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Of divine Kanchipuram idlis and menu engineering at Mercure’s Melange



kanchipuram idlis

Foodie Trail-Chennai

Chennai, March 7: Among the several types of idlis — a healthy South Indian dish — the Kanchipuram idli has a special, even divine, status. It is offered to the Lord Varadharaja Perumal in Kanchipuram.

An official of the Varadharaja Perumal temple told IANS that no other temple has the Kanchipuram idli as the main offering to the Lord.

The dish has a unique taste, texture and flavour thanks to the ingredients and not many star hotels have it on their menu.

However, S. Satyaseelan, Executive Chef at Mercure Chennai Sriperumbudur near here has the Kanchipuram idli on the menu card of Melange — the 100-room hotel’s multi-cuisine restaurant.

“While we offer global cuisine as well as local cuisine infused with foreign flavours, the inclusion of Kanchipuram idli in the menu was done to offer our guest the local specialty,” Satyaseelan, son of a cook in a temple in Karnataka, told IANS.

The temple town of Kanchipuram is around 35 km from Oragadam, where the hotel is located.

By this time two Kanchipuram idlis in small tumbler shapes, along with gunpowder and gingelly oil, arrived at the table. The gunpowder mixed with gingelly oil and the Kanchipuram idli are made for each other.

“The fermentation of the idli batter has been kept bit low to suit the palate of foreigners,” Satyaseelan volunteered. After the second bite, one starts enjoying the dish.

“Our target clients are French, German, Japanese, Asian as well as Indians working in plants like Renault Nissan, Daimler India, Yamaha, Eicher Motors and others,” he added.

Speaking about designing the Melange’s menu, Satyaseelan said it has been kept simple and not complicated.

“Menu engineering for a new property is not an easy task as one has to study the target segment, the price and the portion size apart from seeing what the competition offers,” Satyaseelan said, offering the spicy rosemary olive chicken tikka that activated the taste buds on the first bite.

“We marinate the chicken in rosemary olive, giving a twist to the standard chicken tikka,” Satyaseelan said.

Continuing with menu engineering, he said all the dishes had to be good as a guest may vote with his feet if he is not satisfied. That’s a risk this restaurant clearly does not run.

By this time, C. Karthik, Chef de partie, brought a couple of bright red-coloured prawns — Thai marinated tandoor prawns (prawns marinated in Thai red curry, lemongrass) that gave out the flavours infused in it.

The challenges faced by the General Manager (GM) who assumes charge at the pre-opening stage of a hotel are quite different.

“A pre-opening GM has to set up his team, get the operational supplies, engineering and other needs of the property. After inauguration, the operations have to be stabilised,” GM Rahul Nama told IANS.

“We will serve the market located within 10-15 km radius — basically auto and auto ancillaries. In the market we serve, there are around 450 rooms. There is a gap for an international brand,” Nama said.

By this time the soft and tasty kung pao chicken (friend chicken with dry chilli cashew net and soya sauce) and the flavour-full dark green bay prawns with curry dust (prawns dusted in curry leaf powder and fried) were polished off the plate.

On the vegetarian side, you can have the interestingly named nanwich (vegetables and cheese wrapped in a nan and grilled).

The tandoori mushroom quesadillas (tortilla bread wrap with mushroom, onion, coriander, cheese served with salsa) and the Chettinadu vegetable burger tasted nice.

The menu card offers vegetarians and non-vegetarians choices of biriyani, Indian breads, noodles, fried rice and as well as a full meal in a bowl like the Japanese dish chukadon.

Chukadon (a melange of chicken, shrimps and squid stir-fried with vegetables and served on sticky rice) washes gentle on the palate and the tummy and would go well with Thai red curry tandoored prawn.

For dessert, Satyaseelan offered Madras filter coffee ice cream with pieces of almond. The ice cream was really divine — a nice way to end the tasting session that began with Kanchipuram idli.


What: New restaurant Melange

Where: Mercure Hotels Chennai Sriperumbudur, Oragadam

Cost for two: Rs.1,500 plus taxes



Eating high-carb diet can help lose weight



high carb diet carbohydrate
Here’s how a high carb diet may help lose weight. (Photo Credit- Shutterstock)

New York, Sep 25: Struggling hard to shed those extra kilos? If so, foods high in carbohydrates — found in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes — may help you reduce body weight and fat as well as improve insulin function, suggests a study challenging previous beliefs.

It is because these complex carbohydrates are naturally rich in fibre — a nutrient found in plant foods that adds bulk to the diet without adding extra calories.

The study, led by US-non-profit Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, showed that a plant-based, high-carbohydrate diet can help with weight regulation and body composition and reduce the risk for Type-2 diabetes.

“Fad diets often lead people to fear carbohydrates. But the research continues to show that healthy carbohydrates — from fruits, vegetables, beans, and whole grains — are the healthiest fuel for our bodies,” said lead author Hana Kahleova, Director at the organisation.

In the study, published in the journal Nutrients, the team included nearly 100 participants for a 16-week randomised clinical trial and placed participants in either a plant-based, high-carbohydrate, low-fat diet group or asked them to maintain their current diet.

The plant-based diet group avoided all animal products and added oils and limited fat intake of 20-30 grams per day. There were no limits on calories or carbohydrate intake.

The control group maintained their current diets, which included meat and dairy products. Neither group altered their exercise routines.

The results demonstrated that total carbohydrate intake did not change in the control group, but increased significantly in the plant-based diet group, both as absolute intake and as a percentage of total calories.

At the end of the trial, body mass index, body weight, fat mass, visceral fat volume, and insulin resistance decreased significantly in the plant-based diet group. There were no significant changes in the control group, the researchers noted.


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Wardrobe staples for women over 50



Older women fashion
Representative Image

New Delhi, Sep 24: Go for a minimalist wardrobe with classic clothing to give you an array of looks, while maintaining your comfort factor, say experts.

Bhavya Chawla, Chief Stylist at, and fashion Designer Reynu Taandon, give out few style tips for women over 50:

* Invest in saris that are firm yet light in weight. Cotton, linen and silk blends are good options. Classic patterns such as indigo prints, ikats look lovely.

* In kurtis, silhouettes should be slightly structured, either straight or A-line. These should be worn with ankle length pants or even palazzos. Add scarves or stoles to add a dash of elegance. These should be in interesting prints and colours to uplift the look.

* You can pick a pair of dark, mid-rise denims that have a slightly tapered or straighter hem. Add two-three tapered pants in black and another colour for occasions like work to dinner to your wardrobe.

* Invest in classic style tops in neutral colours that can be teamed up with statement accessories and scarves. A smart structured jacket is a must have for office goers. A couple of shift, A-line dresses in solid colours and smaller patterns is a great addition for outings.

* Kaftan look is so cool and it is an easy to wear option for woman who needs to get ready in five minute. Ethnic kaftans or kaftan kurtis online are the best option.

* Keep it simple; stay away from bling also, classic pieces should be the core of your capsule wardrobe to cater to each of the occasions in your life.

* Buy bras that really fit, and consider “shapewear” when needed.


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Shoes that every girl must have



Essential Shoes for Every Girl

New Delhi, Sep 23 (IANS) When it comes to shoes, there are endless designs, styles, and possibilities. But these five types of shoes should be owned by every fashionable girl, say experts.

Alisha Malik, Vice President Marketing and creative face of Mochi Shoes and Accessories, and Nehpreet Kaur, Design and Creative Head, Femina Flaunt, have shared a list of must-have shoes:

* Nude pumps are the ultimate go-to shoes. Up your game with pumps, the ultimate choice when you can’t think of what will go with your outfit. Formal meetings or parties, you can never go wrong with heels. Not only do they add a touch of class to your outfit but they also take away the monotony of monochrome in your look.

* Nothing feels as comfortable as a pair of sneakers. Most of the time, it will match with anything you wear. For those days when you just want to relax, ensure that you have a pair of sneakers in your shoe collection.

* Loafers have taken street style by storm and are frequently spotted on models and actresses while they’re out and about. This menswear-inspired shoe has replaced the ballet flat as the quintessential run-around shoe. They are fuss-free and extremely comfortable for the feet.

* Boots are essential to any woman’s wardrobe. There is no debate about them, they complement every outfit. You can choose a pair of boots with a slight heel to dress up a look, or go with flat boots for a more comfortable, yet cute look.

* There are wedges for almost any occasion, from bridal to party to casual. They are the most versatile pair of heels for long duration events.

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