Dominos, Bangalore

The minute i mentioned book store, my cousin chimed in “can you pick up an order of Garlic sticks from Dominos along with some cheese dip please, her face broke out in the biggest grin i’d seen”
  

I smiled and nodded watching her beam in joy.. She was 8+ months preggers and had a craving for garlic sticks… 
Headed
out to explore a few book stores in the neighborhood before hitting
Dominos. I was accompanied by my other cousin R, who asked if we could
have something to eat while we waited for the Garlic Sticks order to be
processed. We ordered a medium thin crust Mexican veg pizza. The entire
outlet was decked in standard red colours, with quite a few balloons and
posters of new items on the menu…

 

The pizza was quite delicious.. It had tomatoes, capsicum, Jalepenos, onion and cheese. The base was thin crust, well cooked and not crunchy like chips. The pizza was filled with flavour and quite yummy. By the time i reached out for my 2nd slice, the Garlic sticks arrived in our table. I was at Dominos after ages, and discovered they had stopped serving the Wraps [ have had them earlier in Chennai, and enjoyed them]
The Garlic sticks came home and within minutes a box was empty. The sticks are so soft, and ooze with garlic flavour. 
Price: 8/10 [The Pizza, 1/2 lt coke and 2 garlic sticks worked out to Rs525]
Ambiance- 8/10
Service- 8/10
Address:
The outlet i visited in Bangalore is near Frank Antony School, Ulsoor
You can also order online-   http://www.dominos.co.in/

Simar, Chennai


Khader Nawaz Khan road in Chennai has become an eat street, except unlike in other towns these eateries are neither road side joints nor are they small time cafes. Most of these are speciality restaurants.. There is Fresca, specialising in Neopolitian cuisine, Yoko Sizzlers, Cream n Fudge [ cold stone ice cream] and much more. And now, adding yet another feather to the hat, rather the street is Simar, a restaurant that claims to be all about the North Western Frontier.

Named after the lady who owns the place, Simarjeet, this is a restaurant that oozes with class in its decor- the light fittings, the black and off white wall papers, the charcoal sketch on the wall and the smart furniture. All of 5days old, the restaurant sure seemed to have attracted customers, i noticed a few other tables were occupied.

North Western Frontier brings to my mind Pakistan, Afghanistan and regions beyond, but the cuisine here is largely about Punjab, the land Simarjeet comes from and familiar with.We were seated almost in the center of the restaurant and got to chatting while we waited for water and food.  As we nibbled on the pappad with coriander and curd chutney, we got to talking about how the city has changed and eating scene along with it.

The starters that arrived on the table were a mix of both Vegetarian and Non vegetarian kebabs. There were about 5 of us vegetarians and well, we did make sure to sample atleast a piece each from the 2 starters. One was a Veg Sheek Kebab, which is one dish i kinda steer clear from at any restaurant. it is one of those boring staid dishes. Well, here too it dint really have me going. It was soft, and tender but there was one flavour that stood out, that had me nearly cringing, i just could not put my finger on the spice/flavour. It was not ginger, it was not chaat masala, i dont know….   

 

The other starter was Mushroom stuffed with spinach, and it was good.. I
love mushrooms in any form, and this was cooked well, and not oozing
with oil or overloaded with spices.

The non veg starters seemed to be a hit with the guys- the chicken Kalvi
kebab, the Fish Lasuni tikka[ fish that had been rolled with a garlic
& green chillie piece inside] and Mutton seek kebab all were
polished off. Though S did spot a bit of blood in his chicken and we
pondered over whether it was blood or just the colour on cooking the
chicken.


Simar joined us on the table and spoke about her family, her background [ she has been in the media for a while, acted in a couple of Tamil TV serials] and now entered the Food industry, bringing in her family recipes and secrets. While flipping through the elaborate menu and straining to catch bits of what she was saying, we were served a tall glass of Mango Lassi that i quite liked, especially since it was low on sweet… The other lassi we were offered was the Salt lassi, which true to its name was quite salty [ i assumed since at home we cook with barely any salt, it felt salty, but soon others on the table shared the same thought] . The lassi helped calm the hungry tummies as the wait for the main courses began… and we did wait quite a while…………

2 bowls with different rotis/parathas landed on the table with a bowl of Yellow daal, and then before we knew it there was a flurry of dishes coming to our table. There was Baingan Bartha, Paneer Butter masala, Channa salad and a plate of Peas pulao for us veggies. The non veg group got a Chicken curry and Rogan Josh to accompany the roti and rice. I liked the paneer butter masala, felt the daal was yet again salty and the Baingan Bartha, well let me not say too much about it, am not a big fan of the veggie and have eaten better ones at my uncle’s home!!  The Peas pulao was quite a treat, except i felt the peas needed few more minutes to cook through. And just as we were about to wind up for the day, a Gulab jamun and a serving of Rabdi was offered. Am not into sweets, and hesitated, but did decide to give it a taste..

The gulab jamun was too sweet, and the sugar syrup tasted of oil, while the rabdi was just weird, it had a grainy feel, almost like dosa batter that had not been made correctly. Dint really care too much about them, and left them aside.


Well, am sure like any other new restaurant, they were just having a few teething issues and hopefully, if as much attention as decor is paid towards the food, the restaurant will do well.. All the best Simar!!

Ambiance: 8/10
Taste [Flavours]: 5/10
Service: 6/10
Portion size: 8/10
Price: 7/10
Overall Rating: 5/10

Address:
20-B, Ground Floor, Khader Nawaz Khan Road,  

Nungambakkam , 
Chennai
Phone: [044]42132066, 45122066, 9840003650
It is located on the ground floor in the same building as 3 kingdoms & yoko sizzlers.. It is also right next to Wills Lifestyle.

Disclaimer:
The
reviews posted on this blog are based on my personal experience. Also
remember that restaurants and eat outs sometimes change with time, so
does their food and service. So, kindly consider these factors while
visiting the places. Remember, no two palates are the same. Bon Appétit  🙂

This was part of a CFG Showcase that I attended and was conducted by Chennai Food Guide.

The Great Biryani Cookout from CFG

I’ve been with the Chennai Food Guide group for a while and its been an amazing journey! Apart from restaurant reviews, the team has now branched out into organising various workshops. Though i’ve not attended any, the feedback and reviews have been left me quite envious. One more is in the offing.. It is the…. drum rolls please….. c’mon, keep em coming….
The Great Biryani Cookout

Who does not like a good biryani? I have had quite a few across restaurants and some were outstanding [simple yet packed with flavour] while others well, less said the better. But i have always wanted to learn the art of making a good Biryani [wonder when that will happen]. For now, here is a treat for all you wannabe Masterchefs, or rather wannabe Biryani connoisseurs 

When– Saturday, June 23, 2012
What Time– 11am through to 2.30pm 
Where– Lakshmi Farms.
How to Get there– It is 3rd Farm House on the RIGHT HAND SIDE after
the ECR Toll Gate from Thiruvanmyur towards Mahabs. You won’t miss the
place on the day of the event!



Who’s teaching– Learn from the best there is, a traditional Chef – Rajab who has under his chef’s hat over15 years of experience of cooking Tamil Muslim Style Biryani at weddings, and other functions. Tempting right?
     What is in store for you??
  • This
    workshop completely teaches you how to cook Biryani (Veggie, Mutton and
    Chicken) Chennai Tamil Muslim Style from the beginning till the very
    end, along with the Chicken 65, Raitha, Brinjal Thokku and Bread Halwa.
    The idea is that all participants get engaged right from cutting the vegetables, washing the rice to loading the Biryani in the Dum.

    Later you all can eat what you have cooked.

    Note: SEPARATE COOKING AND PREPARATION FOR VEGGIES AND NON VEGGIES [ so, dont smirk or scrunch up your face  at the mention of Non veg biryani being cooked alongside veg]

    Things on the COOK, EAT & LEARN Menu:

    VEG MENU
    1) Veg Biryani
    2) Gobi 65
    3) Onion Raitha
    4) Brinjal Thokku
    5) Bread Halwa
    6) Flavoured Sweet Rice

    NON VEG MENU
    1) Chicken Biryani
    2) Mutton Biryani
    3) Chicken 65
    4) Onion Raitha
    5) Brinjal Thokku
    6) Bread Halwa
    7) Flavoured Sweet Rice

    Scaled Recipe Booklet will be Provided and Instructed by a Traditional and Experienced Cook/ Chef.

    Cooking will be done in traditional vessel and possibly using wood fire.

    Everyone gets to take home Desserts – Bread Halwa and Flavoured Sweet Rice

    Unlimited Soft Drinks and Water will be available

    How much– 1499/- Per Person [Includes everything mentioned above]


    What to bring– A Chopping board & a Knife [so we dont get caught if you accidently commit any crimes, other than chopping veggies/meat that is…]


    How to Register?
    Those who are interested to take part in the CFG Biryani Workshop on
    Saturday June 23rd 11am-3pm need to contact Nishanth Radhakrishnan via
    mobile +919840340490 or email him on nishanth@chennaifoodguide.in

    Your participation will be confirmed for the event once payment is
    done. You can come deliver the amount to our office. Address details are
    as follows:
    Chennai Food Guide
    ARZ Consultancy
    No. 17/12 Venkatrathinam Nagar
    Extension 2nd Street
    Adyar, Chennai – 600020
    Behind Cafe Coffee Day

    For e-transfer – email Nishanth [nishanth@chennaifoodguide.in] for account details.

    First Come First Serve Basis: 50 People only

    ALSO GET DISCOUNT VOUCHER FROM DAAWAT A BIRYANI for all participants. For more info on them visit:  http://www.facebook.com/daawatabiriyani

    What are you waiting for? Vethala paakku or the red carpet??? Get going and Register already!!
    You can also check out the Facebook page for The Great Biryani Cookout
     

Kebab Street, Chennai

As i walked down the narrow familiar lanes, i spotted the Sign board “Kebab Street”. A small place, it seemed alive with the bright lights and people buzzing about. I wouldn’t call it a cafe, nor would it fit into the category of a Restaurant, it is more of a “grab a quick bite” kinda place. Before giving the “yes, i am in” confirmation to Nishanth, i asked him if the place had any veg items and he confirmed the same [so all you veggies, make note]
Only 2 months old, the place seems to have attracted quite a few from around the locality and beyond, who came back for repeat orders. A simple small space dotted with a few tables and chairs, the walls showed off some of the key items from their menu. At the entrance, if you observe is where the Shawarma stall stands.
I went ahead and placed the order for a “plain lassi” opting against the Rose lassi[ not too fond of that flavour]. The lassi arrived in a take away glass and was quite divine, perfect for a warm summer evening. Within minutes, a red box landed in front of me and instantly i noticed the “veg” “non veg” labels on the box and that there was a tick mark against the “veg” on mine… 🙂 
Like a little child opening a gift box, i opened my box to see a wide array of Kebabs waiting to be devoured. It was accompanied by a small container with Mint chutney and another with  Vinaigrette onions. 
The box contained 
Tandoori Paneer tikka
Achari Gobi Tikka
Dulehari Paneer tikka [ which was my favorite, it was paneer with beetroot stuffing]
Tandoori Stuffed aloo[ that had a strong ginger flavour]
Vegetable Shammi kebab [ the one kebab that i usually avoid but one that surprised me here]
and a nice piece of roti, almost resembling a rumali roti [none like the usual pita bread]
 The meat eaters got a similar box with some of the veggie kebabs and few non veg ones- mutton tikka pepper BBQ chicken, chicken tikka, Fish tikka, Stuffed Tangri Chicken, Chicken Sheek Kebab, and Mutton Seek Kebab [yes, they had more options, but i aint complaining] and a roti as well. Apart from this , they each got a small roll – the Shawarma.. Watching them devour, i can safely conclude that it was delicious.. Some of them spoke about how the sauce, flavour was just perfect and not overpowering. 

We ate, we drank, we chatted away, and yes, have i mentioned we ate? yes, the food came non stop to the table. It was either a repeat order of the kebabs or a platter with Jeera pulao[ quite divine i must say- the flavours were simple but it was rich], Yellow Daal, Dal Makhani and Paneer Butter masala . Well, these are unfortunately the entire gist of the Veggie dishes, but you wont be disappointed. I enjoyed the Pulao, Dal and Paneer [which was a tad sweet but was so fresh and soft… it made up for the sweetness]
The non veg eaters also got a similar platter- Biryani with Butter chicken and Tawa Chicken. Well, i shall not comment on these as i was busy enjoying the Jeera rice to notice them.. 🙂 
All the food was served in use and throw boxes with matching cutlery. Tabrez, the man who owns Kebab street mentioned this was a conscious decision, one that was meant for the Hygiene factor. So, no worry of washing cutlery, plates or bowls and no messy platees or glasses with fingerprints on them. Before we could wind up for the night, Tabrez insisted we try their dessert- Kheer [made with rice, dry fruits and sugar] It was smooth, cool and yumm… Not too sweet, exactly how i like my desserts!

During the course of the evening, a few ordered soft drinks, more precisely Coke and Diet Coke’s, with Doc in the house we got to talking about the good and bad of Caffeine, especially in soft drinks. He mentioned how it was bad, no matter how much one had during the course of the day…. The conversation got quite interesting, reaching great heights till all of the cans were piled in the center… Take a look at how many were guzzling down these aerated drinks….

Overall, it was yet another fun night. The place is definitely one i would visit many times, if only to grab a box of kebabs and some Jeera pulao….

Ambiance 7/10
Food 8/10
Service 8/10
Price 8/10 [ a meal for 2 should cost around Rs600]

Address:
Kebab street
106/26, Landons Road,
Kilpauk

There are two routes to reach the eatery:-

1. Drive down the road next to Ega theater, turn left at the end and drive down till you spot the VIP showroom. The restaurant is right next door.
2. Head towards Taylors Road, go down the road, and turn right near Selvam Stores..less than 100 yards and you will spot the VIP showroom. The restaurant is right next door.

Disclaimer:
This was part of a CFG Showcase that I attended and was conducted by Chennai Food Guide. 
The
reviews posted on this blog are based on my personal experience. Also
remember that restaurants and eat outs sometimes change with time, so
does their food and service. So, kindly consider these factors while
visiting the places. Remember, no two palates are the same. Bon Appétit  🙂
 
 

Eggless Banana Cake in a jiffy

There we were, kinda bored and wondering what to do when our gramma muttered “there are too many bananas here, next time buy just 5-6, dont buy a dozen, see they have all started becoming black”…And the next instant, my cousin L was on her laptop hunting for another cousin’s mother-in-law’s blog where she had read a Banana Cake recipe…. Within minutes, she had found the blog and the recipe. Reading out the ingredients, we discovered most of them were already available at home.. I was heading out for a bit and so we decided to bake the cake once i got back home…. 

The weighing scale

I strode in around 4.15 and we got to prepping for the cake by 4.30. Laid out all the ingredients on the dining table, pre heated the oven, greased the baking bowls and were all set to get the cake mix ready.

The Eggless Banana cake [ Recipe from here]

Ingredients:

All Purpose Flour- 140 gms
Baking Powder- 2 tsp
Baking Soda- 1/2 tsp
Condensed Milk (sweetened)- 200 gms
Melted Butter- 70 gms
Vanilla Extract- 1 tsp (optional)
Very Ripe Bananas- 2 (Peeled weight 200 gms)
Water- 60 ml
Almonds- 10- chop into small pieces
Baking pan 7″ x 5″ x 2″

Method:

  • Preheat oven to 200 De Centigrade.
  • Peel and mash the bananas with a fork and keep aside. DO NOT use mixer to mash.
  • Sift together flour and baking soda and powder. Add the chopped nuts
    and mix well. Add melted butter, condensed milk, Vanilla essence and
    mashed bananas. Mix well. Add water little by little to form an uniform
    batter.
  • Transfer to greased pan and tap to level. Bake at 200 degrees C for
    about 50 minutes. The cake is done when it begins to leave the sides of
    the pan. Remove from oven and leave in pan for 5 minutes. 
  • Then separate
    from pan and turn on to a cooling rack

 

We baked the cake in a round mould and it came out delicious.. The top was a thin crust, while the center was soft and filled with favour… Proud of our baking skills, we went ahead and baked another batch, half of which travelled with me by A/C bus to Chennai and a tiny slice is all that is left…!!

Next time, i am going to try the same recipe with Strawberries or apples… 😉

Donut House, Chennai

What is round, and sweet, or
What is round and has cheese on top
What is round and has a gooey sweet filling with a simple icing?

There can only be one answer.. Donuts from Donut House!! The outlet i visited was the one in Egmore and it was World Donut Day- June1st and they had an offer ” Buy 1 get 1 free”.. How cool is that? So, on the way back from a meeting, i hopped into the place and brought home 2 boxes of 6 donuts in all.. 
 

This was not my 1st visit to the Donut
house, but it was the 1st time i was there alone.. The very 1st visit
was to catch up with a friend, when we split a sandwich and had a cool
drink.. The 2nd time was a meeting with my partner & a PR agency…
So, this was a special visit of sorts!! I have had donuts in many many
many places, and also know how to make them at home [ i did attend a
bakery class thanks to a friend wanting to learn cooking/baking before
she tied the knot] Since then, i had made donuts at home plenty of
times, but they were all the usual boring donuts with chocolate icing. 
 Alas, the oven died a not so pleasant death and since then no baking,
unless it can be cooked in a micro wave oven. This brought an end to my
Donut making days…!! 
So,
anyways, i digress. There i was at Donut house, and instantly eyes went
towards the display counter, making sure there were some of different
flavours still sitting pretty in their trays. I picked out the savory
Donut- with grated cheese and Italian herbs to eat, and went on to order
some for take away. It was the 1st time i was having a savory donut,
the common ones are with chocolate icing [sold in bakeries across the
country and very few are yummy, most are dry, dense or just weird
tasting]

Special mention: All donuts at Donut House are eggless!! 

 
 
Spotted Bhuvanesh
in the kitchen, who graciously came to say hello and we ended up
chatting quite a bit!! Recently, he has opened the 2nd outlet [not
counting the stand in Express Avenue Food court], which he said was
faring quite nicely.
I noticed an image of what looked like Donuts with Olives, and instantly
Bhuvanesh jumped in saying “sorry, we dont have it today” 🙂

The donuts look so inviting, with shimmering sauces and toppings, all sitting neatly in the trays as if they were waiting for marching orders. I brought home a few chocolate donuts, 1 that was lemon tea with a beautiful lemon filling, 1 that had blueberry filling and an Irish coffee donut….  not only did these donuts look good, they tasted divine as well… Friends & Family who had them couldnt stop raving about them!!

Food: 9/10
Service: 8/10 [ i picked up my order from the counter]
Price: 8/10 [Rs50 per donut]
Varieties: 9.5/10 [waiting for them to surprise me some more ;)]

Address:
Wellington Plaza  [Next to Presidency Club, opp to Ethiraj College for women]
Dr. PV Cherian Crecent Salai,
Egmore, Chennai- 600008

Phone: 09600127725

Eco Cafe, Chennai

There i was, wading through thick traffic trying to make sure i got to Eco Cafe before 8pm [well, i am normally on time, but this particular evening i had succumbed to the chaotic one way streets and road blocks] .. Anyways, i reached and discovered most of the troops were already there plus a few new faces.. After a quick Hi hello and hey, nice to see you again, i found a seat and started chatting up. The wall with photographs transported me to Goa, i peered into them, but all i managed were a few dates and years. There was also an antique [finish] curio cupboard placed near the wall, that had quite a few random curio pieces…
Eco Cafe is a place i connect with fond memories, meeting friends, catching up with ex-colleagues and a quiet few hours sipping on a hot chocolate while waiting for a friend to finish her afternoon at the spa across the road.
 
A few sketches on the wall along the staircase towards the cafe…

Every meet of ours is different, some
filled with awesome amazing food & experience, while some have good
conversations but not great food and others a whole lot of interesting
insights extending beyond food.
As the night wore on, i understood
the true meaning of “eat with your eyes”, but if only that were true!! I
managed to catch the eye of a waiter and placed my order. A
strawberry+orange drink and Sun dried tomato sandwich. 
I
noticed Doc had a drink in front of him that many were tasting and
analyzing, so i too jumped in, tried it and figured it was something to
do with Chocolates and almond… Not really my kinda drink… And then
arrived a blueish greenish thick drink which was a Blueberry shake, but
had more of Banana flavor to it. Atleast it was cool, against the harsh
summer evening. 
The
food slowly trickled in, and i waited for quite some time, reminded the
man behind the counter of my order and then waited some more… We were
seated at the far end of the room, where the lighting was dim and AC
was well, barely there, it was fairly warm. The table adjacent was
perfect- the AC right next to it and the lights overhead. So, the food
made it to that table 1st with all the cameras going click click click
before spoons, and forks sneaked in. It was quite a sight.  There were a
few who dragged their chairs and plonked on that table… and it was
amusing watching each one fight to taste what they had ordered before it
went cold and limp. We nibbled on the potato wedges and took a bite of
the bruschettas [ one with tomato, one with pesto, two with different
kinds of olives] as we caught up on life.
 
An antipasti salad made with Pasta,
zucchini, pesto and aubergine arrived, it was to have a vinaigrette
dressing, but alas, it was quite dry, the pasta was rubbery and each
ingredient stood separate, lacking sauce and flavour. The Vegetable
Chowder soup was alright, the garlic bread accompanying the soup was
good. Finally, after quite a bit of waiting, my drink arrived- it was
quite strong, i had tried it once before and liked it. But that night i
wasnt sure if it was the same drink.
And then, suddenly i noticed my sandwich
arrive, and enjoy its 15mins of fame under the limelight. The french
fries accompanying it were good.One bite into the sandwich and i took a
pause, trying to figure out that one overpowering flavour.. There was
the tanginess of the sun dried tomatoes and the basil leaves which burst
in my mouth. I did enjoy it, but just wish the bread was tad softer. 

Pancakes & Sun dried Tomato sandwich..

The girls had ordered a Pasta with Pesto, and quesadilla,
which came in a few minutes. I did try the pasta, which was tad
overcooked but had a nice creamy sauce, alas the pesto was once again
overpowering. The quesadilla i dint get
to taste, saw it arrive and then poof, it was gone…

while i chatted
with a few left in the table i noticed a few make a beeline for the
table at the other end of the room, and spotted a plate with a cute
looking orange Caramel Custard with a few orange slices neatly arranged
around the dessert.

 

It was quite tasty, with the orange flavour coming through beautifully. As i bid adieu i could hear the laughter and chit chat of the guys who were digging into a Bass fish dish that had landed on their table.
Yet another interesting day comes to end….
Ambiance: 8/10 
Food: 5/10 [I love their hot chocolate, but they should notch up their food, flavours and sauces]
Service: 6/10

Address:


#85, Chamiers Road


Chennai
600028

Phone:

 (044) 42030734, (044) 42030733


Directions: When you drive down TTK road, you turn left at the signal and will find Eco cafe on the right, bang opp Oryza spa.