Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Restaurant Week India Launches for the First Time in Kolkata

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Restaurant Week India 2015
“Restaurant Week India” is a week-long food festival, which started in India in 2010, and it is the largest and the most popular pan-India culinary event, where the customers have a choice to dine in some of India’s finest restaurants at a fraction of their a-la-carte rates. It is a celebration of the culinary scene in each city – a time for us to be proud of our finest restaurants. The concept rolled into India with Mumbai, and then, after its huge popularity moved to Delhi, Bangalore, Chennai, and now finally, has come to Kolkata. This concept “Restaurant Week” originated in New York in 1992 and is now being held in various cities of America, Europe, South America, and South East Asia.
This inaugural Restaurant Week India gives food lovers the opportunity of experiencing a three course set meal in a fine dining restaurant, with an option of vegetarian or non-vegetarian at a set price (INR 900/- plus taxes) per person, for one week during lunch and dinner. Bookings for this will have to be made online, at www.restaurantweekindia.com from 6th September onwards).

The participating restaurants in “Restaurant Week India” from Kolkata are:

  • Baan Thai, The Oberoi Grand, Kolkata
  • Durbari, Swissotel Kolkata
  • La Cucina, Hyatt Regency Kolkata
  • Pan Asian, ITC Sonar
  • Peshawri, ITC Sonar
  • Serafina, Quest Mall
  • Souk, Taj Bengal, Kolkata
  • The Legacy Grill, The Lalit Great Eastern Kolkata
  • Yauatcha, Quest Mall
  • Zen,The Park Kolkata
Disclaimer: Press Release. 

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Niramish Mangsho: Mutton without Onions or Garlic

mutton without onion and garlic
 On those days when the Mother thinks she knows better than me about our family history, I correct her mercilessly, and she backs out, but not before making a snide comment. Of course, this can go on for hours, but then, I go inside the kitchen, all the while thinking about the food I ate when I was growing up, and the memories attached to it. One of the recipes which I made recently came from my Grandmother, who knew my aversion towards fennel in meat, and cooked something she had learned from her grandmother. This particular meat dish.

niramish mutton
If you search online about recipes of meat without onion and garlic, you would probably find a few. I did. But, the recipes mostly call for many spices, and I am not a fan of those. The idea of not adding onion or garlic to meat came from the times when we would cook meat for the Goddess Kali, or for Lord Vishwakarma, who loved eating meat, and animals were regularly sacrificed and eaten. The idea of sacrifice in Hindu mythology and religion goes back a long way - from the sacred Ashwamedha Yagna (Where Ram killed and ate the horse after it had helped him conquer quite a few states), to the regular sacrifice of goats and other animals today in quite a few temples, Hinduism has used sacrifice to appease the God, and eaten the resultant produce, obviously (I am hoping this did not happen in the case of human sacrifice, but there are way too many stories of the thuggies of the 18th century smearing blood over their faces before going out for a raid for me to make any clear statement either for/against it). The idea is to provide an offering to the Gods, and consume the results after the sacrifice. Therefore, after the killing, the meat would be divided, with the head kept in front of the God as an offering, and the remaining meat cleaned, cut and cooked. As a child, once, I had made friends with one such sacrificial lamb, and well, lets not talk about that thing any more.

marinating mutton with ginger
Anyway, this 'niramish mutton' recipe is a very easy and simple one, and needs minimum embellishment. The star is the meat (as usual), which benefits from being marinated for at least 5-6 hours. I generally take a kilo of meat, and apply 250 ml. plain yoghurt, a tablespoon of kashmiri chilli powder (use 2 teaspoons of regular chilli powder if that's not available, or hot paprika), and a tablespoon of ginger paste. Cover and set aside. I prefer marinating it the night before, so that the meat can soak in the flavors for at least 12 hours.

tempering mustard oil
Heat a big, heavy-bottomed vessel, and add about 100 ml. mustard oil in it. Make sure the oil is hot and nearing the smoking point before adding 5 dry red chillies, a couple of 1" sticks of cinnamon, 2-3 bay leaves, 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds, and a large pinch of asafoetida (Hing). Hing is optional, but it adds a lovely depth to the meat, so I would suggest not skipping it. Stir about for a few seconds before adding the meat to the oil. It shall splutter, so be careful!

frying mutton in oil
Cook over medium-high heat for 10-12 minutes, stirring briskly, till the meat is no longer looking raw and icky. At this point, add 2 teaspoons of garam masala powder. I make my own by grinding together about 10 grams each of cinnamon, big black cardamoms, peppercorns, cloves, small green cardamom, nutmeg, and mace. I pass it through the sieve once so that no icky odds and ends are sticking out, and then add the amount required. This garam masala is superb with meat dishes, and I have also flavored other things with it, so its a keeper! Also, add 1 teaspoon coriander powder, and 1/2 teaspoon cumin powder. Cook till the mutton is reddish brown in color - it will take a bit of time, but worth it. Stir every minute or so, and you can add a splash or two of water if you think the meat is drying up too much.

mutton in pressure cooker
Once the meat looks mostly dry, and oil starts separating from the meat, add salt and sugar. I add a teaspoon of each to start with, and then add more at the serving point if it is needed. Generally, it isn't. Add a cup of hot water, and then cover and cook till the meat is soft, about 1 hour. Alternatively, put the meat in a pressure cooker with a cup of water, and pressure cook till it is soft (takes 10 minutes after the full pressure is reached. Just drop the pressure and cook, simmered, for 10 minutes, and then turn off the heat, letting the pressure cool down naturally). After the meat is done, add a tablespoon of cashew paste, adjust seasoning, and its done!

quick and easy mutton recipe
I have seen that this recipe of mutton without onion and garlic tastes best with hot, steamed rice, or piping hot rotis. I have also served this with sweet pulao and it was a hit. If you like, to make this more interesting, you can also add some saffron strands soaked in milk right before removing the meat from the fire. It tastes even better on the next day, and you would love the combination of soft meat and a rich, thick gravy, perfect for indulging in!

indian mutton recipe

Elle 18 Color Boost Lipstick: Blonde Pink and Hyper Orange Review

About Elle 18 Color Boost Lipsticks: With its special dual core lipstick format, Elle 18 Color Boost gives you 6 hours of non-stop lip colour! Enjoy its creamy, soft texture enriched with extra moisturising cocoa butter in 10 amazing shades. Pout non-stop with Color Boost’s non-stop lip drama!

Growing up, Elle 18 used to be the one brand my mother would not mind me buying products from. I still remember buying a lipstick from them at the age of 15, and it was the first lipstick I bought for  myself. I think it was called Pomegranate Pie, and was a stunning shade of deep berry pink (I think it is still there in their Color Pop series), and I loved using that, along with their nail polishes.

Elle 18 is known for its cool colours and youth-oriented design, targeted at the young market who wants to have fun. In the spirit, I have found the shades that this brand offers to be both reasonably priced and visually appealing, and today, I will be reviewing two lipsticks from the brand.

The new Elle 18 Color Boost lipsticks come in a black and fuchsia pink casing, which is fun and quirky. If you look closely, you would see that the lipstick has two layers - the outer layer and an inner, deeper core colour. The two colours are Blonde Pink and Hyper Orange, and no points in guessing which one is which. The Blonde Pink shade is a nice, pretty pink with shimmers, while the Hyper Orange shade is a pretty, peachy orange. Both shades are semi-opaque, even after two or three swipes, and does not provide full coverage. However, they are pretty creamy, and smell strongly of cocoa butter, which the brand advertises.

On application, the Blonde Pink shade was much more even than the orange one, and I loved how the shimmers, which looks like a lot on the swatch, actually looked pretty nice on my lips. I am iffy about the Hyper Orange shade, because it sat quite unevenly on my lips. Both lipsticks, after a while, emphasized the lines of my lips, but they did not dry out my lips, which is a big point. Hyper Orange did bleed a bit, though. The lasting power for both lipsticks were not long, and reapplication is a must after a meal.

Overall, for a budget lipstick brand, the shades are very nice and they hydrate my lips well. The scent of cocoa butter makes me want to lick my lips, but thankfully, these do not taste sweet (because it would have been a bad thing if they did), and they are good for those who are looking for a nice lipstick which would look good, and not break the bank.

Disclaimer: Product sent by the brand. 

Friday, August 28, 2015

A Taste of Tuscany at Afraa Restaurant, City Center I, Salt Lake, Kolkata

Afraa Restaurant and Lounge Kolkata
 Afraa Restaurant and Lounge in City Center I is currently celebrating its 'A Taste of Tuscany' food festival, and although I was invited a while back, call it divine intervention, or a twist of fate, I could not go there any earlier, but, at the very last weekend, suddenly, D asked me what I was up to, and as we were both thinking of eating something meaty and catching up, we decided to meet up at Afraa.

White Wine at Afraa Restaurant Kolkata
 We both decided on a glass of Folonari Leggero Bianco, a light new white with a soft floral nose, which is off-set by tones of mild sweetness that complement the semi-dry finish. It is a good choice for those who like a wine which is not too sweet or too warm on the palate, and is great for fish, chicken, pizza, or light pastas. As I initially thought of ordering a pasta or the fish, I was all for it. However, then the bread basket came, and before I knew it, I was tucking into the crisp, warm slices of toasty garlic bread, and D groaned briefly in despair, looked at me with baleful eyes, and then munched on a slice as well.

Assorted Bread at Afraa 
 There were also pretty triangles of Lavash bread, studded with seeds, and thin grissini sticks, but we had promised ourselves to not fill up on bread, so we reluctantly left the bread alone. Meanwhile, the Chefs had come over, and after a brief tussle about the meal, we settled for a light repast of the non-vegetarian antipasti platter, and some chicken to follow.

Afraa Antipasti Platter
 The Antipasti Platter was much larger than we had expected. There were wafer thin slices of pepperoni on crispy flat bread, slices of bocconcini and tomatoes spread over crunchy crostini, and topped with a bit of sun-dried tomato relish (or so I thought!), which we downed in no time. I was not much fan of the ham wrapped around thick wedges of melon. I would have preferred if the melon was shaved, as well as the ham, and the mortadella and salami were nice, but unremarkable. We also got a bit of olives and an assortment of dips, including one which was quite strong and herbal, and a red relish which was rather mild, despite the fact that it looked rather fiery and intimidating.

pollo di graziella - chicken cooked with wine, herbs and garlic
 The Pollo di Graziella was a generous portion of chicken legs, cooked to perfection, and served with gravy, an assortment of vegetables, and a risotto which was not too wet, and veered more towards a wet pilaf. However, the creamy rice accompanied the meat nicely, and we attacked the mildly flavored meat with gusto. The server asked if we wanted more wine, but we were looking forward to sharing a dessert, so we decided to skip it.

non vegetarian antipasti platter
 Dessert was Affogato, served with Bailey's, and at this point, the lamp sitting on our table died a sudden death, so we shared a scoop of vanilla ice cream, topped with Bailey's and a shot of espresso, taking sips from the Martini glass, and scooping out bits of the boozy ice cream from the bottom. Afraa is going to end this particular festival soon (30th August, which basically means, you have till Sunday), so, if you want to get a taste of Tuscany, and more, then check out Afraa restaurant at City Center I, Salt Lake. It is always a good idea to reserve first, though! Call 033-2358-1111 to reserve.

Disclaimer: Poorna Banerjee was invited to Afraa Restaurant by the management. 

Envy After Dark Perfume Body Spray Rock Review

perfume body spray Envy
 The day has gone when you compromise with your body spray. Vanesa Care, one of the top manufacturers of deodorants and perfume in the country has launched Ultra range of perfume body spray namely Envy “After Dark” Series. This deodorant will be used mainly in the night to rock the party or after your fresh bath to enrich yourself with the feelings of Love.

Saurabh Gupta; director of Vanesa Care said that, “I am very excited for this new launch of Envy After Dark Series. It has a distinct fragrance than other deodorants which will make you the star of the party and it is for the man who loves to leave a remembrance of his fragrance wherever he goes.”

ENVY ‘After Dark’ series has come up with four variants. So you can pick yours from:

The Techno – It is for the man who needs just a glance not his message across who is intense yet sensible. This fragrance masculinity comes from action not words. It consists of fresh notes at the top & heart is composed of woody & sweet notes. The base contains amber, sandal and musk.

The Trance – Fragrance for young and for stubborn teenagers who just refuses to use elder’s fragrance. It is carefully crafted for irresistible you from dawn to dusk. Envy Trance is an aromatic spicy fragrance for men with top notes are of bergamot and mandarin with a burst of spices in the middle enriched with richness of amber and sandal at the base. Now the irresistibly young needs no introduction.

The Rock - Head turner, Showstopper has just arrived with Envy Rock, the Modern classic fragrances that evoke sense of wild and unbeatable energy to rock the party. Top notes are fresh spicy, green, with fillings of vetiver, rose and lily of the valley, base notes are musk, sandalwood, patchouli, cedar and oakmoss.

The Hip Hop – Energy, masculinity and strength are three cornerstones for ENVY Hip Hop. It opens with fresh, citrus, green and marine notes while the heart is enriched with jasmine and spices. The base closes with rich sandal and vetiver with the hint of vanilla. Envy Hip-Hop in your side now is ready rule the dark.

Ultra Premium range of Envy After dark series Techno, Trance, Rock & Hip-Hop deodorants are available in an attractive Packaging of 130ml (108g) at Rs 250/- only. True to ENVY brand genesis, the entire range is pure fragrance and no gas which simply means irresistible you without any wastage.
envy after dark spray

A Brief Review of Envy After Dark Perfume Body Spray Rock

I received the perfume body spray, Rock, and it was encased in a plain but smart looking cardboard box. The packaging is simple, and the spray comes in a black and red can, the design of which I like. The cap has a tendency of falling off, which I am not a fan of, but the spray is quite useful, especially when I am quite sweaty. It has a strong smell and after application lingers for at least 4-5 hours and I can smell it for a good amount of time. It effectively reduces the odour of sweat, which is why I carry it around in my tote bag, and use it on days when I am on the run.

Envy After Dark Deo
As I am a major fan of scents which are termed 'male', this one is a winner for me, since it is quite spicy yet not overly so, and settles on my skin with a bit of musk, sandal, and vanilla after a while, which I like. The application is simple - use it close to your body since there is no annoying hiss while spraying, and the scent is quite nice on my father as well, who has been caught using it a few times. I would say this one is a good option for a very reasonable price, and a nice spray for those times when you want a clean, strong fragrance.

Disclaimer: Product sent by the brand.  

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Smart Rakhi Gift Ideas for Your Brother or Sister

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There is an assortment of sweets and savouries, including Rose petals and Vanilla mousse, White Chocolate and Hazelnut Cup, Peach and Kiwi Trifle, Mishti Doi Cheesecake, Chocolate and Gulab Jamun Dome for INR 80/- per piece. You may also order cakes, like Crunchy Truffle cake with Indian Sweets, Fresh Cream Mihidana gateaux, Tender Coconut Gateaux at INR 600/- per pound. If you like savouries, check out the Golden Corn Lattice Pie, Paneer Tikka Envelope at 47/- per piece. Or, for a great meal, try the Mixed Rakhi Thali at INR 800/- per plate, or the Mixed Rakhi Hamper at INR 1000/-. 

8th Day Cafe and Bakery 

Rakhi gift baskets available for pre-order now! Each basket contains 2 oatmeal raisin cookies, 2 chocolate chunk cookies, 2 shortbread, 2 brownies, and 2 special-made Buckeyes. All for Rs. 450. Pre-order 24 hours in advance is a must.

The Box at The Park Hotels

Get smart gifts from The Box. Pick from cool wallets and bags, and great gifts, meant to make your sibling smile. These gifts are fun, chic, and perfect for a treat for your brother/sister.


Yauatcha has its signature box of macarons at INR 350/- for six pieces. Also, vouchers of INR 500/- and 1000/-  are available for gifting your brother/sister. 

Disclaimer: Press Release.