Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Deepavali cookout at home - 2

So the final day of Deepavali and the brother and I need to eat again, but this time, we decided not to have anything fancy (notice that although I do all the buying, cleaning, cutting, cooking, etc, I just said we...somethings not right, I think I'm not getting enough from this deal). So, good old white rice along with some chicken was the 'order' of the day (that's what my brother does...he orders, and I comply like a dud!).

I still had some coconut milk from the the experiment on day 1 and so decided to incorporate that into the dish. I made a marinade out of coriander, green chillies, and garlic, and marinated the chicken in it overnight (actually it was marinating for almost two days :) ). Oil into the pan, tossed in some more chopped garlic, cumin, and green chillies, fried it a bit, and then in went the chicken. After a few minutes, I added the coconut milk to the pan and cooked over a low flame until the chicken was nice and tender. I should have made a career out of this, although, coming to think of it, I'm not that old yet, so I guess there's still hope :)

The end product

Another angle

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Family cookout

So the second night of Deepavali saw the brother and I go to a cousin's place for a family get together. And in Bunt families (as with families of most communities in India), this involves food, and a lot of it. So here's a sample of just some of the things that were on display. The usual "kori-rotti" and "neer dosa" that most people associate Mangalorean cuisine with WAS NOT there, and I'll let y'all know that Mangalorean cuisine isn't just kori-rotti and neer dosa. There's a whole lot more, and although essentially rice-based, there are soooo many dishes that are made.

Chicken biryani

A flat, dry rice cake

Chicken stew


Chicken curry

Some kind of payasa

Another sweet stuffed with coconut & jaggery

The last dish, a sweet, is a little unique in it's prep method. The other 'shell' is made from rice. The rice is mashed into a paste and smeared on turmeric leaves. Once this is done, it's filled with grated coconut and jaggery and then it's folded in half and steamed. This is one of the several rice-based sweets we have, and although we had only a fraction of the dishes here, t'was still a superb night of fun, food and frolic.

Coming up, Deepavali cookout at home part 2.

Deepavali cookout at home - 1

Mom wasn't in town for Deepavali and it was time to flex my culinary muscles again, so here's what I did. I wanted to have rice, but not plain rice. So I decided to cook something, and a little differently - without a pressure cooker. So I quickly sauteed some onions, red capcicum and garlic in a wok and tossed in some rice and quickly stir-fried it for a couple of minutes.

I then seasoned the entire mixture and poured in coconut milk, and further seasoned it with some Thai seasoning that I had. Once I got the ration of rice : liquid right (I made the balance by adding water), I sliced in a couple of chillies and covered the wok with a large cover. I think it took about 10 minutes, but keep popping the cover off after 10 mins to check when it's done - you don't want this thing drying out on you.

After the rice was cooked, garnishing was done with a little chopped coriander. Now all I needed were some spicy prawns.

I don't quite know what to call this rice, but for now I'll just call it yummy. The chillies I added turned out to be duds - they weren't spicy at all, which in fact turned out to be a blessing because the rest of the flavours stood out, and the coconut milk just made it soooo freakin' yummylicious.

OK I'll call it Thai coconut-milk flavoured rice (sorry, imagination not working here).

Rice - 1 cup
Coconut milk - 2 200ml packets + water to make up the difference
Red capcicum - 1/2
Onion - 1 large
Garlic - 3 cloves, sliced
Thai seasoning - how much ever you want until it tastes right
Coriander - for garnishing
Salt & pepper for seasoning

So now for the prawns. I got back to sauteeing the rest of the onions, a little tomato, and some garlic.

To this, I added about 3/4 teaspoon of cumin, and then added some prawns that were marinating in chilli powder, lemon juice, ghee and some salt. Cook on a high flame for about 4 minutes or so or until they lose their transparency and become opaque, and voila...

...this is what you end up with. I couldn't have enough snaps taken of this :)

I won't call these the typical Mangalorean prawns, so we'll just say spicy prawns.

Prawns - 250 grams
Tomato - 1/2
Onion - 1/2
Garlic - 3 cloves
Chili powder - 1 teaspoon heaped
Lemon juice from half a lemon
Cumin - 1/2 - 3/4 teaspoon
Ghee - 1 teaspoon (for marinade), 1 tablespoon (for cooking)
Salt to taste

Marinate the prawns for at least an hour in the salt, lemon juice, chili powder, and ghee. Heat pan with ghee and cook onions, tomatoes, garlic and cumin, and add the prawns and cook until done.

Thus ended part 1 of the cookout. Day 2 saw us head to our cousins place where there was a family get together, which meant more food :)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Peppa Zzing

Before going on my long leave to attend a classmates wedding in Lucknow, I'd visited a new burger joint on Infantry road called Peppa Zzing. Now actually I'd visited the place with the intention of reviewing it, but there was some mix up at the BM office and eventually Manuscrypts also ended up going and reviewing the place a few days back, and his review seems to be the one that's going to appear. So here's my 2 cents on the place since it's not going to appear on print.

It's run by Mark Rego. For those of you unfamiliar with Mark, he's an MC, voiceover artist, and also the host of the famous 'booze & brains' event that used to be conducted at The Opus. Apparently, Mark was diagnosed with cancer a few years back, and the docs gave him only 6 months to live. He said bollocks, went into radiation therapy, and finally decided to open a restaurant (which was a dream of his). And so Peppa Zzing was born.

Essentially a burger joint, this place also serves hot dogs, wings, and a smattering of pastas. But I think it's the burgers you should be visiting for. Now since Thulp has set the bench mark for burgers in Bangalore, I'll have to compare Peppa Zzing with it.

I visited the restaurant with Kappelmeisterin and a couple of her (ya)hooligan friends. It was going to be burgers all the way. What I hadn't factored in was the whammy. Remember the Mother of all moos from Thulp? Well, this is it's twin. I wouldn't go all the way to say evil twin, because both were big and tasted great. And as usual, I was the sacrificial lamb who was offered to this monster called the whammy.

Apart from the fact that the patties had bread crumbs in them, I didn't find too many faults with any of them. The only bummer for all of us was the chicken wings. Good sized wings just smothered in sauce, hardly any spices or seasoning, so essentially we could taste only the sauce.

Close-up of one of the whammy burger

The whammy burger

Cheese burst burger

Chicken wings

The burgers come in chicken/lamb/beef. And according to Mark, the kitchen follows strict rules when it comes to using knives. The knives are all colour coded, and the knives from one section are not used for another section - a habit from his stint at The Oberoi and The Taj group of hotels. So I guess people who might be offended otherwise can also breathe a slight sigh of relief.

Kappelmeisterin and her pals aren't heavy eaters, something I learnt during the meal. Once burger and they seemed to be done! Hmppf, imagine that. I finished my whammy and then walking back towards the car, I was heard mooing like a cow all the way till Manipal center (where I''d parked). Truth be told, I continued mooing till the next day.

Food: Burgers are really good. Wish they didn't use bread crumbs though.
$$$: Decently priced
Service: Prompt
Verdict: If Thulp is too far, then this is your other alternative for good beef burgers.

Peppa Zzing, G18, Kedia Arcade, 92, Infantry Road, Bangalore. Phone: 41232843.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Elements Heritage

Deepavali night 1, mom out of town, bro out with his friends, so me out with mine - it's only fair right. There's this place called Elements Heritage on Mosque road I've been wanting to visit in a while, ever since VP told me about it. So on Friday night, after visiting P's house (his mom invited us), we bolted off to Elements for dinner.

Apart from the wonderful ambiance this place has, another unique aspect about Elements in Frazer Town is that the starters all come with a bread or a rice-based thingy to eat with. So the shorba we ordered came with iddiappam, while the paneer tikka and the mushroom dishes came with a naan-type bread.


Paneer tikka


For the mains, VP suggested I have the nalli nihari (something he'd tried the last time he was here) as it was really tender and tasty great. I had to take his word on this because normally he doesn't eat lamb/mutton because his gums swell up, and so he eats it only when it's really tender. Every main course dish comes with a piece of Indian bread, a portion of white rice and a portion of some kind of flavoured rice, along with a customary salad.

Nalli nihari

Another angle of the nalli nihari

P had the dal makhani, which turned out to be very good, while VP tried the Lucknowi khandvi, which turned out to be some kind of besan dish, where the gravy was amazing, but the actual 'khandvi' didn't work all that well for us.

Dal makhani

Lucknowi khandvi

For desserts, we had a shahi tukda and a zaffrani phirni, both of which turned out to be quite nice. The phirni gets special mention, since it didn't fell to heavy on our stomachs.

Shahi tukda (l), zaffrani phirni

Elements special chai (aka dancing tea)

Note to readers: do not have any milk based drink after a heavy dinner. You are liable to throw up ;)

Elements also has a buffet with a very large spread, but they don't seem to have enough options for vegetarians in it (3 items if I remember correctly), and since both VP and P were vegetarian on that day, I guess the buffet wasn't an option. But purely by the size of the spread, I think it's worth a shot. The menu and the cuisine seem to have been constructed and designed after not just Mughlai cuisine, but the cuisine of all Muslim rulers throughout India. That's the only explanation I could think of without asking the owners - how else would you explain iddiappams in a restaurant serving Mughlai food?

Food: Very good
$$$: Moderately expensive ~ Rs. 500 per head if you eat non vegetarian food
Service: Good
Verdict: Must visit if in the area

Elements Heritage, Mosque Road, Frazer Town, Bangalore.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Naga Kitchen

So the end of the last month, after NitWit left to the US, P, VP and I crashed at VP's for the night. In the morning, after a nice breakfast of appams and stew, we decided to have lunch at the Naga Kitchen. P being a vegetarian, there was precious little for him to eat, and since there was a vegetable soup, soup it was that we had. Simple, and nothing too different from what anyone could make at home with a minimalistic effort.

In terms of starters, again, I don't quite remember there being too many things vegetarian, so we decided to have the akhuni, which is a fermented soya bean chutney, something that's very common to Naga cuisine. Along with that, VP and I had the smoked chilli pork. Unlike regular pork, smoked pork is quite hard, and both VP and I soon realised this the hard way. Although I liked the overall taste (spicy as hell is a taste I'm getting used to), I think I concluded the same as VP - smoked pork ain't for me, not if it's this hard!

The akhuni is a fermented soyabean chutney and has a very pungent smell; pungent to the point where some people may wanna leave. It's not a 'bad' smell, but it is strong. Thankfully I could sit through it, and more importantly, thankfully VP didn't get up and leave. Here, the akhuni is served like a salsa - with tomatoes, onions (I think, don't remember), and chillies (not sure if this is the way it's served everywhere, anyone who knows can leave gyaan in comment section).

Veg soup

Smoked chilli pork


Have already eaten a late breakfast, we opted for a simple main course. Steamed rice, egg fried rice, and smoked pork curry. The rice were the usual fare, so nothing to write home about. The pork, however, was quite another story, although again we had asked for smoked pork and not fresh pork. Smoked pork on it's own has a unique taste, smoky (duh!), a little salty, and can be had as is. The waiter asked us if we wanted it less spicy or ..., to which I replied "Give it to us the way the people of Nagaland eat it." Well, OK, big mistake.

Remember Hans Blix? He's the German guy appointed by the UN to go to Iraq in search of weapons of mass destruction (WMDs). Well, we all know he didn't find any there, but he should have been looking for them inside a Naga home, or in a Naga kitchen, instead of in Iraq, because I tell you, the real weapons of mass destruction were in the pork curry. Mixing it with the rice and placing it into my mouth caused a series of explosions, almost like my tongue was being carpet-bombed by some heavy duty bomber. Holy crap, this thing was spicy as hell. I don't know if they were actually using the Naga jalokia chillies, but if they were, then I know why those things out to be outlawed! It had a nice tomato-based gravy, but was spicy as hell. I'm not used to this kind of spiciness, and a little later my tongue went numb. So much for that, but hey, I'm game to go there again, but wouldn't shoot my mouth off like I did this time.

Overall, I think vegetarians would do well to stay away unless you don't mind just sampling the akhuni along with rice and soup. Meat eaters, and adventurous gourmands, this place is worth a shot even though it's far. Another good thing is that it's not open only during the lunch hours and dinner hours, but it stays open even between 3:30 PM to 7 PM, so walk in anytime late on a Sunday afternoon after a hangover, and smash those blues away with some fire.

Smoked pork curry

Egg fried rice (l), steamed rice

Food: Didn't try too much as we were already full, but what we had was interesting and good.
$$$: This meal, along with ice cream, cost us around Rs 600.
Service: Good
Verdict: Veggies, stay away. The rest, worth a visit, and you decide if you'd like it or not.
Extra info: Stays open even between 3:30 PM and 7 Pm, so you can walk in for a late lunch as well.

Naga Kitchen, #26, AVS Arcade, opposite Adidas showroom, Kamanahalli main road, Kamanahalli, Bangalore. Phone: 41732012

Friday, November 5, 2010

BM Review: Mandi

Last Friday, I visited this new vegetarian restaurant called Mandi (which is the Hindi word for market) in JP Nagar. The restaurant is quite impressive in terms of it's appearance, decor and all. The colours of the restaurant's interiors are positively bright, while the furniture contrasts the bright with darker shades. The full review can be read here.

Unfortunately, there are no photos of this review. The reason is quite interesting. The owner had mailed me asking me to visit the restaurant. He'd also visited my blog, and so he knew I reviewed restaurants, and had seen my snap. Of course, I had to review anonymously, so I had to take all precautions. I couldn't afford plastic surgery, and didn't fancy wearing a mask, so all I could do was avoid taking pictures to make sure nobody suspected anything.

I started with a spicy lentil shorba, and true to its name, it did have a kick to it. The rest of the starters were pretty spicy as well, although not in a very pleasant way. The paneer was a little hard, but I thought it tasted good, rustic with the typical flavours of a tandoori dish. The seekh kabab was a little too spicy, and so we weren't able to quite taste the flavours of the vegetables in the kabab. As for the tandori gobi, I thought it was ok, but my guests felt there was too much ghee happening in the dish.

For the mains, there was a veg biryani that we ordered. Again, more or less good, but there seemed to be quite a bit of ghee added to it, masking the flavours of the biryani. The roti basket was used to scoop up a few side dishes, most notable being the kofta Nargisi do pyaaza, a delectable mix of tomato and spinach gravies with kofta. The tawa paneer was again a little on the harder side, and was OK. The kaju masala was a wicked dish, simply kick-ass. And for a cashew fiend like me, it was pure delight.

Dessert was a mixed affair. The ghee jalebis were good, and although they weren't dripping in syrup, still felt good. The malpua-rabri was a big disappointment - firstly the malpua came covered with the rabri, completely eliminating the possibility of getting the malpua's taste, but also the malpua didn't taste good either (the owner has told me that the dish itself may be off the menu as they'd been meaning to take that combo off for a bit). The stuffed gulab jamun needn't more syrup, plain and simple.

Food: Few niggles, but good overall
$$$: Not too expensive, around 2000 for 5 people.
Service: Good
Verdict: Can visit if in the area.

Mandi, #949, 2nd Floor, Above Vivek’s Showroom, Next to Food World, 24th Main, JP Nagar 2nd Phase, Bangalore. Phone – 26581432

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