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Indian Accent, New Delhi

fragrant marigolds
A friend who's involved in Delhi's restaurant scene told us: "Don't leave India without Indian accent"! I thought...what is this, a new slang craze of some sort?

Well, it turns out Indian Accent is "the" place to be in New Delhi at the moment.

It's hidden away in the boutique Manor Hotel, where lovely deep orange marigold flowers and petals adorn all corridors that lead to the restaurant.

Initially, I didn't think much more of the décor and to be honest I expected the usual "big name-tiny portion" combination that follows highly reviewed restaurants. Thankfully, our experience gradually turned to a wonderful one, thanks to each dish's unusual and witty presentation.

Soft shell crab, tomato chutney and...tweezers

We had the Chef's tasting menu, which is great for larger groups because there is a veg and a non-veg version, so everybody is happy.

Each and every dish was a revelation of how traditional Indian recipes can be respected, enriched with other influences and offered to a wider spectrum of international dinners;

amritsari salmon arrived wrapped in a banana leaf, held together with the tiniest, cutest clip.

And then we received tweezers to dip our soft shell crab in tomato chutney; funky alternative to chopsticks but I couldn't help feeling a bit dubious every time I took a bite. The velvety, deep fried soft shell crab put my doubts to rest though, delicious!

My favourite bit: kulfi sorbet, served in a mini pressure cooker as a palette cleanser in-between courses! Adorable.

My favourite dish: sweet achaar spare ribs, succulent and falling off the bone, yum!

I forgot to tell you that all of the above were just for starters.

palette cleanser sorbet in a miniature pressure cooker? I want to take it home!
By the time our main course arrived, we had just enough space to have a taste, but it was good so we finished it off anyway!
Baked keema (mince) along with pao (bread rolls) and spiced potatoes...an Indian high-tech version of sloppy joes! Ingenious!

Along came kulchas (indian thin bread) stuffed with duck and bacon! I am killing you, aren't I?

have you ever called a piece of salmon "cute" before?

baked keema, pao and spiced alloo...just call it sloppy joes with an Indian accent
And then out comes the smiling Chef declaring that he is happy to repeat the dishes we liked the most. "All of them", said the boys straight away. But sense rather than greed prevailed and we got seconds of the bacon kulchas. 
cream-bursting cannolis, a great end to a grand dinner

On the way out we were mesmerised by the fragrant marigolds floating around in a massive copper pot, very pleased with our new found accent.

rum bomb flambé, cannolis, coconut Crème Brule

Olive Beach, New Delhi

It's a hip, cosy and whitewashed hangout space in buzzing New Delhi, hidden away in the tranquil garden of Hotel Diplomat.
The atmosphere is whimsical and if you have had a full day out and about like we did,  you'll appreciate the lovely garden and peaceful surroundings. 
We were on a mission to find our indian wedding outfits today, which was fun but coupled with Delhi traffic, heat and noise, plus thousands of designs and choices, it became a stressful job.  
Cocktails, soufflés and tiramisu are probably not the first things that come to mind, if you are thinking about dinner in Delhi.
And yet, here it is!
Olive Beach is a small, cute Mediterranean restaurant, that will get your groove going with vibrant cocktails and fill your tummy with delicious bites.

Try the velvety and utterly light "twice baked Gruyere soufflé", for starters. 
Our only mistake was ordering one to share, thinking it would be too heavy;  so we were left asking for more fluffiness! 
Watermelon and Lychee martinis took us all the way to a sweet end; 

luxurious saffron creme brulee with my favourite fragrant cardamon ice cream and yummy tiramisu cream, with the right balance of coffee and amaretto base.

A little peaceful garden oasis foe beautiful warm evening out in Delhi!

Traveling through time

Two flights, three time zones, three countries with diverse weather conditions, all in less than 24 hours!
From drizzling rain and 11C to humid heat and 38C! What do you wear? well, you need to be comfortable and warm and light, all at the same time! 

So, start layering with a soft T-shirt (Tommy Hilfiger), cotton blazer (M&S) and light raincoat (Banana Republic), to keep yourself warm and cool, as needed.

Converse Jack Purcells come in handy on days like this, because after two flights your feet will undeniably need more space and comfort; so just loosen up the laces or get rid of them altogether. Still looking good!
I like starting with a simple colour base, say blue and white and then splash some colour with one item, pink cotton jeans (Zara) in this case.  
Finally, my favourite accessories: a shawl (Zara) and a fedora hat (Banana Republic).
When flying, I always find that even when a blankly is provided, I need the familiar comfort of a shawl or pashmina that smells like...home! As for the hat, it's summery and makes me happy! 
Tip: if you are planning to travel through Doha Airport, remember that the new, fancy one hasn't opened yet; instead the old one is rather small and pricey in comparison to Heathrow! Qatar in-flight service though, is top notch! 

Lebanese-style sausages

...or the perfect Friday night dinner!  I bet you already have all the ingredients in your cupboard too!
Here we go:

- Good quality sausages, preferably with spices or herbs
- two cloves of garlic, minced
- one teaspoon of hot pepper sauce
- one teaspoon of paprika powder
- one tablespoon of brown sugar
- two tablespoons of tomato puree
- one lemon
Chop up the sausages in bite size pieces. You will end up scooping them up with big chunks of your favourite bread, so why not make your life easier beforehand. Fry them until crispy on the outside, but not burnt; no need to use any oil for frying, they will release their own. I am using orange flavoured sausages from Sparti (loukaniko me portokali) that I picked up from Athens airport, last time I was in Greece. You can use Lebanese manek or even Spanish salchichon, as long as the meat is flavoursome and tightly packed. Once fried, this type of sausage is so juicy and fragrant that you can really taste the orange!
I'm afraid that at this stage you will have to show some willpower and stay away from the fried sausage bites. Eating them up before you finish off the sauce will be a disaster. Put them aside!
Use the same pan, with the oils released from the sausages. You might want to throw some of the fat away if there is too much. On low heat fry off the minced garlic, hot pepper sauce, paprika, brown sugar, tomato puree and juice from half the lemon. It will take no more than five minutes for the flavours to come together.

Tip the sausage bites in the sauce and toss around for two minutes. Squeeze some lemon on top of them. Done! This sauce is sticky enough to just coat the sausages, not a runny gravy; so don't be alarmed by the quantities required. The idea is that you get the lovely consistency of Armenian sojouk that you get in Levant and Momo's. Throw a couple of ready made baguettes in the oven while you are making the sauce and you can sit back with a glass of ouzo and lemonade within fifteen of coming home from work! Friday night sorted!

Mari Vanna, Knightsbridge

Welcome to a real life dollhouse!
It feels great when you get so excited about going to a new restaurant that you sound like the kiddies, in the Euro Disney ad: "Mummy, mummy I can't sleep, is it time to go yet?"
That was me on the morning of our visit to Mari Vanna.
So, imagine my grin as I walked into this Knightsbridge townhouse, full of knick-knacks of a bygone era.
impressive hub of the house
Flickering lights coming from the main parlour, through the stained glass wall had me almost convinced that once you enter the room, you step back into Dostoyevsky's era. Childhood reminiscences from all the books I used to read? They are the best!
setting for larger parties; can't you just see all of your girlfriends gathered around this long table, chatting and giggling?
For a couple of years now, my partner and I have been trying to find a good Russian restaurant in London. We love trying out  food from around the world (one of the benefits of living in London) but this type of cuisine was missing from our string of culinary pearls. We even resorted to asking Russian friends but the reply has always been..."for authentic food, I go back home to my mother's kitchen". Well, until now that is! 
traditional honey layered cake, blinis with smoked salmon, cabbage piroskis and hering on beetroot;afternoon tea with a russian hint!
The entrance is narrow but it opens up to a staircase adorned with a massive chandelier; not the ultra sleek,posh style though, but rather the old, familiar and grand at the same time. There are shades of pinks, peaches, light blues and creams everywhere and the dozen chandeliers hanging above most tables, are mixed with traditional floral lampshades and quirky old sofas, armchairs and hundreds of cushions. Cosy, comforting and relaxing in other words! The waitress even opened the big armoire behind us to reach for glasses and tea, just like your great aunt would do if you went to visit! 
We tried jasmine tea;
the fragrance was amazing, so fine and powerful at the same time...I could have sat there sipping tea and nibbling on layered soft honey cake for hours. I got a lecture from a Ukrainian friend as to why we only had tea! "when I go to Mari Vanna I have three mains", she said. Well all right, we'll go back then! 
there isn't a corner in this house that hasn't 
been adorned with cute ornaments and colours.
© Life Love London

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