You’ve Got To Experience The New Winter Menu At Farzi Cafe!

The much-loved Farzi Cafe in UB City, Bangalore, recently launched a brand new Winter Special menu. I had the pleasure of sampling this new menu last week, along with a few other city bloggers and, I must say, I absolutely loved the experience!

I’m mightily impressed by the ‘Farzified’ versions of various typical Indian dishes that are part of the new menu. In fact, this has got to be one of the best renditions of the menu I have tried out so far, at Farzi!

I love how the new menu seems to be focused more on local favourites and ingredients, and how care has been taken to ensure that the dishes taste just as beautiful as they look. The ‘uru‘s ellu and bella becomes Farzi’s new Upside-Down Black Sesame & Jaggery Ice Cream, while basket chaat gets a new avatar in the form of Burrata Tokri Chaat. There are some interesting new mocktails and cocktails that have been introduced, too. Now, without further ado, I’ll leave you with some visuals from the new menu sampling!

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We started the meal with some Assorted Poppadums & Dips. Now, poppadoms we have all had, but definitely not this way. We were presented with a grandiose tower containing papads, fryums and sabudana fritters of various types. Alongside were some highly imaginative dips, of which I absolutely loved the Achaari Mayo. What a unique twist to the regular mayo – who’d have thunk of jazzing it up with achaari spices?

Assorted poppadums and dips

Next up, we were served these really cute, little Chilli Cheese Kulchas with a Burnt Garlic Dip. One bite into them, and we realised just how potent they were! Filled with ooey-gooey cheese, with just a hint of chilli, these bite-sized beauties just blew us away. You have to try these out to realize just how awesome they were – I think you won’t regret ordering these. These were one of my most favourites from the entire meal.

Chilli Cheese Kulchas with Burnt Garlic Dip

The ardent chaat lover that I am, I absolutely adored the dish that came next – Burrata Tokri Chaat With Dhokla Sponge. The regular basket chaat was served with a Farzi twist, upside down, the delectable sweet-sour-spicy filling oozing out of it. The dhokla was truly sponge-like, super soft, super juicy, super-duper delicious. And, oh, the soft burrata cheese the chaat was served with was simply mind-bogglingly fresh and awesome. This one is another must try from the new menu, I tell you!

Burrata Tokri Chaat With Dhokla Sponge

We also sampled some of the new mocktails that have been added to the menu. Some very interesting combinations of flavours there! I loved the fruity, refreshing pink drink I had – it was so very well done!

And then, we were in between courses. It was time for the main course to be brought in and, hence, to cleanse our palates. A foaming, frothing palate cleanser came in, which had all of guessing at what exactly would it be. A tasting later, we were all hooked – it was sweet-spicy-sour aam panna served in the fashion of old-world ‘Pepsi’, chilled in little plastic bags. Such a delightful thing that brought back fond memories of school days!

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Aam Panna ‘Pepsi’ palate cleanser

Next was the turn of the Farmer’s Land Tacos, a desi version of tacos as we know them. Crunchy taco shells were served, loaded with an Indian-spiced moth bean filling. These were topped with the cutest of little pickled onions. IMHO, the filling could have done with a bit more flavour, but the tacos were still really good.

Farmer’s Land Tacos

The Ratatouille Pav Bhaji that came next was beautifully done, loaded with veggies, cheese and flavour. It was served with pillow-soft masala buns, which made for the perfect complement to it.

Ratatouille Pav Bhaji with Masala Buns

Then came the desserts! The first one was the Deconstructed Lemon Tart, which I fell in love with at first bite. Sheer brilliance, I tell you! The tart is placed upside down on a bed of cookie crumbs, and there’s a beautiful, beautiful lemony surprise waiting for you inside as you break open the crust. Those who like lemon in their desserts, like me, this is a must-try!

Deconstructed Lemon Tart

The Upside-Down Black Sesame & Jaggery Ice Cream came next, served on a bed of almond chikki crumble. The cone was topsy-turvy all right, but the taste of the ice cream was definitely not! The classic combination of sesame and jaggery has been enchantingly brought together in this dessert – perfectly done! The chikki crumble added an interesting texture to the ice cream, too.

Upside-Down Black Sesame & Jaggery Ice Cream With Almond Chikki Crumble

We ended the meal with some cotton-candy paan straight off a little potted plant. See for yourself. Quirk galore! ๐Ÿ™‚

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Cotton Candy Paan!

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Overall, I had a very satisfying, lovely time at Farzi Cafe’s new menu sampling. Kudos to Team Farzi for honing these dishes to perfection!

This is one menu you don’t want to miss out on. Do check it out at Farzi Cafe’s UB City, Bangalore, outlet. A meal for two would cost somewhere in the vicinity of INR 1800-2000. My top picks from the menu would be the Burrata Tokri Chaat, Chilli Cheese Kulcha and the Deconstructed Lemon Tart.

Don’t forget to let me know how your Farzi experience was!

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I’m sharing this post with Fiesta Friday #262. The co-host is Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook.

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Experience The Flavours Of Winter With Rajdhani’s Swad Kesariya!

Winter is when you get out your shawls and sweaters and jackets. It is when you bundle up in warm blankets and spend entire days reading, gulping down cups of hot cocoa or chai. Winter is also the time to ogle at all those beautiful, beautiful Christmas trees and decorations that seem to be everywhere. Winter is also feasting time – when an abundance of gorgeous vegetables flood the markets, waiting to be converted into delectable, piping hot winter treats. For Bangaloreans, winter is also the time to feast on the delights at Rajdhani’s Swad Kesariya.

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The gorgeous reds and browns and greens of winter, on display at Swad Kesariya, Rajdhani. Doesn’t that sight just make your heart soar?!

Swad Kesariya, the winter-special menu at Rajdhani, is a much anticipated affair in Bangalore every year. This year too, Rajdhani recently launched the winter menu, which I had the pleasure of sampling yesterday.

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Part of the winter-special spread, Swad Kesariya, at Rajdhani

There are several winter delicacies from Gujarat and Rajashtan on offer at Swad Kesariya, including Kand Ki Tikki (patties made using root vegetables), Undhiyu (a Gujarati slow-cooked delicacy made with loads of winter vegetables), Kela Methi Na Gota (Gujarati-style deep-fried fritters using bananas and fenugreek greens), Hare Chane Ki Sabzi (fresh green chickpea curry cooked the Jaisalmer way), Mogri Peru (a curry made using Mogri, a special vegetable that is available only during winters), Kacchi Haldi Ki Sabzi (a Rajasthani curry made using fresh turmeric root), Shakarkandi Halwa (a dessert made using sweet potato) and everyone’s favourite Gajar Ka Halwa (a winter-special sweet treat typically made using those beautiful red Delhi carrots).

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Top left and right: Kand Ki Tikki and Surti Undhiyu; Centre left and right: Mogri Peru and Kela Methi Na Gota; Bottom left and right: Beautifully puffed-up phulka rotis and Haldi Nu Saag or Kacchi Haldi Ki Sabzi. All of these are part of the Swad Kesariya menu at Rajdhani.

I was especially thrilled to see and taste the Undhiyu at Rajdhani’s winter-special festival, as it is something I have grown up with in Gujarat, and have always loved to bits. I am happy to report this Undhiyu tasted every bit as delicious as the one I remember from back home.

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Top left: Lilva Kachoris, Gujarat- and Rajashtan-special deep-fried dumplings with a lovely green pea/pigeon pea stuffing; Top right: Hare Chane Ki Sabzi from Jaisalmer; Bottom Left: Shakarkandi Halwa; Bottom right: Churma Laddoo and Saunth Ke Laddoo, sweet delicacies from Rajashtan that are typically consumed during the months of winter.

Apart from the Undhiyu, my other favourites from Rajdhani’s Swad Kesariya menu were the Lilva Kachoris and the gorgeous chutneys made with wood apples. I also loved the Adadiya Pak (a Gujarati winter-special sweet made using urad daal flour), Gajar Ka Halwa and the Shakarkandi Halwa too. As always, the home-style, simple Daal Khichdi at Rajdhani delighted. The Kesar (saffron) Lassi was just perfect, great to wash down the hearty meal we had.

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The man behind that sumptuous spread – the Head Chef at Rajdhani, whom I had the good fortune of meeting at Swad Kesariya yesterday

Well, I hope you enjoyed the visuals from Rajdhani’s Swad Kesariya!

If you are in Bangalore or plan to be here sometime soon, don’t miss this chance to grab some exclusive North Indian winter delights in the ‘Uru. The Swad Kesariya menu will be available at all Rajdhani outlets across the city for a couple of months, depending upon ingredient availability.

PS: Please do note that the above is a showcase of all the dishes that are part of the winter-special menu at Rajdhani. While the Swad Kesariya menu is available every day at all Rajdhani outlets, all of these dishes might not be served every day. The menu rotates every day, so it is best to call the outlet and check availability if you are looking forward to sample any dish in particular. That said, major dishes like Undhiyu are served at all outlets on an everyday basis.

 

 

 

Eggless Steamed Christmas Pudding| Steamed Fruit Cake

It’s almost Christmas! I absolutely have to share this Christmas-sy recipe with you – one for an Eggless Steamed Christmas Pudding!

Bangalore is extremely beautiful right now. There’s a nip in the air, the weather just gorgeous, the diffused light perfect for photographs. Big Christmas trees, Santa Claus cut-outs, reindeer, red and green bobbles, lanterns, silver snowflakes and golden stars are everywhere. Plum cakes and other Christmas treats have started making an appearance in the bakeries of the city. There are Christmas tree lighting ceremonies and Christmas-special menus galore. Little and big shops, homes, and shopping malls (and food bloggers too!) are getting ready to usher in Christmas.

Our humble little Christmas tree is all set up, but we are yet to decorate it. That will be an afternoon project for the bub and me, one of these days. Did I tell you that the bub’s year-end holidays have started? She is already running amok in the house, wreaking havoc. ๐Ÿ˜› This Eggless Steamed Christmas Pudding was prepared with her in tow, over the weekend, to keep her from getting into too much trouble. ๐Ÿ˜€ Well, I can’t say the pudding served its intended purpose, but I did have loads of fun making it! Also, it did turn out absolutely delicious, a sweet treat just perfect for the holiday season! You can make a sauce to go with this pudding if you want, but you don’t really need one – just dust it with powdered sugar, and it turns into one stunner of a looker!

What do I say about this pudding? The name says it all. It is an eggless dessert, a steamed one made in a pressure cooker. It contains loads of fruit and nuts, cinnamon and cloves, like a Christmas fruit cake. Texture-wise, this is less dense than a fruit cake, a bit softer. Taste-wise, this is an almost-fruit cake.

If you are looking for something different, yet awesome to make for the Christmas season, do try this Eggless Steamed Christmas Pudding out. The process is a bit time-consuming, but I wouldn’t call it laborious. Put the pudding in the cooker to steam, turn the flame to low, and you don’t need to hover around the stove-top. Not really. The end result is totally, totally worth it, I can assure you of that.

Now, without further ado, let’s check out the recipe for this Eggless Steamed Christmas Pudding.

Recipe Source: Adapted from Lite Bite

Ingredients (makes 1 medium-sized pudding, serves 8-10):

  1. 2-1/2 cups of mixed fruits and nuts
  2. Juice of 2 oranges
  3. 1-1/4 cup demerera sugar
  4. 1 cup maida
  5. 1 cup bread crumbs
  6. 4 cloves
  7. A 1/2-inch piece of cinnamon
  8. A small piece of nutmeg
  9. A pinch of salt
  10. 1 tablespoon oil
  11. 1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence
  12. 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  13. 1 teaspoon baking powder
  14. A little butter, to grease the pudding mould

Method:

1. Chop all the nuts (like cashews, almonds) you are using into small bits. Similarly, chop the candied fruit (like oranges, ginger, kiwi, pineapple) into small pieces. If you are using fresh apples, grate them medium-fine. Take all the prepared fruit and nuts in a bowl.

2. Squeeze the juice out of the 2 oranges. Pour this over the prepared fruit and nuts in the bowl. Cover and let the fruit and nuts soak for 20-30 minutes at room temperature.

3. Pound the cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg using a mortar and pestle. Powder them together in a small mixer. Keep aside.

4. In a large mixing bowl, place the maida, bread crumbs, salt, the cinnamon-cloves-nutmeg powder, the baking powder and baking soda. Mix together. Keep aside – these are the dry ingredients for the pudding.

5. Place the demerera sugar in a pan, and place it on high heat. When the pan gets hot, reduce the flame to low. Wait till the sugar is dissolved, and switch off the flame – don’t cook the sugar for too long, otherwise it will turn hard. Immediately, pour 1/2 cup of room-temperature water into the sugar and mix well. You should get a dark brown caramel syrup.

6. Pour the caramel syrup into the fruit and nuts, once they are done soaking. Add the oil and the vanilla essence to it, and mix well – these are the wet ingredients for the pudding.

7. Add the wet ingredients little by little to the dry ingredients in the mixing bowl. Mix well, ensuring that all the wet and dry ingredients are thoroughly incorporated together. The batter should be thick, and not very runny.

8. Grease a medium-sized vessel or pudding mould with a little butter. Pour the batter you prepared (in the step above) into the greased mould/vessel. Cover the mould/vessel with aluminium foil, and secure it with a piece of string. Keep ready.

9. Take 10 cups of water in a pressure cooker bottom. Place it on high heat and allow the water to come to a boil. Place the covered pudding mould/vessel with the batter (which we prepared in the step above) into the water. Cover the pressure cooker with the lid, and turn the flame down to low-medium.

10. Let the pudding cook on low-medium heat for 2 hours. It is ready when a knife or toothpick inserted into the centre of the pudding comes out clean. You can serve this Eggless Steamed Christmas Pudding warm or at room temperature, dusted with some powdered sugar.

Notes:

1. The mixed fruits and nuts should come to roughly 500 grams. I used one apple (grated), 50 grams of broken cashewnuts, 50 grams of black currants, 100 grams of raisins, 100 grams of candied oranges, 100 grams of candied pineapple and a few chunks of candied ginger.

2. You can use any odourless oil to make this Eggless Steamed Christmas Pudding. I used refined sunflower oil.

3. You can use ordinary white sugar to make the caramel here, instead of the demerera sugar. However, demerera sugar adds a lovely dark brown colour and a beautiful flavour to the pudding, so I would suggest you use that instead.

4. Make sure you don’t burn the sugar while making the caramel. Keep the pan on low heat, and switch off the gas as soon as the sugar dissolves. Add water immediately. If these steps are not done correctly, the sugar might become too hard, making it difficult to prepare the caramel.

5. Stand away while pouring water over the dissolved sugar. It sputters.

6. You can use any permutations and combinations of fruits and nuts, while making this Eggless Steamed Christmas Pudding. However, I would suggest you not miss out on the candied orange and ginger, grated apple, cashewnuts and black currants, for it is these ingredients that add a lovely touch to the pudding. Bananas, candied mixed fruit peel, cranberries, dates, cherries, candied kiwi, slivered almonds, etc. are some other things you might use.

7. Ensure that you place adequate water (10 cups) in the bottom of the pressure cooker while steaming the pudding. Keep checking at intervals, and refreshing the water in case you find it has come down.

8. The time that this pudding needs to get completely steamed would differ, depending upon the make of the cooker and ingredients used. Keep checking after 1-1/2 hours (by inserting a toothpick in the centre of the pudding – it should come out clean), and steam till fully done. Mine took exactly 2 hours to get done entirely.

9. Cover the pudding mould securely with a sheet of aluminium foil, and tie a piece of string around it. This will prevent any water from getting into the pudding.

10. If you don’t have a pressure cooker, you can use any large vessel or pan with a lid to steam the pudding.

11. Allow some space for the pudding to rise, in the mould that you use. I didn’t have a pudding mould, so I used an ordinary steel vessel for the steaming.

12. I have not tried making this Eggless Steamed Christmas Pudding with whole wheat flour yet, but I think it should be doable.

13. I have used store-bought bread crumbs here. You may make the bread crumbs at home, instead, too – just pulse 6-8 slices of day-old bread in the mixer till you get crumbs.

14. Make sure you steam the pudding on a low flame, to ensure even cooking.

15. You can soak the fruits and nuts in the orange juice a day in advance, before you make this pudding. In that case, take the fruits and nuts in a bowl, pour the orange juice over them, and allow them to soak in the refrigerator, covered. I just allowed the fruits and nuts to soak for about 30 minutes, before I started making the pudding.

16. Once the pudding is completely steamed and ready, set it aside for 20-30 minutes before unmoulding and slicing it.

Did you like this recipe? Do tell me, in your comments!

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Foodie Monday Blog Hop

This post is for the Foodie Monday Blog Hop. The theme for the week is ‘#ChristmasSpecial Recipes’.

I’m sending this recipe for Fiesta Friday #254. The co-hosts this week are Antonia @ Zoale.com and Kat @ Katโ€™s 9 Lives.

A Class With Ben Ungermann, Of The MasterChef Australia Fame

If you have been watching MasterChef Australia, I’m sure Ben Ungermann needs no introduction.

Ben Ungermann, runner-up at MasterChef Australia 2017, was recently in Bangalore for a few days, conducting events for World On A Plate. Last weekend, I had the pleasure of attending a masterclass by him, at Lavonne Academy of Baking Science and Pastry Arts yesterday. It was an experience that I will cherish for a long, long time to come.

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Ben Ungermann, regaling us with tales from his MasterChef Australia days, at his recent masterclass in Bangalore

Ben demonstrated to us, a fascinated audience, some really unique dishes –

1. Beer Can Chicken With Smashed Potatoes
2. Coffee-Cardamom Ice Cream With Cream Cheese Mousse, Butternut Pumpkin Puree, Shortbread, Rum Caramel & Micro Greens
3. Fish En Pappilote Roasted Tomatoes & Fennel Mayonnaise
4. Sake Ice Cream With Matcha Microwave Sponge, Puffed Rice & Wasabi Mousse

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Ben at the masterclass, demonstrating Beer Can Chicken With Smashed Potatoes

Ben kept us spell-bound by creating these fantastic dishes right before our eyes.

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Ben demonstrating Fish En Pappilote Roasted Tomatoes, i.e. the French way of cooking fish in a bag

He wowed us with his understanding of various ingredients and cooking techniques.

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Ben demonstrating how fennel mayonnaise can be prepared in exactly 30 seconds, which is then used to plate the Fish En Pappilote Roasted Tomatoes

Ben regaled us with anecdotes from his life and MasterChef Australia 2017. He told us of how he had children early on in life, and how he was forced to make a living selling shoes back home in Australia while he actually wanted to cook in a professional setting, just because he couldn’t support his family on an apprentice cook’s salary. MasterChef opened the doors to the world of professional cooking to him, as risky as it was for him to take a chance, quitting his job to enter the competition. Ben also told us of how his quest to make good-quality, healthy ice creams for his family led him to open up Ungermann Brothers in Queensland, Australia – now, a bucket list destination for me. ๐Ÿ™‚

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Ben demonstrating Coffee-Cardamom Ice Cream With Cream Cheese Mousse, Butternut Pumpkin Puree, Shortbread, Rum Caramel & Micro Greens, at the masterclass

All through the masterclass, Ben’s humility and down-to-earth nature, his warm and friendly personality, shone through. It is evident that this person takes pride in his roots, and that he loves being a family man. Cooking for his loved ones is the highest form of adulation for them, it was clear, and this did win us over.

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Ben involving the participants of the masterclass in little tasks

Ben made us smile by involving us in little ways throughout his demonstration. He spoke to us of how India will always occupy a special place in his heart, because of the immense love that the country has given him and MasterChef Australia in general. Being the sweet person that he is, he indulged us by taking posed photographs and selfies with us, giving us personalised autographs, and giving the go-ahead for short video clips with him.

 

Ben at the masterclass, indulging his big and little fans with autographs

At the end of it all, we felt we had met a friend, Ben, from Australia, not watched THE Chef Ben in action.

Ben, thank you for being the lovely person that you are!

World On A Plate, thank you for making this experience possible for me!

 

 

 

Dragon Food Festival @ InAzia, Sheraton Grand, Whitefield

I have had the pleasure of dining at InAzia, the Pan-Asian restaurant at the Sheraton Grand Bengaluru Whitefield Hotel & Convention Center, a couple of times. Last week, I was invited to partake of another feast there, to check out their ongoing Dragon Food Festival, along with some other food bloggers.

Experience Chef Shishir Rai’s Magic At The Dragon Food Festival

The Dragon Food Festival, as the name suggests, will showcase dishes from the exotic land of China. The festival menu has been carefully curated by Jr. Sous Chef, Shishir Rai, who is also spearheading the campaign.

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Chef Shishir Rai, the mastermind behind the ongoing Dragon Food Festival at InAzia

I loved how the Dragon Food Festival menu has a good selection of dishes for vegetarians as well as non-vegetarians alike. Both exotic and popular Chinese dishes feature on the menu, which is something that won brownie points with me.

(For more pictures from the Dragon Food Festival, check out my Facebook post!)

What did I try out?

Chef Rai suggested the foods we absolutely must not miss out, from the food festival menu. Each dish came to our table beautifully presented, and most of it managed to bowl me over.

Here is a sneak peek into all that I tried out at InAzia’s Dragon Food Festival, the vegetarian, non-alcoholic part of it that is.

Cucumber & Cilantro Soup: Decked with slivers of cucumber, delicately flavoured with coriander, this subtly spiced soup was served warm to us. I loved how it was so simple yet hearty, neither overwhelming nor overly bland. It was done just right!

Assorted Mushrooms Truffle Blast: These dimsums were, again, simple but extremely delicious. The filling was a mix of hon Shimeji enokitake and shiitake mushrooms, scented with truffle oil, and I loved them to bits.

Top left: Cucumber & Cilantro Soup; Bottom left: Assorted Mushrooms Truffle Blast; Right: Vegetable Sichuan-Style Pan-Fried Dimsums

Vegetable Sichuan-Style Pan-Fried Dimsums: Stuffed with celery, carrot and asparagus, these pan-fried dimsums were absolutely perfect. They were mildly spiced, but so delicious! The garlic oil they were seasoned with added a whole lot of oomph to them.

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Wok-Tossed Tofu, Sichuan-Style, at InAzia’s Dragon Food Festival

Wok-Tossed Tofu, Sichuan-Style: Cubes of silken tofu were marinated, then tossed with Sichuan chilli paste to create this dish, which was a real beauty indeed. The outside was crunchy, the inside deliciously soft, the sauce a burst of flavours.

Jasmine Tea: We were served some jasmine tea, to cleanse our palates after the appetisers, in preparation for the main course. Now, I have had jasmine tea at a few places, but never loved it, thanks to it almost always feeling like insipid lukewarm water. The jasmine tea at InAzia was an entirely different story, though! It had a mild and subtle flavour, the gorgeous scent of jasmine, and the power to perk you up. Love!

Traditional Moon Fan: Here, steamed rice was flavoured with traditional Chinese five-spice, topped with sesame soy sauce and assorted veggies. This dish wasn’t bad, but felt quite bland to my tastebuds, as opposed to all the other dishes that were filled with taste.

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Left: Dry-cooked Hoo Fun Vegetable Noodles; Top right: Traditional Moon Fan; Centre right: Tofu, Asparagus & Water Chestnut With Malak Paste; Bottom right: Jasmine Tea

Dry-Cooked Hoo Fun Vegetable Noodles: I loved these flat rice noodles cooked with Napa cabbage, sweet peppers and bean sprouts. Flavoured with sesame oil and seasoned with fermented bean sauce, they were oh so flavourful!

Tofu, Asparagus & Water Chestnut With Malak Paste: With melt-in-the-mouth silken tofu, asparagus, water chestnut and green onion cooked in a sesame-chilli paste, this dish was such a flavour bomb! It was absolutely delicious, and paired beautifully with the rice and noodles.

Cranberry Mint Cooler: Along with the food, we were also served a Cranberry Mint Cooler, an extremely beautifully done mocktail. The sourness of cranberry and the freshness of mint leaves paired together really well. This was something I absolutely loved at InAzia!

Left: Chilled Mango Pudding; Top right: Rice Cakes With Ginger Syrup & Ice Cream; Bottom right:ย Cranberry Mint Cooler

Chilled Mango Pudding: This pudding with mango jelly was served chilled, with pieces of fresh mango and cream. I loved that the pudding had a mildly sweet taste, and that it was not tooth-cloying. I also loved the bits of fresh mango and cream (of course!), but overall, the pudding felt like it had a bit too much of gelatin in it. While I loved the taste of this dessert, I didn’t quite enjoy the satiny consistency.

Rice Cakes With Ginger Syrup & Ice Cream: This dessert was quite unusual, at least to me. A sweet filling made with adzuki aka red beans was stuffed into rice flour shells, then steamed, and served alongside a mild ginger syrup and vanilla ice cream. The rice flour cakes were not unlike the Tamilian kozhukattai, although a bit thicker. The red bean stuffing takes a bit of getting used to. The ginger syrup was simply brilliant, and went wonderfully with the vanilla ice cream. Overall, this made for a very interesting choice of dessert!

A must-visit!

Like I said earlier, I enjoyed my time previewing the menu for InAzia’s Dragon Food Festival. Most of the food I tried, I loved. I would highly recommend you to pay a visit too, and check out the many foods and beverages the festival menu has on offer.

Intrigued? The Dragon Food Festival is on at InAzia till September 30, 2018, from 7 PM to 11 PM, and a meal for two costs about INR 2,000 plus taxes.

Thai Food Festival @ In Azia, Sheraton Grand Bengaluru Whitefield Hotel

Regular readers of my blog will know how special Thailand is to me. The husband and I honeymooned in Thailand, watching Thai dancing and kick-boxing shows by the hour. Who on earth does that on their honeymoon? Turns out the hubby and I do. ๐Ÿ™‚ It goes without saying that I have fond memories of us being shy newly-weds together in a foreign land. Making Thai food at home is something I have taught myself to do, to keep that connection with Thailand alive.

Thailand was also my very first international holiday, the first-ever time I set foot on soil that wasn’t Indian, which made the trip all the more special. I wasn’t a food or travel blogger then, so we didn’t explore much of the local food or sights, a fact I regret to date. I haven’t had a chance to go back to Thailand, and explore it to my heart’s content. I did, however, recently get the thrilling opportunity to experience some of Thailand’s famed street food at InAzia, the classy restaurant at Sheraton Grand Bengaluru Whitefield Hotel. Along with a few other bloggers from the city, I was present at InAzia for a sneak peek into the restaurant’s ongoing Thai Food Festival.

Sample Chef Rungtiwa Sorlae’s expert craftsmanship at the Thai Food Festival

Like I said earlier, InAzia, the Pan-Asian restaurant at Sheraton Grand Bengaluru Whitefield Hotel, has a Thai food festival going on now. The festival, brought to you in association with Thailand Tourism, will continue till August 29, 2018.

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Thai Chef Rungtiwa Sorlae, Specialty Chef at InAzia, Sheraton Grand Bengaluru Whitefield Hotel

Chef Rungtiwa Sorlae, Specialty Chef at InAzia, has put together a special menu for the food festival, which includes several vegetarian and non-vegetarian delicacies straight off the streets of her hometown, Thailand. There are also some incredible desserts on offer!

We had a lovely time sampling Chef Rungtiwa’s expert creations, and would urge you to partake of them too. The Thai food festival special menu is available at InAzia between 7 and 11 PM every day, on an a la carte basis. A meal for two would cost approximately INR 2000. Prior reservation is recommended.

My experience at InAzia’s Thai Food Festival

As soon as I set foot into InAzia, I was greeted by two ladies in traditional Thai gear with a sweet ‘Sawadee Kha‘ (‘Hello’ in Thai). This instantly put me at ease, as did the lovely live Thai music being played in the restaurant. The simple and uncluttered but elegant decor of InAzia also soothed my mind plentifully.

The understated but classy decor at InAzia

I loved the references to Thailand that were everywhere in the restaurant. Being the sucker for attention to detail that I am, I adored these little touches – centrepieces made of Thai bird’s eye chillies and galangal, Thai-style lanterns on the tables, place mats that depicted the different aspects of Thailand, Thai umbrellas on display, and a live station for Thai salads, et al.

Glimpses from our recent preview of the Thai Food Festival at InAzia

With the warm hospitality that is typical of the Thai people, Chef Rungtiwa brought out one after another of her creations. We greedily lapped all of it up, loving every bit of it.

What did I taste?

Here’s a brief recap of all the vegetarian, non-alcoholic goodness that I sampled at InAzia’s Thai Food Festival.

Som TamSom Tam or Green Papaya Salad is, perhaps, one of the most popular dish in Thai restaurants across India. Chef Rungtiwa’s version was slightly less sweet and sour than the Som Tam I am used to here, more spicy and pungent with hand-pounded chillies and garlic. I loved this salad quite a bit!

Pheuk-TordPheuk-Tord or deep-fried taro cakes are a popular street food in Bangkok. Salty and spicy, they are served with the accompaniments of chilli and/or peanut sauce. These cakes were too bland for me, not meant for my taste buds that demand chatpata food all the time. ๐Ÿ™‚

Tom Yum Soup – Spicy and salty and sour, Tom Yum is one of my most favourite kinds of soups there is. Chef Rungtiwa’s version was brilliant – slightly more sour than the Tom Yum we get here in Bangalore, it suited my taste buds just perfectly. It was just the right amount of spicy too – neither the boring kind of bland, nor too spicy as to draw tears from your eyes.

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Top Left: Spiced Pineapple; Bottom Right: Pheuk-Tord; Top Right: Vegetarian Tom Yum Soup; Centre Right: Virgin Mojito; Bottom Right: Som Tam

Spiced Pineapple – This was one of the mocktails I ordered from the regular menu at InAzia, to go with the Thai appetisers. This was such a lovely drink, perfectly made, Indian spices subtly adding depth to pineapple juice. Lovely!

Virgin Mojito – I also tried out the Virgin Mojito here, off the restaurant’s regular menu. It was perfectly made too, the right blend of sweet and sour, very refreshing and lovely.

Pad Thai – Main course began with a serving of Pad Thai, Thai-style noodles that are hugely popular in India. I love a well-made dish of Pad Thai, and this one was no exception. The flat noodles were interesting to eat, with the added crunch of bean sprouts and coarsely crushed peanuts. The flavours were absolutely on point, just the right blend of sweet and spicy and salty, with just a tinge of sour.

Left: Thai Green Curry; Top Right: Thai Jasmine Rice; Bottom Right: Pad Thai

Thai Jasmine Rice – This was my first time eating Thai Jasmine Rice, and I simply loved it. The texture and fragrance of the rice was just lovely!

Thai Green Curry – We were served some beautiful Thai Green Curry to go with the jasmine rice. Mild and subtle, very well-made, the curry made for a great accompaniment to the fragrant rice.

Sang Ka Ya Fak Tong – And then it was time for the desserts to be brought out! We started with Sang Ka Ya Fak Tong, a traditional Thai delicacy that I had never heard of before. Coconut custard is poured onto big slices of pumpkin and baked together, to create this dessert, which apparently sells like hot cakes on the streets of Thailand. The Sang Ka Ya Fak Tong did sound wonderful, but it was too eggy for me to eat. For someone who loves eggs, this would be a very unique thing to try, I’m sure.

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Left: Sang Ka Ya Fak Tong; Top Right: Sang Kaya Ob; Centre Right: Home-made Coconut Ice Cream; Bottom Right: Tab Tim Krob

Tab Tim Krob – Next up came the Tab Tim Krob, another interesting traditional Thai dessert. This one was brilliant, with bits of jackfruit and jellied water chestnut served in sweetened coconut milk. It was delicate but hugely satisfying, mildly sweet but delicious, and I couldn’t stop lapping it all up.

Sang Kaya ObSang Kaya Ob refers to baked coconut caramel custard, another traditional Thai dessert. This just blew my mind away with silky texture, coconut-ty flavour and mild sweetness. It was served on a banana leaf, which added to its taste greatly. This is one dessert I would highly recommend you to have at InAzia!

Home-Made Coconut Ice Cream – Yet another dessert that was brilliant enough to charm the socks right off me! Good ol’ simple ice cream made the traditional way, this one tasted scrumptious. The crushed cookies that the ice cream was dusted with added oodles to its charm and taste. This is another dessert I would highly recommend you to try out here.

Traditional Thai Rose Cookies

Thai Rose Cookies – The meal ended with a thoughtful little gift from Chef Rungtiwa to all of us – a box of traditional Thai Rose Cookies. These were so pretty, I almost didn’t have the heart to eat them. ๐Ÿ™‚ I am glad I did, though, for they were exquisite. Delicate, mildly sweet, each one topped with white, dark and milk chocolate, these three cookies were a treat to the taste buds.

In hindsight

I loved most of the food that was served at the preview, though I wish there had been more vegetarian options.

Dishes like Pad Thai and Thai Green Curry gave us a glimpse into Thai cuisine as we know it, while the ones like Pheuk-Tord and Sang Ka Ya Fak Tong taught us that there is more to Thai street food than what we typically find on restaurant menus in Bangalore. I love that this festival has whetted my appetite for more – I can’t wait to head to Thailand now, and explore the vegetarian street food scene there, right at the source! I wish the food festival had delved deeper into more lesser-known food, drinks and desserts from Thailand, but I understand the problems that might cause.

A bit of background, history and stories, to each of the dishes would have been hugely appreciated. To a food history buff like me, that would have been blissful.

While the staff was extremely polite and warm, we found the service to be quite slow. A bit more pro-activeness on the service front would have taken our dining experience up by several notches.

Overall, we had a great time at the food festival, eating our way through some of Thailand’s known and lesser-known delicacies, created with Chef Rungtiwa’s finesse. I would definitely urge you to head to InAzia too, to get your fix of authentic Thai street fare!

 

 

Postcards From Ganesh Chaturthi 2018

Spirituality. Peace. Introspection. Good food. Community. Pandal hopping. Activities with the bub. Play time. Busy-ness. Making memories. Family. Traditions.

That was how Ganesh Chaturthi this year looked like, to us.

Here are some pictures from Ganesh Chaturthi 2018, for your viewing pleasure. I’ll let the pictures do the talking now on.

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Like every year, this year too, we installed a Ganesha in our apartment. Everyone got together to do the decorations, the aarti, make the prasadam for 3 mornings and 3 nights, after which the festivities ended. We did our bit too. This has now become an important tradition to us, one we don’t want to miss.
Spotted these Ganeshas in the market these year, and loved them. A closer look will reveal that they are decorated with grains like ragi and rice, then painted all over. Even the Ganesha idol we set up in our apartment was similar.
It was nice to see these eco-friendly Ganeshas, with a little pop of colour.
Dark and light. Light and dark. That’s what we are made up of too, right?
Pandal decorations, anyone?
I absolutely loved these traditional Ganeshas, with their broad trunks!
More decorations for Ganesha pandals
Meanwhile, this cute little ‘sweet’ Ganesha was spotted at Adayar Ananda Bhavan!
A pretty Ganesha pandal set up near HSR Layout. I loved how this one was done up just like a temple!
A medley of Ganeshas and Gowris in the pandal
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The Ganesha pandal set up by the HSR Layout Youth Association
Colourful, pretty umbrellas that made up part of the decorations at the HSR Layout Youth Association pandal
More Ganeshas and Gowris. Check out that cute turban!
A close-up of the Ganesha idol
More Ganesha and Gowri idols inside the pandal
A small fair set up near the HSR Layout BDA Complex, on the occasion of Ganesh Chaturthi
People having fun at the fair. Kids and adults alike.
We were passing by a temple in HSR Layout, and spotted Ganesh Visarjan happening. We decided to stay on for the festivities, and thoroughly enjoyed it. Here’s Ganesha bidding adieu.
Artistes performing a traditional Karnataka folk dance form, during the visarjan
The excitement in the atmosphere was palpable. Can you feel it in the picture, too?
Ganesha all set to say farewell
Artistes performing Veeragaase, a traditional Karnataka folk dance, on the streets. I loved capturing them on camera!
This guy was all too happy to pose for my camera!
Poser!
Artistes performing Dollu Kunitha, a traditional drum dance practised in Karnataka

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How was Ganesh Chaturthi for you, folks?

Did you like this post? Do tell me, in your comments!

Berry Vanilla Gateaux @ The Academy Of Pastry Arts, Bangalore

Desserts are like mistresses. They are bad for you. So, if you are having one, you might as well have two,” said French chef Alain Ducasse once, and I heartily agree.

Desserts are important in my life. I have a huge sweet tooth, and absolutely love desserts. They are something I always, always save space for, especially if they are made of good-quality chocolate. That said, I don’t stop at just chocolate – I believe in exploring different types of dessert, going through dessert counters systematically, trying to figure out what I like the best. It might not be the best thing for me to do, considering my constant battle with increasing weight, but hey, I’m not one to spoil a day of indulgence with guilt.

With this background, you can imagine just how thrilled I would have been, recently, to receive an invite from The Academy Of Pastry Arts, Bangalore, to be part of a dessert demonstration. It did turn out to be quite a scintillating experience. Yours truly, alongside a bunch of other food bloggers from across the city, watched agog, as Chef Kimberly Rozario of the Academy gave us a live demonstration of a magnificent Berry Vanilla Gateaux.

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Check out the Berry Vanilla Gateaux that we learnt to make at the Academy. Isn’t she a stunner? Don’t miss those gorgeous fresh berries and tiny macaroons on top!

Making the Berry Vanilla Gateaux

Baking requires a lot of precision and patience, specially so when making as elaborate a dessert as this Berry Vanilla Gateaux. This particular cake required a number of steps, some quite complex and requiring special expertise – first making a chocolate sponge, then vanilla mousse, berry jelly, the red glaze that goes on top and, finally, the gold button, chocolate belt and little white macaroons that are used to decorate the cake. Each of these components was then assembled masterfully to create the stunning whole – the Berry Vanilla Gateaux.

Some pictures from the live demonstration of the Berry Vanilla Gateaux. Can you tell how many painstaking steps lie behind that one finished product?

Chef Kimberley took us through each step of the process very patiently, talking about the right kind of ingredients and apparatus to choose, clarifying doubts, answering questions and sharing her expert tips throughout. She made the entire process look almost magical, I must say, flawlessly building up that red confection from scratch.

Chef Kimberly Rozario of The Academy Of Pastry Arts, Bangalore, with the Berry Vanilla Gateaux that she demonstrated to us

We also got to sample this red beauty and, I must say, she blew my mind away. The flavours of vanilla, berries and chocolate came together so beautifully!

Chef Kimberly with her team at The Academy Of Pastry Arts, Bangalore

Head to my Facebook page to see more pictures from the demonstration!

About The Academy Of Pastry Arts

The Academy Of Pastry Arts is an esteemed professional culinary and dessert school with a Pan-Asian presence. In India, the Academy has branches at Bangalore, Delhi NCR and Mumbai, with the Bangalore branch being located on Sarjapur Main Road, Jakkasandra. Apart from this, they also have a presence in the Philippines and in Malaysia.

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The reputed chefs who are part of The Academy Of Pastry Arts, Bangalore

The Academy boasts of having a number of world-class chefs on board, who work with the school either on a permanent or visiting basis. State-of-the-art infrastructure and cutting-edge technology are their points of pride. There are several long-term and short-term courses on offer, wherein students can learn various aspects of culinary and dessert arts. The Academy assures small batch sizes, one-on-one attention to every student, hands-on training, the passing on of top-notch culinary dexterity, internship with hospitality brands of repute, and placement in five-star hotels and patisseries on the completion of courses.

From the walls of The Academy Of Pastry Arts, Bangalore

The Academy Of Pastry Arts has participated in several national- and international-level competitions, winning a few of them too.

The Academy Of Pastry Arts in the news

In Conclusion

As an amateur baker, I was way out of my depth in the demonstration of this beautiful, but complex cake. However, I was impressed with the clean kitchens and the state-of-the-art technology the Academy uses, not to forget Chef Kimberly’s expertise and patient handling of us. For someone who is serious about making a career in the culinary or dessert arts, this is definitely a place to head to.

Details

Address:

Bangalore Centre
9, 1st Block, Sarjapur Main Road,
Jakkasandra, Koramangala,
Bangalore

Phone:
+91-8095719222
+91-8095442277
+91-8025505222

E-mail:
info@academyofpastryartsindia.com

Website:

http://academyofpastryartsindia.com/

 

Introduction To Sindhi Cuisine @ Sindh Kitchen, Malleshwaram

Last weekend, I had the opportunity to sample some Sindhi food at Sindh Kitchen, Malleshwaram, at a bloggers’ table. It turned out to be an enlightening experience, my first proper introduction to Sindhi cuisine, close on the heels of this post of mine about the Sindhi Koki. We had a lovely time admiring the simple decor of Sindh Kitchen and, of course, gorging on some delicious food!

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The simple, functional decor at Sindh Kitchen, Malleshwaram. I absolutely loved those tiles!

We tried out some traditional Sindhi dishes like Dal Pakwaan, Koki, Sindhi Kadhi, Sindhi Vadi Ki Sabzi, Aloo Tuk, Sai Bhaji and Pragree, along with some other not-so-traditional dishes. I loved most of the fare we tried out here, which was as authentic as it gets, considering it is prepared in-house by a Sindhi family.

The food and drinks

Here is how I fared with the food and drinks at Sindh Kitchen.

Drinks

Lemon & Mint Cooler: We started our meal with a shot each of Sindh Kitchen’s Lemon & Mint Cooler. This was quite refreshing, well done with the right mix of sweet and sour.

Appetisers

Palak Patta Chaat: Next up, we were presented with platters of Palak Patta Chaat, spinach leaves deep-fried till crisp, then topped with the assorted sweet, savoury and tart makings of chaat. This was perfectly done, just the way I like it. Needless to say, I loved this chaat to bits.

Sev Papdi Chaat: The Sev Papdi Chaat came next, flat deep-fried discs topped with fine sev, assorted chutneys and boiled potatoes. I found this to be quite decent, not bad but not brilliant either.

Top Left: Lemon & Mint Cooler; Bottom Left: Sev Papdi Chaat; Right: Palak Patta Chaat

Dal Pakwaan: And then, it was time for the piece de resistence, perhaps the best-known dish from Sindhi cuisine – Dal Pakwaan – to be brought out. The Pakwaan is made with maida (sometimes with a little wheat flour added in) mixed with some fragrant spices, bound into a dough, rolled out into discs, and then deep-fried. It is served with a sort of lentil stew called Dal, topped with finely chopped onions and/or green chillies, as well as sweet and spicy chutneys. I adored the Dal Pakwaan I tried out in Ahmedabad for the first-ever time, and the Sindh Kitchen version somehow fell short of it. In my humble opinion, it could have done with some more flavour.

Top Left: Dal Pakwaan; Centre Left: Sindhi Wadi Ki Sabzi; Bottom Left: Sindhi Kadhi; Right: The Dal Pakwaan presented differently

Main Course

Sindhi Wadi Ki Sabzi: Mixed vegetables are cooked Sindhi-style, with sun-dried lentil wadis, to make this sabzi. I loved this dish to bits – it tasted absolutely brilliant, redolent with spices.

Sindhi Kadhi: Unlike the regular kadhi we are used to, the Sindhi Kadhi is made without any curd. Flavoured with Garcinia Indica aka kokum, with a variety of vegetables added in, this is a lovely accompaniment to rice. I absolutely loved this dish!

Meethi Boondi: I love meethi boondi, especially the rose-flavoured orange version that is just the right amount of sweet. The meethi boondi we were served at Sindh Kitchen was exactly like that, exactly the way I love it. We were asked to try having the boondi with the rice and kadhi, the way it is apparently consumed in Sindhi households, and I must admit the combination did taste nice. Personally, though, I would just prefer gulping down a bowl of this meethi boondi on its own, for dessert!

Left: Aloo Tuk; Top Right: Sindhi Papad; Bottom Right: Sindhi Koki and Sai Bhaji

Aloo Tuk: This is a traditional delicacy made with twice-cooked potatoes. Potatoes are typically par-boiled or fried once, then slightly smashed, then fried again to make them crispier. They are served with a generous dose of salt, red chilli powder and chaat masala. The Aloo Tuk was so, so, so very lovely, great with the rice and kadhi! I think these beauties would go really well with sambar and rice as well – can’t wait to try that combo out!

Sindhi Papad: We also got to try out the Sindhi papad, quite less spicy than its Punjabi counterpart. I liked this mild papad, which made for a nice accompaniment to the rice and Sindhi kadhi.

Sindhi Koki: This thick but soft and crumbly Sindhi flatbread was just beautiful! It tasted absolutely delightful, with finely chopped onions and green chillies added in.

Sai Bhaji: ‘Sai‘ refers to the colour green, in Sindhi. True to its name, Sai Bhaji is made with a variety of greens, with assorted vegetables added in. It is quite a flavourful way to sneak greens and veggies into one’s diet, I must say. It pairs wonderfully well with Sindhi Koki – add a dollop of curd to it, the way the Sindhis do, and this becomes a heavenly trio!

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The white rice is called Chawal in Sindhi. Anti-clockwise from the Chawal is Bhuga Chawal, Dal Pakwaan, Sai Bhaji and Sindhi Kadhi

Bhuga Chawal: As part of the main course, we were served some plain steamed white rice to have with the side dishes. We were also served some Bhuga Chawal, a Sindhi preparation wherein basmati rice is cooked with onions, flavoured with spices like cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, peppercorns, bay leaves and garam masala. The Bhuga Chawal was not unlike a pulav, though quite low on spice, fragrant with all the spices. It was delicious, and paired well with the various side dishes served to us, though I would really prefer having it on its own, or maybe with some raita.

Khameeri Roti: Khameeri Roti is another type of Sindhi flatbread, made using whole wheat flour and yeast (known as ‘khameer‘ in Sindhi). Traditionally cooked in clay tandoors, these rotis are melt-in-the-mouth soft.

Sathpura: Sathpuro Phulko or Sathpura is a flaky flatbread made using wheat flour. The dough is rolled out, cut into strips, greased with oil or ghee and re-rolled, the proceedure giving the flatbread its flakiness and pillow-soft texture. It is the Sindhi version of the Kerala paratha, if I may put it that way.

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That, there, is most of the spread we tried out at Sindh Kitchen. Check out the flatbreads – the Sindhi Koki lie atop the Sindhi Papad, the ones wrapped in foil are Sathpura, and the whitish ones are Khameeri Roti.

Desserts

Pragree with Rabri: Pragree is a delectable traditional Sindhi dessert, a layered puff stuffed with a sweet khoya filling. Served with a beautiful, beautiful rabri, this was exactly the kind of dessert that takes a sweet-toothed person like me to a state of bliss!

Left: Pragree with Rabri; Right: Gulab Jamun with Vanilla Ice Cream

Gulab Jamun with Vanilla Ice Cream: This wasn’t your average gulab jamun, but one made with loads of khoya, just the way I love it. With the vanilla ice cream, it tasted all the more lovely.

In hindsight

I surely enjoyed this gastronomical voyage through Sindh, with Sindh Kitchen. If this is something you would like to experience as well, I would recommend you visit the place as well.

Tank up on some authentic Sindhi delicacies, as well as the other, more modern food they have on offer. The Sai Bhaji, Sindhi Kadhi, Meethi Boondi, Pragree and Gulab Jamun especially come highly recommended!

A meal for two here would cost around INR 1,000.

 

 

 

 

Kashmiri Wazwan @ Radisson Blu, Marathahalli

I consider myself incredibly lucky for having had the chance to visit Kashmir, the land touted as ‘Paradise on Earth’, not once but twice so far. I am glad I have had a chance to explore a little of the cuisine of this beautiful place, to delve deeper into the food that nourishes the people of this land. Kashmiri cuisine has always surprised me with its out-of-the-box (at least for me) preparations, the use of spices to make food magical, and its simplicity. So, when I was recently invited to partake of a Kashmiri feast at Saffron, Radisson Blu in Marathahalli, I absolutely had to go. I ended up having an absolutely lovely time here, with some great food being served.

This is one food festival you must head to!

Kashmiri Wazwan food festival at Saffron

Saffron, the restaurant at Radisson Blu, Marathahalli, is celebrating a Kashmiri food festival till August 20, 2018. Kashmiri chef Irshad Ahmad Wani and his team are all set to serve to the citizens of Bangalore a feast full of the flavours of his hometown.

The special menu curated for the food festival, called Kashmiri Wazwan, is available only for dinner at Saffron, on an a la carte basis. There are loads of options for vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike, which is something I loved. I also loved that the menu encompasses more than Kashmiri pulao, kahwah and dum aloo, which is what Kashmiri food means to a lot of people.

If you are in ‘uru and have always wanted to try out food from the valley, this is your chance to do so! The food for the festival is being cooked by an actual Kashmiri chef and his team, and is hence as authentic as can be. How cool is that, right?

The ambience at Saffron

Saffron exudes an old-world charm, with its dark wood furniture, high ceilings, and large windows. The decor is simple and understated, yet elegant. There are little, classy pops of art here and there, which add to the charm of the place.

Glimpses of Saffron, the restaurant at Radisson Blu, Marathahalli

The restaurant feels airy and bright, in spite of having a generous number of seats. This is not a dimly-lit place, but one filled with natural sunlight, and I absolutely loved that.

The open kitchen at the back lets you have a view of all the behind-the-scenes action, building up your appetite in the process.

The service was impeccable, the staff attentive yet not hovering. They were brimming with Radisson Blu’s characteristic courtesy, warmth and friendliness.

Food and drinks

Now, let’s take a look at the food and drinks we sampled at Saffron!

We started our meal with Sabzi Badami Shorba, a light vegetable soup with slivers of almond in it. It was subtly spiced, the perfect foil for all the beautiful dishes that were about to be served to us in the course of the meal.

Top: Subzi Badami Shorba; Bottom left and right: Papads and fries with assorted dips

Along with the soup, we were presented a basket of papads and fries, with an assortment of Kashmiri dips. The dips – spicy onion, walnut and curd, radish, and green chilly and mint – were so very lovely. We loved munching on these, especially so because they brought back fond memories of hearty meals we have had while holidaying in Kashmir.

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The starters we tried at the Kashmiri Wazwan food festival. Top Left: Paneer Tikka (Picture Courtesy: Avril’s Food Journee); Bottom Left: Makai Malai Tikki; Bottom Right: Nadru Ki Shaami; Top Right: Zaam Doodh Kebab

Then came the starters. The Paneer Tikka (cottage cheese marinated in spices and grilled) and Makai Malai Tikki (corn and cream cutlets) were presented first, both of which were decent. The paneer was supremely soft and the corn tikkis melt-in-your-mouth, but, again, I felt they could have done with a bit more flavour.

The next starter, Nadru Ki Shaami, cutlets made with lotus stem, didn’t really titillate my tastebuds. They were really well done, but I would have loved some more flavour to them.

The Zaam Doodh Kebab or hung curd patties that were brought to the table next were beautiful – the star of the starters for me. They were just the right amount of sour, perfectly made, and the walnut stuffing within took the taste up several notches.

And then, it was time to move on to the main course.

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The main course dishes we sampled at Kashmiri Wazwan. Top: Assorted vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes; Bottom Left: Assorted flatbreads with Modur Pulav and a non-vegetarian gravy; Bottom Centre: My main course platter; Bottom Right: Al Yakhni, which stole the show for me

With some wonderful, pillow soft flatbreads, I sampled four vegetarian Kashmiri curries.

The Kashmiri Dum Aloo, baby potatoes cooked Kashmir-style with a yogurt- and tomato-based gravy, was just beautiful.

The Tamatar Chaman, deep-fried cottage cheese cooked in a tomato-fennel gravy, though, was quite average.

The Schuk Wangun, baby eggplants cooked the Kashmiri way with a tomato-and-tamarind base, literally had me licking my fingers. Yes, it was that delish!

It was the Al Yakhni, a yogurt-based preparation with bottlegourd, that stole the show for me. It was so mild, so simple, yet so delicious! Who would have thought bottlegourd could be this fantastic?!

The Modur Pulav that came next – a sweet Kashmiri preparation with basmati rice, dry fruits, nuts and herbs – was brilliant too. It was so fragrant, so subtle, yet an absolute delight to eat.

Left: The First Kiss, a mocktail at Saffron; Top Right: Black Magic, another mocktail; Bottom Right: Kashmiri Kahwah

Along with our meal, we sipped on a couple of mocktails from Saffron’s extensive drink menu. I tried out The First Kiss, a medley of orange, apple and lemon, was very well made and refreshing. I also sampled Black Magic, a mocktail with cola, lemon, ginger and mint that I loved to bits. Please note that the mocktails are not part of the Kashmiri Wazwan menu, but they can be served to you from the regular bar menu if you so desire, at an additional cost.

We washed the food down with some Kashmiri Kahwah, a warm and mildly sweet concoction that was very well brewed.

Phirni and Kesar Ras Malai at Saffron

Our meal ended with the two desserts that are on offer as part of the Kashmiri Wazwan menu – Phirni and Kesar Ras Malai.

I have never been a big fan of the grainy texture of phirni or its taste so, as always, it didn’t excite me too much. The Kesar Ras Malai? Now, that was a different story altogether. It was so very well done, with just the right amount of sweet and thickness. Served cold, with a hint of saffron to it, it was heavenly!

In hindsight…

All of us had a thoroughly enjoyable meal at the Kashmiri Wazwan food festival. I loved most of the food that was served to us, and Saffron’s wonderful hospitality ensured that we had a great experience overall.

Like I was saying earlier, the food took us back to our holidays in Kashmir, making us remember some lovely meals we have had there. The food is, indeed, true-blue Kashmiri, or at least to the extent that that is possible in Bangalore.

Don’t miss this! Head to Saffron at Radisson Blu, Marathahalli, on or before August 20 for your fix of Kashmiri flavours.

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I’m sharing this post with Fiesta Friday #237. The co-hosts this week are Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook and Diann @ Of Goats and Greens.