Thursday, September 30, 2010

BM Review: Golmaal Paratha

Apologies, apologies. Sorry for putting this up sooner on the blog. Was very busy last week with some stuff at home, and got done only last night. A couple of weeks back, I visited Golmaal Paratha to review it for The Bangalore Mirror. My guests were an old classmate of mine from school, someone who's been my classmate from LKG all the way to 10th, and in 11th and 12th, I took science while he opted for the commerce stream, but continued to be in the same school. The other guests were another old school-mate who's into doing background verification and his girl. The review can be read here.

We started off with something to drink - lassi, buttermilk, and a ginger-mint jaljeera. The ginger-mint jaljeera was the best drink of the evening - cool, refreshing, and yet not over-powering. The menu has 99 parathas to choose from, apart from the lassis. 99 is a big number, and for a place that serves parathas that are almost a foot in diameter, giving so many choices isn't good - confusion prevails I say!

Mint & ginger jaljeera

Buttermilk

Sweet lassi

They'd run out of mutton by the time we got there. Mind you, we were actually pretty early - in by about 7:45 PM, and they were already out! I guess some mutton-loving monster must've stopped by in the afternoon and cleaned out the mutton. So eventually, we settled for 6 different parathas - chicken tikka, chicken masala, Jaipur mixed veg, mushroom-cheese, and two other parathas I can't remember now - just as well because these 4 were the star attractions (of the 6 we ordered).

Each paratha comes in a thali with 6 condiments on the side - pickle, curd, sauce/red chutney, mint chutney, onions, chole masala. And there was a solitary green chili on each paratha - correctly guessed, that's there in case you want to turn into a fire-breathing dragon!

Jaipur mixed veg paratha

Chicken tikka paratha

The mushroom-cheese was superb. Not withstanding my love for mushrooms, it was given the thumbs-up by all at the table. The chicken tikka too was quite good, as the chicken had not dried out and become a clump of dried leaves under the paratha. The Jaipur veg was also quite tasty, although one of my guests found it a bit salty for his liking, although the rest of us didn't.

For desserts, there was rabri, kulfi, and dahi bhalla (more or less a dahi vada). They were nice, but not special. Overall, great meal, and t'was great to catch up with my old classmates.

Rabri (left), and the two kulfis (falooda-like)

Nawabi dahi bhalla


Food: Very good
$$$: Total value for money.
Service: Good
Verdict: Must visit if you like parathas.

Golmaal Paratha, KHB Colony, 5th Block, Koramangala, Bangalore. Phone - 4208 5757

Friday, September 24, 2010

Under The Mango Tree

On Tuesday, Manuscrypts asked me to join him on a review of Under The Mango Tree. The review can be read here. Let me state straight away that since this was his first review, I guess he was a little, well, diplomatic, I guess when it came to his opinions, because I thought I used to be the lenient type, but even I found this place quite unsatisfying. Trust me, I tried hard to like, I mean I didn't even put on my reviewing hat - alright, enough already.

So Manuscrypts had invited three other people whom he'd known through the twitter world. Gautam (lawyer, entrepreneur, 'kurta'-type worker), Prmod (fashion designer, photographer), and Radha (accounts specialist @ Dell, photographer). And of course, the mercenary. Me. Although I wasn't featured...rules, you see. So we started off with soup - Manu with cream of mushroom, Gautam with French onion soup (vegetarian - not made from beef stock), and I had settled for the chilled melon soup with a hint of cinnamon.

Let's go backwards - there was ice in the chilled soup! I don't know but maybe it hadn't occurred to them that the melon is supposed to be refrigerated, and that's how it would be chilled. And hint of cinnamon? I guess some people would struggle to find the cinnamon, and so it seemed like they added several spoons extra, just to be sure it wouldn't be lost. What was lost, however, was the taste of the melon, which was already marred by the addition of ice to it. The cream of mushroom wasn't a good mushroom soup - it needed to be a puree of mushrooms, and not some stock mixed with sliced of mushroom and cream (which is what it was - unless the puree was so diluted it seemed like stock). The French onion soup lacked body, plain and simple.

Chilled melon soup with a hint of cinnamon

Cream of mushroom

For starters, we ordered the Goan sausages. Thankfully, there was an option between pork and chicken, and we asked for pork with glee. The masala used was an imitation of the Goan reshad masala, but thankfully again, it didn't kill the dish. Tasted quite good actually. I guess my overall dissatisfaction over the meal resulted in forgetting whether we had any other starters (notably the veg ones).

Goan sausages

For our main course, I settled for a pepperoni pizza, Manu ordered the king sized sausages, Gautam had the sea bass with fennel, cheese, and lemon oil, Prmod ordered a veg lasagna, and Radha settled for a veg pizza. When it arrived, it raised our hopes. As it got introduced to the palate, we wished we hadn't ordered it. It said sea bass. It was mackerel! I'm a Mangalorean, and I'll know the taste of Mackerel even in my sleep. I guess it's this deception, deliberate or accidental, that put me off. Gautam's response was even more acerbic. To quote him verbatin "I think this fish swam out of the sea, swam up a river, hiked across long distances and landed on my plate" or something like that. In short, it wasn't fresh. The mash potatoes though, although a bit grainy in texture, were quite good, and though I'm not a fan of mashed potatoes, I could have eaten it all.

Luckily, Manu's sausages were saving grace and were pretty decent. My pepperoni pizza and Radha's veg pizza were OK, and luckily being thin crust, weren't too hard to down. I think Prmod's veg lasagna was the best dish of the evening.

Pepperoni pizza

Sea bass with capers

Vegetarian pizza (mushrooms replaced with olives)

King size sausages with caramelised onion sauce

Veg lasagna

I guess since we were out reviewing the place, we were 'forced' to try desserts (I'd have left after the show thus far if I was out for casual dining). They were out of blueberry cheesecake (something the owner claimed was their specialty) and so we settled for a mango cheesecake, chocolate with caramelised bananas, and a chocolate mousse.

The mango cheesecake was more cake and mango essence than 'cheese' and/or cream (save for the top), and chocolate thingy with caramelised bananas, well, we didn't know we had to dig deep to reach the bananas, and the chocolate tasted quite awful on it's own, but combined with the banana, it was much better. The chocolate mousse seemed more like a thick sauce than a mousse, and I don't even care enough to think hard enough of it tasted.

Mango cheesecake

Chocolate with caramelised bananas

Food: Pfffbbbt. Not up to the mark...veg dishes may probably be saving grace.
$$$: Around Rs. 500-600 per head.
Service: Decent.
Verdict: Don't visit and have me say "I told you so!", coz I'd love to say it. Nice ambiance, and probably if you want to eat only sausages and veg food, then visit maadi.

Under The Mango Tree, #03, The Bat and Ball Inn, Laurel Lane, Richmond Town, Bangalore. Phone: 22111112/3/4

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Benjarong

Last week I'd visited Benjarong with P and VP (for dinner). As usual, P happened to be working the weekend, and so VP and I had to wait up for him. So while waiting, and soaking in some of the, well, finer sights that walked in and out of the restaurant. So while waiting, we decided to order something to keep our palates occupied. I latched onto a Siam Sparkle, that was a drink having ginger and some Thai spices. It also had a cardamom pod and a slice of a red chili (bird's eye chili?). VP had a ginger and lemon cooler. Hands down, the Siam Sparkle won over the ginger lemon, which isn't saying the latter wasn't good, it's just that the former was better; way better.

Siam Sparkle

Ginger Lemon cooler

When it came to ordering something to nibble, VP suddenly said that he wouldn't be eating non-veg today! WTH! So much for sampling non-veg Thai food. I ordered a dish that had a star against its name (to indicate a signature dish) - chicken wrapped in pandan leaves. The chicken was soft, succulent, and well cooked and juicy. Although unwrapping the leaves was a bit messy, it was well worth it. VP took the liberty of ordering a veg dish (which could be had by P as well once he came). So he ordered a plate of broccoli cooked in an apricot sauce. It was a nice sweet-savoury mixture, and the crispy texture of the broccoli was very nice as well.

Broccoli in apricot sauce

Chicken wrapped in pandan leaves

Finally, P arrives, and immediately he and I ordered and split a veg Tom Kha Phak soup. It's one of the best I've had (the other being at Thulp). The lemongrass added the zing to the sweet taste of the coconut milk. Awesome.

Tom Kha Phak

We also ordered a plate of bean curd satay. It took me a bit to realise that bean curd was nothing but tofu. Tch tch, signs of aging I suppose. Oh what crap, what aging? I just liked the fancy way they'd mentioned it and so didn't realise it. The satay tasted good along with the spicy peanut sauce. I just wish tofu had a firmer texture - haven't gotten used to its ultra-soft texture.

Bean curd satay

As I mentioned earlier, there were quite a few sights to take in, enough to make our conversations drift in the general direction. Time for main course. We knew we didn't want to have too much, but the jungle fried rice and pineapple fried rice caught our eye. There was also a mushroom dish (button and woodear mushrooms) with water chestnuts in an apricot sauce.

Jungle fried rice with a mushroom dish

Thai pineapple fried rice

For dessert, P and VP has something consisting of coconut milk and water chestnuts (this meal had a lot of ingredients repeating). I settled for a coconut pumpkin custard, which was actually coconut ice cream with pumpkin custard. This was a superb! Being a Mangalorean, I'd love anything coconut, and so the ice cream was never going to be a problem. However, the pumpkin custard was a delightful surprise. I guess it must one of those things that either you straight away like, or don't. Me, I liked :)

Coconut ice cream with pumpkin custard

So here ended our meal at Benjarong, and I realised that none of the dishes we had (or for that matter that were on the menu) seemed to mention nam pla, or the Thai fish sauce, which is an integral part of Thai cooking. Now I know that not everyone who relishes meat would want authenticity as well, but when you're charging this kind of money, you'd have thought authenticity would be a given, almost taken for granted.

Food: Tasty.
$$$: On the higher side. Our bill, with a 5% service charge, came to a tickle over 2500.
Service:Decent
Verdict: Can visit if you're looking for tasty food, although I'm not sure about the authenticity (of course, I could be wrong).

Benjarong, #1/3, Ulsoor Road, Bangalore. Phone: 42066166

Ganesha habba utsava - Part 2

So part 2 of the habba is here, and I went about accomplishing the task of heading back to the place to eat at the three remaining stalls. Well, at least one dish from each stall at least. That was until I realised that I still wanted to have a few dishes from the stalls that were already covered in part 1. And soI first moved towards my 'home base', the Karavali stall and bought a plate of Mangalore buns and kurma. Now, although there isn't a local name for this dish and it's called buns (even in singular), it is made by mixing all purpose flour, curds, bananas, cumin, sugar and salt. The side dish can be anything, in this case a medley of vegetables.

Buns and kurma

Next, noolu puttu, from the Malnad stall. Well actually, this dish is also quite popular in Mangalore, where in the local Tulu language, it's called semeda addye (say-may-da add-yay), and is usually had with chicken gravey, or mixture of coconut milk and jaggery with sliced bananans, or at times with grated coconut and jaggery. Here, it was served with coconut milk, which was hot (I"m guessing it was to prevent the milk from curdling/spoiling). Nonetheless, this was quite superb, especially given the fact that Adiga's doesn't normally make this at any of it's (known) joints in Bangalore.

Noolu puttu with kai halu

From the Hyderabad Karnataka section, there were a few items I wanted to try, but settled for something light (what I thought would be light). So I had the Bellary onion bonda, which in all honesty, I didn't like, but then again, I don't like bonda's of any kind. I only bought this because I had a momentary lapse in concentration and thought bonda was the same as pakoda. My bad.

Onion pakoda with chutney

I wasnted to have the Davanagere benne dosa, but for some reason, the Davanagere stall was closed. So I moved over to the Mysore stall, and just as I was about to order a masala dosa, another gentleman placed an order for 10! I knew this would be a wait I didn't have the time for, so I ordered the open masala dosa, which turned out to be quite a good choise. It was superb, almost as good as the benne dosa itself. The toppings were great, and so was the chutney. But the butter was what did the trick I guess - it's always the fatty, unhealthy things that happen to make things taste better. There's no justice in this workd I tell you!

Mysore open masala dosa

For those of you who're used to food from the north Karnataka, you'd know that while Dharwad is famous for it's brown peda, the city of Belgaum is known for a sweet very similar to the peda, known as kunda, in a form that's the same as a peda that's been crumbled. While this wasn't as good as the real dseal, it was still good enough.

Kunda

And finally, the pièce de résistance of sorts, the jolada rotti, a flat chapathi-like bread made from jowar (sorghum). This is usually eaten with a brinjal (eggplant) and chutney powders. It's best eaten while it's hot, or else you run the risk of it turning into a mini bullet-proof jacket of sorts. Suffice to say it tasted good, and the brinjal curry was superb.

Jolada rotti with brinjal curry and chutney powder

Overall, thoroughly satisfying fest, one that I'm sure to attend every year from now on.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Ganesha habba utsava - Part 1

Ganesh Chaturti happened to fall on a Saturday, the 11th, and the festival was also the start of the nearly 12-day long Ganesha habba utsava. For the uninitiated, habba is Kannada for festival, while utsava is Kannada (from Sanskrit utsav) for festivities. I'd never been to any of these before (the board mentioned this is the 48th such event, so obviously it's been there longer than I have). VP and I, along with a junior of ours from school (let's call her D) who works at the same place where VP does, landed up at the APS college grounds in Basavanagudi last evening.

Apart from the usual cultural events, primarily singing by several popular singers, I'd been informed that the event also had several food stalls. The cuisines of Karnataka were divided into 6 food districts: Karavali (Mangalore, Udupi, Karwar), Old Mysore (Mysore, Mandya, Bangalore, Chamarjanagar), Hyderabad Karnataka (Bellary, Raichur, Gulbarga, Bidar, Gadag, Koppala), North Karnataka (Belgaum, Dharwad, Hubli, etc), Davanagere Bayaluseema (Davanagere, Chitradurga), and Malenadu (Coorg, Chickmaglur, Shimoga). I was there for the food, and the six stalls seemed like the gates of heaven (if you believe in such a thing); if not, let's just say that it seemed terrific, and my stomach began to do hoops in excitement.

Before hitting the six main food stalls, we 'bumped' into a stall selling butter + gulkand. So we bought two: one with butter and gulkand, and the other with butter and a dry-fruit compote/jam/syrup. The butter used seemed like it was made from buffalo milk - it was very white, like it'd seen a ghost.

Butter gulkand (l) and butter dry fruit. Yes, I know, you can't tell the difference.

So we then reached the stalls with the 6 cuisines. You'll need to buy coupons for the food based on the prices put up. We could see only two counters, and they were being worked overtime. This is one area where I've noticed can do with a lot of improvement. Conducting a huge event is all good, but when it comes to logistics and operations, it's quite clearly the Achilles heel of Indians. No lines, people shoving money from all directions into the face of one hapless soul at the coupon counter...sadly, it's such things, although extremely important, that get brushed under the carpet in India if the event went on to be a success overall.

Click the image to read clearly and plan your expenses :)


We knew we'd not able to cover all 6 cuisines, so settled to do so one by one until we were full. Since the Davanagere Bayaluseema stall was first, and I've been aching to have the famous Davanagere benne dosa, that's where we headed towards.

The benne dosa was great. Now I don't know how authentic this is since I've never had it before, but this was very good. D settled for the kai kadubu, which is something like a rice cake stuffed with jaggery and coconut. It was nice, but I've had so many of these (there are several like these in Mangalorean cuisine) that maybe I'm not the right person to say that it wasn't special. VP tried the Nargees mandakki, which I"m given to understand is an absolute favourite of the people in Davanagere. Maybe it's just us, or maybe it wasn't done right, but it seemed plain-Jane - nothing great.

Davanagere benne dosa

Kai kadubu

Nargees mandakki

Next up, Hale Mysore or Old Mysore. D decided to have a tatte idly, steamed idlis where the batter isn't poured into the grooved hollows as in most cases, but into a plate (tatte is Kannada for plate). This was served with a superb red chutney and something called Bombay saagu, which had potatoes, chickpeas, onions, lentils, and seasoning. Haven't been able to trace the origin of this dish and why it has 'Bombay' as a prefix, since saagu is a common term used here for a medley of vegetables with a gravy, usually served with rava idlis or pooris.

Tatte idli

We also had a sweet called athrasa, which in the coastal areas is called adrasa. More details about this dish later (I haven't had time to ask mom about this...I'm at work, sneaking in lines into the blog whenever I take a break from coding). And of course, no meal near the Mysore region would be complete without the famous Maddur vada, served with the same red chutney.

Athrasa

Maddur vada

By this time, we were almost full, but VP wanted to have neer dosa, so we moved towards the Karavali stall and bought a plate of neer dosa. Usually, this is eaten with a gravy, but when eaten for breakfast, this is had with chutney, and for those with a sweet-tooth, with a mixture of grated coconut and jaggery. The ones served here came with coconut chutney and the coconut+jaggery mixture. Surprisingly, the person serving it poured ghee on top of the dosa, and it was then that I realised that this guy was certainly not from Mangalore (probably never been there). Who pours ghee on neer dosa? So then I looked around and saw banners of the popular chain Vasudev Adiga's, and the banner mentioned that they were the caterers for the food. Since the name Adiga is a surname that originates from the coastal region, maybe I thought they'd get the coastal dishes right, but I guess nobody's perfect.

Neer dosa

D saw that pathrode was available, and so she decided to have it. Pathrode is something that's made from the leaved of the colocasia plant, also known as the elephant ears plant, or taro plant. So imagine how maki rolls are made in Japanese cuisine. The seaweed is flattened, and then stuffed rice and whatever, and then rolled, cut, and cooked (steamed). Same process, different ingredients. Usually the stuffing here is rice, dal, cumin, coriander, coconut and spices, but the one served to us seemed to have brinjal in it (well, it tasted like brinjal). Overall, good dish.

Pathrode

I settled for a plate of goli bajje with chutney. These are little ball-shaped snacks made from wheat flour (and a little gram flour), mixed with curds, chilies, ginger, garlic, asafoetida (sometimes), and deep fried. Again, not the best I've had, but decent I guess.

Goli bajje, or Mangalore bajji

We were stuffed, and by this time the crowds and increased as the main singing events were about to start. People were thronging towards the venue in large groups (and we seemed like the only clowns trying to leave the place!). I was reminded of a line from one of the ads on TV: "Pet full, dill house full".

Ganesha habba utsava, APS college grounds, Basavanagudi, Bangalore. The fest goes on till the 22nd of September.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Monster burger

So Mondays are usually dreary and dull. We all know that. And when you've got to stay back at work a little longer, and then end up slowing things so that you can leave once traffic thins out, you know it's a bad day. And while leaving office I remembered that Thulp has this new burger called Mother of all Moos, and what better time to try it than now.

Wrong answer, trust me. I reached Thulp and ordered it, almost feeling like Adam Richman from the show Man vs Food. When the burger came, I gulped hard. It was a good thing I hadn't had anything to eat since lunch, coz I was going to need all the real estate my stomach could offer to park this monster. Just look at the size...it was nearly as big as the plate in diameter. The bun itself was huge, and it contained two huge beef patties, along with bacon, cheese, and the rest of the burger additives.

Mother of all moos

I didn't even bother with the fries and the salad, and straight away cut the burger into two and started with one half. The burger was delicious as ever, and the bacon made things better (ever hear of anything that's tasted bad AFTER bacon was added? Did I hear no? I thought so).

Midway through the burger...yes, after the first half, I knew I had to slow things down (I wasn't timing myself, but I knew that I was almost full already), and so I cut the remaining half into two again, and slowly began chomping away. I never knew I'd struggle to finish one burger, although the size was huge. In the past, the feeling of being full would come after some starters and after the main course, where dessert would sometimes be a stretch.

After the meal

I don't know how to describe the feeling, but rest assured it was one my brain had difficulty adjusting too. My taste buds were happy, my stomach too full to enjoy anything. Every time I burped, I tasted the burger. Every breath I took made my stomach scream back at me, trying to make me understand that there wasn't enough room for me to take such large breaths of air as there wasn't enough room for my lungs to expand. Take my advice, unless you're a big hulk of a guy (or girl, I use guy as an alternative for 'person'), DO NOT attempt to finish this behemoth in one sitting. And if you do want to try to, then do so for lunch, so that you'll have more time to digest it while being awake. Yeah, whatever you do, DO NOT sleep after eating this. I don't know if I'll be trying this one again anytime soon. Maybe I'll starve a whole day and then come to spend about 2 hours at Thulp to down this one, fries and all.

Friday, September 10, 2010

BM Review: Cholayil Sanjeevanam

Cholayil Sanjeevanam, a veg 'health' restaurant, the first of its kind in the city, opened it's doors in Bangalore. The Cholayil group is a large family that's given us the Medimix soap and a host of Ayurvedic products. The review can be read here.

My guests were a colleague of mine from work, as well as P and his parents (P's parents and my colleague were the official guests). We first went to dinner (which is when I learnt that the Rajakeeyam meals are served only for lunch). So we first had dinner (no pictures of that), and I came the next day and had lunch, which I must admit, althouh simple, was quite refreshing.

The dishes of the Rajakeeyam meals are to be had in a specific order, starting with slices of plantain with a sprinkling of grated coconut. This is followed by 5 juices - date juice, nut milk, veg clear soup, harita buttermilk, and bran rice water - to be had in that particular order itself. This is then followed by four raw veg dishes, then four semi-cooked veg dishes, and then four cooked veg dishes. The carbohydrates follow, with brown and white rice, along with avial, sambhar, rasam, murkuzhambu, and is finally wound up with buttermilk and payasa. Finally, a spoonful of honey is offered as the final ingredient to aid in the digestion process.

The apertifs

Raw vegetables

Semi-cooked vegetables

Cooked vegetables with brown rice

The card showing the order in which the dishes are to be consumed

The finishing touches to the meal

Food: Nice concept, simple and tasty.
$$$: Cheap. Rs 200 per person.
Service: Not very evident for a buffet, although the staff will answer your queries about the food.
Verdict: Worth a visit if you want to enjoy unlimited veg food according to the principles of naturopathy.
Extra info: The signature meal, Rajakeeyam meals, is only during lunch, and is a buffet. Dinner is also buffet, with a different spread.

Cholayil Sanjeevanam, #50, 100 Feet Road, Opp. Kendriya Sadana, Koramangala 2nd Block, Bangalore. Phone: 25631962

Click to add a blog post for Sanjeevanam on Zomato