Luncheon at The Taj Wellington Mews: Jevan Zaala Ka?

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My sister and I were lucky enough to grow up staying at fantastic Taj properties during so many of our travels within India. A gracious charm, over the top hospitality, fabulous service, exotic cuisines; staying at any Taj Hotel meant an ‘experience’ to be savoured.

Cut to a lesser known Taj property within Aamchi Mumbai. Tucked away in the by lanes of the old worldly charming Colaba lies the beautiful Taj Wellington Mews, Taj’s luxury serviced apartments, a home within a home for many (read mainly expats). Comprising of two sprawling penthouses with fabulous views of the Taj dome and the gentle Arabian Sea beyond on one side, and of the Cooperage greens and the Oval Maidan and the Rajabai Tower on the other, this property also has many two and three bedroom apartments, a perfect home if you need to stay in our city for a week or a year or many years!

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Master Bedroom

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Living Room

Kitchen

Kitchen

This pet friendly place boasts of a beautiful swimming pool, a state of the art gym, a lounge bar, the quaint Weli Deli complete with fresh groceries for sale, the signature Jiva Spa, a delightful children’s room, and to me the one most important thing, a security of its own which is second to none! No wonder it is home to many Consul Generals.

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Taj Club and Jiva Spa

Cut to the new gastronomic delights being offered at the Weli Deli. Keeping in mind the festival season, Executive Chef Shrutika Koli, trained under the eagle eye of none other than the legendary Hemant Oberoi himself, offers a sumptuous Maharashtrian thali, a veritable feast for the eyes first, and then the stomach. We firmly believe that it is the eyes that taste the food first!

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A beautifully laid out table complete with marigolds waited for our motely bunch of invitees. As conversation veered around the many aspects of what else, food, out came the bearers in their resplendent turbans, with stunning silver thaals filled to the brim with Chef Koli had crafted with love. The thalis brought back memories of the Tanjore of yore at the Taj Mahal Hotel, where we often used to dine as children on parents’ birthdays, enjoying the Indian classical dances.

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We tucked into the hearty fare from different regions of Maharashtra, and marvelled at how the humble potato bhaaji had been turned into a haute cuisine dish. The stuffed vangi (brinjals) were saturated with local condiments, and the aamti (daal) was just right, sweet, sour, and tangy. The kothmir vadis from the Konkan region with its perfect texture needed a second helping, they were so delicious, but the accompanying tomato chutney needed probably four helpings by each one of us. The Kolhapuri thecha (a type of hari mirch chutney) came out later, much to our delight. The masala bhaat was so perfect in taste, it did not need any accompaniment of a daal or kadhi. We are vegetarians, but the non-vegetarians among us vouched as much for the Chicken Kolhapuri. However, all agreed that the piece de resistance was the combination of piping hot, fluffy puris, to be eaten dipped with the smooth as silk shrikhand, served beautifully in a piped swirl and garnished with strands of saffron. The humble Maharashtrian fare had been turned into nouvelle cuisine.

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Since we Indians mostly eat our dessert with our meals (the shrikhand here), we were delighted to round off our hearty thaali with hot ginger tea, aka ‘cutting chaai’, served in the small lined glasses in the manner of our friendly neighbourhood ‘chaaiwala’.

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Needless to say that while the residents of the apartments are tucking into this delicious local fare, Mumbaikars must reserve a table at the Weli Deli in the coming days to relish this local fare in the stylish way only the Taj can serve. The thaali is available throughout the month of August and is a steal at a price of Rs. 1480/- all inclusive.

Oh and did we mention that for the first time we felt as welcomed as do the foreigners in our country as we were greeted with a tikka and aarti as we entered? Or that we were greeted by the affable General Manager Mr. Anmol Ahluwalia himself? And that at every corner of the property, members of the staff smiled and greeted us warmly? And that the entire team at Taj Wellington Mews dined with us?

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We finally have the perfect word for the Taj Experience, which we spoke about at the beginning. It is TAJNESS!

Do experience it, again and again.

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Lunching Just Got Better !

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CHINA HOUSE INTRODUCES YUMCHA LUNCH

Enjoy a delectable feast with more than 30 dimsum varieties at Grand Hyatt Mumbai.

China House – the award winning Chinese restaurant at Grand Hyatt Mumbai brings home authentic YUMCHA offering for lunch starting April 2016. Yumcha (饮茶), also known as ‘going for dim sum‘, is a type of Chinese style brunch tea, which involves drinking Chinese tea and eating dimsum. It is popular in Cantonese-speaking regions in China and has spread to other regions worldwide due to the presence of overseas Chinese.

You can choose from the delectable dimsum selections and relish the traditional preparations with Chinese Tea.

The YUMCHA menu will be served in its traditional method that dates back to the early 60s, when dimsum items were precooked in advance in the kitchen and brought out into the dining area in baskets by the chefs.

Few of the authentic offerings include –

Steamed crystal prawn dumplings              水晶虾饺皇

Prawns Spinach rolls                                豉汁翡翠菠菜卷

Crispy prawn spring rolls                          脆皮炸虾春卷

Lobster truffle mushroom dumplings           龙虾松露饺

Chilli and sea bass dumplings                    鲈鱼海鲜饺

Shanghai chicken soup dumpling               上海小笼包

Barbeque chicken buns                             鸡肉叉烧包

V Pan fried radish cake                             香煎萝卜丝饼

V Edamame beans dumplings                    松露毛豆饺

V Sichuan vegetarian wonton                     山城素抄手

V Zucchini, Aspargus dumpling                 双瓜同心饺

V Pumpkin dumpling                              南瓜饺

V Chinese cabbage water chestnut dumpling 上素白菜饺

V Spinach peanut dumpling                      相思饺

V Mushroom and vegetables buns             什锦素包
The lunch is available at China House, Grand Hyatt Mumbai. For more details visit hyattrestaurants.com or call 022 66761149.

This post has been submitted by the Grand Hyatt Mumbai to Chai Cake and Kitsch. 

Restaurant Review: The Bombay Canteen

Address: Kamala Mills, Lower Parel
Tel: + 91 22 49666666
Reservations: Recommended
Open Tuesday through Sunday and currently closed on Mondays
Timings: 12 noon to 1am
Lunch: average meal for 2 without alcohol: Rs.800; with alcohol: Rs.1,100
Dinner: average meal for 2 without alcohol: Rs.1,600; with alcohol: Rs.2,400
(excluding taxes)

Located in a corner of Kamla Mills, The Bombay Canteen is everything Indian with a twist, quite a twist if I may say so. I was one of the food bloggers invited to a preview of the lunch menu introduced by the restaurant and I’m really glad that I got to be one of the lucky few.

CEO Sameer Seth and COO Yash Bhanage greeted us warmly and took us through a little tour of what was previously a bungalow. Blending together Indian and modern décor perfectly, I fell in love with the old school tiles and open kitchen.

Lunch (for me) started with a deliciously prepared hot toddy as a relief for my sore throat. Thoroughly infused with honey, cardamom and cinnamon sticks, this was much needed. My fellow bloggers had the opportunity of picking a drink off the menu, but that gives me a good enough reason to visit the restaurant again ;). Every item on the menu is an amalgamation of Indian flavours and classic cocktails like the Jugaad (bourbon, rose tincture and fresh, tart pomegranate juice) or the Rim Zhim Masala Soda. For my non-drinkers, the Passion Fruit & Star Anise Iced Tea was pretty popular on the table.

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Here’s all that I tried and boy did I eat!

We were served the methi & arugula salad, pumpkin & paneer seekh kebabs with a mooli, apple & walnut raita, Kutchi dabeli, spicy sabzi paratha roll, Tamil ‘Kothu Roti’, multi grain khichdi, and the hero of the afternoon, vegetarian Canteen Tiffin box. And this is only the vegetarian stuff!

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I was a tad bit sceptical about the methi and arugula salad, but Chef Thomas has brought in all the flavours and textures brilliantly. This one is a MUST HAVE. The pumpkin and paneer seekh kebabs were an absolute melting moment. The raita especially, was refreshing on a hot summer day. The Kutchi dabeli unfortunately was a bit of a let down since I’ve eaten the ones on the streets of Gujarat, but the parathas made up for it. They were served with a side of incredibly fresh salad as well. Big thumbs up. The Tamil Kothu Roti was delicious, with roasted cauliflowers, disco pumpkin and coconut gravy. It’s also served with a single fried egg but that’s optional. The multi grain khichdi was a bit of a let down because it sounded extremely healthy but was served with quite the tadka of ghee. Good on taste though, nonetheless. By this time I could not eat a morsel further, however when the hero, the Canteen Tiffin box was served I could not hold myself back. It is served with a side, salad and a sweet dish. There are mustard chicken curry, Kerala egg roast and sprouted bean and paneer bhurji options. DELISH!

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I promised myself at this point that I would not eye the desserts to say the least but all my sweet teeth gave in! You cannot leave the restaurant without trying the old monk gulab jamun. I only wish it was served slightly hotter. I’m not a fan of anything rose flavoured so falooda was out of the question. The masala chai popsicles were an interesting take on chai and the guava tan-ta-tan (puff pastry with chilli ice cream) was a little too spicy for my taste. I can’t handle spicy food but if you can, then this must be tried.

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There’s absolutely no doubt that I will be back at the restaurant especially since I’ve been told the vibe is much better at night. Tasteful interiors, top quality food and friendly service make The Bombay Canteen a must visit on my list of Mumbai’s top spots.

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

Traditional Greek Salad Recipe

Greek salad is extremely famous within Greece, internationally as well and it’s no wonder why. Filled with fresh ingredients, it’s healthy, extremely light on your stomach and is a great alternative to eating an entire meal. It is also known as ‘horiatiki’ meaning ‘village’ in Greek, because of its traditional, rustic nature. Originally, the salad only contains cucumber, tomato, onion, olives, olive oil, fresh herbs and feta. It does however, vary slightly, depending on where you are eating it. For example, in Santorini, capers are used instead of olives. In Crete, it is served with dakos, i.e. tomato and feta piled onto a barley rusk, previously soaked in water and oil. In some other places, local cheese or soft white cheese is substituted for feta.

Even though the salad is prepared differently in different countries, it does NOT contain any leafy greens and/or red bell peppers. Feta is served as a whole block, not crumbled and is served in a shallow dish, not a deep one. Only fresh, ripe ingredients are used.

This recipe makes 1 medium bowl, serving 1 person.

Ingredients:
1 cucumber
2 large tomatoes or 8-10 cherry tomatoes
1 small onion
7-8 kalamata olives**
1 slab of feta (around 100 gm)
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp lemon juice
Fresh herbs*
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
Salt to taste
You may also add thinly sliced green bell peppers.

*I picked up traditional herbs from a local supermarket in Santorini for the salad but you may use oregano.
**I love olives so my recipe calls for these many. You may change this depending on your preferences. Regular black olives can also be used.

Method:
1. Mix the olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper and oregano in a bowl and set aside***.
2. Cut the cucumber in slightly thick rounds. Do not peel it.
3. Cut the tomatoes in wedges, not in cubes. If you are using cherry tomatoes, cut them in half.
4. Cut the onions in wedges.
5. Combine the cucumber, tomatoes and onions in a shallow dish. Add the olives.
6. Drizzle the olive oil mix over the ingredients and top it up with the slab of feta. You can garnish the feta with some herbs.

***You may add a dash of red wine vinegar to this mix.
I do not usually measure the oil; I pour just enough to coat the salad.
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The feta is served as a whole which you can then crumble.
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Do write in and let me know your thoughts. Enjoy!

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