Expert Speak

A Belgian Chocolate Ecstasy

Surrendering to the dark notes of a bar of chocolate that boldly proclaims 70% cacao, a question I mull over now and then is one that someone once ruefully asked: ‘Does chocolate preclude the notion of free will?’

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6:22 PM at Gurgaon
Andaaz Amritsari

The heart of ‘the land of five rivers’ – Amritsar – is also a town that best mirrors Punjab. A town that gives a true glimpse of the state’s history, faith, people and cuisine. The land is rooted in times past, when the ancient Harappan Civilisation first shaped the lifestyle of the region in areas of farming, domestication of animals and pottery.

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2:18 PM at Gurgaon
Marwar Food Festival

The regal land of Marwar unfurls before you in many vibrant and often astonishing ways. The more placid the landscape becomes, the more animated are the shades of turbans and traditional costumes. The flattest of terrains give rise to chhatris and high ramparts of forts and palaces. Marvels carved in stone often replace the bleakness of the sand. And quite amazingly, the dearth of water in the Thar Desert doesn’t stop the flow of fiery red chilies in the glorious Marwar cuisine.

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9:00 PM at Gurgaon
The Peking Duck Story

The royal lineage of the crisp, golden, much-relished Peking Duck dates back over 700 years, to the imperial era of the Southern and Northern Dynasties of China. In those days, roast duck (called Shaoyazi, which literally means ‘burning duck’) was a preferred dish of the ruling emperors of the Yuan Dynasty.

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9:00 PM at Gurgaon
Telling a Tale, of a Tropical Cocktail!

So here goes a legend:

Back in 1934, a man walks into Don the Beachcomber restaurant in Hollywood, complaining of a horrible hangover and asking for help to cruise through a business meeting. God only knows what thought goes through restaurant owner Donn Beach’s mind (or maybe he did want his customer’s mind to be ‘free from all thoughts’!).

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9:30 PM at Gurgaon
A Very French Love

A quiet little moment in Pondicherry is often enough to revive the French romantic in you. The charming old Church of Our Lady of Angels renders a resemblance to the Basilica at Lourdes. A walk down Goubert Avenue and Dumas Street brings to life the figures of Joseph Francois Dupleix and Jeanne d’Arc (Joan of Arc).

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10:15 PM at Gurgaon
Reminisces from the ‘Route’

It is more than a notable few that have fallen to the lure of the spices from South India. If the ancient Spice Route had Christopher Columbus and Vasco da Gama seeking the fragrance of the ‘Spice Garden’, today’s food aficionados too cross lands and seas for a taste of the exotic South Indian cuisine.

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8:40 PM at Gurgaon
Serfoji Bhojanam

Often a twist of fate might turn into a blessing.

After his birth on 24th September, 1777 in the Bhonsle Maratha clan of Chhatrapati Shivaji, Serfoji II was adopted by Raja Thulajah, the king of Thanjavur. Unfortunately, King Thulajah died soon afterward, and the roughly 10-year-old boy was taken into care by Rev. Christian Fredrich Schwartz, a Dutch missionary, who groomed him with his guidance and teachings.

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8:00 PM at Gurgaon
Jigar-é-Moradabad

When Murad Baksh, Emperor Shah Jahan’s third son, was chosen as the inspiration behind the town of Moradabad in 1625, little did the months-old imperial prince know that he will be part of a great legacy. The town was initially called Rustam Nagar after Rustam Khan, one of Shah Jahan’s governors, who was asked to capture the town.

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10:32 PM at Gurgaon
Best of Rice – Biryani

It comes across as a humble grain, varying in sizes, fragrance and taste, all the time possessing a unique quality of ease of cooking. Yet, when mixed with the slightest of condiments or the most complex of foods, it knows no boundary of flavour. And then the modest grain of rice transforms into a food befitting royalty.

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7:40 PM at Gurgaon
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