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 * 

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˜‚

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

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. 

Croque Monsieur et Croque Madameย 


* Croque Monsieur et Croque Madame *๐Ÿ—ผ 

During summer last year, I became slightly addicted to French comfort food, the Croque Monsieur. ๐Ÿ’–

When prepared right, this delicious French sandwich can give even the best of American grilled cheese sandwiches a run for their money. 

The story behind the Croque Monsieur (which literally means crispy/crunchy mister ๐Ÿ˜‰) is that, some French labourers accidentally left their lunch boxes filled with Ham & Gruyere Sandwiches near a hot radiator, & by lunchtime, those sandwiches turned into gooey, grilled ham & gruyere sandwiches…which then became a very popular snack among the labourers. 

I’m not sure, if this story is true, but by the 1900s the Croque Monsieur was a standard on every French cafe menu, & the rest, as they say, is history. 

So what’s a ‘Croque Madame’ then ? 

Its basically a Croque Monsieur with an egg on top ! (a fried egg, most of the times)

And just in case all that Ham, Gruyere, & Egg isn’t decadent enough for you, we have additions/substitutes like Bechamel Sauce, or Blue Cheese, Smoked Salmon instead of Ham, thinly sliced Tomatoes/fried Potatoes etc. 

And a definite must have with this snack, is a glass of white wine ! 

So now you know why I got ‘slightly addicted’ to this French comfort food, while I was in Paris, right…? ๐Ÿ˜œ

 (PS- My favourite out of the 2, is ….ahem …the Crispy Mister/Monsieur ๐Ÿ˜‰…..and None of the sandwiches available here in town, can even dream of coming close to the ‘Real’ French ones….Seriously.)

Fried Halwa (Black Pomfret)

โ€‹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.

 โ–   I made a thick paste using – 

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

โ–   Marinate the fish slices in this paste for an hour. 

โ–   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) 

โ–   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. 

โ–   Serve with lemon wedges and salad on the side.