Dinner, Food Blog, Food Blogger, Lifestyle, Lunch, Restaurant Review, Restaurant Reviews, Reviews, Travel

MasalaBar – Balewadi High Street, Puneย 

As you must’ve heard already, Masala Bar is now open in Pune, a fairly new addition to the food scene at Balewadi High Street, this is a typical modern gastropub that offers an eclectic mix of food & drinks.

I was recently invited to a tasting, & here’s my take on this place.

This review is actually a mixed bag of sorts.

While there are some things I really liked a lot, there were few others that were totally disappointing.
The decor and overall vibe of the place is trendy, modern & lively; but completely misses the point when it comes to using that word ‘Masala’ in their name, which is supposedly their USP.

I would’ve liked to see a bit of that Masala element in their decor, more like an Indo Western look, instead of a run of the mill swanky eatery.

They have however taken the whole Masala concept a bit too far in their cocktails, by adding copious amounts of Indian Spices to all of their signature drinks.

From their list of signature cocktails that we tried, the Chai Whiskey Pe Charcha, Whiskey Business, Bombay Velvet , Imli ka boota , & Jaadu Tona were all very heavy on spices like Cinnamon, Star Anise, Kewra , etc. The spices were overpowering all other flavours including those of the alcohol in the cocktail.

I mean yeah, all the theatrics of adding dry ice and using fancy and unusual glasses and paraphernalia adds to the novelty factor. But unfortunately that’s a one time thing. Would it make me go a 2nd time and order that drink again ? I don’t think so.

What worked for me though was their Classic Cocktail, a Whiskey Sour, which had a brilliantly mixed egg white which was frothy, & yet so smooth without any trace of that eggy smell.

I don’t think I’ve ever walked up to the bar & complimented the mixologist on his skills of earating egg whites so well, but this time I did !

Speaking of the food they serve, Masala Bar does serve some interesting bar bites, some of which are like pretty addictive, especially those Pyaaz ke Challe, which are basically crisp fried onion rings generously coated with a spicy south Indian Malaga podi powder. This one is literally unputdownable.

Another favourite was the Guntur Chilli Chicken – spicy, tangy, and heavy flavours of curry leaves and guntur chillies make these tender chicken chunks a great accompaniment with your sundowner.

Murugan baby Idli was another interesting dish as these soft baby Idlis were dunked in the same spicy Malaga podi as the onion rings, and then coated with another tangy chutney.

So far so good I thought,

But then came the biggest let down of the evening.

Khar Danda Jhinga Bhel – An underwhelming mixture of kurmura and all other ingredients of a typical bhel, with Prawns (??!!) on top ..?!!

The bhel on its own had very little flavour of its own, and the grilled prawns were literally just placed on top as if for a garnish. The entire dish felt like a complete mismatch.

Had the bhel been tossed with some fried squid rings, some sauteed dry shrimp or maybe a dash of fish sauce etc, it would’ve atleast had a unique seafood flavour to it, and would’ve made some sense in terms of flavour. But this preparation was a complete No No for me.

Chilli Pork Ribs on the contrary were quite good. I’ve definitely had better ones than these, but the sweet, spicy, tangy sticky glaze on the ribs was quite good. The meat was cooked right, and the serving portion was good too. So overall a satisfactory dish.

Another unusual combination which I quite surprisingly liked was the Thai Curry Risotto.

All the typical flavours of a Thai Curry and the perfectly cooked risotto made from it, the rice had a good bite to it, and the creamy texture from the curry made it quite delicious, along with the crisp banana fritters served with rice.

Now on to the dishes that failed to impress-

Carbon Pav Bhaji. – You read it correctly. The whole activated charcoal trend that has taken the food scene by storm, be it icecreams, smoothies, shakes and now even good ol pav bhaji.

This one was served with an intense black bhaji, and a stack of baby pav, did nothing to impress. Neither the look of the dish, nor the flavour could hold my attention more than a minute. Flavour wise it was too spicy for me, too much masala which hit the throat and had me reaching for a sip of water with every bite. 

Kacchi Dabeli – this was another average dish in terms of flavour and presentation. Honestly, I expected much better (read- innovative) preparations than this one.

I mean why would I go to a place like Masala Bar and order Kacchi Dabeli, when I can have it anywhere else ?! (and tastier than this one, to be frank)


Dessert –

Gulab Air Jamun – this was a couple of gulab jamuns, hidden under a fluffy cloud of Rabdi foam.

This desseet was definitely the better one among the 2 we sampled.

The other one was –

Faces Of Chocolate – Everything you can think of , chocolate soil, chocolate brownie, icecream, chocolate sauce, chocolate shavings, some praline – a huge mish mash of all things chocolate.

We either get tempted to try something, or get totally put off when we 1st look at a dish, well atleast I do. And the look of this chocolate medley felt just too shabby and unappetizing even to a chocolate lover like me.

That said, I think there are some things that work for us, and some just don’t.

Maybe some others might love the dishes that failed to impress me, coz food is after all quite a subjective thing.

What I would like to go for a 2nd time, are those Malaga podi coated Onion Rings, the Chilli Pork Ribs, and that amazing Classic Whiskey Sour ofcourse !

* Bloggers table was hosted by Masala Bar *

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Thai inspired Summer Saladย 

This Thai inspired Summer Salad is my absolute favourite one dish meal on a hot summer afternoon. 

A healthy mix of seafood, veggies, fresh herbs and spices. 

I scored couple of squids, & chargrilled them for 2-3 minutes, till they’re cooked just right. 

Slice the squids, and then add in bite sized chunks of cucumber, tomato, & crushed salted peanuts. 

Now add some torn fresh mint leaves, coriander & spring onion greens. 

For the Dressing – mix some lemon juice, sugar, birds eye chilli (or chilli flakes) & fish sauce (taste the dressing and decide if you need more salt, as the fish sauce is already very salty) Drizzle this dressing on the salad and toss just till all ingredients are mixed well. 

Serve at room temperature or slightly cold. 

* You can add grilled prawns/chicken, if you don’t like squid * 

This is the picture of scored grilled squid for reference – 

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Baali to Baan Tao – Indonesian Food Festival at Hyatt, Pune.

Get a feel of your favourite holiday destination, Bali, sitting right here in Pune ! 

Been Tao -Hyatt, Pune is hosting an Indonesian Food Festival till 5th December, where you can tuck into delicacies like Sari Segara, Lawar Kacang Panjang , Soto Ayam, Ikan Bakar, Bubur Injin to name a few. 

This a la carte menu is curated by Chef Nyoman, from Grand Hyatt Bali, who explained the nuances of each preparation as we sampled each dish in the menu at the preview of this festival. The attention to detail can be seen in the fact that Chef Nyoman brought with him, some of the essential herbs and spices that would be unavailable in India, to ensure that the dishes are as authentic as possible. 

Out of all the dishes we sampled that evening, here are few of my favourites – 

Gado Gado – A salad made with steamed vegetables, tofu, bean curd, egg,  peanut sauce. 

Lawar Kacang Panjang – Long bean salad made with minced chicken , grated coconut, & Balinese bumbu spice.

Chef also gave us a quick demo of how this salad is made. Simple ingredients with subtle flavours. Very light and refreshing. 

Next up were the Prawn, Fish, Lamb & Chicken Satay, out of which the Prawn and Fish Satay were my favourite. The lemonlemongrass stalk used as a skewer for the satay infused a great aroma into the meat as it cooked. 

Lamb satay turned out rather tough and chewy, maybe because of the way it was cut into chunks. So that was bit of a disappointment. But the fish & prawn more than made up for it. 

Sari Segara – This was easily the best dish for me, from that evening. Sari Segara means ‘everything from the Sea’.

This was a seafood soup which consisted of prawns, clams, mussels, squid & fish. The seafood was cooked in a broth flavoured with lemongrass, lemon leaves, fried shallot, potato & beans. Very subtle flavour of the aromatics which let the original seafood flavour shine through. 

Nasi Goreng – A popular fried rice dish , is served with lamb satay & chicken on the side & topped with fried egg. Except for the lamb satay which was rather tough & chewy, everything else on the plate was quite well cooked & balanced in flavour.  

Balinese Lamb Curry – This curry which is best had with steamed rice, has chunks of perfectly cooked tender lamb, braised in coconut milk, fresh turmeric, galangal, & lemon leaf. Quite a hearty dish. 

Bubur Injin – The only dessert on the menu , but definitely a good one if you like a warm rice porridge sorta end to the meal. This one is a Black Sticky Rice Pudding with Coconut Milk. Moderately sweet, with a nice creamy texture of the coconut milk, & black rice which has a nice al dente texture to it. This is one of those slightly warm comforting desserts you’d want to have on a winter evening. 

This festival is open for Lunch as well as Dinner till 5th December 2017 at Baan Tao, Hyatt Pune. 

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I tossed up a delish salad in 5 mins ! ๐Ÿ˜ƒ

โ€‹I’m just a girl, standing in front of a #salad , asking it to be a #doughnut ๐Ÿ˜’

Anyway, this quick 5 min salad I made for #lunch today was quite good ! 

Grilled #mushrooms & #cottagecheese tossed with some #rocketleaves with a generous sprinkling of Keya all purpose seasoning. That’s it ! (all purpose seasoning was a mix of garlic powder, onion powder, pepper, paprika, salt , oregano) 

Mushrooms added a meaty texture to the salad, while the creamy sweetness of #paneer (indian cottage cheese) balanced the peppery flavour of the #arugulasalad ….& it literally took 5 mins to prepare this dish 

(I still want a doughnut though ๐Ÿ˜‚) 

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Wok Tossed Prawns & Rice Stick Noodlesย 

โ€‹Homemade meals + cozy winter afternoons = Bliss ๐Ÿ’œ

This one dish meal is my favourite. 

I always have some chicken/prawns, some flat rice noodles/rice vermicelli at home, for a quick wok tossed meal that I can prepare in minutes. 

I used some fresh plump prawns that I wok tossed in some sweet chili sauce, garlic & crushed peppercorn, in a tsp of sesame oil, over a high flame. 

Added cooked flat rice noodles to the wok, tossed till they were coated evenly with the sauce. 

Garnished with fresh spring onion. Yummmm…

Delish meal ready in minutes ! 

PS- That’s why it’s important to have basic sauces, spices & grocery at home with which you can rustle up a quick meal, so that you don’t end up eating junk food. ๐Ÿ˜› 

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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˜‚

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World Tapas Day ! 3rd Thursday of June.ย 

โ€‹
Its World Tapas Day today !

Which reminded me of this amazing meal I had in Madrid on my birthday last year. 

I went bar hopping ALL DAY….every day ๐Ÿ™ˆ๐Ÿ˜‚ & totally fell in love with the tapas bars in Spain. 

The word “tapas” is derived from the Spanish/Portuguese verb tapar, “to cover”. Before the 19th century, European roads were in bad condition. Travelling was slow and exhausting. Most people could not read or write, and Spain was no exception. 

Inns, called posadas, or bodegas, grew along the roads, offering meals and rooms, for travellers. Since few innkeepers could write and few travellers read, inns offered their guests a sample of the dishes available, on a “tapa” (the word for pot cover in Spanish). 

In fact, a “tapa” was (and still is) a small portion of any kind of Spanish cuisine. What we commonly refer to as ‘small plates’ in restaurant. 

A tapa in Spanish cuisine, is an appetizer, or snack. It may be cold such as mixed olives and cheese or hot such as chopitos, which are batter fried squid. In Spain, patrons of tapas can order many different tapas and combine them to make a full meal. 

There are literally thousands of types of tapas, and they very from region to region, depending on the produce and climate. 

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