Whenever I travel abroad, I indulge to my heart’s content at dessert shops and cafes because till date, Dhaka has yet to have some good ones. So, when The Chocolate Room, an international franchise, opened beneath Gulshan 1’s Abacus Restaurant, I was thrilled to try out their offerings.
Upon entering you find yourself greeted by some lovely staffs who made my experience a wonderful one! Their menu ranged from brunch items to of course, sugary treats that I couldn’t wait to try! Four of us decided to try out some of their popular dishes that we found through Instagram.
For savory, we ordered Chicken Cheese Supreme Nachos, BBQ Chicken Pizza, TCR Signature Tenderloin Beef Steak and Grilled Prawn with Meuniere Sauce. The serving time was actually quite quick. Within 15 minutes, we had received all the dishes. To start off, the Nachos were heavily addictive! The cheese sauce was actually liquid cheddar cheese instead of the sliced ones being baked to melt. The topping of chicken, salsa, and olive complimented each other well. The turn off for me was the wonthon like chips as I prefer mine without the air pockets (but that’s a personal preference). The pizza had a nice, light crust but didn’t wow me in terms of flavor. The toppings didn’t seem as well balanced and the cheese wasn’t stringy either.
The mains blew our minds though! The Signature Beef Steak was unlike the traditional ones in terms of both presentation and taste. The egg yolk felt strange at first glance but when it was mixed with the rosemary based sauce, it provided a creamy sauce that went great with the beef. The steak itself was extremely easy to cut into and chew. The Grilled Prawns’ size really impressed us, it was well cleaned and grilled. Taste wise, they were tangy due to the lemon butter marinate and creamy. While 3 of my friends loved it, I found the creamy and tangy taste a bit too much for a bite. Overall, both the meals were really heavy. The mashed potato that is served as a side tasted creamy and herby!
As for the desserts, the Peanut Butter Fondue and Torroncino Waming Mug stole my heart. Both the desserts are chocolate based and are presented with candles beneath so that the chocolates don’t thicken. The Fondue came with brownies, cakes, wafers, and cookies. What I realized is that all their sweet fondues are incorporated with chocolate regardless which flavor you choose (caramel, peanut butter, etc.). The Torroncino was ordered by me as I had caught a cold. This is the first time I enjoyed Hot Chocolate so much! It tasted nutty from the nougat and almond and also had honey in it but wasn’t overly sweet.
Overall, the service and taste both make The Chocolate Room a place you have to visit. Most of their dishes can easily be shared by 2 people making it quite reasonable as well.
By Ifreet Taheea
Chili peppers aren’t for the faint of heart, but maybe they should be. Scientists in Italy say the spice slashes the mortality rate from heart attack and cerebrovascular disease (which restricts blood flow to the brain and includes strokes and aneurysms),says Yahoo!
The study, published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology on December 24, included 22,811 Italian men and women, who reported their chili pepper intake over an 8-year period. At the end of the study, people who consumed the spice at least four times a week reduced their risk of dying from a heart attack by 44 percent and from cerebrovascular disease by 61 percent.
Study author Marialaura Bonaccio, PhD, of IRCCS Neuromed Mediterranean Neurological Institute in Pozzilli, Italy, tells Yahoo Lifestyle that consuming chili peppers won’t prevent heart attacks or stoke, but rather the risk of fatality. The observational study did not identify exactly why chili peppers were so beneficial.
“But we know the results are independent of diet quality,” says Bonaccio. “This means that even if you don’t always adhere to the Mediterranean diet, the chili peppers will still have an effect.”
Chili peppers get their heat from the compound capsaicin, which a Chinese study on hamsters associated with a reduction in cholesterol and with blocking the expression of a gene that makes blood vessels tighten. In animal studies, capsaicin also appears to minimize body fat, and when consumed with ginger may lower the risk of cancer.
But some research has flagged capsaicin for its ties to cancer. According to the American Association for Cancer Research, “capsaicin can act as a carcinogen or as a cancer preventive agent,” adding, “Although widely consumed, capsaicin has a long and convoluted history of debate about whether its consumption or topical use is entirely safe.”
Anuj Shah MD, an interventional cardiologist and endovascular specialist and founder of Apex Heart and Vascular Care tells Yahoo Lifestyle that the new study helps us better understand the power of chili peppers. “People who eat them likely consume more fresh food in general, so the results could benefit from this trend,” he tells Yahoo Lifestyle.
Shah adds that studying a population — in this case, Italy — known for healthy eating (the Mediterranean diet is heavy on good-for-you fats such as olive oil, nuts, and fatty fish) provides a better baseline for results. “We all don’t have to rush to eat chili peppers,” he says, “but now we know that adding them to an already-healthy diet helps.”
Savva opened just a few months ago in Dhaka however, they managed to make a place for themselves in the food scene due to their unique menu and rooftop location overlooking much of Gulshan and Banani from their location in Road 49, Gulshan-2. With a chef who has worked at Michelin Star restaurants, Savva ensures that both your food and experience at Savva are worth remembering.
The interior was kept very aesthetic and minimalist. From their walls to their lights, all were made keeping the environmental safety in mind. The wall to floor glasses excited me as the natural lighting makes their space perfect for #instaworthy shots with panorami views of Dhaka city in the background! After browsing through their carefully curated menu I was ready to place my order.
My orders included Beef Fillet Tatakai, Vegetarian Flatbread, Seared Norwegian Salmon Pave, and a Sticky Toffee Pudding and honestly, I wasn’t prepared for what I was about to experience. The Beef Fillet Tatakai was a beautiful sight to behold. The drops of Pumpkin and Wasabi Puree made the overall dish a vibrant one. The lean cut beef were melting in my mouth and required minimal chewing. The onion salsa and Ponzu (citrus based sauce) complimented the dish really well. The flavors were clean and light leaving us satisfied yet hungry for more food. When the Vegetarian Flatbread arrived, I squeaked with joy as I love the combination of Feta and Rocket leaf. The sweetness from the colorful bell peppers, the nuttiness from the rocket leaf, and the saltiness from the feta cheese come together in the best possible way in this dish!
The main was a Norwegian Salmon placed upon potato puree. While the fish’s skin had a nice crisp to it, I felt that it lacked seasoning and was a tad bit overcooked. Even after I had added some salt and pepper, the dryness upset me.
Lastly arrived the Toffee Sticky Pudding, this dessert deserves a café on its own because of how good it tasted. With the chilliness of Dhaka winter, this warm and well balanced dessert really wooed me. The Toffee sauce had subtle hints of spices that balanced well with the sweetness. The Pistachio ice-cream was made in house and you could tell how fresh the ingredients used were. All the elements tied well together making the ending of our experience of Savva a wonderful one.
A lot of people have been complaining about their high price point in comparison to the portions served. I felt that the portions were actually enough to be shared by two at least for the dishes that I tried. Other than that, the ambiance you get here is ideal for cozy family/friend gatherings or romantic dates. They had me at their Flatbread so I will definitely be coming back again for more.
As a spice, the humble Onion has indispensable contribution in Bengali cuisine and recipes. However, due to unprecedented price hike of Onion in recent days, masses of Bangladesh are facing hard times to afford this spice for cooking everyday meals. In this situation, the question arises: is there any substitute for onion in cooking without compromising the taste and flavour?
You can use Onion powder or Onion Flakes instead of raw Onions. If you want to cook without Onion, then let’s check out some smart substitutes of Onion in cooking Bengali cuisines.
Chives are one of the best substitutes of Onion. It can create an Oniony flavor in the recipe with a bonus hint of garlic. Chives look similar to green onions. Through the lens of genetics, Chives plants belong to the broad Onion family. Chives plants bear glass blades like thinner stalks with tiny bulbs.
What most amazed us about Chives is that the whole plant – including upper portion of the Chive Stalks, green glower, and leaves – can be used for cooking. Chives plants are enriched with diverse vitamins and nutrients including Vitamin C, B1, B2, niacin, carotene, and some other mineral contents.
In 2017, Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute (BARI) invented ‘Chieve1’, a high yielding variety of ‘Chive’ crop widely found in China, Mongolia and Siberia. Scientists expect that this local variety can grow in Bangladesh round the year.
Garlic is a popular spice widely used in recipes with Onion. Garlic works as a great substitute when we omit Onion from certain Bengali recipes. However, to replace the Oniony flavor you may have to add a little more Garlic paste depending on the type of cuisine you wanna cook. Garlic is rich in zinc, iron, Vitamins (B1, B2, B3, B6, and C), folate, sodium, calcium, magnesium, manganese, potassium, and phosphorous.
While cooking Bengali recipes, Onion plays a great role in condensing the gravy. You can use chopped vegetables like carrots and tomatoes to substitute this thickening effect of Onion in gravies, different curries, soups, salads, etc.
You can also apply diced Bell Pepper in cooking as gravy thickener. Thinly chopped Cabbage can also replace the flavor of Onions in some dishes. Furthermore, Grated veggies like Bottle Gourd, Ridge Gourd or Snake Gourd can substitute Onion in a variety of dishes, including curries, soups, gravies, desserts, etc.
Melon and cumin seeds could be another smart substitute of Onion. Create a mixture of freshly ground Melon seeds, Cumin seeds, Yogurt, Coconut Paste or milk. This fusion can perform great to thicken the gravy of any curry. You also use Cashews, but it is more expensive than Onion.
Fresh ginger can stand as a smart substitute to Onion for many Bengali recipes. It may perform better if used with garlic paste. Ginger is rich in Vitamin B3, B6, and C, Phosphorus, Iron, Folate, Magnesium, Zinc, Riboflavin, Potassium and Niacin.
Dried Fennel seeds are one of the most common spices used in Bengali recipes. In the country, Fennel seeds are popular as ‘Mouri’. Fennel has an anise resembling flavor. You can use all parts – foliage, bulb, plant and seeds – of this aromatic herb in the process of cooking and food preparation. Bearing medicinal properties, Fennel seeds are enriched with manganese, vitamin C, magnesium, potassium, and calcium.
Onion is used in the preparation of various recipes for rendering aromatic flavor. When you don’t have Onion in your kitchen don’t panic! You can put chopped Celery to your gravies, curies, sauces and soups to imitate the Oniony flavor. Celery is rich in diverse vitamins and minerals including Vitamins (A, C, and K), Folate, and Potassium.
This spice is highly popular in Indian recipes for its pungent flavor. Depending on the quantity, it takes only one or two pinch of Asafetida or Hing to prepare a dish, in general. However, this spice is not widely available in Bangladesh.
Undoubtedly, it is hard to find an exact alternative to Onion, as it plays a versatile role in creating flavour, taste and texture in Bengali cuisine. However, Chives can be a potential substitute for Onion, if produced in the country. In this article, we have discussed some other Spices and vegetables, as smart alternatives to Onion. If you are a little creative with recipes, you can replace the taste and flavour of Onion with these spices and vegetables available in the country. Thus we can combat the ongoing crisis without breaking the bank.
When talking about desserts, limited number of restaurants and cafes strike our minds. Some of them (but not limited to) are Butlers Chocolate Café, Tabaq, The SweetSin Coffees, Secret Recipe, and The White Canary Café. However, many restaurants go unnoticed in terms of their desserts and, I believe, El Patron is definitely one of them.
With about 6 or 7 dessert options on their, menu El Patron truly serves some of the most unique and delicious items I have had in Dhaka! But first let’s talk about their interior. Since I am not an architecture expert, I can’t really point out the flaws they might have in terms of the interior. However, from an aesthetic point of view or just as a visitor, I was in awe of the ambience they managed to provide with their design. El Patron being a fine dining restaurant managed to live up to their promises of making you feel like you are in an elegant space. Starting from their cutlery to skylight and ceiling to floor window every aspect of this restaurant makes you feel like you have stepped into exclusivity.
Now coming to the highlight, the desserts, we ordered a Tiramisu, because I absolutely love this Italian dessert and order it whenever I find it on a menu and my friend ordered a Spicy Chocolate Mousse because she was intrigued by the description which stated that it is seasoned with Paprika! It goes without saying that presentation wise, the desserts were as gorgeous as their interior. Even just by looking at the Tiramisu layers I could understand that it would be moist and moist it was! Not only were the ladyfingers perfectly soaked in coffee and giving it a bitter taste but the sweetness from the mascarpone cheese did a fine job balancing out the bitterness. The cherry was literally the cherry on top of this wonderful dessert. I can say without a doubt that this is the best Tiramisu in Dhaka!
As for the Spicy Chocolate Mousse, we weren’t prepared for what was about to hit us. At first spoonful, it tasted like a regular but rich yet airy chocolate mousse. The fine quality of slightly bitter chocolate fills your mouth and a few seconds later, it hits you; the spice! The paprika did such a fine job complementing the taste of chocolate. I have heard of the combination of chocolate and chili but having tasted it firsthand made me realize why they go together so well.
In all, you all have to drop by this place at least to try their desserts. While their price point might be a turn off for many, unless you visit El Patron, you won’t realize that it’s not just the outstanding food that you are paying for but also the experience they take your through.
By Ifreet Taheea