Friday, March 2, 2018

Sindh Kitchen Restaurant Review

Very rarely does one have the chance to interact with the owner of a restaurant and his family, and recently I had the opportunity to meet Akshay Luthria and his elegant mother Ms. Vandana and vivacious sister Ankita. It was so heartening to meet Akshay, who cooks from the heart and his team of chefs who are trained in the kitchens of 5*star hotels deftly combine flavors from his childhood, his heritage, and the bountiful produce from Namma Bengaluru to create wonderful Sindhi and North West Frontier cuisine which are absolutely delectable.

Mixed Appetisers
Sindhi cuisine is not very famous as there are very few restaurants pan India that serve it, but its here.... ready to rule the hearts of all and give the regular North Indian restaurants a run for their money! 

Since I am a vegetarian and this blog is about Vegetarian cuisine, the dishes I will focus on the Vegetarian menu, but they have an extensive non-vegetarian menu as well.

We started off with a mint drink that were refreshing and cleansed our palate as we moved onto a mind boggling variety of appetizers, and the winners without a doubt were Dal tikri ~ chana dal served on crisp puris and topped with sweet and spicy chutneys and chopped onions. Palak Papri chaat ~ crisp deep fried palak leaves served with spiced yoghurt, then came Crispy Coriander Paneer, cubes of paneer stuffed with spinach, cheese, nuts and coated with coriander and deep fried ~ the dish just melted in the mouth as the paneer was so succulent and moist, this dish was a clear winner for me. Other equally awesome dishes were the famous Soya chap, a dish made with sheets of soya to mimic chicken, Stuffed Karela ~ large pieces of bitter gourd stuffed paneer and afghani style spices. The stuffed Mushrooms were filled with fenugreek cheese and cooked in the tandoor and had that wonderful smoky flavour too it. Served with the appetizers were onions soaking in curd and spices and a variety of Chutney's including one made with tomatoes and green chillies that is Akshay's mother special recipe/blend.

Mushroom stuffed with cheese and tandoori spices
Moving to the Mains, we tasted the traditional Sindhi Sai Bhaji and Bhugga/Wari chawal, then to Sindhi kadhi, steamed rice and Aloo Tuk. Next came an onslaught of gravy dishes like Paneer Peshawari, Dal Bhukara, Sabzi Lazeez ~ a melange of vegetables cooked in a saffron infused yoghurt sauce and another unique dish Sunheri Kofta Makhan palak ~ succulent koftas in a creamed palak gravy, truly delicious and these were served with Balochi Naan, Kadak Mirch ka parotha, soft Khameeri roti, and Kashmiri Naan which was studded with assorted dry fruits. I wish I could describe in detail about each dish.....but the bottom line is that everything was delicious and well worth a visit. It might just become a family favourite and your go to place in Malleshwaram.

Bhugga/Wari Chawal, Sindhi Kadhi, Sai Bhaji

Satpura/Kadak Mirch roti, Naan, Khameeri Roti

Kashmiri Pulao

Top row: Paneer Peshawari, Moong Dal, Dal Bukhara
Bottom Row: Mushroom corn, Sabzi Lazeez, Sunheri kofta Palak makhan 

Finally, while I had no place left for dessert...I squeezed in Angoori rasmalai (the most softest melt in the mouth Ras Malai I've ever had) served on a bed of Gajar ka halwa and studded with a piece of Pragree, deep fried pastry stuffed with khoa and dunked in a sugar syrup (a seasonal Sindhi dish served for Holi festival).

Angoori Ras malai on Gajar ka halwa and served with Pragree
Photo Credit: Nameesh Rajamane
COE: I was invited for the preview by the restaurant and am posting voluntarily this unbiased recommendation of their amazing Menu.

So to wrap up the post: My recommendation is pretty self evident, please do give it a try and I'm sure you will not regret it. Unique dishes prepared with seasonal produce, cooked without excessive use of cream, oil, ghee and cooking soda. The restaurant is located inside Bloom Boutique hotel and are open for Breakfast, Lunch, High Tea/Snack/Chaat and dinner. They also have a catering arm and can customize our party/needs and also do Boxed lunches for offices, etc.

Taste: 4
Ambiance: 3.5
Value for Money: 4

Sindh Kitchen
Location: 8 Sampinge Road, opposite GRT jewellers Malleshwaram (Inside Bloom Boutique Hotel)
Phone: 91-7760260406 / 91-9650616707

Thursday, March 1, 2018

A Tangy Twist - Puli Mologai or Puli Inji

My ancestors hail from a small village deep in the heart of Southern India. The family owned large tracts of fertile lands along the Kaveri river, however as they moved en mass to big cities for better opportunities they eventually sold some tracts and donated parts of the lands to faithful family retainers and farmers who tilled the land. The ancestral house was the last surviving piece of the vibrant history that had seen famous musicians and academicians emerge from its hearth!

During a family gathering, I was casually informed that I had inherited 1/9th share of a 150 year old tamarind tree that used to produce well over 2-300 kgs/year of this tart fruit! Sadly during a major storm few years ago the tree was damaged and it eventually had to be cut down to prevent it from breaking down further....well it died after that ordeal and it was the end of an era!

Previous generations enjoyed its goodness and every year like clock work, large sacks of rice, tur dal, young tamarind, huge stems of plantains (hanging clusters of over 100 bananas), ripe jack fruits (each weighing at least 50kgs) would arrive with a housekeeper and his help from the village to my Grandmas house in Bombay, and she in turn would visit each of her children to give them a share of the bounty!

The tamarind pod holds a special place in the hearts and tongue of South Indian food lovers, as quite a few dishes like Sambar, Rasam, Kuzhambu, Pulikachal and many other gravy dishes are made with tamarind pulp. I love the sweet and mild tartness of young tamarind pods, when they are a light brown shade versus the strong sour flavour of tamarind that has aged over 6 months and turned a deep shade of dark brown to almost black.

Today I made a dish that is my families repertoire of dishes that are made on special occasions like festivals and other celebratory meals. It is unique as it can be classified as a pickle or chutney. It is sour from the tamarind, spicy from the ginger and green chillies and a hint of sweetness from jaggery, to round out all the flavours! It can be eaten along with steamed rice and ghee or as an accompaniment with curd rice, but I like to have it on my breakfast toast or along with dosa.

Ginger and green chillies in thick tamarind sauce
Puli Mologai ~ Puli Inji
Puli Molagai

1/4 cup finely chopped ginger
1/4 cup chopped green chillies
1 1/2 cups thick tamarind juice (pulp  and water of about 80 gms of tamarind or size of an orange)
1/4 tsp mustard seeds 
1/4 tsp methi/fenugreek seeds
1/4 tsp haldi/turmeric powder 
1/8 tsp hing
8-10 curry leaves
1-2 dry red chillies 
Red chilli powder - optional depending on how spicy you want the dish to be
2 tbsp grated jaggery
2-3 tbsp gingelly (sesame oil)
Salt to taste


Heat oil and add the dried red chillies, methi seeds and mustard seeds and let it sputter. Add hing, curry leaves, ginger and green chillies. Cook for 1-2 minutes on low heat. Add the turmeric, red chilli powder and salt. Then add the tamarind juice. Allow to cook on low heat for 10-12 minutes until a beautiful aroma is released and the gravy would have reduced by half and thickened up. Add the jaggery and cook for another minute or two. Serve warm or at room temperature. It will keep well for a few days outside or longer if stored in the fridge. This yields about 3/4 cups worth of Puli Molagai. 

Friday, December 8, 2017

Little Green Café - Restaurant review

A few of us decided to meet up on a Friday night at Little Green Café, situated off Church street on Museum road opposite Chutney Chang in the bustling restaurant row near Bengaluru's famous MG Road. The restaurant has a quaint artsy cafe/cottage like ambiance which serves exclusively vegetarian organic fare.

Pendant Lighting at Little Green Cafe Bengaluru Pic Credit, RupaB
Couple of things that immediately got my attention was that they used reclaimed wood to make a beautifully patterned floor. The lighting was next, the almost 60-80 LED lights hanging from the ceiling only consume the energy a regular 60w bulb uses!only 1 watt per bulb and there were at least a hundred of them hanging down from the ceiling. Finally, they use a unique air-conditioning/cooling, that works like a cooler and so their is less carbon footprint from cooling the whole place down. With large picture windows that surround the restaurant, light and cool breeze pour in all the time.

Now coming to the food, we started with non-alcoholic drinks, mine was the Lemon mint cooler with Basil seeds and another friend ordered a Watermelon Basil. Both were refreshing and cost Rs180 each, however I wish they offered natural stevia sweetener as I felt it was a bit too sugary.

Lemon Mint cooler at Little Green Cafe Bengaluru, Pic Credit: RupaB
We tried several appetizers, the Mezze Platter, little Tikkis, Bruschetta 3 ways and a Mushroom Cappuccino soup.

Mezze Platter at Little Green Cafe Bengaluru, Pic Credit: RupaB
The Mezze platter at Rs300 was the best, the Beetroot hummus a clear winner in terms of taste and texture. It was served with pita halves and crisp lavash sticks and a small helping of tatziki. The other hummus served was Chia hummus, basically a regular hummus with a sprinkling of chia seeds which did nothing to add to the flavour as barely 1/2 tsp of chia was used as a garnish. We asked for some extra lavash sticks and they kindly brought us some at no extra charge.

The Little tikkis at Rs250 had 6 mini tikkis that are made with quinoa & feta and ricotta and greens. I could neither taste nor see the said ingredients, hence I will not recommend this dish.

Bruscetta at Little Green Cafe Bengaluru,  Pic Credit: RupaB
Next up were the Bruscetta at Rs250, 6 slices of baguette bread with 3 different toppings. Sauteed mushrooms was outstanding, next was the Tomato avocado...even though these two flavours work well together, it did not have any of the creamy avocado flavour making it very average in terms of taste. Finally the traditional tomato/olive and herbs was again quite bland!

Mushroom Cappuccino at Little Green Cafe Bengaluru, Pic Credit: RupaB
The soup, while the name suggests coffee, I'm assuming it means there should be a froth/foam that is supposed to top the soup (faux molecular style). The bowl was quite large and the flavour of the soup was quite good and had a unusual sweet after taste for a savoury dish, but we did not see any foam and the waiter had no clue why it was called cappuccino!

In the mains we ordered two dishes, starting with Thai curry with red rice at Rs380. The gravy was sufficiently thick, mild Thai flavours with a few vegetables and firm tofu complete with the aromas of basil and lemongrass which was served with well cooked chewy Kerala red rice.

Pav Bhaji Fondue at Little Green Cafe Bengaluru, Pic Credit: RupaB
The second main was Pav bhaji Fondue at Rs360. Now the only thing fondue about this dish was that it was served in a fondue pot and an assortment of 2 pieces of grilled breads: mini pav, bruschetta, lavash sticks and mini pita. The flavour was quite good, reminiscent of a Bombay style gravy, but the portion was quite small in my opinion.

Desserts are placed up front by the cashier station and it changes everyday. We saw barely 6-8 pieces individually placed in little plates and placed in the cold cabinet, and it was not appetizing looking so we decided to pass on dessert.

Code of Ethics: We went on our own accord and paid for our meal.

Overall Rating
Food – 7/10
Ambiance- 8/10
Service – 8/10
Value – 7/10

Little Green Cafe
9/3, Prestige Pearl House, Museum Road, near Church Street, Bengaluru
Timings: 11am-11pm
Phone: +918861726457

Monday, November 27, 2017

Healthy Cooking - Simplified with Philips Domestic Appliances

Time and flavour are of essence, I had the opportunity to witness the saucy Chef Ranveer Brar cook up a storm in under 30 minutes together with the incredibly fit Shwetambari Shetty, a Zumba and fitness expert with a huge fan following.

The appliances that Chef showcased were the Philips Air fryer and the new Viva collection Juice Masticator amongst the other traditional ones like their mixer-grinder and hand blender. Chef Ranveer Brar was assisted by the very talented Chef Ramasamy Selvaraju, who had all the ingredients prepped and ready for the Chef.

Both the celebrities were candid about their experiences in becoming health conscious and the need to improve awareness in healthy eating options and not denying the body and soul of a good meal. While the experts had a lot of pointers the very affable Mr.Gulbahar Taurani, Marketing and Business Head of Philips India Domestic appliances also mentioned that the dynamics of the Indian consumer is also evolving in an their needs for delicious food.

To begin with a colourful healthy juice was made with pears, carrots, cucumbers and watermelon and attractively placed in a champagne flute garnished with fresh cut fruits.

Next was an appetizer, Idli chat made with Rava Idli's that went through a few minutes in the Air fryer to give it the perfect crisp exterior and mixed with a tempering of coconut oil and aromatic curry leaves! Beautifully presented  with a handful of crispy popped rice that were tossed with Idli chutney podi/powder, giving the old dish a new twist!

Liberally spiced with a Chettinad flavour were the fish fingers which were then dipped in a delectable batter and air fried to give it an extra crisp coating and keeping he fish moist on the inside, this dish got most of the audiences attention as everyone wanted to know to make the ever popular snacks like pakoda/bhajia in the Air-fryer.

Finally we ended with a befitting sweet nothing.......
White chocolate brownies. Now who can resist a little tidbit that is covered with sprinkle of cocoa and decorated with bright red cherries?

What was wonderful about this event was the interactive nature of the presentation. Some of top bloggers and influencers of Bengaluru were in attendance and we were free to ask any questions of the panel, who graciously took the time to answer in detail. Another perk was the hostess Ms. Sushma Bala who kept the audience members very happy by handing gifts to audience members who correctly answered food related questions. The winners each received the Phillips handheld blender, a very good tool to have in the modern kitchen.

The event finally ended with the customary selfie time with the celebrities and a sumptuous dinner at the Taj Vivanta hotel on the swanky MG road.

As more people strive to eat healthier, they also need to stock up on all types of gadgets to help make the most and I highly recommend investing in a Phillips Air-fryer, the super handy Hand held blender and finally the Cold press Juice masticator, the Trio are a boon to every enthusiastic home chef. I thank Philips Domestic products and Avian Media for extending and invite to me and experience their new products in action.

Photograph credits: Avian Media and me

Monday, April 4, 2016

Vadu Manga - Catch them young


Come summer I look forward to making pickles and sundried items that will last me through the year. There are a few staples that I make every year and then I add something new each year for variety.

This year started, as always with my favourite Baby mango pickle. In southern India and especially the communities like mine who adore yoghurt rice and can eat it anytime of the day, this pickle is an absolute must to have in the larder all year round!

There are two schools of thought about the best recipe for these baby mangoes, one is that it should only be brined and the second and my favoured recipe is to store the brined mangoes in a red chilli and mustard flavoured base. Depending on which part of Tamil Nadu your origins are from....decides which one you may favour! If you are from Tanjore (my ancestors were from this region), then your family makes the brined version and if you are from around the border of Kerala, you will probably have the red chilli and mustard kind.


500 gms raw baby mangoes, about 3-4 cups
4-6 tbsp Salt
4-6 tbsp Kashmiri Red chilly powder
2-4 tbsp spicy red chilli powder
2 tbsp Turmeric powder
2 tbsp sesame oil
3 tbsp ground Mustard seeds
1 cup Boiled and cooled water

Wash and wipe the baby mangoes ( 1-2 inch long), removing any damaged ones. Allow them to dry under the fan for an hour. In a bowl, place the dry mangoes and pour the oil and mix throughly to coat each and every mango. Take a glass jar and place a handful of mangoes and add a tsp of salt, continue layering the mangoes and salt until all the mangoes are done. 

Cover and let it rest, shaking the mangoes every now and then. In 3-5 days the mangoes would have shrivelled up and they will be floating in brine.

Remove the mangoes from the brine and let it sun dry for half a day. Save a cup of the brine.

Mix the red chilli powders, turmeric and mustard powder in the brine water and add a cup of the boiled water as well as the dry mangoes. Let the mangoes marinate for a couple of days and then it will be ready.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Glorious Garlic Lasooni Dal

Garlic cannot bestow immortality but it can make you lead a longer life. Garlic is making news in all fields for having antibiotic, anti cancer and many other properties. Although it has a strong flavor it is a good spice to have on hand as it vastly improves the flavor of many dishes. Take for example the humble dal, we make it almost three times a week and I like to have variations to the recipe and this one makes a soul satisfying dish! Lasooni, means garlicky and this Lasooni Dal is a hit with even the kids.

Lasooni Dal

1/2 cup each Moong and Masoor dal, cooked until soft
2-4 tbsp chopped garlic
2 dry red chillies
2 tbsp ghee
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp red chili powder
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
Salt to taste
Coriander leaves for garnish

Heat ghee in a pan and add the dry chillies, cumin seeds, garlic and cook for a minute or two, then add the red chili powder and turmeric. Pour this, on the salted and cooked dal. Garnish with coriander leaves and serve with rice or rotis.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Carb your spending: Cauliflower and Potato curry

The cauliflower is very low in Carbohydrates making it very attractive in low carb diets as it's very filling, it doesn't hurt that a head of Cauliflower is also easy on the wallet...

Regardless, I'm very fond of Cauliflower....well our whole family is and so it finds its way to our dinner table at the very least twice a week. I make several different dishes, but the dish we love hands down is Aloo Gobhi masala. 

A very humble dish that requires very few easily found ingredients. In most North Indian style dishes, one uses garlic, ginger, onion and tomatoes as the the holy trinity/ mirepoix in Creole cuisine ( onion, celery and bell pepper) this is the holy quartet!

Aloo Gobhi Masala

1 large medium head of cauliflower, cut into florets
2-3 medium potatoes, peeled and diced into 1 inch cubes
3/4 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp minced ginger 
1/2 tbsp minced ginger
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp garam masala ( optional )
1/4 tsp cumin seeds
2 tbsp oil
1 green chili slit
Coriander leaves for garnish
Salt to taste

Heat oil in a pan, add cumin seeds, garlic, ginger, onion, and  green chili. When the onion turns translucent add the tomatoes, turmeric powder and salt. Cook on a low flame till the tomatoes turn pulpy. Add potatoes and salt, stir and cover the pan. Cook until the potatoes are half cooked. Add the cauliflower and cook until the cauliflower are soft. When the cauliflower has softened, sprinkle garam masala and coriander leaves. Serve with roti or rice.