Last week, I found out through Kalyan’s blog that Miri passed away. I used to visit her blog once in a while. Even though I never ever interacted with her, I was deeply saddened by the news. By reading about bits and pieces of her life and her love for food, I somehow felt as if I knew something about her. Based on the tributes paid by fellow bloggers, it appears that she was a positive person who lived her life to the fullest.
I was in Pune last weekend on a work –cum-fun trip. This was the first time I was visiting the city, The fun element involved staying with a friend and exploring restaurants in Pune after I had finished with work. We also managed to do what we used to almost every weekend in Delhi when she used to live here – watch a film. We watched Ek Main aur Ekk tu and loved it, especially the song Auntyji. Having been called “Aunty” by all and sundry, since I entered my 20s, this song felt really good.
On my second night in Pune, we dined at Blue Nile on M.G.Road. My friend mentioned that this was not a place where women usually went to. The plan was to pack the biryani and have it at home. To our mutual surprise, the place had transformed since the last time she had been there, which was over 6-7 years ago. They had a family dining area upstairs and that is where we headed. The menu was quite simple and we opted for an Iranian Chicken Biryani, Mutton Biryani, and Raita.
The Iranian Chicken Biryani was like ghee rice served with chicken tossed up with some masala. This was really bland and not even close in flavour to the butter rice served with Chelo Kebabs at Peter Cat in Kolkata. Even I. who find most things spicy and prefer milder stuff found this to be too mild for my taste.
The mutton biryani was like any other regular biryani and nothing to write home about. This sign on the wall caught our fancy.
We were impressed with the geniality of the waiter serving us and that somehow made the meal a pleasant experience. The two biryanis with the raita and a nimboo pani came to Rs 530.
Our next meal out was at Malaka Spice in Koregaon Park. This was a place that came highly recommended and we were really looking forward to eating Malaysian stuff. Unfortunately, it failed to live up to our expectations. We arrived at the conclusion that this was because we had eaten better versions at Mamagoto in Delhi and at several other joints in Singapore. We started with a MaLaksa Chicken Soup and Chicken Murtabak. Laksa is usually a meal in itself. This, however, was not as heavy as a usual laksa. While this was different from the usual ones we’ve had, it was tasty. The Murtabak was quite nice.
For mains, we had the Chicken Penang Curry, Honey Garlic Chili Chicken, Coriander Rice, and Pad Thai. The Pad Thai came enveloped by an egg.
The penang curry was a huge letdown. It reeked of cinnamon and was watery and very unlike the soothing flavours of coconut milk, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, and peanuts that we were expecting. The Honey Garlic Chili chicken was again watery and reeked of raw garlic. The Phad Thai was okay and the coriander rice was fragrant.
When the bill came, I decided to run through the items and to my horror found that they had billed us for dish we hadn’t ordered. Since the card had already been swiped they had paid the extra in cash.
Our most memorable meal in Pune was at Vaishali. It lived up to the hype. I guess it had to as it is very popular among Puneites. We had to wait for over 20 minutes to get a table for breakfast.
Between three of us, we ordered a Vaishali Special Dosa, Batata Wada Sambhar, Sabudana Wada, Idlis, Upma, and a Mausambi juice. While taking our order down, the waiter was grinning widely. I thought he was impressed with our order and our preference of idlis dunked in sambhar.
The batata wada sambhar was very good. The crispy wadas went very well with the sweet and sour sambhar. This was polished off in no time.
The idlis were regular.
The upma was really tasty. It was on the sweeter side, but we were not complaining.
The “special” part in the dosa were the salted cashews. The dosa was thin and crispy and not very oily.
The sabudan wadas were really good. They were crispy on the outside and soft without being sticky or chewy on the inside. I was amazed at how they managed the right texture without the aid of potatoes.
Well believe it or not when we got down to eating the spread, we realized it was a lot of food. We could not finish the dosa, idli, and the sabudana wada.
When the waiter came back with the bill he smiled and said “main soch raha that aapne jyaada order kiya hai”. Well, in our defence, we wanted to taste all the specialties of the house. Our entire order came for Rs 250. This was a meal to remember and of great value too.
I also stopped by Chitale Bandhu to pick,up some bhakarwadis and chewda. Kayani Bakery was also on the list. Unfortunately, we landed there on a Sunday and found it shut. Will definitely have to make a trip back to Pune for Kayani Bakery, Dabelis, and Vada Pavs.