Wednesday 29 August 2007

Hunt for the perfect Caesar Salad

Sometimes the simplest of recipes is the most elusive in the quest for perfection. The ever popular Caesar Salad may seem like an easy one to toss for even the uninitiated, but as I found out, is so easy to mess up too!

In my quest for the best Caesar Salad in Delhi, I searched far and wide (Trust me, when you travel in NCR - everything is far). On a friend's recommendation, we went to my favourite Italian cafe - The Big Chill Cafe. Their version of the salad was tossed with bacon. It pleased....but it failed to go that extra mile. We walked away, though not hungry anymore, not victorious either.

Then, a cousin took us to Pizza Express in Ansals Plaza. Their Caesar Salad was renowned to satiate even the most finicky foodies. Alas, their chicken version of the salad did not even rate 2 on my scale of 5. The lettuce was not crispy enough, the chicken was too less and the cheese suspiciously did not resemble parmesan.

It's next door neighbour - Geoffreys, though, came close to meeting our standards. On weekends, Geoffreys does a lovely lunch buffet that thankfully not too many people know about. Their selection of salads, entrees, main course and deserts are true value for money. Coming back to the salad, their chef tosses the same live for the guests. You may customize it with olives, sweet corn or sun dried tomatoes as per your taste. The lettuce was fresh, the salad well flavored and the cheese true parmesan. It rated a 4 on my scale of 5 and we thought this would be the closest we would ever come to the perfect salad.

And then it happened....as the great Julius Caesar (After whom the salad was NOT named) said, I came, I saw, I conquered! Or rather, I came, I ordered and it conquered me! The perfect Caesar Salad is made in a fabulous restaurant in CP called Picadelhi. The salad is such that the moment you put a fork-full in your mouth, you can not help but close your eyes and savour the burst of flavors that take over your senses. The lettuce is crisp, the smoked chicken perfect and the dressing just could not get better! The salad gets a full 5 on 5 on all accounts including consistency. It has become a sort of a weekly ritual for me and my husband to go pay our respects to Picadelhi and allow ourselves to drown in this ecstasy. And it has not disappointed us even once....

But dont take my word for it....go check it out for yourself!!

Tuesday 21 August 2007

Of gentle streams and white drapes

Birthdays are usually happy go lucky affairs. But I am quite stupidly sentimental about mine. Add to it that it was my first birthday after marriage and it was enough to almost drive my husband over the edge. The pressure of doing that something special was looming over him like a dark cloud...

The day finally arrived. For our evening out, he asked me to dress formal and hurried me out of the house saying we couldnt arrive late. To my delight, as he pulled into the driveway of Claridges hotel, I realised that he had done the impossible. He had booked us for dinner in what is slated as the most romantic restaurant in Delhi - Sevilla.


Sevilla is a tiny fairyland in the middle of Lutyen's Delhi. A wooden pathway leads you in, twisting and turning along, lined with lanterns on the side. A tiny stream is crossed with the help of a glass bridge and you can almost feel your heart stop. White drapes fluttering in the wind, gentle music in the background and the only other sound,the gentle tumble of the stream. Reminds me of Robert Frost's poem "The only other sound's the sweep, Of easy wind and downy flake". As you stand there and just marvel at the stillness, it is not hard to imagine why this is voted by HT CITY food guide and many others as the most romantic restaurant in Delhi.

We were seated in a cozy alcove and introduced to our waiter for the meal. A tad bit surprised when he announced that they only served mineral water, we could only choose between Himalaya and Evian. The choice was but obvious. Skipping the alcoholic drinks, we scanned the menu for starters. Our host suggested that we go for the day's special grills(Rs.450+tax) and we willingly agreed. The platter, when arrived looked a tad bit small but did not disappoint. 2 pieces of pepper encrusted salmon, 2 pieces of chicken and 2 prawns skewered and grilled to perfection with garlic. The chicken was uncharacteristically soft and seasoned delicately. Each tiny bite would fill the senses with a wonderous flavor.

As we moved on to the main course, and not being too hungry, we decided to go for the chicken breast stuffed with ham and chirozo (Rs.700+tax). The dish arrived in a platter with some sauteed baby potatoes and aubergine by the side. It was also accompanied by a thin crisy relative of garlic bread. The chicken itself was brushed with a light barbeque sauce. It did not sweep us off our feet but in its defense was above average.

All in all, Sevilla is the place you should go to for the ambience. The menu is exorbitantly priced though the food is good. But with so many choices in the city for good food, this is the place to go when you want to cut yourself away from the bustling life of Delhi. As for me, I had a great birthday and a wonderful surprise to thank my husband for.... but dont take my word for it, go check it out yourself.

Location: Claridges Hotel, Aurangzeb Road
Meal for 2: Rs.3,000 without drinks (starter + 2 dishes + 1 desert)
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Thursday 16 August 2007

Chak De India!!

Ladies and gentlemen, the verdict is out - Chak de ROCKS!!! It is a huge ask to make a movie with Shahrukh Khan and not make him larger than life. For the first time, it has been done and done oh so well! When you walk out of that hall, you dont only remember Kabir Khan, actually you barely remember him. You remember Chautala and Preeti and all those other brilliant characters. But let me not jump the gun.



The movie in my opinion wins on three counts. Firstly, a sports movie if made well has the power to incite the audience. Chak de was fast paced, had all the ingredients of a sports match - the adreline rush, the fouls, team dynamics...Each match had the audience at the edge of their seats egging the team on! Even though every person in the hall knew the outcome of the World Cup even before they went for the movie, you could not help but keep your fingers crossed before the whistle would blow for the end of each match.

Secondly, each character was so well defined that you had no time to stare at King Khan. Cliches were brought to life with each state representative. But in their defence, who said that we dont believe in these cliches anyways? How many people really know where Jharkhand lies...or think that anyone from Punjab is not out to beat up the world...know the difference between someone from Manipur or from Nepal...its all true! We are prey to generalization in our daily lives and should awake to the cultural nuances of our vast country before we expect foreigners to treat all races with equality. Coming back to the characters, my personal favourite is ofcourse Komal Chautala. This little 2 footer is so power packed that you can not but like her! Preeti as expected is quite a hit with the guys around and surprisingly, Bindiya's arrogance also seems to work for many. Its amazing how you can get a bunch of names no one knows about and get them to give a performance rivaling the likes of Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar.

Lastly, what I liked about the movie was that it brought to face realities of women in India across society segments. Komal's father grudgingly letting her play so that she can 'get it out of her system' and come home to cook food may seem extreme but frankly is not a rare picture. Preeti's cricket star fiancee assuming that all she can be at the end of the day is his pretty wife was a slap in the face of the picture media portrays of the modern woman today. Vidya being called home by her in-laws to play 'bahu' instead of prancing around a field and her husband not having the guts to stand up to them is for many a reality.

Chak De is a winner through and through! Its a movie I can sit and discuss with my friends over a cup of coffee for hours altogether and not get bored with....but dont take my word for it...go check it out for yourself!!

Tuesday 14 August 2007

I, me, myself

I wonder if our lives at any given point of time belong to us. Not in theory. Really BELONG to us. To do with as we wish, when and how we wish. A child's clothes, food, time and everything else is decided by parents. When you grow older and meet someone, you dont do half the things you want to so as not to create discord. Later on, as you get married, you have others to think about...families, society...every decision has variables attached and the outcome is usually far from what you had imagined.

I wonder how it will feel if you were to wake up one morning and do all the things you want...do as you desire, not think of what should be done and what shouldn't. An extremely selfish thought...but luring nevertheless.

The world would ofcourse go into chaos. Probably what keeps us going in a line is the thought of how others will be affected by our actions. It is what helps us keep the balance of life. But only if you are not the one doing the balancing all the time...

Sunday 12 August 2007

Glorious Leos

I usually dont succumb to the world of predictions basis sun signs. Even with my belief in fate and in things that we can't explain, this goes against my basic sense of logic. How can one - twelfth of the world have exactly the same fate any given day? Or similar behavior patterns? And how can that be decided upon the date on which you are born? Does that mean that socialization, cultural environment and experiences as one grows up do not contribute significantly towards who we shape up to be? But this is not a blog about innate versus aquired behavior. This is about the one thing that a friend of mine once said that is strangely true.

During my post graduation, I was sitting with a friend and she was chatting about a guy, who like me was a leo by sun sign. And she said something very interesting. She said, leos follow a strangely similar pattern. They get up in the morning feeling like the king of the world, purring at the glory of being born with a golden spoon. As they hum off towards the rest of the day, the hard reality hits them gradually. And by the end of the day, they come home completely deflated and dejected at how life treated them. And lo behiold....when they wake up again in the morning, its back to their glorious self!!

Perhaps too much of a generalization, but the snippet above does sound familiar for some days of my week. Strange but true...