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

MasalaBar – Balewadi High Street, Pune 

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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Good News Dhaba – Ishanya Mall Pune 

There’s good news for all Punekars…yeah… quite literally ‘Good News’, coz that’s the name of this Modern-Desi Dhaba at Ishanya !

Going to keep this review pretty short and simple.

So why is it good news…You ask ?

Coz this :

Great Ambiance – ✔

Interesting (& Potent!) Cocktails – ✔

Good Food – ✔

Friendly & Efficient Service – ✔

This place just ticks all the right boxes.

A special mention to the OTT decor ! All that kitsch, all that bling, the quirky wall art, massive light fittings made with chai kullad & cutting chai glasses, a full size bathtub to chill beer bottles (yeah, you read that correctly, they have placed a bathtub with overhead showers that work, bang in the middle of the bar !)

And as garish as all this sounds, all these elements come together and totally work somehow, giving this place a very fun and lively vibe !

Over to the food and drinks –

They serve some interesting (read- potent) cocktails with equally interesting names. 

The bar bites are not your usual chips and peanuts, but a rather interesting concept where they serve a basket of Khichiya Papads and along with that a tray full of ingredients to make your own chutney.

So you get small bowls of mint, coriander, yogurt, ginger, garlic, chillies, etc along with a small mortar & pestle. Mix and grind ingredients to your liking and enjoy your chutney with those rather addictive papads.


Though not a big fan of soup or shorba,  the Murgh Galliana Shorba was quite the bomb ! I could literally just have that instead of dinner on a lovely breezy winter evening. 

Paneer de sholay , Jhinga Kalimiri, Highway Mutton Seekh Kabab, were my favoutires from the menu we tasted that evening.

Also, do save some appetite for that simple yet hearty and delicious Langar Dal Amritsari , which we mopped up with some hot fluffy naan. 

If you have a sweet tooth, then there’s Rabdi, matka kulfi, Paan- Choco bon bon that you can end your meal with. 

Good News indeed, right ?! 

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Panash, at Four Points by Sheraton launches new menu. 


Panash, at Four Points by Sheraton which is well known for its subtle yet classy interiors, calm & relaxed vibe and excellent service, has recently launched their new menu.

Curated by Chef Tenzin, this pan Asian menu offers to the guests a wide selection of preparations, that would please all palates.

While you have a wide choice of Sushi made the authentic way, you also have a section of it curated especially for the vegetarian guests, or for those who like a bit of Indian or fusion touch to their food.

Along with this, there are various streetfood style preparations like Stir Fried veggies and meats, Pad Thai noodles, dumplings, crisp lotus stem and lotus leaf wrapped chicken, prawns in xo sauce, to name a few. The dumplings which had a chicken & mushroom filling were spot on, in terms of flavour and texture. Also a plus point to them for not adding artificial food colouring, and instead using vegetables to give a natural colour to the dumpling flour.

You would also find on the menu, some unique desserts like coconut pancakes, & lemongrass panacotta, which I really enjoyed. I would have liked to see a better garnish on the lemongrass panacota though…maybe a lemongrass leaf & a citrus garnish, instead of a regular chocolate garnish, which quite honestly had nothing to do with the core ingredients of the dessert, & looked slightly out of place.

But just that minor point aside, most of the preparations were pretty good, and definitely worth a try.

The restaurant is open for dinner service, 7 pm onwards. Do check it out !

* Bloggers table was hosted by Panash *

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That Susegad Sunday Lunch. Goan Thali Experience -Authenticook, Pune. 

My phone has been buzzing non stop since Sunday afternoon, after I posted #instastories of this goan  lunch…Everyone’s asking the same question ! 😁 So let me tell you more about this epic Goan thali we had 2 days ago. This meal was hosted by home cook Soniya (Instagram – @sonan23) at her residence at Wanowrie, Pune. 

For those of you who already know about @authenticook , you can book this particular meal online & check other upcoming events as well…and for those who don’t , I suggest you check the #authenticook page for more details, & thank me for it ! 😁

So, back to this stellar seafood Thali. Lunch started with a glass of lovely chilled Solkadi; Which was then followed by this massive meal comprising of tival, friedfish, chickenxacuti , crabcurry, neerdosa, prawnssukka, prawncurry, clamsukkha, kismoor, rice & serradura.. Phew ! 😅 I think the picture says it all, but if I must describe it, I can only think of 1 word right now, BRILLIANT ! 

Low on oil & spice but so full of flavour, each dish had its own unique texture & flavour & it was evident that a lot of effort & careful planning had gone into preparing this meal. 

I’ve had a LOT of goan food, as I’ve lived in Goa for quite some time, & this meal is as authentic as it can get. Highly highly recommended ! 

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Peshwa – Aundh, Pune 

One of the best things to have happened in this city, as far as Maharashtrian cuisine is concerned. ‘Peshwa’ originally started in Dubai, opened its 1st outpost in Pune, at Aundh recently… And what a great move this is !

If you’ve been a fan of Maharashtrian cuisine, you’d know that there are 2-3 types of places that serve this type of food.

One is your typical Vegetarian Maharashtrian Thali place where you get simple homestyle meals like Chapati, Sabji, Dal, Rice, Koshimbir, Sweets etc. But strictly vegetarian.

Another type is the Non-vegetarians delight. These places serve mostly Chicken, Mutton & Seafood preparations, which makes it difficult for vegetarian patrons to enjoy along with the non-vegetarians.

Then there are some places that serve a bit of both, veg as well as non veg food, but no alcohol :-/

And then there’s Peshwaa ….that serves it all !!!

That’s right.. a fine dine place that serves authentic Maharashtrian cuisine from all over the State, that also serves alcohol, and gives you the liberty to enjoy a relaxed meal unlike the hustle bustle of the typical no frills eateries serving similar cuisine.

I was recently invited for a tasting at Peshwa.

The 1st impression of this elegant place, true to its name, the gorgeous Paithani curtains, the wall art and decor definitely scores a brownie point.

Rich, elegant , yet subtle interiors are definitely pleasing to the eye, and I’m glad they’ve taken care not to make it too glaring and gaudy in order to make it look royal.

The tasting started off with welcome drinks.

Solkadhi, and Thandai were both pretty good & refreshing.

The starters which consisted of Vegetarian as well as Non veg preparations were all above average.

Except for the Malvani inspired Chicken Kabab that failed to impress. I couldn’t really identify any Malvani element in that dish. The green marination was like a regular Tikka you get at other restaurants, so maybe you could just skip it altogether.

But what I loved was the Chatpapta Prawns. True to its name, lipsmacking good, chatpata, and well cooked.

Sukka Mutton, Kothimbir Wadi, Matter Karanji were all quite satisfactory.

The mains had a mix of cuisines from all over the State, Masale Bhaat, Bharli Waangi, Birdyaachi Usal, Aluu chi Paatal Bhaji, Kombdi- Wade, Amboli, Goan style fish curry, Biryani, all of which were truly tasty and as authentic as possible.

I know this is strange, but a hard-core non vegetarian that I am, I still enjoyed the vegetarian preparations more than non veg…and that’s quite a big compliment to the restaurant 😀

What I loved about this place is that they serve desserts which most other Maharashtrian places don’t !

I was absolutely delighted to see my favourite sweet, Kharvas on the menu, and it was very well made, just like the homemade one.

If you love Maharashtrian cuisine, or if you’re new to it, & want to give it a try, I’d definitely recommend Peshwa 🙂

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Quick & Easy Tandoori Chicken Pulao 

​I have this strange habit of ordering too much #tandoorichicken ! 

Yeah I’m quite greedy that way 😅…but then I can’t finish it, & end up having leftovers. 

Remember that yumm sandwich I made with leftover tandoori chicken ? 

Well this time I rustled up a quick yummy rice. 

In a pan, I heated oil & fried some onion on low heat till golden-brown & crisp, to make ‘birista’. 

After I drained the crisp fried birista onto a paper towel & set it aside, in the same pan I added some turmeric powder, chili powder, kitchen king masala, & the leftover tandoori chicken shredded into bite sized pieces. 

Then I added precooked rice (to which I had already added salt, while cooking) 

Tossed everything together till the masala and chicken mixed well with the rice. 

Garnished with the crisp fried onions, & fresh coriander. Tasted brilliant with a generous squeeze of lemon. 😋

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Using up Leftovers – Tandoori Chicken Sandwich. 

Using up leftovers 😋

I had a piece of Tandoori Chicken leftover from last night. We always have a bit of Roast Chicken leftover, don’t we ? & if you don’t, then make a little extra next time, just so that you can try this recipe, for a quick snack the next day. 

I decided to shred the chicken & make a spicy Sandwich with it. 

So on a slice of fresh white sandwich bread, I slathered some Mayonnaise, & piled the shredded chicken on it. 

On another slice I spread some spicy green chutney, & onion slices, with a generous squeeze of lemon.You could also add a cheese slice to make it yummier. 

I grilled the sandwich with a small dollop of butter on top, till golden and crisp. 

The spicy chutney, and tandoori chicken, with the creamy mayonnaise tasted SO good ! 

Next time I’m gonna save a piece or two of chicken, just to make this sandwich the next day 😜 

* You can roll up the same ingredients in a Chapati, instead of using Bread. Cook till golden brown, with a dollop of butter, on a frying pan. *

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