Merlion In Mumbai at JW Marriott Juhu’s Lotus Cafe

Singapore is a paradise for food lovers. From high-end restaurants to street food stalls, there are ample options to pick from. When dining out, most people prefer hawker centres as they are convenient, affordable and delicious. A trip to the island is surely incomplete without trying out some of its authentic dishes served at its numerous street stalls.

I was fortunate to get a taste of Singaporean street food at JW Marriott Juhu, Mumbai’s Singapore Food Festival at its bustling Lotus Cafe. Singapore Marriott’s Sous Chef, Chef Thanabalan Chandrasekaran specially flew down to Mumbai to showcase his exceptional culinary skills with his signature preparations and street food favorites. Upon being asked about Singaporean cuisine, he said, ‘Singaporean cuisine is truly a melting pot of Asian cultural cuisine and in a sense, can be called truly International. An amalgamation of Chinese, Thai, Malay, Indian and many more cuisines, Singaporean dishes incorporate fresh spices that lends the quintessential flavor to the dishes. It is a cuisine that is enjoyed by most, since it has a flavor for every palate.’

With Singapore Marriott’s Sous Chef, Chef Thanabalan Chandrasekaran

The delectable dinner buffet comprised of classic dishes like Singapore’s famous Chilli Crab, Laksa, Gado-Gado Molek and more. With aromatic satays, braised ducks, flavorsome curries and live stations, we were spoilt for choice.

‘Singaporean cuisine is a non-fussy, hassle-free cuisine. The main ingredients required to prepare most dishes are chilli, pandan leaf, lemongrass, coconut and sea food,’ he further added. While we were being briefed about the festival, Chef Himanshu Taneja, Executive Chef, JW Marriott Juhu also informed us that the menu changes everyday so guests have more to look forward to.

Lotus Cafe, famous for its delectable buffet and Sunday brunch was decorated with red lanterns, candles and umbrellas that gave us a feel of Singapore. Chef walked us through the live counters and satay stations and gave us some valuable insights on each of the dishes that were on offer. Some of his signature dishes like the Chicken Curry with Spicy Red Gravy was made using a recipe given to him by his mother.

The satays included Chicken, Lamb and Prawns and were a real treat for meat lovers. Slow Cooked Duck with Potatoes in Soya Sauce, Slow Roasted Stuffed Duck, Jasmine Rice were some delicious options in the curry section that everyone just couldn’t stop raving about. The salads included Onion Coriander and Baby Dry Shrimp, Prawns with Pineapple & Tomatoes, Gado-Gado Molek which also happens to be a signature Singaporean salad. At the live counter, Chef Thanabalan himself tossed an assortment of vegetables and meats with stir-fry noodles and soya sauce to make the experience even more special. If you’re at a Singapore Food Festival, you have to try the famous street food speciality – Laksa. If you like the flavour of shrimp, this soupy dish is an absolute delight to slurp down. Black Pepper Prawns, Hot and Sour Pomfret, Mix Vegetables with Coconut Cream were some more creations at the buffet.

Since Chef knew his flavors so well and promised to offer a different spread each day, I was curious to know about his favorites. So I asked him for five dishes he recommends everyone must try to get a feel of Singaporean street food. Here’s what he said –

– Laksa: 
A soupy dish consisting of flat rice noodles or vermicelli dunked in spicy coconut milk flavored with dried shrimp and sambal chilli and topped with prawns, chicken or boiled eggs. Vegetarian version can be made sans shrimp with bean curd and sprouts.

– Chilli Crab: 
Singapore’s national dish, Chilli Crab is a stir-fried preparation in a sweet and savoury chilli based sauce.

– Chicken Rice:
Fuss-free chicken rice made with sesame oil, ginger, garlic and soya sauce, this is one of the most famous street foods available in Singapore.

– Rojak Salad: 
A sweet, spicy & sour fruit and vegetable salad, Rojak is a popular street food in Singapore that can be made with prawn fritters, bean sprouts, potatoes and eggs.

– Okane Fried Noodles: 
This is mainly served as a vegetarian dish and is made with stir-fried rice vermicelli seasoned with curry powder, bean sprouts, pak choi, soy sauce, and sliced chilli peppers. Can also be accompanied by small slices of chicken, beef, pork or prawns.

If you want to get a real taste of Singaporean street food with authentic flavors, this festival offers endless options that are sure to leave you craving for more.

Decor

Chilli Crab

Satay Station

Satay Counter

Salad Station

Curries & Rice

Live station

Stir-fry Vegetables & Noodles in a local sauce

Laksa in the making

Laksa being prepared by Chef Thanabalan

Laksa

Some more dishes

Pricing:
INR 2400/- per head (all inclusive)

Timing:
7:00 pm-11:00 pm

* The meal was paid for by JW Marriott Juhu

Advertisements

Foodie Reviews: Le Kitchen Gallery

Le Kitchen, South Mumbai’s renowned catering service is hosting a month long pop-up at Kala Ghoda’s quaint art space, House of Tales. With a variety of cuisines on offer, Le Kitchen Gallery promises a true gastronomic experience with a different menu everyday.

The meal offers mocktails, soups, appetizers, entrees and desserts. Guests can select any one of each from several options in the menu. They have two seatings for dinner – 8pm and 10pm and tickets can be purchased online. I attended the Bake & Cheese Pop-up held on 20th August. The menu had delicious offerings and was undoubtedly a real treat for a cheese lover.

What I tried:
– Very Berry Cooler
– Bruschetta Bites
– Herb Cheese Fondue Soup
– Tomato Basil Soup with Parmesan Shavings
– Baked Mac & Cheese Closed Sliders
– Mozzarella Wrapped Broccoli & Courgette
– Caramelized Onion & Goat Cheese Pie
– Grilled Vegetable Pilaf with Red Wine Jus Drizzle
– Baklava Cheesecake
– Flourless Chocolate Cake with Rum Soaked Orange Wedge
– Baked Sesame Almonds

What impressed me:
– The mocktail was refreshing and perfectly sweet
– Bruschetta Bites were a lighter version of the classic Chilli Cheese Toast
– Mozzarella Wrapped Broccoli & Courgette was cheesy and delicious
– Caramelized Onion and Goat Cheese Pie was undoubtedly my favorite. The crust was perfectly baked and was filled with sufficient amounts of cheese. Being a huge fan of Goat Cheese, this was a win-win dish for me
– Grilled Vegetable Pilaf with Red Wine Jus Drizzle was a burst of flavours in the mouth
– Both Baklava & Cheesecake are lip-smacking dessert creations individually, but together they are absolutely irresistible. Though this was a deconstructed version of the dessert, I thoroughly enjoyed every bite of the unusual combination.

What didn’t impress me much:
– The soups were slightly bland for my liking
– Baked Mac and Cheese Sliders were dry and could certainly do with more cheese

Le Kitchen Gallery Menu

Very Berry Cooler

FullSizeRender copy 2

Bruschetta Bites

Herb Cheese Fondue Soup

Tomato Basil Soup with Parmesan Shavings

Mozzarella Wrapped Broccoli and Courgette

Baked Mac and Cheese Closed Sliders

Grilled Vegetable Pilaf with Red Wine Jus Drizzle

Caramelized Onion and Goat Cheese Pie

Flourless Chocolate Cake with Rum Soaked Orange Wedge

Baklava Cheese Cake

Baked Sesame Almonds

The pop-up ends on 13th September, 2015.

*The meal was paid for by Le Kicthen Gallery

In conversation with Global Culinary Chef of Chili’s American Grill & Bar

Chili’s American Grill & Bar, the leading American casual dining restaurant chain is present in over  33 countries worldwide including India amongst several others. What started in 1975 in Dallas, Texas with 11 Southwestern-inspired dishes and trademark beverages, now serves some of the best appetizers, salads, burgers, sandwiches, quesadillas and more in India. Located at the Hiranandani Business Park in Powai, Mumbai, this Tex-Mex restaurant is famous for its Big-mouth Burgers, Texas Cheese fries and lots more.

Recently, the renowned international chain celebrated 40 glorious years in the hospitality industry. To commemorate this success, Chef Michael Winkelmann, the Global Culinary Chef visited Mumbai. With over 30 years experience in the restaurant and leisure industry, Michael has spent the last 14 years with Chili’s and all other Brinker brands (international parent company for Chili’s). Based in the UK, he is currently responsible for not only the outposts in Europe, Middle East, North Africa and Asia but for also opening the first Chili’s in Belfast, Russia, Jordan, Portugal, Turkey, Singapore, India, Brazil, Colombia and next year in Tunisia.

Being Global Chef is no easy task. While it sounds exciting, it can be extremely challenging at the same time. Upon being asked about the challenges he faces, he said, ‘The only and main challenge is to keep the consistency in the food same across the world. If we need to innovate for a certain market, we have a test kitchen in Texas, Dallas and exclusive innovation chefs to overcome any issues.’

I was curious to hear his take on the different palates and perceptions of people he comes across in any five countries where Chili’s has an outpost. Here’s what he had to say: 

India:
There are many takers of Vegetarian food and we have the most veg items on our menu in India.

Middle East:
As they do not eat pork, they serve Beef Ribs & Beef Bacon instead. As even use of alcohol is prohibited, we cannot use vanilla essence.

Malaysia:
In Malaysia, people do not prefer to eat pork so we introduced Southwestern Grilled Lamb as an alternative to pork.

Philippines:
They love pork! An addition to their menu has been Pork Belly

Russia:
The only country where you can find a bottle of Vodka on every table

Michael Winkelmann, Global Culinary Contact, Chili’s American Grill & Bar

 

5 Sinful Monsoon Treats – Bombay Times & The Huffington Post

Bombay Times – Page 14

Huffington Post

After several months of scorching heat, the country eagerly awaits the arrival of the monsoon. And we Mumbaikars have already been blessed with this respite. Rains in India are synonymous with food. As soon as it starts raining, we crave for some scrumptious monsoon snacks. Well, they are available all year round but are somehow more special during the rainy season. The joy one gets while sipping on a piping hot cup of coffee or masala chai while enjoying the monsoon is unexplainable. And no cuppa is complete without these sinful snacks that go along with it….

– Samosas:
Spicy and sinful, samosas are a seamless treat when it is pouring outside. Whether made at home or purchased from a street vendor, indulging in a garma-garam samosa on a cloudy day is the best way to indulge yourself

– Pakodas:
These deep-fried Indian snacks are delightful rainy day bites. If eaten hot and dipped in some spicy green chutney, this dish is guaranteed to satisfy your soul

– Momos:
Available at various restaurants and roadside joints, they are best enjoyed steamed. A plateful of these with some peanut/ black bean or garlic sauce is surely the perfect solution to all of life’s problems, especially if you are stranded in the rain

– Bhutta:
Popularly known as corn on the cob, the combination of bhutta and rain is unbeatable. Roasted over a coal fire, it is served hot and flavoured with lime, salt and chilli powder. It leaves a chatpata taste in your mouth that keeps you longing for more

– Chaat:
Monsoon is just another excuse to enjoy chaat. From pani-puri to ragda pattice, though enjoyed anytime, one cannot deny the fact that traditional Indian chaat is even more drool-worthy during the rainy season.

Also featured on The Huffington Post – http://www.huffingtonpost.in/desha-gehi/5-best-monsoon-foods-to-e_b_7593546.html