Taking the Spice Route

There is no scarcity of restaurants in today’s times, whether it’s the standalone ones or those housed in plush hotels but there are only a few that truly leave a mark, for they believe in delivering exceptional yet value for money experiences.

We were honoured to experience one such outing rather recently, when both of us, dressed in our Sunday best drove down to a restaurant featured among world`s top ten as per Condé Nast Traveler… It is The Spice Route at The Imperial that we are talking about.

And we must admit that this was a day when luck was on our side, as not only were we being hosted to impeccable hospitality amidst rich ambience but joining us for lunch was their star Chef Veena Arora, who has also been awarded as the Best Lady Chef by Ministry of Tourism in India for her Outstanding Achievement and Contribution to the Promotion of Tourism in the Country.

On comfortably being seated, we were constantly reminding each other that we were still very much in Delhi and not in Thailand or Sri Lanka because of the interiors reminiscent of the spice route nations.

If you are a Thai cuisine lover like us, then this be a great bet for the queen chef is born and brought up in Thailand and brings only the most authentic flavours along.

Besides a very extensive and rich menu, the restaurant boasts a special Winter Menu that ensnared our taste buds with the interesting dishes listed below:

Appetizers:

Prawn in a Sarong: Malaysian style por pia skin wrapped prawns, flavoured with lemongrass, chillies and fried crisp. Served with sweet chilli and plum sauce

Fish in Banana Leaf Parcel: Vietnamese style steamed fish flavoured with lemon grass, chillies and pounded glutinous rice served in banana leaf parcel

Soups:

Tom Yum Thalay: Spicy hot and sour mixed seafood  soup, flavoured with lemongrass, galangal and kaffir lime leaves.

Main Course:

Meen Biryani: Kerala style rice cooked with fish, flavoured with whole Indian spices

Phanaeng Pla: Crispy fillet of sole served with phananeng sauce

Desserts:

Ice-cream Tauhu: Silky bean curd ice cream with cinnamon flavour (vegan)

All seafood lovers, trying out these delicacies is a must for you all.

And we ordered some more from their a la carte menu too for our strictly vegetarian Shagun.

Appetizers:

Por Pia Chae: Thai style spring roll with vegetables, fried crisp and served with sweet chili and plum sauce

Som Tum Chae:  Tangy Thai raw papaya and peanut salad

Soups:

Kaeng Cherd Tauhu Lod: Clear vegetable and silky bean curd soup, flavoured with fresh sautéed garlic

Main Course:

Phad Phrik Tauhu: Stir-fried silky bean curd and bamboo shoots in Thai basil sauce

Malabar Vegetable Curry: Assorted vegetables cooked in Southern spices from Malabar coast of India

Hmmm… Sounds like quite a lavish spread, doesn’t it? But the best part was that each and every dish was reflective of great love with which it was prepared for that is the reason that each of them tasted a perfect ten on ten.

Talking about the décor, it is truly one of its kind, there is so much thought which has gone into each and every corner of this restaurant. Believe it or not, but each section of the restaurant represents a part of the human cycle; expressed through hand painted walls, intelligent placing of various elements and the overall ambience.

Well, the interiors are splendid but we have to also share our favorite spot. It was actually their courtyard which is bedecked with traditional Thai sculptures from Chiang Mai in northern Thailand. An evening spent here would be truly worthwhile and memorable.

Before we sign off, we would like to say that if you haven’t been here as yet, you are surely missing on something. And for those planning to visit Delhi anytime soon, make sure you visit The Imperial Hotel for its sharp representation of Indian heritage and culture.

Winter Collection at The Spice Route (South East Asian Restaurant)

15th November 2014- 15th February 2015

Timings:  Lunch- 12:30pm to 2:45pm and Dinner- 7:00pm to 11:45pm

Love,

Shagun & Sonali

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Rumbar- For The Tropical Twist

New Delhi’s  Hauz Khas Village is undoubtedly a colourful and buzzing place but for me, there are only a handful places where I would like to go more than just once- simply because these places stand-out for their quality and identity. I have recently been immensely impressed by a place which though not so old, made for a full-house on a Friday night and where people from all age groups where seeming to have a gala time. Yes peeps, the wait and suspense ends here. I am talking about the Rumbar, I reckon it is a kind of a  Caribbean retreat amidst the hustle and bustle of the city, where rum, food and live music are taken as religion.

The place nowhere shows any desperation to try and ape an established name in the vicinity, instead it has a distinctive character of it’s own.The interiors are quite simple but welcoming.  And the owners are quite happy that their guests feel quite at home when at Rumbar.

The story behind this beauty of a place is worth mentioning. The place is owned and managed by two French gentlemen passionate about Creole food and music. The idea for Rumbar, came into being after the success of the famed “Rose Aepritifs” which hosted Afrobeats live acts every Saturday night at The Rose – a charming bed and breakfast cum art gallery tucked away in the interiors of Hauz Khas Village. It is an extension of that passion – a love for the tropical beat, where mixed cultures come together under one roof.

The menu here would get your taste buds instantly excited. And believe me, you would have a sudden urge to try just about everything on offer. I  had quite a worthy meal during my first visit. To begin with, we ordered Accras Antillais which are Cod Fish Fritters that came with some salad and salsa(their salsa is so so good, that you would keep asking for a repeat). Also, a vegetarian dish was added to the table as next came the Green Papaya Gratin.  With a tasteful commencement to our outing, I was quite looking forward to the main course. Boys and Girls, I have to share that their homemade Ravioli is  one of the lightest I have ever had. Also, if you are a Risotto lover, there is no way that you can give it a miss here.

And for those who would like to take it further, worry not- there and burgers and sandwiches as well.

The dessert offerings are also rather tempting. We opted for their Fruit Burger. Yes, you read it right 🙂 The dish has got crunchy biscuits with layers of caramelized apples and fried mashed bananas, then the basil and strawberries add the punch and twist to this divine delicacy.

It is one of those happy places which lifts you higher after a packed day of running around. I certainly would want to be a regular for everything is how I would like it to be- the food, the decor and the music-I just loved it all.

Wishing happiness,

Sonali

Very Social

There are few ideas and concepts which you just cannot resist from sharing. One such phenomenon which requires urgent attention for its WOW factor is called Social, situated in the locales of the hip and happening- Hauz Khas Village.  The best thing I felt about of this new outfit is that it blesses you with umpteen jaw-dropping moments. Every time you digest one novel idea, another one pops up soon after!

The raw décor, quirky drinks-deconstructed dishes (still mulling over the fact that my Cosmopolitan Cocktail came with Candy Floss) and a breath-taking view in the backdrop- all this makes for a sensational release.

Screw Social Driver

Social Quarters

Coke & Cane

Not just the drinks but food is as quirky too…

OMG Burger

Jalapeno Mac & Cheese with Parmesan Crust

For people like me who like to work in a rather exciting setting, how about booking their conference room facing the very popular HKV Lake? It’s also the land of the free (lancer) and home of creative souls looking for an exhilarating alternative to a typical work day. Social has it all to make for an ideal work space- a boardroom, wall-space, conference facilities, wall-to-wall uber high-speed WiFi and built-in social interaction.

Hauz Khas Social_2

And as the time comes to switch-off the work channel, the place quickly changes gear to becoming a high energy bar. Drinks after work, never came so easily!

Hauz Khas Social_5

Hauz Khas Social_6

Here is saluting all the minds for kick-starting a trend refreshingly different. Riyaaz Amlani, CEO & MD, Impresario Handmade Restaurants says “Coffee shops and cafes have been projected as your “Third Place”, a place away from home and your work/college. With Social, for the very first time in restaurant history we have introduced the Second Place concept, a place where you can both work and play.”

This is one of those rare places, where I want to talk less and want you to see more as seeing more would eventually want you to experience it all the more.

Hours: 9 am to 1 am

Address: 9A &12, Hauz Khas Village, New Delhi – 110016.



 

The High of Hauz Khas Village…

We have to say that if a village can turn so funky and exciting, then let’s all turn villagers! This place has been revamped to such a degree that you wouldn’t even recognize it especially if you’re entering this space after a couple of years.

If you belong to the new school of fun-tainment, whose idea of an evening isn’t just restricted to getting squashed at an over-hyped club, then you are sure to fall head over heels in love with this place.

Simply put, this place is unconventionally good. We think of this place to fall in the category of parallel cinema as opposed to popular cinema. And we all do like some substance in our films, don’t we?

Just last evening, both of us decided to explore the by lanes of this vibrant complex. And trust us; it was as if we were unraveling some mystery. With every turn, we found something interesting.  But you need the willingness to appreciate everything that comes across as a piece of art!

There are a myriad shops selling stuff that you’ll seldom find in any of the so-called happening markets of the city. From film posters to organic fashion, this market has it all.  The highlight of this place sure has to be its cafes. And you’ll actually sense the laid-back attitude in the air only.  You would find it hard to digest that even in a city like ours, people here are in no rush; they are willing to just sit in the same position while reading a book or getting engrossed in some deep conversation.

While the relatively known spots like Kunzum, Amour, Out of the Box, Gunpowder and The Living Room are usually packed, it is some of the newer spots that’ll sure draw your attention as well.

Gun Powder

Kunzum Travel Cafe

OUT OF THE BOX

Situated in one extreme of the complex are places like The Grey Garden and NOX. After quite a walk through the whole market, we finally decided to put aside all the stress and raise a toast at NOX. This only a month old place makes you feel so much at home that you actually don’t give a damn as to who’s listening or watching! The place is simple and so-not in your face and sometimes that’s exactly what you want! And not to miss, we ladies even enjoyed the popular tracks they played as we were gorging on some Ravioli. We’ll reckon that if you’re looking for some secluded serenity, then this might just meet your requirement!

Hey, so think less and soon just drop-in to HKV and who knows you might just bump into the SOUL SISTERS 🙂

Image courtesy:

Second image (Gunpowder)- http://www.facebook.com/gunpowderkitchen

Third image (Kunzum Travel Cafe)-  Katharine Sidelnik/ http://www.theindiatube.com

Fourth Image (Out of the Box) – http://www.facebook.com/outoftheboxhauskhas

Shiro… A salute to grander things in life!

Well, I am a modest girl with even more humble wants! My closed ones would certainly not buy that but for me ambience, ambience and ambience has always been a turn-on when I am out! I don’t deny that good food is a necessity without mention! However, if there is a place in our Capital city with overwhelming ambience, then it has to be Shiro at Hotel Samrat!

Opulence and magnificence are terms that best describe this heaven on Earth! I have been so impressed with this joint that within a span of ten days, I visited it twice. Both occasions were very different but had quite an impact on my overall experience. On the first occasion, I went out for a quite drink and sat in the open space and trust me with light breeze blowing, the place too blew me away with its enigmatic set-up. We ordered our set of drinks from the rather elaborate menu and then added a dash of sweetness with some chocolate sushi. The best part of experiencing this place on a weekday is that your privacy isn’t intrigued and you can enjoy the magnificence minus the loud crowd and music. And sometimes you like it simple. Don’t you?

Second time around, I stepped-in with totally different set of expectations! And all those present would be testimony to the fact as I even paid a tad bit more attention to my outfit as I chose to adorn a red gown, one which I had been longing to wear! This time we played host to renowned football players who too seemed to be having a great time!

And as the DJ console opened-up, foot-tapping music is what we were exposed to! The best thing being, he understood the pulse of the guests and played just the right music at the right time. With spirits pouring in the rather fancy bar, our empty stomachs yearned for some respite and that’s when we kept our wine glasses aside, put back our heels and got ready to gorge on food that wasn’t going to be boring! And I did get my plate full with a little bit of Assorted Mushrooms with Dry Red Chilies,  Vegetables Stir Fried, Chicken Hot pot, Thai Chicken Red curry,  Fish in Spicy Laksa Sauce and not to miss the staple Yaki Udon Noodle Vegetarian. Well, I love my food sans any guilt!

This place leaves you with several jaw-dropping moments and hence, should certainly feature in your list of- Places to Visit on special occasions! Check these pics to get an enticing feel of the place.

I still feel there is more that I would want to explore at this grand venture and that is a good enough reason for me to plan another visit and yes, this time with my co-blogger and soul sister- Shagun!

Love, Sonali

Spicy By The Coast

In a city where people fondly feast on butter-chicken and naan, the idea of South Indian dining remains subdued. All that we can recall of the cuisine is idli-dosa.

Hey, don’t get us wrong here but we seldom plan a dinner to a South Indian joint. It mostly happens by chance that when we’re famished, we simply stash into a nearby restaurant to taste the culinary expertise of the south.

However, a place that helps us come out of this notion with ease and proof is Spice Water Trail.

This restaurant often finds space in leading supplements every now and then, but for long it remained on our list of must visit places until now that we finally headed to this eatery which is quietly nestled in the much happening Greater Kailash M Block Market. The first thing that we learnt about it was that it is run by the massive Alchemist Group.

The people at this place take everything from their food to décor rather seriously. We all know that South Indian seafood is a rage, so you’ll even witness an exotic fish as a part of each table’s dressing.  The elements used in the decor are literally drawn from the coastal areas of India.

Since we happened to visit the place when neither of us wanted to eat non-vegetarian food, we diverted our energies in selecting the finest vegetarian stuff.

Here is when, we got a chance to go beyond idli, dosa-sambhar and rather explore the unique authentic eats of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Kerala.

As we were glancing through the menu and struggling to take a final call from the exhaustive menu -our drinks landed on the table. The drinks were so tasteful that we called for another round sans any guilt. Well, why feel guilty when one is on the virgin path? Their tamarind drink and Aamras were divine!

Tamarind Jaccuzi

Aam Ras

The Podi Idlis and Kuzi Panyaram served, as starters were good. Podi Idlis are small Idlis tossed in a special spice mix called gunpowder. Whereas Kuzi Panyarams are shallow fried rice and urad dal dumplings from Tamil Nadu.

Podi Idli

Kuzi Panyaram

Accompanying them were interesting chutney combos such as a mango based one.

Chutneys

For the main course, we opted for Appams and Vegetable Stew (mild curry of vegetables with coconut cream); and Kerela Parota and Ullitheeyal (Madras onions cooked in decimated coconut gravy).

Appam and Veg Stew

Ullitheeyal

We cannot but admit that we have a sweet tooth and that is why we impatiently dug deep into our bowls of well-prepared Pineapple Halwa but sadly, it did not flatter our tongues as much. Though there were ample of other options to gratify our sweet cravings, we were too full to try. Nevertheless, we are sure that there must be a lot in this section too that we would drool over and we left that to our anticipated quick revisit.

So, next time you plan an outing, consider taking a break from regular North Indian and Mughlai cuisine and we don’t think, we need to mention the divert. Moreover, if you like to dine in with many folks, then they also have a special section for private dining for a large group on the upper floor. Happy Dining!