Paddu – 1 Teaspoon Oil Cooking

These healthy paddus make for an awesome evening snack. It is a perfect way to use up your leftover idly batter too.

Posted in 1 Teaspoon Oil Cooking, chili powder, curry leaves, easy, garam masala, masala, mustard seed, salt, snack, south Indian | Leave a comment

Restaurant Review: Shang Palace

Shang Palace5

Pics by Shangri La Hotel

The Shangri-La Hotel opened its doors to Bangalore a few months ago and now offers a range of fine dining experiences, including the specialty Chinese restaurant, Shang Palace. The restaurant serves regional cuisine from many parts of China, with a spotlight on Sichuan dishes, and of course this works all too well with spice-craving Bengalureans.

It’s a long walk down a nondescript corridor to the Shang Palace but don’t fret, because a dramatic, yet comfortable setting awaits you. The subtle Chinese accents and vibrant decor are offset by the theater of spectacular burnished gold chandeliers that seem to run as a theme throughout the hotel.

We were whisked away to one of the private dining rooms in the restaurant, and this we found lets you soak in all the extravagance of the restaurant in a convenient, intimate setting, complete with a powder room and a dedicated personal host for your party. Apart from two private dining rooms Shang Palace also offers alcoves that can work as semi-private dining spaces for groups, and there is a prominent central dining area, the heart of the restaurant.

Shang Palace1.jpg

The Shang Palace kitchens are presided over by Chef Lin Lin Yang, and we learnt that many of his team are Chinese nationals, thus bringing us the real deal – Chinese cuisine without the customary tempering and moderation for Indian taste-buds. The food is authentic, the flavours are punchy and the entire experience is superb.

The bi-lingual menu is extensive and accessible, with items being ranged into easy-to-map sections like Hot Appetizers, Cold Appetizers, Dim Sum, Barbecue and Marinated, and Hot Pot, apart from the customary classifications. Vegetarian choices are plentiful and interesting, and one of the cuisines being served is Chinese Vegetarian. The pricing is very attractive, with the restaurant being focused on giving their guests value for money.

An extensive wine-list, with the ease of ordering wine by the glass, is available, including a few themed mocktails, and they also serve a range of Chinese teas and herbal drinks. We started with a hot cup of tea in a pretty red and gold cup and saucer, and this just melted away the stress of Bangalore traffic, leaving us primed and ready for the spectacular spread that was coming up.


Boiled peanuts (bottom right in the above picture) that had picked up just a hint of sesame dressing, and a little dish of pickled carrots and cucumbers were at hand to nibble on as we waited for the appetizers to arrive.

The Chinese Cucumber Salad (top left) generously dressed in zesty soy, was super crunchy, and this is one thing you can eat a lot of while still saving room for the mains. If you’ve never tried lotus stem, the Crispy lotus stems (top right)is a good option..thinly sliced slivers of the stems tossed in chilli and hoisin, the Chinese barbecue sauce.

The Pan fried mushroom (bottom left) bun that we tried from the vegetarian dim sum menu was filled with an interesting shiitake mushroom mince, this is good if you are looking for a more substantial starter.

Shang Palace1

For the pork lovers we’d recommend both the dishes we tried. The Roasted crispy pork belly (top in the above picture) was superlative – little cubes of porky heaven, a total delight, from the crackly-crisp skin to the juicy meat inside. Served with fine granulated sugar to dip in, and a dark dipping sauce, these are most likely to be the first item that gets grabbed off its plate! The spectacular crown of Guangdong style roasted pork (bottom) had been marinated and then roasted to juicy succulence, and the colour on the pork was truly magnificent.

Shang Palace4

The other dim sum that we enjoyed was the traditional Cantonese Prawn Hargau (top right in the above picture) that had all the trademark moist and mellow appeal of a well turned out steamed dumpling.

If you can’t imagine a Chinese meal without Chilli Chicken, then the Chongqing chilli chicken (bottom left) is quite perfect. The judicious addition of Schezwan peppercorns here makes this dish interesting. If you leave these tiny bombs too long on your tongue you are likely to enjoy a true tongue-tingling experience, and this is all we’re going to disclose here🙂

The Crabmeat soup (bottom right) with asparagus and egg drop seemed a trifle pedestrian after the explosion of textures and flavours in the other starters, so we dutifully tasted it and then sat back to await the main dishes. Shang Palace2

The Hunan style steamed fish (top in the above picture) is not something that would usually feature on our order in a Chinese restaurant, but this preparation is definitely a game changer. The delicately steamed fish fillets, fork-tender and juicy, were dunked in a soupy soy sauce laced with pickled chillies, and we really enjoyed this.

The Roasted Beijing duck (bottom) is another signature dish at Shang Palace. Moist slices carved out of a perfectly roasted duck with the crispy skin intact are served with scallions, cucumber, sweet bean sauce and pancakes. The hostess quickly put together rolls for us using the pancakes, each with a succulent slice of duck, and the accompaniments, and these were delicious!

Shang Palace3

We’re huge fans of tofu, and found the Mapo tofu (top left in the picture above) excellent. The soft cubes of tofu were offset by a luscious chilli bean gravy, with bamboo shoots and mushrooms adding texture. This went well with the Chinese fried rice (bottom left) that was served in vegetarian and egg-laced versions.

Stir fried Chinese greens (bottom right) are a lovely, wholesome side that diners often miss out on. These were garlicky and tender-crisp, with asparagus, broccoli and pok choy adding their flavours to the dish.

Authentic dishes and flavours, modest pricing and generous servings are all things to look forward to here, along with beautiful ambiance and proficient service. The Shang Palace is going to be our new favourite destination when the craving for Chinese hits, and to be honest, it does hit us on a fairly regular basis. We’d recommend that you reserve your table ahead of time though, the restaurant was packed and busy on the Friday evening when we visited.

Address: Shangri La Hotel, Palace Road, Bengaluru 560052

Timings: Lunch – Noon to 3pm  ; Dinner 6:30 to 10:30pm




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Healthy Vermicelli – 1 Teaspoon Oil Cooking

A healthy and tasty variation of vegetable vermicelli…a must try, you’ll love it!!

Posted in 1 Teaspoon Oil Cooking, breakfast, cabbage, capsicum, carrot, Corn, easy, healthy, Indian, noodle, pepper, salt, sweet corn, vermicelli, water | Leave a comment

Restaurant Review – Banjara Melting Pot

Banjara Melting Pot

Lets start with saying that multicuisine restaurants don’t often feature on our lists of favourite places to eat at. Menus that run to pages, covering a whole plethora of dishes from different cuisines that really have nothing in common, just leave us confused and wary. We would be more at home with a choice of 3-4 chef’s specials scrawled on a chalkboard. That said, when we received an invitation to review the new Banjara Melting Pot at Koramangala, we were tempted to go because, one, there were several good reviews floating around about the food, and two, we were intrigued that the restaurant had opened in what had been MF Husain’s former Bengaluru home!

The restaurant is located right on the bustling 80 feet road in Koramangala, in a stand-alone building with a bit of greenery outside. Once the stained glass door closed behind us, it was pretty quiet inside, and there’s a little patio in the back too, if one wants to venture outside. A large bar kind of closes things up a bit, but the floor to ceiling windows balance it out by bringing in generous amounts of light. The ambiance inside is cool and classy. There’s a lot of exposed brick, stone and wood in the decor, and most of the structural elements in the house have been retained from the artist’s time.

Banjara Melting Pot

A painting of the artist and prints of some of his signature creations reminded us that we’re dining in what used to be his home. Other memorabilia included a red letter box that he had placed outside his home, confusing neighbors and residents who would mistakenly post their letters in it!

Banjara Melting Pot

We started our meal by selecting our drinks and appetizers from a menu on a tablet. This was a nice touch and quite convenient, though our server was on hand to explain and help. Contrary to our expectations, the menu wasn’t too elaborate. We found a lot of tandoori and classic north Indian dishes, with some southern specialties, and a section devoted to Asian cuisine.

Since both of us were driving that afternoon, we opted for mocktails. The drink on the left was a ginger-ale based cooler that was missing some sweetness and the touch of lychee that had been promised in the menu. The other beverage, a minty virgin mojito was pleasant and both drinks were light enough to whet our appetite without filling us up.

Banjara Melting Pot

For the appetizers we mostly went with the suggestions from the restaurant folks. The vegetarian dishes – Asian-style, were Cottage Cheese with Three Peppers and Kung Pao Potato.  We weren’t bowled out by either of these – the texture of the paneer was on the chewy side and the potatoes were a trifle over-sweet.

Banjara Melting Pot

The non-vegetarian plates were both very good, though. The Murgh Lalwari Kabab (on the left, above) was smoky tandoori grilling at its best, perfectly spiced and terrifically succulent on the inside because of a deliciously creamy minced spinach and cheese filling.

The Lucknowi Seekh Kabab (above, right) was done pretty well..the meat was fork-tender and assertively flavoured with green chillies and coriander.

Banjara Melting Pot

For the main course we decided to experiment with Kori Rotti (above, left) – a Mangalorean dish which consisted of a red fish curry and the rotti – brittle cracker-like bread. The rotti was to be soaked in the curry and eaten. This was truly delicious – the crisp rotti softened and absorbed the thick curry, resulting in a melange of textures and spicy flavours in each bite. This dish can be ordered with chicken too, if you prefer that to fish.

The other combo that we tried was Spicy Corn Balls in Sauce with some Panfried Noodles (above, right) to go with them. The noodles were pretty colourful, with lots of shredded peppers and other vegetables, and both these dishes had the typical Indo-Chinese flavours.

Banjara Melting Pot

And then, it was time for dessert. The Tiramisu looked perfect but lacked flavour. We’d recommend that you go with the Chocolate Mousse, which was richly creamy and high on chocolaty-ness.

When we do visit multi-cuisine restaurants, we usually find that it is safe to order Indian food, and we’d recommend that you do that here too. All the Indian dishes we tried were really nice and we’d love to go back and try more of the tandoori and seafood menu at Banjara Melting Pot. But, if you are with a large group or with kids and would like to add on some noodles or Chinese starters to your order, then this place would work pretty well for that. A special mention for the service..quick, unobtrusive and helpful!

Banjara Melting Pot
32, 80 Feet road, 4th Block, Koramangala, Bangalore
Phone – 080 49653253
Meal for two – 1100 plus taxes
Parking – Valet
Credit Cards – Accepted
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Kacche Aam ki Sabzi

Posted in chili powder, coriander seed, dairy free, fennel seed, Indian, mango, medium, onion, ovo vegetarian, salt, seed, side-dish, sugar, sweetener, tropical fruit, turmeric, vegan, vegetarian, water | Leave a comment

Salute to Summer – Creamy Pasta Salad with Grilled Veggies

Pasta Salad with Yoghurt Grilled Veggies

If there’s one ingredient that is used and loved in many cuisines around the world, it is yoghurt. It was one of the first foods that we fed to our babies, and is a staple on our dinner tables every night, either on its own, or in a raita or curry. Later we discovered even more magical ways of using it – for example, in cakes and muffins, where yoghurt’s tang and richness contributes to tender and tasty baked goodies. Yoghurt panna cottas, parfaits, popsicles, semifreddo and gelato are all delicious, and these desserts play on yoghurt’s creamy tartness to impart a decadent mouth-feel while still keeping things light and refreshing.

While many of the desserts we’ve tried with yogurt are Italian, it seemed that we had rarely seen yogurt used in savoury Italian dishes, unlike Greek food where it is a mainstay. A little digging around the internet however showed us how little we knew. Italians were using yoghurt in all sorts of applications like tart fillings, inside ravioli, fritters, sauces, marinades, bechemel and more. And thus it came about that we thought of creating a summery dish that showcases this beautiful ingredient in one of our favourite cuisines – Italian.

Pasta Salad with Yoghurt Grilled Veggies

The other ingredient that’s a star in our salad today is vegetables. When one looks at vegetables in Italian cuisine, it is fresh, local and seasonal produce that is used. And then, there’s not much that’s done to it..just quick cooking and simple dressings that don’t mess with the integrity of the flavours and textures.

Pasta Salad with Yoghurt Grilled Veggies

So, for our pasta dish today we just cut the veggies into large strips and grilled them. Grilling is a fantastic way to keep the veggies juicy and tender-crisp and even if you just use a grill pan in the kitchen. The sizzle and char of the grill bring out the flavours in even bland vegetables like zucchini, amp up the sweet pungency of onions and accentuate the piquancy of bell peppers.

Pasta Salad with Yoghurt Grilled Veggies

We used yoghurt and tomato paste in the marinade for creaminess and colour, along with garlic and a little seasoning. It is important not to marinate the vegetables for too long, or else they will start losing their juices and become watery.

Pasta Salad with Yoghurt Grilled Veggies

Any good quality short cut of pasta can be used in this salad. We’ve used Del Monte’s Chifferi Rigati, which looks almost like elbow macaroni, but with ridges along its length that help the sauce to cling on to the pasta. We cooked the pasta as recommended by the good folks at Del Monte – in plenty of generously salted water, as this is the only chance to flavour the pasta itself.

Pasta Salad with Yoghurt Grilled Veggies

Grilled fresh vegetables, al dente pasta and a garlicky yoghurt dressing make this pasta a firm family favourite. We make it a lot in the summer, since it is light and cooling, waist-friendly and comes together quickly. And if you need a dish for a potluck or picnic, our Creamy Pasta Salad with Grilled Veggies is perfect since it tastes wonderful at room temperature as well.

We like to make a big batch and stock this mayo and cheese-free yet satisfying pasta dish in our refrigerators to have on hand for a quick meal. You can even add grilled chicken chunks or prawns to the dish to make it even more hearty.

Creamy Pasta Salad with Grilled Veggies

Servings – 4             Serving size – 1 heaped cup salad

Preparation time – 30 minutes          Cooking time – 15 minutes

Special Equipment – Grill pan or outdoor grill, or use an iron tava or even an OTG

For the grilled vegetables – 

  • Marinade –
    • ¼ cup thick yogurt 
    • 2 cloves garlic, mashed to a paste*
    • 1 teaspoon tomato paste
    • ¼ teaspoon freshly grated pepper
    • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning or mixed dried herbs
    • ¼ teaspoon red chilli flakes, or to taste
    • Salt to taste
  • 1 onion
  • ½ zucchini
  • ½ red pepper
  • ½ yellow pepper
  • 3-4 baby corn
  • 8-10 asparagus spears or 3-4 spring onion greens
  • 1 tablespoon oil 
  1. Mix together all the ingredients for the marinade in a small bowl.
  2. Peel and then cut the onion into wedges, keeping the root intact so that the pieces stay together. Cut the zucchini into 4 sections length-wise. Cut the peppers into 1″ thick strips. Slit the babycorn lengthwise. Trim away the woody asparagus ends or if using spring onions, cut them lengthwise.
  3. Preheat a grill pan on medium heat, and brush it with a little oil.
  4. Toss the veggies in the marinade and immediately place them on the hot grill. Do not crowd the veggies on the grill, you can grill them in batches instead. Remember to clean the tava with a paper napkin and then drizzle oil before you grill the next batch. Grill the veggies on both sides until softened and starting to char, but still crisp.
  5. Once grilled, cut the veggies into smaller, bite-sized pieces. Set aside to cool.

For the salad – 

  • 1.5 cups Del Monte Chifferi Rigati 
  • 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup thick yoghurt
  • 4 cloves garlic, mashed to a paste*
  • ½ teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon honey or sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly grated pepper
  • Salt to taste
  • ½ cup fresh basil, loosely packed
  • A few lettuce leaves, cherry tomatoes, olives and pickled chillies for garnish
  1. Boil the pasta as per the directions on the package, taking care to keep it al dente. Drain and then toss the pasta with the extra virgin olive oil. Set aside to cool.
  2. To make the dressing whisk together the yoghurt, garlic, lemon juice, honey, pepper and salt until smooth. Taste and season if necessary.
  3. Put the pasta in a large mixing bowl. Add the fresh basil, tearing up the leaves into bite-sized pieces. Reserve a quarter cup of the dressing and pour the rest over the pasta. Toss well. Add the grilled veggies to the bowl and mix very gently.
  4. If you are not serving the pasta right away, refrigerate it and the reserved dressing separately in closed containers. Mix in the reserved dressing just before serving. If serving immediately, add in the reserved dressing only if the salad looks dry.
  5. Transfer the salad to a serving bowl lined with lettuce. Add cherry tomatoes, olives and pickled chillies for garnish, as desired.
  6. Enjoy!

* To mash garlic by hand for this recipe, smash the pods with the side of a heavy knife. Remove the skins, then chop the smashed garlic into smaller pieces and mash them up using the side of the knife, adding a few grains of salt to provide an abrasive. You can also use a pestle and mortar.

Pasta Salad with Yoghurt Grilled Veggies

We’re sending our Creamy Pasta Salad with Grilled Veggies to Del Monte’s  #DelMonteItalianEscapades campaign

Read more about Del Monte’s pasta, sauces and other popular products here –

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An afternoon with George Calombaris

George Calombaris Bangalore

We discovered MasterChef Australia fairly late by any set of standards. This happened soon after we moved back to India a little over three years ago. We’ve definitely made up for lost time since, and the show is a firm fixture on our TVs every season now. All the three judges are well-loved and respected everywhere, and getting to meet any of them is such a privilege. So when George Calombaris, celebrity chef, restaurateur and MasterChef judge was in town, we were totally thrilled to be sent an invitation for a meet and tasting with him.

George Calombaris Bangalore

After an introduction and a few questions George Calombaris and his team started plating up the first dish – Ouzo Cured Indian Seabass with Miso Eggplant. Chef explained that the original dish had been planned with salmon but since that did not work out they switched to Indian Seabass.

The peppery spice crust on the fish, the ouzo and the eggplant were a nod to the chef’s Greek heritage. We don’t usually opt to eat fish that’s not felt the heat of the stove, but were pretty glad we tried this. The texture of the fish was very different from anything that we’ve tasted before, and the peppery crunch of the crust as well as the celery set it off very nicely. The eggplant sauce was incredibly smooth, the miso gave it real depth, and a deliciously savoury appeal.

George Calombaris Bangalore

Soon after the chef along with two of his team members from his restaurants in Australia started working on the second dish – Soft Shell Crab Souvlaki. Souvlaki is popular Greek street food – usually a grilled skewer of meat wrapped in pita bread. The chef mentioned that he had not found the bread as per his requirement so he was improvising by using naans for the souvlaki instead of the traditional pita. The filling was crispy fried soft shell crab, being fried aromatically right in front of us.

George Calombaris Bangalore

The souvlakis were prepared by the chef at a speed that would match any busy street vendor’s, and served in paper cones. He urged everyone to “eat them while they’re hot!” and no one needed any further prompting to do just that.

George Calombaris Bangalore

Some fresh lettuce and a schmear of honey-lime-mint dressing was all that came between the crab and the naan. Delicious flavours and such a contrast of textures between the chew of the naan, crunch of the crab and smoothness of the dressing.

George Calombaris Bangalore

Dessert was Salted Caramel Rice Pudding with Almond Biscuit, Rice Ice Cream and crushed pistachios. Again there were plenty of contrasting textures that popped around our mouths as we dug into this creation. The chef talked about how every culture has a rice pudding which infused wild ideas of salted caramel ribbons running through our next pot of kheer.

George Calombaris Bangalore

We loved how friendly, witty and sociable the chef seemed. His down to earth attitude, love for food, his inventiveness, outstanding creativity, affection for his team and his business expertise were evident as we listened to him talk.

It was a really inspiring afternoon. The food, as well as the chef’s banter as he answered questions about everything from his take on molecular gastronomy to his dessert preferences, his aversion to spicy food and his vision for his restaurants.

We thank Zomato and Gold Rush Entertainment for bringing George Calombaris to our city, and for the invitation to meet him. And special thanks to JW Marriot for hosting a wonderful event.

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Breakfast Jars :)

Posted in apple, banana, breakfast, easy, gluten free, healthy, mango, no fire, nut, ovo vegetarian, peanut, pomegranate, ragi, tropical fruit, vegetarian, Yogurt | Leave a comment

Low Oil Hara Bhara Kabab – Air Fryer Cooking

Posted in 1 Teaspoon Oil Cooking, air fryer, besan, chickpea, cumin, flax seeds, flour, garam masala, gram flour, green chilli, green pea, healthy, Indian, masala, medium, potato, salt, snack, spinach | Leave a comment

Phyllo Cheese Springrolls

Posted in cheese, cooking oil, less than 5 ingredients, olive oil, ovo vegetarian, phyllo, vegetarian | Leave a comment