The Spice Traveller explores Great Britain’s culture and cuisine

Crab Kasoori Methi  – sounds intriguing right?  If that piqued your interest then there’s lots more in store in the creative repertoire of Celebrity Indian chef Saransh Goila who’s food and travel show aptly titled The Spice traveller debuted on his YouTube channel last week . For the uninitiated Saransh Goila won the hearts of millions of fans when he won the  Food Food Maha Challenge which was hosted by Sanjeev Kapoor ( a chef he has watched on tv  in his formative years & greatly admires! ) and Madhuri Dixit ( Bollywood super start, mommy to 2 and possibly the most graceful dancer Hindi films have had in the 90’s !) . He then went to host the TV show Roti Rasta aur India on Food Food channel where he travelled 20,000 km of India by road in 100 days  – exploring local flavours and cooking feats for a lucky few along the way.

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First of its kind , India’s youngest celebrity Chef Saransh Goila’s digital food travelogue show is a 20 part series where the celebrity chef travels across England and Scotland exploring  beautiful travels destinations , local food and culture . He attempts to change perceptions about how people travel across England and Scotland and what they normally except to eat while they discover new destinations. Goila’s  1000 km journey take him to exotic locations around Cotswolds, Yorkshire, Edinburgh and Fife where he cooks up finger licking fusion cuisine.

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Chef Saransh at Kellie Castle –  Fife

 

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Chef Saransh making cheese in Yorkshire

Saransh also managed to throw in exciting experiences including cider making ,also pretending to be ‘Alice in wonderland’ for a day at what he described as a the best cream tea party ever , took over the reins of a Michelin starred kitchen , spent a day at a trout farm in Yorkshire and fell hook ,line and sinker in love with fishing – while learning all there is to  about fly-fishing and Rainbow trout !

 

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 Chef enjoyed some amazing  cream tea and warm scones with clotted cream and jam  polished off with fresh British strawberries!

And while he was cooking , travelling and making exciting cocktails at the Virgin Atlantic  bar in the air at 35,000 ft, he also managed to get a designer kilt made and ermmm pose  🙂

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Chef Saransh in a pensive mood , maybe his day out in Scotland left him enamoured with the Scottish Highlands!

So throw away all those musty old travel guides and  hop onto an exciting culinary journey through English and Scottish countryside with Chef Saransh !

And what better place to start that journey than in the city I have fallen madly in love with – London city ! Watch the second episode of The Spice Traveller as he explores multi cultural London  – learns to make Britian’s favourite Fish-n-Chips with Chef Micheal Brown at Fishworks @FishWorks , discovers a resturant that serves 100% vegetariane food in the heart fo Central London , cooks up England’s favourite curry  – Chicken Tikka Masala in the kitchen at Cinnamon in Soho – @cinnamonsoho , explores the sights and sounds of Covent Garden and wanders the beautiful street markets of London city !

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Don’t forget to leave comments after you watch the YouTube video!

Chef Goila’s 1000 km has only just begun and you have lots more episodes to look forward to and exciting contests to participate in too!

So fasten your seats belts, as VisitBritain  – @VisitBritain and Virgin Atlantic Airways – @VirginAtlantic in partnernership with One Digital Entertainment and Zenga TV.com – @ZengaTVMedia take you on fabulous journey – no passport or air ticket required for this one folks!

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Hungry for more ? Watch this space for an exclusive interview with the charming Chef – COMING SOON!

Disclaimer: With Thanks to Chef Saransh Gola for a sharing his fabulous culinary adventures with us ! Why not subscribe to his YouTube channel to continue watching the adventures of The Spice Traveller and watch the Chef cook delicious dishes?!

All images are courtesy Chef Saransh – Please do not reproduce without seeking prior written permission , feel free to share with due credit.

Tasty Fish Dish in £1 – ready in 10 minutes !

If someone told me I could make a fish main in £1 I would laugh aloud and make them a cup of tea to help them feel normal again.But trust me on this one you really can make a very delicious side dish and serve it with a spicy rice main for 2 adults for 2 main meals.Yes it’s possible to be thrifty and yet feed your family for less without compromising on taste.

When my friend S told me the easy-peasy recipe I just had to buy myself a pack from my new fav supermarket.This is probably the easiest recipe for a side dish ever.

Total prep time :Under 10 minutes Serves:2 adults as a side for 2 main meals

Ingredients:

  • Sprat Fish pack – contains about 20-25 fishes and costs around 90p to 95p
  • Turmeric powder 1 tsp
  • Red Chilli Powder -1.5tsp
  • 2 small hot green chillies sliced in a slant
  • Salt to taste
  • a pinch of Asafoetida
  • Oil – 2 tsp
  • 4 tsp Colmans Mustard
  • 1 tsp hot BBQ Mustard – don’t worry if you don’t have this just add half a teaspoon of paprika to 1 tsp of any mustard that you have lying around and mix half tsp of  BBQ sauce into this for a smoky flavour.

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Recipe:

  • Wash the fish well under tap water and handle gently as it’s a small delicate creature and needs some fawning over but hey not much fuss I tell ya! But its all worth it because even my hubby apprehension that this fish has loads of tiny bones were all gone as he clicked his fingers after the meal 🙂
  • Heat a saucepan and  add 1sp oil ,add asafoetida and the turmeric powder and salt and then the washed Sprat fish
  • Gently sautee them for about 1 minute or until you see the skin start to come off , don’t over do it as they need to cook with the mustard in the next step.

Sprat has been sauteed

  • Remove the fish into a clean bowl and in the same sauce on a very low flame add another tsp oil, both the mustards pastes, choped green chillies ,red chilli powder and then the fish.
  • As it is a delicate fish it will cook quickly and as it does the big bone that runs lengthwise inside this tiny fish will be easy to remove and so you can get the head off to, I am not squeamish but the hubster is and refuses to eat the eyes but they are supposed to be packed with iron and fish itself is high on Omega 3 fatty acids, the good stuff your body needs.Mothers who breast feed and consume fish are said to help give the baby better eyesight which is due to the high content Omega 3 fatty acids.Not only that as this recipe contains turmeric it has a heap of health benefits especially the fact that it helps people struggling to cope with psoriasis. If anyone has seen that episode of The Food Hospital on Channel 4 where a young mother and her son struggled with psoriasis, one of the big changes that they did to their diet was add turmeric to even stuff like scrambled eggs. Please click here to read more about that particular episode.
  • A word here about the Le Range Mesurier BBQ Mustard, it’s one of the few things I purchased at the Cake & Bake Show 2013 apart from the sweet stuff.I also got a jar of zesty lime mayo from the same brand , they had a super offer of 4 jars at a great price!
  • I slant the green chillies slanted just because it looks posh 🙂
  • Ok so I manage to remove most of the big middle bone with the heads and the fish cooks very easily in under 3 minutes.
  • Add a small helping of very finely chopped coriander for garnish.
  • Serve hot with steaming hot rice or khichadi ,click here for a posh khichadi recipe from one of my older posts.
  • Do leave comments below and let me know what you thought of this recipe!

Sprat fish side is ready to serve!

 

I am entering this dish into a wonderful linky challenge called £1 or less recipe challenge started by Michelle Rice who blogs at Utterly Scrummy , with so much fresh and yummy fish made into a delicious dish and served with plain steamed rice its a thrifty budget dream dish full of flavour and ready without too much of labouring in the kitchen.Do link up and help spread the good cheer around in times of gloom when many families are struggling to makes ends meet and feeding families with healthy food on a shoestring budget is a very real challenge for many.

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Demystifying Tapas – ‘TAPAS REVOLUTION’ – Chef Omar Allibhoys new cookbook

Excited that I would be meeting the young and talented Chef Omar Allibhoy at the Launch of his Book called Tapas Revolution at his Tapas bar by the same name I couldn’t wait to get myself to The Balcony at Westfield,Shepherd’s Bush. The district Line managed to live upto its reputation of being the most non trustworthy of all the tubes lines with delays and finally after 3 changes I managed to reach the venue! Gaah!

Any feelings of angst soon vanished when the I saw familiar faces at the Tapas Bar. A few of the food bloggers I met at FBC’5 were there and as the evening progressed I met some more interesting foodies. It’s the best part of being a foodies, talking food with like-minded people and feeling totally normal discussing spices,ingredients, chefs and cookbooks, never a dry spell in conversation I say.In all we were a  group of about ten to fifteen food bloggers invited to Chef Omar’s book launch – TAPAS REVOLUTION – 120 simple CLASSIC Spanish dishes.

What followed was an evening of great food, lots of Sangria (for me), an insight into Spain’s rich culinary traditions and of course lots of picture-taking,posing for pictures and in my case eating some foods I have never dared to try until now!

If one thing is apparent as I  watch Chef Omar effortlessly dishing out one plateful of flavour after another is his passion for food. All of 29 this young man has taken it upon himself , a mission of sorts to revolutionize the Spanish Tapas and put them firmly on the U.K Map and as Tom Parker Bowles of the Mail on Sunday has said ”….with this talent,passion and dedication the revolution’s in good hands” and mind you all this and his Charm and good looks is a perfect combination for success! Lucky for us especially knowing the humble beginnings of Tapas which literally meant ‘tapa’ or ‘to cover’ and according one of the theories of their origin they were served free to cover one’s drink and save it from flies!

Chef Omar and his cheerful team orchestrated the whole evening well ,after all not a mean task to serve 14 different dishes perfectly plated and all this while ensuring that our glasses never ran dry!

Some of the mouth-watering delights we tucked into :

Jamon (Ham) Ibe’rico – Ibe’rico  ham gets its rich nutty flavour from the  pigs that roam freely in the woodlands of Spain eating acorns and herbs.

 Salmorejo – Bread served with Chilled and  divine Tomato dip called Salmorejo – a chilled tomato dip traditionally from Seville.  I am not ashamed to admit that I wiped off every last drop of the Salmorejo dip off my plate and all this with a very innocent face and while making polite conversation;)This dip is very similar to the cold cucumber soup or Gazpacho because it is served chilled.

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BOQUERONES – Anchovies Marinated in black olives,red onion,paprika and cumin (Image on the top of collage)

Pimientos De Padron‘ – Fried Padron Peppers (Image on the bottom of collage)

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Tortilla De Patatas – Spanish Omlette with Charlotte Potatoes served with a dip called ALIOLI or Mayonnaise made with – get this MILK!

tortilla, and with an aioli made with MILK

I was now feeling like a true Spaniard and was thanking the generous crew with my new favourite Spanish word ”Muchas Gracias” though instead of the quick and correct way in which they seem to gently throw this word, my tongue doesn’t oblige me and as a result I get a puzzled look to my strange-sounding word.I still firmly maintain that this is going to be my most loved word in Spanish after Jamon and Pimientos.I plan to land these words on unsuspecting subjects all of next week (shall have to refrain from doing that in public particularly on the tube for fear of getting whacked by shocked commuters who would assume I was saying naughty abusive words in a foreign tongue to make them squirm in their seats while I try to balance my errremmm not so slim self un-gainfully around the pole with 5 other people trying to get their paws on it for support) hummm

Pulpo a la Gallega – Steamed octopus with potatoes and Pimenton – This dish looked so tempting that I happily ate it and only when I was home and typing this up did I realise that it’s the first time ever I have dared eat an Octopus after a singularly scary episode of eating one years ago and breaking out in a rash before I could blink, I have since steered clear of this delicacy to avoid turning into a puffer fish and scaring fellow diners away.But no any more, Tapas Rule woohoo!

Calamares fritos – deep-fried baby squid (Image on the right)

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Pollo en pepitoria – Moorish Chicken. Chicken in saffron, cumin and vegetable sauce, honestly not my favourite  but still great depth of taste because of the saffron and cumin together some notes of taste would be similar to that of an Indian curry but with many other levels of flavour.

Chicken(Pollo) in a gracy with spices and almonds

By now our gastronomic journey had traversed from simple to exotic in about 3 platefulls and this juicy beef skewer was supremely satisfying on all counts, the sea slat hits the palate after your teeth has sunk into the meat and the spices have enveloped your mouth in an avalanche of taste – this is my clear favourite and only the Tortilla and Alioli with its surprise ingredient – Milk manage to scrape their way in as close second favorites.

Pinchos morunos con mojo picón – marinated beef skewers with a spicy dipping sauce.Everything about this dish including the dip was so perfect, I could eat this everyday and not get bored.

Beef Skewers

Breaking bread with fellow foodies today over Sangria and some Bubbly Cava ,it seemed natural to chew on a Pimento now and move onto more complex and vibrant flavours. Now am quite stuffed and happy and chatting with Li and Dee (nice ring there huh,almost musical !) and am secretly hoping no more food but they don’t seem to stop wanting to feed us!And its too good to resist anyway…

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Papas Arrugadas Con Mojos – Wrinkled Potatoes with Mojo – This is the Chef’s hand me down family recipe and how they do potatoes in the Canary Islands, again another spectacular dip with coriander , very tasty and appealed a lot to my Indian taste buds a lot.

Croquetas de jamón – deeped-fried Iberico ham croquettes, these look innocent but are little parcles of delight as they go from cripsy to gooey soft full throttle taste machines as you bite into them,Advance Warning – Seriously addictive and I did try and steal more than my share from the sharing platter ….obviously Unsuccesfull  and a bit let down, the crew wouldn’t have it, so they served me some Cava!!

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The clear winner for me though was the Pinchos morunos con mojo picón which has rich, robust and full bodied taste. I am certainly going to try and cook that sometime very soon. I see a Tapas party at mine happening soon enough with a few good friends some time soon, all they need to do is bring the Cava 😉

Oh wait, just when I was about to put my camera away, we were served Crema Catalana – Catalonian Custard Pots and Churros con Chocolate.OMG! Those custard pots are bits of perfection with a crunchy caramelised top and a creamy smooth custard with hints of vanilla. And those Churros….oooooo, instantly transported me to sunny shores on a perfect summers day.It took all of me to resist not dipping my finger into the liquid chocolate.

Helen,thanks for patiently letting me attempt clicking a picture of the Churros dripping chocolate while Chef Omar urged us to give the churros a generous dunk into this brown liquid goodness.

Crema Catalana

Churros

Dripping goodness

Mind you I left the venue a convert,with Spanish Cuisine demystified and Tapas explained,many firsts for me here:

  1. First Time I dared eat Octopus Yeah!
  2. Best Calamari I ever ate
  3. First ever Book Launch
  4. 3 glasses of Sangria and was able to walk in a straight line – all thanks to how stuffed those deceptively small platefulls can make one feel! Wow

Armed with a signed copy of  Chef Omar Allibhoy’s wonderful new book – TAPAS REVOLUTION (with food pictures that give me weak knees) ,I am confident that even a novice like me can make a valiant attempt at dishing up some of the delightful tapas and learn some fun tricks along the way. The beauty of the book lies in the fact that one can source these ingredients very easily in their local supermarket or simply raid their kitchen cupboards to create something absolutely wonderful. No fuss ,no do-dah. Just pure and  simple Food – for each one of us to create a  Revolution.

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Chef,me with book

Cheers!

Muchas Gracias to the organisers for inviting me to this wonderful evening of food, fun and tipples and watch the charming Chef Omar cook us Tapas!

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Summer Trek along the River Wey

The weekend was brilliant, the great BRITISH summer has arrived and how, lucky for those who got to see the Wimbledon matches live and savour some strawberries and cream.

I’d been meaning to do this walk with my enthusiastic trekker hubby who has so much patience with my near zero capacity to do long treks,but his love for the outdoors, the way he plans a trek and the effervescent high he gets after he’s back from his favourite climb at Box Hill seem to have seeped into my existence too. So come sunny Saturday and Hubby,my cousin sister and me decided to go for a long walk in Guilford, inspired by the book ”50 best walks of Surrey”, we set out for making it to St.Martha’s Church, didn’t really make it there but had a wonderfull relaxed long walk. After we got off the train at Guilford Rail station, we go onto the high street. It was ablaze with wildly colourfull goods being sold at Street Stall, the Guilford Summer Fest is on until the 3rd of August.Getting distracted from our route was never so easy and welcome.I had to really stop myself from buying one of the vibrantly colourfull wicker baskets on display.

Banner Guilford Summer fest

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Cute Clay Flower Stall

 

Not to be missed is The Guildhall and the prominent clock protruding outside. It is an iconic 16th/17th century building rich in history. To read more about it do browse through the following websites :

Also browse the follwoing two blogs for some usefull and intersting bits of information about the clock and the buildings rich heritage.

Impressive Wall Clock

 

Amazing act of balance!

 

Crazy Beautiful Skies

 

Then we turned into Chapel Lane from the High Street and entered the Guilford Castle grounds. Eager sunbathers , families and tourists had flocked to this beautiful historic site, with carefully manicured lawns and pretty flower beds.Such are the places where one does not how to stop taking photographs and really take in the beauty of the place and enjoy the moment…

Guilford Castle

Flower Beds - me loves !

 

Guilford Castle

 

Guilford Castle Gates

Across the Guilford Castle Ground and on the A-281 we walked through Guilford Boat House car park and then the Wey Navigation and Godalming. It’s a perfect place to eat our packed lunches of soft wafer thin ham,pickles and crunchy salad,roast chicken and tomato chutney and quench our thirst with lots of orange juice. A moment of calm follows,as we indulge in people watching, gazing at the greenery and staring into space.In the background the happy cackle of lots of little kids expending their energy, many couples in canoes on the River.We chat up the ice-cream man, very popular indeed,banana and strawberry it is for us 😉

River Wey & Navigation

 

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Loved this bench

 

Wow

 

As we start walking along the banks of the River Wey, the tranquil scenic surroundings bring a feeling of calm and we only stop for a few photographs.We walk past the bridge over the river which leads to North downs way and before we get to St. Catherines Lock we pass by a group of these beautiful ponies.

The friendly hungry ponies

 

Walk along River Way

 

Catherines Lock

We then turned back  the Pilgrim’s way towards North downs Way and stood atop the wooden bridge and watch people in canoes and boats sail past, people exercising their pet dogs who seemed eager to swim across the river and retrieve a precious well chewed on branch.

Towards Chantry Woods

Had we continued towards Chantry Woods we would have seen the bluebells but decided to head back. A moments breather at Shalford Park and back to the station it was for us. One long huge platform at Guilford Station marked 1,2a,2b !So platform 11 and 3/4th….maybe it does exist after all??!

If you too would like to do one of the many walks across Guilford, Surrey, the following websites have a lot of usefull information. I’d say getting your hands on the booklet 50 best walks in Surrey is a great investment!

Interview with Pune’s leading Fruit Wine Manufacturer

It was on a hot summer evening at home in Pune when dad and me had some Strawberry wine while watching the IPL. Baba told me about how he came to procure the wine one evening at a promotion at a Club in Pune. A wine made in Pune and that too made with strawberries, how very interesting ….Lucky for me I managed to get in touch with the man behind the business who strives to establish a wine culture in Pune, sink your teeth into the chat we had at his bungalow in the heart of the old part of Pune City, the Peths as they are called.

Mr. Akkalpit Prabhune spared some time from his busy schedule to share his story.

This young entrepreneur who manages a full time career in IT makes time for channelling his creativity and passion into promoting his fruity wines .He lets is in on how his passion and vision to introduce a culture of wine drinking using local fruits led to the creation of Rhythm Wines.

MJ: What is the difference between fruit wines and regular grape wines, the composition etc?

AP: Fruit wine is basically wine made from fruits other than grapes. Quality of any wine is determined by the fruit used. Some of the Indian fruits which are suitable for Indian climate and soil which lend a natural aroma & flavor to fruits wines like strawberries, grapes and kiwis are good candidates to make a fruit wine. Fruit wines are lighter and fruitier as compared to grape wines so consumers new to wines can easily appreciate these wines.

”Wines are palate cleansers. Every Bite is a new bite.’’

MJ: Is the technology for making fruit wines different than that used for grape wines?

AP: There is no difference in the process of making fruit wines and grape wine. So there is not much difference in technology. Generally based on the fruits used the crushing equipment will need to modify but after juicing is done the process is absolutely same as grape wine. The advantage with fruit wines is that they require very less time to mature, within 6 months they can be bottled. This also ensures that the machinery is in use throughout the year.

MJ: Why the name Rhythm Wines? (My personal favourite question!)

AP: Sipping wine listening while listening to music is ideal is it not? It lightens us, sets the mood for a pleasant meal, like perfectly set of musical notes with Rhythm…

MJ: What inspired you to get into this business?

AP: I have travelled a lot and have savoured various amazing wines in the course of my travels and I wanted to create wines using local fruits which would help establish a culture of appreciating fruit wines amongst people used to the local flavours and cuisine. Breaking the elitist view towards wine consumption and expanding the market being part of my mission. After studying the existing scenario of wine industry and understanding the importance of fruit wines, I started Rhythm winery in Pune City, Maharashtra with My partner, Mr. Gulu Jagtianey,in 2010, and has successfully made wines from pineapple and strawberry. We received a very good response for our wines in many wine festivals and received demands for wines from apples, peaches and Strawberry. Strawberry variant has just been launched in Pune and Mumbai markets and received great appreciation

”Our mission is to offer best variety of tropical fruit wines suited perfectly to Indian palate and food. We strongly believe that excellent wines are made only from quality fruits which are best suited to local climatic and soil conditions’’

MJ: Where is the bottling plant located?

AP: Rhythm winery is located outskirts of Pune on way to Khadakwasla, Narhe Gaon; It has a existing capacity of about 25000 litres of wine a year. It is proposed to increase this capacity to 50000 litres soon.

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MJ: Where are the strawberries you use sourced from?

AP: Strawberry comes from a world famous region of Panchgani in Maharashtra. Strawberry varieties we use for wine manufacturing are blend of ‘kamaroza’ and ‘sweet Charlie’.

MJ: How do you ensure uniformity in quality of fruits used? As most of the grape wineries have their own grape farms.

AP: We also have contract farming for our fruits. We use specific varieties of strawberries and pineapples.

MJ: Who is the master brewer that you work with?

AP: His name is Dominique Revard and he is a Canadian fruit wine expert who lends his years of experience and expertise to our business.

MJ: Grape wines have just managed to find a foothold in India. Do you think the Indian Consumers will give the same preference to fruit wines as with Grape wines? What is the scope these wines have in India?

AP: It’s easier for local flavours to be appreciated by people, hence we believe that consumers will find it easier to appreciate wines made using strawberries and pineapples as they would be able to identify easily with these fruits vis-avis posh varieties of grapes. Besides Indian Cuisine is high on flavour, spices and our light bodied, fruity wines pair well with Indian food.

MJ: How did you gauge the commercial viability of manufacturing fruit wines?

AP: It is a new concept,hence before manufacturing wines from any fruit, many variants are created and tasted at all stages of wines. Rhythm winery has done an extensive R&D on different fruits and then ventured into pineapple and strawberry. Generally, fruit wines are not manufactured on a very large scale but wineries with a capacity of 30,000 to 50,000 liters can be a viable. Huge amount of marketing efforts are required since the concept is new.

MJ: Which different fruits have the Indian wine producers experimented with for making wine? Mention your take on usage of Kiwi fruit for producing wine.

AP: Pineapple and Strawberry are currently produced by us at Rhythm winery. Lychee wine is manufactured by Lucca winery in Haryana. Dapoli Krishi Vidyapeeth,(Stateof Maharashtra, India) have worked on Kokum and Mango wines. Apple, Kiwi wines are produced in North and Eastern India.

MJ: How do you deal with competition?

AP: Suprisingly, Fruit wines are not being sold commercially by too many players in the wine market. We welcome competition; it always helps expand the market!

MJ: What is the current installed capacity for fruit wines in the market?

AP: Presently there are very few players in fruit wines. Rhythm winery is definitely the leading player in the Fruit Wine Market. In all, 300,000 to 500,000 litres of fruit wine is made annually.

MJ: How will fruit wines benefit fruit growers / wine producers / consumer?

AP: Presently due to average storage conditions huge amount of fruits are wasted. As per Food ministry more than 70 % fruits are wasted !Therefore, for those that grow strawberries, pineapples and kiwi supplying to fruit wine manufacturers like us will open up an excellent avenue for business in the processed foods and drink industry and offer more options than producing only jams, jellies and preserves. Wine producers can plan production seasonally and can make the best use of their production capacity. Since fruit wines are easier and lighter to drink, introducing new consumers to wines will be easier to achieve.

MJ: How do you promote your fruit wines?

AP: By participating in wine festivals and trade fairs. Directly advertising wines is prohibited by Indian Excise Laws.

MJ: What expansion plans do you have outside of Maharashtra State?

AP: There is 300 % import duty for goods sold between states in India, the Indian Grape Processing Board – I.G.P.B has also been appealing to reduce these taxes and improve trade opportunities.

MJ: After strawberry and pineapple wines what’s next?

AP: Kiwi Wine is next on the list. In order to support farmers who produce these crops and to aid local entrepreneurs who boost the local economy the government is keen to support ventures like ours. Kiwi is the fruit that we are currently experimenting with and the Himachal Pradesh Government has chosen our company to come up with viable fruit wines, we hope to soon offer them a few samples and finalise on one, they would supply us with the fruit which we will use to create and bottle our new kiwi variant.

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MJ: Is there any export potential?

AP: Indian fruit wines if marketed properly will have a great scope in foreign countries, as these wines will have specific characters and fruits with an Indian origin.

MJ: Where else in the world are fruit wines made / consumed /popular?

AP: Apple wines is been made for centuries and very famous in UK, France and North America. Canada and Australia are leaders in fruit wines and have successfully marketed their wines internationally. Some states in USA like Florida, Texas are famous for their local fruit wines. Presently fruit wines have about 3 to 5% of market share in over all wine market.

MJ: What is the shelf life of fruit wines?

AP: Ideally 2 years from bottling.

MJ: What are Differences in ageing process and storage of the fruit wines vis-avis Grape Wines?

AP: Ageing of up to a year is sufficient. Storage principles are similar to other wines.

MJ: What is the advantage of using screw caps vs cork screws?

AP: Cork screws are used to create complex bouquets. Fruit wines can get tainted with poor quality corks.

MJ: What is the advantage of using screw caps vs cork screws ?

MJ: If one has to buy your wines in Pune and Mumbai where are they retailing?

AP: In Pune our wines retail with reputable retailers like Dorabjees, Ozone and are on the menu at restaurants at Liquid Hut Restaurant, Barbecue Nation, Oasis, P.Y.C Gymkhana.

In Mumbai we have just started out and are making our fruit wines available in areas like Bandra, Andheri and South Mumbai.

MJ: Any benefits linked to consumption of fruit wines as Red Wine consumption is linked to several health benefits.

AP: Amongst the known Health benefits of pineapple and strawberry wines some are:

  1. Pineapple contains bromelain and beta carotene which improves digestion, lowers risk of macular degeneration, improves the quality of vision.
  2. Strawberries are packed with Vitamins & Antioxidants which help increases immunity to bad cholesterol and is  thus beneficial towards maintaining a healthier heart.

It was early evening by then,the slanting sun rays streaming into the terrace room converted into a study, were playing peek-a-boo with the few dozen mangoes which are lying face down on the floor to ripen.

There was a pause as I sipped on my tea and made doodles on my notepad. My very polite host looked around and handed me a bottle of Pineapple Wine, I politely declined but he was rather persistent. On my way home,making a mental note to stop procrastinating and I promised myself to start doing all the things that I have filed away in the recesses of mind as well ‘’to be done SOMETIME, in the future’’. After all, hasn’t this passionate entrepreneur proved that if you have a Dream you must act on it… Yes dreams really do come true… that bottle in my cloth satchel clinking against my bunch keys was proof.

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Check out the Rhythm Wines website :http://rhythmwinery.com/ , Connect with them on their Facebook page at :https://www.facebook.com/rhythmwinery

The new Superman Flick and dinner at Ekachai? Ultimate combo!

Man of Steel in 3D for a late evening sounds like super fun!If your going to the mall at Wandsworth like we do, why don’t you tuck in at Ekachai before the show? It’s a great Asian food place. My hubby and me love eating there, our favourite dish on the menu is this street style pork and rice dish. Believe me when I say this, one bite into the pork and you are hooked forever!

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This dish is described on their menu as ”Khao Moo Dang – Thai hawker stall favourite of rice topped with Chinese BBQ pork and BBQ sauce served with a boiled egg, cucumber,topped with spring onions and coriander” – what an absolutely heavenly combination. The pork is extremely well cooked and portion size is generous so we go early, get our movie tickets done first and then sit and enjoy this meal, savour each bite you take of the succulent pork smothered in BBQ sauce as it engulfs your tongue in an exotic wrap of flavour ummm,just the right balance of flavours married together.

Wash it down with a Tiger Beer if you will or go for the Red or Green detox juices without sugar, they are so,so good !

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We really loved the new Superman Flick Man of Steel, it’s so well made and Henry Cavill is HOT! A ”Superman coming of age” film me thinks, none of the old carry over from previous films of him trying to fit in, hard hitting action scenes, lots of BISH-BASH-BOOM, loads of mixed emotions, as I’d say in Hindi it was total ”paisa- vasool, DHISHOOM DHISHOOM dhamaal wala picture” (Totally value for money ,action packed movie!) I am a total sucker for comics and superheros, I even have my own little collection of the superhero toys,yep!Of course Superwoman is my fav!

Ekachai on Urbanspoon

Square Meal

Dum-a-Dum Biryani & Kebabs – An interview with an entrepreneur and a passionate foodie.

It was a hot summer evening in Pune, I set out to look for a take away to treat aai- baba to something yum to celebrate a new milestone for mum who was recovering post surgery. Not willing to walk too much I was pleasantly surprised to see this brightly lit signage and a small crowd of youngsters on their bikes outside this place called Dum-a-Dum Biryani

I walked across to this cheery and brightly lit take away, the fiery and tempting aroma of kebabs   wafted around the place.

The place was clean and tidy and the tiny kitchen was buzzing with activity. I ordered a Lasooni Murg kebab and Tangdi Kebab and waited outside, watching the busy main road and the steadily building traffic. Just a few turns away is the Mumbai Pune expressway via Chandani Chowk. A primarily residential area in Pune, it has several educational institutes and IT companies Hence the large student and IT crowd hover around this tiny take away. This young set night disappears by night and mingles with the resident locals and it’s only in the evening when one sees large groups of youngsters with their modern bikes zipping around that one can actually estimate how much of Pune is a composed of this transient population.

This flurry of activity outside Dum-a-Dum keeps engaged in observation and it’s only when I hear my name being bellowed from the counter inside that I snap out of my reverie.

On an impulse I decide to talk to the very busy manager and ask him if the owner would be willing to give me a few minutes as I was curious to know about how Dum – a – Dum came into being.

He readily parts with a name and mobile number and I am suddenly very excited, well after all this would be my very first interview, IF the owner agrees.

Luckily for me, one phone call and a few messages later, I am all set to meet Mr.Rakesh Rajendran, the Founder and C.E.O of this professionally run start-up hospitality qsr firm.

Armed with my new Cannon SLR and a brand new cute blank diary from Either Or at Pune (made by the Doodle Factory), I stroll down to meet the person who will give me my first ever interview.

I get an extremely warm greeting and before we start chatting there is glass of cool and delicious salted buttermilk offered to me. I have written down a few questions I tell him which I will ask him but we get chatting about food and kebabs and well, retail and lo and behold ! He tells me that he too was a part of modern retail in Pune before he decided to turn into an entrepreneur!

Any inhibitions I have of how to conduct this interview are gone with the wind and we exchange notes about the retail industry and the changing scene in Pune. After all only retailers can truly understand and appreciate what it is like to work in the fast paced retail environment in Pune. Food Retail  is a changing dynamic industry which is probably the most challenging form of organised retail .

Rakesh tells me that was the head of IT for one of the leading food retailers in the country and has also lived and worked in Chicago for 7 years prior to that.

Well read, widely travelled, he is a self proclaimed foodie and also rather camera shy as I was about to find out.

RR ( shall call him that for ease of expression and shall refer to myself as well simply MJ), tells me that this outlet is one of 6 outlets in Pune and has been operational since Dasheera of 2010.RR tells me that he believes in soft launches hence most of his outlets open on auspicious days and have always received excellent response from the locals . His retail experience has held him in good stead in terms of zeroing in on locations , setting up a system for home deliveries and hiring and retaining staff.

Well it’s time now to ask some questions

 MJ: Silly first question, why the name Dum- a – Dum?

RR: (smiles) Haven’t u heard the song ‘’Dum -a-Dum’’ mast kalandar? Well on a serious note, we started out with the name ‘’Village Kitchen’’ which was quickly vetoed by friends and family. The whole idea of a Kebab and Biryani take away should be a fun concept and has to have a catchy name , hence the name Dum-a-Dum , of course it has to with the fact we offer Dum Biryani on the menu.

MJ: Why a kebab and biryani joint and not any other kind of cuisine?

RR: I conceptualised this format and got a core group of friends who had worked with me in the past and who understood my passion for the hospitality industry to back my efforts by funding this venture.  I managed to convince my friend Tushar Bhole also to actually quit and help start-up this hospitality business.

It was a very well researched decision and was something I was keen on, it also thanks to the fact that I have travelled across many places and always wanted to set up a place where great tasting food and convenience go hand in hand.

MJ: What is your involvement in recipe development?

RR: We have done a lot of research on the best selling kebabs and popular flavours and have worked with my chefs to develop our own unique Biryani flavour. The most popular kebabs that people normally expect on a menu are tweaked. As such we are always looking at experimenting with say a new ingredient or a new rage and are very open to feedback from our patrons as well. I am not a trained chef but have travelled extensively across the north of India and have then with great though come up with the current menu

(Phew! it’s hard work this kebab business I think ,  while I gobble up the lasooni kebab comes from the kitchen for me to devour , what a treat ! Little does one think about what goes on behind the scenes)

Lasooni Kebab Image 1

Lasooni Kebab Image 2

 

RR goes to tell me a little bit about biryani’s and how we develop our liking towards a certain type of biryani which for us is ‘’THE’’ absolutely best biryani ever. Ofcourse it’s to do with where one grows up and has tasted local flavours packed into the meat and rice . The most popular biryani currently on our menu is the ‘’Lucknowi’’ Biryani . To get to a place where we develop a known type of biryani and get the taste upto our liking and then have our customers come back to us and tell us that they ‘’loved’’ our biryani is very satisfying.

We give a lot of thought before we add anything to our menu and since we are a take away only chain, it’s very important that we get the taste right as the only interaction a customer has with anyone representing us our delivery boys and the voice over the phone!

I come from Kerala where I can say that there are at least 7 types of Biryani which are popular and known, there would be as many variations of taste and recipes as there would be regions and local culture.

(So true, I think to myself, food is so much about the place and its people)

My idea is that we should become known as a place that serves ‘’FOOD with a SOUL’’, not just another ‘’regular’’ food take away joint.

By now there is a plate of soft Aloo kebabs called Tandoori Aloo ke Gutkeand Makrana tangdi kebab – a juicy succulent version of Tangdi Kebab (aloo meaning potatoes in Hindi, the ones used here are the baby new potatoes , tangdi meaning chicken legs in Hindi ) , I get busy clicking and try to get the best angels , I request RR to pose with the team but he politely refuses saying ‘’ in this interview the heroes are my team and of course the food’’ Well said isn’t it ?

The Aloo ke Gutke are so tasty, it’s like nothing I’ve ever tasted ummmm

Tandoori Aloo ke Gutke

 

Tangdi Makrana Kebab

 

kebabs with chaas

 

MJ: What are the biggest challenges you face?

RR: Finding and retaining good staff, the home delivery ones, who are the ‘’FACE’’ of the brand and are not just delivery boys. We try and ensure that each outlet is like a tiny unit in itself that  runs on a deeply ingrained feeling of ownership in itself .It’s important for me that each employee understand my passion and treats the place as their own. It’s all the more important for me as I have in turn to convey that confidence and spirit to all those who believed in me and have also invested their monies in this venture.

Also managing operational overheads is very challenging.

MJ: Who is your closest competitor?

RR: Well, we like to think that since we are primarily looking to become the best take away chain in the city and country, I would like to benchmark with Domino’s.

MJ: Any new branches opening up?

RR (Face lights up with apparent joy) Yes! One in a big mall in Pune and one in New Bombay .Am really looking forward to the one in New Bombay as compared to Pune, the attitudes and expectations differ.

MJ: Do you serve goat or lamb meat in the mutton Biryani?

RR: we offer both and also offer halal meat, for bulk orders we need a day or two’s notice ahead for large orders. As such we have 6 different Biryanis on our menu and also offer family packs and party packs. The Chicken Mutka Duma Dum Biryani cooked in a clay pot is heavenly and also very popular.

We don’t use any artificial food colours and we use raw paya to tenderise our meat, that gives the meat it soft, succulent and juicy nature, we are quite proud of our creation.

Meanwhile, some regular customers stroll in and RR gets up, excuses himself and goes to have a chat with them.

I find a rare quite moment at the counter and get the smiling team members to stand still for a few seconds, click away, polish off the last of the mouth watering kebabs and wash it down with yet another glass of the chilled heavenly chaas.

I thank my mild mannered host and trudge back home, happy to have wrapped up my first ever interview for my blog!

Now for the details: For heavenly kebabs and Biryani head to Paud Road, next to Reliance Fresh, Bhusari Colony, Paud Road, Kothrud, Pune. The menu can be downloaded from Zomato.com – use the following search string – Home / Pune / Kothrud Area / Kothrud / Dum-A-Dum – Biryani and Kebabs.

Busy Counter

Customer Waiting in the evening

 

Happy Team members

 

Pic of poster in store

 

Kebabs all set to be grilled!

Portobello Market

A bazaar or a street market , now coming from India the mention of the word market or bazaar brings to mind vibrant colours, streets buzzing with activity , bustling with stalls selling everything from old forgotten door handles to tasty street food , well my First visit to Portobello market was all of this and more . It starts of as a tiny lane snuggled between urban landscape and then as you start to walk along the street there is an explosion of colour , vibrancy and goods for as far as the eye can see !

I started my journey by clicking a few pictures with some rather naughty catch phrases printed on rusting old metal signage boards , silently guffawing I choose one mentally as my profile picture for Facebook – such is the dominant position that FB occupies in my mind , it always seems to crop up into my thoughts at all possible opportunities 😉

In the picture above I wonder how the 2012 Olympics could be already a rusty “OLD”piece ?!humm;)

Then there is the Official Street sign proclaiming that Portobello Road officically begins somewhere close to the signboard shop.

I particularly liked the many shops that packed choc-a-bloc with such pretty jewellery right from exotic earrings to the most wonderfully colorfull bead necklaces that every possible visual stimuli that can awaken my brain was at work , there is just so much to amass that it left me bedazzled !

What one expect is to find some really good deals on “Vintage” products like really pretty tea cups or cake stands, door knobs, furniture even .

This one particular shop was rather interesting !

Turns out its not just the shops that were colourfull really !

I was most delighted to these a shop selling the most quaint little miniatures of a cake shop complete with all sort of yummy looking pastries not bigger than a tiny petal if kept on your finger tip! There were also intricate miniatures of violins in cases and a zillion other things.

It also has a rather massive All Saints store with their trademark window display of all singer sewing machines and what an apt fit for Portobello Market I’d say, a Vintage window display concept for a market selling all these delightful Vintage nick knacks!

I wonder who conceptualised this display; they sure did manage to procure all possible old singer sewing machines out there didn’t they?!

There’s literally HUNDREDS of the machines lining every inch of their window space in every STORE and I believe now all across the Globe in most of their outlets , now THAT really is something!

A few steps of walking ahead and there was this brilliant balcony full of the most brilliant potted plants, someone certainly does have a green thumb I’d say , what a pretty sight to see so very SPRING like .

Now as one moves past the shops selling handbags, clothing, old furniture, tea sets ,door handles ,footwear , photo frames etc etc etc there is a new set of shops that takes over with fresh fruits and vegetables being sold on street stalls , fresh flowers, mobile food vans selling everything from wraps and burgers to salads and desserts .

There are a few street vendors selling some funky fashion jewellery as well.

There’s a section of the street market that was kind of empty and not as full with street stalls as expected, there’s probably some days in the week when the market is not fully operational. But there is a massive mall with many shops inside, but my rumbling tummy didn’t permit me to enter so I just took some shots of these huge arches outside.

It’s then that I saw this board and promised to return when the Farmers Market was open, sadly haven’t yet gotten around to doing that really.

As the Poster says am sure a market so vibrant does really have a SPACE for everyone !

The last few shops and a spattering of colourfull cafes and an ATM outside a party shop caught my eye.

Then I finally gave in to my tummy’s request and tucked into some yummy pub food and washed it down with a chilled beer.

What a beautiful day Indeed!

A few handy tips if you do plan a visit to Portobello Market :

  • If your going on a Thursday,it  is not a good choice as the market shuts down shortly after noon and not all the street shops are up anyway.
  • Carry a bottle of water it’s a thirsty walk especially in the summer.
  • It’s a short walk when one exits from the Notting Hill Gate Tube station.
  • Make a mental note of the loos that are around by reading the info in the link below ,it’s important !

There is a website offering a wealth of info about the Market on http://www.portobellomarket.org/. I especially liked the detailed way in which they have listed places to run if your bladder is about to burst , mine was and I almost died when the public self cleaning toilet door swung open as it was in a disastrous condition sadly !So one of the pubs it was then , what a relief !

P.S: All Images used in this article are clicked by me so if you do resuse them kindly give me due credit !