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. 😊

Ritz Classic. Panjim, Goa 

​There’s hardly anyone who hasn’t heard of the famous Ritz Classic restaurant in Panjim, Goa. 

I never ever miss a chance to eat here, when in Goa. 

Along with a la carte dishes, which include a huge variety of typical Goan seafood and other meat dishes, the one thing which is an absolute must have for any seafood lover is their Fish Thali. 

A huge slice of perfectly cooked flaky Surmai fry, a big bowl of mild creamy prawn curry (1 big prawn) with drumstick, a spicy-tangy mackerel curry, tisrya (clam) masala, Rice, Eggplant sabji, Solkadhi, and THE most amazing sukka sungta cha kismoor (dry shrimp-onion-fresh coconut salad) This massive thali for 160/- is sheer happiness. 

Farm to Table Sunday Brunch at Hyatt Regency, Pune.

​Sundays are meant to be enjoyed lazying around, catching up with friends and family, and ofcourse enjoying a laid back brunch.

That’s exactly what I did last Sunday at the Farm to Table Sunday Brunch at Hyatt Regency.
This brunch offers you an assortment of cuisines that use fresh, organic seasonal produce, seafood, meats, all procured from local farmers markets and suppliers.
The freshest and most tempting fruits, & veggies welcome you, as you walk into the The Cafe for brunch.

The spread is large indeed, with something to please every palate.
They serve everything from Salads, Chaat , to Lebanese (read Hummus, pita , fattoush, tabouleh, babaganoush) to Japanese (read Sushi – Ok ….the vegetarian ones with Tomato, Bell Pepper and Okra wasn’t impressive at all….but the standard ones like Crab, Prawn, and Tuna more than make up for it.)
There’s a Salad and Pasta station where you can get your dishes customised as per your choice.
The Grill counter offers an array of Chicken, Shellfish and other Seafood, Beef (buff) etc)
For mains, you can choose from a plethora of dishes, whether it’s a spicy, rustic Chicken Rassa, Thecha, Zhunka and Bhakri you’re craving, or a perfectly cooked Dum Biryani or Murgh Makhni.
The vegetarians have a choice of the freshest seasonal produce cooked right in front of them, be it Indian Curries, Thai delicacies or Salads.
The enticing aroma of Thai curry and steamed fish wafting from a corner of the restaurant is sure to lead you there, and try out the delicious Curry and Rice. You can choose from the variety of seafood, chicken or vegetables and get your curry made as per your preference.
If you’re more a ‘wine and cheese’ kinda person, then you’re in luck. The restaurant offers a huge selection of Cheeses and Cold Cuts to enjoy with your favourite wines.
I’m sure no matter how much you eat, there’s always a little corner in the tummy reserved for Dessert !

Those with a sweet tooth will have a tough time choosing from the countless options on offer.

Everything looks so good, and tastes equally good, that you wish you spent all day there !

End your meal with a lovely cup of cappuccino (if that’s even possible, after eating so much !)
I really wish they extend their brunch hours though.

Atleast 12:00 – 16:00….(instead of 12:30 – 15:30)
*Review conducted on Invite*

‘Farm To Table Sunday Brunch’ will be on till February end

Syrakko , Mundhwa

Looking for a lovely fine dine, with a beautiful ambiance, delicious food and excellent cocktails, to impress that special someone? ‘Syrakko’ is The place.
Perfect for a quiet cozy date night, or even for a meal with your family.
They have a long list of cocktails and I strongly recommend, you try some of them.
My pick for a light refreshing summer drink is the ‘Fresh Mowed Lawn’
A refreshing blend of chilled cucumber juice and Vodka.
But if you are a coffee lover like me, then the Espresso Martini is a must have !
I twisted mine with Bourbon instead of Vodka…and boyyy the combination of that strong espresso with bourbon was an absolute delight !
Moving on to Soups- I tried Chicken and Almond Shorba.
Its one of those subtle, creamy soups that you could just go on having on a cold rainy night. So warm and comforting. The garlic melba served on the side deserves a special mention. I loved it.
I chose Malai Prawn Tartlets for starters. True to its name, the prawns were indeed very creamy and delicately flavoured. The flaky, buttery shortcrust base was done nicely and the garnish of microgreens gave the dish a fresh crisp edge.
I was keen on trying the Prawn and Chorizo Risotto from the mains.
I love the strong, almost pungent aroma of spicy chorizo sausages. But it can be overpowering if used excessively.
Happy to say, the rissotto was flavourful with just the right quantity of chorizo used in it. The chef was careful enough not to overpower the dish with too much chorizo, while still infusing the perfect amount of flavour required.
The tender, succulent prawns added the delicate balance to this dish. Quite impressive!

In a fine dining restaurant we are generally used to seeing tiny portions on the plate, which leave you wanting more. (or maybe I’m just the greedy one…lol)
But at Syrakko the portions are pretty generous…so much, that I found it difficult to finish my rissotto!

There’s always room for a little dessert no matter how full you are…and at Syrakko, you definetly have so much to choose from !

‘Paan’ pannacota….Yes you read it correctly. Paan infused panacota is definitely worth a try. A bit too sweet for my liking, but a nice dessert for all those with a sweet tooth.

But my pick is definitely the ‘Espresso Phirni with Tiramisu Granita and Chocolate Soil.’ Honestly, the idea of ‘Espresso Phirni’ didn’t quite appeal to me when I first read it on the menu.
But it was so flavourful, and the tiramisu granita with the crunchy chocolate soil was a medley of different tastes and textures on my tongue.

The massive coffee lover that I am, having coffee in my drinks, and in my dessert was like being in coffee heaven !

Syrakko opens this week, so next time you want to plan a family dinner, or want to impress that special someone, you know where to go !

Bon Appetit 🙂

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