Saturday, 30 November 2013

Pizza's have always been associated with the genome of fast food but in reality pizza's during it's inception era was indeed a single complete dish more often associated with healthy food. But over the years, thanks to the various marketing activities of international food giants the entire concept has changed. It has now become common to associate a pizza that is related anything to American as the fast food version of the well known pizza. These are often the ones topped with loads of toppings and cheese. But can you imagine a pizza chain that has a very American name yet the pizza's served there reflect the authentic Italian ones in nature. Yes, I'm talking about the famous "California Pizza Kitchen" which has its branches all across the globe.

CPK as it's commonly known is a well recognized american chain of restaurant that differs a lot from the regular pizzeria. CPK in addition to pizza's also serve up numerous other exotic dishes such as pastas, salads finger foods and so on. My first introduction to CPK was through a relative who used to tempt me with his experiences at CPK in the US. So when I knew CPK was launching in Chennai, I just couldn't wait to savour their offerings. Being in the now hip mall in Chennai, the Phoenix Market City, it was quite a drive from central Chennai during the bustling traffic. But from my experiences that evening, it was a drive quite worth it.

Tucked in a corner of the mall, the first thing that strikes you is the decor of the restaurant. It has a mix of traditional wooden feel coupled with a modern contemporary look. As we were being seated, I noticed that they has a semi-open kitchen that was constantly dishing out beautifully plated dishes. The first dish that made it to our tables was the 'Thai Crunch Salad'. This is an original creation of the CPK kitchen and consisted of crispy rice sticks, some crunchy wontons, roasted peanuts tossed in a overwhelming mixture of cabbage, carrots, cilantro, green chillies and chicken. The dressing for the salad was their in-house signature lime-cilantro along with some peanut dressing. The next up was the 'Mediterranean Salad' which was a pure veg salad comprising of a mixed leafy combination of cherry tomatoes, onions, kalamata and some olives. This was served with some pita breads on crumbled feta cheese topped hummus bed.
(Thai Crunch Salad)
(Mediterranean Salad)
This was followed up by the appetizers. The first of the lot was the 'Mediterranean Foccacia'. It is basically a pizza bread served with some flavoured olive oil and parmesan. The next was the 'Sonora Chicken'. The chicken was perfectly grilled with flavours of lime. It was accompanied with a salad and chipotle dipping sauce. This was followed by the 'Spicy Chicken Supreme and Slaw'. It consisted of boneless breast strips coated in a very crisp Panko breadcrumbs. It was served with a special coleslaw and a ranch dipping sauce. The last among the appetizers was the 'Lettuce Wraps'. This dish was unique in a way that the wok seared Shiitake mushrooms along with water chestnuts in soy ginger sauce needs to be mixed with the crispy rice noodles that it is served on and then this entirely needs to be wrapped in the provided iceberg lettuce cups. It was very refreshing and packed a punch.

(Mediterranean Foccacia)
(Sonora Chicken)

(Spicy Chicken Supreme and Slaw)
(Lettuce Wraps)
With the appetizers done, it was finally time for the pizzas. The first one up was the 'California Veggie'. The crust was a deep dish multi-grain crust with exotic toppings such as broccoli, grilled zucchini, grilled baby corn, sun dried tomatoes along with the regular vegetables. To be honest it was more like a salad pizza as barring the mozzarella, the pizza was a full fledged healthy affair. The next up was the 'Chicken Fajita Pizza'. First impression completely blew me out. The pizza was wafer thin but enormous in size. True to its name, the pizza had fajita written all over it. Spread with cilantro pesto, the pizza was topped with lime marinated onions, assorted peppers and shredded chicken with ample amount of mozzarella and cheddar cheese. This was of the most unique pizza's I've ever tasted and trust me it's a must try. This was followed by two different pastas. If you are wondering what pastas are doing in a place called pizza kitchen, don't be mistaken, their pastas are a fusion between the American and Italian flavours. The first pasta served was the 'California Putanesca', which was a penne served with imported Italian tomatoes, some basil, red hot peppers along with garlic and black olives. The non vegetarian version is served on a bed of grilled chicken breast. The next pasta was the 'Aglio E Olio'. This was a spaghetti literally on fire. Tossed with red chillies, garlic and olive oil, it was served with cubes of juicy chicken bites.
(California Veggie)
(Chicken Fajita Pizza)

(Really really thin!!!)

(Chicken Fajita Pizza)

(California Putanesca Penne)
(Aglio E Olio Spaghetti)
By the time the pasta's were done, we started getting signals that the tummy was reaching it's breaking point and it was time to wrap up. But then how can we miss out on the desserts. It was when this thought was running that we spotted on the menu a dessert that no one can say no to. There tucked in between few other desserts was the divine 'Tiramisu'. In all honesty the Tiramisu at CPK, was one of the finest I'd tasted in India. It is another of a their must have dishes.

Though Chennai has always been at the fag end when it came to international restaurants opening shop here, it is better late than never. The overall experience at CPK was very good and contrary to their brand name, this place has loads of non-pizza dishes that are truly worth a try. A meal for two should cost you anywhere between ₹1500 - ₹2000 depending on how big your appetite is.

California Pizza Kitchen in located on the ground floor of the swanky Phoenix Market City in Velachery.

If this article interested you, please share it so others may be interested too!!! Request you to also visit our Facebook page Food In Chennai - Facebook and share the page with a Like amongst your friends and also follow us on our twitter handle at @FoodInChennai. You can also follow us on Google Plus at Food in Chennai -Google Plus. Please also feel free to g+1 this post so others may be benefited too.

To keep yourself updated on new reviews, kindly click subscribe by email on the right hand side at the bottom of this page.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

For those of us who lived in the Europe, the concept of Pub food would bring in vivid memories of our experiences there. Personally for me, some of the great food memories of my time in the UK are characterized by the food that used to be part of our weekend feast. Often then ever, it evidently ends up in something that is available only in the Pubs. But be assured that food in British Pubs are one of the best pub foods you will ever get to savour.

Having been away from the pub food scene for quite a few years now, was uber excited when I came to know that Courtyard by Marriott was organizing a Pub Fest. When I was told that it is no ordinary pub food but instead a celebration of British Pub Food, I was determined to visit. The visit happened soon and was I not disappointed. The dishes were so authentic that it took me back to my old days in the British Land.
Upon taking our seats, we were met by Chef Sridhar, the Executive Chef at the Courtyard by Marriott. Having a great amount of culinary experience in the Europe, Chef Sridhar came about the pub food concept to showcase the same to the people of Chennai. My expectations were quite high especially on dishes like Chips and Pies. The first dish that was served to us was the 'Vegetable Burger with Hand Cut Chips'. The other vegetable loving friend savoured the burger while I was busy savouring the chips. They were one of the finest chips I've had especially being triple cooked. The advantage of being triple cooked is that the flavours are all preserved while the chips is still crunchy and wholesome. This was followed by the 'Vegetable Lasagna' accompanied with some Garlic Bread. I gave a miss to this dish as I was eagerly awaiting the dishes to follow.
(Vegetable Burger with Hand Cut Chips)
(Vegetable Lasagna with Garlic Bread)
Next up was one of my all time favourite pub food, the Cottage Pie. We were served a dual dish on a single platter with a sizeable portion of 'Cottage Pie and Mashed Potato' and 'Lamb Liver in an Onion Gravy'. The first mouthful of Cottage pie threw me instantly tumbling down the memory lane. It felt like I was dining in some restaurant in the UK. The blend of flavours and consistency were much much better than some of the best pubs there too. They meat was succulent and was filled with flavours and the mash topped it all. Being aversive to Offals, I generously donated my share of the liver to another friend of mine. But I did have a go at the gravy and the veggies. The gravy was again packed with flavours but my only regret was not being able to have the meat. The vegetarian version of the pie was a 'Onion, Cheese & Potato Pie'. Having tasted the Cottage Pie, I was in no mood to split the after taste and hence gave the veg pie a skip. Having thoroughly enjoyed the hand cut chips, we requested the chef if we can have another serving which was obliged in a grandiose manner. This was again a clean sweep.
(Cottage Pie & Lamb Liver)
(Onion, Cheese & Potato Pie)
(Hand Cut Chips)
(Hand Cut Chips)
With the mains done, the desserts were slowly reaching our table to our awe and wonder. The desserts arrived in style and by style, I mean real style. They were so creatively plated that we couldn't resist tasting all of them. The first dessert of the day was the 'Apple Crumble Pie'. This was a de-constructed version of the traditional apple pie. It resembled a lot like an apple muffin. This was followed by the a very unique yet weird named dish called 'Spotted Dick'. Yes that's why I mentioned weird. But trust me, this was the best dish of the evening. It is quite complicated to describe but imagine a dish that is a combination of a cupcake, muffin and a scone. This served with some thick custard made one helluva dessert. The next up was the 'Treacle Tart' topped with a cone shaped tuile. The last dessert and dish of the evening was a 'Chocolate Pudding' which was thick and chocolaty with some generous shaving of nuts. 
(Apple Crumble Pie)
(Spotted Dick with Custard)
(Treacle Tart)
(Chocolate Pudding)
Overall I had an amazing time tasting some of the traditional British Pub food that has been recreated true to the sense of the original ones. The British Pub Fest at Courtyard by Marriott is on till the end of November and is priced at ₹ 800 plus tax for Beer, Mains & Dessert.

If this article interested you, please share it so others may be interested too!!! Request you to also visit our Facebook page Food In Chennai - Facebook and share the page with a Like amongst your friends and also follow us on our twitter handle at @FoodInChennai. You can also follow us on Google Plus at Food in Chennai -Google Plus. Please also feel free to g+1 this post so others may be benefited too.

To keep yourself updated on new reviews, kindly click subscribe by email on the right hand side at the bottom of this page.

Thursday, 31 October 2013

For anyone across the globe familiar with Indian cuisine, the first thing that strikes their mind when you mention the word "Thali" is the large variety of dishes served on a single plate. This is different from a platter as the Thali is not shared amongst others on the table and is is usually ordered one per person and often forms a complete meal own its own. The usual components of an Indian Thali consists of 3-4 different currys, some short eats, Indian breads, rice and desserts. The Thali's do differ dramatically between North and South India and savouring one is an experience all by itself. 

Now, if the Thali's are so accustomed to Indian cuisine then take your imagination to the next level to what could be available at Tuscana on Chamiers, an Italian restaurant based in Chennai. I'm sure you might have guessed it by now. Yes for the first time in Chennai, we now have an Italian Thali. This innovate concept was the brain work of those behind Tuscana on Chamiers. In the right spirit of what a Thali should constitute, the Italian Thali available here have all the elements a conventional one would have such as salad, starters, mains & desserts. 

On offer are 5 different Thali menu with 2 options for the vegetable lovers and 3 for the carnivores out there. Being a group of three in which I was the only meat lover, I decided to go in for the Thali with Chicken as the main course while my peers decided to order both the vegetarian Thali so as to have a complete experience. While we were waiting for our Thali's to make their appearance in style, we were informed that Tuscana on Chamiers has also started catering to the Jain community by making Jain friendly pizzas. Now thats a big step for such a restaurant as it is quite challenging to dish out a Jain dish without losing the flavours that you would get in the regular version.
(Stuffed Capsicum - Jain Style)
(Another Jain dish)
(Jain Pizza)
(Jain Pizza)
After a few chit chats, the Thali's made their grand appearance. The moment I saw my Thali, I was taken back with the large portion sizes for each of the component. They were humongous and big a big eater, felt it would be too much even for me. My Thali had a 'Pan Seared Chicken Escalope' for mains and they were accompanied by a portion of garlic bread, salad, pasta and a dessert. The dessert was an 'Apple Pie with Vanilla Sauce'. Savouring the Thali was an wholesome experience in total as the different elements provided the right oomph factor for a complete meal. The vegetarian Thalis had Risotto Cakes & Crepes for their main dishes while the accompaniments were a soup of mushroom or tomato along with a portion of garlic bread. The other desserts that were part of the Thali options are the dense Chocolate Fudge cake and a walnut cake with honey syrup.
(Chicken Thali)
(Vegetarian Thali with Crepes)
(Vegetarian Thali with Risotto Cakes)
How can one visit Tuscana and not savour their amazing Tiramisu. And precisely for this reason even though we had reached our threshold, we went ahead and ordered for a portion of the yummylicious Tiramisu. As always it never disappointed us. Along with the Tiramisu we were also given another fantastic dessert available here, the Panacotta. To end up the evening, we were told we had a surprise dish. When it brought into the room, all of us had to heave a heavy sigh. It was a dessert pizza. The base was spread with Nutella topped with caramelized bananas and chocolate chips. With absolutely no more room for anything related food, we still couldn't give up the temptation and dived into it straight. It was just mind-blowing. If it was served earlier on during the evening, I'm sure I would have gorged upon two such pizzas. Just can't wait to go back for another one.
(Chocolate Pizza)
So if you need a twist to the contemporary Thali that you have been savouring for all these years, head straight to Tuscana on Chamiers to try their twist on Thalis. The Thalis are in the price range of ₹650 to ₹850 plus taxes. But mind you, it is a complete and filling meal so its worth every penny spent.

Tuscana on Chamiers is located on Chamiers Road opposite to Hotel Park Sheraton.

If this article interested you, please share it so others may be interested too!!! Request you to also visit our Facebook page Food In Chennai - Facebook and share the page with a Like amongst your friends and also follow us on our twitter handle at @FoodInChennai. You can also follow us on Google Plus at Food in Chennai -Google Plus. Please also feel free to g+1 this post so others may be benefited too.

To keep yourself updated on new reviews, kindly click subscribe by email on the right hand side at the bottom of this page.

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Being a very cosmopolitan city, one thing that the food circuit in Chennai had been missing for a long time was the presence of an authentic pan Asian restaurant. We have some amazing Chinese, Thai, Korean & Japanese restaurants but no restaurant that serves all these cuisines without compromising on the authenticity But Chennaite’s the scenario has now changed. With the opening of ITC Grand Chola, there was great expectations in the food circuit about the amazing restaurants that were to be part of this luxurious hotel. One amongst them filled in the gap that we missed for so long. Yes the a pan Asian restaurant known by the same name as the cuisines it serves, “Pan Asian” in our own ITC Grand Chola.

Upon entering the restaurant, the first thing that hits you is the collection of Wines the restaurant boasts of. After being lead through some amazing shelves of Wines, the restaurant throws itself upon oneself with its rustic interiors and a fantastic open kitchen. Yes, the entire kitchen forms an integral part of the restaurant that provides a great experience seeing your order made almost in front of you. 

The menu was crafted keeping in mind the essence of the restaurant and true to its name had cuisines from three different provinces in China, a section dedicated to Thai and finally another dedicated to Japanese. The interesting aspect of the entire menu was the matrix arrangement of core ingredient against each cuisine. This I felt was quite innovative as one need not get confused with complex names but can rather select the core ingredient such as poultry, lamb, duck, seafood or vegetarian and then cross it with the cuisine to order your appetizers and mains. 
(Banana Blossom Salad)
(Steamed Duck Carpaccio)
(Pan Asian’s Som Tam)
The first to be served was the ‘Banana Blossom Salad’. The salad was served very aesthetically on a bowl made of banana fibres and had the right amount of crunchiness that a salad needs. This was followed by the ‘Steamed Duck Carpaccio’. I must admit that this was the first time I’d ventured out into unfamiliar territory of having a dish with duck as the core ingredient. Boy was I surprised, the duck was tender and at the right temperature being a cold dish. It was served along with some ponzu jelly and orange crushed ice which complemented the flavour well. Can’t wait to try another hot duck dish soon. The next to be served was the ‘Pan Asian’s Som Tam’ which was the restaurants own interpretation of the classic Thai salad. 
(Wok Tossed Chicken)

(Sichuan style Crispy Prawns)
(Stir Fried Squid)

(Californian Apple and Fresh Fennel Soup)

The ‘Wok Tossed Chicken’ was one of my favourites of the evening. The chicken was cooked perfectly with a sumptuous amount of nuts that truly elevated its flavours. The ‘Sichuan style Crispy Prawns’ was served next. The prawns were cooked in a succulent nut sauce that complemented the spice of the Sichuan style cooking. This was followed by the ‘Stir Fried Squid’, wherein the squid was crispy and coated in a nice chilli basil crumble. To end the array of appetizers, we were served with a ‘Californian Apple and Fresh Fennel Soup’. The soup served in Pan Asian has a twist to it. You are presented with a big bowl with the core ingredient and then provided the soup separately that can be poured in. This helps understand all the different flavours of the soup. The soup is so filling that it is a meal by itself. 
(Chicken Gaobao with Pixian Chilli)

(Phad Cha Talay)

(Asian Greens)
(Teppanyaki Fried Rice)

The mains started with the ‘Chicken Gaobao with Pixian Chilli’. The combination of leeks, nuts and peppercorns made the flavours stand out. The next was the ‘Phad Cha Talay’, which was basically an assortment of seafood cooked in turmeric and basil. This was followed by some Asian Greens in white garlic sauce. We were served with ‘Teppanyaki Fried Rice’ to go with the mains. The rice had a nice flavour of hotness in it while at the same time the hotness wasn’t too overpowering. 

(Serenity on Pebbled Path)

(Vahlrona Chocolate)

To sum up the evening, we were served with a ‘Serenity on Pebbled Path’ and a ‘Vahlrona Chocolate’. The pebbled path was indeed serene. It comprised of a nice pineapple orange pond with rock chocolates to make up the path. The chocolate on the other hand was exotic which went perfect with the dark cherry compote and spearmint ice cream that accompanied it. 

On the whole, my dining experience at ‘Pan Asian’ was truly Asian without any compromise on quality or taste and in my knowledge is the only authentic Asian restaurant existent as of now in Chennai. If you are a major lover of Asian food, then it definitely needs to be on the top of your must visit restaurant list.

Pan Asian is located at the ITC Grand Chola.

If this article interested you, please share it so others may be interested too!!! Request you to also visit our Facebook page Food In Chennai - Facebook and share the page with a Like amongst your friends and also follow us on our twitter handle at @FoodInChennai. You can also follow us on Google Plus at Food in Chennai -Google Plus. Please also feel free to g+1 this post so others may be benefited too.

To keep yourself updated on new reviews, kindly click subscribe by email on the right hand side at the bottom of this page.

Friday, 13 September 2013

The most favoured dish amongst the North Indian cuisine for me is the Butter Chicken/Paneer Masala. Incidentally this is also one of the first gravy dishes that I began my cooking with. Being in UK during my student times, cooking it always made me feel close to home. Some weeks ago I received few packets of home made masala's for different dishes from "Zaiqa - The Spice Store". One amongst them was for Butter Chicken Masala. The aroma of the masala made me cook up my favourite curry once again. And this time, it's here for you to try too.

Serves: 3-4

  • 1/2 kg boneless Chicken pieces
  • 4 Tomatoes (boiled & pureed) or 1 cup Tomato puree
  • 4 medium Onions finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp Ginger-Garlic paste
  • 2 tbsp Zaiqa Butter Chicken Masala for marination
  • 3-4 tbsp Zaiqa Butter Chicken Masala for gravy
  • 1 tsp Fenugreek leaves
  • 1 cup Milk
  • 3-4 tbsp of Cream
  • 2 tbsp Butter
  • 2 tbsp Oil
  • Salt to taste
(Zaiqa Masala's)
  1. Marinate the chicken pieces with 2 tbsp of Zaiqa masala and required amount of salt. Allow to rest for 1-2 hours refrigerated. (You can substitute Zaiqa masala with regular fry masala)
  2. Heat the oil and butter in a deep cooking pot.
  3. Add the finely chopped onions and sauté till the onions turn slightly brownish. 
  4. Now add the ginger-garlic paste and mix well.
  5. Add the marinated chicken and allow it to cook in the mixture on a low flame. This should take about 7-10 minutes.
  6. Next add the tomato puree and close the lid for about 5-7 minutes. Once the puree is cooked, add the Zaiqa masala, fenugreek leaves, milk and cream. Allow it to simmer till the mixture thickens. (You can substitute Zaiqa masala with some Garam Masala and Methi leaves)
  7. Remove from the stove and garnish with some more cream and butter.

Best served with Butter Naan, Roti and Fried Ghee Rice.
(Ready to be served)

  • Vegetarians can substitute Paneer for Chicken. If using Paneer, mix them with the masala and shallow fry them before adding to the mixture.
  • If you want a very rich creamy gravy, add more cream.