Khiva – Phoenix, Puneย 

‘Khiva’ from Mumbai, is the latest addition to the restaurant scene at Phoenix Market City, Pune. 

Considering that this place serves rich, traditional Bukhara cuisine, the decor is quite modern, simplistic, with just a few touches like, artefacts, paintings, Middle Eastern music, that try to stick to the concept of the restaurant. 

I was invited to a Preview dinner last month, & the tasting menu we were served that evening was pre decided by the management. 

Not the best mix of dishes, honestly. I would’ve loved to sample their Signature dishes, or something unique in terms of flavour, style of preparation, & presentation. 

But frankly, how different can a Palak Paneer, a Methi Mutter Malai, or a Rasmalai be, than any other place serving it ? 

The kebabs we tried – Chandni kebab, & Murg Mozarella kebab, both had a similar marination of cream, yogurt, cheese, green chili, & were pretty average in terms of flavour, presentation, and portions.

The vegetarian starters – Makai Seekh Kabab, & Mutter aur Cheese ka Tikka, were both dry and crumbly, & not really big on flavour (and Defintely Not Worth spending close to 400 bucks on!) 

The 1st (& probably the only) impressive dish of the evening was Mutton Lahori, a smooth thin onion based gravy, with absolutely tender melt in the mouth chunks of mutton that tasted brilliant with hot Naan. 

Murg Peshawari was another simple homestyle chicken curry, which is worth a try, but is it worth the high price ? I doubt. 

The vegetarian mains, as I said, were just like any other place serving this cuisne, would prepare. There was nothing different, nothing unique, in the Palak Paneer, Dal Makhani, Methi Mutter Malai or Meloni Tarkari that we were served that evening. The presentation was also as regular & run of the mill as any other place would serve. Which is exactly why I keep wondering why they’re charging whatever they are. (check the prices on Zomato, you’ll know what I mean ๐Ÿ˜) 

Chicken Dum Biryani served with Mirch ka salan did not disappoint. Good ratio of meat to rice. Generous sprinkling of saffron and spices, and balanced flavours. No complaints there. 

It takes a very good dessert to impress me, & compel me to go for a 2nd helping, as I’m not really a big fan of Indian desserts. 

The Anjeer Halwa, Angoori Rasmalai, & Lychee ki Tehree served that evening unfortunately failed to compel me to go even for a 2nd bite, leave alone a 2nd helping. 

With the Supreme Court highway ban on alcohol still in place, you will have to settle for a mocktail with your meal at Phoenix, as of now. 

So taking all these factors into consideration, will Khiva be able to impress guests, and have them come over a 2nd time ? 

Well… it’s barely a month since they’ve opened, maybe I’ll just wait for a few more weeks, give them some more time to settle, then try the food again… I’ll reserve my opinion till then. โ˜บ

In the meanwhile, if you do try it out, do let me know about your experience there. 

* Bloggers table was hosted by Khiva * 

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Ajwain (Carom seed) Purisย 

Ajwain (carom seed) Puris – 

A very simple unleavened Indian flatbread. There are many variations of this flatbread, depending on the region where they are made.

 This is a simple recipe which requires just a few ingredients & can be made in under half an hour. 

โ–  In a large mixing bowl, combine 1 cup Whole Wheat Flour, 2 Tablespoons of Semolina, 1/2 Tsp Ajwain (Carom Seeds), 1/4 Tsp Turmeric powder, 1-2 Garlic flakes -minced /grated (optional) , Salt & Chilli powder to Taste.

โ–  Knead all the above ingredients into a stiff dough, using water as required (little at a time) Set aside for 15-20 mins. 

โ–  In a wok, heat oil. Roll out small (lemon sized) dough balls into flat Puris. (As shown in the pic) Deep fry the puris in hot oil, on medium heat, till they get a golden hue, & are fully puffed up. 

I serve these hot fluffy crisp Puris with a Mint-Coriander-Green Chilli Chutney, and some plain yogurt for Breakfast.

You  can also serve as a hearty meal along with Palak Paneer, Chickpea or Potato Curry. 

When all else fails, CHEESE.

โ€‹When all else fails, Cheese ! 


It’s been raining non stop, & the weather’s so nice & cool. Perfect for a day long Baking session. I made grand plans for the day! 

First up, kneading the bread dough, as it would take the longest to ferment. That done, I left the sourdough to ferment. Then got on with marinating some chicken, which I later planned to bake along with thin slices of potato, onion, cream & cheese. Marination done, I turned to the fermented dough, shaped & scored  a lovely french baguette, & put it in the oven to bake. 

Within 20 minutes the aroma of freshly baked bread was wafting through the kitchen. So now it was the Chicken that had to go in, to bake. Layers of thinly sliced potatoes, onion, chicken, herbs, cream & cheese were all set to bake & turn into a magical dish, which would later be devoured while listening to the pitter patter, sitting by the french window. 

I poured myself a glass of wine, & settled for a bit, waiting for the chicken to be ready in another 20 mins….

And then….BAM ! ๐Ÿ˜‘ *power cut * 

How could I be SO naive & optimistic about this ‘Baking on a Rainy Day Plan’ ?! 

This is #pune ! Even 10 mins of rain, results into hours of powercut ! Hmmph… 

But I wasn’t gonna let my plans be ruined, just bcoz this brilliant ‘Smart City’ decided to cut off power suply! ๐Ÿ˜ 

So out came the next best thing – the Cheese Board ! 

Now how can you go wrong with a Cheese Board & Wine ?! 

* That’s why I always say – Stock up your groceries smartly * 

I had all the essentials of a Cheese platter ready, & all it took was a little assembling. 

So within minutes we had – Olives, Parmesan, Gruyere Crisps, Mild Cheddar, some Fruit Preserves, Spanish Chorizo, & the lovely fresh warm baguette ready, for a candlelight evening by the window, listening to the pitter patter of the rain, sipping wine & having an awesome evening. 

Well played ‘Smart City’….But I’m smarter than you ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ˜‚

Healthy, No Cook Breakfast Ideas. Banana-Peanut Butter-Granola.ย 

Imagine the saltiness of generously slathered creamy peanut butter against the sweetness of banana and the crunchy texture of homemade granola packed with Almonds, Walnuts & Cranberries !

That was my breakfast today ๐Ÿ˜ 

You don’t need to slave in the kitchen for hours, neither skip breakfast bcoz you don’t have time to cook.

I just slit a banana lengthwise,  slathered some creamy peanut butter on it, & genrously sprinkled my favourite homemade granola packed full of the goodness of Oats, Almonds, Walnuts, & Cranberries. 

There you have it, a complete breakfast full of all the essential nutrients to start your day, ready in under 5 minutes, without any cooking at all ! 

Can anything be easier than that ? 

 Just use a little imagination ! Experiment a little. 

Stock up your groceries smartly. ๐Ÿ˜Ž

Easy Cherry Galetteย 

โ€‹
Its stone fruit season ! Looking at all those fresh plump juicy peaches, apricots, plums & cherries in the market, makes my mind work overtime, thinking of all the delicious things I can make with these fruits. 

So you’ll be seeing a lot of Jams, pies, tarts & galettes on my blog now. 

Honestly, nothing is simpler than a galette though. 

Served with a scoop of icecream or whipped cream, this handcrafted pie/galette makes for a comforting dessert on a gloomy rainy day. 

Here’s my Cherry Galette recipe for you – 

โ–  With your fingertips, rub together 100 gms of Flour with 50 gms of chilled butter (i prefer salted – @amulindia butter ), a pinch of Baking powder and 1 teaspoon of icing sugar. 

โ–  Rub this mixture lightly with just the fingertips, till it starts looking like coarse breadcrumbs. 

โ–  Add a couple of teaspoons of chilled water/milk to the mixture, & start bringing it together in a ball shape. Do Not knead the flour mixture like a bread dough. Just press it lightly between your palms, to bring it together in a dough ball. 

โ–  Wrap this pastry dough in a cling film & refrigerate for 15-20 mins. 

โ–  Take about half cup of fresh cherries (you can also use Peaches/Apricots cut into bite size pcs) Mix in few teaspoons of Demerrara (brown) Sugar, & a drop of Vanilla essence. 

โ–  Roll out the chilled pastry dough between sheets of Plastic, (roughly the diameter of a Quarter plate.) & roll about 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. 

โ–  Place the rolled dough onto a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Pile the fruit mixture in the middle, leaving a sufficient border (atleast an inch) along the circle. 

โ–  Fold the border onto the fruit filling, so that the fruit does not slide off while baking. 

โ–  Bake the Cherry Galette in a preheated oven at 160ยฐ C for 20-25 mins, until the fruits are caramelized &  the pastry is golden-brown. 

โ–  Serve warm with a dollop of icecream or whipped cream. 

One of the healthiest ways to Gamble is with a Spade and a pack of Garden Seeds ! ๐ŸŒพย 

I like growing my own vegetables & herbs. ๐ŸŒพ I like being able to tell people that the food I’m serving started out as a seed in my yard. ๐Ÿ˜Š

And you know what guys, it really doesn’t require a lot of space. You can grow these beautiful plants in pots, on your terrace, balcony, or a windowsill even ! 

I’ve been growing Lemon grass, curry leaves, chillies, basil, lemon, mulberries, coriander, tomato, capsicum, garlic chives, mint, etc besides a lot of flowering plants & climbers on my small terrace (and 1 pot is dedicated to the small wild birds that love to feast on the fresh Millet that I plant for them ๐Ÿ˜Š)

I haven’t used a single drop of chemical fertilizer or pesticides till date. Just a good mix of soil, coco-peat, vermicompost, & kitchen waste like crushed egg shells, vegetable trimmings, tea leaves, etc. Its such a joy to be able to just go to the balcony & pluck a handful of mint & coriander leaves to make green chutney or for a garnish. Some fresh fragrant Curry Leaves & spicy chillies for a nice Tadka to a simple dal. The evening tea or a nice piping hot bowl of Pho on a rainy evening is made with the freshest most fragrant lemon grass ! Salad made with freshly plucked tomatoes & capsicum. Simple pleasures !

Iberico Salchichon (Sausage) – Delightful memories of Spain.ย 

Are you a fan of Cured Meats ? 

I surely am !  I absolutely love the intense flavour of cured meats like Chorizo and Jamon ( -salt cured Ham- pronounced as ‘Hah-mon’)

Just a tiny bit goes a long way in jazzing up your meal instantly. 

For those who are new to the technique and art of Curing meats, here’s a little info about the process of curing – 

To put it very simply, ‘Curing’ is a technique of flavouring & preserving foods, such as meats, fish, vegetables & fruits. 

The aim of curing is to draw out moisture from the food by adding Salt, Sugar, Seasoning and such other natural preservatives, to increase the shelf life of the food, and store it year round, for consumption when certain fish/fresh produce or not available or in season. 

Dehydration is the earliest form of food curing, which also includes processes like spicing, pickling, cooking, or smoking. 

Curing decreases / completely draws out the water content from foods, thus making it inhospitable for the growth of microbes that cause food spoilage. 

On my recent visit to Spain, I got a chance to sample various types of cured meats, be it in their original form as a quick nibble between meals, or in Sandwiches, Rice dishes, as a flavour enhancer in Salads, and very prominently as Tapas and on Cheese platters, served with Drinks. 

There are literally thousands of types of cured meats, all over the world. 

Some are made using a single meat such as Pork, some with a combination of 2-3 different meats (eg- pork, beef, deer, wild boar etc) or even offal. 

Some sausages also use a combination of spices like Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Cloves, Pepper, Coriander etc, if the meat is to ‘Gamey’.

The one that I particularly liked, & bought in huge quantities to take back home, was the ‘Iberico Salchichon’. 

(Iberian/) Iberico Salchichon/Sausages are made from the famed Black Hoofed Iberico (Iberian) Pigs, native to Spain.

 They roam free, and feed on leaves and acorns. Extremely flavourful (& needless to say, quite expensive !) these are quite the delicacy in Spain. 

The pork is dark red and marbled with delicate fat, creating an intense flavour and melt in the mouth texture. 

Unlike Spanish Chorizo, which is infused with a lot of garlic, smoked paprika & other spices, (which btw, is also Truly delicious! ) this Salchichon uses only Salt & Pepper (sometimes Oregano) for curing. With a simple curing solution of Salt & Pepper, these sausages are filled in natural casing (read- beef/pig intestines) & are hung to cure in the cool mountain air for several weeks/months. 

Sliced thinly, this delicious treat can be served with a crisp white wine, some cheese & crusty sourdough bread. 

Makes for a perfect gift for someone who loves cured meats & wines, & even to bring back home, and stash it for the days when you want to sit back and enjoy these, while reminiscing about your beautiful Spanish vacation. ๐Ÿ˜Š