Restaurant Review: Lunch @ Riwaz, The Ritz Carlton

Lunch at Riwaz

Riwaz at the Ritz Carlton is one of the finest restaurants in Bangalore, serving authentic and inspired North-west Frontier cuisine. Chef Ramandeep had hosted us for dinner at Riwaz not too long ago, and what a grand and unforgettable experience that meal was! When we heard that they are now open for lunch, we had to take them up on their invitation to go and check it out. So, off we trotted to the Ritz once more, and after trudging through the infamous Bangalore traffic and coping with inconveniently AWOL taxis, reached in plenty of time for the first course.

What is now on offer at Riwaz is a prix fixe three-course quick business lunch, that gives the vegetarian as well as the non-vegetarian diner several choice points in each course. The chefs promise that the entire experience would take not more than 45 minutes, though it did take considerably longer for our group that day. The all-inclusive pricing of Rs. 1200/-with taxes, is a definite attraction and gives folks a great opportunity to get a taste of the Riwaz classics, relax in the distinctive ambiance and of course, enjoy the impeccable service.

Lunch at Riwaz

Bhatti Da Kukkud, Jaali designs on the windows, saffron cream brew

The first course brought us the Bhatti Da Kukkud – chicken that had been marinated in mustard oil and “Bhatti Masala”, and chargrilled. The chicken was succulent, and the little salad and red chili chutney that came with the dish added crunch and freshness. We couldn’t really taste the zing of mustard but the spices were beautifully melded and quite perfect.

Lunch at Riwaz

Tandoori roti, Subz dum biriyani, Saag Murgh, Subz dum biriyani

For the main course one can select a bread-based meal that consists of a choice of main course, with a bowl of Dal Makhani, Steam Rice and Chef’s Bread Basket served alongside. The other option is a biriyani-based meal, where the Subz or Murgh Dum Biriyani is served with a raita.

The Saag murgh that came as the main course was simply prepared and very delicious, the ginger, garlic and caraway flavouring the velvety saag nicely, and nary a streak of cream in sight. We’d recommend pairing plain tandoori rotis with this dish to go along with its rustic, home-style flavours. The Dal Makhani that is also part of the meal, was spot-on, with a depth of flavour that long, slow simmering brings.

The other dish we tried was the Subz Dum biriyani. The presentation of the Riwaz biriyani is quite spectacular. The rice is given dum under a thick, flaky layer of golden pastry that is peeled away at the table to reveal the delicious, herb-scented hot biriyani underneath. This is the route to go for biriyani fans.

Lunch at Riwaz

Dessert gives one a choice of gulab jamun, fresh fruit or kulfi. Our vote goes to the kulfi, which comes in two flavours, with a dark chocolate disk and some blingy gold foil too. Now, who can resist that!

A great deal and good food is what awaits you at lunchtime at Riwaz! Here are some details –

Address: Riwaz, The Ritz-Carlton,

No. 99, Residency Road, Bangalore 560025

Phone: +91 80 4914 8000

Hours of operation: 12:30 to 3pm (Mon to Sat)

Valet parking

Credit cards accepted

Meal for one: Rs. 1200/- including taxes

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Restaurant Review: Chili’s

It doesn’t take more than “Chili..” to excite the TexMex buffs in us to hop into our automobiles and sail to the other end of town for a bite. Which is why, when we were requested to review the lunch at Chili’s – having especially been given a run down on the menu by Chef Abhijeet, we were eager to dig in. We’ve relished the Southern-flavored fare in Chili’s outlets in the US before and so it wasn’t entirely without reason that we were a little too excited.

Chili's Located bang on 100 feet road in bustling Indiranagar, the restaurant has a bright, airy and colourful vibe. The seating is casual and comfortable, and there are large-screen TVs around if you’re looking to catch up on the sport of the day. The restaurant is split into different seating areas, a bar on the first floor, and an option to sit outdoors too. Portions are large and the service is friendly and helpful.

Chili's We started off with a light citrus cooler and a springy, passion fruit flavored drink that was rather full bodied. Both the drinks came in nicely chilled glasses and were light and refreshing.

Chili's

Smoked Salmon Salad, Texas Cheese Poppers, Wings over Buffalo, Chicken Crispers

We requested a mixed platter of appetizers so that we could try a little bit of everything. The platter made its appearance shortly, along with three creamy sauces – ranch dressing, chipotle ranch and avocado ranch. Now we had been really craving tangy, fresh buttermilk Ranch dressing but this one tasted more like something out of a bottle, though it was nice to have three variations to dunk our appetizers into.

The vegetarian Texas Cheese Poppers that came in the platter were crisp outside and cheesy inside, as any good popper should be, but sadly, a trifle too salty for our liking. The Wings over Buffalo were literally finger-licking good..deep fried wings and drumettes tossed in spicy Buffalo sauce. These would give any Andhra chicken dish stiff competition on the Scoville scale! The Chicken Crispers, also deep fried, were perfectly crispy, with a light breading that went well with a honey-mustard sauce served alongside.

We also tried a Smoked Salmon salad chosen from the Chili’s special quarterly menu. We were warned that this would be very salty, and it was definitely so. Generous chunks of smoked salmon were placed atop a juicy onion slaw and garnished with little nibbles of avocado. This was served with some tortilla chips. A very interesting dish that perhaps needs a little more work to balance the flavours and saltiness.

Chili's

Nachos, Chili’s menu, Southwestern Rolls

We also enjoyed the vegetarian Southwestern rolls, these had the typical Tex-Mex combination of black beans and corn, with some spinach and mushrooms thrown in.

Another winner was the unusual nachos that were more like a Mexican pizza than the pedestrian pile of fried tortilla chips with toppings that most places serve. The base of these nachos was an excellent chewy-crisp tortilla that had been covered in at least two kinds of grated cheese, and grilled. The tortilla tasted like it had been handmade and had a lovely, multi-grain texture to it. Served with the classic accompaniments of cool sour cream, guacamole and pico de gallo salsa, this was definitely the dish of the day for us.

Chili's

New Orleans Jambalaya, Southwest Caesar Salad (vegetarian), and the outdoor seating

We were almost full with just the array of appetizers by then and were looking for a lighter main-course option. We decided on the Southwest Caesar Salad (vegetarian) and the New Orleans Jambalaya. The salad was light and crisp, the Parmesan Cheese shards on top adding just the right amount of pep to the mildly dressed lettuce. We had requested for a mix of veges to pump up the salad and it came with big wedges of yellow squash, which we aren’t particularly fans of, apart from broccoli florets, carrots and some tortilla strips for crunch.

The Jambalaya was liberally spiced with Cajun seasoning, and the flavours of paprika, garlic and pepper stood out. Bacon slivers, succulent prawns, bits of chicken and lots of veggies made this a tasty dish, but the rice seemed more like a fried rice, with each grain separate, rather than a regular jambalaya where the rice has a slightly softer and creamier texture from being cooked in the stock.

Chili's

Peach Bread Pudding

We aren’t ones to say no to dessert on any given day, so we decided on a Peach Bread Pudding, which hit all the right notes after the heaviness of the fare preceding it. Served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and drizzled with passion fruit syrup, it was surely a surprise winner for us. The pudding was baked to perfection and was neither too bready nor eggy – and the addition of peaches was a pleasant change.

Chili’s Indiranagar has a special quarterly menu to choose from, apart from the regular menu, and we recommend that you play around with your tastes and choices and pick from the variety on offer. There are ample choices for vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike – although those who don’t care for mushrooms have little choice but to munch through them through many dishes in the vegetarian spread. But we liked that the menu hasn’t been painstakingly Indianized save for the Tandoori Chicken & Bombay Burger.

Chili’s 

Plot 1135, HAL Stage-2, 100 Feet Road, Indiranagar, Bangalore

Phone – 080 42352526

Valet Parking, Credit Cards

Accepted Meal for two – Rs. 1500 approx

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Fruitcake Flip! Upside-down and Inside-out

Upside down fruitcake

Well into the holiday season, it hardly seems like wishful thinking, to want to acquire a dozen recipes, and a dozen-odd hands to execute them. There’s that sensational plum cake from the local bakery from several years ago that would be devoured to the last crumb, the intoxicating rum cake served during carol singing that no one could have just one slice of, the divine date and nut cake sampled at a quaint little patisserie overseas..all begging to be re-created. Still, it’s the simple old fruit and nut cake that we can hardly have enough of. In fact we love it so much that we flipped at the very idea of adding a neat little twist to it. Here’s presenting our Fruitcake Flip: deliciousness in every bite, whether you eat it upside down, or downside up. Do spare a moment to ogle at this beauty before though, one way or another!

Upside down fruitcake Upside-down Fruitcake (Makes one 9″ cake) Prep – Butter a 9″ cake pan and line it with parchment paper, butter the parchment well. Preheat the oven to 180°C / 350ºF. For the fruit – 

  • 1.5 cups chopped dried fruit (we used a mix of dark and golden raisins, prunes, figs, kiwi, dates, cranberries, blueberries, apricots, apples, currants, crystallised ginger, candied orange peels)
  • ½ cup orange juice
  1. Mix the fruit and juice together and set aside while you make the cake batter and topping.

Upside down fruitcake For the topping – 

  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons water
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  1. Combine sugar and water in a small saucepan and heat until the sugar dissolves.
  2. Increase the heat and boil the syrup until it caramelises and turns amber.
  3. Now whisk in the butter and take the pan off the heat.

Upside down fruitcake For the cake batter – 

  • ¼ cup chopped roasted almonds and pecans
  • 1 cup sugar, ground fine
  • 1½ cups + 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 85g unsalted butter, soft
  • 150 ml milk, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  1. Toss the nuts with one tablespoon of the flour and set aside.
  2. Whisk together the sugar, the remaining flour, baking powder, salt and spices in a large bowl.
  3. Add the soft butter and start beating with an hand beater or stand mixer, on low speed.
  4. Once the butter is all mixed in, add in the milk and vanilla. Beat at low speed and then increase the speed and beat the mixture for 30 seconds or so.
  5. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating at high speed for about 30 seconds after adding each egg.
  6. Scrape the sides of the pan with a spatula and beat again for 30 seconds.
  7. Fold in the nuts.

Upside-down Fruitcake  Putting it all together – 

  1. Pour the warm caramel syrup into the prepared pan and spread it all over the base of the pan.
  2. Drain the fruit and discard any excess liquid. Spread the dried fruit all over the pan, on top of the caramel.
  3. Pour the cake batter on top of the fruit and smooth the top. Tap the cake on the counter so that the batter settles well.
  4. Bake for about 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out with barely any crumbs attached.
  5. Remove the cake from the oven and let it cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Slide a knife all around the sides of the cake to loosen the sides.
  6. To invert the cake you will need a cooling rack and a tray or plate that fits under the rack. Place the rack over the top of the cake and invert both, the pan and the rack. Place the rack on the tray or plate. Wait for a few seconds, then lift the pan off slowly.
  7. Any fruit or sauce that is sticking to the pan can be scraped off and stuck back on the cake.
  8. Serve the cake warm, plain or with some lightly whipped cream.
  9. Store leftovers covered at room temperature for a couple of days.

Upside down fruitcake KitchenAid India is playing Santa this year and we are sending this cake to the Kitchen Aid Christmas Blogger Contest. We’re keeping our fingers crossed, KitchenAid! And here’s a message from them – Get a special ‘Christmas Frosting Kit’ as gift with purchase of the iconic KitchenAid 4.8 L Tilt Head Stand Mixer from 1st-31st December 2014, and make delectable memories this Christmas. For more details, visit www.christmas.kitchenaidapac.com #KitchenAidTurnsSanta

Update: And we won! A beautiful, candy red KitchenAid handmixer now sits snug on our baking shelves :)

Fruitcake Trifle Got leftover fruitcake? Make our Vanilla-flecked Fruitcake Trifle!

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Fuss-free Filter Kaapi Pannacotta

 

Filter coffee pannacotta

Life in the land of filter kaapi is a trifle more exciting than that intoxicating morning cuppa, with coconut and chili ridden breakfast varieties, and the eternal sunshine of spotless blue skies, most of the time. There are umpteen insiders’ jokes here, about people loving their filter kaapi to the extent that they’d make a pool of it to swim in, if they could. We love ours too, naturally, but just enough to take creative dessert-lovers’ jabs at it from time to time, by infusing our chocolate puddings with it, or even flavoring home made ice cream with its unmistakably strong taste. Here’s another of our efforts, an easy peasy filter kaapi pannacotta that could be dressed up or down, depending on your mood or that of your guests’.

Filter coffee pannacotta

Filter Kaapi Pannacotta

(Serves 6)

  • 8 gm/ 2.5 teaspoons gelatin
  • 500 ml cream
  • 125 gm castor sugar
  • 120 ml strong filter coffee decoction or strong espresso 
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  1. Put a quarter cup of water in a shallow bowl and sprinkle the gelatin over it. Set aside.
  2. Heat the cream and sugar in a heavy-bottomed pan set on medium-low heat, stirring often.
  3. Once the cream starts to bubble on the edges pour in the coffee. Stir well and heat through. Do not boil. Taste and add more coffee or sugar, if needed. Turn off the heat.
  4. Microwave the gelatin briefly to melt it. Pour the gelatin into the hot cream and stir well. Mix in the vanilla extract.
  5. Filter the cream mixture through a sieve into a jug. Pour into lightly greased cups or a big serving bowl, as desired. Cover with cling film and refrigerate for about 4 hours or overnight.

Filter coffee pannacotta

Top the pannacotta with whipped cream. Pour 100 ml heavy whipping cream* into a metal bowl and put it in the freezer for about 10 minutes. To the cold cream add a tablespoon of icing sugar and half a teaspoon of vanilla extract. Beat the cream until it forms soft peaks. Dollop onto the pannacotta or transfer the cream to a piping bag with a star tip and pipe it on. Drizzle some chocolate or caramel sauce over the cream or dust with a little cocoa powder.

* To whip to stiff peaks and hold up well for a few hours, dairy cream should have a high fat percentage..greater than 38%. If you’re in South India, the best options are Nilgiri’s or Milky Mist brand. We’ve tried the new Amul whipping cream and it just doesn’t whip and hold up well enough for us.

Filter Coffee Pannacotta

If you’d like to unmould the dessert, dip it briefly into a bowl of hot water, place the serving plate over the cup and quickly invert  it into the plate.

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Steeped and Syrupy – Red Wine Poached Fruit

Red wine poached fruit pears apples

There’s something about the Fall air that makes eating family meals at the table a little more special, with fresh cooked food steaming off the plates and the easy flowing conversations and laughter, all filling the house with warmth. Desserts are typically warm too, with pies and puddings getting taken out of the oven just before digging in, with the able help of overused mitts ridden with burnt brown splotches, triggering memories of past seasons, and bringing to us the aromas of stone fruits and caramel, roasted nuts and woodsy spices. The colors of these meals and desserts seem to complement those outside adequately, and the smell of Winter appears to be near..riding piggyback, as it were, on the blustery winds. Some mulled wine and soft jazz would indeed complete the scene, unless of course you choose to pour the wine into a pot and steep fruits in it. Here’s our take on a classic Fall/ Winter dessert..perfect to round off a hearty and heartwarming family meal, this time of the year.

Red wine poached fruit

 

Red Wine Poached Fruit

  • 500 ml dry red wine
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2-3 cloves
  • 1 star anise
  • 2-3 pieces of fresh orange peels*
  • 1 small vanilla bean
  • 5 firm apples or pears or a mix, firm and ripe
  1. Select a saucepan that can hold all the fruit fairly snugly without too much of empty space around it, but the fruit should not be squashed together either. Pour the wine into the empty pan and add the sugar, spices and peels.
  2. Bring the wine to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer.
  3. Meanwhile peel the fruit, keeping the stems intact. Cut away a thin slice from the bottoms so that it can sit stably.
  4. Place the fruit in the hot poaching liquid, cover and continue to simmer for about 20-30 minutes (depending on how big and how firm the fruit is). Every few minutes turn the fruit to ensure even poaching on all sides.
  5. Once the fruit is cooked but still firm, turn off the heat, uncover and allow the pot to cool. This can be done a day earlier and you can cover and place the entire pot in the fridge overnight.
  6. Remove the fruit from the poaching liquid and place in a shallow serving bowl.
  7. Bring the poaching liquid back to a simmer and cook on low heat for 15-20 minutes or until it turns slightly thick and syrupy. Cool the syrup.
  8. Drizzle the syrup over the fruit and serve at room temperature.

* – Just take the peels off a firm fresh orange with a vegetable peeler. Remove any white pith if it comes along.

IMG_9538

 

Serve the pears with vanilla ice cream or fresh whipped cream and some toasted walnuts if you care for them.

Adapted from – http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ellie-krieger/spiced-red-wine-poached-pears-recipe.html

IMG_9553

 

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The Pudding’s in the Peppers!

Bread Pudding in Peppers

A sales pitch for the Tadka kitchens would probably comprise overcrowded countertops, leftover breads, eggs and milk, butter and cheeses, and a bounty of fresh vegetables. Just enough ingredients there to appease the growing appetites in our girls, and to satiate the sudden hunger pangs of the grown-ups. So, what, other than hearty breakfasts that generations over eons have been relishing to the last crumb, can possibly be made with those staples, you ask? The options are many, but here’s one to tickle your keen taste buds: bell peppers stuffed with, hold your breath, bread pudding. Sure, any stuffing will do, even leftover hodgepodges, but what the bread pudding brings to this isn’t something that can be condensed into words, unless you’d settle for eggy and scrumptious, warm and satisfying. With crackling, cheesy tops, these peppers come out of the oven looking and smelling absolutely divine. And the divine, as they say, is really in the details, so we’ve made sure the details are rich, and flavorful.

Bread Pudding stuffed Peppers

Bread-Pudding Stuffed Peppers

Serves 2

  • ½ Cup milk or cream, or half and half
  • 1 Egg
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 Medium bell peppers, preferably red
  • 4 slices whole-wheat bread, torn up or cut into small squares
  • 2 Tbsp corn 
  • 1 Tbsp basil pesto
  • ¼ Cup grated cheese – we used a mix of gouda and mozzarella
  1. Preheat the oven to 350ºC/180ºF.
  2. Generously butter a flat baking dish that can hold four pepper halves snugly, and set it aside.
  3. Whisk together the milk/cream and egg. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
  4. Wash and dry the peppers. Hold the pepper with the stem on top cut the peppers in half. Place the halves in the prepared dish. If any of the pepper halves is wobbling then cut a very thin slice off its bottom so that it sits flat and stable in the dish.
  5. Toss together the bread, corn, pesto and half the cheese. Lightly stuff the peppers with this mixture. Set aside any excess mixture.
  6. Whisk the egg mixture once more and then pour it carefully into the peppers. Let the peppers sit for 5-10 mins and then pour in more of the egg mixture if it has all been absorbed by the bread.
  7. Cover the dish with its lid or heavy duty foil and bake the peppers for 20 minutes. Uncover and bake for another 15-20 mins or until the filling is set and the peppers are tender.
  8. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top and return to the oven just to melt the cheese. Serve hot!

Bread Pudding stuffed Peppers

Serve the peppers on their own as a starter or snack, or add a green salad to make it a light summer lunch.

Bread Pudding stuffed Peppers

We baked up the excess filling in a buttered ramekin with the remaining egg mixture poured over it..nothing goes to waste in our kitchens!

Bread Pudding stuffed Peppers

 

 

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Event: Diwali Diya Workshop at Bosch DIY Store

Diwali Diya Workshop at Bosch DIY Store

Festivals stir up all sorts of impulses and instincts..the urge to spend time with friends and family, to cook up the traditional and some not so traditional sweets and munchies, to dress up in sparkling new acquisitions and to spread a bit of glitter, shimmer and festivity around the home. Candles, pottery diyas, elegant votives, idols, rangolis, torans, fresh flowers, string lights..there are umpteen options to deck the house in festive splendor. However, the most precious decorations are the ones that are handmade amidst love, laughter and togetherness, and have heart-warming memories tucked in between the layers of paint and glue.

Diwali Diya Workshop at Bosch DIY Store

We spent an afternoon at the Bosch DIY Store, at their Diwali-themed Workshop and the time just flew by while we painted, cut, glued and taped. The good folks at the store had a lovely spread of diyas, pots, trays and CDs for us to furbish and plenty of colourful paints, baubles, embellishments, strings and glitzy braids to bedeck our creations. The Bosch hot glue gun was the prime attraction at the table and it worked like a charm, sticking anything and everything that we wanted.

Diwali Diya Workshop at Bosch DIY Store

Do check out the workshop at Adugodi, Bengaluru – it is a great way to create some festive memories with the family. There’s plenty to keep crafty kids busy while you check out some of the other fascinating DIY tools that Bosch offers. Here are the details –

Event: Free Diwali themed workshop on making diyas

Date: 18th and 19th October, 2014

Venue:

Bosch DIY Square, Adugodi,
opposite to Bosch 2nd gate,
Bannerghatta road,
Bangalore
Phone: 080 – 22109036 /65679561 |

Time: 11:00 am – 5:00 pm

Cost: -NA-

Website – http://boschathome.com/diy_square.html

 

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Restaurant Review – Sunday Brunch at Ultra High Lounge

Sunday Brunch @ Ultra High

The High Ultra Lounge, in our humble opinion, has two star attractions – the spectacular ambiance, and the delectable pan Asian creations of Chef Zhang and his dynamic team. This beautifully planned lounge space sprawled on top of the World Trade Centre in Malleswaram, Bangalore is now host to the newly launched Sunday Brunch Menu, with a wonderful spread of food and drink that truly encourages one to relax and enjoy a laid-back afternoon before facing the rush of the week (and traffic) ahead.

Sunday Brunch @ Ultra High

Much has been written about the 31st floor view here, and yes, it sure is breathtaking. At that height one would imagine that the casual outdoor seating stays breezy and pleasantly cool but if you are getting too much Sun in your eyes, then retiring to the cool, comfortable atmosphere of the indoor bar is always an option. We mostly stayed put outside, where the smokiness of the grill in the background and some peppy music added to the lively atmosphere, and the steady stream of drinks and dishes kept us happy and satisfied.

Sunday Brunch @ Ultra High

The Sunday brunch includes an unlimited selection of cocktails, wine, sangria, beer, mocktails and more. There are buffet counters for soup and salad where one can customise one’s plate or bowl with leafy greens, beautifully prepared vegetable garnishes and cooked meats. Hot appetizers, grills, sushi, dimsum and more can be picked up from the buffet, or if you’re not feeling up for the walk, then you can just place your order and the dishes are speedily brought to the tables by the super friendly and attentive staff.

We started off with Asian Spiced Potato Chips that were seriously addictive and perfect to munch on while going over the menu to decide on what to gorge on first.

Sunday Brunch @ Ultra High

The maki rolls were being prepared fresh by the chefs and totally lived up to our expectations in terms of freshness, taste and presentation. There were also options with avocado, cucumber and vegetable tempura rolls which met with the approval of the vegetarian diners at our table.

Sunday Brunch @ Ultra High

Dim sum are always a crowd-pleaser and it is easy to eat one too many when they come fresh and steaming to the table. The translucent packages with Corn and Nuts were light and clean-tasting and there was a pan-fried option too, beautifully toasted-up and stuffed with minced vegetables. Dainty dumplings with pork and onion and the Char Sui Buns were lovely and we just about stopped short of making a meal out of these steamed beauties.

Sunday Brunch @ Ultra High

The Chicken Wings hot off the outdoor grill were deliciously charred, succulent and finger-licking good. Another winner was the herbed Sweet Corn Coriander – sliced off the cob, grilled on skewers and brushed with a fresh herb paste. We didn’t expect to enjoy the obligatory paneer dish but it was quite deliciously saucy and the paneer was soft and melted in the mouth.

They were also serving several deep-fried munchies – tempura, which we didn’t opt for that day and a very crunchy Chicken Tonkasu (breaded chicken bites) with a creamy dipping sauce.

Sunday Brunch @ Ultra High

The main course had 3 curries on offer – Thai Red Curry, Randang Curry and Vietnamese Yellow Curry – and to go with them, a choice of fried/steamed rice or noodles. We tried the first two curries and appreciated the smooth depth of flavour of the Randang Curry (this came with chunks of chicken). The Thai Red Curry with tender-crisp vegetables went well with steamed rice and struck all the right lemongrass-y and galangal notes.

Sunday Brunch @ Ultra High

After the excesses of the meal all we wanted from the dessert table was a just a wee bite of sweetness. There were four desserts in dainty, two-bite portions and a large, inviting platter of fresh fruit. We liked the Orange Creme Brulee, which had us digging into the creamy pudding for the syrupy caramel underneath. The Lemon Cheesecake is good for those who like a mild and slightly muted lemon flavour in their desserts. We would rather go for a stronger punch of lemony tartness but the cake was pleasant nevertheless. Cubes of chocolate brownies and a bowl of Chocolate Darsaan rounded off the sweet offerings. This isn’t an overly lavish sweet spread..at least for those folks who head over to check out the dessert buffet on priority basis.

We totally recommend that you check out the Sunday Brunch at Ultra High Lounge the next time you’re scouting for an exciting way to spend a Sunday. Here are some details –

Address – Ultra High Lounge, Brigade Gateway, Malleswaram, Bangalore

Website – http://www.highultralounge.com/

Timing – 12:30 pm and 4:30 pm

Meal cost – Rs. 1999/- plus taxes (including unlimited food and beverages

Call – 080 – 4567 4567

Parking – Valet

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Restaurant Review: Teppan, Citibank Restaurant Week India

RWI Teppan

Teppan is one of the few specialty Japanese restaurants in Bangalore, serving a variety of dishes from the Land of the Rising Sun. The restaurant is fairly easy to locate since it is on the second floor of a building on Ulsoor Road that includes 3 other busy restaurants.  There’s really not too much in the way of decor here that one could remark upon, they’ve mostly kept it simple and clean..but as we entered the restaurant we were drawn to the communal seating around the Teppanyaki grills. These are large flat top iron griddle-type grills on which all kinds of food can be cooked, not just large cuts of meat. With the promise of dinner fresh and hot off the grill, we settled down to await our meal.

We were at Teppan that night to review the menu for Citibank Restaurant Week India, a popular 10-day event that provides an opportunity for diners to check out some of the best restaurants in their city. Most menus feature a three course set meal at a fairly reasonable heft from the wallet. You can book your table at the participating restaurants in Bangalore here for lunch or dinner, and the menus being served at each restaurant are also helpfully listed on the website so that diners can make an informed selection based on what’s on offer.

The Restaurant Week India menu at Teppan features a salad, appetizer, soup, main course, rice or noodles and dessert. Vegetarians, who might be a trifle wary about dining out at a Japanese specialty restaurant, need not fret since there is a separate vegetarian menu with ample choices. Most of the courses also have options that one can select from, for example you could opt for either a tuna or chicken salad in the non-veg menu.

RWI Teppan

We started the meal with our bowls of colourful, crunchy salads. The Fresh Tuna Salad was a real winner here, with thin slices of tuna teamed with crisp iceberg and a flavourful ponzu dressing. If you’d rather go the conventional creamy dressing route, the other option is Kurisupi tori salad – a chicken salad with a mayo-based dressing – here thin shreds of chicken had been batter-fried, resulting in it becoming a slightly hard and chewy.

The vegetarian salads were along similar lines in terms of the flavours, with the Miso-mayo dressing based Yaki Yasai Salad and the Tofu salad with sesame dressing.

RWI Teppan

We enjoyed watching the precise and skillful creation of the maki by the chefs at the open work counter. The seasoned rice, nori or seaweed sheets, fillings, tempura crunch, wasabi, sauces and toppings all layered just so, rolled tight with the help of the bamboo mat and then cut into exactly equal portions..a treat to the eyes.

RWI Teppan

For the appetizer we’d recommend going with one of the maki. Both the vegetarian and regular maki were good and were accompanied by the traditional sides of soy sauce, pickled ginger and wasabi paste. The deep-fried starter options are Tori Karaage, a spiced batter-fried chicken or the Vegetable Tempura, both these didn’t really stand out for us flavour-wise though they were adequately crunchy.

RWI Teppan

Once the house star – Teppanyaki Chef June fired up his grill we lost all interest in the menu and just sat back and watched his lightning fast moves with the knives. Chef kept up an engaging banter all through the meal and the sounds and smells of the hot food had us salivating though we’d already munched our way through the appetizers.

The main course came right off the grill and it was delicious – the vegetables stayed crisp, and the tofu, meat and fish were perfectly cooked and succulent. Chef expertly mixed sauces, chopped and tossed proteins, veggies and noodles, adding generous pats of butter and moving things around on the flat top to ensure that they didn’t overcook. All this went on amidst the rhythmic clanking and acrobatics with knives and metal spatulas, with some fire, smoke and theatrical sizzles thrown in for good measure.

Soy sauce, mirin, cooking sake, hoisin sauce..we quite lost track of what was going into which dish but once the glazed and saucy concoctions were transferred to our plates we couldn’t wait to dig in. Chef also garnished our dishes with generous quantities of crunchy fried garlic, all the while expounding on its healthful properties :)

Also served at this time was Miso shiru – miso soup with tofu and scallions. This had too strong a salty, soy taste for us to appreciate but there was plenty of other good stuff around and we focused our attention there.

RWI Teppan

The fried rice was the performance of the night. Chef spun, balanced, juggled and tossed eggs and knives. He fished an egg out of his hat, cracked it and drizzled a cupid-style heart, complete with arrows, signing off his creation on the grill in his snazzy style. The rice was as much fun as fried rice should be – every bite full of bits and bobs of scrambled eggs, vegetables, chicken and of course, truckloads of the above mentioned deep-fried garlic!

RWI Teppan

For the dessert course there is a beautifully arranged buffet and one can pick three items from the creamy concoctions on offer that day. None of these however, have any affiliation with Japanese cuisine and hail from the standard mousse-cake-brownie family.

Overall my companion and I agreed that it was a nice meal and an enjoyable evening. If you choose to visit Teppan for Citibank Restaurant Week India or even otherwise, we’d recommend that you arrive early and grab a seat at the table around the grill to enjoy the lively and interactive Teppanyaki experience. Also, if you are a newbie to Japanese food, the set menu is an easy way to sample a variety of dishes and flavours, and see what you enjoy.

Note –

  • Meal – Lunch or Dinner
  • Valid till – 28th September 2014
  • Meal cost – Rs. 900 plus taxes (Comes to about Rs. 1200) per person
  • Signature main course dishes are Rs. 200 extra per person
  • Drinks – not included but you may order a la carte
  • Reservations – Required. Reserve at Citibank Restaurant Week India
  • Address – Teppan, 2nd floor, 1/3 Ulsoor Road, Bangalore
  • Phone – 080 32569029
  • Parking – Valet
 

 

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Making Merry with Millets

Millet Kheer

Growing up in India has always felt like one big fat celebration, as if the serious aspects of life were far removed from it. There seemed to be a season for a festival and yet no reason at all for a feast. Food, dessert in particular, was always at the very core of everything: dessert to help the new neighbors settle in and draw old ones closer, dessert to share happiness and lessen the impact of woes, dessert for distant relatives and school teachers, dessert for the Gods and Demigods, dessert for domestic helpers and well, mostly all cooked by domestic Godesses. There were endless rivers of ghee, cream and milk utilized to the last drop, bowlfuls of dry fruits employed at will, handfuls of grains – sometimes pounded, sometimes whole, and bottomless cups of sugar, to be sure.

The instances when health consciousness and medicinal properties of ingredients were factored into the equation were few and far between. But here is a recipe that’s an ode to our mothers and grandmothers, who commanded the kitchen and made dessert such an integral part of our lives. Made with the wonder grain millet (rich in antioxidants, good for cholesterol & diabetes) and jaggery in place of sugar, it’s a somewhat healthy dessert, if there’s such a thing.

Millet Kheer

Foxtail Millet Kheer with Jaggery

Serves 6

  • 1 litre milk, preferably whole milk
  • A pinch of saffron
  • 2 tbsp cashew halves
  • 1 tbsp raisins
  • ¼ cup foxtail millet
  • 2 tsp ghee
  • ½ tsp cardamom powder
  • 1 cup powdered jaggery
  1. Pour the milk into a heavy bottomed pan and bring to a simmer. Cook the milk on low heat, stirring frequently, allowing it to reduce to half its quantity.
  2. Take 2 teaspoons of the hot milk in a small bowl and soak the saffron in it.
  3. Meanwhile, in a small pressure cooker set on medium heat add 1 teaspoon of ghee and then the cashew halves. Let the cashews turn golden brown and then add the raisins. Swirl them around and then remove to a dish and set aside.
  4. In the same cooker pour another teaspoon of ghee and add the millets. Roast the millets, stirring frequently for about 2 minutes. Add ¾ cup of water and then close the lid and bring the cooker to full pressure. Now turn down the heat and cook for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the pressure release on its own.
  5. Meanwhile put the jaggery and one-fourth cup of water in a pan and let it melt into a syrup. Strain and set the syrup aside to cool.
  6. Once the milk has reduced stir in the cooked millets. Simmer for about 5 minutes and then add the cardamom powder.
  7. Pour the cooled jaggery syrup into the milk and stir it well. Simmer for just a few seconds and then add the fried cashews and raisins, and the saffron.
  8. Serve hot or chilled.

Millet Kheer

Note: You can also use regular sugar instead of jaggery. Add the sugar and them simmer the kheer for 5 minutes before adding the cashews.

Millet Kheer

 

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