Sharmi on the Trot

Travelling, Exploring, Eating…

Archive for the tag “Delhi weekends”

Review: Cafe Yell

My first impression of Cafe Yell at Defence Colony Market was adorable. As you walk inside the cafe, the theme reminds you of clothes and tailors. After all, the cafe is a venture of the clothing brand Yell.

With oversized buttons, sewing machine, measuring tapes and coloured spools as decorations, Cafe Yell gives off a cozy and comforting feeling from the moment you step inside. It’s been about two months since the opening, but Cafe Yell has already made a name in the locality.

The smile is warm and inviting as you are seated. The menu cards are crisp and to the point, each dish described without much fuss, just how it should be. We order for iced tea, lemon soda and Yell watermelon mojito. They were perfect thirst quenchers in the heat which has engulfed Delhi and will continue to do so for some months.

IMG_7590

The food at Cafe Yell is what people are talking about. Let me tell you now how impressed I was. Right from starters to the mains, each dish was well balanced and left our tastebuds wishing for more (of course we’d need gigantic stomachs for that!)

First up, the Mozzarella Jalapeno Bombs had the perfect amount of gooey cheese and with their special dip, the taste just accentuated to a higher level. Don’t we all love Nachos? Well, you must try them at Cafe Yell because it has the perfect amount of topping and melted cheese. Together with salsa and sour cream, they make for a delicious start to your meal. The chicken Quesadilla was tasty and well-seasoned but somehow, didn’t quite hit the mark as much as the other two starters had.

IMG_7589

Mozzarella Jalapeno Bombs were the bomb!

IMG_7598

Chicken Quesadilla!

IMG_7594

Nachos anyone?

For the mains we started with pizza with four different types of toppings – Polo Speziato (chicken), pepperoni (pork), fungi (mushroom) and Spring Fling (assortment of veggies). The thin crust hand tossed pizza was simply outstanding. I’m not fond of veggies on my pizza much, but at Cafe Yell I licked the plate clean (just figuratively!) Then came the lamb burger with fries and slaw. The patty was succulent and well seasoned which is so important while the bun on its own was soft. But the highlight personally was the Risotto with bacon. There are some plates of food which look good but a taste undoes all expectations. At Cafe Yell, the moment the Risotto came out hot, just looking at it made us salivate. And as we took a spoonful to taste, we were left craving for more. The salt from the bacon complimented the creamy rice and took the experience to a different level altogether.

The desserts, however, didn’t live up to our expectations. While both, the salted caramel cheesecake and butterscotch brownie cup were good, we preferred the starters and mains more.

IMG_7596

Yell Watermelon mojito

We found out that Cafe Yell has a breakfast menu. So, the next time we are in the mood for some brekkie, we sure know where to head!

I would definitely recommend heading to Cafe Yell because the food is great, service fantastic and the pocket pinch not too much. So what are you waiting for!

Advertisements

Review: Tea Trails Café in Connaught Place

White tea served with a tea timer and details

Green tea served with a tea timer and tea details

For some, tea is passion. For some, it forms the very core of their being. Unable to function sans the morning cup, unable to think straight without that specific cup of chai with the mixture of cardamom, clove and ginger, tea becomes a way of life.
For Kavita Mathur, the co-founder of Tea Trails, tea is sheer passion. “I took a sabbatical some years ago. During that time I read up about tea. I visited places and realized tea is huge is other countries. We wanted to take the tea experience to another level in India and with our past expertise in franchising, we (with husband Uday) set up Tea Trails in Mumbai in 2013,” smiles Kavita. The name has grown across India with the aim to have many more such outlets across the nation by 2020.

Burmese tea salad paired along with white tea

Burmese tea salad paired along with white tea

Attention to detail
I visited their newly-opened bistro in Connaught Place on a weekday evening. The location is absolutely fabulous in the heart of the city. What impressed me as I stepped inside was the set up. From the pale green and white combination of colours to soothe the eye to dark polished seating, Tea Trails has got it spot on.
As you sit down, the smiling server offers you a welcome drink. With over 80-100 combinations of teas, coolers and chais on the menu, one has a lot to choose from. I loved that each tea is accompanied by a little note which explains the origins, brewing time and how best to drink it. And, their sampling table is perfect because one can decide on what to take back if one wants after tasting the various flavours.

The sampling counter

The sampling counter

Kavita Mathur

Kavita Mathur

Re-invention, re-discovery
The aim of Tea Trails is to re-invent the popular beverage. To get more people to rediscover tea. Tea Trails believe in pairing tea with food, with the use of leaves in many preparations. “It’s almost as if one pairs wine with food, we pair teas with food,” Kavita adds.
As a delicate white tea was served alongside a delicious Burmese Tea Salad with olive and sesame oil dressing, it paired beautifully with each sip. The balance of the leaves and the flavor was perfect.
Making tea is not an easy task. It depends on the quantity of leaves used, the temperature of water, the brewing time, the quality of the leaves and from where it’s procured. Tea Trails have tied up with tea gardens in Darjeeling, Assam and the Nilgiris to give the customers an authentic experience, alongside procuring leaves from different parts of the world.

Kashmiri Kahwa

Kashmiri Kahwa sans sugar

Delicate white tea

Delicate white tea

Another view of green tea from Kashmir

Another view of green tea from Kashmir

Too many varieties
For the first time I tasted Kashmiri Kahwa without oodles of sugar dissolved in it. It was beautiful. And it pair gorgeously with the olive and green tea bruschetta. My favourite was the smoky Lapsang Souchong from the Fujian province of China. The buttered apple tea was interesting as was the Red Zen tisane. The word tisane always takes me back to Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirit who loved his sirops and tisanes!

Olive and green tea bruschetta

Olive and green tea bruschetta

A cup of smoky Lapsang Souchong

A cup of smoky Lapsang Souchong

Eggs Kejirwal, a deelish Mumbai favourite

Eggs Kejirwal, a deelish Mumbai favourite

Masala chai with lemongrass washed down with Bombay vada pav

Masala chai with lemongrass washed down with Bombay vada pav

Red Zen tisane!

Red Zen tisane!

My suggestion would be to go and check out this new café at your earliest. It’s pocket friendly and has something for all palates. Including filter coffee for the non-tea lovers!

Ambiance: 4/5
Food and beverage: 5/5
Service: 5/5
Value for Money: 5/5
Where: Mumbai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Chennai, Pune, Bangalore, Visakhapatnam

Review: Chaayos – Experiments with Tea

The humble masala chai with a lot of twists at Chaayos!

The humble masala chai with a lot of twists at Chaayos!

Bengalis are very particular about tea. Forget wanting to conquer territories, if the morning cup is not hot enough, the quantity of milk and sugar are off by a minuscule or the right blend hasn’t been used in the process, Bengalis are ready to go to war. Well, maybe that’s an exaggeration but being a Bengali myself, if I don’t have my morning cup the way I like it (let’s just keep it in the singular. I won’t scare you with my daily intake!) the day starts off wrong and my colleagues know it’s better to keep away.

Recently invited to review Chaayos, I jumped at the opportunity. How could I not go to a place which is literally, all about tea!

Hauz Khas Village is always busy. Shoppers, eaters, artists, groups of friends, couples… everyone finds something to do. Making my way up to the first floor, what struck me first was the quiet. The music playing in the background is not too loud, perfect to be able to have a conversation while the rustic décor keeps with the theme of tea-lovers coming into a place specially made for them. Add free wifi to the mix and you’ve sold it to chai-holics.

Combinations and Permutations

As established, I’m willing to run a mile for good tea, Chaayos is my kind of place. It brings out the absurd love I have for tea to the surface. Every tea is made fresh from scratch and can be suited to your taste buds. For example, the simple ‘chai’ can have less/more milk, less/more/no sugar, enhancers like ginger, tulsi, cinnamon, cardamom etc can be added and discarded as per taste. 25 varieties of tea can be customized in over 12000 ways. Yes, you read it right! The added attraction of unusual flavours such as Hari Mirch (Chilly), Rose-Cardamom and Aam-Papad make this chain a must-try.

Hari Mirch chai packs a punch.

Hari Mirch chai packs a punch.

Outlets Can Be Found…

Currently, Chaayos has 22 outlets in Delhi NCR and Mumbai. There are plans to open 100 by the end of the year across India. The cities in mind are Hyderabad, Pune and Bangalore. Opening overseas is also in their expansion plans. From high-end stores to to-go outlets, Chaayos is successfully catching the 21-40 age-group customers. Many I met later told me they’ve become regulars! (There is a high possibility that I too will join that club).

Fresh Food and Pocket Pinch

Not only did I enjoy the different types of chai but fresh and tasty food was also on the mark. The Sicilian Chicken sandwich and the Mutton Lazeez Kebab wrap are delish. But what I enjoyed most was the bun maska, a chai essential. They not only serve the normal sorts but also flavoured bun maskas! And the best part about all of this is the affordable pricing. An average cost for 2 would be around Rs 500.

Yum food to munch on. Chicken and mutton

Yum food to munch on. Chicken and mutton

So, what are you waiting for? Go alone with a book or laptop for work, with a group of friends or with that special person. Chaayos is definitely worth your time if you live, breath, think tea!

Bun Maska with Honey Ginger Lemon tea

Bun Maska with Honey Ginger Lemon tea

Rose Cardamom anyone?

Rose Cardamom anyone?

Ambiance: 4/5
Food and beverage: 5/5
Service: 5/5
Value for Money: 5/5
Where: Across Delhi NCR and Mumbai

Picnic Pasta Bake with Mini Chicken Meatballs

The much-loved Delhi winters have come and gone but the weather hasn’t turned so warm that one can’t enjoy a picnic. If you ever visit Delhi, make sure Lodhi Gardens is on your go-to list. Green, gorgeous, tranquil and in the heart of the city, the gardens are a perfect picnic spot. I absolutely adore picnics. It’s a time to be silly, play badminton to your heart’s content (a great exercise for the indulge ahead), eat gorgeous food, doze under the shade of a tree, catch up on your reading, gossip with friends and feel like a child in the adult world. This bake is super easy but takes time. So, make sure you are not in a hurry. It is the perfect picnic food to consume on a lazy weekend in the midst of history and greenery with friends from back home.

The gorgeous greenery at Lodhi Gardens

The gorgeous greenery at Lodhi Gardens

Ingredients
For Meatballs (Makes 12-15 depending on size)
500g Minced chicken
1 small onion (finely chopped)
2 cloves garlic (finely chopped)
1 tbs dried oregano
1 tbs chilly flakes
1 tsp cumin
1 egg
250g breadcrumbs
Salt and pepper to season
2 tbs oil

For Sauce
2 large ripe tomatoes (diced)
1 onion (chopped)
1 carrot (peeled and chopped)
2 cloves garlic (smashed)
1 can tomato puree
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp chilly flakes
1 tsp heaped smoked paprika
3 tbs butter (room temperature)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tbs olive oil

For Pasta
2 handful Penne
1 lt boiling water
1 tsp oil
Salt to season

For Bake
2 cubes of cheese (grated)
1 tsp butter (to grease baking tin)

The view from our picnic spot

The view from our picnic spot

– Boil the water with oil and salt. Cook the penne according to packet instructions.
– Drain penne and keep aside. But save the water.
– Place the minced chicken, chopped onion and garlic, dried oregano, chilly flakes, cumin, egg, breadcrumbs, salt and pepper in a large bowl.
– Mix well and use your hands to form mini meatballs. Keep aside.
– Heat a pan and add the olive oil. Add the garlic and chilly flakes to sautee well.
– Add the chopped carrot and onion. Let them cook through.
– Add the tomatoes and the can of tomato puree.
– Add oregano, paprika, salt and pepper. Clamp on a lid and let the sauce cook.
– As the sauce cooks, heat another pan with oil.
– Once hot, add the meatballs in small batches and brown.
– Add the meatballs to the sauce and let them cook through. Be patient as this will take some time. You will notice the sauce reduce considerably in quantity. Take off the heat
– Grease a baking tin with butter. Pre-heat the oven to 250 C
– Take out the meatballs and place them in the tin.
– In the sauce, add 1 tbs butter and a ladel of the starch water. Mix well.
– Repeat this twice more untill you see a sheen on the sauce. It will become a thin sauce.
– Add more dried herbs (optional)
– Put the meatballs back in the saucepan along with the penne. Coat pasta and meatballs well.
– Place the mixture in the greased baking tin and cover generously with grated cheese. (I use processed for this)
– Put in oven for 20 minutes.
– Take out once the cheese has melted and cool
– Pack in foil and you’re ready for the picnic!

The pasta bake uncovered!

The pasta bake uncovered!

The view from the top - Pasta bake, biryani, chips and two types of cakes!

The view from the top – Pasta bake, biryani, chips and two types of cakes!

After a soul satisfying day, we saw the sun set at Lodhi Gardens

After a soul satisfying day, we saw the sun set at Lodhi Gardens

Post Navigation

%d bloggers like this: