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Am a contradiction of sorts. i love going out and having a good time with friends, and i can also stay home chill out over a book or a movie.. Am very passionate about writing, so give me a topic and watch me float away into wonderland... I Am crazy about music,books,friends and my doggie... :)

Monday, October 27, 2014

Food Tales.. Food memories

There are these flavours that we grow up eating, which stick with us for life... Some of which remind us of the times we lived through and others of people who were a part of our lives. 

I woke up today morning and remembered the Sago Porridge I used to have for breakfast during that phase when mom was away in Chennai [during her last trimester] and my gramma used to do all the cooking[ what little she could manage]. We also had my great grandmother living with us and she used to have this porridge for breakfast, and I started having some and eventually fell in love with it. Today, I see sago porridge or payasam anywhere - I go back in time and smile... Not to forget I grab a bowl of it and savour every spoonful.

Another thing that I remember vividly that I am longing for is this vadam we used to have, my great grandmother called it "Chambekkai vadam" and it was used in Vendiya Kozhambu. I did not know what it was made with for a long time and then discovered it was made with Pumpkin. It has been years since I had it, but I think of it often and wonder if I should go looking for it or find someone who can make it for me! Great gramma was so good with her hands, she would make mor milagai, vathals and all sorts of things when she was sitting idle, or busy cleaning out cupboards or fidgeting with something or the other. Never a dull moment. And if I was around, she would tell me stories & shlokas related to food/eating/sleeping..

What are your fond/food memories?

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Grills of the world fest at Barbeque Nation...

Chef Pat Chapman in the house!! 
It has been a long time since I visited Barbeque Nation. The very 1st time was for my birthday and since then has been there quite a few times with different sets of people. But then, since am a veggie and not really into Bbq, kinda gave up visiting here.  So, when I got wind of the Grills of the world event and that they had celebrity Chef Pat Chapman flown in, I had to make a visit. 

Hailing from UK, this 73 year old Chef has been touring the country, visiting the various Bbq Nation outlets and giving his insights and inputs as he went along. He is infact dubbed as the Curry King back in the UK, owing to his love for the Indian curries.  During the course of the evening, we got an opportunity to interact with him, ask him a few questions and learn more about his culinary journey as well. He told us about the time when his family was in Lucknow, and his grandmother continued to cook Indian curries even after they moved to UK which is where his love affair with the Curry began. 

He also said he loves his curries spicy, which is quite surprising considering how food in UK is quite bland.
During the course of the conversation, we asked him about the Nouvelle cuisine [ put a tiny blob on the plate and call it fine dining], which he laughed at and said was not the way to eat. He also said how Indian food cannot be served like that, it needs to be hearty and comforting. A statistic he mentioned had us all speechless, he mentioned there were around 9000 Indian restaurants in UK and the total number of restaurants in the country was somewhere at 54000.  He concluded by saying that the British sure were addicted to Indian food and loved their curries. 

Coming back to Barbeque nation, they are hosting this festival through October, till the 31st and have quite a few new range of marinades for the dishes, about 14 in total.  Some of them are,
1) The British Isles - Yorkshire Marinade & Worcestershire Marinade
2) Spain - Valencia Marinade
3) Middle East - Lebanon Arabian Marinade & Persian Marinade
4) Americas - American Texican Marinade, Albuquerque Atomic Marinade, New Orleans Incendiary Marinade, Aztec - Mole Poblano Marinade
5) Africa - Jamaican Jerk Marinade
6) Australasia - The Outback Emu
7) Far East - Mighty Hot Mai Thai, Chinese Sichuan and Indonesian Bumbu Kacang and then there are few more….

Through the course of the evening, we watched him give a live demo of some of the sauces/marinades, explaining the ingredients- lemon grass, galangal, some of which the locals were not familiar with. And then we were served quite an array of vegetables and meat- each with a unique marinade. The unique ting about barbeque nation is that they were the 1st restaurant to bring forth the bbq on the table concept and it is still a big seller today. The place was packed, with families and groups who were having a good time.

After a round of food, there was a break where the staff broke out into a song and dance routine, roping in some of the customers as well. All we can say is it was a lively evening- there was food, music, fun and well, what more can you ask for?  It was all about giving customers an experience, one that went beyond just food. And if you have space in your tummy after all these starters, you should go try out some of the dishes in their Buffet [ incl some desserts]

So, if you are curious about the flavours and are looking for a place to go chill out with your friends, you know where to head.

Lunch: 12:00 PM To 03:30 PM
Dinner: 06:30 PM To 11:00 PM

Barbeque Nation
Shri Devi Park Hotel, #1, Hanumantha Road, North Usman Road, T. Nagar, Chennai
Hotel Bhimaas, 1, Amman Koil Road, Near Murugan Temple, Vadapalani, Chennai
To make a reservation- 044 30853761


Disclaimer: The reviews posted on this blog are based on my personal experience. Also remember these were just my views!! Remember, no two palates are the same. Bon Appétit :-)

Monday, October 20, 2014

Novotel, Chennai

It has been 50 days since Novotel opened their doors in Chennai. Situated in the OMR highway, beyond Hirnandani toll post, the campus also has the other Hotel from the group- Ibis. Apart from these two, there are quite a few other hotels that come under the Accor Hotels banner, which will soon rise from the ground in the same area in Chennai. 

The hotel is also located right opposite the SIPCOT arena which houses some of the leading IT companies in the city, so it is no wonder they will see quite a corporate crowd both in their restaurants and their rooms. 

As you pull into the driveway, the 1st thing that catches your eyes it the wide open spaces, and it continues as you walk into the lobby. There is one banquet hall apart from a store in the Lobby area. You take the elevator to UGF floor to reach the Square [out of the box] restaurant. If you walk straight ahead from the elevator you will be greeted by the beautiful pool, on the right side is an outer deck seating area that opens out to the city and on the left is the majestic restaurant. 

Again, the open spaces is what caught my eye. I loved that there were no tables crammed into the hall, and there was plenty of walking room. The buffet is spread from one side going all the way to the other. Each of the cuisines have distinct vessels- Indian, Pan Asian and international cuisine are what you find dominating the menu here. The buffet is priced at Rs950 [excl tax] and is quite an elaborate spread. 

The far end of the dining area is dedicated to families with kids, there is a Playstation and a play area that will keep them occupied while the family enjoys their meal. There is also a long table with Bar stool type seating area, which is quite cool. 

Oh and on the room front, they have 180 rooms in Novotel while there is another 180 odd rooms in Ibis as well. 

I know I know, this is a food blog, time to get talking about the food :) The evening we were about 5 of us there apart from the three members from the Hotel and we were seated in the Private dining area, which is a secluded one and can seat about 10 people. 

The evening opened with a range of starters, ranging from a Mezze platter [ pita bread with Hummus, babaganoush, tabouleh, and few other sides], and then came the absolutely delicious salad- tomato basil and buffalo mozzarella cheese, and then there was the stuffed focacia bread which was out of the world delicious.  There was also the veg & non veg dim sums, which were wrapped in sheets that were near transparent and melted in our mouths. 

Oh and we weren't done, there was also a Mushroom starter that looked like two mushrooms squished like a mini sandwich with a sauce between them.  The non veg eaters got as many starters and soon we were all nearly full. I was down with a bad cold and so started the meal with a cup of hot coffee [which was good and soothing]. Moving on to the main course, we got to the try their thin crust pizza with pesto sauce, potatoes and beans on it [ again it was yummy, though the base felt a little crisp in some places]. I also sneaked in a forkful of the spaghetti [non veg] but I couldn't resist the pesto and it was creamy and beautiful. For the veg main, we got a range of roti with dal makhani, Palak corn and a Chinese green stir fry which was my absolutely favourite [ it had Bok choi- which is an amazing ingredient that goes so well with Chinese flavours]

For Desserts, we decided to go check out the Dessert counter and helped ourselves to some of the dishes there. There were quite a range of desserts including multiple glass jars filled with Meringue/Macaron like sweet treats. The desserts all looked beautiful with cool garnishes, I should go back one day when my taste buds are back and try them out again. 

They have weekend breakfast and are talking about opening up for Brunch. So, if on a weekend you have no plans, just drag your friends and go for a long drive, stopping for a bite here at Novotel. Trust me, you will enjoy it... 

Plot No 36 Old Mahabalipuram Road
Tel (+91)44/66545454 
Just after the 2nd toll on OMR highway. 

Disclaimer: The reviews posted on this blog are based on my personal experience. Also remember these were just my views!! Remember, no two palates are the same. Bon Appétit :-)

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Kebabs & Curries, The Residency, Chennai - Till Oct 19th

You are hungry, but in the mood for something different, maybe a hot kebab- chicken or paneer, either works! But then most places have an elaborate platter that you cant do justice do. Well, the one option you have the coming week is to check out the Kebabs & Curries festival at Spice Jar in The Residency, T Nagar. An addition to their buffet, they are now serving few different kinds of kebabs [veg & non veg] apart from few interesting rotis and curries.

There is the chicken kebab, grilled fish for non veggies while vegetarians can dig into the soft well cooked Tandoor aloo or maybe the Ajwaini Paneer tikka, or you can also dig into the stuffed mushrooms or veg balls. Well, remember the menu keeps changing daily, so do a check on what kebabs are being served on the day you land there, at the live counter near the buffet spread. I also tried the Vegetable shorba and it was filled with flavour and I quite loved it. 
But the one thing you should try is the Kurmi roti [ a roti with a generous sauce- red chilli sauce, ketchup and cheese on top] or the Kalaonji roti [ roti with kalaonji and sesame seeds on top]. The Kurmi roti is sinfully yummy and can be eaten on its own. But if you need a side dish, opt for the Pind Chole or the Bindi Kurchan or kofta. Non vegetarians do have quite a few options as well.  
The Chef also mentioned Katti roll and we had to try some, I got the veg one with fresh medley of veggies and it was crunchy and fresh. The non veggies got one with meat and egg, and it was polished off in minutes... :) 
All this has been put together by the in house Chef Sakthivel.. In the buffet you can also taste the rice, Biryani, other side dishes and few continental items as well, apart from the salads and breads.  Hurry for this festival is on till the 19th Oct only…
Price – 
Weekdays - Rs. 699 Net
Weekends - Rs. 749 Net            
Children    -  Rs. 499 Net
This is available weekdays for Dinner while on weekends you can choose between Lunch and Dinner.
The Residency,
#49  G N Chetty Road
T Nagar
Chennai - 600 017.
For reservations, call 044 28253434 

Disclaimer: The reviews posted on this blog are based on my personal experience. Also remember these were just my views!! Remember, no two palates are the same. Bon Appétit :-)

Friday, October 10, 2014

International Pizza festival, California Pizza Kitchen till 19th Oct

Tomato, Cheese, capsicum, mushroom, olives, corn, paneer- well, these are the typical toppings I choose when ordering a pizza. But then, how about a Southwest Burrito Pizza [Spicy Black Bean sauce, fire roasted chillies, mozzarella and other cheddar cheese on a regular crust] or maybe the Kasundi Paneer Pizza [a trio of cottage cheese, roasted peppers and tomato marinated in Indian spiced mustard sauce on a thin crust topped with mozzarella and garnished with fresh coriander leaves] ? How cool would that be! 

The Non veg options

 The Veg pizza options- Burrito, Capriciossa , Brussels Pizza, beverage with Kasundi Paneer,  the Beijing style veg pizza and the cranberry drink.. 

 Desserts- White Chocolate & Strawberry cheese cake and the Banana-Chocolate 

It is almost like California Pizza kitchen read our minds and decided to come up with some funky options in Pizzas. Now, I must disclose that I am not a big pizza fan, but I dont mind it once in a while. So, when I heard of the International Pizza Festival at California Pizza Kitchen, a friend & I decided to check it out. We even got to meet Chef Anton Madhan who spoke about how each of the pizzas have been crafted and how they had distinct flavours.. 

There was quite an elaborate menu, one side has the Pizza options while the other side shows off the new beverages. I was beaming by the time I was done scanning the menu.. Any guesses why? D'oh, it wasn't cos they were exotic sounding pizzas, but there were 5 options for vegetarians while non vegetarians had only 4 [silent Whoopie in the air] :D 

 I tried the Burrito Pizza [labelled against Mexico], the Kasundi Paneer [ India], the Beijing Style Veg Pizza[Soya and garlic flavored button mushrooms, baby corn bell peppers, cooked over fiery schezwan sauce on a traditional crust with mozzarella and cheddar, garnished with scallions.] and of these, loved the 1st two while the third was just too spicy for me. It was almost like eating pickle on its own, but then my friend liked it, actually she loved it. 

And then there was the Capriciossa Pizza [Thin crispy crust smothered with smothered with Italian Pormodoro and mozzarella cheese and then topped with artichoke hearts, kalamata olives and fresh sliced mushroom garnished with hand torn basil] and the Brussels pizza [ Belgium- pesto marinana,  saute spinach, sliced mushroom, sun dried tomato, Mozarella & parmesan cheese and olives on a thin bubbly crust].. I loved these two as well, am probably used to pizza being subtle and not over the top spicy . 

My friend being a non veg, she loved the Fish & Chips Pizza [United Kingdom - Thin crispy crust loaded with CPK tartare sauce, mozzarella cheese, onion rings, fried fish and capers, finished with lime cream sauce and served with a good portion of crispy spiced fries] the best. The Sauerbraten Pizza [Germany- Traditional sauerkraut, shredded chicken, sliced onion on a regular crust with mozzarella cheese baked to a crisp golden crust topped with German potato salad] she found quite bland. Apart from these, there were two more- Cheeseburger Pizza from USA[Chunky chicken burger with caramalised onions and crushed black pepper , with a good drizzle of their secret sauce, pickled gherkins, Mozarella & cheddar cheese] and Rookwurst Pizza from Holland [ a traditional crust topped with marainara along with sliced onion, pork salami, smoky bratwurst sausage and hearty sprinkling of Dutch Gouda cheese and herbs]

For beverages, I tried a Cranberry based drink as soon as I entered the place and then went on to try their Pineapple twister while winding up the meal, and they were both served in a nice tall glass and were quite slurpalicious. The pizzas are all priced between Rs 500 -575/- [excl tax] and this festival is on till the 19th Oct.  While each pizza has a set crust mentioned, if you have a preference you can mention that when placing the order and they will customise the same. 

Oh and how could we walk out of here without dessert.. So, we tried two desserts- the white chocolate and strawberry cheesecake with Oreo crust and the Banana- Chocolate dessert... Yumm is the word!! But must give you a headsup, their signature dessert is the Tiramisu!! ;) 
California Pizza Kitchen
Phoenix MARKET City, Velachery
Ph- 044 65108888

Disclaimer: The reviews posted on this blog are based on my personal experience. Also remember these were just my views!! Remember, no two palates are the same. Bon Appétit :-)

Friday, October 3, 2014

High tea at The Dining Room, Park Hyatt

Cookies, chocolates, nutri bars
Cakes, breads and sandwiches
Sabudana vada, Bhel puri, sev puri, dahi papadi and more…
Coffee and Tea
And there were fresh fruits too.

Was it a birthday or just a celebration? It felt like a bit of both…

We were at The Dining Room in Park Hyatt to celebrate their 2nd birthday and check out their high tea that was launched on the very same day.

Plush seating areas, a beautiful view of the pond outside and huge french windows streaming in natural light, bringing the place to life.

It is quite the ideal setting for an evening meet, a business meeting, a casual catching up session with friends or an opportunity to dig into interesting bites, and sip on filter kaapi from the traditional dabara..

Quite a spread, not too heavy and not just little bites. Crunchy biscuits with pistachio bits, chocolate chip cookies; healthy granola bars for those who wanted to eat something healthy [ I binged on them cos I loved the oats and flavours in this bar] and then there was the flavour packed sandwich with cheese, tomato and pesto sauce. There was also a brown bread sandwich with nonveg filling in it. We also dug into Bhel puri, and few other chaat items,,,[I had tasted these earlier during the Mumbai food festival and the chat items were just as good] 

Oh and how can I not mention the hot sabudana vada served with mint chutney- it was soft, yummy and not as oily as I have seen elsewhere.   

It is now time to tease those sweet buds of yours- glazed fig teacake  with little bits of the fruit in it and then ofcourse the brownie with chocolate mousse that was sinfully divine. This had us curious about their Pastry chef Selva, who joined us and spent a few minutes talking about the desserts. We also got the opportunity to meet Chef Greg [who hails from Poland and has been here in Park Hyatt since Jan14 and loves his cuppa filter kaapi - had quite an interesting chat with him about food from Poland and how he's enjoying his time here] .Apart from these, there were platters of fresh fruits as well [ watermelon & pineapple]

What more could you ask for?All this for Rs600 and did I mention it is a unlimited High tea? Yes it is~!!

Next time, you have a meeting or just in the mood for something fancy and if it is between 4-6pm, head over to Park Hyatt.

39 Velachery Road,
Near Raj Bhavan,
Chennai 600 032
Tel: +91 44 7177 1234 

Disclaimer: The reviews posted on this blog are based on my personal experience. Also remember these were just my views!! Remember, no two palates are the same. Bon Appétit :-)

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Vrat Thali at Mast Kalandar

It is Navratri time and people all over are busy preparing for the festivals, gearing up for the holidays and planning their weekly menu. 

While the South Indians abstain from eating onion-garlic during these 9 days and have only tiffin items for dinner, the North Indians fast in a different way- they abstain from eating rice, wheat [any by product of wheat], grains and pulses as well, apart from the no onion no garlic diet. This makes it quite difficult as there are very few items available for one to cook with or eat during this fasting season. 

Mast Kalander, one of the leading North Indian veg meal restaurant have taken this into consideration and put together a meal that address the various issues and concerns. For the Navratri season, they have created a Vrat thali which consists of Puris, pakoda, side dishes and sweets made with ingredients people are allowed to eat.

The puri is made with Kuttu [ water chestnut flower], kela chaat [ banana chat] similarly the dessert is coconut laddoo, there is also a paneer sabzi where the paneer is not cooked, but just scrambled by hand in a very light gravy and chole gravy as well. All of these dishes are made with Sendha namak [ rock salt as people dont eat table salt during this vrat phase]. There was also another dessert we tried, which was  Makhana kheer [ lotus seed kheer]. The highlight of this meal is that the entire thali is priced at Rs229 [dine in] and Rs149 [take away mini vrat thali].  The puri was dark in colour and tad crispier than our regular puri [ but apart from this there was no major taste difference]. I quite liked the paneer sabzi [ they had used ajwain even though most people who fast dont eat ajwain, but for need of flavour this spice had been used]

If you are not the kind to experiment, you can always pick up the Utsav maha thali combo, they have one very similar to the vrat thali, but the puri is made with carrot/beetroot puree to give it a rich colour, there was a daal with cereals & lauki, kofta gravy a gulab jamun and a small serving of pulao as well. If your sweet buds are still not satiated, you should try their malpua- it is sinful and heavy duty [with sweet rabdi poured generously on top]. With all this food and sweets, I needed a glass of Chaas to wash it all down :)

The highlight of the meet at Mast Kalandar was we got to meet their CEO Mr Gaurav Jain and get a glimpse into his journey, and his experience with Mast Kalandar. They are also the only restaurant to have 65 outlets across the country.... 

To know more , visit

You can also read about Gaurav & pallavi's journey here

Disclaimer: The reviews posted on this blog are based on my personal experience. Also remember these were just my views!! Remember, no two palates are the same. Bon Appétit :-)