Luxe and Stylish- Imperial Hotel, New Delhi

I love nothing more that pure luxury and nothing defines luxury better than the essence and aura of The Imperial, New Delhi. Stroll through the art laden corridors and you will feel history come alive. On arrival, another world opens up filled with Victorian charm and luxury;Intricate details, space and greenery over seven acres of manicured gardens fashion this royal destination-while you revel in the days of the Raj or seek pleasure on your plate at the award-winning restaurants.

The Imperial Facade

Conceptualized in 1934 by Blomfield The Imperial was inaugurated by Lord Willingdon in 1936. Situated on the prestigious Queensway, now Janpath, The Imperial is a fine confluence of a rich historical past with an awe-inspiring heritage and international appeal. It offers an unique experience embracing history delicately cradled in the comfort of modern conveniences. Indeed, it was in Lutyens’ scheme of things to build the most luxurious Hotel in New Delhi with a unique blend of Victorian, old colonial and a playful dosage of informal art deco.

lobby-entrance-hallway, Imperial, New Delhi

The style is decidedly eclectic. The gates and the massive, avuncular bronze lions at the entrance are Victorian. In the high-domed Atrium inside, art deco wall panels and wrought iron balconies recall the early 20th century. Lutyens’ design of the Universe, a masterpiece made with 800 pieces of marble, can be noticed all over the Hotel, including in its rich 24-carat gold leaf form that appears on the rotunda in the heart of the lobby.

Verandah Lounge, The Imperial

The pillared verandahs, dining rooms, tea lounges, Royal Ballroom and cool and spacious gardens have played host to some celebrated encounters between the British and Indian aristocracy and gentry. It was here at The Imperial, where you could click your glasses on the same table as Lord Harding or Gandhi, to the war efforts or to the Quit India Movement. Replete with tableware from London, Italian marble floors, Burma teak and rosewood furniture, fountains from Florence, original Daniells and Frasers on the walls and the best of Indian furniture, The Imperial  – a unique low-rise structure – creates the aura of an early 19th century English manor.

Live kitchen at Daniell's Tavern, The Imperial

Daniell’s Tavern
Daniell’s Tavern at The Imperial comes alive with a brand new look showcasing a Live Kitchen and a menu that revisits India from the eyes of Thomas and William Daniells. This uncle and nephew team came to experience and paint the rich culture and culinary tradition of India’s picturesque locations in 1786, in the midst of colonial era to assist the expanding British Empire. The new menu seeks to define their gastronomic expedition with unique old world specialties from all the cities they visited. With art spread across the restaurant revealing the beautiful journey of Thomas and William Daniell, white hues, dark blue glasses, intricate wood work on the ceiling, together lend an elegant feel.

San Gimignano, The Imperial

San Gimignano
Cradled in the bosom of Tuscany lies a hilltop town, one of the best – preserved medieval towns, called San Gimignano or ‘the city of beautiful towers’. The Imperial’s Italian specialty restaurant of the same name takes inspiration from this lovely city where vineyards and olive grooves flourish. San Gimignano offers a delectable fare blending the delicate flavours of ingredients that are both procured locally and imported from Italy. In an endeavour to present only the best, San Gimignano sources the finest of balsamic vinegar, cheeses, pasta, risotto and olive oils.

1911 Bar, The Imperial

1911
1911 is a landmark year in the history of New   Delhi. It was in this year; on December 12, 1911 that King Emperor George V had declared New Delhi as the Capital of India. Given the historical significance 1911 is a celebration of aesthetics with its rich, choicely done up interiors and cuisine that showcases the ‘melting pot’ culture of Delhi and service that is truly a reflection of Imperial India.The Imperial, has for long, had a ‘relationship’ with period art. In fact, 1911 is an ode to this tradition. It is replete with antiquities dating back to the 1911 Durbar and photographs from the colonial era.

The Spice route, The Imperial

Spice Route
Heralded as one of the top ten restaurants in the world and proclaimed to be the only-one-of-its-kind, The Spice Route is poetry in design.The Spice Route has been designed to reflect the journey of spices from the Malabar Coast in Kerala through Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Malaysia, and Indonesia to Thailand and Vietnam.The restaurant is an overwhelming visual depiction of the art and culture that also travelled with the spices through these regions, presented in a folk, religious and cultural fantasy of the Orient. Designed by Rajeev Sethi, the celebrated cultural czar of India, The Spice Route is an architectural marvel that offers a unique dining experience in a distinctively beautiful setting.  The Restaurant is completely hand painted with vegetable and flower dyes by mural painters brought in especially from a temple in Guruvayur in Kerala with a tradition dating back to 3000 years. Food is sacred in Asia. A manuscript of Ramayana in ancient Thai displayed with pride in the Restaurant echoes the sentiment.Besides the stunning décor, The Spice Route boasts a menu that ensnares the taste buds of a seasoned food connoisseur. Do try out their new summer menu you will be satiated with the unique and interesting use of mango blended into Asian cuisine.

Royal Imperial Suite

The Imperial has undergone a major renovation and restoration work in early 2000s under the aegis of Hong Kong based architect Chandu Chhada – an exercise that re-established the splendour of the Hotel as the grandest colonial hotel in Asia. With high ceilings, impeccable décor and equipped with all the facilities and modern conveniences, the 235 rooms and suites, overlooking lush, verdant gardens, bespeak discreet luxury and offer total privacy and serenity. Choicely designed and thoughtfully decorated for the discerning business and leisure guests alike, the distinctive character and charm of the rooms has been achieved by attention to the smallest detail heightened by a warm and personal service by an efficient staff geared to proffer an unparalleled Imperial experience.

Lutyen Suite, The Imperial

A veritable museum with a rare and original collection, The Imperial showcases different forms of art in its rooms, corridors and public areas. Finest 18th and 19th century paintings, lithographs, sculptures and intricately painted murals – all offer a memorable experience to an art aficionado.

Eliza Room- Grand Heritage, The Imperial

Eliza
The Imperial has a special program ELIZA”, for single lady travellers. The lady guest under the program gets enrolled for the uniquely designed privileges coupled with the unmatched Imperial experience, the moment she checks in.The Imperial has taken this value added initiative for our esteemed single lady travellers to provide a distinct “stay experience” associated with comfort, convenience and care, prioritizing their safety.The lady guests are allocated rooms in a “Single Lady Corridor” equipped with CCTV cameras and are provided with special In-room check-in facility. Single Lady Corridor consists of 12 Eliza rooms on the third floor and each room has a separate room door camera installed as an additional security feature.

The Royal Ballroom, The Imperial

Probably the only authentic ballroom remaining in India with a spring floor that reduces noise levels, the Royal Ballroom evokes the splendour of Lords and Ladies bowing and curtseying, before they swirled across the floor to the strains of the waltz. This is where the distinguished guests amused themselves when the Hotel was opened in 1936 and this is the room where the first grand Ball was held. The vast ballroom today, also, serves as a venue for conferences and events of repute, seating up to 400 guests, auditorium style. Conference facilities also include two mid-size conference halls, namely Emily Eden and Hodges, with a seating capacity, theatre style, for 60 and 30 guests respectively and a Boardroom which can accommodate up to six guests.

The Sufi Spa, Imperial

You can rejuvenate at their well-equipped Fitness Centre or use the facilities of the amazing The Imperial Spa An oasis of calmness in the hectic rush of modern living. The Imperial, with a fabled antecedent, is an institution of class: quiet, dignified, serene and elegant. It has played host to business barons, royalty, sports stars and eminent people in the limelight.

Swimming-Pool, The imperial

Called the ‘only’ Garden Hotel of Delhi, The Imperial rests resplendent in beautifully manicured gardens nestled amidst royal palms. The private swimming pool, deep in the shaded grounds of the Hotel, offers a tranquil, rejuvenating experience.The indelible Imperial Experience is geared towards making your visit simply perfect in every possible way. The Imperial is, in itself, a Destination!
For more details check out www.theimperialindia.com

Bring Home Stories

Bring Home Stories is a collective of creative people who believe in developing the potential of a place and its people through “storytelling”. Their first venture, www.bringhomestories.com, was launched in Delhi on 10th Feb 2011. It is the world’s first online, high-definition, video magazine that focuses on global cities. The videos are aimed at the international traveler who wants to bring home stories of travel/culture/art and adventure. Apart from producing their own story ideas, they want to involve the local people, youth and the underprivileged children/adults in storytelling. The aim is to make Bring Home Stories to be more than a “few people’s perception of a city”. Bring Home Stories is promoted by TV News International, a media company that has around 10 years of experience in providing video, news, features and documentaries to international broadcasters in the US, UK and the Middle East. Some of the Films made by TV News International have received critical acclaim.

Digital Art Print, bring home stories

Phool Mandi inspired Cushion_Bring Home Stories Artworks (1)_Bring Home Stories

Cushion shot+Artworks_Bring Home Stories

A venture of Bring Home Stories, ‘City Inspired Design’ looks at themes that shape a city and use different storytelling mediums to weave them into not only experiences but collectibles that one can bring home! Its first theme is Delhi and its flower markets. Delhi’s “phool mandi” was established in 1869 and since then the flowers have travelled from across India to become part of people’s prayers, celebrations, weddings and even funeral. The series has been developed by International photographers, graphic designers and storytellers.

Review: Jamavar, The Leela Palace, New Delhi

So after last week’s review of The Food Mill or as some would say attempt of a review, I was asked by my sister to do this on a weekly basis. She doesn’t admit it but I am sure Stylecity.in got the highest number of hits that day. Anyway, this time she was extremely kind in that she wanted me to review Jamavar – the Indian restaurant at The Leela Palace in Chanakyapuri. This restaurant has been operational for a couple of years now and this week they had their first ever Kashmiri Food festival. Master Chef Vinod Saini assured me that there would be many such themed food festivals in the coming year. Why was I excited? Well even though I was born and raised in Delhi, my ancestors are from Himachal Pradesh which would make me a ‘Pahari’ and a proud one at that. And so from a young age I have had an extreme fondness for mutton. For those who do not know Kashmiri cuisine is mostly mutton based and the Wazwan (a multi course meal) preparation of that cuisine is considered a delicacy due to its tedious preparation that is considered an art form in itself.

Jamavar, Leela Palace, New Delhi

And so I walked into Jamavar and was highly impressed by its ambience and decor. Finally an Indian restaurant in Delhi that can give the other restaurants a run for their money solely based on grandeur. Honestly, with more and more hotels in Delhi going for restaurants with a Mediterranean base for their cuisine I feared that good Indian restaurants would cease to exist, being a huge Indian cuisine enthusiast I am so relieved that isn’t the case. So I asked a friend to accompany me for this review and even though she is vegetarian she claimed to have enjoyed the Kashmiri version of vegetarian food (don’t worry, the status of this friendship is being reviewed as I type this – I am embarrassed to have a vegetarian acquaintance who isn’t family).Now I am no stranger to Kashmiri food, I have been to Srinagar and eaten at Ahdoos, quite rightly proclaimed to be the connoisseur of the Kashmiri Wazwan cuisine. And in Delhi I have eaten at Ahad and Sons and Chor Bizzare, so little did the folks at Jamavar know whom they were dealing with. Having said that, Jamavar did not disappoint, as the quality, opulence and sumptuousness of our experience was remarkable. I would definitely return to this restaurant and try their usual Mughlai menu and hope for many more exotic food festivals that give us a taste of the various cuisines of our country.

Jamavar at The Leela Palace New Delhi

Now before reading further I should point out that this is exactly the kind of place where I feel a little intimidated, based solely on the grandeur. The place has modern interiors with traditional elements seamlessly imbibed together; with gold and brown colour scheme that is almost royal to the crystal chandeliers and grand couches- you instantly know you are in for a majestic experience.They started us off with a ghaant gobi ka achaar, and akhrot and mooley ki chutney to accompany our papad (papadam) and onions. My friend eloquently asked what is ghaant gobi to which all I could muster up was, it’s not really a gobi and doesn’t really have any knots. Not wanting to ruin my appetite by the unusual condiments they served, I eagerly awaited the mutton and specifically the Tabak maaz – a traditional Wazwan dish that is essentially deep-fried ribs. The Tabak Maaz did not disappoint and the Tali Machchi was supreme to say the least. On the vegetarian side of the table (yes, we drew a border) the Nadru Gular and Paneer Tikka was much appreciated. Moving onto the main course the Rista and Gushtaba have always been a favourite of mine. These are essentially finely kneaded minced meatballs and are extremely difficult to get right. Jamavar did a decent job on them but their Maaz Yakhni and Dhaniwaali korma were particularly good. On the other side as expected Jamavar provided a brilliant Haaq ka saag and Kashmiri Rajma, all of which went really well with the rice. Finally for dessert we were served a couple of types of halwas but my favourite by far was the phirni. Not too sweet and truly fresh – just the way I like it.

Now, after a quick chat with the Head Chef and Restaurant Manager we made our way out not before stopping for some meetha paan at the exit. The Manager made us aware that Jamavar has recently changed its children policy and now families are welcome to enjoy this delectable experience with the entire family. So in wrapping up it was quite a satisfying experience and I definitely plan on taking my family there, hope you do the same.

PS: There was a poem I penned for this review that did not make the final cut, I hope this comment does…

Price: Meal for two- Rs.3,000 without alcohol
Rating: Butter Chicken
Rating Scale: Tinda – 0, Idli – 1, Salad – 2, Butter Chicken – 3, Kakori Kebabs – 4, Grandmother’s cooking – 5

Jamavar, The Leela Palace, New Delhi

Dum aloo Kashmiri for 5 portions

Ingredients

Qty

Unit

Small baby potatoes

600

Grams

Asafetida

1

Pinch

Turmeric powder

1/2

Tsp

Kashmiri chilli powder

1

Tsp

Onion ( medium size)

2

No

Yogurt

2

Cup

Garlic paste

1 1/2

Tsp

Ginger paste

1

Tsp

Refined oil (for frying)

100

Ml

Salt

To taste

Fresh milk

1

Cup

For Masala
 Green cardamoms

3-4

No

 Clove

2-3

No

Coriander seed

1

Tbsp

Black cardamom

1

No

Black pepper corn

8-10

No

Saunf whole

1

Tsp

Cinnamon stick

1

No

Method:

  • Make a fine powder of all masala ingredients and keep aside
  • Remove the peels from potatoes and prick them
  • Fry all the potatoes till become golden brown
  • Add grated onion, Asafetida, Ginger and garlic paste till cook well.
  • Fry the mixture till the paste turns brown, add turmeric, chilli powder and salt.
  • Now pour the milk to make gravee followed by adding beaten yogurt
  • Stir continuously and add water if the gravee become thick
  • Add pricked and fried potatoes, simmer few minutes and serve with fresh coriander garnish

Tabak maaz for 5 portions

Ingredients

Qty

Unit

Mutton ribs

800

Grams

Water

750

Ml

Milk

750

Ml

Clove

2-3

No

Cinnamon stick( medium   size)

2

No

Turmeric

1

Pinch

Green cardamom

5-6

No

Black cardamom

2

No

Saunf powder

3

Tsp

Saunth powder

2

Tsp

Cloves of whole garlic

2-3

No

Desi ghee

200

Ml

Salt

As to taste

 

Method:

  • Cut the mutton ribs into the rectangle pieces and wash properly.
  • In a deep vessel pour milk and water.
  • Add clove, cinnamon ,green cardamom, black cardamom, black peppers, whole garlic ( Give a slight crush to all these spice) and put into the vessel with dry ginger, turmeric and Saunf powder.
  • Now add mutton ribs and give a proper boil.
  • Cook on medium heat till Ribs become very soft and cook well.
  • Once the ribs cook well remove the meat pieces one by one with the tong that they don’t break.
  • Take a separate frying pan  heat the desi ghee and shallow fry one by one till it become crisp and golden in color

Nadru Yakhani for 5 portions

Ingredients

Qty

Unit

Lotus stem

800

Grams

Plain yogurt

600

Grams

Mustard oil

100

Ml

Black cardamom

4-5

No

Green cardamom

4-5

No

Green chilli slit

2-3

No

Shahi jeera

1

Tsp

Saunf powder

2

Tsp

Bay leafs

2

No

Cinnamon

2(medium size)

No

Clove

2-3

No

Ginger powder

1

Tsp

Sugar

1

Pinch

Salt

As to taste

Water 200(for boiling)

Ml

Method:

  • Heat the oil in a thick bottom pan add bay leaf, green cardamom, black cardamom, Shahi jeera, cinnamon and water .
  • Add lotus stem simmer around five to eight minute
  • Whisk the yogurt, add into the boiled lotus stem give a proper boil till it become ticker, add salt and a pinch of sugar if need.

Khan Market gets its own Smoke House Deli

Khan Market finally gets its own Smoke House Deli. Seeped in history, Khan market is the perfect location for the latest Smoke House Deli, the narrow by lanes with shops on both sides are a part of Delhi’s cultural heritage and definitely one of the best markets left in Delhi with the uprising of the mall culture. Smoke House Delhi Khan Market takes you down a trip of nostalgia with walls that illustratively resurrect The Empire Store and Sovereign Dairies – landmarks that haven’t existed on these streets in decades.

Smoke House Deli, Khan Market. www.stylecity.in

A walk through the café designed by Amith Chhabra of Livin’ Colors Design reveals an interesting mix of 2D and 3D illustrations that cover the walls, to invoke a sense of modern nostalgia. “For instance”, says Kriti Monga, the Designer and typographer who’s beautiful handiwork you see on the walls, “The half illustrated-half real bird bath on the first floor reminds you of childhood trips to Lodhi Gardens, dates on calendars around the cafe are landmark events in Khan Market’s history, and titles in the illustrated bookshelf are a tip of the hat to the locality’s literary giants.” Having spent her early years living in Khan Market, she says, “On a personal note, I get to legitimately draw pictures on walls, in a place I spent a childhood learning to draw in.

Smoke House Deli, Khan Market - Terrace Area. www.stylecity.in

The café is an amalgamation of rich culinary traditions with modern European café fare. “The menu highlights homely, comfort food that please all your senses while retaining gourmet flourishes” says Executive Chef Shamsul Wahid. “Our intent is to give you all-day options with wholesome, healthy as well as hearty fare designed to cater to every mood.”The extensive menu at Smoke House Deli is perfect from breakfast with a variety of pancakes and eggs thru dinner with Wild Mushroom + Artichoke Crepe Gratin, Cambodian Basa + Smoked “Pimento” Puree, Lightly Smoked Lamb Shanks and ½ Roast Chicken. At Smoke house deli you also have options for in-between meals or for the not so hungry. A variety of sandwiches, burgers and pizzas like the Smoked Tomato + Brie Sandwich, the Soy Mix + Curried Vegan Burger, the Smoked Lamb Burger, the Tomato + Buffalo Mozzarella Pizza and the Shrimp + Grilled Chillies Pizza promise to hit the spot. Smoke House Deli Khan Market’s interactive bar is sure to be an instant favourite for those who love a tasty tipple. The extensive cocktail menu features perplexing combinations of fruit, herbs and high-class liquor.

Smoke House Deli, Khan Market-   'House Spiced Smoked Chicken + Five Spice Jus'.www.stylecity.in Smoke House Deli, Khan Market- _Watermelon Martini'. www.stylecity.in

Like the other Smoke House Deli properties, the one at Khan Market does not disappoint, neither in terms of food nor decor or ambience. So next time you are at Khan market stop by one of the bylanes at the new Smoke House Deli and enjoy a nice cool watermelon martini in the evening or even a lovely lunch while overlooking the streets of Khan market.

HOURS:
8 am – midnight, 7 days a week
LOCATION:
Smoke House Deli, 17, Khan Market, 1st Floor, New Delhi – 110003
Phone: 01143542819

Review: China Doll

Just as I had gone raving about the amazing food and nightlife scene that has come up in Delhi since I moved back with food being up to international standards, no more Indianization of meal, giving Mumbai stiff competition etc etc I got an invitation to visit a new Chinese Restaurant called China Doll. In Delhi, Chinese is almost always Indianized; with too much garlic and red sauce and for someone like me that is an absolute nightmare. In fact, there is a huge difference even if the same branch exists in Delhi and Mumbai, so I took my own sweet time before setting up a visit, I wanted to hold on to the remanent of the good meals I had the last few weeks, plus the PR person had sent me an email which said it was owned by the same people who own Moti Mahal in South Ex which is one of the oldest and best Indian food restaurants. Thus, in my head I was expecting a completely Indianized Chinese meal. Well. I am happy to report my fears were unfounded and the food is definitely one of the best Chinese meals I have had in a long time.

Situated very conveniently in the main South extension market the decor of the place is very Chic.The restaurant area flaunts of elegantly carved wooden furniture, richly upholstered in hues of imperial gold, surrounded by water bodies. There is copious amounts of natural light that spills into the space through the glass walls and the retractable ceiling which is usually left open during the night. The bar near the entrance of the restaurant stretches towards a generously appointed ‘step-out’, edged with an end-to end water fountain and complete with a sit out. The Terrace Lounge is a new addition to the city’s night life. It showcases a circular laser lit feature bar, complemented by a L-shaped seating arrangement, consisting of comfortably sized wooden couches. The break between each seat-setting is provided by uniformly proportioned water bodies that are up-lit. The Terrace Lounge integrates chic contemporary stylized elements with an exhaustive array of beverages.

In terms of food- it was delish and I ended up over-eating. It is the first Hunan style chinese restaurant to open in the capital and they have shown a lot of restraint from making it too Indianized which is all thanks to Chef Zhu Can’s penchant for quality. We started our meal with a Chicken Manchow soup and then moved on to Vodka based cocktails, crispy spinach and Chicken Dry Red Chilli. The chicken was out of this world, and being one of my favourite dishes I was really worried they will get it wrong. The menu is vast and you really need to spend time devouring each bit. We then moved on to the main course where we had normal steamed rice with Kung Pao chicken, Fish water boiled which is supposed to be their speciality, steamed lamb with black bean sauce and steamed pork Hunan style. The food was really amazing but my favourite was surprisingly the pork as I am not much of a pork eater. The fish was a little bland for me, that is the style but doesn’t work on me I guess. We ended the meal with lychee and Ice-cream mostly cause we could not take another bite. I completely recommend this to all Chinese food lovers, unless you like the Indianized Chinese, then I feel sorry for you!

Recipes

Crispy Fish garlic sauce 
Fried river sole fish tossed with red, green & yellow capsicum in garlic sauce. Garnished with finely chopped spring onion

Ingredients
River sole – 200 Gms
Red, green and yellow capsicum – 15gms each
Fish stock- 50ml
Seasoning (salt and pepper) – to taste
Chopped garlic – 5-8 Gms
Chopped ginger – 2 Gms

Method
Dust corn flour on the sole & fry the sliced river sole
Blanch the capsicum
Add veg oil – allow the oil to heat up, add  diced onion, chopped spring onion, ginger and garlic  add the capsicum
Add fish stock, corn flour to thicken the dish
Add seasoning to taste
Serve in dish and for garnish, add chopped coriander and chopped spring onion leaves

Baby corn, broccoli and black mushroom in oyster sauce
Stir fried Baby corn, broccoli and black mushroom cooked with chopped garlic in oyster sauce. Garnished with chopped spring onions.

Ingredients
Baby corn 80 gms
Broccoli 100 gms
Black mushroom 40 gms
Seasoning (salt ) – to taste
Chopped garlic – 5-8 Gms
Oyster sauce – 1/ 4 th (bottle) to cook

Method
Blanch all the vegetables
Take vegetable oil in the wok , add chopped garlic and chopped onions
Add the blanched vegetables, add mushroom oyster sauce
Add seasoning to taste
Dish out in serving platter and is ready to serve.

Sakura, Metropolitan New Delhi

Most of you must know by now that I recently moved back to Delhi from Mumbai. Even if you were unaware of that I am certain you by now know I love trying out different cuisines, which at one point was a huge issue in Delhi thanks to the Indianization of every cuisine. Hence, I was always looking forward to the culinary experience in Mumbai way before I moved there, but all that has become a thing of the past. There seems to be a sub-culture in Delhi which has slowly become popular that is demanding authentic food and service alike. And I decided to re-visit Sakura for some authentic Japanese a few weeks back.

For those of you who have not been there, Sakura India’s first Japanese eatery at Metropolitan hotel, is an award-winning fine-dining restaurant. It offers the best of Kaiseki cuisine – the formal seven to nine course royal Japanese cuisine –prepared by Celebrated Master Chef Tetsu Akahira and his team, from the freshest food flown in fresh from Japan. Decorated simply in a contemporary Japanese manner, Sakura has clean lines and minimal furniture with the windows designed to resemble traditional Japanese tatami mats, common to most houses in Japan. The simple yet clean and efficient decor is a good example of what you can expect with the food- no extra frills, just excellent food.

 

For once Japanese food is not just Sushi and sashimi but a variety of other dishes. You can go in for Kushi Age Goshumori –– five different kinds of Japanese style skewers, Sakura style Tantanmen — hot egg noodles topped with spicy ground meat sauce or the ever popular Ginmutsu Saikyoyaki — cod-fish marinated with white soy bean paste, mirin, sake and grilled to perfection. The menu is vast and as authentic as possible. We tried Sakura’s famous Bento Box meals with food arranged artistically and meticulously in different slots. They are priced  vegetarian Bento Box meal costs around Rs.1,200 and Sushi Bento that I had going up to approximately Rs.2,500. You also have the option to opt for a course meal, which is a 9 course meal and offers assorted sashimi to Tempura to Sushi and soup. The main highlight of the meal for me was the dessert or their Home made ice-creams, we tried all the various flavours and the best past was these were all things used in Savoury dishes which had been converted to sweets like Red Bean, Green Tea, Black sesame and Wasabi. Basically, if you are craving authentic Japanese cuisine I suggest you visit Sakura at the earliest. But be prepared to be experimental and try various things, to really cherish the experience. Like my appetizer which was assortment of 3 dishes consisted fo Clams, Squid and Jelly fish and though I was slightly apprehensive about the Jelly Fish which I had never had before it turned out to be my favourite.

Sakura, The Metropolitan Hotel New Delhi, Bangla Sahib Road, New Delhi, Tel: 011-42500 200
Meal is approximately Rs.2,000 per head plus taxes (minus alcohol)

Review: Oasis, Claridges Surajkund

A mere 20 minute drive from South Delhi leads us to Claridges Surajkund, a great repose from the bustling city life of Delhi. Since I had already been here for a Spa review and had a great experience I was more than excited to check out their restaurant and do a food review for which I had selected Oasis, an interactive kitchen offering Italian, Chinese and Indian cuisine. But before the food review I decided on a wine tasting at the Wine Library.

The Wine Library stocks over 900 bottles of carefully selected wines from around the world. Over the years, wine tasting has become an excellent way of entertaining guests and since the Wine Library acts as both a wine shop and wine bar it is a perfect place to start your evening. The tasting happens each day between 7-9 pm where you get to try four different types of wine. The first, Golden Mile Chardonnay which is an Australian wine with an acidic side and a fruity aroma. This costs approximately Rs.2,000 for the bottle. Then we sipped the Manawa Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand which is a dry medium bodied wine, crisp acidic with herb grass and smokes flavours along with apple and melon aromas. This is around Rs.2,500 per bottle. Then my personal favourite, Manawa Pinot Noir from New Zealand with soft Tannis and very light colour,with black cherry, berry plum and rose aromas. This was about Rs.2,500 per bottle as well. Finally Peter Lehmann, a full-bodied Australian Shiraz with tart acidity and hard tannins with black currants, red berry, chocolate tar and meaty flavour was served. This was too strong for me but my dinner companion enjoyed it. This was approximately Rs.500 per glass. The wines are accompanied by cheese, fruits and crackers, and post the tasting guests are encouraged to choose a wine to accompany their meals, my companion and I decided to skip the bottle and just have a glass each of our favoured wines.

Though I had been encouraged by most people to go in for the Dhaba which is the Indian restaurant, I had decided to go in with Oasis, the Multi-cuisine restaurant. The reason being Dhaba at Claridges Delhi has been a family favourite for years, hence almost every occasion meant a meal over there and I wanted to try something different, plus leave Dhaba for what it has been the past few years, a family memory.
Living up to the essence of its name, Oasis,not only offers a great culinary experience but also dazzles you with its ambience and decor. Offering both indoor and alfresco seating, the restaurant overlooks the beautifully landscaped central courtyard with exciting water bodies showcasing an intricate interplay of water, light & music. With its three live interactive kitchens – Italian, Chinese & Indian, bustling with the essence and flavours of joyous indulgence, the Oasis is an exotic dining experience.The Italian battery kitchen indulges guests with live wood fired pizza,  freshly tossed pasta, risotto and much more.Amongst, the signatures on offer at the Chinese counter are a variety of  exotic vegetarian & non vegetarian steamed and fried dimsums & stir fried dishes  cooked in Szechuan and Cantonese style.The Indian interactive kitchen invites guests to explore the real taste of  Indian food and curries, scrumptious galouti kebab  and dum ki nalli cooked with baby lamb shanks and Indian herbs.The a-la-carte menu offers Italian, Chinese & Indian selection through the  day. The dinner buffet on weekends has an extensive food spread, with live  counters and a large dessert selection. There is also a private dining section, which you can book out for special occasions.

My dinner companion Gayatri, who has done reviews for us in the past had already been to Claridges Surajkund before and recommended the Sushi platter, by Chef Keisuke Uno. Since both her and I are huge fans of Sushi that was not an issue at all and we called for a vegetarian platter for her and Non vegetarian for me. Before tasting the Sushi it took me a while to convince myself to destroy the art work as it was presented so beautifully. After we finished the amazing platter we decided to take a small break and sip our wine outside in the courtyard where there were already quite a few diners having their meals. Honestly as much as I had heard about the beauty of the courtyard in reality it is even more astounding and peaceful. We went inside to complete our meal which we decided on a European main dish with Crespelle e ricotta, spinaci con salsa di pomodori e pinoli for Gayatri and Black cod “Livornese” for myself. These were as delicious as the rest of our dishes as well as the bread we had earlier but we were so full it was a struggle to actually finish them. But still more out of greed than anything we had to try dessert and here to the chef recommended Tiramisu and I have to say it was out of the world. All in all I would recommend everyone to try to do a weekend at Claridges Surajkund. That way you can experience the whole thing and also try out more restaurants and definitely expereince the Spa

Address: Shooting Range Road, Suraj Kund, Faridabad,NCR. Tel:0129 419 0099
Price: Rs.2,000 for a meal for two without alcohol


Crespelle e ricotta, spinaci con salsa di pomodori e pinoli

Ingredients
For mixture  
Spinach- 80gms
Chop onion/ garlic-5gms each
Olive oil-10ml
Ricotta cheese-50gms
For pan cake
Flour-100gms
Egg-30gms
Water-200ml
Basil (chopped) 1 gms
Saffron water 10 ml
For sauce
Blanch cherry-5no.
Chop garlic/onion-5gms each
Tomato juice-25ml
Seasoning
Olive oil-5ml
For garnish
Crushed pine nuts-1tsp
Celery leaf-1bunch
Blended pilati sauce-for drizzling 

Method
For mixture– blanch spinach cool down in ice water then take out water chop it finely. Heat oil in a pan add chop onion and garlic broil it for few sec. then add spinach broil it for 2min over low heat add seasoning and keep a side for cool down. After cool down add cheese mix well
For pan cake – make a batter with flour egg and water.
For sauce– heat oil in a pan add onion and garlic sauté it then add cherry tomato, tomato juice and basil leaves and cook over low heat for 15min. adjust seasoning and keep a side.At order time- make pan cake with the batter stuff spinach mixture in it and make two roll of it. Add parmesan cheese on top and cook in oven for 5min. at 180’C. heat sauce place on the bottom of the plate arrange pan cake one whole and one cutting into two garnish with celery leaves, blended pilati and crushed pine-nut’s line by side.

Black cod “Livornese”

Ingredients
Black cod steak-180gm
Olive oil -30ml
Sea salt- to taste
Crushed pepper corn-3gm
Tomato blanch burnoise-10gm
Onion chop-3gm
Fresh thyme- 2-3 sprig
Garlic chop-3gm
Basil leaf -4no.
Black olive- 2no.
Caper-5no.
Fish stock- 50ml
White wine- 10ml
Butter- 5gm
Cream- half tea spoon
Potato wedges fried- 6no.
Onion slice- 5gm
Parsley chop- a pinch

Method
Firstly take fish steak put three cut on skin now marinade it with salt pepper and oil. Heat oil in a non stick pan sear fish in it skin side first, after searing cook fish in oven for 5min.
For sauce-heat oil in a pan add chop onion, garlic, celery, thyme leaf sauté it for few sec. then add caper and tomato, now add white wine after reducing wine add fish stock, now bring it to the boiling, then add seared fish, black olive and basil leaves reduce the heat cover the pan with a lid, cook over slow flame for 5min. Then take out fish finish sauce with butter and cream.
For potato– heat oil in a pan add garlic, slice onion sauté it than add fried crushed potato wedges add seasoning finish with parsley.

Dream Home: Tanya Luther Agarwal’s home by Preeti Knowles

Interior designer Preeti Knowles designs a stylish home for her friend, author Tanya Luther Agarwal.
Photographs by Anshuman Sen
Written by Niti Singh Bhandari
Styled by Aparna Kaistha

(excerpts Casaviva November 2011)

Interior designer Preeti Knowles,who studied at the American College in London and has a well-known design practice in India along with her husband, interiors and furniture design expert Mike Knowles, is known for innovative concepts and avant-garde designs.A sensibility rooted in form, effervescent style and a deep knowledge of crafts and local traditions, gives to her interiors the kind of depth lacking in designers who want to give/show all in a single project. Spaces designed by Preeti have an innate flamboyance that comes only with refined sensibility and crystallized thinking. The home of children’s books writer Tanya Luther Agarwal in Delhi’s Panchsheel Park was like working for a friend you know well. “Actually, our liking for each other grew as we did the project. Tanya loved the way my home was designed and we just took off from there,” says Preeti. Tanya couldn’t have had it better as she gave the interiors project to Preeti to design on a turnkey basis.Completed in just over three months, the home’s effortless style comes across at first glance. The 2800 sq ft home has a drawing room with a dining area, three bedrooms, one guest bedroom, an open family room with attached study, a kitchen, and the piece de resistance, the Mediterranean styled terrace, complete with pergolas, white grill frames for hanging creepers, a bar, water fountains and a broken slate flooring that enhances the relaxed feel of the space.

Perky pinks, oranges and aqua offset the neutral tones in the drawing-room and the dining area. The wall at the back has a smokeless fuel fire-place, with sleeper wood bars bordering the unit. The Celadon glazed ceramic masks on the focal wall at the back and the white metal coffee table have been designed by furniture designer Mike Knowles. The glass dining table top has an etched jaali pattern. The art work behind the dining table depicting the four seasons of Japan with etching of 24 carat gold paint is by Tanya’s brother.The armless chair with a footstool is a famous design called the Kahani chair designed by Preeti.

Preeti devised a blue and green wall texture in the entrance foyer in synch with the Tangkha artwork. The rough burl wooden border on the mirror is from a local wood picked up by Preeti’s carpenter. The console is designed from local neem wood.Tanya’s bedroom furniture is from In living. The pen and ink Tree of Life artwork is by Noida based artist Priyabrata Roy Chowdhury. The soft furnishings have been designed and made by Preeti, with some accents by Good Earth and Tanya’s mother.The LCD TV is placed above a coral glossy lacquer cabinet designed by Preeti. The Chinese water-colour bamboo and cherry blossom art work was artfully placed by Preeti to enhance the artistic feel of the space.

Son Karan’s bedroom has a leatherite white bed and a Stanley Lazy Boy style chair. The artwork was picked up from the streets of Bangkok.Tanya’s study with a red wall and limed oak finish wooden shelves and chair is an extension of the family lounge area. Most of Tanya’s inspiration is penned here. The black and white artwork is by Priyabrata Roy Chowdhury. (www.studioroy.in). The families chat area has a red recliner sofa re-upholstered by Preeti. The limed oak finish table and chair have a unique vintage charm.

The terrace used for outdoors entertaining at night is inspired by the Mediterranean look. The pergolas are in white metal. The peacock tea light holder is by Italian designer Giandaniele Asquini. The crazy paving broken slate floor adds to the relaxed look of the space. Chirping of birds, green creepers and water fountains sets this space as a virtual retreat.