Coming soon on the blog!!!

***The Open Box***Anju's Cafe***Toast and Tonic***Part 3 of my series on Miltry Hotels in Bangalore***

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Asean - a marriage of quantity and quality

Sudhakar's a lucky guy, in the sense, his colleagues are all budding foodies or extremely good eaters and love discovering new/old places to eat at. And so this place is one such discovery. Asean is on Castle Street. Its on the parallel road facing Olive Beach. Another landmark you could keep is the Show Off Boutique at the beginning of Castle street. Asean's claim to fame is its Thai, Malay and Indonesian cuisine. We decided to do a complete Thai meal on the day we visited the place with Pavan and Preethika.

For the starters we went in for the Chicken Satay with peanut sauce, Chicken drumsticks with black bean sauce and vegetarian momos with red chilli sauce salad for our temporary vegetarian Preethika. Pavan also wanted to indulge in some soup as well and so Chicken thick soup with noodles it was.

Chicken Satay with peanut sauce

Chicken drumsticks with black bean sauce

The Chicken Satay tasted great, but the peanut sauce was a disaster. It tasted like something that was picked right off an andhra leaf meal from a Nagarjuna. It was a total mismatch. The Chicken drumsticks were great and the black bean sauce was absolutely delicious. Just the right amout of salty-spiceness. It was good enough to ask for another bowl of it.

Am not one for vegetarian momos and maybe it is something to be relished by pure veggies since none of us thought much of it. The Chicken thick soup with noodles was just that... thick and full of noodles and chicken. Skip this soup if you are not that hungry.

Vegetarian momos with chilli sauce and tomato salad

Chicken thick noodle soup

For the main course Preethika opted for her favourite Thai red curry in veg and a steam rice. We went in for Thai roast garlic and basil noodles with chicken and Kara Kambing or Lamb Indonesian curry. The noodles were soft and moist with the garlic roasted to a crispy toast. The noodles can make for an meal by itself. The Kara Kambing was great, a coconut base with strips of boneless chicken. However, it was a wrong choice to go with the noodles and would have been better with the steam, which is eventually how we finished it.

Thai veg red curry

Thai roast garlic and basil noodles with chicken

Kara Kambing or Lamb Indonesian curry

It would have helped if the waiters around knew how to pair dishes or at least offered an opinion when customers seem to get it wrong. Finally for dessert we went in for the Rum and raisin mousse flan which was absolute heaven in our mouths. You could most definitely taste the rum and the mousse was a creamy delight. The flan was just the right toughness that allowed one to easily cut a slice without struggling too hard. These desserts are made by the owner's wife and son. However, we were among the last few to savour these delights. Management of the restaurant will be changing soon and these desserts will no longer be available.

Rum and raisin mousse flan

Service on the day we went, which was a Saturday was quite slow. However, when Sudhakar had gone there earlier with colleagues, he assured me that they were in and out in under an hour. The toilet is behind the billing counter, but is spacious and clean. Keep an eye on your kids, since my daughter almost walked out of the door thinking it was a game. The door can be easily pushed. This entire meal cost us Rs 1100, which I thought was great. The portions are large, so take it easy when ordering.

Address: 45, Castle Street, Ashoknagar, Bangalore
Phone: 41126381
Cuisine: Oriental
Cards Accepted: Yes
Parking: Can be difficult

Monday, June 29, 2009

Olive Beach Gourmet Bazaar

I have a confession to make. While Sudhakar and I love to eat food, newer the better, you can't really say that we are all that familiar with gourmet food. And by gourmet I mean all those exotic ingredients and dishes whose names itself can send you in a tizzy. While we are familiarising ourselves with all of it... we are quite far from being called knowledgeable on the subject.

In an effort to educate ourselves, I jumped at the chance to visit the gourmet bazaar at Olive beach this past Sunday. Now I may be wrong, But I was under the impression that bazaars are fairly big set-ups with a number of vendors. What we went in to see was set up in one of the corridors of the restaurant. It had all of three tables which divided it into three sections - the chocolates, the breads, the smoked meats and cheese. The breads and the chocolates were separated by a small table with the ready-to-eat dips and olives.

Toasted Almond Choco Slab

Chocolate Walnut Brownie

An assortment of dips - Hummus, Roasted Tomato Pesto, Mayonnaise

Artisan Muesli

The spread did look trifle small and I presume that the emphasis was on quality and not quantity. We picked up for ourselves, a Ham Pissaldiere and a Veg Dinner Brioche. For those of whom these names may sound Latin and Greek - they were both on thin and soft pizza bases - one was with ham sausages and the other a wonderful combination of healthy vegetables as a topping. While a bill of Rs 230 for two items was a bit steep, I must add that they both tasted heavenly.

Breads - French Baguette, multi-grain Boule, Olive Oil Boule, Greek Bread

The assortment of cheese

Ham Pissaldiere, Petite French Rolls, Rosemary and seasalt foccacio

Pavan and Preethika who were with us also indulged in some cheese, some petite french roles and some toasted almond choco slab. I thought it impolite to ask for how much that cost them. Among the meats on display was the smoked blackforest among two other, which can be decieving to the unintiated. Overall, I can't really say that my knowledge has been added to, but it was an experience in knowing how to shop for gourmet foods.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Khazana - a haven of good taste

We have been married for 5 and half years now and Khazana is a restaurant Sudhakar discovered around 4 years ago. If you are familiar with the whereabouts of Siddiqui in Johnson Market, then this place is not too difficult to find. Keep Siddiqui to your left, come up the road. When you see the huge meat stall, continue straight on into the narrow road beside it and take left. Khazana is a small restaurant on the left.

The place is more of a bachelor hangout that it is a family joint. So the best for people like us, especially after Anoushka was born was to bring in parcels from here. Khazana's menu carries its belief in bold letters - "God has given us food to eat. The least we can do is make it tasty." The restaurant is famous for its beef biryani and veal kebabs. And needless to say that is what we ordered from here. We also threw in a chicken kebab for good measure.

A plate of veal kebabs come to you piping hot. The meat is cut into small bite sized bits. The marination of the meat is done in red chilli powder, curd and I am sure a mix of the chef's secret ingredients. The result is a tender juliennes of meat, which are soft in texture and great in taste. They also will make a great accompaniment to a chilled beer. The veal kebabs come at approximately 25 bucks a plate and each plate is just right for one person.

Next on the menu is the beef biryani. I have always vouched that it is the Muslims who know how to make a biryani. I am yet to come across a Muslim home where the biryani will not have you pining for days. Same goes with Khazana. Well for one, each plate of this delectable meal comes loaded with meat and so you never have the problem of digging out and rationing the meat pieces to last your entire meal. While beef has a tendency to be rubbery, Khazana seems to have perfected the art of making it as soft as mutton can get. One round of this biryani and I am sure you will be back for more. A plate of biryani costs 46 bucks.

Another thing I like about the biryanis served at Khazana is the sherwa or the meat gravy that comes with it. While most restaurants simply serve you the gravy of the meat cooked, Khazana serves you a unique tomato based gravy which is mildly spiced but makes an excellent combo.

The chicken kebab seems to have a simpler marination of curd and chilli and is dusted of with rava and cornflour before it is deep fried. This makes for a good side dish, but if you also have the veal kebab, then your loyalties may not really be affected.

We ordered for three adults and an infant - 3 plates of beef biryani and veal kebabs and a plate of chicken kebabs. The bill came a wee bit shy of 250 bucks. Excellent when you think that the quantities serve two entre ==

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Egg Factory - great place to get together

Kinna was leaving to the States to finally be with Neerav. So we decided to meet up with the handful of Manipal classmates in Bangalore. Its a different story that in the end it was only us, Kinna and Swaroop. We have been to the Egg Factory before and thoroughly enjoyed it. The others had heard of it and always wanted to try it... so it made the perfect place to catch up.

In true tribute to our Manipal days, we just decided to order dishes, place it in the centre and attack... This time round while Swaroop and Kinna opted for the Pink Lady, Sudhakar and I went in for the Morning Burst which was bananas,, orange juice, yoghurt and milk. Yummy!!!

We started of with the scrambled eggs with spinach - our health dose for the evening. The eggs were creamy and the spinach soft and well mixed enough for us to ignore...

Next came the omelette with green chillies - quite the spice fest but then we knew what we were asking for... Anoushka partied on the garlic bread that came with each dish

Next came the Eggs and Mushroom Ragout Penne, which as a review I recently read mentioned was absolutely scrumptious. The eggs were creamy and the cheese sauce was just right.

For Anoushka we decided to go for rice option and therefore took the steam rice with egg sambal, which came with an omelette dunked in a very desi tomato based sauce, finished off with spring onions. This time round we did not opt for desserts.

The entire meal came to 200 bucks a head which was really reasonable... A definite revisit is on the cards

Address: Ground Floor, White House, St Mark's Road, Bangalore
Phone: 42110041
Cuisine: Everything egg based
Cards Accepted: Yes
Parking: Nothing exclusive but not too difficult

Another review is also available

Monday, June 8, 2009

Ice n Spice

Tons of fun
Twin lamb burger

Extra tissues!!!

For some places, the lesser said the better. For a filling meal and a feel good wallet factor, head straight to this place.

location: St.Marks Road, near Deewar wines
Fast food joint

Food ordered: Twin Lamb Burger.( Double Lamb patties, Lettuce, Tomato, Chopped Onions & mayo served with crisps) Rs.130

Tons of Fun Burger: Patty of Lamb or Chicken with chicken salami, Lettuce, Tomato, Egg, Cheese, Chopped onions, & Mayo served with crisps) Rs.130

Address: 22, Opposite SBI Bank, St Mark's Road
Phone: 222111094
Cuisine: Burgers
Wallet Factor: Rs 300 for two
Cards Accepted: No
Parking: Not too difficult

I want to Eat!!!!!

It was a cloudy Satrday evening. Sudhakar had just woken from a "power nap". Ruth was on the couch. Anoushka had snuggled up on her lap. The wind was blowing hard outside. As he sat down to clear his head, Ruth headed towards the kitchen in search of something she could sink her teeth into. She turns to Sudhakar and gives him "the look". The container with puffed rice was
right next to her.

"I need to eat! Make me some of that churmuri you make."Post pregnancy Sudhakar had come to understand how lethal those four words meant. I NEED TO EAT! Dark memories of getting kicked out of bed at 3:00 in the morning sent a shiver down his spine. As he headed for the kitchen he was hoping for some way out...hoping she suddenly feels full again.

"What is she going to be full with? Gas?", he thought.

He found a couple of onions. Tears ran down his cheeks as he chopped them fine. Tears of onions are tears of happiness, he said to himself. "CORNY!!" screamed his witty conscience.

"I need something crunchy in there." The last time he had added some khara kaddis in it. Now there was no khara kaddi. He cheated. Crumbled some Nippatts into it. Now we add the puffed rice, oil, salt, chilli powder, turmeric, corriander powder... and mix.

"What??!! No chaat masala?" his culinary conscience nearly chopped off his head.

"No", he said reassuringly. "Trust me"

Stuck a couple of spoons into it and looked at his wife.

"I WILL live to see another day", he thought to himself as he took the mixture to the living room. And he did.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Jamavar - Leela Kempinski - 'Dilli not so door ast'

I have wondered for a while now on the meaning of Jamavar. I now know. Jamavar is a very special kind of a shawl that is hand made in Kashmir. Each part of the shawl is painstakingly created such that the shawl looks the same no matter which side you turn. It takes a certain kind of perfection to achieve a result like that. Leela Kempinski takes inspiration from this and hence the name Jamavar for their signature restaurant.

This time round, Jamavar was playing host to chef Farman Ali who created an entire festival to showcase the authentic food of Delhi. We were invited to sample this meal and I was really looking forward to it. We chose to sit indoors since Bangalore has now turned real breezy. We were given our drink menus and I opted for the Sangria (red wine with a reduction of orange). It came in a lovely wide mouthed wine glass, topped with chopped apples and fruity and yummy! Sudhakar opted for the classic Margherita - served in a salt rimmed glass, this margherita packed one hell of a punch. Had half a mind of claiming both drinks for myself - but then hey! I had come to enjoy the food and not be carried out drunk. Each of these drinks came at a princely Rs 675.




Since we were the chef's invitees, thanks once again to Bhavya, we were going to have a tasting meal. Out came the papad which was completely devoured by gastronome junior. Next came a round of starters. Each of our plates were laden with - malai jhinga (butter fried prawns with the tails still on), shammi kebab with a dollop of mint chutney, dahi bhalla in its true avatar, an alu tikka, hariyali chicken. The slice was lemon was thoughtfully wrapped in a potli to ensure that the seeds don't fall into your meal when you season it.

The plate of starters

The prawns had been well marinated and for something that had been fried, was extremely soft. the shammi kebab was beautifully minced mutton with onions and a hint of garlic, scrumptious to the last bite. The dahi bhalla was great and coming from a person who does not like the dish personally, that is saying something, I would have asked for another of the alu tikka but I knew I wanted space for the rest that was to come. The Hariyali Chicken, was succulent, soft and pure eating ecstasy with each bite.

Next came the main course. Fresh plates were put out and there came an assorted roti basket. Each of us was given a brass katori with dal makhni topped with a generous blob of molten butter. For the main course, we were each served - Murgh Mumtaz, a wonderfully tangy chicken, which had tomato at it base as well as a generous infusion of ground raisins which really heightened the taste of the dish. Macchi Urdu Bazaar wali which was a light gravy which pieces of boneless fish (not sure which fish). This dish was more on the bland side and did not really strike a cord with any of us. Also dished out was Ghosht Nihari and I was lucky enough to get my favourite marrow bone with the meat just melting away from the bone. This gravy was a dark brown with the chef's special mix of masalas. Heaven on my plate.

The main course

Dal Makhni

Once we made our way through this, we were served plain basamati rice to help us mop up the gravies as well a devour the dal makhni. Once done, we were asked if were ready for a sampling of desserts. Bring it on...

Each of our plates were laden with a bowl of phirni, kulfi with sweet semiyan and gajjar halwa in a biscuit mould. Kulfi is one of my favourite desserts and it has been a thing with me that in any restaurant, where it is on the menu and I have asked for it, it turns out that they would not have it for that day. So to see it on my plate was simply wonderful!!!

The sweet sampler

Thankfully, this was one meal that Anoushka really ate and enjoyed herself at. The fact that our wallets were not made lighter was all the more pleasing. Star restaurants have never really been able to please with their food, but having dined in two of Leela's restaurants, I must say that I take those words back. Things like this cannot be generalised.

Address: The Leela Palace, Old Airport Road
Phone: 30571344, 30571342
Cuisine: Indian
Cards Accepted: Yes
Parking: Its the Leela Palace, what do you think :)

Here is review of the Kathiawar food festival at Jamavar

Harima - a sushi itch well scratched

The other day, I had taken Anoushka to our neighbour's house for a play date. When we were there, Sudhakar called me to tell me he was home. At 6 in the evening??? I was shocked. But indeed he was and that called for a celebration. And what better way to do it than to go out for a long dinner. Sudhakar was in a major mood for sushi and so we decided to try out Harima. This is a Japanese restaurant, on the fourth floor of Devatha Plaza on Residency Road.

For more familiar landmarks, Harima is in the same building as Casa Piccola, Casa Del Sol and Tiffany's. We had made a reservation and when we got there, it looked like it was a good thing to have done. The place offers you the table and chair seating as well as the Japanese style of sitting on the floor at a low table. We opted for the table and chair considering Anoushka.

The place offers wines and alcohol. The list is extensive and expensive. Sudhakar opted for a screwdriver while I decided to abstain for the day. The screwdriver he said, lacked any punch and he had some serious doubts on whether there was any vodka in it all. For starters we opted for the Ika No Karaage, which is squid legs fried in Karaage butter. Besides the fact that I didn't really think of squid having legs, the dish looked disappointing since it was a slightly varied version of calamari rings and had no accompanying sauces.

Ika No Karaage

We had decided to go totally sushi and so did not want any sashimis and dimsums. The staff suggested we go in for the Harima special platter which comes with an assortment of 25 sushis, enough to fill our stomachs. And so the Harima platter it was.

One half of the Harima Special Platter

The platter comes with a mix of avocado roll, the california roll, red and black caviar, egg roll, the traditional vinegar rice combined with prawns, salmon, seaweed and other fish I am yet to familiarise myself with. All of this was served up with juliennes of pickled ginger, wasabi (which packed a solid punch), soya sauce and sesame seed seasoning. The sushi more than made up for the not so pleasing starter. Our chopsticks could barely keep pace with us.

Above & below Close-ups of the sushis

Above & below - Accompaniments - Pickled Ginger, wasabi,
soya sauce, sesame seed

For Anoushka was customised an egg wrapped chicken fried rice, which once again, was packed and brought home since my daughter was more fascinated with the white pebbles that made up the decor of the place. The entire meal cost quite a bomb and came to Rs 3417 bucks, tax included. The only thing is that after we were done with the meal, we felt that there was nothing that we already had experienced in terms of sushi. After having sushi at Soo Ra Sang and at East Winds, we have kinda burnt out on it. The place is nice, the food good and the loos really clean.

Egg wrapped Chicken Fried Rice

Address: 131, Devatha Plaza, Residency Road
Phone: 41325757
Cuisine: Japanese
Cards Accepted: Yes
Parking: Not too difficult to find

Friday, June 5, 2009

Waste not, want not

All mothers will agree with me when I say that feeding our children seems to be the main aim of our lives now. We wait and watch to see what will catch the fancy of our kids and then stock up our kitchens with that. Just when you think junior likes something in particular, there they go all turncoat on you and act as in you are trying to shove castor oil down their throats.

Anoushka recently went through a phase of bananas. After wanting the fruit, morning, noon and night (in the middle of it as well), she got up one fine morning and decided, ok... no more bananas. And that's how I ended up with almost a dozen on my hands, on the verge of going bad.

So a panic call to mom and she fished out an old recipe of my grandmother's. My mom has a total of nine siblings and this was amongst the easiest sweet dishes one could make for such a brood. I quite liked the end result.

Ingredients: About a dozen small plaintains, 4 heaped tsps of sugar (you could adjust this with the sweetness of the plaintains, around 6 level tbsps of maida (again, you will have to adjust this to get the right consistency), a little bit of water, oil for deep frying.

Peel the bananas and mash them well in a bowl. Add to this sugar, maida and mix together well. You need to get the consistency of very thick batter. Add a bit of water if necessary. If you can shape this into balls, well and good.

If not, heat oil, when it is nice and hot, spoon in the batter. Fry till they are golden brown. Drain them on kitchen tissue and they are ready to serve.


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