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1 In Food

The Best Of Malnad Cuisine Only At The Serai Chikmagalur

The Serai

Chikmagalur is charming and riddled with little joys. Located at the foothills of the Mullayanagiri range in the Indian state of Karnataka, this hidden gem is steeped in tradition. As exemplified by it’s culinary skills and local delicacies; which were demonstrated at the Skreem Experiential Bloggers Retreat hosted by The Serai Chikmagalur. I for one always thought that Karnataka was known for churning out 3 very popular cuisines i.e. Uttara Karnataka, Mangalorean & Kodagu. However, Malnad/Malenadu cuisine, rooted in the Indian ideal of ‘living off land’, is set to make Chikmagalur the new culinary hotbed to rivals Mangalore & Coorg. Let me tell you why.

The region receives very heavy rainfall, thus giving it the name ‘Malenadu’ meaning ‘The Land of the Rain’ in Kannada. The rural landscape is all lush farmlands, gently rolling hills and leafy forests, making it a source for some of the most interesting ingredients and produce this region has to offer. Hence, this bucolic town, offers food that is just as pristine and refreshingly free of fads; where farm-to-table is more than just a trendy catchphrase.

Not your average breakfast

The people of this region believe that all happiness depends on a leisurely breakfast that’s fit for a king. So besides sipping on their indigenous coffee, the day begins with a power packed breakfast. This commonly comprises of Benne Kadubu (Butter Rice Dumplings) and Tengina Kayi Chutney (Coconut Chutney).  Showcasing the ingredients, the recipes till today use age old methods of steaming and stone grinding, says Ms. Kanchana Raghunath (Senior Manager – Food Innovation for The Serai Group of Resorts). If you’d like to try your hand at making these dishes, check out Vidyascooking (fellow blogger) for the full recipe.

Ms. Kanchana Raghunath - Senior Manager - Food Innovation for The Serai Group of Resorts

Ms. Kanchana Raghunath – The brains behind Food Innovation for The Serai Group of Resorts

 

Coconut chutney at The Serai Chickmagalur

You are the Chutney to my Kadubu 🙂

Putting on a culinary show

It’s no secret that food is an integral part of any gathering, especially when it’s prepared live. So off we proceeded to Odyssey – The Traveller’s Restaurant at The Serai Chikamaglur, to participate in a live cooking demonstration. Koli Saaru (Malnad style Chicken Curry) and Neer Dosa (Rice & Coconut Crepe) were the dishes of the hour. The technique and ingredients used in these dishes caught our attention, making this a rich and informative experience. For most us, watching Chef Chandrasekhar in his element was quite mesmerizing, as he tossed and turned the gravy in mid-air!

Ingredients for the Koli Saaru (Malnad style Chicken Curry) at The Serai Chikmagalur

Ingredients for Koli Saaru (Malnad style Chicken Curry)

 

koli saaru chicken curry at The Serai Chikmagalur

Chef Chandrashekar working his magic

 

koli saaru chicken curry at The Serai Chikmaglur

Voila! Koli Saaru is ready – Can’t wait to dig in

It’s all in the details

Rick Bayless, renowned American chef and cookbook author, once said: ‘Great food, like all art, enhances and reflects a community’s vitality, growth and solidarity. Yet history bears witness that great cuisines spring only from healthy local agriculture.”

Nowhere has this been truer than in Chikmagalur, thanks to the gracious involvement of the local women folk. The Serai Chikmagalur brought together 8 gastronomical experts from the region to celebrate and host an authentic Malnad feast. Most of all, a feast for the eyes and soul which was put together under the patronage of Mrs. Vasanthi Hegde (Mother of Mr. V. G. Siddhartha, Chairman and MD of Cafe Coffee Day).

Mrs. Vasanthi Hegde presented the Malnad delicacies, with an aesthetic appeal by placing it on a banana leaf. Call us old-fashioned but Prashanth and I prefer eating our meal served on a banana leaf. Furthermore, the significance of eating on a banana leaf is simply hygienic and medicinal.  Hot food served on this leaf produces enzymes, which on being consumed elevates taste buds and helps in digestion.

The round of service began with ‘Course One’ being served on the top half of the banana leaf in a systematic row. Almost all of us, dumbstruck by the goodness and authenticity of each dish wondered if it could get any better than this. But to our luck, dishes served as part of ‘Course Two’ simply made us weak in the knees, asking for more!

Mrs. Vasanthi Hegde giving her final touches at The Serai Chikmagalur

Mrs. Vasanthi Hegde adding her final touches

 

Proud women folk and gastronomical experts of the Malnad region at The Serai Chikmagalur

Proud women folk and gastronomical experts of the Malnad region

Art of Delight

We savoured each delicious mouthful of these 18 Malnad delicacies:

Course One

  1. Harlikai Gojju – Made from local Pomelos marinated and aged with care
  2. Kosumbari – Soaked Urad Dal with fresh cucumber and coconut tempered in South Indian style
  3. Kalule Palya – A dry sabzi made from seasonal and locally procured fresh Bamboo shoot
  4. Halsinkai – A dry sabzi made from seasonal raw jackfruit
  5. Bendekai Gojju – Tender Okra fried in South India masala or gravy
  6. Hurlisaru – Horse gram curry
  7. Kaima Unde – Pan sauteed Mutton balls cooked in local spices
  8. Eery Fry – Mutton liver cooked in freshly ground black pepper masala
  9. Kesa – A dry sabzi made from healthy and iron rich Colocasia leaves

Course Two

10. Holige & Thupa – Sweetened and light Dal stuffed pancakes served with ghee
11. Kadubu – Rice dumplings served with a local chicken or vegetable curry
12. Gangalada Dosa with Meenu Masala – Local ‘Oul’ River Fish served with pan steamed and tawa roasted Dosa
13. Mavinhanina Gojju –  Mini Mangoes cooked in a sweet yoghurt masala with tadka
14. Steamed rice with Rasam – A peppery broth, flavored with tomatoes, onion and garlic
15. Mamsa Dry Fry – Succulent pieces of Mutton seared with fresh red chilli powder and spices
16. Curd rice – Soft rice with fresh yoghurt, chopped green chillies and cilantro tempered in South Indian style
17. Halagana Hittu – A traditional light sweet made with milk and flour
18. Kukus Payasa – Roasted poppy seeds, ground and slowly simmered in a sweetened milky concoction

malnad food at The Serai Chikmagalur

My hobbies include taking pictures of my food 😉

 

Holige & Thupa at The Serai Chikmagalur

Prashanth asking for more Thupa on his Holige!

Food for thought

Good food matters. But what matters most is the nutritional value it provides our bodies. As a result, Malnad food offers just that. A wholesome cuisine, where handmade dishes like Kaima Unde, Mavinhanina Gojju, Kesa and Halagana Hittu captured our hearts and created fond food memories. Hence, we ended our meal with gratitude by folding our banana leaves inwards, showing a sign of respect and gratefulness to the host, for the bounty we received.

skreem and bloggers at The Serai Chikmagalur

Winners of the Skreem Experiential Bloggers Retreat with the lovely ladies of Chikmagalur

 

Disclaimer: We were guests of The Serai Chikamagalur in association with Skreem. All thoughts and opinions expressed here are entirely our own. 

Photo credits: Dhruv Ashra of The Candid Theory & Vikas Badiger of Faces of Bengaluru

Have you ever travelled for food? Tell us about your fondest food memory 🙂

0 In Food

How to score a Spa treatment during your Lunch break

Radisson by GRT Hotels

It was 1 o’clock in the afternoon and after a slightly tiring journey from Bangalore to Chennai, we decided to pull up for lunch at Salt Co. 531 (Radisson Blu by GRT Hotels, Airport Road) before we headed to Mahabalipuram. Somewhere between last minute packing, making it to the train station, returning phone calls and answering emails we skipped our breakfast and settled for an average one on the train. So, by the time we made it to Salt Co. 531, we had grown a massive appetite. All we wanted to do was fill our tummies and refuel for the rest of the day. But the team at Salt Co. 531 threw in a surprise that exceeded every lunch spread we’ve ever been for.

What was the surprise?

Lunch therapy – A wholesome rejuvenating experience that begins with an express and oil-free spa treatment at Bodhi Spa. Furthermore, followed by a sumptuous buffet prepared on pink Himalayan salt blocks which one can savour to their hearts content.

Radisson by GRT Hotels

Gorgeous stairway leading down to Bodhi Spa

 

Radisson by GRT Hotels

Entrance of the restaurant

Who is it for?

Overworked minds and underfed tummies – said so by Mr. Shashikumar U., General Manager of Radisson Blu by GRT Hotels Chennai. Lunch therapy was specifically designed for a new breed of Indians! Working individuals who feel drained and achy by the time the clock strikes noon. Now, thanks to Salt Co. 531, you’ve found the perfect excuse to squeeze time for that perfect ‘R&R lunch-cation’ that will definitely add a spring in your step!

Radisson by GRT Hotels

Quirky corner of the restaurant

Radisson by GRT Hotels

Natural accents and decor elements

Two-minute Takeaway

Guests are graciously welcomed with sparkling welcome drinks and swiftly transferred to the Bodhi Spa to settle in for a relaxing massage. Their award winning masseuses perform an invigorating 15 minute head and shoulder massage that hits the right notes and releases tension. Our hunger pangs were gone in seconds thanks to the magic worked by their hands. Post the massage you are escorted to the restaurant where you are introduced to a plethora of dishes cooked over pink Himalayan salt blocks. Mind you, this process not only tantalizes your taste buds but also elevates the freshness of the dishes, and it’s pretty much evident with every bite you take. It is also believed that this cooking process stimulates circulation, regulates blood pressure and removes toxins from the body. What a perfect way to blend Gastronomy & Wellness! Kudos to the team at GRT Hotels for not just introducing, but also executing this brilliant concept.

 

Radisson by GRT Hotels

Chaat Trolley

 

Radisson by GRT Hotels

Dessert before mains always!

 

Radisson by GRT Hotels

Basil Pinwheels & Caprese Salad

 

Radisson by GRT Hotels

Let’s dig in!

 

Radisson by GRT Hotels

Peri peri fish with green peas ragout definitely stood out

 

Radisson by GRT Hotels

A counter that makes ‘all things sweet’

 

Radisson by GRT Hotels

Keeping my eyes on the prize

Glimpses of Entertainment

Oh! And watch out for the staff at the restaurant. As you dive into main course, they sheepishly come out of nowhere and break into a dance. Their moves on popular Bollywood tracks will definitely put a smile on your face. If you are shameless like me, you can join the bandwagon and shake a leg too 🙂

Radisson by GRT Hotels

Why not a game of foosball after all that eating eh?

 

Tips:

  • The restaurant is open for Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner. However, Lunch Therapy is available only on weekdays between 12 noon and 3 pm. Hence, make your reservations accordingly.
  • While you are there, do stop by at the Great Indian Kabab Factory and relish their Galouti Kebabs. It’s as close as the ones you get at the iconic Tunday Kababi in Lucknow.

Where:

Radisson Blu by GRT Hotels, Airport Road,
531, St. Thomas Mount, Kannan Colony, Pazavanthangal,
St. Thomas Mount, Chennai 600016

For reservations call 044 30853545

Damage:

Rs. 2,000 for 2 people (approx.) excluding VAT & service charge

Rating:

Ambiance: 4/5
Taste: 4/5
Service: 5/5
Value for money: 4/5

Disclaimer: We were guests of the GRT Hotels & Resorts and Firebrand Labs. All thoughts and opinions expressed here are entirely our own.

0 In Food/ Restaurant Review

Caprese, Shangri-La Hotel: Delectable Italian Food with the view of Bangalore Palace

shangri-la hotel bangalore

A few weeks ago, Restaurant Week India returned for the 6th time! So we couldn’t help but jump at the opportunity of planning our entire week’s meal. Just kidding! However, this did allow us to dine at Caprese at a fraction of the price!

About Restaurant Week India

Restaurant Week India powered by Morphy Richards and Cellar Door Hospitality is a celebration of the finest culinary experiences in India held across Bangalore, Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Pune and Kolkata. Some of the best fine dining restaurants are selected to curate a three or four-course prix fixe menu. Hence, this allows participating restaurants to showcase their food by selecting dishes representative of their philosophy, while diners get to experience restaurants they may have hesitated from trying. Restaurant Week India runs typically in March/April and in September. The 10-day event showcases over 75 restaurants across the six cities. Thus offering diners a chance to experience some of the finest restaurants; an ice-breaker of sorts.

About Caprese

Shying away from its traditional Mediterranean roots, Caprese is a trendy Italian eatery situated on the 18th floor of the swanky new Shangri-La Hotel Bangalore. Expect elegant, simple interiors with a menu to match. Divided into three sections, guests can enjoy a cocktail or meal in either the outdoor lounge, open central bar or the restaurant which offers stunning views of the Bangalore Palace. With an emphasis on engaging diners, the team has developed dishes that are prepared right in front of you, using the highest quality of ingredients. Furthermore, merry making accompanied by fine wines picked by professional sommeliers is guaranteed to add to the experience.

Ambiance

It’s interiors reminded us of something we’d seen in a design book; trendy yet elegant. Another feature we loved were the chic and warm design elements brought in by metal hanging lanterns and wood finished ceilings. Imagine a large space that offers floor-to-ceiling windows and a cosy balcony overlooking Bangalore’s skyline. Whatever the occasion, this multifaceted eatery is sure to have the perfect spot for your get-together.

shangri-la hotel bangalore

Warm and elegant interiors

Special Menu

The chefs at Caprese designed a three-course prix fixe menu that included Antipasti, Primi Piatti and Dolce. From Mediterranean delights to artisinal pastas, the menu surely boasted of the best dishes that their culinary team could deliver.

shangri-la hotel bangalore

RWI Menu (Part 1)

 

shangri-la hotel bangalore

RWI Menu (Part 2)

A sign of Generosity

In Italy, most trattoria’s serve bread before your course as a sign of hospitality. Likewise your meal at Caprese begins with a generous portion of varied breads accompanied with dips on the side. Our favourite combination was the Fougasse with olive tapenade dip and Focaccia with red bell pepper and walnut dip. Oh! nothing like freshly baked goodness.

shangri-la hotel bangalore

Breads – Ciabatta, Fougasse & Focaccia

 

shangri-la hotel bangalore

Dips – Olive oil and balsamic dip, Red bell pepper and walnut dip, and Olive tapenade dip

Antipasti

For our first course we ordered Calamari Fritos & Tuna Pate. A dish served with utmost simplicity, the Calamari Fritos served with garlic aioli sauce was a perfect balance of crunchiness and creaminess. Definitely the best Calamari Fritos in Bangalore!

shangri-la hotel bangalore

Calamari Fritos

 

A Bruschetta inspired by recipes from Southern Italy, the Tuna Pate was an elegant and flavoursome dish. In addition, it was garnished with cherry tomatoes and rocket leaves, creating an illusion of vibrance topped with oodles of freshness.

shangri-la hotel bangalore

Tuna Pate

Primi Piatti

After we were done tantalizing our taste buds with the antipasti, we began with course two of our meal. We don’t remember the last time we got to feast our eyes on such a beautiful presentation of a Pasta. The Spaghetti Carbonara surely won our hearts! Probably the closest it could come to what we had in Italy. Rich and creamy carbonara sauce garnished with pecorino cheese and a crisp slice of smoked bacon truly satisfied our craving. However, we would have loved if it was served with pancetta instead of bacon.

shangri-la hotel bangalore

Spaghetti Carbonara

 

While Prashanth ordered his favourite Italian dish – Tagliatelle con fungi selvatici, he couldn’t stop salivating till it arrived. Cooked in utterly delicious sage butter sauce and sauteed porcini and wild mixed mushrooms, was served al dente style. The pasta is freshly prepared in their kitchens and the tastes make it very evident. The sauce was subtle and didn’t overpower the pasta. Not forgetting the mushrooms were perfetto!

shangri-la hotel bangalore

Tagliatelle con fungi selvatici

La Dolce Vita

What seemed like the perfect end to the melodious meal were the duo of sinful desserts we ordered. Desserts are a vital part of every Italian meal and the true test of a good Italian restaurant can be judged by it’s Tiramisu. But, we devoured into what we first ordered; the Caprese cake. Their signature chocolate and almond cake served with vanilla ice cream and chocolate ganache was to die for! So light and airy that we gobbled it up in seconds.

shangri-la hotel bangalore

Caprese cake

 

Now coming to the Tiramisu. Did it live up to the expectations? Well, it certainly did and probably touched an all time high. Our server presented a plate of  deconstructed classic Italian tiramisu which he put together in front of us. What a great way to keep your diners engaged. Thick and indulgent mascaporne cream combined with savoiardi drenched in coffee and kahlua, garnished with cocoa nibs was just exquisite. Tiramisu’s traditionally have a strong coffee base, but this one was subtle and perfect.

shangri-la hotel bangalore

Tiramisu

 

At the end of our meal we were in awe of not just the view, but the food too! And we are indeed grateful to Restaurant Week India for making this happen for foodjunkies like us. Make sure you follow them on Instagram to receive notifications on their upcoming season.

Tips:

  • If you’re looking to host a private party or celebrate a special anniversary, speak to the manager about reserving the outdoor terrace lounge.
  • If you’ve got any queries regarding the menu or the drinks list, speak to your nearest waiter for help and suggestions. The mixologist will also happily create a drink for you based on your preferences.

Where:

Shangri-La Hotel, Palace Rd, Abshot Layout,
Vasanth Nagar, Bengaluru, Karnataka 560052
For reservations call 080 45126460

Damage:

(Rs. 2,277.45 for 2 people excluding alcohol)
Restaurant Week India – 3 course meal: Rs. 900 per person
Service charge: Rs. 90
F&B VAT: Rs. 274.05
Service Tax: Rs. 105.84
SBC: Rs. 3.78
KKC: Rs. 3.78

Rating:

Ambiance: 5/5
Taste: 4/5
Service: 3.5/5
Value for money: 4/5

2 In Food/ Recommendations

The Best of Molecular Gastronomy at J.Hind – Grand by GRT Hotel, Chennai

J.Hind Grand by GRT Hotel

Honestly, we were taken by surprise on entering the beautiful facade of J.Hind, located at the Grand by GRT Hotel, Chennai. The city is so popular for it’s South Indian food, we certainly didn’t expect to experience molecular gastronomy at it’s best.

J. Hind (an abbreviation for Jugalbandi Hindustani which means Indian fusion) offers a progressive approach to dining; fusing modern culinary techniques with traditional Indian cuisine, resulting in a truly unique experience for its diners. Knowing this there was no way we could deny the kind invite to review this fabulous restaurant. J.Hind opened it’s doors soon after the Chennai floods in 2016 and has been around for 1.5 years. So if you live in Chennai, Love your food and have never been here, shame on you!

Ambiance & Decor

Before we devoured into the food, Mr. Vikram Cotah – COO of GRT Hotels & Resorts, shared some interesting insights about the restaurant. J.Hind is a boon born out of the Chennai floods. The rampage caused by 24 feet of water that covered almost the lower half of the hotel, led Mr. Cotah and his team to redo the entire place in just 90 days!

This drove them to partner with renowned designer Krsna Mehta of India Circus to create stunning interiors and decor. Most of the pop up art motifs you see have been custom created and designed for J.Hind giving the space a quirky yet antiquity charm. We love the detailing and inspiration behind each piece of installation. Be it the chandeliers inspired by traditional bali’s (indian tribal earrings) or the exquisite restored stone pillars and arches transported from havelis in Jaipur. Every element is just top notch.

J.Hind Grand by GRT Hotel

Quirky and antique decor elements

 

J.Hind Grand by GRT Hotel

Chandelier inspired by Indian tribal earrings

 

J.Hind Grand by GRT Hotel

Private dining area

Degustation Menu

We were impressed with J.Hind’s innovative menu, which offers an eclectic 9 course meal. Diners get to savour everything from the Chettinadu Noodle Wrap Prawn to the Basil and Rose Ice cream, where the chef makes your dish right in front of you. Interactive from start to finish, there wasn’t a single dull moment at this fine dining hotspot. Therefore, allow us to take you on a culinary tour of some of our favourite dishes.

Amuse Bouche

Our dinner began with Coffee Mishti Doi shots served with Avocado and Chilly Dragon fruit. Mishti Doi is a fermented yoghurt based bengali sweet, but at J.Hind it was served as an Amuse Bouche with a hint of coffee that was simply delicious. And if that seemed fun and unusual, this was further paired with avocado and dragon fruit that was instantly turned into jelly (spherification). On gobbling up these spheres, the explosion in our mouths created the perfect symphony of all things sweet and spicy.

Next on our table was Karivembu Annasi. Because plain old pineapple just ain’t good enough, the chefs here served a jar full of this garden fresh fruit in chunks with a twist of curry leaf dressing and pomegranate drizzle.

J.Hind Grand by GRT Hotel

Coffee Mishti Doi shots with Avocado and chilly Dragon fruit spheres

 

J.Hind Grand by GRT Hotel

Karivembu Annasi

 

The Stock Pot

What came next was too good to be true. A pot of Tomato Prawn Shorba that was generously served with hummus and khakhra on the side. While serving the soup from a tea pot, a cute little tea bag containing dehydrated spices was placed in our bowl to give you the impression of drinking tea. Loved the clear consistency of the soup and the flavours it brought out through the foaming technique.

J.Hind Grand by GRT Hotel

Tomato Prawn Shorba

 

Chat On Chat

Another creatively inspired appetizer was the Indian Focaccia Chat. Watching this dish being prepared in front of us was truly entertaining. So the Indian equivalent of the Italian Focaccia is the Dokhla, a popular Gujrati snack that’s made with rice and chickpeas. While our server was constructing the chat using sweet tamarind chutney, mint chutney, spices, sev and papdi, the chef placed the chunks of dokhla in nitrogen oxide freezing it at a temperature of -190 degree celsius. After this process, the dhokla which is now completely solid, is shattered into pieces on the plate. The dhokla then gets re-hydrated and the entire dish is garnished with fresh pomegranate, coriander and a blend of spices which is added based on your spice preference. The taste by the end of it was delicious, and left us wanting more.

Taste Starters

After all that street drama, next up we were served with ‘Dravidian Delights’ like Pazha Dosa Pops (mini dosa bites with banana and nuts) and Gun Powder Arancini Rice Balls (Indian style arancini). But the dishes that took our heart were the Marina Beach Nethili Fry & the Chettinadu Noodle Wrap Prawn. Seems like presentation is key at J.Hind, so why serve crispy fried locally caught anchovies marinated with dravidian spices plain, when you can serve it on a boat. But nothing beats the flavour of Chettinadu prawns wrapped in crunchy noodles. We could munch on these all day long; with a glass of our favourite white wine Sangria of course!

J.Hind Grand by GRT Hotel

Pazha Dosa Pops

 

J.Hind Grand by GRT Hotel

Gun Powder Arancini Rice Balls

 

J.Hind Grand by GRT Hotel

Marina Beach Nethili Fry

 

J.Hind Grand by GRT Hotel

Chettinadu Noodle Wrap Prawn

 

J.Hind Grand by GRT Hotel

White Wine Sangria

 

All Fired Up

Savouring some of the best seafood and tandoori dishes such as Achari Pomfret, Wasabi Chicken Tikka and Seekh Kabas at J.Hind was an absolute delight. As they say the show must go on, our servers continued to surprise us by cooking these dishes live on our table using the blowtorch technique. Furthermore allowing the spices to blend in well with the meat, making it soft and succulent.

J.Hind Grand by GRT Hotel

Achari Pomfret, Wasabi Chicken Tikka and Seekh Kabas and more…

 

Cleansing

Before the mains were brought to out to the table, we were presented with a Pineapple Rasam Sorbet in the form of a chuski that served as a great palate cleanser.

The Real Deal

We wondered if we have the space to try the main course after the amazing spectacles we experienced and the exquisite food we just ate. Well gluttony might be a sin, but not at J.Hind. Main course began with the Great Southern Indian Railway Co. Chicken Curry. A traditional railway recipe of the British Raj, plated in banana leaves containing lump rice, served with chicken curry cooked in wholesome spices. Most of all, being served on a mini train did add some charm and character to this dish.

J.Hind Grand by GRT Hotel

The Great Southern Indian Railway Co. Chicken Curry

 

Another interesting dish was the Paneer Roulade with Chilman curry. Probably the softest paneer dish we’ve had till date, the roulade added a crisp yet soft texture to the dish and the curry mostly made out of beetroot was flamed giving it a caramelized flavour. Yet another vegetarian delight was the Curried Mac & Cheese Bake. Spiced up macaroni, loaded with cheddar cheese will definitely give the original dish a run for their money.

J.Hind Grand by GRT Hotel

Paneer Roulade with Chilman curry

 

J.Hind Grand by GRT Hotel

Curried Mac & Cheese Bake

Finally, our last two dishes as part of main course were Lamb Shank Nihari served with Tandoori Potato Mash and Gilli Murg Biryani. The presentation of the lamb was average, however it was big on taste and flavour. The Gilli Murg Biryani tasted like Butter Chicken biryani, soaked in rich gravy, making it highly addictive. If you love your butter chicken like we do, you are bound to fall in love with this dish.

J.Hind Grand by GRT Hotel

Lamb Shank Nihari

 

J.Hind Grand by GRT Hotel

Gilli Murg Biryani

Breaking Bread

On breaking bread with baby Missi Rotis and M4, one can go high on the taste of magic mushrooms, blended with fresh peas in a creamy malai based gravy. The presentation was gorgeous (wish we had taken a better picture) and the play on the rotis was super cute.

J.Hind Grand by GRT Hotel

Missi Rotis with M4 – Magic Mushroom Malai Mutter

 

Guilty Pleasures

For dessert we started off with Tender Coconut pudding served with edible orchids. Although we were stuffed after a heavy meal, this dessert played light on the tummy. Ultimately we called it a night with the amazing and refreshing Basil and Rose Ice cream. The best part about this dish was that the ice cream was made from scratch at our table. After whipping cream in nitrogen oxide, the chef took fresh basil leaves and rose petals, froze them in nitrogen oxide as well, and then crushed them into bits, adding it to the ice cream. Voila! We felt like we were back in Italy gorging on freshly made gelato that fused rose petals and pesto in one serving. Absolutely genius and addictively delicious.

J.Hind Grand by GRT Hotel

Tender Coconut pudding

 

Tips:

  • The perfect place to celebrate a special occasion, hence reserve a table in advance.
  • We recommend you try the degustation menu versus the al a carte menu. This menu keeps changing once a month and it will help you sample the best that J.Hind has to offer.
  • If you like your food with drinks, then ask your server for their list of alcohol and wine pairings. They will recommend drinks that go well with the dishes you have ordered.

Where:

Grand by GRT Hotels,
120, Sir Thyagaraya Road, T. Nagar,
Chennai

For Reservations call 044 33011421

Damage:

Rs. 2,500 for 2 people (approx.) excluding VAT & service charge

Rating:

Ambiance: 4/5
Taste: 4.5/5
Service: 5/5
Value for money: 4.5/5

0 In Food

Where to find The Best Gelato in Italy

gallivanting goals gelato

Last year, Prashanth and I visited the beautiful country of Italy and set ourselves to a grand task. To find the best Gelato! Me being the patron saint of all things sweet, couldn’t resist but lay my eyes on every Gelateria we would pass by. This noble mission took us across the canals of Venice, cobbled streets of Rome & Verona, quaint villages of Tuscany, the seaside town of Bardolino and ending with the city of Renaissance – Florence.

Bright and refreshing frutti di bosco. Simple, classic and creamy fior di latte or deep, bitter and rich cioccolato fondente. Nobody does it better than Italia when it comes to the art of making artisanal and authentic gelato.

Our two cents on identifying authentic Gelato

We went on a food tour organised by Eating Italy in Rome (blog post on this coming up soon!) and their insights helped us identify some of the most authentic Gelaterias in Italy. So here is what you should know.

a) If the colours are too bright and dynamic, that gelato ain’t right. The ultraviolet colours mean lots of chemicals were used in the process of making gelato. If you’ve tossed litchi or banana into a blender you would know they don’t come out bright pink and bright yellow.

b) Places that serve pretty looking, fluffy and puffy clouds of gelato need to be ignored. The fluffiness comes from artificial thickeners. Those huge mounds of gelato are basically factory produced where they’re making lots in advance and then reusing left overs each day. So much for freshness eh!

c) Definitely avoid Gelaterias marketing their ‘100’s’ of flavours of Gelato because artisanal gelatos are not made by the 100’s.

To help you navigate the seemingly endless options of cups, cones and flavours, we’ve picked out our favorite stores serving up delicious gelatos across Italy that are truly worth your euros (and room in your belly).
*Drum rolls*

Our Favourite – Gelateria La Carraia, Florence

La Carraia

Address: Piazza Nazario Sauro, 25-red, 50124 Firenze, Italy
Visit their website

 

Giolitti, Rome

Giolitti

Address: Via Amerigo Vespucci, 35, 00153 Roma, Italy
Visit their website

 

SuSo Gelatoteca, Venice

Gelatoteca SuSo

Address: Calle de la Bissa, 5453, 30124 San Marco, Venezia VE, Italy
Visit their website

 

Bar Gelateria Cristallo, Bardolino

Cristallo Bar Gelateria

Address: Piazza S. Nicolo, 69, 37011 Bardolino VR, Italy

 

Gelateria Artigianale e Yogurteria WHY NOT?, Montalcino

Gelateria Artiginale e Yogurteria WHY NOT

Address: Costa Garibaldi, 7, 53024 Montalcino SI, Italy

 

Gelateria La Romana, Verona

Gelateria La Romana

Address: Piazza Santo Spirito, 9, 37122 Verona VR, Italy
Visit their website

 

Gelateria Valentino, Rome

Gelateria Valentino

Address: Via del Lavatore, 96, 00187 Roma, Italy
Visit their website

We hope this helps you, because let’s face it – life is too short to eat sh*t gelato.
Oh! and remember to ask for a double scoop 🙂

Ciao!

Don’t forget to hashtag #gallivantinggoals on your travel pictures – We’d love to see where you’re exploring!

0 In Food

Eat like a Local in Dubai

mixed grill

Dubai has become one of the world’s most exciting culinary playgrounds. It caters to so many diverse cultures and cuisines that it often leaves you spoilt for choice. When it comes to food there’s a clear distinction i.e. Old Dubai vs New Dubai. I love the extravagant and superlative restaurants that represents New Dubai. But after being raised in #MyDubai for over 2 decades, my heart always leans towards Old Dubai which serves up some of the best Middle Eastern dishes known.

Planning your next trip to Dubai? Great! If like us, you spend your time heavily researching on places to eat in the city, look no further. We have listed some of our favorite Middle Eastern restaurants (some absolute hidden gems) along with their must try dishes!

 

Dubai logma fries

Logma (Emirati)

Logma means ‘small bites’ in Arabic. They offer a contemporary take on traditional Emirati cuisine. It’s a casual dining spot, found within the shipping container setting of Boxpark, where diners are treated to an interesting menu ranging from breakfast options to salads, rice dishes and desserts.

Must try

For Vegetarians: Chebab (Emirati pancakes) or Khameer (traditional baked bread) served with cream cheese and date syrup, Samboosa cheese (similar to samosas stuffed with cream cheese and spice chips Oman), Logma fries and Luqaimat (traditional fried dumplings with date syrup or nutella & nuts).

For Non–Vegetarians: Balaleet (sweet vermicelli topped with saffron omelette) and Samboosa beef (similar to samosas stuffed with spiced beef and pomegranate molasses).

 

Dubai Aroos Damascus

Aroos Damascus (Syrian)

A charming old spot located on Al Muraqqabat Street taking up nearly half a block. Dining here in the evenings during winter can be fun. The vibe and energy of the crowd is palpable. The service is quick and the waiters here ensure you are served with piping hot Khubz (Syrian bread that’s similar to pita bread) to go with your dishes.

Must try

For Vegetarians: Hommos Beiruti, Tabbouleh or Fattoush (traditional salads), Falafel (the crunchiest and the best), Potato and spinach Kibbeh (paties) & Avocado milkshake with honey.

For Non–Vegetarians: Arayees (meat stuffed pita bread) & Grilled Wings.

Al Safadi (Lebanese)

A bustling restaurant located on Sheikh Zayed road, known for its reliable Lebanese fare and patio serving shisha. The waiters here ensure that you are fed well and so they keep asking if you’d like to order more. Refrain from saying yes as you might just end up over ordering, in the excitement of trying everything.

Must try

For Vegetarians: Grilled Halloumi, Fatayer spinach (folded spinach pie), Baba Ghanouj (Grilled eggplant with vegetables) and Vine Leaves (Rice stuffed grape leaves in oil).

For Non–Vegetarians: Hummus with meat & pine, Lahem or Kaftah Beajine (similar to a pizza with minced meat, onion, parsley and spices) and Fried chicken liver.

 Dubai - hadoota masreya

Hadoota Masreya (Egyptian)

With an authentic atmosphere, bustling clientele and traditional decor, this restaurant offers a taste of traditional Egyptian dining. Often playing music from Om Kalthoum and stirring up an old school vibe, this is a restaurant that’ll transport you to the streets of Cairo.

Must try

For Vegetarians: Koshari (rice and brown lentils topped with pasta, onions, chilli and tomato sauce), Mahashi Hadoota (mixed stuffed vegetables) and Besara ( seasoned fava beans and green leaves puree)

For Non–Vegetarians: Roqaq with meat (layers of delicate pastry dough and minced meat), Hawawshi (meat-filled bread traditionally spiced) and Egyptian Feteer (layered pastry topped with meat, pastrami or sausages)

 

Dubai - beyti kebab

Bosporus (Turkish)

Decorated in a way that showcases the best of home-style Turkish design, this traditional eatery promises to serve diners a true taste of Anatolia with every tantalizing bite. Bosporus – named after the famed waterway that runs through Istanbul, boasts a festive family atmosphere that’s made it a magnet for late-night meal sessions.

Must try

For Vegetarians: Plain Humus, Cheese Pide (turkish flatbread with various toppings), Nutella Kunefe & Baklava with Ice cream

For Non–Vegetarians: Icli Kofte (similar to meat Kibbeh), Antep Lahmacun (turkish pizza topped with minced meat), Chicken Iskender or Doner Kabab & Mixed grill & Beyti Kebab.

 

Dubai - Al Ustad Special Kabab

Al Ustad Special Kabab (Iranian)

The minute you enter the doors of this hidden gem, you’re considered family. That’s why it comes as no surprise that it is one of Dubai’s most-loved Iranian restaurants. You will notice vintage embellishments that date back to the restaurant’s opening in 1978. Walls papered with photographs of celebrities who’ve dined here. The vibe is lively thanks to its owners who are ‘pranksters’ in their own right, running the show and keeping the guests entertained. The restaurant is simple and homely, offering perfected family recipes and very generous portion sizes. They definitely score brownie points for serving freebies post dinner, such as the mint tea and dates with sesame syrup.

Must try

For Non-Vegetarians: Kebabs, Kebabs and just Kebabs! Especially Cholo (minced mutton or chicken barbecued and served with rice), Joujeh (Boneless chicken cubes marinated in saffron and barbecued) & Sultani (minced mutton tenderloin)

 

Dubai - Al Mallah

Al Mallah & Al Reef Bakery

Partied all through the night and looking to grab a quick bite at 3 am? Been around for decades, Al Mallah & Al Reef Bakery are your ideal pit stops, open for late night cravings.

Must try

For Vegetarians: Special Deluxe Juice at Al Mallah & Zaatar & Cheese Manakesh at Al Reef

For Non Vegetarians: Chicken Shawarma with cheese at Al Mallah, Meat Manakeesh with Cheese and Labneh at Al Reef. Our friend Azaan has created his own ultimate combination at Al Reef, which we call ‘The Azaan Special’. It’s a mash of Cheese Manakeesh + Chicken Shawarma. It’s definitely a must try!

 

Dubai - al damyati lamb chops

Al Damyati & Iskandaron

A place with no frills and fancies has been serving the best lamp chops (according to us) for the past 3 decades. Unfortunately, we caught a whiff of it only 2 years ago. Located in the alleys of Karama, the meat here is grilled to perfection with ghee. You can also taste bits of the black smoky-charcoaly crust that adds to the mind blowing flavour. It’s utterly butterly delicious and finger licking good! 🙂

Must try

For Non–Vegetarians: Lamb Chops with Hummus & Khubz

0 In Food/ Restaurant Review

An Authentic Japanese Dining Experience – Bangalore

Salmon Nigiri

We finally found a Japanese restaurant so good and as close to being authentic that we hugged it like a comfort blanket. The Best part – it’s tucked away like a secret hideout, right in the heart of Bangalore!

Upon entering Harima we were warmly greeted with “Irasshaimase” – which means “Welcome, please come in”. While the restaurant offers the modern/western dining experience, we opted for the traditional Zashiki style of dining. One needs to remove their shoes at the entrance before stepping into the seating area and then sit on pillows laid on the floor facing a low table.

Zashiki

Image by U. Prashanth Nayak via http://www.upnworld.com/upn/restaurant_details/44

 

Their menu offers local Japanese delicacies of great proportions that leaves you spoilt for choice. And that’s probably why we were the only Indians there at the time we dined.

Authentic Japanese food

Spicy Tuna Roll & Butanikuno Shyogayaki

 

We started off with Butanikuno Shyogayaki which is thinly sliced pork pan seared in Harima’s signature sauce. Ah! So bloody good; I think we just died and went to heaven!

Spicy Tuna Roll

Spicy Tuna Roll

Shiitake Teriyaki

We then ordered the Spicy Tuna roll along with Shiitake Teriyaki. The Spicy Tuna Roll were mini rolls made with raw tuna, marinated in wasabi and a spicy sauce and wrapped in seaweed. This was accompanied with the traditional wasabi, soy sauce and gari (pickled ginger). The rolls tasted great however when the Japanese say spicy it doesn’t really means ‘spicy’.  The Shiitake mushrooms were exceptionally glazed with teriyaki sauce. However, it was a little too sweet for our liking.

 

 

Lastly, we decided to end our meal with Salmon Nigiri and it was truly the best decision we made. The freshness of the raw salmon was simply outstanding; unlike what you would find at other restaurants in Bangalore that claim to serve ‘authentic’ Japanese food.

Salmon Nigri

Salmon Nigiri

In terms of service, since the Zashiki room is a partially private dining area it’s rather difficult to get the waiters attention. Hence, it took us a little more time (than we liked) to place our order or request for anything additional.

We would have loved to try some of their eclectic desserts, however we were too stuffed. And so, we decided not to get greedy and ended our meal with the satisfying aftertaste of the Nigiri.

This place definitely makes it to the list of our favourite restaurants in Bangalore and probably the most underrated as well. We look forward to coming back again and feasting over some saké.

Kanpai!
Andrea & Prashanth

Tips:

  • We recommend that you make reservations in advance.
  • Their kitchen closes earlier than most restaurants in Bangalore. That being the case, make plans accordingly.

Where:
4th Floor, Devatha Plaza, 131, Residency Road,
Shanthala Nagar, Ashok Nagar, Bengaluru,
Karnataka 560025

Damage: (Rs. 1,953 for 2 people without Drinks)
Butanikuno Shyogayaki – Rs. 400
Spicy Tuna Roll – Rs. 480
Shiitake Mushrooms – Rs. 330
Salmon Nigiri – Rs. 280
Service Charge, Service Tax & VAT – Rs. 463

Rating:
Ambiance: 4/5
Taste: 4.5/5
Service: 3.5/5
Value for money: 4/5