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‘Charcoal’ cheers up Indian foodies in Bangkok

Enjoy Delhi and Mumbai'f famous street food in Bangkok too!

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Charcoal Tandoor Grill & Mixology Restaurant, Bangkok Image: charcoalbkk.com

A ‘Spice Library’ with traditional condiments from all corners of India, Mumbai’s famous ‘Dabbawalas’, an Indian mixology concept at the bar to fire up your drinks and a restroom where you can hear the lively noises of Delhi’s famous Chandini Chowk area – all of this and more are on offer at the most unlikely of places, Bangkok.

In the Thai capital’s ever-busy Sukhumvit area, the Charcoal Tandoor Grill and Mixology has raised the bar for authentic Indian cuisine and that is evident from it being a runaway success, especially among foreigners. Located on the fifth floor of Fraser Suites in Sukhumvit’s Soi 11, Charcoal is not only about Indian food but also the tradition that is behind the popularity of this food.

“Charcoal offers authentic tandoori kebabs, char-grilled over glowing embers in our copper-clad ovens. People can enjoy the delicacies that come from the house of the Royal Moghuls,” Derrick Gooch, the general manager of Fraser Suites, told IANS as he excitedly took me through a brief journey about Charcoal’s existence, its food and the idea behind the effort.

“We wanted our food to be real, authentic Indian. We spent considerable time in India to pick the best chefs and cooks, raw materials and equipment. All our spices for the restaurant and other raw material still comes from India to ensure that authentic taste,” Gooch, who once worked with a leading resort near Gurgaon and has been settled in Thailand for the past nearly 14 years, pointed out.

The popular celebration dishes, made from centuries-old recipies, at Charcoal include murg angaar (charcoal), murg malai kebab, tandoori malai broccoli, sikandar ki raan (tender lamb), the softest possible paneer tikka and dum biryani.

“Our DNA is kebabs. We offer only two types of gravies in Indian food. We get a lot of foreign guests and they really relish the char-grilled food here,” restaurant manager Vijay Kamble, who worked in a leading hotel chain in Mumbai before moving to Bangkok, told IANS.

The Sunday brunch buffet (@ 999++ THB (Thai baht)/almost Rs,2000 per person) offers vegetarian and non-vegetarian kebabs with Indian breads.

“We lay a lot on stress on retaining the original flavour of the spices that we use. The idea is to ensure that our clients should be happy having Indian food here,” chef Manzoor, who hails from the City of Nawabs, Lucknow, told IANS.

There’s a unique about Charcoal.

The restaurant boasts of a whole wall that is a Spice Library. Spices are kept here in a traditional way while sharing information about them. Another wall depicts the Mumbai Dabbawalas concept in all its colours.

Related article: Indian ‘masala’, among other condiments spicing up global food palate

Even the restroom in the restaurant is inimitable. “The moment you enter it, you will hear the real-time sounds of Delhi’s famous (and chaotic) Chandini Chowk area. The sound of vendors and honking of horns does not let you miss out on Delhi’s life,” Gooch pointed out.

The restaurant also offers the best variety of ‘paan’ (betel leaf) – straight from the popular Prince Paan Shop in New Delhi’s GK market. It is priced at THB 100.

“Our paans are the most authentic and fresh ones. We use Kolkata and Banarsi betel leaves. To suit the convenience of our foreign guests, we have smaller sized paans too,” Dev Singh, who hails originally from Nepal but has settled in Delhi for over three decades, said.

But what takes the cake is the Charcoal bar where lies the Mixology Studio. Signature cocktail creations come alive in a sophisticated industrial setting here.

“The cocktails here are combined with Indian spices to fire them up. We have a unique style of presentation too,” Kamble pointed out.

Cocktails like New Delhi Duty Free, comprising spices, honey, Bacardi, watermelon juice and mango, are served in a bottle-jar which is packed in a transparent plastic bag (like the ones in which liquor bottles are packed at duty-free shops at airports) along with a dummy Indian passport.

Other spiced up cocktails include Horn Ok Please (betel leaf, basil and gin), Mufftey Mai (gin and cucumber in a glass laced with chaat masala), 1947: Independence, Sialkot’s Gun Powder, Kolkata Rickshaw Fuel and many more.

At Charcoal, one will have to cook up excuses to explain over-eating!!

Here are some details of Charcoal:

Where: Charcoal Tandoor Grill and Mixology; 5/F, Fraser Suites, Sukhumvit Soi 11, Bangkok, Thailand. Timings: 6 p.m. till 12 a.m.

A meal for Two: THB 1,200 upwards (IANS)

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Thanksgiving Day Across the World

Thanksgiving Day is celebrated across the world and for each country, it has its own tale and tradition around food and days.

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Thanksgiving Day celebrations
Happy Thanksgiving Day, Wikimedia Commons

Thanksgiving Day. The name stands for itself as the day to give thanks and is celebrated as a national holiday in many countries like United States of America, Canada, Netherlands, Philippines, Grenada, Liberia while similarly named festival exists in Germany, Japan, and United Kingdom.
Thanksgiving holiday remains a day to give thanks at the close of the harvest season.

America
The official date for the American Thanksgiving that exists today was set by President Roosevelt to be on the fourth Thursday in November instead of the last Thursday in November as decided by President Lincoln as thanksgiving date.
But their thanksgiving is surrounded by a debate over the nation’s first celebrations and the two places embroiled in this debate are New England and Virginia as both the places provide certain proofs of being the spot for nation’s first celebrations for Thanksgiving.

Canada
Canadian Thanksgiving tradition is celebrated in the true spirit of giving thanks at the close of the harvest season. It is believed that due to the geographical differences from the USA, Canada’s Thanksgiving arrives on the second Monday in October as that is the close of their harvest season.

But in countries like Liberia, Netherlands, and Grenada, it is not just a day to give thanks at the close of the harvest season.

Liberia
In Liberia, Thanksgiving holiday is celebrated to mark the freedom from black slavery by the U.S.A. The Thanksgiving day’s date remains on the first Thursday of November and has been a tradition since 1820.

Netherlands
Netherlands celebrate thanksgiving to mark to commemorate the Pilgrims who had migrated and became residents of the city of Leiden and died at Pieterskerk. To commemorate the hospitality, the thanksgiving, a non-denominational Thanksgiving Day is celebrated as the same as American Thanksgiving Day’s morning.

But there are some countries like the Philippines where the tradition of Thanksgiving only arrived with the Americans due to it being an American colony in the early 20th century but the tradition of Thanksgiving there had seemed to die down.

Food:
The American Thanksgiving seems to dominate the Thanksgiving menu when it comes to this holiday. Their famous turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, gravy, pies, mashed potatoes, and yams are signature dishes related to this day.

Black Friday:
Not only food, American Thanksgiving has also made Black Friday, an informal day following the Thanksgiving Day to mark the beginning of their country’s Christmas season sales and it has been in the history books since 1952 such that it has become a tradition of its own now.

Thanksgiving Day remains an occasion for many families to get back together and celebrate this holiday in the spirit of one while giving the rise to the excitement of upcoming Christmas also which remains barely a month away from Thanksgiving day.

Samridhi Nain is a student of Philosophy (Hons.) from University of Delhi.

 

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Is Delhi’s air going to take the structure of ‘London’s Smog’?

Breathing in Delhi is equal to smoking 40 cigarets.

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Smog in Delhi
In recent time, there is a huge increase in the smog in around Delhi. Wikimedia commons

New Delhi, Nov 15 On a cold December morning some 65 years ago, a seemingly dense fog engulfed the City of London. People went about their business as usual as it was a common occurrence at that time. It didn’t take long, however, for Londoners to realise that this was no regular fog but a toxic combination of smoke and fog — smog.

That Great Smog of 1952 — often called “The Big Smoke” — killed an estimated 12,000 people and had long-term ill-effects on the health of the city’s residents.

Last week, AIIMS Director Randeep Guleria compared the alarming pollution scenario in Delhi with London’s 1952 crisis. Environment experts agree that if serious steps are not taken, Delhi may soon face a similar kind of “air pollution disaster” which London did 65 years ago.

The Big Smoke did not happen in London all of a sudden. There were signs — alarming signs — as even before the 1952 crisis, the British capital experienced smog events several times in the past which they called “pea soupers”. Those were similar to what Delhi may be experiencing today.

Just as in Delhi today, the smog engulfed London, reducing visibility and causing discomfort to children and the elderly and to those suffering from respiratory diseases. The number of patients reporting to hospitals with respiratory ailments used to increase at that time of the year.

But it took the air pollution disaster of 1952 for the British government to acknowledge the magnitude of the crisis and take a slew of measures to undo the damage — including passage of the Clean Air Act 1956 and shift from coal-based fuel to alternative fuels.

While some experts wonder if Delhi is also waiting for a disaster like The Big Smoke to take stringent measures to improve the city’s air quality, others feel the disaster is already upon us and would have long-term health impacts on Delhi’s residents.

Eminent environment expert C.R. Babu said what we face in Delhi today is much more serious than the London smog.

“In London, smog killed because people faced breathing problems. But the toxins in Delhi’s air could lead to long-term problems and chronic health disorders, and not just short-term health issues,” Babu told IANS.

“Vehicular exhausts have large amounts of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons which are toxic in nature and are also carcinogenic,” he added.

Babu warned that the situation would become much worse if the government didn’t act fast. “Just like the London incident was called an ‘air pollution disaster’, what we have today is a similar disaster in Delhi. But in Delhi’s case, people will suffer for longer periods.”

“It is time for the government to think deeply about long-term planning for preventing such air pollution disasters,” he added.

According to AIIMS Director Guleria, the alarming pollution level in the city has already led to an at least 20 per cent increase in the number of persons complaining of cardiac and respiratory problems.

He also warned that about 30,000 persons may lose their lives in the National Capital Region alone due to the current pollution levels, numbers which, he said, he had extrapolated from the number of hospital admissions.

Vivek Chattopadhyay, Programme Manager at the Centre for Science and Enviromment, said it could be a watershed moment for Delhi and should not be taken lightly.

“Ultimately, we are dealing with a health crisis, not just visibility problems,” Chattopadhyay told IANS. “There are huge health costs and, as per estimates, air pollution is costing India around three per cent of the GDP in terms of health costs.”

Chattopadhyay said that the recurring smog incidents of Delhi are major warning signals and just as was the case of London before the big disaster, the powers that be in Delhi may also be unaware of the magnitude of the problem.

“The problem is that our health system won’t be able to tell how many are affected. We need a comprehensive data recording system. Hard statistics are needed about the number of cases of respiratory problems, cardiac arrests and strokes that are reported in the hospitals,” he said.

As for precautionary measures, he said there was a need to introduce clean fuel for everything and a parity of laws across NCR and not just in Delhi.

“Delhi in isolation cannot remain clean. It is high time that the government woke up and an inter-state meeting was held to collectively solve the problem. It has become a recurring thing and there is a need to change the way we work. The time for action is now,” he said.

R. Suresh, Fellow and Area Convenor at TERI (The Energy and Resource Institute), pointed out that Delhi’s response to the crisis has so far been reactive, not pre-emptive, which needed to change.

“While weather is not in our control, what we can control are ground-level emissions. What we have witnessed so far is that we face a crisis every year and then the government reacts. We need a long-term solution,” Suresh told IANS.

“We know that November-December is the peak time for air pollution. So our precautionary measures should happen before November. Why wait for Diwali to ban crackers? For next year, measures should be taken now.”

While Suresh said that the main problem was stubble burning in the neighbouring states as well as construction and road dust, Babu maintained that the exhaust from automobiles are more dangerous.

“You have to regulate automobiles — stringent measures are needed. For example, Singapore has decided to stop registration of all new vehicles. Why can’t we do that in Delhi? Almost every household has a vehicle today. More than the need, it has just become a symbol of social status,” he said. (IANS)

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Manoj Bajpayee is an amazing actor and a team player on set: Sidharth Malhotra

Sidharth Malhotra on Thursday treated his fans to a question and answer session over Twitter.

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Actor Sidharth Malhotra
Actor Sidharth Malhotra. Wikimedia Commons

November 7, 2017: Actor Sidharth Malhotra, who will be seen sharing screen space with Manoj Bajpayee in “Aiyaary”, says the National Award winning actor is amazing and a team player.

Sidharth Malhotra on Thursday treated his fans to a question and answer session over Twitter.

A user asked the “Student Of The Year” actor about his experience working with Manoj in “Aiyaary”.

Sidharth replied: “He’s an amazing actor and a team player on set.”

“Aiyaary”, set in Delhi, London and Kashmir, revolves around two strong-minded Army officers having completely different views, yet right in their own ways. It is a real-life story based on the relationship between a mentor and a protege.

Presented by Plan C and Jayantilal Gada (Pen), the project is produced by Shital Bhatia, Dhaval Jayantilal Gada, Motion Picture Capital.

When asked about the development of the film, Sidharth replied: “Awesome. Excited to show it in a few months.”

Sidharth, 32, also described his “Brothers” co-star Akshay Kumar as his “brother from another mother.”(IANS)