Friday, 31 March 2017

#PostcardsFromPersia At SodaBottleOpenerWala...

SodaBottleOpenerWala Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

It is always a formidable task to present the less known cuisines of any country in its true, authentic form. Persian cuisine has been one such less-explored arena for us Indians.

Thankfully, SodaBottleOpenerWala has been the harbinger to revive the dying legacy of the wonderful chaotic, crowded, bustling, colorful, quirky, cluttered, eccentric and so real world of an Irani café.

After their #DoTheNew last year, and as a part of their 3-year-anniversary, SBOW has collaborated with famed singer Anaida Parvaneh, who, along with the chefs at SodaBottleOpenerWala presents a menu that has been curated to showcase traditional Persian dishes made using ingredients from Iran that will be available in Delhi at SodaBottleOpenerWala’s Khan Market and Noida outlets from March 18 to April 30, 2017.

My calling was to visit SBOW, Mall Of India, Noida to relish Anaida's thoughtful creations for dinner. Though SodaBottleOpenerWala retains its characteristic decor with simplistic quirks from the era of late 60's and early 70's, there is perhaps a chalk-and-blackboard list of dos and don'ts when at a Parsi Bhonu's place and the glass tables featuring tips and tricks to feel-at-home when at SBOW in general.

I must remark how the decor had an old-school look and feel to it even with porcelain rose-tinted crockery reminding me of my mother's vintage dinner sets. A life-size family tree tracing Mr. SodaBottleOpenerWala's lineage was also a welcome sight. :)

Coincidentally, the unveiling of the pop-up Menu with Anaida in attendance timed itself well with the celebration of Navroze, i.e. Parsi New Year in the offing a day later. It was a sheer delight to be acquainted with, and concur with Anaida's perception of a holistic aura to food. Also, her perspective of 'No Chili' concurs with mine as I detest spice in my food. It was a pleasure to share the table and a wonderful meal with a like-minded person as Anaida.

With a host of authentic Persian delicacies up their sleeves, each prepared using ingredients that have medicinal and healing properties, Anaida and Chef Hemant have presented the pop-up menu as an A’la Carte and as a vegetarian & non-vegetarian Sini, inspired by the concept of Indian Thalis specially curated with the entire Persian vegetarian and non-vegetarian experience on a platter.

Out of all the dishes on the Menu, Anaida's Soup-e-Jadooi and Salad-e-Salamat were the ones made solely with a holistic and natural healing purpose, borrowing from Anaida's mother's anecdotes.

The Soup-e-Jadooi is a remarkable concoction of chicken with coriander, pearl barley, mixed sprouts, turnip, mushroom, carrots and roasted vermicelli. It acts as the perfect pick-me-up for anyone feeling under the weather.

According to Anaida,

"My mother was a naturopath who hardly allowed us to take any allopathic medication. There was a herbal remedy for everything and over the years I learned a lot from her and studied some of my own. Treating cooking as an art I enjoyed creating dishes with ingredients aimed at certain diseases and the challenge was to make them as tasty as possible to treat food as a healing tool. 

Personally, I also work with foods on energy level, while science still has to catch up with certain teaching I have come across, I like to mix and match certain foods for their energetic properties and this particular soup for me, has the 'good feel' energy." 

Here's what all was relished over some nice company and good banter at Anaida's Persian Pop Up...

To begin with, we had Irani Chai which was black tea brewed with love in a porcelain pot and served with dates and sugar cubes on the side.

Well, summer's here already and what better than to drive away the sweltering heat with a spoonful of delicious variations of Raita presented in the form of Mast-o-Khiyar (Iranian style Raita with a dash of chopped cucumber, dried mint and rose petals flavored with sea salt) and Laboo Burani, which is a Raita of sweetened beetroot in hung yogurt flavored with rose petals. Both these preparations went well with Salad-e-Salamat.

Irani Haleem came from a traditional Iranian recipe made using slow cooked lamb and wheat paste and went well with the quintessential Bambaiyya Pav.

Fesenjan was a specialty from Iran made by slow cooking chicken in pomegranate molasses along with walnuts turned out to be a personal favorite.

Khorak-e-Ghosht or lamb shank slow-cooked in onions, chick peas and mild spices flavored with Persian black lime was also well appreciated when paired with Saffron Rice.

One of the star variations to Ladies' Finger put forward by Anaida was christened as Khoresht-e-Bamiye and consisted of the humble vegetable being cooked with tomatoes and onions, topped with fried eggplant and finely fried potatoes.

Coming to eggplant, Anaida's Kashk-o-Bademjan is essentially an eggplant roll flavored with Iranian eggplant paste paired with fried onions and mild spices, served alongside flavorful Kashk, made from dried yogurt.

Among the rice preparations, we savored Dill and Fava Bean Rice being presented as Baghali Polo on the pop-up menu, and Chef Hemant's special creation, Tahchin which consists of chicken marinated in yogurt, cooked in charcoal, mixed with cardamom and saffron flavored rice. It was also served with a mildly spiced tomato dip on the side.

The curated selection of desserts is a delight, to say the least. Shole Zard or ‘yellow flame’ is a Persian pudding dating back several thousand years prepared with aromatic rice flavored with saffron and almonds. It was traditionally served at special occasions such as weddings, gatherings or new year as it is laden with saffron, an exotic and expensive ingredient.

On the other hand, Persian Halwa made with wheat flour cooked in ghee and rose water flavored with cinnamon and nuts formed for the perfect end to our Persian meal at Anaida's pop-up.

Also, as the outlet has a newly acquired liquor license, they believed in flaunting it by presenting their Vodka sampler. Being a teetotaler, I skipped its tasting but a capture was also good enough to appreciate its presentation.

Before I wrap up this account of my time at SBOW, Noida, I must also commend the staff for being on the toes with their on-fleek service, catering to regular patrons with as much aplomb as they did to us Bloggers. I had a wonderful time at SodaBottleOpenerWala and it remains my go-to place for all things authentically Persian. :)

At The Launch Of Harp By Nidhi Dalmia...

Launch of Harp by Nidhi Dalmia

French Embassy, New Delhi

Monday, March 27

The French Ambassador to India, H.E. Mr. Alexandre Ziegler launched the romantic fiction novel ‘Harp’ by entrepreneur Mr. Nidhi Dalmia at his residence on Nyaya Marg yesterday. Mr. Dalmia has always been ardently inclined towards writing, but his professional commitments kept him occupied. Writing Harp got him closer to his dream. The book is set in the late-sixties and revolves around the lives of three young protagonists.

Harp has been presented as a heartwarming love story set mostly in Europe, offers an interesting blend of characters and takes the reader through their notable progress. It is a story of love revolving around three central characters. Ashok, who belongs to an industrial background, wants to learn more about dairy production. He travels from India to Europe, where he meets a musician Lauren and falls in love with her. As the story progresses, he falls in love with an Indian girl named Aparna. The story is refreshing as it a contrast to the regular love stories.

Speaking at the launch Mr. Dalmia said, "It is truly an honor to be here and to have my book launched by H.E. Mr. Alexandre Ziegler.  Harp is a romantic novel which speaks a lot about travel, music, and culture. The book is partly set in France especially Paris - The City of Love. It is fitting that it is being launched at the French Embassy Residence".

Mr. Dalmia read excerpts from his book and interacted with author-journalist Vaiju Naravane and the audience. This was followed by cocktails. The evening ended on a high-note with Mr. Dalmia signing copies of Harp for guests in the lawn.

Harp is set in the context of the zeitgeist and idealism of the late sixties and captures love, longing, and coming of age. The three main protagonists – a young man travelling in a Europe-less-travelled including the Iron Curtain, a young woman who has a calling to music, and another young woman who has loved and lost once – provide the frame of this narrative about journeys we make across countries, even as we embark on a private quest within to know ourselves better, and to seek what it is we really want from life. Moving through India, Europe, and the USA, Harp follows the lives of these three young people even as they engage with the cultural influences, student revolutions, and the music of the sixties.

Nidhi Dalmia is an alumnus of St Stephen’s College in Delhi, and he pursued a postgraduate education at Oxford University and the Sorbonne and Management education at Harvard Business School. His professional life exposed him to diverse business responsibilities, especially in the manufacturing sector. Harp is his first novel.

Vaiju Naravane was The Hindu’s Senior Europe Correspondent based in Paris for 20 years. A lecturer, she has taught at the Sciences Po Paris School of Journalism. To the many hats she wears, Navarane adds Foreign Fiction Editor with the French publishing house Albin Michel, where she has published authors like Vikram Seth, Manil Suri, Alan Hollinghurst, Esther Freud, Daniel Alarcon, Anita Nair and Anita Brookner, among others. She currently teaches journalism and media studies at Ashoka University in Haryana, where she also serves as the Executive Director of the Centre for Social and Behaviour Change.

Saturday, 18 March 2017

This Madaari Of Good Hospitality...

Madaari Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Madaari is the newest entrant on the food scene in Model Town and acts as quite a refresher, adding vibrancy to a rather dull scene. My visit to Madaari came about as a consequence of a food tasting held right before its opening for regular patrons, in order to solicit feedback from the who's who of food blogging.

The place is quite a spacious one with the concept of three monkeys being highlighted on one of the walls, hence complementing the name. Apart from that, the decor is quite gothic with resemblances to lions, deer, archaic clocks, thrones and soldiers being drawn.

The DJ plays the latest party songs and this place is fit for grooving to them with friends. Most of the food has its presentation coupled with a quirk.

Here's what all was served at the recently concluded Blogger's Table.


Stuffed Cheese Mushroom Schezwan Sauce

Crispy Honey Lotus

Cigar Rolls

Honey Chilli Potato

Chilli Paneer Dry

Hariyali Paneer Tikka

Roulade Chicken Schezwan Oyster Sauce

Crispy Golden Fried Prawns

Galouti Kebabs

Murgh Zard Gilafi


Madaari Special (Ice-Breaker)

Oreo Shake

Kiwi Margarita

Strawberry Shake

Main Course (Indian Cuisine served with an assortment of Breads and Salad)

  • Dal Makhani
  • Kadhai Paneer
  • Veg Biryani
  • Butter Chicken
  • Mutton Rogan Josh

  • Butter Garlic Pepper Fried Rice
  • Chicken Pad Thai Noodles
  • Veg Chilli Garlic Basil
  • Fish in Hot Garlic Sauce


Moong Dal Halwa

Chocolate Brownie with Ice-cream

I had a good time at Madaari and apart from the fact that it serves great food amid a comfortable ambiance, it would appeal to patrons who look forward to a relaxing time on weekends perhaps. :)