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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
Notes for travellers:
1. The villagers of Muthyala Maduvu chargean entry fee ofINR 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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. 🙂
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.
There are two toilets at Thotada Mane, for public convenience. We found them quite neat and clean.
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.
Do check out this place! I hope you’ll fall in love with it the way we did, too.
I was introduced to Bun Halwa on our visit to the temple town of Madurai, a couple of years ago. While breakfasting at the iconic Gopu Iyengar’s one day, Bun Halwa was on the list of specials. We had never tried it before, were intrigued enough to order it, and fell in love with it when it arrived. When they saw how much I was enjoying the piping-hot halwa, the serving staff was kind enough to teach me how to go about making it. After that, this has been a go-to dessert at our place, any time we have buns (or bread!) left over.
I present to you today the way I prepare Bun Halwa at home, largely the way I learnt at Madurai, with a few little flourishes of my own. Let me tell you that this is one super simple dessert to make, one you can blindly trust when you have unannounced guests over and need to make a sweet treat in a jiffy. It’s a delicious, delicious way to use up those last few bakery buns or bread that have been lying around the house, threatening to go stale! 🙂
Let’s now check out the recipe for Bun Halwa aka Easy Bread Halwa.
Ingredients (serves 2):
2 medium-sized buns
About 4 tablespoons ghee
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 tablespoon raisins
2 generous pinches of cardamom powder
4-5 glace cherries for decoration (optional)
1. Cut up the buns into small squares. Keep ready.
2. Heat 1 tablespoon ghee in a pan, and add the bun pieces to it. Fry the bun pieces on medium flame till they get brown and slightly crisp. Do not burn them. Transfer the fried pieces of bun to a plate and keep aside.
3. In the same pan, take the water and sugar together and place on high heat. Let the sugar get completely dissolved in the water.
4. When the sugar syrup starts bubbling, reduce the flame to medium. Add in the fried bun pieces. Mix well, mashing the bun pieces with your ladle. Add in a tablespoon more of ghee.
5. Continue to cook on medium flame, stirring constantly, till the mixture leaves the sides of the pan begins to come together like a halwa. Add 1 more tablespoon of ghee to the pan at this stage, and mix well. Switch off gas.
6. Mix the cardamom powder to the Bun Halwa.
7. Now, chop the almonds and cashewnuts roughly. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon ghee in a small pan. Turn the flame down to medium, and add in the raisins and the chopped cashewnuts and almonds. Mix well and let them stay in till the raisins plump up and the nuts begin to brown. Don’t let the dry fruits and nuts burn.
8. Mix the fried raisins, cashewnuts and almonds into the Bun Halwa. Serve hot, decorated with chopped glace cherries (if using).
1. I have used two Nilgiri’s tea buns here, which were moderately sweet. If you are using sweeter milk buns instead, you could decrease the quantity of sugar you use.
2. Bread can be used in place of buns. About 6 slices of bread could be used in the above recipe, in the place of the 2 buns.
3. Adjust the quantity of ghee and sugar you use, as per personal taste preferences.
4. A bit of rose essence can be added to this Easy Bread Halwa, too. Here, I haven’t.
5. This Bun Halwa tastes best when had hot or warm.
6. Some versions of Bun Halwa also use milk. I haven’t used any here.
7. Don’t skimp on the ghee, otherwise the halwa will stick to the bottom of the pan and turn out lumpy and tasteless.
This post is for the Foodie Monday Blog Hop. Every Monday, the members of this group share recipes as per a certain theme.
The theme this week is #MithaiMeinTwist, suggested by Sasmita of First Timer Cook. For the theme, we are showcasing Indian dessert recipes with a twist. This Bun Halwa aka Easy Bread Halwa was my choice for the same.
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.
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!
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, PapdiChaat and Chocolate Brownies stole my heart. The live music playing at the venue kept us humming throughout the brunch.
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!
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.
The guests present at the brunch and the bloggers then joined the Hilton team in lighting earthen lamps, to commemorate the special occasion.
The afternoon ended with the cutting of a magnificent cake that was just as unique as the brunch. Check it out for yourselves!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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 WithOrange-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
While holidaying in Calcutta a few years ago, experiencing Kali Pujo, the husband and I would often come across streams of people gulping down glasses of some sort of watery drink, at the carts of street-side vendors. The drink surely looked interesting, a pale brown in colour, with finely chopped onions, green chillies and coriander in it. Back then, we didn’t know what it was, but it surely looked like a thirst quencher – the heat was killing, and the drink seemed to be offering people some respite. We didn’t try it out. It was much later that I learnt what that drink was – Sattu Ka Ghol, or a savoury sherbet made using roasted black chickpea flour aka sattu or chane ka sattu.
I recently saw the recipe for Sattu Ka Gholon Sasmita’s blog, First Timer Cook, and absolutely had to try it out. I made it with black pepper powder instead of green chillies, and kept it quite watery. It turned out simply beautiful – delicious, very refreshing, just the thing you need on a hot summer’s day. It took me not more than 5 minutes to put the Sattu Ka Ghol together!
Sattu is a powerhouse of nutrients, with several health benefits to it. No wonder blue-collar workers in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Bengal have been consuming it for ages! Of late, the many benefits of sattu are being recognised the world over, and it isbeing touted as a superfood. This Sattu Ka Ghol is a supremely easy (not to forget delish!) way of getting all those health benefits in! This is a vegan, completely plant-based drink, and a gluten-free one as well.
If you haven’t tried out Sattu Ka Ghol ever, you must definitely do so this summer. Here’s how I made it, following the recipe from Sasmita’s blog, with a few minor variations.
Ingredients (makes about 4 small glasses):
3 heaped tablespoons sattu
2 cups of chilled water or as required
Black salt to taste
1 teaspoon black pepper powder or as per taste
1 teaspoon roasted cumin powder or as per taste
Juice of 1 lemon or to taste
2 tablespoons very finely chopped onion (optional)
1 tablespoon very finely chopped fresh coriander
1. Take the sattu in a mixing bowl. Add in about 1/2 cup of the chilled water, and mix well till the sattu gets completely dissolved in the water.
2. Now, add in the rest of the chilled water, along with the black salt, black pepper powder, roasted cumin powder and lemon juice. Mix well, ensuring that all the ingredients are well combined together.
3. Pour the drink into serving glasses. Add some finely chopped onion (if using) and coriander to each serving glass. Serve immediately.
I have used store-bought sattu here, but you can make your own at home if you so prefer.
Using the black salt is highly recommended, as it adds a lovely flavour and taste to the Sattu Ka Ghol. Do not substitute regular table salt for it, unless you absolutely cannot avoid doing so.
Adjust the quantitites of all the above ingredients depending upon personal taste preferences and how light/thick you would prefer the Sattu Ka Ghol to be.
Finely chopped green chillies can be used in place of the black pepper powder. I prefer using the black pepper powder, as I can avoid the danger of biting into a green chilly bit by doing so. 🙂
If you so prefer, you can use a mix of finely chopped green chillies and black pepper powder to spice up the Sattu Ka Ghol.
I have used home-made black pepper powder and roasted cumin powder here.
Finely chopped fresh mint leaves can be added to the drink too. I haven’t.
Adding the finely chopped onion to the Sattu Ka Ghol is optional, but I would highly recommend doing so. It adds a lovely bite and flavour to the drink.
Make sure you use chilled water to make the drink. I prefer using water naturally chilled in an earthen pot over refrigerated water.
Ensure that the sattu is well dissolved in the little water you initially add in, without any lumps, before adding the rest of the ingredients.
Did you like this recipe? Do tell me, in your comments!
This post is for the Food Bloggers Recipe Swap group. Every month, the food bloggers who are part of this group pair up, with every pair cooking a recipe from each other’s blog. I was paired with Sasmita this month, and chose this Sattu Ka Ghol recipe from her blog.
The bustling 12th Main in Indiranagar is home to several restaurants, serving a variety of cuisines. Bombay Brasserie, one of the eateries on this road, has managed to create a loyal clientele for itself, in the two or so years of its inception. The place is almost always packed, especially so on the weekends. There is a Street Food Festival running at Bombay Brasserie now, and I was recently invited over to sample the special festival menu. I ended up having a lovely experience!
I have always loved the charming, rustic decor of Bombay Brasserie and the warm, lively vibes here. Think lots of blue and white wood, good use of glass, ample natural light and greenery, rope-strung lights and cutesy antiques on display. The inside can get a bit noisy, but the outdoor seating is simply lovely, and that is just where I was seated to sample the Street Food Festival Menu.
This is just the sort of eatery you can unwind at with your family. This is not a cramped, dull space, but a spacious one, youthful and vibrant, full of chic.
Street Food Festival at Bombay Brasserie
The regular menu at Bombay Brasserie is a good blend of interesting food and drinks from around India, which is something I love. There are classics from across the country, some of which have been retained in their original form while some have been given an unique twist. The Street Food Festival menu is an extension of this – it includes flavours from the streets all over India. There’s Juhu Beach Gola or Bhatiyar Galli (Ahmedabad) Mutton Tikka, for instance, or Benares-style Mattar Stuffed Kulcha & Aloo Rassa, Chinese Bhel and Cochin’s famed Kulukki Sherbet.
What I tried out
Here’s a low-down on the things I sampled at Bombay Brasserie, and those that I loved the best.
From the drinks menu, I had:
Kairi Sherbet – A sweet and sour and salty sherbet made with raw mango, which hit all the right spots. It was delightfully refreshing, especially so on the hot summer’s day when I visited.
Kutchi Beer – This is a ‘beer without beer’, as the folks at Bombay Brasserie put it. It is, in fact, buttermilk mixed with black salt, cumin, green chillies, mint and coriander, served in a beer bottle. The Kutchi Beer I was served was a bit too high on salt, which prevented the other flavours from coming through.
Cochin Kulukki Sherbet – This is a lemon-green chilli-ginger sherbet that is always shaken, never stirred, from the bylanes of Cochin. A potent concoction this is, perfect for hot days. The Bombay Brasserie version was quite different from the sabja seed-laden Kulukki Sherbet of Cochin, but was delish nonetheless.
From the appetisers, here’s what I sampled:
Aam Puri Chaat– Staying true to the current mango season everywhere, this is Bombay Brasserie’s version of aamgolgappas. Crispy puris are served with a sweet-spicy-tangy mango paani, topped with lots and lots of sev. The abundance of cold paani in the puris was a tad overwhelming for me, but I understand this dish has received rave reviews from most mango lovers.
Crispy Suji Bites – These savoury cakes are made using suji (semolina/rava), crisp on the outside, soft and gooey on the inside. They are served topped with coarsely crushed fine peanuts from Bharuch, fried garlic and chilli, along with some in-house dips. Quite an interesting play of flavours and textures this was, and I loved it.
1960 ‘Atho‘ Salad – This is popular street food in Madras, made popular by the Burmese immigrants in Tamil Nadu. It is a cold salad made with noodles, wheat crispies, tamarind, cabbage, onions, chilli and garlic – does that sound like a weird combination? I wouldn’t say I loved this, but I liked it quite a bit.
What did we have for main course? Here goes:
Mattar Stuffed Kulcha & Aloo Rassa – This was one exquisite platter, hailing from the streets of Benares, that had me licking my fingers. The Aloo Rassa was beautiful, potatoes cooked to perfection in achaari masala. It made for the perfect complement to the kulcha, supremely soft and stuffed with a delectable green-pea filling. This is a must-try at Bombay Brasserie, according to me.
Tarkari Masaledar – I absolutely loved the Tarkari Masaledar, a melange of vegetables and paneer served in a spicy, slightly sweet, caramelised onion gravy. It was perfectly done, cooked just right. The fragrant spice mix used in the sabzi bowled me over!
I ended the meal with two sweet treats:
Juhu Beach Gola – This was one soul-satisfying affair! The kala khatta ice gola was simply perfect, a lovely blend of sweet and sour. It instantly transported me back to my childhood when I would patiently wait for my final exams to get over, so I could get my hands on an ice gola off the streets. This gola, though, was prepared in a highly hygienic manner! Served in a cutting chai glass, this was a delight to eat and photograph. I would highly recommend you to try this out!
Bombay Falooda – This was another beautiful dessert by Bombay Brasserie! The falooda was perfectly made, everything in it just right – from the sevai and the toasted nuts to the rose milk. It brought back fond memories of summer holidays spent sipping on cool, fragrant, home-made rose milk. Don’t miss this, I say!
I hope you guys had fun on this gastronomical journey with me!
Do check out the Street Food Festival at Bombay Brasserie, Indiranagar, too. There’s a range of interesting dishes up for grabs. The festival is on till May 31, 2019.
A Bengali meal is incomplete without a chutney, especially so on festive occasions. Chutney (rather, ‘Chaatni‘ in the local language) is eaten at the end of a Bengali meal, as a dessert, rather than meaning it to be an accompaniment to the other dishes. It is literally licked off the plate – therefore the name ‘Chaatni‘. And why not? The Bengali Chaatni is, after all, a beautiful medley of flavours sweet and sour with just a hint of spice to keep it intriguing, raisins adding a lovely texture to it. Quite different from the South Indian chutneys we are so used to!
Bengali Chaatnis are also quite intriguing in the sense of what they are made up of. Often, a fruit – think tomato, dried dates, pineapple and mango leather – finds its way into a Chaatni. Then, there’s the one made using raw papaya, called Plastic Chaatni because it resembles shiny plastic in appearance. The recipe I share with you today is for AnarosherChaatni, pineapple chutney Bengali-style.
We stayed at a hotel in the New Market area of Calcutta, on a holiday there, a few years ago. It was there that we encountered Chaatni for the first-ever time, and whole-heartedly fell in love with. My interest in Bengali cuisine piqued, I would ask the hotel staff about this dish and that. They were kind enough to enlighten me, and even teach me how to make this Anarosher Chaatni and the gorgeous Bengali BhogerKhichuri.
I recently recreated this Anarosher Chaatni based on recollections of passionate foodie conversations with those hotel staff of a few years past. It was a huge hit, with everyone at home loving it to bits. It was licked clean within minutes – I kid you not! I served it alongside rotis and cabbage sabzi, and it made for a wonderful accompaniment. Spiced with panch phoron, this pineapple chutney, Bengali style, jazzed up our meal like no one’s business!
This chutney is such a simple affair, but an absolute treat to the senses! I have made it with minimal jaggery (rather than sugar) and oil. It is entirely plant-based, vegan and gluten-free by its very nature. Come to think of it, this low-oil Anarosher Chaatni would make for a relatively healthy vegan dessert treat as well!
Let us now check out the recipe for this Pineapple Chutney, Bengali Style, shall we?
Ingredients (makes 1 cup):
1 heaped cup of chopped ripe pineapple, thorns removed
2 teaspoons oil
1 teaspoon panch phoron or Bengali five-spice mix
2 small bay leaves
2 dried red chillies
1 tablespoon raisins
A pinch of salt
1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
2 tablespoons jaggery powder or to taste
A dash of red chilli powder or to taste
1 teaspoon roasted cumin powder
1. Take the chopped pineapple in a large, wide vessel. Add in a little water. Place the vessel in a pressure cooker and cook for 3 whistles on high flame. Switch off gas and allow the pressure to come down naturally.
2. Allow the cooked pineapple to cool down fully. Then, grind it coarsely in a mixer, along with the water it was cooked in.
3. Heat the oil in a pan. Add in the panch phoron, dried red chillies and bay leaves. Let the ingredients stay in for a couple of seconds.
4. To the pan, add the coarse pineapple puree. Add salt, red chilli powder, turmeric powder, raisins and jaggery powder. Mix well.
5. Turn the flame down to medium. Cook the mixture on medium flame till the chutney thickens slightly, 3-4 minutes. Switch off gas when it is still quite runny, for it thickens further on cooling. Now, mix in the roasted cumin powder.
6. Allow the chutney to cool down fully before transferring it to a clean, dry, air-tight box. Store refrigerated.
1. Panch phoron is a Bengali-style mix of five spices – cumin, mustard, fennel, fenugreek and nigella seeds. You can make your own panch phoron or buy a ready-to-use packet – it is commonly available in most departmental stores. I use a store-bought version that I am quite happy with.
2. A lot of Bengali families use sugar in their chaatni. I have used jaggery here, instead, to make the dish healthier.
3. Adjust the quantity of sugar/jaggery depending upon how sweet the pineapple is.
4. Adjust the quantity of red chilli powder, salt and other spices as per personal taste preferences.
5. For best results, use a ripe, juicy, sweet pineapple that is not overly sour. Make sure all thorns are removed before using the pineapple in the Anarosher Chaatni.
6. I have coarsely pulsed the cooked pineapple here, so I got a mix of puree and pieces of the fruit. This lent a very interesting texture to the chaatni. You could keep the pineapple pieces whole or make a fine puree, as you please.
7. Make sure the pineapple is cooked fully, before using it in making the chaatni.
8. Switch off the gas when the Anarosher Chaatni is still quite runny. It is supposed to be runny, and thickens a bit on cooling as well.
9. I have used refined oil to make the Anarosher Chaatni, as opposed to the pungent mustard oil that is typically used in most Bengali cooking.
This post is for the Foodie Monday Blog Hop, a Facebook group that I am part of. Every Monday, a bunch of us food bloggers present dishes based on a pre-determined theme.
The theme this week is #BengaliFoodFest, wherein we are cooking dishes from the vast Bengali cuisine. The theme was suggested by Sujata Roy, who writes at Batter Up With Sujata.
The moment summer sets in, most of us begin to dream of mangoes. The love of mangoes is what gets most Indians through the intense heat of summer. And who can blame us? Eating a mango is an unparalleled experience – be it the sweet and juicy, yellow-orange flesh of the ripe fruit or the lip-puckeringly sour raw mango. Using raw and ripe mangoes in various culinary confections is de rigueur in India in the months of summer. That’s what the Aamlicious festival at Rajdhani, Bangalore, is all about – the play of mangoes in various forms, dishes, textures, ingredients and flavours.
Aamlicious is a hugely anticipated affair at Rajdhani every year, and why not? The kitchen team comes up with a huge variety of dishes made with the mango, the ‘king of fruits’, each one surpassing the other. I had the pleasure of experiencing the Aamlicious feast at Rajdhani’s Indiranagar outlet a few days back, along with a few other foodies from the city, and ended up utterly awed by all of it.
There is no better way to describe the mango-laden thali we were served, other than calling it ‘a veritable feast’. The Rajdhani team has come up with an astounding array of over 30 dishes with mango, mostly from the states of Gujarat and Rajasthan. Aam Ki Launji, Kairi Ka Panna, Aam Palak Patta Chaat, Raw Mango Muthia, Kairi Samose Ki Sabzi, Mango Pulao, KesarAam Thandai, Aam Jalebi, Aam Ras and Aam Basundi are just some examples of the stuff that is on offer. There’s a mind-boggling variety of mango-based appetisers, curries, daal, kadhi, drinks and desserts – what’s to not love?
Mr. Sugata Sengupta, Corporate Chef – Rajdhani, spoke to us food bloggers about the sheer hard work that has gone into creating the thali for the Aamlicious festival this season. This feast has been designed after over a month of research, trials and testing, and the hard work surely shows!
I loved most of the ‘aam‘ creations on offer at Aamlicious, but I will share my top picks here.
Among the drinks, the Kesar Aam Thandai (a delicious mango twist added to the regular thandai) and Kairi Panna (a traditional Indian-spiced raw mango cooler) were brilliantly done. From the appetisers, the Kaccha Aam Na Muthiya (Gujarati steamed wheat-flour dumplings made with raw mango) tantalized my taste buds.
The Aam Ras (ripe mango pureed with milk and sugar) was delectable too, bringing back fond memories of hot summer afternoons spent lunching on it with pooris, back in Ahmedabad. The utterly delectable Kairi Samose Ki Sabzi (raw mango samosas cooked in a spicy-tangy gravy, based on a traditional Rajasthani recipe) was something very new to me. I also adored the Aam Ki Launji and Ker Sangri Amboliya too, both Rajasthani dishes made using raw mangoes.
Both the mango-special desserts served to us bowled me over. Mango Jalebi Rabdi (jalebi stuffed with ripe mango and served with creamy rabdi) and Gulkand Paan Malpua Mango Rabdi (malpua made with ripe mango, served with rose jam and pureed betel leaves on top) were extremely well-done, supremely decadent and lip-smackingly delicious.
This is one festival you don’t want to miss. Do check it out – it’s on till May 31 at all Rajdhani outlets in Bangalore! Please do note that the dishes are served on a rotational basis, so it is best to call them and check in case you are interested in a particular dish.
Any destination we head to, the husband and I definitely make it a point to visit the local bazaars. A stop (or two, or three!) at the local markets is a great way of getting exposed to the culture and traditions of the place, at the very root level. And, of course, it teaches you a whole lot about the food of that region – the ingredients that the locals use, the ways in which they cook, their indigenous foods, et al. Thailand was no exception. That was how, one bright and sunny day during our recent holiday in Thailand, the two of us headed to Pattaya Floating Market, with the bub in tow. And, hey, this is a floating market – a market actually on water – and how do we not check out that?!
Internet-shaped impressions of the Pattaya Floating Market
The little reading I did on the Internet before we headed out to Thailand told me that if I was charmed by the idea of floating markets, the ones in Bangkok are what I should be visiting. All of Thailand used to commute via waterways in the olden times, trading in markets included. While transport in Thailand is presently largely by road, the waterways still exist, as do the floating markets. Bangkok has several of these floating markets, many of them as major tourist attractions, while a couple still operate as hard-core trading centres. Most Internetizens suggested visiting the Damnoen Saduak and Amphawa floating markets in Bangkok, and against going to the one in Pattaya. According to them, the Pattaya floating market is pure tourist trap, messy and filthy, a hotbed for scams of various types.
As luck would have it, we never got a chance to visit any of Bangkok’s famed floating markets on our holiday. It just never happened! This left us hugely disappointed and, tourist trap or not, we decided to head to the Pattaya floating market, to get a feel of the place if nothing else. And you know what? We weren’t disappointed one bit. Agreed, the market is chaotic, there are some tacky things around, and that there are better ways to learn about Thai culture and heritage – but, we loved the Pattaya Floating Market!
Pattaya Floating Market left us with a vast range of emotions – happy, awe-struck, sad, angry, overwhelmed, all at the same time. Overall, though, it left us feeling enriched for having visited. We are glad we chose to visit the market, in spite of there being conflicting information about the place on the Internet. We are glad for the opportunity it gave us to get a wee bit closer to Thai culture and heritage, food and traditions.
Postcards from the Pattaya Floating Market
Let me tell you about the experiences that stood out most prominently for us, at the Pattaya Floating Market.
Food, food and more food
One of the things that strike you as you walk around the Pattaya Floating Market is the humongous amount of food that is on offer. Food being cooked and sold on boats, food stalls lining the water, fresh fruit, roasted chestnuts and sweet treats – there’s food, literally, everywhere!
Fried octopus, various kinds of grilled fish, whole frozen mangoes, various traditional Thai desserts, palm fruit juice, snake fruit and durian, noodle hotpots, the most beautifully presented milkshakes and ice creams are some examples of the food we came across here. Some of the eatables here didn’t look very hygienically prepared, while some others were just fine – take your pick carefully if you decide to eat here. There wasn’t much on offer for vegetarians, though, apart from the milkshakes, ice creams and desserts.
Dirty waters, but charming nonetheless
Charming as the Pattaya Floating Market is, one can’t help noticing that the waters on which it stands are far from clean. The waters are filthy and murky and, as we walked around, we kept wishing this part had been better maintained.
We chose to focus instead on the prettier sights the market had to offer, instead – the rows and rows of shops, some with rather interesting merchandise on sale, the big bus-like boats that ran on the water ferrying people around, the Thai Cultural Village tucked away within the market that offered us a glimpse into the real Thailand, a huge Thai water buffalo making the rounds of the market and posing for photographs, the ongoing dance and music shows, and artists at work busy making glow-in-the-dark paintings that you find all over Thailand.
The tall, tall, tall drag queens
Drag queens are everywhere in Thailand, and the Pattaya Floating Market is no exception. Standing on tall, tall, tall stilts, they welcome you at the entrance. They are dressed so gorgeously you can’t take your eyes off them! They are all smiles, posing candidly for cameras from across the globe.
My heart hurt for them, these drag queens. Were they being forced to dress up and pose for pictures, thanks to poverty? Was the smile plastered on their faces just for the sake of tourists? Just how happy were they on the inside? Well, at least, they were living in a country that doesn’t make a big deal of it, that accepts people as they come.
Some interesting souvenirs
Most of the stuff up for sale at the Pattaya Floating Market is shiny and pretty, sure to catch your eyes. Crazy shoes and glamorous earrings, funky purses and dresses, Thai elephant statues and paper umbrellas, cute dolls and keychains are some of the stuff that is on offer – the same things you would come across anywhere else in Thailand too.
We didn’t really shop here, thanks to the astronomical prices for stuff we were being quoted at every stall. All we bought were some little cute souvenirs to get back home with us, which we felt were reasonably priced.
Great photo ops
Touristy, commercial and a bit filthy as the Pattaya Floating Market was, we found it fascinating nonetheless. We were charmed by this and that, and ended up walking around the market for hours on end. We took countless pictures – I think we actually went a bit crazy here taking photographs. Who can resist, considering the innumerable gorgeous photo ops available here?
Every single lane you turn into is pretty, in a quaint sort of way. You would inevitably want to capture all of that in frames! If you love photography, the floating market is definitely not something that you should miss, I say.
The wonderful Thai Cultural Village
A little makeshift village in the midst of the Pattaya Floating Market, the Thai Cultural Village offers a peak into real life in the country. There are live stations where you learn about the various types of dried food stuff available in Thailand, silk cultivation in the country, music and dance forms and, of course, Thai massage. For a first-time visitor to Thailand, this place can offer invaluable learning about the country under a single roof. Yes, quite touristy, but quite informative too if you look at it the right way.
All visitors to the Thai Cultural Village are treated to a little free-of-charge session of Thai massage. A hot cloth pouch filled with ancient Thai medicinal herbs is used, quite a common form of massage in the country. We found the massage quite relaxing and rejuvenating after our long, tiring walk around the market.
The plight of the long-necked Karen
The Karenni (also called the Karen or the Red Karen) are an ethnic minority tribe from Myanmar (Burma). They have a distinct dressing style of their own, including the wearing of several thin brass rings around their necks to make them appear long. For this reason, they are also called the Long-Necked Karen. Several hundreds of these Long-Necked Karen fled to neighbouring Thailand over the years, thanks to political unrest in their own country. As most of these Karen were illegal immigrants in Thailand, they are not official Thai citizens and opportunities for them stay limited. The Thai government has bestowed a couple of villages to the Karen (maybe considering the huge potential of these villages to become tourist attractions?), to make their own, to reside in and earn their living. These habitats of the Karen draw tourists by the horde – many interested in photographing the long-necked women and/or buying the various handicrafts that they make.
The Karen villages are quite on the outskirts of Thailand and not very easy to access – at least not with the bub in tow – so we dropped the idea of visiting them. Personally, I’m quite conflicted about wanting to visit the Karen habitats and not wanting to. We were, however, happy to note that there were stalls by a couple of the Karen in Pattaya Floating Market’s Thai Cultural Village. We dropped by, and were thrilled to interact with them (a task that was not at all easy considering their extremely limited knowledge of English). It surely felt like we had stepped into a documentary by National Geographic! They happily posed for pictures for us, too.
Everything was going fine till we came across a little wooden enclosure, not unlike a pen in a zoo. A lone Karen child was walking around, 4 or 5 years of age, calling out to passing tourists and smiling at them. Many got out their cameras to take pictures. ‘Burmese refugee child!’, our guide cried out, excitedly. At that precise moment, my heart shattered into a million pieces and I lost all interest in the place or taking any more pictures.
Too much to take in
Like many indigenous markets around the world, the Pattaya Floating Market too is a bit too much to take in in a single visit. It gets overwhelming after a while – the crowds, the touristy-ness of it, the scale of the market. We kind of zoned out after some time, a plight brought about also by the fact that it was a supremely hot day and our little daughter was getting crankier by the minute. Thankfully, there are benches laid out here and there, and we took short breaks in the midst of checking out the market, which really helped refresh us. Please do bear this in mind when you decide to visit, too. I don’t think we managed to do justice to the market, in the few hours we were there. We probably need a few more visits, a more leisurely frame of mind, and more congenial weather to do so.
Thankfully, our drive to and from the floating market, our entry tickets and boat ride had all been arranged for beforehand by our hotel – I don’t know what we would have done if this hadn’t gone as smoothly as it did. I had read a number of stories on the Internet of tourists getting scammed here and being charged an exorbitant entrance fee, and was super scared! If you plan to visit the Pattaya Floating Market, I would suggest you do so via the tourism desk at your hotel too.
I hope you enjoyed this virtual journey through the Pattaya Floating Market, and that this post offered you helpful tips to plan your visit here too! Do let me know, in your comments!