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Durga Pujo: The Homecoming

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Despite being wary of the burgeoning crowd on the roads and queues in front of eateries during Durga Pujo, I would be no where else but in Calcutta during the four days. As the festivities come to a close, I reflect on the reason… Am I growing old? I’m yet to see pronounced grey hairs. The wrinkles haven’t peeked in. Though I do get breathless on occasions, I’m managing the marathon with my hyperactive five-year-old. And yes, I can still polish off a plate of Arsalan’s chicken biryani, without the acerbic burp an hour later. As a Park Circus girl, I was brought up on biryani, a delicacy I believe Calcutta serves the best (No debate here please)! First, it used to arrive home from Shiraz-the Golden Restaurant. A few years later Zeeshan elbowed it out but the fame was short-lived. One fine day, Arsalan set foot and conquered the hearts and palates of Calcutta. The reign continues. Since then many Aliahs, Alibabas and Royals have mushroomed in the vicinity, but Arsalan continue

Zubi and Sacred Grain, two top pods in the Food Order-In Sector

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Slow cooked pork belly being served by Zubi Picture this. Tom Harper’s The Aeronauts is playing on an LCD while you laze on the sofa in front of it. With a table in front showcasing a veritable selection of starters waiting to be tucked into. The choice is yours. Whether you will pick a juicy yet meaty Rajasthani Maas je Sule to accompany the riveting adventures of Amelia Wren and James Glaisher, or fresh asparagus delicately flavoured with miso butter and burnt garlic flakes. The spicy, pickled lamb kebab letting out a faint aroma of desi ghee or the crunch of the green. Couple that with a pint of Heineken. Ah! Utopia… Meen Moily available at Sacred Grain  Even before we get to the next dish, let’s clarify that this setting is being concocted in your living room. The experience of a good film on Netflix, with great food, inside your cozy next is just a phone call away. And yes, we aren’t talking the conveyor belt quality dishes churned out by takeaway brands day in a

Of Food and Fables, at Table Stories

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Chicken Mappas by Chef Kunal Kapur Because food is the most beautiful binder. Of cultures, people and emotions. And memories. Imagine tucking into a glorious Mutton Deomali rustled up on an open charcoal fire by celebrity chef Amninder at a posh Bombay diner on an Autumn night... But I can bet my last dime that as your canines bite into the succulent smoked meat chunks, you will remember the first time you tasted it in a little restaurant in Arunachal Pradesh... That familiar smell and emotion comes floating in your mind... Mutton Deomali by Chef Amninder Sandhu That’s why what Chef Kunal Kapur, loved by gourmands all over for serving modern Indian cuisine, said made so much sense as we tucked into his Confit Chicken Mappas at the launch dinner of Table Stories, hosted at Iah Bar in The Roseate, Delhi, a week ago. “Brought up in a typical Punjabi household, my eyes were set on foreign shores. But, the first posting was in the South. We Punjabis knew south Indian cuisine

Special tidings at Anglow, curated by Anglo-Indian food expert Bridget White

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The streamers and balloons were being put up. There was more than the usual number of people in Bow Barracks. Christmas preparations were on in full swing. Hence, the delicious aroma of butter came wafting in as soon as we entered the courtyard of the red buildings, originally the garrison’s mess built for the British army during World War I. When the soldiers left India, they handed over the apartments to several Anglo-Indian families who inhabited the city of Calcutta. The buildings, we noticed, were in shambles. But soon, it would be Christmas and things looked sunny… I only took note of the cakes and ale that time. For my story for the Indian Express. If I would have probed further, I’m sure I would have heard of the special Christmas breakfast, lunch and dinner menus, too. The Anglo-Indian delicacies that we never really heard of or spoke about. However, better late than never… On Friday afternoon, as we tucked into a large Anglo-Indian spread at Anglow in Khan

Top Chef Gary Mehigan at The Roseate

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Gary Mehigan at The Roseate. Pic by Suman Tarafdar It was an on-the-spur decision to substitute my name with Bono’s that stretch his characteristic smile into a wide grin. “Bono. Nice! Like the singer? Or, who knows? He will be even more famous!” Said Gary Mehigan as he signed his autograph for my seven-year-old who doesn’t miss any episode of the British-Australian celebrity chef’s latest show Masters of Taste on Fox Life. What I noticed throughout the afternoon was how the restaurateur and TV host used that cheerful demeanour, disarming smile and unaffected candour to break the ice while interacting with complete strangers who had come to savour the meal thoughtfully curated by him at the lunch powered by HDFC Bank and Visa. An invite-only event at Chi Ni at The Roseate, it was a buzzing four hours high on taste and culinary marvels peppered by Gary’s constant repartee. Even as he explained the food put in front of the gourmands, he shared anecdotes from his Masterchef Austra

Robust meals and rich flavours abound at Tenali-The Andhra Kitchen

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The Veg Thali Mashi, who looks after Bono at home in my absence is from a village in Howrah. When she first came into our house six years ago, I noticed she liked her food spicy. Owning a palette that couldn’t take much heat, I kept asking her how she was digesting the red chillies with such ease. “Habit!” she reasoned, adding, “Without the red chillies I feel the food isn’t tasty.” Despite she imploring us to try her cooking, we were wary. Because somehow, I felt that the heat of chillies would mar the delicacy of the other spices. But yesterday, I realised that it takes a deft hand to balance things out. As I tucked into the expansive vegetarian thali (Rs 350) at Tenali – The Andhra Kitchen yesterday afternoon, I will admit that my nose resembled a little spring from the mountains but my tongue was happy with the strong flavours and spices. And of course, I had the curd and the Sabudana Payasam to temper things down. Ginger fried chicken wings Tenali Kitchen is no

Plum Food in a Posh Ambiance

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When I stepped out of home yesterday for a lunch date at Plum by Bentchair, Lutyen’s Delhi’s new posh dining destination, I was anticipating a quiet experience amidst the colourful interiors with a spread of what the restaurant has termed fusion Asian. I was wrong. I hadn’t expected it to buzz that way on an afternoon when the city was preparing for Janmashtami Puja in the evening. A steady stream of guests walked in throughout the two hours I was there. I actually was pleasantly surprised by how well foodies have responded to this concept retail restaurant. After a chat with the manager, I realised it was a good decision to choose yesterday. “The tables are completely sold out on weekends,” he said with enormous pride. Coming to the definition of a retail restaurant, it is where you can purchase as you eat. Not just the victuals. Tables, chairs, consoles, paintings, accessories, home décor collectibles… just about anything that you lay eyes or your behinds on… if you