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ravum last won the day on November 15 2012

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  1. ravum

    Serafina Bangalore

    On a short visit in Bangalore and at Suresh's recommendation we tried the set lunch at Serafina   The restaurant of Citrus flavors:   I started  with a Virgin Sangria mocktail  which was was refreshing  and strongly citrus flavored   A ginger and carrot soup was poured at our table, nothing special here.     I had a Citrus salad -minimal citrus and feta which was creamy. Greens were crisp and fresh and yummy. Rehydrated raisins masquerading as sultanas. It looked identical to Suresh's D. Chopra Salad with a small differrence. Suresh did you find out about the reference to Deepakbhai?       This was followed by another Beans and grains salad, very simple and rustic light and firm beans.    A new addition to the menu - a passion fruit and beet sorbet based mocktail was a visually complex delight as the sorbet created a slow moving cascade of scarlet within the sunny interior of the glass in slow motion. The tangy passionfruit contrasted well with the sweet sorbet.     Beet risotto was very al dente, nice -  with crisp bits of onion for textural contrast and Arugula and fried Mozzarella bits.   Sandwich on ciabatta with grilled veggies and goat cheese - bread was nice and chewy and grilled well  with a light green salad and  onion rings that could be fried well..   The lemon tart is deceptively light on the exterior while concealing a heart of rich creme anglais surrounded by a sweet shell.   However., the torta di mele is an excellent take the classic apple pie. The accompanying  sorbets are really fresh, authentic and . Warm and redolent of home and hearth, it was a truly satisfying end to a great meal. And a special mention for our cheerful and polite server Mr. Kaleem -  
  2. ravum

    Sattvam Restaurant

    This is a long overdue review. Many apologies to the Chef and Suresh for procrastinating   We were in Bangalore for three days in April and while we had made extensive dining plans,they were all upended and we ate at Sattvam every single day!! I am a vegetarian who loves onion and adores garlic, so was sceptical when Suresh suggested I try Sattvic fine dining. Given the obvious Hare Krishna influence on the place, I was also not sure as whether it was going to be any better than the 'Gokulam' restaurant at ISKCON.   One gulp of the exquisitely balanced, gorgeous Kesar tulsi Shikanji made me a convert.  Saying it is a lemonade with saffron and basil does not do it justice - it was fragrant, perfumed and fills your mouth the way a fine Gewurtztraminer does ; with lingering afternotes of Chandan. Think this too much praise for a Sharbat ? ; try it and you will agree with me.     A tasting menu was organised on Day 1 beginning with the Shikanji.   This was followed by Paneer Anardana Tikki, Hariyali Malai kofta , Kesar Badam Tikki accompanied by a standard Dahi Dhania chutney and an excellent Saffron mustard chutney ( a happy marriage of Bengali kasaundi and Spanish saffron Aioli). Yes, the chef does love Saffron! They were all light and good , the paneer was liked even by those  at our table who never eat it otherwise.   The main courses were Kali Dal , Amritras Kofte, Samose ki Sabzi and Aloo Sabzi with Kamarakh. Have never eaten or considered making Kali Dal without Pyaz,+ lasun. This one was flavoured with hing and of course, saffron!! The saffron was not discernible to me but the dal was creamy and delicious.   The winner was Aloo with karmarakh , yellow chilli powder and yellow capsicum. Using the sour neglected fruit in a potato sabzi showcases how creatively Chef Aditya is a locavore and does not need fancy imported stuff to impress the palate.   and i doubt if I have tasted a better Jalebi. That too with a squeeze of Lime!   After all this, it was with a heavy heart (and stomach), that I ate only half the amazing Ghevar   The next day, we opted to try the buffet - it has North Indian along with some Marwari and South Indian dishes - with the mandatory curd rice. The presentation of single servings is beautiful and my 2 year old still asks for the Paani Puri!.   Soup, Salads, Starters, Desserts , even a chocolate fountain - they have it all covered. It is such a treat to walk through an entire buffet knowing you can eat anything Well, we took 2 hours to eat through most of it and skipped dinner.   We were back for dinner on our last night and ordered A la Carte. The broccoli Apple Shorba with Saffron and Almonds is light and exquisite. The khichdi was a little heavy on mustard and the Palak was a tad too greasy. The Narangi Flan sounded interesting but the only Dessert available was the Ghevar. A little disappointing, but they were very crowded that day and the previous experiences were excellent, so will give them a wide berth this time.   What I took away from the experience of Sattvam was how delicious and satisfying simple food can be - it is easy to add lots of oil,ghee, masalas in the name of taste. It takes a lot more care and attention to detail to make the  mundane extraordinary. Without onions and garlic, the flavours of individual vegetables stand out - this was exemplified in the Broccoli Shorba, I usually add onions to all my soups, at least in the stock. Just removing that one element and cooking with restraint, makes such an eye popping, palate energising difference.   It is one of the few restaurants that have immediately persuaded me to  incorporate a few changes to my cooking as well.   Good luck to Chef Aditya and I do hope he expands into the Chennai market soon!!!
  3. ravum

    How to cure earthern pot(Kalam)

    I have some beautiful clay pots from "Kumbham" [url="http://www.re-cognition.org/crafts/kitchen.html#"]http://www.re-cognition.org/crafts/kitchen.html#[/url]. The pots are soaked in water in which rice is cooked for a day. Then rinsed and the process repeated for 3 days. Ready to use on the stovetop. Have found that tamarind based gravies are wonderful cooked in clay. Andhra pulusus or TN kuzhambhus are perfect to savour the earthiness of clay
  4. ravum

    Tirupati Laddu

    We once had a guest who was a priestly cook at the hallowed kitchens of the temple, of course we had ask about the laddu method and ingredients!! It contains about 30% jaggery. It used to last weeks without refrigeration in the '90's(maybe higher sugar and ghee content?) but lasts just a few days now.. Sadly, sweet shops in Chennai now make better Tirupati style laddus than the ones from the temple, kya zamana aa gaya...
  5. ravum

    Hyatt Bangalore and pink Poppadom

    Most five stars have beautiful ambience and Ista is no exception. The service was excellent but did not mention that as we were invited as guests. Am a South Indian living in Chennai (TN and Kerala have among the highest rates of diabetes in the country); people here do love their mithai. There is almost a stampede at sweet shops during festivals and they are very crowded even on regular days. Of course, sugar consumption alone does not contribute to this malaise, but was opining that it could be among one of the factors.
  6. ravum

    Hyatt Bangalore and pink Poppadom

    Suresh, we did have a wonderful time. All of us were amazed that there was no pushing or shoving at the Golden Temple inspite of substantial crowds. Foodwise, the sweets ( or rather, the reduced sugar i them) were a big surprise. The Khara Prashad at the temple, lassis, kheer at the langar were all so subtly (NOT an adjective I'd associate with Punjabis [img]http://www.gourmetindia.com//public/style_emoticons/default/biggrin.png[/img] ) sweet, it taught me the value of restraint as a cook. There was ghee aplenty, but what a gentle touch with gur/ sugar!! The south tends to drown its sweets in sugar by comparison (leading to very high rates of diabetes) I got Dhingri and Amritsari Wadis. We also did a samosa taste off comparing 4 different ones (all ghee fried). The winner was a no name stall behind the temple that had a huge crowd around it.
  7. ravum

    Hyatt Bangalore and pink Poppadom

    We were in Amritsar last week and the light our lucky culinary guiding star led us to dinner at Ista. There were six of us with widely varying tastes, most a bit hesitant to try Ista as the plan had been to focus our undivided gastronomic attention on street food/dhabas. But we were a very happy bunch at the end of the meal; this was the best meal we had in Amritsar!! Read on to find out the greasy spoon inside scoop on Ista, Amritsar Dhaba food in Amritsar is delicious in large part due to unabashed usage of ghee. We were served a traditional vegetarian Punjabi meal at Ista; it is a tough task to emulate dhaba food without drowning it in ghee and spices. But Chef Suman Chakrabarty delighted us with his version of home style khana. First up were sweet and savoury lassis (without the mandatory malai and served in sane 200ml portions). The sweet lassi was mildly flavoured with cardamom and soothing. The savoury lassi got my vote - could taste anardana, jeera, kala namak among the flavours. Zingy and refreshing, it really hit the spot. Appetizers were served next. Aloo akhrot ki Tikki , Michi paneer Tikka, Tandoori Gobhi and tandoori Mushrooms. They were served with a pudina dhai chutney and an onion kachumbar salad. Regular aloo tikki with walnuts, tender, not greasy and mildly spiced. These were acclaimed as favorites by all at our table Chef Suman informed us that he used "kuta hua" mirch for the tikka; that give it some texture and bursts of heat. It would have been even better if the paneer was salted to balance the mirchi. The tandoori gobhi was coated with mustard paste and well done. The mushrooms were average. [attachment=3802:Ista Starters.JPG] Kulche chole is an iconic ritual in this town and one we were not looking forward to - Why? We had Chole ( always with baking soda) at almost every meal for 3 days and did not look forward to another bowl. Despite the apprehension, this Chole (definitely no soda) knocked our socks off. It is among the best I have ever eaten (including my own). Anardana and lemon juice are used for acidity and a house made 12 spice chole masala aids in the magic. Maybe Chef Chakraborty will be generous and part with the recipe? The Kulcha was limp, rubbery and the sole disappointment in an otherwise excellent meal. Rice was then served with Pakodi Kadhi and Aloo Wadiyan. These were perfectly executed but I was so enamored by the Chole that I did not do justice to them. [attachment=3803:Ista Wadi Kadhi (2).JPG] The desserts were fantastic with one of us wishing that they had been served at the start of the meal [img]http://www.gourmetindia.com//public/style_emoticons/default/tongue.png[/img] Jalebi rabdi (of course fried in ghee), Gulab jamun ( yes,yes, ghee) and a frothy fruit cream capped a memorable dinner [attachment=3801:Ista better dessert (2).JPG] Oh and how can I not include that my 18 month old toddler loved his khichdi and smacked his lips in delight - Chef, take a bow!! P.S. My perceptions about the food were not swayed by the generosity of Ista in hosting us.
  8. ravum

    Lokopakara - Food in Ancient Karnataka

    Fascinating...I especially like the methods of rice preservation and the ancient idlis without rice. Have eaten the idlis at the Varadaraja perumal temple and they were delicious (as all temple offerings are) plus they do last 3 or 4 days in hot and humid Chennai!! Am going to try rice cooked in basil water and storing payasam in an earthen pot immersed in water. Maybe the taste will improve... A wonderful effort Ammini; thank you for hunting down these treasures which desperately need to be preserved and passed on and for sharing them with us!!
  9. ravum

    Sindhi cuisine

    Suresh, Saucy, Alka - what a wonderful effort to document a community's culture. How about joining / supporting the effort on the culinary front? Has anyone heard about this sweet? I'd like to give it a shot with ghee instead of dalda.. http://foodmazaa.blogspot.in/2010/11/kurs-sindhi-sweet-diwali-special-2010.html
  10. ravum

    Untold Tales of Verghese Kurien

    Love the last paragraph!! What an optimist!![img]http://www.gourmetindia.com//public/style_emoticons/default/smile.png[/img] Are you still with the Dairy Development Board, Sharad?
  11. ravum

    Indian herbs and spices - Ingredients

    @Dr. Raman Kumar, where do you buy the molasses/sheera? .
  12. ravum

    Indian herbs and spices - Ingredients

    There is also a Maharastrian "Pandhara Tikhat" - White hot powder. Green chillies are dried under direct sunlight till they become pale and brittle. This is powdered with salt and used where heat is required but colour is not,
  13. ravum

    Chef Imtiaz Qureshi

    Seconding bague, you are a bloody lucky man!!! The meal is a steal at 2k with whisky, BTW - why a whisky pairing? Interesting to note both curd and malt vinegar are used in the tandoori murgh, maybe malt for browning?
  14. Anil, The difference between flavoured alcohol and Rumtopf seems to be that it is the fruit which is consumed in the latter. At the end of six months, the liquid is supposed to taste sweet and the fruit pregnant with alcohol. the fruit is eaten over ice cream or stirred into cocktails. Narrow necked sauce bottles? How did you get the fruit in? Pushed through funnel?
  15. ravum

    Adupadi Chettinad restaurant

    I am a wimp when it comes to eating teekha food , but even I enjoy eating in Chettiar homes (They graciously humour a vegetarian sometimes) My chettiar neighbour insists that the chettinad chains use excessive chilly powder to mask inferior cuts of meat. They do use a lot of spices (especially star anise) but home food is not high handed with chillies. With many spices, but leaving capsaicin in the background. Karuvaatu/ karuvadu are dried fish and are used like anchovies to flavour dishes.