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

MasalaBar – Balewadi High Street, PuneΒ 

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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Keep calm & juice it up !

Summer is just round the corner & this delicious refreshing drink is my go to.  Just a few simple ingredients, into the blender & it’s done !

Lots of Fresh Strawberries 

+ Lots of Fresh Mint Leaves 

+ a few drops of lemon juice 

(I do not add any Sugar, but you can add as per your choice) 

Just blend into a smooth juice with some crushed ice, & it’s ready ! 

Very refreshing and very healthy πŸ“πŸŒΏ

You can also add a little Sparkling Water if you like a bit of fizz, and a splash of Gin is more than welcome πŸ˜‰ 

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Good News Dhaba – Ishanya Mall PuneΒ 

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 – βœ”

Interesting (& Potent!) Cocktails – βœ”

Good Food – βœ”

Friendly & Efficient Service – βœ”

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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Rawa Fried Prawns *warning – Highly Addictive ! *Β 

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* Rawa Fried Prawns * –

These crisp golden fried prawns are so easy to make, & highly addictive ! 

They make an excellent bar snack or even as a side dish with a fish curry- rice meal. 

If you want to serve these at a party, you can marinate the parwns in advance & then just fry them up before serving. 

You will need – 

β–  1/2 Kg Prawns (shelled & deveined) 

β–  Red chilli powder, Turmeric Powder, & Salt – to taste 

β–  Ginger-Garlic Paste – 1/2 tsp

β–  Tamarind Pulp/Kokum Extract/Lemon Juice – 1/2 tsp 

β–  Semolina (Rawa) & Rice flour – as required.

β–  Oil – to shallow fry. 
● Shell, Devein & wash the prawns thoroughly. Drain excess water. 

● In a mixing bowl, make a paste using Red Chilli Powder, Turmeric, Salt, Ginger-Garlic Paste, & Kokum extract. 

● Add the cleaned prawns to the mixing bowl & rub the spice paste into the prawns taking care that each prawn is coated well with the spice mix. Set aside to marinate for 30 mins. 

● In a bowl or plate mix some rice flour & semolina (1 part rice flour : 3 parts semolina) You can add a pinch of Salt, chilli powder & turmeric to this mixture if you wish. Coat the marinated prawns with this semolina mixture & dust off excess. 

● In a non stick pan, heat couple of tablespoons of oil & shallow fry the prawns till golden brown. Do not keep flip or stir them frequently. Cook on one side for 2 mins & then flip once to cook on the other side for another minute or 2. 

Overcooking will make them tough & chewy. 

~ Taste best with a generous squeeze of lemon, some salad on the side & chilled beer ofcourse ! πŸ˜‰πŸ»

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Peshwa – Aundh, PuneΒ 

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 πŸ˜€

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 πŸ™‚

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3 Spices – Double Tree by Hilton, Pimpri-Chinchwad.

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Located in the heart of Pune’s Industrial belt, Double Tree by Hilton is an ideal venue for a lunch meeting, corporate event, or even to stay on a business trip.
I was recently invited to their restaurant ‘3 Spices’ for the launch of their new menu.

A warm inviting ambiance with a lively vibe, this place isn’t just for mundane meetings, but also a good venue for an evening out with family and friends.
We started the tasting session with an assortment of wines from Sula Vineyards, and some delectable starters to go with it.

Keeping in mind the preferences of the guests, the newly designed menu is a mix of cuisines, to cater to all palates.

There’s a wide variety to choose from Indian, Oriental, & Continental cuisine.

A special mention has to be made about the Desserts though. Everything on the dessert counter looked so attractive, that we started our meal with a couple of desserts !

We were quite literally alternating between the sweet and savoury courses.
I particularly enjoyed the Continental cuisine and preferred to stick with that, over the Indian mains. And then some more desserts ofcourse !

The place felt a little crowded and noisy later, as the restaurant was almost packed to capacity by late evening…but then again, that’s a good sign…right?
Everything from the food, to the plating, presentation and the service was upto the mark & definitely worth another visit.

* Bloggers table was hosted by 3 Spices *

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When all else fails, CHEESE.

​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 ! πŸ˜‘ *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! 😏 

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 πŸ˜πŸ˜ŽπŸ˜‚

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