Thursday, November 27, 2014

GourmetItUp MasterClass at Malaka Spice on November 29, 2014

Anything in food always works for Punekars. Malaka Spice happens to be one of Pune's most happening eating joint where the best in South East Asian cuisine is served as authentically as possible. Thai food in particular is their forte. They are always up for something innovative. GourmetItUp is an innovative way to get some fabulous eating experiences in the best of restaurants with their unique tie-ups and offerings.  
So GourmetItUp in association with Malaka Spice are bringing for you an interesting masterclass with Chef Ranjith and Chef Shatrugan on November 29th 2014 between 4.30pm-7pm. They will be teaching quite some interesting dishes like Quail Samosa, Green Chicken, White Chocolate and Bailey's Mousse and so on. But we warn you that only 15 people is the limit. So one has to hurry to book the seat. Those looking for something interesting food experience can reach the details given below. 
Reserve seats by calling concierge service at 09619551387 or one can long on
Venue: Malaka Spice - Lane No 5 Koregaon Park, Opp. Oxford Properties
Date and Time: 29th November. Time - 4:30pm to 7pm
Price: RS 800/- 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

The Kitchens of Kangan Festival – The Westin Pune Koregaon Park

Achari Murgh
When you happen to the presence of a popular chain of 5-star hotel, you invariably get a taste of flavours from all its outlets. The Westin Pune Koregaon Park is making sure all Punekars get the flavour of their popular Indian food restaurant. They have brought together their best chefs from all the Westin Hotels in India to give a taste of some great culinary delights via the ‘Kitchens of Kangan’. This interesting concept has great signature dishes from the 3 chefs from Mumbai, Pune and Hyderabad. This happens to be the 2nd edition of the festival and serves some amazing North West Frontier cusine at their very Indian restaurant, Kangan. It will be open for the interested people till November 28th. The chefs involved are Chef Narayan Salunkhe from The Westin Pune Koregaon Park, Chef Rakesh Anand of The Westin Hyderabad Mindspace and Chef Shamsher Ahmed from The Westin Mumbai Garden City.

The vegetarian starters has dishes like Kale Chaney Ke Kebab (black gram patties stuffed with mint and chilli yoghurt), Bhutta Amritsari (crisp fried spicy tender corn & green peas bites), and Hare Masale Ka Paneer Tikka (cottage cheese marinated in herbs & cooked in tandoor). I tried the Paneer Palak Ke Sikke which were subtly done seasoned spinach sandwiched with picatta of cottage cheese. The rather tangy taste of Daastaane-e-kumbh consisting of char grilled mushroom marinated with tandoor masala, cheese and pepper, will be a more popular (and tasty option). But one felt one could give the Subz Tarkash Ki Seekh a miss which has assorted veggies cooked in Indian spices in clay oven. Amidst Non-veg Starters like Murgh Siya Masala (Chicken sautéed with onion and tomatoes, spiked with crushed black pepper), Murgh Kalmi Masala (tandoori chicken leg with cheese, chilli and marinated with home made garam masala), Tala Gosht (baby lamb leg marinated with ginger, garlic, chillies) and so on, I really liked the very desi Bhatti De Murgh (spicy chicken marinated with secret spice mix and dried mint) and the delicate flavours of Soofiyana Tandoori Jhinga (tiger prawns marinated with fresh fennel leaves, laced with seasoned egg white, finished in clay oven). Many might opt for Tandoori Nalli which is well-prepared baby lamb in cinnamon, vinegar and spices. The tender meat came off easily and the spices did not overwhelm each other.

Sarhad Ki Fish Curry
The vegetarian main course has some interesting options like Nazbu Paneer (Roulade of stuffed cottage cheese gratinated with basil flavoured tomato gravy), Subz Noorani Korma (Seasonal mixed veggies flavoured with carom and nigella seeds), Guncha Meethi Matar (cauliflower tempered with fresh fenugreek & indian spices) and Peshawari Chole (slow cooked chickpeas with Peshawari spices). For me, Subz Aashiyana worked just okay as it meant eating mix veggies in traditional spices, cheese, spinach and cream. Lovers of rajma might love the Rajma Dum Biryani. I am a big fan of Kangan Pune’s signature dish – Dal Kangan which is black lentil cooked overnight and cooked with tomato, fresh cream and butter. The smooth and slightly tangy flavour stays with you and despite the cream content, you want to keep on eating. The non-veg section is filled with dishes like  Murgh Benazeer (chicken drumstick flavoured with tomatoes & feneel seeds and cooked on dum), Nalli Gosht (lamb shanks cooked in Indian spices in brown curry), Musafir Ka Adlah (slow cooked lamb in spices, red onions, ginger-garlic and Peshwari chillies) and Sarhad Ki Fish Curry (fish cooked in a special masala).

While there are some interesting daals and rice dishes to entice you, get the Masala Garlic Roti and Kacche Haldi Ke Parathi which is layered bread infused with raw turmeric and carom seeds. 
From the desserts section, I personally felt the delicate flavours of Gulab Patte ki Kheer is the clear winner. The Shahi Khubani Tukda might be heavy for some.

All in all, going to Kangan at The Westin Pune Koregaon Park might be a good option to eat like a king. The Kitchens of Kangan beckons you to eat heartily till November 28th

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Book Review: Rokda: How Baniyas do Business

I always feel that writing about business in India is a gold mine. There is a tale to be told in every corner of every city. What is interesting about Indian business structure is the interlinking with caste, community or even religious groups. In this light, journalist Nikhil Inamdar’s second book Rokda: How Baniyas do Business is something of a read. 

Hee, the focus, we are told, is on how this enterprising community – the Baniyas – has managed to not be restricted to the usual business areas it is connected to. It has gone beyond what people expect them to be prolific into. You get a small pitch of the community in the book’s introduction where Inamdar speaks of the community’s origins and how he approached the topic and the entrepreneurs regarding an interesting topic without sounding too focused on the caste aspect. The book comes out as how that particular individual has come into the said business and has managed to reach the position he is in and the struggles.

Inamdar has picked up five brands and the names behind it which have changed the game in many ways. While reading each of them, one finds them to be quite distinct in the way they approach their work, entry into the field of business, their method of looking at each & every detail of work, tackling success & failures and so on.

You are introduced to Neeraj Gupta, the name behind Meru Cabs which changed the scenario of private taxis in India. His story comes across more as a tale of someone who did business more with accidents opportunities and was a mix of luck, looking for the extra kick and smart choices. You are allowed to visualise Gupta’s start as a member of a family which strived to set up their small-time eateries in Mumbai. What made Gupta reach his present state is a certain attitude of taking life as it comes but jumping on opportunities which stared at his face. One of them is his response to a tender by Maharashtra Govt to set up private radio cabs in Mumbai as an answer to bludgeoning public transport. His method comes out as a trial and error one where one see Gupta accepting mistakes and also help. Inamdar has a certain method of allowing you to decide to see if Gupta’s methods of business are correct or just acts of over-confidence.

You go over to the two powerhouses behind the renowned cosmetic brand Emami, the two Radheshyams - Radheshyam Agarwal & Radheshyam Goenka. They are an earlier generation Baniyas with ideologies and business skills of a different generation. Though they met during school, Agarwal is the brilliant brain with a ‘photogenic memory’. But Goenka was no less. What Agarwal thought, Goenka was able to put into action with greater success. While travelling with them in their various ventures, takeovers and moves, it is their friendship which probably is the star in the whole journey. Here you come across the brains and risk-taking factor which has made this community such a business success.

The story of Snapdeal is the one which might attract the young generation as almost every her young one has done a ‘deal’ via it. Here again, a different kind of business mind comes through which is young, well-educated and willing to take calculated risk. IIT pass-out with a well-paying job, Rohit Bansal comes across the quintessential young well-educated  Indian who prefers being one’s own master over a well-paying job. Bansal, along with pal Kunal Bahl, established Snapdeal in 2010, but the build-up for it began from Bansal’s life in a small town, Mahlout. His family’s small fair price shop depended on weather meant that he was witness to ups and downs. A certain force to do well made him take to Delhi on a scholarship where he met his best friend and future partner, Kunal. Inamdar keeps the narration more upbeat, keeping in mind the subject of this tale and the fact that the duo are the representative of today’s India. Even while doing the nesaccary to set up Snapdeal, you see them struggling with making internet selling concept work for the Indian market.

I personally felt that the fourth case study was the typical one representing the Baniya community, just like Emami’s Radheshyams. RK Somany of HSIL which owns the sanitation business leading company Hindware, comes from a family which had slowly made its way up in diverse businesses in Calcutta, including arms & ammunitions. As part of his elder brother idea of giving each sibling a business to run independently, RK got into sanitation ware business. A small spark to get the best in this business made way for RK to not just travel abroad and learn the best of technology but also hone his own business acumen. Inamdar has been successful in getting RK’s tough nut acumen with his efforts to understand the market.

The last one is one which I would call both an oddity and also intriguing. It is an oddity because the said case study is not the run-of-the-mill business tycoon. V. K. Bansal of Bansal Classes probably changed the game in India coaching capital, Kota, Rajasthan. VK’s journey started small from Jhansi in a poor family, but sheer grit made him reach engineering and pass with flying colours. A happy marriedlife in Kota changed when he was diagonised with Biocitis or muscular dystrophy. But where there is a will, there is a way. From one student, his success as a teacher grew into an empire which exploded the coaching classes scene in Kota like no other. His sheer bull spirit to achieve the best without compromise on his teaching or his students overshadowed his personal life. His story comes out more as a personal battle than business acumen.

Throughout the book, the success of the community as a whole comes in parts. It comes via their own personal grit towards going into business. Inamdar’s choice of entreprenuers is intruiging. Only Neeraj Gupta comes from India’s financial capital, Mumbai. The ‘Emamiwalas’ and RK Somany come from Kolkata, a city which owes it financial success to the Marwadi families residing their for ages. The northerners here are the two Bansals – Rohit Bansal and VK Bansal. The case studies are also interesting from the point that none of the names come from establised Baniya families but have created their own presence. Even second generation enterpreneur RK started from a scratch at the sanitation business.

Inamdar’s method of narration is presenting facts without taking sides or trying to blow things out of proportion. He starts with an interesting annecdote or story of the said people. It allows you slowly get introducing to the protagonist. The only thing which stuck me as a little bother is his rather neglect (in my views) to speak of the Baniya connection in a separate chapter with each case study.

With Rokda: How Baniyas do Business, Nikhil Inamdar tries to bring out the spirit of the business community who probably define Indian economy and business in their own unique way. One should pick for a light business reading, if one must.         

Book Title: Rokda: How Baniyas do Business
Author: Nikhil Inamdar
Publisher: Random House India
Price: Rs 175 (Paperback)

Photo Credit: 

Monday, November 3, 2014

Moroccan Food Festival at The Westin Pune Koregaon Park

Morocco stays in Pune till November 8th at The Westin Pune Koregaon Park, as an interesting Moroccan Food Festival is underway at the hotel known also for its exquisite food at its different restaurants. Held at Seasonal Tastes and planned by Chef de Cuisine, Prasad Metrani, it was definitely a peep into the food which smells of authenticity. Chef Metrani has had experience of getting to know the cuisine when he had visited the country quite a few years back. He personally saw how it is prepared and has brought ingredients straight from the North African country to give it a touch of reality. It had everything from tagines, salads, and soups to wraps, grills, hot spreads, typical breads and the works. A taste of authenticity marks the eating experience here, as I was witness to it.

Amidst the Moroccan cold salads like Zaalouk- Aubergine Dip, Ispinaki Limone Salade (Spinach And Pickled Lemon Salad), Serouda (Chickpea & Tomato Sauce Salad), Taktouka (Tomato & Green Pepper Salad), Beetroot With Yoghurt & Oranges and Fegguos Salade (Chopped Cucumber & Tomato Salad), I loved trying Hummus with Green Harrisa, Berber Salade (Country Style Salad From Marrakech) and Onion Mezgueldi (Caramelised Onions With Butter). The spiciness in the hummus might appeal to the Indian palate. While one shifted to the one veg and one non-veg soup, the Lamb Harira might tempt you with its lightly spicy and tangy soup with hints of lamb.

Sure, there were starters like Kasbah or Spicy Chicken Bites, Sesame Halloumi Bites, Puffed Moroccan Pizza, wraps and grills, the Grilled Merguez Sausages or Lamb Sausages were simple ones. It was main course which called for the attention with Samak Chermoula (Pan Fried Moroccan Fish), Vegetable Tagine, Maakouda Batata (Moroccan Potato Cakes), Cous Cous and Mograbieh (Semolina Dumplings With Cumin). I personally loved tasting the subtle flavours of Dijaj N’Quallu (Pot-roasted Whole Chicken) and the well-cooked & spicy Arin M’Qualli (Braised Lamb Leg with Cayenne Pepper).

One had to try out the desserts which consisted of B’stilla Au Lait (Layered Pastry With Almond Cream), Fresh Fruit Briouates (Fresh Fruit Triangles), Almond Gharibiya (Biscuits from Casablanca), Fakkas (Morrocan Rusks), Almond & Cloves Cookies, etc. One could give the Fez Style Rice Pudding a miss for being too typical. Try the Chakbkia (Fried Pastries drizzled with Honey & Sesame), Chocolate M’nancha (Chocolate Rolls) and the very delicately flavoured Orange Flower Blossom & Pistachio Ice Cream. My favourite in the whole lot was the B’stilla Dijaj (Chicken cooked with Eggs wrapped in Pastry & Baked in Pots, served with Relish or Salads). It felt like a lighter version of scrambled eggs with chicken in it inside a bun. One could it gobble a few in one go, if you are too hungry.

The special Moroccan spread is quite wide to let everyone’s taste buds feel happy. I felt the veg and non-veg options were quite vast to satisfy everyone. Yes, Moroccan cuisine might sound like something for the meat lovers but veggies do have space here. Try it if you want.

Date: till November 8th 2014
Time: 7.00pm

Venue: Seasonal Tastes, The Westin Pune Koregaon Park