Weekend Getaway To Pearl Valley, Near Anekal

We are trying to make the most of the beautiful, beautiful weather in Bangalore lately. Of late, weekends see us on heading out on long drives, exploring places, seeing the city we live in with new eyes. One of my cousins has moved from the US of A, and we are – sort of – helping him get acquainted with Bangalore. Suits me just fine! So, that’s how we came to be checking out this place called Pearl Valley one gorgeous rainy weekend.

And we’ve arrived at Pearl Valley!

Located about 40 km from Bangalore, Pearl Valley needs just about an hour’s time to drive down. The roads are in great condition, and the ride is smooth. You pass through some narrow roads and little villages en route, all of it made extra charming by the pretty weather. Google Maps is a great guide to take you to this little known picnic spot, just 5 km or so away from Anekal district.

The little lake that greets you upon your arrival at Pearl Valley

There’s not much to do at Pearl Valley, whose original name is Muthyala Maduvu. It is, however, a nice spot for a relaxed half-day picnic in natural surroundings, I would say. This is a green valley situated in the midst of mountains, and a trek through the valley will bring you to the star attraction – a waterfall. I’ll hasten to tell you that the waterfall isn’t much to look at (definitely not in the league of Jog Falls or Shivanasamudra), and the trek doesn’t really involve very rugged terrain or an extremely tough trail. That said, it’s still a scenic place to visit, especially in the monsoons, a quiet sojourn away from the chaos of city life. My 4-1/2-year-old did a fairly decent job of the trek, as did the other two little ones in our family. I’d say this is a nice place for beginner trekkers or for children to get a feel of trekking or walking amidst wilderness.

Look at that green, green valley!

A hotel run by the Karnataka Tourism Development Corporation (KTDC) – Mayura Nisarga – is the only sort of commercialisation you will find at Pearl Valley. Mayura Nisarga is, actually, a bar-cum-hotel serving vegetarian and non-vegetarian food. The hotel premises are where you park your vehicle and take a loo break, before heading down to the waterfall in the valley. Beware – monkeys run amok at this spot and are known for snatching food and drinks from the hands of unsuspecting tourists!

Up to monkey business!

The trekking trail here is still under construction. You’ll find proper steps along part of the way, while the rest is just finding your foothold amidst worn rocks and bushes and mud. There are no signboards or restrooms once you begin the trek, descending into the valley. No monkeys inside the valley, thankfully!

Down, down, down we went that steep flight of stairs!
One little girl had her first ‘trek’ experience amidst narrow trails!

The views en route are pretty, albeit nothing extraordinary. I especially loved the rustic temple we passed en route. If you need to take a break, rocks and grassy land are all you have to sit on.

Captured on camera en route
This temple had me charmed!

The waterfall you reach after the trek is, really, just a little trickle. Don’t go for the waterfall – go with family and friends to make memories along the way.

The little waterfall at Pearl Valley

Notes for travellers:

1. The villagers of Muthyala Maduvu charge an entry fee of INR 30 per vehicle. Apart from this, there’s a small parking fee to be paid for using the premises of Mayura Nisarga.

2. The food and beverages at Mayura Nisarga are pretty sad – speaking from personal experience. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to carry a lunch hamper from home. It would be best to leave the hamper in your vehicle – thanks to the monkeys – and wait till you reach a safe spot somewhere nearby, to eat.

3. The trek can be a bit much for the aged and infirm. Children above 4 can head in, I’d say, provided they are able to walk independently. It’s about a 45-minute walk in all.

4. Like I was saying earlier, there’s not much of development or vigilance inside the valley. We spotted bunches of people ducking under bushes with bottles of alcohol, and a few couples trying to get close. That said, there were quite a few families trekking the day we visited too. There’s really no one to keep an eye on the place, a sad fact.

5. Carry a backpack with water bottles, umbrellas and/or rain coats, and a few snacks while you trek. Comfortable attire for trekking is highly recommended.

6. The valley is not the cleanest of places. Be prepared to see several plastic bags and bottles, juice cartons, snack covers, alcohol bottles and the likes strewn all over.

7. There’s nothing much to do or explore in the immediate surroundings. Plan your visit accordingly.

8. Mayura Nisarga offers some good views of the valley, which you might want to check out.

9. The valley was quite green and pretty when we visited, probably because we visited in the peak of monsoon. We had good weather too, as we trekked. I doubt either of this would be the case, if you visit in the non-rainy months.

10. We didn’t come across any flora or fauna of interest, in the course of our trek.

11. Pearl Valley is open from 7 am to 7 pm every day.

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Khara Bath| Karnataka Special Rava Upma

In several Old Bangalore-style eateries, popularly called Darshinis, you will find a very different type of rava upma on the ‘tiffin’ menu. This version of upma, a popular breakfast dish in several parts of Karnataka, is reddish-yellow in colour, tasting slightly tangy and spicy and very different from the regular, white sooji upma we are typically used to. The unique colour and taste of this upma comes from the Vangi Bath (Karnataka-style brinjal rice) powder that is added to it. I absolutely adore this variation of rava upma, called Khara Bath in local parlance. I present to you today the recipe for Bangalore-style Khara Bath, the way I learnt to make it years ago from an aunt of mine.

You can use either fine sooji (aka rava or semolina) or the thicker Bansi rava to make Khara Bath. The key to getting this dish right is in the roasting of the semolina. It needs to be roasted perfectly, until it emits a lovely fragrance, taking care to ensure that it doesn’t burn. Using good-quality Vangi Bath powder is a must too, and I swear by the one by Sanketi Adukale. I’ve been using spice mixes from the brand for quite some time now, and love how fresh, fragrant and authentic they are, free of artificial additives and preservatives.

You can choose to add a lot of veggies to your Khara Bath, or keep it simple by using only tomatoes and onion. I prefer the latter, personally, but it tastes lovely either way! This dish often finds a place on our dining table, considering it makes for a hearty meal that can be whipped up in a matter of minutes.

I’m sharing our family recipe for Khara Bath for the week’s Foodie Monday Blog Hop. The theme this week is #ThindiYenu, which is Kannada for ‘What’s for tiffin?’. The members of the group are, today, showcasing breakfast recipes from the state of Karnataka, for the theme. It was Aruna of Vasu’s Veg Kitchen who suggested the theme, a talented cook whose blog is full of detailed recipes from all over India.

Now, without further ado, let me outline the Khara Bath recipe. This is a completely plant-based, vegan dish.

Ingredients (serves 4):

  1. 1-1/2 cups fine sooji (semolina or rava)
  2. 4-1/2 cups water
  3. A 1-inch piece of ginger
  4. 1 large onion
  5. 1 large tomato
  6. About 1/4 cup shelled green peas
  7. 2 green chillies
  8. 2 sprigs fresh curry leaves
  9. 1 tablespoon oil
  10. 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  11. 2 pinches of asafoetida
  12. Salt to taste
  13. 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  14. 5-6 teaspoons Vangi Bath powder
  15. Red chilli powder to taste (optional)
  16. Juice of 1 lemon or to taste
  17. 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh coriander

Method:

1. Take the sooji in a thick pan and place it on high flame. Once the pan heats up, reduce flame to medium. Dry roast the sooji till it begins to emit a lovely fragrance, taking care not to burn it. This takes 3-4 minutes, by which time the sooji will start to brown slightly. Switch off gas at this stage and transfer the roasted sooji to a plate. Keep aside.

2. Chop the onion and tomato finely. Peel the ginger and chop it very finely. Slit the green chillies length-wise. Keep aside.

3. Heat the oil in the same pan we used before. Add in the mustard seeds, and let them pop. Now, add in the asafoetida, slit green chillies and curry leaves. Let them stay in for a couple of seconds.

4. Add the chopped onions and ginger to the pan, along with the shelled green peas. Add in a little salt. Saute on medium flame till the onions start turning brown and the peas are mostly cooked, about 2 minutes.

5. Add in the tomatoes. Saute on medium flame till the tomatoes shrink , 1-2 minutes.

6. Now, keeping the flame medium, add in the water. Add in salt and turmeric powder, and mix well. Keep on medium flame till the water starts boiling.

7. At this stage, add in the lemon juice, Vangi Bath powder and red chilli powder (if using). Mix well.

8. Still keeping the flame medium, add the roasted sooji to the pan, little by little. Keep stirring constantly, to prevent the formation of lumps.

9. Cook on medium flame till the mixture thickens, the water dries up, and the sooji is cooked through. This should take 2-3 minutes. Stir constantly to avoid sticking to the bottom of the pan.

10. When almost done, mix in the finely chopped fresh coriander. Switch off gas when the Khara Bath is done. Serve hot, with chutney of your choice.

Notes:

1. Adjust the quantity of water you use, depending upon the consistency of the Khara Bath you require. Here I have used 3 cups of water per cup of rava. In traditional Old Bangalore eateries, you will find this Khara Bath quite runny in texture, almost like a liquid-y khichdi.

2. I have used store-bought Vangi Bath powder from Sanketi Adukale. You can make your own Vangi Bath powder at home as well.

3. If the heat from the green chillies and the Vangi Bath powder is enough, you can skip the red chilli powder entirely.

4. You can skip the lemon juice entirely, but I personally prefer adding it in because I love the slight tartness it adds to the Khara Bath. Alternatively, you could use more tomatoes in the preparation.

5. I prefer using the more tart Nati (country) tomatoes in the Khara Bath, as opposed to the ‘farm’ variety.

6. A simple coconut chutney is the best accompaniment to this Khara Bath.

7. Bisi Bele Bath powder can be used in place of Vangi Bath powder, in the above recipe.

8. A little fresh grated coconut can be added to the Khara Bath too. It adds a lovely flavour to the dish. I haven’t, here.

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

Thotada Mane: A Food Stop You Must Make In Srirangapatna

The weather in Bangalore right now is just perfect for a drive. Let me suggest to you a lovely place to consider for a drive from Bangalore – Thotada Mane in Srirangapatna. Located a little over 100 km away from the city, this is an ideal spot for a weekend getaway, especially so if you are a foodie and nature buff. Our family made a pit-stop at Thotada Mane on a recent trip to Mysore, and ended up thoroughly enjoying ourselves.

The entrance to Thotada Mane

Just how charming is that?!

A rustic eatery set up in the midst of fields in Srirangapatna, Thotada Mane is the brainchild of Guru Dutt Bharadwaj, an ex-IT man. I had the pleasure of meeting him during our sojourn to Thotada Mane, and of learning about the birth of the establishment. Owning a home in the midst of farm land was always a dream of Guru Dutt’s parents, and Thotada Mane is the manifestation of this dream. Guru Dutt and his wife live in a charming little house adjacent to the eatery and personally oversee the cooking. Most of the food served at Thotada Mane is prepared using recipes from Guru Dutt’s own family.

The pretty dining area at Thotada Mane

The wishing well on the premises!

Thotada Mane has the sort of ambience that relaxes you the minute you set foot in. The greenery all around, the gravel that scrunches under your feet as you walk in, the red oxide flooring of Guru Dutt’s house, the low wooden tables and chairs set up all around, the quirky paraphernalia on display, the gurgling of the little fountain that runs in the midst of the dining area, the cute bridge and wishing well on the premises – everything plays a part. I was charmed by the place, and I’m sure you will be too.

Cutesy!

The gurgling water kept us company as we partook of our lunch

Thotada Mane serves reasonably priced all-vegetarian fare for breakfast and lunch, from Tuesday to Sunday. They also serve tea, coffee, select beverages and tea-time snacks. I loved that the menu here is quite extensive – a mix of traditional Karnataka food and fusion dishes to please all kinds of palates. The home-style food that Thotada Mane serves, sans artificial flavouring or colouring agents and preservatives – has definitely struck a chord with patrons. The eatery, about 4 years old now, sees a steady stream of visitors by word of mouth only. Thotada Mane does not feature in advertisements of any sort – it doesn’t even have a signboard on the highway to direct tourists! We had heard about this place through some foodie friends, and used Google Maps to locate it – something I would recommend you to do, too, in case you plan on visiting.

One of the many trees on the Thotada Mane premises

Rustic wooden seating at Thotada Mane

My dad opted for a Roti Meal, which turned out to be a delicious Karnataka-style thali complete with roti, 2 types of veggies, saaru (rasam), sambar, papad, anna (rice), curd, Maddur vade and obattu (poli). The obattu, especially, was finger-lickingly good!

Roti Meal at Thotada Mane

The husband, mom and I wanted to try out various things from the menu, so we chose a mix of traditional and ‘jazzed-up’ dishes. We ordered a Cheesy Spicy Sweet Masala Papad first, which was just brilliant. The home-made peanut powder it was dusted it was an awesome, awesome thing. This was the star of the meal, for me, I would say.

Cheesy Spicy Sweet Masala Papad

Next up, we opted for Cutlet Pizza and Corn Boats, two of their appetisers. These were decent, not bad but nothing to write home about either. I loved the simple, homely style in which these two dishes had been prepared, but they could definitely have been more flavourful.

Left: Corn Boats, Right: Cutlet Pizza

We ended our meal with Curry Leaves Bath and Curd Rice, both of which were lovely. The curry leaves podi (powder) used in the former was super fresh and bursting with flavour, just the right amount of spicy. The Curd Rice was just perfect, too – simple as the dish is, achieving that is quite a feat, trust me!

Left: Curry Leaves Bath, Right: Curd Rice

The staff at Thotada Mane, including Guru Dutt, is known for their warm hospitality and friendly interaction with their customers. We had the same warm experience too, here. We even managed to get a sneak peek into Guru Dutt’s beautiful, beautiful home on the premises. He was kind enough to bring out his pet turtle (yes, you read that right!) for the bub to play with. šŸ™‚

Part of Guru Dutt’s lovely home

Ain’t it pretty?!

I loved the abundant use of natural material in the eatery and the upcycling of waste products. The see-saw with bicycle handlebars became a fast favourite with the bub, and all of us admired the washbasin designed out of a car tyre.

The car-tyre washbasin

That see-saw!

There are two toilets at Thotada Mane, for public convenience. We found them quite neat and clean.

The toilets

I am already thinking about a second trip to this place, to get hold of more of the interesting dishes on the menu! I hear their Akki Rotti (rice flour roti) and Ragi Rotti (finger millet roti) are bomb, and I definitely wouldn’t mind driving down to Srirangapatna just for those. All of us need a detox from time to time – the sort of detox where we sit peacefully and eat good food – and Thotada Mane is just the right place for that.

Table decor!

Do check out this place! I hope you’ll fall in love with it the way we did, too.

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I’m sharing this recipe with Fiesta Friday #289.

Ragi Roti|Gluten-Free Finger Millet Flatbread

I am here today with a recipe for Ragi Roti, Karnataka-style finger millet flatbread that is completely gluten-free.

I have been thinking a lot about gluten-free foods, lately. I have met several people of late who have been following a gluten-free diet for themselves and/or their families, for various reasons. We have had interesting discussions about how wheat chapatis and bread used to form an integral part of their meals earlier, and how they quit these to move on to other gluten-free products. This got me thinking about the various gluten-free preparations that are possible in Indian cooking, and how I could help these families make something delicious and simple, which would fit into their dietary requirements. Coincidentally, a discussion on gluten-free foods started in our Foodie Monday Blog Hop group too, and I heartily agreed when Batter Up With Sujata suggested that all of us showcase #GlutenFreeTreats on our blogs this Monday. Hence, this recipe for Ragi Roti.

But first, let’s try to understand what gluten is and what exactly a gluten-free diet entails.

What is gluten?

Gluten is something that occurs naturally in certain grains such as wheat, rye and barley. It is what gives elasticity to dough made using these grains, helps food retain shape and texture.

Why does one follow a gluten-free diet?

Mostly due to medical reasons. Celiac disease and gluten sensitivity are two major reasons people are advised to go off gluten. There are also some who might not be diagnosed with these conditions as such, but prefer a gluten-free diet because it helps their gut. I have also come across women who have been recommended a gluten-free diet for relief from PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome). Going gluten-free has also been suggested for improvement in children with hyperactivity and/or ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder).

Here, I’d like to say that I’m neither a medical practitioner nor a nutritionist, just someone who’s trying to understand the various types of foods and dietary requirements of the world. I share this here, on the basis of my interaction with people and the reading I’ve resorted to, in the hope that this information will benefit someone.

What does going gluten-free mean?

Following a gluten-free diet means, very obviously, avoiding the whole grains that naturally contain gluten – wheat, barley, rye and the likes. Food made from these grains would need to be substituted with others that are entirely gluten-free – finger millet (ragi), pearl millet (bajra), or sorghum (jowar), for instance.

You would also need to closely check labels of processed foods, to understand if there is wheat or any other glutinous food included therein. For instance, wheat flour is commonly mixed with asafoetida, to make processing easier. Abstaining from gluten would also mean refraining from processed foods such as this.

Some foods might be gluten-free as such, but might be processed in a facility where foods with gluten have also been processed. There might be some cross-contamination in this case, that people following a gluten-free diet should avoid.

Some products like sauces, canned fruits or vegetables, malted milk products, pre-chopped fruits or vegetables, ice cream and mocktails should also be checked for gluten inclusion and/or cross-contamination.

Read more about a gluten-free diet in this Healthline article.

Gluten-free preparations in Indian cooking

Indian cooking in general uses several grains and flours that are gluten free. There are various preparations using gram flour, oats, rice, rice flour, ragi flour, jowar, bajra and the likes that are not only gluten-free but quite nutritious too. A simple step such as avoiding asafoetida in tempering can make various Indian foods completely gluten-free. You will find quite a few gluten-free preparations on my blog as well.

Ragi Roti or Gluten-Free Finger Millet Flatbread

Coming back to the ragi roti, let me tell you that this is a delicious flatbread. It requires very few ingredients and is quite simple to prepare, once you get the hang of it.

Ragi aka finger millet is loaded with health benefits, and this roti is a good way of harnessing them.

The recipe I share with you here indicates the way ragi roti is largely made in Karnataka. It is quite a popular food in the homes of Bangalore, as well as in Old Bangalore-style restaurants.

Let us now see how to go about making this Ragi Roti. I’m linking this recipe to Fiesta Friday #286, co-hosted this week are Mollie @ Frugal Hausfrau and Laurena @ Life Diet Health.

Ingredients (makes 7-8 rotis):

  1. 1-1/2 cups finger millet aka ragi flour
  2. Salt to taste
  3. 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  4. 1/4 cup sour curd
  5. 1 medium-sized onion
  6. 2 green chillies
  7. 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh coriander
  8. 1 sprig fresh curry leaves
  9. Oil, as needed to make the rotis

Method:

1. Take the ragi flour in a large mixing bowl. Add in salt to taste, cumin seeds, sour curd and chopped coriander.

2. Chop the onion finely and add to the mixing bowl.

3. Chop the green chillies and curry leaves very finely. Add to the mixing bowl.

4. Mix all the ingredients in the bowl together. Adding water little by little, form a soft dough. The dough will be a bit sticky – do not make it too dry.

5. Get a thick dosa pan nice and hot.

6. In the meantime, we will begin preparing the ragi rotis. For this, grease a piece of plastic or banana leaf with a little oil and place a small ball of the ragi dough on it. Using slightly wet fingers, pat it with your hands to spread it out till it forms a circle. If the roti breaks while patting, just seal the edges and continue to pat till you get a circle that is slightly thicker than a regular chapati. Poke 2-3 holes in the ragi roti, using your hands, to ensure even cooking.

7. Now, with lightly wet hands, gently loosen the roti from the plastic sheet/banana leaf, sliding it onto the hot pan. Make sure you don’t get the plastic sheet or banana leaf in contact with the hot pan.

7. Spread a little oil around the ragi roti and let it cook for about 2 minutes on medium heat. The roti should turn a slightly darker colour on the bottom. Then, flip it over and cook for about 2 minutes on the other side as well. Transfer the roti to a serving plate. Serve hot with coconut chutney or pickled onions.

8. Prepare ragi rotis from all the dough in a similar manner.

Notes:

1. Making ragi roti this way requires a bit of patience and practice. Do not be disheartened if you do not get it right immediately.

2. Grated carrots and/or coconut can be added to the ragi roti dough too. Here, I haven’t.

3. You may mix some wheat flour with the ragi flour, to make the rotis easier to shape. I haven’t, here, considering I was to make a gluten-free preparation.

4. These ragi rotis are best consumed hot, straight off the stove.

5. I have included some tips to make the shaping of the ragi roti easier, in the above recipe. Please read the entire recipe carefully before proceeding to make the dish.

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

Mysore Masala Dosa| Karnataka Style Masala Dosa

Mysore Masala Dosa finds pride of place on the menu in most eateries across Karnataka. It is a popular breakfast dish in the state, and there’s no surprise there. This is such a lip-smackingly delicious dosa, after all! I’m here today to share with you guys my aunt’s recipe for Mysore Masala Dosa. She makes them beautifully, and I always make them as per her recipe.

The typical Mysore Masala Dosa is thicker than your regular dosa, crisp on the outside and soft within. A fiery, red, garlicky chutney is spread inside the dosa – the star of the dish, in fact. There is a potato filling inside too, similar to that of the Masala Dosa. Looks-wise, the Mysore Masala Dosa looks quite similar to the Masala Dosa – it is the spicy red chutney in the former that makes all the difference.

The Mysore Masala Dosa is believed to have originated in Mysore, the erstwhile capital of Karnataka state. It is one of the most popular dosa versions around the globe, Karnataka included. Different restaurants have their own style of making the Mysore Masala Dosa, but most do come with one or the other version of spicy red chutney in them. My aunt’s recipe uses a simple red chutney made with coconut, the renowned Bydagi chillies of Karnataka, garlic and salt. We love this dosa to bits – the husband and I – and it features often on our dining table.

This is a completely plant-based recipe, suitable for those who follow a vegan diet. It can easily be made gluten-free too, by avoiding the asafoetida used here.

Without further ado, let’s now check out the recipe for Mysore Masala Dosa.

Ingredients (makes about 8 dosas):

For the potato filling:

  1. 4 medium-sized potatoes
  2. 1 medium-sized onion
  3. 2 green chillies
  4. 1/2 tablespoon oil
  5. 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  6. 2 generous pinches of asafoetida
  7. Salt to taste
  8. 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  9. Red chilli powder to taste
  10. 1/2 cup water
  11. Lemon juice to taste
  12. 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh coriander

For the red chutney:

  1. 6-7 Bydagi dried red chillies
  2. Salt to taste
  3. 6-7 garlic cloves
  4. 1 tablespoon fresh grated coconut
  5. 1 teaspoon oil
  6. Water as needed

For the dosas:

  1. 8 ladles of dosa batter
  2. Oil as needed to make the dosas

Method:

We will start with some basic prep work.

1. Break up the Bydagi chillies roughly using your hands. Keep them soaked in a little warm water for at least 20 minutes.

2. Cut the potatoes in halves, and transfer to a wide vessel. Add in enough water to cover them. Place the vessel in a pressure cooker. Pressure cook the potatoes for 4 whistles or till they are well cooked. Let the pressure release naturally.

3. Slit the green chillies length-wise, and keep them ready.

4. Chop the onion finely. Keep ready.

Now, we will prepare the red chutney.

1. Peel the garlic cloves. Keep them ready.

2. Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a pan. Add in the grated coconut and peeled garlic cloves. Roast on medium flame till they start emitting a lovely fragrance.

3. Let the roasted coconut and garlic cool down fully, then transfer to a small mixer jar.

4. To the mixer jar, add the soaked Bydagi chilli pieces along with the little water they were soaked in. Add in salt to taste.

5. Grind the ingredients in the mixer jar together to a smooth paste. This is the red chutney you will be using to spread inside your dosas.

We will now get the potato filling for the dosas ready.

1. Get the cooked potatoes out of the cooker, once the pressure has gone down completely. Discard the water that the potatoes cooked in.

2. When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, peel them and roughly mash them.

3. Heat 1/2 tablespoon oil in a pan. Add in the mustard seeds and let them sputter.

4. Add in the slit green chillies and asafoetida. Let them stay in for a couple of seconds.

5. Add the chopped onions to the pan. Cook on medium flame till they start browning.

6. Add the mashed potatoes to the pan, along with salt, turmeric powder and red chilli powder. Mix well. Cook on medium flame for about a minute.

7. Add 1/2 cup water and mix well. Adjust seasonings. Cook for 1-2 minutes on medium flame. Switch off gas.

8. Mix in lemon juice and finely chopped fresh coriander. Your potato filling is ready.

Next, we will prepare the Mysore Masala Dosa.

1. Place a dosa pan on high flame. Let it get nice and hot.

2. When the pan is hot enough, lower the flame to medium. Now, place a ladleful of dosa batter in the centre of the pan and spread it out quickly into a large circle. Use the back of the ladle to do this.

3. Drizzle a little oil all around the dosa. Let it cook on medium flame till it browns on the bottom. This takes 1-2 minutes.

4. Now, flip over the dosa. Cook on the other side for about a minute. Transfer the dosa to a serving plate.

5. Spread a little of the red chutney we prepared earlier, on the inside of the dosa. Place some of the potato filling inside too, in the centre of the dosa. Fold the dosa so as to close it. Serve the Mysore Masala Dosa immediately.

Notes:

1. I use home-made dosa batter to make the Mysore Masala Dosa. You can use store-bought batter instead, too.

2. Carrots and/or green peas can be added to the potato filling. I occasionally use them.

3. Ghee or butter can be used to make the dosas, instead of oil.

4. Some people add chana dal and/or curry leaves to the potato filling. I don’t.

5. Bydagi dry chillies give the chutney its red colour, without making it way too spicy. Make sure you use Bydagi chillies to make the red chutney. If you don’t have them, you can add some chana dal or fried gram (pottu kadalai) to the chutney – just roast them along with the other ingredients and grind everything together.

6. Don’t spread too much of the red chutney inside the dosas. Spread a little quantity of the chutney with light hand movements.

7. We add some water to the potato filling to make it softer and easy to place inside the dosa. You can skip the water and keep the filling dry as well.

8. For best results, make sure you keep the dosa a little thicker than usual. If the dosa is too thin or too crisp, you will find it difficult to spread the red chutney inside.

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This recipe is for the Foodie Monday Blog Hop. Every Monday, we food bloggers who are part of the group showcase recipes based on a pre-determined theme.

The theme this week is #NashtaTime, which was suggested by me. For the theme, all of us are presenting regional breakfast dishes from our home state.

I’m sharing this recipe with Fiesta Friday #285.

Masala Vadai| Spiced Paruppu Vadai

Today’s post is a little nostalgic, a little glum, a little fearful, a little hopeful. It is definitely about a big reality check that all of us need to pay attention to. I’m also sharing our family recipe for Masala Vadai, a monsoon-special delicacy from South India.

I absolutely adore the rains. Rain uplifts my spirits almost immediately. Bangalore becomes all the more beautiful in the rains (yes, waterlogged roads and traffic jams come into the picture too, but I still love it). The heady scent of wet earth, greenery sprouting everywhere, the diffused sunlight peeking through the clouds, the pitter-patter of raindrops – all of it leaves me with a fresh, clean feeling. Life starts anew in the monsoons, and I cannot not be charmed by that. And then, there are the hundreds of delectable monsoon-special foods to think of!

This year, though, there are no signs of a robust monsoon here in Bangalore. It started turning skin-blistering hot in February this year, and a scorching few months followed. The weather definitely started getting cooler in June, but there was no sign of the overcast skies, pleasant drizzles and heavy thunderstorms that usually set foot in Bangalore in April or May. The peacock in my soul has been waiting. Only in the last week or so (in July!) we had the beginnings of rain – cloudy skies in the evenings and a couple of showers. I am eagerly looking forward to the full works that I have come to love Bangalore for. Meanwhile, we had to celebrate the start of monsoon with some Masala Vadai, crispy deep-fried lentil fritters that are a specialty in the South of India.

While we are on the subject of delayed monsoons, I cannot not talk about the acute water crisis that Chennai has been facing for the last few months. It has been disheartening and scary reading media reports about the same. This report about Bangalore’s water situation going the Chennai way scares the living daylights out of me. Ground water in Bangalore (among other Indian cities) has been dipping lower and lower by the year, and there is a huge chance of it running out all too soon. It is time we do something about the situation – or we are going to be left high and dry. As a family, we have been doing our part and I urge all of you to do so, too.

Coming back to the Masala Vadai, they are delicious, delicious things that I just cannot have enough of. Made using coarsely crushed chana dal, jazzed up with onions, fennel, mint, coriander, chillies and curry leaves – these vadais are nothing short of a treat. A simpler version of these vadais is made in South Indian homes on festival days and other auspicious occasions, called Aame Vadai or Paruppu Vadai. I’m presenting an amped-up version here that is just perfect for regular days. Make these as a tea-time snack or when you have guests over, and it’s sure to be a huge hit. It is a great choice for those days when it’s pouring outside and your tastebuds crave for something deep-fried and lovely. šŸ™‚

Amma makes some mean Aame Vadai and Masala Vadai, a skill that she has passed on to me. I have extremely fond memories of Amma waiting with a plate of these fritters for me to get back home from work on rainy days. She knows I love them to bits, and her care and affection washed away all the woes of commuting home, soaked to the skin, in the midst of a downpour.

These fritters are actually super-easy to make. You need to soak chana dal for a few hours, and once that is taken care of, the rest falls into place fairly quickly. Below is the recipe, with some tips and tricks to get the Masala Vadai perfect. This is an entirely plant-based, vegan recipe. It can easily be made gluten-free too, by skipping the asafoetida used here.

Ingredients (makes about 20 vadais):

  1. 1 cup chana dal
  2. Salt to taste
  3. 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  4. 2-3 generous pinches of asafoetida
  5. 2 green chillies
  6. 2 dry red chillies
  7. A 1-inch piece of ginger
  8. 1 tablespoon fennel seeds (saunf)
  9. 1 big onion
  10. A handful of fresh mint leaves
  11. 2 tablespoons of finely chopped fresh coriander
  12. 2 sprigs of fresh curry leaves
  13. Oil, as needed for deep frying

Method:

1. Wash the chana dal well under running water, a couple of times, draining out the water from it each time. Add in just enough fresh water to cover the chana dal and let it soak, covered, for 3-4 hours.

2. When the chana dal is done soaking, drain out all the water from it. Transfer the drained chana dal to a mixer jar.

3. Peel the ginger, chop it roughly and add to the mixer jar. Chop the green chillies and dry red chillies roughly and add them in too. Also add salt, turmeric powder and asafoetida to the mixer jar. Coarsely grind the ingredients together, without adding any water.

4. Take the oil for deep frying in a heavy-bottomed pan. Place it on high flame and allow it to heat up.

5. In the meantime, transfer the ground chana dal to a large bowl. Chop the onion, curry leaves and mint finely and add them in. Also add the finely chopped coriander and fennel seeds to the mixing bowl. Mix up the ingredients well.

6. When the oil has heated up fully, reduce the flame to medium. Form 2-3 small patties out of the chana dal mixture we prepared earlier and slide them into the hot oil. Deep fry them on medium flame till brown and crisp on the outside, taking care not to burn them. Shape patties from the entire mixture similarly, and deep fry them in the same way. Serve hot.

Notes:

1. Do not over-soak the chana dal. Soaking for 3-4 hours is good enough.

2. Prepare the masala vadais immediately after you grind the ingredients. Plan out the soaking according to when you want to make the vadais. Frying the vadais long after the batter has been ground often results into them getting very oily.

3. A handful of dill leaves and/or garlic can be added to the Masala Vadais too. I usually don’t.

4. Increase or decrease the quantity of green chillies and dry red chillies you use as per personal taste preferences.

5. Make sure you fry the vadais on a medium flame. This will ensure even frying and delicious vadais.

6. The oil should get nice and hot before you turn down the flame to medium and start frying the vadais.

7. Grind the chana dal coarsely. Don’t make a fine paste, for best results.

8. Do not overcrowd the pan while frying the vadais. Fry them a couple at a time.

9. If you find it difficult to shape the batter into patties, mix in a couple of tablespoons of rice flour. I typically don’t.

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This post is for the Foodie Monday Blog Hop group that I am part of. Every Monday, the members of the group share recipes based on a pre-determined theme.

The theme this week is #RimJhimBarse, wherein we are showcasing monsoon-special recipes. The theme was suggested by Preethi, author of Preethi’s Cuisine, a lovely blog with many wonderful recipes from across the globe.

I’m sharing this recipe with Fiesta Friday #284. The co-hosts this week are Diann @ Of Goats and Greens and Petra @ Food Eat Love.

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

Pineapple Kesari Bhat| Pineapple Rava Kesari

Celebrations are in order!

The Foodie Monday Blog Hop group that I am part of has turned 200! Quite a big achievement this is, #200NotOut, an occasion that warrants a special recipe. So, here’s presenting to you – Pineapple Kesari Bhat aka Pineapple Sheera or Pineapple Rava Kesari.

I’m sure you guys would have noticed me presenting a new recipe every Monday, based on a certain theme. Well, that’s the way the Foodie Monday Blog Hop works. I joined the group when the group had just reached the milestone of 100 weeks, and have absolutely loved journeying with the other fellow foodies in the group, this far.

The Foodie Monday Blog Hop bloggers surely are a talented bunch, and we have creative themes coming up every week. Over the years, we have talked, discussed, shared ideas, suggested tips and tricks, exchanged recipes, critiqued, met and shared food, bonded. And through it all, I have grown.

The group has stretched my horizons, helped me better my cooking from different cuisines around the world. My photography has definitely improved, from where I started out from. I structure my posts better now, and this group has played an important role in that. Learnings – big and small – have been manifold.

For the 200th episode of the Foodie Monday Blog Hop, we members decided to cook from each other’s blogs. I was assigned Renu’s blog, Cook With Renu, which is a beautiful collection of many recipes from around the world. Several interesting bakes feature therein as well. I chose this recipe to recreate from her blog, because all of us at home love Pineapple Kesari Bhat to bits, including the bub.

Pineapple Kesari Bhat is a version of sheera redolent of ghee and fruit that you will come across in several restaurants across Bangalore. I have also encountered it at a few places in Madras, and have been served this sweet treat during meals at weddings and other festive occasions. It surely is a gorgeous thing, something you must definitely try out, especially so if you love pineapple.

Let’s now check out how I made the Pineapple Kesari Bhat, with a few variations to Renu’s recipe.

Ingredients (serves 4):

  1. 3/4 cup fine rava (sooji or semolina)
  2. 2 tablespoons + 2 tablespoons of ghee
  3. 1 tablespoon raisins
  4. 10-12 cashewnuts
  5. 1-1/2 cups water
  6. 3/4 cup sugar
  7. 1 heaped cup chopped pineapple, cores and thorns removed

Method:

1. Grind the pineapple pieces to a coarse puree, in a mixer. Keep aside.

2. Chop up the cashewnuts roughly. Keep aside.

3. Heat 2 tablespoons ghee in a pan. Add the rava to the pan. Roast the rava, keeping the flame medium, till it attains a consistency like wet sand and becomes fragrant. This should take 1-2 minutes. Take care to ensure that the rava does not burn.

4. Transfer the roasted rava to a plate. Keep aside.

5. Heat the water in the same pan, on high flame, till it reaches boiling point.

6. Now, turn the heat down to medium and add the roasted rava to the pan, a little at a time. Stir constantly, to avoid lumps forming.

7. Add the sugar to the pan, along with the pineapple puree. Mix well. Let the mixture cook on medium heat for about 2 minutes or till it starts to thicken. Stir intermittently.

8. Meanwhile, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of ghee in another pan. Add the cashewnuts and raisins to the ghee. Fry on low heat till the raisins plump up and the cashewnuts brown. Take care to ensure that they do not burn. Add the ghee along with the fried cashewnuts and raisins to the mixture in the other pan. Mix well.

9. When the mixture has thickened up but is still a bit runny, switch off the gas. The Pineapple Kesari Bhat thickens further on cooling. Serve the kesari hot or at room temperature.

Notes:

1. Use a ripe, juicy, sweet pineapple for best results. However, make sure it is not overly ripe.

2. Make sure all the cores and thorns from the pineapple are removed, before using it in the sheera.

3. Grinding the chopped pineapple coarsely ensures that you get little bits and pieces of the fruit in your mouth while eating. Considering everyone in my family loves that, I keep the puree coarse. However, you may puree it smoothly too if you so prefer.

4. Use fine sooji or rava in this Pineapple Kesari Bhat recipe, for best results.

5. Use good-quality ghee, adjusting the quantity as per personal taste preferences. The above quantity of ghee worked out just perfectly for us.

6. Adjust the quantity of water, depending upon how runny you want the Pineapple Rava Kesari to be. You can also cook the kesari in a mix of milk and water.

7. I have used raisins and cashewnuts in this Pineapple Rava Kesari. You may even add in almonds.

8. Make sure you are stirring constantly while adding the roasted rava to the boiling water in the pan. This is important to ensure that there are no lumps.

9. The Pineapple Rava Kesari thickens on cooling, so make sure you switch off the flame while it is still on the runnier side.

10. Food colour is sometimes added to Pineapple Rava Kesari to give it a pretty golden yellow or orange hue. I haven’t used any here.

11. Jaggery can be used in place of sugar here, but it alters the taste of the dish. I like this version with sugar, as does everyone else in my family, so I prefer this. And it’s a once-in-a-while indulgence anyway.

12. It is not uncommon to add a pinch of salt or a few cloves to kesari, too stop the sweetness from getting too overwhelming. I don’t use these.

I hope you will try out this recipe! Do share your feedback, in your comments.

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I’m linking this recipe to Fiesta Friday #281. Do hop over to see the other interesting recipes there!

Hilton Turns 100, Celebrates With A Big Bash

I had the pleasure of being part of a very special birthday bash, last weekend, and am here to tell you all about it!

Hilton Hotels & Resorts has always been known for its hospitality and excellent service. The chain completed 100 years this May, an event that was celebrated with a grand bash last weekend at DoubleTree Suites by Hilton, Sarjapur, Bangalore. I thoroughly enjoyed the celebrations, along with some other bloggers from the city.

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The in-house restaurant at DoubleTree Suites By Hilton, Sarjapur – Asia Alive – beautifully decked up for the birthday bash

Asia Alive, the restaurant at DoubleTree Suites By Hilton, Sarjapur, was home to a lavish brunch affair on this day. A unique brunch was served to us to commemorate the special occasion, including favourites from Hilton hotels across the globe. Specially curated by Executive Chef Tanmoy Majumder, the brunch spread was quite elaborate – from North Indian curries to maki rolls, various salads and desserts to dimsums and noodles!

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Some of the dishes from the extensive brunch buffet at Asia Alive

I loved most of the food I tried out from the brunch buffet, but the Aloo Methi Masala, Waldorf Salad, Ratatouille Stuffed Peppers, Avocado Sesame Rolls, Lauki Ka Kofta, Papdi Chaat and Chocolate Brownies stole my heart. The live music playing at the venue kept us humming throughout the brunch.

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Scenes from the dessert counter at the 100th birthday-special brunch buffet by Asia Alive

After the brunch, we were shown a demonstration on the making of the chocolate chip cookies that DoubleTree is known for, the world over. It was a treat to watch the pastry chef take us through the steps in the baking of these sweet treats. The freshly-baked cookies were nothing short of fantabulous, and I now understand why they are so much loved!

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Left: DoubleTree’s famed chocolate chip cookies, straight out of the oven; Top right and bottom right: The making of the said cookies

Mr. Subhabrata Roy, General Manager, DoubleTree Suites By Hilton – Bangalore, then went on to deliver a note of welcome. He was joined by Mr. Bhojraj Sharma, F&B Manager, DoubleTree Suites By Hilton – Bangalore.

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The Hilton team, addressing the bloggers at the birthday bash. From left to right: Ms. Megha Garg, Assistant Manager – Marketing & Communication; Mr. Subhabrata Roy; Mr. Bhojraj Sharma; Mr. Tanmoy Majumder

The guests present at the brunch and the bloggers then joined the Hilton team in lighting earthen lamps, to commemorate the special occasion.

Check out those pretty diyas in the shape of a 100!

The afternoon ended with the cutting of a magnificent cake that was just as unique as the brunch. Check it out for yourselves!

The grandiose cake that was cut on the occasion of Hilton’s turning 100

Would you like to experience the beautiful brunch that I enjoyed, too? The brunch is open for all at Asia Alive on June 2 and 9, 2019, between 12.30 and 4 PM. The buffet is priced at INR 1299 per head with soft beverages and at INR 1699 per head with alcoholic beverages, plus taxes. This is something you must try out, people!

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I’m sharing this recipe with Fiesta Friday #279. The co-hosts this week are Liz @ Spades, Spatulas & Spoons and Jenny @ Apply To Face Blog.

 

 

Amtekayi Uppinkayi| Instant Indian Hog Plum Pickle

Have you had the pleasure of biting into an Indian hog plum? If you haven’t, I would suggest you try to get your hands on some as soon as you can. It is a wonderful thing, this hog plum – it will make your mouth pucker with its sourness and refresh your taste buds like very few other foods will. No wonder it lends itself beautifully to things like pickles, gojju or the South Indian version of a relish, chutney and the likes. Today, I am going to present to you the recipe for a very delicious Instant Indian Hog Plum Pickle.

For the uninitiated, the Indian hog plum is a fruit that becomes available in Karnataka, particularly the coastal regions of Udupi and Mangalore, towards the end of summer. I understand it is also available in parts of Goa and Maharashtra too. The fruit has the scientific name of Spondias Mombin, while it goes by various other local names (‘Amtekayi‘ in Kannada, ‘Ambade‘ in Tulu, ‘Amra Kai‘ in Tamil, ‘Ambazhanga‘ in Malayalam and ‘Adavi Mamidi‘ in Telugu). From a distance, Indian hog plums look similar to baby mangoes, with their glossy green skin and slightly elongated shape – it is for this reason that some people also refer to the fruit as ‘Wild Mango’. Some also call this fruit ‘Ambarella‘.

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Tender Indian hog plums, with an undeveloped seed inside

Taste-wise, the Indian hog plum is not unlike a raw mango – quite sour. However, unlike a raw mango, it has a crunchy texture to it. Hog plums can be tossed with some salt and chilli powder and eaten raw or, like I was saying earlier, be used in dishes like pickles, chutney and relishes. It can also be used as a souring agent in various dishes, in place of green mango or tamarind.

The fruit possesses a number of health benefits, too – it is rich in Vitamin A and C as well as iron. Consumption of the hog plum aids in improving eye health, at the same time aiding in keeping one’s skin and hair healthy. They help in preventing anaemia, and in keeping cold and cough at bay. They are good for regulating one’s body temperature, keeping bad cholesterol under check and in preventing ailments of the gums and teeth. They also aid in controlling indigestion and constipation, as well as alleviating loss of appetite and anorexia. The leaves and bark of the tree are also used in traditional Indian medicine, for the treatment of ailments like diarrhoea, inflammation, cystitis and stomach ache.

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Amtekayi Uppinkayi or Instant Indian Hog Plum Pickle

The last couple of summers, I have been pickling these hog plums, in the same style as my mother makes raw mango pickle. This is an instant pickle – one that is very simple to make and does not require much prior preparation – and can be used immediately. This Amtekayi Uppinkayi (Indian hog plum pickle, in Kannada) tastes supremely delicious, making for a lovely accompaniment to curd rice. You have to try this out, I say!

Here is how I made the Instant Indian Hog Plum Pickle:

Ingredients (makes about 1 cupful):

  1. 20 hog plums
  2. 2 tablespoons salt
  3. 4 tablespoons red chilli powder
  4. 1/2 tablespoon turmeric powder
  5. 1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
  6. 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  7. 1/4 cup oil

Method:

  1. Wash the hog plums well under running water, making sure all traces of dirt on them are removed. Pat dry using a cotton cloth, and sun-dry for an hour or so. Ensure that the hog plums are completely dry before you use them in making the pickle.
  2. Remove the stems from the dried hog plums, and chop them into cubes. Keep aside, in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Grind together the rock salt, turmeric powder, fenugreek seeds, red chilli powder and mustard seeds in a small mixer jar. You can keep the powder as fine or as coarse as you prefer. Transfer this spice mix to the mixing bowl.
  4. Take the oil in a small pan and place it on high flame. When it gets nice and hot, switch off the gas. Pour the hot oil over the hog plum pieces in the mixing bowl.
  5. Immediately mix the pickle gently, using a clean, dry spoon.
  6. When the pickle has come to room temperature, transfer it to a clean, dry, air-tight bottle (preferably glass or steel).
  7. Allow the pickle to soak for a couple of days at room temperature, mixing it up about twice a day for all the hog plum pieces to get evenly coated in the pickling spices. Keep it in the refrigerator after that, to avoid spoiling.

Notes:

  1. Buy tender, firm, unblemished hog plums for best results. It is easier to chop the fruits when tender, including the undeveloped seeds in them. The more mature ones tend to be fibrous, with fibrous seeds, and get difficult to chop and consume.
  2. There is no need to peel the hog plums before using them. Just chop them into cubes or into roundels and use them in making the pickle.
  3. If the hog plum seeds have started becoming fibrous, do remove and discard them before using in the pickle.
  4. I use rock salt (kallu uppu in Tamil) to make this pickle. You may use regular table salt instead, too.
  5. Sesame oil (nalla ennai in Tamil) is the best for making this Amtekayi Uppinkayi. It lends a beautiful fragrance and flavour to the pickle. However, in the absence of sesame oil, you may use any other oil of your preference.
  6. Adjust the quantities of salt, turmeric powder, asafoetida, fenugreek seeds, red chilli powder and mustard seeds you use, depending upon personal taste preferences. The above quantities work perfectly for us.
  7. Since we are making the Amtekayi Uppinkayi with limited salt and oil, it tends to spoil easily. I therefore keep it stored in the refrigerator, when not in use. When refrigerated and used hygienically, the pickle stays well for over a month.
  8. I prefer making this pickle in small quantities and consuming it quickly. You can make it in larger quantities too, but then you will need to be really careful about its storage and use.
  9. Use only a clean, dry, air-tight bottle (preferably steel or glass) to store the pickle. Use a clean, dry spoon only.
  10. This pickle can be consumed immediately after making it, but tastes best after the second day, when it has had some time to soak in the spices.

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Foodie Monday Blog Hop

This post is for the Foodie Monday Blog Hop group that I am part of. Every Monday, the members of this group present recipes based on a pre-determined theme.

The theme this week is #ItsPickleTime, suggested by Aruna who blogs at Vasu’s Veg Kitchen. Aruna has a lovely blog that includes some beautiful, traditional South Indian dishes.

For this week’s theme, all of us are sharing summer-special pickle recipes. I chose to showcase the Instant Indian Hog Plum Pickle that we have grown very fond of, in the last couple of years.

I’m also sharing this post with Fiesta Friday #276.

Oki All Set To Tantalise Tastebuds With Its New Menu

One of these days, you must surely visit Kammanahalli and lunch at Oki. The long trek across the city, braving the heat and the traffic, will be totally worth it, I can tell you that. Now, you have all the more reason to trek across the city to this eatery (if you don’t live in that neck of the woods, that is) – Oki has come up with a fantastic new menu, which is all set to launch on May 20!

I had the privilege of sampling Oki’s new menu recently, expertly curated by Chef Surajit Ghara, along with a few other food bloggers from the city. I ended up getting wowed by the experience, by the sheer variety of the new dishes on offer, the perfection with which they have been executed, and the loveliness that they were taste-wise. Oki has created a name for itself in serving some amazing Pan-Asian food, and every bit of the new menu lives up to those standards.

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The simple but chic decor of Oki

The decor at Oki at simple but neat and chic. Tastefully chosen accents here and there – like silk pillows in Oriental style or the painting of elegant Chinese ladies on the walls – add class to the place. The food at Oki reflects the same philosophy – it is simple, but tastefully done, the flavours clean and bold. Let me take you, visually and literally, through all that we tried out at Oki, and all that I fell in love with at first bite.

Left: Gimbap or Korean Sushi, the vegetarian version; Top Right: Burmese Tea Leaf Salad; Bottom Right: Beetroot & Feta Cheese Maki Rolls

We tried out the vegetarian version of the Gimbap or Korean sushi, which was beautifully done. The vegetable-filled sushi had clean flavours, and was extremely delicious. The same was the case with the Beetroot & Feta Maki Rolls we tried next – the sweetness of the beetroot melded perfectly with the saltiness of the feta, to create a delectable whole. The Burmese Tea Leaf Salad was very well done, too, though it was a bit too pungent for my tastebuds.

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Flatbread with 5 Mushrooms, Pesto Cream & Jalapeno-Olive Salsa

The Flatbread with 5 Mushrooms, Pesto Cream & Jalapeno-Olive Salsa was absolutely, mind-blowingly delicious and, I would say, my most favourite dish of all that we tasted at Oki. The soft flatbread was cooked to perfection, the pesto cream silky smooth and fragrant, the plentiful toppings complementing the rest beautifully. I would highly recommend you try this out at Oki!

The dish we were served next, Garlic Bread With Artichoke Pate, went on to become a fast favourite with me too. The artichoke pate was so, so delicious I could eat it with all my meals every single day! It made for just the perfect accompaniment to the well-toasted, garlicky bread. This is another dish I cannot recommend highly enough at Oki!

I adore a well-made bowl of khao soi, and Oki’s Spicy Chiang Mai Khao Soi was exactly that. The coconut milk broth was supremely flavourful and, ladled over the flat rice noodles, it made for a hearty and filling meal.

Top Left: Garlic Bread With Artichoke Pate; Bottom Left: Spicy Chiang Mai Khao Soi; Top Right: Kimchi Ramen, the vegetarian version; Bottom Right: Vegetarian Dan Dan Noodles

The Kimchi Ramen was brilliantly executed too. Ramen noodles were served in a flavourful broth that was generously proportioned with various types of mushrooms. The taste was a tad too strong for me, though.

Next up, we were served Oki’s special Vegetarian Dan Dan Noodles, which I absolutely loved. The noodles were served with a generous dose of vegetables, in a spicy and delicious broth made using chilli oil and Sichuan pepper. You’ve got to try this out!

The Peach Berry Sauce Feta Crostini bowled me over. Sweet and sour and salty combined together in this dish to create a lovely, lovely whole. Slivers of peach served atop well-toasted bread, topped with sweet-sour cranberry sauce and a drizzle of salty feta – what’s to not love?

Top Left: Crostini With Peach, Berry Sauce & Feta; Bottom Left: Coconut Orange & Lemongrass Martini; Top Right: Peach Cinnamon Apple Crepes With Orange-Butter Sauce; Bottom Right: Chilli Mango Margarita

Oki does not serve alcohol at the moment, but does have some gorgeous mocktails on offer. To go with our meal, we were served two mocktails that will soon be part of the new menu here. The first, Chilli Mango Margarita, was one perfectly made drink, pretty inside and out! The mango was fresh and gorgeous, the hint of chilli in it only accentuating its flavour! This is something you absolutely mustn’t miss at Oki. The second, Coconut Orange Lemongrass Martini, was supremely beautiful in taste too. The flavours of coconut, orange and lemongrass melded perfectly to create this surprisingly light drink. I can’t recommend this highly enough!

And then, it was time for dessert! We were served Peach Cinnamon Apple Crepes With Orange-Butter Sauce, which was sheer brilliance. The crepes were pillow-soft, stuffed with delectable slivers of apple and peach. The orange-butter sauce drizzled on top was fruity and tangy, just the right amount of sweet and all kinds of delicious. The crepes were served topped with just a bit of sweet cream, which took the taste quotient up quite a few notches.

I loved my meal at Oki, and am sure it is something you will not regret either. It is one of the hidden gems of Bangalore, a highly under-rated place that deserves to be spoken of and eaten at. Don’t miss a gastronomical voyage at Oki – you can thank me later!

Limited parking is available.

Address: 403, Mariappa Road, Off Kammanahalli Main Road, Near Sena Vihar, Kammanahalli, Bangalore

Cost for two: Approximately Rs. 1500

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Iā€™m also sharing this post with Fiesta Friday #276.