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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



Make-up tips for a summer wedding



Wedding Makeup

New Delhi, March 16: There is nothing that sounds more beautiful than the idea of a summer wedding. What is not pretty, however, is the melting makeup, especially if its your wedding day.

Since the summer season has started, Shinjini Chawla, wedding make up expert at and Komal Kapoor, Founder at Koko Glam, compile a list of tips for makeup that does not suffer a meltdown.

* Foundation: Get the basics right!
* Apply an anti-shine product on your face just before applying the foundation.
* Hydrate your skin with lightweight essence or serum. Moisturizer cream is also great for giving a dewy look and provides a great texture to the skin
* Use a spot concealer on areas with blemishes, under the eyes or around the corners of your nose. A spot concealer stays longer than a foundation.
* Always double-cleanse as your skin produces a lot more oil and sebum. Oil cleansers are extremely beneficial to let the skin cool off first and then use the cleansing product.
* The final touch – After the application of foundation, powder your face with a brush.

* Blush: For the blushing bride
* Exfoliate the skin thoroughly- excess oil leads to more dead skin cells. For ensuring a fresh face for any outdoor celebration, sheet masks are very useful as they remove the excess impurities.
* Go for powder blushes instead of creamy formulas that will make your skin appear oily.
* The beating sun will add an extra sheen to your face anyway, so use a bronzer that does not have too much shimmer.

* Eyes: Smoky eyes or the classic look?
* Apply the concealer you have used on your face, all over your eye-lids to maintain uniformity.
* Eyeliners are a popular choice to make your eyes appear big and beautiful.
* Waterproof your eyes- Use a great eye base, then use a smudge-free eyeliner and a water-proof mascara. This will prepare you for the moments when you want to let go of yourself in the moment by shedding a tear or two.
* Finally, use a powder eye shadow and dab two layers of it, from the lash line to the brow.

* Lips: Let your lips do all the talking!
* Pick the classic summer colour according to your skin tone. Shades of pinks and nudes work best in a day wedding.
* Colour in your entire mouth with a lip pencil so your lip stick does not bleed in the heat.
* After applying the lipstick, blot it with a tissue. Apply a touch of gloss on the lips so they do not appear chapped.
* Finally, apply the lipstick concealer to seal the deal.

* Conclusively, sunscreens are a must for day events. High SPF reduces the burning and PA+++ reduce dark spots. Hence using a sunscreen that is suited to your skin is crucial.


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Salary hike correlated to ease of falling asleep: Survey



salary hike stress asleep

New Delhi, March 15: Having trouble sleeping? Your salary might be one of the reasons behind it.

There is a direct correlation between increasing salary and ease of falling asleep, according to a survey.

The India Sleep and Wellness survey, released ahead of the World Sleep Day, was commissioned by Sunday Mattresses and was conducted among 345 working professionals above the age of 25, read a statement.

The survey, conducted across Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru, indicates that there is also a direct correlation between productivity and sleep.

Over two-thirds of the sound sleepers believe they are 100 per cent productive at work. whereas more than half of those who reported getting insufficient sleep, believed they were only 75 per cent (or less) productive.

People below the age group of 30 sleep better compared to those who are older. Adults over 30 are twice as likely to have sleep-related problems and adults over 45 years are three times more likely to have sleep-related issues.

Almost 40 per cent of people use an alarm to wake up. This is significantly high in Mumbai where 50 per cent of the respondents use an alarm on a daily basis.

People in Bengaluru go to bed the earliest (between 10 p.m. and 11 p.m.), whereas Mumbai has the highest proportion of night owls who sleep after midnight. Bengaluru also has a better record of falling asleep as compared to Delhi and Mumbai and this is mainly attributed to relatively lower noise levels.

The research demonstrates that people who eat less than two hours before going to sleep are 50 per cent more likely to have sleep-related issues.


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118 gender bias charges against Microsoft in 7 years




San Francisco, March 14: Women employees in technical roles filed 118 gender discrimination complaints with Microsoft between 2010 and 2016 but the tech giant concluded that just one of those complaints was “founded”, media reported.

Citing court documents filed by plaintiffs in an ongoing suit against Microsoft, The Seattle Times reported late on Tuesday that female employees raised issues about the biased treatment to the Microsoft HR department a total of 238 times.

The lawsuit, filed in District Court in Seattle, seeks class-action status which could add more than 8,600 women to the case.

“Women in the class lost out on up to $238 million in pay and 500 promotions because of widespread discrimination, largely within the company’s performance-review process that determines pay and promotions for employees,” the report noted.

The plaintiffs argued that men in similar roles with similar job performance were promoted faster and given more raises than their female colleagues.

A Microsoft spokesperson was quoted as saying that all employee concerns are taken seriously and that the company has a “fair and robust system in place” to investigate them.

But plaintiffs claim that employees have “little faith” in the investigative process.

In 2017, Microsoft had a global workforce of more than 120,000 people and about 25.9 per cent was female. The technical employees were 19 percent female.


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