Chettinad Calling

We were in Chennai on the weekend to attend a wedding. We remembered our own wedding which included Bengali and Tamil ceremonies and felt happy. We also met four of our friends who had attended our wedding. The best moments from the wedding included a photo session where I was constantly being instructed to not show my teeth. I was laughing my head off at the ludicrous poses that the photographer was asking me to give. All our friends stood around us laughing while I was asked to feel Mahesh’s heartbeat, hug a chair, and look shy. Those pics are embarrassingly entertaining. While the professional photographer was composing his pictures, a friend clicked a pic of me standing on pillows to gain height!

Gaining height!

Gaining height!

We were staying in T Nagar and wanted to eat Chettinad style food. Zomato came to my aid and I zeroed in on Amma in T.Nagar. The place has a lot of history. It is apparently owned by MGR’s personal cook and as per the auto guy who dropped my friend to the restaurant, been the venue of many important political meetings in the past. By the way, autos now run by meter in Chennai now. This is is big development in the State.

We ordered two mutton biryanis, one meal, nethili fry, crab lollypop, turkey 65, fish curry, and Amma Special Chicken.

We were served a complimentary chicken soup which was average.

Complimentary Chicken Soup

Complimentary Chicken Soup

Our starters were crab lollypop, nethilli fry, and turkey 65.

Mutton Biryani, Turkey 65, nethili fry, and thali

Mutton Biryani, Turkey 65, nethili fry, fish curry and thali

The turkey tasted just like chicken. The nethilli fry was crunchy and yum and the crab lollypop was yum. I first thought it was maida with very little crab. To my delight it was all crab with a very thin coating of maida.

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The thali came with sambhar, rasam, dal, a vegetable, and curd. Chicken curry was served on the side.

Thali dishes

Thali dishes

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What really stood out was the nethili fry, fish curry, and the crab. Another interesting thing was that there were three chicken curries on the table which were all very distinct in taste. I preferred the fish over the meat though. Our meal cost about Rs 1500.

The following day, we lunched at Mudaliars Arcot Kitchen in Mylapore. This is basically a joint that operates out of a home and serves home style food.

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We went with their recommendation and ordered the Picchi Potta Chicken (shredded chicken with spices), Sankara Fish Curry, Fish Fry, Arcot Special Chicken, and 2 plates of rice.

The picchi potta chicken was outstanding and went very well with rasam and rice. The fish curry tasted exactly like the one Amma makes. Mahesh wiped it clean.

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The fish fry was average and there was nothing special about Arcot Chicken. It was Chinmil (Chinese + Tamil?) dish and we struggled to finish it.

Arcot Special Chicken

Arcot Special Chicken

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Our meal cost us Rs 595 and was more than worth it.

We also caught a glimpse of Amma while entering the Marina beach. There were cops on the road and traffic had been halted. We knew it had to be her. We waited barely for a minute and there she was – in the front seat of her SUV with her hands folded.

At the beach, we chomped on my second favourite beach snack – steamed peanuts. We also saw a mobile van by the State Fisheries Department serving seafood. Very very tempting. But, we decided to leave it for next time.

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Our last stop in Chennai was Buhari Hotel in T Nagar. It has been around since 1951 and claims to have invented the legendary Chicken 65. Their menu also features a “Chicken 90″ and “Chicken 2010″. We were still recovering from our lunch at Mudaliars. I ordered a Mutton Pepper Soup and Mahesh ordered for an appam, idiappams, and paya.

Mutton pepper soup

Mutton pepper soup

Paya, idiappams, and appam

Paya, idiappams, and appam

The paya was outstanding – the trotters were soft and the curry hit all the right notes. It was sour and spicy and went well with the idiappams. All this along with a bottle of water cost us Rs 350!

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Caperberry

I haven’t felt inspired enough to update the blog in a long time. That doesn’t mean I haven’t done my fair share of eating or cooking. I’ve tried three types of Ambur Biryani, eaten goat head (not brain) fry, made mini chocolate croissants, and some more. The microwave at home stopped working three weeks ago. All my baking (yes, I bake in a micro with conve(i)ction) has come to a halt. I am itching to bake something. Is it time for a new micro?

Meanwhile, here’s my experience at Caperberry which is touted as one among Bangalore’s best restaurants.

We had the three course fixed menu at Caperberry as part of Times Gourmet Week over a month ago. The meal kicked off with a tangy beetroot gazpacho, freshly baked bread, and creamy basil pesto.

Beetroot Gazpacho, fresh bread, and creamy pesto
 

The pesto was addictive. We then had the poached chicken sou vide salad with orange and the duet of parsley crumbed calamari rings and paprika and cumin grilled chicken.

Poached chicken salad

The salad was light, crunchy, and full of flavour. The citrus of the orange segments worked wonders. The calamari rings were spectacular – it was almost like biting into butter. The cumin grilled chicken paled in view of the other two dishes. It was decent but not as yummy as the calamari.
Calamari Rings on the left and grilled chicken on the right

For mains, we had Picada Grilled Halibut and the Chicken Risotto.

Risotto

I was quite let down with the Risotto. The chicken stock that must have been used to make the risotto completely overpowered the dish. I wish some parsley had been added to mask the overwhlemingly chickeny flavour of the fish.

Halibut

The fish on the other hand was chunky almost meaty and went really well with the mixed beans. It was beautifully plates as well.

For dessert we had mango mousse, coconut jelly, toasted coconut, candied rose petal and churros. The mousse was gelatinous and the candied rose petals were not fragrant at all. This was quite a dissapointing dessert.

Mango mousse
The churros and the warm chocolate on the other hand were very nice.

Churros
The meal ended with a yummy little tiny raspberry tart. While on the whole I enjoyed the meal this was nowhere close to my experience at Indian Accent or Olive in New Delhi.
Petit Four : Raspberry Tart
Priced at Rs 750 per head plus taxes, this meal was definitely value for money.

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Sand and Sukka in Mangalore

Out of the blue, a day’s work came up in Mangalore. I had been dropping unsubtle hints of not having had a holiday in over 2 years for a LONG while. Mahesh decided that a short trip to Mangalore could easily be organised and so booked his tickets and a hotel immediately without informing me. Till the last minute though we were not sure if the holiday would happen as Mahesh was expecting to be called away to Chennai on work. Thankfully, that did not happen and the two of us along with 5 of my colleagues boarded the Kannur/Karwar Express on a Wednesday evening. We realised that the Kannur and Karwar Express was just one train with two names because of the end destinations. Mahesh booked on Kannur and then cancelled his ticket and booked on Karwar when he found out that we were booked on Karwar. At the station, we realised it was the same train!

The only preparations I had made for the holiday was to equip myself with a list of restaurants to try. I had dropped a mail to Ruth who blogs at http://www.bangaloresrestaurants.com/ and was super thrilled when she sent me her recommendations (The ones I tried are in bold):

1. Guthu – next to Platinum theatre – for Kundapur styled food
2. Ocean Pearl – for Mangalorean primarily and multi-cuisine
3. Dinoo’s fast food – for some brilliant pastries
4. Hao Hao for Chinese or its upmarket version Hao Ming on the same road
5. The vegetarian and the non-vegetarian restaurants at Deepa Comforts
6. Breakfast at Taj Mahal
7. Ice cream at Pabbas or Ideal Ice Cream on Market road.
8. Mangala Restaurant – they have a family section, don’t go by the grubby looks on the outside
9. And if ambiance does not matter, then a hole in the wall place called Narayana where you eat and scoot

 I also managed to watch the Highway on my Plate episode on youtube and added The Woodlands Hotel and Kori Rotti to my list.

My first meal in Bangalore was at the canteen of the institute where our programme was being held. Our options were a deep fried bun or vegetable pulao. Not wanting to have a pulao in the morning, I picked the bun. It is basically a Mangalorean doughnut made from flour and bananas and is served with a coconut chutney. The bun was very soft and light, but I could not detect the banana.

My first bite in Mangalore was this doughnuty "bun". Deep fried, soft, sweet, and delicious when had with coconut chutney.

My first bite in Mangalore was this doughnuty “bun”. Deep fried, soft, sweet, and delicious when had with coconut chutney.

After work got over, Mahesh joined all of us at Ideal’s for ice-cream. There was a lot of gadbad as there happened to be 3 Ideal outlets in the same location. Some of my colleagues went to the two other outlets before landing at the one where the rest of us were waiting. As a result of all the waiting, we ended up trying quite a few sundaes. The icecreams here reminded me of my childhood – combos of vanilla and strawberry, fruits, and jelly that all comes together quite simply without any jazz. 

Gadbad @ Ideal's

Gadbad @ Ideal’s

 
Chocolate Dad @ Ideal's  - crunchy, chocolatey, and just Rs 70!

Chocolate Dad @ Ideal’s – crunchy, chocolatey, and just Rs 70!

 

Tiramisu @ Ideal's

Tiramisu @ Ideal’s

Cake Sandwich - the cake was dry and not that great.

Cake Sandwich – the cake was dry and not that great.

Post dessert, we headed to Coral @ Ocean Pearl for dinner. We ordered Squid Ghee Roast and Kori Roti. To our dismay, the squid ghee roast was bitter. We immediately sent it back and asked for a Kane Masala Fry instead. Later, the chef conveyed to us that the dish was bitter owing to the chillies used. The outstanding kori roti and the kane fry made up for it. The chicken curry was rich and redolent with spices without being too spicy. The kori roti is an amazing dish- the crunchy roti when combined with the cream curry produces a beautiful texture.

 

Bitter Squid Ghee Roast @ Coral, Ocean Pearl.

Bitter Squid Ghee Roast @ Coral, Ocean Pearl.

Masala Kane (Lady Fish)

Masala Kane (Lady Fish)

 

Kori Roti

Kori Roti

At the dinner table we planned the rest our meals. With sheepish grins, we also decided to throw in some sights – after all we needed to do something in between meals. The hotel staff told us that all beaches were closed due to the rains. We headed to Sultan Bateri the next morning and were delighted to see a ferry operating there. We jumped on to it without knowing what lay on the other side. Imagine our excitement when we learnt that there was a beach on the other side – Tannirbhavi Beach – which was open. We made our way towards the beach while other couples who were visibly very young and very touchy-feely headed towards the bushes and trees. The beach was absolutely empty. We spent a very happy one hour there – standing in the water, sitting on a branch and watching the sea.

Serene Tannirbhavi Beach

Serene Tannirbhavi Beach

Beach done, we headed to the non-vegetarian restaurant at Deepa Comforts. This was the most expensive as well as heavy meal of our entire trip. It cost us about Rs 1100. We started with a Chicken Urval – a yummy spicy chicken fry with lots of onions and chillies. This was followed by a Kane Rawa Fry which was okay okay. When the bill came we were shocked to see that this cost Rs 400. 

Kane Rawa Fry that cost us Rs 400.

Kane Rawa Fry that cost us Rs 400.

We also had a mutton sukka with neer dosas and appams. The mutton literally melt in our mouths.

Mutton Sukka which we had with Appams and Neer Dosa

Mutton Sukka which we had with Appams and Neer Dosa

 We were so stuffed at the end of this meal that we skipped dinner! Criminal na, considering we had so many restaurants to go to. But, we needed to give our stomach a break from the heavy Managlorean fare that we had been gorging on.

Despite the claims of a heavy lunch, we ended up at The New Taj Mahal Cafe for coffee. By the time we got here the goli bhajis were over. We settled for a coconut poli, bun, and a jackfruit special. We did not particularly like anything that we ordered here.

Coffee at New Taj Mahal Cafe.

Coffee at New Taj Mahal Cafe.

Coconut Poli

Coconut Poli

 

Average Bun

Average Bun

Steamed Jackfruit Sweet - was too dry for my liking.

Steamed Jackfruit Sweet – was too dry for my liking.

   

  Next morning we boarded a Volvo Bus and headed to Udupi. We were there

in an hour and a half. We went to the Malpe beach that was fairly crowded

and not as clean as the Tannirbhavi Beach. I was literally jumping with joy

when I spotted raw mangoes at the entrance. This is such a common sight at beaches in the South.

Totapur Mangoes at the entrance of the Malpe beach in Udupi

Totapuri Mangoes at the entrance of the Malpe beach in Udupi

The sweet and sour mango with salt and chilli is my favourite snack at a beach

The sweet and sour mango with salt and chilli is my favourite snack at a beach

We then headed to the Krishna Temple in Udupi. Darshan done, we decided to go to Mitra Samaj. I had chanced upon this article while googling about food in Udupi – http://www.rediff.com/money/report/udipi/20040427.htm Mitra Samaj is a stone’s throw from the temple. We first headed to the tiffins outlet and were greeted by 68-year-old Narayan Rao who told us that if we wanted meals we would have to head to the Mitra Samaj on the opp side and if we wanted North-Indian fare to Woodlands down the road. We decided to go to Mitra Samaj for meals. I have to admit that I was quite hesitant after I saw the exterior.

 

Thankfully, Mahesh decided that we would have our lunch here and so we made our  way up the stairs and seated ourselves on plain benches.

Mitra Samaj

Mitra Samaj

  The meal we had here was the highlight of our entire trip. Priced at Rs 25 per thali, it was also our cheapest meal. The sambhar and the pineapple curry were spectacular. I asked for a second serving of the pineapple curry – it had the perfect balance of sweet, sour, and spice. 

Highlight of our trip was this simple and delicious thali at Mitra Samaj in Udupi

Highlight of our trip was this simple and delicious thali at Mitra Samaj in Udupi

Though we were stuffed, we wanted to try the snacks at Mitra Samaj. We headed back to the tiffin section and ordered a biscuit roti, bun, and kesari bhaath. Narayan Rao greeted us and served us with a lot of warmth.

68 year old Narayan Rao who works at Mitra Samaj Tiffins charmed us with his warmth and simplicity

68 year old Narayan Rao who works at Mitra Samaj Tiffins charmed us with his warmth and simplicity

What we ate here was amazing – the best we had eaten so far. I could taste the banana in the bun at last!

We had the best bun and biscuit roti at Mitra Samaj in Udupi

We had the best bun and biscuit roti at Mitra Samaj in Udupi

Soft and spongy Bun and flavourful Biscuit Roti

Soft and spongy Bun and flavourful Biscuit Roti

For dinner that night we went to Guthu’s. Here we ordered the chilli crab and fish pullimanchi. While the fish looked fiery, it was the crab that was super duper spicy and had me in tears.

Crab Chilli at Guthu

Crab Chilli at Guthu

Fish Pullimanchi @ Guthus

Fish Pullimanchi @ Guthus

We were tired of the breakfast at the hotel and decided to head The Woodlands Hotel instead. The goli bhajji eluded us again – I was told it is served only in the evening :( Here we had a vada, rawa dosa, and khaara bhaath. The dosa here was not half as greasy as the ones I’ve had in Bangalore.

 

Rawa Dosa

Rawa Dosa

Breakfast at Woodlands Hotel

Breakfast at Woodlands Hotel

For lunch, we headed to Kori Rotti. This had been featured on Highway on My Plate. It doesn’t have much of an ambience. The emphasis I guess is on the food. We ordered a full plate of Kori Roti, Bangda Fry, and Mutton Biryani. The Kori Rotti had about 8-10 pcs of chicken and was priced at Rs 90. This curry was not as heavy as the one we had at Coral. It was like a good homestyle chicken curry. The fish was decent too. It was the Biryani that was an absolute let down. The meat was rock hard.

Kori Rotti

Kori Rotti

Kori Rotti that cost us Rs 90.

Kori Rotti that cost us Rs 90.

Bangda Masala Fry

Bangda Masala Fry

Horrible Mutton Biryani

Horrible Mutton Biryani

Our last meal in Mangalore was at Hao Min, a joint that is hugely popular with college students. It reminded me of the Chinese restaurants in Kolkata that dot almost every street. Cheap and greasy Chinese food which is quite yum. We ordered salt and pepper prawns, sweet and sour pork, and a friedrice. The prawns were too salty. The pork was quite good. With this our food journey in Mangalore came to an end. This holiday, we realised was all about the food!

Salt and Pepper Prawns

Salt and Pepper Prawns

Sweet and Sour Pork

Sweet and Sour Pork

 

 

 

 

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My list of places to eat at in Delhi

In the first week of May, Mahesh and I relocated to Bangalore. I was sad to leave my parents and good friends and yet excited to set up home in a city I have grown to love. Before leaving Delhi, I had a couple of restaurants/food I wanted to eat at and managed to cover most. Interestingly, majority were places that I had been to before. The ones I missed were Al Kauser and the Khao Suey at The Kitchen.

Here is the list of restaurants that I went to in the last few weeks/months before I left Delhi :

1. Yum Yum Tree, New Friends Colony – The dimsum and sushi buffet. I’ve blogged about their Sunday Brunch at YYT here. I LOVE the asparagus sushi (veg sushi is yum!), prawn tempura sushi,  and the prawn har gao here. This was my last and best restaurant meal in Delhi.

2. Karim’s, Old Delhi – Breakfast of nihari and paya with soft tandoori rotis. Surprisingly, the weather on the last Sunday morning in April was absolutely splendid. It made our journey to Old Delhi and back very very pleasant. I’ve blogged about my experience at Karim’s before.

3. Asian Haus – This is located in Zamrudpur, Greater Kailash and you can either do take away or have them deliver the food to your place. The way in which they pack the food and deliver it is quite interesting. I love their Khao Suey, Otak Otak, and Sesame Chicken. Recently, I had them deliver these very dishes to my parents as a surprise Sunday lunch :)

Neat Boxes of Food

Neat Boxes of Food

Otak Otak

Otak Otak

Khao Suey

Khao Suey

Khao Suey Assembled

Khao Suey Assembled

4. Indian Accent – I’ve blogged about my “experience” at Indian Accent before. Luckily, they featured again in Restaurant Week in April. This time around I went there with my parents and we loved the food. What I really enjoyed were the bacon wrapped prawns, the pao bhaji, the tender coconut creme brulee and the doda burfi tart. Here are the pictures of what we ate.

meetha achaar chilean spare ribs, sun dried mango, toasted kalonji seeds

meetha achaar chilean spare ribs, sun dried mango, toasted kalonji seeds

tandoori bacon prawns, wasabi malai cream

tempered ricotta vada, pao bhaji, kafir lime butter pao 'chowpatty in a bowl'

tempered ricotta vada, pao bhaji, kafir lime butter pao ‘chowpatty in a bowl’

slow cooked baby lamb shank, california prune and mulberry korma

rice crusted john dory moilee, market green and pine nut poriyal

rice crusted john dory moilee, market green and pine nut poriyal

tender coconut and palm sugar brûlée, berry chaat

tender coconut and palm sugar brûlée, berry chaat

warm doda burfi treacle tart, homemade vanilla bean ice cream

warm doda burfi treacle tart, homemade vanilla bean ice cream

besan ladoo tart, mithai cheese cake, winter fruits

besan ladoo tart, mithai cheese cake, winter fruits

mishti doi cannoli, amaranth ladoo