Tuesday, July 21, 2015

A healthy meal with Raw Leaf

While Skeeter struggles to break this health posts series link, one after the other, what is certain is that 'healthy' is here to stay. No matter how much Skeeter yearns for her share of junk edibles, there are constant, everyday efforts to eat and stay healthy. These efforts maybe of miniscule proportions, but they are there. 
Health food deliveries are on a roll. I'd rather call them clean food deliveries. Raw Leaf is one of the many such deliveries in/around Delhi. What makes them preferable is that Skeeter has picked their mixed green bags (read Romaine, Rocket, Iceberg Lettuce and so on) from supermarket shelves in the past. These bags, though tad expensive, are crisp and fresh, and never wilted. They are also ready-to-use i.e. the leaves are separated and pre-washed for your convenience. Raw Leaf have their own farm (using best practices) to source these. However, they have not gone organic, yet. 

The salads

And now Raw Leaf has launched a salad & juice delivery service, which seems like the logical next step. They sent some over to sample. Here's what Skeeter thought about them. The first one was the Quinoa salad with grapefruit, avocado and arugula. It came with a Vinaigrette dressing. Though Skeeter loves Arugula, this one needs a little tweaking with less of Arugula leaves to make it wee bit less bitter. Otherwise, a very fresh and pep-me-up salad, this.
The other, an Assorted grilled vegetables salad, came with a sublime dressing made up of simple ingredients: Honey, Olive oil, lemon juice. Assorted peppers, potatoes, and even eggplants made their way into this bowl and a generous grating of cheese was used to finish it. Now, this could be my go-to meal twice a week. Grilled to perfection and tasted fab as well! 



The juices

Fuel up, a bright orange, neaty bottled one, was made up with Pear, apple, pineapple and turmeric, is quite a refreshing one. Though I could not taste the pear, the apple outshone with the tanginess of pineapple showing up at times and a mellow turmeric somewhere towards the end. Overall, I loved how it tasted. The Purify juice, a deep maroon one, was made up with Beets, carrots, tomatoes, coriander, mint, ginger, amla and lemon. Skeeter loves her beets and can vouch for Purify as the most deelish of all cold pressed juices in town. The juices are available at Rs 140 per bottle.


For the pricing of salads, ready-to-use greens and all else, visit: www.rawleaf.in

Monday, June 22, 2015

Guppy by ai, Summer Menu

This hasn't been intentional but the last few posts have been around eating healthy and snacking healthy. This one's no different. Top chefs are waking up to vegetables around them and are cooking up a storm with the most exotic produce. This is #trending in the world of gastronomy. Suddenly vegetarianism is cool and Skeeter can proudly say she was always cool! 
Guppy by ai has been revisited one too often: when Skeeter doesn't want to cook, when she wants to eat out but eat light and healthy or simply put, when she simply wants to eat at Guppy by ai. Guppy by ai also has this amazing team led by chef Vikram Khatri and supported by chef Saurabh, that reinvents its menu time and again, presenting food that stuns the senses. Their use of vegetables, both local and exotic, mesemerises. Take the Sakura wood smoked pumpkin soup (Rs 250), which is hearty with a slight smoked flavour and comes topped with healthy, crispy pumpkin seeds that make all the difference. You get all benefit that this humble vegetable has to offer at a go: the fruit to the seed. I tried the Water chestnut and Tofu Motoyaki (Rs 400) with a little reluctance. What I got was the Japanese silken tofu and water chestnut baked in a rich sauce. I could nibble on it all day long. Umami in a bowl. 


The Seaweed and Mesclun salad (Rs 450) was up next. Young mustard, seaweed and fresh baby greens are served in tangy plum vinaigrette. Apart from the spectacular presentation and the sublime taste, the ingredients were a showstopper. Move on Nori, I got Tosaka on my plate. Yes! The wobbly tosaka seaweed (green and pink) tossed with other greens and a tangy plum vinaigrette made the summer outside so much bearable!
Salad was followed by some deep fried indulgence as Tempura was taken to another level with whole ladyfingers, nori and even coconut peeping out from the crunchy batter!


Oh and what is a visit to Guppy if you don't try their red rice Sushi?


But what really had my heart was the Hiyashi Tanuki Cha Soba (Rs 750), the Chilled green tea soba served with scallions, chilled soy flavoured broth and bonito. The green tea infused soba noodles are served on a bamboo sheet resting on ice in an earthen pot. Some places also serve it on Zaru, which is a bamboo tray that looks like a traditional sieve. The scallions, chilled soy flavoured broth and bonito are served alongside. You take the noodles in an empty bowl provided to you, add the rest of the accompaniments to taste, hold the bowl up and enjoy! If you like simple flavours Hiyashi Tanuki Cha Soba comes highly recommended. If not, you could try the very flavourful Tofu and exotic vegetable curry rice (Rs 900).


The Matcha pudding ended my meal. I've had Matcha icecreams and Matcha is undoubtedly my favourite Japanese green tea, the other being Sencha. This pudding is made from Matcha tea powder and served with house made toffee sauce (Rs 350). Lots of Matcha powder is dusted over the pudding to make you go mmmmm... Trust Guppy by ai to come up with something as delicate as this. No other flavour overpowered the star ingredient, Matcha. Yet I could taste and relish all other elements this excellent pudding was made of.
(This review was on invitation. The views herein are mine.)



Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Kale chips by Green Snack Co


When health knocks at your doorstep, you jump at it! I've been nibbling on these Kale chips by Green Snack Co, off and on, at home, at work and have even packed some in my bag for those long road trips I undertake. 
Kale is a superfood of the West making inroads to India. It is a powerhouse of beta carotene, vitamin K, and vitamin C, and is rich in calcium too. By far Skeeter's most favourite Kale dish has been a Phad Pak Kiew or Stir fried Kale with morning glory, pokchoy, soya bean sauce, garlic & pepper, that I enjoyed at Neung Roi. Besides its nutrition quotient, the curly-leaved vegetable that grows green and purple leaves has ornamental value for the gardens too. 

Green Snack Co have taken the best selling flavours from the world of crisps and are offering three most loved and well received flavours: Cheese & Onion, Sea Salt & Vinegar, Thai Sweet Chilli.


Sea Salt & Vinegar is Skeeter's personal favourite flavour of the three. The goodness of apple cider vinegar is combined with sea salt and a hint of cayenne pepper. The apple cider lends a slightly sour/fruity tang to the Kale chips that is accentuated by sea salt and further enhanced by the subtle kick from cayenne pepper that leaves one longing for more.

Cheese & Onion comes second for Skeeter, and they'd surely be well received by most. They are flavoured with parmesan, along with a novel addition: cashews, garlic and onion. This well-balanced flavour is presented well by Green Snack Co and cannot go wrong ever.

Thai Sweet Chilli is a zingy, pick-me-up flavour and is coated with with bell peppers and Thai chillies for a punch. Add to that cashews and pineapple for sweetness and you have a very fine product. 

Nutrition
Kale chips by Green Snack Co are made using the dehydration technique. They have the additional benefits of having no added sugar, preservatives or additives. You can read more about the health benefits here.. 

Price and packaging
All bags come for Rs 200, which is somewhat steep but well worth the money. The pack is simple and resealable, so you can begin munching from where you left. You can buy Kale chips online here or pick them up from your nearest store.

(The product was provided by Green Snack Co.)

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Thursday, May 28, 2015

Anna Perenna Pizza

Healthy 'eating out' may sound oxymoronish, but as they say there is no harm trying. Hence, I wander. Skeeter ended up at Anna Perenna Pizza, a gourmet, handmade pizza place, trying to do things differently. Anna Perenna is the Roman Goddess of long life & renewal, health & plenty. This delivery/takeaway service does top notch pizzas, making dough from the scratch and yes they are wholewheat (some, even multigrain) with no processed cheese whatsoever! While the last line may be hard to digest, the pizzas are rather easy on the stomach.


The Mint cooler lemonade served in a glass jar with the right amount of sweet and tang will quench your thirst and make you forget the sweltering heat outside for a while. The olive-studded bread and hummous were a great starter. The hummous was creamy and full of flavour and the olive-studded bread was wholewheat. What else could one ask for? I know it's gonna be on my dinner table again and again, and more!


From the pizza selection, Skeeter tried the 'Roast zucchini, tomato and basil pizza', that has a light and crisp base. The base sauce is made in-house and was finger-licking good. The pizza was overall perfect and I did not realise the absence of cheese. I would've loved a crispier base and if the zucchini was char-grilled it would make for a better sight on the plate, but then that's just being greedy and asking for more. This pizza makes for a perfect treat for weight watchers, as is.

The 'Jalapeno, pineapple and rocket pizza was rather inspirational and it'd be my go-to pizza in the days to come. If there is poetry on a plate, this is it, this is it, this is it! A crisp base, smeared with tomato sauce, topped with generous helpings of pineapple slices and rocket leaves. You get your pizza fix, you eat your dose of the favourite fruit and you munch some salad, all at a go. Oh did I mention, they have a low cheese and no-cheese option as well. Just ask them and they oblige. They claim to procure as many organic ingredients as possible. Plus ten for that. Vegan pizzas, anyone? Almost everything on the menu can be made vegan if it already isn't. They even cater to the needs of those suffering from celiac or gluten allergies.
The Pizza cannot get hotter than this!


Meal for two: Rs 750
For more information, check the Anna Perenna Pizza website  

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Mr Choy, Khan market

Replacing The Kitchen in Khan Market is Mr Choy, run by the very people behind the popular eatery Townhall in the same vicinity. If their experience in the industry is anything to go by, Mr Choy already promises tall, delivers those promises, and how! I've visited Mr Choy twice in a  week at different times of the day and have come back impressed. The only bummer being that the tables are placed too close for comfort. They can surely do by removing a table or two for some breathing space and still have people queuing up for the grub.


The dimsums

For your meal, begin with an assorted dimsum platter which they call the snackbox. Plated in a no-fuss, old-fashion steel tiffin box on top of a banana leaf, the simple presentation ensures the focus is on the food. There are six dimsums in a portion, so you try all and order the next portion on the basis of what you like. Our Veg assortd snackbox contained a piece each of: Vegetable dimsum in kinchin sauce, Green beans and celery, Four seasons, Assorted mushroom, Tofu Bok choy and the Bok Choy roll. Skeeter's favourites were the vegetable dimsum in kinchin sauce and the Assorted mushroom. The Vegetable Sticky Rice and Cheung Fun were ordered separately. While the Sticky Rice was decent, though not great, the Cheung Fun failed miserably as it came dunked in soy from the kitchen and fell apart on the very touch of the chopstick. Pouring soy at the table could salavge the Cheung Fun for them.











The drinks

If you, like me, are fed up of the calorie-laden, insipid beverages on offer in most Delhi restaurants, the Minty Chang and Bitter Lemonade will have you asking for seconds. Minty Chang comes with muddled mandarin chunks, kaffir lime leaves, lemon, a hint of sugar, topped with soda. The Bitter Lemonade is constructed with Kaffir lime leaves, tonic, angosutra bitter and lime juice and stands true to its name. Both the drinks go well with most of the menu, especially the dimsums.
Small plates

When you've had your share of dimsums, move on to the small plates. The Sauteed Enoki, Shimeji, Shiitake, Eryngii With Garlic And Fried Glass Noodles is a haven for fungi lovers like yours truly. The subtle flavours infused in this dish coupled with just the right amount of garlic, bring out the flavours of the assorted mushroom so well that I was almost heartbroken after I polished it off. The portion is good enough for it to be labelled a small plate and with that variety of fungi, it is good value for money. 




Asian noodles (Meal in a bowl)

These are rather meals in a jar. I tried two of them. The Mr. Choy Special has Filipino and Chinese style rice and flour noodles with black bean sauce. While these were nice, the Raman Style noodles make for a better order. They are actually Ramen, either misprinted on the menu or they are called Raman elsewhere in the world. A quick google search failed to help. Vegetarian Ramen noodles are fun, fun, fun! The Japanese style soupy noodles with a soy and miso  base with oodles of vegetables make for a complete meal, stuff that I call comfort food. The portion is not super large as usually the Ramen elsewhere goes. Go grab some!

Mr. Choy Special noodles

Ramen noodles
For the full menu and prices, click here. An average meal is approx Rs 1500 for two people.  

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Slow Food Movement catches up in India- Good, Clean, Fair food @ Olive, Qutub

I booked myself for a dinner showcasing the Slow Food Movement in India last week at Olive, Qutub. Having had many a memorable meals at Olive, Qutub, I go back again for the love of the place - The pebble strewn outdoor seating being my favourite. It makes me feel that I am in a different land, away from the blaring horns of a crazy city life and under a giant tree with sunshine making its way through the leaves, landing on my plate.

This time round, I took my seat in their GreenHouse to sample the best of local produce from India. It is only opportune to salute the sheer brilliance of Chef Sujan Sarkar and team who have taken modern gastronomy to another level in India. There are no gimmicks involved. Only. Real. Food. The 9-course Slow food dinner with a welcome drink was pegged at Rs 1900. The same menu is available with wine too.

Here are my top picks from the fairy-tale like dinner

Pumpkin and Goat Cheese,Fermented Gooseberry, Oreo
Crispy pumpkin strands, cape gooseberry fermented in lactic acid with a slight tang and a gorgeous faux oreo made with black olive shortbread to get the colour right, filled with creamy citrus scented goat cheese mousse to make a fab filling. Brilliant trailer, this! Sorry, not sharing a pic as the one I have is half eaten.



Best of 'The Green Bean' farm
This brilliantly plated salad was a riot of colours, textures and tastes. It consisted of confit parsnips, beetroot, black radish and baby carrots tossed in an apple cider vinaigrette, drizzled with nasturtium oil, complete with a nasturtium leaf and topped with a wheat grass crisp. If this doesn't sound, HOT already, the Best of The Green Bean farm had a sprinkling of black garlic powder which was the very reason I signed up myself for this dinner. Having read up about the process of making black garlic that takes upto two months to show results, this plate simply couldn't have been missed and was worth a million bucks. Best of 'The Green Bean' farm was unlike any salad that I've tasted and will remain etched in my mind.



Wood sorrel, Gondhoraj Lime sorbet
Gondhoraj lime is the Indian equivalent of Kaffir lime and is a favourite of the Bengali community. Its flavours were combined with wild wood sorrel to form an aromatic sorbet served in a gondhoraj lime shell. The natural notes hit the spot and the taste lingered in my mouth for a long, long time.



Kalari, Gucci and walnut Thecha, a slice of Kashmir
All regional Kashmiri flavours on a plate! This dish is a modern gastronomical tribute to the valley. You may have had the Kashmiri Tarimi a million times, but this dish belongs right up there. Sautéed Kashmiri Morels (the prized fungi from the valley) came in a white onion and mushroom gravy, topped with pan-seared Kalari Cheese from Kashmir and sprinkled with a walnut and coriander thecha crumb that gave the dish a crunch. The walnuts, again coming from the valley, are much sought after. Overall, the dish had an earthy flavour from the morels, woody rendering from the nuts and robustness of the Kalari cheese. The white onion gravy helped the flavours merge well. It was wilderness on a plate with unparalleled textures.




Ash gourd, Radish, 4S Buttermilk
Buttermilk (from 4S brand) was churned into an ice-cream and served along with a candied ash gourd strip which is actually our petha and a thin strip of caramelized radish. While buttermilk ice-cream was a first for me, who knew it'd taste so nice and go well with radish? The candied ash gourd rendered sweetness and blended with the rest of the flavours like no other. These were topped with a pretty red apple blossom flower (from Krishi Cress) that made the dish ooze oomph as if it has descended right from the ramp and walked to my plate. Whee!




Priya rice, burnt butter, chocolate, coconut
Honestly I would've ended my meal with the Ash gourd, Radish, 4S Buttermilk course, but when you are being fed so nicely, you are eager to know what’s next? There are paeans written about the Japanese trying to get their Soba noodle right, their Sushi perfect, we have the Pootharekulu from Andhra as the Indian candidate. The Pootharekulu is a rice paper sweet. But the dish at Olive had unsweetened rice paper made from Jaya rice, burnt butter solids(the stuff left over after your mom makes ghee), coconut foam and a slightly nutty sesame chocolate rock served with chocolate ganache and mandarin ice-cream.

If you sign up for this meal, you’d come back feeling you’ve cheated Olive of their money. That good! Aye!




About Slow Food movement

The Slow Food movement supports local produce and respects the environment. To know more click here

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Rustom's Parsi Bhonu

Tucked between the nondescript shops of Adchini is a small restaurant called Rustom's Parsi Bhonu. As you climb up the stairs, you get a whiff from the kitchen and experience the kind of pang you get when you enter your favourite aunt's kitchen. A tiny yet comfortably spaced dining hall makes you feel you've dialled a wrong number. It almost seems like you've entered someone's private space. You stare into a wooden crockery stocked cupboard, some yesteryear pictures neatly framed and an antique clock. The white/cream curtains behind, remain drawn. The sunlight trickles in and slightly warms up the air-conditioned room.


That's the idea behind Kainaz Contractor and Rahul Dua's Parsi Bhonu. Kainaz belongs to the Parsi community and was born and brought up in Mumbai. With Rustom's, she brings to Delhi, food that is found nowhere but in her house as well as that of her relatives. The food speaks and here's how! 


Greeted by a complimentary plate of Parsi Saria or fried sabudana and onion chips, we ordered Pallonji's Soda, Raspberry  flavour (Rs 60) and Raspberry iced tea (Rs 120) to start with. The Pallonji's soda is available in Mumbai's famous Parsi cafes and is imported to Rustom's from that city. Pallonji's is quite sweet on its own but goes well with heavily spiced food. The Raspberry iced tea on the other hand was refreshing. On another visit, I even requested the same with Soda and my customised drink was heaps better than Pallonji's.


We were informed by the serving staff that the portions are heavy and we should order to our appetite. We went ahead and ordered the egg-free version of Soya Pattice (Rs 225). A portion contains two pieces. I bit into a crisp layer followed by a fluffy potato mash in which were hidden the spicy soya granules. If this is not comfort food I don't know what is. The pattice comes without the usual accompanying condiments and are a welcome change as they are good on their own.


We picked the Dhansak Veg combo (Rs 395) from Rustom's combo specials for the main course. The Dhansak or spiced masala dal is a Parsi staple and comes with caramelised rice topped with onions and vengna kababs (eggplant kebabs) and a side of kachumber salad drizzled with Parsi cane vinegar. Though this wasn't my first experience of having dhansak at a restaurant, it definitely was the best. It was a robust preparation, not too thick and very unlike the dal we are used to eating up North. It went well with the slightly caramelised rice and the vengna kababs were one of their kind. It was my first taste of kebabs made from eggplants and if you are an eggplant lover like me, chances are you'd love what Rustom's serve. Rustom's may have the distinction of being the only ones in Delhi serving them. If you know of more such places, do tell me! I ate them with a Malai na Parantha (Rs 80) which was soft and tasted something like what you'd carry in your school/office tiffin. Nothing exceptional there, and no need either. A parantha is a parantha.


The Caramel Custard (Rs 225) was a delight. Light, and not too sweet with a perfect caramelised top, this beauty held itself with elegance. The Lagan Nu Custard (Rs 225) studded with nuts and raisins with a hint of cardamom was a delight too. It was heavier than the Caramel Custard. It is meant to be so as Parsis tend to make it for special occasions like birthdays, weddings and such. I paid a special solo visit to Rustom's to try this one and it did not disappoint. 


My only regret: if one has to taste more from the menu one has to go back two/three times. I am going back to try their other vegetarians options and update this space. The staff at Rustom's are helpful, interactive, non intrusive and well-informed. On my way out I picked a packet of Dhansak Masala to help me cut my dhansak making time at home to a great degree. Rustom's also stocks pickles, Parsi cane vinegar and more. Go pick!  


Address:
Aurobindo Marg - 94 A/B, Adchini, Aurobindo Marg
New Delhi 110017
Phone: 011 33106450