Flying high, gastronomically

The hospitality industry has always fascinated me. When I was invited to the LiteBites Airport food trail, I didn’t realise how much more about it I would be learning. A team of food bloggers explored the airport and had a chance to sample dishes from the various new food joints that were going to open there. Our journey began at around 2p.m and ended at around 4:45 pm! Quite an interesting day it turned out to be.

Café Istanbul Mezze- the three different types of hummus. I have a huge weakness for hummus and coupled with pita bread that was dry, light and of the perfect consistency, this was a dish I really enjoyed.

Pita bread and hummus from Cafe Istanbul

Pita bread and hummus from Cafe Istanbul

Pineapple Panna- was a nice mocktail served to us at the beginning. It was made of smoked pineapple and the glass had a frosted edge that consisted of salt and chat masala. Very interesting as I’ve been acquainted with pineapple in its fruity, less intense form. Smoking the pineapples gave it depth and dimension, which really made the mocktail intriguing.

Pineapple Panna

Pineapple Panna

 

Pesto and Cheddar on Tomato bread, Baker street- It was an adorable, perfect little light treat. The tomato slice lent it’s flavour to the rest of the elements, making sure the dish had a particular taste to look out for. The pesto was very well done, though the Cheddar hardly made its presence felt in this little bread based snack.

Chef Rashmi, working her magic on the Pesto cheddar `

Chef Rashmi, working her magic on the Pesto cheddar `

 

 

Quinoa and nut, Zesty Honey Mustard- This was the dish that didn’t work well for me because of my own personal bias. I don’t like honey mustard and the flavours of Quinoa didn’t appeal to me. If you enjoy these flavours, then it’s a lovely dish. The crumbly consistency makes it fun and easy to digest. The dish was well done. Just wasn’t my taste.

IMG_1949

Szechwan Noodle Bhel Spoons (Bottoms up)- This was presented in the most appealing manner, but I didn’t enjoy this dish. The noodles were slightly hard and it’s way too much to take in one mouthful. The Szechwan sauce tasted nice. Not too spicy with a bit of ginger.

IMG_1938

 

Mini Taco Salad (Flamez n Roasted)- This was so good, I had to ask for a second serving. The shells were of the perfect consistency- crisp and light without being too crunchy or too soggy. Topped with shredded cabbage and stuffed with onions and tomatoes, this was truly, a well-crafted dish.

IMG_1941

Zambar express was a restaurant that specialised in south indian food. It was something I was looking forward to since I’d been craving South Indian food for a while, what with being away from home and everything. I was not disappointed when I was served mini idlies with three different types of chutney. This dish earns bonus points for presentation because it was neatly wrapped in a banana leaf pouch, secured with toothpicks. The second dish was idiyappam with vegetable ishtew and it was truly reminiscent of home for me. Strong accents of coconut and carrots helped bring the dish home into a perfectly stylized version of the humble dish.

Miniature Kutchi Dabeli (Street foods by Punjab Grill)- my experiences with dabeli have been limited to street food, so finding it in this slightly fancy setting was a bit of a surprise. I enjoyed how the originality of the flavour was retained while it was given a few fancy touches that included sev and even a few pomegranate seeds!

Kutchi dabeli

Kutchi dabeli

Rajasthani Pyaaz Kachori, thanda Baingan Bharta (Naashto)- The presentation of this dish had the group of us excited because of its innovative presentation. It was admittedly, the yummiest kachori I’ve ever had. The cool Baingan Bharta on top added for an interesting contrast between the essences of the two vegetables. In fact, I don’t even like Baingan. The fact that I didn’t mind its presence says a lot about how I perceived the dish.

Onion kachori and thanda baingan bharta.

Onion kachori and thanda baingan bharta.

Grilled saffron Polenta, marinated tomatoes & basil (Fres Co) Polenta is a dough based dish and it was the first time I had tasted it. I wasn’t majorly impressed by the dish as it seemed slightly dry and didn’t leave a lasting impression on my palette.

Polenta- beautifully presented.

Polenta- beautifully presented.

 

So much delicious food.

So much delicious food.

 

We had a blast tasting all the food, but we needed a break. While some of us had green tea, I opted for my favourite comfort drink- hot chocolate!

My palette cleanser of choice- Hot chocolate!

My palette cleanser of choice- Hot chocolate from Baker’s street.

 

 

The lovely dessert platter we were served.

The lovely dessert platter we were served.

Banana pakoda, coconut jaggery cream (Zambar Express)- I’m normally used to fried bananas in a savoury context, so it was a refreshing change to try it as a dessert. The two perfectly complimented each other to make a melt in the mouth, deep fried combination.

Tres Leche, Berry Compote (Flamez n Roasted) I didn’t enjoy this dish as much as I should have as it felt soggy and a bit overly sweet.

Churma Saffron Ghee (Nashto)- a traditional dish brought to life by serving and presentation. The Churma was rich and melted in your mouth, true to its origins.

Salted caramel nankhatai (Baker street)- This was my favourite dessert of the lot. It had a crunchy, hard outer covering while the salty and sweet flavour appealed to much to the indecisive soul who resides within me.

 

Overall, the airport experience minus travel was truly memorable. We got to see so many interesting sights like the one below

The view from the international departure area

The view from the international departure area

 

A food truck in an airport!

A food truck in an airport!

 

The folks at LiteBite were nice enough to give us this amazing hamper at the end of it all to spread the Christmas cheer.

The folks at LiteBite were nice enough to give us this amazing hamper at the end of it all to spread the Christmas cheer.

 

 

Our four legged friends also needed help.
Source: ibtimes.co.uk

Chennai, stay strong

The last ten days have proven to be a true test of Chennai’s character, and I could not have been prouder of how the citizens choose to act in a situation of such duress. It is the worst flood that Chennai has seen in the last 100 years

Chennai: People rescue from their Watter lodged houses during heavy rains in Chennai on Wednesday. PTI Photo (PTI12_2_2015_000351A)

Chennai: People rescue from their Watter lodged houses during heavy rains in Chennai on Wednesday. PTI Photo (PTI12_2_2015_000351A)

 

Picture source: Manorama online

Picture source: Manorama online

 

Our four legged friends also needed help. Source: ibtimes.co.uk

Our four legged friends also needed help.
Source: ibtimes.co.uk

 

I am not in a position to contribute financially, nor am I in geographical proximity of the rescue operations in order to volunteer. However, I’m going to try and do my part and raise awareness. Now, my writing about food is rather whimsical on many occasions, talking about cake, or pasta or pizza and their many wonderful flavours and textures. However, it is crucial for all of us to remember that food constitutes a significant part of our sustenance. In situations like this, there are a few guidelines you would need to follow in order to ensure food supplies are safe to consume

  1. Stock up

This is the first and the most important step. As far as possible, stock up on food items that do not require elaborate preparations, or if possible, no preparation at all. Think of items such as bread, jam, chocolates (for quick glucose and/or energy), ready to eat chapatis, packets of potato or tapioca chips. If you have traditional snacks such as murukkus or chakklis lying around, they too are good for consumption because of their shelf life.

 

  1. Do not rely on electricity

A lot of us are surprisingly reliant on electricity to cook. This could be in the form of microwave ovens, electric kettles, electric rice cookers, air fryers, toasters, sandwich makers, induction stoves etc. These gadgets were invented to make our lives easier; but in a situation where the electricity supply is uncertain, you cannot rely on these to cook. It helps to ensure access to a traditional gas stove in order to prepare hot food for immediate consumption.

 

  1. Keep it simple

When preparing food, keep it as simple as possible. Instant noodles and soups work well here. Similarly, while cooking traditional food, keep it limited to one main dish and one vegetable curry. Rice works well in this situation because all you need is a pressure cooker and a gas connection. Vegetables such as carrots, potatoes, beetroot, onions, garlic etc do not spoil easily even in the absence of a refrigerator.

  1. Store, do not hoard
    All food must be properly stored in containers. If there are vessels that contain food, ensure it is properly covered. In a state of panic, it may be tempting to buy as much food as you can get your hands on. However, when you’re in a situation where you have access to actually buying food, please do not hoard. Bear other people in mind, because when resources are scarce, everyone deserves an equal share.
  2. In case of flooding

Food is more important now than ever in order to keep your energy up. Pack a bag that contains essentials such as money, your cellphone, a power bank, etc and carry food as well. If you can get your hands on energy bars, they are the most convenient in this situation. If not, carry chocolate and chips and traditional snacks such as thattai, murukku, adhirsam and so on. These south indian snacks can be preserved without refridgeration, are good for immediate consumption and are a good source of energy. For that matter, Gujarati snacks also work exceptionally well. Think of dishes such as theplas, khakras and khandvi. They need no refridgeration or airtight containers to be stored in and are good for quick consumption.
Store food in packets or Ziploc covers rather than dabbas as boxes add unnecessary weight to your bag and tend to take up space.

 

  1. Beware of diseases

With rains and flooding come diseases such as cholera, malaria and dengue. As far as possible, try to make sure your water is boiled before drinking. This simple precaution alone can prevent a lot of water borne diseases. If you cannot ensure your water is boiled, try to make sure it is from a safe source, such as a sealed bottle or from one of those 20 litre water cans.

 

  1. Stay together

Staying united with your friends, family and neighbours. Do not hesitate to help each other out with resources, be it milk, oil or vegetables. I will say no more on this front because my people, the ones with hearts of gold; do not need to be told these things.

Here are a few more precautions to take during the flood, courtesy: manoramaonline.

Here are a few more precautions to take during the flood, courtesy: manoramaonline.

 

To all the residents of Chennai, I will just say this. Stay strong, and the whole goddamn world is praying for you. You will get through this and show the world how things are done. I’m already proud of how you’ve acted, and I am proud of this city that I call my home town.