Wednesday, November 30, 2011


Our friends Pooja & Pramit got married this weekend in a Gujju-Mallu wedding in Ahmedabad. I was quite looking forward to a gastronomic feast which it was but not exactly as i expected.

Ahmedabad has seen a fair bit of progress over the last few years, wide roads which are more or less clean and traffic is not too bad for a former capital. Two major national educational institutes (IIM-A and NID) a convention centre and an airport which is at best 30 minutes from most places.

Right at the airport i found a Havemor, which is all over Gujarat and has begun mushrooming in other states as well. They serve the ice cream sandwich, something i have been looking for quite a while but have had no luck in Bombay (K.Rustoms on Marine Drive does not really count)

The sandwiches were delicious and i had two a day throughout my stay there. I hope they add a chocolate flavored one soon. Apparently there is a Havemor outlet in Phoenix Mills, though i haven't seen it yet.

Our first meal that day was a totally south Indian home cooked meal complete with pappads, rasam, brilliant, BRILLIANT dal, curd rice (damn, i want to cry now, really)

Pramit, the groom and our man in Ahmedabad recommended we have breakfast at Laxmi Gathiya Rath (map) which is right on Nehrunagar circle. On a Sunday morning the place was fairly buzzy, they serve regular gujju staples,

The Khaman was brilliant, sweet with spicy chutney, good good stuff, i like my khaman softer with a little more water, this was dryer but not bad at all.

the white dhokla was pretty good as well, the fafdi/papdi was very different from what i am used to here, its usually dry and crunchy while this was just out of the frying pan and continued to be soft throughout our meal.

The patra were nice, though i have this habit of having em with ketchup, so felt a little incomplete.

the khandvi again, soft and surprisingly on the spicy side with flecks of chillies in and around.
the chutneys.. Overall the food was brilliant, however its plainly unhealthy for you, nearly everything was friend and they werent cheap about the oil either. Dont think id be able to do this more than once a month.

Another surprise was this crate we saw while leaving, after our chai. A crate of Sosyo, the evening before we were discussing old tv commercials and dead drinks we liked as kids. Sosyo had a catchy commercial and was easily available in the 80's but disappeared all together at some point.
But Lo and Behold, we see a crate and walked over to check out how it was possible.

Shailesh Prabhu, founder of Yellow Monkey Games, greedily gulps it all down.
Turns out Sosyo (website) is actually still alive and is an original Gujarat brand being exported globally (but not nationally) The drink is masala soda esque but not quite as spicy, it just needs to be chugged to be understood. Now if only someone would bring those awesome Gold Spot bottles back! (For the record Pepsi has revived Dukes which is the only good thing i can say about Pepsi)

As i mentioned before, i went for a wedding most of our meals were with the wedding party, as much as i wanted to slip out and get a thali (which i love) i really couldn't get around to it. Part of the reason was meals like the one above which were simply stunning. A traditional meal this is probably one of the best, south indian meals i have ever had.

there were sweet and salty banana chips, veggies, avial, puri, papads, the most amazing AMAZING tamarind chutney i have ever had, a brilliant sambar, pyasamas galore.

dal, rice and ghee, how on earth could that be anything but great. 

washed down by loads of spiced buttermilk. 

So all in all, the trip was amazing, the city was easy like Sunday morning (though i could never move there) the food was good all around, we had plenty of meals Gujju, South Indian, Punjabi, home made pav bhaji even and not a single one was below superb. 

Perhaps ill get a shot at Ahmedabad and their Thalis some day, until then Bombay will have to suffice !

Friday, November 25, 2011

Chinese Room, Panchvati Gaurav this past week

Its been a bit of a tough week, not much love in terms of eating out. We wanted to check out a Thali joint, my kid brother refused to drive up to Phoenix so we could dine at Rajdhani, i had no intention of heading to Samrat or Status for the nth time. Would have really loved to go to Kabladevi and check out Joshi club or whatever but unfortunately no one was keen on cabs.

So off we went to the only real alternative we could think of Panchvati Gaurav (none of us are fans of Golden Star because they are about excess)

I have seen the place change a great deal over the last decade and a half. The food is patchy, sometimes good sometimes not so impressive. This time around it was strictly okay, no great shakes. They had a great dhokla, the dals were good but that was about it. The joy of a thali place is if they serve a few diff kind of rotis or something interesting like using makhan (home churned butter) which really adds a whole new dimension to the taste.

What i also found greatly distressing was the cost, the thali is was 300, which is pretty deranged in my opinion. Value For Money it (and others of its ilk) aint.

The second meal was a complete catastrophe. Sunday evening, is possibly the worst time of the week to consider heading out for dinner. Especially when you are looking for a table to seat ten people, all the more worse if the ten have been dancing for about two hours (practicing for a wedding, i dont run a nightclub in my apartment)

Since there was a gaggle of meat eaters we skipped the ever reliable Shiv Sagar and since East shut down the only place i reckoned we could try was The Chinese Room which is bang on Kemps Corner. 

Having never been there i knew it was a gamble and sadly we ended up on the losing side. I am not a fan of Chinese food anymore as it tends to make me fairly sick but i do like to indulge ever so often.

However, Chinese Room is a restaurant that you would have found in Delhin in the early 90's or can still find in tier 2, cities as a restaurant that has seen better days. I knew we were in trouble the moment we stepped in. The table cloth was dirty, the A/C wasnt working, the paint was peeling and the wait staff was fairly jaded. Another curious thing i found was a Samurai in full armour mounted on a wall, wonder why they have a Japanese warrior in a Chinese restaurant.. Terracotta warriors not around?

We ordered standard fare and none of it was really impressive, so i will not recount our dishes in detail as i would like to forget. There was particular dish that looked like snot ( i shit you not) and no one, NOT ONE person touched it.

Woe is us. The cheque came to about 4000 for 10.

Monday, November 21, 2011

A quick bite at Indigo Deli

Rest : Indigo Deli
Meal : Quick early afternoon bite
Loc : Phoenix Mills, Lower Parel

Customer service has never been a strong point at any of the Indigo Deli restaurants but i really think its high time they took things up a notch and became a little more responsible. People often complaint how diners behave badly with wait staff which i think is a no no. However, i think wait staff tend to be completely lackadaisical unless they face a ranting lunatic. 

I was over at the deli this Sunday, as i usually am to pick up some stuff from their Deli, in the rare hope that they might have some decent salads and dips to carry home.  

The wife chose a roast tomato soup which was pretty decent

i chose the large salad platter which had couscoups upma, watermelon and deta, roast peppers, a mousse of some kind. The platter itself was decent but interestingly i ordered the VEG platter and made sure they knew, when it came i confirmed the same thing.. however they threw in some chicken out of the kindness of their heart. if you look at the picture its a little difficult to tell if its chicken or not, which is why the inquiry. Anyway, eventually, i took a bite.
Fortunately for them i am not a screamer or a violent man and pointed this out to them, i did get an apology but somehow, i feel they got away with it cheap. Being early on Sunday, i didnt want to make a fuss, the wife though was almost up in arms, what did upset me was that the waitstaff thought it was funny and were sniggering in the corner. 

i thought about another gentleman who had this happen to him in another restaurant and proceeded to file a complaint with the police. I am pretty sure, a few people i know would have been radically upset. Also, i think they should have had the decency to take the salad off the check.

Anyway, to make a long story short, i finished my bit, paid my check and will choose to vote with my feet..and though i love the food there, i dont think i am going back for a while.

Food: 6/10
Service: 3/10
Damage : 1200

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The awesome PICKALICIOUS contest

In the immortal words of Monty Python.. Now for something completely different. In the spirit of generosity and with a little help from my friends and since a lot of you are pretty active in the kitchen here is a contest for a fully loaded gift hamper courtesy of ADF Foods.

ADF foods, established in 1932 are the the owners of brands such as Ashoka, Camel, Aeroplane amongst others. ADF Soul, a brand for those with a love for food has been creating and marketing various chutneys, pickles, ready to eat (RTE) packs .

They are also very well known for their premium quality pickles made in Virgin Olive oil. Since pickles are what they excel at i get to host and judge the PICKALICIOUS contest !
How it works is you need to come up with a creative recipe using pickle and then upload it to the ADF Soul facebook page. One lucky winner chosen by me is going to get an ADF Soul foods hamper which consists of 7 ready to eat packs, 14 pickle bottles and 1 bottle of Mango chutney (pictured below)
So what you waiting for, go for it.

Please Note : I am not provided with any financial incentive for judging contest.

Sunday, November 13, 2011


Rest : Komalas
Meal : Lunch
Loc : Phoenix Mills, Lower Parel

The joy that is South Indian cuisine, i find myself grabbing a lot of southie chow on Sundays, somehow the two go well together. In Phoenix mills for a movie, the wife suggested we skip our regular haunt (Indigo Deli) and head to Komalas..

Komalas is very awkwardly located, near the exit to Phoenix Mills and can be a little hard to find. I reckon they pay a substantially lowered rent for such a weak location. That aside, they are part of a fairly large international chain and their menu is pretty expansive.

They offer a variety of regular Udipi fare as well as quite a few thali options. Second time i have been there and they have not had appams and stew. In fact, outside of two five star restaurants Dakshin & Konkan Cafe i havent found appams served anywhere.

The wife wanted appams and since they were not available, she chose a cheese tomato uttapams which was nice and fairly heavy, the best part was the red garlic chutney which pretty much rocked!!! i have the had gobs and gobs of it at the Breach Candy dosawala, truly elevates just about anything you chose.

I chose the full fledged thali they serve and boy was it fully loaded. On offer were  chapattis, rice, a gravy vegetable, two dry veggies, rasam, sambar, kheer, dahi, raita, pickle and a stupendously cold glass of masala chaas, which i proceeded to gulp down and order two more glasses of.

The chappatis, i personally didn't like, reminiscent of the roti canai, a little too oily for my taste. The potato veggie was yummy as was the cauliflower, though a little on the spicy side.

The rasam was brilliant as was the sambar. The kheer was not bad, though i am not a big fan.

Topped of with a glass of fliter coffee, which i really like, though the wife who is an even bigger fan didnt enjoy.

Overall, Komala's is a fairly large, comfy joint, the menu is expansive and most dishes are worth trying. More expensive than the average Udipi, they also have a friendly and fairly efficient staff that is eager to please.

While i appreciate the fact that they deal exclusively in disposable plates, glasses and utensils, it takes some getting used to. Especially having filter coffee out of a stryofoam cup can be a little strange. My last visit was here

Food : 8/10
Service : 8/10
Damage : 400 for 2.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Cafe Madras

Rest : Cafe Madras
Loc : Sion Circle
Meal : Sunday Breakfast

I get a call from my mate Happy over the weekend to grab breakfast at Cafe Madras (previous visit here), which is in my opinion a great way to start off a Sunday morning. Located bang on Sion circle Cafe Madras is an unassuming place serving South Indian and some Maharashtrian fare that harks back to the days when the area was a strong hold for their community.

The menu has more than half a dozen varieties of idlis and nearly two dozen dosa options besides the assorted snacks such as rasam vada, medu vada and a bunch of uttapams.

The Misal was pretty good, however i recommend the Madras Dahi Misal which is even better, a must have on the menu.

The butter idli is fairly decadent, you can also get the idli plain with a side of butter to control you butter to idli ratio.

Thums Up, accept no substitutes... for there are none.

The rasam vada was actually average, one would think it would be superlative too but no such luck. Probably better off getting the rasam in a glass which is an option.

The madras filter coffee is awesome, fun to drink and you should be able to go through at least a pair of em before you leave. For foreign readers, Madras filter coffee is a sweet, potent mixture and prepared differently from regular filter coffee abroad. Everything from the way it is prepared, poured and served is unique and its surely a must try, there are numerous options around Cafe Madras.

Overall, the place gets very, very busy, we got in at 10am and there must have been atleast 25 people waiting already, fortunately Happy had grabbed a table early and was guarding it.. the fact that he is buddies with the managers helped too. The sheer variety of the dishes means, its better go with a larger group and then share, pick the dishes you liked and order more. Will allow you to try some of the lesser known dosas.

The food is pretty good, familiar yet different from the regular Udipis one comes across in the city, a leaning towards the ethnic with minimal fuss in preparation and presentation. Simplicity is the key and they dont try to lean towards the tastes of any particular ethnic group.

Service is chaotic, our waiters changed twice, a few of the dishes did not show up until much later, some didnt show up at all and my Mysore sada turned into something else all together. However, i guess its all good, place was packed and i was just happy to not have waited.

Food : 8/10
Service : 6/10
Damage : 600 for 3.

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