Luxury is a glass of water in the desert; friendship; grandchild says iconic designer Stefano Ricci

22 Sep
Stefano Ricci, , menswear, fashion, Mumbai, Italian, suits, crocodile skin, luxury

Stefano Ricci

Luxury brand Stefano Ricci evolved from a tie manufacturing firm into a full- spectrum luxury lifestyle brand, on the basis of serious investment in research and craft-based expertise. After a strong retail footprint of 43 stores across the globe the brand recently opened its first store in Mumbai, India at the iconic Taj Mahal Hotel. I caught up with the founder Stefano Ricci whose mission is to design garments for the wardrobe of a man who already has everything.

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Fashion trends for the style conscious man

15 Sep

low res opening picThe recently concluded India Luxury Style Week (ILSW) in Bangalore had quite a few notable trends that are going to be filtering into men’s wardrobe anytime soon. Playful mix and matches, slim fits, splashes of bold colour, etc. ruled the runway. Here are the five biggest trends for menswear and more importantly how to work with them

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Have you met the fresh faces in Bollywood – Ayesha Kapur, Athiya Shetty, Zoa Morani

10 Sep
Ayesha Kapur, Bollywood actress, Hidesign, Pondichery, Dilip Kapur, child actor, Black, Sanjay Leela Bhansali

Ayesha Kapur

Every year, Bollywood sees a barrage of new faces, new hopes and new aspirations. The year 2015 is no different and the industry is geared to welcome talented debutantes. Check out these hottest newbies, who are all set to make their marks and became stars, almost overnight.

Ayesha Kapur
Ayesha burst onto to the scene in 2005 with Sanjay Leela Bhasali’s Black. As a deaf, mute and blind girl she delivered a multilayered performance that undercut expectations. Though she went on to win awards for her performance she soon faded into oblivion. “I went back to school in Pondicherry as my parents were very particular that I get myself a good education,” explains the heir of Hidesign the leather accessories company. Post boarding school and whilst waiting to get into NYU for an acting course Ayesha landed in Mumbai for a short internship with Sanjay Suri. Her fondness for the camera bloomed into serious passion and she stayed back in the city to pursue her acting dreams. Auditions for over two months with Yashraj Films casting head Shanu Sharma led the child prodigy to bag a three film deal with the production house. The first film is slated to be Shekhar Kapoor’s futuristic Romeo & Juliet set in Mumbai in the future when water is the greatest wealth. Sushant Singh the male lead plays a boy from the lower city who steals into the higher city where he meets Ayesha.

Ayesha Kapur, Bollywood, actor, Black, Sanjay Leela Bhansali, HidesignUndaunted by the delay in her debut Ayesha says, “I am positive about the wait period as I know I am working on my art. I want to show the audience of what I am capable of with my first film.” The preparations for the big ticket debut include hectic schedule of a run in the morning followed by acting classes, dance classes, lip-synching, Hindi classes and so on. What’s her strategy to be ahead of the curve in Bollywood? “I am not worried about the competition. I just need to stay true to my art and creativity as an artist. As long as you are in the industry for the right reasons I believe things will happen naturally. I have the right team backing me.” When not honing her acting skills the equestrian sets off to Pondicherry to ride horses, write poetry and work on her brand of accessories – Ayesha.

Would she join the ranks of other phenomenally talented child actresses like Sridevi and Urmila Matondkar who grew up to be stars in their own right? Only time will tell.

Zoa Morani
As daughter of Karim Morani, Shah Rukh Khan’s closest friend, film producer and owner of Bollywood’s biggest event management company Zoa Morani’s Bollywood aspirations aren’t surprising to say the least. When kids her age were playing doll Zoa was touring the world and watching Karisma Kapoor and Shah Rukh Khan enthral audiences with their stage performances. “The energy was contagious and watching the actors on stage would give me goose bumps. I think that sowed the seed of acting in me,” she remembers.

Zoa Morani, actress, Bollywood, Morani Bros, acting

Zoa Morani

After a dream debut with Shah Rukh Khan production Always Kabhi Kabhi Zoa faced some rough weather when the movie tanked at the box office. There was more bad news in store as another film with Shyam Benegal too fizzled out and her father Karim Morani was embroiled in the 2G scam. When it became hard to find good work Zoa immersed herself in theatre. But all that is behind her now as Zoa is now gearing up for the release of her film Bhaag Johnny co starring Kunal Khemu and directed by Shivam Nair.

A thriller shot in Thailand Bhaag Johnny also involves a lot of intense emoting and action sequences. “It was tough and we had to run through fields with dried grass and sometimes thorns. But we pulled through and the result was totally worth it,” says Zoa who is an ardent practitioner of Ashtang Yoga. A theatre enthusiast she has also acted in a couple of plays including Taj Mahal Ka Udghatan. For this Alia Bhatt fan the ultimate Bollywood dream is to work with Sushant Singh and Farhan Akhtar.

Between now and the new year, these actors will go from being relatively unknown to virtually omnipresent. Will they rule the marquee or fall by the wayside – only time and box office grosses will tell.

Athiya Shetty

Athiya Shetty, actor, actress, Bollywood, Sunil Shetty, Mana Shetty, Hero

Athiya Shetty

Bollywood actor Suniel Shetty’s daughter Athiya is poised for a debut with Salman Khan’s production Hero alongside another newcomer Sooraj Pancholi. “Growing up I wasn’t part of the film world and never visited dad’s sets. But I was always a Bollywood fanatic when it came to movies. I grew up watching DDLJ, Kuch kuch hota hain and Kabhi Kushi Kabhi Gham a zillion times,” says the 22 year old who wants to stay in the film industry for a very long time. It’s a dream debut as the Bajrangi Bhaijaan actor is leaving no stone unturned to ensure that that his best friend’s daughter gets the biggest opening on September 25th. Hero is a remake of the 80s super hit by the same name. Sooraj and Athiya are enacting the characters essayed by Jackie Shroff and Meenakshi Sheshadri in the yesteryears.

Love kababs? Tuck into the kababs from royal kitchens at ITC Hotel Parel

8 Sep
Kababs, Mumbai, ITC Hotel, chef Farooqui, Indian food

Kababs at the ITC Grand Central 

One of my favourite Indian restaurants Kababs & Curries (K&K) completed 10 years of glorious cooking. And to commemorate the occasion they did what they do best – cook up a storm with eight of the legendary ITC master chefs especially flown down to Mumbai for the occasion. I was one of the lucky few to have been invited for the launch of Jashn-e-Kabab, a kabab festival with 40 different kababs from the restaurant’s armoury of
tandoors, charcoal, pathar grills along with rustic angethis and tawas.

Apart from tucking into the best kababs in India I also had the chance to meet some legendary ITC chefs including J. P Singh who runs the kitchen of Bukhara at ITC Maurya (one of the best Indian restaurants in the world), chefs from ITC Grand Chola, ITC Gardenia, ITC Mughal, ITC Windsor, WelcomHotel Jodhpur and Chef Farooqui from K&K at ITC Grand Central. The master chefs brought together some of the best kababs that were served in the noble courts and on the battlefield in yesteryears with long forgotten herbs and exotic flavours.

If you love kababs (like I do) you just can’t miss this one.

Among the highlights of the kabab trail are the Guftaguu kabab by chef Haji Mohd. Farooqui. A non-vegetarian could easily be fooled into believing that it’s the mushiest meat kabab. When in reality it’s minced cabbage with cardamom and saffron! The kababs are a heartfelt homage to the galouti and extremely craveable.

kabab, food, Indian food, mughlai, ITC Hotel, best Indian restaurant

Guftagoo – by Chef Farooqui

The combination of banana flower and potato sounds strange, but it does a jig on the tongue. Chef Sundar’s banana flower kabab is just the sort of excuse you need for returning scraped-clean plates. Be warned it’s tear inducingly spicy.

Prawn fans must try Chef JP Singh’s Jhinga Firdaus Shahi. Large sized prawns engulfed in a feathery light batter and finished with kabab masala is just heavenly.

Did you know that there are some vegetarian chefs who only cook vegetarian? Chef Gunjan Goela is one of them. She elevates the humble eggplant to gourmet status by stuffing them with hung curd and burnt onions. Gorgeous.

kabab, Indian food, best Indian restaurant, Mumbai, chef, Mughlai, sheekh kabab

Jodhpur based chef Akshraj Jodha’s shami kabab using Rajasthan’s staple Khersangri not pushes the culinary envelope but also creates a ‘aha’ moment with its blend of spices.

Another lamb preparation – Pathar Ka Ghosht will leave your tongue dancing from the all the yogurt, chilies and herbs.

kabab, Indian food, best Indian restaurant, Mumbai, ITC Hotel, chef
Lastly it’s was the vegetarian kababs that stole the show. And coming from a hard core non-vegetarian – that’s a huge compliment.

Almost every kabab tastes like one of the best you’ve ever had … until you get the next celestial kabab and the bar is raised anew.
What: Jashn-e-Kabab

Where: K&K, ITC Grand Central, Parel, Mumbai

Date: 5th to 13th September

Dinner Hours: 7:30 pm to 11:45 pm

For reservation call 022-24101010/5109/5110

By Nivedita Jayaram Pawar

Sculpted designs and Kareena Kapoor bowled everyone over at Gaurav Gupta’s spectacular grand finale for Lakmé Fashion Week 2015

1 Sep
Kareena Kapoor, Khan, Lakme, Grand finale, fashion, Gaurav Gupta, designer, couture

Kareena Kapoor Khan at the Lakme Grand Finale by Gurav Gupta

Gaurav Gupta created a world of fantasy, sculpted structures and silhouettes for the grand finale of Lakmé Fashion Week Winter/Festive 2015 at Mehboob Studios. Bollywood actor Kareena Kapoor Khan added grandeur and glamour to Gaurav’s creations.

Kareena Kapoor, fashion, show, Khan, Lakme fashion week, fashion, Gaurav Gupta, couture

The spectacular Lakme Grand Finale show

The stunning show had a magnificent white giant sculpture of a gorgeous women rising from the centre of a circular stage around which the spectators were seated. A flight of stairs amongst the white stage décor created the mood for a breath-taking opening.

Kareena Kapoor, Khan, Lakme, fashion show, grand finale, couture, Gaurav Gupta Couturier Gaurav Gupta’s designs were were minimal yet vibrant with moondown gray, albatross black, showtime ivory and reminiscent red. The silhouettes, colours, embroidery and sculpted fabrics were just breathtaking. Gupta’s models strutted down the runway with well-defined matte and crème lips in a stunning palette of rich plums, deep reds and feminine pinks from the new Lakmé Absolute face collection.

Tarun Tahiliani presented an eclectic line at Lakmé Fashion Week Winter/Festive 2015

31 Aug

Tarun Tahiliani, designer, Lakme Fashion Week, winter, fashion, ramp, IndianFashion’s darling Tarun Tahiliani showed a line of easy silhouettes that featured kaftans, tunics, shift dresses, capes, capelets, jumpsuits and saris against a backdrop of a very stylish video featuring model and Bollywood actress Lisa Haydon modelling Tarun’s collection.

International model Ujjwala Raut opened the show with a looped black will-powered midi, which was followed by a great mix of black creations with occasional bursts of colour.

Tarun Tahiliani, designer, Lakme Fashion Week, Indian, ramp, fashion, Indian wear, couture The line had exotic prints with a marked Russian influence of vibrant stripes and the tribal gypsy elements. The black and white striped cascading top and the asymmetric kurta with leggings, will-power corset dress, the black dhoti sari and choli brought a great fusion story. A maroon jumpsuit with embroidered printed belt and lungi dress were interesting diversions.

Some interesting variations seen on the ramp were the jumpsuit-sari, which looked easy to step into and and zip up, kedia style blouses with skirts, satin draped lungi cowl gowns, saris with velvet obe belts and printed tees with satin dhotis.

Tarun Tahiliani at LFW WF 2015 (71)Chitrangada Singh brought a glamourous end to the show in a black draped gown and velvet cape splashed with gold embellishments.

Monisha Jaising’s Dazzling ‘Riviera’ collection at Lakmé Fashion Week Winter/Festive 2015

31 Aug
Monisha Jaisingh, designer, dress, gown, glitter, Lakme Fashion week, fashion, beachwear, swimwear

Models in Monisha Jaisingh collection

Monisha Jaising’s “Riviera” collection, took me back to the future at Lakmé Fashion Week Winter/Festive 2015 with an inspired glamorous line.

Focusing on the 1960’s and 1970’s Monisha Jaising’s collection offered her trade mark kurtis paired with leather mirrorwork pants and minis, relaxed flared pants and some really wildly printed pop coloured dresses that could move with great ease from beach to brunch. I personally loved the line of gowns, minis, racer back dresses and halters with the heavy zardozi bands. A line of sensuous swimwear and luxuriously body-hugging gowns were the highlights of the show.

Monisha Jaisngh, designer, Lakme, fashion week, swimwear, glitter, ujawala Raut, model, ramp

Monisha Jaising at LFW WF 2015

Monisha’s specialty – the gowns had deep plunging necklines; hip-high slits; lots of backless interest with sexy drapes and gold corsets to add drama to a black gown. The three white long creations with metallic insets in strategic places had a Riviera goddess vibe. Stopping the show was International model Ujjwala Raut who sashayed onto the ramp in a breathtaking sheer net crystal drenched, long sleeved gown.

A line definitely not for the demure wallflower.

Anita Dongre brings crafts and heritage on ramp with Grassroot at Lakme Fashion Week

28 Aug

Anita Dongre, grassroot, traditional, western wear, fusion wear, traditional, designer,  It was a fashion meets craft revival moment when Anita Dongre presented her Grassroot collection at the ongoing Lakme Fashion Week.

Bollywood star Dia Mirza made a touching introduction of the theme at the beginning of the show. Anita used precious crafts like Ahir embroidery from Gujarat, ikat from Karnataka and Hyderabad, Gotta Patti from Rajasthan, weaves of Banaras, intricate Warli and hand block prints to create a line of asymmetric striped/solid tunics, shirt waister dresses, cascading poncho tops, capris, slit sleeve capes, summer frocks, batwing ponchos, striped shifts, front buttoned tubes and cross-over multi-print flared dresses. The fabrics were gorgeous khadi and hand spun silk from Bhagalpur.

Anita Dongre, Grassroot, fashion, fusion wear, craftsmen, warli, gota patti, ikat

Anita Dongre Grassroot collection at LFW

The collection used block printing, mirror work, Warli and embroidery to draw attention. I also loved the collection of eco-conscious and functional bags and the natural line of jewellery in semi-precious stones on silver.

Anita Dongre, fashion, grassroot, ikat, emboridery, gota patti, warli Anita moved from the cliched Bollywood showstopper for her finale and instead brought 26 master craftswomen from Gujarat to walk the ramp. The talented ladies are truly the stars of fashion and traditional craftsmanship.

Have you tried the Naan pockets from Go Biryan? I did! And they are delicious

27 Aug

naan pocket, chicken, butter chicken, fast food, Go Biryan, food on the go, Andheri, Bandra Butter chicken is one of my favourite dishes in the world. But you can never have this dish on the go. So I was thrilled to find a easy, delicious, ‘on the go’ version of the dish. My latest culinary find is Naan Pockets from Go Biryan the biryani specialists in Andheri and Bandra.

Tasty treat
What’s not to like about the legendary butter chicken cocooned inside a soft naan? The naan pockets are stuffed with cheese before flipping them in the tandoor. They are then loaded with the filling. The naan is not chewy or rubbery as they are made from a mix of wheat and maida. And since I had the pockets an hour after they left the Bandra outlet they were a little soggy but flavoursome nevertheless.

The Vegetable Lahori pocket (Rs 180) was spicy with a touch of garam masala, green chillies and chopped onions for added crunch. The Paneer Makhni (Rs 200) was satisfyingly creamy. Though the non-vegetarian pockets – Butter chicken (Rs 220) and Bhuna Chicken (Rs 220) were bullied by extra salt they felt fresh and had some depth of flavour.

Mousse, Chocolate, dessert, sweet, Andheri, Bandra, Go Biryan

Chocolate Mousse

While there do try their chocolate mousse (Rs 70). Served in a tapri chai glass it’s dense, rich and smooth, but at the same time airy and light.

Coming back to the naan pockets – they feel at once new and yet familiar. They are ideal for that 6 pm hunger pangs when you want to eat something that leaves you with a ‘filled’ but not stuffed feeling. What more could you ask for?

Where: Go Biryan Bandra and Andheri
Price: Rs 180-240
Tel: For Bandra – 02226048844/ 02269948844.
For Andheri – 02226348844/02265348844

6 Singapore dishes you must try

24 Aug

Singapore is a foodie’s delight. I realised that on my recent visit to the island nation. From hawkers to upscale restaurants Singapore tantalises the taste buds with its variety and unique flavours. While chilli crab, Nasi Goreng and Laksa remain my all time favourites I also like some modern interpretations of classic dishes. I love the straight forward, non-fussy nature of this cuisine and also the dipping sauces – dark soy sauce, chili with garlic, and pounded ginger.

I revisited my favourite Singaporean dishes at the JW Marriott Juhu, Mumbai which is hoisting a 10 day Singapore Food Festival. Singapore Marriott’s Sous Chef, Chef Thanabalan Chandrasekaran has been specially flown down for the festival buffet which comprises of classic dishes, street food and modern interpretation of traditional cuisine. The famous Singapore Sling is served complimentary to every guest.

Chef Thanabalan, food, Singapore, JW Marriott

Chef Thanabalan

So here are some of Singapore’s most iconic dishes (my favourites too) which you ought to try

Singapore chili crab

Singapore, chilli crab, crab, food, spicy, street food, asian food

Singapore Chilli Crab

I couldn’t have enough of this wok fried sweet and chilly crab dish. Justifiably Singapore’s national dish it’s available in numerous variations – black pepper, salted egg yolk, cheese-baked, etc but chili crab is by far the bestseller. It’s messy as hell but I love to get mop up every last drop with mantou buns.


Laksa, singapore, food, Asian food, soup, prawns


I love this soupy dish of rice vermicelli dunked in spicy coconut milk flavoured with dried shrimp and sambal chilli. Some versions also have bean curd and sprouts. Toppings include boiled egg, chicken and prawns. Eat it or slurp it down, either ways it’s irresistible.

Gado gado

salad, Gado Gado, food, Singapore, Asian

Gado Gado

What’s not to like about a mixed salad with tofu, hard boiled eggs and dressed in a spicy and aromatic peanut sauce? Topped with crunchy prawn crackers it’s a complete one dish meal. By the way Gado simply means ‘mix mix’.

Mutton rendang

Mutton Rendang, Singapore, food, Malaysian, Asian, spicy

Mutton Rendang

There are mutton dishes and then there is rendang. This slow cooked spicy mutton made with coconut is a triumph of flavours with lime leaves, nutmeg and cloves. The crucial reduction process allows the absorption of the spices into the meat yet not over-drying it. The end result is a semi dry dish best had with plain hot rice.

Rojak Petis

Singapore, food, salad, fruits, spicy, Malaysian

Rojak Petis

This sweet, spicy and sour fruit and vegetable salad is a popular street food in Singapore. The prawn based brown sauce dressing, crushed peanuts and grated ginger add a wicked kick to this humble dish.

Mee Goreng

Mee Gorang, Singapore food, noodles, Asian food

Mee Goreng

This simple wok fried noodle dish was my comfort food in Singapore. The fiery looking noodles are tossed in chilli paste, tomato sauce and dark sauce and fried just right – not too dry and not too oily. So what sets a Mee Goreng apart from a regular noodle dish? The dish uses yellow egg noodles and the potent sambal sauce along with fried egg, sliced chicken, minced mutton, squid, spring onions and onions.

What: Singapore Food Festival

Where: Restaurant: Lotus Café, JW Marriott Mumbai Juhu

Dates: 17th August – 31st August 2015

Time: Dinner- 7:00 – 11:00 pm

Pricing: INR 2400 per head all inclusive

Tel: 022 6693 3277.


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