Karuppu Mocchai Sundal| Purple Hyacinth Bean Stir-Fry, South Indian Style

Navratri and sundal are synonymous with each other, in the south of India. The typical sundal is made using legumes like black chana, moong beans, hyacinth beans, dry green peas, black-eyed peas or kabuli chana, tempered simply with mustard and red or green chillies, with a good amount of coconut added in. Some families also add in a sundal podi – made using dry red chillies, chana dal, urad dal and the like. The sundal recipe I present to you today – Karuppu Mocchai Sundal – is made using dried purple hyacinth beans (yes, such a thing does exist!). I did not have sundal podi ready, so I took my mom’s advice and flavoured this with home-made dosa milagai podi aka gunpowder. I’m so glad I did, for the end result was beautiful!

That’s how them dried purple hyacinth beans look like!

Each time I go to my Mama‘s place in Madras, I sneak in a visit to the Pazhamudir Cholai in Nanganallur. For the uninitiated, Pazhamudir Cholai – literally ‘orchard of abundant fruits and vegetables’ in Tamil – is the name by which large vegetable shops are referred to in Tamilnadu. Most of these shops stock flowers, grains and pulses, various other items of household use, chocolates, ice creams and fresh fruit juices, apart from a vast variety of fruits, leafy greens and veggies. I adore the Pazhamudir Cholai in the Nanganallur area – situated very conveniently right next to a Murugan Idli Shop which serves some seriously delicious food. The shop is a treasure trove of unique food products, some indigenous to Tamilnadu, which aren’t easy to come across elsewhere. The food blogger in me is overjoyed to see things like baby bitter gourds, the longest of snake gourds, purple hyacinth beans, fresh black nightshade berries, moringa flowers, and greens like Maderaspatana, Vallarai and Pirandai. I picked up a pack of dried purple hyacinth beans (‘karuppu mocchai‘ in Tamil) here on my last visit, a novelty to me. Some of these beans went into the making of this Karuppu Mocchai Sundal, a delicious prasadam that all of us enjoyed heartily.

Hyacinth beans – also called lablab, lima beans, field beans, avarai (Tamil) or mocchai (Tamil) – usually have green pods, which bear green-coloured seeds (yellowish when dried). However, there is also a purple version of these beans available – the fresh pods are a pretty purple in colour, and they bear deep purple seeds. The blackish-purple seeds can be dried too, in which case they need overnight soaking before cooking. The presence of anthocyanins is what gives these beans their purple colour, similar to black rice, purple corn, purple cabbage and cauliflower, blackberries and blueberries. The high-protein beans lose their purple colour upon cooking, though, but they do possess a certain characteristic scent which might not be agreeable to everyone. The dosa milagai podi I used in the Karuppu Mocchai Sundal helped mask the smell of these beans greatly. The sundal was absolutely flavourful and very lovely!

Now, without further ado, let’s check out the proceedure to make the Karuppu Mocchai Sundal.

Ingredients (serves 5-6):

  1. 1 cup dried purple hyacinth beans or karuppu mocchai
  2. 1/2 tablespoon oil
  3. 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  4. 2 pinches of asafoetida
  5. 3-4 dry red chillies
  6. 2 sprigs of fresh curry leaves
  7. Salt to taste
  8. 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
  9. About 3 tablespoons dosa milagai podi or as needed
  10. 1 tablespoon jaggery powder or as needed
  11. Red chilli powder to taste
  12. 1/3 cup fresh grated coconut or to taste
  13. A dash of lemon
  14. 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh coriander

Method:

1. Soak the dried purple hyacinth beans for 8-10 hours or overnight, in enough fresh water to cover them completely.

2. When the beans are done soaking, drain out all the water from them and discard. Transfer the drained beans to a wide vessel, and add in enough fresh water to cover the beans completely.

3. Place the vessel in a pressure cooker. Pressure cook the beans for 4-5 whistles or till they are well cooked. They shouldn’t get overly mushy. Let the pressure release naturally.

4. Drain out all the water from the cooked beans, once the pressure has gone down completely. Reserve the water for future use.

5. Heat the oil in a pan. Add mustard, and allow it to pop. Add in the dried red chillies, asafoetida and curry leaves. Let the ingredients stay in for a couple of seconds.

6. Add the cooked and drained hyacinth beans to the pan, along with salt, red chilli powder, jaggery powder and turmeric powder. Mix well.

7. Cook on medium flame till all the water from the beans dries up and all the ingredients are well combined together, 3-4 minutes.

8. Add the dosa milagai podi and grated fresh coconut. Mix well. Cook on medium flame for a minute more. Switch off gas.

9. Add in lemon juice and finely chopped coriander. Mix well. Your Karuppu Mocchai Sundal is ready – serve it warm or at room temperature.

Notes:

1. Use fresh, soft water to soak the hyacinth beans.

2. Make sure the beans are well cooked but not overly mushy, before proceeding to make the sundal.

3. Coconut oil or gingelly oil (nalla ennai) works best in the making of this sundal.

4. If you don’t have dried purple hyacinth beans, you can use the regular dried yellow ones instead. Follow the above proceedure for the same, too.

5. Adjust the quantity of coconut you use, depending upon personal taste preferences.

6. I have used home-made dosa milagai podi to flavour this sundal. Since the podi is quite mildly spiced and sweet, I have added some red chilli powder and jaggery powder to the sundal. Adjust the quantity of dosa milagai podi you use, depending upon personal taste preferences.

7. If you have sundal podi ready, you may use it in the above recipe, instead of the dosa milagai podi.

8. The water used to cook the beans in is rich in nutrients. Do not discard it. This water can be used to make rasam, soups and gravy-based dishes.

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

Advertisements

Momo Achar| Peanut Chutney For Momos

The husband was in Sikkim earlier this year on an official get-together, and he told me endless stories about the place on his return. He loved the Sikkimese momos especially, the many varieties that are available. I was intrigued by his descriptions of the yellow chutney served alongside momos by the streetside in Sikkim, Momo Achaar in local parlance. In Bangalore, we only get a spicy red chutney with momos, so this was new and interesting.

So, this yellow Momo Achaar was what I decided to make when Sikkimese cuisine was chosen as the theme for the Shhhh Cooking Secretly Challenge this month. The Sikkimese follow a mostly non-vegetarian diet, with simple food made using minimal ingredients. That said, the food is hearty and delicious, several locally grown spices, herbs, greens and vegetables featuring in the dishes.

Coming back to the Momo Achaar, I made it using this recipe from Healthy Recipe Home as the base, with a few little changes here and there. Peanuts are the major ingredient in this chutney, which tastes absolutely delightful. I kept it mildly spicy with a hint of sourness, and it went beautifully with not just the momos I prepared, but also with rotis, parathas, dosas and idlis. You have to try this out, if you haven’t already! The husband loved it to bits and said it tasted exactly like the chutney he had had in Sikkim, I’m happy to report.

Luckily, the two secret ingredients my partner Aruna gave me for the Shhhh Cooking Secretly Challenge – garlic and peanuts – were just right for me to make this chutney. On that note, you must check out Aruna’s blog, Vasu’s Veg Kitchen, a treasure trove of well-explained recipes from around the globe. Look at the beautiful dish that Aruna made using the two secret ingredients I assigned her!

Now, let me take you through the way I prepared the Momo Achaar. I’m sharing this recipe with Fiesta Friday #292. The co-host this week is Ai @ Ai Made It For You.

Ingredients (makes about 2 cups):

  1. 1/3 cup sesame seeds
  2. 1 cup peanuts
  3. 1/2 tablespoon oil
  4. 2 dry red chillies
  5. A 1-inch piece of ginger
  6. A small onion
  7. 5-6 garlic cloves
  8. 6 medium-sized tomatoes
  9. 2 green chillies
  10. Salt to taste
  11. 2 tablespoons chopped coriander
  12. 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  13. 1 teaspoon roasted cumin powder
  14. Juice of 2 lemons or to taste
  15. 1 tablespoon honey or to taste (optional)

Method:

1. Peel the ginger and chop roughly. Peel the garlic cloves. Peel off the skin of the onion and chop roughly. Chop the green chillies and tomato roughly, too. Keep aside.

2. Dry roast the peanuts and sesame seeds together, on medium flame, till they start turning brown and crunchy. Take care to ensure that they do not burn. Transfer to a plate. Keep aside.

3. In the same pan, add in the oil. Then, add the chopped ginger and onion, garlic cloves and the dry red chillies. Saute on medium flame till the onion starts to brown, 2-3 minutes.

4. Add the chopped tomatoes and green chillies to the pan too. Cook on medium flame till the tomatoes turn mushy, 2-3 minutes. Switch off gas and allow all the cooked ingredients to cool down fully.

5. When all the cooked ingredients have entirely cooled down, transfer to a mixer jar. Add in salt to taste, turmeric powder, roasted cumin powder, chopped coriander, lemon juice to taste and a little water. Grind everything together to a smooth paste.

6. Mix in honey to taste, if using.

7. Allow the chutney to cool down fully before transferring it to a clean, dry, air-tight container. Store refrigerated when not in use.

Notes:

1. I have used country (Nati) tomatoes here, for the beautiful flavour and tartness they impart. If these are not available, you may use the ‘farm’ variety of tomatoes.

2. I have used dry Bydagi red chillies here, for the lovely colour they give to the dish, without adding too much spiciness.

3. Adjust the quantity of dry red chillies and green chillies you use, depending upon how spicy you want the chutney to be. The above quantities yield a medium-spicy chutney.

4. Adjust the quantity of water you use, depending upon the consistency of the chutney you prefer.

5. Using the honey is purely optional.

6. White vinegar can be used in place of the lemon juice in this momo chutney. I have used lemon juice here.

7. This chutney stays well for up to a week when refrigerated and used hygienically.

8. Make sure all the cooked ingredients have completely cooled down, before grinding them.

9. I didn’t remove the skins from the peanuts before grinding.

10. You may reduce the quantity of peanuts you use, depending upon personal taste preferences.

11. Traditional Sikkimese recipes suggest the use of soyabeans, the local Timur peppers and green Dalle chillies in this Momo Chutney. Each of these ingredients adds a special flavour and fragrance to the chutney. I didn’t have any of these, so I have omitted the soyabeans and Timur completely and used ordinary green chillies in place of the Dalle.

Did you like this recipe? Please do tell me in your comments!

Weekend Getaway To Pearl Valley, Near Anekal

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

And we’ve arrived at Pearl Valley!

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

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

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

Look at that green, green valley!

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

Up to monkey business!

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

Down, down, down we went that steep flight of stairs!

One little girl had her first ‘trek’ experience amidst narrow trails!

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

Captured on camera en route

This temple had me charmed!

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

The little waterfall at Pearl Valley

Notes for travellers:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

********

I’m also sharing this recipe with Fiesta Friday #290. The co-host this week is Mollie @ Frugal Hausfrau.

Thotada Mane: A Food Stop You Must Make In Srirangapatna

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

The entrance to Thotada Mane

Just how charming is that?!

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

The pretty dining area at Thotada Mane

The wishing well on the premises!

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

Cutesy!

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

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

One of the many trees on the Thotada Mane premises

Rustic wooden seating at Thotada Mane

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

Roti Meal at Thotada Mane

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

Cheesy Spicy Sweet Masala Papad

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

Left: Corn Boats, Right: Cutlet Pizza

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

Left: Curry Leaves Bath, Right: Curd Rice

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

Part of Guru Dutt’s lovely home

Ain’t it pretty?!

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

The car-tyre washbasin

That see-saw!

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

The toilets

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

Table decor!

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

***********

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

Bun Halwa| Easy Bread Halwa Without Milk

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! šŸ™‚

Let’s now check out the recipe for Bun Halwa aka Easy Bread Halwa.

Ingredients (serves 2):

  1. 2 medium-sized buns
  2. About 4 tablespoons ghee
  3. 1/2 cup sugar
  4. 1 cup water
  5. 1 tablespoon raisins
  6. 6-7 cashewnuts
  7. 6-7 almonds
  8. 2 generous pinches of cardamom powder
  9. 4-5 glace cherries for decoration (optional)

Method:

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).

Notes:

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’m linking this recipe to Fiesta Friday #286, co-hosted this week are Mollie @ Frugal Hausfrau and Laurena @ Life Diet Health.

Hilton Turns 100, Celebrates With A Big Bash

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

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

fb_img_1559356476309-01712636563.jpeg
The in-house restaurant at DoubleTree Suites By Hilton, Sarjapur – Asia Alive – beautifully decked up for the birthday bash

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

img_20190601_08310973116127.jpg
Some of the dishes from the extensive brunch buffet at Asia Alive

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

img_20190601_0828271368854855.jpg
Scenes from the dessert counter at the 100th birthday-special brunch buffet by Asia Alive

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

img_20190601_082906558093757.jpg
Left: DoubleTree’s famed chocolate chip cookies, straight out of the oven; Top right and bottom right: The making of the said cookies

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

fb_img_1559222738961-011376272882.jpeg
The Hilton team, addressing the bloggers at the birthday bash. From left to right: Ms. Megha Garg, Assistant Manager – Marketing & Communication; Mr. Subhabrata Roy; Mr. Bhojraj Sharma; Mr. Tanmoy Majumder

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

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

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

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

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

******************

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

 

 

Oki All Set To Tantalise Tastebuds With Its New Menu

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

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

fb_img_1557820657344-0141624453.jpeg
The simple but chic decor of Oki

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

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

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

fb_img_15576740636521925097119.jpg
Flatbread with 5 Mushrooms, Pesto Cream & Jalapeno-Olive Salsa

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Limited parking is available.

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

Cost for two: Approximately Rs. 1500

****************

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

Sattu Ka Ghol| Savoury Sattu Drink

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 Ghol on 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):

  1. 3 heaped tablespoons sattu
  2. 2 cups of chilled water or as required
  3. Black salt to taste
  4. 1 teaspoon black pepper powder or as per taste
  5. 1 teaspoon roasted cumin powder or as per taste
  6. Juice of 1 lemon or to taste
  7. 2 tablespoons very finely chopped onion (optional)
  8. 1 tablespoon very finely chopped fresh coriander

Method:

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.

Notes:

  1. I have used store-bought sattu here, but you can make your own at home if you so prefer.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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. šŸ™‚
  5. 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.
  6. I have used home-made black pepper powder and roasted cumin powder here.
  7. Finely chopped fresh mint leaves can be added to the drink too. I haven’t.
  8. 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.
  9. Make sure you use chilled water to make the drink. I prefer using water naturally chilled in an earthen pot over refrigerated water.
  10. 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.

Also, do check out the recipes that the other members of Food Bloggers Recipe Swap have come up with: Paniyaram by Mireille| Raw Banana Fry by Nayna| Veg Mayo Sandwich by Pavani| Mango Burfi by Lathiya| Oats Dosa by Usha| Pineapple Sorbet by Narmadha| Appam by Shalini| Poha Chivda by Sasmita| Turkish Semolina Pudding by Sandhya| Imli Ka Amlana by Jayashree

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

Experience Flavours From The Streets Of India, Now At Bombay Brasserie

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!

fb_img_15563693670591649988885.jpg
Street Food Festival, now on at Bombay Brasserie, Indiranagar

Ambience

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.

fb_img_15563693540791362396168.jpg
Check out those swings!

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.

Ain’t that pretty?!

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 left to right: Kairi Sherbet, Kutchi Beer and Cochin Kulukki Sherbet, at Bombay Brasserie

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 aam golgappas. 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.

Top Left: Aam Puri Chaat; Top Right: Crispy Suji Bites; Bottom Right: 1960 ‘Atho‘ Salad; Bottom Left: A close-up of the Aam Puri Chaat

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!

Top: Mattar Stuffed Kulcha & Aloo Rassa; Bottom: Tarkari Masaledar

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!

img_20190503_1512072143594220.jpg
Left: Juhu Beach Gola; Right: Bombay Falooda

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.

Valet parking is available.

Cost for two: Rs. 2000-2500

*************

I’m sharing this post with Fiesta Friday #275. The co-hosts this week are Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook and Laurena @ Life Diet Health.

Anarosher Chaatni| Pineapple Chutney, Bengali Style

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 Anarosher Chaatni, 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 Bhoger Khichuri.

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. 1 heaped cup of chopped ripe pineapple, thorns removed
  2. 2 teaspoons oil
  3. 1 teaspoon panch phoron or Bengali five-spice mix
  4. 2 small bay leaves
  5. 2 dried red chillies
  6. 1 tablespoon raisins
  7. A pinch of salt
  8. 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
  9. 2 tablespoons jaggery powder or to taste
  10. A dash of red chilli powder or to taste
  11. 1 teaspoon roasted cumin powder

Method:

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.

Notes:

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.

******************

Foodie Monday Blog Hop

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.

I’m also sharing this recipe with Fiesta Friday #273. The co-host this week is Mollie @ The Frugal Hausfrau.