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Eating Out ~New Set Menu, Bidri, Hyderabad Marriott Hotel and Convention Centre

Last week on a Friday, I found my way back to Bidri at the Hyderabad Marriott. Living on the other end of town, I am always a little lazy to make the trek across town. By the time I reach my destination, I am usually dizzy and cranky (not sure which is the chicken and egg here).

I am always interested to see what newness a hotel puts out when they offer a revamped menu and in this case, I’d already read a couple of reviews and my interest was piqued enough. Bidri is the voluptuously done Indian restaurant at the Hyderabad Marriott and does not shy away from indulgence. I absolutely love the doorways done with the inlaid silver, an art form of Bidar, from where the restaurant takes its name.

I have met Chef Yogi multiple times before, and it is always a pleasure to chat with him. To talk about the hows and whys of menu selection, research and final offering. As a (self appointed) Chef and Baker, I find this process equal parts interesting and frustrating. There is a nice challenge to find a good recipe or be inspired enough to create one, and yet honing it, presenting it to an audience and waiting for their verdict can be somewhat nerve wracking and frustrating. Especially if they didn’t like it as much as you did when you conceptualised it!

The set menu comprises of a set full course meal, soup, starters, main course and dessert at a very attractive price. The menu changes daily and hence offers great variety for the frequent diner.

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Gosht ka Arak

We began the meal with a soup – Gosht ka Arak – Lamb stock, simmered and spiced very subtly and served over pieces of a saffron lamb jelly, which looked like croutons, but actually melted into the hot soup, imparting a deeper flavour.

For the vegetarians there was a deeply rich and flavoured Kaaley Chaney ka Shorba. It was creamy and slow cooked. 

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Kebab Platter ~ Baddami Seekh Kebab, Pakke boti ke kebab, Bhatti ka Murgh

Next up was a platter of kebabs, I tried the Badami Seekh Kebab, studded with broken almond pieces, I found this a little dry.

The other mutton based starter was the Pakke boti ke kebab, lamb cubes, braised in a spiced stock and chargrilled. Succulent with the right blend of spices, this was very good and will be appreciated by meat lovers.

The stand out item from amongst the starters for me was the Bhatti ka Murgh,  absolutely tender and succulent pieces of chicken, marinated in water & pepper overnight, which makes the water drain out and the peppery essence stays in the meat. Grilled in the tandoor and finished off on a pan, this was terrific. The flavour of the pepper just tingles long after you have wiped the last shards off the plate!

For vegetarians, there are some options such as Arbi aur moongphalli ki seekh – Colocassia & peanut spiced mash, skewered and cooked in a tandoor and the Tandoori Malai Broccoli which I didn’t taste.

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We were next served a palette cleanser ~Sambuca, fennel and yoghurt granita, I am not a big fan of either fennel or yogurt granitas, but this one with the fresh falvours was very very good and I loved the presentation.

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For the main course, I had the Raarhi Bateyr ~ A thick gravy of brown onion, tomato and spices, coating succulent young quail (bateyr). I loved this dish and full marks for serving something other than chicken and lamb / goat.

There was also the brilliantly flavourful Dum Ki Macchi ~a yogurt and brown onion based rice gravy, simmered with spices and slow cooked till thick. The fish used is the local favourite, Murrel, which is a delicate fresh water fish. I couldn’t decide if I this was my favourite dish from the main course offerings.

The chicken dish that surprised me with its simplicity was the Rajpure ka Tamatar Chicken ~ This is a dish inspired by Chef Yogi’s aunt who lives in Punjab, it uses no onions, only perfectly ripe tomatoes, cooked down till the gravy is almost sweet and yet retains its freshness. This dish is again very good. I must compliment the Chef and his team on the non vegetarian main course dishes I was served. Each one was so well made that it was tough to choose a favourite.

There are a lot of options for vegetarians too. Choose from Malai Paneer, Nawabi kofte, Baingan aur Mattar ka Bhartha (which I tasted and was underwhelmed, it lacked any distinct flavour).

The main course is served with a selection of breads from the yeasted Khameeri rotis, lacha paratha, naan etc. My favourite was the crisp and indulgent lacha paratha, it was almost like eating puff pastry!

The home style / dhaba style Maa ki dal ~ made with whole urad dal and minimal spices, not buried under an avalanche of cream was very good.

By this time I was completely stuffed and refused the rice dish of the day~ Tawa Meat Pulao and instead took a few spoonfuls of the Award winning Biryani that Bidri is known for. The Biryani did not disappoint.

My favourite part of a meal is dessert and they had two of my absolute favourites lined up for the day. Khubani ka Meetha  and Double ka Meetha.

The presentation of these totally Hyderabadi / Indian desserts deserves special mention here. The Khubani ka Metha was presented inside an edible chocolate globe. The dish was almost mousse like, stewed apriocots topped with a mousse of whipped cream and a smattering of the apricot puree. It was sublime and I scraped every last drop of it from the chocolate bowl.

The Double ka Meetha was served Terrine style, compressed slices of fried bread, layered with khoya (reduced milk) and topped with a caramel glaze, this was great on its own, but paled in comparison to the brilliant Khubani ka meetha. I am a big fan of double ka meetha, but today it was the Khubani which had me smitten!

 

The meal was made memorable by the absolutely delightful company and warm service of the staff. If you like stories behind your food, this is a dinner you should not miss. The options are divided into Vegetarian (Rs. 1500 + Tax), Non Vegetarian (Rs. 1700 + Tax) and Sea Food (Rs. 1800 + Tax) and are  complete value for money.

The menu changes every day, so it would be a good idea to call and check if your favorite options are available before you make dinner plans.

Recommended Dishes: Bhatti ka Murgh, Raarhi Bateyr, Dum ki Macchi, Rajpure ka Tamatar, Laccha Paratha, Khubani ka Meetha, Sambuca Fennel and yogurt Granita

Price: The set menu starts at Rs. 1500 + Taxes f and Rs. 1800 + Taxes for the Sea Food options

Hours: 7.30 pm to midnight.

Location: Hyderabad Marriott Hotel & Convention Centre & Courtyard by Marriott Hyderabad, Opposite Hussain Sagar Lake, Hyderabad – 500080

Credit Card Accepted: Yes

Valet Parking: Available

Telephone: 91 4027522999

Eating Out ~ Incredible Cuisines of India, Kanak, Trident Hyderabad

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Kanak, the Indian restaurant at Trident Hyderabad has been showcasing some well known and not so well known cuisines of the country. We all love our punjabi and south Indian food, but when was the last time you ate food from Jammu or tasted a home style vegetable and chicken stew from Arunachal Pradesh?

This is a food festival (on till the 30th of January 2016) where one gets to sample food that would either remain unknown or is accessible only at the home of someone from that state. This time, Chef Manik Magrotra and his team have chosen to showcase lesser known home style dishes from across the country, including several dishes from Jammu, Magrotras home state, which is otherwise eclipsed by the more well known Kashmir.

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Thattai (Kanyakumari)

A group of food loving bloggers was at the table a few evenings ago to partake in this dinner and the evening began with a chana dal and rice flour (vada) fried dumpling called Thattai, served with a coconut chutney. This to a south Indian is a well known preparation, tempered with spiced and curry leaves, the chana dal vada is a crisper, slightly harder cousin of the popular medu vada. Thattai has many versions and is a popular evening snack in the south, this one was made similar to what is available at Kanyakumari. Though the vada was crisp, the flavours were very subtle, allowing the lentils to stand out.

 

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Aloo Debarre (Jammu)

Contrasting the mild thattai, was the Aloo Debarre from Jammu. This was a tangy ans spicy potato filled fritter, coated with gram flour (besan). It had sharp flavours and a generous amount of heat from the green chillies, served with a very surprising tamarind and radish chutney which I’ve never eaten before, the tangy earthy flavours of the tamarind, in complete contrast with the punch of the fresh radish.

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Bhopali Keeme ki Seekh (Madhya Pradesh)

There was also the melt in the mouth Bhopali keeme ki seekh which is lamb mine, cooked with onion and khoya (reduced milk) to give it a luxurious texture).

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Mutton Kolhapuri (Maharashtra)

For the main course, we had a home style Mutton Kolhapuri which was one of the stand out dishes of the evening with the robust flavours of the spices and yet not as fiery and overwhelming as it usually is. This is an oft abused dish, doused with a lot of heat from chillies usually, but this preparation, the Chef and his team ensured that the recipe was authentic home style.

We were informed that recipes were taken from the homes and families of the various team members on the staff who hail from various parts of the country. Time was spent to discover what they would eat at home, get the recipes and stick to them despite recreating them in a commercial kitchen and therein lies the attention to detail.

We had a tawa chicken from Jammu, cooked with onions and tomatoes and so different from what I know as tawa chicken.

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Jan – Seasonal vegetables and smoked chicken (Arunachal Pradesh)

I loved the simple and yet flavourful Jan, from Arunachal pradesh. This is a stew like curry made from seasonal vegetables and smoked chicken. There is mild heat from the chillies, but the flavours of the vegetables and the milk smokey flavour of the chicken really comes through. This is best enjoyed with plain steamed rice.

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Aloo Chokha with Litti (Bihar)

Speaking of smoked flavours, one of the most popular dishes of the evening was the Bihari Aloo Chokha with litti. If you aren’t acquainted with this combination and are a fan of smokey rustic flavours, this is a must try. The litti is dumplings made of wheat dough, smoked on coals and then doused with ghee, they are aromatic, crisp and smokey on the outside and soft on the inside. Pair this with Aloo Chokha which is a mix of smoked potatoes, brinjal and crushed with onion, green chillies and spices, mixed with mustard oil. This is the everyday food of the humble and yet the flavours are so beautiful. My mouth just watered as I finished typing these sentences.

One of the dishes I loved was the Chakke ki Sabzi from Madhya Pradesh, my research tells me that there is a similar dish made in the state of Rajasthan as well. The main ingredient in this dish is the gluten from the wheat dough, which is extracted in a laborious process – a dough is made of wheat flour and then put under flowing water to wash away the bran and leave just the mass of gluten which is then cut into pieces and made into a curry. The flavour is similar to Soy nuggets, but I have to say I enjoyed this one. If you are upto tryig something new, do give this a shot. The gravy flavoured with cinnamon and other warming spices is every bit an Indian gravy and tastes wonderful with any kind of flat bread, we had it with Kyur, a rustic bread from Jammu.

There was a home style pumpkin curry flavoured with tamarind, jaggery and chillies, cooked in mustard oil called Ambal, again from Jammu.

We tried the pea and spices stuffed masala poori from Bihar, which my fellow diners told me is similar to the Bengali Matar Kachori. we also sampled Kanika, a mildly sweet rice preparation flavoured with nuts and saffron.

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Khaja from Andhra and Chenna Poda from Orissa

To end this culinary journey was Chenna Poda (from Orissa) which I found rather dry and too in your face with the rose essence, I didn’t enjoy this and a Khaja from Kakinada in Andhra Pradesh which is a rolled pastry fried and dunked in sticky sugar syrup.

The evening ended with some raucous laughter with my dinner mates and was an interesting journey to taste dishes I would not have even known of. I enjoyed my meal (which was complimentary!) and recommend this to anyone who wants to try lesser known dishes from the country.

The menu is available as A La Carte until the 30th of January 2016.

Kanak, The Trident, Hitech City, Hyderabad

Recommendations: Aloo Debarre, Bhopali keeme ki seekh, Aloo chokha with Litti, Chakke ki sabzi, Mutton Kolhapuri, Jan

Dinner for two excluding alcohol: Rs. 2500 (approx.)

Hours: 7.30 pm to midnight.

Location: Hitech City, Hyderabad

Credit Card Accepted: Yes

Valet Parking: Available

Telephone: 91 40 6623 2323

 

Its been a long separation from food ~ A recipe for Burmese Khow Suey

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This blog has seen more restaurant reviews in the last 6 months than in all the 8 years that I have been writing it. I think it is safe to say that I have lost my cooking / writing mojo. My blog always gave me joy. A space to document what I cook at home and save some of the recipes for posterity because I cook on impulse and rarely stick to a recipe. Increasingly I have come here, opened up a new post and closed it with a few unfinished sentences, buried as a draft.

I realise this has been happening a lot and try as I might I am unable to shake it off. Usually it is a week or a few days maximum and I can shake myself back into my “good moods”. This time I am unable to. I am unwilling to give up the blog or shut it down either.

I haven’t picked up my camera in months. I browse through the photographs on my phone and realise how boring they are, and yes I am brave enough to admit that. I wonder if I am turning into more of a social hermit. I do spend a large amount of time online, but increasingly have less patience with it or people.

Anyway. The only exciting aspect of my cooking / kitchen these days is my 6 month old black board. In april this year, when my brother’s family was visiting, my niece and I painted a wall in my tiny kitchen with blackboard paint. I use it to make shopping lists, to do lists and meal plans. I have been doing some sort of meal planning for the past few years. Since the beginning of the year, I hand wrote it on paper and put it on the fridge with magnets. It has simplified my cooking and helped me use ingredients more efficiently than I had imagined.

This weeks meal plan

I graduated to the black board in April and cannot recommend it more. None of those fake black board apps for me. I am someone who needs something to be in my face to be able to take action! And yes we do eat a lot of Idli and dosa. My meal plans are pretty standard. K and I prefer south Indian breakfast, I grind a huge batch of idli/ dosa batter at the start of the week to last me 5-6 uses. For lunch it is mostly roti, with two vegetable dishes or one dal and one vegetable. This is except on the weekend when we eat at home and not carry our dabba and hence eat rice for the mid day meal. We try and eat a light dinner, usually soup, stir fries or sometimes again a breakfast item. I even have designated leftover days to clean up the fridge.

Anyways, I think I should do a post on meal planning and the black board soon (if I ever get down to it). It is a joke these days, for K to point out the board to anyone visiting us and tell them, “macha (term of endearment between two guy friends) check what’s for dinner da (term of endearment again), that’s all we’re going to get, no deviations from the daily meal planner”. When Amma is here, K and she will gang up and force me to write “order food” or “food truck” on it and break into peals of laughter.

Why am I writing this? I don’t know, but I feel like telling you the story.

But this is a recipe blog, and a recipe I shall give you. Khow Suey is a Burmese broth eaten with noodles. The broth is very accomodative and one can add any vegetables that are at hand. I’ve used sweet potatoes, yellow pumpkin, coloured peppers and usual vegetables one adds to a stir fry and loved it every time. I teach this same recipe in my Gourmet Soups and Salads class and the students love it.

Burmese Khow Suey with garnishes and noodles

Burmese Khow Suey with garnishes and noodles

Khow Suey (Serves 4)

Grind to a smooth paste the following:

2 inch stalk of lemongrass, crushed lightly or 2 teaspoons of dried Lemongrass

1 inch piece of ginger, peeled and sliced

2 pods Garlic peeled

½ teaspoon Turmeric

½ medium Onion, sliced

For the Curry:

2 cups Vegetables of choice, cut into similar sizes (mushroom, carrot, zucchini, broccoli, cauliflower, beans, yellow pumpkin, sweet potato, spinach, bok choy etc)

2 cups Cooked noodles of choice (soba, glass, egg, rice noodles) – cooked according to the instructions on the pack

1 tablespoon Vegetable oil

200 ml Coconut milk

1 teaspoon Sugar

Salt and pepper to taste

1-2 lime leaves, torn

1 cup water

1 tablespoon gram flour / besan

For the garnish: To be added while serving the soup

Basil, mint and coriander leaves – a few sprigs

1/4 cup Fried onion

roasted and coarsely powdered peanuts

fried garlic chips

Lemon Wedges to serve

red chilli flakes

Boiled eggs, cut into quarters

Method:

Steam the hard vegetables like cauliflower, broccoli, carrots and beans for 3-4 minutes, drain and set aside.

In a pan, heat the oil and add the curry paste, cook stirring for 3-4 minutes till the raw smell disappears.

Add all the vegetables (including the steamed ones) except the spinach/ bok choy if using and the lime leaves and ½ cup water and cook for 4-5 minutes till the vegetables are tender but not overcooked.

Add the coconut milk, salt, pepper  and sugar, stir and adjust any seasoning if needed.

Dissolve the gram flour in the remaining 1/2 cup of water and add to the curry. Stir and cook for 2-3 minutes, add the bok choy / spinach at this point.

Adjust the thickness of the gravy, this will be your main soup so adjust as much as you prefer. Turn off the heat.

To serve the soup, spoon out some cooked noodles into a bowl, top with the curry sauce, garnish with fried onion, garlic, crushed peanuts, basil, mint, coriander leaves, boiled egg and a wedge of lemon.

The curry and the noodles should be refrigerated separately if storing. Assemble before serving. Keeps for 2-3 days in the fridge.

Note: you can add 1 cup of boiled chicken / prawns while cooking the vegetable curry for a non veg option.

Eating Out ~ New Menu Launch, Kanak, Trident Hyderabad

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Thursday evening saw me at Kanak, one of my favourite places for really indulgent Indian food. To celebrate their second anniversary, The Trident Hyderabad has put together a new menu which features some well loved dishes from the many food festivals they have curated over the past two years. Some of the festivals have been reviewed here and you can read all about them in detail ~ Anglo Indian, Khasa Dastarkhwan, Bengali Food Festival

Chef Manik Magotra always focusses on the food and flavours and at times allows the dishes to shine at their simplest best. This is something that hasn’t gone unnoticed by patrons in Hyderabad. While putting together the menu, some old gems like the Dal E Kanak, Patthar ka Gosht, Paturi Macchi, Kashmiri Seekh Gilafi , Murgh Kalmi Kebab etc are being retained.

The meal began with three appetisers. The Soya ke tootak ~ Crisp semolina patty filled with spiced soya bean was my least favourite, it was dry and didn’t have much flavour. Even the chutneys couldn’t salvage this one for me. A case of looks not living up to it’s promise. I would give this one a miss.

Kandhari Paneer Tikka

Kandhari Paneer Tikka

s two layers of soft cottage cheese stuffed with beetroot, dried pomegranate seeds which gives it a tang and chironji seeds to give it a richness. Made in a tandoor, this is a good starter for paneer lovers.

Burrani Kalmi Kebab

Burrani Kalmi Kebab

The next one was the Burrani Kalmi Kebab ~ marinated chicken legs, char grilled to perfection, these were so succulent and flavoured with garlic, pepper and black cardamom. This was easily my pick of the appetisers.

The Delectable Haleem

The Delectable Haleem

We began the main course with that much loved Hyderabadi delicacy Haleem. For those of you who still don’t know it, during the holy month of Ramzaan, Haleem drives Hyderabad berserk with way side stalls mushrooming to serve this meat, wheat and lentil based dish up to the ones who fast and those who just want to eat it. The dish is slow cooked to a mush over many hours, mashed to a pulp and seasoned with a blend of spices. Then garnished with melted ghee, fried onions, mint and coriander and served with a wedge of lemon and sometimes topped with fried nuts or a hard boiled egg, Haleem has GI status. There are many versions of it and Kanak serves a very sublime one. Perfectly cooked, garnished with caramelised onion, this does not come loaded with a film of ghee and was very flavourful.

One dish that I had eaten at the Khasa Dastarkhwan Festival and loved was the Amrud ki Sabzi and I was delighted to have it again. A silken rich gravy made with ground nuts and flavoured with saffron, the guava mildly sweet and yet firm, this is best enjoyed with a flatbread like naan or tandoori roti.

Bharwaan Amchuri Bhindi

Bharwaan Amchuri Bhindi

The other dish was the Bharwan Amchuri Bhindi ~ whole okra filled with a spice blend and tangy dried mango powder and tossed with onions. I didn’t quite like the over powering tang of the dried mango, a flavour I like in small measures. I felt the amchur was a bit too much.

Maratban Ka Meat

Maratban Ka Meat

For the non vegetarian selection, I tried the Maratban ka Meat ~ Traditional lamb curry slow cooked till the meat falls off the bone. This was terrific. The soft mutton, spices very flavourful but not overpoweringly so and the gravy not over whelming, this was my pick of the main course dishes I was served.

Murgh Handi Korma

Murgh Handi Korma

The Murgh Handi Korma ~ chicken in an almond and yogurt base again from the Khasa Dastarkhwan menu was what a good korma should be like, flavoursome and indulgent. The chicken cooked to an almost melting point.

Akhrot aur Badam Halwa and Rajbhog

Akhrot aur Badam Halwa and Rajbhog

The meal ended with a portion each of Rajbhog ~ which was ok, I am not a fan and the stunning Akhrot aur Badam ka halwa ~ a pudding made with a paste of almonds and studded with walnuts, generously coated in ghee. What I liked was unlike most cloyingly sweet Indian desserts, this one was just mildly sweetened, enough to satisfy one’s sweet tooth, yet not enough to cause a sugar rush.

The menu is available as A La Carte from the 24th of September 2015.

Kanak, The Trident, Hitech City, Hyderabad

Recommendations: Burrani Kalmi Kebab, Maratban ka Meat, Amrud ki Sanzi, Akhrot aur Badam Halwa

Dinner for two excluding alcohol: Rs. 2500 (approx.)

Hours: 7.30 pm to midnight.

Location: Hitech City, Hyderabad

Credit Card Accepted: Yes

Valet Parking: Available

Telephone: 91 40 6623 2323

Eating Out ~ Som Tam ~ A Pan Asian Sunday brunch at Thai Pavilion, Taj Vivanta Hyderabad

Thai Pavilion at Taj Vivanta, Begumpet has launched its Sunday Brunch offering called Som Tam. The Pan Asian Sunday Brunch has the theme of “Journey through the Silk Route” and brings together some well loved and a few unique dishes from Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, Thai, Malaysian, Indonesian, and Korean cuisines. Put together by Chef Arun Kumar Reddy and his able team, this brunch is set to delight lovers of Oriental food.

The gorgeous interiors

The gorgeous interiors

I was invited to sample the brunch a week ago and was very impressed with the many dishes some old favourites of mine and some new. The brunch is a 6 course spread and begs you to suspend your diet and rush while you savour the food and drinks.

We began with the Som Tam salad after which the brunch is names, is a Thai Pavilion speciality. Today too, it did not disappoint . The sharp flavours of the sweet and spicy sauce with the crunchy green papaya shreds is always refreshing.

Gado Gado ~ Indonesian Salad

Gado Gado ~ Indonesian Salad

Next I tried the Gado Gado – an Indonesian Salad of raw and steamed vegetables, still crisp to the bite with fried tofu and tempeh and boiled eggs. This was served with a peanut dressing that complimented it well. The mix of textures in the salad is something to enjoy.

The vegetable hot and sour soup that I tasted was very fresh with a burst of flavours and the vegetables retained a bite and were not woefully over cooked as is usually the case with soups.

Assorted Sushi Rolls

Assorted Sushi Rolls

The four kinds of sushi, Maki, uramaki, Temaki and Nigiri were very average. They seemed dry and no amount of kikkoman soya or wasabi was helping bring life (sic!) into it. Due feedback was given to the chef who promised to work on it.

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Dimsums

Dimsums

Loved the Dim Sums, delicately covered with a paper thin coating stuffed with prawns (Har Gao) for the non vegetarian option and mixed vegetables  (Sui Mai)  for the vegetarian option. Truth be told I preferred the vegetarian option better.

The appetizers were many and varied. Each one representing a part of the south east. The Tung tong (vegetarian thai appetizer) an outer crisp fried pastry filled with vegetables was superb. Crunchy on the outside and well seasoned filling on the inside.

Tahu Bakar

Tahu Bakar

This is the first time I tasted the Tahu Bakar – Indonesian tapas of grilled tofu pockets stuffed with sprouts and tho I am not the biggest tofu fan, I liked this one. 

The Ji Yuk Sung – another Thai appetizer which comprised of minced chicken (there is another version which uses pork) served on lettuce leaves was sharp and had a kick from the chillies. I loved this one.

Ca Nuong - Vietnamese roasted fish

Ca Nuong – Vietnamese roasted fish

The Ca Nuong – Vietnamese roasted fish (chunks of basa which is quite the norm with restaurants these days due to its neutral flavour) was so sublimely seasoned with fresh ginger and green onions and fish perfectly cooked that it had me taking second and third helpings of it!

Loved the Tung Tong – the usually money bag shaped pastry crust that is filled with a stuffing. In this case it was folded into a square star shape if that makes sense and filled with minced vegetables.

peking Duck Pancake Rolls

peking Duck Pancake Rolls


The Peking Duck Pancake didn’t allure me – it seemed too dry and the rest of the elements – the shredded vegetables and the actual pancake didn’t have anything binding them together and seemed like different elements forcefully rolled together in a pancake.

I loved the Chor Siu Pork – Roast pork cooked over charcoal, succulent and flavourful like only pork can be, I reached out for seconds and this will be a huge hit with pork lovers.

Temoura Prawns

Tempura Prawns

Also loved the Tempura Prawns, the fresh prawns succulent and the tempura batter lending it the right kind of crispness. These were great with the various dipping sauces.

Water chestnut and Cashews in a spicy Gravy

Water chestnut and Cashews in a spicy Gravy

I was already quite full from the starters when the main course was served. The Hei Phad Prik Haeng which is Water chestnut and cashewnut in spicy gravy was my favourite from the last time I ate here. The crispy texture of the water chestnut in the spicy sauce is terrific. I wish more restaurants in Hyderabad would use water chestnuts.

Beijing Potato

Suan La Tu Dou Si, which is Beijing hot and sour potato string

Then we had the Suan La Tu Dou Si, which is Beijing hot and sour potato string. There is an interesting story behind this dish, apparently the Chef had a request from a Chinese guest, describing this dish and later the guest was taken to the kitchen where he demonstrated this dish. Fine sticks of potato were stir fried with sauces. To be honest, the potato is still crunchy because it isnt cooked through and while it is a great story to tell, I would prefer it fully cooked and then tossed in the sauces. This was a miss for me.

The spread for the main course

The spread for the main course

Pe Phad Prik Nam Manhoi, which is Lamb in ginger oyster sauce was ok, slivers of succulent lamb meat braised in the familiar sharp flavours of ginger and oyster sauce.

Gaeng Kiew Wan, or the green thai curry with chicken has always been one of my favourite Thai curries and at Thai Pavilion they do a smashing job of it. Since they don’t use generice ready made pastes, but make their own, they are able to customise it to the tastes of pure vegetarians who do not eat fish and shrimp paste and sauce. This helps cater to their large vegetarian clientele. The freshly made pastes add such a punch of flavour that is missing when a readymade paste is used. This was eaten with the fragrant steamed Jasmine rice.

Yang Zhou Chao Fan – better know to us as Chinese fried rice was a good accompaniment to the curries

I loved the Bamee Krappow which was a spicy stir fried noodle with lots of fresh basil leaves. A good change from the usual bland noodle dishes served.

The dessert platter

The dessert platter

For a sweet note to end up this expansive lunch spread, we had Tab Tim Grob which is a well loved Thai dessert of water chestnut pearls with rose syrup and coconut milk. I’ve enjoyed this at Thai Pavilion before but what blew my mind was this made into a cheesecake. The crust made of coconut cookies and the mascarpone and coconut milk cheesecake interspersed with the water chestnut pearls and rose syrup. It was sublime, not too sweet, creamy and so indulgent that it is tough to like any other dessert on the buffet after eating this one!

There was an ice cream made with Thai green curry paste which also I loved, the surprising flavours of galangal and lemongrass pairing well with the cool creamy coconut milk base.

Dessert Platter

Dessert Platter

There were also some chocolate filled rolls which I should have totally skipped, it didn’t have anything going for it.  

Priced at Rs. 1399 all inclusive, this is a very competitive price and worth every penny. The price is for the brunch buffet which includes house wines, brews and spirits. Lunch goers can also enjoy a dip in the pool for an additional Rs. 100.

Recommendations: The dimsums, Grilled Fish, Ji Yuk Sung (minced chicken served in lettuce cups), Green Curry, Water chestnuts and cashew gravy, basil noodles, tab tim grub cheesecake, green curry ice cream

Where: Thai Pavilion, Taj Vivanta, Begumpet

Date: Every Sunday from 11:00 AM to 3:00 PM

Price: 1399/- All Inclusive

For reservations and more information: 040 – 6725 2626

Eating out ~ Journey of Godavari ~ Food festival at Okra, Hyderabad Marriott Hotel and Convention Centre

The Hyderabad Marriott has a special place in my heart. K and I frequented the coffee shop during our courtship, sitting at a table overlooking the pool, lingering over their delectable array of desserts while we tried to get some more time together. We also celebrated our first wedding anniversary there and it was probably one of the few times K agreed to sit with dim lights and eat!

When I was invited to sample the food at their Journey of Godavari, I was intrigued by the name. This a special food trail which chronicles the river Godavari’s influence on flavors and presents the cuisines of Maharashtra, Telangana and Andhra.

Chef Yogi

Chef Yogi

According to Executive Chef Yogender Pal or Yogi as he is fondly known as, the planning and research took more than a month. Recipes were dug out from family and friends, ingredients were sourced and dishes were tested. A team of his best cooks, including those that hail from the regions of Maharashtra, Telangana and Andhra came together to bring this offering to the people of Hyderabad. Each dish was tested for authenticity by putting it to a taste test by the experts.

I can’t remember when I ate anything Maharashtrian on a menu anywhere. So when we began our meal with the delightfully sharp Misal Rassa, I am pleasantly surprised. The thick tomato and spice based soup has a base of moong and mati sprouts. It is a thinner  version of misal and the chef says that when made into a thick gravy it can be eaten with bread or rice. The flavours are sharp and tangy, the sprouts adding a bit of body to the soup.

Ulli Garelu with Tomato and Onion Chutney

Ulli Garelu with Tomato and Onion Chutney

Next up we try the Andhra favourite – Ulli Garelu which is essentially the Andhra version of the medhu vada, served with a spicy tomato and onion chutney that is coarsely ground. I loved the crisp vada with the rustic chutney.

Kothmir Vadi

Kothmir Vadi

There is also the Kothmir Vadi which is surprisingly moist, chickpea flour tempered with spices and a lot of fresh coriander leaves is steamed and then deep fried. This is served with a green chutney and I loved the flavours of this Vadi.

For the mains, the pre set tasting meal was served as a thali although the dishes for the festival are a part of the evening dinner buffet.

The Main Course Offering

The Main Course Offering

We had a Maharashtrain Kolambichi Bhaji – Lots of finely chopped onion sauteed with spices, tomato and lots of fresh grated coconut and fat succulent prawns lovingly nestled in the thick gravy. This is not a flowing gravy dish, but it isn’t dry weither. The prawns were very fresh and melded so well with the sweetness of the onions in the masala.

The crowd favourite Natu Kodi Pulusu – country chicken cooked homestyle in a gravy thick with spices, this is the legacy of the telugu states of both Andhra and Telangana. To me this was my least favourite dish, not because it was badly made, but there were other stand out dishes on the menu that I tasted.

The Konaseema Korameenu Kura was a tamarind gravy based fish curry which uses the regions favourite fillets of Murrel fish. What added superb flavour to this dish was the pearl onions used whole in this curry. What I loved about this dish was it was completely home style and the flavours of the ingredients were drawn out by cooking it on a gentle and slow simmer. This curry pairs excellently with the Pullattu – a thick and spongy dosa made from slightly sour batter.

There are many other delicacies such as the Pachi Royyalu Gongura (fresh prawns cooked with tart sorrel leaves) and a crab in the shell preparation also from the Coastal Andhra area.

For the vegetarians, there is a huge array of dishes. Each one representative of the region and robust with flavours.

I tried the Muvva Vankaya – Similar to the gutti vankaya, but drier because it is sans any gravy. Bursting with the nutty flavour of ground sesame and peanuts along with garlic and other spices that are stuffed into slit baby brinjals and cooked till the brinjals are melt in the mouth soft.

The Hing Aloo Jeera was adequately spiced and flavoured, a nice simple preparation for a vegetarian must have – potato.

The most impressive vegetarian dish of the day for me was the Ambat Godavaran – Channa dal cooked to a mush and flavoured with raw mango pieces and sweetened with jaggery, this had deep flavours and was so creamy and indulgent, that it is best enjoyed with some plain steamed rice. I am not very fond of sweetened lentils, but this was terrific.

Gummadi Kaya pulusu (pumpkin cooked in a tangy gravy), Panasa ginjalu vepudu (sauteed jackfruit seeds) and the famed Ullavacharu is also on offer.

The dishes are part of the dinner buffet. Each day there is a selection that is available. There are live counters serving dosa, rotis etc.

Amongst the rice dishes, the Karivepaku Annam that I tasted was superb! the fresh and strong flavours of curry leaves used both in paste and powder form to flavour tempered rice was an excellent accompaniment to the curries.

For desserts we had the Puran Poli – a delicate roti stuffed with benga gram and jaggery cooked and then mashed. We also had a crisp Arisey, which is a deep fried sweet made of jaggery and rice powder. The sesame seed crust gave it a nice nutty flavour and crunch.

The festival began on the 28th of August and ends on 6th September.

Recomended Dishes: Muvva Vankaya, Misal Rassa, Ambat Godavaran, Konaseema Korameenu Kura

Dates of the Festival: 28th August to 6th September

Price: The buffet is priced at 1358 All Inclusive

Hours: 7.30 pm to midnight.

Location: Hyderabad Marriott Hotel & Convention Centre & Courtyard by Marriott Hyderabad, Opposite Hussain Sagar Lake, Hyderabad – 500080

Credit Card Accepted: Yes

Valet Parking: Available

Telephone: 91 4027522999

Eating out~ Molecular Gastronomic Drama! Tuscany at Trident Hyderabad

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Thanks to TV shows, the world of Molecular Gastronomy has been watched, savoured and drooled upon. Some unbelievable creations are made, served to the diner at the table with an unbeatable dose of pure drama. What meets the eye is seldom what hits your palette in the world of Molecular Gastronomy. I was excited to be invited to experience this spectacle at Tuscany, the Italian specialty restaurant at Trident Hyderabad.

The restaurant is always tastefully done with dim lights and the tinkling view of the busy Hitech City area traffic lights. We begin the evening with the customary freshly baked foccacia and a superbly made white wine Sangria. The citrus notes enhanced by the slices of fruits was just what the evening called for.

Chef Rahul Gomes Pereira and his team along with the Executive Chef Manik Magotra spent months prepping to bring this food festival to Hyderabad. In Chef Manik’s words “To give to the city something that’s never been done before”. The Kitchen turned into a lab and experimentation began in all earnest to prep for the 10 day festival which has been on from the 15th of August until the 25th of August.

Molecular Gastronomy is a very modern style of cooking that marries the advances of science and technology with the actual preparation of food. What this means for you and me is that we are presented with stunningly plated dishes, which sometimes are very deceptive in their looks because they seldom taste what they look like. Flavours are highly saturated which makes you take notice of the core ingredients much more than what we would normally notice and the use of visually pleasing elements such as foam, smoke and liquids turning into little tiny caviar like balls or flash frozen greens or the dust of an ingredient presents itself on a plate.

Deconstructed Caprese

Deconstructed Caprese

The first course is an appetiser – Deconstructed Caprese. Caprese is one of my favourite ways to eat mozzarella. I even have a recipe for it on my blog. The plate arrives with small spoons laden with what looks like red coloured noodles topped with cheese. The noodles are actually flash frozen noodles made from tomatoes, the mozarella takes on a whole new texture because of the way it is presented and I am fascinated with the caviar like tiny balls of balsamic! It is a burst of flavours and the textures are so subtle that they belie their looks! I am smitten and wait for the next course.

Mushroom Cappuccino

Mushroom Cappuccino

I had a savoury cappuccino for the soup course. Presented like a regular cappuccino is, in a cup and saucer with a wafer as an accompaniment that turns out to be parmesan biscotti. The cloud of mushroom foam topped with the of porcini mushroom gives way to an intensely flavoured creamy soup. The texture contrasts between the crunchy biscotti, foam and the creamy soup is a good play off. I had more than what I intended to consume which will tell you how partial I am to mushroomy flavours. This one is not for those who do not relish the fungus.

For the main course, I sample both the Quinoa and pearl Barley and Buffalo Wings.

Quinoa and Pearl Barley with Truffle oil and Rucola Orange Salad

Quinoa and Pearl Barley with Truffle oil and Rucola Orange Salad

The Quinoa and pearl barley with truffle oil crumble is a very interesting dish that draws again on textures and flavours. There are sundried tomatoes and black olives studded into the quinoa and pearl barley, the textures complement each other. The Rucola (which I found very tough) and Orange salad that accompanies adds a nice fruity note with the balsamic and wine reduction, tempered with pomegranate molasses.

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Buffalo Wings with Blue cheese foam and Red hot caviar

The Buffalo wings with blue cheese foam and red hot caviar is a true showpiece of Molecular Gastronomy. Chicken marinated and beaten to derive the texture wanted then slow cooked using a technique called Sous-vide which is vacuum packed food that is cooked in a temperature controlled water bath for a few hours to retain its moisture, texture intensify its flavours. The blocks of chicken are topped with a soft foam of blue cheese and topped with red hot caviar which is actually pearls made out of a spicy sauce. I loved the flavours of every element of this dish although blue cheese isn’t for those who dislike strong flavours.

Chef Pereira is delighted with the response the food festival is getting and thinks that all the hours of prep is worth the delight on the faces of his diners who going by the full restaurant are lapping up this gastronomical spectacle. Chef Manik tells me that each item on the Ala Carte menu is painstakingly constructed from scratch. The nature of preparation is such that nothing can be made much ahead, stored or preserved. Ingredients and elements disintegrate if kept, some infact are constructed just seconds before it gets plated and some things have to be done at the table itself. This means that all hands are on deck in their kitchen and the training is super intense. Sustaining an elaborate menu as a regular offering therefore is not currently possible.

The meal is almost coming to an end and we are presented with Earth ~ Dusky planet. It is a plate with a spherical chocolate shell, a hot truffle sauce is poured on it, melting the outside and revealing the core which contains a duo of mousse – one a wild berry and the other is vanilla. There is a compote of wild berries as well and chocolate sand on the plate as a contrast to the texture of the silky smooth mousse and ofcourse the drippings of the hot chocolate truffle sauce! I am not a very chocolate person, but the combination of the berry flavours with chocolate is classic and I dig into even the last bits.

Pineapple and Pepper corn crepes flambed with dark rum and served with a Licorice ice cream

Pineapple and Pepper corn crepes flambed with dark rum and served with a Licorice ice cream

Just as I think the drama won’t get better, we have another dessert plate sent to our table. This time it is Fire ~ A small block of pineapple and peppercorn crepes (Carribbean inspiration here), served with a liquorice ice cream which I am excited to try. Not happy enough with the myriad flavours on this plate, the chef decides to set it on fire and flambes the whole thing! The dark rum caramelises the flavour of the crepes, and the peppercorns hit the tip of the tongue so intensely that the crepes can be had even without the ice cream and would taste complete. The licorice icecream! Oh man it just took my breathe away ~ the flavour of the licorice is just perfect, enough to entice, but not strong enough to overwhelm. I drained every last drop of this. For me this was the piece de resistance and I ended my meal on a very high note. I do not think any other dessert will replicate this experience for me for a long time.

This was a whole new experience in food for me. It would be safe to say that this city has not experienced anything like this before and is truly something that takes you by surprise. The winner for me in this whole experience was the play of flavours. Each essence captured and intensified, the drama is just a huge bonus.

Recomended Dishes:  Fire ~ Flambed pineapple and peppercorn crepes with licorice icecream

Deconstructed Caprese

Buffalo wings with blue cheese foam and red hot caviar

Dates of the Festival: 15th August to 25th August 2015

Price: A meal for two (A la carte) would be approximately Rs. 3500 + Taxes.

Hours: 7.30 pm to midnight.

Location: Tuscany, Trident Hyderabad, Hitech City, Hyderabad

Credit Card Accepted: Yes

Valet Parking: Available

Telephone: 91 40 6623 2323

PS: The meal was complimentary as I was invited by the hotel to the restaurant, however the views are my own.

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