Couple Spa Experience ‘Stay In Touch’ That Connects, At Hablis Hotels

Spending quality time with your partner attains a new meaning when you take this couple-treatment  “STAY IN TOUCH” at the Spa in Hablis Hotels. Staying in touch can be at a deeper level, with the calm and serenity of the spa space letting you connect as you unwind. Like they say, one connects better when the mind is calm and at peace. So it was at this beautiful Spa on the top floor of the hotel, overlooking the blueness of the swimming pool.

Perched On The Rooftop

From hablis spa overlooking the pool

Overlooking the swimming pool from the Spa at Hablis Hotels

A romantic getaway with your loved one.

What strikes you at once is the beauty of this place, being surrounded by the five elements of nature, water, wood, air, stone and fire. The concept is to make one feel as close to nature as possible.

It is quite unlike most other spas in the city where natural sunlight is shut out and the spaces are illumined by dim lights and candles. Jessy, the therapist explains that at Hablis Spa they believe in letting sunlight stream through gently, thereby energizing the spa recipients in the most natural way.

spa lounge at Hablis

The Spa lounge at Hablis Hotels by day

The first thing I noticed as soon as I stepped into the Spa is that it is just cool enough. That right balance of temperature, not so cold as to ask for an extra cover. There is the pleasant fragrance of aroma oils lingering in the air that  sets-in the relaxing mood. The lounge is aesthetically appointed to seat their guests while the therapists take you through the ritual of the awaiting spa therapy.

And this is how pretty it looks by night !

Hablis Spa lounge by night

Spa lounge at Hablis Hotels by night

A soft, white robe made from 100% Turkish cotton is handed to you to change into, while you secure your belongings in a locker in the Hydrotherapy Chamber.

A tastefully decorated Uruli pleases your eye as you walk towards the cabin set for the therapy. Most guests stop to take a picture of the Uruli I am sure, just like I did.

uruli at hablis spa

Welcome Uruli at the Spa at Hablis Hotels

The  Welcome Foot Bath

The Foot Bath is another welcome sight.  The ritual is akin to India’s traditional way of welcoming guests in days of yore. Stypha, the male therapist explains that at Hablis Spa, the best of Eastern and Western practices and techniques are harnessed to give their guests as holistic an experience as possible.

foot bath at hablis spa

Foot Bath at the Spa at Hablis Hotels

Soothing warm water is mixed with milk and certain flower petals along with coffee beans in another Uruli to soak and stimulate the feet. If you are wondering why coffee beans, read more about coffee’s magical effect on tired feet. After the feet are soaked and you think its done, more pampering happens. The nerve-endings in the feet are stimulated by rubbing on them rounded stone pebbles and one can feel the tensions in the body oozing away already. You are then led to your spa bed and allowed to take in slow, deep breaths  and bask in pleasant anticipation of the massage.

The Stay In Touch Therapy Massage 

Couple massage room at hablis spa

Couple massage beds at the Spa at Hablis Hotels

 

Mind and body begin to align as you lie on the bed sheathed cozily with soft pristine white towels instead of the robe and eyes masked gently to set in that meditative mood. Staipa begins the massage for the male while Jessie does so for the female guest, starting with the feet and then working upwards, combining slow pressure and expert hand movements with gentle stretching to unwind tight muscles and slip into a blissful state. Call it a duet experience if you will. You know your partner is around you, connected to you in a surreal kind of way and there is nothing more beatific than that.

preblended massage oils at Hablis Spa

Preblended relaxing aromatic oils at the Spa at Hablis Hotels

A sense of well-being pervades as the relaxing pre-blended signature aroma oils start working their magic on both bodies. Lost in time, you are left wanting for more when the therapists gently wake you up from your snoozes. Its kind of comforting to know that the ritual is not over yet and there is something more to look forward to.

The Rose Petal Milk Bath

Rose-Petal-Bath

Rose petal bath – representative picture only

Time to soak into more goodness as the couple-bath tub is filled with warm water, a generous dose of milk and rose petals, rock salt and a gentle shower gel. If the aromatic oils have left you feeling light in mind and body, the rose petal milk bath will take that sense of well-being to the next level. Eased of toxins and tensions, softness engulfs your skin.

While we all know about the benefits of milk and rose petals for the skin, a small note on what rock salt does to our bodies.

It can be used as a bath or body salt. You can mix a table-spoon of rock salt in your bath water to have a relaxing bath. Bathing in rock salt water combats water retention, soothes sore muscles, regulates sleep, detoxifies your body and lowers your blood pressure. It also eases stress and body pains. Courtesy : Stylecraze.

Stay in the bath as long as you want, you are allowed thirty minutes to do so. And when you are done with that , step into the steam and shower chamber. Suit yourselves as you regulate the temperature and steam with the red knob on the wall opposite. Now indulge in a shower to complete the cleansing with a gentle herbal shampoo and a shower gel. Feels so light that you wish you could just be carried out and did not have to walk !

An elixir awaits you as you change into your clothes and come back to the foyer. You can choose between their signature herbal tea or a refreshing mocktail.

herbal tea elixir at hablis spa

Herbal tea elixir at the Spa at Hablis Hotels

Time to head home, back to reality, but I think the indulgence can continue with a glass of wine perhaps or just slip into blissful sleep in the comfort of your bed. Most often, we go to the spa for a me-time, but this Stay In Touch duet experience is clearly an our-time.

It could be a great gift idea

  • For your partner’s special day
  • For your anniversary
  • To make your partner simply feel special and wanted
  • For your friend’s anniversary
  • For a newly-wed couple
  • For your parents, on their special day or just like that

Spa Details

  • Venue : The Spa at Hablis Hotels
  • Duration : Two hours
  • Tariff : INR 6500 + taxes
  • Timings : 9.00 am to 9.00 pm
  • Gift Vouchers available 
  • For bookings : Call 044 4203 5555

Hablis Hotels, 19 GST Road, Guindy, Chennai 600032, India, Tel : 91 44 4023 5555

Health And Fitness, Go The Natural Way Says Milind Soman At Hablis Hotels

When Milind Soman talks on fitness, people listen. We listened too in rapt attention, at Hablis Hotels. A chat session on fitness and nutrition was organized at the hotel. Milind Soman, the brand ambassador for Pinkathon was staying at Hablis for their Chennai run and how could we let him go without engaging him in his pet subject and ours too? Wellness!

Hablis Pinkathon team

The Hablis-Pinkathon team

Hablis Hotels has been Pinkathon’s hospitality partner, rather the wellness partner for the last two years and Milind Soman and his entire team do not have to struggle  with their wellness needs as the hotel understands. They love the ambience and the hotel’s commitment to mind-body-social wellness.

More about Milind Soman and Pinkathon:

Running 1500 kilometres in 30 days for Greenathon-NDTV to spread environmental awareness, he became a Limca record holder. A national swimming champion, he has sports and fitness in his blood I guess. In 2015, he completed the Ironman Triathlon in 15 hours and 19 minutes in his very first try. What did he have to do to win this title ? A 3.8 km swim, a 180.2 km cycle ride and 42.2 km race in that order without a break and required to complete within 16 hours. Whew! I am burning calories just writing this!!

In 2012, Pinkathon , India’s largest womens’ only running event was set up under his guidance to promote good health and spread breast cancer awareness and has since then been conducting runs in several cities of India every year.

Milind Soman the Pinkathon ambassador

Milind Soman, the Pinkathon ambassador

Coming back to the wellness chat with the fitness freak that Milind Soman is, we gathered around him with the hotel’s chef team and many other wellness enthusiasts to collect as many health tips from him as we could. He had a point, he wished to address the chefs, for it is they he said that need to understand wellness as they roll out dishes that satiate the palates of the guests. He encouraged chefs to spend time working out despite their crazily busy schedules. A fit chef is a live example of what healthy lifestyle can do to a body. At the end of the session, he donned the chef’s hat and whipped up a simple healthy salad.

Chef Sathya and Milind Soman at Hablis Hotels

Milind Soman dons the chefs hat at Hablis Hotels and mixed a healthy salad

So they begin with the basics. What fosters wellness?

MS : A balanced life in all ways. Right eating, right exercising, enough sleep and mindful living. The word ‘right’ simply translates to ‘mindfulness’ in this context he explains. For when one is mindful, one begins to do most things right, cutting out negative habits, inculcating a positive approach and keeping an open mind. Hablis couldn’t agree more.

Do you know that our bodies produce happy hormones called Serotonin? Serotonin regulates moods and makes us feel happy and these hormones get released into our bodies when we eat healthy food and exercise. Exposure to sun also helps, but make sure you get a few minutes of tender sunlight and not the harsh noon sun. Ask people who exercise and they will tell you what it does to their beings – induces happiness!

How does one determine what is right when it comes to eating, exercising and all else?

MS : Life is all about learning and continuing to learn till our last breath. Remember your grandma’s words? She was and is right. Did she advocate moderation in everything that you did? Follow that. Our ancestors’ fundamentals were strong and that is precisely why most of them kept good health till their ripe old age. Did she use jaggery more often than she used sugar? Did she pour a spoon of ghee on your plate of rice? Did she admonish you in childhood when you grimaced at eating fruits and vegetables but ran out to buy sweetmeats and savouries from the neighbourhood store?

Get back to grandma’s wisdom. Couple them with sensible new-age concepts and you will get wellness on a platter. Getting there is not easy though, you have to become a student first.

FIX : Begin by consulting reliable nutritionists and fitness coaches to know whats best for you and from thereon, become a student of wellness – it can be life-changing!

Milind Soman firmly believes that to become fit and remain that way, we all have to invest time and money in getting familiar with the basics and then on, learning to apply them in our daily lives. True that. Fitness and wellness ‘learned’ will remain with us longer than when we are spoon fed by trainers and nutritionists. We have one body to last us a lifetime, we would do well to train our minds and bodies on the path to fitness.

There is so much information on health out there, it is confusing.

MS : I agree. Read only that is relevant to you, take one step at a time. Adopt simple eating habits and food. Avoid workouts that tax you and leave you drained. And as rule of the thumb, steer clear of crash diets and quick-fix workouts, even if they are suggested by your trainers. Good health is acquired over time, every cell in the body learns to absorb and reacts to every act of us, human beings.

When I say simple food, I am referring to food that is local, seasonal and easily available without having to chase fancy ingredients. Look for nutrition in them and learn to make a balanced meal that consists of carbohydrates, proteins and a reasonable amount of fat. If someone tells you to go off carbs or fat, pause. Unless it comes from your doctor or therapist! Please don’t worry too much about gluten that is being talked about in all circles. Not all are allergic to gluten and till you are, there is no reason to block it out. Try getting most nutrients from the food that you eat everyday. 

Milind Soman practices what he advocates. His staple diet be it at home, or while he travels is Khichdi, the simplest dish to make and full of nutrition. It is accompanied by lots of vegetables, and fruits are a part of his breakfast. This is not say that he does not enjoy other foods. He gives in to temptations once in a while, but then sweats it out the next day.

Khichdi

Khichdi, a nutritious Indian delicacy made from rice and lentils

Khichdi is a comfort food but healthy, made from rice and lentils spiced differently in different parts of India. Click here to get a recipe and then browse on google for variations in taste. He touched upon jaggery and ghee and here is what he said:

Jaggery and Ghee :

Jaggery cake at hablis hotels by chef sathya

Chef Sathya baked a jaggery cake at Hablis Hotels to welcome Milind Soman

Milind Soman has moved over to jaggery from sugar long ago. Knowing his passion for jaggery, Chef Sathya of Hablis Hotels baked a jaggery cake to welcome him and it was yummy. We also felt encouraged to bite into an extra piece knowing it was made from natural ingredients. Milind extends a word of caution here : choose dark coloured jaggery, the light shaded ones could be bleached and try to buy it from organic stores – all that said, consume jaggery too in moderation like everything else. A tip worth noting.

MS : Ghee has made a comeback and for good reason. It was never bad, he continues. Ghee became a victim of health fads and thankfully the very same people have now embraced it as a must-eat. One spoon of ghee everyday has tremendous health benefits, but do consult your doctor if you have any health issues.

(More on ghee and jaggery in blogs dedicated to them, there is so much to write about!)

MS : Say No To Refined Foods :

If you wish wellness for you and your families, stay as close to nature as possible. By that I mean,

  • Consume food made from natural ingredients.
  • Refined foods are a no-no, they satisfy your palate but add empty calories.
  • Keep tinned/canned food for emergencies only and discourage your kids at an early age to do so too.
  • Reward your kid with a healthy food every time they win something, you are doing them goodness for a lifetime.
  • Similarly, we do not need external health supplements. Eat healthy and balanced meals and try to make food your medicine.
  • Our ancestors’ (Indian) eating habits are a treasure-house of home remedies. Read, consult, understand and apply those tips and you are well on your way to good health.
  • Include lots of vegetables and fruits in your everyday meals.
  • Eat fruits on an empty stomach or eat them one hour before or after a meal. Take this as nature’s command and do not ever eat fruits along with a meal.

I could see a smile of satisfaction on the chefs’ faces, for Hablis strongly implements the ‘no tinned/canned ingredients’ concept. Milind Soman was excited that the hotel uses only fresh and seasonal produce in all its cooking. Chef Sathya and his team do rounds of the market almost every day to procure fresh fruits and vegetables and every sauce and dressing is made in-house.

We see around us a lot of people injuring themselves while working out. What is the best way to exercise?

MS : Start working out under supervision and gradually build your knowledge of the body and workouts. Listen to your body. Challenge it but do not push too many barriers – leave it for later when you are in intermediate or advanced stage of fitness. The safest way to build healthy strong muscles is with body-weight exercises. The chance of injuries is lesser. That is not to gainsay the role of weights in building a fit body, but weights have to be borne with caution and a certain technique.

 The key to a toned body is form or posture to begin with. When form is right, you cant go wrong. Practice proper posture in every walk of life. Chefs, you need to be on your feet for most part of your working hours, nothing is more important than maintaining right posture if you want your body to cooperate with your work!! Tuck your tummy in at all times and do not slouch. If you feel good within yourself, you will churn out good food.

 Train your bodies for functional fitness. We need energy and a fit body to do all the pulls and pushes in our daily lives. We do not lead our lives in the gyms. I know people that can lift the heaviest of weights at the gym but ask them to bend down and pack a suitcase, they complain of back pain. Focus more on strengthening your body holistically rather than building it for how you want to appear. With fitness comes good posture, with posture comes confidence and with confidence you are bound to look good.

Milind Soman’s workout pattern : Run, run and run and at other times, do body-weight exercises. He runs long distances three to four times a week and works out to strengthen his core and upper body. He has trained to run marathons and is equipped to run right. Running does not come easily to many of us and so let us do what  suits our bodies and life-style keeping in mind all of the above. Thank you Milind Soman!

We are hoping to get more from him on health and fitness when he stays at Hablis Hotels next. In the meantime, Hablis Hotels, Chennai’s urban wellness destination has a lot of interesting wellness facilities like their Infinity Swimming Pool, open air fitness zone, Spa with customised soothing, blended oils and all their restaurants serving food made from natural, seasonal fruits and vegetables. You can also take home wellness in jars that comprise of dehydrated fruits, whole spices and spice powders, seeds, millet cookies, jams and pickles. Contact :

Hablis Hotels, 19 GST Road, Guindy, Chennai 600032, India, Tel : 91 44 4023 5555

Sleek And Modern Handmade Jewelry For Singapore

 

I could go on and on with jewelry quotes, am sure there are as many quotes as all of one’s jewelry put together. I am not even sure which one would number higher!

Chosen carefully, it’s that one piece of an accessory that can make you unique. Jewelry has been a mood lifter on many occasions personally when I have felt luxurious, elegant, rich, sensuous and so much more wearing certain pieces of jewelry. That goes for most of you I guess!

With changing lifestyles, we are forever on a buying spree for clothes and accessories. And when we chance upon handmade jewelry, most of us find it hard to resist the temptation to shop. Even if it means stretching our purses a bit more. For all those fashionistas, The Sandalwood Room presents some exciting jewellery under two brands – the Dusk Jewellery and the Chinoserie Chic range from ICING Accessories, creations of Jan and Mei from Singapore for Singapore to suit every purse though.

The Dusk

Dusk Jewelry collection, the sandalwood room

Collage of Dusk Jewelry

The duo thought Singapore needed bright and uniquely coloured gemstone jewelry and set about collecting handpicked semi-precious, natural gemstones from all over the world. For many artists, dusk has been more inspiring than any other part of the day. True that, the colours of sunset are magical. Jan and Mei got enraptured too, like most of us. In their own words “Just like dusk, we hope to capture the transient beauty of sunset in our Dusk jewelry creations”. Clearly, the wondrous hues of sunset set these two brands of jewelry apart from others.

Sleek neck-chains that can be paired with for an ethnic look or a contemporary ensemble.

Handcrafted in Singapore and set in elegant  brass and 18k gold, they seem to be just right for Singapore, keeping the designs simple so that the natural beauty of the gemstones shine through.

The Chinoserie Chic by Icing Accessories

Lovingly hand-made jewelry with porcelains, pearls, shells and ceramics seem to be inspired by the modern woman. This is a new collection reflecting oriental elegance and femininity.

Singaporeans seek sleekness and modernity in designs and the Dusk and Chinoserie Chic jewelry seem to have just that as their leitmotif.

The Sandalwood Room is excited to collaborate with the ICING Gifts and showcase their line of jewelry on their shelves, being committed to handmade products. Jan and Mei are the first local designers to display their wares in The Sandalwood Room and are equally thrilled to have found a boutique store that values their work. More reasons in line with The Sandalwood Room’s philosophy:

  • It is a label that is easy to wear and conveys simple elegance.
  • Most of the designs are one of a kind
  • Every piece of Dusk and ICING Accessories jewelry is designed and handmade locally in Singapore.

  • Every design is limited to a few numbers to keep the jewelry unique and exclusive
  • All earring hooks and necklace chains are 18k gold-plated

The brand’s jewelry pieces showcased in The Sandalwood Room are exclusive to the boutique, dont look for them anywhere else in Singapore.

The Sandalwood Room on Tras Street, close to Tanjong Pagar, Singapore is an exclusive boutique with gifts and collectibles, ethnic fashion, jewelry, home decor and art, an eclectic mix of merchandise and an art gallery that hosts periodic exhibitions by international artists.For those with a penchant for contemporary arts and traditional crafts…this is the place to be !

The Sandalwood Room looks forward to partnering with more local designers and brands of Singapore going forward. After all, it feels quite rewarding to be recognised and accepted.

If you have liked any of the above products, click here to explore more and if you wish to place an order email them and The Sandalwood Room will be happy to courier your order to you.

  • Price on request. Email them at the ID below
  • Payments are routed through PayPal
  • All products subject to availability.
  • Give them a Facebook like here

New Address :

The Sandalwood Room, 78 Tras Street, Singapore 079017

Phone : +65 6221 2654 / +65 9786 5896

Email: thesandalwoodroom@gmail.com

Website : The Sandalwood Room

Facebook : Visit The Sandalwood Room

 

Sous Vide Cooking Is Futuristic

I was not a foodie nor a fitness enthusiast once upon a time. I didn’t watch what I ate and I hardly exercised. I had gotten lucky with genes that had gifted me a high metabolic rate. But, pregnancy and childbirth changed all of that. Knocking off post pregnancy weight became a daunting task, but I quickly learnt to eat right and workout hard, kind of fast and furious!

I have come a long way since then and so has my love for a healthy and fit body. I fell in love with mediterranean cuisine, replete with fruits and vegetables. I now don the chef cap often at home, but the focus is on healthy, wholesome yet low calorie food.

I had thoroughly enjoyed watching John Wells movie “BURNT” starring the brilliant Bradley Cooper and was in complete awe of the kitchen scenes. As serendipity would have it I dined at Novella, the rooftop poolside restaurant in Hablis Hotels that serves European fusion food the very next day. The Head Chef walked to our table to chat us up in ‘that’ inimitable way and he turned out to be a product of the Michelin Star hotel in London. I was fascinated! To appease my curiosity, Chef Sathya (CS) took me over to the cooking counters and pointed to a compact machine which bubbled with water and some food packets. “So that is the secret of the fine food you just tasted, its called sous-vide cooking”, he said.

sous vide equipment

Sous-vide apparatus

I found it so interesting, I had to write about it. So here goes…….

Me : Tell me what is this sous-vide cooking all about.

CS : Sous-vide literally means ‘under vacuum’ in French. It is a method of cooking wherein food is sealed in air-tight plastic bags and placed in a temperature controlled water bath, or a steam environment. The temperatures set in this method are generally much lower than normal cooking, typically around 55-60° C (131-140° F) for meat, and higher for vegetables.

Me : What is the advantage of this method of cooking?

CS : It ensures that the insides as well as the outer layers of the food are uniformly cooked and retain moisture.

Me : So, no water is used to cook the food?

CS : Yes, sealing the food in air-tight plastic bags retains the juices and the aroma that otherwise would get lost in the process. Every food has a certain desired final cooking temperature. So by setting that temperature we avoid over-cooking, because the food cannot get hotter than the bath it is in. With proper setting of time and temperature, even irregularly shaped or thick items get cooked uniformly.

Me : Why is temperature control so important?

CS : Because lower temperatures result in much higher succulence. Unlike food cooked on high temperatures, sous-vide cooking method does not allow cell walls in the food to burst. Meats do not lose their moisture and vegetables while being cooked just right (and pasteurised too) attain a somewhat firm and crisp texture. Besides, the spices and ingredients added and enclosed  within the bag transfer their flavour directly to the item being cooked.

There are three simple steps to cook the sous-vide way:

  1. Season the food with your favourite herbs and spices
  2. Vacuum seal the food in a food grade plastic pouch
  3. Drop the pouch in the water bath with the set temperature and walk away to attend to other jobs.

Me : All this sounds too cool. So is this the best method to cook then?

CS : There is only one limitation, that of browning. Since the flavour or the texture achieved by the browning of the food cannot be obtained with the sous-vide cooking technique, we do it before or after placing it in the water bath, by a simple ‘searing’ that gives us the best of both the worlds.

Me : How safe is food cooked this way? What about using the plastic bags?

CS : It is perfectly safe to eat food cooked the sous-vide way, because time and temperature compliment each other in rendering it safe. However, people prescribed pasteurised food can avoid it.

Food grade plastic, polyethylene is used to prepare these specially formulated bags, hence no cause for concern.

Now for some vegetables………

IMG_5209

Vegetables ready to be cooked the sous-vide way

Me : So is this method of cooking only for restaurants or can we use it for domestic cooking too?

CS : Sous-vide cooking technique is used in many high-end gourmet restaurants by master chefs all over the world. Amtrack, the popular American passenger rail-road service uses this method for meals served on their trains. Sous-vide cooking has taken cooking shows on television by storm. Non-professional cooks have started using this method too because it is hassle free. In our restaurant kitchens, we use the most superior sous-vide equipment, but less expensive ones are being made available for domestic cooking in the last few years.

Sir Benjamin Thompson first introduced this technique as long back as 1799 and since then has gone through a lot of improvements to make it the technique it is today.

Me : What kind of foods can you cook sous vide?

CS : All kinds actually! Meats like beef, pork, lamb, chicken, or poultry. Fish and sea-food are best cooked the sous-vide way as there is no fear of over-cooking. Almost all kinds of vegetables and fruits cooked this way yield delicious results. You can even make custard-style ice cream base, béarnaise sauce, crème anglaise, custards, cheese, yogurt, beer, and some cakes. Just about anything that requires a precise temperature to cook properly can be a candidate for sous vide cooking.

 

A few basic food safety tips :

Whether cooking sous vide or with other techniques, it is best to follow these practices :

  • Make sure food is fresh, of high quality and thoroughly cleaned.
  • Don’t cross contaminate – use separate cutting boards and storage units for different food, such as vegetables, fish, fruit, poultry, and meat.
  • Cook all food properly. Most bacteria are killed at 130F/54.5C, and most sous vide cooking temperatures are higher than that, but it’s a matter of both temperature and time as mentioned earlier.
  • Serve food right away or follow proper storage and chilling practices, so that you do not leave food out at unsafe temperatures for more than an hour.

For additional food safety and handling tips, we recommend visiting an approved food safety site such as www.foodsafety.govwww.foodsafety.org or www.fda.gov

And here is a site to find sous-vide recipes : Anova .

My main course had arrived at my table and we walked back. Chef Sathya pointed out to the braised lamb on my plate and said meats from sous-vide cooking always emerged more pink and juicier. And he added, “when cooking sous vide, most foods will taste just as good even if they spend a few extra minutes at a target temperature, letting you relax and attend to the more interesting and creative aspects of cooking. A final important benefit is that the closed bag creates a fully humid environment that effectively braises the food, so ingredients cooked this way are often noticeably juicier and tender”.

He took leave of us with a promise of putting together a sous-vide workshop soon if we could form a group and give him a date. So, if you are from Chennai and are keen on familiarising yourself with sous-vide method of cooking or dining at their fine-dining rooftop restaurant, you can contact :

Address

Hablis Hotels, 19 GST Road, Guindy, Chennai 600032. Tel : +91 4023 5555

 

How To Add Colour To White Interiors

We all know the power of white and Singapore loves white. The country has chosen well. It is the most refreshing colour of the spectrum, evoking purity and a clean look. But more than anything else, it exudes sophistication I think. Its crowning glory however is in its versatility, in being a canvas for the palette of colours. Almost all the metals pair with white in a classy and a classic way.

An interior decorator had this to say “the greatest asset of working with white is the ability to showcase your own personality by adding colour in your upholstery, furniture, furnishings and décor accessories without having to compete with the colour on the walls”. True that. I am coming to ‘adding colour to a white room’ in a bit, but in the meantime, look at this stunning simple European summer look in white-on-white. It took my breath away.

white on white bedroomImage Courtesy : Freshome

With white and its multitudinous shades as the canvas, spring/summer, winter or autumn can be ushered in into your homes with a change of colour shades. Give in to a whim, swap out rugs, add pillow and cushion covers, brighten up the window sill, splash colour with bed linen. Options and options. The Sandalwood Room brings their Play with Decor ideas in the following pictures and video, when pastels meet colour.

Play with Decor Ideas

Contemporary meets ethnic in this makeover. Beige with a splash of colours, making it at once warm and cozy.

pastel walls and brightly coloured accessories, the sandalwood room

Pastel wallls and brightly coloured accessories

Check out another makeover in this video, a study room this time.

An array of home decor accessories that could brighten up any space, letting you get creative and experimental with many a mix-n-match options. Giving white spaces an interesting twist with handcrafted accessories. The Singaporeans, the Chinese and the Japanese women love these colourful things from The Sandalwood Room.  An interesting link on how different regions symbolise colours.

Home decor accessories, the sandalwood room

Home decor accessories in multi colours and textures

Adding some brightness to your kids room.

Stuffed toys, handcrafted, the sandalwood room

Stuffed toys, handcrafted

Trunks and a trunk seat for an immediate perk up of any corner of the house.

And then these quilts and comforters. How about gifting some to that one most wonderful woman in your lives, the Mother on Mothers Day? A hug along with a handcrafted accessory to make her feel special.

Quilts and comforters , handcrafted in superior cotton, the sandalwood room

Quilts and comforters, handcrafted and vibrant

The Sandalwood Room on Tras Street, close to Tanjong Pagar, Singapore is an exclusive boutique with gifts and collectibles, ethnic fashion, jewelry, home decor and art, an eclectic mix of merchandise and an art gallery that hosts periodic exhibitions by international artists.For those with a penchant for contemporary arts and traditional crafts…this is the place to be!

  • If you have liked any of the above products, click here to explore more and if you wish to place an order email them and The Sandalwood Room will be happy to courier your order to you.
  • Price on request. Email them at the ID below.
  • Payments are routed through PayPal.
  • All products subject to availability.
  • Give them a Facebook like here.

New Address:

The Sandalwood Room, 78 Tras Street, Singapore 079017

Phone : +65 6221 2654 / +65 9786 5896

Email: thesandalwoodroom@gmail.com

Website: http://www.thesandalwoodroom.com

Facebook : Visit The Sandalwood Room

Why Chef’s Need to Stop Dissing Vegetarians — No Thyme to Waste

Its so absolutely true that vegetarians get a raw deal, pun intended. I loved Ashley Marie’s post and felt a connect to it immediately, reblogging it.

Read on for Ashley Marie’s post…….

Chances are if you know a vegetarian, are one yourself, or have ever worked in a professional kitchen – you’re well aware that when it comes to dining out: vegetarian plates are a throw away. Sure there’s the odd vegetarian restaurant that’s actually good (I mean, it’s a more ‘acceptable’ thing to be vegetarian these days) but […]

via Why Chef’s Need to Stop Dissing Vegetarians — No Thyme to Waste

Handcrafted Trinket Boxes For Your Valuables That Let You Play With Decor

How To Add Colour To White Spaces

Life is all about boxes! I guess we have more boxes in our mind space than we have in our physical world. Tiny spaces for all our thoughts, memories and emotions. A small Eureka moment as I start writing about these pretty trinket boxes.

Trinket boxes were born out of nobility methinks. More so the elaborately decorated ones, going back to medieval times when the genteel placed the embellished boxes on their dressers for their brooches, pins and jewellery. We continue the habit or shall we call it a need, for the fascination for accessories has not ceased in the present times. Just that the trinket boxes are getting more functional and less decorative, making them disposable easily only to be replaced by fancier ones.

A bit of trivia : Did you know the most popular trinket boxes were created for the Russian Tsar from 1890s to early 1900s? And they were without doubt the most expensive, being studded with gold and precious gems. They came to be called the Faberge Eggs, named so after the royal jeweller Carl Faberge and were shaped like eggs. I cant help but post pics of two of the fabulously crafted Faberge Eggs.

The Imperial Coronation Egg, the most famous and iconic of all the Fabergé eggs.

Fabergé_egg_Rome_05

This grand Faberge Egg was made under the supervision of the Russian jeweller Peter Carl Fabergé in 1898 by Fabergé ateliers. It was presented to Tsar Nicholas II, who gifted it to the Tsaritsa, Empress Alexandra Fyodorovna.

Fabergé_egg_Rome_03

That was for the Royalty, now let’s get back to reality, our times. Here are a few trinket boxes from The Sandalwood Room that you and I can afford to have on our dressers, handcrafted and exclusive, not just serving their purpose but adding to the decor of the rooms. The Sandalwood Room gives tips on how to change the look of your rooms in small ways, but ones that are easy on the hands and the pockets. This campaign was born out of the need to liven up living spaces without having to get a fresh coat of paint to the walls or struggle with handymen. For homes in Singapore and many other regions, where walls come painted white most often. Where the only option is to add colour to the rooms with home decor accessories. Adding warmth through colours and textures. Sounds good.

Some beautiful handcrafted trinket boxes from The Sandalwood Room.

TSR play with decor handcrafted Trinket Boxes, the sandalwood room

Play with decor with this handcrafted trinket box

Here are beautiful rectangular boxes patterned with organic colours.

play with decor with this handcrafted trinket box in organic colours, the sandalwood room

Play with decor with this handcrafted trinket box with organic colours

Earthy wooden trinket box to fit your necklaces snugly.

Play with decor this hancrafted wooden box, the sandalwood room

Play with decor with this earthy wooden handcrafted trinket box

A glossy ceramic trinket box that looks as precious as the trinkets you are going to store in it.

play with decor with this handcrafted trinket box, the sandalwood room

Play with decor with this beautiful handcrafted trinket box

The Sandalwood Room on Tras Street, close to Tanjong Pagar, Singapore is an exclusive boutique with gifts and collectibles, ethnic fashion, jewelry, home decor and art, an eclectic mix of merchandise and an art gallery that hosts periodic exhibitions by international artists.For those with a penchant for contemporary arts and traditional crafts…this is the place to be!

  • If you have liked any of the above products, click here to explore more and if you wish to place an order email them and The Sandalwood Room will be happy to courier your order to you.
  • Price on request. Email them at the ID below.
  • Payments are routed through PayPal.
  • All products subject to availability.
  • Give them a Facebook like here.

New Address:

The Sandalwood Room, 78 Tras Street, Singapore 079017

Phone : +65 6221 2654 / +65 9786 5896

Email: thesandalwoodroom@gmail.com

Website: http://www.thesandalwoodroom.com

Facebook : Visit The Sandalwood Room

More ideas on “Play with Decor” in the next blog.

 

Spices That Help Keep Cool In Summer

Summers are blazing hard in most parts of India and scurrying for cover from the harsh sun into air-conditioned spaces is top of our minds. The loss of appetite, indigestion due to the heat, dehydration, sun-burns, prickly heat, I could go on and on with summer woes. While a lot on ‘hydrating ourselves in summer’ is being written about and suggested, I am taking the spice-route to keeping cool.

According to Ayurveda, summer time is categorised as the ‘Pitta’ or fire season and certain spices can help ease the discomfort the season brings along. Listing a few here with some tips, but its best to get experimental and creative and add these spices in as many foods and beverages as possible. These spices are not specific to Ayurveda alone, but are used in everyday cooking in most cuisines.

Researching these spices was fun, but proved to be a tough job filtering information pertinent to this blog. I would love to write in detail about each spice some day when the need arises. But what stood out amongst all the spices was their power to combat inflammation in the body caused by the rising heat of summer. Thankfully, they are all everyday spices and not some exotic stuff that we have to go looking for. But it’s always best to go for organic produce like these.

Organic Mint :

Mint leavesPeople turn to mint most often as a remedy for bad breath, but there is more to this herb than being a mouth freshener. It is interesting how mint (pudhina) helps cool the body. See what Naina Marballi, an Ayurveda physician says “Packed with menthol, it helps soothe ‘pitta’ by dispersing heat and cooling you down by opening up the pores of the skin thereby encouraging sweating”.

  • Add freshly picked mint to your summer salad or lemonade. Actually grow it in your backyard garden, even pot it. Its got its uses throughout the year.
  • Did you know it eases indigestion and chest pains?
  • It can relieve heart-burns.
  • Can be used to lighten sun-damaged skin. Grind mint leaves, mix with rosewater and lemon juice and apply it to the affected areas.

Try this : Get a jar of infused water with watermelon and mint. Keep it refrigerated overnight and sip on it all day long.

Organic Fennel :

Fennel seeds

Fennel is known as saunf in India and widely used in many cuisines for its nutritional benefits. We are now adding its cooling properties to the list. It is also a popular mouth freshener in many cultures.

  • They stimulate intestinal juices, hence aid in digestion. They are also known to reduce acid-reflux. Precisely why chewing a few fennel seeds is recommended before and after a meal.
  • It is an excellent source of Vitamin C and is known to calm inflammation of the stomach and intestine which is on the rise in summer.
  • Known to protect eyes from inflammation too.

Make this summer energiser : Soak fennel seeds in water overnight. Strain the water, add a pinch of sugar, black salt, lemon or anything else you like. Replace refined sugar with palm sugar for added benefits and drink it the next morning.

Organic Turmeric :

freshly ground turmeric from organically grown roots, my thought lane

Freshly ground organic turmeric

The golden hue of turmeric is mesmerizing visually and how it adds that dash of colour to food! It is also known as the wonder spice, Ayurveda’s favourite.

  • Turmeric cleanses the liver and purifies blood.
  • With the healthy chemical ‘circumin’ at its heart, turmeric promotes healthy heart functions.
  • With its astringent properties, it acts as an inflammatory agent, is an anti allergen and an anti bacterial. All the above go into lending it excellent cooling properties.

Most of Indian cooking uses turmeric in at least one of the dishes, for our grannies knew better than us about its healing properties.

You must try this : You can make a delicious and soothing tea using honey and turmeric paste.

  • Bring four cups of water to a boil.
  • Add one teaspoon of ground turmeric and reduce  to a simmer for 10 minutes.
  • Strain the tea through a fine sieve into a cup, add honey and/or lemon to taste.

Organic Green Cardamom :

CardamomJust the word cardamom sends whiffs of flavourful fragrance to your olfactory senses. This is one spice that can be added to almost any Indian dish to add that ‘goodness aroma’ to food.

  • It is known to counteract stomach acids and relieve stomach cramps.
  • It is a good digestive aid, just why cardamom is added to most rich foods.
  • Why, in India, it is even added to tea, making it ‘masala chai’!

Try This : Cardamom can be added to a cup of cold and warm milk alike to turn them into comfort beverages. Add it to lemonades, smoothies, desserts or simple plain yogurt.

Organic Coriander:

Indian-Coriander-Seeds and leavesPrecious coriander is treasured in India, China, Europe and North Africa as a highly cooling herb, as also to flavour meats and vegetables. The seeds and the leaves of the coriander plant are both cooling when used in foods. In Europe, it is more popularly known as Cilantro.

  • It is known to stabilise blood sugar and aids digestion.
  • It tones down the inflammation in our bodies caused by the heat.
  • It is known to contain oil in it that makes it a great relaxant.
  • Coriander aids appetite and digestion.

Remember to eat this herb raw – when cooked it wilts and loses its flavour. Hence, chefs always sprinkle their dishes with the leaves for the finishing touch. But the seeds are almost always ground into fine powder to be used to flavour dishes while they get cooked.

Organic Saffron :

Saffron strandsSaffron is another versatile spice that is widely used in sweets as well as curries and meats. This spice is known to be a mood enhancer and that is due to its cooling fragrance and flavour. It is even used in teas and beverages, adding a certain richness to every dish or beverage.

Try this summer beverage : Add some saffron and a couple of cardamom pods to boiling water and let it boil for a few seconds. Add tea bags to it and allow it to steep to the desired strength. Strain it and sweeten with your favourite sweetener.

Organic Cumin :

Closeup view of cumin and cumin powder

The very aroma of cumin is cooling. A savoury spice that adds oodles of taste to grain dishes, vegetable recipes and soups.

  • Used in small amounts, it acts as a detoxifying and a cooling agent.
  • It is known to remedy bloating issues due to accumulation of gas in the body.
  • When someone around you has prickly heat issues, remember to include cumin in their diet.
  • Drinking cumin water induces sleep and rest.

Beat the heat : Add Cumin powder to buttermilk to give that extra dollop of taste and cooling.

Organic Cinnamon :

cinnamon sticks and powderCinnamon is a spice that can cool in summer and warm you up in winter.

  • It reduces inflammation, lowers cholesterol and increases brain power.
  • It regulates blood sugar and here is something interesting, it can curb your cravings if you have a sweet tooth. So all those watching their weights, time to add cinnamon to your diet regularly.

The herbs and spices nature has provided us with are a bounty of health benefits. Very often, or almost always we tend to focus merely on the taste and flavour aspects. I stand guilty too till I started blogging about these spices. It helps if we are to use these everyday spices knowing their medicinal properties. One way of reminding ourselves is to probably make a chart of the spices and pin them on somewhere in the kitchen.

Just like so many of you I am going the organic way too, wherever and whenever I can. If you are looking to find all these spices under one roof, you could head to Hablis Hotels and buy their Hab-Life merchandise.

Hablis Hotels, 19 GST Road, Guindy, Chennai 600032, India, Tel : 91 44 4023 5555. Ask to be connected to SPICE restaurant to buy their merchandise.

Wishing Wellness ! So long !

 

Spinach Powder Smoothie And A Dip In A Jiffy

I could write an Ode to Spinach, the most loved of the ‘greens’ that tops the list of weight watchers’ must-eats. And that translates to having it handy most days of the week, right ? Well confession time : Not all of us are organised enough to have a well-stocked fridge on all days, at least I am not! I know how it feels to be stranded, been there often!!

Dried Spinach Powder has come to my rescue from the time I was gifted a tiny 50 gms jar of the marvel powder by Hablis Hotels while I dined at their rooftop, open-air restaurant, Hab-Life Novella. I have now bought for myself a bigger jar of the Spinach Powder from the hotel and have donned the chef’s hat experimenting as often as possible. My previous blog titled ‘Spinach Powder, The King Of Super Foods’ is almost an ode to it, but in prose!! Listing it multitudinous benefits, check it out in the link above.

This post is a continuation with a couple of simple recipes using dried Spinach Powder. It is so versatile, you could use it in almost every dish, barring the desserts of course!

I whipped up this yummy spinach powder smoothie for myself at breakfast along with two scrambled eggs. My son took a sip of it and asked for it to be his post-workout meal. That was my woohoo moment, I had won over one member of my family to Spinach Powder. You will see for yourself how wholesome the smoothie is. He did add a scoop and a half of his whey protein by the way to suit his heavy workout.

Spinach Banana Smoothie With Dried Spinach Powder

banana and spinach powder smoothie, breakfast or post workout meal option, my thought lane

Banana and Spinach Powder smoothie

INGREDIENTS :

  • 1 ripe banana (medium-sized)
  • 1 tsp Greek yogurt (regular, firm, low cal curd will do as well. Just make sure it’s not sour)
  • 1 tsp peanut butter or almond butter
  • 1 tsp organic honey
  • 1 tsp dried spinach powder.

DIRECTIONS :

  • Blend all of the above to a fine, smooth consistency and you have a yummy green smoothie in 5 minutes.

Serving :

  • 1 tall glass, good for one person.

I believe in consuming my health food and drink fresh and therefore haven’t tried chilling the smoothie or preserving it for later use. If you do try, I would love to hear from you in the comments.

Here is another simple spinach powder recipe that I tried at an evening with some friends that came home for dinner. Served it with fresh vegetables , but it went well with nachos too. A perfect hors d’oeuvre accompaniment.

Tofu Spinach Dip With Dried Spinach Powder

tofu and spinach powder dip, my thought lane

Tofu and Spinach Powder dip. Image Courtesy : Yummly

INGREDIENTS :

  • ½ organic Tofu slab – medium firm and drained
  • 2 tsps dried spinach powder
  • 1 small garlic clove
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 4 tbsps lemon juice
  • ¼ yellow onion
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsps nutritional yeast
  • Pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS :

Add tofu and all the other ingredients to the bowl of a food processor or blender and blend until smooth. It took me under 10 minutes to get this Tofu and Spinach dip done, thanks to the dried spinach powder.

Serving :

  • 2-3 cups.

I am looking forward to trying out more recipes where I can substitute fresh spinach with dried Spinach Powder and will post them soon (if they turn out well!!)

In the meantime, if you want to buy dried organic Spinach Powder, you can head to :

dried spinach powder, my thought lane

The goodness of Spinach in a jar, Spinach Powder fro Hab-Life

Hablis Hotels, 19 GST Road, Guindy, Chennai 600032, India, Tel : 91 44 4023 5555. Ask to be connected to SPICE restaurant to buy their merchandise.

Wishing Wellness ! So long !

Do Gift Vouchers And Gift Cards Embarrass You?

I was at a wedding a few days back, privy to an interesting chat on gifting. For a blogger every thing that one sees around and hears is food for thought. One of the other plusses is that it pushes you to think, think and think and then write, write and write. I am reminded of Nihar Pradhan’s recent post about  bloggers whose thinking caps are ever on.

So yeah Gifting. The chat commenced with how difficult it is getting to choose gifts for family and friends. Everyone has almost everything they need and sometimes dont need! It then veered towards how gifts and the one gifting get judged on certain occasions. Sad I thought! Gift vouchers and gift cards were discussed and so were their merits and the ‘not so real’ demerits. But, why do we even create this gift connected Frankenstein in our heads ? I mean, lets grow up!

Gifting has to come from the heart, we all agree on that. But sometimes it doesn’t. The thought is there, but one could be stressed for time, ideas or sometimes constrained by a budget.  Then lets look at gifting differently. The need for gifting when it first started had a noble cause behind it, that of equipping the near and dear ones with some things they didn’t possess or have access to. But over the years when peoples’ monthly incomes now are handsome enough, there is no apparent need left! So what are our options for gifting then? 

With lifestyles scaling higher by the day, gifting is getting to be expensive if one has to match the style of the one being gifted. But really, do we have to do that? Let gifting remain a pleasure and not be heavy on your pockets. Gift as much as you can and want to. Quantifying…..is it difficult? Is it embarrassing? I think this all about mindsets.

Set your mind to give and receive with an open heart and we will then be wont to relish that very act of giving and taking.

So are we then talking of gifting cash or gift cards and gift vouchers? Both are fine by me personally. I’d let them pick and choose what THEY want rather than duplicating or gifting something that does not fit their lifestyle. Even if it means my gift voucher/gift card amount being only a part of the value of their ‘purchase’. I have in a way led them to buying something that they had probably put off for a long time, something that their heart really longed for!

But yes, the downside of gift vouchers and gift cards is that people forget they have one. You have tucked it in your wallet and it remains there, sometimes innocuously till after the validity has expired.

So why don’t you pin it up somewhere above your dresser or on a reminder pinboard?

Another scenario. You have received far too many gift vouchers/gift cards but you don’t have plans to shop at the moment. Your friend or family have put in  thought and money into them, don’t let them go unused. Did you know some 30% of gift voucher money across the world goes down the drain? We don’t have to add our bit to it.

You could in turn gift them to someone or just sell them online or even exchange them for brands that you like.

A few online gift voucher and gift card resellers that make the job easy for you, check out which one suits you best. I have listed just a few, you can find many more such sites.

Zeek

https://www.zeek.me/

Cash4Vouchers

http://www.cash4vouchers.com/ – these guys accept even credit notes, how cool is that?

VoucherCart

https://vouchercart.com/

Today, every business worth its salt offers gift vouchers, so does The Sandalwood Room and here is a sample of it.

gift voucher, the sandalwood room

The Sandalwood Room Gift Voucher

The Sandalwood Room on Tras Street, close to Tanjong Pagar, Singapore is an exclusive boutique with gifts and collectibles, ethnic fashion, jewelry, home decor and art, an eclectic mix of merchandise and an art gallery that hosts periodic exhibitions by international artists.For those with a penchant for contemporary arts and traditional crafts…this is the place to be!

  • If you wish to check out their products, click here and if you wish to place an order email them and The Sandalwood Room will be happy to courier your order to you.
  • Price on request. Email them at the ID below.
  • Payments are routed through PayPal.
  • All products subject to availability.
  • Give them a Facebook like here.

New Address:

The Sandalwood Room, 78 Tras Street, Singapore 079017

Phone : +65 6221 2654 / +65 9786 5896

Email: thesandalwoodroom@gmail.com

Website: http://www.thesandalwoodroom.com

Facebook : Visit The Sandalwood Room