Wednesday, 31 August 2016

A Meal At The Barracks...

38 Barracks Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

38 Barracks - emulating the life and lifestyle of an army man in the heart of the city at Connaught Place. Why 38? As it is at M-38 where you'd find this establishment that boasts of a different world altogether - a Colonel's house is what it showcases - with marked areas as Drawing Room, Locker Room, Balcony and such. 38 also because army men are good with their numbers and addresses. 38 lends a specificity to the theme that 38 Barracks is based on, a trivia that was told to us by Mr. Ankur Agarwal, whose brainchild 38 Barracks is.

Being invited to a Blogger's Table at 38 Barracks had its own charm when apart from great food, we had the best conversations with Ankur and Chef Gautam Chaudhary who is a Michelin recommended Chef and has aced the art of Progressive Cuisine, coming with a solid foundation that spans twenty years in the hospitality industry, having worked with Oberoi and Radisson.

Incidentally, the army man who inspires 38 Barracks met Ankur on a train journey to Shimla. Interesting how acquaintances with strangers (a decorated stranger in this case  - a Colonel) can sometimes provide the spark for a fire, a fire to showcase the best of a world that is taken for granted - the life of an Indian soldier.

It was then that Ankur took the onus on himself to establish 38 Barracks as a tribute coming from a civilian, for an army man. The feel of being in a cantonment area of sorts reflects from the time that you enter the premises. Military collectibles and memento adorn every nook and corner of the space. Take for instance, the clothes rack for coats, ties, hats etc. that is seen to your right when you enter the restaurant to the luggage that is kept in a corner towards the left.

From guns to medals to monochrome photographs of army men and their families to old phones, clocks, cameras, and books to a gun that hangs atop their bar and has a surprise element coming from a paper-smith, 38 Barracks aces it in the decor department right away. As for the ambiance, it was well-lit with music playing in the background.

Before we begun with the meal, Watermelon Amouse Bouche was served as a palate cleanser.

Tried their classic Narangi and Kala Khatta Buntas, and as is the case, the drink in the bottle with a marble served as a good beginning.

Also had their Sergeant and Military Camp mocktails mid way through the meal. While Sergeant was a good mix of Khus, Pineapple, Lime and Soda (with a topping of pineapple on the side), it was the presentation of Military Camp that was fantastic. And, its taste too, I must say. Orange, Peach, and Grenadine filled into a bulb served in wide-mouthed bowl of fuming Nitrogen.

For appetizers, we had:

Olive Chicken Satay - Savory chicken served on skewers glazed with sauce and grilled to perfection. Ordered a second serving.

Masala Bhutta Tartlets - Corn and Onion sliced in a tart, served with salad and dip, and topped with mint. One burst of flavor in the mouth.

Chicken Harissa Tikka - Soft, succulent Chicken Tikka that was delicious.

Beetroot Galouti - Chef Gautam's personal favorite, I loved how the dish was crisp on the outside and melt-in-the-mouth on the inside.

Apart from the above, also tried a few starters from their existent menu, namely:

Chicken Duet Tikka - Two types of Tikkas, thus Duet, glazed in a clay oven.

Clash Of Clans - In Ankur's words, this one depicts English and Indian armies at War, with Fish and Chips on one side of the platter and Ajwaini Mahi Tikka on the other. Accompanied by French Fries and Mint Chutney respectively.

Soldier's Mirchi Vada - Served with sweet and savory Date Chutney, this one scored with the mere size of the battered Chili.

Battalion Samosa Booster - Most vibrant, colorful presentation with Samosas filled with Keema on a bed of Keema Chaat and sprinkled with Sev, Anaar, accompanied by three dips, this one was delightful.

Gosht Ki Galauti and Ulte Tawe Ke Paranthe - Again melt-in-mouth Galouti.

Paneer Tikka Barrels - Barracks' Signature Paneer Tikka shaped in the form of cylindrical barrels with a generous stuffing of Khoya, Kaju, Kishmish and all things sweet. Topped with mint leaves, served with Buttermilk. Fantastic taste and presentation both.

Chicken Krawpao Pizza - Cheese and Chicken is a combo that can never go wrong. Add to it a full-size olive in the center of the dish.

Next up was Main Course comprising the following:

Rara Soya - Soya Chaap with a twist, served with home-like Dal, and topped with coriander and mint.

Murg Banjaara - Not just Murg, but the entire platter, consisting of Murg, Dal Makhni, Salad, Poppadoms and Mint Chutney with an array of Indian Breads.

Bekti Fish - Fillets layered with Zucchini and Mushroom, served along side Potato Mash and Mayo Dip.

Three-Tier Sandwich - As the name suggests, Three-Tier, with a filling of Chicken Salami and Egg, Lettuce and Onion, served alongside Fries, Salad and Dip.

A digestive mocktail was served post the Mains, in a model 'Liquir Tanker'. It had the flavors of lime and mint.

Brought a flavorful and filling meal to a close with Brownie Sundae with Ice-cream and their in-house shakes - Barracks Frappe and Chocolate Brownie, which had life-size chunks of Brownie and not mere flavor. Both of these were also thick and creamy in their consistency.

I loved my time at 38 Barracks. :)

An Ode To Our Teachers...

Being a teacher comes with its own bouquets and brickbats. The pride of being the most looked-up-to profession in the world is coupled with the fact that  teachers nurture young minds, enabling them to take on any profession of their choice in the future, flexible work timings yet tedious deadlines to correct answer sheets, mark projects, conduct group activities and what not.

What I admire the most is that Teaching is one of the first professions in the country to have had a day dedicated to its celebration. That day however, marks the birth anniversary of Dr. S. Radhakrishnan who was the first Vice President of India and the second President of India.

Having been in the profession for the past three decades and counting, it fills me with joy and pride as to how my students keep coming back with that twinkle in their eyes. Year after year, batches pass out, I remember faces, forget names, but it's with a great sense of respect that my students express their gratitude, for having played a key role in shaping their lives in the way it has been.

So much so, that this occasion has also started taking Social Media by storm, with schools, organizations and brands pitching in prompt the masses to thank their teachers and mentors.

Recently, I came across MaStyle Care, that is conducting a special Teacher's Day Campaign online, centered around #ThankYourTeacher in order to mark a token of gratitude as well as respect towards the teachers of the country who played an instrumental role in transforming the personality of the youth of our nation.

Their campaign is not just being conducted on September 5, but spans the entire week leading to the occasion of Teacher's Day, i.e. from August 28 to September 5, 2016, by naming it the Teacher's Day Week.

As much as students try to maintain their diplomacy in liking all their mentors, there is a soft corner for one teacher in each child's heart, it is a special teacher or a group of teachers who tugs at each younger's heartstrings for having played a fundamental role in the transformation of their dynamic personality for the betterment of their lives.

This Teacher's Day, MaStyle Care (a non-profit organization started by Latika Wadhwa in 2013, that works for various social causes, sensitizing for various social initiatives) has prompted students and masses alike to take the opportunity to reminisce the good times and thank that special teacher or teachers for the positive imprint they had left on their lives by uploading a snap with them or of them with the hashtag #ThankYourTeacher on Facebook and tagging them to mark how special they are in their lives.

As a next step, students can also take an initiative to organize a special event in your college pr school for thanking the teachers and share the images with the hashtag (#ThankYourTeacher) in order to inspire the student-teacher community to show gratitude and respect towards our teachers. Apart from it, as is customary, students can opt for the classical custom of sending flowers, Thank You Cards, or gifts.

I believe that it would sweep a teacher off their feet if one could personally go and visit that teacher over a meal on any day of this special week and make them feel proud to have students like oneself who care for them.

Also, in the corporate world, we have mentors who play a key role as a guiding light for their trainees or juniors and they too deserve a big thanks during this special week for acquainting them with the basics, imparting great professional knowledge and above all boosting the morale.

It is because I appreciate such a digital initiative that I'm blogging about the same, and I hope that #ThankYourTeacher receives many an impressions. 

Sunday, 28 August 2016

An Upside Down "DR∀M∀"

Drama Upside Down Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

"DR∀M∀" - The Upside Down Bar - is the newest entrant into the happening food scene at BK Dutt Market, Rajouri Garden.

The concept-driven restaurant is full of dramatic elements - wherever one sees - and that too upside down. The walls and ceilings boast of upside down lamps, furniture, fireplaces, aquariums, bookshelves, bowling pins, et al, even an upside down Ferrari and there are 'Selfie Spots' aplenty in this establishment spread across three levels and a rooftop.

Characterized by dim-lit interiors, spacious seating, and DJ playing music, the quirky nomenclature of dishes is what sets the place apart from the rest. There is also the presence of two video game kiosks in a corner on the first floor. Each floor has a separate theme, so you're free to choose if you like the party animal aura or prefer it to be a bit more on the calmer side while you have your food.

There is evident aesthetic "DR∀M∀" in the plating and presentation of the dishes as well, with some being brought on board "DR∀M∀ Railways" while others are plated in a life-size sea shell or in a cage (didn't try that) or in upside down umbrellas or on a bed of chilies - red and green, coming from Chef Akshay Nayyar.

Some of the dishes also seem to draw inspiration from Social Media platforms, namely Facebook, Twitter, and Whatsapp.

Here's a low-down on the dishes and drinks we tried on what was a 'Private Screening' held day before yesterday.

* Orange Passion (Mocktail) - served in a tall Tiki Glass, with the quintessential orange slice topping on the side.

* Mid Summer (Mocktail) - a salty mocktail.

* Good old Virgin Mojito

* Masachos - Nachos with generous layering of melted cheese.

* Whatsapp Kebab - Hariyali Kebabs filled with melted cheese.

* Bambaiya Soya Wings - Soya Chaap served with mint dip and Litti (taking from Bihari Cuisine).

* Tanchurian - a barbecued spin-off on the Chinese Manchurian.

* Chin Chin Chicken - Chilly Chicken served in a sea shell full of chilly.

* Funjabi Machchi Fry - fish cutlets sprinkled with sesame seeds in an upside down umbrella.

* Dhakkan Murg Makkhan (classic Butter Chicken) along with choice of Indian Breads.

* Agni Lava Brownie (chocolate brownies) and Bhains Milk Cake. (served in shot glasses)

Also wanted to try their Berry Ananas Roshogulla - pineapple and blueberry (which was being plated when we had just arrived - have only a pic) and Tandoori Paan.

Both of these are DR∀M∀'s signature, but I guess these two will remain on the bucket list until next time. 

Monday, 22 August 2016

Of Work-Life Balance With SHEROES...

SHEROES Summit 2016

Wednesday, August 10

Eros Hotel, Nehru Place

It was that time of the year, when I was led to the insightful and inspiring SHEROES Summit for the second time, after my association with them in 2014.

Delhi traffic made sure I did not arrive before the Summit began, all roads led to the SHEROES Summit that day! :) Sairee took to the stage to speak about the conception of SHEROES and how it all began.

The good thing was that I arrived some time after the Keynote Session with Nithya Shanti had begun. His session made for a perfect start to the day and I was exclaiming 'How Wonderful!' by the time it ended. He spoke to a hall full of people early morning 10 'o' clock.

Some pearls of Wisdom (that resides in the gap between Stimulus and Response) from his interaction included:

  • 3-point agenda: Show Up, Share Your Gifts, Synergize 
  • Luck = Preparation + Opportunity 
  • Develop the art of being present 
  • Vocalize, Visualize, Emotionalize, Actualize, Express Gratitude 
  • SW SW SW SW - Some Will, Some Won't, So What? Someone's Waiting! :) 
  • Don't be afraid to ASK 
  • Job is a Chore (Hands), Career is a Climb (Hands + Head), Calling is the vision (Hands + Head + Heart)
  • MIND is essentially Mostly Inaccurate Neural Drama  

The second session was a CXO Panel moderated by Syna Dehnugara, comprising the following panelists:

  • Nipun Singhal - Director, Lloyd Electric and Engineering 
  • Pankaj Bansal - Co-founder and CEO, PeopleStrong 
  • Shilpa Sharma - Co-founder, Jaypore 
  • Radhika Ghai Agarwal - Co-founder and Chief Business Officer, Shopclues 

A simple thought highlighted how what one thinks, knows, or believes is of little consequence as what one does, matters.

Naina Kidwai was quoted on the dais as thus:

"Other than the crystal balls of family and home, there is a third ball though that we, as perennial jugglers, forget - that third ball is 'me time'. I treat this as a rubber ball - allow it to drop and bounce back when I can afford to attend it."

The three things not to do in an e-comm business or any business for that matter were discussed:

  1. Create a deliverable that caters to some need. 
  2. Make sure that the service being promised is differentiated. 
  3. Passion is overrated and dynamic in nature. 

The third session focused on Future Of Work, moderated by Rituparna Chatterjee and had the following panelists:

  • Prukalpa Sankar - Co-founder, SocialCops 
  • Kashyap Deorah - Entrepreneur and Investor 
  • Bee Rowlatt - Writer and Journalist 
  • Varun Khaitan - Co-founder, UrbanClap 

Flexible working is a lifeline, a progressive concept. Bee admitted that she would've gone crazy without it. It is also true however that the present day generation has seen flexible working, not past rigidness in routine that inculcated discipline.

Also highlighted was the fact that technology is catalyst to changing work environment while also applauding the fact that we had gradually accustomed ourselves to celebrating working parenthood.

Post-lunch it was about sparkling milestones and spiraling meltdowns, with Dare To Be by Rinku Paul, which familiarized readers with the stories of success and failure of fourteen women, one of whom was SHEROES founder, Sairee Chahal.

Other ladies featuring in the series included Zumba instructor Sucheta Pal and stand-up comedian Neeti Palta.

According to Rinku, being an entrepreneur is tough, woman entrepreneur tougher, young entrepreneur tougher still.

Two budding women entrepreneurs took to the stage, after Rinku to 'lightning-pitch' their ideas within a strict time frame of five minutes, with proper time keeping.

  • Smita Mishra of PoolWallet, with the concept of a P2P Group Payment Social Network 
  • Neha Upadhyay of Gunaa Organics, reaching out to organic farmers of difficult terrains 

One of the women who had dared to be in real-life set the room reverberating with cheers of SHEROES! at the time she arrived on stage. Ex-Indian Woman Cricketer Anjum Chopra was in our midst!

Delivering a power-packed oration, tracing her roots and training period, she was quick to comment on gender bias - कुछ तो लोग कहेंगे, लोगों का काम है कहना!

Ruchi Phool's Laughter Yoga refreshed the sleepy heads post-lunch, setting the ambiance on a lighter note. 

Shaili Chopra and Anu S Choudhary spoke about their ventures - SheThePeople TV and Good Girls Show. 

The Summit was drawn to a fitting conclusion with awesome comedy by stand-up artiste, Sanjay Rajoura. I had tears of joy in my eyes reacting to his hilarious punches! 

Until next time, when SHEROES take charge! :)