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.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Cultivated, Colorful and Casual: Caprese Salad

What is summer without a Salad made with sun ripened tomatoes? While at a gourmet food store I picked up a "Made in India", Bocconcini. This fresh Buffalo Mozzarella cheese is made in Haryana and let me tell you it was impressive!

The beauty of this dish is from the creamy cheese, flavor of the tomato and basil and a drizzle of balsamic reduction....oh its Caprese heaven for sure.

Caprese Salad

2-4 large ripe tomatoes
100 gms Bocconcini
10-12 fresh basil leaves
4 tbsp balsamic reduction (cook 3/4 cup balsamic vinegar down till it becomes syrupy)
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Slice tomatoes into thick slices place a basil leaf on the tomato, top with sliced boconcini and drizzle with mixture of balsamic reduction and olive oil. Serve at room temperature. Sprinkle salt and pepper just before serving.

The gentle lentil: Khatti Masoor Dal

I acquired this recipe from a very traditional Ghaziabad Agarwal family, where this type of dal is a regular item in their daily cuisine. While I was living in Delhi, our neighbor was a wonderful woman who took pity on us students living the dorm and offered us home cooked meals once in a while. One of the dishes in her repertoire was this very simple, Khatti Masoor Dal; I.e Whole Masoor dal ( pink color) stewed with tamarind and ginger. Just as simple as that and on a cold winter day it was a soul satisfying dish eaten either with rocks or rice....just divine!

You can substitute any whole lentil for this dish, it will taste just as good.

Khatti Masoor Dal

1 cup whole red lentil/ sabut masoor dal, soaked and cooked until fork tender
1 tbsp tamarind paste
1 tbsp chopped ginger
1 finely chopped green chili
1 tbsp oil/ghee
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp asafoetida
Coriander leaves to garnish
Salt to taste

Soak the lentils for about half an hour (optional) and cook until the lentils are soft when pressed between your fingers ( approx 10 mins cooking time ). Don't drain the lentils, keep the water aside for thinning down the lentils while simmering.
Heat oil/ ghee in a pan, add the asafoetida, cumin seeds, ginger, garlic and let it sputter, add the tamarind paste and cooked lentil along with the boiling liquor. Add salt to taste and allow it to simmer on a low flame for 10-15 mins. Garnish with coriander leaves and serve with roti or rice.