Daily Archives: Nov 25, 2016
In every city across the world lives abundantly a pride, and hubris, about its own unimpeachable glory, an urban mythology, with its several claims of greatness, of things seeped in history and culture sui generis, of venerated exploits of its past; and an enduring collective achievement so vast and obvious, that the only rightful response to it from across the globe must be one of wanting to eagerly stand up to acknowledge and salute it. And imagine the surprise when it works to the contrary.
You can be perplexed, hurt, angry and upset. Such was me last week, lost in Dhaka as perhaps the city’s sole voice at the amazing city’s literary festival. Besides the delight of being lined up alongside some of the greatest writers, editors, critics, thinkers and journalists, I also met up with the craziest, most unthinkable and blasphemous charge – that maybe Hyderabadi Dum Ki Biryani is the not all that great and is highly overrated. As if this unendurable crime was not enough, it came accompanied with a heresy– when everyone in Dhaka resorted to saying that kachi biryani is the best in the world.
My shock was layered. We had, at the fest, debated and discussed some of the great themes troubling the world – if Brexit had killed Britain as we knew it, if Trump would subvert all pillars of the great American democracy, if in Hillary’s defeat was the silver lining of a renewed thrust to feminism so strong it would soon reassert and sweep the globe, if media was safe in India, if demonetisation had a hope, if terrorism has a final end, and if pigs could fly and so on – yet nothing shook the democratic spirit of respecting disagreement in me.
One can welcome, and even respect, those who find flaws and argue counter to our every belief system; our politics set about religions and nations, about views on race and gender, about food and dress, about environment and man, about energy and climate, about freedom and censorship; tax and subsidy, law and outlaw. But you can be simultaneously shaken and stirred, and fried, and deep fried, and tossed, and thrown about when someone topples your deep cherished truism about an urban myth.
We are too easily sophisticatedly cosmopolitan about our world and, yet, extremely prudishly rural about our metro identity. And damn, the Dhaka kachi biryani does not even come accompanied with salaan and raita. No way, one screams within silently. No way, no way….
TAILPIECE: I am now all for a worldwide competition on biryani between all cities that claim to have perfected it over centuries to match our culinary kohinoor. Let them send their best cook and ingredients and face ours. May the best win. Ours!
(Sriram Karri is author of the bestselling novel, Autobiography of a Mad Nation. He writes for international media such as The New York Times and BBC besides organising debates at Hyd Park)
The famous Kakar sisters are set to make the city dance to their peppy tunes
Think about partying and Bollywood is probably every Hyderabadi’s go-to. And that is exactly where the Kakar sisters rule the roost. The eldest, Akriti, with the younger twins, Sukruti and Prakriti, will be in the city for a concert.
Ahead of the show, Sukruti shares her excitement for her gig in the city. “I was in Hyderabad just two months ago for a corporate show. We have done many such events and college gigs in the city. But this is my first public concert and I am really looking forward to it,” says the singer who collaborated with Badshah for the Kapoor and Sons hit party anthem, Kar Gayi Chull.
Akriti, who is known for her numbers like Khudaya Khair, Saturday Saturday and many more, says that she misses the folksy tunes of Indian music. “Earlier non-film and film music were so distinct in terms of instrumentation and musicality. The film songs were predominantly woven with dholak and tabla. The pop scene in India was more experimental with voices and also compositions. However, slowly the technology started taking over and the now the organic feel of the songs are history,” she says.
Apart from this, she went on to reveal that she would be releasing a bunch of singles in the coming months. She adds that she has a few interesting playback songs lined-up for release early next year. The 21-year-old twins are also looking forward to a packed 2017. “Surkiti and I will be singing in a few films soon but I can’t disclose the names as of now. However, we are currently working on our debut single that we’ve written and composed. We will be featuring in the video as well,” reveals Prakriti.
The Mumbai-based trio will be performing at Ravindra Bharathi on November 27 from 7.30 pm onwards.
As the city gears up for Ustad Rashid Khan’s performance this weekend, we find out more about the maestro
From the state of Nawabs to the state of Nizams, Ustad Rashid Khan has mesmerised everyone effortlessly. For the same, Pandit Bhimsen Joshi once called him the “assurance for the future of Indian vocal music.” He will be in the city for a jugalbandhi with Ustad Shahid Parvez. His hair-raising performances from when he was barely 11-years-old fetched him a Padma Shri and Sangeet Natak Akademi Award. Ask him about what he has in store for Hyderabadis who are equally inclined to Hindustani, Sufi and Carnatic music, the maestro chooses to remain tight-lipped, “it is a suspense.” This 50-year-old legend in a tête-â-tête shares about what accelerated his passion for music.
Tell us about Rampur Sahaswan gharana of which you are an exponent?
The Royal Courts of the princely rulers, Nawabs and Maharajas of the pre-independence era played a vital role in nurturing and promoting music. The durbars enabled great musicians to devote complete attention to their art through munificent grants of salaries, land tenures and other valuable gifts. The historic contribution of the Rampur rulers developed the gharana during the 19th and the early 20th Centuries.
What kind of equation do you share with Ustad Shahid Parvez?
It is indeed a pleasure to know and perform with a maestro like him. We share a wonderful rapport on stage as well as off it. And if you notice, that reflects in our performances also.
Has traditional Indian music lost its charm in the recent years?
It is hard to say, I have always experienced a good footfall in my shows, with quite a share of youngsters there as well. However, yes, any musician should ensure that their stage presence and presentation should be at par with today’s generation.
What should be done to encourage the youth to learn Hindustani and Carnatic music?
The whole process of learning should begin in the school syllabus so that, as they grow up they are attuned to these genres of music and can develop a taste between the two kinds.
Do you think the current generation has somewhere missed out on learning facilities like your early days with Ustad Nissar Hussain Khan?
Yes, of course. These days the current generation does not have the time to practice and improve their handwriting, where will they find the time to do rewaz the way we were taught.
What are you expecting from the audience here in Hyderabad?
The city is well-versed with all genres of music and I have always had a packed auditorium concerts. I am looking forward for an even better experience this time.
The Hindustani duo will be in the city today for a performance at Ravindra Bharathi from 7.30 pm onwards. Tickets: `750 per person.
— Nishad Neelambaran
Dakshin is bringing in coastal spices straight from the sea
Think Mangalore and the picture that flashes is of a steaming hot platter comprising Kori Gassi, Nei Ta Nuppu, Meen Rawa Fry and more. Considering Hyderabad hardly has restaurants that serve the South Canara cuisine, this food festival, being hosted by Dakshin at ITC Kakatiya and curated by Chef Vishal Baliga, is bound to be lapped up by the foodies in the city. The fest will be on till November 27.
The cuisine is largely influenced by the Southern part of the country, which is reflected in the heavy use of coconut and ghee. The region is better known as Tulu region – a conglomeration of different communities including Catholics, Muslims and Saraswats. That’s how at Dakshin we saw the variety in starters like Golli Bajje. It was essentially refined flour and curd whisked together and fried till the dumplings took a golden brown colour. It turned out to be really crispy yet soft. It tasted well with Andhra style ginger and chilli chutney . We liked the Meen Rawa which was boneless fish marinated with red chilli paste and deep fried in a batter made of semolina. The fish didn’t overpower the taste. Kori Gassi, of course, was prepared succulently.
“It’s the abundant use of coconut and coriander that makes the cuisine unique,” explains chef Vishal. However, it is the dessert Gadbad which we recommend. Made from orange jelly, berry compote, figs, bananas and ice-cream, it’s a must-have.
Malaka Spice offers much- needed respite from the hustle-bustle, and delish fare to savour
For Pan Asian cuisine connoisseurs across India, the name Malaka Spice instantly rings a bell. It conjures a set of images associated with distinct flavours that is rustled up with the freshest of ingredients. Understandably, it caused a flurry of excitement amongst the enthusiasts in the city when the brand recently opened their sixth restaurant and fourth franchise in India – first in Hyderabad. Apart from the idyllic ambience and the wide-ranging spread, this Pune-based brand that started in 1997 is also known for the number of prestigious awards it has received. “The dishes are inspired but not imitated from across South East Asia:Malaysia, Singapore Indonesia, Korea, Thailand, Burma and a bit of Japanese,” says Piyush Deshmukh, business and process development manager. He adds
that owner Praful Chandawarkar and his late wife, Chef Cheeru, handcrafted the menu with cues picked up
from tasting sessions while travelling.
This outlet with a seating capacity of around 200 people oversees the mansions of Jubilee Hills. If a dinner date is on your mind, this place with dimly lit indoors, and lantern-adorned outdoors is a good fit. The management encourages artists by displaying a new work every month. “If any piece of art catches your fancy, you can buy them as well,” informs Deshmukh. The property has two outdoor wings, an indoor one, and even a secluded room for parties. The tagline, Escape to Malaka, seems accurate.
The staff, cordial and welcoming is ever eager to explain the nitty gritty of what goes behind the making of every dish. They suggested that we begin with the Malaka Thai Ice Tea. This refreshing concoction with lemon grass, cinnamon and some Milkmaid is what one needs to beat tiredness or heat. The restaurant also boasts of a seasonal menu, apart from the set one. The recipes here are a result of rigorous research with copious trial and error. The sauce platter is extensive as well – sweet chilli, peanut, tomato salsa, sambal and more. The chefs here don’t use canned coconut milk in their Thai curries – it is prepared in-house. We started with two chicken soups – Tom Kha, with a coconut milk base and Tom Yum with a hint of galangal, and lemon. The Tangy Green Papaya Salad with peanuts was well made. Next came the vegetable Murtabak, miniature stuffed puffs with beans and carrots. This Malaysian-inspired dish along with their signature starter Top Hats (delicately fried cups with minced vegetables topped with sprouts) and pumpkin chips were novel and appetizing.
The signature Thai Mutton Chops was soft and juicy, lightly peppered with spices. For the main course, we tried the cashew-laden chicken curry, Kari Kapitan with Roti Jhala (aesthetically pleasing net crêpe) with Sambal Crunchy Vegetable. The chefs here pay keen attention to the aesthetics of the food – the Roti Jhala is a case in point. We finished our meal with two dessert variants – Malaka Magic Choco Lava and the Date and Coconut Roll. We recommend that you try the latter, because of its distinct flavours, and the melt in the mouth ice-cream. Price for 2: RS 1400.
Known for creating magic with weaves, Shravan Kummar enters the domain of decor
With the wedding season upon us, brides-to-be are always on the look out for that one person who can curate their wedding according to the themes that they have in mind. Rising to the occasion is ace designer Shravan Kummar of Shravan’s Studio who made a foray into this domain, taking a giant leap from drapes to decor. He wants to take up the ideas brides have and give it a singular and personal touch, executing and customising the decor to the satisfaction of his clients.
The man, known for his stunning trousseaus that can be passed on from one generation to another, says “there’s a beauty in going back to our roots when choosing a theme for a wedding instead of going cross-cultural”. And that’s precisely the idea he wants to incorporate in his decor as well.
The designer is choosy about his clients as he aims to make the occasion memorable for those he decides to work with. Giving an example of a recent Mehendi function he organised, that of his niece Shloka, he says that the thematic representation comprising a blend of four states – Kolkata, Bombay, Delhi and Punjab – was well-appreciated. The props used were colourful: for instance, trucks were transformed into elements of the decor.
The designer plans to go classic with the design of the wedding cards as well. “I would like to do pop-up designs with motifs inspired by the paintings of Bengal artist Jamini Roy,” says Shravan. Lastly, he highlights, no big event is a huge hit if the return gifts are forgettable. “I want to make the hampers interesting: think nail art for a Mehendi do or a smart jar full of green teas, facewash and so on,” offers the designer.
Price on request, Details: 9032100287
Colourful and vibrant, Casa Pop’s new outlet in Hyderabad offers pieces with a quirky twist
CASA Pop, a Delhi-based luxury home accents and fashion accessories brand, spearheaded by Raseel Gujral and Navin Ansal, is a celebration of colours. So when they opened one of their first franchises outside Delhi, it had to be the City of Nizams. Hyderabadis love colour and that is what the brand offers. Owner of the franchise in the city, Nidhi Agarwal says, “I spotted one of the Casa Pop flagship stores when I was in Delhi last year for a wedding. That’s when I knew I wanted to open one back home.” During that time, the brand had green signalled its franchise plan, hence the one in Hyderabad took shape. Agarwal describes the store as ‘kitschy, pop and vibrant’. It wouldn’t be off the mark to say that the riot of emeralds, blues and tangerine is reminiscent of Delhi’s Lajpat Nagar market.
Even if you have just spruced up your living room, the high-back sofa in pink with cushions inspired from Benares will make you splurge again. The collections are inspired by various themes – from motifs of royal heritage (Company Raj) to pomegranates (Anarkali), the ideas behind them are eclectic. Company Raj has lesser colours compared to the other collections. The imprints depict turbaned men riding elephants in the backdrops of palaces. The incidental furniture, votives, tables, lanterns, and trunks with an antiquated feel sum up the collection. The ‘hurricanes’ from the Anarkali range, more like artfully designed lanterns with a candle in a mix of silver and aquamarine could find favour with those who prefer subtle colours. Each collection has a distinct look and there are choices aplenty. So you can pick up whatever seems like an extension of your personality. For the men, there is a range called Gatsby. The furnishing pieces, for instance, tumblers and accessory boxes in this range comes in cobalt blue and crafted in vegan leather. They can add a dash of glamour to a bland bachelor pad. Not to adhere to pink and blue gender stereotypes, more emeralds and solid colours will be added to this collection. The pieces are designed by creative head, Raseel, who has dabbled in interior decoration for over two decades. All the elements of the collection are customised in the brand’s factory in Delhi, apart from the crockery, which is made in Europe, after based on designs sent by the creative head. Wall art and canvas rolls are also customised as per order and the latter start from around `500 per square foot.
The fashion and travel accessories comprise carryalls, bags, clutches, iPad covers and so on. The pocket squares, available in an extensive range of colours, are affordable and stylish gifts, and can brighten your evening’s party look as well. The tangerine travel bags and laptop covers from the collection called Trellis could be statement accessories.
Casa Pop dresses up according to occasions–preparations are on to change the colour scheme for Christmas, which will be reflected in the new collections that will arrive at the store shortly. Well, one thing is for sure, if there is a chance to celebrate hues, Casa Pop will surely cash in on it.
Stylish socialites turned up in large numbers for the Heal A Child Foundation’s Annual Holiday Gala held recently to raise funds for underprivileged children seeking medical treatment. Ash Chandler, took over the entertainment reins at this fundraiser held at Taj Krishna and effectively got everyone’s attention with his act. Hosts of the do – Sabina Xavier, Rachna Mehta and Karen Campos Bhatia – were spotted greeting the guests.
From an event for a good cause to a much-anticipated art show. Last week Taj Deccan played host to the auction of 20th Century Indian art, courtesy Delhi Art Gallery aka DAG Modern. The enthusiasts at the exhibition engaged with one another as they interpreted the canvasses and discussed the latest developments in the art circles. Also, spotted were Vinita Pittie, Vanaja Banagiri and Sabiha Ali.
Meanwhile, Manisha Kapoor ushered in the festive spirit, albeit a little too early, with a pre-Christmas party at Taj Vivanta. The host and her girl gang followed the dress code – Be the Bling – to the hilt. Copious amounts of rum, whisky, fruits and nuts filled the air with a delicious fragrance. Manisha’s friends who made it a point to join the celebration, included P3Ps such as Shivali Singh, Priya, Shaheen Daredia and Sonal Shah. Lastly, ladies from FICCI-Hyderabad Chapter came together to attend a talk by entrepreneur and motivational speaker, Abha Maryada, at Park Hyatt. The interactive session titled ‘Zero Limitations’ proved to be inspiring for listeners who couldn’t stop raving about the same.
November 25 | Banjara Hills
Goethe Zentrum is introducing the Kunst (Art) Forum to the city. This platform brings together visual artists under one roof, especially films on the artists, curator speak, and their journey. Shruti Harihara’s A Far Afternoon will be screened at the event. The film seeks to memorialise the artistic process involved in the creation of Kishan Khanna’s eponymous art work. Entry Free.
November 26 | Secunderabad
Mosaic is an art of creating images with an assemblage of small pieces of coloured glass, stone, or other materials. Most mosaics are made of small, flat, roughly square pieces. Learn how to create your own masterpiece at the workshop taught by Trishna Patnaik, a self-taught artist at Our Sacred Space from 2 pm onwards.
Entry: `1,100 per person. Details: 9030013344
November 28 | Banjara Hills
If you are trying to lose weight for the New Year, this is the right time to steel your resolve to eat only healthy food. Lamakaan will host an Organic Bazaar this week. The market will feature organic fruits and vegetables, homemade breads, baked goodies, handicrafts and handlooms, handmade jewellery, and much more. The bazaar will run till December 4 from 10.30 am – 1.30 pm. Details: 9642731329
Laugh out loud
November 30 | Jubilee Hills
The Masala Mayhem Comedy Festival is India’s biggest international comedy, with over 30 shows featuring 80 plus international and national comedians. Members from the Hyderabadass Comedy Club will be performing along with the likes of Vasu Primlani, Kannan Gill, S A Aravind and more. Catch them live at Heart Cup Coffee, Jubilee Hills.
Entry: `299 per person.
November 25 | Banjara Hills
Directed by Gauri Shinde, Dear Zindagi hits the silver screen today. The movie has Shah Rukh Khan and Alia Bhatt in the lead roles. An unconventional thinker (Khan) helps a budding cinematographer (Bhatt) gain a new perspective on life. Amit Trivedi has composed music for this film produced by Gauri Khan, Karan Johar and Gauri Shinde. Kausar Munir has penned the lyrics. Details: in.bookmyshow.com
November 27 | Secunderabad
Ever thought you could make a painting with your coffee? Turns out you can at this workshop which tells you how it can be used to create anything -from abstracts, graphics and landscapes to even figurines.
The workshop will be held at Our Sacred Space from 2 pm onwards. Entry: `1,100 per person.
November 29 | Banjara Hills
After successfully accomplishing India’s first ever teleportation act and robbing a bank, magician Hoody is back with a new concept show. Join this amazing show of two magicians hosted by comedian Shyam Tenali. Hoody will be accompanied by a junior magician, Mynu Ddin. Entry: `100 per person. Details: in.bookmyshow.com
December 1 | Kondapur
The 2nd Defence and Aerosupply India expo will take place in the city. The event is set to bring together international and local players in order to forge strong bonds and beneficial business partnerships, whilst focusing on defence, aerospace and strategy issues. The meet will be held at Novotel Hyderabad Convention Center from
9 am onwards.
November 27 | Banjara Hills
After the immense success of the first edition, SteppinOut is bringing back its outdoor movie screenings at Taj Krishna. Enjoy Rang De Basanti seated on bean bags with beer and delicious food. Entry: `250 per person. Details: 23350473
The train ride from Colombo to Matara is compelling with quaint sea-side towns, historical sites and exotic dining options
The roar of waves sounds like thunder as they crash against the black rocks along the historic Sri Lankan coastline. Even as the fresh ocean spray hits us, lifting almost fountain-like off the breakwater – we are awed that this is all that lies between us and a turbulent Indian Ocean. Surprisingly, we are not sitting at a fancy restaurant at the water’s edge sipping on beers, and staring out as heavy monsoon skies menace towards us. Rather, we were chugging along southwards at a sedate pace on the ‘railroad-upon-sea’ as we called it, having left Colombo Fort Station just before 7 am, and on pace to reach Galle at half-past nine that morning. This Coast Line of the Sri Lankan Railways is serviced by a number of trains that run between Colombo on Sri Lanka’s West coast and Galle or Matara in the extreme South of the island. It is now populated almost entirely across its length by those selling sea-side charm and leisure to all comers on this Emerald Isle.
We get sneak peeks of several little sea-side towns along the way where the train makes stops. Bentota, perhaps the most well-known amongst these has a number of luxury resorts along the scenic water’s-edge vistas. A quick stop-over breakfast with Madras-boy Ranjit Shankar, who is now at the helm of Vivanta by Taj – Bentota, makes for a pleasant memory, even as we continue on our journey towards the southern tip of Sri Lanka. Vendors edge past us every now and then calling out their wares, little notebook-leaf cones of delicious snacks such as chilli-crusted cashews and pineapple slices or even better – hot, crispy masala vadas with shrimps embedded within, served with deep-fried red chillies.
Of history & heritage
We arrive at Galle very nearly on schedule and follow the stream of passengers out through the exit and onto the street, where we find ourselves right across from the stunning Galle International Cricket Stadium that lies at the mouth of the Galle Fort’s main gate. A tricky trishaw (as auto-rickshaws are called here) ride around the cricket ground and through the Fort entrance, while balancing our bags on our knees, and we are on Pedlar Street. Here, a quaint wooden floored two-storey heritage house that looks very much the part in this rustic old area within the Fort is to be our home for the next few days (Rs 2,500 onward for double occupancy on airbnb.com). The family of four welcomes us graciously into their home and like the house itself seem genuinely grounded in the surrounds. Their ancestors were traders of Moorish stock like so many others here inside Fort Galle. Thirty-six hectares of Colonial-Era architecture have survived mostly intact here, with the Dutch and British styles featuring most prominently – as churches and provincial administrative buildings imposed their stern facades upon us. There is, of course, the suggestion that the Fort has been re-imagined more recently as a treasure trove for more splashy tourists, where re-worked architecture undermines the Fort’s rich heritage and some trinket shops sell artefacts of dubious vintages. But there are true gems within these walls – and you just have to slip between some of the grander frontages and into the by-lanes and alleyways to find a maze of homes and shop-houses where some families have lived and worked for over a century.
There is an upper scale in grandeur and luxury here too, as in Colombo. The Dutch Hospital and its courtyard reserves the most top-notch establishments for itself. But besides these, among the notable restored colonial buildings, is the elegant Amangalla on 10 Church Street, a building that dates back to 1715. The high-vaulted arches, a verandah overlooking the street and a tiled roof render it magnificent, while the lace and silverware atop period furniture inside give it real class. Joining the hostess of the hotel, Audrey Schallhauser, for traditional afternoon tea is an experience in itself. The Fortaleza on the cross street just before the Dutch Reformed Church too has a wonderful atmosphere and serves a fabulous breakfast, that has us doubling back for more the next morning. (Breakfast for two at Rs 750. Details: fortaleza.lk)
Off the beaten track
Outside the Fort, the bus stand was where the action seemed to be, and the tea shops – with their many little baked goodies – are a source for more local flavours. We walk further to the market along the promenade (which provides a superb view of the East wall of the Fort) and manage to parcel some juicy rambutans for our journey further south to Unawatuna, the closest beach town to Galle. Many little shacks dot the beaches between Unawatuna and Matara, with Mirissa being the most popular stopover for sperm and blue whale-watching boat trips in the season from November to April. Details: srilanka.travel/whale-watching
The next day, we hired a taxi (Rs 3500) for the day, to take us across the south of Sri Lanka past Matara, to Tangalle – a 1.5 hour drive from Galle. The drive is quite sublime as little fishing hamlets blink quickly in and out of sight, while the salty whiff of the day’s catch lingers a little longer even on their nets. Coconut palms sway in synchrony as they seductively hide the seaside town of Tangalle, where diverse flora and fauna await. The General Manager, Filipe de Lencastre is eager to help you discover all this and more at the Geoffrey Bawa-inspired luxury resort, Amanwella. We enjoyed one of the most-authentic Sri Lankan cuisine thalis in his company on the restaurant deck with the infinite view of the pool and ocean. This dining experience nearly lured us into a personalised cook-out with the resort’s master chef in a special kitchen set up by the beach. He also invited us to the village of Palapotta, near Tangalle, where we could try our hand at pottery, an art form that has been handed down generations. Alas, we put it off for our next visit. Details: aman.com/resorts/amanwella
Galle Fort’s hotspots include A Minute by Tuk Tuk, Crepe-o-logy and Pedlar’s Inn Cafe. While Colombo bustles with some of the best international fare, we highly recommend dining at The Bavarian on 11, Galle Face Court, Galle Road, which has for over three decades, served up the most delectable German food. You’d be glad to make an advance reservation, even if it is a Monday. (Meal for two with beverages at Rs 1,500 approximately.) An unassuming food ‘joint’ on 100 Lotus Road, Ruhunu Food Centre offers the most amazing, eat-all-you-can, help-yourself Sri Lankan Thali for all of Rs 80 per person. No
visit is complete without a stopover at the Dutch Burghur Union, VOC Cafe, on 114, Reid Ave Bambalapitiya for a potlam of their mouth-watering lampreis (Rs 250). By far the best and the only one worth eating, this rice and curry meal steamed in a banana leaf washes down well with their homemade ginger beer. Just remember to get there by 12.30pm as they make only a limited quantity every day and it runs out within half-an-hour of preparation.
— Niren Saldanha & Karuna Amarnath
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