Sharmi on the Trot

Travelling, Exploring, Eating…

Archive for the tag “Must do things in Delhi”

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

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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

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