Loi Krathong – Festival of Lights,Benjarong

Coinciding with our Karthigai deepam was Loi Krathong, the festival of lights for those in South East Asia, primarily Thailand. And in lieu of this festival, Benjarong is hosting the Loi Krathong Festival.

An elaborate spread reflecting the true flavours from those regions and showcasing some of the interesting ingredients they use in the cooking. A journey that began with a beautiful deep violet orchid flower all the way to the Lemongrass ice cream, it was quite a treat, for the eyes, stomach and the soul.

While we waited for the rest of the invitees to arrive, the chef laid out the specialties on a table along with a traditional urn. Two gold runners running criss cross added the glitz to the wooden table. The walls adorned with simple art work, few of which were made of paper, resembling those used in the puppet shows, were all reflective of the strong culture of the region.

A tall glass of Wild orchid [a mocktail- blend of lychee, guava & orange] it was quite a refreshing drink. There were two menus, one vegetarian and the other non vegetarian. The only thing common were the salad and dessert.

While the CEO and Chef spoke to us about the festival, and the recipes, we were served quite a few varieties of appetizers, sala and the soup. We had

Hed Tohy tod namprik pow – Crispy fried mushrooms & bean curd[tofu] tossed with roasted chilli paste & thai sweet basil.- Quite light and filled with flavour, it gave us a sneak peek into what to expect.

Satay je- a mix veg satay on a skewer- pineapple, mushroom, bean curd and assorted peppers.

The salad was Yum hed hoo noo- cucumber, celery, carrot, and black fungus tossed with sesame seeds – it was very nice, and easy on the palate. The one salad that i have enjoyed in the past is the Raw papaya salad, which i recently made at home as well.

The veg soup was Gaeng Som phak- a sour & spicy sooup with mix of vegetables along with lemongrass, galangal and other thai herbs. It hit right at the edge of the throat and was quite spicy & pungent as well. Needed a few glasses of water to get over it 🙂

Phew, i was stuffed.. But wait, there is more. The beautiful thing about Thai cuisine is their use of various flavours and textures. The main course blew me away….

Phad woonsen phak- Glass noodles cooked with exotic vegetables- This was my favorite of the entire menu. The noodles had a lovely texture, and the chef told us they just had to be dunked in hot water for less than a minute and tossed in vegetables. It had brocolli, zucchini, capsicum, onion and spring onion as well.

Another dish that had me surprised was Makeow yang pahd namprik pow[i know, imagine trying to order this in a restaurant, i’d die of starvation before i get it right]- this is a grilled sesame aubergine tossed with roasted chilli paste & thai herbs.- The brinjal melted in our mouths, and it had a hint of sweetness to it. I also tried a small piece of the omlette, simple & fluffy, it went well with this dish.

As we sipped on lemongrass tea, the chef requested we try some Khao nung [Steamed rice] with Kaeng bamaa phak [ red curry with vegetables that had a bit of Burmese influence as well]- this was zero spicy, which the chef mentioned was because of the Burmese spices added to the red curry paste.

This menu sure is a burst of flavours. But from the time i walked in and saw the menu, the one dish i was dying to try was the dessert- lemongrass ice cream. Lo behold, out came a long plate with a bowl holding the ice cream and a sticky rice topped with Coconut custard [with a hint of cardomom flavour] The lemongrass ice cream was a delight, such a refreshing flavour. Teppan[upstairs] serves Wasabi ice cream, which is yet another unique dish that i am yet to see on another menu.

Before i bit the team at Benjarong goodbye, i was asked if i wanted to light a candle and let it float in the pond they had created? Ofcourse, i jumped on it. Made a wish for myself & for the hotel, let it float and hope all dreams come true!!

This festival is from 27th Nov to 9th Dec, so if you want to bid goodbye to your past and make a fresh start, join them in the festival of lights and bring joy to your lives!!  🙂

Ambiance: 8/10
Food- 8/10 [spice factor is the only thing that stops me from giving them a higher rank]
Price- 7/10- A meal for 2 in this festival will cost about Rs2000/-
Overall- 9/10

Address:
#537/146, T T K Road [on the road leading to Adyar Park hotel],
Alwarpet,
Chennai- 600018
Ph: 044 24322640

Celebrating Chennai..Ashtalakshmi Temple

Thanks to a friend i found in the blogsville-V, i discovered this treasured temple in Besant Nagar in the city i call home. Am talking about the Ashtalakshmi temple situated in the shores of the Bay of Bengal, at the long stretch of Elliots Beach, beyond the Velankanni Church

The architecture at this temple is very unique. The Goddesses and deities are across four levels, the top most opening out to the ocean. As the name states, the Ashtalakshmi temple is home to Eight avatars of Lakshmi.

Santaana Lakshmi (bestower of offspring)
Vijayalakshmi (bestower of success),
Vidya Lakshmi (associated with learning & wisdom)
Gaja Laskhmi (bestower of overall prosperity)
Dhanalakshmi (Goddess of wealth)
On the ground floor is the main shrine for Aadhi Lakshmi,
Dhaanya Lakshmi (Goddess of food)
Dhairiya Lakshmi’s (the Goddess of courage, strength & power)
 

There are narrow flight of stairs leading from one level to the other
and it is almost like an adventure making the way to the top…. I was
excited and eager to see what was in the next level…

Brunch with friends at Madras Gymkhana Club

What can be better than spending a few hours in the company of good friends , food and fantastic conversations!! That is exactly what we did on Sunday…. The venue was decided as the Madras Gymkhana Club and we had decided to land there by 1pm… And for the 1st time, there are no photographs, that is how busy we were catching up and yapping away, in between mouthfuls of food.
The spread was quite good-Mulgitwany soup
Different kinds of bread
Salads- russian, pasta, mix vegetable
Onion raita
Thayir vada
Papads

Freshly made hot crisp dosa with chutney & sambar

Veg buffet-

Veg biryanu
Dal makhani
Panneer butter masala
Bhindi sabzi
Salan Bhaingan
Aloo fry

Continental dishes– 

Mash potato baked
Mix veg augratin
 
OthersPlain white rice
Garlic rasam
Curd rice+ pickles

In nonveg

Chicken biryani
2 side dishes
A chicken dry item
And 2more (will ask friend what they were and update)

Desserts:
Strawberry mouse
Vanilla ice cream
Vanilla-mango cake
Gulab jamun

Total value for money
Food- 8/10
Service- self service
Ambiance-its huge hall, open space, plenty of natural lighting..

Address:
Anna Salai Mount Road, Chintadripet  Chennai, Tamil Nadu
Ph: 044 25368160
Only catch, find a friend who’s a member!!
The Veg buffet is Rs250 while Non veg is Rs350.. I guess this is between 12noon to 3pm, we were there beyond 3 and the staff had begun cleaning the space..

During weekdays, the buffet is upstairs in Buttery ball (kids below 16yrs not allowed as they serve alcohol)

Chao, T Nagar

“Chao”.. well, it means hello in Vietnamese and to think Ciao means Bye in Italian.. One word, so many meanings. Similarly, Chao, the restaurant has many faces, many avatars so to speak. It offers an eclectic blend of interiors, a menu that takes us on a journey from Vietnam to Singapore, China to Thailand….
Spending a few minutes exploring the venue, I discovered it was on two levels, the basement bigger than the ground floor. it also included a Lounge-a private dining area… The walls are adorned with various figurines and pieces made of wood, a tree stump leading to a light fitting under which sits a majestic Buddha. A narrow winding staircase tucked away in a corner. The ground floor offers a few cabin like settings, two small and one large. Glass, wood and light is what catches your eye as you step into this swanky restaurant that is just a few weeks old. 
Situated on north Boag road, almost opp the Singapore Consulate, adj to Coffee Central, the restaurant belongs to Ramesh & his partner Jagadish. Ramesh, being an architect has spent quite a bit of effort in decorating the place and it is quite visible.

Greeted with a cup of hot Lemongrass tea, I chatted with Shalini Muthukumar [Ramesh’s sis in law] who also owns the label “spice dip”. Pretty soon, the table was full, and Chef Dhiraj started bringing out plates of food… not only did they look good, but tasted delicious as well. He was kind enough to remember the vegetarians from the non veg clan and patiently answered my 1001 questions.

Starters:

Green Mango Salad

 
Corn Tartlets – Tartlets filled with crispy corn kernels
Devil’s potato – Crispy fried and sauteed potato wedges

Veg Dim Sums served with garlic sauce
Mushroom Pepper Salt – Crispy & juicy mushrooms tossed in pepper, chili flakes and garlic and served on a bed of fried noodles’
Rice wrap rolls served alongside Lemongrass dip – Rice wrap sheets stuffed with raw vegetables and tofu rolled up.

 

Devil’s chicken

Chao Thai Grilled Fish – Boneless fish fillets marinated, grilled and served on skewers
Wasabi Prawns – Crispy fried Prawns tossed in smooth Wasabi mayo.
 Satay Prawns – Juicy prawns marinated, grilled and served on skewers

I spent quite some time sampling the dishes, trying to figure out the spices, method of cooking, sorting through my curiousity and i noticed another array of dishes coming towards our table. They were the main dishes announced Shalini.

Thai Veg Green Curry- It was very different from what i’ve had, was surprised to find Brussel sprouts in the gravy
Jasmine Rice- A rice cooked with jasmine infusion though with no jasmine flavour[thank god]
Singaporean Bee Hoon – Fine Rice noodles with bean sprouts[ this was the best of the lot]

Cashew Garlic Garden greens – Stir fried vegetables mildly cooked with Garlic sauce and cashews

 Sambal fried rice- Non veg
Basil Chicken – Fine Minced tender chicken served in hot basil sauce



And finally, as i flipped through their extensive menu card [which has been beautifully separated into 2 sections- Veg & Non veg], i spotted quite a few familiar desserts. The ones we got to taste were

 

Tub Tim Grob – Water chestnuts in coconut milk served with crushed ice

Pumpkin custard with Coconut ice-cream- This was an afterthought of sorts. I noticed it on the menu and requested Shalini to serve us a plate or so. and no sooner there were more than one plate of this dessert served up, but they kept disappearing…








It was one fun evening… As always…. If you are driving down the road, and feel hunger pangs kick in, then pull over and do try the restaurant. 

Price- A meal for 2 will roughly cost around Rs1500 – 2000 

Address:
#49, North Boag Road,T. Nagar address 044 65555553, 044 65555554
[Opp Singapore Consulate and Adj to Coffee Central] Drive down from Residency towers/10D towards GN Chetty road, and you will spot this restaurant on your left.

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

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  🙂


55 word story- Woo

Do you remember how i kept driving past your house on the rickety cycle, you looked at me through the curtains?”
“How i used to come over on the pretext of asking if you got any of our mail? and you would coyly reply No”
“Yes” she smiled frail and tired on the hospital bed.


It was published here

55 word story- Moon

    Bright and round, like a ball of cheese
    White and foggy, like a glass of milkshake
    That is the moon,
    Up in the sky, shining in the night
    Fading away slowly, as the sun rises
    That is the moon
    I want to fly, to touch the Moon”
    sang the little girl standing on the stage.
==========
It was published here

55 word story- Distance

“Moommmmmmmmmmmy….” He screamed
“What is it, am right here, can’t you see?” she scowled
“See what i did, i called and you came running” he beamed
“Hmmm.. stop this now” she grimaced
“mommy, i missed you, that’s why i called, you were so far away in the kitchen” he whined
*Aww baby, i love you*

It was published here

55 word story- Alcohol

Mister Bartender, i need a drink
“What will it be?
Umm, it comes in a tall blue colour bottle, and has a sweet colorless liquid in it that tastes heaven with orange juice, cranberry juice but not mango juice
“What is it called ma’am, we have many that fit your description?”
Duh, stupid bartender *faints*


It was published here

55 word story- Taste

“Do you think i can carry off this dress?” He said
“It is kind of short, and bound to make you look pudgy,  ” the voice countered
“Really? He squeaked. I wore the blue last weekend, maybe the black full length gown ” he sighed.
“Other guys gonna go red with envy” the voice said

It was published here