Tuesday, 3 April 2018

Kashmiri Kahwa, Kashmiri Tea - Health Benefits and Recipe

Kashmiri Kahwa, a classic drink from the Himalayan valley, is a soul-warming drink that resonates with the power of Indian spices.

Kahwa is an exotic mix of Kashmiri green tea leaves, whole spices, nuts and saffron, which was traditionally prepared in a brass kettle known as samovar. The samovar has a central cavity where hot coal is placed while the surrounding space is reserved for boiling the water and other ingredients for the tea.

Indeed, this is one exciting cuppa that you will lo ave to smell, sip and bite too! You will find that the Kashmiri Kahwa will instantly perk you up with its amazing aroma and flavors.

Kahwa tea is known for its numerous health benefits. Some of them are listed below:

1. Improves Digestion
Kahwa tea helps to cleanse the digestive system and improves metabolism. It is also known to ease digestive problems such as constipation.

2. Burns Fat
In Kashmiri households, it is served after meals since it not only aids in digestion but also helps to wash away fat, thus making it an ideal addition to a weight watcher’s diet. It also helps to prevent the deposition of cholesterol in blood vessels and thus reduces the risk of heart diseases.

3. Builds Immunity
The saffron present in Kahwa tea is an excellent source of vitamin B12, which helps to recharge the body’s defense system.

4. Stress Buster
Being rich in antioxidants, kahwa tea helps to make you feel relaxed and reduces anxiety levels. It also helps to counteract against the negative effects of stress induced toxins in the body.

5. Remedy for Cold
It serves as a perfect home remedy for cold, sore throat and chest congestion. It also helps to get rid of the phlegm that develops during cold.

6. Improves Skin Health
The presence of antioxidants helps to moisturise the skin and reduce the occurrence of acne. The crushed almonds added to the tea also work well to cleanse the skin and bring about a natural glow.

7. Energy Booster
Kahwa tea is not only a great way to kick start the day but also helps to instantly recharge you whenever you feel tired or lethargic. It is the perfect beverage to relieve headaches, cheer you up and to make you feel more active.

How to Make Kahwa Tea

1 cup water
2 cardamoms, slightly crushed
½ inch cinnamon stick
2 cloves
1 tsp Kashmiri green tea leaves
A few strands saffron
1-2 tsp honey

1. Boil 1 cup of water along with cardamom, cloves and cinnamon.
2. Add Kashmiri green tea leaves and switch off the flame. Let it infuse for about 2-3 minutes.
3. In the meantime, blanch and slice 2 almonds and put in a tea cup along with a few strands of saffron.
4. Strain and pour the tea into the cup. Sweeten with honey and enjoy.

Note: In case Kashmiri green tea leaves are not available, you can replace it with any other green tea.

Monday, 5 February 2018

Recipe - Rajma Chawal

Rajma or Red kidney bean is one of the most popular dishes in North India. It is not only delicious but also high in protein content that makes it a very healthy and wholesome vegetarian meal. Rajma curry is my favourite; I love to have it with either rice or roti. You can make this curry mild, spicy, or extra spicy by increasing the chilli level as per your liking. This curry is super easy to make, all you have to cook the rajma with a few basic ingredients and add a few spices. You will get a delicious curry in few minutes.
The most important thing you have to remember to do is cook the rajma well so that it is not undercooked. Normally it takes 5 to 6 whistles in the pressure cooker for rajma to be ready if it has been soaked. You have to soak the rajma for at least 8 hours or preferably overnight before preparing the curry. If you are cooking it in a regular pot, cover the rajma with water and bring it to a boil, simmer for 45 mins to 1 hour or until soft. You can add some salt to the rajma water while boiling so the rajma is not bland once in the curry gravy. Since it takes so long to cook in a normal pot, it is better to invest in a pressure cooker for fast cooking. In a pressure cooker, it takes under 15 mins to cook. Now let’s see what all we need and start cooking.

Serves: 3-4 | Cooking Level: Moderate | Cooking time: 45 mins

Rajma/ Kidney Beans - 2 cups (soaked overnight and boiled)
Oil or Ghee – 2-3 tbsp
Onion - 2 large finely chopped
Tomato - 3 large puréed
Ginger paste – 1 tbsp
Garlic paste – 1 tbsp
Chilli Powder - 2 tsp
Garam Masala – 2 tsp
Cumin powder – 1tsp
Turmeric Powder – ½ tsp
Coriander Powder – 1 tsp
Salt to taste
Coriander leaves a handful finely chopped

1. Soak rajma overnight. Drain and add it to a pressure cooker with some salt and cover with water. Pressure cook for 5-6 whistles or until the rajma is well cooked. Turn off the heat and let the steam escape all by itself.

2. Heat oil/ghee in a pan and add the onions. Fry them until they turn light golden brown.

3. Add the ginger and garlic paste and fry for a few more minutes.

4. Add the pureed tomatoes and mix well.

5. Once the oil starts to separate add all the dry spices and mix well.

6. Add in cooked rajma with water and mix well. Adjust the salt.

7. Simmer for 10 to 15 minutes and check if the rajma is well cooked.

8. Garnish with freshly chopped coriander leaves.

9. Serve along with steamed rice or hot roti’s.

I would love to chat with you in the comments section, please let me know about your experiences when you make the above recipe, Please do Like, Share & Comment. Till then Take Care and Happy Cooking!

Thursday, 16 November 2017

Recipe - Dungher Murgh

Dungher means smoked. This is a typical preparation found in our Rajputana kitchen. We love to smoke the meat, may it be for the kebabs, curries or the biryani. Dungher maas or murgh simply adds another level of flavour to the dish.

2-3 table spoons of vegetable oil
300 gms boneless chicken
1 medium size onion (chopped)
2-3 bay leaves
4-5 dry ball chillies
1 medium size tomato (chopped)
1 table spoon ginger, garlic and dry coconut paste
1 tea spoon poppy seeds powder
1 tea spoon garam and chaat masala
1 tea spoon cumin and coriander powder

2-3 tea spoons of red chilli and 1 tea spoon turmeric powder
1 table spoon tomato ketchup and 1-2 table spoons of cream
Fresh coriander and ginger for garnish
Water, Salt to taste and Coal

1. Heat oil in a heavy bottom large pan, temper it with bay leaves and sauté the onions and chillies.

2. Add tomatoes and cook until the oil separates.

3. Add ginger, garlic and coconut paste. Stir fry for 5 mins on high Temperature.

4. Now add the dry spices and salt and mix all this well for a minute.

5. Add tomato ketchup and mix well.

6. Add chicken and pan roast it with the masala for 5 mins. Pour 1 to 2 cups of warm water and stir well.

7. Add some cream and mix well.

8. Garnish with finely chopped coriander and ginger.

9. Place a piece of burning coal on a foil paper on the curry, add a few drops of ghee to smoke it. Cover it with a lid and cook for another 5 minutes.
Serve hot with Paratha's or Rice. Enjoy!!
Recipe Credits: Naina Rahul Goregaonkar from  https://nainasrecipes.wordpress.com/

Get a detailed video of this recipe by clicking on the link below:

I would love to chat with you in the comments section, please let me know about your experiences when you make the above recipe, Please do Like, Share & Comment. Till then Take Care and Happy Cooking!

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

Recipe - Chunky Salsa Sauce

This Mexican style salsa sauce is a delicious dip that goes well with nacho chips. We use this sauce for many Mexican dishes like Tacos, Quesadillas, Enchiladas and Mexican style pizzas. A simple and scrumptious sauce that can be used in many ways.

2 table spoons of Olive Oil
1 large Onion (finely chopped)
1 table spoon Garlic paste
1 small Green Capsicum (finely chopped)
1 large Tomato (finely chopped)
2 table spoons of tomato ketchup
1 table spoon Lime juice
½-tea spoon Black Pepper powder
½-tea spoon Cumin powder
1 tea spoon Red Chilli Flakes
1 tea spoon mixed herbs
Salt to taste

1. In a deep pan heat the olive oil, add the chopped onions and fry until they turn soft.

2. Add the garlic paste and mix well.

3. Add the chopped capsicum fry for a couple of minutes, add the chopped tomatoes, and cook for a few more minutes.

4. Now add all the dry spices and mix well.

5. Add little water.

6. Cover with a lid and cook for 5 minutes or until the oil separates.

7. Add the tomato ketchup, lime juice, and mix this all well.

8. Now add freshly chopped coriander and enjoy!

Get a detailed video of this recipe by clicking on the link below:

I would love to chat with you in the comments section, please let me know about your experiences when you make the above recipe, Please do Like, Share & Comment. Till then Take Care and Happy Cooking!

Saturday, 23 September 2017

Recipe - Coriander and Peanut Chutney

A simple chutney recipe that I love to make at home under 10 minutes. The ingredients used are readily available and this chutney pairs up very well with most Indian snacks. You can also use this fresh chutney to make delicious sandwiches. I add Peanuts to my chutney rather than adding Cashew nuts to give it richness without adding too many calories.

1 bunch of Fresh Coriander
Handful of Roasted Peanuts
4-5 cloves of Garlic
1 inch of Ginger
2 Green Chilies (optional)
½ Green Capcicum (chopped)
Juice of one lemon
1 table spoon Salt
1 table spoon Chaat Masala
Water for blending

1. Add the above ingredients in food processor or hand blender except the water and blend well.

2. Check the consistency, add the desired amount of water, and blend once more.

3. Refrigerate this chutney and use within two weeks.

Get a detailed video of this recipe by clicking on the link below:

I would love to chat with you in the comments section, please let me know about your experiences when you make this Chutney. Please do Like, Share & Comment. Till then Take Care and Happy #ChutneyDay

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Novotel Imagica Khopoli’s scenic monsoon escapade – a unique combination of unbridled fun with elegant luxury

It was a Friday night and I was looking forward to a fun weekend with fellow bloggers as I was invited to Novotel Imagica Khopoli to experience Novotel Imagica Khopoli’s scenic monsoon escapade – a unique combination of unbridled fun with elegant luxury. Getaways are important for me because sometimes you just need to get away from it all: the blinking cursor on you’re on your computer, the four walls of your sparsely-decorated “apartment,” the same restaurants and the same bars. Drive down on a Saturday morning along the Mumbai-Pune expressway and find yourself at this beautiful resort in just one and a half hours. The welcoming cream façade of the hotel, topped with cheery red roofs and overlooking carefully manicured gardens promises a weekend of memorable revelry. Beyond the resort lie the serene Sahyadri Mountains and just next to it is the iconic Adlabs Imagica amusement park, Aquamagica and the Snomagica.

With over 400 hotels & resorts in 60 countries, Novotel from the AccorHotels is located in major international city centres, business districts & tourist destinations. Its latest addition the Novotel Imagica Khopoli in India is adjacent to the Adlabs Imagica and the Aquamagica and is the first theme park property by AccorHotels. Novotel Imagica Khopoli is aimed to be a destination where fun never ends. Recognizing the trend that Khopoli is an industrial zone and a growing tourist locality, the Adlabs group and AccorHotels India have collaborated to make it perfect for MICE, leisure, weddings and entertainment.

The first Novotel property in India to launch with its new Novotel Resorts brand positioning, it has an appearance like no other. The beautiful water fountain at the entrance and green tones cools the eyes almost instantly and takes you on a mystical journey. All the 9 storeys of the building, whisper class and elegance with a touch of edgy, sharp boldness and confidence. The use of marble, stately furnishings, and other bespoke design elements form the signature style for the hotel. The stone artwork of the peaceful Buddha add tranquility to the waiting lounge and lobby. The backlighting of the lobby invites guests and adds glamour and warmth to the reception. The simple elegance of pale wood and cream surroundings are offset with orange tones to create an energetic & youthful environment.

The greeting smiles of the concierge is just not enough for this fantasy world. Welcome dances, drinks and hellos from your favourite characters is how they start their day. Be it Pinocchio, Mr. India, add Tubbby and more they will give you warm hugs as you enter. The property comes alive with chirpy and vivacious music that plays through the hotels corridors.
The property comprises of 287 rooms out of which 260 are Superior rooms, 20 are Premier rooms, 5 suites, 1 Presidential suite & 1 specially-abled room which are with views the of Sahyadri Mountains or their infinity pool. We checked-in to the property at 12:00 pm and headed to our respective rooms after the welcome drinks and Canape.
We were offered a superior room was completely furnished with modern amenities including Wifi, Key card operated Doors, Comfortable king beds with fully AC rooms, Flat screen television with Free movies on demand, Free in room mineral water, Wi-Fi, Telephones in room & bathroom, Coffee & tea making facilities, Radio, Minibar, Ironing board and Iron, Hair dryer, Dental Kit, Shampoo, Conditioner, Body wash etc. After relaxing for 30 minutes we decided to go for the hotel walk through.
Guests can participate in interactive sessions of storytelling, swimming classes, craft, colouring, painting and clay art or simply leave their children in the capable hands of their favourite characters at the kid’s corner. Be it astrology or treasure hunts, the hotel will organize these fun-filled activities at their prime locations including The Square and the park. The hotel also has a gaming area with fooseball, pool, darts, carom, chess and table tennis. Integrating the theme parks as well, VIP guests staying at the hotel will be treated to a VIP status for the park which includes special express entries to the rides, special assistance and view to watch the parade and a personal guide through the park.
An active process of trending towards making decisions in accordance with a healthy and fulfilling life is what Novotel Imagica Khopoli is about. With a serene pool and a fully equipped gymnasium, the hotel believes in the saying in a healthy body, is a healthy mind. An unconventionally elegant space, with natural light streaming through, In Balance fitness club at Novotel Imagica Khopoli includes a fully equipped fitness center helping the guest stay fit and lively during their getaway.The fully-equipped fitness zone comes with state-of-the-art cardio machines, spinning area and more, to ensure that the guest can pick from an array of fitness options. Today’s fitness conscious guests would be pleased with the 24 hour services from personal trainers that will keep them
impeccably toned. The gym brings mesmerizing views of the serene Sahyadri hills and the glistening swimming pool, which makes the workout session seamless and stimulating. The gym is loaded with a host of services and features:

  • Always attentive, qualified and friendly personal trainers
  • State-of-the-art fitness equipment
  • Yoga
There is nothing like a relaxing and comforting dip in the pool. The 20,000 sq ft area comprising of the outlet will make your day. The pool area calms one instantly with the green tones and fresh water. A special area of the pool is reserved for children. Cabanas and private dining areas are installed around the pool for a quiet and intimate dinner. The candle light ambience or a casual chat makes the pool a friendly and spontaneous place to be at ease.
Novotel Imagica Khopoli features one of the largest meeting spaces in the Lonavla area with a pillar-less ballroom Casper of 446 sq. meters that can accommodate around 460 guests. The design of the ballroom is curated for weddings and has a height like no other. Be it the chandeliers, the wooden carvings or the light carpets the décor is chosen to match any setting or drapes.
Casper can be divided into smaller areas (Casper 1, 2, and 3) for intimate settings in addition to its other meeting rooms - Cinderella & Rapunzel. Designed keeping weddings and MICE in mind, the hotel also features beautiful lawns spread over 1660 sq.meters, a roof top of 2225 sq.meters, a pre function area of 350 sq.meters and green room.
The meeting rooms and banquet spaces at Novotel Imagica Khopoli pay tribute to their beloved characters and are named after them. Thoughtfully chosen, there’s an interesting tale behind each one.
For example Casper, the pillar-less ballroom is a tribute to the friendly ghost we all know and love. A child’s fantasy film, the plot was designed to be both hilarious and heart-warming. The ballroom can be altered as per the guest’s preference - theatre, classroom, cluster or U- shaped.
The Cindrella meeting room of 77 sq.meters is based on the fictional tale every girl dreams about. Drama, fantasy, magic, courage & love is what makes the anecdote wonderful. An ordinary dame ill-treated by her step family soon finds true love in her prince.
The Rapunzel meeting room of 24 sq. meters is inspired through the princess with magical golden hair. Locked away in the castle, the princess lets long hair down to allow a prince to climb up who eventually rescues her.
Building on the romantic visions, Novotel Imagica Khopoli will lend its space for theme weddings. A place where ‘Happily ever after will begin’, the property will ensure the journey of ‘Forever’ is made special. Be it fairytale, fun, casual or Bollywood, the hotel will add a touch of thrill and excitement with not only the ambience, but also with excellent food and décor. With the Imagica theme park capitol as a wedding backdrop, or an aqua sangeet, your pre-wedding and wedding shoots will be spectacular and one of a kind.
Martini Lunch at the "Square"
Novotel Imagica Khopoli is a food lover’s haven; not only does it bring a smile to your face, but there is always something for everyone. Believing in the concept that food is an array of innovative creations and the kitchen is a place to let your imagination loose, the Executive Chef Gaurav Chakraborty prefers experimentation. It is said a family that eats together stays together and the hotel has certainly kept the needs of children in mind while designing their cuisine.

The ‘Square’ is the 24 hour all day dining restaurant which will exceed guest expectations by offering outstanding food and beverage products and brilliance through consistent and delightful service.

A brand standard and signature of the Novotel hotels, each square offers unique regional menus and ambiance. Based on the name, one will notice the wonderful square and rectangular outlines at the restaurant. The bright colors of the interiors add to the splendor of its 56 ceiling lamps made of fabric. The Square at the Novotel Imagica Khopoli is the hotel’s signature all day dining restaurant, with a scrumptious buffet of Indian and international favorites as well as exciting à- la-carte options including North Indian, South Indian and local specialties with live counters. The standard dishes will be tweaked for the local palate which will allow exciting fusion creations.
The live counters and buffet are the highlight of the outlet and include all kinds of treats from live Dosa and Preserettu, Parathas & Pooris, Paniyarm to Wada Pav. There would also be a Western and South East Asian spread including live egg stations with Waffles, Pancakes and French toasts and more. The lunch counters would have live Kebabs, Pizza, Pastas, Bunny Chows, Quebec Style Poutine, and Polish Pierogi. The weekends would have a lavish spread with live Arabic counters, Asian grills and Barbeques.
The multicuisine buffet has a wide spread of international and local flavours.

After lunch we took a tour of the Presidential Suite and then decided to relax in our room for about an hour before we could head for Hi-Tea at 'TUBBY'S BISTRO'
Tubbby’s Bistro, is a bistro-style pastry shop, inspired by the character Tubbby from the theme park and follows the same colour pattern through the packaging and the menu. The outlet is designed with mosaic art on the walls looking chirpy with its red and blue colour scheme. It features a wide array of bakery products and local delicacies that are served with smoothies and milkshakes, offering convenient options for takeaways or a quick sit-down bite.
Wedding and birthday cakes, macroons, candy bars, lollipops, sweet treats are the signature things on the menu. Being a quiet boulangerie, the menu will also feature salads, coffee, teas, breads, ice creams, variety of ice tea and ice coffee, milkshakes, sandwiches, muffins, cupcakes and more. The outlet will use specially handcrafted kids friendly cutlery with Tubbby designs.
After an amazing Hi-Tea at 'TUBBY'S BISTRO' as per our itinerary we headed to 'SnoMagica' - India's largest snow park near Mumbai, Lonavala and Pune.
At Snow Park, you can experience as you choose. Play with real snowfall just like in Kashmir, climb a mountain wall, toboggan down a snow slide, play snow basketball, and do the cool dance in sub-zero temperatures.
After an amazing experience at 'SnoMagica' we got into our swimwear and were ready to rock and roll - One of the most happening pool party 'Musical Drizzles' – A Summer Escapade.

Beat the heat this season with the most happening pool party at Novotel Imagica Khopoli. Rejuvenate yourself as you get drenched in music with rain showers and enjoy a soothing dip in the glistening infinity swimming pool accompanied by chilled beers and select beverages.
Venue: Novotel Imagica Khopoli
Price: INR 500/- per person (Cover charge will include 2 Kingfisher pints or 2 30ml drinks on select beverages)
Time: 8.30 pm to 11.00 pm.

After rocking it up at the Musical Drizzle we headed to our room to freshin up and headed late at night for our 'Brinner' at the 'Square' We ordered: 
Chicken Burger
Non-Veg Club Sandwich
Day 2 
Woke up fresh after a good sleep and headed to the 'Square' for breakfast. It was a housefull sunday and everyone was looking forward to the 'Irollic Parade' including me. Well I wouldn't wanna explain this. Hit the link below to see a  video of the 'Irollic Parade' 
My Healthy Breakfast
After that 'Irollic Parade and my healthy breakfast we headed for a trek to 'Bhatti Lake' - Novotel's bus took us down to this village called Saanghewadi. A good trek for about 45 mins into lush green open spaces and vintage houses lead me to Bhatti Lake. The view was absolutely stunning. Here is it
The trek is not difficult at all but make sure you carry comfortable walking shoes and a rain gear if you plan to trek in this season.

After the trek, we headed back to the hotel, showered, packed our bags and headed to the Square again for lunch. Since I had a light breakfast I was super hungry and I ate:
I completely drooled over the desserts. Highly Recommended!! 
Happy Faces after that amazing stay at Novotel Imagica Khopoli

I would highly recommend you to visit Novotel Imagica Khopoli. From the property, to their staff to their hospitality, food everything was perfect. It takes a lot to make things perfect. Kudos to the entire team of Novotel Imagica and I thank them from the bottom of my heart for hosting me and giving me a memorable time. Special thanks to Priyanka, Karishma,  Neha, Taraana, Chef Gaurav and Lokesh and lastly to the man who made it very special for us Mr. Srinivas Srirangam the General Manger of the hotel. I am surely taking my family to Novotel Imagica soon. Let me know in the comments section about your experiences when you visit it. Till then Take Care, and keep taking breaks from your busy life and keep exploring!
A photo with my plus one - Hitesh Devnani