Housefull Restaurant Review: Superb taste trumps ‘aggressive’ pricing [4.5/5]

Give me food and I will eat all day. But as a non-vegetarian, I do like myself some skewered, roasted, curried or other kinds of meat when I am eating out. Housefull in Sheshadripuram, Bengaluru, made me rethink that choice for the entire duration I was sampling its fare.

Housefull Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Just three of us were invited at a short notice, and had a great foodie experience – both in terms of eating and service.

The pricing was described to us as “aggressive,” but in our minds the quality of food – although the spread was entirely vegetarian – was quite up to the mark.

Drinks

Of the three drinks we were served, I picked up the Aam Panna – the traditional Indian drink served through the ages after being made from mangos that are on the raw side. However, the chef here had managed to add a little extra seasoning to his interpretation, and I dare say, it tasted delicious!

Novelties at eateries are – ironically – nothing new. Thus, street-food staples like golgappa – or pani puri, pani patashe, fuchka, gup chup, etc, across India – have been on restaurant menus for quite some time.

Housefull has its own Golgappa Shots. While the fillings are the same, the water you consume them with is different – one sweet, another sour, and the third is masala chhaas.

Starters

First up was some Masala Khakhra, treated with some wonderful sauces and the pungent flavour of Rasam powder. The sharpness of the spices on this khakhra – traditionally a Gujarati snack – was offset nicely by the creamy, sour sauces spread evenly over the surface.

We were also given some Cheesling Bhel to sample. Yes, these are the same Monaco Cheeslings that we had with tea on lazy afternoons. Except, the chef at Housefull has some special tricks and flavours up his sleeve.

Each mouthful of this dish is a crunchy, creamy delight that will have you craving for more! Get a couple of plates of this ordered home and pair it with some good beer. You won’t be disappointed!

Even the Pav Bhaji has a twist here. Small pieces of butter-soaked bread are served on some smooth-yet-savoury bhaji. Skewer the bread with your fork and use it to scoop up the bhaji, which has been topped with a dollop of butter. Grab some seasoned raw onions as well. As hearty as it gets!

Next up, we had some Makhna Nut Masala. Again, a heavy dish, but the flavour profile was wonderful! When you combine tangy, crispy fox-nuts with cashews, almonds, sev and a secret concoction of sauces in just the right way, it could very well be your signature dish!

Now, one item of vegetarian food that is extremely healthy but detested by children across the world with almost equal hate is broccoli. Housefull seems to have a trick up its sleeve here as well, serving it Tandoor-roasted and with mustard.

The Tandoori Mustard Broccoli is indeed an interesting dish, and may get at least some to take a nibble. However, a little more flavour infused into the actual broccoli heads would go a long way in making these more palatable.

Next up, some Gujarati Koki. Topped with some special sauce and served with some chilli sauce and curd. Again, a real tastebud-tingler.

Housefull’s menu may primarily North Indian, but there are some fusion surprises as well! One such dish is the Spicy Sriracha Paneer – a possible interpretation of the traditional Chilli Paneer. This was a little underwhelming, but still a good eat if you like paneer.

Main Course

Now, I understand that at least one of the dishes here isn’t exactly main-course material. However, its Housefull version is worthy of the “main course” tag.

This is the Chholey Bhaturey. The Bhaturey here may seem a little too little when faced with the quantity of the Chholey. If that is the case, call for some of the other kinds of bread around polish of the deliciously succulent, soft, sweet-and-tangy Chholey. They are a revelation!

If you still have some stomach space left, try to smooth Daal Makhni and the delicious Paneer Makhni – each in a league of their own.

Pair these with some smooth-but-spicy Chilli Cheese Naan, some crunchy Red Onion Naan or the sweet Taaftaan.

Try some Paalak Pulao if you like, or if you don’t want the breads.

And if you still want some Chinese, Housefull offers some Hakka Noodles.

Desserts

You have an interesting selection of desserts at Housefull. For example, the Gulab Jamun Mousse. This is two gol gappas filled with chocolate on solid cubes with sections of gulab jamun at the bottom.

Next up, some Bournvita Pista Kulfi. In short, pista kulfi covered in actual Bournvita powder! Now, I was not exactly crazy about these, but give it a try if you loved eating Bournvita powder on its own.

And finally, some Guava Chilli Ice Cream. Remember eating guava that was on the cusp of ripening with some salt paired with red chilli powder as seasoning? This tastes exactly like that, except in ice-cream form, and no pesky seeds.

Final thoughts about Housefull

Here’s an eatery that serves primarily vegetarian food, but the quality will make you want to keep going back.

Sure, the price is slightly on the steeper side, but the quantity served can easily keep the bill on the lower side!

And even the service is great. Here’s to you, Laltu – our server for the night.

If you have anything to say about to review, or just want to reach out, right this way, please! We promise to reply in a jiffy.

Rice Bowl restaurant review: Quantity and quality Chinese fare! [4/5]

Restaurants attached to hotels are often not the first choice of people who are looking for a quality eatery for the entire family. Rice Bowl is an exception there, serving up a combination of quality and quantity that may make it that occasional celebration destination where the whole family can land up.

The Rice Bowl Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Whetting the appetite

One of the first things I was told about Rice Bowl was that it serves food in great quantity, where a single dish can easily be partaken of by two people.

What we had not been told, however, was that there was more to these dishes than just the quantity. Take for example the Lung Fung Salad:

Yummy salad
Yummy salad

Now this looked very colourful, but the taste seemed to have an even bigger spectrum. The secret? Pineapple! This tasted fresh and crunchy, and was my first experience of eating something with chopsticks!

Next in line was some Chicken Manchow soup. Thick, yet clear, this one was a pleasure on the tongue with its mild and fragrant flavours!

Meanwhile, we had also ordered some drinks. I chose the trusty Tequila Sunrise, which I believed could be paired well with Chinese cuisine. Evenly mixed, it was both a great thirst-quencher and a mellow hard drink that did not exactly numb the taste-buds.

Starting off

The drinks arrived with the first of the starters. This was the Prawn Pepper And Salt, with prawns that had a crunchy coating seasoned well with salt, pepper and some mystery ingredients that were a pleasure for the palate in more ways than one!

And then some standard fare: Chilli Paneer. Except that even here the ingredients had combined to take the taste a notch higher. Now paneer is not something you expect to be infused with flavours; that is a nigh-impossible task. But keep the pieces small enough and ensure that what covers them has enough taste, and bites off it become a real pleasurable experience!

Next up, some Prawn Sui Mai – which are momos or dumplings. This one was filled with succulently-flavoured prawns that left behind a lingering aftertaste that would make you crave for more.

Then, some more paneer. This was Threaded Paneer, with the actual thing coated in crunchy threads. On its own the dish may seem a little bland, so accompanying it was some red garlic sauce – something that definitely tickled the palate!

Up next was some more vegetarian fare, but we weren’t exactly complaining… This was Corn Salt and Pepper, seasoned in a tongue-titillating manner.

And then came something that immediately captured the show! This plate of Singapore Prawn was the cynosure for all of the few minutes it lasted. Imagine a lip-smacking covering on some succulent prawns that you could eat two whole plates of and still want more!

Next up: Fried Wontons. Per usual, these were not very savoury on their own. But pair them with the sauce they were served with, and you have a crispy, delicious treat on your hands!

Moving on, we were served some Crispy Chilli Lamb, which would be a great dry accompaniment to any noodle or rice dish you ordered.

Then, some Pork Red and Green Chilli. The small strips of pork made for some delicious pairing with the alcohol that was being consumed.

And then we had in front of us the final item in the starters: Chicken with Crackling Spinach. This was clearly the pièce de résistance of the entire starting course, but had some healthy competition from the Singapore Prawns.

Entrées

To be honest, we were too full by the time the main course came along. But then again that is anything but surprising.

Clockwise from left, you have the Mixed Noodles without Pork, Hong Kong-style Vegetable, crispy noodles (to go with the Vegetable American Chop Suey in the middle), Hoisin Chicken, Mixed Fried Rice with Pork and Chilli Garlic Veg Noodles.

Sincerely speaking, these were indeed a cut above the notch. I especially recommend the Hoisin Chicken. However, if you think you might end up being too full – the portions all over are quite hefty – then order the fried rice or noodles with a dry starter of your choice, and you are peachy!

Desserts

Now, I know I said we were full. However, there is always room for dessert. So we were prepared when it came – a Choco Lava Cake and some other chocolate cake dessert whose name I have forgotten now.

I will admit here that the desserts could have been better, but after the kind of fare we had already been served, we weren’t exactly complaining.

Especially after the Chinese tea we were served at the end.

Final thoughts about Rice Bowl

If you ever need a place to celebrate an achievement or have a family dinner, minus all the hubbub, with a little alcohol thrown in, Rice Bowl is your place.

This is really a chill place that is happening in its own way. I wouldn’t mind taking my family for an outing here.

Have something to share? Drop us a message HERE, and we will get back to you immediately!

Chicken Korma recipe: Yummy Indian curry in the comforts of your home!

It has been quite some time since we posted a recipe on this blog. To be honest, we were just cooking more of the mundane stuff, and were not experimenting as much. However, all that changed one Sunday when I decided to cook what Gordon Ramsay would call a curry-house classic: Chicken Korma.

It’s a sweeter, more mellow version of the chicken curry that we know of, and can be eaten with both rice and various kinds of Indian flat-bread.

Chicken Korma, a la Yum Central
Chicken Korma, a la Yum Central

So get your toque – not to be confused with a toke – on, your spices and ingredients out and your utensils ready for one helluva curry ride!

Serves 2-3 people. Takes 30-40 minutes to cook, minus the marination.

Ingredients

  • Chicken: 600-700 grams, big pieces, with the chicken on the bone (can be boneless as well)
  • Cooking oil: around 50 ml (of your choice)
  • Onion: 300-400 grams, ground into a paste
  • Tomato: 200 grams, ground into a paste
  • Ginger-garlic paste: 20-30 grams
  • Fresh coriander (cilantro for our state-side friends): 20-30 grams, chopped
  • Cumin seeds: 5 grams
  • Cloves: 2
  • Green cardamom: 2
  • Cinnamon: 5 gram in small sticks
  • Curd (yoghurt or yogurt): 50-100 grams
  • Turmeric powder: 5-10 grams
  • Red chilli powder: 5-10 grams
  • Cumin powder: 5-10 grams
  • Coriander powder: 5-10 grams
  • Garam masala: 5-10 grams
  • Heavy cream: 100-150 grams
  • Vinegar: 5 ml
  • Salt: As needed
  • Water: As needed

Optional ingredients

  • Dried fenugreek leaves: 10 grams (activate with a little hot water before using)
  • Cashew and almonds: 30-50 grams, chopped or broken into small bits

Marination

Wash the chicken well. Put it in a deep container. Add the curd, and half of the following: ginger-garlic paste, cumin powder, coriander powder, garam masala and red chilli powder. Add salt and a dash of vinegar.

Mix everything well, making sure that the marinade penetrates well into the chicken. Now freeze the mixture for at least a couple of hours.

Marinated Chicken
Marinated Chicken

Recipe time!

Preparing the masala

This is essentially the most important part of the cooking process. A weak, undercooked base masala or spice combination can be the difference between a mouthwatering delicacy and a soggy, bland dish.

First, get your onion and tomatoes ground to a paste. Like so:

Onion:

Onion paste
Onion paste

Tomato:

Tomato paste
Tomato paste

As that is done, heat the oil on a medium flame, and add the whole spices – the cumin seeds, the cardamoms, the cloves, and the cinnamon sticks. Let them sputter around and release their flavours a bit. Don’t let them burn, though.

Whole spices in oil
Whole spices in oil

Then, add the onion paste. Be careful about the sputtering. The water released by the onions and the hot oil do make a volatile combination, if “volatile” is indeed the word for it.

As the onion releases more water and starts to reduce, add the rest of the ground spices – coriander powder, cumin powder, red chilli powder and garam masala – and salt and stir to mix them well.

Ground spices go in
Ground spices go in

The resulting mixture should start to look like an ochre shade, and start reducing further.

All spiced up!
All spiced up!

I added the ginger-garlic paste at this point, but you can add it well before adding even the ground spices. Mix this well, and that typical “Indian curry” smell should start by now.

Stir till things get reduced a bit further.

Now add the tomato paste, and stir well to get things mixed.

It might be a good idea to turn the heat up a notch or two and let your masala reduce even further. Keep stirring so the masala doesn’t burn. But don’t be so fast that the masala does not acquire a smoky flavour from the heat.

The result now should be a brown mixture.

The masala base is ready and fragrant!
The masala base is ready and fragrant!

The funny thing is, you can make this masala in large batches and store some of it in the refrigerator for at least a week or two. It may lose some of its flavour, but still retain quite a bit of taste.

Making Chicken Korma

With your base ready spread it across the bottom of your utensil. Turn down the heat to low-medium. Bring out the chicken and lay the pieces on the masala. Let the chicken soak in some of that flavour.

Meanwhile, if you still have some of that mixed marinade left, add it to the masala.

As the chicken starts to secrete its juices, mix the pieces well with the base, so that the masala gets into the crevices of the chicken and adds to the flavour. Let more vigorous stirring ensue.

Once the chicken is covered with the masala and acquired most of its colour, add the cream and once again, stir away!

Cream maketh the Chicken Korma!
Cream maketh the Chicken Korma!

The cream will tone down the kick of the spices, while its water component will mix with the smooth masala, which will now start to secrete some really flavourful and fragrant oil.

Now, add some water for the gravy – depending on the thickness of the gravy you want – and turn up the heat a little. Stir so that everything is mixed well.

Cover your utensil, and let all the flavours be sealed in. Keep checking so that nothing sticks to the bottom. Stop cooking when the gravy has reduced to your liking. Garnish with freshly-chopped coriander leaves.

Chicken Korma is ready!
Chicken Korma is ready!

And finally, plate and serve!

Optional steps

Remember the fenugreek leaves and cashews? Here’s how you can use them.

Fenugreek leaves: Add them to a little hot water, so their flavour starts to come out. Add them to the Chicken Korma gravy when it is still a little runny, and enjoy a whole new flavour profile!

Cashew and almonds: Either crush them into small pieces and add towards the end of the recipe, like when the gravy has almost done reducing. Or, make a paste and add to the gravy at the same time for a smoother taste!

Finally…

Cook some rice and have a dry-ish accompaniment with the Chicken Korma, or use some Indian flat-bread – roti, fulka, parotta/paratha, naan, kulcha or what-have-you.

While you are at it, why not even try some pita bread or something similar, and tell us what you think of the results?

Also, got any tips, tricks, changes to the recipe or feedback for us? Write to us in the comments, or reach us directly! We promise to reply as soon as possible!

Watch Restaurant review: Oye Amritsar has banging starters! [3.5/5]

An eatery decides to associate itself with a particular kind of cuisine only when it looks to excel at it. Oye Amritsar at Indiranagar is more than halfway there, and serves up starters that whip up quite an appetite. However, it falters a bit on the main course. That is the succinct review of the place. For a more detailed review, and a video of the place, continue reading this blog!

Oye Amritsar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Oye Amritsar has four outlets in Bengaluru – formerly Bangalore – the first of which has been functional for 10-odd years now. The one where I and a few friends visited was in Indiranagar. Walked in, and were welcomed with a Spicy Redcurrant drink that had me all…

Ambiance

While the rustic feel of a Punjabi Dhaba is not exactly present here, there is a hint of it if you sit on the raised platform seen on the right of this pic:

The seating arrangement at Oye Amritsar.

It gives you the feel of sitting on a charpai and having your food from a low table – something that is quite common in roadside dhabas.

And what adds to the ambiance are these staples of Punjabi food:

Starters

With the thirst quenched and the tastebuds stimulated simultaneously by the welcome drink, we moved on the starters. Here are, clockwise from top: Malai Broccoli, Sanewal Mushroom Tikki and Punjabi Paneer Tikka.

The broccoli is on the smoother side, but the other two are robustly spiced, making for some good and hearty eating!

Next up, the non-veg starters. Clockwise from left, these are Mogewale Di Tikki, Pindwla Bhatti Murg and Tawa Mutton Chop.

The tikki and the murg almost transported me to the yellow mustard fields of Punjab! The mutton chop – from the rib section of the goat or lamb – was slightly on the milder side, with almost a Chinese taste to it. They required to be eaten with the hand, and were a treat for what little meat they had.

Main course

The starters had us full and satisfied, so we took a bit of time before moving on to the main course, served with roti, butter naan, kulcha and Methi Corn Matar Pulao. I was too busy sampling the food to take photos of them, so please pardon me for that.

What we ate were mostly the staples of a Punjabi dhaba, starting with Butter Chicken [left] and Bhatinda Mutton Curry.

In both cases, that Punjabi/Mughlai x-factor was missing in the food. These were nicely flavoured, and the meat came off the bones easily, so there was nothing to complain there. But the punch of spice one expects from Mughlai cuisine from a Punjabi kitchen was lacking here.

Next up, Kadhai Paneer [left] and Dal Makhani.

Now, these are two dishes you simply cannot afford to get wrong. Oye Amritsar does not do that, but it does not get it perfect either! Some improvement here should elevate its offerings to a much higher level!

Dessert

One of the final offerings was Jalebi with Rabri. Neither was overpoweringly sweet, and made for as much a treat for the tongue as the eyes. See for yourself!

Oh, and we also tried out some Lassi shots – which I once again forgot to click because I was too busy swigging the thick white liquid from shot glasses.

Final thoughts about Oye Amritsar

I am a non-vegetarian, and found the starters quite to my satisfaction. It is only the main course that needs improvement, and only in certain quarters. Once that is done, Oye Amritsar can pose a threat to most other eateries serving Punjabi cuisine in Bengaluru.

See our video review here:

Got something to tell us about this review or something else? Like pointing out a mistake or giving us some interesting bit of trivia? Right this way!

Butter Chicken recipe: Yum Central style! [VIDEO]

Butter Chicken

Some of the first visuals when you think of Indian cuisine are of succulent chicken swimming around in beautiful gravy, waiting to be scooped up by that smoky tandoori roti before it makes its flavourful journey from your mouth to your stomach.

And possibly the most iconic of these dishes is butter chicken – the heart-stoppingly rich murg makhani or chicken butter masala or watchamacallit. It tastes as good despite the pantheon of names it has!

Here is Yum Central’s own take on this North Indian offering, complete with the recipe and – for the first time – even a video of the cooking process!

Butter Chicken

The ingredients

Here is what we will use for the dish:

  • Chicken 600 gm [With bones and skin]

  • Spice powders [coriander, cumin, garam masala, red chilli/paprika]: 10-15 gm each

  • Tomato: 200 gm [pureed]

  • Onion: 100 gm [Roughly chopped]

  • Butter: 60 gm

  • Salt: To taste

  • Sugar: For colour

  • Papaya: Enough to soften the chicken overnight

  • Curd: 100 ml

  • Vinegar: A few drops

  • Ginger-garlic paste: 20-30 gm

And SURPRISE! We are not using turmeric OR cream in this recipe!

Let’s begin…

Marination and preparation

The chicken we had was initially quite tough, so we decided to soften it with some papaya.

Chicken being softened with papaya

Make a marinade for the chicken with the curd, half the spice powders, salt, vinegar and ginger-garlic paste. Let it rest in the fridge overnight.

Marinated chicken

However, if you are in a hurry, simply let the marinade rest for an hour or two. Pardon the blue tint: It seems we were having some problems here.

Now, roughly chop up the onions.

Onions
Onions

Then puree your tomatoes.

Tomato
Tomatoes

Melt the butter in a cooking pot.

Then, lightly fry your chicken till they turn golden-yellow. The chicken should not be well-fried, otherwise the spices from the base will not go in it.

Butter and chicken, but not yet butter chicken…

If you have curd from the marinade left over, keep it aside. It will come in handy later.

And with that, we are ready to cook!

The cooking

Set the chicken aside, and fry the onions in your leftover butter. They will turn a beautiful golden-brown. But don’t let them burn.

In a few minutes, add the rest of the spices and the ginger-garlic paste. Add salt to taste and sugar for colour. Then mix it up well.

Now add the tomato puree and continue to stir the mixture at high heat till it reduces to a beautiful brown, dry base. It should start to smell slightly burnt after some time.

Now, add the fried chicken to this mix and stir it around so it covers all the surface area of the chicken. The pieces should let out some water by now, and the juices it had excreted when set aside should also be used in the cooking.

Remember that leftover marinade curd that you had set aside? Bung that into the pot and stir till the chicken is covered in the base.

Now add water, stir and let it sit on a low flame till it reduces some more.

Then, add some more water, stir, and let the Butter Chicken sit covered at a low flame for a few minutes, as the butter begins to separate from the spices and make small pools of itself.

And finally, ENJOY!

Butter Chicken

Butter Chicken video!

By the way, did we mention that we are starting off with videos as well?

Watch the video recipe of Butter Chicken here:

Got something to tell us about this review or something else? Like pointing out a mistake or giving us some interesting bit of trivia? Right this way!

Restaurant Review: Malabar Bay is a food destination if you can’t visit Kerala! [4/5]

Come in. Sit down. Order your food, and be transported to Kerala! That is what Malabar Bay in BTM Layout aspires to be. And speaking as someone who has always wanted to go to God’s Own Country but never managed, I was more than happy to share a table with friends and partake in food that would tingle my palate. That’s the shorter version of the review. For the longer version, read on…

Malabar Bay Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Now, when you think of Kerala, the lush backwaters along the Malabar coast come to mind. Malabar Bay may not have an ambience like that – it is located in Bengaluru and nowhere near any significant water body – and yet its interiors are a reminder of the roots of a culture that has branched out all over the world.

A typical Kerala thaali

What’s on offer

When it comes to Keralian cuisine, it is a spicy mixture of ingredients that are primarily sourced from the sea, but poultry and mutton are also not unheard of. Of course, there is another kind of meat that’s popular in Kerala, but let’s not complicate matters here. Malabar Bay didn’t, and summed up the sentiment behind its offerings in a single banana leaf, as shown above.

The seafood offerings are quite interesting, actually. I mean, how often do you get crabs as the primary flavour in a soup?

Crab soup
Crab soup

Also on offer, by way of salad, were raw mangos spiced delectably – the kind that sends a shiver down your teeth with their sour taste and make you salivate.

Raw mango salad
Mango salad

Starters and main course

Now, I will admit freely here that I was too busy throughout the entire meal to note down what was what. However, I do remember some of them, but the language barrier stops be from understanding what the rest are. Nevertheless, I will try my best to tell you what was what, and how good it was.

You may also take it upon yourself to draw your own conclusions from the photos I am providing.

First up is one of the starters, a type of fritters and the third is a type of faltbread that looked like a slightly heaver and thicker version of the North Indian poori. The gujiya-looking fritters were actually savoury, and could have done with some sort of chutney.

Now, the three things in the photo came at different times, but ended up together here as a testament to the variety on offer at Malabar Bay. Clockwise from left are some appam and a duck curry, a variety of biryani served with some side dishes, and a drink that was a refreshing treat for us amid the enjoyable assault of spices on our tongues.

Here are some of the other dishes we were served. On top right is a prawn dish that was especially nice, albeit a little bitter.

Somewhere in between where these three dishes. Notice the use of glazed clay pots and banana leaf in plating of dishes. These alone were enough to transport me to a land I want to visit even more now.

And finally these two: The “confused chicken” on the left and volcano prawn on the right. Both delightful, but in very different ways!

Desserts

Now, you would not generally associate Kerala with desserts, but people down there do have a sweet tooth, and some great desserts to quell those cravings.

Here is a version of Shahi Tukda that was a pleasant surprise for me. The custard-like cream was fresh, and yet it had not made the bread beneath it soggy! The sweet and smooth cream with the crunchy bread can be revisited multiple times!

But that was not all! Here we have [clockwise from top left] the Banana Toffee Ice Cream, the Firnee, the Kairalee Jamun and a fourth dish that I cannot seem to identify now.

Final thoughts on Malabar Bay

If you want a proper taste of Kerala, Malabar Bay is the place. Of course, some of the dishes seemed to have been a little over-spiced, to the extent that they seemed bitter to my tongue. However, the “confused chicken” is a safe bet if you like Punjabi and Tandoori dishes, and the volcano prawn is a must-have, even though it is just for the looks of it.

Some of the other dishes I recommend is the general seafood fare Malabar Bay offers. In case you have had enough of the chicken, this is the way to go! And even if you are opting for the chicken, you are getting some authentic fare.

Got something to tell us about this review or something else? Like pointing out a mistake or giving us some interesting bit of trivia? Right this way!

Esplanade review: Putting the Bengal inside Bengaluru, but at a slightly steep price [3.5/5] – A Valentine’s Day story

So ‘twas the day of St Valentine – Valentine’s Day, for those who needed that explanation – and Arkadev and Pooja decided to find a little slice of Bengal inside Namma Bengaluru to celebrate the occasion. The location they found was Esplanade in Indiranagar, and the experience they had can be summed up with one word: Nostalgia.

If you want further directions, this is the place:

Esplanade Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Starters

Now, the place itself has a cosy feel to it. The lights are not all that bright, and there are small candles on individual tables. They made for a romantic setting, but had a practical use too, as we learnt when the power supply was disrupted a couple of times for a few seconds. So Pooja ended up ordering the Aampora shorbot (left) – a Bengaali rendition of what northern India would recognise as Aam Panna – and Arkadev got the fresh lime soda.

They turned out to be quite refreshing. They were the optimum temperature – not so cold as to numb the palate, but neither too warm to ruin the experience. And alongside we had the Chicken Kobiraji.

Fun fact: While the word Kobiraji may be an adjective alluding to the local doctor who practises traditional medicine, and is called the Kobiraj, this dish has nothing to do with such a person. The name Kobiraji is derived as a breaking-down of the word “coverage,” which refers to the light and flaky crust of fried beaten egg that covers the original thing. And it was flavourful and delicious!

Main course

We talked to Firdous Alam – the gentleman running the eatery – after our meal, and he confirmed that we had, without even consulting anyone, ordered a house speciality. He said he would have recommended the Daab Chingre (a special prawn curry made with tender coconut, and often served in the shell of one), Bhapa Ilish (hilsa fish steamed with a specific concoction of spices), Bhetki Paturi (Bhekti fish steamed and cooked in a banana leaf with spices) or the Kachalanka Mangsho (a dish where mutton and green chilli are the eponymous ingredients).

However, it was the fifth dish he named that Pooja had alredy ordered – with an ear-to-ear grin that would later turn into a smile of satisfaction. It was the Kosha Mangsho (Mutton with specially spiced curry) and Luchi (puffed bread). We were not exactly in a mood for rice, so two Lachchha Parathas (Bengal’s equivalent of the Kerala parotta) and a Koraishutir Kochuri (Luchi-like bread stuffed with grounded, spiced and then cooked peas).

We knew we had ordered the correct thing with the first lick of the gravy, which we found just a smidge scanty. What it lacked in quantity, it made up for in taste: The flavours played around in our mouths for quite some time! And it paired well with the Lachchha Paratha as well!

Pardon our hungry selves, for we found little time to snag a pic of the Koraishutir Kochuri. But you can take our word for it: It was soft and flavourful as long as it stayed warm. And that goes for the Kosha Mangsho as well! The mutton was succulent at first, but quickly turned tough. However, it did not turn rubbery. Thanks, Esplanade!

Dessert

There was a limited spread for dessert, but we chose the Baked Bonde (sweet Boondi in kheer), which was a delight because it was served warm and stayed warm. Not exactly an Esplanade speciality, but wonderfully sweet!

Later

It was only after we had finished our food-coma-inducing meal that we managed to notice that Esplanade had come up with some Valentine’s Day specials. We had ordered the Chicken Kobiraji/Kabiraji from here, but would have liked to sample more of the cuisine.

Maybe another time. When we are really hungry and have more money in out pockets. Because as much as the restaurant would like to say, eating there is not exactly a cheap affair.

Got something to tell us about this review or something else? Like pointing out a mistake or giving us some interesting bit of trivia? Right this way!

Recipe: Chicken nugget curry – a quick chicken curry perfect for hostel-cooking

Chicken nuggets are the kind of comfort food that many have fallen back upon at times of need. They provide a level of emotional support that stands apart from almost all others comfort food. But what if you need to build a whole meal around it? Here’s chicken nugget curry recipe for two, which is just that!

Here are the ingredients:

  • Chicken nugget: 300-400 g [pre-cooked is preferable]
  • Onions: 250-300 g [paste]
  • Tomato: 150-200 g [paste]
  • Ginger-garlic paste: 30-50 g
  • Coriander powder: 5-10 g
  • Cumin powder: 5-10 g
  • Red chilli powder: 5-10 g
  • Turmeric powder: 10-15 g
  • Salt: To taste
  • Fresh coriander/cilantro: 10-15 g [diced]

And here’s the recipe, assuming that the chicken nuggets are ready. I used ready-to-fry nuggets, and shallow-fried them first so they have a crispy exterior and a well-cooked interior.

I then used the leftover oil from the chicken-nugget-frying session to do the rest of the cooking, starting with the onion. This is the first step:

After the onion starts to become a little brown and is reduced 10-15 percent, add the tomato and ginger-garlic pastes. Then mix them well.

As the mixture reduces a bit more, add all the spices and seasoning, and then start stirring. The crunch of the onion must go, as must the acidity of the tomato. The resulting mixture should be smooth and brownish.

After the mixture attains the desired texture and colour, add the chicken nuggets and stir around, so that they are entirely covered by the spicy mix.

Then, add some water and keep stirring so that there is a handsome gravy. Bring the mixture to boil and keep stirring. The mixture should not stick to the bottom, and the spice mix should by now start giving out the oil it had absorbed.

Now, cover and let it cook for 5-10 minutes. Give the occasional stir so that the curry does not stick to the bottom. Add the coriander/cilantro only midway, and you should be good to go.

The end product should look like this:

This is actually the recipe promised at the end of this post. Preetha, if you miss home-cooked Indian food, whip this up at home and it should be good to go with rice, chapati, partha/parotta or other kinds of bread. Tell me the result if you try it!

And that goes for all those people out there who live way from home and miss home-cooked food. It also goes for all those of you who are looking to cut your teeth at cooking Indian food.

Got something to tell us about this review or something else? Like pointing out a mistake or giving us some interesting bit of trivia? Right this way!

Restaurant review: Yumlok [****/5] in Bengaluru is a pleasant surprise!

So, Arkadev here, with gratitude to you guys for being so patient. Here’s the review of Yumlok, a pure-vegetarian eatery where I and some other members of Food Bloggers’ Association of Bangalore, or FBAB, were invited to. This was in Brookefield. Full address: 1343 D-Block, AECS Layout, Kundanhalli, Brookefield, Bangalore. And we visited on December 11, 2016. This is the place:

YUMLOK Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Imagine a cosy nook of a building, halfway into the basement. Now imagine pure vegetarian food. May sound like a dealbreaker to many. Not with Yumlok, though, for the tastes and flavours make you forget the vegetarian part, and when human company is as good as the food, you end up having a gala time!

Got a problem with the name? As in, why would people want to go to a restaurant named after the Sanskrit word for afterlife? Look closer. It’s a clever pun, with the “yum” being a reference to the “yummy” food they serve. Much like how the “yum” in the name of this blog promises some yummy reviews.

How yummy? Sample these two tangy starters: Veg/potato poppers and potato wedges, covered generously in a mix of tangy and creamy sauces that still make my mouth water, and it’s been more than a month after I visited. I guess now would be a good time to thank my readers and the Yumlok management for their patience.

Equally savoury – a beautiful mix of tang, thanks to the salsa-like sauce, and smoothness, thanks to a creamy mayonnaise-base sauce – was this potato sticks starter. Not hot enough? Ask politely, and a generous dose of fiery heat will be arranged for by the management!

Moving on to snacks, here was some Pav Bhaji that promised drools. The bread was great – braised just right with butter – but the Bhaji was a bit of a letdown. It was smooth and flavourful, but with an overpowering dose of cinnamon. Bhaji is supposed to be robust and hearty, and last I heard, the Yumlok management had heeded this suggestion. By the way, the nachos were an interesting touch.

Dabheli. Do this right, and people from both northern and western India will keep coming back for more. The potato wedges do give a burger-like feel, but the dish checks all the Dabheli boxes as well!

Some Aloo Tikki/ Aloo Chaat, made delectable by a creamy sauce and a tangy tamarind-based sauce.

Aloo Paratha, Mooli or Gobhi Paratha [I forget which] and Sattoo Paratha, served with a healthy dose of seasoned curd and a Sabzi or Daal Makhni. Yum indeed!

In case you are looking for a decent meal, Yumlok does not exactly disappoint. PS: I was the one who finished the Daal Makhni served with the Paratha as well as this Thaali.

And then there was some smooth, thick lassi. Oh, and in case you were wondering how food-blogging happens, here’s a peek.

All-in-all, this is a place vegetarians can get used to, and non-vegetarians can go when they want a break from all that meat, chicken, fish and eggs. The cost is ever-so-slightly on the steeper side, but this is a definite recommend!

Meanwhile, got something to tell us? Like pointing out a mistake or giving us some interesting bit of trivia? Right this way!

Kosha Mangsho: An especially spicy Bengali preparation of chicken

Sreya and Sandipan Chatterjee have become regular guests at our home now. And they bring with them bagfuls of joy, fun and fruendship. They drop in, sometimes unnanounced, and the smile on our faces widen each time.

 

The last time they came, whcih was a couple of weeks ago — this is where we apologise to followers of our blog for no new posts for more than two weeks — they brought with them a little part of Kolkata. It was something every Bengali cherishes. It was their version of Kosha Mangsho. And they took over the kitchen to treat us to it.

 

Do you smell what Sandipan (Bunty) is cooking?

 

So while I was not there — I got a little of the leftover, and it was still delicious, despite the reheating and all — Pooja waxed eloquent about this dish.

 

Here’s what they used:

  • Chicken: 800 g
  • Onions: 200 in paste form, 250 g chopped
  • Tomato: 200 g
  • Salt: to taste
  • Ginger: 20 pods in paste form, 30 g chopped
  • Garlic: 2 in paste form, 3 chopped
  • Red chilli powder (optional): 30-40 g
  • Turmeric: 20-30 g
  • Green chilli: 2-3, slit dorsally
  • Sugar (yes, you read that right): 20-30 g
  • Mustard oil: 300-350 ml (yes, it will be oily)
  • Water: 40-50 ml

The resulting dish should look something like this:

So, this is entirely Pooja’s account, and it starts with the marination, which took a full 30 minutes. And the first step was making a paste out of all that onion, ginger and garlic mentioned earlier.

The fresh chicken, just cleaned, is about to get a good lathering. And that ginger-garlic-onion paste is just the beginning!

Then, in go the turmeric and red chilli powder. And I am salivating as I type. This was made two weeks ago, and I still can’t forget the taste!

Now, add some of that mustard oil, mix everything well so every bit of the chicken’s surface area is lathered in the homogeneous marinade. Then set it aside for half an hour.

Meanwhile, ensure that your onions, garlic…

…and tomatoes are chopped and kept aside.

And this is where the husband-wife jugalbandi (collaboration, if you will) started showing. Pooja says as soon as the cooking began, Sreya and Sandipan displayed a kind of innate understanding that was truly amazing!

With the marination almost done, in goes the rest of the oil, and it’s quite a lot, into a pan for heating.

Pooja, at this point, is a silent spectator, flitting in and out of the busy couple’s way as she tries to pictorially document the recipe. She also scrunches her nose as the split green chillies hit the now-boiling oil, which already has just had the sugar put in it. The sugar will bring the beautiful brown colour this recipe boasts of.

Then, in go the chopped onions, which will be fried to a golden brown, with the sugar already working its magic.

Then, it’s the turn of the tomatoes. And more stirring ensues for a more homogeneous colour and so nothing sticks to the bottom of the pan.

This time-consuming stirring is called “kosha” in Bengali. I am not familiar with the etymology. If you are, please feel free to tell us, and we will feature your statement here! Meanwhile, in with the well-marinated chicken.

As the stirring continues, the chicken cooks in not only the marinade, but the juices the onions and tomatoes had earlier released.

Sreya and Sandipan have kept on cooking the chicken for 20 minutes when the veggies reduce, the oils are released and the chicken has taken the beautiful brown hue that we so desire.

The pan is now covered and left to simmer on a small temperature, to kosha-fy the chicken a little more. And Pooja says the aroma at this point was making her homesick.

After around 5-10 minutes, a little water is added to the pan and its contents given a few more decisive stirs before Sreya and Sandipan pronounce the dish ready! And boy does it look good!

Like I said, Pooja and the Chatterjees simply gobbled this up in the early morning of India’s Independence Day, while I got to the leftovers later in the day. And it was every bit worth it! Interesting thing is, paired extremely well with both rice and bread!

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