When shopping in Nilgiris, I spotted these in the snacks aisle. Was instantly curious and picked up one packet.. Colonel & Co- Chip & Dip- “Peri Peri Nachos”. Priced at Rs50, I picked it up thinking what the hell, lets give it a shot.
Got home and had it later in the evening and must say it was good, better than what I expected. The nachos and salsa are in two separate compartments, the salsa is sealed with a foil wrap which makes sure there is no spill or leaks… The nachos were crisp and the salsa was yummilicious…
They also have another option- Olive & Herbs Nachos. Spotted it on Snapdeal as well , but do check your local grocery store and grab one box…
Cleanser: Watermelon Beetroot and Mint.. My favourite was the beetroot drink.
Vazhapoo Cutlet/Vadai- a local delicacy made with Banana flower. Love this one!
minute I come upon a country I am not quite familiar with, I instantly start
reading up on it. This is exactly what I did when I heard of Abyssinian, the
new Ethiopian restaurant that had opened doors in the city. Incidentally, Ethiopia
was once called Abyssinia and that is how the restaurant earned its name
building as two other restaurants- Meena Tai [Maharashtrian restaurant] and
Batlivala & Khanabhoy[the Parsi restaurant], this is the 3rd
restaurant from the brother’s duo Uday Balaji and Vikram Mohan of VM
Hospitality. While chatting with Uday, I came to know they
have a test kitchen in Coimbatore where all recipes are tried out. Infact, they
set up a farm to grow the Ethiopian grain, Teff but are also exploring other
venues to make this happen. When I enquired about how easy or difficult the
journey of establishing the restaurant has been, Uday shared the issues they
face in bringing in the ingredients, the hassles with customs and other such
concerns, which is why it took as long as it did for the restaurant to launch.
have strong connections from the past, especially with reference to Spices, it
comes as no surprise that the cuisines are quite similar as well. The first
thing you notice when you step into Abyssinian is the space, there are just four
tables, but it adds to the charm. The walls are adorned with traditional
Ethiopian musical instruments and scripts, not to forget the quirky the light
fittings. The seating is low- chairs and stools and the center table is meant
for the platter. Their menu is quite
extensive; all dishes are given their original name with a description to help
us understand. They also have a glossary, which helps make sense of what we are
lunch and it so happened all 4 of us were vegetarians. The eating style in
Ethiopia is community style and so you eat from a single plate. This was taking
the phrase “a family that eats together stays together” to a whole another
the official drink of this land. Made with nothing but honey, sugar and water,
it is allowed to ferment a bit before being served. It was tad pungent but
quite nice, and not too sweet. Next up
was a plate with Mandasi [resembles our bonda] but with strong ajwain &
garlic flavours and it was served with Abe [coriander green chilli dip].
busy polishing these off, we were served the sou – ‘Adengare Shorba’ – kidney
beans that had been cooked with onion and tomato. It was light and simple.
this region is Injera- the traditional bread of sorts that is eaten by all.
There is no rice in this region [hallelujah, my kinda place].. Injera is made
with a grain called Teffa [ which the restaurant is trying to source, but until
then Injera is made using Ragi and rice- two variations] . if I were to explain
it to you, it is similar to our dosa except it feels steamed.
arrived at our table and there were two big pieces of Injera at the bottom and
small rolls of Injera for each of us. And then came the side dishes, I lost
count after 4.. Was happy to note they had quite a range of vegetarian options.
curried potato simmered with berbere, garlic and spices – this was a big hit,
loved the flavours.
– a stew of potatoes and carrots with onions,fresh garlic, ginger and turmeric.
It was semi dry and simple in terms of flavours.
vegetable stew of cauliflower, potatoes, carrot, cabbage, beans with onions and
berebere- loved this one as well.
curried pumpkin simmered with red onions, berebere, garlic and spices – Since I
love yellow pumpkin, I enjoyed this one as well.
mushroom sauteed with onions, chilli peppers, tomato and rosemary. Reminded me
of the sauté I do at home.
garlic, berebere paste and Ethiopian Spiced butter- wasn’t a big fan of this,
but it kinda resembles the kothu parotta.- this is typically served at
chickpeas stew flavored with onions, garlic and peppers- it was mushy and runny
like our daal
I got the name right- It was a daal of sorts that had brown lentils that had
been cooked down with spices and was quite delicious.
main dishes, we had three sides that added a nice touch to the side dishes.
cottage cheese that added creaminess to dishes.
a local birds eye chilli, cardomon seeds and salt]
a sauce made with Berebere and olive oil. It was a hot sauce that you add to
increase the heat factor in any of the dishes
names are quite the challenge to remember, right?! That is the joy of trying
something new and out of your comfort zone.
yet, now came the trio of desserts –
Ethiopian Flat bread with honey- this was a big dry for my liking.
Soft olive oil cakes made with ajwain and served with liberal amounts of honey.
It contains egg [quite strong flavour as well] – one of those desserts that you
eat a few bites and are done.
the winner among the desserts- Friend flat bread parcels of sweetened carrots,
dates and nuts served with honey – Loved this one…
the close came the infamous Ethiopian Coffee that was served with a bowl of
salted popcorn. Yep, you read it right. That is how Ethiopians wind up their
meal. The coffee is served black into small cups, and you can either have it as
it is or add some spiced butter and salt to enhance the taste. I tried both and
loved them equally. The butter and salt adds a bit of warmth and cuts the
afternoon it had been. An experience like no other I can say with confidence. I
had shared a few pictures during the lunch and was amazed to see that a few
friends have tried Ethiopian food across the world and were quite excited we
had one option in Chennai and then there were those who wanted to be taken here
for a treat… J
you is they are planning on introducing an afternoon coffee session where you
could be privy to tales about their coffee brewing tradition or just some
history about the place and people. Keep a look out for these events.
Surya Road, Venus Colony, Alwarpet, Chennai- 18
the end of Kasturi Rangan Road, drive past Tangerine and you will spot this on
a dish that is much sought after by many and one that most of us vegetarians
only dream about [ cos there is no such thing as Vegetarian Biryani if you were
to dig into the history] Here is what I found when I went snooping on the
history of Biryani.. Biryani is derived from the Persian word ‘Birian’. In Farsi,
Birian means ‘Fried before Cooking’.
rice was fried (without washing) in Ghee (Clarified butter) which in turn gave
the rice a nutty flavor and burnt the outside starch layer gelatinizing it.
Once this process is complete, it is boiled in water with spices till half
is made with Goat meat, which is marinated in a whole bunch of spices with
yoghurt as well. And then the meat is cooked till it falls off the bone. And
finally, in an earthen pot [Handi], the rice and meat are layered, few layers
of condiments are added- spices, rose water, ghee and so on. It is then sealed
and sat on Coal fire to cook. The process has evolved with time, with influences
from various regions adding a twist to the flavours and each region today seems
to have their own special kind of Biryani as well. One other point I was told
was that back in the days long-grain brown rice was used in North India; while
the short grain Zeeraga Samba rice was used in South India. [Another article I
read on the net about Biryani]
this evening, we were at Spice Haat [Hyatt Regency Chennai] who have come up
with a Biryani Carnival of sorts. One that features 5 different kinds of non
veg biryani, one veg biryani/pulao and then there is the plain Rice cooked with
spices and with fried onions on it as well. There are quite a few side dishes for the Biryani-
both in veg and non veg section, ranging from the Mirchi Ka salan to Egg curry
to Kaju mutter paneer, not to forget the array of raitas.
vegetarian, I made a beeline for the veg dishes and enjoyed them all, including
the Rice, it had mild spices and was well cooked, while the rice had a bite to
it [I hate mushy rice]. It was fascinating watching the non veg part of the
group taste the rice, the meat and share their opinions, As with any dish,
biryani too comes with a range of flavours, and how cooking process, the spices
used makes a world of difference in the non veg arena.
wind up the meal, you should check out their dessert counter, they have Kala
jamun, tiramisu, other pastries and elaneer payasam as well [which I felt was
way too watery and bland, missing the beautiful elaneer flavours]. I did have a
south indian filter kaapi before calling it a night. J
Biryani Carnival is on till 10th December at Spice Haat and is open only for
dinner [6.30pm-10.30pm]. Every day the biryanis on the buffet change with one
special biryani as well.
options are available during this period-
Buffet priced at Rs1550/- [excl tax] where you get to
dig into the various kinds of biryanis apart from other dishes available on the
A la carte where you pay for Rs999/- [excl tax] to try
one biryani but this comes with two Beers.
call +91 44 61001234 for more information or reservations.
118, Koramangala Industrial Area, Koramangala 7th Block,
Ph- 080 40515253
My mantra when it comes to food- be open, be prepared to try something new, it could be a dish, it could be a vegetable or meat, sauce, anything… Once you get to this point, life is nothing but awesome..
This is probably why last evening was special, no doubt about that~! When Chef Vikram calls and invites you over for dinner, you go with a big grin on your face and excitement bubbling within- that is the reaction he & his food evoke in us.. And these evenings are where I realise how much I have changed over the years, in terms of food- palate, preferences, being open to new flavours/textures,etc…
I took a glug of the soup straight from the bulb and nearly burnt my tongue, but it was fun, I paused but continued while my friend drank out of his spoon. Chef came over and asked us if we had used the spoon, almost in a reprimand tone.. Now these little bits are what makes him so special..
Lasagna – Pumpkin sheets with tofu mash in-between, slices of beetroot and little circles of betel leaf on the side. It was served along side a sauce that was strong, had Thai flavours and was quite a power packed dish. We had jasmine rice to go with this. Loved every spoonful of it. Infact, I was able to have only half of this, was beyond filling.
mui kofta & Dal Sultani [there were two kinds of biryanis and few sides for the Non vegetarians]
wali Kulfi / Phirni