Thursday Challenge- Barriers- Bhima Gateway,Hampi

The theme for today’s Thursday Challenge is “BARRIER” (Wall, Fence, Gate, Door, Stanchions,…)

In Hampi, as you drive around, you will stumble upon a few of these gateways, giant stone structures along the way. one such is the Bhima’s Gateway. It is a classic example of the Vijayanagara military architecture style. 
The most interesting feature of the gate is the design. You cannot drive through the gate straight in, you need to enter and turn immediately. There is a huge wall like structure right inside the gate. You turn right, left and then once again left to go around this obstruction to reach the exit at the north. It acts as a blind spot for the invading army, they are caught unawares. Also heard it is difficult for the elephant mounted forces to do surprise attacks as they find it difficult to manoeuvre these sharp turns.  
Inside you will also find  a huge carving of Bhima with a flower called Saugandhika, another of Draupadi as well.  It is quite a fascinating element in Hampi…

For other Thursday Challenge posts, visit here

Culinary Secrets of Coorg at Madras Pavilion at ITC Grand Chola,Chennai till 29th May

There are very few cuisines that have me all excited and one of them is Coorg.. no kidding! ever since my trip to Coorg, I have been in love with their simple yet strong flavours- fresh peppers, cardamom and cinnamon to name a few.
And so as I walked into Madras Pavilion at ITC Grand Chola last evening, I was looking forward to mouth watering dishes. But I got more than what I dreamt about. Each of the dishes stood out, some had me reaching for second helpings as well. 

 The evening began with a visit from the Coorg Spice Market trolley which brought me a drink that was sinfully yummy- Rum based drink that had strong cinnamon flavours in it. Later on during the meal I tried the same sans the rum and it was just as good.  

No sooner had we gotten around to saying Hi/Hello to their Chefs- Ajit Bangera, Nikhil Merchant & Santhosh Shetty, the dishes started coming to the table. 
Chef Santosh Shetty with Chef Nikhil Merchant.
As with all buffets, the starters and grills were served on the table. I got to try nearly 4 vegetarian starters- The Balle Cutlet [Banana flower], Koomu Masala Fry [ Mushrooms], Yam cutlet and the potato bhajji of sorts [ forgot the name and it was from the grill section]. Loved the Mushroom dish the most of them all, it had a punch of pepper which was just a play of flavours in the mouth. These were served with a side of three dips- Tomato red chilli chutney, coriander green chilli and cucumber dip. The platter they were served in what caught my eye, it looked like a paint palette 🙂 

Talking to the Chef had me wondering what more lay in store for us. He spoke about how Chef Shetty had travelled to Coorg, done some research, apart from which they had taken time out to research on vegetarian options to make sure both parties were taken care of . I must say I bow my head to such Chefs, who give us vegetarians as much importance, if not more!
For the mains, we got Kottai Kadubu [almost like a tumbler idli except this is cooked in a kind of leaf] and Kal Dosa [ with fenugreek favour standing out]. Loved em both, the kadubu was fun unravelling. The sides for these were Koomu Masala Kari [Mushroom based gravy that was creamy rich and peppery], the Bamboo Kari [ made with bamboo shoots, that were so tender, they melt in your mouth] and finally came the piping hot Mangai Kootu [a kootu similar to what we make at home with raw mango down to the channa dal]. Oh wait, we weren’t done yet. I also got to try their Tarkari Pulao [ veg pulao]. The non veg troops got a Yerachi Pulao and one side dish that stood out for them was the Pandi Curry [pork gravy]. 
Phew, now that is what you call a “meal worth dying for”. Just when we were gonna ask for some coffee, a dessert platter came laden with two shot glasses and some fresh fruit on the side and a small jug with a dark liquid, which I discovered was Black Jaggery syrup]. The shot glasses held the Khus Khus Payasa [payasam made with khus khus] and other was Jackfruit halwa [had the beautiful flavour of fresh ghee]. We had a section of fruits- fresh cut mango, papaya, grapes, melon and pomegranate. 
And for the grand finale, a cup of fresh hot filter coffee  served with the black jaggery syrup was just what we needed to wash it all down. Heck, I indulged and had a second cup of coffee as well. When something is good, it needs to be enjoyed, right?
Well, this festival is on till Sunday, 29th May for dinner only at Madras Pavilion at ITC Grand Chola,Chennai.. Make sure to block a table and head over if you are among those who enjoys this cuisine or are curious about it. 
Priced at Rs. 2200 plus tax, the net price will be around Rs. 2600[approx]… 

Address: No., 63, Anna Salai, Guindy, Chennai, Tamil Nadu 600032
Phone:044 2220 0000
Website :

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 🙂

Food Tales.. The humble tablespoon

Just realised it has been a while since I shared a food tale here… So here goes one, simply because I was reminded of the story today morning. You know how at home when cooking we have these different measures and utensils, right? Well, there is one that has a different name of sorts at home. The humble tablespoon. 
We have quite a few different ones in the kitchen and every time someone needs a tablespoon, we don’t say get a tablespoon, instead we say “one raghu mama spoon venue [ need a raghu mama spoon]. As you might have gathered from the name [ for those who are not duh..hehe], he is an uncle who used to the spoon for eating. About three decades ago, a month or so after his marriage, he was in an accident in their factory and lost his right arm, there was just a small stub below the shoulder. Initially it was quite scary for us kids, but eventually we got used to seeing him put on the prosthetic , so much so that we started helping him with it or asking questions about it. He used to drive with this arm, and was quite a good one at that. Anyways, i digress. So, he had to learn to use his left hand to do things, most of which he managed, but he couldn’t eat with his hands and therefore started using this spoon. 
It has been nearly a decade since he passed away and yet the name remains. The spoon is always called Raghu Mama spoon by all at home… Sigh… 
[Image courtesy: google]

Do you have any such tales to share? any person who has left a mark to a point where the utensil/item has earned itself a new name?

Chili’s comes to Chennai

It is always good to see big brands make an entry into Chennai .. Recently Burger King opened doors and following suit, Chili’s too has arrived. Having heard a lot about this Tex-Mex restaurant, I was quite keen to give it a shot. But then it is quite hot here and the last thing on my mind was food, but when I got an opportunity to visit Chili’s, I decided to go for it. 

Here’s a quick round up of what I had before I go on to share my experience…. 

Wild Raspberry Margarita [non alcoholic]

Starter platter- Cheese pops, SW Rolls with mushrooms and quesadilla bites served with three different dips

Flour made tortillas served with a Classic Paneer Fajita
 and assortment of cheese, sour cream, salsa 

 Mushroom Paneer Fajitas

Vegetable Burger with smoked bbq sauce and beautiful fries

 Paneer Quesadilla

 Mushroom Quesadilla 

Paradise Pie – Coconut based cake, with a layer of hot chocolate brownish at bottom with a scoop of ice cream, chocolate sauce, nuts and caramel.

Now that you have feasted on the photographs, here is something to read..

The first thing I noticed when I walked into the restaurant was the space. It was not crammed, and there were plenty of light, which is always a good sign,you feel good spending time at such a place. And then came the music, oh it was fabulous. It was songs I had grown up listening to and loved till date, and I shared this with the Manager as well. He went on to say they were looking at maybe introducing a Jukebox of sorts which had me excited.  Another thing I noticed was the place did not have a million guys walking up and down, it also did not mean they were understaffed. And the staff wore red and green t-shirts with name tags on them. We had Suresh who came over, introduced himself and went on to take care of us through the two hours we were there. 

The meal opened with a refreshing drink served in a ginormous glass, am not exaggerating. While mine was filled with berry goodness, I wish the rim had a bit of salt, it would have cut through the sweetness of the drink. While I have shared images of all dishes we were served, the ones that I enjoyed were the Starter platter, each of those items was sinfully good, so were the dips that were served alongside them bites. The cheese pops were the best of the lot, close on heels came the sw rolls that had mushrooms. The first thing I wanted to order was a portion of Guacamole, but alas the avocados weren’t ripe enough and so they did not have it on the menu.. Felt tad bad, cos to me Mexican cuisine is all about the tangy avocado married with lime juice, tomato, onion, chillies and coriander.. Oh well, maybe next time~ 

As for the rest of the dishes, if you are one who loves paneer, you would be in some kind of heaven. I for one have a bone to pick with all these restaurants that pride themselves in having an extensive veg menu but end up serving you paneer on everything. Infact, just before we began our meal I was telling the others on the table how i have started to hate the sight of paneer these day, mainly cos some restaurants and cafes give me a slab of grilled paneer with just about anything I order.. 

We were served Paneer fajitas, Paneer Quesadilla and another fajita that had sautéed mushrooms on top of a bed of paneer covered in cheese. Sigh.. But i did take a bite of the dishes, which tasted good but nothing wow about them. And then came the Mushroom quesadilla which was just the dish for me. Loved the flavours in it, till I bite into a piece of paneer in that as well. :/ The veg burger and fries were good, the patty was the melt in your mouth kind… big big thumbs up!

Yes, you see the trend here…. anyways, we decided to wind up and order one dessert, which had me grinning. It was the Paradise pie, warm and delicious… 

I did hear from friends they have quite a kickass range of dishes for the non vegetarians… If you are a fan of chili’s or are curious about the place, do give it a visit when in the mall. Good thing is it is a stand alone restaurant and the music is divine! 

A meal for two will cost around Rs2000 [approx]
Fyi- They don’t serve alcohol… 

Near the food court, 3rd floor
Express Avenue Mall
Mount Road
Chennai – 600 002

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 🙂

Skywatch Friday… Sun sets over the bridge

This is of a Bridge that I love in Chennai.. it is one that I have passed by numerous times and it continues to fascinate me.. The views are breathtaking, the buildings around it are beautiful .. Here are three shots, one taken during early evening while other two a little after sunset[from a moving car]… 
This is the Iron Bridge.. the Napier bridge, the vella bridge near the beach as most refer..Built over the Coovum River, it connects The Marina beach with Fort St. George. Known to be one of the city’s oldest bridges, it is said to have been built back in 1869 by Francis Napier who was then the Governor of Madras [1866 to 1872].

For more beautiful skies, visit Skywatch Friday … 

Friendships and expiry dates..

If someone had told me that friendships came with an expiry date, I would have howled with laughter. Heck, I might have given them a piece of my mind even. 
But today, I know that friendships do come with an expiry date and you need to accept it. It might not be written anywhere, or be screaming at you giving you a warning of sorts, but there are a few that meet the end and that is it. 
Those who know me will accept when I say I have quite a few close folks in my life. But among all these, there are very very very few who am extremely close to, who know me in and out, probably better than I know myself. And they are the ones who have been there for me through it all. Not to say others don’t care or are shallow, no way!
This post is about one friendship which met its end, a tad out of the blue, but one that I have shut the doors on. I do feel sad when I look back, but then hey, maybe this was the end of the road for this journey and I have let go. I don’t want to reach out or rekindle the bond, for I know it won’t be what it was and I will always be questioning my judgement. Yes, this other person did try to reach out, through another friend but I am done! I also thought to myself “If you don’t have the decency to reach out to me on your own, do I really matter to you?” Anyways, it is all water under the bridge… 
While it takes me a long time to allow people into my life, to trust them and get close to them, once am in it is for lifetime! Again, this is something that people around me will vouch for. But then, it holds true when I cut off someone. I am done and I don’t need them in my life. As bitchy as it sounds, I simply move on and make peace with it. 
So, what happened in these friendships you ask?
Well, circumstances changed.. they changed as a person… I stuck to my ground, I kept giving advice thinking they would change, but just kept seeing em get sucked down the quick sand, with eyes wide open, which is the worst part… 
In these two instances, I was quite close to the kids, but then, what the parent/person does is what matters right… And there is no way I could mend fences just to be with the kids.. Life doesn’t work that way! 
Sometimes I also wonder if friendships/relationships come to an end because the other person has no more use for you/me.. Maybe your purpose in their life is done, or they just needed someone in their life at that particular juncture and it was done and dusted with time, so you get kicked out. 
Recently two conversations with two different people kinda gave me a jolt.. One was a friend, who I  have known for nearly 2 decades or more and the other is a friend I have known for just over a year.  They both mean the world to me and we talk about everything under the sun! Wth them I discussed these two lost friendships and we agreed that unfortunately even though I have no expectations or judgements, the other person[s] do/did, which is why it ended/died…..  That’s life, you don’t get to choose the cards, you play with the hand you are dealt with, right?