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Monthly Archives: October 2016

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    Geometric patterns highlight Ratika Haksar’s new collections.

    From Turkish influences in her Istanbul  collection to the floral motifs in last year’s Diwali collection, Ratika Kaul Haksar’s eponymous jewellery brand keeps pace with global trends. Her latest collections, Symmetrika and Bellegance, feature straight lines, geometric patterns and clean cuts. Their launch at Crowne Plaza earlier this week saw elegant silver and gold-plated jhumkas, neckpieces and bangles.
    While Bellegance, as the name suggests, incorporates bells and umbrella shapes in its intricately-carved occasion jewellery, it is Symmetrika that catches our eye. “I have tried to break away from classic motifs to go for a more futuristic look,” says Haksar. The pieces trace their origin to Haksar’s fascination with architecture. “Each one has literally been constructed. You have windows, grills and buildings inspiring the cuts,” she adds. The warm-toned collection has also celebrated the revival of pearl in fashion jewellery, with a grey pearl neckpiece particularly piquing our interest. These dramatic creations are best worn as statement pieces and can be teamed with ethnic and western ensembles.
    “Each piece usually takes a month to make and we don’t make more than three of a particular design,” adds the city-based designer and stylist. Commenting on the overwhelming response to her designs, she says with a sigh of relief,  “There is a part of society that has broken away from traditional style and that’s growing. Chennai is a place that’s very open to new ideas and designs, and  it helps people like me who want to create something new.” Haksar is looking to set up a blog that covers her work, style mantra and travel in the coming months.
    At Ratika’s Jewellery Shop, Teynampet. From Rs 8,500 onward. Details: 9840266669

    — Lavanya  Lakshminarayanan

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      Shopping diaries Till October 30, Anna Salai
      If you are still shopping for Diwali, check out the exhibition-cum-sale at Co-optex Vanavil Showroom, for all your handloom products. From handmade organic cottons and silks to Kanchipuram silk saris and silk dhotis, find all things festive here. From Rs 550 onwards. Details: 8754580061

      Shine bright
      Till October 31, The Chamiers
      Designer Sangeeta Boochra’s latest jewellery collection from her Jaipur-based brand, Silver Centrre, is here. Find hand painted silver meenakari jewellery that includes chaandbalis, jhumkis, bangles and necklaces in bright colours and gemstones. From Rs 2,500 onwards. At the store on Chamiers Road.
      Details: 24311496

      Festive select
      Till October 30, Collage
      It is that time of the year when you must dress up in your best to celebrate the festival of lights. Grab your favourite at the exclusive exhibition at Collage, where you will find everything you need—from Madsam Tinzin’s dresses to Payal Jain’s white embroidered jackets and kurtas. Rs 10,000 onwards.
      At Collage, Greams Road. Details: 28291443

      Have a blast
      October 29, East Coast Road
      Country Club Jade Resorts wants to make your Diwali special this year. From a special buffet menu to magic, mimicry and a dance show, your family can have a fun-filled day. Also on the cards is a grand firecracker show. At Jade Resort, ECR. Entry at Rs 630
      (for non-members). Details: 37470800

      Go green
      November 5, The Farm
      If you are ready to do your bit for the environment, then the interactive workshop, Become a Zero Waste House, will tell you how. To be conducted by The Farm’s sustainability consultant, Maya Ganesh—through demonstrations and audio-visual clips—it will cover topics like waste segregation and management, how to reduce, reuse and recycle inorganic waste and how to make sustainable lifestyle changes. At Rs 1,500.At The Farm, OMR.
      Details: 9176050562

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      From bloody cocktails to spooky dances, a roundup of all things Halloween in the coming week.

      It’s that time of the year—when you bare your fake fangs and cackle over a cauldron. For some added horror, splash on some faux blood or go nerdy with cosplay. While the darkness of Halloween seems to be in jeopardy, thanks to the festival of lights, spook lovers still have quite a few reasons to rejoice. From haunted malls and vampire salsas, to zombie punch, blood pudding and poetry slams, we bring you our pick of hair-raising experiences to try in the city.

      Twinkles: Being called a pumpkin is a compliment this season, says Deoli Kohli. “Witch and pumpkin outfits are our bestsellers, besides our usual scare accessories,” says the owner of the costume and accessories store on RK Salai, pointing out that demand is higher this year, despite Diwali falling on the same weekend. From Rs 20. Details: 9841092673

      Vishwaroop: This Mogappair store’s clientele goes from two-month-old tots to pre-teens. According to owner, Jyothi Venkat, though witch and vampire costumes are trending, non-spooky outfits (think doctors and tigers) are also quite popular this year. Rs 250 onwards (rental). Details: 33891332

      _o2a3694Online: From mangled nails to sliced organs, the internet has it all. Log on to costumeconnexions.com and partymanao.com for some interesting Halloween costume and decor options. And why should kids have all the fun? We like the  cool cosplay options at buycostumes.com for adults. Moreover, they also have discounts up to 90 per cent.
      Halloween and plush surroundings come together with the Leela Palace’s special Sunday brunch. Expect themed sushi counters, cupcakes, pumpkin carving and much more. Rs 1,225++ onwards.
      Details: 33661234

      bloodbankIf you’re low on energy, head to Hoppipola for the Blood Bank—with Bacardi, cranberry and pomegranate juice—the perfect refresher for this weekend. Also try the Grim’s Pumpkin Cocktail loaded with Bacardi, Old Monk, Malibu, Cranberry and Pineapple juice. Rs 250 onwards.
      Details: 33011638

      After some gorgeous Onam special fondant cakes, home baker Lavanya Ravindran from The Cupcake House is back with her Halloween-themed specials. Try her spiced pumpkin cupcakes besides her usual populars. Rs 1000 for a box of six.
      Details: 9841276452

      Death note

      party

      Crowne Plaza promises a Halloween weekend to remember, with their spook party at Gatsby2000. Get your outfits on point with  their nail and makeup fixes available at the venue. Also expect club music, courtesy DJ Rudy and DJ Prashanth. Exciting goodies await the best-dressed person of the night.
      On November 4-5. Details:  24994101

      Put on your salsa shoes. The people at Salsa Madras and Drizzle Bar and Restaurant have a scary night in store for you today. Expect Halloween-themed treats and drinks, in addition to some high energy African and Latin music. Free entry. Details: 8122072572

      We dare you to enter the Forest of Fright, at Sera – The Tapas Bar & Restaurant. True to spirit, expect an enchanted forest theme, costume contests and more, with DJ Vijay Chawla setting the mood. Guests are expected to come in costumes. Food and drinks are a la carte.
      Details: 28111462.

      With their Ouija boards, animated props and special effects, Haunted, the restaurant, is the place to be. Stick around for tarot card reading, black magic, face sketching and themed dishes next week. Also indulge in some poetry, comedy and art with the Open Sky slam at the venue on November 6. Entry at Rs 150.
      Details: in.explara.com

      With a fun Trick or Treat trip to seven toy stores, including Hamleys, Gini and Jony and the Lego Store, Phoenix MarketCity’s Halloween party is the place to be. Also expect Jack-o-lanterns, creepy bats, games like Hitting the Witch, and plenty of ‘creepy’ treats to snack on. Don’t forget to wear a fun costume. Rs 600 for children between four and 14.
      Details: 8939933433

      Head to Jaishri’s Premium Rejuvenation for all your Halloween makeover needs.  “We have a variety of makeup options for kids and adults. Go beyond fake teeth and scars to animals and popular comic characters,” says owner Jaishri Rao. The biggest draw, however, is their glow-in-the-dark hair colours. Choose between pink, green and purple to up your party game. Rs 500 onwards. Details: 43535636

      Text: Lavanya Lakshminarayanan


      Human skull
      glow-in-the-dark-hair

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        Aarika offers unusual handmade accessories using kalamkari and metal.

        We discovered Sarika Rajeev Kapoor’s colourful handmade accessory brand, Aarika, at the By Hand, From The Heart exhibition two weeks ago. It is difficult to miss the quirky jhumkas, neckpieces, footwear and belts made with kalamkari fabric. “I have always been interested in designing. As a child I used to love making small gifts for my friends. But I never thought that I would take it up as a profession one day,” says the 38-year-old, who worked in the corporate sector for six years before starting Aarika in 2009.
        The city-based designer, who studied jewellery designing from Sin Gem Institute of Design, began  by making jute accessories with temple jewellery designs. But when a friend asked her to create a block-printed fabric neckpiece, Kapoor’s fascination for experimental craft came to the fore. Combining her love for temple jewellery with kalamkari was not easy, she says. “It is fabric on metal. It’s a very labour intensive work. But the process of sourcing the right material, colour coordinating it with the metal and making one single piece of wearable art, is very creatively satisfying,” shares Kapoor, who adds that her greatest inspiration is her sister, city-based fashion designer Neesha Amrish (of Aeshaane fame). Using naturally-dyed fabric besides kalamkari (from Andhra Pradesh), one can also expect prints like dabu, batik (from Kanpur) and ajrakh (from Gujarat). Kapoor tells us that her next collection will feature fall colours. Also in the pipeline is a store in the city.
        Rs 600 onwards.   Details: 1234567899

        Making time
        Citizen’s latest launch, Urushi Drop Watch, features a bangle bracelet with the Urushi drop—an element of traditional Japanese lacquerware. Part of their eco-drive collection, this handcrafted timepiece comes with a metal strap and a single diamond encrusted on the side of the dial. `49,900 (approximately) onwards.
        Details: citizenwatches.co.in

        Dress up
        Gentlemen looking for formal ethnic wear  should try the latest ceremonial collection by  SS Homme. From bandis and bandhgalas to  kurtas in silk, velvet and cotton, this range— with intricate embroidery—promises to add  that festive note to your evenings. Also on  offer are lapel pins and cuff links.
        Rs 8,500 onwards. Details: sshomme.in

        — Saloni Sinha

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          With art on the  walls and a South Indian menu, Craft Cafe opens on Mount Road.

          AS I enter Craft Cafe on Mount Road, I can’t help but notice the exquisite bronze and wooden sculptures adorning the passageway. I soon learn that the art and craft is from the adjoining Poompuhar showroom, while the place belongs to entrepreneur Mital Surendira who has converted a run-down 1,500 sq ft space into a quaint 45-seater art café. The walls are lined with bamboo, as are the roofs, in addition to being covered with handmade mats that are used at Surendira’s packing and gifting solutions enterprise, Sanskrriti. The noise of the city’s busiest road is drowned by a soothing Ilayaraja melody in the background. “I wanted to create a space where people can enjoy a laid-back nutritious meal,” says the mother of two, as she tells me about the cafe’s health guidelines. Less oil, fresh locally-sourced vegetables and palm sugar are the preferences in their South Indian menu. After trying a murungakkai soup,  Surendira orders me her favourite, the Maharaja thali. I find myself looking down at a millet dosa, chapathi, kurma, a serving each of bisibela baath, curd rice and vegetable pulao, in addition to plain rice, sambhar, poriyal, appalam and a sweet. The bisibela baath is my favourite, of course helped by more than a dash of ghee. Then I try a masala vada that is tasty and surprisingly low on grease. The apple and pineapple bajji are also interesting options for those who like experimenting. A coffee junkie, I find their cuppa just right for washing down the heavy meal. “Every bite should remind you of your paati’s cooking. I enjoy eating here for the same reason,” adds the 39-year old.  She hopes to expand and set up another branch at Sanskrriti’s main outlet in Egmore soon.
          Rs 1,000 for two. Details: 30853504

          —Lavanya Lakshminarayanan

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            The new vegetarian restaurant in town, Sambhar, offers homely fare with interesting variants .

            Tucked between a Slam fitness studio and a Toni & Guy salon, down Harleys Road, is another Paulsons Beauty & Fashion Private Limited’s initiative, Sambhar,  the latest vegetarian dining option in the city. We head to the brightly-lit, high-ceilinged, 120-seater restaurant and find the week-old place has a vibrant, contemporary feel that chef Srinivasan D, vice president (food and beverage), tells us is deliberate. “We wanted to offer a modern space for our patrons—from the menu to the colourful crockery, the stark white furnishing, visible kitchen and impeccable service.”  Vegetarian ways
            With five different variants of the sambhar on their menu, the name of the brand is well picked, but offers more than just South Indian staples. Their multi-cuisine spread includes a live chaat counter, besides Chinese, North Indian and some Italian options. Srinivasan, who was formerly with the SPI group (think ID restaurant) for a decade, says, “There is always a demand for a vegetarian restaurant, especially with so many converting to vegetarianism for health reasons. We also have many communities that believe in vegetarianism.” The chef adds that most of the South Indian recipes here are from his mother and grandmother’s kitchen.

            Tiffin talk
            We start off with the chaats and are impressed with the in-house bread used for the vada paav. The roasted green chilli and the garlicky hot chutney between the slices tick all the right boxes for us. While the pani puri is quite tame, the dahi channa chaat is tangy and sweet. Then comes the raison d’etre, the sambhars. With crunchy, spongy medu vadas and dense masala vadas to dip and taste, we find that each variant has a unique flavour.  Chef Srinivasan shares how each is paired with a certain dish. The archuvitta sambhar is fragrant and flavourful with freshly ground spices, and makes for a perfect accompaniment for dosas and other tiffin items. Whereas kadambha, with mixed vegetables, is milder and perfect with rice meals, the onion sambhar will go well with pongal.Coffee rites
            Besides the usual suspects (coconut, tomato and onion), the chef surprises us with the chutney of the day, an experimental cucumber. “Our peanut chutney is a big hit, too,” he says. We finish with a saffron-infused kesari, even as Srinivasan informs that “all our ingredients are natural and freshly prepared. We use no synthetic or frozen add-ons. In fact, even our dosa/idli batter is allowed to ferment naturally.” Of course, we agree to a filter coffee before leaving, and it turns out to be delightfully strong, served in a generous steel tumbler and dabarah. With restaurants like Jonah’s Bistro and its ilk  under the Paulsons umbrella, we are not surprised that soon Sambhar will also be taken across the country and abroad.
            At Kilpauk. South Indian meals at Rs 170. Details: 26453177

            —Sabrina Rajan

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              Age-old recipes feature  on the new menu at  The Residency Towers.

              In yet another instance of hotels going back to our culinary roots, Southern Aromas at The Residency Towers has revamped their menu. “Seventy five per cent of the dishes in this new menu are from Tamil Nadu,” states Deena Dhayalan, executive sous chef, who specialises in South Indian cuisine. “We have tried to replicate recipes that were found in the kitchens of zamindars of the 50s and 60s, like Perurathama’s erachi curry, a tender lamb cooked with poppy seeds and handground spices. Not many know about this and we aim to bring back similar dishes,” he adds.
              Why a revamp now? “It’s been two years since we updated the menu, and we felt it was high time. It took close to four months to finalise the 98 dishes. Apart from staples like dosas and idlis, there are no common dishes between the old and new menus,” says the 30-year-old, who also hosts, Ajaraipetti, a popular cookery show on Zee Tamil. As for the dishes to try, he suggests the healthy murungai kambu charu (millet extract with drumstick pulp), the neikarapatti vazhakkai vadai (lentil with raw banana) and idicha malli milagu vanjeram varuval (seer fish with pepper).
              Meal for two from Rs 1,500 onwards. Details: 28156363

              —Karan Pillai

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                The country’s first Ethiopian restaurant opens with meaty stews, dark brews and a dosa-like crepe.

                It is a ‘first-of-its-kind’, we’re told. There is no other restaurant in the country with an exclusively Ethiopian menu card. And yet it’s not swish, but rather cosy. As we walk in (my wife and I) past the well-received and now appreciably busy dining halls of Meena Tai and Batlivala & Khanabhoy, we note that brothers Vikram Mohan and Uday Balaji have kept up their reputation of unique dining experiences.
                Well-curated, with artefacts of genuine Abyssinian heritage—rough-hewn, hand-crafted furniture, Coptic-style Ethiopian memorabilia, and unusually-shaped indigenous string-instruments, like the masenqo and the krar—the space is welcoming. At the entrance, a collection of paintings depict traditional Ethiopian women in their unique garb—a recent gift from the Ethiopian ambassador, his Excellency Afsaw Dingamo Kame, Uday tells me. They make a wonderful addition to the wall-art that defines the décor.

                Spice stories
                But what distinguishes this address from others is the food. At  the Abyssinian, the assortment of wot, alicha and shiro (varieties of stews) and tibs (stir-fry) do fair justice to a rich and diverse cuisine. Central to the meal is the iconic injera, a large crepe-like flatbread. Made from fermented sourdough-like batter, it is vaguely similar to our own dosa in texture, and serves as the base for various curried accompaniments. Of these, the wot is first among many, served here in yebeg, beray and doro (lamb, beef and chicken) options for meat lovers, or misir, yeduba and dinich (red lentil, pumpkin and potato) for vegetarians. It is a thick onion-based stew with a strong berbere (a spice mix unique to Ethiopian food) seasoning, the bold flavour working nicely with the sourness of the injera. The alicha is milder, the turmeric and cumin distinguishing it from the wot, while the shiro has a chickpea base, giving it a more pasty consistency. We like the tibs—meat lightly tossed with spices and niter kibbeh (spiced, clarified butter) and a few vegetables—and the fit-fit, traditionally a breakfast dish, made by tossing shredded injera with sautéed onions and tomatoes, not too dissimilar to our kothu parotta.

                Brew time
                Coffee certainly is Ethiopia’s most famous export, but as we find out, it is had very differently. A strong aromatic brew (black) is poured over a tablespoon or so of niter kibbeh, stirred with a pinch each of salt and sugar, and served with a side of popcorn. ‘I could get used to this’, I’m thinking as I find myself pouring a second cup, though maybe the popcorn is a bit too much.
                Meal for two at `1,600.
                Details: 8220555449

                — Niren Saldanha

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                  With a new 60-dish menu and a gargantuan pizza, Cappuccino is  going millennial.

                  It may seem like not much has changed at Cappuccino, the all-day diner at Crowne Plaza. The comfy couches,  the ambient music or even the diners supping on soup on a weekday night. Maybe that’s why the team is changing things around, with a brand new menu and a keen eye on a younger clientele. The One-Meter Pizza (Rs 1,995) is one such addition. Perfect for a group of five, the rectangular pie comes with a choice of 22 toppings (including pepperoni, mushrooms, peppers and more). But before we bite into it, we kick things off with a Superfood Salad, chock-full of lettuce, apples, berries and flax seeds—clearly added with the millennial in mind. A  mushroom soup and some rice paper rolls later (the Alaskan crab variant will be added soon), chef Vinod Kumar, the brains behind the update, introduces us to what he calls ‘21 dishes to try once in a lifetime’. “These are classics that are loved in their countries of origin and have since travelled across borders,” says the 32-year-old chef. He suggests we begin with Cicchetti, Venetian tapas-style snacks, which, at the restaurant, looks to the sea for inspiration. As I polish off the plate of crumb-fried squid and prawns, he serves us Britain’s popular Shepherd’s Pie and the American favourite, Southern Fried Chicken. While the former nails the savoury flavours (its piped mashed potato crust making it almost too pretty to eat) the latter is juicy and crisp.  For dessert, it’s French Creme Brûlée, Italian Tiramisu and English Apple Crumble, which we clean up quickly. Meanwhile, our cheesy companion, the gigantic pizza, still sports half its slices, but we have to admit defeat. Our next visit will see a bigger group, if only to do it justice.
                  Meal for two at Rs 2,000 approx. Details: 24994101

                  —Surya Praphulla Kumar

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                    Poonam Chordia introduces, Enchanté, her brand of handmade chocolate bars and delicate confectionery.

                    Nine years ago, a retail business consultant fell in love with chocolate—the fine, dark, artisanal variety. It marked the beginning of his hunt for the world’s best handcrafted bars and culminated in L Nitin Chordia becoming India’s first certified chocolate taster. Today, his brand, Cocoatrait, sources and distributes some of the best bean-to-bar chocolates around.
                    Then, over a year ago, this love affair with all things dark inspired his wife, Poonam, to turn her kitchen into a chocolate laboratory, experimenting with flavours and textures. “I’ve always been a fan of milk chocolate, but Nitin would only bring me dark. Then one week, he asked me to eat only that,” reminisces the 36-year-old, laughingly recalling how, on the eighth day, she could no longer eat the sweeter version. “I began understanding percentages and notes (like citrus, coffee, fruity, etc). I started out by helping Nitin run the Chocolate Tasting Club, but soon felt I had to make my own,” she adds.

                    Of all things dark
                    So when Nitin travelled to the Netherlands earlier this year, to present Indian chocolates at the Amsterdam Chocoa Trade Show, Poonam accompanied him and learnt chocolate making. “I felt, rather than a school, individual chocolatiers would help me learn different techniques and flavours, as each would have their own speciality,” says the homemaker, who then learnt her bean-to-bar at the Barry Callebaut Chocolate Academy in Antwerp, Belgium. Once back, her reputation as a good cook was put to the test. Days spent mixing, tasting and correcting have now resulted in her own range of Enchanté bars, bon bons and truffles, and some unique flavour profiles.
                    As I delicately slice a bon bon to see its hibiscus and black pepper centre, Poonam urges me to bite into it and let the flavours burst on my tongue. She then proudly serves me the masala chai truffle that had won her fans earlier in the day, at a TEDx conference. “People told me they’d never thought chai would taste so good with chocolate. I make it with my mother-in-law’s masala and had to do at least 25 different combinations before I got it just right,” smiles the mother of two, who recently created a range of artisanal chocolates for Hamsa, the fine-dining restaurant in Adyar. Her unusual flavours include passion fruit with chilli, rosemary with lemon and honey and even a thandai. While her bon bons and truffles are made-to-order, she retails her nine varieties of couverture bars at outlets like Gormei Market. “Next, I want to start making my own bean-to-bar chocolates. Maybe once the festive season ends and I have more time,” concludes Poonam, who will be going to London soon to do her first level of the chocolate tasting course.

                    Back to school
                    For novices to the dark side, Cocoatrait will soon be conducting chocolate-making classes. “We will teach truffles, bonbons and bean-to-bar making,” says Poonam, adding that each session will be preceded by a tasting with some chocolate history. “We will sign up groups of five, so each person will get individual attention.” Set to start in January. Classes from Rs 3,500
                    onwards. Details: 9600064846

                    — Surya Praphulla Kumar

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