Sunday, 20 July 2014
4:25 pm by Fazil Badrudeen No comments
With the month of Ramadhan coming to a close soon, and with most Iftar packs not capturing the right mood of Iftar, for a change I decided to venture out into a very unorthodox territory. I stumbled upon an offer from Marrybrown and being in an adventurous mood that day decided to take the leap.
Marrybrown as most of us know were the first to bring the concept of broiler fried chicken to Chennai way before KFC stepped in. So my association with marrybrown has been quite old and even today feel that their Hot Touch burger is one that cannot be replaced by any other in Chennai. I also had the opportunity of tasting the same in Malaysia which incidentally is their home country. Compared to the other brands, their chicken has always been a hit.
With such a close bond with Marrybrown, I decided to have their ‘Ramzan 786’ pack that they are promoting for a short time during the month of Ramadhan. Usually this combo is sold at ₹ 1,000 but now it is available at only ₹ 786. Aptly named, the combo consists of 7 pieces of strips, 8 pieces of chicken and 6 pieces of wings and comes with 2 drinks. For those hard core fans of chicken, indulging once in a while for Iftar with so much chicken can be fun and trendy. It would have been great had they also added some dates & fruits as then it could easily pass of as an Iftar Pack.
This offer is available only till the end of Ramadhan and all you fried chicken fans out there, don’t miss it.
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Tuesday, 19 February 2013
8:00 pm by Fazil Badrudeen 1 comment
Over the last couple of years, Chennai has witnessed the mushrooming of several new and innovative biryani places each with its own marketing technique using fancy names and associating themselves to different regions to convince their patrons on their authenticity. But none has been close to authentic in any manner. The variant belonging to the neighbouring state namely the Hyderabadi Biryani too has been in the offering for a long time yet none close to the original one's that can be savoured near the Charminar in Hyderabad. Those available in Chennai are either too spicy or too oily. They just don’t get the right combination.
For the obvious it always seemed an illusion to authenticity whenever I see such places. My inclination was the same when I first noticed a new restaurant propping up on Lloyds Road named ‘Charminar’. I definitely believed this would be yet another marketing technique by some restaurant owners. Boy was I wrong till I met Ms. Vidya from Charminar. One of the partners of Charminar, Ms. Vidya has a professional experience of more than 5 years in the food industry spanning different categories. She believes in eating healthy so that you can enjoy your meal over and over again. According to Ms. Vidya, Hyderabadi cuisine is generally considered a healthy cuisines because of the ingredients and the way the food is processed for cooking. All the spices that are used in Hyderabadi cuisines have their own inherent goodwill.
Noticing a dearth in authentic Hyderabadi cuisine in Chennai, Ms. Vidya took upon herself the responsibility of bringing the most authentic Hyderabadi dishes to Chennai. She revealed that they are able to replicate the same authentic taste as most of their spices are sourced from Hyderabad. Also the rice used for their signature Hyderabadi biryani is a specialized long grain rice developed by the Pusa Institute, Delhi (An agricultural research institute of the Government of India). This specialized rice when combined with their traditional method of cooking in an indirect heat, gives the authentic flavour to their biryani. As a matter of fact, the biryani is so healthy that they use only 2 table spoons of oil for every kilogram of biryani. That makes it much healthier in accordance with Ms. Vidya’s ideology.
|(Pathar ka Gosht)|
|(Hyderabadi Chicken 65)|
Charminar has an extensive menu that has both Hyderabadi dishes as well as a few crafted by Vidya and her team. Some of these dishes have really fancy and captivating names. The evening started with the first starters arriving on the table. The ‘Pathar ka Gosht’, a speciality at Charminar, consists of boneless slice of mutton marinated overnight and cooked on a stone tawa hence the name Pathar which means stone in Hindi. This was followed by the ‘Hyderabadi Chicken 65’, which is prepared using curd to ensure a tangy curd after taste. They were crispy and had very minimal amount of oil. The next dish had the most amusing name I’ve ever heard for a dish. The ‘Titanic Fish’ took me by a shock and created an inquisitiveness in me to try it out. Not a big fan of fish when it comes to seafood, I ventured to try the Titanic Fish and wasn’t I amused. Being the latest addition to their menu, it had a very crusty & crunchy batter coating with the fish being marinated in their signature Hyderabadi masala.
The Titanic fish was followed by yet another humorous named dish called ‘Loose Prawns’. The moment this dish arrived, I was in no mood to eat as the laughter and amusements had taken the better of me. Being yet another of their speciality dishes, the prawns are batter fried and have ingredients such as celery, garlic and oregano to give it a unique taste. The next up was the ‘Apollo Fish’ which is basically a King Mackerel a.k.a Vanjaram in Tamil, marinated with curd. With a closure on the sea food, the focus now shifted back to the ‘Banjara Kebab’ which is a mildly spiced chicken kebab that is juicy and enjoyable for those who prefer a low spice appetite.
|(Murg Hara Pathar)|
|(Singapore Fried Chicken)|
|(Singapore Fried Chicken)|
|(Begum Nawab Curry)|
|(Lunch Take Away Combo)|
A visit to any restaurant serving Hyderabadi cuisine is incomplete without savouring their biryani. As we waited for the grand finale to arrive, I was informed about a uniqueness in their offerings. Charminar is probably the only restaurant in Chennai where a mixture of Chicken and Mutton Biryani is served. No it is not a combination of the two biryanis after being cooked rather the biryani is itself cooked together with both meat from the initial phase. The biryani was as close to the authentic Hyderabadi biryani. This is probably because of their ingredients and the traditional method followed in preparing it. At the end of the day, there is finally a respite for some authentic cuisine here in Chennai.
Charminar also offers interesting lunch combos in a take away plate. It is again offered in both vegetarian and non-vegetarian options. Charminar is open from 12 pm to 3:30 pm for lunch and from 7:30 pm to 10:30 pm for dinner.
Charminar is located at 269, 1st Floor, Avvai Shanmugam Salai, Llyods Road. For more on Charminar, follow their Facebook page at Charminar – Facebook.
This experience at Charminar was courtesy of Chennai Food Guide as part of their premium restaurant feature. For more on Chennai Food Guide, visit Charminar - Chennai Food Guide.
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Thursday, 6 December 2012
7:30 pm by Fazil Badrudeen No comments
|(Inside Seating Area)|
Owing to sudden plans for the CFG admins, a fellow CFGian and myself were delegated with the responsibility for the showcase. This resulted in me reaching Ashvita well ahead of the others as this enabled me to have an interaction about how the evening was to unfold with Munira, the PR Co-ordinator for Ashvita and Ashwin, who owns Ashvita.
|(Lounge Non Alcoholic Drink)|
Post Ashwin's introduction on Ashvita, the culinary magic begun. One thing that I was thoroughly impressed at this particular Showcase was that we were not huge portions on a single plate. Instead they served small sample size portions to everyone and some dishes were prepared to be shared by 2. This helps a lot in a Showcase as the photographers can be at peace taking their own time to capture the smiles on the food.
|(Asian style Tomato soup with Pasta and Egg)|
|(Garlic and Mushroom Cream Soup)|
|(Chicken Shorba with Caramelized Onion and Egg)|
|(Pumpkin Coriander Soup)|
- Garlic and Mushroom Cream soup
- A Chicken Shorba with Caramelized Onion and Egg
- Asian style Tomato soup with Pasta and Egg
- Pumpkin Coriander Soup
- Peas and Spinach Cream soup
|(Crispy Spinach and Sprouts)|
|(Inverted Masala Papad)|
|(Grilled Chicken and Cheese)|
|(Onion Rings Salt Pepper)|
|(Fried Rice Corn Tikki)|
|(Steamed Chicken Momos)|
|(Paneer Mushroom Jariyawala)|
|(Big Boss - Chicken)|
|(Big Boss - Paneer Tikka)|
|(Big Boss - Kashmiri)|
|(Assorted Indian Breads)|
- Vegetable Jalfrezi
- Badami Chicken
- Bhuna Gosht
- Roasted Lamb in Mint & Coriander sauce
- Dal Makhni
- Mushroom & Tomato Rice
- Coloured Plain Saffron Rice
- Pan Fried Noodles
- Indian Breads - Egg Paratha, Gobi Paratha & Bajra Roti
After tasting so many dishes, I had by now lost the sense of taste. But one dish that really impressed me was the Badami Chicken. It had a rich taste of badam in which the chicken was cooked as a gravy. The rest of the dishes were palatable excepting the Mushroom & Tomato rice which many felt didn't pack much flavor. The Egg paratha though tasty lacked some seasoning. It was also a bit heavy on the palate.
|(Kit Kat Milkshake)|
Once we had settled down and relaxed after the short main course, we were all excited for the samples that were to arrive next. Yes the ever wonderful desserts. To the excitement of all of us, Ashwin again revealed that we will be sampling 6 desserts. The desserts round started with the arrival of "Oreo Milkshake". It was very appetizing to have the Oreo Milkshake after such indulgence in the starters that one full glass was empty in a single gulp. The next on the table was the "Mocha Milkshake", which as the name suggests was a little heavy on the coffee and a bit too liquidy for a milkshake. The final milkshake was made up of one of my all time favorite chocolate, the "Kit Kat Milkshake". Being my favorite flavoring, I had absolutely no complains on this.
Following this attack of milkshakes came the desi "Beetroot Halwa". I would rate the Beetroot Halwa at Ashvita as one of the best I've tasted anywhere. It was perfectly cooked, with the required amount of crispiness while at the same time retaining the juicy content of the beetroot infused with milk and sugar. It was so yum that I requested for another serving of the same. The last desserts to be served were "Citrus Cake" and "Vanilla Cake". Nothing extraordinary about the cakes as they were basic sponge cakes with a flavored icing on the top. The flavoring seemed perfect in both the cakes.
With this marathon tasting session, came the end of the CFG Showcase at Ashvita. The owner, Ashwin, was kind enough to be with us the entire time and clearing our doubts while taking feedback on how the dishes fared. As it was well past 10 PM, all of us were in a hurry to get going and I made an impromptu vote of thanks to Ashwin for providing us with the opportunity to have such a wonderful evening and for taking our feedback in the right spirit.
In terms of pricing, they seem to have mastered this art as usual. Just like the earlier times, they have been able to find a good balance between what is a affordable price with that of an exorbitant price. I'm sure those who visit Ashvita will agree that it is wallet friendly for the ambience and the food that you get here.
Ashvita is located in RK Salai after Hotel President (opp. to Dominos Pizza). You will find a big board that says Ashvita at the entrance of a small lane. Enter that lane and you will have Ashvita on your right. They have Valet Parking too.
P.S: This seems to be my longest post so far. At last count was 2k plus. Kudos to Ashvita for setting an example for a Showcase.
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Thursday, 15 November 2012
7:30 pm by Fazil Badrudeen No comments
Not been more than a week since I started my food blog and here I am at my first CFG showcase. Thanks to Marrybrown for inviting members of Chennai Food Guide to their Ispahani outlet in Nugambakkam. The moment I knew the showcase was at Marrybrown, I was delighted. Marrybrown has been in Chennai for a long long time and as they rightly said, Marrybrown was the first to introduce Fried Chicken (sans masala style) in Chennai. While in school, Marrybrown used to be a regular when we wanted to have chicken KFC style.
Coming to the showcase, members of CFG were all present at the said time and the marketing co-ordinators of Marrybrown gave a short introduction followed by a list that contained their complete menu. There was close to 17 items on the menu as was shocked that I haven't realized it so far being a regular at Marrybrown.
Alongside their regulars, the main objective of having a showcase by Marrybrown was for them to know feedback about their new additions, viz. Extreme Burger (Veg/Non Veg), Jigger Fries & Mango flavoured Smoothers Shakes. Initially it was thought to highlight what each of us wanted on the menu, but it soon turned like a we want all. So we left it to Marrybrown to stuff us with all the food goodies that were in their arsenal.
So while we were eagerly waiting for the starters to start arriving, we were discussing about how Marrybrown has fought through the big daddy of fried chicken KFC and still has a good customer base. Also laurels to the bold efforts taken by Marrybrown towards inviting us to showcase their food. I'm sure every restaurant would think twice before asking for a showcase.
The first to arrive amongst the starters was the Chicken Poppers. I had a glee on my mind when I saw it as it has always been my favourite at their competitors. But when the tasting begun, I was disappointed as the poppers lacked the popping a.k.a crispiness. It was just bland boneless chicken rolled in a batter and fried. The dip provided was some kind of chilli BBQ sauce which didn't suit it either. But with the Mayo, it was edible. The vegetable lovers got their equivalent called Chilli Poppers. The case was the same. No Chilli in their poppers barring some chilli flakes which were present more from an aesthetic point of view.
Following the poppers, arrived the Chicken Lollypop, Buffalo Wings (Really don't know why the world calls it Buffalo Wings) and Chicken Nuggets. We didn't have much difficulty tasting these as they were basically the same as the Chicken Poppers except not being boneless. The taste was the same, the texture a little crispier and seasoning was zero. It made in mandatory to sample it with a dip and once again mayo stood out. I really wonder if there is anything special in their mayo. The Chicken Nuggets was in no way comparable to a Nugget. It was more like a chicken kheema shaped in the form of nuggets, coated with batter and fried. The vegetable lovers had their own variant viz. Cheese Tease and Smileys. Based on food shopping experience in Chennai, I know exactly from where both of these were purchased. The cheese tease is nothing but Cheese and Jalapeno poppers from McCain and the Smileys are from the same brand as well. But eventually Marrybrown is specialized in Chicken and hence cannot put them down for this. Atleast they have an alternative to the vegetable lovers.
|Jigger Fries Box|
Then came the Star dish of the evening, the Jigger Fries. Aptly named, the Jigger Fries is their take on french fries seasoning. Packed in a neatly designed box filled with french fries and either Mexican Cheese or Sour Cream and Onion seasoning, the box needs to be Jiggered (slang for shake in Tamil) for a coating of seasoning on the fries. Unanimously it was a hit. Everyone just loved it and we even requested for more servings. A fellow blogger was so impressed by the seasoning that he suggested we season all the chicken with it.
|Hot Touch Burger|
|Mango Smoothers Shakes|
The star was followed by the significant, the one and only Fried Chicken. The chicken tub was presented in all its glory. Nothing to compare as they seemed to have had a consistence approach towards this dish for a long time. It tasted the usual and was comparatively less oily even though I found some oil accumulated between the flesh and the bone which was not very desirable. This was followed by my favourite, the Hot Touch Burger. Again the same, they have really been consistence with their hot touch burger too. The positive today was that the burger bun didn't crumble on to the plate which used to be the case most of the times. The vegetarian substitute was the newly introduced Extreme Burger. Those whose had a taste of said that it had a touch of zing, thanks to the black pepper in the burger patty. We were also served their new Mango flavoured Smoothers Shakes. This was a surprise winner. Majority of us liked it and felt it to be really heavy with a subtle taste of vanilla and a dominant taste of mango. Although being made out of mango pulp, there was no stickiness or roughness in its texture. This is a must have if you visit them.
Being really stuffed with all their offerings so far, we had to politely refuse further dishes. We were then requested to sample their desserts. Strawberry Jello with Vanilla Ice Cream and Brownies with Vanilla Ice Cream. The first one had mixed reviews with myself personally liking it. The flavouring of Strawberry was not too heavy and gelled well with the ice cream. But the Brownie was the most disappointing dish of the day. A fellow blogger broke his spoon trying to have a taste. It was rock solid. I somehow managed to smoother it with the ice cream to make it soft and finally sampled it ignoring the warnings of fellow companions. I was wrong, the brownie was crunch like a biscuit and was like eating something that in no way would be comparable to a brownie.
Being a showcase, we really didn't expect that we would have both positives and negatives as the food is usually served at its best at such events. But hats off to Marrybrown for delivering to us the same that they deliver to their regular customers. And also their encouragement and boldness for having them reviewed by us should be appreciated. One more thing I would like to add here is that, just a day prior to the showcase, Marrybrown had conducted a food carnival for around 250 children who were infected with HIV. This is really a good initiative from them to show their solidarity with the under-privileged. Towards the end of the showcase, the entire team conveyed their individual feedback to the Marrybrown team which was delightfully acknowledged by them.
Marrybrown is located across Chennai with outlets in almost all areas. Please check on their website for their locations. The one where the showcase was held is located on the Ground Floor, Ispahani Centre, Nungambakkam.