Food and Drink

China 2020 ; An exclusive preview of the future of dining- Breeze Restaurant - lebua Hotel, Bangkok, Thailand

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BREEZE RESTAURANT - LEBUA HOTEL
STATE TOWER 1055, SILOM ROAD, BANGRAK, BANGKOK, 10500, THAILAND.

Situated on 51st and 52 nd floor

Here the chefs have come up with an exquisite preview of the future of dining in China by 2020. Menu is given here

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 Entrance through a glass sky bridge and a spectacular view of the city.

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 Dramatic presentation of cocktails! 

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 Amuse Bouche ! Beautiful presentation

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 Assorted accompaniment sauces

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 An assorted seafood platter with Sea Urchin in the center - Delish!

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 Great food! Spectacular view! Attentive Service ! 

Another fabulous dinner after recently dining at Lebua's flagship restaurant located on the 65th floor MEZZALUNA. If time permits before I head back to Washington, looking forward to dining at yet another of Lebua's restaurant located on the 63rd floor SIROCCO ; the world's highest al fresco restaurant with a dramatic view of Bangkok.

 


Picture of the week

 

KERALA FISH CURRY

Chilies, Shallots, ginger, "kodampuli' & curry leaves cooked in a traditional earthern ware container called "chatti" or "Mann chatti"

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Smithsonian Folklife Festival 2013


     We are honored and humbled to be invited by the Smithsonian Institution again to take part in this year's Folklife Festival. It was in 1985 that I first came to this country from India to organize the Festival of India and it always brings back nostalgic memories. Since then my associates and I have been very fortunate to participate in several Folklife Festivals organized by the Smithsonian.

WHAT IS SMITHSONIAN'S FOLKLIFE FESTIVAL ?

The Smithsonian Folklife Festival is an international exposition of living cultural heritage annually produced outdoors on the National Mall of the United States in Washington, D.C., by the Smithsonian Institution's Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage. Read more....

When : June 26 - June 30
July 3 - July 7, 2013
2013 Festival Programs:
Hungarian Heritage
Roots to Revival
One World, Many Voices :Endangered languages and cultural Heritage
The Will to Adorn :African
American Diversity, Style and Identity
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AHAAR - A TASTE OF INDIA - at the Smithsonian's Folklife Festival is brought to you by Indique and Indique Heights Restaurants. The Menu is limited to five items as per the recent national Park regulations. Chicken Tikka Makhani platter, Veg Combo consiting of Saag Makai and Alu Chole served with Basmati Rice pilaf. The two street snacks on the Menu are Papri Chaat and Jhal Muri from the eastern region of India. To beat the heat we are also serving chilled Kingfisher Beer, plenty of Mango Lassi and Nimbu Paani (lemonade)
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Above : Saba Rahman
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Above : Rathi Vinod 
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Above : Mrs. Nisha Vinod
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Left to Right : Ms. Nandita Madan, Mr. Surfy Rahman, Mrs. Nisha Vinod, Mrs. Madhavi Rahman
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Above : My Mom Mrs. Pushpavathy Narayanan and Executive Chef S.Balamurugan
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Some of the Hungarian exhihits at the Folklife Festival
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Yours truly
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At the Cooking demonstration pavillion - Folklife Festival
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At the dance studio - Folklife Festival 2013
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Various Exhibhitors 
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Basket weaving at the Folklife Festival
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My mom trying out one of the Hungarian Hats.
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Rolling pins galore!
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The dance studio at the national mall - Folklife festival 2013
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My mom checking out the Folklife Festival.....
Come back here, for more pictures when the festival reopens on July 3rd. Come and see us at the Festival. Bring your families and show the kids around. It is always very interesting to learn about different countrries, cultures etc. Till I post again Adios!
Photographs : K.N.Vinod
source : Smithsonian Institution.
twitter:@kvinod

South India delights with Chef Vinod


Get off the beaten path, explore in depth the rich culinary traditions of south India. Come, Join me as I take you on a culinary journey through South India.You will also have the opportunity to interact with and get culinary demonstrations from leading chefs immersed in the local culinary traditions.

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Description    

                        Join Chef Vinod on this 13 day culinary adventure to South India.  Guests will enjoy a range of delicious cuisines from Karnataka to Mughlai and Mappilla, with Chef Vinod on hand to divulge the history and secret recipes of the tempting dishes on offer.  Visit bustling local markets, enjoy a cooking class and join a local family for a traditional meal to learn more about the food and culture of this incredible region.  With plenty of time to explore the World Heritage Site of Mamallapuram, the historic city of Mysore, the beautiful Kerala backwaters and the stunning beaches of Kovalam, this tour is sure to appeal to devoted foodies, culture aficionados and interested travellers of all ages.                                                                                                                   

Tour Highlights

 

• Explore the UNESCO World Heritage site of Mamallapuram and indulge in a delicious South Indian Thali meal • See the sights of beautiful Mysore, including the bustling local market • See a traditional Kathkali dance performance and dine at the famed Malabar Junction restaurant • Experience a hands-on cooking demonstration and lunch at a local house in Cochin • Enjoy a traditional lunch as you cruise along the scenic backwaters of Kerala - See more at:

South India Delights With Chef Vinod  13 Days  

DAY 1

  16 OCT’2013 ARRIVAL IN CHENNAI & TRANSFER TO COVELONG   

                                                   On arrival at Chennai airport, your tour escort will meet you outside the customs gate and escort you in air-conditioned Indian made deluxe buses to Covelog (35km/approx 1hr drive). Overnight at Vivanta by Fisherman's Cove TaJ

DAY 2

17 OCT’2013 MAMALLAPURAM   EXCURSION

Start your morning with a trip to Mamallapuram - Its enviable position on the Coromandel Coast, facing the Bay of Bengal, guarantees that this is a popular place to stay. Spend time on the white-sand beach shaded by casuarina trees and hire a bike to pedal through the surrounding countryside but make sure you allow time to explore this wonderful open-air museum, much of which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Arjuna's Penance -Nothing can prepare you for the wonderful bas-reliefs covering two huge boulders. The exquisite detail, dating from the 7th century, depicts the flow of the Ganges down from the Himalayan mountains as well as scenes from Indian daily life. The Five Rathas You won't believe that these shrines are carved whole from an outcrop of rock. Each of the five temples is dedicated to heroes from the great epic of the Mahabharata. Spend time admiring the detail of the carvings which include gods, humans and elephants and wonder why the temples are incomplete and were never consecrated. Shore Temple Relish the delightful seaside location, overlooking the Bay of Bengal, and landscaped gardens surrounding the Shore Temple, a popular place for the locals to visit. Dedicated to both Vishnu and Shiva, the decorative beauty of the temple, built in Dravidian style, has suffered erosion by its proximity to the sea. Experience South Indian thali meals  is served in Banana leaf, it is a well balanced meal with dishes that include rice, dal, vegetables, flat breads, yoghurt, chutney, pickle, papad and a sweet dish. Chef Vinod may insists you try this by eating by your hand!!!!  Return to Hotel and relax. Evening Enjoy the fresh catch of the day cooked with Bay Spice - local peppers, coriander and tamarind. You'll relish the French seafood broth with shredded vegetable, diced seafood and a peg of tender coconut water. (B/L/ D)                                      

DAY 3

18 OCT’2013 MAMALLAPURAM – KANCHIPURAM  (65 KMS / 1.5 HRS) - KACHIPURAM – CHENNAI – BANGALORE (FLIGHT 9W 2309 1800/1835 HRS) -

Today we depart from Hotel and Drive to the impressive temple town of Kanchipuram covering a distance of 60kms in approx 1.5 hour.  Known as the Golden City of a Thousand Temples, it is one of the oldest towns in India. It is famous for both its temples and its hand-woven silks. Most of the temples are well preserved till date, which were built during 7th and 8th century AD. The prominent temples of Kanchipuram are Ekambareshwar Temple, Kamakshi Temple etc. Kanchipuram silk is famous all over the world. Visit the local homes of the weavers and watch them create magic out of silk thread into saris. Return to Chennai to catch a flight to Bangalore. Tonight Chef Vinod welcomes you to the Taj West End hotel to experience a well contemplated Anglo Indian Menu that draws inspiration from the British Raj. The fusion food that emerged during those day’s thus became a staple of the Country’s Anglo- Indian Population. Plunge back into time and indulge in a menu conceptualized with a colonial touch. (B/D)Overnight in Bangalore  -

DAY 4

19 OCT’2013 BANGALORE – MYSORE (140 KMS/3.5 HRS)

Begin with a visit to the botanical gardens at Lal Bagh conceived and laid out by Sultan Hyder Ali in 1760. His son, Tipu, expanded the gardens further planting exotic plants from Persia, Kabul, Turkey, and Mauritius (tropical and subtropical species) over 96 hectares (240 acres). Highlights include the Lawn Clock and the British-built glasshouse, structurally based on London's Crystal Palace and then drive to Mysore - You will be charmed by the faded grandeur of Mysore, the former capital of the much loved Wodeyars dynasty who reigned from the 16th century. A city rich in heritage, make sure you discover its royal palaces, sacred temples and majestic buildings but leave time to stroll through some of its many parks and gardens or along a wide leafy boulevard. Evening enjoy an exclusively designed menu by Chef Vinod that features traditional Karnataka cuisine, dinner will be a love of labor, full of nostalgic memories-a very special treat indeed!   Overnight in Mysore (B/D)   

DAY 5

Morning we visit Devaraj Market - Most colourful local market, Mysore Palace -You can't fail to be impressed by this vast palace, with its turrets, domes and arches and an opulent interior with intricately carved doors and ceilings. Wander through the luxuriously furnished rooms, once home to the royal family, and admire this treasure trove of works of art from all over the world. If you are in Mysore on a Sunday or national holiday don't miss the spectacle of the palace illuminated by thousands of light bulbs. Jaganmohan Palace -Spend time perusing the collection of 19th century paintings in this former palace. The skill of the Indian artists, using natural vegetable and mineral dyes, is extraordinary. Enjoy the traditional Mysore 'gold leaf' paintings which are on display here. Evening Head up Chamundi Hill for panoramic views of the city spread out below before exploring the exquisite hilltop temple dedicated to the goddess, Chamundi and dominated by a 40m-high gopuram (tower).  Make a short stop at the huge statue dedicated to Nandi, the bull of Lord Shiva, on the way down. This evening enjoy Mughlai food at Olive garden (windflower). Mughlai food is known for its richness. It is famous for the exotic use of spices, dried fruit and nuts. The Mughals did everything in style and splendor and Chef Vinod will explain the layering of the spices that gives each preparation an exotic taste and flavor. Taste Saffron, almonds, raisins, apricots and pistachios in the dishes prepared specially for you tonight. Overnight In Mysore (B/D)                                     

DAY 6

21 OCT’2013 MYSORE – CALICUT (210 KMS/5 HRS)

Drive to Calicut and visit Beypore, a prominent port and fishing harbour of ancient Kerala. Visit the fish markets with Chef Vinod who will point out the many varieties of seafood caught fresh daily off these shores and the special ways the locals prepare it for their families. Later venture into town and visit the Sweet Meat Street with many colourful shops. Visit the Boat yards in Beypore, which have been building vessels since early centuries for legendary seamen. The astounding feature is the way in which the boats are built wherein the skilled craftsmen build boats based on just experience-without any drawings or charts. You can also visit a century old tile factory founded by the Germans and later acquired by the British. The century old machinery and systems that are still in use to produce tiles and bricks make for a very interesting visit. Check in to you resort.  Tonight enjoy a special dinner featuring Moppilla Cuisine -The cuisine of Kerala Muslims, well known for its delicate blend of spiciness and subtle mix of ingredients that add a touch of the exotic! The Mappilas of Malabar love eating and cooking has developed into an art-form that is perfected by every girl by the time she gets married. Ask any Mappila man, and he will swear by his mom's 'Thalassery biriyani'. Mappila cuisine is one of the most exotic, and yet, one of the least known, of India's major cuisines.Like any regional cuisines, Mappilas have also developed a cuisine that makes the best use of locally available ingredients. As such, most dishes are made from various forms and combinations of rice, banana, coconut and egg, besides of course, meat. In addition, the Muslim tradition of using lots of dry fruits can be seen even here. Over night in Calicut (B/D) 

DAY 7

22 OCT’2013 CALICUT- COCHIN (220 KMS/5 HRS)

Today we drive to Cochin with its wealth of historical associations and its beautiful setting on a cluster of islands and narrow peninsulas; the fascinating city of Cochin perfectly reflects the eclecticism of Kerala. Cochin now renamed Kochi, boasts one of the finest natural harbors on the Arabian Sea coast and has been a port of call for foreign traders from very early times. Its cosmopolitan character is reflected in the many buildings and structures, which bear testimony to the different influences that the city has acquired from the world over. Cochin is a fascinating synthesis of old and new. This evening watch a performance of the Kathakali dance. The epic Ramayana comes to life at a Kathakali performance, the traditional Keralan dance, where characters use larger than life gestures, wear outrageous costumes and dramatic make up. Afterwards enjoy dinner at the Malabar Junction, a superb, open-sided restaurant in a garden. It is known throughout India for its exceptional food, probably the best pasta in India!. Overnight in Cochin  

DAY 8            

 23 OCT’2013 COCHIN  

   This morning take a Cooking Class at house of Nimmi Paul. Nimmy and Paul have been involved in 'At Home' hospitality for more than twelve years. Nimmy, a professional cookery instructor for more than twenty years offers food and hospitality to foreign guests. Nimmy conducts cookery classes. She teaches guests the nuances of traditional Kerala recipes. She is also a food consultant to writers, chefs and magazines. We will also arrange for Market trip –like visit vegetable market and spice market.Guests are also provided the opportunity to enjoy a meal with an Indian family whereby they can enjoy delicious food in homely ambience, interact with members of the host family and experience the nuances of a joint family system. The unique experience brings you in close touch with the traditions; values and cultural ethos of this enchanting land. Afternoon visit the Jewish Synagogue built in 1568. Scrolls of the Old Testament and a number of copper plates inscribed in Hebrew script are preserved here. Continue on to visit St. Francis Church, the oldest church constructed by the Europeans in India. Built by the Portuguese in 1510; it housed the remains of Vasco da Gama for 14 years before it was transferred to Lisbon. His tombstone can be seen inside the church. Also visit the Mattancherry Palace, built by the Portuguese in 1555. The Palace was presented to the Raja of Cochin as a gesture of goodwill. This was also known as the Dutch Palace, resulting from substantial renovation by the Dutch after 1663. The central hall was the Coronation Hall of the Rajas. Their dresses, turbans and palanquins and murals from Hindu mythology are all beautiful and worth seeing. Culminate the tour at Fort Kochi, which is said to be the oldest European settlement in India. This evening is free to explore a local restaurant in town or visit the famous beach with the Chinese fishing nets Overnight in Cochin (B/L)  

DAY 9

 24 OCT’2013 COCHIN – ALLEPPEY - KUMARAKOM (85 KMS/2 HRS) -

This Morning we  drive to Alleppey - Board a boat for a lazy few hours drifting along shimmering waterways passing coconut groves, a green patchwork of rice paddies and isolated villages where daily life is dominated by the rhythm of the waters. Pass boats laden down with cargo and fishermen throwing their nets from small rowing boats and watch small ferry boats busily crisscrossing the rivers   Enjoy your Traditional Lunch served on Boat.  Evening Disembark from House boat and further drive to Kumarakom - the enchanting backwater destination slumbers on the bank of the famous Vembanad Lake, which is a part of Kuttanad ('granary' of Kerala). The Vembanad Lake with its majestic canals, streams and distributaries along its banks weave an intricate and enchantingly beautiful web. Kumarakom is an unbelievable beautiful paradise!!The blue backwaters and the surface of Vembanad Lake reflect the azure sky. The amazing shades of green of the vegetation that include mangroves, coconut palms, and paddy fields cover the verdant countryside. The gorgeous green of the fringed palms ripple in the blue waters and blend into wavelets. Arrive in Kumarakom and check in to hotel where rooms will be pre-booked. Evening meal will be an informal feast with dishes chosen by Chef Vinod and specially prepared by the hotel chefs, perhaps Chef Vinod will prepare for you while you watch one of his signature dishes!  (Payment for this dinner will taken by clients at their own) Overnight in Kumarakom  (B/L)      

DAY 10

 25 OCT’2013 KUMARAKOM  

      Yoga enthusiasts will want to rise early for a morning session with a Yoga master in a serene setting at the hotel. Rest of the day will be at leisure for spa/ayurveda and independent activities. Overnight in Kumarakom (B)   

DAY 11

26 OCT ’2013 KUMARAKOM – KOVALAM (195 KMS/6 HRS)

 

Drive to Kovalam beach covering a distance of 195 kms in approx 6 hours. Kovalam is a renowned beach destination. With three adjacent crescent beaches, it has been a favorite of tourists, especially Europeans, since the 1930s. A massive rocky promontory on the beach has created a beautiful bay of calm waters ideal for sea bathing. The leisure options at this beach are plenty and diverse. Sunbathing, swimming, herbal body toning massages, special cultural programmes and catamaran cruising are some of them. Life on the beach begins late in the day and carries on well into the night. The beach complex includes a string of budget cottages, Ayurvedic health resorts, and convention facilities, shopping zones, swimming pools, Yoga and Ayurvedic massage centre. Overnight in Kovalam (B)  

DAY 12

 27 OCT’2013 KOVALAM

 

      Day will be at leisure. Relax on the warm palm-fringed sands, rejuvenate your senses with some ayurvedic treatments, or wander along the headland. Standing at the old lighthouse you can watch the sky and waters burn as the sun sets over the Arabian Sea. Evening enjoy a sumptuous fare well dinner at residing hotel. Overnight in Kovalam (B/D) PLAN YOUR DAY AND CHOOSE FROM BELOW SUGGESTED OPTIONAL ACTIVITIES:1. ORIENTATION CITY TOUR OF TRIVANDRUM. ALSO EXPERIENCE A RIDE ON LOCAL BUSES!Visit Napier Museum & Art Gallery (Closed on Monday & National holidays). Built in the 19th century, this Indo - Saracenic structure boasts a natural air conditioning system and houses a rare collection of archaeological and historic artefacts, bronze idols, ancient ornaments, a temple chariot and ivory carvings. Next visit Sree Chithra Art Gallery (Closed on Monday & Wednesday forenoons) - located near the Napier Museum, this art gallery displays select paintings of Raja Ravi Varma, Svetlova and Nicholas Roerich and exquisite works from the Rajput, Mughal and Tanjore schools of art in India. Further visit the Kanakakunnu Palace - the palace and its sprawling grounds are today the venue for many cultural meets and programmes and the University Observatory - located at the highest point in the city, near the Museum complex 60 meters above sea level, one can have a bird's eye view of the city from here. In order to give the guests a more authentic experience, we will arrange a short ride using local buses. An amazing sight to watch! These colorful buses are part of everyday life!

2. A SHORT MOVIE EXPERIENCE AT A LOCAL THEATREEnjoy the experience of an electrifying local Malayalam movie flick at a local theatre. Experience and watch the local people enjoying the dance, emotions of their favorite actress. 

DAY 13

28 OCT’2013 DEPART FROM TRIVANDRUM

After breakfast, our representative will escort you to Trivandrum International airport (30 min approx) for your flight to onward destination.                                     

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Chinese fishing nets in Kochi (Cochin), Kerala

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Houseboat on the backwaters of Kerala

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Aleppey fish curry cooked in an earthern ware pot with coconut milk & "Kodam puli" & curry leaves

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Kerala back waters

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Enjoying Breakfast at Mamallapuram - Vivanta by Taj  

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Mysore Palace, Mysore (Karnataka)

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Shallots galore! on the way to Calicut from Mysore

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 On the way to the Synagogue in Kochi ( Cochin), Kerala

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At Kanchi Kailasanathar temple in Kanchipuram, Tamilnadu - The oldest temple of Kanchipura

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At the Lalit Mahal Palace hotel, where we will be staying.

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With tea plantation workers on the way to Calicut from Mysore

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Devaraja Market in Mysore 

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At a small scale cashew processing plant in Kerala.

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spiced infused water at Taj West End - Banglaore - Fennugreek and "Ajwain"

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Masala Omelette at Taj West End, Bangalore, India

 

 TOUR DEPARTS OCTOBER 16, 2013 -   BOOK EARLY AND AVOID DISAPPOINTMENT.

FOR MORE INFO ON THE TOUR, TYPE OF HOTELS, PICTURE OF THE HOTEL , TO DOWNLOAD THE TOUR ITINERARY ETC VISIT -INDUS.TRAVELS

INDUS TRAVELS IS THE WINNER OF THE BEST TOUR OPERATOR TO INDIA FROM THE AMERICAS FOR THE LAST FOUR YEARS.

 


DC Central Kitchen's Sound Bites

SOUND BITES 


WHAT : DC CENTRAL KITCHEN'S FESTIVAL OF LOCAL MUSIC, FOOD AND CHANGE

WHEN : May 19th

WHERE : 9.30 CLUB

TIME : 1 PM

TICKETS : $ 40 INCLUDING FREE FOOD FROM 25 OF DC'S BEST RESTAURANTS +7 LOCAL BANDS +
                EPIC MIXOLOGY BATTLE OF 14TH STREET BARS
                SEE MORE AT :  http://www.soundbitesdc.com/#food

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Indique/Indique Heights will be there to support DC Central kitchen along with 24 other top restaurants.I hope to see you all there.

 

 

 


Paneer Shashlik - Vegetarian

SIMPLE VEGETARIAN

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The Washington Post food editor Joe Yonan has turned a Vegetarian. So here is a recipe dedicated to Joe and to all my vegetarian friends. This is a very simple recipe which can be made quickly and easily. 

Ingredients                                             Serves - 4 - 6

1.5 lbs of Paneer - cut into 1" cubes*
1 large onion
1 large tomato or 12 whole grape tomatoes
1 green pepper
21/2 Tbsp lemon juice
3 Tbsp Veg. Oil
2 Tbsp Ginger/Garlic paste or ginger and garlic powder
1/4 tsp - Red Chili powder
1/4 tsp.Cumin powder
1/4 tsp Amchur powder*
1/4 tsp Turmeric powder
4 Tbsp plain hung yogurt *
1 Tbsp - Kasoori Methi
1 tsp - Salt

METHOD :

1. Cut Paneer into 1" cubes

2. Cut green pepper, onions and whole tomatoes into 1" squares. Alternatively you can substitute whole grape tomato or cherry tomato instead of cutting whole tomatoes. 

3. In a medium size mixing bowl, make a marinade with all the ingredients from lemon juice to salt. 

4. Soak the cut cubes of Paneer, pepper,onions and tomatoes in the marinade for about half an hour.

4. Soak bamboo skewers in water for a few minutes. Then, thread the cubes of paneer, onions, tomatoes and green pepper on to bamboo skewer.

5. Cook on a flat top grill for a few minutes on each side till it gets a nice golden brown color

6. Serve with chutney of your choice.

* Hung yogurt - Plain yogurt which is hung in a muslin cloth so as to remove some excess whey from the yogurt. Alternatively some sour cream can be incorporated to the plain yogurt to make it thick.  

 * "Paneer"- is home made cheese. It is readily available in Indian grocery stores. How to make Paneer at    home will be a future post.

* Amchur Powder  - available in Indian grocery stores - Usually made from dried unripe green mangoes.

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A new term, new Restaurants to try - Mr.President

CLEVELAND PARK, WASHINGTON DC AWAITS YOU MR. PRESIDENT

Heartiest Congratulations Mr. President on your re-election! Thank you for your invitation to the Presidential Inauguration.

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 Above : with Mrs. Nisha Vinod at the Inaugural Ball.

I had the privelege and honor to visit the White House during your first term. It was Easter day and I missed  you Mr. President. I look forward to meeting you and serving you some delicious Indian food during your second term.

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Above : With Celebrated Chefs Sanjeev Kapoor and Bill Yosses at the White House. 

 The dining landscape in Washington DC has changed tremendously in the last few years! You think of any cuisine of the world and we have them in Washington DC. By now you must have already received various recommendations for your dining in the second term. My humble suggestion is for you to start with the Cleveland Park neightborhood of Washington DC

The historic Cleveland Park in North West Washington DC awaits your arrival Mr. President.  Just to familiarize you with this Washington neighborhood, - Cleveland Park, named after the former President Grover Cleveland, is a historic neighborhood with an old theater – UPTOWN, and in my opinion has some of the best restaurants in town.

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 'President Cleveland and Mrs. Cleveland' at the Cleveland Park day in front of Indique. (The President of the Cleveland Park Association dressed as President Cleveland)

When the economy was going south a few years back, this thriving neighborhood took a severe beating; the whole area began to deteriorate. A 100 year old grocery store – Magruders and smal businesses/restaurants like Yenching Palace and Yannis shut their doors; there were ‘To rent signs ‘ all over the place and  businesses began to notice a large drop in their sales.Corporate entertaining was reduced, office/holiday parties disappeared or were downsized and clearly the recession had set in.To confirm that further the ‘groupons’ and ‘living socials had come in a big way and everybody was looking for deals, deals and only deals.

Now hopefully with the worst behind us,and with the economy slowly improving, the empty stores are filling up and some new and exciting changes have come up. Palena restaurant, run by a former White House chef Frank Ruta, has taken over the Magruders, a new steak place - Medium Rare,has opened up. Veteran restaurateur Ashok Bajaj combined his two restaurants( Ardeo + Bardeo) making it larger. In anticipation of uptick in business, Restaurants like Dino and indique added a lot of new dishes to their menus.

Cleveland Park today offers almost every cuisine that you can think of Italian, Indian,Thai, Vietnamese, Modern American, Asian, Tapas, Steaks, French, Pizzas, you name it.

In my opinion, Palena, run by a former White House Chef Frank Ruta is one of the best restaurants in the area. It serves modern American. Palena has both a fine dining restaurant and a café. Here you can try Frank’s amazing three or four course menu or a burger next door.

  If you are in a mood for Indian – then there is no doubt that you have to try Indique, Mr. President. 

  (Full disclosure – Indique is co-owned by my business partner Surfy Rahman and me)

I am not recommending Indique, just because I co-own it Mr. President. I am recommending this because I feel it is one of the most beautiful restaurants in Cleveland Park in terms of its ambiance, quality and variety of food it has to offer.Indique showcases modern Indian cuisine.The name Indique is derived from India and Unique.

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Below : The main dining hall located in the second level has two sections with beautiful marble railings from India.

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Your family can explore modern Indian Cuisine. We offer small plates;It will be a chance for Sasha and Malia to be exposed to a variety of foods. First lady Michelle Obama would probably appreciate – simple, nutritious options as well as some healthy desserts.

Your choice of Indique has already been endorsed by your cabinet. Ms. Hillary Clinton, Ms. Janet Napolitano, Mr. Lawrence Summers, Mr. David Plouffe, and other dignitaries like the former President of India, the Ambassador of India have all eaten here. 

Let us take a few examples of the dishes mentioned. Our Salmon Slider is a very popular. It is both tasty and healthy. The salmon cake is sandwiched between "oothapam" - a savory lentil and rice pancake,"yogurt tartare" and grilled onions. 

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 Above : Salmon slider

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Above : Crab Papad Cones

CRAB PAPAD CONES -  are served in a cone made of baked lentils. Mr. President, you get the crunch from the papad, the heat from the spices, and little sweetness from the coconut. 

 Last but not the least we also have a healthy dessert Mr. President - Shreekandh brûlée

You find Creme brûlée at every other restaurant. Here is our version with yogurt..

Shreekandh - torching

Shreekandh

Mr. Presdient again I invite you and your family to visit Cleveland Park and try unique Indian cuisine at Indique. Given your very busy schedule, I will be happy to bring the cuisine of Indique to you.

 


Culinary tour to India with Chef Vinod


 SOUTH INDIA DELIGHTS WITH CHEF VINOD

                        TOUR DEPARTS : JANUARY 31, 2013

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Get off the beaten path, explore in depth the rich culinary traditions of south India.Chef Vinod, who hails from Kerala and obtained culinary training from the institute of Hotel Management, Chennai will guide your culinary exploration every step of the way.In addition you will have the opportunity to interact with and get culinary demonstrations from leading chefs immersed in the local culinary traditions.
This 13 day culinary expedition around South India with renowned Chef Vinod begins on India's beautiful east coast with a day trip to the UNESCO World Heritage site of Mamallapuram. Guests will travel through bustling Bangalore to the historic city of Mysore to experience some traditional Karnataka cuisine and visit the lively local market. Chef Vinod will introduce travellers to the exotic tastes of 'Moppilla' cuisine in Calicut before arriving in Cochin on the Arabian Sea coast. After enjoying a cooking class and exploring the local market, guests will be whisked to charming Alleppey, for a charming backwaters cruise, and onto serene Kumarakom. The last stop on this gastronomic adventure is Kovalam, where Chef Vinod will organize a beachside BBQ and a sumptuous farewell feast.
This tour is being organized in collaboration with : Indus Travels.
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winner of the best tour operator award to India given by the Government of India.
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DAY 1
Day1 : JAN 31 ARRIVAL CHENNAI TRANSFER TO COVELONG 
On arrival at Chennai airport your Tour escort will meet you outside the customs gate and escort you in an air-conditioned Indian made deluxe bus to Covelo (35km/approx 1hr drive). Overnight in Vivanta by Taj Fisherman’s cove.

DAY 2
Day2 : FEB 01 MAMALLAPURAM EXCURSION (B/L/ D) 
Start your morning with a trip to Mamallapuram - Its enviable position on the Coromandel Coast, facing the Bay of Bengal, guarantees that this is a popular place to visit. Spend time on the white-sand beach shaded by casuarina trees and hire a bike to pedal through the surrounding countryside but make sure you allow time to explore this wonderful open-air museum, much of which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Some of the sightseeing highlights include Arjuna’s Penance a wonderful bas-relief covering two huge boulders. The exquisite detail dating from the 7th century depicts the flow of the Ganges down from the Himalayan mountains as well as scenes from Indian daily life, The Five Rathas - these shrines are carved whole from an outcrop of rock. Each of the five temples is dedicated to heroes from the great epic of the Mahabharata. Spend time admiring the detail of the carvings which include gods, humans and elephants. Visit the Shore Temple by the seaside overlooking the Bay of Bengal with landscaped gardens surrounding it is dedicated to both Vishnu and Shiva. Today’s most memorable experience will be a South Indian thali meal which is served on Banana leaf! This is a well balanced meal with dishes that include rice, dal, vegetables, flat breads, yoghurt, chutney, pickle, papad and a sweet dish. Chef Vinod may insist you try eating this like the locals-without the use of a knife or fork!!!!! Return to Hotel and relax. Evening Enjoy the fresh catch of the day cooked with Bay Spice - local peppers, coriander and tamarind. You'll relish the seafood broth with shredded vegetable, diced seafood and a peg of tender coconut water. 
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DAY 3
Day3 : FEB 02 MAMALLAPURAM – KANCHIPURAM –BANGALORE
Today we depart from Hotel and Drive to the impressive temple town of Kanchipuram covering a distance of 60kms in approx 1.5 hour. Known as the Golden City of a Thousand Temples, it is one of the oldest towns in India. It is famous for both its temples and its hand-woven silks. Most of the temples which were built during 7th and 8th century AD are well preserved. The prominent temples of Kanchipuram are Ekambareshwar Temple, Kamakshi Temple etc. Kanchipuram silk is famous all over the world. Visit the local homes of the weavers and watch them create magic out of silk thread into saris. Return to Mamallapuram to catch a flight to Bangalore. Tonight Chef Vinod welcomes you to the Taj West End hotel to experience a well contemplated Anglo Indian Menu that draws inspiration from the British Raj. The fusion food that emerged during those day’s thus became a staple of the Country’s Anglo- Indian Population. Plunge back into time and indulge in a menu conceptualized with a colonial touch. Overnight in Bangalore 
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DAY 4
Day4 : FEB 03 BANGALORE – MYSORE (140km/3.5h) (B/D)
Begin with a visit to the botanical gardens at Lal Bagh conceived and laid out by Sultan Hyder Ali in 1760. His son, Tipu, expanded the gardens further planting exotic plants from Persia, Kabul, Turkey, and Mauritius (tropical and subtropical species) over 96 hectares (240 acres). Highlights include the Lawn Clock and the British-built glasshouse, structurally based on London's Crystal Palace and then drive to Mysore - You will be charmed by the faded grandeur of Mysore, the former capital of the much loved Wodeyars dynasty who reigned from the 16th century. We will visit the Royal palaces, sacred temples and majestic buildings but leave enough time to stroll through some of the city’s many parks, gardens and wide leafy boulevards. Evening enjoy an exclusively designed menu by Chef Vinod that features traditional Karnataka cuisine, dinner will be a love of labor, full of nostalgic memories-a very special treat indeed! Overnight in Mysore 
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DAY 5
Day5 : FEB 04 MYSORE (B/D)
Morning we visit Devaraj Market – A most colourful local market, Chef Vinod is on hand to explain the spices, fruits and vegetables, the home made sauces and pastes, pickles and the many varieties grains, rice and lentils sold here. Pick up some to bring home and impress your guests at your next Indian dinner party! Chef Vinod will give you special tips and recipes too! Next visit the Mysore Palace - once home to the royal family. Admire this treasure trove of works of art from all over the world. If you are in Mysore on a Sunday or national holiday don't miss the spectacle of the palace illuminated by thousands of light bulbs. Jaganmohan Palace houses a collection of 19th century paintings by skilled Indian artists who used natural vegetable and mineral dyes. Enjoy the traditional Mysore 'gold leaf' paintings which are on display here. Evening Head up Chamundi Hill for panoramic views of the city spread out below before exploring the exquisite hilltop temple dedicated to the goddess, Chamundi and dominated by a 40m-high gopuram (tower). Make a short stop at the huge statue dedicated to Nandi, the bull of Lord Shiva, on the way down. This evening enjoy Mughlai food at Olive garden (windflower). Mughlai food is known for its richness. It is famous for the exotic use of spices, dried fruit and nuts. The Mughals did everything in style and splendor and Chef Vinod will explain the layering of the spices that gives each preparation an exotic taste and flavor. Taste Saffron, almonds, raisins, apricots and pistachios in the dishes prepared specially for you tonight. Overnight In Mysore 
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DAY 6
Day6 : FEB 05 MYSORE – CALICUT (210km/5h) (B/D)
Drive to Calicut and visit Beypore, a prominent port and fishing harbour of ancient Kerala. Visit the fish markets with Chef Vinod who will point out the many varieties of seafood caught fresh daily off these shores and the special ways the locals prepare it for their families. Later venture into town and visit the Sweet Meat Street with many colourful shops. Visit the Boat yards in Beypore, which have been building vessels since early centuries for legendary seamen. The astounding feature is the way in which the boats are built wherein the skilled craftsmen build boats based on just experience-without any drawings or charts. You can also visit a century old tile factory founded by the Germans and later acquired by the British. The century old machinery and systems that are still in use to produce tiles and bricks make for a very interesting visit. Check in to you resort. Tonight enjoy a special dinner featuring Moppilla Cuisine -The cuisine of Kerala Muslims, well known for its delicate blend of spiciness and subtle mix of ingredients that add a touch of the exotic! The Mappilas of Malabar love eating and cooking has developed into an art-form that is perfected by every girl by the time she gets married. Ask any Mappila man, and he will swear by his mom's 'Thalassery biriyani'. Mappila cuisine is one of the most exotic, and yet, one of the least known, of India's major cuisines.
Like any regional cuisines, Mappilas have also developed a cuisine that makes the best use of locally available ingredients. As such, most dishes are made from various forms and combinations of rice, banana, coconut and egg, besides of course, meat. In addition, the Muslim tradition of using lots of dry fruits can be seen even here. Over night in Calicut 
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DAY 7
Day7 : FEB 06 CALICUT- COCHIN (B/ D)
Today we drive to Cochin -Kochi- with its wealth of historical associations and its beautiful setting on a cluster of islands and narrow peninsulas, the fascinating city of Cochin perfectly reflects the eclecticism of Kerala. Cochin now renamed Kochi, boasts of one of the finest natural harbors on the Arabian Sea coast and has been a port of call for foreign traders from very early times. Its cosmopolitan character is reflected in the many buildings and structures, which bear testimony to the different influences that the city has acquired from the world over. Cochin is a fascinating synthesis of old and new. This evening we go to the theatre for a Kathakali dance show - the epic Ramayana comes to life at a Kathakali performance, traditional Keralan dance, where the characters use larger than life gestures, wear outrageous costumes and dramatic make up. Enjoy your Dinner at The Malabar Junction – A superb, open-sided restaurant in the garden. It is known throughout India for its exceptional food (probably the best pasta in India!). Overnight in Cochin 

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DAY 8
Day8 : FEB 07 COCHIN (B/L)
This morning take a Cooking Class at house of Nimmi Paul. Nimmy and Paul have been involved in 'At Home' hospitality for more than twelve years. 
Nimmy, a professional cookery instructor for more than twenty years offers food and hospitality to foreign guests. Nimmy and her husband Paul belong to traditional Syrian Christian community in Kerala. In keeping with the tradition of their families they enjoy having guests and serving good food. 
Nimmy conducts cookery classes. She teaches guests the nuances of traditional Kerala recipes. She is also a food consultant to writers, chefs and magazines. Articles by her and about her have appeared in magazines and newspapers

We will also arrange for Market trip –like visit vegetable market and spice market. Guests are also provided the opportunity to enjoy a meal with an Indian family whereby they can enjoy delicious food in homely ambience and get an opportunity to interact with members of the host family on a personal level and experience the nuances of a joint family system. The unique experience brings tourists in close touch with the traditions; values and cultural ethos of this enchanting land. Afternoon visit the Jewish Synagogue built in 1568. Scrolls of the Old Testament and a number of copper plates inscribed in Hebrew script are preserved here. The building was destroyed by the Portuguese in 1662 and rebuilt by the Dutch two years later. Continue on to visit St. Francis Church, the oldest church constructed by the Europeans in India. Built by the Portuguese in 1510; it housed the remains of Vasco de Gama for 14 years before it was transferred to Lisbon. His tombstone can be seen inside the church. Also visit the Mattancherry Palace, built by the Portuguese in 1555. The Palace was presented to the Raja of Cochin as a gesture of goodwill. This was also known as the Dutch Palace, resulting from substantial renovation by the Dutch after 1663. The central hall was the Coronation Hall of the Rajas. 
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DAY 9
Day9 : FEB 08 COCHIN – ALLEPPEY – KUMARAKOM (85km/2h) (B/L)
This Morning we drive to Alleppey - Board a boat for a lazy few hours drifting along shimmering waterways passing coconut groves, a green patchwork of rice paddies and isolated villages where daily life is dominated by the rhythm of the waters. Pass boats laden down with cargo and fishermen throwing their nets from small rowing boats and watch small ferry boats busily crisscrossing the rivers Enjoy your Traditional Lunch served on Boat. Evening Disembark from House boat and further drive to Kumarakom - the enchanting backwater destination slumbers on the bank of the famous Vembanad Lake, which is a part of Kuttanad ('granary' of Kerala). The Vembanad Lake with its majestic canals, streams and distributaries along its banks weave an intricate and enchantingly beautiful web. Kumarakom is an unbelievable beautiful paradise!! The amazing shades of green of the vegetation that include mangroves, coconut palms, and paddy fields cover the verdant countryside. Arrive in Kumarakom and check in to hotel. Evening meal will be an informal feast with dishes chosen by Chef Vinod and specially prepared by the hotel chefs, perhaps Chef Vinod will prepare for you while you watch one of his signature dishes! where rooms will be pre-booked. Overnight in Kumarakom.
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DAY 10
Day10 : FEB 09 KUMARAKOM (B)
Yoga enthusiasts will want to rise early for a morning session with a Yoga master in a serene setting at the hotel. Rest of the day will be at leisure for spa/ayurveda and independent activities. There are no planned activities today, just relax and enjoy your surroundings. Overnight in Kumarakom

EXCLUSIVE GALA MOCK INDIAN WEDDING WITH KERALA FEAST: Traditional Ceremony: Maintaining the chastity of the sacramental institute of marriage the traditional ceremony mainly involves three events. Beginning the traditional ceremony the Jaimala (exchange of garlands) takes place and therefore takes each other as husband and wife. The bridegroom thereafter takes the seven steps together known as Pheras taking oaths of loyalty and love to each other. Finally the Kanyadaan (giving away the bride) takes place when the bride's father or an elder brother gives away the bride to the groom with all the trust. The Indian wedding is all about colors, joy, rituals and fun. 
The evening will also include: 
1. Live performance of classical music of Kerala 
2. Lavish buffet spread with live cooking
3. Stewards dressed in typical village style
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DAY 11
Day11 : FEB 10 KUMARAKOM – KOVALAM (B)
Drive to Kovalam beach covering a distance of 195 kms in approx 6 hours. Kovalam is a renowned beach destination. With three adjacent crescent beaches, it has been a favorite of tourists, especially Europeans, since the 1930s. A massive rocky promontory on the beach has created a beautiful bay of calm waters ideal for sea bathing. The leisure options at this beach are plenty and diverse. Sunbathing, swimming, herbal body toning massages, special cultural programmes and catamaran cruising are some of them. Life on the beach begins late in the day and carries on well into the night. Tonight enjoy a beachside BBQ organized by Chef Vinod and meet some of the local chefs, fellow travelers and lovers of Indian cuisine! Overnight in Kovalam 
DAY 12
Day12 : FEB 11 KOVALAM (B/D) 
Day will be at leisure. Relax on the warm palm-fringed sands, rejuvenate your senses with some ayurvedic treatments, or wander along the headland. Standing at the old lighthouse you can watch the sky and waters burn as the sun sets over the Arabian Sea. Evening enjoy a sumptuous fare well dinner at your hotel; meet the executive resident chef and other staff who have worked so hard to create an unforgettable feast for you. Overnight in Kovalam 

PLAN YOUR DAY AND CHOOSE FROM THE SUGGESTED OPTIONAL ACTIVITIES:
1. ORIENTATION CITY TOUR OF TRIVANDRUM. ALSO EXPERIENCE A RIDE ON LOCAL BUSES!
Visit Napier Museum & Art Gallery (Closed on Monday & National holidays). Built in the 19th century, this Indo - Saracenic structure boasts a natural air conditioning system and houses a rare collection of archaeological and historic artifacts, bronze idols, ancient ornaments, a temple chariot and ivory carvings. Next visit Sree Chithra Art Gallery (Closed on Monday & Wednesday forenoons) - located near the Napier Museum, this art gallery displays select paintings of Raja Ravi Varma, Svetlova and Nicholas Roerich and exquisite works from the Rajput, Mughal and Tanjore schools of art in India. Further visit the Kanakakunnu Palace - the palace and its sprawling grounds are today the venue for many cultural meets and programmes and the University Observatory - located at the highest point in the city, near the Museum complex 60 meters above sea level, one can have a bird's eye view of the city from here. 
In order to give the guests a more authentic experience, we will arrange a short ride using local buses. An amazing sight to watch! These colorful buses are part of every day life!
2. A SHORT MOVIE EXPERIENCE AT A LOCAL THEATRE
Enjoy the experience of an electrifying local Malayalam movie flick at a local theatre just as the locals do! 

DAY 13
Day13 : FEB 12 DEPART FROM TRIVANDRUM (B)
After breakfast, our representative will escort you to Trivandrum International airport (30 min approx) for your flight to onward destination.
Hotel Check out time 11.00am

 From US $ 4995/- for more information please e mail - Raju@indus.travel or call toll free :
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