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Saturday, October 31, 2015

10th FBAB Meetup ( @ The Great Indian Thali, Kormangala )

What can possibly be common between the Chinese philosophy of 'yin and yang' and Ugadi pacchidi, a finger licking dish from Andhra. Actually not much apart from the fact that both signify a beautiful balance between opposing elements. And balance is the first thing that came to my mind when I had the chance to lay my eyes upon this awesome thali offered by 'The Great Indian Thali'.

Honestly speaking, I am not a great fan of the thali meals. Have tried out some monsterous thalis with 30-35 items on the menu such that one ends up skipping half of it. I find it to be waste of money. At other times, I have found it to be a mismatch of North Indian and south Indian dishes that end up irritating my taste buds. Such experiences made me look up this restaurant's menu on the net before I dared to try out their offering. And as it later turned out, I was in for a most pleasant experience.

It was just another Sunday evening and we had gathered at TGIT, Kormangala for yet another FBAB meetup ( 10th one ) and the food tasting that goes with it. Though I was there for the first time, I had no difficulty in locating the restaurant as it is situated at the very popular Sony World junction. If you happen to be travelling from Indiranagar, you need to take a right at this signal. The restaurant is located on the 4th floor of the 3rd building to the right.

Stepping into the place, I found it to be somewhat smaller in size than what it appeared in the photos. But the sitting arrangement looks good and the lighting is quite ambient. Decor is kept to a minimal and is tasteful. The first thing that arrived was the watermelon juice which was a tad too sweet for my taste. But it was more than compensated when the golgappas arrived next. Fresh and crisp with a delicious filling, and with an awesome spicy 'paani' ( there was a sweet one too but I do not prefer it) to go with it, it was the best I have had in a while.

The next thing to grace the table was some yummy dahi papdi and a few varities of starters like the paneer tikka ( good flavour but not that soft) and the potato kebab (quite good). And finally the most awaited thali arrived. There was the subzi meloni, aloo bhindi, karela kurchan, kadai paneer, dal makhani, pindi choley, dum aloo with a selection of four kinds of Indian bread and 3 varieties of rice. My favorite turned out to be Dum Aloo (just the right amount of tang), Dal makhani (not too buttery but with a delicious smokiness to it) and the subzi meloni. The Kadai paneer also deserves a mention as it was good but just too spicy for my personal taste. Loved the bhatura and the delicately flavoured veg biryani.

The desserts were excellent. Hats off to the Moong dal halwa which got a noteworthy makeover. Loved the tomato twist to it. Even the rasgulla, the gulab jamun and the shrikhand turned out to be scrumptious.

Overall, it was a great thali which had accommodated the most popular North Indian dishes in it but without making it too overwhelming. And at Rs 489/-, it is well priced. Go for it !!

The Great Indian Thali Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Beetroot and Carrot Smoothie

Smoothies can be a great way of losing weight given that one picks up the right ingredients. And all those bovine sympathizers, rest assured that even the vegan ones are quite delicious. This is one such example. Read on for the recipe -

Preparation time - 5 mins

Ingredients -

  • 1/2 cup peeled and cubed beetroot
  • 1/2 cup peeled and cubed carrot
  • 1 tsp basil seeds (sabza)
  • 1/2 tsp honey
  • 2 pinch cinnamon powder
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice

Preparation - Take the beetroot and carrot cubes in a blender along with the powdered cinnamon, honey and 1/3 rd of the orange juice. Blend into a smooth puree.

Pour it into a glass. Dilute with more orange juice to get desired consistency.

Sprinkle the basil seeds on top. Serve immediately or chilled for 10-15 mins.

DO not store overnight.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Sprouts and Cracked wheat Khichdi

While most of the folks are done with Navratri and the fasting that goes with the territory, it is just the beginning of the fasting season for the people of Odisha. As the holy month of Kartik has already started and Margasira is next in queue, quite a few Odia folks will be scouting for 'no onion-no garlic' recipes. Not that Odia cuisine lacks such dishes, there are more then enough to last through these two months, but sometimes a little change is very much welcome.

This simple recipe is actually inspired by the 'Kanika', an aromatic and mildly sweetened rice preparation. I have given it a really healthy makeover by substituting the rice with cracked wheat or daliya and adding the goodness of sprouted lentils. It turned out to be a winner in all aspects and I enjoy this for lunch with a glass of spiced buttermilk.

Read on for the recipe -

Preparation Time - 15 mins

Ingredients -

  • 1/4 cup daliya
  • 1 cup sprouted lentils ( i mix green moong and kala channa)
  • 1/3 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 dry red chili
  • 1/2 tsp ghee
  • 1 inch cinnamon
  • 1 green cardamom
  • 2 cloves
  • 6-7 peppercorns
  • 12-14 rasisins
  • salt to taste
  • pinch of turmeric

Cooking - Dry roast the daliya till it gives off a mild fragrance and turns brown by a few shades. Keep aside.

Heat the ghee in a pressure cooker. Add the red chili, cumin and spices. Roast till fragrant. Throw in the raisins and saute for 10 seconds.

Wash the sprouts and the daliya. Add to the cooker.

Add about  1 1/2 to 2 cups water, the turmeric, salt to taste and close the lid. Cook for 3-4 whistles on medium flame.

Keep aside till steam escapes. Open the lid and cook uncovered for a few minutes if it is too watery.

Serve warm with buttermilk

Monday, October 26, 2015

9th FBAB Meet-up (Food Tasting @ Bungalow, Whitefield)

It is rather unusual to stumble upon an oasis of peace amidst the mind-numbing cacophony of vehicular traffic in Whitefield. And just as one is getting adjusted to this bounty, a quaint white building looms into one's field of vision. Nothing spectacular about the facade except for the neon lighting sign which spells out "The Bungalow".

But just as one steps through the very dated looking and rather small wooden doors, one is magically transported to a bygone era where reality sharks had not yet made their fortune and living spaces were much larger and had a lot more character. The ambiance is that of an old Bungalow with lots of overhanging balconies, incandescent bulb lighting, brass fixtures, colonial style furniture and multiple knick-knacks that one can only hope to find in a grandmother's attic.

It was a very enthusiastic group of food bloggers and reviewers that gathered at this place on a Sunday night to taste the food and catch-up with the latest happenings in the food world. With a really relaxed ambiance heightened by all the sumptuous food and languid conversation, Bungalow actually managed to help us lose track of time and yet relish each moment of it.

Coming to the food and drinks, we were welcomed with a rather simple Tamarind drink that just managed to get my mouth all tingly. Then the starters arrived and all hell broke loose on my palate. Be it the succulent Nawabi Murgh kebab or the delicious Pesto Paneer, each one was a lovely amalgamation of flavors and textures that had my taste-buds crying for more. Then there was the finger-licking Basil Chicken, another very delectable deep fried chicken and prawn starter and some pastry kind of a thing stuffed with veggies and cheese which were really good. Apart from these there were some amazing Dimsums, lusty mocktails, assorted veggie kebabs and a juicy Fish Paturi on the menu.

But the best part was the amazing thin crust pizza baked in a wood fired oven. Be it the vegetarian version with Mediterranean toppings or the very Indianized Mutton Kheema pizza, I could not resist going for second helpings. These was a live pasta counter and I tried one with white sauce. Turned out to be good.

Next I targeted the soups and salads section. An amazing variety of Classic salads with assorted breads and a hummus or harissa dip to go with it made it tough to narrow down the choices. I choose the Almond and Broccoli soup with a Greek salad, Caesar salad and veggies tossed in blueberry dressing. While the salads were really yummy and fresh, it was the drool worthy soup which still continues to haunt the dark alleys of my mind.

All that delectable food ensured that we went for the Main Course with rather full tummies and ended up just nibbling at it. But still the luscious 'Rajasthani Laal Maas' egged me on to take quite a few spoonfuls. The Awadhi Saag and Dal Makhani also turned out to be equally good.

Moving on to the desserts, I just settled for the yummy pancake and some Baskin Robbins icecream (Yup...pinch urself if you think that this is a dream) !! A big round of ovation for the guy who plated that pancakes so well that they resembled some piece of art . Somehow he managed to make each plating look quite different from each other. Plus thanks to each one of the service guys who managed to take really good care of us and even our kids.

Another brownie points to the Bungalow guys for their awesome range of mocktails. I tried the Lychee cola and the Virgin Mojito and both were good. Some of my bloggers friends were also going gaga over the Guava cooler but I was too stuffed to try one.

After having downed so much of great food and relished their incomparable hospitality, I am convinced that I need to come back to haunt this 'Bungalow' for an encore.

Rating - 4.5 / 5 . It is worth spending Rs 700 (inc taxes) for this unforgettable experience.

The Bungalow Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

Saturday, October 24, 2015

MCcain ki Smile(y) wali Recipe

A smile is a curve that sets everything straight. And being married into a 'totally' foodie family, food is my weapon of choice when I want to set things straight. So whether it is spending hours cooking that delectable biryani or the Dal Makhni just the way it is supposed to be done, or experimenting with quick fix microwave recipes, a good portion of my day is spent romancing food. And I have come to the conclusion that along with the great taste, a little something extra is what brings on the smiles on my family's face.

Breakfast is one of the most important meals of the day and the my family enjoys a hearty version of it with quite a few variety of dishes on the table. While my inlaws dote on Mcain Masala dosa, a yummy version of the traditional dosa, Replacing the alu masala with a few Mcain smileys tossed up with grated veggies, hung curd and some chatpata chutney, it saves time for me and is more healthy than the regular one.

Ditto for the kid, who loves his vegetable sandwich. A simple hung curd dressing with crisp veggies and the added crunch of a few crunchy smileys is enough to light up his face with a beautiful smile. I am hardly surprised that my husband ends up fighting with him over the sandwiches.

My husband being one for burgers, a make him a quick one with the delicious Mcain  vegetable patty being at my disposal whatever the time of the day. Chopping a few onions and tomatoes and assembling the burger with a cheese slice, chopped veggies, a fried patty and a dash of mustard sauce take up hardly 5 mins. That keeps him happy and even I am reassured that my family gets to eat sufficient veggies and proteins .

While they may have their differences in terms of foodie fixes during the meal times, my family is unequivocal about the snack of choice when a favorite movie is playing on the screen. It has got to be the Mcain French fries, Made from the freshest potatoes, it is just so crisp on the outside and wonderfully light and fluffy on the inside. I just need to ensure that I buy an extra large packet if a cricket match or a nice movie is going to be telecast and my life is all set. The steady supply of snacks ensures another steady supply of smiles. Never mind even if India is losing the match.

But Mcain turns out to be the biggest rockstar when my MIL's friends or even my friends come to visit our house. I end up making my favorite Aloo Tikki Chaat with the delicious Mcain Aloo Tikki on popular demand almost every time. And the ladies can never have enough of it.

Another favorite of mine is the Smileys served with an avocado-chocolate-chili dip that happens to be a hit with my gang of girls.

Thanks to MCcain I now have a recipe that can bring on the smiles at any occasion !! Have you discovered your smile(y) recipe yet ?

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Durga Puja 2015 (in Bengaluru)

My childhood memories of Durga puja are numerous. Watching the elaborate pandal near my house shaping up over a period of a month or so, the subtle smell of 'gangashiuli' and other winter blossoms in the gradually chilly evening air, the lotus/lily blooming in a nearby pond, the purchase of festive clothes and finally the annual visit by my 'piusi' or my father's sister. Being in Bengaluru I miss all of it. The pandals are just plain and unobtrusive, the only smell that rents the air is that of dust and pollution and buying clothes is no longer fun in a city that is driven by sheer materialism.

Being away from home, one does not have much to do during the puja. Hence we decided to go pandal hopping in the areas nearby Marathahalli. And realized that there is no dearth of pandals in Bengaluru. These are some of the ones I manged to cover -

The above pics were clicked at Sishu Griha school grounds, Near Thippasandra.

Near Kempfort mall, Murugeshpallya.

Sarjapur Outer Ring Road.

The very crowded one at AECS layout.

Some trinkets that I picked up -

Coming to all that was there to eat, I ended up tasting quite a few things like Mangsho kasha luchhi, Chicken kasha luchi, Chicken chaap with paratha, Kolkatta chicken biryani, Chowmein, Dahibara aludum, rasagulla, rasmalai and gupchup. And ended up with the realization that one has to kiss too many frogs before a prince charming actually turns up. A very relevant fairytale that one can only ignore at one's peril.

And no I did not click any food pics coz that is what I do everyday and I badly needed the break. The moment food arrives on the table, I end up taking a shot no matter what. Even my 3 year old excalims "Food has come. Bring Camera. Mama will take photo". Gosh, Am I so hollow that anyone can look through me ? No, I don't want to hear the all too obvious reply.

Finishing up with the pandal hopping spree, I realized that the spirit of Dusshera or Durga Puja is still intact even in this government forsaken city. Though it manifests itself in a very different way, "Maa" still makes her presence felt in the IT city. A big cheers to the Bengaluru crowd for their sheer 'joie de vivre' .

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