Naveena Vijayan

Art. Travel. Lifestyle

From sugary fudge to cruise menus: in conversation with Curtis Stone

Sometimes a sugary fudge is all it takes to change one’s life. Like it did for renowned celebrity chef Curtis Stone. A Yorkshire fudge made by his grandmother encouraged four-year-old Stone to enter the kitchen and whip some up by himself. And in 2014, almost 30 years later, he opened his first restaurant in Los Angeles — Maude — after his grandmother. Two years later, he started another, named after another grandmother, Gwen. “Both of them have had a big influence in my life. They have been the

The Mumbai Café in Chennai: For Love of Food and Mumbai Masala

It takes us more than an hour to reach the destination, driving by the narrow blocked arteries of Chennai and then, the open deserted roads of Kelambakkam in the outskirts. Braving the slap and sting of the sun, with a coat of sticky dust on our faces, we take a break for snack at a small heaven of ‘chaat’, the Mumbai Café. It looks as if the whole of Mumbai has been crammed into an area of just over 600 square feet. Every inch of the wall takes you back to Mumbai—be it a handsome Rajesh Khanna

Food for thought

Six-year-old Krishna is busy at work. Even as we seat ourselves, the daughter of supermodel, food expert, author and executive producer of Top Chef, Padma Lakshmi, tightens the bow behind each chair at the Ball Room in Taj Coromandel. On stage, Padma Lakshmi waves to her before diving into an over-an-hour-long conversation about her latest book Love, Loss, and What We Ate, with Mukund Padmanabhan, Editor,The Hindu. In Chennai (the last of a five-city tour) it’s almost like coming home — Padma ha

Eat, drink and be vegan

Among all the clutter of No-Shave November and NaNoWriMo posts in social media, I discover the 21-day Vegan Challenge. Though not as popular as the Mannequin Challenge, the global event has been widely promoted by societies such as Go Vegan, The Vegan Society and Animal Aid during November, which also happens to be World Vegan Month. I log on to the Vegan Society website to register for it. After filling in my age and the region as South Asia, I scroll down to see how many animals I would save i

When the king comes knocking

The grey sky cracks open, wells fill up and flower buds burst into long petals. Streets see men dressed as tigers (puliyattam) and elephants decked in gold. The sound of chenda mela hangs like a wisp of smoke in still air. That’s Onam in God’s own country. Here, the festival is less dramatic. That one kasavu sari surfaces from underneath a pile, and pops up as part of selfies on social media. Onam chandas — small markets with items like nendra pazham and rice powder sourced from Kerala — mushro

Interview with Chef Janice Wong

Janice Wong remembers the Chennai beach vividly from her visit to the city almost 15 years ago. She was representing her school at a Junior Squash championship in Chennai, and had little idea that she would one day be the face of the launch of new Magnum Choco Cappuccino flavour in the city. The Singapore-based chef who switched fields from Economics, is also known for her edible art works. She is currently working on 1,000 edible art pieces for an exhibition that will be travelling to Beijing,

Yellowstone National Park: Bear in mind

After a six-hour drive from Salt Lake City, Utah, we reach ‘Mountain Home’, a VRBO-rented mansion in Montana that’s a two-hour drive from Yellowstone National Park (YNP). Cut off from civilisation, all we see around is a smattering of similar-looking mansions within a hoola-hoop of snow-capped mountains. For the next three days, this is to be our home, where we are kept company by dense trees, sullen clouds, and as we are told, a good population of Grizzly bears. There are warning boards everywh

Sixty, armed with a map and fabulous

Harsharan Matharu’s travel diaries begin at the age of 82. When we call her, she is packing her bags to Himachal Pradesh for a holiday with a bunch of other senior citizens. “Many from Bengaluru and Bhubaneswar have already reached Chandigarh, which is the assembly point. Before we leave, we are planning to go shopping... I won’t buy anything, I just want to get to know the team,” says Matharu in a wavery voice. This is her second trip in less than six months. Earlier this year, she had explore

A Hymn for the Panda

Ying Ying is fast asleep the first time we see her. Her giant furred belly rises and falls in rhythm. A stack of half-eaten bamboo shoots lies beside her. “Eat. Sleep. Repeat. That’s her routine,” say the panda zookeepers, who are off to get the next stack before Ying Ying wakes up. A kid beside me knocks on the glass window, inviting the attention of a strict, uniformed teenager from the Ocean Park’s educational programme. “They are solitary animals. They do not like to be touched or disturbed,

Lady of the lake

“Stop crying,” I repeat to myself silently. The toddler in front of me is restless; his mother, angry. It’s been an hour, and the queue for boating at the newly-opened Chetpet eco-park has only moved inches. The 4 p.m. sun shimmers elegantly on the 16-acre lake, but on us, it stings. Just when the kid starts another bout of bawling, a man from behind asks, “Are you single?” Confused, and a little shocked, I turn sharply, only to see him pointing at the staff in blue uniforms. They are calling ou

A peep into British history in Mamallapuram

The Yale Suite: reads a pale brown board outside a faded white wall capped with thick foliage. Branches heavy with bright pink flowers bow a warm welcome. The heavy door of the suite creaks open into a cool yellow-lit room, which looks like an oddly-large exhibit in an art fair. The ceiling converges from all sides into a single point, like a conical hat. Old world charm seeps from a large mirror with an intricate faded gold frame and a teakwood cupboard with rusty keyholes. A lamp that looks l