Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Lunch at Desi Roots

This post is a bit overdue. It's so difficult to sit down and have some time to think about a post when you have an infant who decides that she just HAS to play with the laptop as soon as she sees you sit down in front of it :) 

About two weeks ago I was invited to Desi Roots in Ras Villas Mall, Saket. I've been wanting to visit ever since it opened a few months back, but unfortunately, it coincided with Adhi coming home and then Adhi pretty much made sure that she was and is, the center of our universe ever since :) Lately things have begun to settle down and so I finally got a chance to step out for a bit.

The first thing that peaked my interest in Desi Roots were it's interiors. I had seen a few images on my FB feed and was quite impressed with the grungy style which was contemporary, but with retro touches here and there- in short, something a little different from what I've seen before. Desi Roots is trying to do some interesting things to Indian food. It is taking Classic Indian food from different regions of India and coming up with interesting twists and reinventions, and this is reflected both in the restaurant's design and its food.

The bright & airy cafe area which is quite quirky and retro
[courtesy- Desi Roots]

Some desi comics to take you on a trip down memory lane
[courtesy- Desi Roots]

The restaurant has three distinct seating areas- an outer cafe which is bright, quite retro and takes you on a quirky trip down memory lane with images and memorabilia that conjure up childhood masti (Chanpak and Tinkles anyone?), an intermediate zone and the trendy and very contemporary bar area, that is my favourite space. I love the grungy exposed brick walls, the funky sofas in primary colors and the combination of wooden tables with colorful metal chairs. One of the more interesting features, and one I really liked, were the low partitions that had loads of locks on them. I found out at the end of my meal that each patron gets to sign the lock and hang it up on the partition and you take home the key! Such a cool tradition!

The bar & lounge area

Customers enjoying an afternoon drink at Desi Roots

The famous locks

I'm someone who has always prefered starters to mains, when it comes to Indian cuisine, especially if I'm eating alone. That way I get to try a lot of things, tapas style :) After trying a number of the smaller bites on offer at Desi Roots, the Biryani croquettes and the deconstructed samosa really stood out. 

I Loved the modern presentation of the deconstructed samosa- it looked nothing like the traditional samosa! And yet, it tasted just like a samosa should, perhaps even better. As much as I love samosas, I can rarely get through one because it's so heavy. But this was light and so fresh and so hip. I guess that sums up the essence of what Desi Roots is trying to achieve with their food. Modernising Indian food, making it 'hip', but respecting the original dish at its core. 

Deconstructed samosa

Amandeep Singh, whose concept Desi Roots is, explains, "There is no fanciness and trying to be too clever. The idea is to make Indian food cool and contemporary without compromising on the core, robust Indian flavours that we all know and love. They are unmistakable, just presented in a very modern and at times even quirky way."

The Biryani croquettes with salan aioli also stood out for me. I thought the idea of presenting biryani as a crisp croquette was really clever and again, from the beautiful presentation one would never guess that biryani is the inspiration and the heart of this plate of food. But after one bite the distinctive flavour is there. The only issue I had was that I wanted even more flavour and, if I were to be super critical, the croquettes felt a bit heavy on the palate after a few bites. 

Biryani croquettes

Another one not to miss are the chicken tikkas marinated in chipotle and served on a smoking iron. The chicken was soft, tender and had a delicious smokey flavour that would be a perfect accompaniment to any drink. 

Chipotle chicken tikkas

Galawati pate

But my absolute favourite thing that I tried on the menu was the galawati pate. What a cool idea to serve galawati, which is a kebab that has quite a smooth, almost pasty texture, in a jar with bits of sheermal to accompany it. I loved the idea and jokingly told Amandeep that I was going to do this at the next dinner party I hosted. 

I also have to mention that I had the most delicious kheer here. It's called Jamaluddin ki kheer and Amandeep insisted I try it, explaining that they get it in everyday from the famous Jamaluddin's kheer shop near Badal Bed masjid in Old Delhi.

Desi Roots is a must visit and I definitely plan to drop in again and try out some of the mains this time. I thoroughly enjoyed whatever I tried there and loved the ambience. The team seem to have successfully created a place that everyone could enjoy, whether it be for a romantic meal with that special someone, a night out with friends or a family dinner. But more importantly, I like the direction they are taking with their food, by making it hip and modern, but not too fancy and still very much pocket friendly. 

And that's my little signed lock :)

*Please note that this review is based on my experience when I was invited for a meal at Desi Roots

[All images clicked by Shalini Pereira unless otherwise mentioned. Please do not use without prior written permission]

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Inspirations for Adhi's Room

Now that Adhi has entered our lives, we are slowly trying to make her room into a happy, colorful and fun place. I was really inspired by these pictures and got some ideas about what to do in Adhi's room. I came across the West Village Apartment of Ariane Goldman and her family on Cup of Jo and just loved the way this designer has done up her daughter's bedroom. 

Don't you just love this bed. I'm sure Adhi would, when she's bigger. 
Right now she loves leaping onto pillows and cushions and 
reminds me of a little frog.

Now this is something I'm definitely going to fix up in Adhi's 
room as soon as she is older

Love the idea of a 'can do' list that kids can maintain. What fun it 
would be to give yourself a star each time you reach a new milestone

I'm going to be on the lookout for some nice, big wicker baskets 
for her all her toys

[All images from Cup of Jo]

Monday, 18 May 2015

The Menon's Weekend Getaway to Neemrana Fort Palace

Ever since Adhira arrived, it feels like the hubs and I have been running around like headless chickens. And for some reason, we seem to be tired all the time! :) So when the long weekend came up at the beginning of May, we decided to head off to the Neemrana Fort Palace with some friends for a night. It would be Adhira's first overnight trip with us and we were quite excited and just a little nervous too.

Last year the hubs and I visited Kesroli Hill Fort hotel, another property of the Neemrana group, and I've been wanting to visit Neemrana ever since then. The Neemrana Fort Palace is actually a hotel, in fact one of India's oldest heritage hotels and it's about a 90 minute drive from Gurgaon. It's a beautiful structure that is nestled on a hillock and offers magnificent views of the surrounding area. 

We had a great time there, spent some fun time in their pool, sipped on some cool beers while the kids played, and I, of course, spent some quality time in their Spa. The spa offers some great treatments, although a little on the pricey side, and to be honest, I have had better massages, but they do a nice facial, which I really did enjoy. 

The rooms in Neemrana are pleasant enough, although I think they need a little bit of attention in terms of upkeep. The ac in our room was leaking, but we just couldn't be asked to complain, since we spent most of our time out of the rooms. The food, though, is wonderful and their lunch spread is especially good. A little word of caution, with this hotel though, my view is that the Neemrana Fort Palace hotel, while lovely and romantic, does throw up some issues for infants as well as for anyone with knee problems. There are just so many steps to climb, and everything is spread out over such a distance, that at one point I got lost in search of the lunch room :) For me, Kesroli Fort, because of its smaller size, offers a much more intimate setting, with beautiful rural scenery and you can let your kids run arounds without fear of them toppling down stairs :)

While I wanted to stay on for another night, the hubs wisely decided to keep it to one. According to him, we would need the rest of the weekend to recuperate from the trip. While initially there was quite an animated 'discussion' over this, I concede that in hindsight he was right (for once). Travelling with a child is quite tiring :) In between all the swimming, spa time and running around behind Adhi, I did manage to click a few pics ... enjoy!

[All images by Shalini Pereira. Please do not use without prior written permission]

Friday, 15 May 2015

TLC Bloggers Meet

[Image courtesy TLC India ]

This week TLC aired the 1st episode of season two, The Taste, a show where food writer and TV chef Nigella Lawson, chef, writer and TV presenter Anthony Bourdain and chef Ludo Lefebvre pick contestants who will cook off against each other. And this year chef Marcus Samuelsson has joined the fray too! The Taste is sort of like The Voice meets Masterchef and it's loads of fun! I was lucky enough to be invited by TLC for a bloggers meet at the Olive Bar & Kitchen, for an exclusive preview of the first episode, which was pretty awesome!

We also got to interact with Rajiv Bakshi, VP, Marketing, South Asia for Discovery as well as some other awesome fellow bloggers, while enjoying some of that delicious grub that Olive Bar & Kitchen is famous for :) 

The best part of the evening was a fun session where TLC turned the tables on all us 'food experts' and really put us through the wringer with a blindfolded tasting session and a 'guess the main ingredients session' overseen by chef Dhruv Oberoi. It was hilarious and a good laugh... psst, I managed to guess one or two :)

Chev Dhruv conducting the blindfolded tasting session
[Image courtesy TLC India ] 

Watermelon ceviche cured in sangira 

A bloody Mary seasoned with smoked chicken

Cigars of caramelized white chocolate mousse and milk powder

It was a really fun evening with lot's of interaction, laughs and of course some great food... what more could you ask for really?

[All images by Shalini Pereira, unless otherwise mentioned. Please do not use without prior written permission]

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