Monday, November 24, 2014

Aqua Again!

Aqua, The Park, Relaunches with a New Look and an Amazing Al Fresco Menu.

Aqua, the 24-hour bar beside the pool in The Park is a beautiful place to be, and I daresay I am slowly falling in love with the soothing atmosphere. The place has been recently renovated, and it looks beautiful, to say the very least. The bar now boasts of a huge array of cocktails and snacks, and I have to say, I love what was fed to me.

There are tables around the pool for a more outdoor scene, but if you want to sit inside, all you have to do is walk down to the multi-storied dining joint. Sit inside and look around - the bar's stocked, and the lights are low - perfect for a little rendezvous with some great food. Currently, Aqua boasts of making some very energy-conserving choices - LED lights are placed to save up to 75% energy, the entire place is done up with glasses that allow daylight to pass through but not the heat. The fabric used are heat and fire resistant, and the gorgeous furniture used have been sourced from different parts of Europe, and top brands who make weather-resistant furniture, like Kettal, Dedon and Accademia, have been used.

Speaking of whiskey, there's the little lounge with a nice array of blended whiskeys and single malts. I browsed through it leisurely, spotting a few of my favorites. However, tonight I was more interested in drinking something else than whiskey. We sat around a table and talked about food, and soon, glasses filled with olives emptied, and bowls of nuts coated with sugar was demolished.

My white sangria was a lovely blend of some Sula, sugar, fruits and juice. Serve chilled, it was very refreshing and was just what I needed. I looked around the big table, and soon got hold of some more grub.

The sliders are a combination of crunchy patties and crispy vegetables, with a squirt of lime additional. They are a tasty mouthful or two, and great when you want some guilt-free burger time.

I was more into the hummus with lavash and pita bread, though. The hummus was super-creamy, and perfect to be scooped up with some lavash. Naturally, I went back to it, and the Tzatziki, and the garlicky cucumber dip never failed to make me happy, especially when I dipped olives into it.

But my favorite of the lot were probably the date wrapped with bacon. Think about salty, crisp bacon wrapped around sweet mejdul dates, and you would get the idea. I have no idea how many I consumed - every time we would be on the verge of finishing a cup, it would be refilled. So, well, I am really going to just smile and look guilty here.

Aqua currently boasts of a few other signature dishes and drinks, which include Prawn Tempura, Peppertini and Zacatecas. If you are around Park Street region and would like to relax for a few hours with some booze and drinks, Aqua is definitely a great option.

Disclaimer: Poorna Banerjee dined at Aqua at the invitation of the management.

L'Oréal Paris introduces 15 gorgeous new shades of Infallible Lipsticks

From subdued neutrals to lively, vibrant shades, now enjoy 10 hours of vivid, high definition colour and shine

Looking for a Lipstick that makes it through your morning coffee and lasts till your evening wine? Do you have complaints like– too sticky, too dull, fades easily – while choosing a lip product? L'Oréal Paris has found a solution to your lip color woes. L'Oréal Paris introduces 15 gorgeous new shades of Infallible Lip Colour for luxurious, comfortable and long lasting lip colour. The new range boasts of classic favorites updated with a broad spectrum of exciting new colors, from subdued neutrals to lively, vibrant shades. Now enjoy 10 hours of vivid, high definition colour of your choice, whilst the hydrating vitamin E keeps your lips moist and relaxed.

Based on L'Oréal Paris’ Color Bond Technology formula, Infallible Lipstick contains a combination of silicon micro spheres that ensure only the richest lip colour is left on a woman's lips. This exceptional formula fused with an expansive palette of hues promises a lip look for any desired occasion from a delicate whisper of color to a vibrant red.

L'Oréal Paris Infallible Lipstick is your true colour payoff in a creamy, conditioning base that applies evenly without flaking or fading. These bold, luscious shades last all day long, making it the ultimate beauty indulgence.

Disclaimer: Press Release

Friday, November 21, 2014

Keema Kaleji: Mince Meat and Liver Cooked Indian Style

Minced meat and liver cooked Indian Style

I have been flooded under work recently, but well, it was what I wanted. C left today, and as I type, she is sitting in Frankfurt Airport, waiting for a connecting flight. I feel slightly bummed, but well, V will take me out tonight to see Interstellar probably, and then we will wander around the tree-laden streets in the night, and life will again move on.

Minced Meat Recipe

I made this dish the other day after I spotted some good mutton chunks lying in the butcher's plate, and picked one up and silently handed over to him, mouthing the word "Keema", while my attention was diverted to the small-ish chunk of liver lying on the same plate. In the end, I took it too, came home, and cut it in small portions. I had originally planned to make a Liver Fry and some Keema Matar , but then I decided to combine the two, and make a batch of Keema Kaleji. 

I generally make a paste of 20-25 dry red chillies, after soaking them in warmed vinegar (4-5 tablespoon) plus a tiny bit of water for an hour. This paste can be stored in the fridge and used in place of red chilli powder. This is used quite often in my house. In case you do not want to go through that trouble, I would suggest mixing red chilli powder or kashmiri mirch powder with vinegar to make a paste. But well, the taste is just not the same.

Roast 1 teaspoon whole cumin, 1 teaspoon whole coriander, 5-6 whole green cardamom, 1 stick cinnamon, 10 cloves, 1 teaspoon caraway seeds, 10 peppercorn, 1 large blade of mace and 1/4th of a nutmeg over mild heat till the whole spices are fragrant, about 1-2 minutes. Remove and grind it in a spice grinder. I prefer a coarse grind, but you can go for a more finer powder. I generally call this my Garam Masala powder.

Also, make a paste of equal amounts of ginger, garlic and green chillies. I generally, again, paste them with vinegar instead of oil, and use them quite often in my recipes.

Marinate 100 gm. chopped liver in 1 tablespoon yogurt and a big pinch of salt. Marinate 250 gm. minced meat with salt. 

Heat 1-2 tablespoon vegetable oil or mustard oil in a pressure cooker. Although I am using the pressure cooker to quickly cook everything, you can definitely use a heavy bottomed pan and cook this for a longer period of time. Once the oil is heated, add 2 whole dry red chillies, a bay leaf and 1/4th teaspoon whole cumin.

Once the spices splutter, add 1 medium onion, chopped. Cook till the onion is golden, and then add 1 tablespoon ginger-garlic-green chilli paste. Let the paste fry slightly, then add 1 large tomato puree (around 60 ml. or 4 tablespoons). Cook till the tomato puree is thoroughly cooked, and the oil starts to separate from the frying mixture.

 Add to this the minced meat. I used goat meat, but you can use lamb easily. Stir fry over high heat to seal the juices of the meat, and then stir briskly. I like my mince quite coarse, but you can get yours finely chopped. Once the mince is well-seared, drop the heat, and cover the pressure cooker loosely with the lid. Let cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the marinated liver.

Cook, stirring briskly, for a minute or so, and then, add 1 tablespoon of the red chilli paste and the prepared spice mix. Stir, add 1/2 cup water, and then quickly put the pressure cooker lid on. Let the pressure cooker build up to full pressure, then turn off the heat right after the first whistle. Let the pressure cooker cool down on till you can open it easily, and then adjust salt and if you want, add a bit of sugar. I don't, though. I add a bit of cilantro leaves on top, and then crack open a packet of pao. 

Keema Kaleji

Lufthansa A380: My Dream Trip Might Just Be Real Now!

I have never really been a fan of flying in India. Truthfully speaking, even when I have flown business class, there was something essential that I missed in India. Maybe it was the service, maybe it was the seating, Indian airlines never really blew my mind.

Of course, when international brands started to come to India, I was curious. For a blogger who likes traveling and food as much as I do, going places is inevitable, and good service is a must to make me like a particular airlines. There has been some disappointments, of course. But most of the times, I have noted that international airlines are far better in the service segment when compared to our domestic groups.

This is possibly one of the biggest reasons for me to be totally excited about flying Lufthansa.
Known as one of biggest power players in the airlines business around the globe and the largest airlines in the EU, Lufthansa was one of the groups I was eagerly waiting for to do more in India. I have always had plans to travel the globe, and a backpacking trip around Europe was always in the cards. Solo journey and all, you see! I want to make it an eating tour! And what better to start than Frankfurt, which promises to be the gateway to the European nation to me! I checked the details for some flights, and a round trip in mid-February is going to cost me around 48,000/- INR, which seems perfectly reasonable to me for the service I will be receiving.

Lufthansa boasts of quality food, great service, and on-time flights, three things that I tend to be very particular about.Plus, they have launched the Lufthansa A380, the largest commercial aircraft, which would be the carrier for the Delhi-Frankfurt flight. Now that is the advantage of being big and beautiful! Check out more at and check out this Post by Lufthansa India.

Disclaimer: This post is in association with Indiblogger and Lufthansa A380. For more, check out Lufthansa India Website or search with #LufthansaA380 

Hot Pot Offerings at ITC Sonar (Autumn-Winter 2014)

Sitting around the table, and sipping a chilled drink, we look longingly at the steaming bowl of broth bubbling away in the hot pot in front of us. The hot pot sits on a glowing base, and the broth looks mostly clear and inviting. A plate of vegetables and protein await expectantly on one side. I am slightly disappointed to see that there is no beef (which is the thing I like about a good Shabu Shabu), but oh, well, I believe I will settle for the Tuna Tataki today.

Soon, the broth is ready. Meanwhile, D and I sneakily pick off strips of pink salmon and tuna and little curls of cuttlefish from the dish, dip it in the gorgeous soy-mirin dipping sauce, and deposit them straight into our mouths. We love our sashimi, and yes, wasabi is optional.

Chef Jerry Bernasol has made a light dashi stock, and he stirs in the firmer vegetables first, which would take more time to cook. He adds some chicken sliced fine to it, which would lend flavors to the both. Mostly bonito-based, he explains that the accompanying sesame sauce, soy-mirin sauce, and the egg yolk are all supposed to be added to the broth before consuming, depending upon the taste buds of the eater. As he speaks, he spears slices of leeks, shiitake and button mushrooms, onion rings into the broth, and stir rapidly.

On my request, he puts a slice of tuna in the broth, swirling it around for 10-12 seconds, and then quickly remove it to my plate. I savor the buttery tuna, barely cooked on the outside and all pink and beautiful inside, with a smidgen of the Shichimi Togarashi lying innocently on one side.

Shichimi Togarashi
Once cooked, the protein and vegetables are ladled onto our bowls. The dashi stock is mild and a little bit of soy sauce just improves its flavors. The vegetables are perfectly cooked, and the fish flakes at the touch of my chopstick. I relish the curls of the cuttlefish and dip them in more egg yolk, then rapidly finish the broth.

D calls the soup nourishing. I agree. We both look at each other with a secret yearning for a couch or a bed to sleep on. This is soul food - something that feels like a healing touch to me, after the long month of severe eating out, especially all the junk I could get.

 Udon noodles are thrown into the leftover stock to make a quick noodle soup. I fish out a couple of Shiitake mushrooms from the broth and bite into their meatiness.

Tom Yam  Mor Fai

 The table is quickly cleared to make way for a new pot filled with broth. Our eyes widen as the Thai Tom Yam Mor Fai starts brewing in front of us. This Asian beauty is spicier, with a broth fragrant with Lemongrass and Thai basil. Chef Promod Sinha quickly introduces the vegetables - fresh lemongrass, basil, bokchoy, mushrooms, fish and prawn in it. The sauces are changed too - a sweet Thai Chili and a hot Chili Paste replaces the soy and sesame paste. Some jasmine rice is served alongside, to be enjoyed with the broth.

Chef Jerry Bernasol

 Chef Jerry explains the nuances of Thai food, which is definitely more spicy and fragrant than the lighter Japanese fare. He stirs in the vegetables first, then adds the protein in. The broth here is better with rice, and the rice bowl is frequently reached for.

Tom Yum Broth

We are at this point beyond full, but the Chef has one last hurrah for us. He promises us a dessert platter with all the cool trimmings.

dessert trio

Dessert Trio is a pretty affair and I demolish it with gusto. There is some coconut jelly on top, followed by a bowl of wasabi ice cream in the middle, and a bowl of chopped fresh fruits at the bottom.  It is all very refreshing, although I am not a fan of bringing wasabi and ice cream together.

Green tea Ice Cream

Oh hello, Liquid Nitrogen! The last dish that comes out from the kitchen is a Green Tea Ice Cream, and the aesthetic beauty of it is overshadowed by my greed to get one more spoonful of the silky green tea ice cream, mild and delicate and possibly the best way to end the meal.

The hot pot meals are available at Pan Asian ITC Sonar all through the cold winter season and a meal for two will cost 3300/- plus tax from 12.30 to 2.45 pm (lunch) and 7.30 to 11.45 pm (dinner).

Disclaimer: Poorna Banerjee dined at ITC Sonar at the invitation of the management.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

L’Oreal Nude Magic Foundation Natural Beige Review

L’Oreal Nude Magic Foundation is available in India with Nykaa and Flipkart. It is priced at 899/- for 27 ml. of product. 

What L’Oreal Says About It: L'oreal Paris Magic Nude Liquid Powder that looks like a foundation but as you blend in it transforms into powder. Ideal for people with oily skin as it is non-greasy. L'oreal Paris Magic Nude Liquid Powder blends well into the skin. It gives a natural look.
  • It gives complete coverage.
  • It reduces the redness on the face.
  • It covers dark spots, acne and blemish marks.
  • It covers skin pigmentation giving an even skin tone.
  • It gives your skin a semi-matte finish, not making your skin oily.
  • It is available in six shades to match your skin tone. 
My Take on L’Oreal Nude Magic Foundation:  I have always been interested in buying a good foundation that will not make my skin dry, but will give a mostly matte finish. It was this particular thing that made me purchase this product in the first place. The color Natural Beige is the perfect match for my current skin tone. 

Although the foundation claims to give complete coverage, it gives semi-sheer to medium coverage, and evens out my skin tone. It reduces redness and also gives it a very matte, yet not dry appearance. I like the fact that it is not heavy at all, and it does not leave me with dry patches – something that liquid or cream to powder foundations often tend to do. It has SPF 18 in it, so it protects against the sun as well.  
I think the lasting power is my only issue with this product – it is not very long lasting, and stays around 4 hours on me. It can apparently be used as a sunscreen, so I understand the sheer coverage.

In this weather, where winter is knocking, I would love to use this more to see how it performs against my skin and provides protection against the winter sun. The fact that there are more shades for darker and lighter skin tones make me very happy as well. 

You can check the swatch here, which looks lighter somewhere. The shade is very slightly light on my NC 42 skin tone, and I would say it will suit NC 40-42 very well. Overall, I think L'Oreal has come up with a good product for Indian skin tones, and the number of shades make it easy for you to pick one up.‎