Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Tunde Kebabs, Lucknow

Tunde Kebabs

Tunde Kebabs has 2 main (original) outlets in Lucknow. The original location in Chowk is a hole in the wall serving only 3 items: tunde ke kebabs, parathas & special parathas.

It is a testament to the quality of these kebabs that foodies from across the world treat a visit to the Chowk outlet as a pilgrimage and millions of others stop at the Aminabad outlet which has many more protein and kebab options to choose from. Tunde ke kebab has expanded into a chain - while we were quite disappointed with the Delhi outlet in Daryagang, the outlet in the food court of Rave Moti in Kanpur is quite an acceptable substitute, if you can't reach Lucknow for the real deal.

To reach the original Chowk outlet, you need to leave behind any prejudices you may have against the location/setting of a restaurant. This outlet is bang in the middle of the warren; that is the ancient Chowk market. Be ready to bump into 2 wheelers and cattle along the path. No way can a car get anywhere closer than 500 meters of this location. You know you are headed in the right direction when you see this gate.

The outlet is a further 100 metres past this gateway. The kitchen is between the seating area and the road the original "open kitchen". When you see plenty of bikes stopping right outside a window with chefs busy at work on the window - you know you have reached the right place.

There is one main chef who works on the ulthe tawa ke parathe (parathas cooked on an upside down frying pan) who just keeps roasting off hundreds of parathas each hour.

The kebab pan has a lot more activity and chefs around it. There is one main chef who actually fries the delicate kebabs and two apprentice chefs who shape the kebabs and keep dropping them into the pan.

Tunde Kebabs (a version of the famous Awadhi - Galaouti kebabs) supposedly got their name from the one armed chef who created them over a 100 years ago - Chef Murad Ali - nickname - Tunde.

The original recipe for these kebabs is a closely guarded secret and supposedly there are more than 160 spices mixed into the finely beaten choice cuts of meat. The meat is hand pounded so fine, that the texture is even softer and smoother than mashed potatoes or baby food. But combined with the potent spices, it definitely is adult food. The final kebab is so delicate, its impossible to pick up with your fingers and you definitely need the aid of the parathas to scoop it up.

The interiors are extremely basic, but seating is constantly in high demand. Plastic chairs, formica tables and ancient whirring ceiling fans which haven't yet decided whether their purpose is to keep the smoke away from your eyes, or waft the tantalising aromas towards you.

While the servings may look meagre when a plate is plonked in front of you, its actually quite filling when scooped up with the accompanying parathas and sliced onions (for texture)

Taking the preceding and following pictures was so tortuous on our tongues and tummies, that there are unfortunately absolutely no pictures of the cooked parathas.

Chilled soft drinks (500ml PET) and water were instantly sourced from a neighbouring shop and served at our table by the helpful staff on pre-payment. Between the 5 of us, we polished off (in the true sense of the word) at least 25 plates of kebabs and 15 parathas (we lost count after 5). The bill was a humongous 325Rs. (nope, not missing any digits there)

There's plenty of supervisory and substitute staff around and the whole set up works like clockwork, even when it looks chaotic.

Eating at the Original Tunde kebab in Lucknow is an experience, no true blue foodie should miss.

Fine Print : This outlet only serves bade ke kebab (code for beef), the Ameenabad outlet serves bade ke kebab (code for beef), chhote ke kebab (code for mutton) and chicken kebabs too. Most of the chain outlets only serve mutton and chicken, although if I remember right the Sharjah outlet used to also serve beef.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Delicacy, Guwahati

Krishna Market
Tel: 98546 47845, 96781 45349, 92070 46884

Delicacy is my favourite place for eating Assamese food in Guwahati so far. They have a much wider range than Parampara Paradise and much faster service than King Chilli. The service staff is very polite and obliging. This is not a place you go for the ambience.

They work on extremely fast turnover, so its more of a Udupi restaurant, Kerala mess vibe to it. Food is served in traditional Assamese bell metal vessels.
The other thing that I have realised is that Assamese food seems to use a lot of turmeric during preparation, so I have found most dishes to look almost uniformly yellow in colour and leave my finger nails with a yellow tint for a while (Assamese food has to be eaten with your fingers, not a fork and knife)

While a plate of plain rice is 50/- and a bowl of dhal is 40/-, it definitely makes sense to opt for the Akhaj (veg thali meal) 80/- which gives you unlimited quantitites of rice and 2 types of dhal. There are also limited quantitites of 4 types of vegetable dishes (a semi gravy,  a green leafy vegetable, a pitika - mashed potato and a khar) and a sweet. Lime, green chillis, a spicy chutney and a pcikle are served n the side. Sometimes they even include a complimentary clear vegetable soup.
The food is all simple, wholesome and hearty. The food itself  in the thali isn't spicy, you can up the spice quotient with the chillis, chutney or pickle.

Normally, between the 2 of us we tend to order 2 akhaj's and 1 or 2 non vegetarian side dishes.

We have loved their Pork patot diya (spiced pork cooked in leaves), pork bamboo shoot 150/- Pork Laishak (with green leafy vegetables which I wish they could chop shorter)140/-  simple fried chicken 150/- Pork khorikaa (barbequed) with king chilli 280/- (absolutely excellent with the spicy dip on the side), Ari fish fry 135/- ( a single piece of almost boneless fish which was quite tasty but seemed expensive in comparison to the quantity served against the other items on their menu)

They have over a 100 items on their menu with different varieites of fish. Proteins include chicken, mutton, pork and pigeon. Packing charges are 8/- for each item and 20/- for the akhaj.

A bottle of mineral water (they serve Kinley) is 20/- and all soft drinks are served as 500ml bottles for 30/-

Taxes are a very nominal 5%

Before the bill is presented, they will faithfully offer a plate of betel leaves and betel nut, in keeping with modern trends though, they also include saunf (fennel seeds) as a mouth freshener and some toothpicks.
The only problem with "Delicacy" is access. It's located under an extremely busy flyover and parking is a bit of a distance away. Best to take the turn after Delicacy (its a one way upto delicacy under the flyover), drive further down the road and park there.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Moti Mahal Delux, Guwahati

Moti Mahal Delux - tandoori trail
6-11 Ground Floor
Anil Plaza
GS Road
Tel: 2466 113, 2464 380, 99572 70504, 99572 70505

Whenever we drove from Delhi to Agra, Kanpur or Lucknow we always stopped at the Moti Mahal Delux along the way because we loved their Butter Chicken, Dal Makhani and Rotis. So starved as we are for familiar foods here in Guwahati, we were really excited with the opening of Moti Mahal Delux

They have a full bar and also offer some cocktails. A double Black label was 518/- and my mojito was 179/- but alcohol has some very hefty taxes of 30%VAT then 5% service charge and 3.09% service tax. So the initial bill of 697/- escalated to 962/- with taxes.

This may not seem much for a metro city,  but here in Guwahati these 2 drinks were more expensive than the rest of our entire dinner.

We were given a complimetary starter with the drinks which tasted like crumbled uncooked waiwai noodles mixed up like a bhujiya chaat.

We were really hungry when we arrived here as we had spent the whole day visiting Durga Puja Pandlas around the city. We started with Mutton Shami Kebabs 229/- which were served with a green chutney, pickled onions and a mixed pickle. Quite tasty and a lovely appetiser to go with the drinks. It can be eaten either as finger food or with just a fork since it is so soft.
For the main course we ordered tandoori butter rotis 24/- each and onion kulchas 44/- The onion kulchas were excellent accompaniment to the sal Makhani 169/- but the dal makhani itself was lacking something. It did not have that buzz of flavour as that midway to Agra franchise does.
The garlic naan 39/- was excellent and can be eaten as is without dipping it into any gravy or wrapping it around any kebab. It was also wonderful when paired with the perfect butter chicken 259/- which had 4 large chunks of chicken in it (almost half a chicken)
We ordered some jeera pulao (made with basmati rice) 119/- just to have some rice at the end and have an excuse to lick our fingers.

While there was a bit of chicken and rice leftover, we just could not let it go and had to get it packed. They do charge 10/- a container for packing, but its so worth it, instead of just regretting the leftovers the next day.

Taxes on food are much more reasonable than on alcohol. Service charge of 5%, Service tax of 3.09% and VAT of 5%

We were really excited that Moti Mahal offers home delivery in Guwahati, other than the pizza and sandwich guys no one else seems to do that. I can foresee this becoming the equivalent of what Dilli Darbar was for us in Dubai. (the only Indian restaurant that would deliver near Dubai Mall so most home delivery was ordered from them)

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Red Sizzle, Guwahati

Red Sizzle
Opp Tanz Supermarket
Next to Cafe Coffee Day
Zoo Road

I'd often seen this restaurant while shopping at Tanz, but my venture of trying Chinese food from Pizzeria opposite (the only ones who home deliver Chinese in this area) was so disastrous, that I'd been heading to Mainland China whenever the urge for Chinese struck.
Today, I just wanted a soup and was quite tired, so since I had to stop at Tanz to pick up some groceries, I thought I would give Red Sizzle a try. I walked inside, gave them my order, paid for it (bill generation took 10 minutes)and asked them to pack it up before I headed to Tanz to shop. The guy who took my order assured me that it would be ready in 15 minutes. The check out line at Tanz took half an hour (after shopping) and when I returned, my order wasn't ready yet!

Another guy apologised for the guy who gave me the 15 minute estimate and said it would take at least another 15 minutes. When I pressed him to give me an accurate time line, he said "ok madam, 30 mins lagega". A total of ONE and A HALF HOUR for a takeaway order to be ready. To be fair, I did order more than a soup. But 2 people sitting down to dinner would have ordered the same quantity, would they be willing to wait this long?

I gave the intial order at 8pm. I got my takeaway at 9:45pm The restaurant was empty and they no longer offer home delivery, so I really don't see where the delay was. No wonder the restaurant was empty.

They have an Indian menu and a Chinese + Thai menu. I completely ignored the Indian menu and ordered from the other. Most Chinese dishes on this menu have Veg/Chicken/Pork/Prawn options.

The Hot & Sour Chicken soup(60/-) was good in that it was filled with veggies and not overdosed with cornflour, but I needed to add tabasco to it to make it both hot and sour. The Laksa Lemak chicken soup (60Rs) was very ordinary - regular chicken soup boiled with slivers of lime.

The Roasted chilli pork (105Rs) and the Chilly chicken dry (105Rs) were much better. This at least had the addictive roadside Chinese flavour. but there were hardly 6 slices of pork and 6 pieces of chicken buried under the onions and capsicums.

The Thai Chicken Red Curry (135Rs) was a complete disaster. A cross between butter chicken with coconut milk, no lemon grass, no galangal, only soya sauce.

The Schezwan fried rice (105Rs) was extremely oily and made with joha rice that was too sticky to be used in fried rice.

Given how long it took for the order to be delivered, it would be faster for me to drive to Mainland China and pick up Chinese from there and drive back. Needless to say, I won't be returning here unless a massive craving for street style chilly chicken hits us.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Makhan Bhog Food Court, Guwahati

Makhan Bhog Food Court
Royal Centre
Opp Deorah College
G S Road
Guwahati 781005

Tel: (0361) 246 7778, 98450 81406

Finding a clean hygienic place to sit down and grab a substantial bite between the hours of 3pm and 7pm, is quite a challenge in Guwahati, unless you are besotted with pizza. Dominoes and Pizza Hut are the only eateries that seem to be open all day in this city.

Having enjoyed the snacks at Makhan Bhog in Fancy Bazar, we had high hopes for the main Makhan Bhog outlet on GS Road, even though it is a vegetarian eatery.

Being around 5pm, the options available were chaat, South Indian, Chinese, Pasta and Roasti. While this may seem like a lot. to choose from, there are hardly 5 options under each cuisine. We ordered the Dahi Vada (55/-) which had some excellent curd, but a deplorable vada. The Agra Chaat (55/-) felt like something to use up all leftovers - a hodge podge of mattri, cholle, green gram and other stuff including dhokla - when did dhokla become part of Agra's street food?. The aloo tikki (50/-) was stuffed with dhuli moong and tasted better than the other chaat items, but it was served luke warm. Any chaat eater knows that tikkis have to be served so hot that they burn the roof of your mouth with the first bite since you just cant wait to dig in.

Given that the chaat options weren't up to the mark and kachori sabji are only available Sunday mornings between 8:30am and 10:30am, we thought we would try the South Indian offerrings and hopefully sate ourselves.
The Mysore masala dosa (85/-) was crisp and the chutneys were good but the Mysore masala was mixed with coconut shavings. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't authentic to its name. The rawa masala dosa (75/-) was also passable. This may just be the best available South Indian in Guwahati, but that isn't saying much.

I would never return to a place like this in Delhi, Bombay or Bangalore, but given the lack of options for South Indian food here and the unavailability of dosa rice, we may just find ourselves back here if a craving for crisp dosas hits us.

Their meals had a lot of North Indian staples and are served between 11:30-3:30am and 6:30-10:00pm. They even offer a specific thali between 12:15 to 3:00pm and a different one from 7:00-1:00pm. That may be better than their snacks menu, but if I have to visit a restaurant during meal times, I'd rather visit one that has non-vegetarian options.

The ground floor has a lot of savoury and sweet options meant for home consumption. the malai chamcham and the rasmalai (15/- per piece) were very good, as was the kaju katli (400/- per kilo). There are a lot of mixtures and namkeens. The sweets include milk based Bengali sweets which have to be consumed the same day, mithai that will last a day or 2 and dry fruit (almond & cashew) based mithai that will last a few days. The samosas and kachoris (8/-) however are not as fresh as those at the Fancy Bazaar outlet (where it is straight out of the frying pan and into your plate), but still tasty.

Its one of the cleanest places in Guwahati I have visited so far, for Indian sweets, so I will definitely go back here to stock up on mithai. Makhan Bhog is a success as a Mithai ka dukaan (sweet shop) or a halwai, not so much for its snack options.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Dilli Streat, Delhi

Dilli Streat,
Delhi Airport - T3

Accessible almost immediately after security check, the food here at Dilli Streat belies all unfavourable generalisations about airport food.

On the days that we are truly hungry, we often eschew the comfort of the airline lounges to satisfy our hunger at Dilli Streat.

While they do offer, sandwiches and bakery kind of items, what really stands out is their South Indian and paratha counters for breakfast, especially when you have to check in by 6am for an 8am flight.

Plain dosas are 110/-, masala dosas are 130/- (not as crisp as I like my dosas, but very tasty never-the-less), Idli sambhar is 90/- Sometimes if you are really early, the dosa guy may not be around, but idlis are available no matter how early you turn up and they really hit the spot in the morning.

Egg parathas at 170/- are so filling, that you may not even be able to consider lunch, once you eat your way through. Aloo parathas come 2 to a plate and 1 plate is enough for 2 people.

Plenty of liquid refreshments on offer too. Fresh Mango lassi/badam milk for 120/-, lipton lemon ice tea 50/- and the regular soft drinks and water too.

They do offer some alcoholic beverages too now, but I haven't checked the prices out. Plenty of non veg lebabs and rolls on the menu too.

This is a good place to grab a bite if you are hungry before catching your flight. Just remember to leave enough time to walk up to your gate post-meal.

NB: Prices are inclusive of taxes

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

How to Eat Sushi

Sushi is fast becoming one of the most favourite foods in the world and Sushi Bars are popping up everywhere I've been recently from Cairo to Istanbul to Dubai to Delhi.

CNN Go has a lovely and informative article by double Michelin-starred Tokyo chef - Koji Sawada.
How to eat sushi
With chopsticks or fingers? Wasabi or no? A double Michelin-starred Tokyo chef sets the record straight and shows us the way.

Some time ago, I also found this illustration on Good FoodPatrick James himself is still looking for the original artist and information credit.

So that settles it, I'm not being "Indian" or "desi" if I eat Sushi with my fingers. :)

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Makhan Bhog, Guwahati

Makhan Bhog,
Fancy Bazar Branch

98540 81412

Makhan Bhog seems to be quite a famous veg fast food chain in Guwahati. The Fancy Bazar branch is small. Standing room for 10 people only in the middle of an extremely crowded and quite a dirty bazaar.

I have had to visit this bazaar a couple of times when curtain shopping and Makhan Bhog seems like the cleanest place around, to eat at. Given the surroundings, I have only risked the hot food stuff being prepared at the venue. So while there are plenty of sweets in the display counter, I just had the large onion kachoris 14/- and samosas 8/- one afternoon and the smaller dal/khasta kachoris 8/- and the imartis/kind of jalebi 10/- another evening.

The onion kachoris and samosas are excellent and the imartis are the perfect way to refresh your tongue from the preceding assault of the spices. Khasta kachoris are not my favourite, so I was ambivalent to them. The crispiness of the kachoris and samosas are perefect contrasts to the soft filling within.

Definitely a must visit if you are in the area, I hope to visit the larger outlets some time soon and smaple a larger variety.

Monday, July 04, 2011

Cafe Coffee Day, Guwahati

Cafe Coffee Day
RG Baruah Road
opp Tanz Supermarket

0361 241 3160

This CCD too serves up its standard fare of decent coffees. Personally I love their cafe frappes 62/-, choco frappes 88/- and mochachillos 53/-.

Among the hot snacks, the only one I like is the garlic mayonnaise chicken sandwich 81/-. The spicy chicken calzone 43/- is more of a puff and average. The chicken tikka sandwich 76/- is not too appetising though.

The day I had the American muffins 55/- they were quite dry. Even the chocolate syrup could not impart enough moisture.

CCD is very much a youth hangout for its reasonably lower priced coffees in a cool ambience (vis a vis India Coffee house).

I prefer to pick up one of their ice coffees as a take away and avoid the snacks unless I'm in a hurry and need something hot to eat.

Sunday, July 03, 2011

King Chilli, Guwahati

King Chilli,
Hotel Gateway Grandeur
GS Road

0361 6111 000

94350 10935, 94354 03484

No home delivery

King Chilli is located within the Gateway Grandeur Hotel. One of 2 in-house restaurants, the other being Florentines. Florentines serves Indian and Continental food & King Chilli serves local ethnic food.

We sat down at Florentines, but decided to order from the King Chilli menu. The waiters were reasonably obliging about the 2 of us wanting the menu from the next restaurant and ordering just milkshakes and sides from their own menu.

We decided to try the duck fry at 250/-. While we have always loved duck, the meat here was of the tougher, more muscled variety - the kind of difference between eating gaunchi/country chicken vs broiler chicken.

The Pork king chilli 400/- flavoured with the regions famous bhoot jholakia/ king chilli was absolutely excellent. This particular chilli, burns the lips more than the tongue and is highly addictive. I've cooked with dry bhut jolokia before, but this was the first time that we were trying the fresh variant.

While we loved the pork, I'd like to bring it home as a take away and cook it some more until the fat breaks down, because I'd love to eat the flavoured and slimmed down fat that results from cooking pork for long periods of time.

kolachil/banana flower fry 100/- was middling. Nothing I would try again. Its the first time I was eating banana flowers as a dish, so I'm willing to try the Bengali and Tamilian versions, but this one wasn't exciting at all. The dish wasn't flavoured and the flavour of the banana flower itself was too mild to carry it off (In case you are wondering, I did try it before I put the king chilli pork on my tongue)

Its traditional to eat the Assamese Joha rice with these dishes, but since we have been eating Joha rice daily at the guest house, we decided to order the basmati rice 150/- for familiarity and nostalgia.

All of this was served with a nice big bowl of Naga Chilli Pickle.

We would like to go back as we were very impressed with the cleanliness, the atmosphere, the hygiene and the food, but we will most likely call ahead and order, because service is really slow. It looks like they don't get much crowd and hence everything has to be cooked from scratch after you order.

Prices here were inclusive of taxes.

Florentine Fine Dining in the same hotel serves Indian and Continental cuisine.
We ordered a lacchedar paratha for 40/- a cold coffee 95/- whether with or without ice cream and a vanilla milk shake for 85/-. This total of 220/- turned to 242/- with the addition of taxes. (5% VAT & 5% Service charge)

The waiter from Florentines made us promise that we would come back to taste their signature chicken and veg florentines with a warning that it would take 40minutes to prepare once we placed the order.

Edited to Add:
 Ambience here is really nice. Service is good. Its very clean and hygenic and a lovely place to take visiting friends out for an Assamese meal, but service is slow. So we call from home an hour before leaving to order what we would like and an hour later, we reach there and the food is waiting for us piping hot & fresh.

Khalsa Parivaar, Guwahati

Khalsa Parivaar
GS Road
Bora Service

0361 2454 656

Wanted to pick up something to supplement the dhal-chawal roti-sabji prepared for our dinner at the guest house. On a hunch, we just stopped at Khalsa Parivaar - a small but clean and hygenic place with a few tables inside in air conditioned comfort. We ordered a chicken hariyali (65/- half plate 6 pieces) and a chicken tikka (130/- full plate 12 pieces).

The hariyali was average but the tikka was tongue tinglingly and spicily excellent. They don't deliver home but you can pack a take away. We are definitely going back here.

Went back for the smoked chicken - 220/- Its absolutely fantastic. Spicy - so don't order if you don't like your tongue on fire.

I'm addicted to this smoked chicken now and I'm going to be craving it in my dreams.

Oh & before I forget, the prices above are inclusive of all taxes.

Edited on 25 July to add:
Kisne nazar lagaa di? Khalsa Parivaar has been shut for the last 3 weeks. sob, sob!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

L'Opera - French Bakery - Delhi

Shop 5-B (keep walking beyond Good Earth)
Khan Market
4732 2889

Monday to Saturday: 8:00 am to 8:00 pm
Sunday: 9:30 am to 3:30pm

 L'Opera products were earlier available at the Frech Embassy - for Embassy staff only and at DLF Golf & Country Club - again for members only. So their Khan Market opening is a welcome development.

L'Opera has a 3000 sq. ft. production centre at Noida and the Head Chef and ingredients come in straight from France. Prices on their Menu may seem high, but since all ingredients are sourced from France and are of higher quality (the almond flour, French butter, French cream etc) its worth the indulgence.

When I visited yesterday, to my bad luck the Head Chef was off on vacation and hence I was  told that the French Macaroons would only be available after 10 days when he returned. I've been craving French Macaroons ever since Masterchef Australia aired in India (and the ones at Wengers - CP 35/- while pleasant, weren't satisfying) and I was really excited to hear about L'Operas authentic offerings. But I guess I will have to wait a few more days to satisfy this foodie craving.

We ordered some Financiers for Rs.75/- - Almond based tea cakes - which were excellent. The Matcha Green Tea and Coffee Eclairs (145/- each) were also very good. Most eclairs sold in Delhi are over stuffed with overr sweetened cream. The eclairs at L'Opera were stuffed with just the right amount of flavoured cream for moistness and had a strip of flavoured icing that had had hardened on the top which provided just the right hint of sweetness.

L'Opera offers Breads (25-350/-), Viennese Pastries (35-80/-), Macaroons (125/- each), pastries (65-200/-), cakes & tarts for 8-10 people (1000-2500/-) & some savoury items for cocktail parties ( 25-210/)

They sell out quickly, so call ahead, especially if you want a larger order.

They do offer home delivery for orders above 1000/- according to a schedule, so call 0120 - 4066 888 and check.

L'Opera is a welcome addition and stands way above the majority of generic bakeries in Delhi.

(Prices include taxes)

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Parampara - Gateway Paradise - Guwahati

Gateway Paradise
0361 2666904, +91 9435548812

Parampara Paradise was universally recommended as the best place for us to try authentic Assamese food in Guwahati.

The ground floor is called Paradise which has fans but no air conditioning and the upstairs with airconditioning is called Parampara. I didn't check the menu downstairs, so I do not know if there is a difference in pricing between the 2.

Parampara Paradise offers a variety of 6 different thalis. The mega thali or the Parampara Thali at 350Rs offers unlimited servings of everything

We ordered the Assamese Vyanjan Non veg thali at Rs170/- each. Only the steamed joha rice is unlimited in this thali. But quantities are more than enough for one person. The Assamese thalis only serve rice. Rotis are not an item seperately available on the menu. But they do have an Indian thali that offers rotis/chapatis and the husband who needs rotis with his meal, requested them to add a roti to his thali which they obliged after a short discussion.

This Assamese Vyanjan Non veg thali included : unlimited steamed joha rice, (clockwise) bowls of payas - vermicilli paysam on this day, assorted palate ticklers, Masor Tenga- Rohu fish in a sour curry, chicken curry, a dry vegetable - one of the many greens specific to Assam, pitika - mashed potatoes with mustard oil, mustard seeds, fresh corriander and chillies, dal - lentils, Khar - a vegetable preparation with soda bicarbonate.

I will need to find someone who can explain to me the concept of soda bicarb being the chief ingrdient in cooking a vegeatble. The vegetable on the day we were there was knol khol - not one of my favourites, so this was the only item that remained uneaten on my plate. My husband did not like the overwhelming taste of soda bicarb, so he did not eat this either.

The palate ticklers ( we call these items thond launk in Konkani - they are strongly sour or spicy like pickles or chutneys which increase the flow of saliva and hence improve appetite and bring excitement even to a simple meal of rice and dhal or pez - rice gruel)were supposed to include Kahudi - dry mustard paste with mustard oil and tamarind juice, Kharoli - dry mustard paste with mustard oil & soda bicarb, Kharisha- grated bamboo shoot with mustard oil & red chillies and Mahor Guri - powdered gram lentils with salt, lemon juice & chillies.

We did arrive late and perhaps they ran out of some items, so what is actually in this bowl is a slice of the local lemon, green chilli, Kahudi - hiding under the chilli, Mahor guri - to the right of the Kahudi and a green chutney

All thalis are served in traditional bell metal plates and bowls.
 In the vegetarian Assamese vyanjan thali - 160/- the fish and chicken dishes are substituted with a paneer curry, soya kofta curry and mahor bor tenga.

The massive Parampara thali besides offerring unlimited servings, includes a flavored organic soft drink, pigeon or duck curry instead of chicken, fish wrapped in plaintain leaves and roasted over charcoal, and an intriguing traditional dessert of cream, Assamese puffed rice and jaggery. This item is also on the limited a la carte menu, but unfortunately wasn't available by the time we finished lunch.

I'd love to try this dessert and the roasted fish, but I need to be really hungry to be able to do justice to this thali. But given that we are moving to Guwahati, I'm sure the opportunity will present itself.

There is an Assamese non-veg thali 140/- which offers mutton instead of chicken and curd instead of payas - dessert.

If you really aren't interested in trying Assames food they do offer an Indian Thali - North Indian Vegetarian - for 140/-. This thali includes rice and chapati, dal, mixed vegetable, paneer curry, vegetable kofta, pickles, papad, Mahor Guri, salad and a choice of dessert or dahi.

The a la carte menu is very limited about 13 items which are meant to supplement a thali rather generate a meal on their own. Pigeon or duck curry is available for 180/- (I'm not sure if an order of this comes with free rice) Gooseberry soup, chicken in bamboo, fish in bamboo, plaintain flowers cooked in channa dal are some of the dishes they offer.

Fosters beer is the only alcohol served here at 150/- for a large bottle, a glass of aerated cold drink is 30/-

Service is relaxed. I wouldn't say it is slow, it just goes with the pace of life in Guwahati.The waiters each wear a traditional Assamese muffler/stole around their necks which seems a bit absurb (given the weather) yet endearing.

Prices include all extras - no VAT, Sales Tax, Service Charge extras. Hence rates seem extremely reasonable for someone like me who has been jaded into submission by the horridly high pricing +20+% taxes of Delhi

Rating : 3 / 5

Port Lounge, Guwahati

Port Lounge
Guwahati Airport

The Jet and Kingfisher Lounges are located within the Port Lounge and are a segregated part of it.

The Port Lounge only offers complimentary tea/coffee, veg/cheese sandwich, fruit cake and fruit juice to frequent flyers entitled to use the facility. For a hot bite, one has to order from the menu.

Since the airport is almost an hour away from the city and one needs to check in an hour early, we had not had the chance to eat lunch before arriving at the airport. The cheese sandwich did little to quell our hunger pangs and only seemed to encourage them.

We then ordered from the Chinese (rather than Indian) section of the menu.

Prices are definitely high compared to prices in Guwahati city, but quite reasonable compared to Delhi, especially given the size of servings.

We ordered a chicken schezwan fried rice for 240Rs, a Hong Kong Chilly Chicken dry for 220Rs and a chicken chopsuey for 230Rs.

The food tasted like Indian street food style Chinese - rice, noodle, chicken tossed in generic red and green sauces in differing quantities. But it was still very tasty. The fried rice was good but the chopsuey was lovely even with the unusual additions of mushrooms and baby corn to the sauce. My egg was fried hard instead of soft but the taste of the saice was so familiar that I forgave them this oversight without a 2nd thought.

A 5% VAT charge was added to the amounts above while totaling the bill.

Anyone can eat at the Port Lounge for the same prices.

The seating is comfortable as is the airconditioning. Lights are kept low so you can catch a nap if needed. Multiple TV's can each be tuned to a different station (which can be bugging when someone turns up the volume on any one particular TV)

I must mention that service was much faster than the only other restaurant we visited on this trip to Guwahati. So its a boon for those who want a quick bite before catching a flight. Especially since over 70% of the flights departing from Guwahati are budget versions which don't serve a hot meal on board.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Premvati Food Court, Akshardham, Delhi

Premvati Food Court
Swaminarayana Akshardham

When entering the Akshardham temple, you aren't allowed to carry anything inside, except your wallet (not purse), keys and the clothes that you have on.

Given the hordes of people from various strata of society who arrive and the sheer size of the complex (100 acres), the temple trust has taken its responsibility of providing food for the stomach along with the soul, seriously.

There are a couple of kiosks around the temple complex which sell basic drinks - tea, coffee, soft drinks, some snacks and a few packed meals.

The Premvati Food Court is more comprehensive with a much larger menu.

The North Indian thali has 2 rotis or 5 puris and rice with dhal, a paneer curry, vegetable curry, 2 dry vegetable dishes, papad, pickle, chaach (buttermilk), dhokla, pakoda and a sweet. All this for 105Rs (all inclusive).

Snacks are even more reasonable - dhai bhalla for 25Rs, Poori subzi - watery potato curry with 5 puris for 30Rs, Chhole Bhature for 40Rs. They have samosas, kachoris, kulfi, eggless cakes and other items on the menu too.

Asoft drink is 15Rs, as is a 1 litre bottle of water. Since their tie up is with Coca Cola you get bon aqua water and the coke brand soft drinks - coke, thumsup, fanta etc. The coffee is Gerogia coffee (another coke brand). The hot coffee is 25Rs and the cold coffee (highly recommended - but dont drink the dregs) is 35rs. Cold badam milk at 25Rs tastes like thandai and is very refreshing when you have been traipsing along in the heat.

The food court also has burgers and pizzas (albeit Indianised), dosas and idlis, kulchas and parathas for those who are so inclined.

The food is clean and hygenically prepared and served. How clean the tables and sinks are, do depend on who sat there before you, so choose your seating with care.

You have to place your order outside the building (2 counters) and pay there. Your bill comes with a series of counterfoils which also has the counter number at where that particular dish/drink will be served. There are 8 counters inside and you will have to stand in line for each of them - present the coupon and collect your food item.

The process may seem lengthy, but it is quite efficient.

The food is quite tasty and hence if you are visiting the complex, I would definitely reccommend grabbing a bite at the Premavati Food court before you leave.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Sunday Brunch at Magique, Delhi

The Garden Village
Gate No 3
Garden of 5 Senses
Said Ul Ajaib
97175 35533
We had heard a lot of positive reviews about the food at Magique and thought that a meal there would be a wonderful way to kickstart the New Year. So we headed over for lunch on the 2nd of January, only to find that they only served a buffet brunch on Sunday afternoons.
Since we were hungry enough and wanted to spend a couple of hours catching up with friends it seemed like a wonderful option. The choice on hand was quite varied and with 4 at our table, we were able to taste almost everything on offer.

There were indoor and outdoor seating options. Given the chilly weather and the gentle warmth of the sun we opted for the outside. There were umbrellas overhead to keep the direct sun off our heads and gas heaters were turned on to keep the nip in the air at bay.

 To start off we hit the salad and sushi bar. This entailed 4-5 different salad leaves and a multitude of dressings including thousand island and blue cheese. There were a couple of Middle eastern spreads - hummus, garlic tahina etc, so the bread basket included pitas as well as foccacias. There were 2 veg sushi rolls and the non vegetarian version was just omlettes. While they were very tasty, I don't really know how fresh their raw fish based sushis are.

Then for the hot section of our meals, we headed to the grill counter. Stuffed king prawns, lamb chops, chicken sausages, lemon and herb sole fillets for non vegetarians, grilled polenta, feta slices sandwiched with a pesto like filling and roast vegetables for the vegetarians were being grilled fresh at a table in the garden. Served with sides of a cheese sauce or herbed butter, the items were all very well marinated and cooked just right.

There was a Oriental wok counter right next to it, where the stationed chef was tossing fried rice and noodles to order with a wide variety of meat, sauces and vegetables. This was the only counter that we did not order from, but given the overall quality of food and the aromas from his station, it must have been good.

We next focussed our attention to the pizza counter. The base was a the shape, size and thickness of a Lebanese pita bread.The pizza chef had pepperoni (looked more like salami to me), smoked chicken, 4-5 different cheeses, some sun dried tomatoes and olives as toppings. We however did not let this limit us. Picking up some rocket leaves from the salad table and baby corn and other veggies from the oriental wok station, we requested the chef to incorporate these into our pizza and he gladly obliged.
The little kid with us gave his stamp of approval to the Margharita pizzas. (kids below 5 eat free, above 5 pay 50%)

The grills and pizzas took a few minutes to be prepared, but they were absolutely fresh and tasty when we sunk our teeth into them.

As if this wasn't enough, there was a Thai buffet to go through before we could consider dessert. Steamed Rice, Chicken red curry, vegetable green curry, fried tofu in basil sauce, a mixed mushroom dish (excellent), raw papaya salad, Thai salsa were all on offer. I could have been happy with just the rice and chicken curry for a couple of meals with the mushrooms being an added incentive. There was also a yummy spicy Tom Yum soup that coukd be turned non vegetarian with the addition of the side of steamed chicken.
In comparison to the amount of food we had consumed, the dessert table offerrings seemed a little meager. Mascarpone cheese with strawberries, carrot cake with cream cheese frosting, chocolate bars and a coffee mousse tart were the only options, while I enjoyed the carrot cake and chocolate mousse, the others at the table felt they would have preferred sweeter options.

Soft drinks, mineral water, mocktails and tea/coffee were included in the brunch package, alcohol and cocktails were extra. I had a lovely cinnamon flavored virgin mojito and the husband had a smoothie that he quite enjoyed too. Lots of healthy fruit based options in the mocktail menu. We ended the meal with jasmine tea and coffee.

The brunch was 1200Rs per person + taxes which worked out to almost 1500Rs per person. Extremely reasonable for the amount of food on offer, especially since I heard that an ala carte meal at Magique without alcohol can run into 3000Rs per person.

Ambience : 9
Food : 8.5
Service : 7


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