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Are you guilty of these Skincare habits? Get rid of them now!

15 Jun

skin1While we all have the best intentions when it comes to taking care of our complexion, we sometimes sabotage our skin without realizing it. Daily habits make a major difference when it comes to preventing damage and premature aging. For my story for The Week Smartlife June issue, I spoke to renowned dermatologists for an insight in to the 10 most common skincare mistakes and how to fix them.

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American Frozen Yogurt Menchie’s now in India

9 May

DSC_7532Menchie’s America’s premium frozen yoghurt chain has now launched its first outlet in Khar, Mumbai, India. The menu at this self-serving yogurt franchise holds non-fat, low-carbohydrate, no-added-sugar, gluten-free, vegan and dairy-free options.

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Book Streets of Mumbai

21 Apr
Low res Dilip Mahindkar at the booth on Book Street

Dilip Mahindkar specialises in architecture and interior design books

It’s true that there are book streets all over India but none rivals the ambiance of the one in Mumbai. Nestled against the backdrop of beautiful Victorian buildings and tall peepal trees the book street in Mumbai is where Vikram Seth jostles for space with William Shakespeare. Who knows what you could find here?

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Bangla Food fest at Sofitel Mumbai BKC

22 Mar
Chitol Macher Kalia at the Sofitel Mumbai BKC

Chitol Macher Kalia

As much as I crave a good sambar rice, I hanker for Ilish Bhapa with equal fervor. My love for Bengali food often sees me land uninvited to Bengali homes. I unabashedly ask for leftovers of macher johol (yes they taste better the next day) and even tag along with Bengali friends to Durga Puja for the mahaprasad of khichuri and bhaja. So when I heard Sofitel Mumbai BKC had a East Bengal / Bangladesh food festival I did the obvious – drove there and ate till I was in food coma!

East Bengal/ Bangladeshi food is very similar to West Bengal barring the fact that Bangladeshi food has a slight Mughlai touch. Both cuisine favour fish and the use of mustard and poppy seeds are similar. The food festival at Novotel is put together by chef Sirajul from Novotel Kolkata.

Chicken Kabiraj at the Sofitel Mumbai BKC

Chicken Kabiraj

We started with a non vegetarian snack – Chicken Kabiraj. It’s a cutlet made with minced chicken and spices dipped in egg and coated with breadcrumbs. Like other chop cutlets, this recipe too is the result of British influence on the Bengali cuisine. Needless to say it was crunchy on the outside and succulent inside. Though I missed Illish bhapa  one of my favourite Bengali dishes, I was glad to see another favourite – Kosha Mangsho – a mutton dish. The perfectly cooked, juicy meat had a Mughlai touch with the use of whole spices and a thin layer of oil floating over it. Yummy. The Katla Macher Kalia (fish curry) was heady from the mustard seeds, nigella seeds, chillies and ginger paste.

Jhinge Aloo Poshto at the Sofitel Mumbai BKC

Jhinge Aloo Phosto

The amount of respect Bengalis pay to vegetables is unprecedented. Simple ridgegaurd is elevated with the use of poppy seeds and mustard paste in Jinghe Posto. It goes beautifully with steamed rice. The simple yellow dal tempered with mustard seeds is akin to the Maharashtrian waran with strong hints of ghee.

Bongs love to have their fish in unthinkable ways. Apart from frying, steaming, baking and dunking it in gravies they also put it in pulao! The Ilish Polao a great combination of spicy Ilish with rice was full of depth. Though Bengali food is known for its liberal use of green chilies, and Bangladesh in particular is famed for having some of the hottest dishes in the world, the dishes at the food festival have been toned down to suit various palates. Among the desserts I loved the misti doi and gurer kheer.

Dessert platter - Mohan Bhog, Malai Sandwich & Mishti Doi at the Bangladeshi food festival at Sofitel Mumbai BKC

Mohan Bhog, Malai sandwich and Mhisti Doi

Pondicherry Café the venue of the festival is dressed in Bangla fervor with a cycle tonga at the entrance, terracotta pots and jhal muri cycles.

Where: Pondichéry Café, Sofitel Mumbai BKC

Date: 18th to 27th March 2016

Time: Lunch – 12:30 pm onwards and Dinner – 7:00 pm onwards

Price: Rs 3,400 (all inclusive)

For reservations, call +91 (22) 6117 5115

NIVEDITA JAYARAM PAWAR

 

Kareena Kapoor is a chocolate girl

27 Feb

Magnum Pleasure Ambassador Kareena Kapoor Khan launches Magnum Brownie 1“I am still to see someone who doesn’t like ice-creams and brownies,” said Bollywood actor Kareena Kapoor at the launch of Magnum ice-cream brownie variant. The Bajrangi Bhaijaan star spoke of how she would gobble up multiple ice-creams after school. This didn’t go down well with her mother the yesteryear’s actress Babita. The ice-cream fixations stayed on all these years and the actress indulges in them every once in a while. She confessed to having downed two ice-creams just before the launch! “If it’s a cheat day it’s definitely chocolate icecream. Now even Saif is addicted to them and blames me for his weight gain,” she revealed.  And what does she like most about the new variant? “The crackling sound when you bite into the chocolate crust before reaching the brownie. I just love it.” Yes the new Magnum brownie has a Belgian Chocolate coating so thick that it creates a distinctive crack when you bite into it. According to Kareena her Ki and Ka co-star Arjun Kapoor is the dishiest chocolate brownie in Bollywood.

Magnum Pleasure Ambassador Kareena Kapoor Khan launches Magnum Brownie 2Magnum Brownie marries two all time favourite desserts – chocolate and brownie. It’s definitely a match made in gastronomic heaven! The new variant also comes in Magnum’s brand new packaging, with a bolder more distinct “M” logo and the famous Belgian chocolate crack.

While we don’t usually need a special time to celebrate our favourite frozen, creamy dessert, now is as good a time as ever. The new variant is available across all major stores in Mumbai, New Delhi, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Pune, Kolkata and Chennai at Rs 90 stick.

NIVEDITA JAYARAM PAWAR

Tried & Tested – United Sports Bar

23 Feb
Channa Express  - The United

Channa Express 

With the cricketing season just heating up, it’s important to find a good spot to settle in and catch the matches. United Sports Bar & Grill is one place where you can root for your team without having to get too rowdy.

This sprawling watering hole in Thane is big, loud and a bit fratty. Yet something about it keeps me coming back for more. Maybe it’s the numerous LCD screens that the friendly staff will happily tune to whatever channel you want to watch. It could be the music which seems to oscillate between chart busters and classics. Or the impressive selection of bar bites and comfort food by chef Dominic Sequeira. But most of all, I think it’s the vibe: easy, relaxed yet energetic.

low res Crispy Chicken

Crispy Chicken 

Another reason I make the trip to Thane is that it’s – whisper it – not that expensive. Sometimes we remember a place by the bill that drowns the credit card. But starters here are priced between  Rs 80-300 and a pint of beer costs Rs 195. Lounge on comfy couches or settle in with a pitcher on the long community table and catch all the sporting action on the numerous projection TVs. If you overstay, take advantage of the extended happy hours where you get two drinks for the price of one (12-8pm).

There is a range of molecular drinks but my favourite is Orange Popping Boba (Rs 400) which is a whiskey based drink with passion fruit. The herbs-n-spice infusions in the cocktails are interesting as they add a twist to an otherwise simple concoction.

low res Khichiya Papad Masala

Khichiya Papad 

Start with Spiced Chicken Wings (Rs 180) which come gloriously bathed in barbeque sauce. The chicken is full of flavour, rich and a little smoky. The orange infused chili chicken (Rs 200) gets a kick from fresh orange rind and chillies. If you like something light the Khiciya papad (Rs 100) topped with tomatoes, onions and chillies make for a quick and easy snack. Nothing glorious but deeply satisfying. So is the snack of fried chick peas with garlic and chaat masala (Channa Express Rs 100). Another must try are the bacon wrapped prawns (Rs 420). Prawns hugged by thin slices of bacon and sitting on a bed of lettuce are closer to haute cuisine than bar bites. If you’re looking for a stellar main course with a good dose of protein and veggies, this is where you can call off the search. The herb crumbed basa (Rs 280) with lemon butter sauce is refreshing in its simplicity. The veggies retain their crunch and colour and the sauce adds just a hint of adventure to the otherwise perfect fish.

low res Carrot Halwa Cheese Cake

Carrot Halwa Cheese Cake

My preferred way to close a meal is to finish whatever is left in my glass. But professional obligations require me to dip into cakes, cookies and other confections. I am not complaining as United Sports Bar entices me with a few simple desserts that bridge comfort with elegance. The sweet to be savoured above all others is the Carrot halwa cheese cake (Rs 200). It’s the best matrimony of mascarpone cheese with carrots. If you order the Paan flavoured panna cotta be ready to post the beauty on Instagram. A dessert in a martini glass and sparked with a chocolate coasted paan is sure to hike up your followers.

low res Paan-A-Cota

Where: United Sports Bar, Viviana Mall, Thane. Tel: 02261701331.
United Sports Bar, R City Mall, Ghatkopar. Tel: 02266429850

 

 

 

5 Spice Wok – Review

19 Feb

Wok 3It didn’t need too much coaxing for me to step out and check out the new addition to the 5 Spice family – 5 Spice Wok. Firstly it’s just 5 minutes away from home and most importantly it’s stir fry Chinese! I love the smoky, singed flavour of stir fry and also the healthy way of cooking vegetables and meat for short periods over high heat that retains their natural vitamins.

5 Spice Wok is a no frills QSR (Quick Service Restaurant) with a DIY concept. Here’s the deal: You choose your base – rice/noodle, then add your protein (fish, chicken, prawns or veggies) and then proceed to choose from over eight sauces. Your food is tossed up in a wok and served too in a wok. There are no plates and you are encouraged to eat off the wok.

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Up close and personal with Yami Gautam

18 Feb

low res YaamiThere are some people who radiate positivity, energy and happiness – what we call ‘good vibes’. Yami Gautam is one of those people. And she has reason to be. Not many actors from television make the cut to Bollywood. Her debut film Vicky Donor, directed by Shoojit Sircar was a sleeper hit. Made on a shoe-string budget the film not only vowed both the audiences and critics but also earned her many female debut awards.

But how did a girl born in Himachal Pradesh and raised in Chandigarh land up in Bollywood? A civil servant aspirant Yami was pursuing a law degree when her uncle sent her pictures to a production house. An audition for a television serial landed her in Mumbai and Yami never returned.

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Restaurant Review – Toast, T24 Hotel

16 Feb
low res Lemongrass Skewered Chargrilled Prawns with SomTam Salad at Toast

Somtam salad with lemongrass skewered prawns

Toast takes a little finding, but it’s worth the detective work and justifies the rush hour traffic you’ll have to tackle just to get to this rooftop bistro, where you’re greeted by glorious lighting, mason jars, a shelf full of books, quirky mismatched chairs, exposed brick walls and funny Bollywood one-liners!

12457759_44_zCosy nooks make it ideal for a relaxed date – your call whether views of airplanes taking off into the distance are romantic or not. There are plenty of larger tables for group of friends. But bring people you like, Toast is too good to waste on a polite drink with the office.

t24-residency

WHAT’S HOT: Toast dresses familiar food in a fancy garb. So the chicken lasuni tikka comes cocooned in a phylo pastry shell, mushroom soup in a cappuccino cup, fries in egg coddler and prawns tempura on a bed of fried wantons. The ‘hero’ dish is the crispy fried calamari on a bed of arugula leaves. Tender meat behind a crackling coating. Among the mains the spaghetti with garlic, chilli and parmesan is delicious in its simplicity. Indian dishes are accompanied by a choice roti/rice, dal and salad.

low res Capriccio Bruschetta at Toast

Bruschetta 

The bar here is staffed by folks who won’t collapse like a soufflé when you move beyond signature drinks. This is rarer than you think in Mumbai, where there are cocktails, cocktails, everywhere and not a drop to drink. My favourite here is T-Sour which makes good use of the scotch bourbon along with sour mix, egg Nog and bitters. Tequila based Candy Crush is for those who like their drink sweet and sour.

lOW RES Accompaninents served at TOAST

Accompaniments to a meal at Toast

On my return to I’ll definitely reorder the chocolate pudding with a gooey centre. This time I would refuse to share my dessert, an excellent, chocolate pudding zinging with fresh Belgium chocolate lava. I made that mistake the first time and quickly saw my error as it vanished into a rival gob.

low res Cocktail T-SOUR at TOAST

Whiskey Sour

WHAT’S NOT: Not everything at Toast is a triumph: the beetroot risotto lacked the cheesiness or any specific oomph, even if it looked glorious.

HOW TO GET THERE:  Marol, Andheri (E), 2 mins walk from Airport Road Metro Station. Tel: 29203818.

COST: Rs 2500 for two with alcohol.

 

NIVEDITA JAYARAM PAWAR

 

Fun under the Sula Sun

9 Feb

low res Balkan Beat Box at SulaFest 2016As much as I love music, I hate concerts. It’s just such a messy affair with sweaty people jumping and dancing in open pavilions. I would rather walk, go running, or sit in the back seat of a car listening to my favourite bands than see them in concert. And that’s the reason I passed on the opportunity to be a part of Sula Fest for the last couple of years.

However I made an exception this year and thank god I did! Cause it wasn’t just a heady mix of music…but also wine, gourmet food, fashion and more…

low res Grape Stomping at SulaFest 2016After a four hour bus ride from Mumbai and a quick shower we headed straight to the fest and to the job – wine tasting. Yes I know the age-old rule about drinking (one that everyone knows and most people have broken) always fill up on food before filling up on alcohol. But food surfaced just before the second round of tastings. I particularly enjoyed the Brut Tropicale in an attractive digital psychedelic bottle covered in riotous paisleys. Made with premium black grapes including PinotNoir the sparkling wine is fresh, fruity and very palatable. The Riesling, limited edition Rasa Shiraz and Rasa Cabernet were all washed down with the very delish goat cheese made by chef Morgan Rainforth of the popular SOLEIL by La Plage.

low res Kailasa at SulaFest 2016

Kailash Kher performing with his band at Sula Fest 2016

There were loads of special tours and tastings for all the wine enthusiasts. Hardys, Asahi Super Dry Beer, Cointreau, Grant’s Whiskey, Jägermeister, Jack Daniel’s Old No.7 Tennessee Whiskey and Stolichnaya Vodka ensure no one went thirsty!

What piqued my interest the most was the wine and ice-cream pairing. Adaptability is a positive quality, so I said – let’s break some rules. According to dessert and wine pairing guidelines, the wine should be sweeter than the dessert, or else the wine may come across as flat. The other element to consider is acidity. Most wines are inherently acidic. London Dairy paired five of their ice-creams with some sula best sellers. While I am not sure if the pairing worked for ME but the mango sorbet from London Dairy is just divine.

low res Kim Sharma at SulaFest 2016Fun activities like foot massages, tarot reading, grape stomping, etc added to the fest-feel. There was glamour too – Narendra Kumar, Mona Juneja, Yash Birla, Ishita Arun, Arjun Khanna, Kim Sharma, Malini Aggarwal, Malavika Sangghvi, Devieka Bhojwani, Aparna Badlani, Sameer Daddy Malhotra…

The music line-up included The Cat Empire from Australia who made their India debut with songs from their soon to be released album ‘Rising with the Sun’! Sunday saw Kailash Kher perform two songs from his soon to be released album – Kailasa Ishq Anokha. The Atmasphere stage in the midst of the vineyard had DJs spinning some incredible underground music.

SulaFest 2016 DayFast fashion brand VERO MODA launched its spring summer collection 2016 at the fest. Anushka Manchanda gave the audience an fashionable performance as a showstopper.

Any wine festivals you have attended? What was your experience?

I can hardly wait for the next edition…

NIVEDITA JAYARAM PAWAR 

 

 

 

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