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 * 

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 ! 😑 *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 😏😎😂

Easy Cherry Galette 


Its stone fruit season ! Looking at all those fresh plump juicy peaches, apricots, plums & cherries in the market, makes my mind work overtime, thinking of all the delicious things I can make with these fruits. 

So you’ll be seeing a lot of Jams, pies, tarts & galettes on my blog now. 

Honestly, nothing is simpler than a galette though. 

Served with a scoop of icecream or whipped cream, this handcrafted pie/galette makes for a comforting dessert on a gloomy rainy day. 

Here’s my Cherry Galette recipe for you – 

■ With your fingertips, rub together 100 gms of Flour with 50 gms of chilled butter (i prefer salted – @amulindia butter ), a pinch of Baking powder and 1 teaspoon of icing sugar. 

■ Rub this mixture lightly with just the fingertips, till it starts looking like coarse breadcrumbs. 

■ Add a couple of teaspoons of chilled water/milk to the mixture, & start bringing it together in a ball shape. Do Not knead the flour mixture like a bread dough. Just press it lightly between your palms, to bring it together in a dough ball. 

■ Wrap this pastry dough in a cling film & refrigerate for 15-20 mins. 

■ Take about half cup of fresh cherries (you can also use Peaches/Apricots cut into bite size pcs) Mix in few teaspoons of Demerrara (brown) Sugar, & a drop of Vanilla essence. 

■ Roll out the chilled pastry dough between sheets of Plastic, (roughly the diameter of a Quarter plate.) & roll about 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. 

■ Place the rolled dough onto a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Pile the fruit mixture in the middle, leaving a sufficient border (atleast an inch) along the circle. 

■ Fold the border onto the fruit filling, so that the fruit does not slide off while baking. 

■ Bake the Cherry Galette in a preheated oven at 160° C for 20-25 mins, until the fruits are caramelized &  the pastry is golden-brown. 

■ Serve warm with a dollop of icecream or whipped cream. 

Iberico Salchichon (Sausage) – Delightful memories of Spain. 

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. 😊

World Tapas Day ! 3rd Thursday of June. 


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 🙈😂 & 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. 

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. 

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 *