Monday, October 20, 2008

Russell Peters, the game at Tavern, and a burger

Russell Peters came to Bangalore for the second time in 3 years (he came here last in 2006), and as usual, there was a mad scramble for the tickets, but the real mad scramble was at the venue, which was crammed with cars of all shapes, sizes and makes, all hoping to get one of the limited parking slots. And again, as usual, some of us Indians who love being so Indian, turned up late for the show (no surprise there!). As much as I'm tempted to type out a few of the new jokes Russell belted out, I won't, so let's not push this thing any further.

After the show, we headed towards Tavern at the Inn (in Museum Inn) to catch the Manchester United - West Bromwich Albion game. Oh, I forgot, I was with my friends SeniorAnalyst (my classmate in school from class 1 to 12, with whom I've played several games of cricket in the school team and wear our house colours in school), and another school friend CrazyHairDude, who, well, is lucky coz he's got curly hair and girls find that cute! Well, in any case, we got to Tavern and ordered our first round of drinks: Mojitos. I think the show, along with the prospect of catching the game at Tavern with booze and buddies must have gotten to my head (even before the booze), coz normally I don't drink if I have to drive back home (I think we've been through this before, I'm a goody boy). In any case, this was the first time I was having a Mojito and to be honest, rum kinda felt good in my system :) I think I have a spiritual connection with the spirits, no one spirit in particular coz I'm not the kind who discriminates.

After the Mojito, SeniorAnalyst ordered for some chilly chicken, and was just the kind of food that we required while the game started. Chicken and booze...I hope they have this in heaven, or else I wouldn't want to go there. I had a tequila after the Mojito, and with the introduction of some American corn and peanut masala, followed by SeniorAnalysts favourite- french fries and chilly sauce.

The first half turned out to be pretty boring, and by that I mean there were no goals scored, although Rooney netted a beauty only to be disallowed by the ref. A round of beers followed, and that's when the fun started to begin. I finished my first mug, and when I started on the second, a friend of SeniorAnalyst joined us.

I had to shift my cute bottoms to make room for him, and when I got up, the whole room spun around my eyes, and I realised that either I need more water in my system or more food, or I'd have a tough time driving home, especially since it was a Saturday night and the coppers would be out checking for drunken driving.

The draught beer served at Tavern is called Spitfire beer, after the famed world war 2 British fighter aircraft, and there's a sign board at Tavern that's a play on words, and reads "No Fokker can come close" or something like that, obviously referring to the Dutch Fokker plane, and any fu**er (I'm guessing).

A second mug and a lot of spoons of peanut masala later, along with a couple of glasses of water, I was on my way out, saying my byes to my pals. Walking past The Only Place, I suddenly had an urge to have a burger parceled to take back home, and so that's just what I did. I ordered a steak burger with cheese (for my lil experiment to find the best burgers in Bangalore). The drive back was uneventful, thankfully.

The steak was well done, and it was worth the 110 bucks I paid, but there wasn't anything 'special' about it, and so I don't know why this was particularly recommended to me by someone who had previously posted a comment for one of the articles. Maybe next time I'll go for the all American beef burger with cheese, and hopefully I'll have better results.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

And for dinner, it's chicken again...

Chicken with coriander and apple cider vinegar

My last meal which I'll be cooking for a while, coz my mom is back tomorrow morning. So dinner had to be grand, and there was a chicken leg and thigh joint that was just begging to be eaten. It had the skin on, which made it that much more scrumptious.

So I started with the marination process: made a paste of some coriander leaves with a green chilly and applied it on the chicken, and under the skin. A little salt and pepper for seasoning, and to get the marinade into the chicken, I made parallel cuts across the meat. I then mixed some oregano with butter and applied it under the skin. And the final touch, something I've fallen in love with, apple cider vinegar. A splash of it over the chicken and under the skin, and then sent the chicken into the fridge for a several hours (I kept it for 5 hours, but you could very easily take it out after around 2 hours).

Next, heat some oil on a pan and when hot, place the chicken on it and fry on each side for at least 6-8 minutes or until cooked. After that, I preheated the oven to 200 degrees Centigrade and cooked the chicken in it for around 25 minutes. The brownish liquid you see in the picture below is the butter from under the skin that had melted and mixed with the cider. It was heavenly, and I think I ought to give serious thought to opening a restaurant sometime, or have a side business where I could start by first charging my friends when I cook for them(obviously less than what the restaurants would charge), and see how it goes :)

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Another pasta sauce...

Another day without mom at home and so more experimenting. There's a chicken breast lying in the fridge, some mushrooms, and a bit of the squid from last night, along with some corriander. Perfect! Start by chopping a bunch of corriander (depending on how much sauce you want), add a chopped tomato and a chopped onion, along with one green chilly and some salt and pepper to taste. I also threw in the last few mushrooms that I had. Run this mixture in the mixie (blender/food processor) and keep the paste aside.

Mince the chicken breasts and season with salt and pepper and add to a bowl along with the squid. Add some apple cider vinegar to this and let it marinate for a few hours in the fridge. After a couple of hours, take the chicken out. Finely chop an onion, and fry the onions in a pan with some oil. Once the onions are caramalised, add the chicken to the pan and cook. Once the chicken is more or less cooked, add the sauce and bring the mixture to a boil and then simmer on a low heat for a while. The below picture was taken just before I added the coriander paste/sauce.

Mix with a bowl of penne and bon apetit.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Pasta and stuffed chicken breast

After Mr P & Mr VP left, which was around lunch time, I had to do something for lunch. I had bought a packet of pasta and some mushrooms the previous evening, which made me wonder why they chose to eat out rather than eat what I could have cooked. Well, their loss! I went and bought some prawn and squid, and a couple of chicken breasts and started my cooking.

After boiling the pasta and setting it aside, I began making the sauce. Chopped three tomatoes, half a chilly, half an onion, about 3-4 mushrooms, and a couple of flakes of garlic, some salt & pepper and tossed the lot into the mixie (blender/food processor). Once the paste was ready, I kept it aside and began to work on the chicken (left) and squid (right). I'm keeping the prawns for the weekend, so they're on ice - I know they say you shouldn't keep prawns for too long in the freezer, but I can't help it this time.

After cutting the squid into rings and seasoning with a little pepper and salt, I chopped the other half of the onion (first half went into the sauce), a few more mushrooms and a couple of flakes of garlic. Oil in pan, and start the frying. Once the onions become golden brown and the mushrooms become tender, add the chicken. I added the chicken and a half teaspoon of butter, coz cooking in butter makes whatever you're cooking soft and tender.

Once the chicken turns form pink to white, add the squid, and you'll notice almost immediately that it starts to curl.

Sauté the mixture around a lil more and then add the sauce.
Simmer the mixture over a low heat for a while and check if the chicken and squid are cooked. Once done, take it off the flame and add it to the cooked pasta. Add some cheese if you like, and tuck away.

I made a vegetarian version of the same, so instead of chicken and squid, I used just mushrooms. Satuéed them in some butter along with some finely chopped onions,

and then added the sauce and left it to simmer for a while before taking it off the burners.

Now for the stuffed chicken breasts. For dinner, I decided to have some stuffed chicken breasts with funny kind of apple sauce. Funny? Well, I just happened to come across a recipe on YouTube but didn't know how it would taste. Tasted pretty good actually.

I had made a sauce/stuffing with mushrooms and a small green chilly (cut them and add some salt and pepper for seasoning and run them through the mixie). Once that was done, I slit the chicken breast and made a pocket in the middle and stuffed it with the mushroom paste. After that, I seasoned the chicken with salt & pepper and applied a little ginger-garlic paste and left the chicken to marinate in the fridge for a few hours.

When I felt hungry, I put around 3 tablespoons of olive oil into a pan and heated it, and when the oil was hot, I added the chicken breast into it, to a nice sizzling sound.

after around 5 minutes on one side, flip it over to cook the other side.

Once the insides are also cooked, flip it over to cook evenly and voila! you're done.

For the sauce, I mixed some soya sauce, apple cider vinegar and some apple juice, and presto! it's done.

Omelette with mushrooms & tomatoes

So after the dinner at La Casa (previous post) and going to bed at 3 AM, I woke up at around 8:30, and after washing up, I realised that Mr P and VP were still asleep and I had to prepare breakfast for the sleeping uglies.

There was a loaf of bread, and four eggs. Apart from that there were a couple of tomatoes, onions and some mushrooms. Perfect! So I sliced the mushrooms, chopped the onions and tomatoes as finely as I could, beat the four eggs while adding salt and pepper and some flour. Once the eggs were beaten I poured in a couple of tablespoons of milk, a couple of teaspoons of sugar, and mixed the chopped onions, tomatoes and mushrooms.

After heating a little oil on a pan, pour the mixture onto the pan and wait for it to firm up. Unfortunately, my pan wasn't big enough for the 4 eggs I used, and so I couldn't flip the egg over, so what I did was finished the egg in the microwave oven so the top would become firm and not remain mushy and gooey.

4 eggs
2 teaspoons sugar
salt & pepper to taste
2 Tablespoons milk
1 chopped onion
1 or 2 chopped tomato(es)
4-5 sliced mushrooms

La Casa

My mom and brother have gone to Mangalore, and I'm all alone at home. So Wednesday night, Mr P and Mr VP came over to stay at my place. Mr VP was supposed to bring some movie DVDs, and both of 'em were supposed to tell me what they wanted to have for dinner, and if they wanted anything to drink, but as things turned out, Mr VP didn't bring the DVDs, and neither of 'em told me specifically what to buy. And to cap off a bad beginning, my computer wasn't turning on, so all we had was TV.

We decided to go out for dinner as the take-away paratha point outside the apartments where I live was closed. So La Casa it was. Mr VP hasn't been eating like he usually does because of a upset stomach. Since we reached the restaurant pretty late, at around 10 PM when we got there(for those wondering why this is late, Bangalore has a curfew of 11:30 PM for places that serve food) , we decided to order everything at one go. Mr P and I started off with soups: Mr P had a Mexican mixed pot,

which was very good, even though it tasted a little like sweet tomato soup, while I had a cream of mushroom soup,

which I thought needed a little more seasoning.

I ordered a burger, hoping that it would a sung lil thing, so I ordered something called a Casanova, which was a chicken burger with mushrooms and cheese on top.

What this has to do with the real Casanova, I don't know, but I can tell you my proclivity to attract women is still the same (dismal). Mr P ordered something called a vegetable hotpot with a portion of garlic bread.

It looked like some vegetable stew, and turns out that was exactly what it was. Mr VP ordered a pasta (macaroni) Bolognaise, and when the order came, Mr P and I knew for sure he wasn't going to finish his food (and we were right).

What was more surprising was that Mr P decided to order a second dish, and he ordered a cottage cheese steak, Indianised. By Indianised, the waiter told us the masalas used were Indian, and not like a traditional steak.

Whatever! It tasted, well, like paneer (cottage cheese) and whatever masala was used was pretty decent, so nothing to complain about.

We were taking our own time, and at about quarter to 11, we started getting hints from the staff that it was time we hurried up. Since we were seated in the first floor, and were the only ones left there, we noticed that a guy came there and started cleaning the place. Soon, the fans went off. Woah! Hello, we're still here. Oh what the heck, we finished off quickly, paid and left. So finally, we get back home, and after watching some more TV, we hit the sack.

Monday, October 6, 2008

The Egg Factory

Well, it was back to the Egg Factory for me and my brother on Saturday morning. Well, it was his first time here, and we decided to come here since we had to drop by his school to take a photograph of him in front of a statue which had the names of students from the school who participated in world war 2, for a project he was doing as a part of his curriculum.

My only worry that morning was that it would rain, because just as we left I noticed dark clouds and realised then (a little too late) that it had rained the previous night. I was in a Tee and shorts, while my brother was not in anything more helpful (A Tee and a pair of bermudas).

I ordered an orange juice for myself and my brother had a mango juice. Since I was in the mood to really tuck into something, I ordered a garden frittata which came with a large portion of garlic bread,

and also a herbed egg sub to complete my breakfast.

Since my brother was having a hard time deciding which sub to order, I kinda prodded him towards the piperade, which was something I had had during my previous visit (first visit) here.
Being a fussy eater that he is, it was quite a sight to watch him tuck into his sub and at the end of his meal acknowledge that he was happy with what he ate and was 'full'. After a good breakfast, I went home and slept until it was time for lunch (no wonder I've again started putting on weight).

Nachiyars & Mozaic

Mr P had gone to Hyderabad to attend the wedding of a colleague, so Mr VP and I had a perfect opportunity to visit Nachiyars in Ulsoor, which supposedly served some, well, weird food, like rabbit meat, quail meat, etc. Since Mr P is a vegetarian and wouldn't have much to graze on here, it seemed a perfect opportunity to for us to pig into the delights(?) this place had to offer.

This place isn't your quintessential restaurant where you go and expect to be treated with a certain level of regality. It's actually a quintessential hole-in-the-hole joint, complete with a narrow passage, creaky wooden tables and benches, banana leaves on the tables, etc. And once we settled in, Mr VP tells me he has a bad tummy. "Not exactly the best choice of restaurant in that case", I told him, and he grinned. What the heck, we were here, and it was time to get down to business.

Like I said, this wasn't a typical restaurant, and the waiter didn't quite understand the concept of starters and main course being brought to the table at different times, and so when we were going through the menu card, we decided to just order whatever we like, irrespective of whether it was a starter or main course. We ended up ordering a plate of mutton pepper fry (a little bit that I spooned onto my 'plate'),

a plate of prawn fry (on the left) with a dosa (in the background) for Mr VP,

a couple of plates quail fry [on the right in the pic above] (I've forgotten the local word used for it, something starting with K). The best part of the quail fry is that they give you an entire quail! That's right, what you see in the snap above to the right is an entire quail, divided into two portions: one part body and another part with the legs.

We also ordered a chicken kozumbhu,

and a chicken and crumbled paratha for me.

Since I wasn't quite sure about how 'safe' the food would be, I didn't want to risk having the water served here, so both Mr VP and I settled for bottled drinks.

After dinner, and a spicy one at that, I wanted ice cream or some kind of dessert to cool off, and we decided to head towards Taj Residency's coffee shop. On getting there, we realised that the coffee shop didn't have anything great (surprisingly), and so we were directed towards one of their restaurants, Café Mozaic. Tip: whenever headed to the restaurant of a 5 star hotel, don't forget that the food you plan to eat will be at 5 star rates.

Well, we went in, settled down, opened to menu and looked into the dessert section, and our eyes nearly popped out of their sockets (at least mine did) which was when it fully dawned on me, at almost 10 in the night where we were(dawned, night, get it?... never mind). But what the heck, there's always a first time for everything, and so we ordered what we wanted. I went for a bull's eye, which basically was chocolate truffle and chocolate something cake/pastry with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top and some fancy decoration that you see in the picture.

Mr VP had a choco trio, a chocolate triplicate with mousse in a pure chocolate cup, a brownie and chocolate ice cream.

I've eaten chocolate truffle before, and I've had some really good chocolate truffle before, but this one takes the cake :) It's the best chocolate truffle I've ever had and after eating it I didn't flinch even once when it came to paying for it (Rs 325 for each dessert). Yeah, it was a lot of money, but hey, I happened to step into a 5 star hotel, what could I expect. Expensive Sunday dinner, but luckily it didn't leave a bad taste in the mouth.

Nachiyars, Near Ulsoor lake, After Daily Bread, Ulsoor, Bangalore.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Foodlands, Mangalore

I'd been to Mangalore during the week, my parents' home town on the coast to attend the marriage of the son of a very close family friend, close enough that my cousins and I refer to him and his brother as cousins, and vice versa. The day we reached Mangalore, a couple of uncles and a cousin decided to have lunch out because we arrived at lunch time and hadn't given prior notice to my aunt with whom we were going to be staying that we were coming for lunch.

The closest place was Foodlands, on MG Road, just below the hill where my aunt stays (she lives on top of a hillock called Hat Hill, which is on top of another hillock called Lady Hill - hill on top of another hill giving it the look of a hat...confused? Never mind). My cousin and I were in the mood to eat food that our parents and uncles (who were with us) ate when they were growing up - good, old fashioned, traditional coastal food, and our uncles were more than happy to order that kind of food. And so, we ordered a plate of brown rice for each of us, and a seer fish curry to eat with along with the rice,

and a slice of masala fried seer fish for each of us.
The spiciness was perfect, and a dash of lemon juice squeezed over it completed a memorable dish.

The beauty of our traditional Mangalorean food is that it not only gives instant energy (required for those working the paddy fields or going out to sea), but the spices in the curry make you sweat which automatically cool your body in the hot and humid weather prevalent in the coastal areas. Plus, unpolished brown rice contains vitamins that are absent in white rice due to the polishing. So, woohoo!

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More than Parathas

A colleague and very close friend of mine Mr. SharjahBound, is going to be leaving India to join his father's business in Sharjah as an operations manager in the aluminum casting industry. He had recommended this place for quite a while now, and finally we decided to head out on Saturday, his last week in Bangalore and in India.

Going a la carte is probably the best way to experience the flavours of a restaurant, and that's what we did. Since Mr SharjahBound d been here before and was ranting and raving about it so much ever since, I just had to visit this place sometime soon. So Saturday night, off we went (also since it was his last week in India, this was kind of the last supper (dinner) without any betrayals :-) ) .

As we entered, the lighting and the decor looked very nice, and the menus were very creative indeed with their appearance. And although the lighting was a little dim for me to take photographs, I guess it went pretty well with the rest of the settings. The owner noticed that I had a camera and was clicking away at the menu cover, and walked up to me and politely told me that taking photographs of the menu wasn't allowed. I knew that, and told him that I wasn't planning to click snaps of the inside, but had just taken a picture of the menu's cover kept on the table for my blog and there was no mischief intended and he didn't make an issue out of it.

After a round of drinks (one for the road) of Bloody Mary and a Signature, we started off with the mutton soup, which although lacked even a fibre of goat meat, tasted and smelt great. We also ordered a mutton starter and ajwaini fish. The mutton tasted good, but I thought it was undercooked. Well cooked mutton should separate from the bones easily, and I had trouble tearing it off the bone, so even though it tasted good, I didn't quite like the fact that it wasn't cooked well enough. The fish was miles ahead in terms of taste and 'touch'. It was soft and flakey, like good fish is supposed to be.

For the main course, we ordered mutton keema parathas and a mutton side dish, which is by far the best mutton dish I've had in a long, long time. It was well seasoned, well flavoured, and the meat was tender. After that, we shared a kova stuffed paratha for dessert.

The service was good - efficient, warm, prompt, and helpful when it came to selecting dishes. Although me friend had told the owner that I blog about places I eat at, I didn't see any 'extra' attention being given to us - it was the same to the other guests too, so I give them full marks for that. Now for the bill. Hold your breath, and hold onto something. With the tip, the two of us raked up a bill of Rs. 2400 (Rs 2219 + tip, which we rounded off to 2400 ... yes, I'm old fashioned and believe that a tip of 10% or thereabouts is a sign of decency and maturity and so I don't act cheap when it comes to tipping at a place I thoroughly enjoyed eating at). Did we walk away regretting it - No. Did we walk away happy with what we ate (overall) - Yes. To me, that's all that matters!

More than Parathas, 610, 6th Block, 80 Feet Main Road, Koramangala, Bangalore. Phone: 41724630, 41724640, 41724650

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