Velvet ‘n Cream, Chocolate Pudding Supreme

Chocolate Pudding

There’s only one thing to turn to as a mood enhancer when us Tadka girls get together after a long gap, having each succumbed to the despair of illnesses alternating with inertia – chocolate. We’d say dessert, but it wouldn’t possibly have the same bearing unless it comprised cocoa. And so one sunny afternoon we huddled together to gorge on a delicious, spicy, homely meal that hit most of the right spots, as we caught up on this, that and the other. We then settled cozily into our alcoves on opposite sides of couches, thumbs twiddling in anticipation for the clock to tick at least a minute or two before we could barge into the kitchen and dive face-down into the lavish depths of rich chocolate pudding waiting for us in the refrigerator. There wasn’t much to be said once we did – just experienced, the way you would a Broadway musical – with all your senses open and in the moment. Figuratively speaking, of course, because coming to think of it: you wouldn’t want to eat this in public.

Chocolate Pudding

Intense Chocolate Pudding

(Serves 5-6)

  • 1/3 cup plus 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 2½ tbsp cornflour/ cornstarch 
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1¾ cup milk
  • ¼ cup cream
  • 120gm good quality dark chocolate, chopped
  • ½ teaspoon instant coffee 
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  1. In a medium, heavy bottom saucepan, stir together the sugar, cocoa, cornflour and salt.
  2. Place on a low flame and slowly whisk in the milk and cream. Stirring continuously cook for about 10 minutes or until the pudding thickens and starts to bubble on the sides.
  3. Stir in the dark chocolate and coffee. Once the chocolate melts into the pudding take the pan off the heat.
  4. Stir in the vanilla.
  5. Pour the pudding into a jug and then into individual ramekins. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a few hours.
  6. Dust with cocoa powder and pile on dollops of whipped cream, if desired. A few chocolate shavings on top would be a lovely finishing touch.

Chocolate Pudding

Adapted from here – Alice Medrich’s Chocolate Pudding

Chocolate Pudding




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Here’s to Healthy Snackin’ – Zucchini Chillas

Zucchini Chilla

We’re back on the school routine wagon, with umpteen mails urging parents to stick to healthy snack and lunch options flooding our inboxes, from the kindly coordinators. A seemly plot, if you ask us, when our own preferences are taken into consideration, what with the mounting piles of organic fruits, especially mangoes, and crisp green vegetables in our weekly takings. We never miss an opportunity to slink typically boring vegetables into everyday meals, and here we did just that by tossing in some grated zucchini with that yesteryear classic from Mom’s recipe repertoire – besan chilla. The outcome was delicious, and it showed in the smiles of contentment on our super hungry school goers’ faces. These are great as a breakfast option too and they’ll keep your little champs filled and fulfilled, even if it’s only until the time that the much awaited lunch bell dings!

Zucchini Chilla

Zucchini Chilla (Chickpea flour crepes)

(Makes 6)

  • 1.5 cups grated zucchini (One medium zucchini)
  • 1 cup chickpea flour/besan, sifted
  • 2 tbsp brown rice flour
  • Salt to taste
  • ¼ tsp red chilli powder
  • ½ tsp chaat masala
  • Pinch of turmeric
  • 1 green chilli, de-seeded and minced, optional
  • Handful of fresh coriander leaves, chopped
  • ¼ tsp lemon zest
  • ¼ cup of water, or as needed
  1.  Mix together all the ingredients except the water in a large mixing bowl. Set aside for 15 minutes. The zucchini will start to release its water and make the flour wet.
  2. Add enough water to make a pancake batter type consistency. Mix well.
  3. Preheat a nonstick tava or griddle, grease lightly. Pour in a ladle of batter in the centre and use the ladle to spread the batter into a 6″ circle. Cook on medium heat until the chilla browns on the bottom and then flip and cook the other side.
  4. Serve hot, with tomato ketchup, chutney or raita.

Zucchini Chilla


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Restaurant Review: Mango Festival at Grand Mercure

It has often been said that the towering piles of mangoes in all their green-gold hued glory are the only thing that make summers bearable in India. Celebrating the mango season with an over-the-top meal featuring the raw and ripe fruits in every dish seemed just the thing to do at a time when the heat had invaded even the usual pleasant climes of Bengaluru. The Grand Mercure, nestled in a quiet side street of Koramangala showcases the king of fruits in a mango festival every summer and this year we decided to head over and see what the fuss was all about.

Grand Mercure Mango2

The meal started with a light appetizer – a vegetarian Mango Caprese salad (above bottom-right). This was beautifully plated and looked really pretty. We enjoyed the pairing of juicy slices of mango with halved cherry tomatoes and the more intensely flavoured slivers of sundried tomatoes, mild mozzarella, crisp lettuce and micro greens. The non-vegetarian version (above top right) had shrimp and raw mangoes, with a soy chilli dressing. Both the salads were fairly lightly dressed and it would be good to call for some extra dressing on the side so that the flavours come through.

The other item on the appetizer menu is the Mango poppadams, in a choice of Falafel or Chicken (above left). The falafel version wins this one hands down. The bite-sized crispy falafels, with a light mango salad and creamy tzatziki dressing went well together and looked cute in the little dish made of papad. The chicken version could have used a little more lacked a little something to make it pop. Eat these quickly since the papad bowl starts to get soggy with the salad inside!

Grand Mercure Mango1

The mango-based cocktails that we had were a tad disappointing. They lacked the zing and freshness that one might expect from a fresh mango drink, and also perhaps, a garnish or two to up the glamour quotient. We sipped on the cocktail on the left in the picture above; this had mango and apricot juices, with a lot of pulp messing with the consistency of the drink. The Aam panna (Non alcoholic, but the version we tried had vodka in it) had a nice punch to it and was assertively spiced.

Grand Mercure Mango3

The vegetarian entrees were definitely the highlight of the mango menu. The balsamic grilled vegetables (above left) were tender-crisp and nicely glazed. They came perched on a scoop of Parmesan Mango Polenta that was really creamy and flavourful. The ravioli (above top right) had spinach, ricotta and raw mango inside and was served with a mango sauce..again this dish was enjoyed by everyone.

We’re always happy to see a good Thai curry (above bottom right) and this one was done really well, with succulent chunks of sour raw mango providing a nice twist to the regular curry. This was served with a wonderfully fragrant jasmine rice.

Grand Mercure Mango4For the non-vegetarian entrees there was a choice of fish, chicken and tenderloin. The Chicken breast stuffed with raw mangoes and mushrooms (above left) was delicious. The Grilled Fish with raw mango piccada (above top right) had a lot of elements on the plate but somehow lacked oomph and the sprouts that it was topped with struck a slightly discordant note in the dish. 

Grand Mercure Mango The eagerly awaited mango dessert course had some hits and misses. The Mango Panacotta with the Basil Raspberry Coulis (above left) was not set too well but the cubes of fruit with the custardy creaminess of the pannacotta were pleasant enough. The Passion fruit and Mango Tart had a hint of rosemary and came topped with thick slices of fresh mango..a little doughy-ness in the bottom crust needs to be addressed here. We did find the Thai inspired Kaffir lime leaf crepe stuffed with fresh mangoes and drizzled with a mango sauce a little heavy on the kaffir lime but folks who enjoy the intense flavour might like this dish.

It was definitely a novelty and a pleasure to savour the flavours of the season’s best mangoes highlighted in each and every dish. Mango lovers will enjoy this menu and the chef’s efforts to present the King of fruits in new and delicious avatars.

Promotion Period: Available everyday from 2nd May 2014 – 17th May 2014, 7pm to 11pm
Phone: 91-80-4512 1212
Accepts Cards: Yes
Parking: Valet
Address: 12th Main Restaurant,
Grand Mercure Bangalore,
12th Main, 3rd Block, Koramangala,
Bangalore- 560034 
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Restaurant Review: Monkey Bar, Indiranagar

Monkey Bar1

Monkey Bar has been on our must-go list ever since we moved back to Bangalore. We’ve heard and read so much about Chef Manu Chandra, the quirky Monkey Bar ambiance, the superb food, and of course the cocktails. So, it is safe to say that we were pretty kicked about being invited to check out their new restaurant in Indiranagar, Bangalore.

First impressions..the decor looked warm and interesting but not overly cluttered. Small and large knick knacks were scattered around, the odd carved wooden frame sharing space with rustic chalk boards, wacky posters and framed pop art, scooters and liberal doses of the trademark monkey accents. The seating was casual, a few booths and the bar at the ground floor and more seating in the mezzanine floor that also houses pool and foosball tables for those inclined towards a slightly more active rendezvous with friends.

Monkey Bar2

We started off sampling a couple of the cocktails. Wild Leaf with vodka, lime leaves, passion fruit and orange was pleasingly citrusy and refreshing. The Ginger Rogers in the cute ceramic cup with gin, ginger ale and peach juice in it had the expected kick from the ginger and a nice background fruitiness.  

Monkey Bar3

There’s no dearth of conversation starters at Monkey Bar; every wall, window and niche has something to remark on, and your table top is no exception. Blair’s Sudden Death Sauce was what we chatted about while waiting for the food to arrive. This of course led to the sweetish sauce served with the first appetizers being kicked up with a healthy dollop of the aptly titled Death Sauce and the results were really not pretty to watch. This sauce comes with a skull and crossbones on the label and several well-deserved warnings. It should ideally be served out with a tiny medicine dropper!

Monkey Bar4

There’s really nothing that one can gripe about when handed a plate of hot and crisp fried dumplings. The Crab Rangoon, with real crab meat and cream cheese are an American-Chinese classic, with the volume turned up by the chef. The brown and crunchy edges, the gooey, melted cream cheese and a nice, sweet crab flavour inside all combine to make this dish a real winner.

We ate a lot of the mild and slightly sweetish Thai-style deviled fish since it was one of the first dishes served, and we were ravenous at that point. The Tempura Calamari that came next was great for slow snacking, the fried calamari tossed in a dry mixture of green curry, wasabi and plenty of green onions.

Monkey Bar5

We loved the Sloppy Joe! The shredded pork had been mixed with just the right amount of (not too sweet) barbecue sauce and served with crunchy coleslaw and a pickle on the side. A paper cone of sweet potato crisps completed this delightful platter.

Another sandwich that we tried was the Goan Chorizo Pao, this had a vinegary and garlicky filling. The Polish-style Pierogis (pan-fried dumplings) served with sour cream come with a choice of chicken, chilli cheese or pork sausage fillings and reminded us of the popular Mom and Pop Pierogi joints in Chicago strip-malls that we used to frequent.

Monkey Bar6

If you can’t rise from the table without partaking of a rice dish, there is a very hearty Parsee Orderlies’ Mutton curry served with savoury rice and finished with a sprinkling of cheese (Amul?)! The Berry Pulao – an Iranian-style pulav with chunks of chicken and a generous measure of nicely caramelised onions is perfectly cooked and very tasty.

We also tried the Pork Belly sliders that were not overly fatty and come in share-able mini portions, but if you’re going for a pork dish then the Sloppy Joes mentioned earlier would get our vote.

Monkey Bar7

The desserts featured two of our favourite flavour combinations – chocolate with caramel and lemon with strawberry. Both the sweet plates were quite delectable. We’d love to carry a bucket of the Monkey Bar caramel popcorn to our next movie date! The Chocolate Pot de Creme that it was served atop was chocolaty, lush and very satisfying. The slices of a slightly dry cake served with this dessert seemed unnecessary though, and didn’t really stand up to the bold chocolate-caramel flavours and the textures of the dish.

The Lemon Cake is a lemon lovers delight and has several components that help amp up its no-holds-barred tartness. It is served with a scoop of ice cream and sliced strawberries (and again, a couple of lady finger cookies that were really not needed on that beautiful plate).

Yes, Monkey Bar at Indiranagar gets our thumbs up, it is a pretty cool place to spend an evening with friends and linger over the cocktails, small plates and big flavours.

Address: #610, 12th Main, HAL 2nd Stage, Indiranagar, Bangalore (Diagonally opp SBI Bank)
Phone: (80) 44114455
Cuisine: Mix of flavours from everywhere, Breakfast
Alcohol: Yes
Accepts Cards: Yes
Parking: Valet



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Crackling & Crisp: Khara Biscuits


It’s amazing how a little cookie can be the key to a flurry of memories. Memories that are awash with the most endearing pastiche of smells, tastes, textures, and sights – of butter, spice, sweet, crumbly, golden brown, crisp, carom, cumin, laughter, and lips smeared with crumbs that stuck on to tell a tale or two. Butter cookies, both the sweet and savory varieties, were hot picks for evening snacks all through the growing up years in India. In the pre-oven era, they were made right on the stove top, with a bed of sand warming up in a heavy-bottomed pan, and the doughy blobs, neatly placed on a tin sheet over the sand, heaving and puffing slowly, before reaching a mesmerizing light brown edge.

With a few tweaks here and there, years hence, this is the way our Khara Biscuits crumble, having careened from rudimentary kitchens and ovens to slightly more refined ones.


Crackling and Crisp: Khara Biscuits
(Yield: about 15 biscuits, depending on size)

  • All-purpose Flour/ Maida – 1 1/2 cups
  • Whole Wheat Flour – 1/2 cup (WWF can be substituted with Spelt Flour too)
  • Salt – 1 tsp
  • Butter, softened – 1/3 cup
  • Sugar – 3-4 tsp
  • Thick Yogurt (at room temperature) – 2 tbsp
  • Green Chillies (minced) – 1 tsp (or according to taste)
  • Coriander Leaves/ Cilantro (minced) – 1 tbsp
  • Roasted Cumin Seeds/ Jeera – 1 tsp

Preheat the oven to 170 C. Line the baking tray with parchment or grease with butter/ oil. Set aside.

Sift the flours and salt together in a bowl and set aside.

In another bowl, cream butter and sugar till soft, add the 2 tbsp yogurt and continue to beat. Add the flours and mix slowly, adding a little bit of extra yogurt if required. Mix in the chopped chilies and coriander leaves/ cilantro and roasted cumin/ jeera.

Roll the dough to preferred thickness and cut with cookie cutters of your choice. Place on baking tray and bake for about 15 minutes.

Cool on a wire rack and transfer to an air-tight jar when completely cooled.


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Bring out the Salsa! Brown Rice, Mexican-style

Ever since the words Mexican Pink Rice appeared in a newspaper article, replete with a recipe, several years ago when we were starry-eyed eager beavers for Sunday specials to feed our families, we’ve had a thing for, well, Mexican Pink Rice.

While the Pink in it really refers to the flush skinned Pinto beans they use, the flavors running through the course of it are really what make it delectable and they’re not very different from what comes off the spices we experiment with in our everyday cooking. We took that idea as a key to work around and came up with our own spicy and slick version, with beans on the side.

Mexican Brown Rice

Brown Rice, Mexican-style

(Serves 4)

  • 1 Cup quick cooking brown rice (We used Daawat brand)
  • 2 Tbsp oil
  • 1 Large onion, minced
  • 1 Red bell pepper, chopped
  • 6 Spring onions, white and green parts chopped separately
  • 2-3 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1-3 Jalapenos, minced (to taste)
  • 1 Teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ Teaspoon red chilli powder/cayenne
  • Pinch of turmeric
  • 5 Medium tomatoes, blanched, skin removed and pureed
  • Approx 1 cup of water or vegetable stock
  • Salt to taste
  • ½ Teaspoon sugar
  • ½ cup chopped coriander/cilantro leaves
  • 2 Teaspoons lemon juice
  • ¼ Cup grated cheese
  • Sour cream, red or black beans, tomato salsa and tortilla chips to accompany the rice
  1. Wash and soak the brown rice for 15-30 minutes. Drain well.
  2. Heat the oil in a large pressure cooker and add the onion, bell pepper and spring onion whites. Add a couple of pinches of salt and cook the vegetables on medium-low heat, stirring often, for about 5-6 minutes. Now add the garlic and jalapenos and stir for another minute. Toss in the cumin, chilli and turmeric.
  3. Add the drained rice to the pan and toast it, stirring gently.
  4. Meanwhile measure the tomato puree and add water or stock to make it up to 2 cups*. Bring this mixture up to a boil.
  5. Carefully pour the liquid into the rice. Stir well. Add salt and sugar.
  6. Pressure cook the rice until done* – bring the cooker up to pressure, reduce the heat to low and cook for 3 minutes. Allow the steam to release then open the cooker. Allow the rice to cool slightly. Stir in the lemon juice and coriander leaves. Garnish with the reserved spring onion greens and grated cheese.

* – Adjust the amount of liquid and cooking times to your brand of brown rice, as per the directions on the pack or your experience.

Mexican Brown Rice

Serve the rice in a shallow bowl with a scoop of beans, a dollop of sour cream and plenty of salsa. Add a few tortilla chips for crunch.

Mexican Brown Rice

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Restaurant Review: Soup, Salad & Sorbet at The Market, Ritz-Carlton

The Market

We could not find a better way to kick-start the week than stopping by to sample the Soup, Salad and Sorbet spread at The Market, an all-day buffet restaurant at The Ritz-Carlton, Bangalore. The restaurant has a light and open feel to it – over-sized windows and a complimenting colour-scheme of navy and silver, with bunches of red carnations providing splashes of colour.

The Market

There were four soups on the buffet to choose from that day. The pork and barley chowder was warm and wholesome, with carrots and celery providing the veggie quotient. Right after that we tasted the spiced Inji or ginger rasam. Since it was served as a soup the rasam had been homogenised into a soupy smooth consistency, with a pleasant sourness and a kick from the ginger.

There was also a cold gazpacho on offer, this seemed mild and something one could sip on along with the salads too. Rounding up the quartet was a wonton soup with prawns from the Asian counter. This was a clear soup and the broth seemed to lack flavour though the vegetables and dumplings were perfectly cooked.

The Market

Beckoning us invitingly to the next course was the elaborate salad bar with its array of crisp veggies, meats, dressings and add-on goodies, to concoct one’s own bowl of fresh, crunchy goodness. There were also several prepared salads, the onerous work of pairing and tossing the ingredients having been done by the chefs behind the scenes. We enjoyed quite a few of these, and appreciated the fact that there were no heavy, cream-swamped calorie bombs here.

The Market

The salad options included a choice of crispy chicken, lamb and marinated prawns and it was the latter that we relished the most, the prawns, having absorbed a ton of the light dressing had become really juicy and flavour-packed.

The Market

One can also enjoy a selection of mezze on the side – a scarlet beetroot hummus was on offer that day along with marinated figs, olives and more, with crispy lavash and grissini to scoop these up.

The Market

The highlight of the meal for us was the two salads served at the table – a rocking Caesar with shards of Parmesan and a beautiful quail’s egg on top. The egg, sadly was a mite overcooked but the salad itself was lovely and had us finishing every single bite. The other stunner was a simple plate showcasing fresh tomatoes – halved red and yellow cherry varieties with a single slice of a purple beauty. With nothing but a smear of the creamy cheese to dress them, they tasted like summer on a plate.

The Market

There’s no denying that the Sorbet part of the trio was what had drawn us to The Market that day. We tried all of the six sorbets on offer. The vibrantly coloured beetroot-cumin sorbet tasted quite like raw beets and could perhaps have worked as a savoury offering since it was very marginally sweetened. It was definitely not dessert. Texture-wise the sunny yellow pumpkin sorbet nailed it for us, and is perfect if you like..well, pumpkin. The pineapple flavour was delicious, as was the green apple-mint, though this one had an icy texture, reminding us of a granita. The plum with brandy rounded off the sorbet tray nicely, again with a more grainy texture.

The Market

There are also myriad options to pump up your cup of sorbet, including fresh fruit, candy, wafers, ice-cream cones, marshmallows and such. Though we do love to pile on the toppings on our ice cream sundaes, the lightness of sorbets is something we like to savour on its own. At our request the chef plated the six sorbets beautifully, and we enjoyed photographing these.

Overall, the Soup, Salad and Sorbet meal at The Market is great for a light working lunch. With summer-like weather hitting Bangalore mid-February it also seems a fitting way to welcome the hot months lying ahead. We do wish that the chef would add some more interesting and perhaps slightly out of the ordinary soups to the buffet. The lightly dressed salads with their just-picked quality of vegetables are definitely an attraction. The sorbets did leave us craving something a little more for dessert. Some of these could be sweetened a tad more, at least to suit our tastebuds, and perhaps prepared with a smoother texture, since they are serving as dessert here.

Address: The Market, The Ritz-Carlton,
No. 99, Residency Road, Bangalore 560025
Phone: +91 80 4914 8000
Hours of operation: 6:30 am to 12:30 am
Valet parking, Credit cards accepted
Soup, Salad and Sorbet: 1200/- plus taxes, not including beverages or other items on the buffet
Available: 17 – 21 February and 24 – 28 February 2014 with a break over the weekend. 
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Saying it with Strawberries

Strawberries and Cream Mousse

There’s little else in terms of a wholly satisfying experience in the kitchen than laying your hands on the season’s freshest produce to work wonders with. Plump strawberries that glisten like rubies in the sunshine dappled shacks of the local vendor, call out to you from a distance, this time of the year. You bag a load of them faster than your culinarily inclined mind could line up the things you can do with them. Cupcakes and milkshakes are passé, but cheesecake and mousse cannot entirely be ruled out. And with Valentine’s Day just a blink away, there has to be one choice and it has to be made now. You get to work and you make magic, naturally. You hold up your creation: lush, velveteen depths of berried deliciousness, brimming with creamy, chocolatey strains, topped off with a magic carpet of red and a cloud of white – and all else comes to a stand still. The little hands that reach out for this gem of a dessert, armed ably with a spoon and an enviable appetite, almost makes up for being left with very little of it for yourself.

Strawberries and Cream Mousse

Strawberries and Cream Mousse 

(Serves 6-8) 

  • 1 Cup strained strawberry puree, divided*
  • 200 gm white chocolate, chopped fine
  • 2 teaspoons gelatin, divided
  • 450ml heavy whipping cream (such as Milky Mist or Nilgiris brands in South India)
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons icing sugar
  • 3-4 strawberries, halved, for garnish, optional
  1. Place the white chocolate in a large glass bowl and melt it in 30 seconds bursts in the microwave at low power. Stir until smooth. Set aside.
  2. Sprinkle 1.5 tsp gelatin over a shallow bowl containing 1/8 cup cool water.
  3. Stir together ¼ cup of the cream and the 1/2 cup icing sugar in a small bowl. Add the gelatin mixture and stir to dissolve the gelatin. You can heat this mixture slightly to help the gelatin dissolve, if needed.
  4. Make sure that the chocolate is still melted and smooth. Now, slowly pour the cream-gelatin mixture into the bowl of melted chocolate, and stir until smooth. Whisk in 3/4 cup of the strawberry purée, reserving the remaining ¼ cup.
  5. Whip the remaining cream until soft peaks form. Reserve a little of the whipped cream for garnish, if desired.
  6. Fold the whipped cream into the strawberry mixture. Scoop the mousse into the serving bowl or individual cups. Refrigerate.

For the topping-

  1. Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 tsp gelatin over a shallow bowl containing 2 tbsp cool water. Let this soak for a few minutes. Heat gently until the gelatin melts.
  2. Stir the gelatin into the reserved strawberry puree along with the remaining 2tbsp icing sugar. Pour over the mousse in a thin layer. Refrigerate until set.

Garnish with the reserved whipped cream and halved strawberries.

* To make the strawberry puree – Place about 300gm washed and hulled strawberries in a mixer and process briefly until smooth. Strain and discard the seeds.

Strawberries and Cream Mousse

The mousse is also lovely when made in individual portions, or perhaps portions for two, to share with your sweetie.

Strawberries and Cream Mousse

Adapted from –


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Restaurant Review: Riwaz at The Ritz Carlton, Bangalore

Riwaz There’s really nothing we enjoy better than a grand Indian meal, especially when it’s been done right – classic dishes, true to their roots, but with a twist or two to add a spark and lift them out of the humdrum. Riwaz, at the swanky Ritz-Carlton, Residency Road, Bangalore pretty much knocks it out of the park with its signature specialties based on the cuisine of the North-west frontier of India. Located on Level 4 in the first and at present, only Ritz-Carlton hotel in India, this classy restaurant opens only for dinner. We picked a balmy Sunday evening to visit this beautiful property at their invitation and enjoyed every bit of the meal and the ritzy experience.

After being greeted warmly by the staff at the entrance we headed upstairs to the restaurant, having gotten only a fleeting glimpse of the grandeur and charm of the hotel. The entrance to the restaurant is dominated by a glittering wine ‘enoteca’, which, the good dictionary tells us is an Italian word used to describe a repository for wines. There are a couple of tables in this area devoted to wine and whiskey tasting, perfect for spending a leisurely evening with friends, if you are so inclined, before heading to the main restaurant area for dinner.

Riwaz The ambiance at Riwaz is modern and elegant, the decor is understated, perhaps to allow the kitchen and the food to take centre-stage. The highlight of the interiors is the sparkling open kitchen that seems to operate almost too peacefully considering the complexity of the delicacies they were dishing out. Three barrel-like, gleaming tandoors have the chefs bustling around them, armed with the traditional red-checked cloth pads for pasting breads to the sides of the oven, long skewers to retrieve them and wicked-looking seekhs for kababs.

A bevy of tables in white, beige and silver, and two lavishly appointed but cozy private dining rooms completes the scene. The hostess mentioned the theme of Indian jaalis or mesh-work that runs through the hotel and we saw it echoed in the screens here, the menus and later, in the garnishes that the chef created. Ably holding fort in the kitchen was Chef Ramandeep, the designer of the complete Riwaz food experience and we were fortunate to have our meal planned and crafted by him personally.

Riwaz We settled down at a table right next to the open kitchen and started out by selecting our drinks. The restaurant’s beverage menu includes several cocktails and alcohol-free options inspired by indigenous spices and other ingredients. We tasted the Sweet and Spice, a green concoction with the fresh coolness of coriander leaves and the lemony notes of coriander seeds. Nectar, with pomegranate juice and whiskey was smooth and interesting as well. Both the drinks that we tried were very mildly sweetened, and complemented the food nicely. Alongside we were served a light amuse bouche – a dahi vada bite adorned with a dainty pastry ring.

Riwaz We had left the choice of dishes to Chef Ramandeep and he obliged by selecting for us an interesting trio of appetizers. These were served with a bowl of vegetable crisps and a salad with chilli dressing. The Sunehari Jhinga (one of Chef’s signature dishes) – jumbo prawns with a delicate marinade of yogurt and saffron – was light and delightfully juicy and did not last long on the platter. Minced herbs, ground nuts and perhaps a hint of pomegranate made the Seekh Kebab Kandahari, which is a Pashtoon staple, a rich and flavourful treat. The third kebab was a ghee-lavished piece of tandoor-cooked chicken, the Turra Kebab, made to resemble the crest of a turban or a cock’s comb!

Riwaz The vegetarian platter included a mild and velvety smooth Sabji aur Gucchi di Galouti, a delicious meat-free avatar of the popular kabab that is usually made with ground meat. The Chef suggested that we eat bites of these patties alternating with the vegetable crisps (lotus root, spinach and okra) for a contrast of textures. Accompanying this was a drizzle of beetroot chutney that was meant to provide a change from the ubiquitous green chutney that is usually served with kababs.

If you love garlic then the multi-layered Tehdar Paneer Tikka with a minted garlic stuffing would be a good choice, though it was a tad too garlicky for our liking. We did like the Bharwan Tandoori Aloo with its stuffing of raisins and peas, all wrapped in a tandoori masala and grilled to a crisp tenderness.

Riwaz The spread laid out by the chef for our main course had us truly bedazzled. The superbly-spiced Baluchi Raan, lavished with beaten gold leaf was a star, as was the gorgeous Lobster Masala. At over Rs. 1700 per portion these are also the two most expensive dishes on the Riwaz menu. The raan or leg of lamb is marinated overnight and then slow cooked in the tandoor, a long process that results in the most delicious and tender chunks of lamb on your plate. This is lamb with a melt-in-the-mouth texture that you’re really not going to get with another method of cooking.

The Lobster masala had a lot going for it apart from the dramatic presentation. We’re not huge fans of drowning quality seafood in heavy masalas and sauces but this dish did work. The lobster chunks were soft and succulent and the gravy was mild and complementary.

The haleem served by the chef was a little out of place amidst the grandeur of the other two dishes, but deliciously so. Its down-home flavours were soothing and we could add our own toppings of diced tomato, caramelised onions and herb chiffonade for added flavour.

Riwaz Our vegetarian pick of the day was the Dal Makhani, which Chef asserted is the best in Bangalore. Well, we’re not playing the numbers game, but it was definitely a very appetizing preparation and we found ourselves going back for bites of dal after tasting the other dishes. The Kandahari Bharwan Gucchi Sabj had meaty morel mushrooms from Kashmir and we savoured this rare delicacy. Another dish served was the Bharwan Kofta, the koftas here could be softer, perhaps they were not heated through. Sarson ka saag is a winter specialty of the region and it was served with juliennes of ginger and the traditional accompaniments of ghee and jaggery.

Riwaz Even the most down to earth curry or basic dal tastes delectable when scooped up with hot-off-the-heat bread. Left to us we would have opted for the simplest tandoori rotis to counter the rich creaminess of the curries. But it seemed that Chef Ramandeep was in a mood to pamper us. Three bread baskets with a mind-boggling assortment of fresh rotis had us scrambling to taste each one while they were still warm. The Chef’s signature bakarkhani was yeasty and satisfying, as was the Rogani naan. Peshawari kulcha, khasta roti, missi roti..we loved them all. There was even a special tandoori parantha (pictured in the centre above) that was to be paired with the lobster dish – this was delicately flavored with star anise and herbs.


Just when we thought we could not eat another morsel, the dum biriyanis made their appearance. They were beautifully presented, with a crispy layer of pastry sealing the top, that was then garnished with chopped herbs and melon seeds. The pastry was cut and folded back with appropriate ceremony and then the rice was served up. We could only manage a spoonful at this point but could imagine heading back to Riwaz after a few days to appreciate this dish better.


The dessert platters were quite spectacular and thankfully did not have the heaviness that traditional Indian desserts are usually associated with. The saffron and pista sandesh is always a favourite and this was one of the best we’ve eaten. The Riwaz Belgian chocolate and cardamom pudding served in an earthen cup was warm from the oven and the molten chocolate concoction was luscious indeed.

The garnish of a graceful mesh made from crisp pastry brought back to mind the hostess’s comment about the jaali theme running through the hotel. And a special mention must be made for the pyramid of saffron ice cream. This had been placed on a crust that tasted like a katli, then covered in a shower of soan papdi and finished with a heavy coat of beaten silver. Accouterments aside, the saffron ice cream itself was superb, and we’d suggest that the chef add it to the dessert menu.


The triangular slices of a refreshing pan kulfi (pictured in the centre of the above collage) were garnished with a dry pan mixture that made it the perfect meal-closer for any pan fanatic. Served with the kulfi were tiny anise-scented meringues to add a sweet crunch. Flavoured chocolates and jellies were offered to end the meal, but we were so full that we could only admire these and take pictures.

The restaurant absolutely lived up to its claim of serving great dishes inspired by the North-west. We thoroughly enjoyed the best of Riwaz put out for us by Chef Ramandeep and will remember this meal for a long time. A word for the excellent service at the restaurant, which was warm, friendly and attentive. We also liked the interesting anecdotes behind some of the dishes which were narrated to us by the chef and can also be found on the menu itself. We’d recommend that you head to Riwaz for that special occasion, to savor their Indian-inspired drinks, perfect kababs, curries and amazing desserts.

Address: Riwaz, The Ritz-Carlton,
No. 99, Residency Road, Bangalore 560025
Phone: +91 80 4914 8000
Hours of operation: 7 to 11:30pm
Valet parking, Credit cards accepted
Meal for two: Approx. 4000/- plus taxes, not including beverages
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Review – Chocolate Tour at Jus’Trufs Chocolaterie

Living in the ‘burbs has its merits, no doubt – swanky eateries within an arm’s reach, and even trips to specialty stores clocked in a few kilometers to buy a block of imported cheese, or exotic produce. But when it’s a call between fine chocolate and long distance commute, we’d pick the former. Which is just what we did by traversing half the city, stopping just short of the international airport, and heading on over to Jus’Trufs, Bangalore’s one of a kind chocolate boutique, for their chocolate tour.


A warm welcome awaited us the moment we stirred into the chocolaterie, literally and figuratively – a strong, heady dose of cocoa in a chocolate shot – to set the mood for what was to come.

justrufs2Upstairs was a well organized set up of slides and a suave speaker, who took us through the history of not just the chocolaterie, but of chocolate itself. Informative and illuminating facts about the conducive environmental conditions for growing cocoa, right down to how the bitter, dark beans are transformed into edible chocolate, were discussed at length.

justrufs3Then came the exciting part of the session – getting hands-on experience with making chocolate truffles. Different forms of chocolate – white, milk, dark – were not only tinkered with, but tasted. We even got to grind the nibs and sample them in all their biting, tingling, raw glory. There were pre-made batches of chocolate ganache for the truffle starter exercise, which got off to a rather good beginning with marbled balls, dark chocolate solos and white chocolate solos being the popular choices.

Tadka cooking-002Next, the chocolate callets were melted, and the tempering process was demonstrated by the head chocolatier, followed by every participant taking a shot at it, some willingly and some not so willingly, given the amount of elbow grease it involved. The tempering done, the chocolate balls being left to set in the fridge were dunked in the melted chocolate, with a host of fun sprinkles at our disposal to add finishing touches to the creations.


While the truffles went back into the refrigerator, we sat around and nibbled on some tasty sandwiches and talked about the journey of the Jus’Trufs’ team, among other things. Finally, the truffles were boxed and readied to take home, and those interested walked right down to the shop to pick up their choice of handmade chocolates and holiday treats. After a quick peek into the factory where the chocolates are handmade and boxed for customised orders, we were homeward bound, nibbling on our very own, handcrafted truffles.

This chocolate tour is a unique and fun experience, and although a mite steep at 2000/- per head, we recommend it if you’re a die-hard chocolate lover. Even better if you have a child or children to take along, or are looking to celebrate a special day doing something interesting. To schedule your personalised chocolate tour, contact Jus’Trufs on:

Location: Jus’Trufs Cafe, Jakkur Road, Jakkur, Bangalore 560064.

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