Mountbatten Mani Iyer canteen at Vidya Bharati Kalyana Mandapam

It was Saturday, the day after Christmas.. I had decided to give Sabha Lunch a shot. Waited for the clock to chime 9:30 [cos that is when puliyogare travels would share the menu ] to decide where to head. Each sabha [hall] has a different caterer and there are meals from Breakfast, lunch, evening tiffin and dinner as well. So, it was such a treat for people here to go explore the treats across the sabhas during the one month. This is a trend that has picked up over the last few years, earlier the sabhas were renowned just for their evening snacks. Now, there are people who go to a sabha not for the concert but for the food.. ;o) 
Coming back, I saw the menu shared [ the toss was between Music Academy and Vidya Bharati Mandapam], asked a friend if she wanted to join in for Mountbatten Mani Iyer canteen‘s sappaad at Vidya Bharati Kalyana Mandayam and she agreed.Mount Sreenivasan of the famous Mountbatten Mani Iyer canteen is the man behind this company.. Few minutes later mom called asking about something, and I mentioned this plan and instantly she said she too shall join us! So, the plan was made and excitement was building. 
We landed at Vidya Bharathi Kalyana Mandayam close to 1pm, it is tucked away in a narrow lane and was quite an adventure getting there. While I waited for the friend, mom went and checked out the menu. I then went ahead and picked up three lunch coupons and made a beeline for the empty chairs. 

The menu for the day was [right side column],

The food was piping hot, and though it was weird eating on a banana leaf somewhere outside of a wedding/function, it was a good experience. I bumped into a few familiar faces, also saw how people came in groups and alone to enjoy this meal. Food was served at a good pace, there was repeat requests and servings. The meal was quite filling and for the 1st time in my life the leaf was clean when I got up . We also grabbed a cup of coffee to finish off the meal.
Priced at Rs275 it was total Value for money… 

Mamagoto Comes to Chennai

Founded in January
2010 in Delhi, Mamagoto literally translated from Japanese means
“to play with food”, and that is the very ethos of the concept – to make
Asian eating fun, unpretentious and casual. So it was quite exciting to see the sigh board
Mamagoto” on Khader Nawaz Khan road..  
I have heard quite a few rave reviews about this place from friends- the signature bowls, robata grill, asian salads, dim sum, wok dishes
and curries – experimental flavours from China, Thailand, Japan and South East
Asian combine with the super quirky manga inspired graphic
design decor. Here in Chennai, they had quite a quirky interior design, colourful vibrant and one that has you looking all around, including the ceiling. Oh and I loved the mason jar lighting above the fruit juice bar.. Wonder if they will serve alcohol in the coming days/months?!
There is also the teppanyaki grill that makes it’s debut in Chennai,located at the far end of the restaurant with a few chairs along the counter. 

I havent eaten at this restaurant and so was very open to the experience. The food was beautiful- pan asian flavours which I have come to love.. some of the dips were quite spicy, one intact was a red chilli paste which all of us took a liberal spoonful of thinking it was sweet garlic chilli paste, only to have our tongues on fire.. 😀 

I went ahead and asked for a Wasabi Mary [a twist on Bloody Mary] while the guys ordered different drinks. We tried some of their starters- including the lotus stem dish which was wow.. That apart there was also a mixed vegetable tempura of sorts, which was crispy and light.

As the evening wore on, we decided to try some of their signature bowl dishes- one was a vegetarian Thai rice and curry which was outstanding. I loved the spices and flavours. We also had the Flat noodles, which was steaming hot and packed a punch. A friend kept talking about a fun menu they have in Bangalore. But when we spoke to the lady who was the Food Director, she said they have done away with the menu and might just introduce a few unique dishes into the menu to see how the response is and take it from there.

Moving on to desserts, we tried two desserts- the Banoffee pie which just blew us away so much that we asked for a 2nd serving.For someone not too fond of bananas, I couldn’t stop eating this one. The Soft warm sponge cake with sauce was also amazing.

We left the place with a promise to return and explore their menu some more.. For now, all i can say is Pan Asian[ esp Thai Flavours] is my kind of food and so this restaurant sits right on top with my other favourites. 
Shop No. 9, Khader Nawaz Khan Road,
Nungambakkam, Chennai 

Meal for two – Rs 1200- 1500

For Reservations call: 044 33999610

Food is all that matters- Chennai Floods IV

“Thani oru manithanukku unavu illai enil jagathinai erithiduvom”  said Bharathiar.. 

[Meaning- If there is no food available for even one individual, we will destroy this world.]

How true! 

During the weeks when it poured like there was no tomorrow, the only thing on everybody’s mind was “do we have adequate drinking water and food”.. The bunch of us who were working on providing relief were also focussed on the same thing! We realised, people might be stranded, might not have power, phones were down, so was internet, but the one thing we all needed was clean drinking water and three meals a day.. 

The two weeks was sheer madness, figuring out who was doing food packets,who was collecting water packets/bottles. All we did was run from pillar to post, collecting as much of these as possible and getting it to people who were stranded. 

A friend of mine who lives in Pallikaranai, one of the severely affected area said he got food courtesy a chopper one noon. I can’t even imagine what it must have been like. And then there were others struggling with little ones and no milk/biscuits/bread even..

We saw people make a grab for anything they could get their hands on. The minute they saw a car or truck come by, they knew it was relief materials and would attack instantly. People fought, there were words exchanged, children who came to pick up stuff were getting squished. 

One of those days when we were on OMR, we discovered Fathima Child Welfare centre, the place had a good 2-3 ft water. The lady in charge, came out in that to meet us at the gate. She told us they got lunch courtesy the local counsellor but they had three centres in all and did not have enough water or other things, including medicines.  We gave her a bag of water, some medicines,and sanitary pads as well .. One of the kids from that centre was sent to show us the way to their other two centres, and he was one spunky kid. Said hot food was sent over daily, and he had been there for a few months now.. There were little ones at one centre, where we gave quite a few biscuit packets.. There were teen girls who sheepishly took the sanitary pad packets, some refused to come out and had friends picking up stuff for them. 

There were moms in some areas who were happy to pile in as many biscuit packets as possible, and some even gabbed the Glucose boxes we had. They said there were few old people who were zero on strength and this would help them..

Food packets given by a team in Anna nagar.. 

Relief material at Hyatt Regency 

Just 10% of what we loaded that particular day.. we were all to track in this lorry but it was overloaded with stuff that we drove in cars..

While it made us happy to help people, we also noticed a few being rowdies. They would take food packets, inspect the content and either chuck this to eat the one they had received earlier or chuck that and eat this… Biryani over lime rice.. you get the drift… and one or two were trying the sell the food packets they got to people who had no energy to make it to the trucks.. we also stumbled upon a few who graciously turned us down saying they had already received food, and asked if we had few other times..  

Another interesting moment to be shared is – we had hired this lorry and had gone to give out relief material.. Friend, her husband , son & I were in one SUV.. We had stopped in one place, loaded stuff onto the cars and went to distribute. The kid saw the lorry driver pick up a food packet and dig in.. few minutes he grabbed a bottle of water when loading and gulped it down.. this continued through the day. The kid got peeved. He kept saying “how can he just like that take and eat/drink.. not done… “. We smiled and told him “its ok, as long as hungry soul is fed, we are doing good..”

Tough times teach you to survive, it also teaches you it is survival of the fittest.. 

Well,all said and done, the relief centres were all whipping out food packets and relief materials by the millions.. each packet hopefully reached the hungry souls, giving them hope to get through the day!! 

The other posts in the Chennai flood series can be read here,
When the going gets tough, the tough gets going…Chennai floods -I

When the going gets tough, the tough gets going…Chennai floods -II

When the going gets tough, the tough gets going…Chennai floods -III

Fuji, Japanese Restaurant comes to Chennai

Looks like the city has caught the Japanese fever.. First it was  pop up Japanese restaurant, then came the Japanese food festival and now a new Japanese restaurant opens doors. Hmmm.. Interesting and exciting! For someone who loves experimenting with food, this is a happy thing! Years ago, if someone had told me Japanese I would have scrunched up my nose and said “raw fish?yewww”.. But over the years, I have learnt there are quite a few veg dishes in Japanese cuisine and some of them are quite umm as well. That apart, Japanese food is quite light, most are steamed and very healthy as well. 
Well, this new restaurant is on Chamiers Road  [few doors down from TOI office if you are coming from Chamiers road side, and if entering from Nandanam, just after Aavin booth on left side, take a right cut and it is there]
The interiors are simple, wood based and quite Japanese. They have table chair seating on the left and floor style seating on the right side. As you walk along the corridor, towards the rear side, is a private room of sorts for large groups. 
The restaurant is as authentic as it can get, with a Japanese chef, and manager as well. Having established a name in Delhi & Kolkatta the management has decided to make an entry here in Chennai. 
An extensive menu, most of which goes over our head, it is best left to the restaurant team to order for you… There are quite a range of veg dishes, some of which i enjoyed- the Tempura, the Brinjal in Miso, fried tofu and ofcourze the dessert. The Soup I did not like at all, it felt like hot water with a few pieces of brinjal & tofu- was lacking any kind of flavour. I also got to taste the Japanese omelet and it was sinfully was the broth that came as part of the non veg soup. 

Next time you are looking for something different, give this restaurant a shot!
Meal for two: Rs 2000 [approx]
Address: Old 10, New 134, Chamiers Road, Nandanam, Chennai
Phone: 044 33011577
Cuisines: Japanese/Korean

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 🙂

Japanese fest in Anytime , GRT Grand…

Looks like Japanese is the flavour of the season.. One by one restaurants are all following suit in either coming up with something around Japanese cuisine… First it was the pop up restaurant at Hyatt Regency and then came GRT Grand with their Japanese fest.. 

Tye had brought down Chef Jajos [she is half Burmese,Half Indian and been into Pan asian esp Japanese cuisine for nearly two decades]. She is now a consultant living in Shimla!! 

The evening at Anytime began with a good chat with the Chef while she told us how Japanese cuisine is famous for the live stations and all their dishes are simple, yet filled with flavour and quite healthy as well.  She went on to tell us it wasn’t a good idea to have Japanese dishes as part of a Buffet cos they lose the freshness and textures, which we discovered was true.. 

Our dinner began with the Chef sending out a plate of grilled vegetables for me while friend got Chicken dish. I loved mine as it was fresh, the vegetables had a bite to them and the flavours were delicious. Following this we had Sushi… I am quite liking Sushi, this one had crunchy tempura pieces inside… 

For the mains and dessert we were shown to the buffet, where we found quite a few vegetarian dishes and a few non veg as well. I tried the noodles, tempura and rice as well, but they were all just about average. The noodles felt overcooked and mushy,while the rice was sticky and nice.. There was also a mushroom based side which I enjoyed. Moving on to desserts, there was just one from the Japanese section which was a semi solid cake of sorts made with Red bean which was quite nice… 

Good to see the city welcoming other cuisines and giving people an opportunity to try these flavours… As long as they stick to their guns and don’t Indianise things, am happy!! 

GRT Grand
Hotel url:


120, Sir Thyagaraya Rd, Drivers Colony, T Nagar, Chennai, Tamil Nadu 600017
044 2815 0500

The Diabetic Trail, Flying Elephant, Park Hyatt, Chennai [till Nov 30th]

If you were among those
who thought healthy food was boring food, then here is a surprise for you..
Park Hyatt has launched a Diabetes Food Trail at Flying Elephant (this
started on the 14th Nov and goes on till the 30th Nov)

and presented by Semora Entertainment Works; this unique initiative has been
supported by Britannia NutriChoice,and that is where the trail begins!!

The food
trail features 120+ Top Restaurants, whose Chefs have designed a special
diabetic- friendly menu, just for people with diabetes.  At Park Hyatt,
Chef Greg and Chef Vamsi have come together in creating this menu that is not
only healthy but filled with amazing flavours as well. No, am not exaggerating
or lying.. After having got the opportunity to taste the dishes that are part
of the menu I can say with conviction it is anything but bland…  What is
more, the calorie content is mentioned against each of the dishes  on the
menu, giving you insight into what you are eating! 

Another interesting trend am noticing is that the veg food seems to shine brighter over the non veg dishes.. 🙂 

Some of the dishes I tasted last evening was,

Turkish Lentil and burgle soup, chickpeas, dried mint and coriander (131 calories)

Quinoa and pomegranate  salad, orange slices, spinach, zucchini, celery with passion fruit dressing (131 calories)

For the mains, which were mouth wateringly yummy,

Brown rice congee, stir fried greens [bok choy, broccoli as well], shiitake mushrooms, ginger, spring onions, and sauteed garlic on top. I could happily just dig into a big bowl of this and be the happiest bunny around.. 🙂 (232 Calories)

Whole wheat pizza, thinnest base, ricotta cheese, parsley, sumac, rocket, apple  and quinoa as well- the base was super thin and it was just WOW… (294 calories )

Braised lentils,poached egg, steamed swiss char, onion escabeche, parsley pesto (252 calories)

While the non veg gang dug into the steamed Chilean seabags fish and the rice with chicken side, I eagerly waited for the desserts [ which are a slight variation from the diabetes trail, but healthy nevertheless]

The Desserts we dug into were, 

Lemon cheesecake mousse with berry compote served alongside two slices of fresh papaya (342 calories ) and Peanut butter frozen yoghurt cups, oats, granola and pomegranate.. [ Doc advices that no matter what dessert we have, it should be partnered with a fresh fruit]

Ah, what an evening it had been… So, if you are looking for a restaurant to have some delicious  food and keep it healthy, this is where you should head to..A lot of the dishes reminded of the Salad festival they held few months ago..

Park Hyatt
39, Velachery Road, Guindy, Chennai, Tamil Nadu 600032
044 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 🙂

Yakiniku, pop up restaurant, Hyatt Regency Nov 14 – Dec 10

Hyatt Regency in Teynampet has come up with a new concept, one that is quite interesting.. They have introduced for the first time ever in Chennai, a pop-up restaurant by a five star hotel that will deliver extraordinary Japanese fare at “Yakiniku”.

 Biscotti, their pastry shop has been converted into a Japanese restaurant, from decor to staff to the food and even the cutlery..  They even had a few origami pieces on display… 

It is where you get to taste some amazing Japanese dishes, all made with ingredients that are as Japanese as they can get. Some of the options available are – Niku Tofu (Sliced beef, tofu, dash stock,
green onion, chili powder), Takoyaki (Octopus dumplings, tonkatsu sauce, mayonnaise, seaweed),
Salmon Chanchan Yaki (Salmon, cabbage, onion, mushroom, carrot, sweet miso), Nasu Dengaku (Fried Eggplant, miso sauce, sesame seed). Also, available would be Sushi and Sashimi live stations. 

I also spied the staff working on Vegetarian and non vegetarian Tempura. Oh and they have a few options in soups as well — Miso and Potato & crab meat soup…  While the menu was conceptualised by their in house Chef Subrata Debnath, a Japanese chef was brought in to teach the authentic methods of cooking and serving. Apart from the food, the decor too will feature heavy Japanese influences. “We want the diners to have the feel of being in an authentic Japanese restaurant,” says the chef.    We also got the opportunity to witness Chef from Grand Hyatt Guam make sushi, and damn he was fast! 

The list is endless.. While I was there for the launch, I got to try Japanese Beer- Asahi and a few vegetarian starters- The Sushi and Nasu Dengaku, both of which left me curious for more… I am not someone who enjoys Brinjal but the sauce and the way it had been cooked was amazing, had me asking for a 2nd helping!  The Sushi was delicious, and quite filling, I had it with a good dollop of wasabi, soya sauce and pickled ginger as well. 

When you are done trying out the starters and mains, do keep some space aside for their desserts- Green Tea Tiramisu, Jelly Soup, Rice  noodle, brown sugar syrup, vanilla ice cream to name a few! 

Well, if that doesn’t have you drooling, I don’t know what will.. All I would say is make a visit to the pop up restaurant before December 10th.. 

Experience Yakiniku from 14th November to 10th December 2015. 

Open only for dinner (7pm to 11:30pm)

For reservations and more information, call 044 6100 1234 or +91 9962000619.

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 🙂

[Recipe] Padhir Peni

I am not sure when my romance with the Padhir Peni began, but must be a decade ago.. Since it is a Karnataka based dish, I must have had it at a wedding/function held there or in someone’s house there or someone who is from that state.. Anyways, that doesnt matter.. This is a dish that I love, it resembles a giant puri of sorts but is quite flaky.. 

In weddings, I remember the staff putting a separate plate near the banana leaf, placing the Pathir peni, another guy sprinkling some powdered sugar on it and then finally a good cupful of hot milk/badam milk is poured on it. You then wait for a few mins for the peni to soak up the milk before digging in. Infact, I remember skipping meals and just having one yummy peni.. 

It has become an unsaid rule in my family that anyone who goes to karnataka or knows someone from there shall bring back few of these for me [well I do share it with all] 

Last week, one evening gramma was glued to the TV watching a cookery show, Revathi Shanmugam when I happened to look up from the laptop and noticed she was making Padhir Peni. I always thought it was a complicated thing to make and did not bother finding out recipes. But when I saw this show, I realised even though it involved a long process, it wasn’t complicated or rocket science..

A few days later, thanks to the incessant rains, we decided to give it a shot and must say it came out quite well… Here is how it is made,

For the dough

Maida [you can alternatively use Chiroti Rava]- 1 cup 
Water  – enough to knead the dough
Salt a pinch

For the Paste:
Rice Flour-  2 tsp
Ghee – 2 tsp

Oil for Deep frying 
Powdered sugar 

The Process

In a bowl, mix the ingredients for the dough and make a smooth dough [ almost like what you make for roti] – set this aside , covering with a cloth or cling film

In another bowl mix the rice flour and ghee to make a nice paste [ shouldn’t be too thick or too runny]
Now take the dough, make balls – roll them out like rotis – you will need 4 for each batch. Once the 4 have been rolled out, apply the paste between layers.

Once done, roll the entire thing like a swiss roll[ long log] and cut into pieces. 

Press them down flat so you can see the layers and paste from the top. 

Gently roll them out into thick puri like things. 

Take a pan, add oil and let it heat up.. Now deep fry these once by one on gentle flame till they are cooked all through

Sprinkle generous amounts of sugar and eat it as it is or with hot milk.. 

[Shared] Making of Soan Papdi

Every time any of us got back from a trip to Bangalore, there would be expectant look on everyone’s face at home. They werent looking for fancy gifts, they were looking for that signature white plastic bag with a box that contained nothing but melt in your mouth Soan papdi from K C Das.. before they discovered K C Das, uncle used to buy soan papdi in lose form from Nilgiris.. And before that they used to get it form the street hawker who had a distant bell sound, i still find him on our street these days.. Has a big glass dome under which is some divine soan papdi..

And the amazing thing is that after a day or after being open for a few hours, it becomes chewy and then in a couple of days it becomes dry and weird… 😀

But, the very first time I saw how they made this sweet was on a  TV Show years ago.. Left me baffled.. Why on earth would someone go to such extents and who on earth discovered this sweet/process..

Well, today I once again stumbled upon a site showing a video of how this sweet is made.. Once again the same questions came flooding into my head.. lol.. If any of you know the answer, do let me know.. For now, go watch in awe..

Do you like this flaky soft delicate sweet? where do you buy it from? 

Hoppipola – The Spring Hotel, Chennai

The first thing that hits you is the winding staircase and then you are hit with a burst of white.. the walls are white, the chairs are white, the metal structures are white… the ceiling is white.. 😀 

Not something you associate with a pub, but then Hoppipola is quite different.. Underneath the staircase is a beautiful shelf of sorts with books lined all the way through. And then there are the board games, the giant Jenga, mini golf which lure you in hook and thread and everything thrown in.. 

This is a pub with a difference, and quite cute at that! The walls have metal stands with candles on them, little planters with real plants in them and visible pipelines on the ceiling as well. 

Oh and there is an entire wall fitted with the good ol boomboxes, and wait there is more. On certain days women guest are invited to open one cassette slot and who knows you might get lucky and win yourself a drink or two.. Wait, there is more.. The tables double up as blackboards, there are chalk pieces in the little box on the table.. It is one of those places where you can look forward to an evening of fun.. You should just switch off your phone and have some fun!

Wednesdays are Creative Wednesdays where guests get to go behind the bar and create their own drinks.. Similarly, they have different themes for each day of the week.. 

Now getting down to business, I had a Watermelon – Basil Caprioshkas and it was quite good..  They have a simple but decent selection of drinks [yet to get Imported drinks license though].. Apart from this, they also have a range of cocktails.. their Pina colada was divine!  

Now that the drinks were down, we had to order some food right.. Here are some of the dishes we tried that evening,

Cheesienos, which was essentially a crisp fried cheese sticks with Jalepenos

The Burger [non veg] that friends had

Four  ways Pizza [that was served Half & Half- one half was veg-Margarita and Cheesie Pizznezz and other non veg-ambretta and Jerkin Around. ]

Moving on to Desserts we had Banana Cinnamon Ice Cream Cake and Molten Chocolate Lava Cake served along with a Vanilla Ice Cream.  

Price: Rs 1500 – 2000 for 2..  including a round of drinks. Please note No Stags allowed.. 
Address: The Spring hotel, Kodambakkam High Road [ near Palmgrove hotel]


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 🙂