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Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Amrakhand ( Mango Flavored Shrikhand )

It is the mango season and hence it is little wonder that the luscious fruit is making inroads into very possible dish that comes out of the kitchen. Mango rasam, mango rice, mango chicken curry, mango lassi, mango milkshake and even mango ice cream are some popular choices. So, it is hardly surprising when this wonder fruit became a part of Shrikhand, a yummy but easy to prepare dessert.

This is a very simple recipe and one can easily substitute sugar with sugarfree powder without compromising on the taste. Read on -

Preparation Time - 10 mins ( plus 2-3 hours extra if not using greek/thick yogurt )

Ingredients -

  • 1 cup thick yogurt ( or 2 cups thin yogurt )
  • 1/2 cup grated ripe mango 
  • 2 tsp powdered sugar
  • a spinch of saffron
  • 3 tbsp roasted chiroli nuts

Preparation - If using thin curd, take it in a cheesecloth or muslin cloth. Gather into a bundle and hang in a cool place for 2-3 hours.

Take the thick curd in a mixing bowl. Add the powdered sugar and beat it to break any lumps. After 4-5 mins it will turn lighter and fluffier. At this point, add the mango pulp and mix in . 

Sprinkle the saffron and pop into the refrigerator for 1 hour atleast.

Whisk again before serving. Garnish with roasted chiroli nuts and serve chilled.

Chenna Gajja

Unlike the Pahala Rasgulla, whose fame has breached the frontiers of the state, another sweet from the same region remains little known even within Odisha. The Chenna Gajja or fried version of the Ragulla is equally delicious but very different from the latter in taste and texture.

If you have ever been to Pahala, then you might have seen these rust brown beauties arranged in a lovely stacked fashion in front of the numerous shop that also sell the rasgulla. Since the ragullas are busy swimming in large cauldrons hidden from the public view, it is the Chenna gajja that actually catches the eye of every passerby.

Read on for the recipe -

Preparation Time - 40-45 mins

Ingredients -

  • 1/2 liter whole milk
  • 1 tbsp semolina ( though I use very little just enough for binding )
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 pinch cardamom powder
  • 1 1/2 tbsp vinegar
  • Oil,for deep frying

Preparation -Bring the milk to boil on a medium flame in a thick bottomed vessel. Once it gets to a rolling boil, keep on the flame for another 2-3 minute.

Dilute the vinegar with 1/2 cup water.

Remove from flame and keep aside for 4-5 minutes. Add the diluted vinegar to one corner of the vessel till the milk shows signs of curdling. Using a spatula, mix the contents of the vessel thoroughly till the greenish water (whey) and milk solids (chenna) get completely separated. ( You might not need to add the entire cup of citric acid but use sufficient amount needed to split the milk )

Place a thin cloth on a metal strainer ( Do not use  plastic as the mixture is still very hot at this point ). Pour the contents of the vessel over it. Wash the chenna under running water for 2 minutes to remove all traces of citric acid. Bundle/gather the corners of the cloth and squeeze out all the water but do not squeeze too hard.
Hang it for 1 hour.

Remove the cloth and place the chenna on your sanitised kitchen counter / chopping board. Start kneading it with the heel of your palms. Then gather the chenna into a ball and start kneading again. Do this for 10 minutes.

Sprinkle the suji and powdered cardamom over the kitchen counter. Work them into the dough. Knead till you can no longer feel the graininess of the suji. The dough will start looking like an orange peel by this time with a dimpled appearance ( reminded me of cellulite which such (and also on the kneading surface).

Divide the dough into 7-8 portion. Shape each portion like a rectangle.

Heat oil for deep frying a wok. Gently put the pieces into the hot oil and fry to a golden color on both the sides. Remove and keep on a paper towel to absorb excess oil.

Take the sugar in a saucepan. Add 1/2 cup water and bring to a boil. Let it boil for 7 mins or till it takes on a thick consistency. This syrup will be quite thicker than the Pahala rasgulla syrup.

Remove from the flame and put the fried chenna gajja in the syrup. Let it be immersed for 1 hour or till the syrup feels just warm to touch.

Serve immedaitely.

Note - For a thicker and more crusty coating on sugar, allow the sugar syrup to become still thicker. Put in the chenna gajja for 1-2 mins, remove and allow it to dry outside for the sugar layer to form.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Zunka ( a rustic Maharashtrian delicacy )

Long before the Naveen Pattanaik government announced the populist measure of offering 'bhata-dalma' or rice and dal cooked with veggies at a subsidized rate for the poor in Odisha, the Maharashtra government also had a scheme which offered 'zunka-bhakri' to the poor of Maharashtra at subsidized rates. The Zunka is an important part of Maharashtra cuisine and it transcends all classes. Though it is mainly consumed in the rural parts of the state, it is equally popular in urban households. A simple yet delicious dish, it made with besan or chickpeas flour. It is ideal for those days when one has run out of veggies/meat.

Read on for the recipe -

Preparation Time - 10-12 mins

Ingredients -

  • 1 cup besan/chickpeas flour
  • 1 medium sized onion (finely chopped)
  • 2 green chilis
  • 3-4 garlic flakes
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • a pinch of asafoetida
  • a pinch of turmeric
  • 1 dry red chili
  • 2 tsp oil
  • salt to taste
  • cilantro for garnishing
  • 2 cups water

Cooking - Heat the oil in a non-stick skillet. Add red chili, asafoetida, mustard seeds, cumin seeds and garlic flakes. Fry till garlic takes on a golden hue. 

Add the chopped green chili and onions. Fry till translucent.

Add the besan and fry to a light brown color.

Finally add the water, adjust salt and cook till the zunka leaves the sides on the skillet.

Garnish with cilantro. Serve hot.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Small Changes Go a Long Way !!

Saving the Earth sounds like a big deal when you have weighty phrases like greenhouse effect, global warming, ozone hole and melting polar caps thrown in. But if you do an in-depth analysis of the causes that contribute to these phenomenon, one realizes that the root cause lies in the way we lead our everyday lives. Awareness is the key to getting anything to work. And we need to be aware that since our planet has limited resources, they have to be effectively managed to sustain quality life on the planet.

Image courtesy: koreaittimes.com

I have put down a few pointers which I believe will go a long way in saving our planet. Read on -

  • Minimize use of products that contains detergents (soaps, shampoos, etc) - Detergents are poisonous to aquatic life, even the biodegradable ones. They lead to algae blooms which deplete oxygen levels in water bodies and often lead to the death of fish and other marine life. Switching over to a natural substitute like soap nuts is a available option. But sadly not enough research has gone into the use of soap nuts (also known as Reetha, comes from a tree known as Sapindus) and developing a commercially viable product that can replace detergent use on a large scale.

  • Switch to a vegetarian diet - Unlike olden times when people depended on free range produce for meat or dairy products, the growing population has led to factory farming. A large number of animals are raised using industrial methods and the disposal of the farm waste ( faeces, pesticides, waste water, waste feed, antibiotics from the animal feed, etc ) is fast turning into a major nightmare. When some of this noxious waste makes way into the water bodies, it leads to

  • Reduce dependency on usage of personal vehicles - Hop onto a bus/local train or hitch a metro ride. Not only it is lighter on the pocket, you would also be doing a favor to the carbon dioxide choked lungs of your city. Still don't want to trade the exclusivity that a car offers ? Get together with a few of your colleagues/neighbors and form a car pool instead. 

  • Responsible planning of buildings goes a long way in countering the greenhouse effect -Living spaces and office spaces making use of too much glass not only contribute to the greenhouse effect but also put pressure on resources like electricity. Imagine how many rural homes could be lighted up if we did not consume obscene amounts of electricity to keep those glitzy glass houses cool and fancifully lighted up.

  • Give those polythene bags a miss at the supermarkets - Opt for jute instead. Stock a few of those and carry it on your shopping expeditions. They are in vogue, degradable and no trees are harmed in their making.

  • Order groceries online - The delivery trucks leave less carbon footprints in a single spree than the combined effect of the multiple cars or sedans that might have done the job individually. Still better, get together with your neighbours and order groceries/fruits/veggies on the same day from any online/offline store.

  • Grow your own kitchen garden - Make use of thick polythene bags, empty tins and even the plastic take away containers for planting small herbs. Reuse the peels to create compost for the plants. Water from washing the fruits, veggies, lentils and rice can go into nurturing these plants. Plus it saves a trip to the nearest vegetable shop whenever one runs out of some coriander or green chilis or any other herbs. 

This entry is written for Green Yatra . Check out this video created in collaboration with Studio NH 47, a band from Namma Bengaluru :

Amritsari Alu Gobi

Amritsari Alu Gobi is a simple yet flavorsome Punjabi curry with a hint of a tang. The cauliflower florets and the potatoes are cooked to a very tender stage and as a result one gets a curry that has an almost mashed kind of texture. It goes great with some piping hot rotis !!

While it does remind me of our 'Phulakobi Jholo' or Odia cauliflower curry, this one has more tang, garam masala and almost zero bite when compared to the former. Call it an Odia thing if you wish, but we Odias prefer to have a bite to our veggies / meat. Almost like al-dente. And hence I take care not to overcook the cauliflower when I make this curry as my husband refused to eat it the first time.

Read on for the recipe -

Preparation Time - 40 mins


  • 250 gm Cauliflower
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 large potato 
  • 2-3 green chilis
  • 2-3 tsp ginger garlic paste
  • 1 large + 1 medium sized tomatao
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin powder
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp red chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp garam masala
  • 1/3 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/3 tsp mustard seeds
  • 2 pinch asafoetida
  • 1/4 tsp amchur (or as per taste)
  • 2 tsp kasuri methi
  • 1-2 nos green cardamon 
  • 1 inch long cinnamon 
  • 1-2 nos cloves
  • 1 no bay leaf
  • 5 tsp oil
  • salt to taste
  • 1/2 tsp sugar (my addition)
  • cilantro for garnishing

Preparation: Cut the cauliflower into medium sized florets. Potato should be cut into cubes.

Cut the onion into small pieces. Make a paste out of it and keep aside

Make a puree out of the tomato or chop into very fine bits.

Cooking: Heat 3 tsp oil in a wok. Add turmeric followed by the cauliflower florets and stir fry for 7-8 mins. Add the potato cubes and fry for 3-4 mins more. Remove from pan and keep aside.

Heat remaining oil in the same wok. Add mustard seeds, cumin seeds and whole spices. Fry till fragrant. Add the asafoetida and the chopped green chilis and fry for 30 seconds.

Add the onion paste along with the GG paste and fry till raw smell goes away. Add all the powdered masala (except amchur) and fry for 1 minute.

Add the tomato pureed/finely chopped . Cook till oil starts to separate out.

Add the fried florets and potatoes along with the kasuri methi, salt and 2-3 cups of water.

Boil for 8-10 mins or till the gravy thickens to ones' preference. Finally stir in the amchur powder and sugar just before removing from the flame.

Garnish with cilantro and serve hot with rotis/paranthas.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Weekly Snapshot ( 19/04/2015 - 25/04/2015 )

Posts shared -

Visitors -

Facebook insights -


Active users

Top 5 recipes for this week -

Latest on Oriyarasoi

  • 1. Introduced new feature. Now browse recipes by region.
  • 2. Went live on Squapl.com.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Leveraging Data Analytics - OriyaRasoi !!

What does the term analytics mean to you ? Is it just about a high paying job vacancy that you saw on on a job seekers website ? Or is it something that you associate with the finance/retail sector ? While data analytics plays a very important role in shelf space management (retail sector) by determining how the goods need to be strategically placed for grabbing maximum eyeballs (it could be something as simple as placing a more expensive item near the entrance or placing it on a shelf at reaches eye level), it is also predicts crucial trends for risk management and portfolio management in the banking sector.

Image courtesy : www.ftt.co.uk

Data Analytics can be loosely defined as the practice of gathering loose data and converting it into useful information that can be used for decision making . But is it something new ? Not really. While the term 'data analytics' is a shiny new term coined by folks who have also infused it with a halo that is more intimidating than enlightening, it has been in practice since ages. Decision making among humans has always been based on knowledge acquired in the past and recognizing patterns in it. For example, a grocery store will stock up on more ghee/sugar/maida/besan during the festival months. This forecast of greater sales figures comes from recognizing a pattern that has been repeated over years. Another interesting example is the vegetable vendor who comes to my apartment exclusively on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Unlike Mondays/Tuesdays when people have veggies stocked up from their weekend trip to the malls or supermarkets and the weekends when people prefer to eat out. these two days have maximum sales for him. And hence he deviates from his regular beat on these days.

Now, how does data analytics help the food blogger ? These are some of the tangible benefits -

Image courtesy : www.vbsoftindia.com

  • Better understanding of the audience helps to prioritize  - Closely tracking the audience can help detect patterns and create segments based on age/preferences/purchasing power. Each segment can then be given customized attention. For example, let us take the age group 25-35. Quite a few folks in that group will be interested in eating out and hence restaurant reviews/restaurant style dishes are a big hit with them. But when one moves to the 35-45 age bracket, these folks give more preference to simple recipes and health becomes a priority. 
  • Analysis of data over a period gives an idea of the seasonality factor - Blog audience numbers are  not consist over the week. Some days may show a spike while others will have a low. Scheduling blog posts around the peaks will ensure maximum visibility. Similarly, not all months will have the same number of visits. Ability to anticipate a lean period helps one to be better prepared for it. 
  • Knowledge of the geographic reach of the audience helps to plan better - India has a very diverse population and its festivals are equally numerous. And hence the huge market for festive /special dishes. Since these dishes are so unique to regions, it helps to know where the majority of audience is located. For example, a blog that caters mostly to a North Indian population would do good to stock up on recipes that are regularly prepared during Navratri.
  • Can provide a deeper understanding of the demographic reach - It becomes very important when one starts associating with brands. Brands always have a target audience in mind when they seek to market a product. And if a blogger can support his claims with the help of blog metrics, both the parties stand to be benefited.

Is there anything that might benefit the audience ??

  • Get ready for a customized experience - Oriyarasoi has already started implementing a single point of entry/search for the five regions that have the highest reach. It will help the user navigate better when searching for popular dishes from a specific region
  • More recipes catering to a specific festival or a seasonal vegetable - Since there is a great diversity when it comes to the dishes that are prepared during festival times/seasonal dishes, it becomes important to know the audience reach to be able to cater effectively to their requirements. And I can vouch for the great audience feedback that it comes from it. .

Since Oriyarasoi is the first food blog to adopt an analytics based approach, going forward, we will be sharing a report of weekly snapshot/report of our blog metrics every Sunday.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Chicken Saagwala ( Chicken in a Spinach Gravy )

Most of us would have come across a green colored chicken curry being served at restaurants. While the green hue looks irresistible to some, others may be hesitant to give it a try. My husband belonged to the latter category. That is, until I introduced him to this wonderful dish. A very interesting thing about this dish is that the taste kind of changes from region to region. I have sampled this curry in Hyderabad, Pune and Bangalore whereas my husband also had a chance to taste it during a trip to Gurgaon.

The variation stems from the local greens that go into this recipe along with the staple palak or spinach. For example, they add fenugreek leaves in Hyderbad . In Pune, it is coriander whereas in the Northern regions they add mustard greens (sarson ka saag). I personally prefer going solo with baby spinach, though I do add a fistful of fresh methi leaves if I have some in stock.

Read on for my recipe -

Preparation Time - 40-45 mins

Ingredients -

  • 400 gm Chicken legs ( one can use regular pieces too )
  • 2 cups shredded baby spinach leaves
  • 1 large onion (finely chopped)
  • 1 1/2 tsp GG paste
  • 3-4 garlic flakes ( chopped )
  • 2 medium sized tomatoes ( finely chopped )
  • 2 green chilis ( finely chopped )
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp red chili powder
  • 1/3 tsp turmeric
  • 1/5 tsp garam masala
  • 2 green cardamom
  • 2 inch long cinnamon stick
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3-4 peppercorns
  • 2-3 cloves
  • 1/2 tsp lemon juice
  • 3 tsp oil
  • 2-3 tsp butter
  • 1 tbsp kasoori methi
  • salt to taste
  • cilantro for garnishing

Preparation - Clean the chicken pieces. Add a pinch of turmeric, lemon juice and salt. Rub all over the pieces and keeps aside for 20 mins.

Blanch the spinach. Grind into a smooth paste and keep aside.

Cooking - Heat the oil and 1 tsp butter together. Add the whole spices and fry till fragrant. Then add the onion pieces and fry till light brown.

Add the GG paste, garlic slices and green chili. Fry for 2 mins before adding the powdered spices along with the tomatoes. Sprinkle a pinch of salt. Cook till the tomatoes are done and the oil starts to separate.

Add the marinated chicken and fry on a high flame for 2 mins. Then reduce the flame, cover with a lid and allow the chicken to cook till it is 3/4th done.

Add spinach paste/puree, mix together and cook for another 5 mins.

Finally add the kasuri methi ( rub it between your palms before adding ) and the butter just before removing from the flame.

Garnish with onion rings and cilantro. Serve hot.

A quick Skincare Routine for Summers !!

Have you heard of the Korean '424' cleansing technique ? If not, then let me enlighten you about it.  It involves cleaning one's face for 4 mins with an cleansing oil ( dry/normal skin ) / cleansing cream ( oily skin ), follow it up with a foaming cleanser for 2 mins and finally splashing with water for 4 mins. The water is lukewarm in the beginning to wash away any oil residue. The last few rinses are with cold water to close the pores. Though it sounds cumbersome, it helps the Koreans to maintain that flawless and 'zero pores' skin. While I have never heard of a cleansing oil in India, one can buy a cleansing cream ( although it is not so readily available ) from brands like Jovees or Shahnaz.

Ok. That was enough enlightenment for one day. Coming back to India and the harsh Indian summers, quite a few of us face the problem of pimples and whiteheads during summers. I myself face this issue and have tried quite a few products. But the best I have ever come across is the Himalaya 'Purifying' range. It consists of a face wash ( there are two types actually, foaming and regular), a scrub and a pack. The entire range is quite affordable and is easily available.

Himalaya Purifying Neem Foaming Face Wash 
I normally use this thrice a day, once in the morning, once at bedtime and also after coming back from the gym/outside.

1. This one is priced modestly at Rs 195 for 150mL.
2. It contains Neem and Turmeric, both of which are renowned for their anti-bacterial properties.
3. Comes with a pump applicator which does not get messy with time.
4. It does not dry the skin and leaves one feeling quite refreshed.
5. Mild smell which goes away after washing.
6. It is very effective in reducing pimples. One can notice a visible difference in two weeks time (if used along with the Neem Pack )

1. The packaging is not travel friendly.

Himalaya Purifying Neem Scrub
I use this 2-3 times a week.

1. It is priced modestly at Rs 130 for 100 gm.
2. It contains Neem and Apricot . I personally think that Apricot based scrubs suit me better.
3. Mild fragrance which does not linger
4. It contains fine granules which do not scratch the skin.
5. Skin feels clean yet moisturized after a round of scrubbing.
6. It comes with a flip-top which is more hygienic as compared to a tub. No dipping fingers inside.

1. Maybe heavy for too oily skin types.

Himalaya Purifying Neem Pack
I use it once or twice a week depending on the condition (oiliness) of my skin.

1. It is priced modestly at Rs 65 for 50 gm.
2. It contains Neem and Turmeric, both of which are renowned for their anti-bacterial properties. It also contains Fuller's earth(Multai Mitti) which cools and soothes the skin.
3. It leaves the skin feeling fresh and clean. Though skin may feel slightly stretched, it is nothing that a little dab of moisturizer cannot take care of.
3. It comes with a flip-top which is more hygienic as compared to a tub. No dipping fingers inside.
4. It is quite effective is reducing pimples. One can see a difference from the third week itself.

I would suggest incorporating all the three products in one's daily skincare routine for best results.

Some folks are also prone to skin redness and itching during summers. It could be caused by a combination of factors like heat and dryness. Yes, it is possible that even though your skin looks like you would fry parathas on it, it is still parched. Some simple steps to takes care of your skin -

1. Sunblock is a must. Wait for 15 mins after application before you venture out.
2. Do not skip moisturizer. Use a very light one (aloe vera based) instead.
3. Shield yourself with an umbrella.
4. Drink lots of water, coconut water and nimbu pani ( do easy on the sugar). Munch on cucumber, watermelons and anything that is high on water.
5. Add a few drops of rose water to your bathwater.
6. Apply a thin layer of chilled aloe vera gel on your face at night (just before going to bed). Wash it off the next morning for a glowing you. It is one of the best natural moisturizers I have come across.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The Guy in My Nightmare !!!

I had a nightmare yesterday. And it was triggered by a broken water bottle. Yes. It was a broken water bottle that my kid brought home from school. What is so nightmarish about a broken water bottle ? Kids routinely do such stuff. I wholeheartedly agree with that . But for my subconscious mind it was a trigger. Memories that had been long forgotten had suddenly come to life and did not allow me to sleep last night. And I woke up with the realization that I had never really forgiven the bully.

The actual incident had taken place a very long time back. I was still in school. I used to commute by a cycle rickshaw ( Nowadays it has become tough to spot one, how time flies !! ) as did most of the kids. Almost eight of us would be crammed into a rickshaw and there was always a tussle for the prized upper seat which was the actual seat and not the improvised pieces of wood that the rickshaw wallah (driver, if I can call him that) had added to ferry more kids. Sadly it could take three kids and no more. Most of the time we would take turns as instructed by the rickshaw wallah.

But there was this guy ( who was a year senior to me ) who always wanted the upper seat for himself and his sisters. As if the three siblings were not bad enough, his mother also interfered from time to time. The poor rickshaw wallah was mighty scared of her ( who needs a face-off with a quarrelsome lady anyways ) and he would comply with her instructions despite the protests from the other kids.

One day I had worn this lovely golden hairband to school. It was brand new and I was delighted with it. Those were the days before Suri Cruise and her ilk had made a mark on the fashion scene. We did not own matching accessories for every outfit and life was just so much simpler. Unfortunately on that day, I decided to stand my ground and refused to give up the upper seat the bully or his sister. He snatched away my hairband and threatened to bend it ( it was a metal one ). I can be pretty obstinate at times and this time I did not heed his warnings. And he did bend it. My lovely new hairband was beyond repair and tears flooded my eyes.

I remember narrating the incident to my parents who cajoled me with the promise of a new one. Thankfully, they are not the kind to pick up a fight with other parents over such issues. And I do happen to know some who belong to that category. Believe me one would not like to rub shoulders with them . Forget about touching them. Even with a selfie stick ( does anyone know what a barge-pole means ? The selfie stick seems much more relevant).

And I could never find a replica of that broken hairband. It took me more than a month to get over that incident. I thought that I had forgotten this incident long back. But it was just confined to some corner of my mind. And suddenly the full implications of bullying became clear to me.

The very nature of child abuse and bullying is such that it leaves an indelible scar on the psyche. That is what makes it so very damaging. I am scared that the nightmare may come back to haunt me tonight. I even considered the possibility of damning that guy on Facebook ( he has a profile ) but I don't think it would work.

Maybe the only way I can set this right is by protecting my son from having such an experience. Say no to bullying and please take a stand if you see something like this happening. That seems to be the only solution to stop these nightmares. 

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Mustard Jackfruit Masala

Raw jackfruit happens to be among my favorite vegetables and the seasonal availability only adds to its exotic appeal. While I usually stick to one of the odia recipes when I cook this vegetable, this time I tried an Andhra style preparation. This is one of Tarla Dalal's recipes. and I have only done a bit of 'hera-pheri' .

Read on for the recipe -

Preparation Time - 20 mins

Ingredients -

  • 1 1/2 cup raw jackfruit (cubed)
  • 1 tsp urad dal
  • 1 1/2 tsp black mustard seeds ( I recommend yellow which is less pungent )
  • 3 dry red chillis (i used Byedgi)
  • 1 sprig curry leaves
  • 2-3 garlic cloves (slightly crushed)
  • a generous pinch of asafoetida
  • 1/3 tsp turmeric
  • 2 tsp oil
  • salt to taste

Preparation - Wash the jackfruit pieces and transfer to a pressure cooker along with 2 cups water, turmeric and 1/2 tsp salt. Cook on medium flame for 1 whistle.

Keep aside till steam escapes. Drain the excess water.

Grind 2 dry chilis, 1 tsp mustard seeds along with 2 tsp water. Keep aside.

Cooking - Heat a wok. Add the mustard seeds and broken red chili. Follow it with the garlic, urad dal, curry leaves and asafoetida.

Add the boiled jackfruit and mustard-chili paste. Toss it for 4-5  mins.

Serve hot with white rice.

Note - The mustard need to be ground into a fine paste unlike what it appears in the picture. As I was having a little trouble with my grinder on that day, it did not come out fine.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Askme Foodies Meetup with FBAB @ The Lalit Ashok

It started on a bad note for me. The cab that I had booked to take me to The Lalit Ashok was late by 10 mins. And the driver said that he was caught up somewhere in Domlur and it would take him another 30 mins to reach Marathahalli. Though I have used OLA cabs multiple times, it was the first time I faced something like this. I tried reaching their call center. It took multiple attempts but luckily I was able to speak to one of their guys who assured me another cab in 10 mins. Though it took a little more than 15 mins instead of 10 mins, I cab finally arrived at my doorstep.

The cabbie informed us that since there was traffic on the way ( it being a Sunday afternoon ), it would take us around 45 min to 1 hour. The route took us through MG Road which was bustling with activity and skimmed the precincts of the Chinnaswamy stadium which was to host the RCB Vs DD IPL match that very day. With the teams supporters being wooed everything ranging from T-shirts, banners, flags to even colorful headgear and the large number of police vans parked outside the stadium, that stretch of road did its best to look the part.

Finally we arrived at the hotel. A good one hour late for the meet. Though it was strikingly beautiful, we hardly had the time to appreciate the ambiance before rushing into the lift. As we entered the room, all the foodies were already ensconced in their chairs and enjoying the treats laid out for them. We were quickly ushered onto a table and after a swift introduction, the plates were laid out for us. As Ms. Randeep from the Askme team enlightened us about Askme, its user friendly interface and the plans (in pipeline) for the food community, I dug into the lovely looking treats. Most of them were the miniature ( or bite sized ) types that are much in vogue these days. Since most of us were there after a rather late Sunday brunch/lunch, it was just as good.

It was followed by a quick session on food photography by Mr Satheesh. Nothing earth shattering, just the regular stuff that one can come across while googling. Now everyone would agree that it is rather tough to cram a session on DSLR usage in a foodie meet that last for just about 3 hours. By that time desserts has been laid out and everyone had already dug in. And suddenly the emcee announced a quick contest in which everyone had to click the dessert plate. But only with their mobile cameras. There has to be a catch..rite. The hotel guys were gracious enough to bring out the fresh plates ( one per table ).  The laid back atmosphere of the room was magically transformed as everyone got busy clicking the pics. It ended with two winners being picked out.

The dessert plate as I clicked it !!

Then there was a quick session on presentation with Chef Ajit, one of the in-house chefs of Lalit Ashok. We picked up some useful tips about the basics while working with the sauces on the plate. Another quick contest followed. This time it was about coming up with the best plate.

Finally there was a quick session on food carvings by Mr Bibhuti ( Chef BB as we call him ), who also happens to be the founder member of FBAB (Food Bloggers Association Bangalore). We were presented with a small starter kit for trying out the carvings. By the time the session ended, it was almost 6:30 pm. A quick photo-op followed and we were handed over the goodie bags on a final thank you note.

Thank you FBAB, Askme.com andThe Lalit Ashok for the wonderful experience !!

Friday, April 17, 2015

Mackerel Masala Fry

When one lives in an area which has a good density of restaurants and home delivery is just a call away, the temptation to forgo cooking becomes quite strong. Change of taste, tiredness , lethergy or just plain boredom, the excuses are too many and too frequent. But thank God, I am addicted to blogging and hence the urge to try out new dishes keeps me from eating out/ordering food too frequently. Whether it is a recipe that I have caught on TV or something that a fellow blogger has shared, I have something cooking on my mind at all times. And this dish is inspired by an episode of 'Strictly Street' on Travel XP.

Mackerel is a very common fish that is consumed in India. And one can find it almost everywhere ranging from the local fish markets to the non vegetarian sections of the most posh supermarkets. And I got this lot from a supermarket near my apartment. Though the fish was fresh, I was not happy with the way the guy had cleaned it ( a section of the head is missing :( ). I thought it looked terrible.

Read on for the recipe -

Preparation Time - 25 mins

Ingredients -

For marination -

  • 4 pieces of Mackerel
  • 1/2 tsp GG paste
  • 2 pinch turmeric
  • 2 pinch chili powder
  • 1 tsp vinegar
  • salt to taste

For frying -

  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1/2 tsp cumin powder
  • 3 dry red chilis
  • 2-3 garlic flakes
  • 1 tsp vinegar
  • 2-3 tsp oil

Preparation- Clean the fish, make 4-5 gashes on each side and marinate it with all the ingredients listed under 'for marination'. Do rub the marinade over the pieces for 3-4 mins to ensure that it goes into the gashes. Keep aside for 15-20 mins.

Dry roast the coriander seeds, cumin seeds and red chilis. Grind into a paste with the garlic flakes and vinegar. Slather this paste all over the marinated fish.

Cooking - Heat a non-stick skillet. Drizzle the oil all over it. 

Place the fish on the skillet and cook on each side for 3 mins. Remove from the skillet and place over a tissue paper.

Serve hot.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Simba Alu Posto ( Flat beans and Potato cooked with poppy seeds )

The quintessential quality of Odia cuisine is that it needs to be wholesome and fuss free. Not too many ingredients nor too many steps. The focus is usually on one core ingredient and that is allowed to be the star of the dish. And flat beans is the star of this dish without any doubt. The potato and the nuttiness of the poppy seeds add a mellow touch to the otherwise robust flavored beans.

Read on for this recipe -

Preparation Time - 15 mins

Ingredients -

  • 1 1/2 cup Flat beans ( cut into inch long pieces )
  • 1/2 cup potatoes ( cut into small pieces )
  • 1/2 small onion
  • 2 tsp poppy seeds paste
  • 2 dry red chilis
  • 1/2 tsp pancha phutana ( panch phoran )
  • 2 pinch turmeric
  • 2 tsp oil
  • salt to taste

Cooking - Add 1 tsp oil to a wok. Add the Flat beans and potato. Stir fry till 3/4 th cooked. Remove from wok and keep aside.

Add more oil to the same wok. Throw in the broken red chilis and pancha phutana. When it starts spluttering, add onions. Fry till translucent.

Add the fried beans and potato to the wok along with the poppy paste and 1/2 cup water. Season with salt and add turmeric.

Cook on a low flame till the vegetables are cooked and coated with a layer of the poppy seeds paste.

Serve hot with white rice and dal.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Book Review: Yagnaseni - The story of draupadi ( by Prativa Ray )

[This book was originally written in Odia by author Prativa Ray. She won the Moorti Devi Award in 1991 for 'Yagnaseni' and was honored with the Jnanpith Award in 2011. This is one of the few books to be written about Draupadi, one of the central female characters of Mahabharata. The author has, by her own admission, included some imaginary episodes in the narration. This review is based on the English translation]

History is replete with many a kings who have had harems full of women. Yet, they have been heaped with liberal praise and their achievements have never been overshadowed by their personal lives. The women on the other hand have never been so fortunate. The moment she takes another man, she is ridiculed in the unkindest terms. But since I read this book with the intention of unraveling the psyche of such a woman, I have tried to retain my objectiveness and have refrained from being judgmental at any point.

When I first picked the book, I wanted a fresh look a Mahabharata, one from a female perspective. Well, these days there is a lot of talk about it and it is touted as one of the reasons for inclusion of women in the boardroom. Now most men would support such a move for the fear of being branded politically incorrect if they choose to look the other way. Some would even say that they would support their spouse should she choose to work. But how many would lend her a helping hand when it comes to domestic chores ? Doing the kids homework ? Not many, I guess. And that is what makes a world of difference. So, the keyword here is 'empathy' and not 'sympathy'. 'Empathy' for Draupadi is what the author is trying to achieve through this book.

I loved the fact that Yagnaseni, meaning one who is born out of the sacrificial flames, is portrayed as a normal woman. She is shown as a carefree young woman who has a crush on Krishna. But circumstances lead to a Swayamvar and she gets betrothed to Arjun, the third Pandav. She is shown as idolizing him and treating him as a hero. She is every bit the shy new bride with stars in hers eyes till she is forced to marry all the five Pandavs due to a misunderstanding on the part of Kunti, her mother in law.

From this point, one sees her as a tormented woman who has to live up to the expectations of five husbands, each of whom is as different from the other as is chalk from cheese. She is shown to possess a soft corner for Arjun, her first husband and her hero whom she does not want to share with Subhadra. Though she is wise and learned, all these qualities take a back seat as she gets on with her domestic duties. At times, I felt that the five Pandavs are portrayed as being too conceited.

The author meanders into controversial territory with Draupadi's fascination with Karna. The latter is shown to nurture a grudge after being turned down at the Swayanvar. The few interactions between the two are beautifully narrated and are among the memorable parts of the book. Despite Karna's thinly veiled hatred, Yagnaseni seems to be attracted towards him.Though it seems jarring, it has to be viewed it in the light of Karna being an equal of Arjun ( as Krishna quotes in the later part of the book ). Maybe one should suspend one's rationality by a few degrees while reading this book and consider everything to be a part of Krishna ( who actually holds the Universe within himself ) and his scheme.

The book ends with a journey to heaven that Yagnaseni undertakes with her five husbands. But sadly it ends with her fall on the golden dust of the Himalayas. It is attributed to the negative thoughts in her mind. At this point, none of her husbands come to her rescue. Though it seems cruel, it has to be viewed in the light of one's accumulated Karma and the resulting ramifications.

Overall it is a good book but one that has deep spiritual connotations. It took me more than a month to get over with it as one tends to read a chapter, mull over it and then go back and read it all over again.

Buy it online @ Amazon .

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Papdi Chat / Sev Puri ( Holi Special )

On the day of Holi, folks of all shapes, sizes and colors would come knocking on our door. As per tradition, they would apply the 'gulal' /'fagu' or dry color on the feet of the elders first and take the latter's blessings. People of their own age would be generously smeared on the cheeks while the kids or youngsters would not be spared even an inch.

This is one such recipe that is usually served to the guests on the day. Read on -

Preparation Time - 30 mins

Ingredients - 

  • 12 papdis
  • 1/2 cup boiled and peeled potato
  • 1/2 small onion
  • 2-3 green chilis (optional..only if you like it hot)
  • 1/4 cup yogurt
  • 1/4 tsp red chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp chaat masala
  • 2 pinch roasted cumin-chili powder
  • 1/2 cup thin sev
  • chopped cilantro
  • black salt (as per taste)
  • salt to taste

For Sweet Chutney -

  • Lemon sized ball of tamarind
  • 4 tbsp jaggery
  • 1 1/2 inch grated ginger 
  • salt to taste

For the spicy 'Theekhi' chutney -

  • 1/2 cup cilnatro
  • 2-3 green chilis
  • a small piece of tamarind
  • 2 pinch cumin seeds
  • salt to taste

Preparation - Take all the ingredients for the spicy chutney in a blender jar and give a good buzz. Remove and keep it aside.

Soak the tamarind in 1/2 cup hot water for 15-20 mins. Mash and discard the solids. Take the extact in a saucepan, add the remaining ingredients for sweet chutney and boil for 6-7 mins. Remove from flame and keep aside till cool.

Crumble the potatoes lightly. Do not mash completely.

Final assembly -

Take 6 puris in each plate. Put some crumbled potato oven them and then add some yogurt. Drizzle with the sweet and spicy chutney.

Add some chaat masala, chili powder, roasted cumin chili powder and onions. 

Sprinkle sev generously all over. Finally add some more onions, chopped green chilis, chopped cilantro, yogurt, a little chutney and some black salt. Sprinkle a little bit of table salt if required.

Serve immediately.

Note - One can also add boiled chickpeas, yellow peas or even black gram dal. Add chopped tomato and cucumber to make it even more filling.

Just a Smartphone ? Heck No !!

Ok. Agreed that a smartphone can do everything that your husband or boyfriend can. Well..almost. It can take you places ( Google maps to guide you if you are driving on your own or an App to book a cab when you just want to sit back and relax ), hold your hand throughout a virtual shopping spree, book movie tickets, reserve a table at your favorite restaurant, pay your bills, get your grocery delivered at your doorstep, etc. Well, it can even feed you with more gossip than your entire gang of girls can manage and keep you updated on the best deals in town. But brace yourself for the ASUS Zenfone 2 experience which promises all this and even more.

The first reason for getting my hands on this phone would be for the sake of pure vanity. The brushed metallic body ( do I hear the oohs ?? ) in an array of stunning colors has a flaunt factor that can give the hottest chick (or even hunk) a run for their money. Well, it does not come as a surprise considering that it has won the iF Design Award 2015 for innovation, ergonomics and functionality.

The second one is the truly stunning 1920x1080 Full HD IPS display which promises a viewing experience like none before. Watch the colors come alive on your 5.5 inch screen as you catch a favorite movie or even those holiday videos. I personally want it for playing those rhymes and kiddie videos for my toddler as it keeps him occupied while I attend to more important matters.

The third reason would be the 13 MP PixelMaster camera. Those who have been planning to invest in a digital camera, be prepared to give a second thought, for this phone has some amazing features like the low light mode, dual color flash, real time beautification mode and even a wide angle selfie panorama. Wow, I can already count the likes coming in. And it is something that the social networking addicts like me can hardly resist.

The fourth reason is that it also allows for some great movie editing. It is something that my husband is quite fond of. And did I forget to mention that the guy is a video game addict ? Well, with the 4GB RAM and 60 ms touch responsiveness, he will be addicted to this one in no time. But that also means I have to order two of the ASUS Zenfone 2 phones so that he does not monopolize mine.

The final reason would be the amazing battery performance. Good new for those like me who are perpetually connected to their phones. This one gets charged to 60% capacity in just 39 mins. Very useful when one is constantly listening music, downloading videos, checking mails or is even hooked to one of the social networking sites. Less charging time actually means more freedom and less thumb twiddling.

Check out the ASUS Zenfone 2 HERE.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Potli Biryani (Chicken Biryani in a Banana leaf parcel) !!

Some time back, I had read about a prawn biriyani cooked in a banana leaf. Though I wanted to try it out immediately, it did not happen due to certain circumstances and I conveniently forgot about it. If like me, one has the habit of collecting thousands of recipes, it becomes a bit difficult to keep track of them. Hence, this recipe was lying at the back of my mind and when I saw fresh banana leaves at the vegetable shop last week, I knew I had to try this at least once.

But I did not remember the exact recipe (but I think it had coconut milk in it and I was not sure if my North Indian friends would like it)  and decided to go along with one of my chicken biryani recipes. It results were good. The banana leaf imparted a subtle flavor to the rice and the 'potli' or the banana leaf parcel made for a lovely presentation.

Read on for the recipe -

Preparation Time - 1 hour

Ingredients -

For Chicken -
  • 250 gm Chicken
  • 2 large onions 
  • 2 tsp GG paste
  • whole spices ( 3 cloves, 2 inch cinnamon stick, 1 star anise, 1 black cardamom, 2 green cardamom, 1 bay leaf, 2 mace)
  • 1/2 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin powder
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/4 tsp garam masala
  • a handful of mint leaves
  • 3-4 tbsp chopped coriander leaves
  • 1/2 cup thick curd
  • 2 tbsp tomato puree
  • oil (2 tbsp)
  • ghee (2tbsp)
  • salt to taste

For the biriyani rice -
  • 2 cups Basmati rice 
  • 1 star anise
  • 1 2" long cinnamon stick
  • 3-4 cloves
  • 2 green cardamom (slightly split)
  • 1 mace
  • 1 tsp ghee
  • salt to taste

Final garnishing -
  • Fried onions
  • mint leaves
  • coriander leaves
  • food color (opional)
  • ghee

Preparation - Clean the chicken pieces and pat them dry. Transfer to a mixing bowl and add all the ingredients listed under 'For Chicken' except for the whole spices, oil and onions. Mix everything together and rub the marinade on the chicken pieces for about 5 mins.

Keep aside for 2-3 hours.

Chop the onions into thin long pieces.

Cooking -

For the chicken - Heat oil in a wok. Add the whole spices and fry for 10-15 seconds. Next, add the onions and fry till translucent.

Add the mint leaves and the coriander leaves. Fry for 2 mins.

Add the marinated chicken along with the marinade. Cook for 15 mins (covered) till 3/4 done. Remove from flame and keep aside.

For the rice - Boil 8-10 cup water in large pan. When it gets to a boil, add all the spices and salt.

Wash the Basmati rice and add to the boiling water. Boil on a medium flame for 8-9 mins.

Switch off the flame.  Add the ghee and allow to stand for 30 secs before draining off.

Final assembly - Take a fresh and clean banana leaf that is wide enough and has no tears .

Rub a little ghee all over it. Place a layer of rice on it. Then layer with chicken, fried onions, mint leaves, coriander leaves, ghee and few dots of color. Gather the ends of the leaf, bring them together and bind it with a string/ribbon/rubber band.

Boil water in a steamer. If you don't own one, use an idli maker. Place the banana leaf parcel inside the steamer and allow it to steam for 10-15 mins. The banana leaf would have changed to a yellowish shade by then.

Remove from the steamer and allow it to rest for 10 mins.

Serve the parcels with raita.

Note - I packed individual portions into each banana leaf parcel. So, one can serve it directly with the leaf itself.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Kairi ( Raw Mango ) Biriyani ( Chicken Biryani flavored with green mangoes )

If I had to name of thing that makes me nostalgic about summers, it would undoubtedly be 'Mangoes'. Whether they are the tangy green ones or the ripe aromatic ones, I never fail to make them a part of the menu. While the ripe ones go straight from the fridge ( where they are kept soaking in a large bowl of water for 3-4 hours ) to the dining table, the raw ones offer a lot more versatility. And even though I add the green ones to chutney, a variety of curries, mango rice (Andhra style), rasam or enjoy the slices which sprinkled with salt and red chili powder and exposed to the sun for a few hours, I still cannot get enough.

Perhaps that is why when I made Biryani last over weekend, I wanted to flavour it with that indelible stamp of the Indian summers aka the lovely green mangoes or 'kairi' as we call them in Hindi. This is basically an Ambur style biriyani recipe and I have tweaked it a bit. Since these green mangoes are quite tangy, I made it a point to avoid adding any other sour ingredient like tomato or yogurt. The Kairi biriyani turned out to be beautiful and heavenly smelling.

Read on for the recipe -

Preparation Time - 1 hour

Ingredients -

  • 250 gm Chicken
  • 2 large onions 
  • 1 green chilli
  • whole spices ( 3 cloves, 1 inch cinnamon stick, 2 maratti moggu, 2 Kalpasi, 1 bay leaf, 2 mace)
  • 1/3 tsp cinnamon powder
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • a handful of mint leaves
  • 3-4 tbsp chopped coriander leaves
  • 4 tbsp grated green mango (Kairi)
  • oil (2 tbsp)
  • ghee (2tbsp)
  • salt to taste

To be ground into a paste -
  • 1 1/2 inch long ginger
  • 12 garlic cloves
  • 2-4 green chilis

For the biriyani rice -
  • 2 cups Basmati rice 
  • 1 star anise
  • 1 2" long cinnamon stick
  • 3-4 cloves
  • 2 green cardamom (slightly split)
  • 1 mace
  • 1 tsp ghee
  • salt to taste

Preparation - Transfer the ginger, garlic and green chili into a grinder jar and grind into a paste.

Add 3/4 th of the GG paste to the cleaned chicken pieces. Add turmeric and cinnamon powder. Add salt and mix with your hands so that the masala is uniformly distributed. (Do wear gloves as the chilli paste might cause severe burning sensation on your hands)

Keep aside for 2-3 hours.

Finely chop the onions .

Cooking -

For the chicken - Heat the ghee and oil in a pressure cooker. Add the whole spices and fry for 10-15 seconds. Next, add the onions and fry till translucent.

Add half of the mint leaves and half of the coriander leaves. Fry for 2 mins.

Add the marinated chicken along with the marinade. Cook for 15 mins (covered) till 3/4 done. Add the grated green mango and fry for 5-6 mins. Remove from flame and keep aside.

For the rice - Boil 8-10 cup water in large pan. When it gets to a boil, add all the spices and salt.

Wash the Basmati rice and add to the boiling water. Boil on a medium flame for 8-9 mins.

Switch off the flame.  Add the ghee and allow to stand for 30 secs before draining off.

Final assembly - Take a thick bottomed pan. Layer the bottom with rice.

Then layer with chicken, mint leaves, coriander leaves, ghee and few dots of color. ( throw in a few thin slices of green mangoes as well for more aroma..I did just that and loved it!! )

Repeat with another layer of rice. Add more mint leaves, ghee and some more color. Cover tightly with aluminium foil. Place the pan on a tawa/skillet before placing it on a low flame. Keep it on for 15-20 mins. Remove from flame and keep aside for 10 mins before opening.

Serve hot with raita and Coke.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Dal Makhani

Everytime I visit a restaurant, there is a fifty percent chance that I would order Dal makhani. Without exception, it always comes down to a tie between Dal Tadka and Dal Makhani, except for those rare days when we opt for a Dal Bukhara.

A mix of black lentils and kidney beans cooked to a melt-in-the-mouth consistency and loaded with cream and butter, it is a dish that will send one running to the gym for the next few days. I personally feel quite motivated to work out after a having had a particularly sinful dinner. Coming back to the cooking process, it takes quite a bit of time to cook the lentils to that degree of desired softness. As an open pan method would necessitate hours, I without fail stick to my pressure cooker which makes it possible to wrap up the process in just under an hour.

Read on for the recipe -

Preparation Time - 1 hour

Ingredients -

  • 2/3 cup black lentils (urad dal)
  • 1/4 cup kidney beans (rajma)
  • 1 medium sized onion
  • 1 1/2 tsp GG paste
  • 1 medium sized tomatoes
  • 1/2 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp red chili powder
  • 1/3 tsp turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp Garam masala
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp Kasuri Methi
  • 1/3 cup thick yogurt 
  • 2 tbsp cream ( use more for a creamier texture )
  • 1 inch cube of butter
  • 3 tsp oil
  • salt to taste
  • cilantro for garnishing

Preparation - Wash and soak the black lentils and kidney beans overnight.

Chop the onion into small pieces. Grind the tomato into a puree.

Cooking - Heat the oil in a pressure cooker. Add the cumin seeds an allow to splutter.

Add the chopped onions and fry till translucent.

Follow with the GG paste and fry for 2-3 mins.

Add the powdered spices and fry for 30 seconds before adding the fresh tomato puree. Cook till the oil starts to separate from the tomatoes.

Wash and drain the soaked lentils. Add them to the pressure cooker along with salt, 21/2 cups water and the Kasuri methi. Cook for 7-8 whistles. Remove from flame and allow steam to escape naturally.

Return it to the burner, this time with the lid open. Allow it to simmer for 10-12 mins( take a dal masher and lightly mash the lentils while it is still on the burner). Add the beaten curd. and simmer for 5 mins before stirring in the fresh cream. Let it simmer for a minute or two before.

Finally add the butter and the cilantro just before removing from the flame.

Serve hot with roti/Naan or white rice.

Note - One can also cook the dals separately and then add to the onion tomato gravy. This method is advisable when the lentils are old or the tomatoes are too acidic/sour, both of which will increase the cooking time.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Taste of North Indian Tadka in Bangalore !!!

North India food is nothing short of an entire gastronomic voyage that spans various states and even smaller settlements that would be tough to locate on a map. Whether it is the chaat, tikkis, choley or even the parathas of Chandni chowk, the various non vegetarian delights of Lucknow ( the Tunday Kebabs merit a special mention here ), the legendary Butter Chicken or the Sarson da saag of Punjab, the sweet sour spicy Gujrati/Marwari fare (Oondhiya happens to be a personal favorite) or even the Dal-Bati-Churma from Rajasthan, one is spoilt for choice. Even when one happens to be in Bangalore.

On the days when I am looking for some good old traditional Gujrati/Rajasthani thali ( which I invariably do when I have lost a few pounds ), Rajdhani at UB City is the place to be. It is one of the best restaurants in Bangalore given the amazing food and the rooftop dining experience. Though it lacks that rustic /traditional feel which is standard issue for most restaurants in Bangalore that serve North Indian fare, the food and the ever helpful waiters more than make up for it. Bajra roti, Dhokla, Dal Bati Churma, Gatte ki subzi, Surti Dal, Kadhi, Lasun ki chutney along with a variety of sweets that include Rabdi and Halwa are included in the Rajdhani thali.

Pic courtesy : chefatlarge.in

Though it does not serve non vegetarian fare, one will not be dejected by the bountiful menu. The manner in which these guys keep heaping food on guests' plate is reminiscent of what a real Rajasthani host is expected to do. The moment one walks in with a kid, a high chair is laid out for the young guest. And if your little one fancies a bit of running, the open spaces and the fountains adjacent to the dining area are more than helpful.

On celebratory days however, I prefer to stick to a hardcore non-vegetarian offering. If it is on short notice and we do have any reservations, we prefer Aangan in Bellandur or Punjabi Tadka in Marathahalli. While Aangan offers the most authentic Butter Chicken that one can find in Bangalore, Punjabi Tadka is a frequent haunt for bachelors given the budget friendly menu which also score a perfect 10 on taste.

Pic courtesy: mon-chef-de-cuisine.restaurantemploi.com

But when it comes to something special like an anniversary or any other milestone, we prefer the Royal Afghan (ITC Windsor). If you are looking for a fine dining restaurant experience, this is one place that one should try. Imagine a candlelight dinner by the poolside with that someone special.

Pic courtesy : Tripadvisor.in

However it can get somewhat awkward with kids trying to get into the water ( unless that are incredibly well behaved ) so plan in advance for a baby-sitter when you make the reservations for this place. The food is delicious, especially the juicy Kebabs and the creamy luscious Dals ( though I never use those adjectives to describe my lentils, in this case I am lost for words ). And I have to admit that even though I visit this place for its non-vegetarian fare, I can hardly find any fault with the vegetarian section which is just scintillating .

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