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Eating Out – The Grill, Poolside BBQ at Taj Vivanta

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Last week, I found myself wading painfully for a full 95 minutes through mind numbing traffic, all the way through the IT hub of Hyderabad till Begumpet for dinner. I confess that several times during the drive I wondered why I was even making the trip and considered turning back. I realised that even if I turned back, I would be stuck in the same awful traffic trying to reach home and that it was a case of a lesser evil to continue onto Taj Vivanta where I was invited to meet their new (not really, he has been here for 3 months already) Executive Chef Jaffer Ali who comes to the city after a stint with the iconic The Rain tree at Vivanta by Taj -Connemara, Chennai.

By the time I was seated and given a drink, I forgot about my traffic woes and decided not to dwell on them anymore. The Grill is the pool side Alfresco restaurant of the property. Situated right in the heart of the city, opposite the iconic Hyderabad Public School at Begumpet and yet the setting will transport you to serenity, without the muffled sounds of traffic below.

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The weather was pleasant, last bit of the Hyderabad waning winters, the singer was doing his best, some songs better than the others and there was the promise of some really good food.

The Sizzling BBQ nights is a mindfully curated menu. The selection of pre plated starters is a combination of Indian and International recipes. Some of which are the Executive chef Jaffer’s own innovations.

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The meal started with Hyderabadi gosht marag, a uniquely Indian soup made from mutton, spices and yogurt. The weather is still pleasant to start your revering meal with a hot soup and this one hit all the right spots.

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I tried the Tangdi Bhrawan Kebab, the chef’s special which was chicken drumsticks stuffed with spiced chicken mince, the spices not over powering but a distinct flavour of mace. It was so filling that I couldn’t finish the whole portion. Zaffrani Machi Shammi, a fish based interpretation of the classic Hyderabadi Shammi kebab was a little too dry for my liking.

There was also cajun spiced BBQ chicken winglets which were nice and juicy, delightful for chicken wing lovers and the mild and succulent Tali huwi Mahi Mahi. Filets of delicately marinated fish, pan grilled. I skipped the peri peri shrimp skewers which everyone loved due to a food allergy.

The grills come accompanied with an assortment of mint, peanut chutneys and pickled onions. My pick was the delicious garlic butter.

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The vegetarian options included sigdi paneer,Cajun spiced vegetable skewers and a few others but by far my favourite was the melt in the mouth galouti kebab made out of elephant foot yam or suran (in hindi). It was very flavourful and the texture was superb. I had seconds of this one.

While declaring I had no place for the main course which was yet to come, I knew I was just too curious to not stuff myself.

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The menu offers both Indian and continental main course options. Each of which was interesting, I picked the dum ka murg served with garlic naan. I cannot tell you how delighted I was with this dish. Honestly this eclipsed the BBQ sizzler as well. While dum ka murg is a very commonly appearing Hyderabadi dish, I have rarely come across a really well made one outside of a home kitchen. It is either spiced too much or too rich. This rendition was perfect in my humble opinion. The layers of flavour from the golden friend onions, cashew paste that is used to thicken the gravy and a delicate use of the spices, just to enhance the dish and not overpower it. This is a must try.

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My fellow diners chose the spaghetti puttanesca which was also very good. Fresh flavours from the tomato and other vegetables. This is a good option if you are vegetarian.

There is the ubiquitous Hyderabadi chicken biryani and a garbanzo bean version for non meat eaters.

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The dessert platter was a mixed bag. The innovative Palak halwa to me tasted like chyawanprash, heavy on the ghee and the difficult to mask spinach flavour. I liked the stewed apricots which is a nod to the khubaani ka meetha but the pick for me was the sublime rose icecream. It was delightfully fragrant and mild, just the right dose of sweet to  seal the meal together.

The menu for both the sizzler appetisers course and main course changes every day for 4 days before being repeated. Attractively priced at Rs. 999 for the vegetarian and Rs. 1199 for the non vegetarian variants, this is an excellent price point if you are celebrating the weekend or want a quiet romantic dinner without the bother of having to make a la carte decisions about dinner. Make the best of the balmy Hyderabad evenings and head over to sample the fare.

Where: The Grill, Taj Vivanta, Begumpet

Date: Every evening, from 7:30 PM onwards

Price: Rs. 999 onwards

For reservations and more information: 040 – 6725 2626

{Eating Out} Rivaayat – Reviving traditional Indian cuisine, Kanak, Trident

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Happy New Year my dearest readers! I hope the year has begun well for you and that the rest if it will bring to us all the love of friends and family, good food and warmth in our hearts, especially in these uncertain times.

I have no personal goals for this year, like the one before because I find them pointless. So no, I am not going to be losing weight, or eating in moderation or earning more. I want to live in the moment and savour it, a little more consciously than I already do.

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Kanak, the award winning Indian restaurant nestled at Trident Hyderabad, under the stewardship of the delightful Manik Magotra is bringing their much appreciated Food Festival Rivaayat back to the city for the third time. The festival showcases celebrated recipes from the regions of Awadh, Punjab, New Delhi and Hyderabad.

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I was invited to sample a few of the offerings at a preview and I must say that Kanak continues to keep its position as one of my favoured Indian dining places.

Chef Praful who is at the helm of the kitchen this time talked about how some old favourites from the previous few outings have been retained and a few new ones added. The emphasis was on allowing a couple of star ingredients to shine without overpowering it with heavy duty masalas which is what most people associate Indian cooking with these days.

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The carefully curated menu has a bit of everything. We started with an array of appetizers. Aloo Kachalu a light salad like dish made from boiled and tempered potato and colocasia, sprinkled with steamed black eyed peas, roasted nuts and a spicy chutney. The chutney brought together all the flavours and did not over power everything else. Even someone who is not very fond of the usually slimy colocasia will enjoy this light appetiser.

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Khumb ki galavat a vegetarian rendition of the famous galauti kebab, was true to its name, melt in the mouth. It was hard to tell that this was a vegetarian rendition as the flavours and texture was EXACTLY like the meat version. This was the standout appetiser of the evening.

For the non vegetarian options, we were served Khatti kairi ka Rampuri jhinga, prawns marinated in yogurt and raw mango and then cooked in a tandoor. I have a severe food allergy to prawns so I did not taste this, but my fellow diners enjoyed this very much, saying the flavours were so sublte that it was sublime.

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Lagan ki Boti, lamb kebabs braised with nuts and caramelised onions was a dish where technique stood out. It was hard to miss the subtle spices, marinating the meat for a long time, slow cooked to a state where it simply gave under the pressure of the fork, I could also taste the desi ghee in this dish which added such a depth of flavour to the lamb along with the sweetness from the slow caramelised onion. This is a dish that combines the best of traditional Indian cooking, ample marination and slow cooking. A stand out dish for meat lovers.

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The main course that followed had Mahi Kaliya I have mentioned earlier that brought up on a strongly spiced and tamarind infused Andhra style fish curry, I welcome the lightly spiced Kaliya where the fish stands out. The fish used was Bekti and the light stew of ground onions, with just a spot of tamarind to give it a slight tang was refreshing.

Puran Singh ke dhabe wali chicken curry while is a mouthful to say, this simple home style chicken curry with a runny gravy is perfect to mop up with fresh naans or a light pulav. If you are missing homestyle chicken this is the dish to order. I am always delighted when the chicken used is tender and succulent as opposed to the rather tough cuts of meat one usually encounters these days.

For a person who has never met a Sarson ka saag I have liked, I was happy to be proven wrong with this. The pureed mustard greens, tempered with simple spices in ghee and eaten with Makki ki roti which is a flatbread made with coarsely ground corn meal was fresh and rustic. This winter speciality from Punjab is much celebrated on the interwebs and each time I heard its praises, I wondered what the big deal was because I had always tasted poorly made versions. This version I must admit made me take back all my words. Comforting and flavourful, don’t miss this dish if you are a lover of your greens.

Baingan ka bharta, smoked brinjals, cooked down to a mash, in a gravy of onion, garlic and tomatoes again is a dish that is popular, but not everyone gets right. This one was so well made that the smoky flavour was subtle enough to remind one of how it was prepared, but not loud enough to dominate.

We also had home style Lucknowi dal, channa dal made very simply with a mild tempering, Punjabi matar pulao, a rice dish that is generous, flavoured with caramelised onion and fresh peas, it lends itself to the star curries and doesnt draw attention to itself. I also had a sheermal from the assorted breads on offer, simply to try something other than a regular naan or tandoori roti.

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The meal ended on a sweet note with Gulab phirnee, a rice pudding flavoured with fresh rose petals which was not too sweet and hence such a nice change from the usually sugar loaded Indian desserts. The Dry fruit halwa was studded with blanched dried nuts, figs and a whole host of other dried fruit, poppy seeds, etc. and I did a double take when I read in the description that it contained bottle gourd, because I could taste none of it. Again not overpoweringly sweet and hence I was able to guiltlessly demolish two entire pieces of this rich halwa.

The underlying theme of the meal was subltety. No overpowering masalas, no power games with cooking techniques. Just back to basics and giving in completely to old world slow cooking.

Rivaayat has been well received in its previous outings and will am sure be enjoyed this time as well. The festival is on until the 25th of January and is open only for dinner, menu offers A la carte options.

The promotional is on till the 25th of January 2017. Do not miss this!

Rivaayat, at Kanak, Trident, Hyderabad

Recommendations: Khumbh ki gahlavat, Lagabn kiosk bout, Mahi kaliya, Sarson ka saag, dry fruit halwa

Timing: 7.30 pm to midnight.
Location: Hitech City, Hyderabad
Credit Card Accepted: Yes
Valet Parking: Available
Telephone: 91 40 6623 2323

{Eating Out} Coast to Coast – Amara, Trident

After a really long hiatus from all things blogging and specifically all things food review, I found myself seated at Amara, at Trident Hyderabad. This is one of my favourite hotels, I have dined here multiple times at all of their restaurants. Trident has always been experimental about bringing new food experiences to the city and has done so admirably.

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Chef Manik welcomed me at the entrance and we chatted a bit, him telling me he hadn’t seen me in ‘forever’ and I telling him of my woes with Sage. The restaurant was buzzing, it being Thanksgiving day and I was pleasantly surprised to know that the festival was celebrating food from the world over. I must say that I didn’t expect that, I expected the food from the Indian coast, this was taking it to another level altogether. While the promotion widely showcases the Indian coastline, there are dishes from the Japan and Phuket in the far east to the Marseilles coast, Palermo in Italy), Sicily, the West Coast of America and the celebrated food from the Caribbean Islands.

At buffets (the promotion is on for their regular dinner buffet at Amara till the 30th of Nov. 2016) I usually skip the stock dishes and check out what is new. Buffets are easy to get lost at, the spread is huge and usually not as enticing as ordering A la carte.

Interspersed with the familiar, were some kick ass specialties from the coasts of the world in all the courses.

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Starting with the huge display of sea produce at the sea food bar, there were oysters and humongous crabs. I skipped the soup section altogether and headed for the appetizers and salad.

Among the appetizers, I enjoyed the Hawaiian Salmon Tartare, it was served up in cute little glasses, fresh flavours and very light. Kerala fried fish was the next dish that stood out. They also had sea food ceviche and a shrimp cocktail which my fellow dinner guests loved but I did not try since I am allergic to shrimp. They also had a non coastal spread, the koshumbari from the salads and beetroot chaap, salt and pepper vegetables stood out. There is a live chaat counter and a grilling station. I tried some grill fish which was so fresh and bursting with flavour.

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For the main course, they had a diverse array of dishes. The Gulf coast seafood stew was my absolute favourite. The light stew with the assorted sea food was delicious, allowing the flavours of the ingredients to shine through without overpowering spices or seasoning. Those familiar with Indian style of preparing seafood will know that we usually douse it in masala, so this was very palette pleasing, I went back for seconds.

The Phuket Massaman curry with chicken was the other dish I truly enjoyed, subtle Thai flavours in a creamy coconut gravy. There was also the Islanders Goat curry, which was flavourful but the meat a little chewy and a couple of other dishes I didn’t try. I also confess that this buffet may not be suited to vegetarians (there is plenty of regular food on the buffet tho) because of the seafood galore! From the Indian dishes I really enjoyed the Bengali Doi Mach and Goan Lamb Xacuti. All of these paired well with plain steamed rice, there was also an assortment of both Indian and other breads.

For the vegetarians there was Pad thai and a Sicilian port caponate which looked good.

There is also a live pasta counter if you are so inclined, like I mentioned, the array is huge, tipped in favour of the seafood lover tho.

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The dessert assortment, which is my first love at a buffet was huge.

They had an extremely well made Creme brulee, pastries and a lot of Indian sweets, including my favourite kaddu ka kheer, the lemony passion fruit mousse and banana foster which was outstanding!

The promotional is on till the 30th of Nov 2016. Do not miss this!

Coast to Coast at Amara, Trident, Hyderabad

Recommendations: Hawaiian Salmon Tartare Salad, Goan Xacuti, Gulf coast seafood stew and Phuket massaman curry (main course), Banana foster and passion fruit mousse (dessert)

Timing: 7.30 pm to midnight.
Location: Hitech City, Hyderabad
Credit Card Accepted: Yes
Valet Parking: Available
Telephone: 91 40 6623 2323

 

Eating Out ~ Flavours of Malaysia, Okra, Marriott Hyderabad

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I am partial to Asian food, not that I have eaten it all, also since I am nothing but honest, maybe not the most authentic either. On the whole I do feel that Asian food, especially east Asian, is multi layered. There are so many flavours and ingredients, each one treated differently in each of the dishes they lend themselves to. I love the fresh citrusy bursts as much as the chilli and spice kicks, and the sweet notes in between!

Malaysia is one country that has eluded me despite having family there and receiving endless invitations from them. I’ve heard so much about how much I would enjoy it because it is truly the melting pot of Asia and has so much to offer for the foodie in me (almost an abuse these days!). So when I had an invite to sample the food of Malaysia, prepared by a chef who was flown in especially for the food festival, I was delighted to accept.

The Marriott Hotel and Convention Centre has been hosting some wonderfully curated food over the last few months. Read all about my previous experiences here and here. It is always nice to get to sample food that is less common and wins special brownie point from me  for the effort of Chef Yogi and his team for this.

The blogger’s table began with a very elaborate plate of assorted starters. The attention to detail in the selection of dishes was something that I enjoyed. The starters included that classic Malaysian street food, chicken satay – strips of marinated chicken, skewered and grilled and served with a peanut sauce. This was sweeter than I have ever tasted, but not in a bad way.

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The Bergedil Ikan (fish patty) in the appetizer platter

The Bergedil Ikan, had to be one of my favourites. It is a patty made of potato and fish, well seasoned with shallots and chilli paste.

Kerabu kambing (sliced lamb) was tender and succulent and I loved the flavour of the lemongrass which came through.

There were also two salads for the vegetarians, the Kerabu kacang kudasald which is a combination of chick peas, cucumber, coriander and tomatoes with lime and vinegar dressing and Rojak which was fresh fruit tossed with sauces and peanuts

The main course was quite elaborate and having whetted my palate I couldn’t wait to sample the next course.

Chef Ruhizad  who has a lot of experience curating Malaysian food around the world, had taken care to be sensitive to the local palate and toned down the use of extremely strong flavours such as shrimp paste, while keeping in mind the fact that Hyderabadis eat a lot of chilli. Spice powders and pastes were carefully made and hand carried by him from Malaysia for this festival. The rest of the ingredients were locally sourced. He shared some funny anecdotes of his experiences and was very pleasant to interact with. He also mentioned the well documented fact that Malaysian food is a melting pot of traditional Malay, Chinese, Tamil, Indonesian and Thai food & cooking styles. The dishes chosen were to showcase this diversity in their cuisine.

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Ikan goreng berempah ~ Deep fried fish marinated with shallot, garlic, fennel and other spices was rather dry, tho I suspect the amount of time it spent on the table before the bloggers were satisfied with their photographs of it was the actual culprit here!

There was also a giant grilled red snapper, marinated in spices which was served to us. The preview was a sit down meal although the festival is presented as part of their buffet.

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I liked the simplicity of the Ayam masak merah, a dry chicken dish. The joke around the table was that it was similar to Chicken 65, a dish that Hyderabadis absolutely love!

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Kambing bakar percik sos for me was one of the highlights of the evening. A roasted lamb dish that was flavoured with coconut milk and chilli. It was done to perfection and I couldn’t but help be pleasantly surprised that despite my expectation of Malaysian food showcasing sea food well, the lamb dishes here stood out completely.

Sotong sambal, I’m not the biggest fan of squid, but I relished second helpings of this dish. Cooked in a classic malay sauce, it was the right balance of fishy.

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For the vegetarians, the Kentang masak lemak chili padi which reminded me of Thai style curries was subtle and multi layered with the chilli paste and coconut milk. Eaten with rice, this was comfort food for sure.

Curry Sayur sayuran, a mixed vegetable curry with kaffir lime & galangal again had familiar flavours, very similar to the red Thai curry but very sublime.

The almost Indian style Kobis goreng kunyit bercili which was sautéed cabbage with garlic, red onion & hold your breath! curry leaves was my least favourite dish of the day. I would give this one a miss, unless I hadn’t had a dose of roughage for the day!

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The dessert platter

We ended the wonderful meal with a Malaysian dessert platter. There were banana fritters, with a lovely indulgent vanilla sauce. The classic Badak Berendam which to put it (sacriligeously) frankly is a Malay version of modak. Glutinous rice encases a filling of palm sugar and coconut the dumpling in its green food colour drenched avatar was gummy, not a texture I enjoy.There was also a pudding kind of preparation which was mild and flavoured with coconut milk. The best was the coconut milk creme brulee. I loved the fact that there was so much variety and that the sweetness was mild.

Food festivals are a good way to sample a cuisine. Care is taken to showcase a wide variety of dishes so that one gets a birds eye view of it. The next best thing if you cannot travel to sample local eats is to take advantage of these kinds of opportunities.

The food festival is in collaboration with Tourism Malaysia and is part of their regular elaborate dinner buffet. It is on until the 29th of May, the menu changes everyday, so expect to see some new and well known dishes on the spread.

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

 

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Eating Out ~ The Himalayan Pop-up, Bidri, Marriott Hotel and Convention Centre

North Indian cuisine is limited to mostly Punjabi or the occasional Rajasthani or Gujarati cuisine for the city of Hyderabad. So it was interesting to hear of a Himachali pop-up being curated to show case dishes of the Himalayan land. Hosted by Bidri at the Marriott in Hyderabad, curated by home chef Sherry Malhotra, the festival brings under the spotlight a very refreshing set of dishes.

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Chef Sherry Malhotra

The interaction with Chef Sherry included an interesting conversation about Himachali food. Much of the cuisine, especially in the winter months when fresh vegetables are scarce, relies on dried legumes, lentils and other such. The chef learnt many of the dishes from her grandmother which reflected in the home style taste and flavours that were retained in the dishes which renders so much more authenticity to each one.

I was invited for a preview of this pop up along with a few other bloggers and it began with a wonderfully interactive cook off session between two groups. The dish we had to recreate was the Chana Madra, a light yet fragrant yogurt based gravy of boiled chickpeas and cottage cheese. I fulfilled my childhood fantasy of cooking in an actual hotel kitchen with this!What is remarkable of this cuisine tho, is that despite not having too much fresh vegetables, especially in the winter months, the range of dishes is a vegetarian’s delight. The preparations are simple, using basic spices from an Indian kitchen which are easily available and uses lots of dairy particularly yogurt in a lot of dishes, also tamarind to flavour gravies. This ensures that the flavour of the ingredients shine through and are not overpowered by spices.

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Channe ki Tikki

The vegetarian starters included the Channe ki tikki (Pan fried tikkis stuffed with a tangy tomato chutney/ relish) for me this was the stand out offering from the vegetarian starters.

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Arbi aur Moongphalli ke Seekh

There was also the Moong dal ki pakodi and Arbi aur moongphalli ki seekh (Colocassia and peanut skewers cooked in the tandoor) I had this seekh at the preview of their set menu as well.

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For the non vegetarian starters we had Dahi ki chaap (Lamb chops braised in buttermilk with fennel seed) The yogurt renders the meat succulent and the spices are very subtle. We also had the Macchi fry usually prepared with trout, but this was seer fish marinated with fresh ground spices and pan-fried. The spices are marinated with mustard oil and the flavour of the mustard oil stands out remarkably. I enjoyed this preparation. We also had the Methi aur saunf ki murgh chaap (Chicken leg marinated with fennel and green chilli marinade and cooked in a tandoor)

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The line up of the main course dishes

For the main course, we had the Channa Madra (Chickpeas cooked with yoghurt and lotus seeds) which I liked a lot for its simplicity.

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Naashpati ki subzi

There was the delightful Naashpati ki subzi  (Sweet crunchy pears cooked with whole red chillies and fennel) this was the stand out dish and the opinion was unanimous at the table! I also loved the Sepu Wadi (Urad dal dumplings, steamed and then cooked in a spinach puree). The grainy texture of the urad dumplings giving the creamy spinach gravy a nice contrast.

There was also Bhey (Lotus stem cooked with yoghurt) which retained the crunchy and chewy texture of the lotus stem. Maash dal (a home style urad dal dish cooked with yoghurt) and Kaale channe ki maani (Black chickpeas cooked with tamarind and onion spinach fritters) This was delicious, not just because of the spinach fritters, but the tamarind gravy was light and yet flavourful. 

We enjoyed this with Babru, which is a deep fried bread, made out of fermented dough and stuffed with a coarse paste of urad / black lentils. Something like a bhatura with more personality. An assortment of other flatbread including makki ki roti is also available.

For the non vegetarians, there are dishes such as the Chaa Gosht which is Lamb braised in a yoghurt and gramflour gravy, tasted very similar to a yakhni gravy. There was also the Methi Macchi (Fish cooked with fresh fenugreek and tomatoes) which for me was one of the best fish preparations I’ve tasted, the flavour of the methi a sharp contrast to the mild flavour of the fresh water fish.

There was also a very fragrant Tudkiya Bhaat (Basmati rice, tempered with spices and tossed with assorted vegetables and yogurt) what I loved about this rice preparation was that even though it uses cooked rice, the flavours are like a pulao.

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Khus khus aur makhane ki kheer

To end the meal on a sweet note, we had Meetha Bhaath a very mild rice dessert, flavoured with fennel and saffron. The knockout though, was Khus khus aur makhane ki kheer (Poppy seeds and lotus seeds cooked in milk with cashewnuts, raisins and dates) the flavours were so beautifully blended, the texture of the poppy seeds, offsetting the almost velvetty-ness of the lotus seeds, it was a terrific end to the very interesting meal.

Chef Yogender Pal has given this city a very beautiful insight into the cuisine which would otherwise remain unknown, he deserves all compliments for conceptualising and bringing to life this pop-up.  If you are in Hyderabad over the weekend, don’t miss this one. It is on till the 28th of this month.

The options are served as a set menu where one gets to sample a wide range of starters, main course and dessert.  Vegetarian (Rs. 1200 + Tax), Non Vegetarian (Rs. 1400 + Tax)

The menu changes every day, so it would be a good idea to call and check what’s on offer.

Recommended Dishes: Channe ki tikki, Arbi aur moongphalli ke seekh, Dahi ki chaap, Machi fry, Methi Machi, Channa madra, Sepu wadi, Naashpati ki sabzi, Tudkiya bhaath, khus khus aur makhaane ki kheer.

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 ~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 ~ 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

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