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 just 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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How To Make Hot Lemon Tea With Honey

Hubby and I are big fans of the hot lemon tea we get here in Bangalore, in several bakeries. It is a light brew, but the lemon in it makes it so very refreshing. Most bakeries make it with sugar, and we love how the sweetness combines with the tartness of the lemon.

We often make a pit-stop at a nearby bakery to enjoy a glass of our favourite hot lemon tea, in the midst of grocery shopping or running other errands. This is just the perfect drink for us any day, but especially so on the kind of dark, rainy days that are prevalent in Bangalore right now. It is a great pick-me-up for us, a mood-changer, an energy-booster.

I have tried, several times over, to make hot lemon tea at home, but failed miserably. It continued to turn out too bitter or too bland, not at all the beautifully fragrant and flavourful brew that the Bangalore bakeries serve. Recently, though, a friend’s mother served us just the perfect hot lemon tea with honey, and I absolutely had to request her for the recipe. She taught me some great tips – when to put in the tea powder, when to add the honey, when to add the lemon, and so on. It was all so simple, but I had been doing it all wrong so far!

Now, thanks to these tips, I can make great hot lemon tea at home, whenever we feel like a cuppa! This version of hot lemon tea with honey is a healthier alternative to the one made with sugar, a relatively guilt-free drink. Taste-wise, I would say, it is close to the bakery lemon tea that we have come to love.

Here is how to make hot lemon tea with honey, my friend’s mom’s way!

Ingredients (makes 2 cups):

  1. 2-1/2 cups water
  2. 1/2 teaspoon tea powder
  3. 2 tablespoons honey, or to taste
  4. Juice of 1/2 lemon, or to taste
  5. A few fresh mint leaves

Method:

1. Heat the water in a saucepan. Bring it to a boil.

2. When the water comes to a rolling boil, add in the honey. Mix well. Switch off the gas.

3. Add the lemon juice and tea powder. Mix well.

4. Strain the lemon tea into two teacups. Serve immediately, garnished with a couple of fresh mint leaves.

Notes:

1. Add the tea powder only after the water has come to a rolling boil and the gas has been switched off. This will ensure a mild tea that isn’t very bitter in taste.

2. I use Wagh Bakri or Red Label tea powder to make this hot lemon tea with honey.

3. Adjust the quantity of honey and lemon you use, depending upon personal taste preferences.

4. Don’t heat the water too much after you add the honey.

5. You can add sugar or jaggery powder in place of honey, too. Personally, I don’t like the taste of jaggery in this tea. I usually make this tea with honey rather than sugar, as this is a sort of detox drink.

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Foodie Monday Blog Hop

This recipe is for the Foodie Monday Blog Hop. The theme for this week is ‘Different types of tea’.

I’m also sending this recipe to Fiesta Friday #233 and to Friday Frenzy.

Chef Sumitra Kalapatapu Concludes Pop-Up Andhra Kitchen At WelcomHotel

Last weekend, I had the pleasure of partaking of a special Telugu Brahmin meal, curated by Chef Sumitra Kalapatapu for Jacaranda, the restaurant at Welcomhotel by ITC, Bangalore. I was at WelcomAndhra, a 10-day pop-up kitchen by Chef Sumitra at Jacaranda. The experience, I must say, was quite lovely!

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Chef Sumitra Kalapatapu at the pop-up Andhra kitchen at Jacaranda

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Chef Sumitra Kalapatapu, a well-known name in South India, specialises in the preparation of food from Andhra Pradesh, and is well known for her traditional vegetarian dishes, chutneys and pickles, not to forget her warm hospitality. She is the force behind the famed Sumi’s Kitchen, which operates from Vigyannagar, Bangalore. She undertakes catering for events, hosts meals at her place and also does pop-ups at restaurants.

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Chef Sumitra Kalapatapu with the Jacaranda, Welcomhotel, team at the pop-up

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Mr. Dhawal Ajmera, Chief Executive Chef at ITC Limited – Hotels Division, strongly believes in encouraging the talents of home chefs like this by enabling them to set up pop-ups such as this one. A great and welcome initiative, I must say!

I would also add that for a home chef to cook in a large-scale commercial kitchen for 10 days, serving a different menu every single day, is no mean feat. Chef Sumitra pulled it off beautifully, the hugely talented persona that she is.

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Assorted pickles by Chef Sumitra at the pop-up

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On the last day of the pop-up, when I visited, Chef Sumitra served some typical Andhra home-style vegetarian food that was as finger-lickingly delicious as it was simple. It was wonderful to see the way this simple, home food stood out amidst the extensive buffet at Jacaranda!

So, getting down to the nitty-gritties, what all did I try out at WelcomAndhra?

Top Left: Cabbage Vadas (Picture Courtesy: PhenoMenal World); Bottom Left: Stuffed Mirchi Bajjis; Bottom Right: Kobbari Tomato Perugu Pachadi; Top Right: Tomato Pachadi (Picture Courtesy for the two chutneys: Sumitra Kalapatapu)

Cabbage Vadas The good ol’ urad daal vada with chunks of cabbage in it! Served piping hot, straight off the stove, these were so very good!

Stuffed Mirchi Bajjis Chef Sumitra took some plain old-fashioned chilli bajjis and jazzed them up with a lovely onion stuffing! Apparently, this is the way mirchi bajjis are served on the streets of Vizag, where she hails from. A few of them were super spicy, but man, were they delicious?!

Tomato Pachadi This one was a tad on the saltier side, but was extremely delicious. It was so very well done! The tomato chutney reminded me of one that an Andhra neighbour of mine used to prepare for me, growing up – it brought back some very fond memories!

Kobbari Tomato Perugu PachadiThis tomato chutney with yogurt was sheer beauty. With just the right amount of tangy and spicy, this was a pleasure to eat. The mustard in the chutney took the taste of the chutney up quite a few notches.

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Clockwise from top left: Palakoora Pappu, Vankaya Jeelakarra Kaaram, Mukkala PulusuAratikaya Aava Petti Koora, Pulihora

Palakoora Pappu – This was a simple Andhra-style preparation using spinach, and it tasted quite lovely. The dish was very well executed, all the flavours in perfect harmony with each other. It made for just the perfect accompaniment with plain steamed rice.

Vankaya Jeelakarra Kaaram – This was an Andhra Pradesh specialty, eggplants cooked simply with assorted spices. This was decent, but I am not a big fan of eggplant cooked this way, so this did not take me to the high heavens.

Mukkala Pulusu – This sambar cooked with mixed vegetables was simple and homely. Again, it was a very well-made dish, with the flavours melding beautifully with each other. I thoroughly enjoyed eating this, mixed with steamed rice.

Aratikaya Aava Petti Koora – I would say this was the star of the show for me – the dish that stole my heart. This was a raw banana curry cooked with ground mustard, in Andhra Pradesh style. This was so, so, so beautiful! I absolutely adored this, and am going to try making this pretty soon.

Pulihora – The Andhra Pradesh Pulihora was quite different from the Tamilnadu- and Karnataka-style puliogare that I am used to. It was brilliant, just tangy and spicy enough to tantalise your tastebuds. It had me going back for seconds!

There was Rasam on the menu too, but I simply couldn’t manage to taste it. My tummy was way too full! I heard it was extremely lovely, though. I couldn’t manage any of Chef Sumitra’s wonderful pickles either – I guess I should visit her place soon for that! 🙂

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I relished most of the Andhra fare that was served as part of the pop-up! With its simplicity, subtle spice levels, and bright and beautiful flavours, the food was a refreshing change from the usual rich, rich, rich restaurant fare! My perception about Andhra food now stands completely changed. 🙂

 

Highlights: World On A Plate – 2018

VR Bengaluru in Whitefield, Bangalore, saw a 3-day culinary festival, World On A Plate, happening between June 8 and 10, 2018. For the uninitiated, World On A Plate (popularly called WOAP) is one of Bangalore’s biggest foodie festivals, which aims to bring together food enthusiasts from all spheres, from across the globe – foodies, food brands, masterchefs, stalwarts from the food industry, restaurants, food critics, food bloggers and journalists, and the likes. I thoroughly enjoyed being a part of World On A Plate – 2018, the third edition of this festival, which happens to coincide with VR Two, the second-anniversary celebrations of VR Bengaluru.

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Chefs Sarah Todd and George Calombaris at the World On A Plate – 2018 media meet

Chef George Calombaris and Sarah Todd (both of the MasterChef Australia fame), famed Indian chefs Saransh Goila, Ajay Chopra and Ranveer Brar, and pop star-cum-culinary enthusiast Anaida Parvaneh were some of the chefs associated with the event this year. At the exclusive masterclasses held as part of WOAP – 2018, foodies got a chance to learn from these celebrity chefs. Patrons were also offered an opportunity to engage in a tete-a-tete with the chefs and to pose for photographs with them. This year, Chef Calombaris had also curated a special 4-course meal for WOAP-2018, in co-ordination with Toscano. I could not be part of the masterclasses or the Calombaris-special menu because of paucity of time (and thanks to not keeping too well!), but I loved the little of WOAP – 2018 that I insisted on being a part of.

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Chefs Saransh Goila and Ranveer Brar in a solemn mood, talking about celebrated food writer Anthony Bourdain’s recent demise, at the media meet

At an exclusive media meet held on June 9, Jermina Menon (VP-Marketing, Virtuous Retail – South Asia) spoke of her excitement at being associated with World On A Plate the second time in a row.

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Ms. Jermina Menon speaking at the media meet for World On A Plate – 2018

Kiran Soans (CEO of Gold Rush Entertainment, the principal organiser of this festival) said, “This edition of World on a Plate is bigger in scale and size and guaranteed to be an unparalleled culinary journey for connoisseurs and aspiring chefs.

He also spoke of GiftAMeal with HUG – an initiative to collect funds for the underprivileged as part of a hunger management program, something that World On A Plate and Gold Rush have supported for three years now. In the year 2018, the program aims at giving away 1,00,000 free meals, something that I absolutely love and highly appreciate.

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Mr. Kiran Soans speaking at the media meet for World On A Plate – 2018

The media meet was quite enlightening and interesting, with Chef Ranveer Brar speaking of the differences in food culture among the various cities of India. He spoke of how Bangalore is a great space for food innovation, thanks to the people being quite open to experimenting.
Chef Saransh Goila spoke about the need for a formal body to certify food bloggers and writers. He also went on to speak, very interestingly, about the need for a chef to balance humility with social media popularity, especially in these modern times.

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Top: Chef Saransh Goila, speaking at the media meet for World On A Plate – 2018; Bottom: Chef Goila’s Goila Butter Chicken, presented at the venue

The media meet also offered us, food bloggers and journalists, a chance to sample a few dishes put together by Chef Sarah Todd, Chef George Calombaris, Chef Saransh Goila and Chef Ranveer Brar.

Chef Goila presented his signature Goila Butter Chicken, which Chef Calombaris fondly referred to as ‘the best butter chicken in the world‘.

Chef Todd presented Kolhapuri Slow-Cooked Lamb On Betel Leaf, while Chef Calombaris presented Potato Skordalia With Black Garlic & Walnut.

Chef Ranveer Brar, known for his innovative fusion ideas, presented Burnt Miso & Chocolate Matcha Modaks.

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Left: Chef Sarah Todd speaking at the media meet for World On A Plate – 2018; Right: The Kolhapuri Slow-Cooked Lamb On Betel Leaf, presented by Chef Todd at the venue

I didn’t sample the non-vegetarian dishes, of course, but loved the two vegetarian ones that I did. Chef George Calombaris’s Potato Skordalia With Black Garlic & Walnut was exquisite, with curry leaves adding an Indian touch to the jacket potatoes.

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Left: Chef Calombaris speaking at the media meet for World On A Plate – 2018; Right: Potato Skordalia With Black Garlic & Walnut, presented by Chef Calombaris at the venue

Chef Ranveer Brar’s dish was utterly gorgeous! It was sheer beauty inside and out, a very well-executed blend of Indian and international cuisines. The green matcha modaks were oh, so pretty, the miso-and-chocolate filling complementing the exterior perfectly. The aam ras the modaks were served in added a burst of flavour to the dish!

Left: Chef Ranveer Brar speaking at the media meet for World On A Plate – 2018; Top Right and Top Bottom: The Burnt Miso & Chocolate Matcha Modaks presented by Chef Brar at the venue

Some of the best-known restaurants of Bangalore city set up stalls at the event, including Caperberry, Smally’s, Punjab Bistro, Sindh Kitchen, Nasi & Mee, Sodabottleopenerwala, The Whitefield Arms, Rajdhani and Siam Trading Co. The atmosphere at these stalls was charged, not unlike that at a fair.

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A few of the food stalls at World On A Plate – 2018, at VR Bengaluru

Many of these restaurants are places I have always wanted to try out. Every single one of these stalls had some really lovely food on offer, and I had a tough time trying to figure out what to taste and what not.

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The Sodabottleopenerwala stall at World On A Plate – 2018, at VR Bengaluru

Patisseries like Smoor, Aubree and Lavonne: Academy Of Baking Science & Pastry Arts offered some of their beautiful creations for sale at World On A Plate – 2018. I had a gala time walking through these stalls, checking out this and that, taking pictures.

Some gorgeous sugary confections on sale at the Aubree stall, at World On A Plate – 2018

I abstained from treating myself to a dessert, but was still on a high by the time I had finished ooh-ing and aah-ing over all of those delightful confections, merely by looking at them! 🙂

Top left: Melting Apple, a very interesting-looking dessert from Smoor; Bottom left: Cake pops from Lavonne; Top right and bottom right: Special desserts created for World On A Plate – 2018

I love events like this because they help me discover unique food products and ingredients. World On A Plate – 2018 was no exception. Soya-based vegetarian meat by Good Dot and beautiful, beautiful, organically grown cherries sourced from Jammu by Healthy Buddha were my cherished discoveries at the event.

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Left: Vegetarian Meat by GoodDot, on display at World On A Plate – 2018; Top right: Vegetarian Meat Chilli Chicken; Bottom Right: Vegetarian Keema

I loved the Vegetarian Meat Chilli Chicken and Vegetarian Keema that I sampled at the GoodDot stall and, now, I can’t wait to cook with these products in my kitchen!

The cherries from Healthy Buddha were so fresh and lovely, they disappeared within minutes of my bringing them home. Now, I’m all eager to get my hands on more of their gorgeous produce!

Left: A sweet decorative piece at World On A Plate – 2018; Top right: Green burgers at Smally’s; Bottom right: The gorgeous cherries that I picked up at the Healthy Buddha stall

Overall, it was such a beautiful experience for me, being a wee li’l part of World On A Plate – 2018. I wish I could have done more, explored more, tasted more, learnt more, but I am glad I got to do at least this. Well, next time…!

I hope you were part of the event this year, too!

Were you at World On A Plate – 2018, too? How was your experience there?

Check Out The Summer Menu at Farzi Cafe, UB City!

Farzi Cafe is a name that needs no introduction. The place is, I think, best known for adding quirky twists to ordinary recipes and the dramatic presentation of food. The out-of-the-box plating at Farzi Cafe has been known to titillate – no wonder the dishes here are so widely Instagram-ed and Facebook-ed.

At a recent bloggers’ table, a few of the city’s foodies (including yours truly got a sneak peek into the ongoing Summer Menu at Farzi Cafe’s UB City-Bangalore branch. The Summer Menu includes various exciting new drinks, dishes and desserts, all of them bearing the cafe’s signature off-beat presentation style. I tried out some of the vegetarian and non-alcoholic offerings from the Summer Menu, which will be available for a month or so more. There were a few dishes that I fell in love with, while a few others did not quite tantalise my tastebuds. That said, the presentation of every single thing brought to our table managed to blow me away!

Here is the low-down on the dishes we sampled from the menu and the stars of the show, for me.

Drinks

I absolutely adored the mocktail I chose from the Summer Menu, Litchi Panna Desire, the perfect cross between the tangy aam panna and sweet litchi juice. It was very well done and utterly refreshing, the sweet and sour perfectly balanced. This is one drink I would highly recommend here!

The Strawberry Lemonade, a non-alcoholic mix of strawberry and lemon juice, came a close second. It was beautifully done too, the sweet and sour well balanced and complementing each other perfectly. The drink was quite the beauty too, a pretty pink, presented in a glass with a ‘tail’. 🙂

Top Left: Strawberry Lemonade; Bottom Left: Farzi Rita; Centre: Litchi Panna Desire; Top Right: Chuski Margarita; Bottom Right: Bottle Ka Gin

The Chuski Margarita (a mango margarita served with a desi ice gola), Bottle Ka Gin (a gin-based drink served in a light bulb, with magical effects), and Farzi Rita (a cocktail served in a tall glass shaped like the Eiffel Tower) won full marks for presentation. My fellow foodies were thrilled with these cocktails!

Soup & Appetisers

The Desi Curd Rice Poppers With Smoked Tomato Chutney were simply mind-blowing! What are these, you ask? Well, curd rice coated with batter and deep-fried till crisp and absolutely delicious, served with a gorgeous South Indian-style roasted tomato chutney. Trust me, I don’t like anyone messing with my curd rice – it is soul food for me, and I want it as simple as can be. Farzi Cafe, though, had done a real good job with these poppers – they were super-duper delish! The roasted tomato chutney they were served with was delish, too. Highly recommended!

Top Left: Desi Curd Rice Poppers With Roasted Tomato Chutney; Bottom Left: Harissa-Spiced Paneer Tikka served with Tadka Cream; Right: Curd Rice Tikki Chaat with Dragonfruit Scoops

The Curd Rice Tikki Chaat With Dragonfruit Scoops, another starter that used the good ol’ curd rice, was absolutely gorgeous, too. The curd rice, here, was converted into a delectable chaat, served with pretty scoops of dragon fruit and a beautiful tikki, and the end result was finger-lickingly delish! Again, highly recommended!

Harissa-Spiced Paneer Tikka served with Tadka Cream and Paanch Phoron Paneer Bhurji Tarts were the two starters that were presented next. Both of these were not bad, but weren’t brilliant either. They, sort of, paled in comparison to the two lovely starters we started off with. I fared similarly with the soup we sampled next, an Avocado & Mint Gazpacho served with Jeera Namak Paara – though quite unique and beautifully presented, it was not something my tastebuds relished.

Top Left: Avocado & Mint Gazpacho with Jeera Namak Paara; Bottom Left: Paanch Phoron Paneer Bhurji Tart; Top Right: Black Sesame Chicken Tikka served with Sesame Ash; Bottom Right: Santrewala Chicken Tikka

The Black Sesame Chicken Tikka served with Sesame Ash and Santrewala Chicken Tikka were thoroughly relished by my fellow non-vegetarian diners. I loved the look of both these dishes, too!

Main Course

The Daal Khichdi Risotto With Papad Crisp And Achaari Butter was so very blissful! It was comfort food in the form of a simple and homely arborio rice khichdi, served with achaari spice-infused butter and crunchy papad. If khichdi reminds you of home, too, this is one dish-with-a-twist that you must absolutely try out here!

Top Left: Daal Khichdi Risotto served with Papad Crisp and Achaari Butter; Bottom Left: Andhra Chilli Chicken Thatte Idli served with micro herbs; Right: Charcoal Appam with Paneer Ghee Roast and Podi Dust

It was love at first bite for me with the Charcoal Appam served with Paneer Ghee Roast and Podi Dust. The black appam was fluffy and utterly gorgeous, the ghee roast absolutely heavenly. The cottage cheese was succulent, beautifully spiced, bursting with rich flavours. This you shouldn’t miss out on, at any cost!

I heard wonderful things about the Andhra Chilli Chicken Thatte Idli from my non-vegetarian counterparts, too.

Desserts

I loved the Flourless Chocolate Cake With Tanguery Mousse And Orange Crumb, a perfectly made, super light intense chocolate cake, served with orange-flavoured cream. Brilliant, I say!

The Peanut Butter Mousse Taco with Banana Kulfi & Caramelised Banana did not blow the socks off me, sadly, pretty as it looked. There was a bit too much of peanut butter and banana in there for my liking.

Top Left: Peanut Butter Mousse Taco with Banana Kulfi & Caramelised Banana; Bottom Left: Flourless Chocolate Cake with Tanguery Mousse & Orange Crumb; Right: Feni Nest with Chhena Balls & Flavoured Milk

The Feni Nest With Chhena Balls Served With Flavoured Milk is one of the prettiest desserts I have come across. Shaped like a bird’s nest, this one was so beautiful I resisted digging a spoon into it. I am so very glad I did, though, for it tasted even better! Everything about it was just perfect – the flavoured milk was sinfully rich and gorgeous in taste, complementing perfectly with the soft, soft, soft chhena balls and the feni. Don’t miss this!

In hindsight

I think Farzi Cafe – UB City’s Summer Menu surely is exciting. There are quite a lot of interesting new drinks, dishes and desserts to try out! Do check it out if you are in the vicinity!

Head To Punjab Bistro For A North-Indian Extravaganza

People in Bangalore, I’m sure many of you will remember the iconic Punjab Grill right opposite Forum Mall in Koramangala, a high-end joint that used to offer some pretty good North Indian fare. Well, the restaurant has now been rebranded as Punjab Bistro, and is now even better! There has been a change in the management, the place has been given a facelift, and the menu has had a revamp, too. A few of us foodies in Bangalore recently had the opportunity to visit the newly re-done Punjab Bistro and check out the new menu.

Location and ambience

The location of Punjab Bistro remains the same as that of Punjab Grill, opposite Forum Mall in the hip and happening Koramangala. It is still a fine-dine eatery that serves an array of North Indian food, both vegetarian and non-vegetarian. The place prides itself on offering authentic North Indian fare, along with a few international dishes.

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Part of the inside seating at Punjab Bistro

The interior is done up simply, but with class. The ample natural light filling this place makes the ambience bright and welcoming, a far cry from the dingy, dim-lit interiors of many fine-dine restaurants in the city. This is quite a large space, with plenty of seating available.

You can avail of the valet parking service here.

Food and drinks

We had an absolutely lovely time at Punjab Bistro, with some amazing food and drinks served to us. Most of the fare we tried out here, we loved!

Here is a quick look at all that we sampled at Punjab Bistro.

Shikanjivi: We started our meal with a glass of Shikanjivi, Punjabi-style lemonade, which was simply awesome. The lemonade was just perfect, the right amount of tangy and sweet, the spices in it fragrant. We relished this drink to the last drop.

Aam Panna: The Aam Panna, a spiced raw mango drink, tasted good but it paled in comparison to the brilliant Shikanjivi. A bit less thickness to the drink and a bit more sweetness would have done it for us.

Mast Guava: This mocktail, a spiced guava drink, was quite well done too. It tasted absolutely lovely and refreshing. The guava didn’t taste syrupy, but was fresh and nice, the spices not overpowering but beautifully complementing the drink.

Top left: Shikanjivi; Bottom left: Mast Guava; Right: Aam Panna

Chilgoza Paneer: This is a starter that we loved to bits – soft, soft, soft cottage cheese stuffed with a mix of toasted pine nuts, dill leaves and cheese, marinated and grilled to perfection. It was so very well done, an absolute pleasure to eat. Quite a unique thing to find on a restaurant menu, too! Highly recommended!

Tikki Chole: This starter stole the show, at least for me! The aloo tikkis were perfectly done, crisp from the outside and soft on the inside, served Delhi-style with chole masala, assorted chutneys and fine sev. The taste was on spot, exactly what you would find on the streets of Old Delhi. Brilliant! I can’t recommend this dish highly enough!

Top left: Chilgoza Paneer; Bottom left: Tikki Chole; Top right: Dahi Ke Kebab; Bottom right: Spinach Corn Quesadillas

Dahi Ke Kebab: I love dahi ke kebab, but sadly, the ones at Punjab Bistro failed to please. The kebabs here were too soft, too sweet, not the crispy ones with a soft, delicately spiced interior that we love. The berry sauce these kebabs were served with was just lovely, though.

Spinach Corn Quesadillas: This was yet another starter that we absolutely loved! The quesadillas were beautiful in taste, the filling a mix of delicious spinach and good-quality cheese. I loved how the cheese was oozing out of the quesadillas, yet not overpoweringly so. This dish comes highly recommended!

Dal Moradabadi: For main course, one of the dishes we ordered was Dal Moradabadi, a dish that I loved, loved, loved. This is, apparently, a specialty from the city of Moradabad in Uttar Pradesh, made with split moong dal, garnished with tamarind chutney, coriander chutney, finely chopped onions and tomatoes and fried moong dal. It was an absolute delight, full of different flavours and textures! Oh, I could polish off a bowlful of this dal all on its own – it is, after all, not dissimilar to a bowl of chaat, a complete meal on its own! Don’t miss this dish at Punjab Bistro, I tell you! (Head to my Instagram page to read the very interesting history behind the Dal Moradabadi)

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The gorgeous Dal Moradabadi at Punjab Bistro

Firangi Subzi: The Firangi Subzi – a curry made with ‘English’ vegetables like zucchini, bell peppers and baby corn, cooked in a cheesy gravy – was sheer beauty. It was so very well made, and tasted finger-lickingly delicious!

Paneer Makhani: The Paneer Makhani, succulent pieces of cottage cheese cooked in a creamy orange gravy, was good, but it didn’t quite measure up to the high expectations created by the Firangi Subzi and the Dal Moradabadi.

Top left: Paneer Makhani; Bottom left: Firangi Sabzi; Top right: Chur Chur Paratha; Bottom Right: Spring Onion Kulcha

Chur Chur Paratha: I love how Punjab Bistro has a vast selection of rotis, naan and parathas on the menu, something for every palate. Some of these breads are quite unique, and not easy to come across in Bangalore – Chur Chur Paratha, for instance, or an Iranian flatbread called Sheermal or Makke Di Roti. We ordered some Chur Chur Paratha to go with the sabzis, a pillow-soft paratha with a delicate cheese and potato stuffing. Had piping hot, it was heavenly!

Spring Onion Kulcha: The kulcha came with a beautiful cheese-and-spring onion stuffing, soft as can be. It was absolutely delish!

The Great Indian Dessert, a stunner of a dessert, at Punjab Bistro

The Great Indian Dessert: Next up came a dessert that was absolutely stunning, as much in looks as in taste and range of textures – called The Great Indian Dessert. Rose- and paan-flavoured kulfi, served on a bed of basil seeds soaked in Roohafza, served with crumbled sohan papdi and motichoor laddoo, slivers of Karachi halwa, sprinkled with aam ras and rose syrup – quite interesting, right? I loved how the different tastes and textures melded together to create one lovely, delectable whole. This pretty dessert is a tribute to some of India’s hugely popular desserts, something that I would urge you to try out whenever you are in Punjab Bistro! Highly recommended!

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Bistro Special Mille Feuille, at Punjab Bistro

Bistro Special Mille Feuille: This is Punjab Bistro’s take on the classic French mille feuille, with pieces of perfectly soaked gulab jamun, succulent strawberries and cream layered in between slices of crunchy pastry. This dessert was quite the beauty! It tasted good, though I don’t think it is something we would order again.

And that was how our delightful meal at Punjab Bistro panned out!

Service

We found the service staff to be quite friendly, warm and courteous. They were well-informed about the menu and were able to offer helpful suggestions.

Price

Prices here are on the higher side. A meal for two would cost about INR 1800.

In hindsight

Like I said earlier, we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves at Punjab Bistro. Most of the food we tried out here, we loved! The presentation of all the dishes was so good, too! I love how the eatery has a wide selection of dishes for both vegetarians and non-vegetarians, but I wish there could be more vegetarian options in the Soups and Rice Dishes sections.

We will definitely be visiting Punjab Bistro again, to try out more of the delectable food on their menu! So, the next time you are craving for some ‘proper’ North Indian food along with a touch of the international, head to Punjab Bistro, and I am sure you won’t be disappointed.

Have you been to Punjab Bistro yet? What are your favourites from the menu? I’d love to hear all about your experience!

 

 

New Menu Tasting At Mainland China, Indiranagar

Mainland China needs no introduction, I am sure. The chain of restaurants has created a name for itself in serving good-quality Chinese fare. The husband and I love a Chinese meal occasionally, and have often headed to Mainland China for the same. So, when Mainland China recently introduced its new menu, I was thrilled to be a part of the tasting process at their Indiranagar branch, along with a few other food bloggers. We ended up having a delightful experience!

Location, decor and ambience

This was the first time I visited the Indiranagar branch of Mainland China, located on the bustling 100-Foot Road. It wasn’t difficult to find at all.

I loved the fact that there is ample parking available here, and valet parking is offered as well.

The interiors are simple and understated, classy and beautiful. The place is spacious, good for get-togethers with friends and/or family.

The new menu at Mainland China

The new menu at Mainland China leans more towards Pan-Asian fare, and has some great options for vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike. The menu is quite extensive and, I am sure, has something for everyone. Old favourites have been retained, and new flavours have been introduced. We were presented with some signature offerings from the new menu, of which I had the pleasure of tasting the vegetarian dishes.

#newmenunewflavours

Here is what I tried out from the new menu at Mainland China.

Vegetarian Tom Yum Soup: We started our meal with a vegetarian version of Tom Yum, which was nice, but not brilliant. The broth was flavourful and aromatic, with a generous amount of ingredients added in. However, the soup could have done with a bit more body, IMHO. I loved the slightly thick, more rounded Tom Yum that I had at Misu, and tend to hold that up as a standard against which all Tom Yums are measured. On that scale, this Tom Yum Soup fell a wee bit short.

Corn Chilli Pepper With Kaffir Lime And Salt: This made for a lovely starter, the corn nice and crispy without being overly chewy, the hints of chilli and kaffir lime coming through beautifully in every bite. I absolutely loved the presentation of this dish in a wine goblet, too!

Top Left: Vegetarian Tom Yum Soup; Top Right: Corn Chilli Pepper With Kaffir Lime & Salt; Bottom Left: Truffle Oil-Flavoured Zucchini Roll; Bottom Right: Crispy Lotus Stem With Curry Leaves & Black Pepper; Picture Courtesy for the corn and lotus stem dishes: Kasalsfoodsprings

Truffle Oil-Flavoured Zucchini Roll: These rolls were perfectly cooked, with a crispy exterior and a lovely, mild zucchini stuffing within. Taste-wise, these could have done with more flavour, I felt. I couldn’t sense any truffle in the rolls, though.

Crispy Lotus Stem With Curry Leaves And Black Pepper: This one tasted absolutely delish, and was the star of the meal for me. The lotus stem was sliced really fine and was fried well, the Chinese-style sauce it was cooked in really flavourful. The idea of adding curry leaves, sort of, didn’t really go with the concept of Chinese cuisine, but they didn’t seem out of place in the dish – they seemed to lend themselves to the whole, without hampering the overall taste of the dish.

Corn & Water Chestnut Dumplings: These dumplings were so very well done, beautiful inside and out! They were exquisitely delicate, the green outer shell delightfully paper-thin. The corn-and-water-chestnut filling was subtly spiced, mild, and very delicious. These come highly recommended – don’t miss them whenever you visit Mainland China!

Left: Corn & Water Chestnut Dumplings; Top Right: Edamame Dumplings With Truffle Oil; Bottom Right: Orange Piroshka

Edamame Dumplings With Truffle Oil: The next set of dumplings presented to us had a lovely, subtly spiced edamame stuffing. The outer shell was, again, brilliantly thin. I absolutely loved these dumplings too!

Orange Piroshka: From the extensive list of non-alcoholic beverages available at Mainland China, I chose the Orange Piroshka, a cooler made with orange juice and mint. I absolutely loved it! The drink was a beautiful medley of sweet and sour, quite refreshing and beautiful. I loved how the Orange Piroshka didn’t feel like a commercially-bought-flavoured-syrup-infused drink that is so very common with mocktails in several restaurants.
Japanese Wheat Noodles: A very interesting addition to the eatery’s new menu, the Japanese Wheat Noodles were absolutely lovely! Similar in looks to ragi vermicelli, they had a beautiful, beautiful texture. They tasted delicious, with subtle flavours, mild and soft. Such a refreshing change from the Hakka Noodles that you commonly find at Chinese eateries! This is another dish that I would highly recommend you to try out here!

Left: Japanese Wheat Noodles; Top Right: Vegetables & Edamame Fried Rice; Bottom Right: Lemongrass Vegetables In Fresh Cilantro Sauce

Steamed Chinese Greens And Tofu In Mild Ginger Sauce (not in pictures): This dish was well done too. Mildly spiced, none of the flavours of this dish overpowered the others. I am not particularly fond of the smell of steamed Chinese greens, and this dish was no exception. Taste-wise, I wouldn’t say I was bowled over by this, but I did like it.

Vegetables & Edamame Fried Rice: This was a refreshingly new take on the good ol’ fried rice, a well-executed twist. The rice was mild and subtle, well cooked and a pleasure to eat. Compared to the soya sauce- and black pepper-laden fried rice that we are used to, this rice was very mildly spiced, and loaded with veggies.

Lemongrass Vegetables In Fresh Cilantro Sauce: We ordered this to go with the fried rice, and were pleasantly surprised by the lovely taste of the dish. I was sort of worried if the lemongrass and the cilantro in the dish would overpower the dish, but they absolutely did not. Everything in the dish was very well-balanced and, overall, the dish was mild and well turned out. It made for the perfect accompaniment for the rice.

Chocolate Dome With Warm Chocolate Sauce: For dessert, we opted for a chocolate dome that melted when warm chocolate sauce was poured over it, revealing a base of vanilla ice cream, chocolate brownies and salted popcorn underneath. This was an absolutely blissful delight for a chocolate-lover like me – different tastes and textures melding together to create a lovely dessert. Another must-try here!

Top: Warm chocolate sauce being poured on the chocolate domes; Bottom: That’s how the dessert looks after the chocolate dome has melted!

In hindsight

I loved most of the dishes I sampled from the new vegetarian menu, and my fellow non-vegetarian diners were pleased too. I am definitely eager to try out more of the new dishes that Mainland China has introduced!

Prices here are on the higher side, but the quality of ingredients, execution of dishes and their taste totally make up for it. Service is courteous, warm and friendly.

The next time you crave for Chinese (or Asian) fare, why don’t you head to Mainland China? Do let me know how you like the new menu!

A Lovely Afternoon With Sarah Todd, MasterChef Australia 2014 Finalist

I’m sure most foodies would know Sarah Todd, especially those who have been regularly following MasterChef Australia. For the uninitiated, Sarah Todd was the finalist at MasterChef Australia 2014, with a huge fan following from India, thanks to her attempting a few India-inspired dishes on the show. Recently, when The Little Black Book (LBB) – Bengaluru offered me a chance to participate in a masterclass with Chef Todd, I grabbed the opportunity with both hands. I’m so very glad I did – it turned out to be such a fun afternoon!

The event was held at Script, a concept kitchen and workshop venture by Godrej. This was my first time visiting Script, and I found it to be a charming venue, a must-visit for food enthusiasts in the city.

Chef Sarah Todd in a candid tete-a-tete with the audience at the masterclass

Sarah Todd’s career story is nothing short of inspiring. She became a model at the young age of 18, after which a decade-long career on the ramp followed. In the course of her work with brands like Hugo Boss, Pantene and Gucci, which entailed extensive travels across the globe, she began to develop a passionate love for food culture. In a candid moment at the masterclass, Sarah said, “One day, when I was still a model, I had to put up the exact same pose about 15 times, so the photographer could get the right shot. That was a sort of turning point in my life. It was then that I began to ask myself – ‘What am I doing with my life? Is this what I really want to do?‘”

The moment sparked some sharp introspection on Sarah’s part, and she decided she wanted to delve deeper into food. She went on to enroll herself at the famed Le Cordon Bleu, and trained in French cooking. For years, she worked as a chef, training alongside Michelin-star chefs. In 2014, she participated in MasterChef Australia, which, she claims, was another huge turning point in her life. She discovered herself, her cooking style, while at the show. She found that she leant more towards wholesome, healthy food that she could serve to her family, rather than elaborate meals that looked like magical masterpieces.

Apparently, Sarah’s love for Indian food began when she started dating Devinder Garcha, an Indian. While at MasterChef Australia, Sarah prepared a few Indian dishes, which earned her a fan following of over 50,000 Indians overnight. The next morning, when she logged into her social media, this had her completely stunned. She visited India soon after, in an attempt to figure it all out, and fell deeper in love with Indian food. She went on to open Antares, her restaurant in Goa, followed by another, The Wine Rack, in Mumbai. In the intervening years, Devinder and Sarah became parents to Phoenix, a lovely son. “I became all the more obsessed with food after becoming a mom. I wanted my son to taste everything, and I wanted to make everything myself. I wanted to know exactly what I was feeding him,” she said at the masterclass.

Left: Sarah, speaking about plating, at the masterclass. Right: The beatiful plating of the Citrus & Cocoa Tart (top) and Avocado Open Sandwich (bottom) that Sarah demonstrated at the masterclass

Sarah’s wonderful plating skills have always amazed. At the masterclass, she wowed everyone by demonstrating the beautiful plating of two dishes – a Citrus & Cocoa Tart and an Avocado Open Sandwich. “We eat with our eyes first. If you are presented the exact same dish in two different plates – one just dumped on the plate, and the other presented artistically – I can guarantee you will eat more of the latter. Presentation is of considerable importance,” she said at the masterclass.

Any kind of food can be presented artistically. Anyone can do it. You need to break free of the shackles in your mind first. Just let loose, and let your creativity rein in, while you are plating,” said Sarah.

Taste is just as important as presentation,” Sarah said. “For me, a dish just cannot just look very pretty, but be lacking in flavour. It has to be bursting with flavour, too!,” she added.

Chef Sarah Todd, demonstrating the preparation of two wholesome salads at the masterclass

At the masterclass, Sarah demonstrated the making of two wholesome salads in jars, perfect for busy-workday lunches.

She spoke of how a cook needs to take care of three core things for a dish to be successful – flavours, textures and presentation. “A great dish has to have a variety of flavours, to keep the eater interested – sweet, sour, saltiness, spiciness and some umami, everything has to be in balance. There have got to be at least a couple of different textures to the dish. Lastly, of course, it has to be presented beautifully,” she said.

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Chef Sarah Todd demonstrating the preparation of two salads-in-a-jar that can be filling meals in themselves

Speaking about her bond with India at the masterclass, Sarah said, “India is special. Indian food is so diverse, so amazing! I am constantly awed by the foods that I go on discovering in India – every new place I visit in this country, I end up with a new favourite food. There’s so much yet for me to learn, to discover. It is tough for me to point out just one favourite Indian food!

She spoke of how she does not want either Antares or The Wine Rack to be categorised as ‘an Australian restaurant’. “I want to cook Indian food, giving it my personal touch,” she said. “I can’t ever dream of competing with authentic Indian food, the way it has been cooked in Indian families over generations. How can one ever compete with that?! I want to take Indian food, and make it my own. I see I am making a difference that way, too,” she said at the masterclass.

I cook with the special, indigenous ingredients of the region, at both my restaurants. I make sure the ingredients are seasonal and procured fresh. Indian cuisine has a whole lot of wonderful ingredients that I am discovering – it is such a fun cuisine to be creative with!,” Sarah said.

She then went on to demonstrate the making of a fruity non-alcoholic drink, just perfect for hot summer days, at the masterclass.

Chef Sarah Todd demonstrating a fruity summer drink, at the masterclass

All through the masterclass, Sarah’s personality shone out. What a humble, down-to-earth, friendly and warm person!

The question-and-answer session with the audience at the end of the masterclass was what I enjoyed the best. It gave me a glimpse of the feisty, determined side of Sarah, the brains and talent behind the pretty face, the humane side of her that is trying to overcome her own shortcomings, the mommy in her, the career woman in her who is trying to make a difference in a world dominated by men.

All in all, it was a lovely afternoon, shared with fellow food enthusiasts from across the city. A fun time was had by everyone, I’m sure.

Now, I can’t wait to get to reading Sarah Todd’s blog and trying my hands at some of her recipes!

A Delightful Healthy Meal At Enerjuvate, Koramangala

Bored of the regular cream- and spice-laden food that a whole lot of restaurants serve? Head to Enerjuvate Studio & Cafe for a lovely change from the usual!

The husband and I visited Enerjuvate’s relatively new branch in Koramangala recently, for a menu tasting. We returned completely sated after an utterly delightful meal, our taste buds tingling with the various fusion foods we sampled here. The best part – all the food we had was as healthy as it could be, cooked fresh. Our tummies felt light and unburdened after the meal, which we loved!

Concept

Enerjuvate is a pretty space, a studio cum store cum cafe. There are several workshops conducted here on a regular basis, at the studio. The store stocks a variety of healthy products ranging from almond butter, different types of tea and pure honey to various home decor articles. The little boutique at Enerjuvate sells a wide range of products prepared by women entrepreneurs – from clothes and jewellery made from recycled plastic and moss (yes, you read that right!) to all-natural cosmetics.

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Some of the articles on display at the Enerjuvate boutique, Koramangala

The menu at the Enerjuvate cafe is quite eclectic – it is a mix of many different cuisines, Indian and international. The cafe serves all-vegetarian food, cooked fresh without any artificial flavouring or colouring agents and preservatives. Ingredients like cornflour, refined flour and refined sugar are avoided, as is deep frying. Think momos made with jowar flour, papri chaat made with baked ragi pooris, hot-and-sour Asian gravy served with cooked millets instead of rice, desserts made with honey or cane sugar. We found the menu to be quite extensive – with a variety of soups, beverages and tea; a huge selection of entrees, wraps, pasta and pizza; quite a few healthy desserts and combo platters. Here, you will find several options for people who choose to go dairy-free, gluten-free or dairy products-free. There are quite a few Jain alternatives on the menu as well.

Enerjuvate was first launched in Jayanagar, in early 2017. After successfully creating a loyal clientele for itself at Jayanagar, a second branch opened up in Koramangala a few months later.

Location, ambience and decor

The Koramangala outlet is located in the bustling 4th Block, and wasn’t very tough to locate. The place has a quaint, charming vibe to it, both from the outside and inside.

The outside sitting area is simply beautiful, done up with fairy lights, ideal for breezy summer evenings and cold winter afternoons.

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Part of the outdoor sitting area at Enerjuvate, Koramangala

The inside is pretty too, with quirky but classy decor. Carefully chosen quotes and artifacts deck up the ceiling and walls.

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The decor at Enerjuvate, Koramangala

Go up a quirky decorated staircase and you will reach another cute sitting area, adorned by a bookshelf and more of those lovely artifacts. There’s a little balcony with just two seats too, upstairs, just perfect for a date night, looking out at the world go by.

Food and drinks

We started our meal with samples of a few of Enerjuvate’s signature beverages and a couple of their healthy starters.

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Top left: Carrot Ginger Ale, Coco Mojito, and Almond Mylk Thandai; Top right: Kombucha samplers; Bottom left: Aloo Papri Chaat; Bottom right: Summer Salad (seasonal)

We absolutely loved the Coco Mojito, a twist on the traditional virgin mojito, made with tender coconut water, pineapple and mint, sweetened with cane sugar. It was so delectable! The other drinks weren’t meant for our taste buds – we couldn’t appreciate these as we are not a big fan of vegetable-based smoothies or fermented pro-biotic beverages.

The Aloo Papri Chaat was absolutely lovely, and I couldn’t resist hogging on it! The chaat was made with baked ragi pooris and, therefore, quite healthy. The spice levels, the chutney, the sweetness and tanginess – everything – was on point.

The Summer Salad, a seasonal special made with spiralised raw mango and cucumber, with a simple honey-lemon dressing was gorgeous, too. Slurpalicious!

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Thai DIY Paan at Enerjuvate, Koramangala

The next starter that was presented to us – Thai DIY Paan – completely blew our minds away. What a flavour bomb this was! My taste buds are still tingling with the burst of flavours it filled my mouth with. Served with toasted peanuts and coconut, Enerjuvate‘s in-house tangy tamarind chutney, chillies, sprouts, ginger, onions and lemon wedges, it is fun to make these lettuce wraps the way you want to. It is all healthy, too, to boot! In Thailand, apparently, this is a street food called Meeang Krung, and is made with betel leaves instead of lettuce. We would urge you to try this dish out at Enerjuvate – highly recommended!

Top left: Veggie Zoodle Bowl; Top centre: Asian-style chilli vegetables with millets; Top right: Potato Wedges Platter; Bottom: Momo Tasting Platter

Next up came a couple of their large platters – the Potato Wedges Platter and the Momo Tasting Platter.

The Potato Wedges Platter was lovely, very well done, with sweet potato and potato wedges baked to perfection, sprinkled with a generous dose of herbs. This is served with beetroot hummus and salsa.

We have mixed feelings about the Momo Tasting Platter, which included an assortment of healthy momos made with flours like wheat, ragi and other millets. The fillings were quite interesting – potato, spinach and corn, Asian noodles and the like. While I loved the fillings of these momos, I found the outer shell to be quite thick, unlike the paper-thin maida-based momos that are commonly available on the streets. That said, we do greatly appreciate the fact that these momos are made the healthy way, without any maida. The sauces served with the momos too are made in-house, fresh and healthy, without any preservatives or artificial flavouring or colouring agents.

We then went on to try samplers of two of Enerjuvate’s main course. We loved the Veggie Zoodle Bowl – zucchini noodles cooked beautifully, livened with herbs, perfectly spiced. The Asian-Style Chilli Vegetables was delish too – vegetables cooked the Asian way, but healthily, served with cooked millets instead of rice. This was such a delight to eat!

The Enerjuvate Loaded Pizza!

The Enerjuvate Loaded Pizza we were served next was sheer pleasure to eat. True to its name, it was loaded with toppings. The base – made with millets – was very well done, and the marinara sauce on it was quite flavourful. It was served with Enerjuvate’s signature pumpkin sauce (Gross? No way! The sauce was so delish, we were licking our fingers! We didn’t even know that it was pumpkin sauce, BTW, till we were told!). This is another dish we would highly recommend you to try at Enerjuvate!

Thai DIY Soup at Enerjuvate, Koramangala

We also tried out a couple of the soups. The Thai DIY Soup had an interesting concept – lemongrass soup served in a cute mug with assorted toppings, for you to add in the way you please. The taste and texture of the soup didn’t charm us, though.

The Thukpa Twist – Tibetan thukpa made with healthy flat ragi noodles – didn’t bowl us over either.

Left: Lemon (n)ice cream!; Top right: Choco Mocha Cups; Bottom right: Sizzling Brownie, at Enerjuvate, Koramangala

We ended our meal with samples of some of Enerjuvate’s desserts, every single one of which was brilliant and utterly blew us away!

The Lemon (N)ice Cream – a preservative-free vegan ice cream made with coconut milk – was so refreshing and lovely. We loved this to bits! If you can get hold of this at Enerjuvate, please don’t miss it!

The Choco Mocha Cups are, again, vegan. These little chocolate cups filled with coffee-flavoured cashew cream were sheer bliss. Yumminess overload!

The Sizzling Brownie was simply beautiful too, with vegan vanilla ice cream served atop a chocolate ragi brownie! This one comes highly recommended too!

All of these desserts were made with zero refined sugar. Can you guess? We surely couldn’t!

Price

A meal for two at Enerjuvate, Koramangala, will set you back by INR 800, approximately. We think this is a steal, considering the charming ambience, the quality and deliciousness of the food, and the fact that it is all cooked fresh and healthy, with utmost care.

In hindsight

The husband and I thoroughly enjoyed ourselves at Enerjuvate. We loved most of the food we tried out, in the midst of that pleasing ambience. Neither of us can wait to go back here and try out more from their vast menu!

Please do visit too – I’m sure you won’t regret it!

Have you been to Enerjuvate? What are your favourites here? Do tell me, in your comments!

A Beautiful Birthday Lunch At Maia – Eat|Bake|Mom, Bellandur

It was my birthday, over a month back, and the husband and I decided to head out for a quiet lunch together, with the bub. He told me to choose the restaurant where I’d like to eat, and I chose Maia – Eat|Bake|Mom in Bellandur, a place that had been on my hit list ever since it opened up some time last year. We ended up having a lovely, relaxed lunch at Maia’s, and falling in love with the beautiful place that it is.

Concept of Maia – Eat|Bake|Mom

A relatively new entrant in the food scene in Bangalore, Maia is an eatery with a difference. I have been in love with the concept of Maia, ever since I heard of it – a space dedicated to moms, a menu featuring recipes contributed by moms from across the world, no-nonsense food prepared without any preservatives or harmful additives, food that isn’t cooked in a jiffy (restaurant-style) but the way it is at homes, food you wouldn’t hesitate to feed your child, including breads baked in-house.

Maia is an all-vegetarian restaurant, which doesn’t serve alcohol. It is owned and managed by Ms. Sejal Shah, a Gujarati, and her partner, thanks to which you will find several Gujarati dishes on the menu.

Location, decor and ambience

Tucked away in a quiet bylane in the busy Bellandur, Maia wasn’t difficult to find. Google Maps led the way, and the rest, as they say, is history!

Once you enter the gates of Maia, you forget that you are in the midst of the concrete jungle that is Bellandur. With a gurgling waterfall, earthy and rustic decor, glimpses of quirkiness here and there, and lots of greenery all around, this place is surely an oasis of calm. Both the husband and I were totally charmed by the prettiness of Maia.

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The table we lunched at, right next to the gushing water, at Maia.

Maia is quite a large space, with a large number of seats available. There is both indoor and outdoor seating here, and we chose to sit in the open, right beside the waterfall. In hindsight, this turned out to be a wonderful decision. It turned out to be quite an experience eating to the sound of gushing water. All throughout our lunch, the sound of the water washed over us, and we finished our meal thoroughly relaxed and rejuvenated. This is a rare occurrence for us, considering that most restaurants blast loud, loud, loud music and are so noisy that you can barely hear your partner over the din, leave alone have a conversation! For this quietude alone, we would love to return to Maia, again and again and again.

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My second favourite table at Maia’s, complete with skylight and stone table. Isn’t just a wonderful blend of the outside and the inside?

When we visited, we were lucky to have the place almost all to ourselves, and this added to the feeling of quietude that Maia already exudes. This is, definitely, the sort of place you should take your loved ones to, a place where you can really talk and bond with each other, over good food.

I hear the eatery is even more beautiful by night, when it is all lit up with fairy lights, a magical world of sorts. I can’t wait to go back to Maia, to check it out at night time!

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Some of the whimsical touches at Maia that I loved. Little terrariums that adorn every table, a stone depicting Feng Shui symbols for the different constituents of the world, a quirky light

Food and drinks

We started our meal at Maia with Traditional Farali Patties – a Gujarati delicacy, a snack made with potatoes and a gorgeous sweetish stuffing within, something that is consumed during fasts. How could I not?! I adore farali patties, haven’t been able to figure out how to make them at home myself, and haven’t found them elsewhere in Bangalore. So, these had to be ordered!

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Traditional Farali Patties at Maia

The patties were lovely, and one bite into them flooded my mind with thousands of memories from when I used to live in Ahmedabad. They were, in my humble opinion, just a notch less flavourful than the absolutely brilliant ones I remember eating in Ahmedabad. That said, these were still lovely.

Next up, we opted for Burrata & Rucola Pizza, a thin-crust pizza made with Maia’s home-made tomato sauce, burrata cheese and rucola lettuce. The pizza was served with a variety of infused olive oils for us to drizzle over it – roasted garlic, sun-dried tomatoes and chilli – and it was just lovely, too. Super fresh pizza, simple yet beautiful in taste – what’s to not love?!

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Left: Burrata & Rucola Pizza at Maia; Right: A couple of the infused olive oils that were served with the pizza

Then, we went for Pasta Arrabiatta, our eternal favourite in restaurants. It came with a slice of warm, pillowy soft, beautiful bread which, I heard, was baked in-house. The pasta itself was very lovely, perfectly cooked, with an extremely flavourful sauce, generously laced with veggies. We loved this the most!

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Pasta Arrabiatta, served with fresh bread baked in-house, at Maia

To end our meal, we chose Maia’s Signature Popcorn Shake, instead of a dessert. Popcorn blended into a milkshake, with salted caramel sauce and ice cream – this is definitely something we haven’t come across anywhere else! This was just lovely too, very well blended, the perfect mix of sweet and saltiness.

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It’s a pity we weren’t able to try out more of the interesting dishes on Maia’s menu. I can’t wait to go back here for the same!

Service

The service staff was courteous, warm and friendly.

A couple of the dishes took a bit of time to arrive at our table, but we were fine with that as we weren’t in a hurry. I understand that is also because the food here is prepared fresh, only after the order is received. If I have to wait for fresh, home-style food, hey, that’s perfectly okay!

Prices

Our bill came to around INR 700, which I think is pretty reasonable, considering the quality and taste of the food and the ambience at Maia’s.

In hindsight…

Both the husband and I adored Maia, and will cherish the beautiful experience of lunching here for a long time to come. This is definitely a place I would highly recommend you to head to, with friends or family or on a date! The menu, albeit all-vegetarian, has a whole lot of Indian and international dishes to choose from. Like I said earlier, I am eager to go back here again, to try out more from the extensive menu, and probably check out the ambience by night.

When we were at Maia’s, we had the opportunity to talk to Ms. Shah, a co-founder, who came across as extremely friendly and passionate. I understand there are plans for an in-house patisserie, cooking studio and cheese-making classes at Maia’s in the pipeline, all of which sounds fascinating to me!

Don’t miss this place, folks!