Khiva – Phoenix, Pune 

‘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 😐) 

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. ☺

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

* Bloggers table was hosted by Khiva * 

Fried Halwa (Black Pomfret)

​Lunch today, was a quick & easy fried Black Pomfret/Halwa. 

I love shallow fried fish, and when I make it, I can literally have just that, for a meal. 

No rice, no curry… just some slices of spicy, tangy, shallow fried fish with a generous squeeze of lemon, & maybe a salad on the side.

 ■  I made a thick paste using – 

Red Chilli Powder, Turmeric Powder, Cumin & Corriander Powder, Rice Flour, Kokum Extract, & Salt to taste.

■  Marinate the fish slices in this paste for an hour. 

■  In a pan, heated some oil, and shallow fried the marinated fish, 3-4  minutes on one side, flip and then cook for another couple of minutes. (Cook completely on one side, & only then turn over) 

■  Since the marinade already had a bit of rice flour for binding, I fried the fish directly. But if you want a crispier texture on the outside, you can coat the marinated fish with Semolina/Rice Flour just before frying. 

■  Serve with lemon wedges and salad on the side. 

Honey Chili Chicken 

​Dinner last night, was this easy Honey-Chilli Chicken. 

It’s the kind of dish that gives you a healthy dose of protein, plus add veggies of your choice, like brocolli, bellpepper, onion, mushrooms, or baby corn…and your 1 dish meal is ready in under 15 minutes! 

■ Cut boneless chicken into bite sized cubes. 

■ Marinate with a bit of salt, pepper, soy sauce, & ginger-garlic paste. Set aside for 15-20 mins. (You could also marinate the chicken & leave it in the fridge before you go to work. All you need to do is stir fry it later in the evening, & your meal will be ready in minutes. 

Anyway…so back to the chicken. 

■ While your boneless chicken cubes are soaking up the soy sauce, & ginger garlic flavours, dice veggies of your choice into bite sized cubes. 

■ Finely mince some ginger & garlic. Slit some green chillies lengthwise (or mince them if you like) 

■ Toss the marinated chicken In some dry cornstarch so that all pieces get covered with a thin and even dusting of cornstarch. 

■ In a wok, heat couple of tsps of Sesame oil, add minced ginger-garlic, green chillies, veggies, soy sauce, salt to taste and Honey. Toss on high heat for a minute. 

■ Add cornstarch dusted chicken to the wok and keep tossing till the sauce coats all the veggies and chicken evenly. This should take only 4-5 minutes. Do not overcook chicken and vegetables. 

■ Garnish with fresh spring onion and sesame seeds. Serve hot. 

■ If you want to serve this chicken with rice, add water and simmer for a couple of minutes till you get the desired consistency of gravy. 

Quick 1 Dish Meals 

​1 dish meals are quick, healthy and a great way of including protein, fibre and carbs, all in one dish. 

■ In a wok, heat a few tsps of Oil. (I like to use Sesame Oil, but you can use any other oil as per your choice)

 ■ Add minced Ginger & Garlic to the oil, and saute on medium heat till golden. Add Sesame seeds and stir well. 

■ Add bite sized pieces of boneless Chicken, Soy Sauce, Salt to taste, Honey, & Dried Red Chilli Flakes (Red Chili Powder/Finely chopped Green Chilli/Black Pepper works well too) 

■ Cook for a few minutes, and add little water to adjust consistency. (If you wish to have a slightly thicker gravy, add a tsp of Cornstarch to the water before adding it in.) 

■ Serve on a bed of cooked Rice Stick Noodles/Steamed Rice. Garnish with Spring Onion/Garlic Chives. (Instead of Chicken {or along with Chicken} You can also add Prawns, Broccoli, Mushroom, Bell Peppers, Tofu, Baby Corn.

The Sassy Spoon, Pune.

​The year has started off with a bang, with some big names coming to Pune.

The much talked about Sassy Spoon from Mumbai is now at Koregaon Park, lane 7, where Jimmy Hu and Brooklyn Shuffle once used to be.

This casual, chic resto bar is tastefully done up, with each section offering a different decor and ambiance.

The air conditioned section with its high ceiling , dim lights and muted tones, a winding staircase leading up to a huge book wall is charming, and impressed me much more than the al fresco section, which is a bright, cheery place with a fresh colour palette. (but honestly felt more like sitting in a Doll House) Yeah… I’m not really a fan of Baby Pinks and Pastels and Doll House kinda colours and decor.

That section is infact their Patisserie called ‘the sassy teaspoon’.
The Bar menu comprises of some promising drinks like Berry Chilli, The Very Berry Khatta, Jack and Ginger, to name a few.
The one drink I had, and thoroughly enjoyed was the ‘Morning Brew’. Espresso, and Whisky spiked with Vanilla and Orange Liquer. This is one drink, I’d go again for.
The food menu is a mix of different cuisines, a bit of Asian, Indian, Mediterranean.
Of all the dishes I tried that evening, my favourites were –

Cajun Spiced Prawns, sitting in a puddle of spiced garlicky oil and a crusty bagguete to mop it all up, is quite nice.
Tenderloin Jerky, Pork Ribs with bbq sauce, are decent on flavour and texture, but not really the best I’ve had.
Savoury Pumpkin Tart with Goat Cheese was quite a pleasant surprise. Buttery tart shell with a lovely smooth velvelty pumpkin filling and a salty goat cheese topping to cut through the sweetness of the pumpkin.
Twice Baked Ementhal Souffle served on a bed of tangy Green Apple salad, and candied walnuts is definitely worth a try.
Now for the the major let down that evening –
Chicken Burger with Wasabi Mayo. (Read – tasteless crumb fried chicken patty, with a dry bun, absolutely No wasabi flavour….rather, no other flavour at all !

McDonald’s would manage a better burger (and those who know me, know well, how much I dislike it)
Another one in the list of let downs, is the Pulled Pork Poi. Underseasond, dry, tasteless and very disapointing indeed.
Desserts from their Patisserie, ‘The Sassy Teaspoon’ looked good on the display counter, but failed to impress on the flavour aspect.

None of the desserts we sampled that evening – Red Velvet Cupcake, Sassy Stacks, Sticky Tofee pudding or the Macarons made me go ‘Wow’ !
The only one I really really liked was a tangy, refreshing Raspberry Sorbet, of which I would gladly have seconds.
In my honest opinion Sassy Spoon seemed like a mix bag… and maybe I had higher expectations.
* the bloggers table was hosted by Sassy Spoon *

Farm to Table Sunday Brunch at Hyatt Regency, Pune.

​Sundays are meant to be enjoyed lazying around, catching up with friends and family, and ofcourse enjoying a laid back brunch.

That’s exactly what I did last Sunday at the Farm to Table Sunday Brunch at Hyatt Regency.
This brunch offers you an assortment of cuisines that use fresh, organic seasonal produce, seafood, meats, all procured from local farmers markets and suppliers.
The freshest and most tempting fruits, & veggies welcome you, as you walk into the The Cafe for brunch.

The spread is large indeed, with something to please every palate.
They serve everything from Salads, Chaat , to Lebanese (read Hummus, pita , fattoush, tabouleh, babaganoush) to Japanese (read Sushi – Ok ….the vegetarian ones with Tomato, Bell Pepper and Okra wasn’t impressive at all….but the standard ones like Crab, Prawn, and Tuna more than make up for it.)
There’s a Salad and Pasta station where you can get your dishes customised as per your choice.
The Grill counter offers an array of Chicken, Shellfish and other Seafood, Beef (buff) etc)
For mains, you can choose from a plethora of dishes, whether it’s a spicy, rustic Chicken Rassa, Thecha, Zhunka and Bhakri you’re craving, or a perfectly cooked Dum Biryani or Murgh Makhni.
The vegetarians have a choice of the freshest seasonal produce cooked right in front of them, be it Indian Curries, Thai delicacies or Salads.
The enticing aroma of Thai curry and steamed fish wafting from a corner of the restaurant is sure to lead you there, and try out the delicious Curry and Rice. You can choose from the variety of seafood, chicken or vegetables and get your curry made as per your preference.
If you’re more a ‘wine and cheese’ kinda person, then you’re in luck. The restaurant offers a huge selection of Cheeses and Cold Cuts to enjoy with your favourite wines.
I’m sure no matter how much you eat, there’s always a little corner in the tummy reserved for Dessert !

Those with a sweet tooth will have a tough time choosing from the countless options on offer.

Everything looks so good, and tastes equally good, that you wish you spent all day there !

End your meal with a lovely cup of cappuccino (if that’s even possible, after eating so much !)
I really wish they extend their brunch hours though.

Atleast 12:00 – 16:00….(instead of 12:30 – 15:30)
*Review conducted on Invite*

‘Farm To Table Sunday Brunch’ will be on till February end

Shizusan – Asian ‘pop’ Bistro

Phoenix Market City is definitely becoming one of the best places for experiencing interesting food concepts.
The newest addition being Shizusan, as Asian ‘pop’ bistro.
Minimalistic decor, with touches of the Orient which are smart, but not in your face.
The charming alfresco section would be my choice to dine, when the weather is pleasant. As for the summer months, its best to sit indoors.

The concept and menu revolves around ‘Shizusan’, a fictitious character, and his travel and culinary experiences all over Asia.

Painstaking research has gone into designing this extensive menu and bringing together some of the most popular dishes from Japan, China, Vietnam, Thailand, and Malaysia.

Chef Paul Kinny and his team have done a remarkable job with these dishes, and have taken care to see that there’s something interesting for every palate.

We sampled around 30 dishes at the bloggers table that evening.
Yeah…being a food blogger is a tough job, but someone’s gotta do it … Lol ! 😜

My favourites from that evening were-

# Edamame Dumplings- steamed edamame dumplings with a light hint of wasabi. Subtle yet flavourful.
# Prawn and Coriander Dumplings – a whole succulent prawn with a hit of fresh coriander. Superb.
# Pepper Garlic Mushrooms – With generous use of Thai herbs and spices, these mushrooms had a bold flavour and will defintiely be appreciated by the our Indian tastebuds that need the zing of chili and garlic.
# Thai Spiced Lotus Stem – Another almost addictive starter, you just cannot stop eating it. Crisp lotus stem slices tossed in a sweet-spicy-tangy sauce. It makes a great starter to have with your drink. A definite hit with all the Vegetarians.

# The star of the evening for me, however, was a plate of Baby Back Ribs!
Melt in the mouth, tender, ‘falling off the bone’ kind of meat. Delish Bbq sauce that had an Asian twist to it, had me shamelessly licking my fingers, and the plate clean.
If there’s one dish I absolutely wouldn’t share with anyone, its this !

# Shizusan offers a large and impressive variety of sushi (classic and modern) which cannot be tried in just one visit.
Rainbow Maki (assortment of Tuna, Salmon, Crab)
Tuna Tartare Roll,
Philadelphia Roll (salmon with cream cheese) are all worth a try.

Vegetarians need not worry , as there’s plenty for them to choose from.

The Baos served at Shizusan are shaped like Tacos, instead of the classic stuffed buns.
The 12 hour braised pork belly with a spicy jalapeno slaw was ace. Such a gorgeous bite. I fell in love with it !

The dishes that failed to impress me were –
Thai Chicken Wings with a drizzle of sriracha.
Hot Stone Rice, and Pad Thai, were rather average, as compared to rest of the dishes we sampled that evening.

Inspite of trying so many things I was eagerly waiting for dessert, as my expectations had reached sky high.

Sadly for me, desserts were a Disappointment.
# Tiramisu Asia – is a twist on the classic Tiramisu, where coffee is substituted with a mild green tea. This one failed to impress completely.
# Peanut Butter Pie was bit of a saviour with its creamy peanut butter mousse like center with chocolate ganache. Interesting, but for a ‘Snicker’ lover maybe.

I would’ve loved to see some adventurous experiments with the desserts. Since there’s so much twist on the classic recipes, how about a Cake or Panna Cotta infused with Pandan leaf ?! Now that would be unique and interesting.
Hope to see it on their menu soon !

As for the Dimsums, Bao, Sushi and some wonderful mocktails (ohh….Don’t forget to try the ‘Thai Thai’ a wonderful blend of orange juice and kafir lime leaves) people of Pune, go check it out soon, and thank me later ! 🙂

* Review conducted on Invite *