Pazham Pori [Banana Fritters]

“Try some Pazham pori”, she said bringing in a plate of what looked like Hot fritters.. It had a light golden colour on it and aroma wafting along the way was divine…. 
I bit into it cautiously aware of how hot it was and i went “Mmmmm”.. It was sweet, but not overpoweringfly sweet, it was soft, but not mushy soft, it was yumm… All i missed was a scoop of Vanilla Ice cream, and ta da, before i knew it there was a scoop of ice cream on the table… This is what i call sinful…. 
It has been quite a few years, but still the memory lingers on…  The last time i had these was during the houseboat ride in Coir village Resort near Allepey in Kerala, during the holiday a couple of high school girl friends took 🙂 [yes, it was yours truly travelling with her 3 BFF]
When i asked the guy at the resort how he made it, this is what he had to say….  [this is in case you dont have any friends from Kerala or Mallu land ;o) ]
What you need
Giving measurements for 4 bananas!!

Ripe Nendram Banana –  4

Maida- 1 1/2 cup
Sugar – 1 tbsp (depending on the sweetness of the banana)
Salt – a pinch (optional)

Water- Enough to mix the flour in…
Oil – for frying

How to do it..

1. Mix the maida with water, salt and sugr to make a nice thick paste… [almost like Dosa batter consistency]
2. Cut the Bananas length wise into long strips… [2 slices off a banana]
3. Place a pan on the stove and add the necessary amount of oil, bring it to a good temperature [whatever is best suited for frying]
4. Dip the banana in the batter and fry till light golden brown
You can eat this as it is or with ice cream or chocolate sauce…. Bon Appetit!!

Azulia GRT, Chennai

 ‘Marhaba Ma’am were the 1st words i heard as i hopped off the elevator and walked through the door into Azulia… This is the Greek/Mediterranean Restaurant in GRT, T Nagar. I have visited Copper Point in the ground floor numerous times, but this was the 1st time i was at Azulia.
 The grand entrance…. 
 The ambiance seemed like it had come out from  a movie based in Egypt or Turkey, there were beautiful light fittings and so were the other pieces on the walls. After being shown to our table, Chef Ethem Aydemir came over to say hellow and give us a brief into the cuisine and the dishes he served at the restaurant. Following this, we also got a bit of insight from the Restaurant Manager Ricardo and PR man Marc. The menu card, is more like a coffee table book, so elaborate- filled with pictures from the 10 countries [They serve the cuisines from Egypt, France, Italy, Morocco, Greek among others] spread across the elaborate menu, with nearly 160 dishes- from Soup, starters to desserts. 
 The arrangement in the table- bottle of water, olive oil+balsamic vinegar and the pepper mill which had light at the bottom 
Lost between the pages, we decided to give the task of choosing dishes to the Chef and we were not disappointed. I have had Lebanese/Greek/Arabic food earlier, and so i was prepared for what was being brought to our table.  The waiters and waitresses quietly went about putting an Apron on each of us, going with the custom of
savouring this particular cuisine with ones hands. [Wish i had taken a
picture in the Apron, felt like i was on Masterchef ;o)] 

The Turkish magic- a small pill when water is poured expands to a hand towel..
The lunch opened with the Cold Mezze platter- Pita bread, Hummu [Chick peas], Mutabal [Babaganoush-made with Brinjal, sesame paste, garlic and olive oil], Tzatziki [thick yoghurt with cucumber, onion and herbs] ,Tashi[ sesame paste dip].. followed by a plate of Dolmades ..

Before we were done sampling these, an array of Hot Mezze dishes made their way to our table- Falafel [chick peas, broad beans, red pepper, dill, coriander, garlic & chilies, served with  tartar Sauce],  Bourak Bel Jibneh [Cigar like rolls with 3 different kinds of cheeses that was simply sinful],  Fatayer [a kind of samosa with Spinach and pomegranate sauce filling ],  Kebbe Laktine  [a dish made with broken wheat yellow pumpkin and herbs]   


 Amidst flowing conversation, the food kept flowing to our table… The non veg gang got quite a colourful mix of dishes.. Castalata [Lamb chops] ,Fillet de poivre, Poisson a L’Estragon [Fish], Cannelloni al a Bolognaise, Yoghurtlu Kebab, Beef Steak and ofcourse the Chef’s creation prawn marrakech with gnocchi.…  
Lamb chops i heard was not cooked to perfection, and the gnocchi wasnt too great either, but i saw the others polish off their plates… 🙂
We, the vegetarians got some interesting main courses -Risotto Tortufo fungi[rich risotto cooked with mushrooms] &Pasta Genovese Verde [mine with Asparagas and artichoke, while Nishanth’s had sauce and looked different]… Along came the thin crust pizza loaded with
vegetables- Olives, tomatoes, onions,mushrooms, liberally drizzled
exotic herbs and olive oil, cheese and few mint leaves. The base used on
the pizza was the authentic Arabic spice mix- Sumac & Oregano].

Before we could blink, it was time to wrap up the meal, but not before biting into the 3 desserts that were laid out on the table… The Chef was gracious enough to send out platters filled with the desserts- Baklava dripping with sugar syrup, Gateaux Fromage [Orange flavoured cheesecake] and Hot Soufflé [which was almost like a lava cake].   The Baklava was good, but it was a tad too sweet, while the Hot Souffle was oozing with Chocolate and the Cheese cake had a strong Orange Flavour to it…

 


Subsequent to the lavish meal, we were given a tour of the kitchen and sneak peek into the various Spices, oil and flavours used in Mediterranean cuisine… There we were, a bunch of “educated in Mediterranean cuisine and their culture”… As we bid adieu to the staff and Chef, we were each handed a bag with an Apron and a little box with a Turkish Evil eye .. 
 What are you waiting for? Head over here if you wanna experience the Mediterranean in Chennai…. 
Food– 3/5
Ambiance– 4/5
Service– cant really rate it because it was a review meet! 
Price– Looking at the menu, it looks like a meal of 3-4 courses for a couple will work out to Rs3000 – 4000/- 
Address:
GRT Grand
120, Sir Thyagaraya Road,
T. Nagar, Chennai – 600 017
Tamil Nadu, India
Phone: +91-44 2815 0500 / 5500
reservations@grtgrand.com 

Shiraz Cafe, ECR, Chennai

Text from friend – Have you been to Moonrakers?
Me: yes, ages ago with you! 
Friend: Ah, would you wanna go again, this time with P in tow[her nearly 3yr old adorable brat]?

Me: yayy, lets go! 

I was at her house by 5.30, we were packed and ready to scoot by 5.45.. And as we wove around the city traffic, we caught up on “life this week” and during the conversation somehow chat steered towards Shiraz cafe and that i had not visited the place. We drove down till Mahabs, did a U turn and drove into the lane that houses the Cholamanadalam Artists village. 
I had visited the village with uncle aunt and cousin nearly a year ago, but the cafe was shut then. Last nite we parked near the Cafe entrance, and made a beeline for one of the comfy looking sofas inside. There was plenty of outdoor seating as welll, but it was dark and my friend preferred being in a lit place, esp with the little one running around… 
Shiraz Cafe is an Iranian Cafe where they serve up quite a range of Arabic,Greek, Lebanese- Middle eastern and Iranian food. 
The café is run by Farhad and Nasrin  – a charming & friendly couple who hail from Iran, but have been in India for over 30years. Farhad mentioned that he took care of the art workshop  while
Nasrin manages/cooks/plays the role off the perfect hostess at the cafe.
The bright yellow wall paper with the mosaic like patterns, the cute little tea pots, the vibrant red flowers in the vase, shelves laden with crockery, amidst which i spotted a tea pot, and right on top was  a toy Motorbike… and ofcourse the music flowing in the back ground was just the perfect mood and setting. There was a huge table with a glass top that had engravings of patterns
in vivid colours, while mirror with adornments were found on the walls, each of which reflected the love for art and colours the couple had.. Not to
forget the cute doggie- Topoli, that curled up and slept like a baby against the
wall under a table.

As we walked in, we were greeted with star shaped cookies that just melted in our mouth. We were also offered a Granita kind of a drink made with Pink Guava, Barley water and Tulsi Seeds. It was such a refreshing drink…   


Nasrin told us they close at 8pm these days, and asked if we wanted to have dinner there [a fixed menu of veg food]… 
1st course was a thick creamy soup that was quite filling- i could taste onion, garlic, herbs, yoghurt and few other mysterious yet tasty ingredients.. Pita bread and hummus followed next, except here the Pita bread was toasted and looked like Nachos.. The Hummus was rich and quite delicious… 

 The Soup
As we chatted with some of the other guests, the waiter brought out our meal in cute little bowls- There were 3 kinds of rice- Sprouts and Candied orange peel rice; Dill rice; and plain rice. It was served along with quite an array of side dishes Black Dal curry; Potato peas and paneer curry and there was a brinjal dish[which neither of us liked much]. And then came the sinful Tzatziki of sorts- rich fresh yoghurt with Cucumber and herbs… 
It was a sinful delicious meal.. The food was just perfect, the gravies were not filled with masala or oil… 
We ended the meal with a taste of the Apple Cake and Marble chocolate cake and then a cup of hot Iranian Tea [mint, sugar, and lemon].. I actually asked Nasrin if the Tea had honey, but she sweetly smiled and said “no, it is the mix of Mint and sugar that gives it the richness, many ask me if it is honey, and i could simply lie and say yes, but i dont… am glad you like it..”

The meal for two costed us Rs735 [Rs700 +Tax-Rs35] which i thought was quite reasonable considering the spread they had served us. Apparently their Sunday buffet is a Must visit!! 
It is the ideal place to go chill, have
some good food, enjoy music, or maybe a stroll after the meal around the
village, down to the beach…. 



Ambiance- 4.5/5
Food- 4/5
Price- 4/5
Service 4/5
Overall Experience- 4.75/5
Timings:
Shiraz is open from 11am to 8p.m through the week. Sunday brunch costs Rs. 400 per head. 
Call Nasrin on 98405 72126 for reservations.
Address:
+91 9840572126
Inside Cholamandalam Artist’s Village, Injambakkam, East Coast Road, Chennai 

Directions:
As you head down ECR, drive past VGP and keep an eye out for FOOD WORLD store on the left.. This is about 1km ahead of the ECR Toll booth.. Once you see Food world, turn left into the narrow path and drive straight down. You will see Cholamandal Artists village board on the main road and inside the lane as well. There is a seperate entrance to the Cafe, a small gate…


Mun Veedu, Adyar,Chennai

There is a friend who likes to visit new restaurants, experiment with cuisines, actually she likes Indian cuisines as Italian and Continental are not spicy enough for her!! 😀 So, one morning, she called me with excitment in her voice and asked if i was free to meet for lunch… I replied in affirmative and she then said , lets go to Munveedu[ pronounced: Mann veedu- house made of sand]
Apparently there had been news about the place in the paper almost daily and it had been lanched recently- Oct 28th, she went on…. Asked her for directions and got on with my day… 
It was 12.45 and i was just entering the road next to Malar-Fortis Hospital and heading towards Gandhinagar club, with eyes focussed on either side of the road looking for the restaurant.. Drove past the club and still no luck.. And then, voila, i spotted the small Terracota board on the right side with the name written in tamil. The security guided me to the entrance and there i found a dhabba express like restaurant- red mud/terracota interiors, with pots and people embossed on them. Comfortable cane chairs with foam stuffings, though they were designed to not hold a bag or a phone [they kept sliding off the surface]


Munveedu
in Tamil means a home made of mud. And indeed, the restaurant has mud
walls reminding one of a cosy houses in the villages..
There is also a bullock cart, minus the bulls standing outside, near the entrance. It does look nice, but doesnt do much to the service offered inside!!
The menu was extensive and listed down quite a few South Indian dishes from various parts
of Tamilnadu – Chettinadu, Karaikudi, Coimbatore, Dindigul and so on- kinda like Karaikudi Restaurant.. It serves both
vegetarians and non-vegetarians food. 
We finally settled for the Zameen Meals [Zameen in Hindi mean earth which is another word for Mun/mann-sand, bhoomi], which was Rs399 for veg and Rs499 for non veg.  My friend had ordered a non veg starter and veg soup which took forever to reach out table… To a point where we actually wondered if the waiter had forgotten about us… There was a couple in the adjacent table who were done with their meal, paid their bill and off with their doggy bag before our soup landed on our table..
The place mat with a thirukkural on it- in Tamil with the meaning in English…
The place is quite spacious, with enough tables scattered across the rooms, ranging from 2 seaters to 6 seater tables. I was quite amazed at the crowd that had piled in and the long queue of people waiting outside…
The soup was a kind of Rasam, with lots and i mean Lots, read Overdose of Coriander leaves and Curry leaves… I dint care for it too much… The starter my friend said was good- think it was Prawns! 
Our Zameen meals finally arrived.. it was quite elaborate- there was Idiyappam, a Parotta apart from quite a few side dishes… We were also served hot Appams and rice & ghee [optional]… 
Overall, the food was ok.. There was nothing exceptional about the quality or options available.. I would rather go to Karaikudi… 
Food-4/5
Price: 3/5
Ambiance -4/5
Service- 3/5

Rating-3.5/5

  
Address:
Mun Veedu
34/72A, 4th Main Road, Gandhi Nagar,
Adyar.
Ph: [044]4260 7475, 7299909494
Directions
Drive down the road next to Malar Hospital[Fortis], straight down past Gandhi nagar club side wall, and you will spot this hotel on the right side in a complex that also houses an office! There is a small board with “Mun veedu” written in tamil…. The entrance is on the side, near the Bullock cart… 

Strawberry smoothie

Bells were going off in my Tummy as it was breakfast time and i had completely forgotten to make Oats or Porridge in the morning frenzy.. Did what i do under such circumstances. Open the fridge, stand in front of it as if a light bulb will burst in my head and ideas will flow.. 
Well, lucky me! I did spot just what i wanted and voila, breakfast was ready in a jiffy… My eyes fell on a box of strawberries with a few left huddled up in a corner and a small tub of beaten curd.. Grabbed the ice cube tray and headed for the kitchen… 
Strawberry smoothie in a jiffy i call it.. 🙂 
There was enough for the 3 of us, Grandparents slurped it up, and have since then been asking me how i made it, what was the secret to the richness and creaminess… 
Recipe
Strawberries – 3 per person 
Curd or yoghurt- 2 tbsp per person
Ice cubes- 2-3 per person
Mixer 
Sugar/Honey- optional
Method:
Take the mixer, put in all the ingredients and run the mixie for a few minutes till all blend together well. 
Add sugar/honey if you want.. It is nice as it is..
Tips:
Clean the strawberries, remove the leaves on the top 
Beat the curd a bit
Break the ice cubes if possible into smaller chunks for easier/faster processing
Pour into a glass and Enjoy!! 
You can make smoothies with bananas, figs, mango, and just about any other fruit you can think of!! Just avoid Pineapples 😀

Parfait3

So, finally i managed to visit the much hyped Parfait3, which is walking distance from home…  from the outside, it looked like a cafe, a bistro maybe…  but on entering i realised it is much more !!

The minimalistic decor and the colours are just perfect, adding to the experience… There was also an outdoor seating area, but we thought it might get hot. It is tucked away, and so one cant really see you while walking on the road…

The menu was damn interesting… I noticed you got yummy breakfast, and some Continental dishes as well. I tried their breakfast, pancakes and juice, while my friend tried the eggs… 

A friend who’d been here earlier recommended the hazelnut drink, which was sinful, and such a bang of flavours. I noticed they also had some Pastas, burgers, sandwiches along with fish n chips, and even mushroom pie… I liked the fact that they had a good mix of vegetarian and non vegetarian items on the menu.. 

Since i was there in the morning, i dint try any of the main dishes. The menu boats of an extensive Dessert list as well. From Shakes, ice cream, to cakes and cookies. 

We polished off the pancakes and drinks and walked out with a content look on our faces.. It was surprising to see the crowd in the morning… We decided to walk home, and on the way i noticed there was Arun ice cream and Cup o Cafe on the same road- both of which looked abandoned…

I am sure i would revisit Parfait 3 to sample some of the other dishes served. The cost i felt was just right, reasonable and it was a cool place to meet friends or just hang out on a lazy afternoon… 

When talking to the man behind the counter, i came to know they offer  Home delivery for places upto 3kms [Yayy, i sure do live within that radius]

Do visit here if you want to have something besides idli and dosa for breakfast!!

Ambiance- 4/5
Pricing- 4/5
Food- 4.5/5
Service-4/5
Address: 
No.16, manikeshwari road, Kilpauk,
Chennai-10.
They also have branches in Velachery (100 feet road) and Anna Nagar.

The Fig


One bite and the little crunchy seeds start playing around in the mouth, the sweetness fills our senses and that is exactly why i love this fruit… The Fig!! 
 
Have also read that “The Fig
tree is the symbol of abundance, of fertility, of sweetness”… Hmm… Interesting how such a simple looking fruit has so many secrets within!  

The Fig is such a popular fruit from the days of Jesus, infact it even has a mention in the Holy Bible…

When Jesus was leaving Bethany, he was hungry. On seeing
in the distance a fig tree, he went to find out if it had any
fruit. When he reached it, he found nothing but leaves, because it was
not the season for figs.Angered and disappointed,  he said to the tree,
“May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard him
say it.


The very first time i tried a dry fig, i knew there was no turning back. Since then, i buy them in bunches, stock them in the fridge, and devour 1-2 a day… Sometimes i defrost them in the microwave, almost til it gets nice and hot, which makes then sinful … 

The other day, gramma and i saw a TV cooking show where the man made a Fresh Fig pickle.. Which gramma has recreated and it is quite good- not spicy, not fruity, but just perfect with those little crackling seeds all through the bottle….


  • Prevent constipation: There are 5 grams of fiber per three-fig serving. So, it helps in healthy bowel function and prevents constipation.
  • Weight loss: The fiber in figs also helps to reduce
    weight and is recommended for obese people. Take care – figs also result
    in weight gain, especially when consumed with milk.
  • Lower cholesterol: Figs contain Pectin, a soluble
    fiber. When fiber goes through the digestive system, it mops up globes
    of cholesterol and carries them out of body.
  • Prevent coronary heart disease: Dried figs contain phenol, Omega-3 and Omega-6. These fatty acids reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.
  • Prevent colon cancer: The presence of fiber helps to mop up and usher out cancer causing substances.
  • Protection against post-menopausal breast cancer: Fiber content in figs give protection against breast cancer.
  • Good for diabetic patients: The American Diabetes
    Association recommends figs for a high fiber treat. Fig leaves reduce
    the amount of insulin needed by diabetic patients who have to take
    insulin injection. Fig is rich in Potassium. Potassium helps to control
    blood sugar. Fig leaves have anti-diabetic properties
  • Prevention of hypertension: People used to take more
    sodium in the form of salt. Low potassium and high sodium level may lead
    to hypertension. Figs are high in potassium but low in sodium. So, it
    helps to avoid hypertension.
  • Sexual weakness: Figs are known since ages for
    reducing sexual weakness. Soak 2-3 figs in milk overnight and eat them
    in the morning to enhance your sexual power. It also helps in gaining
    weight.
  • Strengthens bones: Figs are rich in Calcium. Calcium helps to strengthen bones.
  • Urinary calcium loss: People having high salt diet may be affected by increased urinary calcium loss. Potassium content in figs helps to avoid that.
  • Prevent macular degeneration: Vision loss in older people is due to macular degeneration. Fruits and figs generally are good for avoiding this condition.
  • Relief for throat: The high mucilage content in figs, helps to heal and protect sore throat
Psst… Taking too much fig can cause diarrhea. Dried figs are high in sugar and might cause tooth decay.

 A fig tree in Sringeri.. There is a board next to it that Forbids visitors from plucking the fruit.. Gramma says these trees attract snakes, which is probably why the board is placed!
Be it the fresh fruit or the dried one
Be it in a Fig shake
or Anjeer[Fig] burfi
it is divine… 
But it is an acquired taste…. 

So, next time you see one, do give it a try, you just might fall in love with it… 🙂

Japan Fruit…

Me: Is it a different kind of tomato?
Gramma: No, it looks different… I havent seen this kind of tomato before
Me: Hmm.. it is in the fruit section…. Do you have any idea what it could be?
Gramma : [She looked at me perplexed…]
I then turned to the salesman behind the Apples counter and asked him what fruit it was..
Salesguy: Japan Fruit madam.. See that box next to it, it has the chopped fruit as well..
I instantly tweeted asking the kind souls out there if they had seen/tasted this fruit. Within few minutes, one of those souls replied saying “yes, have seen this before, it is also called Persimmon”


From Wikipedia– They are high in glucose, with a balanced protein profile, and possess various medicinal and chemical uses. Like the tomato, it is not considered a “common berry“, but is in fact a “true berry” by definition.

We were tempted to buy one and try, but put it off for another day… I got home and did some snooping around on the net… What i found had me curious.. 

Health
benefits of persimmon fruit

[Source:http://www.nutrition-and-you.com/persimmon-fruit.html]

  • The
    fruit is low in
    calories (provides 70 cal/100g) and fats but is rich source of
    dietary fiber.

  • Persimmons
    contain many
    health
    benefiting phyto-nutrients flavonoid poly-phenolic anti-oxidants like
    catechins
    and gallocatechins
    as well as important anti-tumor compound
    betulinic
    acid
    . Catechins are known to have anti-infective,
    anti-inflammatory and anti-hemorrhagic (prevents bleeding from small
    blood vessels) properties.

  • Fresh
    permissions contain
    anti-oxidant compounds like vitamin-A, beta-carotene, lycopene,
    lutein,
    zeaxanthin and cryptoxanthin. Together, these compounds functions as
    protective
    scavengers against oxygen-derived free radicals and reactive oxygen
    species (ROS) that plays a role in aging and various disease processes.

  • zeaxanthin,
    an important dietary carotenoid, selectively absorbed into
    the retinal macula lutea in the eyes where it is thought to provide
    antioxidant and protective light-filtering functions; thus, helps
    prevent “Age related macular disease”(ARMD) in the elderly.

  • The
    fruits are also very
    good source
    of vitamin-C,
    another powerful antioxidant (especially native Chinese
    and American persimmons; provide 80% of DRI). Regular consumption of
    foods rich in vitamin C helps body develop resistance against
    infectious agents and scavenge harmful, pro-inflammatory free radicals.

  • The
    fruit is good in many
    valuable B-complex vitamins
    such as folic acid, pyridoxine (vitamin B-6), thiamin…etc. These
    vitamins act as co-factors for numerous metabolic enzymatic functions
    in the body.

  • Fresh
    Persimmon fruits
    also
    contain healthy amounts of minerals like potassium, manganese (15% of
    DRI), copper (12% of DRI),  and phosphorus. Manganese is a
    co-factor for
    the enzyme, superoxide
    dismutase, which is a very powerful free radical scavenger.
    Copper is a co-factor for many vital enzymes, including
    cytochrome c-oxidase and superoxide dismutase (other minerals function
    as cofactors for this enzyme are manganese and zinc). Copper is also
    required for the production of red blood cells.

You bet on my next sighting of this fruit, i am going to grab one!!