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LS EDITORE'S NOTE

The LS Desk

Today, 7 June 2011, Star Lifestyle steps into its tenth year of publication -- an important milestone that without a trace of doubt speaks volumes of our experience in running a leading weekly that is Star Lifestyle. However, till last Sunday, when I had put the last issue of Volume 10 to bed, we at the desk, remained as inexperienced as we were a decade ago.

Lifestyle journalism is now a hot career option, yet for us who accidentally fell into this, it is still a learning process. Allow me to guide you through the desk support.

Back in 2001, when our journey began, it was run by two boys Mannan Zarif and Sadaat Qadri, barely past their teens, who struggled to pin the difference between haute couture and pret-a-porter. Then came Sabrina F Ahmad, an outright tomboy at heart, a welcome change nevertheless. She knew her fashion well enough and along with our ever militant Shahnaz Parveen, for whom teaching men about equal rights was more pressing than teaching them to cook, we saw that LS sailed on calm water for years.

And of course there was my special Zulu warrior, Quazi Zulquarnain Islam, who was so into sports that one fine morning he decided "enough of sissy stuff" and migrated to the Sports Page. Yet I would say whatever our drawbacks we churned out some pretty good issues.

After all these trials and errors, I finally found comfort with a great, spirited and fashionable team of Sabrina, Tahiat-E-Mahboob, Subhi Shama and Saadi Siddiky -- who was our very own Jughead and provided the magazine with the man's touch, whatever that meant. Anyway good things have poor longevity and the team left for higher studies. At one point it was only I and the talented Sabrina, who stuck by me through thick and thin -- running the show.

Zarif re-joined and in came Sakeb Subhan -- another die hard Sports Page loyalist -- at the helm. By this time last year, Sabrina was planning for her Masters abroad and I was cringing inside because sweethearts Zarif and Sakeb, excellent editors though they are, were in actuality totally clueless about what's trendy and what's not.

No one could substitute Sabrina especially not two boys for whom a lunch at Star Hotel and Restaurant is all the coaxing they need to re-write even the worst piece with pleasure. These two are gems of writers but absolute laymen when it comes to the style factor.

Just one or two simple incidents will help explain the situation better: Sakeb still does not know where his mother keeps the nail clippers, and we celebrate when Zarif wears a new shirt to work. They are typical boys with zero tolerance for fashion or trends. When the situation was that bleak Subhi Shama came back, she literally joined work when Sabrina was boarding and I thought the end of the world was seconds away.

This just shows that Star Lifestyle, in spite of its shortcomings, was always blessed with good, talented editors who have bought colours to the supplement. However, I must say the treasures of my team are my super-talented photographers. Zahedul I Khan helped me during my teething period, Munem Wasif brought class in my initial years and my darling Sazzad Sayed brought glamour to Star Lifestyle that it is today.

On top of that Toufik Elahi, my totally erratic but talented graphics designer gave LS the boost it needed in the dawning hours, supported by the charming Tain. My life without Hassan Imam Shiplu, yet another eccentric graphics designer, is dark and dreary; all the colours and glamour of my Tuesday mornings are solely because of him. And last but not the least, Minhaj Bhai who has been the graphics operator since the initial days of Star LS.

My reporters and columnist are equally important, I can't imagine what I would have done if Sadia Moyeen of Labelle didn't give me her support from day one. Maheen Khan of Mayasir, she was on my first cover and has since been an integral part of my planning and photoshoots. Star Lifestyle shares a great rapport with her and thrives on her knowledge on the subject.

Farzana Shakil and her salon are like our lounge, whenever we need to do a photoshoot we just send the models to her. Nazneen Haque Mimi with her enormous support helps Lifestyle in many ways. Nighat Ara and her useful column on the knots of the mind and Mahfuzul Haque's Dental column bring in important aspects of living into focus. Iffat Nawaz brought Lifestyle under a different sky with her amazing literary pieces and continues to complement our harsh lives with her share of surrealism.

Our sincerest thanks also go for our advertisers, who have in the past and continues to lend us their helping hand in each of our endeavours.

Truthfully, as it was in the beginning, we are truly still trying to grasp the ABCs of lifestyle journalism. It is a whole new avenue and ten years is not significant enough to boast about or bask in glory. To continue with our ever changing perspective of life, we are incorporating a few changes in Star LS.

First, is the obvious glossy cover, which we hope will bring a new dimension to our tabloid. As for the content, by popular demand we re-introduce a rating system in our restaurant reviews, which help you experience the gustatory diversity that the city has to offer. As the weeks progress, we hope to usher in more changes which we sincerely hope will appease the readers.

This week, dear readers, we toy around with some ideas for a great summer vacation. We also put our spotlight on "Farmhouses", which in recent times have gained much popularity amongst the city's upper-middle class.

The valuable comments and support of the readers are what we wait for; accepting us as your choice of lifestyle read made us survive these ten glorious years. Stay with us and let us together make our lives a healthy, fashionable and a trendy one. Thank you for all your support.

-- Raffat Binte Rashid


EATING OUT

Nando's: healthy eating with a delicious twist

Over the last decade or so, Dhaka's culinary scene has been undergoing a steady transformation. As our consuming power grows, international brands have been attracted to our busy city. One such has been Nando's, the popular South African franchise that has as its flagship taste, the Peri-Peri flavour. It has been wooing Dhaka's foodies for over three years now, and Star Lifestyle this week is taking a look at this relatively new brand and what it has to offer to Dhaka's foodscape.

Service
You might not know it from eating at a lot of the country's eateries, but a huge selling point of any establishment is how comfortable and welcome its customers are made to feel. Before your taste buds are tingled by a restaurant's cuisine, the first thing you will experience is the staff's attitude, and it may colour the rest of your time at the joint either favourably or unfavourably.

In this regard, Nando's is streets ahead of most of the restaurants in Dhaka. Whether it be the Dhanmondi or Gulshan branch, the doors will be opened with a broad smile welcoming you fondly, and you will be guided to a table of your choice (if the place is not chock full, that is).

The other notable aspect is that none of the servers carry pads and pens to write down your orders. They have extensive knowledge of the wide array of food available in the menu, and will listen with rapt attention as you make your choice. They will even guide you through the choices so that you have the best chance of making the right decision. This makes the servers look more professional and lets you know that you are in capable hands, and the absence of the finality of pen and paper makes the process more casual, enabling you to relax.

There is a secret behind their excellent service, and perhaps a harbinger of change in social attitudes to working in restaurants. Most of the servers at Nando's are students working their way through university. This practice, common to most developed countries, had been alien to our culture till recently. What it does is engender a respect for the 'honest buck' and may even help to kill the cancerous notion that a type of work may be below a person's social standing.

The end result: You have a staff who are educated -- perhaps even more than you -- and who understand fully the credo of the customer always being right.

Ambience
The second thing to hit you as you enter a restaurant is its overall ambience. The ambience at Nando's is best described as light, casual and comfortable. The walls are light green,lending the place a happy feel. The music is early 90s rock, most of the time, neither too soft nor too loud. The seating is a mixture of tables, chairs and the comfortable, cosy booths.

As far as decor goes, it is a mixture of where the brand comes from and where it is currently. Niches in the wall are lined with South African artefacts, and are sure to delight tribal art enthusiasts. The Bangladeshi flavour is provided by paintings that adorn the walls. A lot of these paintings are done by young artists of the Charukala faculty of Fine Arts, University of Dhaka.

Cleanliness is never an issue, especially for a brand that prides itself on its quality. Everything is spick and span, inviting you to go back for more.

Food
The business end of the review!

Talking with anyone involved with Nando's, or even a cursory glance at their official website, will tell you that combining healthy eating with scrumptious flavours is top of their list of priorities. It is not fast food, they say, it is good food, fast.

This reviewer's opinion is that Nando's has built a pretty strong bridge over the waters that separate fast food from fine dining.

First, the health aspect. Their suppliers are under strict orders to provide them with the best of local chicken, to the extent that Nando's controls what their chicken is fed. None of Nando's items are deep fried, instead being flame grilled to rid them of any excess fat they may have. You will know it when you leave the restaurant fully satisfied but not stuffed to the extent that you feel sick a precious balance that is a credit to the restaurant.

Now the most important part - the taste. As mentioned earlier, the brand's flagship taste is their Peri-Peri flavour, derived from the African Bird's Eye Chilli, which lends the food a layered taste with a spicy twist. Diners are given their say on how hot they would like their food: Lemon & Herb for the mild of heart, Mild Peri-Peri for those who want to dip their toes in the pool, Hot Peri-Peri for the ones who are accustomed to having their taste buds dance, and Extra Hot Peri-Peri for the wannabe Mexicans.

Apart from the Per-Peri, the marinade is what makes Nando's cuisine what it is. All chicken is marinated for 24 hours before serving. This gives their chicken, which is devoid of any excess fat, a surprisingly juicy and succulent taste. The health-conscious will be happy to know that the marinade is 100 per cent natural, containing no preservatives, no flavourants or colouring agents, and no added MSG. Their basting sauces are completely vegetarian.

In summation, the food tastes great, and the menu is extensive. You can go there multiple times and still look forward to sampling something new. On top of the main course and appetisers, which are top-notch, there is a diverse array of fruit juices and a very inviting desserts section.

Our suggestion for a course at Nando's: A Chicken Espetada Rustica -- tender, boneless pieces of marinated chicken placed on a skewer with sundried tomatoes -- with a side order of potato wedges and their delicious Perinese dip. Choose from the wide array of juices as refreshing beverage. For the dessert, their Lighten-up Chocolate cake will do just dandy.

Value for money
Some of the prices may seem a bit high. But that has to be balanced against the assurance of quality you get when you order something at Nando's. Besides, the menu is varied enough for one to come away feeling satisfied within a budget of Tk500. We feel that it is okay to pay a certain price if the sellers keep their promise. And Nando's certainly do combine great taste with healthy food, which, in these days of excessive calories, artificial flavouring, salt and sugar, is not something to be scoffed at.

Our rating: 4/5

By STS
Photo Courtesy: Nando's

   
 

 

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