High Tea at Taj Lands End, Mumbai

 

“You can’t get a cup of tea big enough or a book long enough to suit me” – C. S. Lewis

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My journey and fondness for more than just Masala Chai began during my stint in the UK and has stayed with me since. I lived in the North of UK where it’s freezing cold most of the year so a nice cup of pipping hot tea and a pair of warm cozy socks made me the happiest. It’s amazing to see though how seriously the British take their teatime! In fact we used to often joke that refusing a cup of tea in the UK could be considered anarchy ! Jokes aside, some of the most stunning tea parlours can be found in this magical country –

  1. 21 Absolutely Charming Tea Rooms You Have To Visit, by Buzzfeed UK- https://www.buzzfeed.com/ailbhemalone/tea-for-two?utm_term=.guAawwxGR#.yr2KZZWNg
  2. Best Tea Rooms in England by Conde Nast Traveller – http://www.cntraveller.com/recommended/uk/best-tea-rooms

Making afternoon tea a highly fashionable beverage, Portuguese Princess Catherine de Braganza brought the royal court’s favourite drink to the city in myriad flavours and aromas“. The Taj Lands End Mumbai, invites you to sneak into the life of a trend setter and uncover the tales of teas in her treasure trove.

The trend of high tea began when having tea in the afternoon, known as Afternoon Tea for obvious reasons, shifted from the privilege of the upper class to the working class. To bridge the gap between lunch and dinner, afternoon tea began as a mini meal between the two. The working class however could not afford expensive tea and the accompaniments that followed, nor could they drink tea at the same hour. Their schedules allowed them to get home only late evening, leaving them famished, which gave rise to the modern day fashionable, High Tea.

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Says Chef Aniruddha Roy, “The most quintessential of customs observed by Bandra-ites have been acquired by the Portugal and European traditions. Inspired by the ceremonious means of enjoying a good time with family and friends, we have introduced a lavish menu of teas and delectable treats to make afternoons a memorable time of the dayThe most quintessential of customs observed by Bandra-ites have been acquired by the Portugal and European traditions. Inspired by the ceremonious means of enjoying a good time with family and friends, we have introduced a lavish menu of teas and delectable treats to make afternoons a memorable time of the day”. 

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On the Menu:

Cocktails:
Queen’s Bellini – Raspberry infused Prosecco
East Indian Shandy – Infused with raspberry
Curry Leaf Martini – The Highlight of the evening!

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Tea:
Parsi Chai – With a touch of nutmeg and loads of cardamom, and a tad too much milk, but full of aroma ❤

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Snacks:
Scones
Chocolates
Fruit Tarts
Cupcakes (a.k.a. HEAVEN)
Mushroom buns
Mini Cucumber and Chutney Sandwich
Sliders

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These cupcakes are made of from rice flour, coconut and Parmesan cheese ! The saltiness of the cheese cuts right through the sweetness of the coconut making them a big hit.

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The sliders were delicious, full of flavour, a little difficult to eat being that they were a little too tall, but a great way to cut the sweetness of the chocolates, pastries and cupcakes. I was a little disheartened to see the chutney sandwich and paneer on the menu though. I’d have preferred something a little more experimental.

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Besides the lovely food and drinks, I must also compliment the carefully detailed, exquisite decor by the Executive Housekeeper I am told. Look at the centrepieces ! Not to mention we were also treated to the uber famous Taj Hospitality.

This particular Friday evening was most certainly my cup of tea 😉 The High Tea is available on all days of the week at the Atrium Lounge from 3 p.m to 6 p.m.

Prices: Rs. 795 + taxes (Tea High Tea) / Rs 995 + taxes (Tea High Tea and 2 Cocktails)

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Raising The Bar Real High!

Carter Road is famous for many things – the promenade, beautiful sunsets, friendly faces, even a tattoo shop and food, so much food. You can find everything here from Shawarma joints, to FroYo shops, Subway, ice cream parlours, even a Chinese and Mexican food restaurant (in one), and Café Coffee Day at the corner (that has been around for almost half my life).

But tucked in a small corner above CCD, one can find the new age, uber chic restaurant ‘Masala Bar’. If you’re passing by on a midnight drive, you might even miss it, but definitely not ever since the rave reviews and reception the restaurant has received.

It is the hippest new joint in Bandra, almost impossible to get into, albeit completely worth the wait. With an all-black theme, dim lighting, fancy cocktails, fancier Indian food, and riding on the brand name of the Kalras, this restaurant offers the perfect mixture of food, drinks and ambience.

As you enter, you will walk past red walls, black stairs with melting candles on both sides of the staircase giving it a very gothic look, reminding me of Poe’s ‘The Raven’.

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We had not booked a table (BAD IDEA on a weekend, but doable on a weekday), but since we were early the staff gave us a table of our choice (politely reminding us that we would have to move to the bar in case those who had booked it showed up on time). The restaurant is all black and boy does that add to its charm. The lighting is only through lamps on every table and the candles I mentioned earlier, creating a very intimate setting. (That can be a bit of issue while reading the menu though).

Drinks
Bollywood Bhang (Rs. 700) and Filter-Kafi Uska (Rs. 700)

If you’ve been to Masala Library, you know that presentation is everything. The same concept applies here. Bollywood Bhang, was served in a wooden tray with vodka, thandaai and a flask with vodka and basil leaves. True to theatrical flair, the server used a blowtorch at the bottom of the flask to create smoke which we were asked to inhale. The basil flavour of the smoke set the tone for the bhang, which was phenomenal. I am not too big a fan of creamy cocktails, but this one is definitely worth trying, especially with its skull-shaped glass.

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Filter-Kaif Uska – largely coffee based, the drink (with copious amounts of vodka), had a hint of cinnamon as well. It had a very strong flavour and frankly I could not finish it because it hit me pretty fast (!). I’d say you could give it a miss and consider their whiskey cocktails.

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How pretty is this?

Appetizers 
Mushroom Soufflé Nuggets (Rs. 350), Pan-tossed shrooms (Rs. 350), and Litti Chokha Profiteroles (Rs. 300).

The nuggets were to die for! The truffle flavour was impeccable and despite the fried covering, the calories were worth it. A must try for any truffle lover.


From left to right: Mushroom Soufflé Nuggets (2), Pan-tossed shrooms, Litti Chokha Profiterolls

Since I love mushrooms so much (clearly), we ordered the Pan-tossed shrooms, which was like a mushroom bruschetta, the twist being good old khaki biscuit used as a base. The flavours worked perfectly together especially with the mint green chutney that accompanied. The Litti Chokha Profiterolls was a Bihari dish, so we thought we would experiment. It did not go down well with us 😦 On the outside it was a soft bread roll, filled with vegetable stuffing. While it looked gorgeous, I didn’t find the taste all that appealing so you could give this a miss. This could be replaced by the Carbon Pav Bhaji, a dish that I will try out the next time.

Mains
Truffle Shitake Steak Burger (Rs. 310) and Puffed grains and Pesto Khichdi (Rs. 395).

The Burger was accompanied by potato crisps on a skewer, which were a delish blend of crispy and soft. The burger patty was amazing, sadly the truffle flavour was not very evident. There were too many caramelized onions on top of the patty affecting the taste. The pesto Khichdi on the other hand was the highlight of the night. Accompanied by olives, papad, and ‘mamra’ the flavours were brilliant. If mom could make khichdi at home like this, I’d gladly fall sick everyday!

We ended our dinner with another drink, the Malabar Point (Rs. 700). Our server told us that this was inspired by Malabar Hill, an iconic location in Mumbai. The drink was themed as a blend of all the elements – sea, land and the sun. It was fruity, with apple and cinnamon topped with thyme foam. I was a little worried about the foam but the flavour was minimal. Again, the presentation of the drink was superb, with flasks and what not taking me back to Chemistry class! Definitely one to try for a vodka lover.

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Zoravar Kalra and his levels of creativity never cease to amaze me and once again with Masala Bar he has most certainly set the bar extremely high !

Address: Carter Road
Price: Meal for two Rs. 5,000
Reservation: Highly recommended
Overall Rating: 5/5

 

Cutty Sark’s Cocktail Recipies

About the brand

Cutty Sark is an iconic brand which embodies the spirit of fearlessness, brave, bold & creative from the very time it was introduced in the US during the prohibition era (1923), to today, when the brand is constantly innovating and reinventing itself. Cutty Sark blended Scotch whisky was launched in 1923 and was acquired by Edrington in 2010. Since its launch, Cutty Sark – the original smooth whisky, has graced the world’s best bars and clubs for over 90 years and is considered an iconic brand. Originally conceived as an export brand, Cutty Sark is available in over 50 markets around the world; it is particularly successful in the USA and Southern Europe, especially Spain, Portugal and Greece.

The bottle proudly proclaims that the whisky is a “salute to the notorious Captain William S. McCoy, who smuggled Cutty Sark blended Scotch whisky into America during the Prohibition era of the 1920’s. His impeccable reputation for only dealing in the finest, genuine & unadulterated liquor – gave rise to Cutty Sark being referred to as ‘THE REAL McCOY’.

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1. Cutty Sour

Ingredients
1.75 oz. Cutty Sark Scotch Whisky
0.75 oz Lemon Juice
0.5 oz Sugar Syrup

Method

1. Combine Cutty Sark Scotch Whisky, oz lemon juice, sugar syrup, in a shaker full of ice.
2. Strain into an ice filled tumbler.
3. Garnish with the lemon twist and serve.

Dish to accompany with the drink: Tomato Bruchetta and Olives are a complete win with this drink!

2. Debonair

Ingredients
3.75 oz. Cutty Sark Scotch Whisky
Orange Juice
Twist of Lemon Peel

Method

1. Stir all ingredients with cubed iced for 20 seconds.
2. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
3. Garnish with a twist of lemon peel.

Dish to accompany with the drink: Crispy Chilli veggies

Do give these a try and let me know how they turned out at chaicakekitsch@gmail.com.

These recipes have been submitted by Cutty Sark for Chai Cake & Kitsch.

Quick Monsoon Fixes

It’s July 17 already, and what is up with the Rain Gods!? Are they miffed with us? Mumbai city has definitely not witnessed a good monsoon season and it’s just hot and sticky and ugh! However, here’s a thought. Maybe we could go whip up some cocktails and then just maybe, we won’t feel so bad about it ? 😉 Here are 3 great cocktail recipes prepared by Chef Vijay Anand Bakshi –  Head of Culinary Operations, Barbeque Nation.

Apri-odka

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Ingredients

Vodka – 60ml
Dried Apricots – 8 chunks
Apricot Jam – 2 spoons
Lime juice – 25ml
Kaffir Lime – 1 leaf
Garnish – Kaffir lime leaf

Method

1. Muddle the dried apricots and jam.

2. Add lime juice, Vodka and broken kaffir lime leaf.

3. Shake and fine strain in a chilled martini glass.

Chef’s Tip: Serve in martini glasses

Botanical Bloody Mary

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Ingredients

Vodka – 60 ml
Celery Salt – A Pinch
Lime juice- 20 ml
Tabasco sauce – 2 dashes
Worcestershire sauce – 2 dashes
Angostura bitters – 2 dashes
Horseradish – ½ bar spoon
Tomato juice – 120ml
Garnish – Fresh Parsley sprig and salt rim

Method

1. Add all the ingredients in an ice filled and salt rimmed old fashioned glass and stir to mix well.

Chef’s Tip: Serve in old fashioned glassware

Spicy Jalapenos Margarita

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Ingredients

Tequila – 45ml
Triple Sec – 25ml
Jalapenos – 3-4
Lime juice – 25ml
Garnish – Sugar rim with lemon slice

Method

1. Gently muddle the jalapeños, add the rest of the ingredients and shake. 2. Fine strain in a chilled glass with a sugar rim (Watch the technique here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Orv1qXbhAqg)

Chef’s tip: Serve in Margarita glassware

Try one of these out this weekend and let me know what you think! Write to me at chaicakekitsch@gmail.com.

These recipes have been submitted by Barbeque Nation.

Dining in Greece

First off, my most sincere apologies for the delay in posting this article. It’s terrible having to get back to your work routine after a vacation, but no more excuses! If only work and travel could somehow come together, it would make life so much better. Ahh the joys of wishful thinking..

Now to the more important matter at hand – FOOD! In this article, I’m going to talk about the restaurants I dined at in Greece. I’m also going to let you in on a little secret. Besides the fact that I was looking forward to this trip because it was my first one with just friends, I was excited about the gorgeous beaches, people (read: God-like Greek men), and relaxing; but more than anything else, I was looking forward to eating great food. Being a vegetarian isn’t always easy when you’re travelling, luckily Greece gave me no trouble at all. What I loved the most about the food I devoured was its freshness and superior quality. Not only did every dish taste great, but also looked spectacular – the variety of colours on my plate and the presentation were a severe temptation. What I also LOVED was that almost everything I ate was quite healthy, so I’ve enjoyed my meals guilt free!

Athens

Arcadia Restaurant
‪27 Makrygianni St, Athens, Greece

You’re wandering around the streets below the Acropolis of Athens, tired, sweaty, dehydrated and starved.. What do you do? You go look for a good, fulfilling meal. And that’s how we landed up at Arcadia. Makrygianni Street (around the Plaka) has a ton of restaurants lined up, but the menu here seemed most tempting. The restaurant has two sections – one inside and one right on the street. A few cool beers and glasses of orange juice later, we were enjoying friendly conversations with the wait staff. This place can boast exceptional service! You can choose from an extensive menu of pastas, seafood and local dishes. This was the first restaurant where I tried local delicacies – dolmades, vegetarian souvlaki and zucchini fritters. It was a delicious meal, just what we needed after touring the Acropolis in the sweltering heat. The wait staff was kind enough to serve us tall glasses of local iced coffee and slices of watermelon (on the house) to help us cool down.

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Image Courtesy: Trip Advisor

Balux Café – The House Project
Posidonos Av. 58, Glyfada, Athens, Greece
http://www.baluxcafe.com
Location courtesy: Euphoric Traveler

The sounds of the calm sea, candlelight, drinks and a gorgeous sunset, followed by dinner beneath a sky full of stars and tasteful music – Balux Café breathes ROMANCE. It’s the perfect sundowner. Treat your lady to a dinner here or just chill with friends. Balux has a few cafes/restaurants, but the one you want to be at is The House Project. It’s divided by different sections. If you’re there during the day and want to relax by the beach, they have sunbeds to offer. If you wish to lie around, watch television, read a book or two, play table games, they have sections for those as well. There are two sections (indoor and outdoor) for drinks and dinner too, but I recommend you get a table by the beach. The vegetarian appetizers here sure to tickle your taste buds; we particularly enjoyed the grilled asparagus bruschetta in Parmesan sauce. Mains included a margarita pizza and a farmhouse pizza, Santorini pasta and a beautiful asparagus risotto. The restaurant is extremely famous for their sushi options, which I can’t comment on, but my friends thought it was delicious. It is a little bit pricey, so expect to pay around 30 euros per person, including drinks. It can also get very crowded, especially on nights when they have live bands playing, so you want to ensure you have a reservation. It is also a good 40-minute cab ride from the main city, so getting there is a little expensive. We managed to find a private car company to take us there for 90 Euros (one way) and since we were 9 people, we ended up getting a pretty good deal.

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Image Courtesy: http://www.baluxcafe.com
It’s as magical in reality as it looks in the photographs online.

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Image Courtesy: http://www.baluxcafe.com

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Image Courtesy: http://www.baluxcafe.com

Mykonos

Hippie Fish
Ioannis Diakoftis ‪84600

Bringing together Greek and Mediterranean food with the Mykonian Sun in a Cycladic setting, Hippie Fish is a must visit. Situated right at Agios Ioannis beach it makes for a fantastic location. The restaurant is famous for its sushi and that the movie Shirley Valentine was shot here. Their cocktails are a little expensive but are quite wicked! My recommendation here is the Apple Mojito, without a doubt. We decided to go local and ordered a plate of pita with hummus and melitzanosalata to begin with, followed by dolmades, fritters and the Greek salad. Taste and quality were both superior. You can take a look at their menu here – http://www.hippiefish-mykonos.com. The wait staff is friendly, but service is extremely slow. Luckily for the serenity of this place, we ended up spending a good 3 hours here just soaking it all in. It’s a bit pricey, but the experience is definitely worth it. You must also visit the absolutely gorgeous beach by the day.

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Bottom right photo courtesy: http://www.hippiefish-mykonos.com

Nammos
Psarou Beach, Mikonos
Location Courtesy: Euphoric Traveler

This is one experience I am never going to forget. Every penny spent at this extravagant place is completely worth it. Situated right by the Aegean Sea, Nammos is divided into several sections (refer to the photo below).

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They have a club, a spa, a boutique with only the most expensive designers, a sheesha lounge and two restaurants. A sheesha will cost you 180 Euros for an hour (yikes!). We sat at the restaurant by the beach; it’s a lot more affordable. This place attracts only the crème de la crème of Mykonos and the islands around it. Even though the top few reviews on Trip Advisor are negative, we personally thought the place was incredible – fantastic crowds, delicious food and a very helpful wait staff. Get here before sunset and this place turns into a beach club with brilliant music. However, do be ready to spend at least 35-40 Euros per person for a meal, minus the alcohol. There is also an entry fee of 4 Euros. My recommendations here are the rigatoni with asparagus and tagliatelle with truffles in a creamy garlic sauce; summed up in one word – DIVINE!

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Santorini

After having eaten so much over the last couple of days in Athens and Mykonos, we decided to take it easy in Santorini. We ate our breakfast and lunch, both in the hotel because honestly, it was too hot to go out. At night we went to the village of Fira, and found a great local, roadside place serving excellent falafels – Yogi Gyros. A single falafel here is a meal in itself. A bottle of chilled water/soda to go with it and you’re done for the evening. This will cost you approximately 6 Euros, not more. We ended up having this on 2 out of 3 nights! On our second evening we were feeling a little lazy and therefore ate at a cafe very close to our hotel – Aegen Cafe, Imerovigli. I tried the bell peppers stuffed with rice and herbs (the waitress convinced me that it was a local dish so I should try it), but they were extremely disappointing. My cousin though, had a seafood pasta in wine sauce which she quite enjoyed. What was really interesting was the that the pasta resembled grains of rice, something I’ve never seen before. Unfortunately I do not have an image, but for the record it’s called Orzo.

Quick Tip:
Service at restaurants in Greece is extremely slow, for reasons unknown, so if you’re famished, act accordingly. Also, for some reason they provide you with bills only in Greek so remember the price of the dish you ordered otherwise you won’t end up knowing what you paid for.

I do hope this article was helpful. Write in to me at chaicakekitsch@gmail.com and let me know what you think! X