Friday, July 28, 2017

Khaaja Chowk, ITPL


The name ''Khaaja chowk'' just echoed several times as I entered the place. It had all the ingredients of a ''Chowk''- An auto rickshaw shaped table, dabbas, tiffins, steel utensils, painting of a Delhi market, Cosmetics- bangles, lipstick, bindis, Hindi songs of 90s and what not!

 Just for an introduction, Khaaja Chowk specializes in authentic North Indian cuisine. This restaurant tried to bring up the essence of old Delhi's street food into fine dining.
Located on the main road on the ground floor of Formula 1 hotel, it is very easy to reach. The parking is shared with the F1 hotel and there were ample free slots on a weekday night.

It was a food review session for us and I was greeted by Mr Abhay, who manages this restaurant. We were offered choice of seating and we chose the corner most seat which had the cosmetics decorated on it.
We found Mr Abhay very knowledgeable and he was happy to share the details about the restaurant. He explained us  about each dish served to us, how each item is named and what are the important ingredients. He also shared his views on marketing, sales, about buffet options and about potential customers.


We were initially served fresh lime soda as a welcome drink. Well, there were other options but we preferred it.
Starters were served on table. There were three non-veg ones and two veg ones. In the non-veg starters there was ''Banno Kebab'', ''Murg malai kebab'' and ''chicken tikka''. The presentation was neat. However, I felt that the marination was less and chicken needed to cook more to become tender. The two veg starters served to us were Hara Kebab and Dahi kebab. The Hara kebab was completely different. It was not deep-fried but roasted. Mr. Abhay told us that its prepared from Fig paste and cheese mixed with crushed peas and spinach. Hence the crunch inside and softness outside. It had a unique taste and is a signature dish out here. The Dahi kebab was about average.
Non-Veg Starters


Dahi Kebab and Hara Kebab
Next the mains were served to us. There was the Khaaja special Rogni naan- It was red on the top, looked similar to benne dosa. The masala and ghee were brushed on the surface which gave the reddish tinge. It had an amazingly lovely taste. In breads, we also had lachha paratha.
Rogni Naan
There were 2 veg sides and 2 non-veg sides for us. In veg we had Khaaja special paneer and Daal makhni. The Khaaja special paneer, as said to us was an amalgamation of paneer butter masala and paneer tikka masala. It was just brilliantly done- very soft paneer and delicious creamy gravy. Something that was better than the paneer was the Daal makhni. I give 10/10 to it. It was just perfect in every way. These two dishes stand out of the crowd so its a must try for everyone.
Khaaja Special Paneer and Daal Makhni
Coming to the non-veg items now... There was chicken chengezi and Mutton rogan josh on the plates. Abhay described us about the history of the chicken dish and said that it comes from Chengez Khan’s kitchen. He also said that the gravy is cooked in whole garam masala and other spices and then pureed. The chicken is marinated in hung curd and then deep fried and finally placed on the gravy. Chengez khan was a ruthless ruler and it depicted in his dish. It was very spicy and hot, though it tasted nice. The star of the evening was the Mutton Rogan josh. I think I had one of the best mutton rogan josh- soft mutton pieces submerged in the authentic Kashmiri flavoured gravy of Rogan josh. The partnership of the Rogni nan and Mutton rogan josh just beated every other dish. The quantity was too much for two people. And our stomachs were about to burst. So, we did not eat any desserts. However happily agreed for a chaas. And the Chaas too came out to be superb.
Mutton Rogan Josh and Chicken Chengezi


Since it was a complementary dinner, I was not aware about the pricing. However, I got a chance to click a few pictures of the menu card. The prices for the ala carte items seems to be marginally high. Mr Abhay said that there are very interesting buffet options available at unbelievable prices! The Breakfast buffet is just at 125 bucks plus taxes. The Lunch buffet is at Rs 390+ Taxes. Aren’t our pockets jumping in joy?
I managed to have a glance at the kitchen. It had two sections- one Tandoor and one for other dishes. The kitchen was averagely clean. I clicked some pictures of the kitcken and the staff. Have a look:




We had a wonderful evening and a great dinner. I am happy to give a 4.31 rating in a scale of 5.


Here goes my breakup:


Food Starters- 3/5
Food Main Course- 4.5/5
Quantity-5/5
Ambiance- 4/5
Hospitality-5/5
Staff-5/5
Cleanliness-4/5
Price-4/5











Khaaja Chowk Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Banana Bread


 
 With the increased use of carbides in fruits, they tend to ripen very fast. I remember when I was small, my mum used to keep Mangoes and Seetaphal inside rice container overnight. The fruits would become ripe enough to be edible the next day. Nowadays fruits like Bananas and Mangoes look green when we buy but ripen in a day or two. We cannot consume all the bananas so fast and thus every week we have to throw off the over-ripe bananas. I experimented with ripe bananas and could come up with a easy banana bread recipe. And the best part is it is sugar Free and eggless. Please note that this bread is not cake so, the taste won't be like a banana cake. Here goes the recipe:
 
Preparation time: 1 hour 15 mins
Cooking Time: 40 mins
 
Ingredients:
  • 3 Super Ripe Bananas
  • 1/2 cup Jaggery
  • 1 Cup Whole wheat four (Atta)
  • 1/2 Cup All purpose Flour (Maida)
  • 50 grams Butter
  • Baking Powder 1 tsp
  • Baking Soda/ Cooking Soda 1/2 tsp
  • A pinch of salt
 


 Procedure:
 
Slice the bananas and add them in a mixer jar. Along with Bananas, add the jaggery and butter. Now turn on the mixer and make a smooth batter. In a bowl add all the dry ingredients (Atta, Maida, Salt, Baking powder and baking soda) and mix well. Now using a sieve, allow the dry ingredients into the same mixer jar. Again run the mixer for around a minute to get a smooth lump free batter. Keep the batter aside for an hour to ferment.
Note: This batter's consistency will be much thick than of a normal cake batter.
Now pre-heat oven to 180 degree C for 5 mins. Meanwhile, grease a baking mould and dust with flour. This will ensure that the bread does not stick to the container. Many people ignore dusting and directly pour the batter into the greased mould. This eventually destroys the stuff when you transfer it to another plate.
 Finally transfer the batter into the mould and bake on 180 degree C for 30 mins. Increase the temperature to 220 degree C and bake for another 10 mins.
Take out the bread and let it cool. Invert the bread mould on a tray and cut loaves with shape of your choice. 
  
Enjoy this spongy bread with a cup of coffee or ginger tea!
 
 
Tips:
  • You can replace the baking soda with a teaspoon of activated yeast. This would give amazing results. But I personally don't use yeast as its not good for health. If you keep the batter longer, it does pretty much same work.
  • You can use 1 tablespoon of honey in place of jaggery if you like.
  • You can entirely use maida in place of atta, which will give you a white bread. Again I prefer atta on health grounds.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Currylicious, Kalyan Nagar


I went to Currylicious, as a part of food review organised by Blue beans. Chose to visit this place for a Saturday lunch along with fellow foodie. I had a pre-conceived notion that this place would serve food cooked in coconut oil. Hence I was not much interested initially. Though I like Goan and Mangalorian cuisine but my taste buds are not in sync with the cuisine further in the southern coast.
The restaurant can be easily located on the main road. Without much expectations I made my way to the elevated entrance of Currylicious. The outlet has a very plain and basic decor. There is nothing that I can boast about the ambiance for.
One thing worth mentioning is that the place is very clean and tidy. We chose to sit on the leftmost corner. The menu card looked fascinating. It had a wooden texture and looked very impressive.
I did a basic research on Zomato for what I need  to order. And I became pretty much sure what all I wanted to taste, even before I glanced at the menu.
There is a small LCD monitor which advertises the famous dishes and there is also a "Today's special menu" board which can help you decide the menu. So, considering everything, I ordered:


  • Banana Flower Cutlet
  • Tawa Fried Basa
  • Chicken Ghee Roast
  • Neer Dosa
  • Thalassery Chicken Biryani
  • Basa Mangalorean Fish Curry
  • Buttermilk

Starters were served at lightning speed. The Banana Flower Cutlet and the Fish Fry were amazingly good. The crust had the right crunch and the filling had the right tenderness.
Banana Flower Cutlet


Basa Tawa Fry
All items were served beautifully on banana leaves. Next I put my hands onto the neer Dosa and Chicken Ghee Roast. The chicken ghee roast was the star of the day! It was so yummy that I kept on licking the gravy. It is a must and a must when you order here. I will visit here again only for this superb chicken dish.
Chicken Ghee Roast


Neer Dosa


Neer Dosa Live Counter




Neer Dosa on Tawa

There is a small live counter where they are preparing neer Dosa. The light soft fluffy thing just melts in mouth and is a perfect match for the ghee roast.
Then came the fish curry and the thalassery chicken Biryani. I have never had a thalassery dish before and I must say that this Biryani is indeed very good. The aroma of the spices were a bit different from the ones I had before. The chicken inside the biryani was very nicely cooked. The Basa fish curry was about average.
Thalassery Chicken Biryani


Mangalorean Basa Fish Curry

I did justice to my stomach to have a glass of buttermilk after having such a wholesome meal. Though it was a complimentary meal, I browsed through the menu card and could see that prices of items are not insanely put. In fact the thalis available (which served a balanced food and controlled portions) were pretty cheap.
The food was really good, in this simple little small outlet. Sometimes we underestimate things just by mere looking at them. So, here goes my rating for this gem of a food:

Overall rating: 4

Breakup:

Food: 5/5
Quantity: 4/5
Ambiance: 3/5
Staff: 3.5/5
Presentation: 4/5
Price: 4/5



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

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

EAT.PRAY.LOVE- From Bangalore to Bali in a week


Angel's Billabong

Bali is becoming an increasingly popular destination for Indians. For the past 2 years I was reading about Bali and thus developed my quest for visiting this piece of land.
Millions of tourists pack their bags every week and head to this wonderful island, for a reason and the reason is - ''IT HAS ALL.''

Immersed in sun and soaked in rain this land's beauty and heritage is unparallel. It is just not a mere tropical holiday destination but it has tremendous scope of adventure, water sports, beautiful beaches, great spiritual connect, amazingly built temples, virgin islands, scenic volcanoes/ mountains, rice terrains, mouth-watering food, great nightlife, art-craft-jewelry beyond words!

In a nutshell, it has a bit of everything that a tourist wants. The challenge is however to shortlist a handful from the plenty, for a short tour in Bali. There is so much to do that one can spend months on the island and barely scratch the surface! Trying to figure out what to do in Bali to make the most of your holiday can be a bit tricky. Time is the only aspect which is limited for working professionals and when the time is right, you end up being in a place like Bali. 

Another challenge for me was to travel with my 2.5 year old peanut. He is very fussy about food but remains in happy mood outdoors. My schedule was extremely tight, accommodating everything possible in mere 5 days. 
Before I headed to Bali, I did a lot of reading and following were the points I considered:
  • Best Time to Travel
  • Budget per person
  • Where to Stay in Bali to make the most of it
  • Booking individually or via travel agent
  • Getting a good and accurate map of Bali showing places of interest
  • How much USD to carry
  • What places to see in 5 days (Day wise Itinerary)

Best Time to Travel:
Very easily from internet I could figure out that the best suitable time to visit Bali is between June and August. The rest of the year it rains pretty much. 
My Trip dates were from 21-June-2017 till 26-June-2017.

Budget per Person:
We did not have money for a very lavish and exorbitant holiday. So, we always have to keep budget on mind. The total expenses we incurred for 5 days was Rs 1,90,000($ 3000) inclusive of everything. We are a family of three- me, my husband and our 2.5 year son. The Flight expenses ex-Bangalore for 3 people round trip stood around 96K. You can save here if you plan early and book tickets long back. The remaining amount was spent in stay, sight-seeing, transport, shopping and food.

Where to Stay in Bali:
This is a genuine but tricky question. Since I had only 5 days, I strategically chose to stay in Kuta for 4 days and just 1 night in Nusa Dua.  Where to stay is related to what I want to see.  If you have come for art/culture/yoga/heritage tour, it’s good to stay in Ubud. If you have come to relax and not much willing to do sightseeing or you have come for a romantic holiday, it’s better to stay in Nusa Dua. I chose to stay in Kuta as it’s an important and busy town with good connectivity and strategic location for south and central Bali tour. Kuta has lots of close by beaches, it’s very near to the international airport. It has got malls, shopping centers, massage spas, Indian food and lot of budget resorts. I am writing this article and sharing my experiences from my typical urban, middle-class, working Indian mindset and views (In case you face difficulty to relate with me!)


Booking for Bali:
After doing a lot of research, I concluded on resting my shoulder on a travel agent. This was because I got mixed reviews on bookings made through internet. But I also would like to make this point very clear that if I visit next time, I will surely not rely on any travel agent. I chose Smart Holiday Shop (http://www.smartholidayshop.com/), which is a Delhi based holiday planner. Its Bali counterpart is Apple Tours. I paid them Rs 1,50,000 for the trip including flights, stay, and transport during the stay and sightseeing. Nusa Penida Island and Turtle Island visit was not included in the itinerary and we managed to go there on our own. Please make sure to get the confirmed list of itinerary before you start from Apple tours via SHS so that there is no confusion once you arrive in Bali. We have faced an issue as one of the temples (Ulun Danu temple) which was there in the itinerary could not be covered. It was squeezed inside the itinerary of Day 2 but we had to miss it as there was no time. Once SHS gets hold of the entire amount, they pay little heed to take care of your concern.

Getting a good Bali Map:
In the internet, there is no ready made tourist map available for Bali for all the places I wished to see. So, I did a bit of google maps, added all destinations of my choice and prepared my own map. Wasn’t that simple?

How much USD to Carry:
Carrying 500 USD was sufficient for us, rest we paid via credit card. Surprisingly the credit card conversion charges were cheaper than that of the conversion charges of USD to IDR. But not all restaurants / tourist attractions accept credit card so keeping local currency is very much essential.

 Things to Do/Places to See
This is the most important aspect of planning the trip. 5 days and so many things to see. There are many important temples like Uluwatu, Ulun Danu, Taman Ayun, Tanah Lot, Royal Temple Ubud, Goa Gajah and Pura Besakish. I shortlisted 5 considering proximity and architecture. Bali offers plenty of water sports options and Scuba Diving options. But since I came with my little kid, I ruled out all water sports. After months of research, following were the places/things I planned to cover:

Day 0 -
  • Started from Bangalore International Airport at 11:30 pm on 21-Jun-2017 in Air Asia.
  • Reached Kuala Lumpur after a journey of 3 hrs. 45 mins.
  • After a layover of 1.5 hours started for Bali in the same carrier (Air Asia).
Day 1-
  • Reached Ngurah Rai International Airport at 10:45 am. It took 45 mins to finish immigration (No Visa Required for less than 30 days stay, only stamping on passport)and collect luggage.
  • Met the Red Apple representative at airport who arranged transfer to Hotel (Holiday Inn Resort, Baruna, Kuta). The Apple Tours Driver accompanied us all through our stay in Bali. He was very helpful and a nice person. His is called ''Muriya'' and can be reached at 081703563542.
  • Freshened up and started for Balinese SPA at Unagi SPA at 02:30 pm from Hotel (http://www.unagispabali.com/). We were greeted with soothing welcome drink and sent to a beautifully decorated couple room. It was a heavenly experience that lasted for 2 hours. The Aromatic oil massage took away all the tiredness acquired from the overnight flight journey from Bangalore. By God's grace my son was sleeping and he was laid comfortably on a rocking chair supported with cushions beside us.
  • Post the Balinese SPA session, we started for Sunset Dinner Cruise by Bounty Cruise at Denpasar at 04:30 pm (http://balibountycruises.com/sunset-dinner-cruise/). We reached by 5:15 pm. The cruise started at 6:00 pm. Initially we were seated on the second floor of the cruise and witnessed the beautiful views on the sea side as it became dark from dusk. The cruise was accompanied with live music and starters served with welcome drink. Later we were made to assemble at the dining hall inside the cruise where they arranged the buffet dinner. The dining hall had a small stage where people performed. There were beautiful Balinese dance performances. There was an Emcee too in the cruise who made sure people stay merry with his jokes and magic show. The cruise reached shore at around 9:00 pm. We spent a lovely evening altogether. Bali won our hearts the very first day!
Day 2-
  • Started from Hotel at 8:00 am for Ubud- the cultural capital of the Island. The first      stop was at Luwak Coffee Plantation at Jambe Asri at around 10:00 am. We were shown the process how coffee is extracted. They also provided us free samples of different varieties of Tea and coffee. Luwak coffee is the most expensive coffee in the world which is prepared from mongoose excreta after they are fed with the beans. (Does not sound Yummy!) They also have a shop where you can purchase all varieties of tea and coffee. We purchased herbal tea and Red ginger tea. I am sharing a YouTube link below of the virtual tour of that place.
  • Next sightseeing point was exploring the wood craftsmanship at Mas village and Silver handicrafts at Celuk Village in Ubud. Very intricate work and it beholds a lovely sight on both sides of the road- staked Buddha, Ganesha sculptures. 
  • We next visited Royal Temple at Ubud. We were made to wear Sarongs to enter the temple. It was the first Balinese temple that we visited and I should appreciate it being so neat and clean.
  • The last stop at Ubud was at Goa Gajah Temple. Personally I liked this place a lot. It had a number to stairs so, wearing the correct kind of shoes help. Goa Gajah is a small cave temple of lord Ganesha. The overall area is very beautiful and peaceful.
  • From Ubud, we took a move to the picturesque Kintamani for a grand Volcano View Lunch after an hour drive. It was really cold at Kintamani. We had the scrumptious Balinese lunch at Sari restaurant where we had a memorable experience. This place is so scenic that no matter how many pictures you take you still urge for more!
  • After the grand lunch, we drove to Tanah Lot in 2 hours. Tanah Lot from the entrance is around a kilometer of walk which has shops stuffed with Bali souvenirs. You tend to buy some of them as you walk :) The last part had stairs which land you to the beach and the temple. It was very crowded but we could witness a magnificent sunset there.
  • From Tanah Lot it took 2 hours to reach Kuta as there was huge traffic jam. We reached hotel at 9 PM and had dinner in an Indian restaurant (Ganesha, Ek Sanskriti) Day 2 went very hectic but was a fruitful one.
Day 3-
  • Started from hotel at 07:30 am to reach Sanur Beach. Our Driver escorted us to Sanur Harbour and arranged the trip with Dwi Mannuggal Fast Boat Agency. He bargained and made a deal of $65 per person (which is pretty cheap!)
  • We Started for the fast boat ride to Nusa Penida Island with Dwi Manunggal Speed Boat (http://lembonganfastboats.com/dwi_manunggal.php)
  • Reach Nusa Penida Island in an hour and covered the following attractions- Kelingking Beach, Broken Beach (Pasi Ugh), Angel's Billabong and Crystal bay. Nusa Penida is worth a visit for each and every traveller. I have not seen such a scenic island in my lifetime. It has amazing viewpoints and is not at all crowded. The road condition is bad so be prepared for a bumpy ride. Also carry some food along as there are no restaurants on the spots. Kindly check the photos at the end of this post.
  • Started from Nusa Penida at 5:00 pm with the Fast Boat and reached Sanur by 6:00 pm. The fast boat agency dropped us to hotel (which was included in the deal).
  • At night we dined in Batan Waru- A posh Balinese restaurant in Lido mall, Kuta. Day 3 was the most beautiful day spent on the Island and we made sure to stay in Nusa Penida for at least 1 night next time.
Day 4-
  • After Breakfast, Checked out from Holiday Inn at 10:00 am.
  • Kept luggage in Muriya's car and visited Benoa Harbour. Since we had time, we decided to tour the turtle island. This was not included in the Red Apple tour itinerary. This was just an average experience and we got cheated as we ended up paying $40 per person for glass boat ride and Turtle island entry fee. There were no fishes visible from the so called glass boat (having 60cm by 30 cm glass!) and the Turtle Island was a over hyped place. We were totally drenched in water as the boat leaves and drops halfway in water.
  • Next we checked in at Hotel Santika, Nusa Dua and freshened up.
  • Then had lunch at a posh Indian restaurant -Bangle, Nusa Dua.
  • After Lunch we headed to Pandawa Beach. I just wish we could stay for some more time here but we had to hurry as we would miss the sunset.
  • From Pandawa beach we next headed to Uluwatu Temple. Beware of Monkeys in that place. Uluwatu has mesmerizing views of the White Mountain cliffs touching the sea. They organize ''Kechak'' dance every day during sunset.
  • Finally we reached Jimbaran beach for Candle light dinner. It was a very romantic experience with great food, good music and nice view. There were live ''Barong'' dance performances too on the beach.
Day 5-
  • Lazed around at Nusa Dua beach in the morning.
  • It was time to say good bye and Started for Airport at 12:30 pm.

TIPS:
  • Get a SIMPATI sim card which will cost around 500 bucks with minimum talk time and 10 GB data.
  • We did not shop extensively only souvenirs, small handicrafts and Bali T-shirts. However, what we learnt is that we need to bargain shamelessly or else we might get cheated.
  • People of Bali inflate and charge, so we need to bargain. But they do not cheat on the service quality. They are well mannered and helpful.
  • Our experience with Air Asia as a flight carrier was too bad. They charge for the slightest things and you end up paying nearly same as that of other expensive airlines. Its better to upgrade your flight to a better one like Singapore Airlines for a good flight.
  • Keep an eye on the hotel check in timings. We had little trouble as we reached Hotel around 12:00 pm and the check in time was 3:00 pm. We had to freshen up in the common restroom and keep our luggage in the luggage room as we needed to rush for our first itinerary.
  • Some of the sightseeing spots which I aspired to cover but couldn't were Ulun Danu Temple (Bedugul), Blue Point beach and  Padang Padang beach. If only I had another day, I would cover these lovely places.
  • There are a couple of restaurants where we had meals. Average cost for a decent indian meal would cost you around 200K IDR (Rs 1000). You can get cheaper meals if you can live on local restaurant food (Warung). ''Nasi Goreng'' and ''Mie Goreng'' are some of the local dishes worth trying. You can find information about them from my Zomato reviews:
  1.   Indian Restaurant: Bangle, Nusa Dua — http://zoma.to/review/30951922
  2.  Sari Restaurant, Kintamani — http://zoma.to/review/30844799
  3.  Indian Restaurant: Ganesha Ek Sanskriti, Lippo Plaza, Kuta — http://zoma.to/review/30831760
  4. Batan Waru, Lippo Mall, Tuban  — http://zoma.to/review/30831723
  5. Hard Rock Cafe, Ngurah Rai International Airport, Denpasar  — http://zoma.to/review/30831689





Gallery:

Bounty Cruise
Dinner at Bounty Cruise, Denpasar


Barong Dance
Barong Dance Performance, inside the Cruise


Luwak Kopi
Tea and Coffee sample tasting at Luwak Coffee Plantation


Jambe Asri Entrance
Jambe Asri Luwak Coffee Plantation


Volcano view lunch
View of Mount Kintamani and Batur lake while having Lunch


Tanah Lot Temple


Sanur Beach
Sanur Beach


Kelingking Beach


Kelingking Beach




Broken beach, Pasi Ugh


Angel's Billabong


Crystal Bay


Turtle Island




Pandawa Beach
View from Uluwatu Temple


Kechak Dance at Uluwatu Temple


Candle light dinner at Jimbaran Beach


Nusa Dua Beach


Nusa Dua Beach







EAT.PRAY.LOVE- From Bangalore to Bali in a week
EAT.PRAY.LOVE- From Bangalore to Bali in a week

Khaaja Chowk, ITPL

The name ''Khaaja chowk'' just echoed several times as I entered the place. It had all the ingredients of a ''...