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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... :)

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Old School dishes, familiar flavours… at Mamagoto

The Old School Menu

Fresh orange juice and crisps

Crispy corn

Stir fry- Mushroom & baby corn


Chop Suey

Buddha Bowl

Sponge cake with caramel sauce & coconut ice cream

It had been a while since my last visit.. The place had changed quite a bit, mainly with ref to the interiors. It felt lot more spacious and peaceful!! Today, it was time to take a ride back in time, to Mamagoto where Mama who was going to cook up Indo-Chinese favourites for me… It is always good to revisit the old, especially when it consists of dishes and flavours you are familiar with and love. 

At Mamagoto, they have put together a menu with a few select dishes that will have you reminiscing about the good old days .. You have the Mussoorie Mall Road Spring Rolls, Bombay Club Sesame Toast, Chop suey [Crispy noodles] , Stir fried Broccoli in ginger sauce and many others [ veg & non veg ].. I had a meal that consisted of crispy fried corn, a tangy stir fry of baby corn and mushroom, followed by delicious discs [4 diff kinds, the Buddha bowl, Chop suey and finished off with a simple sponge cake served with warm caramel sauce & coconut ice cream[ it is usually served with plain vanilla ice cream]

My favourite among these was the mushroom baby corn stir fry and Buddha bowl.. The chop suey was good as well, fun to eat the crunchy noodles with the hot sour sweet sauce, wiping it off your chin as you try to stuff one big spoonful into your mouth.. They were dishes I havent had in a while and one that not many places serve today! I infact have friends and family who love these dishes and keep talking about how not many places serve them anymore.

Even though this menu is slated to be around for a short duration, they just might extend it based on the demand and popularity… 

Shop No. 9, Khader Nawaz Khan Road, 
Chennai - 600034

For Reservations call: 044 33999610

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, March 23, 2019

Maestro of Punjabi cuisine at Spice Haat, Hyatt Regency till 31st March

[Image courtesy- Hyatt Regency]

Walking down the narrow streets of Amritsar, you see shops where men are busy piping out hot jalebis, or serving thick lassi to customers. Can vouch that the lassi is difficult to finish, one giant glass it is, if you do manage to polish it off, you wont need a meal for a few hours.. And then there are the restaurants where you walk in to the aroma of rajma or Pind chole simmering away. Well, these flavours have been brought to the Punjabi festival at Spice Haat in Hyatt Regency, Chennai. Chef Sweety Singh has come down armed with ingredients and spices to cook up a storm, he is here till 31st March..  

About the Chef
Since 1999, Chef Sweety Singh has been piloting Punjabi Food Festivals from last 20 years. With his expertise in cooking for the past 23 years, he has brought unique blends to Punjabi cuisine. His culinary delights has been served to much of the renowned Sports and Bollywood celebrities such as, Shahrukh Khan, Sachin Tendulkar, Shikhar Dhawan, Anupam Kher, Anil Kapoor, Dharmendra, Yuvraj Singh, Daler Mehndi to name a few. [info shared by the Hotel]

I also discovered that Chef had been in Chennai decades ago at Park Sheraton [ now Crowne Plaza], and came back after a short hiatus to Residency Towers.... 

The food
The first thing you see as you step into Spice Haat is a menacing looking Royal Enfield bike, and all through the hotel there are traces of Punjab in the decor, on the table and across the food counters as well. First up are the live counters as you walk into the restaurant, and then come the mains and the desserts at the far end of the restaurant.  Amidst all these, the regular dishes from their buffet can also be found [ across other cuisines].

Once we settled into a table, we were given two options for drinks- a Namkeen jeera lassi & the sweet kesar lassi in served in traditional khullad tumblers.. Along came the starters at the table- there was the melt in your mouth kinda paneer tikka, amritsari aloo and a few non veg starters as well. Even though the food served at hotels is very different from what you have at the place of origin, these were close enough. Kicked off a chat with the Chef, who said he uses freshly ground spice, and the dishes all have zero to no cream, heavy bases and were all made making sure to keep flavours intact.. The Daal makhani he said had asafoetida, no cream at all, but it had the authentic taste you would find in a Daal makhani. The chef went on to talk about how Punjabi food is associated with heavy rich food, but there are different ways of making it while being true to its cultures. 

Some of the mains I tried were the Aloo wadi, Pind chole, Daal makhani [ with a spoon of Ghee and jaggery- which apparently helps with digestion.] In the dessert section that day we had Jangiri and Kheer, the kheer was delicious, low on sugar and the gentle flavour of kesar came through.. Everyday the menu changes, give or take a few dishes & there are enough veg options as well.. So, go ahead indulge... 

Meal for one costs INR 1,499 including taxes.

Hyatt Regency 
#365, Anna Salai, 
Teynampet, Chennai - 600018
Phone: 044 6100 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 :-)

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

[Food tales] Stuffed peppers & chilli

If there is one dish that the entire family loves and will gobble up not keeping track of numbers, it is the humble bhajji.. Deep fried vegetables that have been dipped generously in a batter made by gramma. She used to talk about how back when they were living as a joint family, there would be days when bhajji would be made in the evening, and they would fly.. 

Some of the veggies used are Chow chow, potato, raw banana, brinjal [grandpa and his brothers love this veg], cauliflower and onion...   even today there are times when gramma says "lets make bhajji"... except now quantity is limited cos everyone has become health conscious and we just make chow chow, cauliflower, onion and maybe raw banana... The batter is one thing she is super particular about- it needs to have the right consistency, enough amount of Asafoetida & chilli powder.. The veggies should be coated but there shouldnt be too much batter... So that is the memory I have of Bhajjis...

Few weeks ago three stooges piled into a car and headed down the beautiful East coast road towards Pondicherry. Along the way, they stopped at the Farm belonging to one stooge's father in law. The farm was beautiful- acres of lush greenery, trees and plants of all kinds, including tomato, chilli [both big and small], mango, papaya, coconut and more. We spotted some dried up gum on what must have been a Cashew tree, coochicooed with the cows an calves, spotted some chicken and goat running around and enjoyed a refreshing tender coconut, bottoms up! 

When we left the place, we were given bags of vegetables and few coconuts as well. Each of us took some, and well, few days later  the stooge also sent across cute tiny bell peppers. And thus came the idea to make something of the Big chillies and these peppers.

I pulled out the packets of Kase cheese I had, and some home made paneer as well. Put them in separate bowls- added garlic to one, kasuri methi to the other and was all set to deep fry them green beauties.  Since it was for me & gramma, I made sure to fry the non garlic based ones first [she does not eat garlic]. 

Alongside these, I got the Bhajji batter ready - Besan flour, salt, red chilli and some garam masala as well. Mix it well with some water [just enough so it is pouring consistency, not too watery] You can also add Asafoetida and make it like the regular south indian bhajji batter...

A pan filled with enough oil was heating up on the stove as I got down to filling them chillies and peppers. It was fun! We usually make Bhajjis the traditional way, with no filling...  

Must say the final product turned out yummilicious.. We had it with lunch. The chillies had just a hint of heat, and the soft cheese inside had melted giving it a richness. Similarly, the peppers with paneer and kasuri methi were kick-ass, even if I do say so myself..  Gramma enjoyed it as well, so much so that she keep the remaining two aside saying "will have in evening or dinner, or will offer it to my cousin if he comes over"

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Flavours of India festival - Café G, Holiday Inn Chennai OMR IT Expressway

Kerala potato Cutlet- dont let the name fool you, this was actually minced meat cutlet...

Dessert counter at Buffet spread..

Goan Omelette counter.. was fascinating- it was a pav bun encased in an omelette.. 

Talk about talking a journey through the various Flavours of India across a meal? Yes, that is exactly what we enjoyed at Cafe G in Holiday Inn Chennai OMR IT expressway. 

I had been meaning to visit the property, but something or the other hindered. And finally I was headed there for dinner.. The property is shaped like a ship, atleast to me and it is plush from the minute you step into the lobby. High ceilings, beautiful chandeliers, and seating arrangements are what you see first. Take the elevator to go up to the floor with the Cafe G and Score, the Sports bar, you see a long lounge of sorts as you walk towards the dining area. The food is laid out in buffet style, with the mains kept far away from the desserts. I had the pleasure of dining at their private dining area, at the far end of the restaurant- perfect for a small cozy meal or a big group dinner as well. 

Talking about the food on the Festivals of India festival menu, the starters were my favourite, and the dips served alongside as well.  There are also a few Live stations- a Goan Omelette, The Chaat counter and the Appam station. I did try the Goan omelette [which was basically pav bun encased inside an omelette and served alongside a gravy of your choice] -since I love eggs, this one was yumm. Again, at the Appam station, I requested for an egg appam with veg korma, friend had it with paaya[ mutton based]. At the chaat counter, we decided to share a plate of Paani puri. They had 4 different sauces, two that we are familiar with, one other was a pickle style and the final one was sweetish. 

For the mains, you make a beeline to the buffet counter and just let your eyes have a party before your taste buds get there. Some of the dishes I enjoyed were the Bhindi, Daal and Paneer. They also had a regular buffet section [ featuring Continental  & Chinese dishes]... Phew!! It was quite a meal so far... Then came time for the desserts. My favorite among the lot was the Ada pradaman, it is a dessert from Kerala and had just the perfect amount of sweet if you ask me... Did try the Kerala Halwa and Mango Rasmalai, but they werent really my thing.... 

This festival is on till the 24th March, dinner only & priced at Rs1399 [incl tax], so go for it.... 

Holiday Inn Chennai OMR IT Expressway
# 110, Old Mahabalipuram Rd, 
PTK nagar, Thiruvanmiyur, Chennai - 600041 
Phone: 044 6604 6604

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 :-)

Sunday, March 3, 2019

[Food tales] My love for experimenting with food & Mirchi peanut gobi ...

I have been told that I made dosa when I was 3 years old, with my gramma beside me.. Looks like I was into cooking from then on. But I do remember making my own lunch when I got into high school - noodles, bread upma etc.. Since then, I have had heaps of fun experimenting with food.

Am not a stickler for recipes, nor too fond of traditional food. So, whenever am in the kitchen you can be assured there is something new brewing. But let me tell you, the end result has been yumm, vouched by those around me and friends as well who got to taste the same. And no casualties.. lolz..

Its fun. I enjoy cooking, its not therapeutic or any such but for me its fun...  The one thing I do enjoy lots is being on my own in the kitchen.  I dont like sharing the space with others, unless they are someone I am really comfortable with. Usually when there is someone else there, I would just not do anything. I would hover about,  chit chat, ask questions about what they were making or some such. And then when they are done and out, I would start my cooking. :-)

What it all boils down to is that I would rather be by myself, mixing matching ingredients, pairing different things together, whipping up something that sounded good in the head to see if they translate good on the plate/palate as well. Not to brag, but I have had very few [can count them on one hand] kitchen disasters. Not bad, right ?

Oh, and did I mention my love for trying out recipes from cookery shows? Oh yes! That is something I share with my gramma [mom's mom].. She and I have recreated so many dishes, it dazzles me to think about them. Some have turned out delicious, while others left us wondering "what was the chef thinking?" The most recent attempt was based on a dish we had during a take away..

Bombay Brasserie is a restaurant that gramma loves [ we have ordered from there before] and so that evening we ordered dinner from them. I ordered Rumali roti, cheese stuffed parantha, and two sides- one was paneer tikka masala while the other was peanut mirchi gobi.... She loved the cheese stuffed parantha and the gobi dish the most. Kept saying how both were so different and the flavours, textures were blowing her mind away.

The wheels in her head began churning post the dinner, and in 2 days time we were in the kitchen trying to recreate the dish [ based on what we remembered]... The end result- was quite close to what we ate , and then a day later, it was made again [ this time with a little more tweaks and chilli], it turned out yummm...

The Recipe

Step 1
1 cauliflower- split into florets
Parboil with tiny bit of salt for 10mins max

Step 2
Take a bowl, put cauliflower in it
Sprinkle cornflour - 1 tbsp
Salt to taste
Pepper [based on your preference]
Red chilli flakes -1 tsp
Toss well so that all florets are coated.
In a pan, add oil - deep fry the florets and keep aside

Peanut chilli mix -
Boil peanuts (until they are 3/4 done)
Mince the peanuts into chunks
Grind green chillies (3 chillies for a tbspn of peanuts)  and coriander (just a small amount- 2-3 sprigs)

Step 4
In a pan, add oil and sautee the ground mix for a few mins
Add fried cauliflower
Sautee and serve hot .. ta daaa..

What is the most fun you have had in the kitchen? Do share....