Chennai, Dhaba, Eating out, Indian, North Indian

Balle Balle on a Chennai highway

A few meters of the highway is where the dhabas are, aren’t they? It is not very different here. With most of the roads of Chennai becoming a highway (or has always been one and we only recently noticed), a few meters of it is a nice dhaba. But then, it is right in the heart of the city and inside a small mall! Its been around for a while now, but I only got there last week.

Chennai used to have a fabulous dhaba a few years back, with large chicken tikkas and excellent dhal, but it slowly faded into a poor copy of its old self. I guess it never got replaced for a long time and we didn’t have a good dhaba style food. Until now.

Dhaba by Claridges, the same group that runs the Mamagoto outlets have set up shop inside Ishpahani centre. It is definitely an upmarket place, both with its quirky interiors and the pricing, but for a city starved of good dhaba style food outside of hotels, it is being welcomed with open arms. When we walked in at 7, we were alone, but by the time we walked out by 8:15, there was a line snaking outside waiting to get a table.

Our drinks were a mixed bag. The lassi was a little too watery for my liking, but the paan drink (paan iced tea, I think it was) with its unmistakable paan flavour in a chilled drink was super refreshing. We started off with a galouti kebab. Soft, juicy and flavourful, this was a well made galouti, though the paratha on which it was served could have been better. We got a small bread basket with naan, rumali roti and a kulcha which we paired with their excellent dhal. Phew. They got their dhal bang on and I was thankful for it. Though at Rs. 385 it is not exactly cheap, there is a non 5 star good dhal now available. A khadi chicken, which was falling of the bone and smothered with mustard completed the main course.

The Dhaba Meeta, a beautiful dessert, not exactly dhaba style, but a refined version layered with ice cream, shahi tulsa and gulab jamun! It was an excellent and heavy finish to the meal. All of this set us back by about Rs. 2300, so the pricing is definitely not dhaba pricing, but there is good food to be had here. 

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5 Star, Chennai, Dessert, Eating out, Food Festivals, Indian, Indonesian, North Indian, Street Food

From the street to the 5 star hotel

Street food is meant to be eaten on the street. No amount of five star intervention has traditionally added anything more to street food. If anything, it has only diluted it. Some say that the sweat plays a role in the flavour. I hope I never find out if that is true, though. Some say that the heat and the air play roles in the flavours of the street. Some say that it is all of the above and more put together.

Every once in a while though, street food gets a good variation. Not better or worse, but a good variation. The ongoing street food festival at The Dining Room, Park Hyatt hotel, is one such. While it is a part of their usual excellent buffet, there is enough from the street food counters that you could give the regular buffet (except dessert of course) a miss.

One of the tough foods to give a fancy make over is the vada pav and the pav bhaji. The chefs here gave the former a beautiful makeover and the latter a not so good one. The vada pav here with a nice potato patty was served with a fried chilly inside. With super soft buns and a nice tangy potato inside, this was a good makeover to the usually humble vada pav. The pav bhaji, though served with the same nice pav simply didn’t match the vada pav.  At the end of the first counter, scores were tied and it was Street Food 1, 5 star 1. The chilly not being super spicy helped!

Then came the variation. A keema vada pav. No, not keema pav, but a keema vada pav. Or should we call it a Shami pav? Unlike the keema pav which comes with keema instead of a bhaji, this was a mutton cutlet stuffed inside the buns and served with the chilly on the side. I stuffed the chilly inside the bun and burnt my tongue. I guess no two chillies are the same, since the first one was not hot and this one was burning every cell of my digestive system. The kebab inside though was beautifully flavoured and I took another piece and took my chance with another chilly. They were made for each other, this time. See? You only need to find the right chilly in your life! 😉

Then we came to the Laksa counter. An Indonesian Laksa, the pet food counter of the exec chef Teku. There was no blachaang in the laksa, but he was able to bring out beautiful flavours in Laksa without it. Yes, the coconut milk seemed a little thicker, but this was a richer laksa. No blachaang, so street food wins. SF: 2, 5S: 1. There was the momo stall next to the Laksa. Variations of momos, but the one that stood out was the pan fried momo. No street food momo (at least in South India) I believe can match the flavour of this pan fried momo that has Asian flavours and succulent meat inside the juicy flour! 5star made up and the score is now 2:2

It came down to dessert. There was only one sweet counter. That day, it was the banana pancake. It looked like it was straight out of the streets of Bangkok, but I wasn’t going to make any judgements till I ate one. We watched as a chef behind the counter carefully stretched out the dough and heated it in the tawa. He sliced bananas and added all the condiments. Once folded, he dressed it with various sauces and placed a dollop of ice cream and handed it to us. I took one without the ice cream. Yes, it was nice, yes, it was flavourful, but no, it didn’t match the banana pancakes you get in Thailand! So, it was street food 3, 5 star 2.

Dessert from their regular buffet was as excellent as usual and it complemented the meal well. While there were only four counters for street food (and the cuisine changes every day, so maybe some day there will be a Doner or a Wurst stall), but if you have two helpings from each stall, it can fill you up. There is always the rest of the buffet if you need more to fill you!

The festival is on till the end of May and is priced along with the buffet at The Dining Room, Park Hyatt. 

via Blogger http://ift.tt/2sa2sXW

5 Star, Chennai, Dessert, Eating out, Food Festivals, Indian, Indonesian, North Indian, Street Food

From the street to the 5 star hotel

Street food is meant to be eaten on the street. No amount of five star intervention has traditionally added anything more to street food. If anything, it has only diluted it. Some say that the sweat plays a role in the flavour. I hope I never find out if that is true, though. Some say that the heat and the air play roles in the flavours of the street. Some say that it is all of the above and more put together.

Every once in a while though, street food gets a good variation. Not better or worse, but a good variation. The ongoing street food festival at The Dining Room, Park Hyatt hotel, is one such. While it is a part of their usual excellent buffet, there is enough from the street food counters that you could give the regular buffet (except dessert of course) a miss.

One of the tough foods to give a fancy make over is the vada pav and the pav bhaji. The chefs here gave the former a beautiful makeover and the latter a not so good one. The vada pav here with a nice potato patty was served with a fried chilly inside. With super soft buns and a nice tangy potato inside, this was a good makeover to the usually humble vada pav. The pav bhaji, though served with the same nice pav simply didn’t match the vada pav.  At the end of the first counter, scores were tied and it was Street Food 1, 5 star 1. The chilly not being super spicy helped!

Then came the variation. A keema vada pav. No, not keema pav, but a keema vada pav. Or should we call it a Shami pav? Unlike the keema pav which comes with keema instead of a bhaji, this was a mutton cutlet stuffed inside the buns and served with the chilly on the side. I stuffed the chilly inside the bun and burnt my tongue. I guess no two chillies are the same, since the first one was not hot and this one was burning every cell of my digestive system. The kebab inside though was beautifully flavoured and I took another piece and took my chance with another chilly. They were made for each other, this time. See? You only need to find the right chilly in your life! 😉

Then we came to the Laksa counter. An Indonesian Laksa, the pet food counter of the exec chef Teku. There was no blachaang in the laksa, but he was able to bring out beautiful flavours in Laksa without it. Yes, the coconut milk seemed a little thicker, but this was a richer laksa. No blachaang, so street food wins. SF: 2, 5S: 1. There was the momo stall next to the Laksa. Variations of momos, but the one that stood out was the pan fried momo. No street food momo (at least in South India) I believe can match the flavour of this pan fried momo that has Asian flavours and succulent meat inside the juicy flour! 5star made up and the score is now 2:2

It came down to dessert. There was only one sweet counter. That day, it was the banana pancake. It looked like it was straight out of the streets of Bangkok, but I wasn’t going to make any judgements till I ate one. We watched as a chef behind the counter carefully stretched out the dough and heated it in the tawa. He sliced bananas and added all the condiments. Once folded, he dressed it with various sauces and placed a dollop of ice cream and handed it to us. I took one without the ice cream. Yes, it was nice, yes, it was flavourful, but no, it didn’t match the banana pancakes you get in Thailand! So, it was street food 3, 5 star 2.

Dessert from their regular buffet was as excellent as usual and it complemented the meal well. While there were only four counters for street food (and the cuisine changes every day, so maybe some day there will be a Doner or a Wurst stall), but if you have two helpings from each stall, it can fill you up. There is always the rest of the buffet if you need more to fill you!

The festival is on till the end of May and is priced along with the buffet at The Dining Room, Park Hyatt. 

via Blogger http://ift.tt/2sa2sXW

5 Star, Chennai, Dessert, Eating out, Food Festivals, Indian, Indonesian, North Indian, Street Food

From the street to the 5 star hotel

Street food is meant to be eaten on the street. No amount of five star intervention has traditionally added anything more to street food. If anything, it has only diluted it. Some say that the sweat plays a role in the flavour. I hope I never find out if that is true, though. Some say that the heat and the air play roles in the flavours of the street. Some say that it is all of the above and more put together.

Every once in a while though, street food gets a good variation. Not better or worse, but a good variation. The ongoing street food festival at The Dining Room, Park Hyatt hotel, is one such. While it is a part of their usual excellent buffet, there is enough from the street food counters that you could give the regular buffet (except dessert of course) a miss.

One of the tough foods to give a fancy make over is the vada pav and the pav bhaji. The chefs here gave the former a beautiful makeover and the latter a not so good one. The vada pav here with a nice potato patty was served with a fried chilly inside. With super soft buns and a nice tangy potato inside, this was a good makeover to the usually humble vada pav. The pav bhaji, though served with the same nice pav simply didn’t match the vada pav.  At the end of the first counter, scores were tied and it was Street Food 1, 5 star 1. The chilly not being super spicy helped!

Then came the variation. A keema vada pav. No, not keema pav, but a keema vada pav. Or should we call it a Shami pav? Unlike the keema pav which comes with keema instead of a bhaji, this was a mutton cutlet stuffed inside the buns and served with the chilly on the side. I stuffed the chilly inside the bun and burnt my tongue. I guess no two chillies are the same, since the first one was not hot and this one was burning every cell of my digestive system. The kebab inside though was beautifully flavoured and I took another piece and took my chance with another chilly. They were made for each other, this time. See? You only need to find the right chilly in your life! 😉

Then we came to the Laksa counter. An Indonesian Laksa, the pet food counter of the exec chef Teku. There was no blachaang in the laksa, but he was able to bring out beautiful flavours in Laksa without it. Yes, the coconut milk seemed a little thicker, but this was a richer laksa. No blachaang, so street food wins. SF: 2, 5S: 1. There was the momo stall next to the Laksa. Variations of momos, but the one that stood out was the pan fried momo. No street food momo (at least in South India) I believe can match the flavour of this pan fried momo that has Asian flavours and succulent meat inside the juicy flour! 5star made up and the score is now 2:2

It came down to dessert. There was only one sweet counter. That day, it was the banana pancake. It looked like it was straight out of the streets of Bangkok, but I wasn’t going to make any judgements till I ate one. We watched as a chef behind the counter carefully stretched out the dough and heated it in the tawa. He sliced bananas and added all the condiments. Once folded, he dressed it with various sauces and placed a dollop of ice cream and handed it to us. I took one without the ice cream. Yes, it was nice, yes, it was flavourful, but no, it didn’t match the banana pancakes you get in Thailand! So, it was street food 3, 5 star 2.

Dessert from their regular buffet was as excellent as usual and it complemented the meal well. While there were only four counters for street food (and the cuisine changes every day, so maybe some day there will be a Doner or a Wurst stall), but if you have two helpings from each stall, it can fill you up. There is always the rest of the buffet if you need more to fill you!

The festival is on till the end of May and is priced along with the buffet at The Dining Room, Park Hyatt. 

via Blogger http://ift.tt/2sa2sXW

5 Star, Chennai, Dessert, Eating out, Food Festivals, Indian, Indonesian, North Indian, Street Food

From the street to the 5 star hotel

Street food is meant to be eaten on the street. No amount of five star intervention has traditionally added anything more to street food. If anything, it has only diluted it. Some say that the sweat plays a role in the flavour. I hope I never find out if that is true, though. Some say that the heat and the air play roles in the flavours of the street. Some say that it is all of the above and more put together.

Every once in a while though, street food gets a good variation. Not better or worse, but a good variation. The ongoing street food festival at The Dining Room, Park Hyatt hotel, is one such. While it is a part of their usual excellent buffet, there is enough from the street food counters that you could give the regular buffet (except dessert of course) a miss.

One of the tough foods to give a fancy make over is the vada pav and the pav bhaji. The chefs here gave the former a beautiful makeover and the latter a not so good one. The vada pav here with a nice potato patty was served with a fried chilly inside. With super soft buns and a nice tangy potato inside, this was a good makeover to the usually humble vada pav. The pav bhaji, though served with the same nice pav simply didn’t match the vada pav.  At the end of the first counter, scores were tied and it was Street Food 1, 5 star 1. The chilly not being super spicy helped!

Then came the variation. A keema vada pav. No, not keema pav, but a keema vada pav. Or should we call it a Shami pav? Unlike the keema pav which comes with keema instead of a bhaji, this was a mutton cutlet stuffed inside the buns and served with the chilly on the side. I stuffed the chilly inside the bun and burnt my tongue. I guess no two chillies are the same, since the first one was not hot and this one was burning every cell of my digestive system. The kebab inside though was beautifully flavoured and I took another piece and took my chance with another chilly. They were made for each other, this time. See? You only need to find the right chilly in your life! 😉

Then we came to the Laksa counter. An Indonesian Laksa, the pet food counter of the exec chef Teku. There was no blachaang in the laksa, but he was able to bring out beautiful flavours in Laksa without it. Yes, the coconut milk seemed a little thicker, but this was a richer laksa. No blachaang, so street food wins. SF: 2, 5S: 1. There was the momo stall next to the Laksa. Variations of momos, but the one that stood out was the pan fried momo. No street food momo (at least in South India) I believe can match the flavour of this pan fried momo that has Asian flavours and succulent meat inside the juicy flour! 5star made up and the score is now 2:2

It came down to dessert. There was only one sweet counter. That day, it was the banana pancake. It looked like it was straight out of the streets of Bangkok, but I wasn’t going to make any judgements till I ate one. We watched as a chef behind the counter carefully stretched out the dough and heated it in the tawa. He sliced bananas and added all the condiments. Once folded, he dressed it with various sauces and placed a dollop of ice cream and handed it to us. I took one without the ice cream. Yes, it was nice, yes, it was flavourful, but no, it didn’t match the banana pancakes you get in Thailand! So, it was street food 3, 5 star 2.

Dessert from their regular buffet was as excellent as usual and it complemented the meal well. While there were only four counters for street food (and the cuisine changes every day, so maybe some day there will be a Doner or a Wurst stall), but if you have two helpings from each stall, it can fill you up. There is always the rest of the buffet if you need more to fill you!

The festival is on till the end of May and is priced along with the buffet at The Dining Room, Park Hyatt. 

via Blogger http://ift.tt/2sa2sXW

5 Star, Chennai, Dessert, Eating out, Food Festivals, Indian, Indonesian, North Indian, Street Food

From the street to the 5 star hotel

Street food is meant to be eaten on the street. No amount of five star intervention has traditionally added anything more to street food. If anything, it has only diluted it. Some say that the sweat plays a role in the flavour. I hope I never find out if that is true, though. Some say that the heat and the air play roles in the flavours of the street. Some say that it is all of the above and more put together.

Every once in a while though, street food gets a good variation. Not better or worse, but a good variation. The ongoing street food festival at The Dining Room, Park Hyatt hotel, is one such. While it is a part of their usual excellent buffet, there is enough from the street food counters that you could give the regular buffet (except dessert of course) a miss.

One of the tough foods to give a fancy make over is the vada pav and the pav bhaji. The chefs here gave the former a beautiful makeover and the latter a not so good one. The vada pav here with a nice potato patty was served with a fried chilly inside. With super soft buns and a nice tangy potato inside, this was a good makeover to the usually humble vada pav. The pav bhaji, though served with the same nice pav simply didn’t match the vada pav.  At the end of the first counter, scores were tied and it was Street Food 1, 5 star 1. The chilly not being super spicy helped!

Then came the variation. A keema vada pav. No, not keema pav, but a keema vada pav. Or should we call it a Shami pav? Unlike the keema pav which comes with keema instead of a bhaji, this was a mutton cutlet stuffed inside the buns and served with the chilly on the side. I stuffed the chilly inside the bun and burnt my tongue. I guess no two chillies are the same, since the first one was not hot and this one was burning every cell of my digestive system. The kebab inside though was beautifully flavoured and I took another piece and took my chance with another chilly. They were made for each other, this time. See? You only need to find the right chilly in your life! 😉

Then we came to the Laksa counter. An Indonesian Laksa, the pet food counter of the exec chef Teku. There was no blachaang in the laksa, but he was able to bring out beautiful flavours in Laksa without it. Yes, the coconut milk seemed a little thicker, but this was a richer laksa. No blachaang, so street food wins. SF: 2, 5S: 1. There was the momo stall next to the Laksa. Variations of momos, but the one that stood out was the pan fried momo. No street food momo (at least in South India) I believe can match the flavour of this pan fried momo that has Asian flavours and succulent meat inside the juicy flour! 5star made up and the score is now 2:2

It came down to dessert. There was only one sweet counter. That day, it was the banana pancake. It looked like it was straight out of the streets of Bangkok, but I wasn’t going to make any judgements till I ate one. We watched as a chef behind the counter carefully stretched out the dough and heated it in the tawa. He sliced bananas and added all the condiments. Once folded, he dressed it with various sauces and placed a dollop of ice cream and handed it to us. I took one without the ice cream. Yes, it was nice, yes, it was flavourful, but no, it didn’t match the banana pancakes you get in Thailand! So, it was street food 3, 5 star 2.

Dessert from their regular buffet was as excellent as usual and it complemented the meal well. While there were only four counters for street food (and the cuisine changes every day, so maybe some day there will be a Doner or a Wurst stall), but if you have two helpings from each stall, it can fill you up. There is always the rest of the buffet if you need more to fill you!

The festival is on till the end of May and is priced along with the buffet at The Dining Room, Park Hyatt. 

via Blogger http://ift.tt/2sa2sXW

Awadhi, Chennai, Eating out, Food Festivals, Indian, North Indian

2 Royal dishes you don’t need teeth for

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When there is an Awadhi food festival anywhere, you can judge the whole festival by their Galouti Kebab. If it is on the menu the day you go, that is! I’ve been unlucky sometimes, but time around luck was on my side. I am going to focus on two stunning dishes. Besides the great jelabi with curd that is apparently a breakfast staple in Lucknow.

The Galouti. The visiting chef, the winner of the first edition of Masterchef India has decided  to serve the food of his hometown instead of doing it the Italian way! And just for that, my respects for him are high. With deep knowledge of the cuisine along with some technical things like the differences between attar and ittar (the former is a just a perfume and the latter can be used both for food and to smell nice!), the chef dissects the differences between Awadhi and Mughalai with ease. The use of saffron, rather the non-use of saffron seems to be the biggest difference and without the food being as rich and heavy as the Mughal counterparts, Awadh is one of my favourite Indian cuisines.

The night would have simply belonged to the Galouti kebab. The chef dismisses the story about the king who couldn’t chew and all that and insisted that the Kakori kebab is his favourite, toppling the Galouti, but there was no Kakori kebab on the menu that day. So, Galouti is still king. Whether there was a king behind the story or not. Beautifully spiced, soft and melt-in-the-mouth served on a tiny paratha, there was nothing to not love about the Galouti.

But there was an underdog who didn’t let the Galouti run away with the prize. The lamb gravy called the Karele ka Korma. If I wasn’t so biased towards a Galouti, the winner that night would have been this korma. Making a melt-in-the-mouth kebab with meat that was minced, then minced again and then made in to paste suddenly didn’t seem like a big deal. The gravy with chunks of mutton, almost as easily melted away. With the super soft naan, the sheermal, giving stiff competition to the evening that could easily be titled, melt-in-your-mouth, the lamb was simply the winner. But due to my self confessed bias, I will declare the lamb as the joint winner with the galouti.

I didn’t taste much else, but the little bit of biriyani, supposedly the king of rice, was overshadowed by its humble side-kick, the raita. So much so, that I left the biriyani alone and drank the bhagara baingan raita. Literally. With beautifully spiced curd with nice nutty flavour notes, the biriyani had no chance of competing.

This is possibly what happens when a passionate chef wins a Masterchef title and still goes back to his roots! Reasonable perfection at a young age!

Awadhi Food Festival is on till the 16th of April at the Dining Room, Park Hyatt, Velachery.

via Blogger http://ift.tt/2pg24G8

Awadhi, Chennai, Eating out, Food Festivals, Indian, North Indian

2 Royal dishes you don’t need teeth for

\

When there is an Awadhi food festival anywhere, you can judge the whole festival by their Galouti Kebab. If it is on the menu the day you go, that is! I’ve been unlucky sometimes, but time around luck was on my side. I am going to focus on two stunning dishes. Besides the great jelabi with curd that is apparently a breakfast staple in Lucknow.

The Galouti. The visiting chef, the winner of the first edition of Masterchef India has decided  to serve the food of his hometown instead of doing it the Italian way! And just for that, my respects for him are high. With deep knowledge of the cuisine along with some technical things like the differences between attar and ittar (the former is a just a perfume and the latter can be used both for food and to smell nice!), the chef dissects the differences between Awadhi and Mughalai with ease. The use of saffron, rather the non-use of saffron seems to be the biggest difference and without the food being as rich and heavy as the Mughal counterparts, Awadh is one of my favourite Indian cuisines.

The night would have simply belonged to the Galouti kebab. The chef dismisses the story about the king who couldn’t chew and all that and insisted that the Kakori kebab is his favourite, toppling the Galouti, but there was no Kakori kebab on the menu that day. So, Galouti is still king. Whether there was a king behind the story or not. Beautifully spiced, soft and melt-in-the-mouth served on a tiny paratha, there was nothing to not love about the Galouti.

But there was an underdog who didn’t let the Galouti run away with the prize. The lamb gravy called the Karele ka Korma. If I wasn’t so biased towards a Galouti, the winner that night would have been this korma. Making a melt-in-the-mouth kebab with meat that was minced, then minced again and then made in to paste suddenly didn’t seem like a big deal. The gravy with chunks of mutton, almost as easily melted away. With the super soft naan, the sheermal, giving stiff competition to the evening that could easily be titled, melt-in-your-mouth, the lamb was simply the winner. But due to my self confessed bias, I will declare the lamb as the joint winner with the galouti.

I didn’t taste much else, but the little bit of biriyani, supposedly the king of rice, was overshadowed by its humble side-kick, the raita. So much so, that I left the biriyani alone and drank the bhagara baingan raita. Literally. With beautifully spiced curd with nice nutty flavour notes, the biriyani had no chance of competing.

This is possibly what happens when a passionate chef wins a Masterchef title and still goes back to his roots! Reasonable perfection at a young age!

Awadhi Food Festival is on till the 16th of April at the Dining Room, Park Hyatt, Velachery.

via Blogger http://ift.tt/2pg24G8