Bangalore restaurant reviews Chord Road

The Higher Taste

Friday, June 18, 2010Me! In words

No matter which part of the country you are from and no matter how much of a meat lover you are, you can't be a stranger to vegetarian food. Vegetarianism is closely linked with several religious ceremonies, making it all the more pervasive. Then there are those days when a good vegetarian meal is all you crave. So no matter which way you look at it, there is always a part of us that loves good vegetarian food. Bangalore's Restaurants have plenty that cater specifically to vegetarians. Whether you are at a stand-up darshini, a Shanthi Sagar or a classier vegetarian restaurant you will find the usual suspects of paneer, gobi, aloo, mutter and the ubiquitous veg kurma. With these, there is also a huge rise in the number of restaurant that serve vegetarian, non-Indian cuisine. In the midst of it all stands a restaurant called The Higher Taste. 

The Higher Taste takes vegetarianism to a whole new level. The restaurant is located on the premises of the ISKCON temple. Most of us in Bangalore are no strangers to the quality of food that comes from the kitchens of the ISKCON temple. And so, to take this a step forward, The Higher Taste is a purely sattvic restaurant - no onions, no garlic and no caffiene. The spices are freshly ground on the premises and the food prepared is served within a 4-hour window. The menu has been uniquely designed and the kitchen is under the command of Executive Chef Aditya Fatepuria. It has a mix of north as well as south Indian dishes with interesting twists to each one.

Sudhakar and I dubbed the journey to this meal the Road to Salvation. We attempted to get to ISKCON Temple on weekday at prime time and you can imagine the rest. When we pulled up in the parking lot, we were exhausted and hungry. The Higher Taste is done up with class. A great deal of attention has been paid to the decor, the seating and the lighting. While the ground floor has the buffets running, the a la carte is on the first floor and this is where we headed.

We placed ourselves in the hands of Chef Aditya and to refresh us, we were served a Kesar Shikanji. This was a lemonade, freshly made. A touch of royalty with saffron and slivers of dry fruits and we were already relaxed.

Kesar Shikanji

Next came the entire range of starters on the menu. What you see below is the Inji Vadai - most of us from south India are familiar with this snack. What made it different for me was the addition of minute slivers of ginger that gave it that zing. I have tasted these vadais with onions but never this way. Next we had the Kavipoo Varuval - bite sized florets of cauliflower were marinated in an interesting mix of masalas. They were batter coated with an urad dal flour mix and fried to the crisp. The finishing touches with crisp curry leaves was an added bonus. And then the Palkatti Varuval - thick strips of paneer that had a thin coating of masala fried goodness around them. The coating was thin enough to impart the taste without overpowering the paneer as is normally seen.

Top left corner - Inji Vadai, anticlockwise - Kavipoo Varuval, Palkatti Varuval

Another plate of starters comprised of the Tirangaa Paneer Tikka - as the patriotic name suggests, three square slabs of paneer, coated with three mixes of masalas and chargrilled. Again the masalas here are just enough to get the right flavor without comprising on the main ingredient. There was also the Kakori Seekh Kebab which looked firm on the plate but melted in the mouth. A melange of vegetables and greens blended to give you some real wholesomeness. 

Tirangaa Paneer and Kakori Seekh Kebab

Next we readied ourselves for some soups. I was served a Nellikai Charu which was gooseberries and dal cooked to make one tangy soup. I am a sucker for tangy and Sudhakar had to fight me for a taste. Sudhakar was served a Makai ka Shorba - this was corn soup which somehow had a wonderful tanginess to it as well. I must admit, I am not one for sweet corn soup in any form, but this one, with a hint of lemon made me glad that I experiment with my food. 

Makai ka Shorba (top) Nellikai Charu (below)

And now for the main courses - we were served Elaneer Karaisal - believe it or not, this was a gravy made of soft white insides of a tender coconut and with the richness of cashews. The combination was rich while being light on the stomach. We also had what was hands down my favorite, Mangai Kilangu Thodukari - A gravy of raw mangoes and potatoes - this had the right level of spiciness and the tartness of the raw mangoes. The potatoes were the perfect offset. We also had some Zafrani Kofta - this paneer dish was served with the paneer slit lengthwise and filled with nuts. The gravy was cashew and saffron based. The set of ingredients itself can tell you how great the dish was. All this went with the Kesariya sheermal - a roti made with kesar of course and something that you can't put your finger on. Another bread served was the Chilli Cheese Naan. Thin circles of green chillies had been roasted and sprinkled on the naan. Contrary to what you may think, the cheese offset the spiciness completely. 

Kesariya Sheermal

Zafrani Kofta

Chilli Cheese Naan

Mangai Kilangu Thodukari

Elaneer Karaisal

Next we had the Kaikari Idiyappam - this was a scramble of idiyappams along with fresh diced vegetables like potatoes, peas, carrot and tempered with mustard and curry leaves. Spicy, tasty and worth fighting over. We also had some Arisi Parappu Satham, a preparation very close to basic bisi bele bath but without the vegetables. The rice and lentils came together well and the spices are very south Indian. 

Kaikari Idiyappam (above) Arisi Parappu Satham (below)

Now after all this you must be wondering whether we have bottomless pits for stomachs. Well no actually, we don't. But the food here is such that even after such a hearty meal you don't really feel like you are burdening your stomach. And so, of course there was place for two very interesting desserts. First was Paan Ice-cream. Yes! you read right Paan ice-cream and I had the Elaneer Payasam. A milk and coconut water payasam with bits of soft tender coconut in it as well. Delicious to the last bite. The Paan ice-cream actually is a a whole paan that is ground and then blended with the ice-cream mix and set and what you get is a super tasting dessert. A dessert that also doubles up as a palate cleanser, mouth freshener and a digestive. 

Paan Ice-cream (above) Elaneer Payasam (below)

And thus ended our journey on the road to salvation. This was one spectacular vegetarian meal which I would pick anytime of the day or year. The restrooms are spotless. A meal for two a la carte will be around
Rs 1000 inclusive of taxes. The lunch and dinner buffets are priced at Rs 300 per head exclusive of taxes.

Address: ISKCON Temple and Cultural Complex, hare Krishna Hill, Chord Road, Bangalore - 560010
Phone: 22766501
Cuisine: Indian, Vegetarian
Cards Accepted: Yes
Parking: Parking lot

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