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 * 

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˜‚

One of the healthiest ways to Gamble is with a Spade and a pack of Garden Seeds ! ๐ŸŒพย 

I like growing my own vegetables & herbs. ๐ŸŒพ I like being able to tell people that the food I’m serving started out as a seed in my yard. ๐Ÿ˜Š

And you know what guys, it really doesn’t require a lot of space. You can grow these beautiful plants in pots, on your terrace, balcony, or a windowsill even ! 

I’ve been growing Lemon grass, curry leaves, chillies, basil, lemon, mulberries, coriander, tomato, capsicum, garlic chives, mint, etc besides a lot of flowering plants & climbers on my small terrace (and 1 pot is dedicated to the small wild birds that love to feast on the fresh Millet that I plant for them ๐Ÿ˜Š)

I haven’t used a single drop of chemical fertilizer or pesticides till date. Just a good mix of soil, coco-peat, vermicompost, & kitchen waste like crushed egg shells, vegetable trimmings, tea leaves, etc. Its such a joy to be able to just go to the balcony & pluck a handful of mint & coriander leaves to make green chutney or for a garnish. Some fresh fragrant Curry Leaves & spicy chillies for a nice Tadka to a simple dal. The evening tea or a nice piping hot bowl of Pho on a rainy evening is made with the freshest most fragrant lemon grass ! Salad made with freshly plucked tomatoes & capsicum. Simple pleasures !

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. 

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. 

Bharli Vangi (Stuffed Eggplant/Aubergine in a spicy thick gravyย 

โ€‹Couldn’t resist the temptation of making Bharli Vangi, after seeing those stunning pics posted by a blogger friend @priyanka_coffeebreak the other day.

I used a mortar & pestle to make a coarse fresh hand pounded masala using – toasted dry coconut, garlic, groundnuts, sesame seeds, red chilli powder, turmeric, ‘goda masala’ & salt. Stuffed this dry spice mix into the slit aubergines. Sauted the aubergines with a tsp of oil, and then added water to the pan. Some tamarind pulp and jaggery to balance the flavour and then simmered on medium heat with a lid on, till the ubergines were cooked through, and the gravy thickened &  released oil on the edges. 

Tastes fabulous with fresh steamed rice/ hot jowar bhakri ๐Ÿ˜ (Indian millet flatbread) 

Didn’t know Over-Ripe Bananas would make such wonderful Parathas โ˜บ๐Ÿ‘(flatbreads)ย 

โ€‹Few days ago I made a  banana walnut loaf using over-ripe bananas, that I somehow wanted to finish off. Thats when a friend gave me a recipe for this sweet paratha. Now honestly, I had never thought of using bananas to make parathas, so I was quite curious about the taste. 

And guess what…. I never thought overripe bananas would make such wonderful easy recipes ! I loved it ! 

I modified the recipe slightly, as I didn’t want to use sugar, or make the paratha too sweet. 

So this is my version of the banana paratha – โ€ข 2 over-ripe bananas โ€ข big pinch of Cardamom powder

โ€ข big pinch of Salt

โ€ข 1 tsp Jaggery (I just wanted a hint of sweetness, but you can add more if you want your paratha Sweeter) โ€ข 1 tsp Ghee โ€ข Wheat Flour (as much as the banana paste can hold, and make a soft yet firm ‘chapati’ like dough) โ— Blend cardamom powder , jaggery and bananas to a fine paste.

โ— Knead a soft yet firm dough by adding little wheat flour at a time, to the banana mixture. Add Salt and Ghee while kneading. โ— Roll out Parathas, and cook on a griddle till golden and crisp on the edges. Use few drops of ghee on the sides while cooking. Serve hot