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Friday, 1 May 2015

The joys of single cooking

The first time I stayed completely alone was when I moved to Bhubaneswar in 2013. Before that when I was in Bangalore, worrying about food was the last thing on my mind. We had an incredible maid who cooked nice food and we lived in very close proximity to 100 ft road Indiranagar which meant frequent takeouts and regular dining out. So by the time I moved to BBSR I had decided that it’s time to start cooking. Not only because my previous lifestyle was unhealthy & expensive, but also because I lived in a quiet residential part of the city with restricted access to fancy eateries, and with my timings having a cook was not practical.

I am not someone who enjoys spending time in the kitchen, even today. However, I was pleasantly surprised at how easy, economical & healthy cooking for one can be. So if you live away from home and still rely on your cook/ eating out and wish to start cooking, but don’t know how, read on. Some things which will make your life easier are:
  • An induction cooktop – Trust me this is the best way. You will have a terrible time scheduling deliveries of your LPG cylinders. An induction cooktop is something which is portable, runs on electricity and cooks fast.
  • Induction compatible kadhai, pressure cooker & frying pan
  • A refrigerator
  • Basic masalas, spice mixes
  • Frozen vegetables (yes, I know they are under the scanner for supposed carcinogens,but they are so incredibly convenient)
  • Eggs
  • Cheese
  • Bread (brown bread makes an excellent alternative to rotis)
  • Breakfast cereal
  • Yogurt
  • Blender (a cheap hand blender will do just fine)

Some quick & easy meal ideas that saved my soul were:
  • A mixed vegetable khichdi – This is incredibly easy to make & can be as healthy as you want it to be. It can be virtually oil free. You can find a million recipes for this online. Choose one that suits you and get cracking. I love one pot meals and this is one of the best. You can use any rice (brown/ white) and any daal and throw in handfuls of frozen mixed vegetables to up the health quotient. A cooker full of this would normally last me a couple of days spread across meals.
  • Gravies – This was a smart tip from a friend who suggested I make and freeze a week’s worth basic gravy and use it as and when required. So on some Sunday nights I made a basic North Indian gravy with onions, tomatoes, garam masala and the sorts and froze it in ice cube trays. Throughout the week I just popped in a couple of cubes with frozen mixed vegetables/ boiled eggs/ paneer for a very quick curry.
  • Smoothies – This is where the handblender proves handy. This was my go-to meal for quick breakfasts & dinners on days I wasn’t particularly hungry. Low fat dahi, low fat milk, some fruits & some drinking chocolate – you will love it.
  • Eggs – Eggs are the most versatile of all foods. If you have a microwave – nuke it for the fluffiest omlettes. On days when I needed something spicy with my tea, a masala egg bhurji would take not more than 5 minutes. On most days breakfast included a poached egg with toast. On adventurous but lazy Sundays lunch was a frittata or a Spanish omlette. I have made both of these with no fancy ingredients, but broad beans, tomatoes, cheese etc.  You can boil & freeze eggs for a week’s supply of a quick snack. And an oozy cheesy cheese sandwich is the stuff of dreams.
  • Sandwiches – A tuna sandwich with canned tuna is the breeziest thing to make ever. For a person who rarely enjoys non vegetarian food, this was a rare delight. Of course grilled cheese is every girls dreamiest indulgence. It is incredibly easy to make even on a frying pan and is the most soul satisfying food ever.
  • Anything Italian – Pasta, stir fry vegetables, omlettes, cheese sandwiches – everything takes on a different ‘Italian’ dimension if you just sprinkle oregano pizza mix on them. I used to hoard the ones that came with Dominos.
  • Deserts – When you don’t have an oven or most desert-y ingredients and have an insatiable sweet tooth, you improvise. Some of my best days have been with a bowl full of yogurt, drinking chocolate & nuts, or pieces of ‘no cook fudge’ made with milk powder in exactly 10 minutes. My easiest chocolate sauce to pour on ice cream was a mix of milk powder, drinking chocolate & water. Pieces of fruits drizzled with honey/ homemade sauces (made my melting strawberry jam with a little water) just took things to another level.

On most days I never spent more than 30 minutes from preparing to cooking to clearing away and serving. Of course there were lazy Sunday afternoons when I made a proper three course vegetarian Bengali meal (Rice, daal, sabzi) or weeknights when I got home at 10 and simply ordered pizza, but mostly it was me cooking away. If you are a non vegetarian please consider grilling chicken on tawas/ making chicken salads etc, but I can’t suggest any more options there.

Of course if you like cooking even a little, please avoid using any frozen ingredients/ spice mixes as much as you can. But if you are like me, please make things as convenient as you want.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

12 things you must try in Kolkata

For all the people who really want to experience the City of Joy, this is a quick list of 12 things you must try. If you are one of those who believe that the best way to explore a city is to visit the best pubs, restaurants and malls only, this is certainly NOT for you. Also, this list is NOT exhaustive. It's just the first things that came to my mind one homesick night. :( Feel free to add on. I am sure Kolkata has much much more to offer.

  1. Take a ferry ride across the Hooghly: This is one of the coolest, cheapest, fastest and efficient modes of transport available in the city. Especially if you want to come to the city from Howrah station and the Howrah Bridge is choked with traffic, take a Rs 4 ticket and hop on to a ferry to Babughat or Ahiritola. Do not sit. Stand on the deck. You will love to watch and photograph the Howrah Bridge and the three other hanging bridges in all their majestic splendour. The best time to take the ferry is during sunset when you get the sinking sun, the river and the bridges in a single frame
  2. Visit College Street: It is THE book market of Kolkata. Some people believe that almost every book ever published by mankind is available here. Hunt well and you can discover books that are out of print now, or maybe even more than a century old. Bargain well, and you can take home a copy of the first edition of 'Oxford Short Stories' for Rs 5 (as I did a few years ago). While you're at it, do visit the Presidency College, have an 'Infusion' at the legendary Indian Coffee House and the really really awesome Daab Sherbet at Paramount, one of the old school sherbet shops
  3. Shop at Gariahat: Much before Kolkata got all these big malls, Puja shopping invariably meant a trip to Gariahat, no matter in which corner of the city you lived in. The array of goods you get on the roadside there is mindboggling. From crockery to skirts, from handbags to electronics - you have it all. Just make it a point to hone up your bargaining skills before you go there. Also do visit Anandamela-the electronics store and the many famous saree shops there.
  4. Photography at Princep Ghat: If you have seen Parineeta, you must be knowing how picturesque Princep Ghat is. It's cliched, but it's beautiful. It's real fun to take some pics among the pillars with those endless combinations. And with the river and the Second Hooghly Bridge in the background, it just looks out of the world. And while you are there, do not forget to check out SCOOP, the ice cream parlour with fun sundaes and an awesome view of the river.
  5. Celebrate Christmas at Bow Barracks: Bow Barracks is the locality inhabited by the Anglo-Indian community of Kolkata. Christmas is the best time to spend here since a lot of the children who now live in more lucrative countries like Dubai or Australia come home. Every home spells out warmth through the mulled wines and the homemade cakes they make. But do not make a mistake. A lot of women on that street can make a decent 'macher jhol' too.
  6. Watch sculptors at Kumortuli: Kumortuli is the little dingy place in North Kolkata which makes all the clay (and now fibreglass) idols for all of Kolkata and even elsewhere. Idols - of any deity and of course, Durga. Spend an afternoon there and watch the master sculptors at work. It's amazing as how some of the most little known artists bring life out of clay and create magic. They have always been my heroes. As a child, they were the people I thanked the most during the Pujas. They always, even now, make the goddess come alive for so many people and keep restoring faith in us.
  7. Electronics at Chandni Chowk: THE electronics market of the city, this place, along with it's lanes and by lanes has given birth to many a Kolkata genius. From top notch original stuff to cheap home made knockoffs of every product and brand possible - you'll get it here. Repairs that your official service centre has given up on? Or something fun that costs you a bomb? Look well and you'll find a little genius hidden in one of these shops who will make magic with a soldering iron and a voltmeter.
  8. Take a metro ride: I'd suggest, take an end-to-end metro ride. Kolkata metro has a stretch below the ground and one above. Make sure you cover both. The first metro of India, it's a sheer pleasure to ride. Fast, convenient and surprisingly cheap. Make sure to check out the names of the newer stations. It's kinda funny. 
  9. Eat Chinese food at Tangra: The only Chinatown of India is located in Tangra, Kolkata. It also happens to be the place where you'll get the best EVER Chinese food. And mind you, it's not Indian Chinese. It's Chinese Chinese. The real stuff. Right from the mainland. If you eat there once, I'm sure you'll want to go back there many, many more times. And after that fabulous meal, make sure you visit the Chinese Kali Temple and the Chinese School there and also pick up a copy of the local Chinese newspaper. The best time to go there is of course, the Chinese New Year.
  10. Park Street: Park Street has a life of it's own, which can not be described unless you take a walk down this very colourful, fabled and awesome street. Start at the Park Circus end. Have soem Biryani at Shiraz, some firni at Arsalan and come to Mallick Bazar. Buy some sevaiyan from there, check out the Assembly of God Church building, the Marwari saree shops, the 17 schools on Park Street, St.Xavier's College and some of the best restaurants in Kolkata. Drop by the antique store, the Oxford Bookstore, Hobby Centre, Giggles - the knick knack shop. Grab a drink at Olypub. Experience Park Street.
  11. Explore New Market: New Market is another old favourite shopping destination. Here too, you'll find some of the most legendary stores of Old Calcutta. You will also find stores selling all sorts of imported cosmetics, pet food, clothes etc etc. Check out the Chinese leather stores where you can custom design your own genuine leather footwear. Buy silver trinkets form Chamba Lama and have cheese samosa made out of Jewish cheese at the Jewish bakery - Nahoum's. 
  12. Take a tram ride: This is a mode of transport you will find in no other Indian city. It runs on rails in the heart of the city, often blamed for holding up traffic. But the unadulterated old world charm accompanied by the rock bottom fares starting at Rs 3.50 has created the Tram it's own fan base. Best suited for a leisurely morning, try to hop on to one of those new trams as well. A tram ride near Maidan on a rainy evening is the stuff dreams are made of.
So, explore. Have fun. Experience the city the way it's meant to be. Earthy, intense, passionate. And let me know what else I can add on.

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Italian at Hushh, City Centre, Kolkata

I had been wanting to do this since a long time. A lot of people had told me you get Kolkata's best Italian at Hushh. So I had done a bit of research here and there and finally decided to visit the much talked about place in City Centre, Salt Lake. A lunch for two consisting of 2 starters, 1 portion of main course and 1 desert set us back by Rs 1875, a bit steep considering the decor or service or even some of the food is nothing much to write home about. However, there were a few good things here and there which were so worth it.

We started out with the 'Antipasti' or the starter course. I ordered the grilled mushroom said to be a 'healthy' option on the menu and couldn't resist ordering the seafood platter. Seafood never fails to make me happy and is usually considered to be a safe option. The grilled mushroom came with a vegetable and cheese stuffing and I could make out zucchini, tomatoes and potatoes in the stuffing. It was cooked to perfection. Juicy, flavourful, cheesy - just what I had expected there. And just like that, the platter that was about to come, seemed even more appetising. If these people could create such magic with mushrooms imagine what they can do with shrimps or squid. What a folly !!! The platter came with some grilled shrimps, grilled beckti, fried beckti and some fried squid. I started with the grilled shrimps first and it was really good. Hadn't had such nice shrimps in a long long time. Then tried the grilled beckti, it was soft and spicy. More Indian than Italian, I thought. It actually was marinated a whole lot of red chilli paste and barbecue sauce. I'm quite sure it's not half as Italian as they claim to be. Anyway, it was kinda yummy for the Bong palate. And then I tried the disaster - the fried squid. It was fried in a horrible horrible deep red batter that tasted half burnt and half bitter. I could not taste the meat at all. It was a big big big put off. That is the thing that made the whole platter so not-worth-it. Finally I reached the fried beckti. It was just a big chunk of fish fried in normal besan batter. It was dripping with oil and was more like something a Bong would make on a rainy day to have with his khichdi. And thus starters came to an end on a sad note.

Next up, for the main course I ordered a lamb lasagna. I was torn between an asparagus risotto, a gnocchi dish and the lasagna. I finally went for the lamb dish since it would be filling and one portion would suffice for two people. So it came with a big mass of lamb gravy, vegetables and sheet pasta covered with a crust of white sauce and cheese. Now, people who know me would know how happy cheese, especially grilled, melting cheese makes me feel. The cheese was wonderful, perfectly grilled and stringy and chewy and lovely. But after that came the big mixed up mass and I thought 'Hey, Isn't lasagna supposed to be a layered dish?
'. As far as I know, Lasagna is supposed to be baked with alternate layers of pasta, cheese and the meat gravy. keeping aside the technique, the dish tasted yummy. However, it veered heavily on the Indian side. In fact, it reeked of garam masala and a lot of dhania. The masala actually took away from meat's own flavour from the minced lamb. It was really filling though, and good value for money. More like a lamb gravy you can have with rotis, it was real comfort food :D

Finally came my Tiramisu. You do not go to an Italian place and order cheesecake or ice cream for heaven's sake. Sadly it was the only Italian desert there, but fortunately one of my favourite deserts. However, it too was a bit of a let down. Like in any other Indian restaurant it came with a cake base and not a biscotti base. The cake was dry and crumbly. Seemed a few days old actually. The coffee was really nice. Not too sweet, but a bit bitter and coffeish. But again, the cream used was not Tiramisu cream. It was just a cream cheese and whipped cream mix. However, it all came together quite nicely at the end - the coffee and the cream. It was an excellent desert by itself but a very poor tiramisu.

So go there if you want comfort food. But if you expect good Italian, it's not the right place to go to. Like the desert, it's good as a generic restaurant, but doesn't quite impress you as an Italian joint. But I'll still go back there to sample their risotto once which again, a lot of people recommend. But I'll know what not to order this time. Hope the next time will be a better experience.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

MBA: through a foodie's eyes

The last two years have given me a host of memories, more experiences than ever before. As the graduation season approaches and I find graduating MBAs all around me blogging about their learnings and all, I too wanted to do something. But then, I'm not very good with coursework, or people skills. So decided to write about the one thing I know, and am good at too - food. This post enlists my foodie experiences throughout MBA. None of the entries feature here on the basis of any select criteria. They are just the first things that come to my mind when I think of the respective cities. Some are memorable for the taste, some for the hunger pangs they have satiated at odd hours and in lonely stretches, but most are here for the company I have had during the meals - the wonderful friends I have made here. :)

  • Bhubaneswar
    • Dalma at a roadside eatery 
    • Idli and chenapoda at Priya Hotel, Kharvela Nagar
    • Tropical Iceberg at a middle-of-nowhere CCD somewhere between Konark & Bhubaneswar
  • Vizag
    • Bamboo Chicken & Sampoorna Coffee with roasted coffee beans chocolates at ArakuValley
    • Awesome Hyderabadi biryani & Tandoori Chicken at a restaurant above Ice Age in Siripuram
  • Jamshedpur
    • Cheese burst Domino's at Bistupur
    • Litti-chokha at a station just outside Tatanagar station
  • Kharagpur
    • Reshmi kabab at Heritage 
    • Baingan Bharta at Dreamland
    • Vanilla lassi at Billoo's
    • Cheese parathas at Veggies
  • Kolkata
    • Biryani, Rezala, Phirni, Kababs at Shiraz, Arsalan, Aminia etc
    • Tuna footlongs at Subway
    • Ghughni in the local trains
  • Ahmedabad
    • Street food at Law Garden
    • Shrikhand here, there, everywhere
    • Thali at Pakwan and some other little place near Kalupur
    • Chocolate sundae at Chocolate Room, Vijay Char Rasta
    • Kababs, Chicken Rezala, Roomali Roti at a muslim restaurant beyond Rani ka Hazira
  • Pune
    • Tacos, Burritos, Enchiladas, Lasagna & Anjeer ice cream at Shiv Sagar
    • Joshi's Vada Pao
    • A mistaken Happy Meal at McDonald's Aundh
    • CadB
  • Lonavla
    • Chocolate fudge, chocolate walnut fudge
    • Kaju chikki, pista chikki, mixed chikki
  • Mumbai
    • Cheese, chocolate and assorted donuts at M.O.D, Juhu Gymkhana
    • Cocoberry
    • Kacha mango chaat at Juhu Chowpatty
    • Vada Pao lunch at Wadala station 
    • Brown bread grilled vada pao with cheese at Jumbo King, Andheri
    • Kulfi Falooda somewhere near Bandra Jama Masjid
    • Every fruity flavour of Natural available
    • A very filling and mindblowing plate of Pav Bhaji somewhere between Vashi & Ghansoli
  • Gurgaon
    • Slice of Italy, Domino's, Pizza Hut
    • Office lunch
    • All the world's junk at MG Road
  • Delhi
    • Mango milkshake at Sarojini Nagar
    • Proper bengali fish meal at Annapurna, CR Park
    • Midnight  butterscotch milkshake at Keventer's, CP
    • Chandni Chowk
    • Hot muffins with melted chocochips & my surprise birthday cake at IIT Delhi
    • Pizza, cookies & donuts at Select Citywalk
  • Nainital
    • Maggi at 7500 ft
    • Hot chocolate by the lake
    • Weird homemade chocolate at a quaint little chocolate shop
    • Prasad from the Naina Devi temple & the local Gurudwara
  • Bangalore
    • Rustic dinner at Grameen
    • Chicken popcorn at Mantri Mall
    • Fabulous home cooked mutton with friends
    • My first tender coconut Natural ice cream :)
  • Darjeeling
    • The perfect English breakfast & takeaway cheese and chicken sandwiches from Glenary's
    • Momos and momos everywhere
  • Goa
    • Fabulous tuna curry and rice at a shack off Baga beach
    • Apple pie and rum & raisin brownies at Britto's
    • Plenty of vada paos in the train
  • Bhutan
    • Ema datshi (cheese chilli) and rice in Paro
    • Plenty of wai-wai
    • Football chocolates
    • Danish vegetable crackers in Thimphu
Apart from these, there were plenty of sandwiches, burgers etc during my early morning airport waits and even on the flights. I particularly recall the Malabar parathas and the Cheese-corn-spinach sandwich on the staple Indigo flights. But since I mostly travelled alone and at unearthly hours, I was too bored and sleepy to enjoy anything.
A special thanks to all the people who have accompanied me on these trips (although many of them were solo stints, I enjoy travelling in any form :) ) and given me a lifetime of memories to cherish. Hope to have many more such experiences with you all in the near future. Here's to food, travel, friends and life. :)

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Breakfast at Glenary's - Darjeeling

There are three main reasons I always always dreamt of visiting Darjeeling:
  1. My mom grew up in the hills of Darjeeling and Kalimpong. So I wanted to experience a part of the wonderful, dreamy growing-up stories she always told me.
  2. Loreto Darjeeling, as any Loreto girl would agree is nothing short of a pilgrimage for us. Being a Loreto girls from the plains, I had always tried to imagine what life would be at the convent in Darjeeling, nestled in the clouds, with stone buildings and a legacy of Mother Teresa, Vivien Leigh(yes, the Gone With the Wind icon is a Loreto alumnus), Leila Seth and who not. A steady girlhood diet of Enid Blyton's Malory Towers just kept fueling our imagination.
  3. Glenary's.
 So when the opportunity presented itself to visit Darjeeling earlier this year, following an exhilarating trek to Rishyop nearby, I didn't have second thoughts. On a cold, cloudy morning I hiked down from my hotel to visit Loreto Convent. Quite a walk, since I was staying near Mall Road and took a few circuitous routes before discovering the school. This is what it looked like:

It looked every bit as majestic and fun filled as I had imagined it to be. The first thought that struck me as I arrived was "Hey, This IS Malory Towers". I could almost see Darrell and Gwendoline and Irene. On a more basic level, it also did remind me of Main Hoon Na, a part of which was actually shot here. That morning they were having a special holiday mass in their chapel, a glimpse of which I  got through their huge glass windows. It reminded me of school, and first friday masses and easter and ash wednesday prayers.

After that I walked quite a bit uphill to reach the fabled Glenary's for breakfast. At times the climb was pretty steep. So that made it a lot more tiring for my used-to-plains leg muscles. And I suddenly knew why I did not see many fat people in the hills. So anyway, the climb had whetted up a ravenous appetite, just right to do justice to the breakfast that was waiting. It didn't take me long to order. I had thought of it for hours before that. I wanted a simple assortment of toast, baked beans and eggs.

The others did order sandwiches - cheese, ham, ham n cheese, chicken n cheese, club..what not. And how could our array be incomplete without sausages? So there we were. A typical English breakfast accompanied with the best of Darjeeling Teas. And we sat by their huge full length glass windows. So we could have a slow, leisurely meal overlooking the rolling hills and the clear blue August skies and the silvery snowy peaks in the distance. It was bliss. The only kink in the experience was the Tropicana guava juice that accompanied my meal. You would have expected an eatery of this stature to have given fresh juice for breakfast. But then, the cheese in the sandwiches more than compensated for it. So much so that I had a couple of plain cheese sandwiches packed for lunch. It was nice..thick aromatic dense slices of cheese from some wonderful country fromagerie...

The rest of the breakfast was wonderful too. The baked beans rightly tempered, the eggs just crisp enough and the toast just perfect. On the way out I also bought some handmade chocolate coins, consisting of dark chocolate with a host of dry fruits to get for home. But alas, like Vizag, these chocolates too were consumed before we could reach the plains. Anyway, if you are in Darjeeling or North Bengal or Bengal at all, it's a must visit - for the legacy, the food, the ambience and the service.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Goa doodles !!!

This recent trip to Goa was one of the most fun and 'event'ful trips I've ever had. With a total of 72 hrs of train journey intercepted by fun bike rides in the rain, it was magical. Goa was ethereal in the rains..absolutely fresh and green, rolling hills and fun beaches. As usual, I went armed with a list of the 'where-to-eat' joints. However, given the time and other constraints, there are only two I could manage. So here they go:

Walk Inn-It did not feature in my to-eat list. But there are reasons. This is a quaint little restaurant tucked away on the road adjoining Baga beach just adjacent to Britto's. Initially we had gone to Britto's for lunch, post our beach frolic. However, a certain group of college students on a budget found it difficult to afford and we moved out to this one. We ordered fish curry meals, a chicken curry meal and a chicken vindaloo. What's Goa without vindaloo ?? I was really curious to try it out.

First came the fish curry, lovely tender fish doused in coconut milk and a little kokum. It was beautiful. Btw, I hate fish. But this was adorable. The coconut was amazing and the mild  tempering was so inviting, we finished the rice in no time.

The chicken curry, I must admit was just about average. In fact, it was a tad bit disappointing. However, when I tried the vindaloo, all my worries about chicken vanished. It was tangy, spicy, exciting. 'Tangy' was the predominant feeling. After the soothing slumber of the coconut milk, the tatsebuds suddenly jump started. It was worth polishing off every last grain of rice.

We were so happy with the food that we ordered another dish. This time a tandoori fish. Tuna it was. It took a long time to come, but worth the wait. It looked splendid when it arrived at the table. However, a couple of bites revealed that I had had tinned tuna for so long that, the freshness actually assaulted my tastebuds. Sadly, tuna extracted from brine and baked into my sandwich is more my type than fresh, crispy, yummy tuna. However, overall it was great experience and I think we had a mindblowing glimpse of Goan cuisine. Highly recommended restaurant - Do drop in if you visit Baga beach. It's cheap and oh-so-yummy.

Britto's - Ah well !!! Who doesn't know about Britto's ?? That's what I thought before I conversed with the three non-foodies who went with me on the trip. I still have hope that at least the foodies who have been to Goa know about it. One of the highlights of my first Goa trip is definitely this one. As I mentioned before, we couldn't afford lunch there. However, we did in fact come back for desert. And thank God we did !!! When we were choosing the deserts from the ones kept at the display there, I actually felt like Alice in Wonderland. :) I wanted a bit of this, a bit of that and a lot of everything.

Finally, we did manage to narrow it down to 4, one for each one of us. Ratan wanted a coffee desert, so I made him take a tiramisu. Swarnabha took the walnut-chocolate mousse and Sachin took the more chocolatey Alpine chocolate mousse. However, somewhere I felt that a it would be injustice to have a cold desert at a place known for its sweet nothings since 1965. So I went for an apple pie slice with whipped cream. When the orders came, it looked something like this:

Corner left upper - Tiramisu
Corner left lower - Walnut chocolate mousse
Centre - Apple pie with whipped cream
Rightmost - Alpine chocolate mousse

Now for the reviews:
Tiramisu - As coffee-ish as it can get. The perfect balance of coffee liquor and cream, not too bitter or nauseating. However, I prefer my tiramisu the traditional way - with a biscotti base rather than a sponge cake base. That was the only hitch in this otherwise flawless desert. Even the garnishing was awesome. The problem, sometimes in tiramisu is, when you sprinkle the coffee on top of the last cream layer, the specks smudge a bit, losing the sharpness. I do not know how they managed it, maybe it was correct cooling. But there was zero smudging and the tiramisu looked sensational.

Walnut chocolate mousse - Anything with walnuts and chocolate cannot go wrong, can it? It had cake, cream and chips - all in chocolate. The mousse layers was fluffy, dark and sinful. It was just fine, although it could have been a tad more light. It's just a matter of beating the egg whites a bit more. Otherwise, perfect.

Alpine chocolate mousse - Same as above, but with an additional chocolate layer substituting the walnnut one. Personally I preferred the former, since the walnut offset the overdose of chocolate.

Apple pie with whipped cream - The only warm desert on the table, it was my favourite. The rest didn't like it as much, but since I am a huge apple pie fan, I loved it. To begin with, the serving temperature was perfect. The pie just warm enough and the cream just chilled enough. Next, the consistency was correct. One of the greatest challenges in a fruit pie is the consistency. The fruit should just lose the crispness, but should not turn into mulch. It was perfect in this aspect. the apples were soft, flavourful and yet retained their shape and firmness. The pie crust was thin and yummy. And along with that, the cream was fresh and airy. Kinda reminded of Wimbledon, the strawberries and cream we see there. The slight sweetness of the cream went very well with the light tang of the fruitiness of the apple.

On the way out we took a couple of sticks of rum-n-raisin and chocolate brownies. The chocolate one was good, but usual. But the real rum in the other one reminded me of christmas. :)

I'm gonna go back there some day, in winter, just to try their world famous strawberry tart. Do not miss it for anything.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Foodie joints in KGP - Part 2

It's been more than a month since I last wrote. This summer internship thing is quite a time grabber. But since I did learn a lot and had quite a bit of fun in Delhi, I don't complain. I'll just continue with listing the foodie joints in Kgp. The part 1 can be found here .

6. Anima Juice Centre, TechM - This is the only juice shop in TechM and you can find it easily. Do not refer to it by name, instead search for juicewallah. It's the shop adjacent to Image Computers and bears no sign board. It is a trip to this shop that triggered my post today. It has the usual juices and lassis, but the speciality of the store lies in a mocktail known as K.A.G.E. This is a drink created by an IIT Kgp student Gautam Korlam. You may learn more about the drink at it's Facebook page. It's a mix of a glass of pomegranate and grape juice mixed with sugar and a bottle of any sparkling clear carbonated beverage, preferably 7UP or Sprite. However, today the shop ran out of both variants and I had to settle for Mountain Dew. The taste is not exactly out of the world. But it was refreshingly different. The grape juice goes wonderfully well with the soda fizz and the pomegranate juice offsets the sweetness of the grape. It is anyday a better choice than a cola or those silly Tetra-Pak juices. It's worth a try at least once. Also, do keep in mind that it is available only is measures of 2 glasses. So either take a friend along or be prepared to chug down two glasses.

7. Chatterjee Tea stall, TechM - This is located near the rear gate of the market, towards the vegetables zone. It's a stationery shop that sells knick knacks and a wide variety of snacks. However, the reason why teachers and students alike flock to this and you can rarely find a place to sit in the evenings is its amazing tea. I have had tea of different sorts - with milk, without milk, lemon, ginger, green, mint, chamomile etc etc. But there is something about this tea that makes it a thirst quencher even on hot summer days. It's a normal tea liquor, with lemon, rock salt, pepper and something else that I haven't quite been able to figure out yet. It looks beautiful against light when served in cut glasses. You take a sip and find it delightful. It's not too spicy. Nor is it too lemony, like some lemon teas are, making them very sour. Even it's not too sweet. The sweeter a beverage, the lesser refreshing and quenching it is, It's just perfect, beautiful. The shop ios run by twin brothers who are very friendly, open to suggestions and full of stories to tell. Do drop in on a lazy morning or evening and be prepared to spend quite some time there.

I know, there's so much more to write about Kgp food, but I have an assignment to be submitted tomorrow that I plan to try myself, for a change. Till then happy eating !!!

P.S - There's news that Baskin Robbins is coming to campus in September. There go my dieting plans down the drain. Can't wait to have some great ice-cream though. Got loads to write about - Ahmedabad, Delhi etc. Wait and watch,.

Monday, 20 June 2011

Foodie joints in KGP - Part 1

It's been a few months that I started on this blog and it's been a year that I have been at KGP. So this post was kinda inevitable, and running along nature's course, here I am, with a list of the awesome and the not-so-awesome food joints in Kgp each of whom has in a different way contributed to my memories and experience of the awesome campus I live in. And here it goes:

  1. Dulal Nandi a.k.a Tikka's - Just outside our hostel gate, it had indeed become an extended mess for most of the MT girls. It was almost a routine withus to go to the mess, check out the menu, nod our heads in dissapointment and head out to Tikka's for a quick bite. This place serves awesome and most importantly cheap but not so hygenic (but who cares) food. For the after class 5 pm hunger pangs, we have awesome dosas, vadas, chowmein etc. For those mornings we woke up late and missed the morning breakfast, there was puri-sabzi and idlis and really nice double egg omlettes. They also have samosas and gulab jamuns. And this is the only place which stocks Melto chocolates - some Karnataka cocoa beans cooperative or something makes them. They are different, but nice and cheap. And the most important item on the menu that has sustained generations of students, teachers and employees is undoubtedly the Rs 3 chai. It has been the drug of choice for many during exams, between classes and for a quick pick-me-up during the day.
  2. Vegies - As the name suggests, it's a veg place, but it does turn into eggies at night. Not too popular, but happens to be one of my favourite places on campus. It's a fun quirky place that serves a large variety of eatables. They serve the usual juices and milkshakes, but their grape juice made with fresh crushed grapes wins hands down. But what I like most is their range of chaats. The dahi papdi is incredible and their pani poori is nice too, but loses out to the fuchka, at least for me. They have the regular fried rice-roti-sabzi menu too, but you should ideally go there for the chaats, juices, milkshakes and sundaes. One thing I forgot is the really nice mom like cheese parathas they make. Try one w/o oil. You'll love it. They also happen to keep a wide variety of those funny imported chocolates and candies. P.S.- they have recently introduced daal-bati-churma as a weekly delicacy. Do try that out.
  3. Bimala Sweets, TechM - Bimala Sweets is the only sweet shop at Tech Market. They make good, really really good sweets. And this is coming from a Bong, who has experienced amazing sweets on both sides of the border. The milk based sweets are to die for. Even the simple norom paker sandesh (the soft sandesh) they make melts into the mouth and has the right sweetness and the perfect texture. This is their simplest creation and easily their best. They have several mouthwatering variants of this. One of their unique sweets is the one made of lotsa nuts with date and gur. It looks like a chikki, but is a much softer version of the same. The other stuff including jalebis, samosas, kachoris, dahi etc are impeccable. Try going there in the evening to have the nice hot savoury stuff.
  4. Phuchka wala, TechM - This is again, the sole phuchka shop in Tech Market, and one of my favourite places on campus. When the late afternoon hunger strikes, I often start dreaming about lovely fuchkas, the perfect not-too-spicy alu mix, that perfect slightly lemon scented tamarind water, the yummy crispy fuchkas. By 5 pm I am usually there. But he has just started his preparation. I check back every 5 mins till around 30-40 mins later he is ready. And then I go on and on..Oh !! The thing about Kgp I miss most. :(
  5. Pakoda wala, TechM - This place is just outside the smaller TechM gate, towards the sabzi market. It opens in the evenings and serves really hot heavenly fries of all sorts. The good thing is that the oil is fresh and so are all the other ingredients. You can actually feel the freshness when you eat it. The mirchi bhajji is very popular there and it costs only 1 Re. However, it is not my type and somehow I still haven't acquired the taste for it. The dimer chop is extremely filling, with boiled egg and potato filling coated in crumbs and fried. It has the regular Bengali telebhajas like beguni (brinjal slices dipped in besan and fried), mochar chop, peyaji (onion bhajji) etc. It also serves really hot jalebis and I get them without the sugar syrup on special request. Everything here is fried right infront of you and served right from the kadai to your plate. On many a rainy evening, this has served as a comforter to students and profs alike. Btw, do not forget the green chutney they make. It gives a whole new dimension to the fries.
Well, it seems the list is too big to fit into one post. So I shall be carrying it over to my next post. Till then, happy eating !!!

    Friday, 13 May 2011

    Vizag diaries part 2: Bamboo chicken

    This is in continuum with my previous post about a certain coffee shop in Araku Valley . As I wrote there, we were very very hungry and on the lookout for some breakfast. Our driver, on the other hand decided to dump us all to the tribal museum there as a customary visit. Now, the night before, I had seen a sign in our 'resort' proclaiming that they make bamboo chicken. It seemed intriguing, but I never really got around to have it then. So imagine my delight when I got to know that they were making bamboo chicken right in the museum premises. It was marketed as some sort of a tribal delicacy.

    Gauging by the crowd there, it seemed a huge hit with the tourists. Now, what they do is that, they marinate the chicken and then put them into hollow bamboo stems and cook it over an open fire. They DO NOT cook the chicken with bamboo shoots (something I was scared of due to my disastrous experiment with bamboo shoot soup at Peiping previously, well that's another story). The bamboo is almost completely charred at the end of it, when they just take it out and tap the contents over little paper plates. The chicken is then served with wedges of lemon and slices of onion, on a bamboo tray and it is supposed to be eaten with a toothpick :).

    Owing to the awesome marinade they had used, it was pleasantly spicy. And the lemon with it added just the right tang. We also had bought some local bread from a small shop nearby, and coupled with the chicken it was a heavenly breakfast. The chicken made the bread taste almost sweet. It was so spicy that it made your lazy tastebuds almost jump to life, but it wasn't so spicy that it made your eyes water or your mouth burn. I really don't get it with people who enjoy eyes watering spices, like some of my north Indian friends who love mirchi ka achaar and all..doesn't it kill the taste and spoil the fun? Anyway, each of us finished our plate in less than 5 minutes. Oh yes, and one more thing, if you expect any specific modification in taste due to the bamboo factor, you will be disappointed. I could not discern any different flavour. I presume the bamboo just adds to the novelty factor and nothing else.

    After the satisfying meal, some of us also did try out some archery, but I soon discovered that the high tension bow strings were not my cup of tea and I went back for some more chicken. :)

    Wednesday, 13 April 2011

    Last year I learnt a lot

    Last year, I learnt a lot. Maybe more than the rest of my life put together. In a span of less than 24 hours in the month of April, I learnt a lot.

    I learnt how not to care about how late it is when you get a call that your friend is not well. I learnt to rush out of my home in 5 mins fully aware that I wouldn't be home before morning. I learnt seamless coordination with friends to reach a certain hospital on time. I learnt to make and take a zillion phone calls in a span of 20 mins. I learnt that nothing is shocking enough in life. I learnt how the simple twitch of a little finger is enough to spark flames of hope in so many people. I learnt to celebrate the little flicker of life in a body on life support. I learnt ow comforting midnight maggi is even in the middle of everything. I suddenly learnt what to say, what to wear, how to conduct myself in that atmosphere. We all learnt how to put aside the grief for a moment and make a speakerphone midnight 'Happy Birthday' call to wish a friend sitting miles away wondering whether to celebrate her birthday or not.

    I learnt to wake up early, really early to go to the hospital. I learnt to defy diktats to take a decision. I learnt how weird breakfast really feels in such a situation. I learnt the corridors and doors and reception areas of a certain building very well. I learnt to make continuous calls to Manipal, Bangalore and Ahmedabad, each time with worse news. I learnt to sweeten the pill for friends sitting miles away wishing each moment they could be here. I learnt to recognise someone just by her hair. I learnt to pray, pray hard, really really hard. I learnt to read that heartbeat machine, hoping each minute that the count would rise. I learnt how dignified grief can be. I learnt how one silent tear can represent 18 years of togetherness and how loud wailing talks of 2 months of troubled relationships. I suddenly appreciated the maturity of my friends. I learnt restraint. I learnt to listen to parents without questioning them. I learnt what a great equaliser death is. I learnt to watch her go. I learnt to leave the change at the flower seller and come rushing back before they took her away. I learnt to walk home, quiet, alone. I learnt to talk to a mother who has lost her only child. I learnt to move on, while still holding on. I learnt that life goes on, but that doesn't mean you don't treasure and cherish the past.

    I learnt a lot last year.