Food


How to spend 48 hours in Amritsar

Amritsar, historically also known as Rāmdāspur and colloquially as Ambarsar, is a city in north-western India in the Indian state of Punjab. It is situated near Pakistan and the Wagah border. Being the home of the picturesque Golden Temple, It is a popular religious and spiritual destination. It is also very well known for its local food and subsequently various food trails that tourists can cover to get a glimpse into Amritsari food. Amritsar has been witness to some of the most historical events around Partition and houses the Jallianwala bagh too. It is also the birth place of eminent personalities like guru Tegh Bahadur, the 9th Guru of Sikhs and of course contemporary celebrities like Kapil Sharma, Chef Vikas Khanna to name a few. 🙂
 
A lot of people indulge in shopping in Amritsar for local handwoven Phulkari (embroidery technique from Punjab) dupattas and suits or Punjabi Vadi, Paapad & Achar. Hence Amritsar in short – combines all the attractions of a tourist destination. Spiritualism, Diplomacy between two countries, History, Food, Shopping – what more can one ask for.

So when Vistara Airlines offered to fly me down to Amritsar for an all expense paid trip , I was quite excited. I was to spend 48 hours in Amritsar and cover all possible things that can be done in Amritsar in 2 days. Amritsar is well equipped with world class hotels. Vistara Airlines had made arrangements for our stay at Taj Swarna – a brand new property, not too far from the airport. After a welcome ceremony & quick hi-tea, we rested for a bit in our nice well equipped rooms. In the evening we had a diya lighting ritual. After dinner where the entire group interacted with each other, we awaited the Amritsar itinerary to follow in the next 2 days.

Here are a few things you can do in Amritsar in 48 hours.

Visit the Golden Temple

The main attraction of Amritsar, the magnificent, soothing and calming Golden Temple, is always full of tourists at all times. You can visit it any time but the best times to visit are early morning and late night. Both offer different glimpses of the temple – one of the day and one of the night. The road leading to Golden temple has now become pedestrian only and that area looks pretty much like that in a world class city! Cobble stone paths, fancy lamposts, with flower baskets! Uniform colours, patterns and name plates on all shops .. and VERY clean. Before visiting the Golden temple, keep in mind the fact that your head has to be covered at all times. So one needs to carry a scarf/stole or handkerchief with one. It is also mandatory to take off shoes AND socks both, dip your feet in a pool of water and then walk in to the Golden temple. 

Golden Temple

Golden temple

Once in, you can get into the queue to visit the sanctum sanctorum. If you reach early enough, you may even get a spot to SIT inside for as long as you wish. People can be usually seen meditating there or just reveling in the very tangible calming effect of the place . I did the darshan through the VIP line, thanks to arrangements made by Vistara Airlines.  On exiting one can have Kada Prasad. If you carry an extra box with you, you can get some extra helpings. It is worth the effort.

Over a 100,000 visitors are fed every day at the Golden temple. You can be one of them, or you can help in one of the tasks involved with serving food to such visitors.

Volunteers making rotis for visitors

Volunteers making rotis for visitors

Visit the Jalianwala Bagh

Right outside the Golden temple are various places of interest. One of them is the Jalianwala Bagh which witnessed one of the most horrific massacres that human kind has seen. It is now a memorial with a garden. One can see bullet holes in walls there as well as the well in to which many people jumped to escape firing. A solemn place but one worth visiting.
 
Memorial at Jalianwala Bagh

Memorial at Jalianwala Bagh

 
 

Walk along Heritage Street

This is the same road that leads to both Jalianwla Bagh as well as the Golden temple. It also has some other smaller temples as well. The place houses various shops for Phulkari, footwear, eatables as well sumptuous street food.
 
Walk along heritage street

Walk along heritage street

 
 

Shopping at Amritsar

You can visit markets like Hall Gate and Katra Jaimal Singh for punjabi juttis and stunning phulkari dupattas.
Phulkari

Phulkari

 

Eating out at Amritsar

Amritsar is one of India’s top most food destinations! One must visit the iconic Bharawan da Dhaba, opposite Town Hall, Makhan Fish and Chicken Corner (Basant Nagar, 21 A, Near Madaan Hospital, Majitha Road). Also try Pal da Dhaba (Hathi Gate) near Golden temple or Kesar da Dhaba. The heritage street outside Golden temple also houses a number of eateries to give you a taste of the local cuisine right after the temple visit. You can also visit Surjit Food Plaza which is popular with celebrities from all over the world. Kachoris, Samosas, Matthi, Firni, Kheer, Jalebi, Amritsari fish tikka, Amritsari kulcha, chur chur naan, sarson da saag, makki di roti, various kinds of lassi to top everything up, and a whole lot more can be indulged in.
Jalebis

Jalebis

witness the Beating Retreat at the Attari–Wagah border

 Leave for the Wagah border well in time to reach there by 3:30pm to get good seats. There is a long walk after a point where vehicles are not allowed any further. You can not carry any bags to the border. Anything you carry has to be in your hands. After security check, you can grab seats at a vantage point to get a good glimpse of the fanfare and the ceremony. I had access to VIP seats thanks to my hosts – Taj Swarna & Vistara Airlines. The parade is held with much fanfare on both sides of the border. Patriotic songs are played interspersed by slogans like “Bharat mata kee jai“, “Jai Hind” and “Vande Mataram on our side of course. BSF soldiers from India & their counterparts on the other side, put on a display that tries to show them outdoing each other at every step. However beyond the ceremony, the same people are amiable and exchange sweets on important festivals. Thanks to my hosts, I got access to a part of the border where I could stand within a few inches of the border! A Pakistani ranger and an Indian counterpart stand within 3 feet of each other guarding their respective sections. Beyond this spot, only green fields can be seen, reminding one that borders are ONLY man made. I was jealous of the birds flying across both countries and even stray dogs crossing borders casually throughout the time I was there! It was quite amusing to see how humans have imposed these restrictions on themselves.
 
Dog crossing from India to Pakistan

Dog crossing from India to Pakistan

Beating the retreat at Wagah border

Beating the retreat at Wagah border

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beating the retreat at Wagah border

Beating the retreat at Wagah border

Beating the retreat

Beating the retreat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Places to Stay in Amritsar

There are a lot of world class hotels that provide comfortable accommodation in Amritsar, not too far off from all the attractions. I stayed at Taj Swarna since they were my hosts for this trip. My stay was very comfortable and the staff very amiable.

The lovely Taj Swarna

The lovely Taj Swarna

 Now that you know what all can be done in Amritsar in 48 hours, what are you waiting for? Book a flight & your stay at a hotel and get going!

 

 

 


Launch of Saffola Aura with Kunal Kapur & Pooja Makhija

Recently I had been invited to the launch of  Saffola Aura- The new Super Oil with Olive Oil and Flaxseed Oil, launched with Kunal Kapur & Pooja Makhija. The event took place in Bombay and bloggers from all over India had been invited for the same.

So I found myself at the Smoke House Delhi, BKC one summer afternoon for the new “mysterious launch” of a product that had not been disclosed to us. The new Super Oil was launched with celebrity chef Kunal Kapur and celebrity nutritionist Pooja Makhija.

Launch of Aura Oil by Chef Kunal & Nutritionist Pooja

Launch of Aura Oil by Chef Kunal & Nutritionist Pooja

A never seen before creation, Aura oil is a unique blend of two super foods – Olive Oil and Flaxseed oil. Hence, this Oil gives you the benefits of both Omega-3 and powerful anti-oxidants that help renew your body cells every day.

The two variants of Aura Oil

The two variants of Aura Oil

Chef Kunal and nutritionist Pooja chatted with us bloggers about how Saffola Aura is the perfect wellness choice for today’s lifestyle. There is a variant with high smoking point, that can be used in Indian cooking, as well as an Extra virgin variant for pouring over salads, pastas etc. 

With the stressful times we live in, this kind of a product with its omega 3 and antioxidant properties is indeed beneficial to add to one’s diet. After the launch, there was a cook-off challenge amongst the bloggers. We were all randomly divided into teams and were given a list of ingredients out of which at least 4 were mandatory. We had to make one dish using the new Super Oil, within 45 minutes.  I started with making an Italian version of Shakshuka and then since there was so much time, I made a quick salad too. My team helped in chopping all the ingredients and helped in plating.

 

Caramelised Pineapple, Tomato, Avocado & Ricotta Salad for the cookoff

Caramelised Pineapple, Tomato, Avocado & Ricotta Salad for the cookoff

Finally, the evening ended with final team getting a masterclass with Chef Kunal Kapur at a later date. And all of us made our way to the airport. It was a nice evening and I hope to try out the oils in my regular cooking soon!



The Orb – One of the most visually striking lounge bars in Delhi

Recently Radisson Blu Plaza, Delhi Airport, opened ‘The Orb’ – a new and very visually striking lounge Bar.

With the opening of  this avant-garde lounge bar, Delhi now has a new venue for all fun loving people and party animals.  They have an exquisite collection of innovative cocktails, sumptuous relishes, and live events that add to one’s evenings.

Paneer Mushroom Pinwheel, mint mayo, tomato chilli marmalade_

Paneer Mushroom Pinwheel, mint mayo, tomato chilli marmalade_

Phuket Chicken'- green onion, wild ginger, thai chilli

Phuket Chicken’- green onion, wild ginger, thai chilli

Oreo Cookie Baileys Cheese Bar, mango & blue berry sauce

Oreo Cookie Baileys Cheese Bar, mango & blue berry sauce

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Achari Fish Tikka, pickled baby shallots, lemon mint foam _

Achari Fish Tikka, pickled baby shallots, lemon mint foam _

Hazelnut Mousse Fudge, chocolate ganache

Hazelnut Mousse Fudge, chocolate ganache

Roasted Beetroot Salad with goat cheese, orange & caramelized walnut

Roasted Beetroot Salad with goat cheese, orange & caramelized walnut

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Orb has an extensive cocktail menu, and enough live performances to keep you coming back for more. Their drinks menu has a lot of variety unlike many other places and includes everything from signature cocktails, Martinis, Jagerbomb, Tequila, single malts, blended whisky, vodka, gin, rum, champagne and various wines. Basically one is spoilt for choice.

The cocktails have rather intriguing names like Chamba Booti, Khopdi, Masala T-Knee, Rajkumar, and Orb Marry.

Apple cinnamon

Apple cinnamon

khopri

khopri

12 slaps

12 slaps

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Orange Caprioska

Orange Caprioska

Orb Mary

Orb Mary

Reflection

Reflection

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

True to its meaning, “Orb”, that means a sphere or more literally a spherical celestial body, the lounge bar showcases exactly that. The interiors are very trendy and lit up in shades of blue. At The Orb, the seating is arranged around a circular table, which is a very welcome change from regular linear bars. The ambience is also very “electric”. It is not a very big bar and with its circular core,one can feel like one’s partying on an island in the middle of a hotel. Apart from the live DJ performances every evening, there are mid-week blues (on Wednesday) and special performances every Friday night. In the month of March, the line-up of artists includes Soham Mallick, Namrata Nath, Jive Can, Anahita Dawar amongst others.

THE ORB

THE ORB

Keeping in mind the rising spate of crimes against women at venues that serve alcohol, The Orb guarantees  a fun and safe outing. The management and staff has been trained & sensitised to extra care for women.

Images in this post have been provided by Radisson Hotels.

Here are some more details of this bar

Address

Radisson Blu Plaza Delhi Airport, National Highway 8, Near IGI Airport, Mahipalpur, New Delhi

Phone number

26779191, 2677 9045, 9899115508.

Social media

Twitter, Fb, Instagram, Youtube

Cost

₹3,500 for two people (approx.) with alcohol

Opening hours

 5 PM to 1 AM



Neung Roi Review

neungroi-9

Recently I was invited by Radisson Blu plaza, Delhi, to try out Thai food at Neung Roi. I was actually supposed to try it exactly a year back when I had been invited to try out the spa experience. However the relaxing spa experience did not leave me any time for a leisurely 4-5 course lunch. So this year I went exclusively to try out the Thai food at Neung Roi. I really like Thai cuisine a lot and also make a lot of it myself. But then the stuff I make, mostly uses ready made pastes etc. So I was pretty excited to have “authentic” Thai home food prepared by Master Chef Yengai Suthiwaja.

Neung Roi means 100 in Thai and has been named after the 100oC East longitude, which runs through Thailand. Neung Roi is perhaps  the first Thai restaurant I have seen, that segregates its menu based on the major culinary regions. There are four major culinary regions listed – Isan, Lanna, South and the Central Plains. The menu has a preface that explains the specialty of each region. For example the Isan region has spicy flavours,  hot and salty dishes are from Lanna, seafood and fresh produce is from South, and mild, subtle and balanced flavours are from the Central Plains here. I like a menu that actually enlightens the consumer. It was only after a lifetime of eating Chinese or “Chindian” did I realise that Manchuria, Sichuan (misspelt as schezwan in India or even Sehejwan!), Hakka , Hunan, Shandong etc refer to various regions and hence different influences on Chinese food.

The ambience of the restaurant is very nice. Soothing tones, attractive lighting and spacious seats.

neungroi-10

 

So without much ado, here’s what all I tried from the iPad menu I was provided. Since I went alone for the review (instead of in a group), some of the portion sizes were customised for me and made smaller.

We started with something that was a mouth freshener sort of thing. It was made with a betel life like a paan but had typical Thai flavours like lemongrass, chili, peanuts etc.

Thai Paan

 

STARTERS & SALAD

Various starters and salad with small portions for me

Pla Phad Khing

Wok fried fish with black mushroom & crispy ginger. This was really tasty.

Gai Yang

Grilled chicken with coriander roots & roasted chilli sauce. The chicken tasted a bit chewy but that was because I realised that the skin was on. And although it felt and tasted like fried chicken, it had been grilled. It was flavourful.

Som Tum

Raw papaya salad with peanut, chilli & light soya sauce. The salad was light and refreshing and also used edamame beans – something I have never used myself while making this salad.

Chormuang

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Steamed Thai butterfly flower dumpling filled with vegetable

While going through the iPad menu my eyes stopped at “butterfly flower” and I was immediately curious about what this dish was. I wondered if it was made with something called “butterfly flower” or it looked like a “butterfly flower”. So I was told by the waiter that these are lavender coloured dumplings! Can you, dear reader, imagine anything like this? That piqued my curiosity even further and I ordered this dish. I must say it was quite a surprise when it came! Not only did it look spectacular, i tasted great. Later the chef met me and told me that the dough for the dumplings uses stock from dried purple flowers which give it this colour. And the filling was sweet potato, onions and peas!

SOUPS

Tom Yum Gai

neungroi-3

Spicy & sour chicken soup with lemongrass, kaffir lime & galangal. The soup was very flavourful and the individual flavours were distinctly standing out.

 

MAIN COURSE

Gaeng Kiew Wan Gai

Chicken green curry with Thai eggplant, basil, kaffir lime & coconut milk. The thai curry was quite tasty. I often make red and green curries at home and the wonderful new addition here was the crunchy Thai brinjal that looks more like capers.

Gai Kraprow

neungroi-4

Minced Chicken with long beans, hot basil & chilli. This was also quite tasty but perhaps best eaten with rice.

Pla Sam Rod

neungroi-5

Crisp fried fish in three flavor sauce. It was really tasty but felt more like a stand alone appetiser rather than a main course dish to be eaten as an accompaniment to other dishes.

Phad Thai Pak

neungroi-6

Flat rice noodle with bean sprout, chive, tamarind, chilli & peanut. I make rice noodles all the time at home. Nevertheless these were really tasty and actually had different flavours from the ones I am used to. Also, I’ve never used lemon juice on top of pad thai noodles! That was an interesting take.

 

DESSERT

Tub Tim Krob

neungroi-13

Water chestnut in coconut jasmine syrup. The water chestnuts had been soaked in a strawberry flavoured gelatinous syrup and resembled pomegranate seeds! It was quite tasty.

Kanom Tom

neungroi-12

Jaggery stuffed pandanus glutinous rice dumpling with coconut. This was the first time I had a sweet dumpling! That too with jaggery & coconut. It felt like I was eating an Indian sweet dish. But it is important to eat them while they are hot, else the jaggery solidifies a bit.

Fig & Honey Ice cream

neungroi-11

A non Thai dessert, but very tasty nevertheless.

 

After a very sumptuous meal I visited the washroom at Radisson Blu plaza and was completely floored by the gigantic drawing room that I entered in, which also happened to house toilets! So here are a few images of that lavish room too 🙂

neungroi-7 neungroi-8

After this I met Master Chef Yengai Suthiwaja for some chit chat where I discussed various preparations and she also showed me the flower that gave those gorgeous dumplings their colour. It is a dried flower imported from Thailand for this very purpose.

neungroi-14

And here’s Master Chef Yengai Suthiwaja who I thanked for a hearty meal which was flavourful and also very interesting at the same time.

neungroi-15

 

Here are some more details of Neung Roi. Reservations are recommended.

Phone number

011 33105576

Address

Radisson Blu Plaza Delhi, National Highway 8, Near IGI Airport, Mahipalpur, New Delhi

Cost

Average Rs 3,000 for two people (approx.) VAT & service charges extra
 



Cheesy Quinoa Quenelles with Mango Aioli

Recently I made these Cheesy Quinoa Quenelles with Mango Aioli 🙂 I have had Quinoa earlier but didn’t like it much then. But this particular dish is really really tasty and definitely in favour of quinoa. I had seen a lot of quinoa fritters recipes on the net and Aioli recipes as well .. I imbibed all these various recipes, added the king of fruits into it and thus came Cheesy Quinoa Quenelles with Mango Aioli !

They were the perfect accompaniment to the monsoon season. Crunchy, cheesy, full of texture, healthy star ingredient and that aioli was to die for! I will use it with other dishes too. Here’s the recipe:

Cheesy Quinoa Quenelles with Mango Aioli

Portion size : 2

Serves : 3-4

Cooking time : 30 minutes

Preparation time : 5 minutes

Ingredients

Mango Aioli

Half a pureed ripe mango (roughly 4 tbsp)
2 tbsp mayonnaise
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tbsp fresh lemon rind
Some chopped red paprika (or any other chilly)
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt

Quinoa Quenelles

2/3 cup quinoa, rinsed, drained (I used the red quinoa)
1/4 cup flour (maida)
1/4 cup crumbled or grated Mozzarella (or any other cheese)
3/4 teaspoons salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 chopped onion
1/4 cup coriander or mint (or whichever leafy herb u prefer)
1 large egg
Vegetable oil (for frying)

Method:

Mango Aioli

Blend mango puree, garlic, paprika, salt, lime juice and lemon rind in a mixer. Whisk in mayonnaise. Adjust salt/chilly if required. Cover and chill. (You can make this a day in advance also)

Quinoa-7Quinoa-9Quinoa-2

Cheesy Quinoa Quenelles

1. Heat a pan. Add quinoa, toast it, stirring constantly for about 5 minutes. (White quinoa will become golden)

Quinoa-6
2. Add 1 1/3 cups water to quinoa and boil it. After boiling, let it simmer on low heat till it is cooked and till quinoa has absorbed all the water. (~12 minutes)

Quinoa-10
3. Remove from heat and keep covered for 15 minutes. Uncover and cool. Transfer to a large bowl (in which you will make quinoa dough).
4. Add flour, onions, coriander or mint, salt & pepper to quinoa and toss. Add cheese, mix well. Beat the egg separately and stir into this mix until a dough forms (mix gently to prevent quinoa from breaking so that it retains texture)

Quinoa-15
5. Heat oil in a pan.
6. Take 2 large table spoons. Scoop dough in one spoon, use the second spoon to scoop this dough out of first spoon, repeat process till a smooth oval shape (like a rugby ball) has formed. (Congratulations you just made a quenelle!)
7. Fry these quenelles in oil, turn occasionally and transfer to a plate with a napkin or paper towel.

Quinoa-3Quinoa-4

8. Serve the cheesy Quinoa Quenelles warm with the Sweet & spicy Mango aioli .. Enjoy along with the monsoons

Quinoa-1 

 

Here’s the recipe in recipe card format as well

Cheesy Quinoa Quenelles with Mango Aioli
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Ingredients
  1. Mango Aioli
  2. Half a pureed ripe mango (roughly 4 tbsp)
  3. 2 tbsp mayonnaise
  4. 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  5. 1 tbsp fresh lemon rind
  6. Some chopped red paprika (or any other chilly)
  7. 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  8. 1/2 teaspoon salt
  9. Quinoa Quenelles
  10. 2/3 cup quinoa, rinsed, drained (I used the red quinoa)
  11. 1/4 cup flour (maida)
  12. 1/4 cup crumbled or grated Mozzarella (or any other cheese)
  13. 3/4 teaspoons salt
  14. Freshly ground black pepper
  15. 1 chopped onion
  16. 1/4 cup coriander or mint (or whichever leafy herb u prefer)
  17. 1 large egg
  18. Vegetable oil (for frying)
Method
  1. Mango Aioli
  2. Blend mango puree, garlic, paprika, salt, lime juice and lemon rind in a mixer. Whisk in mayonnaise. Adjust salt/chilly if required. Cover and chill. (You can make this a day in advance also)
  3. Cheesy Quinoa Quenelles
  4. 1. Heat a pan. Add quinoa, toast it, stirring constantly for about 5 minutes. (White quinoa will become golden)
  5. 2. Add 1 1/3 cups water to quinoa and boil it. After boiling, let it simmer on low heat till it is cooked and till quinoa has absorbed all the water. (~12 minutes)
  6. 3. Remove from heat and keep covered for 15 minutes. Uncover and cool. Transfer to a large bowl (in which you will make quinoa dough).
  7. 4. Add flour, onions, coriander or mint, salt & pepper to quinoa and toss. Add cheese, mix well. Beat the egg separately and stir into this mix until a dough forms (mix gently to prevent quinoa from breaking so that it retains texture)
  8. 5. Heat oil in a pan.
  9. 6. Take 2 large table spoons. Scoop dough in one spoon, use the second spoon to scoop this dough out of first spoon, repeat process till a smooth oval shape (like a rugby ball) has formed. (Congratulations you just made a quenelle!)
  10. 7. Fry these quenelles in oil, turn occasionally and transfer to a plate with a napkin or paper towel.
  11. 8. Serve the cheesy Quinoa Quenelles warm with the Sweet & spicy Mango aioli .. Enjoy along with the monsoons
Twilight Fairy http://blog.twilightfairy.in/