Carving spoons: India’s first spoon carving workshop

Spoon carving workshop in India

I have a fascination with spoons — hand carved wooden spoons, to be precise. Not the smooth, glossy perfection of mass produced or machine made spoons, but the organic beauty of a spoon carved lovingly by hand.

So when the husband finally decided to hold a spoon carving workshop for beginners {the first ever spoon carving workshop in India!}, I was the first one to sign up for it!

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Delhi Lens: Art Show: Deck of Cards

Deck of Cards | Taash Ke Patte brochureOn a recent Saturday, while I was struggling – and failing – to paint a vase of impressionistic flowers, a friend invited me to join her for the preview of an art show at the British Council. Titled Deck of Cards | Taash ke Patte, this is a unique show that juxtaposes the state of Indian art in 2016 with that of the UK from the 1970s.

It all started in 1976, to be precise, when a UK-based gallery sent 54 leading British artists a playing card and asked them to interpret that card using any medium of their choice. The show, when it opened, was a resounding success. Over the years, the entire collection has toured to over 22 countries and resulted in a physical pack of very artful playing cards that are still available today.Continue reading

An evening of soul stirring music with Samvad

Music has no boundaries, no religion, no caste, creed, color. No discrimination. Music just has soul. It has the power to bring together people from around the world, from different backgrounds, from varying musical traditions, and to meld them into a cohesive, soul-stirring whole.

SamvadContinue reading

Delhi Lens: Big Bongg Theory – restaurant review

I’ve never been a fan of commercial Indian food – unless its mughlai, which is a totally different ball game! When I say Indian food – I really mean North Indian food of the butter chicken, paneer pasand variety. Recently, however, I’ve been on a regional Indian food trail in Delhi. With the restaurant business booming, and people willing to experiment with flavors and food, there are a lot of excellent, often stand-alone, restaurants offering regional cuisine. Some of these are old, some are new, but most of them are excellent! This is my humble attempt at chronicling my gastronomical journey across India, without having to pack my bags and head out of Delhi! Bon Appetit!

Located adjacent to Axis Bank, behind a tiny community park in Shahpur Jat, is Big Bongg Theory – a little gem of a Bengali eatery.

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Delhi Lens: Hangouts: Hauz Khas Village

One of my favourite places in Delhi is Hauz Khas Village. It’s a very small little area with narrow, dusty lanes. You’ll find a number of curio stores, art galleries, designer shops, independent and alternate bookstores and music shops, recycled and upcycled products. And there are tons of excellent eateries and cafes.

Graffiti walls at Hauz Khaz Village, Delhi

The old walls are filled with graffiti. The signs are artistic and funky. There’s a bohemian and creative air to the tiny village. And the gem is the beautiful old Hauz Khas ruin and this gorgeous lake.Continue reading

Delhi Lens: Monuments: Nawaab ka Masjid, Chawdi Bazaar, Old Delhi

Tiny matchbox shops line both sides of a congested road. A mêlée of pedestrians, cycle rickshaws, two-wheelers and a few tempos are a cause for constant traffic jams. A lot of the buildings are crumbling and dilapidated. There’s a mess of electrical wires overhead. Everywhere you look there is chaos.

 Chawdi Bazaar, Old Delhi, India

And then suddenly, while looking up at that jumble of old buildings, you spot a delightful color combination – terracotta and blue. You pause, raise your camera to your eyes, zoom in, and see a beautiful carved wall. You click a picture, but keep staring at that building as a sea of humanity passes you by, gazing upwards, awestruck, spellbound.Continue reading

Delhi Lens: Olive Bar & Kitchen – restaurant review

Yes, as usual, I am late to the party that is Olive. But, as they say, better late than never!

When mom decided to come to Delhi, I was all in a tizzy planning fun things to do with her over the weekend, on the days I could manage to take off from work, and in the evenings after office. One place that was at the top of my list was Olive.

So on a Friday afternoon, dressed to the nines, we hit the road and made our way there. And boy, were we in for a treat!

Olive is an Italian restaurant, part open part indoors. We chose to sit outside, under the shade of an ancient banyan tree on a cool winter afternoon. The seating is spread apart, so you have a bit of privacy at your table and room to let your eyes wander. From the huge banyan tree to the open kitchen to catching glimpses of the interior of the restaurant, from where a blue shelf was winking out at us.

Olive Bar and Kitchen, Italian restaurant, Delhi

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Delhi Lens: Andhra Bhavan, CP – restaurant review

I’ve heard rave reviews about Andhra Bhavan from friends and even from the husband, but never had the opportunity to go there myself until recently. And boy, was I in for a treat!

Located in the quiet, tree-lined Ahsoka Road in the Connaught Place area, inside the Andhra Bhavan, is this small little foodie paradise. It scores high on food and low on ambience – be warned, it is a canteen. It is crowded. And noisy. There are plastic tables and chairs. You have to wait for a table. But it is so worth it!

Andhra Bhavan, New DelhiWe reached there around 3:00 pm on a Saturday. Most of the other patrons looked like local Andhraites, an excellent indicator of the quality of the food. And the food is cheap. I mean, seriously cheap. The thali is pure vegetarian, meats are ordered as a side dish. Since both my friend and I are light eaters, we opted for one side dish each – a mutton fry and a chicken fry – along with our thalis. And that set us back by a grand total of INR 460. Which is what a single dish costs at most establishments. Oh, and did I mention it’s an unlimited thali?

Since we arrived for lunch at 3:00, we were able to get a table immediately and the crowd started thinning soon, so overall, I’d say that’s a good time to visit. Just have a slightly heavy breakfast so you don’t faint on your way there and you’re set!

The thali has 3 vegetables, rasam, sambhar, dal (lentils), 2 poppadams, puris, rice and a sweet dish. On that particular Saturday we had pumpkin, which was nicely mashed up and retained its sweetness; a tomato, onion and courgette vegetable, which almost tasted like a chutney – the tanginess of the tomatoes complemented perfectly with the slight sweetness of the onions; and potatoes, which were quite similar in taste to the potato filling in dosas – not a taste I am particularly fond of. The rasam was piping hot and spicy without burning the tongue. The sambhar was very flavourful, not like the tamarind-heavy concoction that most run-of-the-mill South Indian restaurants serve. You could taste the flavours of the dal with the tamarind and other spices and the individual sweetness of the vegetables. And the mutton fry was simply to die for! Soft, melt in your mouth bite-sized pieces of mutton flavoured to perfection with the spices, coconut and curry leaves that Andhra cuisine is famous for. The chicken fry also had its own distinctive look and taste – a perfect melding of the spices and the meat.

Andhra Bhavan ThaliThere are also a number of pickles on the table, but I didn’t try any. What you must have, though, is gunpowder (also kept on the table). It’s made with a number of dals and spices, including split gram, moong dal, chana dal, red chilli powder, black pepper, asafoetida, cumin seeds and salt dry roasted and ground together into a powder. You take a couple of spoons of gunpowder, put 1–2 teaspoons of ghee over it and make it into a paste. Have it with rice. Yummy!! I had it in copious quantities – and unlike what I feared, it wasn’t unbearably fiery. Or maybe my palette has evolved!

Once we started eating, all conversation stopped, so engrossed were we in the flavours and the food. The staff was courteous, and they came around with re-fills as soon as we could ask for them.

All-in-all, if you can ignore the ambience, this place is a must-visit for the food. I know I will be going back for more soon!

Delhi lens: 7 Degree Brauhaus – restaurant review

Welcome to a new series on Modern Gypsy – Delhi lens. As part of this series, I’ll be focusing on the Delhi-NCR region, bringing your posts on the eating out culture in the city, interesting shopping destinations and tourist  spots.

What better way to kick off this series that with a restaurant review! I’m a self-confessed foodie. Though I am a reluctant cook, when I do step into the kitchen, I almost always step out of it with a masterpiece – unless I’ve been baking, then I just stomp out in tears!

But, what can I say? Good food just makes me happy! And I love experimenting. So, when I heard of a German micro-brewery that had opened up in Gurgaon, I just had to go and eat for myself!

7° Brauhaus claims to be an authentic Bavarian microbrewery and kitchen, and their interiors sure reflect it. The ambiance is really nice – they’ve tried to create an Oktoberfest kind of feel in the restaurant, with large Chestnut trees around which tables are strewn around.

7 degree brauhaus

Seeing as we were visiting a brewery, beer had to be ordered. But since neither of us are beer drinkers, we opted for a Shandy (light beer with lemonade). What can I say – the beer was kind of palatable, until we had a few bites of food, after which it was horrible. The bitter after taste I got from the beer initially was replaced by a bitter taste. Period. I don’t know – maybe the lemonade sank to the bottom after a while? But, please, don’t trust my judgement on the beer – I hate the brew! I just ordered it in the spirit of things!

Where you can trust me is on the food. And that, I have to say, was delicious!

We started with the 7º Brauhaus non-vegetarian platter that came with chicken fingers, calamari rings, prawn skewers, lamb balls and minced meat pie. All of which was pretty good. I guess it’s hard to go wrong when you fry things up!I generally am not too fond of calamari – I find it too rubbery and chewy – but these were quite good!

Next, we ordered the Flammenbrot, a light crispy pastry base topped with soft cheese, caramelized onions and forest mushrooms. Now this dish, it was brilliant! The pastry was soft and flaky, the mushrooms and onions were flavorful and the cheese had melted nicely into the topping.

For the main course, we chose the Nurnberg Bratwurst, which was served with pretzel, fries and a green salad. The sausages were soft and juicy and the balsamic reduction drizzled on them gave it that extra bit of oomph. The pretzel was nice and hard and salty, the fries were done to perfection and the house dressing on the salad was quite yummy.

Next up was desert – Home-made Vienna Apple Strudel served with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream in a cute little waffle cup. The Apple Strudel was the perfect end to our wonderful meal – not too sweet with a perfectly balanced cinnamon flavor.

Overall, this is a wonderful place for foodies. I know I’m going to be coming back here soon – I already know what I want to try next!