This tasted incredibly good. The other starter that I liked was the Kebbe Laktine. This was fried broken wheat mixed with yellow pumpkin and stuffed with wall nuts, coriander and a touch of spices. The sweet and spice were perfectly balanced in this dish.There was also my favourite pizza laid out on the table called the Manakish. This was a thin crust pizza flavoured with Zaatar ( a spice mix of oregano and thyme,sesame seeds sumac,olive oil). The pizza was tangy coming from the sumac. This flavour had to grow on me.        

To refresh our palates we were served the passion fruit sorbet. Really loved this sorbet minus the seeds that came with it.

Finally we moved on to the main course. I picked the Risotto Tortufo fungi. This was a mixture of Arborio rice, Porcini mushrooms, truffle oil and Parmesan sauce. The texture of Risotto is supposed to be wavy and slightly al dente. Chef Ethem had this bang on. He even urged me to eat while it was hot. This was really a decadent main course for me. They also have a good selection of wines. We were served Four Seasons Merlot from Baramati which was medium bodied and with soft Tanins.

                   Chocolate Volcano cake, Orange Cheese cake, Baklava
Moving on to desserts I liked Baklava the best, it was moist and sweet with flavours of rose water coming through. We could even taste ghee in between the phyllo sheets!!

Cute Moroccan lamps and an electric pepper grinder that can double up as a torch!!

                                 Chef Ethem and the guide book

Chef Ethem Aydemir hails from Turkey, he started cooking when he was fourteen and has worked in the big league hotel brands. Take a look at the impressive line up.   
    • Sheraton Hotel Batumi / Georgia
    • Radisson SAS Hotel/Tashkent/Uzbekistan/
    • Unilever Food Salutions /Istanbul/Turkey
    • Crowne Plaza Hotel/Jeddah/K.S.A
    • Conrad International Istanbul/Turkey
    • Hilton Parksa Istanbul /Turkey
    • Pera Palas Hotel/Istanbul/Turkey 
    He took us on a tour of the kitchen and explained to us the use of spices in the kitchen we got to see Celery Salt,Vinegar,Balsamic Vinegar,Broken Wheat, Paprika,Sumac, Zaatar and Yeni bahar.

    We got an apron and  (Nazar Boncugu) a Turkish Evil Eye Amulet as a souvenir. That was such a nice gesture thank you to the staff for being so thoughtful. Check out the pretty lady with a authentic Moroccan dress.
    On the whole it was a lovely experience and I liked the ambience. I was really impressed with the service levels and the staff really knew the food that was being served. So if your in a Lapiz Lazuli kinda of a mood do check out Azulia. 

            Lapiz Lazuli mood at Azulia

    Once again many thanks to Azulia, Chef Ethem ,Marc Derock  the PR person and Chennai Food Guide for this lovely opportunity. CFG is a young and dynamic group where one gets to learn so much about food in a fun environment.

    Friday, November 4, 2011

    A house warming picture post

    After Diwali I got busy with the house warming preparation and finally the D day arrived. We organized for a Ganapathi Homam on the 31st of October. On the whole the function took place smoothly with out any glitches. 
    Take a look at some of the pictures.

    We received this beautiful lamp as a gift for the house warming. Check out the cool  flower arrangement around the lamp.

    She was the presiding deity of the day

    The deity adorned with flowers

    Yummy breakfast that was served with hot filter coffee

    During the homam Appam, Ashta dravyam and cooked rice were offered as an oblation

           Ashta Dravyam

              Ghee  Appam

                                               Havis- Cooked rice for homam

    This was the lunch spread

    The Kalash that I carried into the house.

    Paruppu Thengai- These cones were filled with manoharam and tasted so good. 

    Waiting to be distributed to the guests.

                                  Preparations for the Havan

                                  Snapshot of the building

    It was a pleasant day with good memories and we had to rush off to attend another engagement party on the same day.

    Thursday, October 20, 2011

    Aval Upma

    Its Blog Hop Wednesday, I have been paired with Rajani of My kitchen Trails. Its interesting to note the little stories she writes as an introduction before the recipe itself and she has some unique recipes in her blog. Do check her space. I tried Aval upma from her blog for breakfast today. It tasted good and it was light. You can also add vegetables to this upma.


    1 cup-Aval(Beaten rice flakes)
    1 medium sized-Onion
    Green Chilli-1
    Lemon juice optional
    Turmeric powder-1/4 tsp
    Oil-2 tsp
    Urad dal-1 tsp
    Mustard-1 tsp
    Curry Leaves -A sprig
    Salt-to taste
    Water to soak Aval

    Soak Aval for ten minutes if your using the thick variety. I used the medium variety. Take oil in pan. Add mustard, wait for it to splutter. Add Urad dal, let it brown. Add curry leaves and then Onion. Let the onions turn transparent. Now take the soaked Poha from water add it to the pan, add turmeric powder and salt to taste. Let this cook for 2-3 minutes. Take off the pan, squeeze lemon juice and serve. Another keeper recipe for sure.

    Wednesday, October 19, 2011

    Burgundy-A review

    The colour Burgundy evokes a rich imagery in my mind. Like purple it connotes royalty, but without being stodgy! Well did the the restaurant Burgundy live up to this imagery it certainly did. Burgundy is located in Somerset Greenways, a premium serviced apartment. It is an all day dining restaurant with a punch line "A new gourmet of color". The restaurant was roomy with a lounge area, bar area and a long counter for buffet. They also have the alfresco option. Vipin Sachdev and his wife were kind enough to join us for the review too.   

    Somna Sachdev, a wonderful hostess

    I expected the menu to be continental, but I was really surprised to see Indian dishes. The buffet spread is very kind to the vegetarians with out the overdose of potatoes and paneer. The buffet was placed on a warm counter which took care of the temperature of food. Buffet food is usually made in huge quantities and it feels like a factory production. The spread here was laid out in copper coloured pans and in manageable quantities, which was a welcome break. The salad counter was also temperature controlled, the counter top was cold so there is no fear of eating wilted or stale salad.

    The starters were served on the table.

    Take a look at the chat that was served on the table. I liked the Dahi puri chat, which was not overtly spicy

    The tandoori vegetables were a little spicy for me. I got a selection of Cauliflower,Broccoli and Zucchini. The Tandoori paneer was soft. I just nibbled at the buffalo mozzarella cheese from the sandwich. I did not want to stuff my self up.

    I had a glass of yummy orange juice along with the starters

    Check out the Salad counter.


    Pasta Salad and  Cucumber and cherry tomato salad

         An array of dips to choose from Tzatziki,Hummus,Guacamole and Babaganoush  

    From the salad counter I liked these two salads the best, the apple pear salad and the pumpkin pepper salad. I loved the petite dishes they were served on and the taste was absolutely refreshing.

    Now moving over to the main course. I was already feeling stuffed by this time, and I had so many dishes to taste. It was visually overwhelming too.Vipin Sachdev, was keeping us thoroughly entertained and man he is so knowledgeable. At the end of the meet I called him the "walking wikipedia". He surely is a seasoned entrepreneur.

     It was really nice to see Avarakkai kootu. It tasted just like home made food.This was really a surprise element for me and I enjoyed eating this.

                                                       The roasted vegetables tasted great too.

    Rice is nice- A selection of curd rice,lemon rice and biryani

    Raw banana poriyal

    Glazed pumpkin

    Lyonnaise potatoes-French styled potatoes

    These are some of the dishes I liked. The buffet surely has something for everyone from South Indian,North Indian,Thai,Chinese and Continental. A crowd pleaser for sure.The variety is mind boggling. They also have a live chat and dosa counter.The highlight from the main course for me was the raw banana curry and the broad bean melange.  

    I had been to the launch party of Burgundy I have included some  pictures from there. I cannot get over the Baklava from the party. I have noticed that whenever this dessert is placed on the counter, the stock clearance takes place very soon! The Broccoli pizza tasted good, but I still prefer the wood fired one from Tuscana.


    Rotating pizza oven with an internal flame

    Broccoli pizza

    There was a small group of ladies who were ordering their drinks for their kitty party. Mr Ananth one of the staff members informed me that during the day you can order non alcoholic drinks  like this one here.

    The passion Mojito

    Finally moving on to the desserts. They have a good selection of Indian and continental desserts.

    I liked the mango mouse in this selection. Next I dug into the Sachertorte, the classic dessert from Vienna, but I could not taste the apricot glaze.  The Thai coconut custard was average, but it was beautifully decorated with a blob of cream and a stalk of lemon grass, like my friend said reminding one of the Jasmine flower. Next time will try their Rasmalai.     

    English Tea

    To wash down all these excesses I had some English tea. Vipin offered to take us on a tour of the kitchen. The kitchen is the best in its class. They have a separate space where the desserts are plated up, this zone is temperature controlled. They do not make desserts here but source it from their centralized kitchen. The fruits are cling wrapped, the food is tagged with stickers and a date on them. They have water proof switches. They have drain points in the kitchen to facilitate easy cleaning.They have a walk in freezer unit, an infrared gun to detect refrigeration gas leakage!. I can confidently say that Burgundy takes utmost care when it comes to food safety and hygiene. I was so enlightened at the end of the tour. We also got a sneak peek of the B Bar. 

    Food tags from my mobile phone

    The TV dinner pack from Burgundy-from my mobile phone
    There was another perk during this food review. We checked out the suite at Somerset. It was so cool. The best part of this tour for me was the infinity pool. Do check it out.

    The infinity pool from my mobile phone

    What a review this was I had great food to sample, got to visit the Burgundy kitchen and the final treat to my eyes was the infinity pool at Somerset Greenways. A big thank you to Vipin and Somna Sachdev for taking time out from their busy schedule and spending quality time with us. Thank you CFG another lovely opportunity to learn so much about food. The Sunday brunch costs Rs 1,250, the lunch buffet costs Rs 750 and dinner costs 975.They are open from 6.30 a.m till midnight and if its on the menu its available any time at Burgundy. Tune into Burgundy you will become a friend very soon. 

    Kitchen Hygiene-9

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