Tuesday 2 October 2018

Kolkata Street Food Festival at Monkey Bar

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It's that time of the year when Bengali's world over travel back to India to reunite with their loved ones and celebrate the Kolkata's biggest festival - Durga Pujo. The grandeur and the extravaganza of the pandals and the celebrations are spoken about world over and is a festival looked forward to not just by Bengali's but people of different religions and castes as well. Like all festivities, people flock to the pedals not just for worship but also to experience the Bengali gastronomy which is really sought after. 

While Pedals are known to have food stalls set up with some of the traditional bengali delicacies on offer; this year around; Monkey Bar decides to take us on a gastronomic trip down the iconic lanes of Kolkata. 'Next Stop Kolkata' is a special menu curated by Kolkata based home chef 'Its Misra' and Monkey Bar's head chef 'Deeraj Varma' will be available across Monkey Bar outlets in Bangalore, Delhi, Kolkata and Mumbai all day from October 4th to 21st, 2018. 

What's different about this food festival is that Money Bar honestly attempts to showcase the classic and traditional street food available in the streets of Kolkata which became available as way back in it's time as immigrants from different parts of the country and world started to make Kolkata its base. It can be said that the Kolkata street food is not the local street food but an inspiration / ode to the global immigrants who have made Kolkata their home.

The menu's got the Chinese inspired prawn dumplings widely available at the Tiretti Bazaar area; Pork momo's widely available at the many Tibetan joints at Elgin Road; Kolkata-Style North-Indian Chaat of Moong Daal Pakodi from Vardaan Market ; Beadon Street Fish Roll and many more. Each dish available on the menu has a Monkey Bar twist to it and it does uplift the preparation for an enjoyable experience. 

During the preview, I tried a few dishes from the menu which includes the lovely deep fried fish fillet breaded on the outside and stuffed with a mince curried shrimp filling called 'Beadon Street Fish Roll' made popular by Mitra Cafe; 'Vivekanand Park Ghooghni' a dish of curried white peas topped with potato sali; normally served with Pav but here was served with a wonderful masala brioche bread.

Continuing the lunch, the Moong Daal Pakodi was served as a chaat topped with khatta-meetha chutney, yoghurt, boondi, sev and crisp fried curry leaves; a Monkey Bar take to the traditional Moong Daal Pakodi served on the streets at Kolkata. 'Esplanade Mughlai Porota' is served in 2 variants - stuffed with egg or with spicy mutton Keema filling. We tried the one with egg and it came served along with Paanch phoron baby potato. 

My top picks for the day were these next 2 dishes:
- 'Girish Park-er Shoitan Deem' aka Egg Devil - This was boiled egg encased in a Shammi Kebab mince instead of the minced potato encasing as available on the streets near Girish Park. Well, another great example of how Monkey does a twist.

- Chitpur Road Chicken Rezala - It's a mildly spiced and flavoured white chicken curry; silky texture getting its subtle flavours from cashew and poppy seed paste comes served with the triangle porota known widely in Kolkata as 'Teen Kona Porota'.

Then; Monkey's got to do cocktails too and so we have 3 cocktails inspired from the flavors experienced and time chef Dheeraj spent on the streets of Kolkata - 'Piara Peara' - Tequila based cocktail with Guava juice spiked with tobacco; 'Puchka Paani Capriojka' - Vodka, Gondhoraj lime, mint and puchka Paani (Pani puri water) and then the 'Thaanda Cha' - Vodka, chillied spices infused Darjeeling Tea.

I'm going back here for some of the above dishes and a round of keema stuffed mughlai porota. When are you headed here?  

Oh! You got to know this; if you hold an original driving licence from Kolkata each day you are in for a treat; courtesy Monkey Bar. 

Bon Appetit!

Address: #610, 12th Main Road, HAL 2nd Stage, Near Crosswords, Indiranagar, Bangalore
Phone Number: +91 80 4411 4455

Note: This visit to Monkey Bar was on invitation but the opinions expressed are solely mine and are absolutely unbiased nor influenced by the brand in any way.
Pictures Courtesy: Monkey Bar

Monday 3 September 2018

Checked out the Smoked Meats Menu @ Plan b, Bangalore ?

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With guest for the day arriving and the beer and cocktails flowing in; Thashwin and Chef Daya were quick to get started with introducing the new menu of smoked meats. Meats Smoke the best and here on the menu is a lot of pork and chicken with some beef options as well. Most meats brined for over 24 hours, pork shoulders smoked for 8 hours, chicken smoked for 4.

Doing honours is the nachos with pulled pork and pulled chicken (2 different dishes). BBQ sauce was bloody good and the pork was clearly the preferred meat.

Smoked / grilled chicken wings came served on a board with the plan b signature garlic yogurt dip. The smoked chicken had the basic spice rub marinade and was grilled to perfection. This dish was addictive and we cleaned up numerous boards of chicken wings. I’m going back here for this for sure.

We merrily sipped on to our drinks and we knew our next course was the pulled pork burger and beef brisket burger. Considering we were on a tasting spree, we were served the pulled pork sliders and beef brisket sliders instead (No, sliders are not served on the menu). I don’t eat beef and having eaten the pulled pork burger before at Plan I looked forward to the dish. Today, it wasn’t the best I’ve eaten at Plan b but nonetheless I’d give the pulled pork burger a go again for it has been so very good previously.

Pulled Pork Slider (Read Burger)
For the next course - the mains, the griller was brought out and the meat was Pork Chops. The pork was fall of bone, well charred and glazed. Served with a side of mashed potato this was the highlight of the lunch meal.

From the mains, we also tried the smoked chicken topped with a sweet and sour sauce and with coleslaw on the side. The chicken had a lovely spice rub on it and the meat was succulent and perfectly done.

For the finale there was Smoked Ham and it arrived as a perfect show stopper - whole leg of pork beautifully glazed and was carved at our table for serving. Served to us in smaller portions was sliced ham basted with a Chili-Honey sauce with grilled veggies and choice of sides. The sauce was perfectly balanced and went really well on the ham. Meat was well done but I’d have liked it to be done medium rare. My pick of sides was the corn on the cob and a creamy and rich mac and cheese.

This lunch meal was on invite so we got to try most of the menu. When calling from the menu, you can either have - 
Mains ordered based on individual meat portions which comes with a side of choice


If you want to go all out you can hit the meat platter where you can choose 4 of the many preparations in meat and 3 sides of your choice. As usual, the portions are very generous so go hungry to enjoy a lovely meal.

This menu is offered in addition to the regular menu and while Plan b offers 1 + 1 on food for Zomato Gold members on the regular menu; this menu of Smoked Meats is exempt from Zomato Gold or any other 3rd party app offer. An average meal for two with a starter, 2 mains or a single platter of meat will cost around ₹ 1500 plus taxes and charges.

Do let me know what you tried and what you loved from the smoked meats menu? 

Address: Plan b, All Outlets - Brigade Road, Shantinagar, 12th Main, Indiranagar, Bengaluru

Phone Number: +91 888002 2737

Tuesday 21 August 2018

New Menu @ Kebabs & Kurries - ITC Hotels Gardenia, Bengaluru

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Pic Credit: ITC Gardenia
ITC Hotels, in my opinion has given us 2 of the finest restaurants in the form of ‘Dum Pukht’ and ‘Bukhara’. One introduces the dum pukht style of cooking from the region of Awadh and the other serves the royal repast of the North-West Frontier. They have a legacy of their own and have been serving up an enriching experience time and again. With the legacy comes traditions based on which food from one restaurant will not be served in another. While we speak of this, I have to make a mention that I was recently invited to ITC Hotel Gardenia to try out a menu that had some classics and some new introductions to the menu Kebabs & Kurries a very elegant restaurant nestled within the luxury property.

One look at the classics and my question was, "What is the difference between the classics here and the ones at Dum Pukht and Bukhara?" The immediate response was, “'Kebabs & Kurries’ caters to the best of both worlds and not just this; it also has some dishes which are legendary on its own.” The response was clear and convincing. I now looked forward not just to the new introductions but also some of the existing items from the menu I have always loved. It was a table of non-vegetarians and so that we could do justice to our vegetarian friends and readers, we requested for a few vegetarian dishes to be served in smaller portion so that we could give them a try as well.

We started sipping on our welcome drink and in a short while food started flowing in with the non-vegetarians starters making its way. ‘Gilawat ke Kebab’; a finely mince lamb kebab rich in flavor of cloves and cinnamon was served around and the aroma clearly set the tone for the goodness that was in store for the rest of the afternoon. This kebab was a fine melt in mouth preparation with the flavors of the lamb and spices well married. Ignore the folk and knife on this one because you don’t even need teeth to enjoy this dish. 

Murgh Kali Mirch’ Kebab is a signature dish at Kebab & Kurries. This one is a creamy chicken malai tikka spiked with freshly milled black peppercorn. If there is one dish that can set benchmark then it has got to be this juicy, succulent and delicious chicken dish. To say the list, eating this was a delightful experience. ‘Jhinga Ajwaini’ was jumbo prawns marinated in an “ajwain” flavored mixture of yoghurt and other spices skewered and roasted over charcoal fire. Like any other experience at ITC Hotels, the prawns were perfectly cooked made for a delectable eat. I was in awe of the chicken and the prawn dish and wished to ask for more but resisted for there was still a long way to go that afternoon. And guess what? It was the right thing to do.

What arrived next, blew our minds to the extent that the whole table was at awestruck for a moment and then the next moment was this exchange of appreciation for this vegetarian dish called ‘Lagbeer’. This was the vegetarian version of the ‘Gilawat ke Kebab’ pan grilled with butter for a crispy outer crust and made with fresh beetroot stuffed with a mixture of green chilies, mint, cashew and cheese flavored with cardamom. Still mid-way through our lunch, this dish was a declared winner on my mind for this afternoon. You’ve got to eat it to know what I’m trying to rave about. Another vegetarian dish that we were really impressed with was ‘Nadru Ki Chaamp’; crispy golden fried cake of minced lotus stem enhanced with flavors of onion, green chilies, pounded coriander seeds and red chilies.

Moving on to the mains, were the Kurries both vegetarian and non-vegetarian which were served in the company of assorted Indian breads of which I really enjoyed the warqi paratha and the khamiri naan. Most of the dishes followed in quick succession which included ‘Mahi Qaliya’ seer fish in a rich gravy of fish stock, soured with dry mango and enhanced with fenugreek seeds; ‘Nehari’ Succulent flavourful lamb preparation simmered overnight with green herbs and traditional spices, served with crisp onions, coriander, mint, green chillies; ‘Murgh Khushk Purdah’ in non-vegetarian and famed ‘Dal Bukhara’ among many of the vegetarian dishes. I really enjoyed the ‘Dal Bukhara’ which is a signature dish at ITC hotels and the ‘Mahi Qaliya’; but what really had me hooked on to from the mains was the Nehari. This was an Awadhi preparation and was packed with flavor and way different from the ones you normally are served at most restaurants which do it the old Delhi way. I’ll do a separate post on the ‘Nehari’. Stay Tuned.

This was followed by the Awadhi ‘Dum Pukht Gosht Biryani’ which comes served in a handi that is sealed before it is set on dum for cooking. The seal is usually broken at the table right before serving. The rice grains are well flavored and the biryani was fragrant and flavorful made with basmati rice and succulent lamb.

For dessert there was the ‘K&K Platter’ that comes plated with Kulfi, Shahi Tukda and Shaan-e-aam and also tried the 'Khubani Chenna'. I’m not high on desserts and usually enjoy a really small serving a bite into it to finish off a meal. Here’s a picture of the dessert platter and 'Khubani Chenna'

Indian portions are known to be sharing portions and a meal for two at Kebab & Kurries will cost an average of Rs. 3500 plus taxes and charges. 

My best bets from this menu new and classic are 'Lagbeer', Nadru Ki Chaamp', 'Daal Bukhara' (Classic) from the vegetarian menu and the 'Jhinga Ajwaini', 'Murg Kali Mirch' Kebab, 'Nehari' and the 'Mahi Qaliya' from the non-vegetarian menu. After all this, I had to meet the chef behind this culinary delight and here's a picture with the Sr. Master Chef himself who was visiting from ITC Maratha, Mumbai.

I'm signing off by saying, "Go give it a try to experience the elegance our Indian Culinary has to offer." This menu is available for both Lunch and dinner; all days of the week.

Will you come back and tell me what you loved?

Address: No. 1, Residency Road, Bengaluru - 560025
Phone Number: +91 80 2211 9898

Note: This visit to ITC Gardenia Hotel, Bengaluru was on invitation but the opinions expressed are solely mine and are absolutely unbiased nor influenced by the brand in any way.

Tuesday 14 August 2018

Navroz Dronu at SodaBottleOpenerWala

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Navroz Bhonu is a feast of traditional Parsi food that the Parsi community / families feast on as they mark the start of a new year. At SBOW, there are 2 variants – Vegetarian and non-vegetarian and each can be upgraded to be enjoyed with unlimited cocktails and sangria. This Bombay-Irani café and bar from AD Singh and team was conceptualized to pay tribute to the Parsi community and to retain the dying legacy of the bustling, chaotic, quirky, colorful and eccentric Irani cafes of Mumbai. For the past 3 years, SodaBottleOpenerWala has been much adorned for being able to create the vibe a Bombay-Irani Café is known for.

Keeping with the tradition of Navroz / Parsi New Year, celebrated on August 17th, marking the first day of the first month of the Iranian calendar, SBOW now offers the Navroz Bhonu till the 24th August for both lunch and dinner. We got a sneak peak of the Navroz Dronu’ and here’s how it looked like:

The non-vegetarian Bhonu comes plated with mackerel fish fry, minced chicken pattice, Jardalu Ma Murgi, Mutton Pulav, Sarai, butter phulkas, Masala Ni Daal, classic kachumbari and a lovely Gajar Mewa Nu Aachaar. On the vegetarian bhonu, the non-vegetarian dishes are replaced with the likes of Vegetable cheese pattice, traditional Bhindi dish, Vegetable Pulav, and Patra Ni Paneer. Basically, what you get to feast on are traditional dishes and recipes which usually pass down through generations of Parsi families.
Non-Vegetarian Dronu
Vegetarian Dronu
While we awaited the arrival of our bhonu, we sipped on some mocktails and cocktails. In picture below is the lovely ‘Greater Than’ Gin based cocktail and the shikanjee (mocktail). What we also enjoyed was the classic Parsi drink ‘Raspberry Soda’ (no picture though).

The dronu with unlimited cocktails and Sangria comes prices well at Rs. 1200 plus taxes and charges which is a steal and the Navroz Drone without alcohol comes at Rs. 700 plus taxes and charges. Available for both lunch and dinner from August 10th till the 24th of August, go feast away the Parsi way while sipping on some of the unique cocktail recipes curated to go along with this wonderful Parsi cuisine.

When: August 10th to August 24th, 2018 – Lunch and Dinner
Wallet Factor: Rs. 700 ++ for the Bhonu; Rs. 1200 ++ for Bhonu with unlimited cocktails and Sangria
Address: 25/4, Lavelle Road, Opp. Harley Davidson Showroom, Bangalore
Contact: +91 70222 55299

Sunday 21 January 2018

Travel for Food - Escape from Bangalore for a Quick Lunch in Mysuru

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Been nearly a year since I posted on this blog and getting back to it, I start with travelling to another city for lunch. Travel experiences is something I've always wanted to share and this time around I start by combining 2 thing I love the most - Travel for Food. 

Travel to Mysuru makes for a perfect lunch plan. You can do a roadtrip and explore the food at various hole in the wall and legendary outlets or simply take the train if you simply want to get to #Mysore hassle free for a quick yet delicious lunch. 
Depending on how much time you have and how you want to make the best of it, you can also add on a few things to do in Mysore and extend your Itinerary to make it a fun day trip.

What I did this time was - 
8 AM - Boarded train 16536 Gol Gombaz Express from Bangalore City Railway station.

11 AM - Arrived at Mysore Junction and headed out for a meeting.

12:30 PM - Wrap up the meeting and headed straight to Hotel RRR for a wonderful Andhra style meals, Chicken Biryani and some starters to go along. 

1:45 PM - Headed back to the railway station at Mysore which is a 10 minute drive from RRR.

2:15 PM - Boarded 12008 Shatabdi Express for Bangalore. 

4:30 PM - Arrived back at BLR railway station.

What are you waiting for? Go ahead and book your ticket for a quick lunch at Mysore via the IRCTC Website.

- Auto is a convenient means of commute.

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Wednesday 8 March 2017

New Menu Introductions 2017 - Smoke House Deli

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It's a new year, it's a new menu.. lots of interesting flavors, textures and ingredients. It's not just food but also some interesting cocktails and infusions. Experiencing this menu was joyous yet a task and believe me when I say that for the sheer count of Nee dishes we tried on this lunch table specially curated for media. 

Without much ado, let's get started with as it's aptly called 'Starters' / 'Appetizers'. We had 4 of them on the table with each very distinct from the other. My pick of them all was the prawn fritters tossed in spiced mayo and the Kashmiri Chili and cottage cheese flatbread from the vegetarian menu.

Drinks flowed in with each course. To start was a concoction of whiskey, angostura and orange bitters, Cherry liquor and a dash of lime. 

The roasted corn soup arrived with a dollop of sour cream and drizzle of truffle oil. I missed the flavor of truffle oil, and the sour cream missed marring well with soup which was otherwise good in both taste and consistency. Salad was refreshing with an assortment of lettuce, tomato, boconcini and dressed in a pesto vinaigrette. Like always I've always enjoyed salads at SHD and this time was no different; unfortunately, don't have a picture to share.

Cocktails on the new menu are concocted from house infused liquors like rum and gin. I tried the SHD Collin contained gin infused with kaffir lime leaves, lime wedges and peel; SHD spiced Apple daiquiri was concocted with both rum and Apple juice infused with cloves, star anise and cinnamon and finally SHD Cosmo which was made with gin infused with dill leaves. 
SHD Spiced Apple Daiquiri
Coming back to food, I loved the slow roasted cauliflower and mascarpone risotto in comparison to its counterpart Black pepper crusted chicken risotto. The former opens up in flavors as you chew it and progress with eating this dish. Another one from the menu I really enjoyed was the potato gnocchi stirred in a 3 cheese sauce with roasted vegetables. 
As if this was not enough, next arrived the mains followed by dessert. For the mains, my top picks were the rosemary roast chicken which leads the way from an erstwhile menu signature I loved - half roast chicken and the perfectly pan grilled bhetki fish fillet, generously portioned with a crispy skin to crack through. One was a hearty portion of chicken, mashed potatoes, sautéed mushrooms with a poached egg drizzled with a jus flavored with rosemary while the other came served with a subtle jalapeño corn sauce creating just the required flavor profile. Between the chicken and the fish, it's just the need of the palate that can define the better one. 

The slow braised Belgian pork spare ribs lost out on 2 counts - the ribs could have been chunkier and fall off the bone and the bacon around the accompanying pork meat parcel should have been crispy. flavor wise, no misses here. 

Desserts were fantastic, be it the white chocolate cake with a lemon molten cake, prune crumble tart with dark chocolate mousse or milk cake dressed with toasted hazelnuts. They were rich, decadent, came with distinct flavor profiles. 

It was an enjoyable afternoon over good food from the kitchen of Chef Saurabh Arora and catching up with friends and I do look forward to getting back to Smoke House Deli for these new introductions and some classics; available at both their outlets in Bangalore - Lavelle road and Indiranagar. I urge you to do so too. An average meal for two will be Rs. 1500++; additional for cocktails.


Ground Floor, No. 52 & 53, Lavelle Road, Bangalore 560011
No. 1209, Ward No. 72, Hal IInd Stage, 100ft Road, Indiranagar, Bengaluru 560038
Phone Number: +91 80 4051 5151 

Note: This visit to Smoke House Deli was on invitation but the opinions expressed are solely mine and are absolutely unbiased nor influenced by the brand in any way.