Tuesday, July 7, 2009

BM Review: Clay Oven

My second review for Bangalore Mirror. It may seem a little rushed, but that's because it was - not one of my better written pieces. Click here to read the review, and since I couldn't take any pictures, the scanned version of what got published is here below.

Food:Most of the dishes tasted good, but didn't seem to be what they were. Calling a dish by one name, but serving something different (even though it tastes good) wouldn't suffice for an official review. However, if you just want food that tastes good, it's the right kind of place.
$$$: Not very expensive, for 6 adults and 4 kids around 2-3 years old, and all the dishes we had, the bill came to under 2400.
Service: Decent
Verdict: If in Indiranagar, and you wanna have north Indian food, you could head to this place. It's adjacent Cake Walk.

Clay Oven, next to Cake Walk, 100 Feet Road, Indiranagar, Bangalore. Phone: 25205393, 41611644

The original review, since I can't expect the website to host it forever, is here:

When you come across a restaurant bearing the name Clay Oven, the first thing you envision is something traditionally Indian — the usual thick and rich gravies, along with the myriad traditional breads, kebabs, and so on. And without any surprises, that’s precisely what Clay Oven dishes out. My guests for the evening were Neha Ahuja and her husband Reuben, both who grew up in Delhi, and their two- year-old twin sons — Aadit and Shikhar. The kids were quite a handful — in the usual, expected way (lest I come across as being insensitive toward parenting and kids in general) — with curiosity getting the better of them when it came to the cutlery, glasses and the new surroundings in general. A simple dal-chawal
was ordered for the little fellows, and the dal turned out to be probably the best dish (tied) we tasted during our dinner.

Although the ambience isn’t particularly ‘north Indian’, it was pleasant, and we started off with a lasooni jhinga — shrimps marinated in garlic paste, mutton sheek kebabs, hariyali fish tikkas, chicken malai kebab and paneer chatpata. Starting from the best, the malai kebab was unanimously voted numero uno along with the dal. Soft and succulent, the flavours were just right, and thankfully the chicken wasn’t overcooked. Lady Luck deserted us from here on. The mutton sheek kebab was just eh, whatever, while the shrimp, although not bad, had a slightly (and mysterious) tangy taste. The fish tikka pieces could have been a little smaller, and turned out to be a mixed bag — my guests weren’t too happy about it, which left me wondering if I was eating a different fish — because I liked it! The paneer was, again, flavoured well, but wasn’t anything to write home about.

For the main course, we settled for a multitude of traditional breads — rotis, kulchas, paranthas — along with a murg makhani, dal makhani, paneer birbali, rogan josh, murg siyalkoti, and Lahori aloo. Before I give the verdict on each, let me make one thing clear — none of the food items tasted bad, in fact some of them tasted good, but we just didn’t get the feeling that any of them was the real McCoy. To which Neha said, “...maybe they should have spent a little more time on the masala preparation...the colour of the dishes looks light as opposed to rich.” That was hitting the nail on the head. Take the case of the rogan josh. The mutton was cooked perfectly and seemed quite fresh. Reuben, hard-core Delhiite, rattled off the prime ingredients that are supposed to constitute a classic rogan josh, and said, “This tastes quite good, but this isn’t rogan josh!” Had the dish been called anything else, I think it would have scored quite high.

The dal makhani was good, but was a little dry, while the murg siyalkoti (chicken in a cashew paste), tasted good but left us wondering why something in a cashew paste didn’t look more ‘white’ in colour (elementary my dear Watson, not being racist here). The paneer birbali and Lahori aloo didn’t taste bad either, but since we didn’t have anything to compare them to, the authenticity can’t be commented upon. The dish that saddened us was murg makhani, which had an overdose of tomato puree and not enough cream (and/or butter). To modify Cuba Gooding Jr’s line from Jerry Maguire, “Show me the makhan!” A red-blooded Punjabi would have yelled murder, because this tasted more like murg tamatari. We also ordered a mutton biryani, which didn’t taste bad, but didn’t seem to have the ‘oomph’ in it, unlike any of the traditional styles of biryanis cooked in India, like Awadhi, Hyderabadi, or for that matter Malabari.

For desserts, we ordered gulab jamun and gajar ka halwa. While the gulab jamun was, well, sweet for one, Neha didn’t quite think it was up to the mark when it came to khova used — again, not the ‘real deal’, but sweet enough (thankfully). But the real downer came with the gajar ka halwa. It came garnished with cashew nuts on top…no issues with that, but maybe they used cashews from a packet of salted ones, I don’t know, but there were parts of the halwa that tasted salty as well. It may well be a one off case, but sadly we experienced it.

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