Home Profile- For the Love of Dogs

Home Profile for The Address- Times of India

There are some who hesitate to adopt a pet citing lack of space. And then there is Rubina Dhankar Qadir Din, who insists that her home in Gurgaon belongs to her 46 dogs while she and her husband share the space with them.


“Life has a strange way of working out.” Rubina says as we meet at her Barsati (terrace), which has been converted to a Living cum Dining space of their house. “I was married and living in Mumbai with my first husband for 14 years. At that point I was a journalist with NDTV and Times now. After my marriage ended I moved to Delhi with my mother and started working with JJ Vallaya as a brand manager,” she continues while sipping her herbal tea. After a few years she moved back and started an ad production company. During this time she dabbled in Interior Design for friends. Finally in 2012 Rubina moved back to Delhi where she met my current husband Abdul Qadir, a fitness instructor and Dog lover as she discovered. “Soon after we started living together in my condo in Gurgaon we started adopting street dogs. No one wanted these dogs and most had terminal illness’s. We started with 12 dogs who have now slowly gone up to 46,”

In the beginning of 2015 they decided to put the condo on rent and look for a larger house with open spaces for the dogs. She shares, “It was getting expensive to take care of them on just my husband’s income so I tried to figure career prospects too. Meanwhile, I put up images of the condo at various sites looking for people to rent.  People started complimented me on the space and design. Soon they started asking me to design their homes.”

The ground floor of the villa was also styled by her, but as the dogs grew in number the space appeared  more lived in. As a result they decided to focus on a living space at the Barsati. The Barsati has two basic rooms, converted as a living and dining area with the open space offering outdoor seating. The two rooms in fact have been left as raw as possible, with just single brick layers of the walls, tin roofs and aluminium doors.

Despite the almost raw sense of style, the space appears inviting. In her own words, “My style is very rustic chic and that is the style I am comfortable with. A lot of the furniture you see here has been designed by me, I believe in reasonably priced furniture but I’ll splurge on accessories. Fortunately my husband is also very house proud. He loves to gift me gorgeous home accents from different designers and stores. As a result, I have a collection of plates from Good Earth and some accessories from Oma. However, the two pieces which have stayed with me from my first house, is the Nepalese Tara statue and the Limited collection Fab India cabinet,” Perhaps due to the overall sense of bareness, we can’t help but notice the trunks. She confesses, “My husband is a hoarder and since the ground floor is devoted to the dogs, we had to find a creative way to store his t-shirts. To find a suitable storage solution, I sourced traditional trunks and made them work as part of the décor.”

Along with the trunk another very noticeable element is mirrors. There are at least three-four in each room along with posters and frame. For Rubina the use of mirrors came naturally, as she loves them, “I think they add character to a space, so I use them a lot. But most people can’t tell how many there are, as I place them in unique ways, each reflecting something unique, for instance the one in the living space reveals the reflection of the chandelier,” she shares.

When she initially started her business, Rubina would request clients to provide dog food as payment for her services. However she soon realised that people could be quite unfair. Sometimes, she would receive only two bags of dog food as payment for the whole house. “That experience shocked me. So now I have a transparent fee structure for my interior styling services. My business really picked up after eight months of styling homes. In fact, now I am tie-ups with different designers such as Sarita Handa, Elvy and so on.” she explains.

With 46 dogs living at home doesn’t entertaining guests pose a unique challenge, we wonder. She agrees, “We used to be sociable, but now with the dogs we rarely go out and even if people come over we hang out at the Barsati. However, my husband and I are both very content with the direction our lives have taken for both us and our babies,”


Review: Spoonful of Soul, Gurgaon

After my recent escapades of food critique earning rave reviews, my latest review took me to a restaurant called Spoonful of Soul in the maze we all know as Gurgaon. Now I should mention, I have worked in Gurgaon for about 5 years and have had enough experience trying to figure out the restaurant market in NCR. If you would speak to any restaurateurs with establishments in the city they would be first to accept that Gurgaon is very different from any other market they have tackled before i.e they don’t have the luxury of pulling a certain clientele a locality brings like is the case with restaurants in Hauz Khas Village or Khan Market. So I feel for a restaurant to work well in Gurgaon they would need 1) the general footfall a mall creates, 2) breaking even through home delivery and 3) being a franchise or recognized brand. With Spoonful of Soul having none of these I was a little apprehensive to begin with but that changed once I ate at the establishment, my best experience so far!

Spoonful of Soul, www.stylecity.in

As we headed towards Spoonful of Soul on Nathupur Road the experience evoked a lot of memories. All my corporate time in Gurgaon has been spent either at Global Business Park or DLF Corporate Towers, so offices that are quite literally 5 minutes from the Nathupur Road market area. Although the last time I lived in India I remember this market having 2 restaurants namely Italiano and Wok-a-mama. Both frequented by me and my colleagues however I was extremely surprised to see how that tiny market has transformed into a nice little restaurant conclave away from the craziness of Gurgaon. Today, there stand at least 8 restaurants and many other small take away joints across the road from this conclave.And Spoonful of Soul is one such joint,providing great quality food at an affordable price and offerering a unique fine-dining experience without making one feel uncomfortable. It has the feel of a café and at the same time can be passed off as a comfortable family restaurant. Its impeccable design and décor gave the entire place a relaxing vibe and it has been absolute ages since I have been to such a well-lit restaurant, whatever happened to sticking with ‘white’ as the main colour at your establishment. Moving onto the food and at first glance it looks like the perfect menu if you like me do not appreciate going through booklets and binders of food choices when most appetites can be covered with some simple dishes. However the highlight for me were the specials listed out on the board. Catering to everyone’s palate the restaurant offers Mediterranean, European and even Pan-Asian dishes. The specials had a heavy influence of Pan-Asian dishes or at least the food had a distinct Asian culinary technique applied to it.

Spoonful of Soul, www.stylecity.in

The Chilli Roasted/Fried Lamb in particular was wonderful and went really well with our cold kingfishers on a warm March afternoon.We started off with a sumptuous serving of soup and the Manchow in particular was wonderful. Spoonful of Soul is an establishment started by siblings Anuradha Khanna and Rohit Sodhi. And what I loved about the menu was how it was filled with dishes they had picked up on their travels. For example the Fire Roasted Red Pepper soup was something Rohit mentioned they saw in Amsterdam and decided to incorporate in their menu here. Moving onto the starters we had a portion each of Devil on Stilts (bacon wrapped prawns) and some Spicy Oriental Prawns. These two starters summed up Spoonful of Soul for me, at one end you have immaculate comfort food of bacon wrapped prawns and then you can also get some spicy prawns with an Asian influence.For the main course the Saltimbocca (Chicken picatta stuffed with spinach and wrapped with bacon and tossed in jus) was brilliant. But the highlight of the night, the star of the show has to be how well the good people at Spoonful of Soul handle the basa fish. As I have come back to delhi I have noticed how more and more restaurants only serve basa fish as the main fish in their dishes. And for those of you who know or like fish the way they do in my household, you should know that fish eaters can be very finicky. Having said that, Spoonful of Soul served us a very delectable portion of Bombassa, fish elegantly grilled with butter and garlic. Besides this the Awesome Foursome skewer of kebabs was an interesting dish and easily had the best fish kebabs (basa again) I have eaten in a long while.I can go on about how good the food was, but to be honest what really convinced me about this establishment was the quality and care with which each dish was made. I cannot wait to go back and try out their other dishes and hope that there are many people reading this who take my word for it and try Spoonful of Soul themselves. We need stand alone restaurants such as this to survive the tough Gurgaon market and rise against the norm. Gurgaon has for long asked for its own classy restaurant at an affordable price, and now that Spoonful of Soul has delivered – we need to make it count.

Bombassa, Spoonful of soul. www.stylecity.in Awesome Four Some

Address: Spoonful of Soul, 27Nathupur Road, DLF Phase 3, Gurgaon
Ph – 0124 4277011

Price: Meal for two- Rs.2,000 with alcohol
Rating: Easy Kakori Kebabs
Rating Scale: Tinda – 0, Idli – 1, Salad – 2, Butter Chicken – 3, Kakori Kebabs – 4, Grandmother’s cooking – 5

RECIPE NAME:   Bombassa
PORTION   SIZE                   : 220g
1 sea bass 0.6 kg
4 butter 0.06 kg
5 garlic 0.02 kg
6 parsley 0.008 kg
7 salt 0.0001 kg
8 pepper 0.0001 kg
10 cauliflower 0.06 kg
11 broccoli 0.06 n0
12 capsicum 0.04 kg
13 red bellpepper 0.04 kg
14 yellow bellpepper 0.04 kg
15 kg
16 kg
17 kg
18 kg
Cost   per Portion
1. Marinate   the fish with salt n pepper.
2. Heat pan   , add butter and garlic into it.
3. Put the   marinated fish and grill from both side til its well cooked.
4. top with   garlic and butter sauce.
5. Serve   with steamed vegetables and mashed potatoes.
RECIPE NAME: Awesum   foresum
PORTION   SIZE                   : 220g
1 prawn 0.2 kg
2 chicken 0.24 kg
4 fish(sea bass) 0.2 kg
5 peanut butter 0.05 kg
6 dark soya sauce 0.05 kg
7 chilli paste 0.03 kg
8 garlic 0.02 kg
9 lemon 0.02 kg
10 salt 0.01 kg
11 pepper 0.001 n0
12 parsley 0.001 kg
13 kg              –
14 kg              –
15 kg              –
16 kg              –
17 kg              –
18 kg              –
Cost   per Portion
1. Cut the   chicken  and fish in small pieces.
2. Deshell   and devein the prawns.
3. Make two   dressing, in first add peanut butter, chilli paste, garlic , lemon juice ,   salt n pepper.
Add chopped   parsley into it.
4. For   second dressing  add dark soya sauce ,   garlic, lemon juice and pepper.
5. Marinate   chicken, prawn and fish from above the dressing.
6. Skewer   the chicken, prawn and fish.
7. Grill the   skewers till its cooked.
8. serve hot   with mint mayonnaise and tangy sauce.