Wednesday, 19 September 2018

Special Ingredient | Chef Vicky Ratnani Showcases Multiple Ways of Using Cranberries

Chef Vicky Ratnani believes in showcasing ingredients as superstars of the dishes that he creates. On a recent trip to Delhi he curated a special pop-up to celebrate cranberries. These beautiful, sweet-tart berries were used in a variety of ways – in a brine, as a chutney, fresh as well as frozen, macerated and whole. “You do know that cranberries are a rich superfood,” he informed before we got to sample his latest creations.

According to US Cranberries, they are “America’s original superfood”! They are a versatile, nutrient-dense fruit that can easily be incorporated into sweet as well as savoury dishes. Before I go on to share Chef Vicky’s interesting usage of these berries, I’ll list out some of the health benefits of cranberries.
-        Prevention of Urinary Tract Infections: This is perhaps the most well-known health benefit of cranberries. It is believed that cranberries contain a compound that can help prevent UTIs by stopping bacteria from attaching itself to the lining of the urinary tract. In simple words, by flushing out the UTI causing bacteria. Now we understand {on a lighter note, of course} why Cosmopolitan is one of the most preferred cocktails of women ;)
-        Rich in Antioxidants: Consuming foods rich in antioxidants has been proven to be good for heart health, as well as lowering the risk of some infections and certain types of cancer.
-        Improve Digestive Health: The same compounds that help protect the heart also improve the functioning of the digestive system by protecting the stomach lining and prevention of ulcers.
-        Prevention of Dental Plaque: There is some evidence that cranberry juice can help to prevent dental plaque that builds up on teeth. Having the juice thus helps in prevention of gum disease as well.

As much as I enjoy good food, I love the idea of using food as medicine. When there are such delicious ways of taking care of one’s health, why would one avoid partaking of these superfoods! So without further delay I’ll share with you the delicious fare at Chef Vicky Ratnani’s exclusive cranberry-based pop-up at Delhi’s The Runway Project.

Cranberry Negronis with Appetisers.

We started the evening with cranberry-based Negronis. A tapas-style platter included mini pizzas topped with cranberry chutney and Bocconcini di Pollo. The latter is a fabulous chicken appetizer that is available on the restaurant’s regular menu. The chicken is brined and chargrilled, served with olive-cranberry tapenade, mint and kale emulsion.

A variety of dishes used cranberries in varied ways.

Other interesting ways in which the berries were used:
- In a cranberry, mushroom and green chilli risotto. I enjoyed the tart flavour of the berries in this; it literally livened up the risotto.
- The Imitation, another regular from the restaurant’s menu, turns out to be the star on this evening. The mock duck, spicy barley and chickpea preparation was zinged up with some cranberry coulis.  
- Another vegetarian delight was the cranberry gochujang smeared cottage cheese with black rice and pumpkin.
- Salmon, seared perfectly resulting in a crisp skin, came with a mix of cranberries, fennel and carrot and tricolor quinoa.

Left: Chef Vicky Ratnani in conversation.
Right: Cranexplosion.

Chef explained that cranberries can be used in an array of Indian dishes as well. Some of his favourites are cranberry and korma pulao and methi malai cranberry murgh. The berries can also be used in tangy recipes, in place of tamarind and even kokum, to add a refreshing twist. As we discuss other ways of incorporating the berries into our food, the Cranexplosion arrives. In this cigar shaped dessert, a chocolate cannoli met with cranberry tiramisu. The beautiful burst of flavours turns out to be the perfect end to our cranberry-licious evening.  

Monday, 17 September 2018

Stay | Enjoy Rajasthani Grandeur at this New Luxury Hotel in Jaipur

JW Marriott Jaipur is a new age palace

The JW Marriott Jaipur Resort & Spa is the brand’s second resort property in the country, after the one in Mussoorie. “This spa resort is the jewel in our crown,” says general manager, Chandrashekhar Joshi, referring to JW Marriott’s collection of 10 hotels in India. Despite the existing number of hotel rooms in the city, the Jaipur market is nowhere near saturation, according to Joshi. “Jaipur is seeing 65 per cent occupancy through the year across various categories. With the growing number of direct international and domestic flights, it is becoming even easier to reach,” he shares. Interestingly, this luxury hotel suits various categories rather well - whether it is a weekend getaway, lavish weddings or large events.

The JW Marriott Jaipur took almost three years to build and the attention to detail has resulted in a new age palace with all the charm of being in Rajasthan. Situated 10 km outside of Jaipur city, it is a haven of luxury at the foothills of the Aravallis and has plenty of outdoor spaces to enjoy the beauty of the surrounding hills. As soon as the sun sets, the cool breeze is ideal to soak in the splendour of the property. While there are buggies aplenty to navigate this expansive hotel, a walk is an equally pleasant experience with broad, cobbled walkways and soft ambient music playing in all the public areas. The music is complemented with the refreshing gurgle of water since there are more than 120 water bodies across the hotel. 

Royal Reflections
The meandering driveway is an ode to the erstwhile forts and palaces that were protected from attacks by their elaborate ramparts. A grand welcome awaits at Tulsi Mahal, that houses the front office, with live musicians, tilak ceremony and a refreshing drink. A quick look around gives an idea of the splendour of this resort: furniture and artifacts made with silver, other pieces with mother of pearl inlay, a grand marble water fountain beneath an imposing chandelier, walls adorned with traditional tikri work and pillars done with arayash, an indigenous painting technique that keeps walls cool – every corner showcases exquisite craftsmanship of local artisans.

The Royal Pool Villa

Romantic Retreat
For an utterly romantic experience we suggest that you book yourself in the Royal Pool Villa, indulge in a rejuvenating couple’s therapy at the spa and follow it up with a candle lit dinner, like none other, at Mohan Mahal.
·      While the villas are fitted with all the modern amenities, it is the outdoor space that makes a stay here most memorable. A well-sized plunge pool in a private courtyard is truly reminiscent of a royal lifestyle, complete with a ‘chhatar’, a traditional canopy, on a sunbed for two.
·      The Spa by JW offers a range of therapies. The couple’s therapy room is amorous, and the massages are executed very well too. We personally recommend the 90-minute ‘Create Balance’ therapy that includes a 30-minute scrub followed with a 60-minute massage.
·      Mohan Mahal, designed like the Sheesh Mahal at Amer Fort, is decorated with more than 3 lakh pieces of mirror and is lit entirely by candles. Open only for dinner, this is the place to indulge in a traditional Rajasthani thali.

Mohan Mahal

Family Fun
The resort has eight categories of rooms. The family room is spacious and has two queen sized beds. There are many activities to involve kids, like cycling, and evening tea in the garden with locally inspired craft activities and live music. Another immersive experience is a trip to Hathi Gaon. This area has many farms that rear elephants that take travellers up and down Amer Fort. All the elephants have been rescued from various parts of India and here you can ride them, paint, bathe and feed them. You can also take a trip to Nahargarh Fort to enjoy the view over the city from a hilltop and dine at their restaurant, Once Upon A Time.
Within the hotel, the all-day dining restaurant, Sukh Mahal, offers an array of international and Indian fare. The al fresco seating is particularly beautiful, and complemented with the chirping of birds and a flautist playing lovely tunes. Hawa Mahal, the rooftop restaurant is all set to open soon and will be serving Mediterranean grills as well.

Banquet Spaces

Grand Weddings 
The resort boasts 52,000 sq. ft. of indoor and outdoor venues including the pillar-less Vikramaditya Ballroom (11,000 sq. ft.) and two smaller halls, Nahargarh and Jaigarh (900 sq. ft. each) with their designated pre-function areas. With the palatial architecture, the entrance has seven fire columns, that when lit make for a very impressive backdrop. The hospitality team ensures that you and your guests have the most memorable experience. With 200 spacious luxury rooms, this hotel is ideal for a big, fat Indian wedding.

Jaipur-Delhi Highway, NH11, Kukas 
Jaipur 302028 India
Tel: +91 1426 666 000

A version of this article first appeared on on September 17, 2018.