Showing posts with label tandoor. Show all posts
Showing posts with label tandoor. Show all posts

Sunday, 21 December 2014



If one were to ask me which would be your favourite style of cooking, the reply would be instant. I just can’t get over grilling and reminds me of my childhood days in the Middle East when during winters the best feeling would be light up the coals and stay around it soaking in the beautiful aroma of chicken and mutton being barbequed. However as time passed, this slowly faded away and in today’s fast paced world it is quite difficult to huddle together a set of friends to plan a BBQ night.

However a few years ago, a restaurant brought this concept on to the table top in Chennai. You could do the grilling right on your table. I was fascinated and was a regular their until a little later when they started to compromise on quality and hence decided not to visit them again as they weren’t doing any justice to the concept. A couple of imitations opened up and all failed miserably.

Coming to present times, the only option of enjoying the passion of grilling was informing friends in advance and doing all the prep work a day ahead so as to enjoy the moment as it comes. This was possible only around once in a few months however it was fun. And then one evening, while as a group of friends we were driving through city, one amongst us spotted this new restaurant called ‘Absolute Barbecue’ which was opening up and had the same table grill concept. He instantly told was that this was a great eat-out in Bangalore with amazing hospitality and is a must try it once they open.

So once they opened a visit was instantly made. In fact the number of visits stands at three with the first being an invitational one by the owners who hunted a couple of us through our Zomato profiles, the second one was with family and the third again an invited visit but this time through a food group. I’m sure this should be enough to let you know how much I love this place. The three visits are reason enough to ascertain that their service and hospitality are amazing irrespective of how you visit.
Coming to their fare, Absolute Barbecue is a foodie’s paradise. One place where their cannot be any discrimination between the vegetarians and the meat lovers. The menu is same throughout the week with changes only in the dessert section. Once you settle down on your table, the dedicated waiter arrives and informs you about their concept. The first concept is the same wherein they keep bringing the starters to your table and you can grill them to your liking. The second concept is where they claim to be India’s first. Yes, they have a concept called the Wish Grill which has an exotic collection of meats and vegetables that can be paired with regular vegetables of your choice followed by the either a combination of rice or noodles with a sauce from a selection of five sauces. This is probably the highlight of their offerings.

The first starters that made its way to the table was the beautiful and succulent ‘Tangdi Kebab’ and this was followed by a juicy ‘Mutton Sheekh’. Both these starters were served on the plate as it would be a difficult task to do this by ourselves on the table. This was followed by a bombardment of kebabs on skewers that we are supposed to grill to our perfection. The skewers were of ‘Asian Chicken’, ‘Garlic Fish’, ‘Prawns’ and another variant of mutton. I loved the Asian chicken and with a dash of the pineapple sauce that accompanies, it was just amazing. The tangdi and mutton were the other favourites.
(Tangdi Chicken)
(Mutton Sheekh)
(Meats on the Grill)
(Meats on the Grill)
The vegetarian starters comprised of ‘Grilled Paneer’, ‘Assorted vegetables’, ‘Acahri Mushrooms’, ‘Grilled Cinnamon Pineapple’, ‘American Cheesy Potatoes’ and ‘Coconut Peanut Kebabs’. The paneer was delicately soft and was a yum along with the coconut kebab. I was in love with the American cheesy potatoes so much that during all visits insisted I had atleast four servings of the same. The highlight of the entire vegetarian fare is their grilled cinnamon pineapple. Oh my oh my, this was one combination that I’d never tried in my life and thanks to AB (Absoulte Barbecue as they are known), I’ve started experimenting the use of cinnamon on a lot of my cooking. Savouring this is more of an experience rather than calling it eating.
(Coconut Kebab)
(American Cheesy Potatoes)
(Cinnamon Glazed Pineapple)
(Cinnamon Glazed Pineapple)
(Cinnamon Glazed Pineapple)
With so much of starters, I’m sure most of us would be compelled to skip most of the other courses but hang on and don’t give up on the wish grill. The wish grill consists of exotic meats such as Rabbit, Quail, Shark, Squid along with a seafood medley and Duck. In total they have a combination of 16 exotic meats and vegetables. Once you select your main ingredient, the remaining procedure is quite straight forward. You need to select your vegetable, rice/noodles, spice level, seasonings and sauce. Once you hand over this to the grill master, they hand over a small token that you need to give it to your waiter who will bring you the dishes once they are ready. In the time that we waited, I had order for myself one of the best mocktails I’d ever had in a standalone restaurant. The ‘Mango Blaster’ was super extraordinary and can quench the thirst of anybody however mind it as it is quite heavy on the palate. After a wait of couple of minutes, the wish grill items begun to appear. No wonder they started to come, they were being completely wiped off. Such was the intensity that I hardly got a chance to click pictures.
(Wish Grill)
(Wish Grill Tokens)
(Mango Blaster)
With the wish grill section completed, we hardly had any space for mains. But from what I’ve heard from my companions, they were a delectable fare as well. With around 9 veg and 5 non veg courses including a crab gravy, a beautiful paneer and a filling kofta gravy along with their signature dal dish. The accompaniments include Biryani, Steamed Rice and a variety of breads.

The reason that I mostly avoided mains was to ensure I had a feast at the desserts counter. AB’s is probably the only restaurant to have a live cold stone ice cream counter and serving one of the best ‘Paan Ice Cream’. The highlight of their dessert counter is the customizable ice cream along with a hot counter that served gulab jamuns and jelabi’s during my visits. The other desserts are the regular fare such as Chocloate Gateaux, Mango Cheesecake and a summer pudding. Their Phirni and Moong Dal Halwa deserves a special mention too.
(Paan Ice Cream)
The best aspect about AB’s is that both their service, hospitality and food is excellent and they make sure that the customers are satisfied at all times. The waiter keeps coming to you after every serving to check on how the food was and if they could do anything more to better it. This is the same I’ve heard from folks who have visited their other outlets in Bangalore and Hyderabad as well. Hope it continues as I would love to keep coming here again and again.

They follow a system of variable pricing depending on when you visit and if you select vegetarian or non-vegetarian. The price per person is as follows

Rs. 555 Lunch - Veg (Mon-Sun)
Rs. 666 Lunch - Non Veg (Mon-Sun)
Rs. 585 Dinner- Veg (Mon-Tue)
Rs. 695 Dinner- Non Veg (Mon-Tue)
Rs. 695 Dinner- Veg (Wed-Sun)
Rs. 835 Dinner- Non Veg (Wed-Sun)


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Monday, 14 July 2014

With the advent of Ramadhan month, most Chennai restaurants are engaged in dishing out yummylicious kebabs. But the only setback is that the kebabs at these restaurants include only the basic such as Tikka, Tandoori, Sheek or Malai. With people getting tired of savouring these over and over again, now seemed the perfect time to find a place that brought in some unique kebabs.

Just as this thought was running on, I was informed that ‘Paprika’ at ‘Courtyard by Marriott’ was running an “Awadhi” food festival. For those who might be wondering what Awadhi is, it is known better by its other famous name, the “Lucknowi Cuisine”. Awadhi is perhaps the cuisine that very closely resembles what we call the Nawabi khaana. Their spread not only includes mouth-watering kebabs like the Galouti & Shami but also the traditional Nawabi Biryani and delicious Kormas. Having savoured an amazing Galouti Kebab recently at one of the outings, a group of passionate foodies decided to check out the “Awadhi” food festival and deluge on some authentic kebabs. When we were further told that they had flown in their Awadhi cuisine specialist, Chef Yunus Khan, there was no turning back.

As we entered ‘Paprika’, the first thing that came to our notice was that the restaurant was very lively even though it was only a weekday. The d├ęcor along with a live Kathak performance resonated well with the food festival. The Awadhi cuisine is part of their regular buffet spread and started off with 2 Veg & 2 Non Veg starters brought to our table.

The first starter that was brought to our table was the majestic ‘Galouti Kebab’. Yet again the Galouti ticked the right boxes in terms of texture and softness. However, I personally felt that there was a tinge of one spice that had a more dominant taste on my palate which made it slightly unbalanced. Also the Roti was a bit soft which when enquired with the Chef was as I imagined intentionally done so to create a different texture between the melt-in-your-mouth kebab and the roti. This was followed by the ‘Malai Prawn’ which was a first for me. The prawns well delicately cooked to perfection and carried the right balance of flavour to make it truly the best dish of the evening. As they have an alternating menu, we were told that the other starter on the festival menu was a mutton chops.
(Mutton Chops)
(Galouti Kebab)
(Malai Prawns)
Coming to the vegetarian fare, we were served with another amazing starter that can rightly be called as the vegetarian’s Galouti. It was called ‘Khoya kas Galouti’ and was made using Paneer and Khoya. The kebabs were outright fantastic and is the best veg started I’ve savoured till date. I just couldn’t resist eating more and more. This was followed up with the traditional paneer starters, namely the ‘Malai Paneer’ and ‘Awadhi Paneer Tikka’, which were amazingly soft and loaded with flavours but nothing to beat the Khoya Galouti.
(Khoya kas Galouti)
(Malai Paneer & Paneer Awadhi Tikka)
By the time the starters were all done, we were so filled with amazing kebabs that a few of us decided to head straight to the desserts because there was one very unique dessert that kept intriguing us. But not wanting to miss savouring the speciality mains, I ventured on to the spread to savour some of them. The highlights amongst the mains was the ‘Nawabi Biryani’ which was very light on the palate and had loads of fabulous flavours bursting on every mouthful and was a raisin riot. The way the raising blended was truly outstanding. The other dish that picked my mark was the ‘Paneer Pista Hariyali’ as I’ve always had hariyali as a starter and never as a mains. The curry dish delivered at par to the standards set by the starters. The pista enhanced the flavours and made for a rich curry. The curry from the non-veg section that stood out was the ‘Mutton Korma’. The mutton was cooked to amazing perfection as you could still see the pink from the meat but could reassure yourself that the mutton was well cooked. Together with the naans, it made for a great combination.

(Mutton Korma)
Now coming to the desserts, like I’d said earlier, there was this particular dish which we’ve never heard before nor could we imagine as to how it would be. This dish of intense interest was the ‘Mirchi ki Halwa’. Yes, a dessert made of Chilli but not like the chilli chocolates that you must be thinking about. This was a proper halwa that was made using Bell Peppers. True to the expectation, the dish delivered hands on, a very palate friendly dessert with strong tinge of hotness. This alone should probably be your biggest motivation to indulge in some exquisite Awadhi cuisine and convince you to try them.
(Dessert Platter)
The Awadhi food festival is available at Paprika in Courtyard by Marriott till the 20th of July, 2014 and is priced at ₹ 1,250 including taxes.

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Monday, 16 June 2014

For any die-hard foodie, a culinary tour of India will be like visiting heaven. The stark contrast in cuisine across the 4 corners of the country is sure to keep them guessing on all the beautiful dishes and the exotic ingredients that go with them. The Butter Chicken Masala in the North combined with the Dosas from the South and add to it some chats from the west and one can keeping going on and again over the different dishes that we can savour. But in today’s restaurant scenario in India, many restaurant fail to provide authenticity in their food as they try to cover the entire Indian cuisine under one roof. This leads to mixing of the unique tastes that needs to be attributed to each dish based on the geographic location of its origin. However, there are still a handful of restaurant which believe that the trade-off between the variety of dishes vs authenticity will always have the win tilting towards authenticity and have hence embarked on a journey of providing authentic cuisines from lesser known regions of the sub-continent.

One such restaurant serving authentic regional cuisine in Chennai is “Beyond Indus” located within the “Taj Club House” in Anna Salai. Diners here get to savour some exotic foods from the provinces surrounding the Indus River namely Punjab, Rawalpindi & Sindh.  True to their name, the dishes served here were always a reflection of the regions that it was supposed to represent. Various dinners here have never failed in satisfying the entourage. When a restaurant has created a mark in setting amazing food, imagine a food festival being held.
(Chef Chandan - Masala Klub)
How can you have a food festival when you have already differentiated your offering? Well here comes the twist, the food festival being conducted is by a visiting chef from another of Taj’s restaurant, the “Masala Klub” from the “Taj West End” at Bangalore. And what do they specialize in, they provide a modern twist to classical Indian cuisine. Chef Chandan from Masala Klub stylishly recreates authentic Indian flavours using modern cooking techniques and using healthier ingredients without compromising on the taste.
(Papads)
Upon being seated, first to make its way to our table was the welcome drink. On this occasion it was a ‘Litchi’ flavoured drink served in a Champagne glass. This was followed by an amuse-bouche which was a ‘Pani Puri’ with the pani being a differentiator made from Pineapple extract. We were then introduced to the offering for the day which comprised of three starters, three mains served with Indian breads and a plate of traditional desserts.
(Litchi Drink)
(Pineapple Pani Puri)
Once the introductions were over, the starters were presented on the table. The starter platter comprised of ‘Palak Papad ke Kebab’, ‘Bhunna lasson de Murgh Tikka’ & ‘Pan seared Sea Bass’. The Palak papad ke kebab was made of Broccoli florets flavoured with a mix of mustard and spices and finally char-grilled to attain a papad crispiness on the outside. The Murgh tikka was the traditional tender chicken cubes draped in cheese and flavoured with Cardamom and Garlic. The Sea Bass had a peppery taste to it as it was pan seared using deggi mirch. The Papad kebab was the clear highlight of the starters as its crispy crust was an absolute palate pleaser.
(Starter Kebab Platter)
For the mains, we were served with three curries, a mutton, a prawn and a vegetarian. The ‘Patiala Mutton curry’ is an ethnic Punjabi dish made using meat from the leg of a lamb and finished using ghee to provide the richness to the gravy. This was followed by the ‘Anardana Jingha’ which was a prawn gravy with flavourings infused from roasted coriander seeds, the beautiful Kashmiri chilies and topped with pomegranate seeds. The combination of flavours was just mind boggling and was a pure treat along with their ‘Chili Olive Naan’ that was served as the accompaniment. The last of the gravies to make way was the ‘Nadru aur Singhada’ that directly translates to Lotus Stem and Water Chestnut literally. It was quite unique to taste a curry made using these two ingredients and must say they complemented each other very well.
(Curry Trio)
(Chili Olive Naan)
To end the evening, the desserts were rolled out. The dessert for the evening was the ‘Baked Anjeer Halwa’. The halwa is made up of mashed figs and is an all-time favourite of the Masala Klub’s menu. The halwa was served along with a Coconut Ice Cream that had a few tongue-tickling pieces of tender coconut flesh.
(Dessert Platter)
If you thought the evening ended here, you have to be wrong. Being foodies, we are always on the hunt to find out best places for unique dishes. Being in a restaurant serving authentic Northern-North Western cuisine, how can we leave without tasting their ‘Galouti Kebab’ especially after the Chef revealed that it was his personal favourite too. So after much deliberation with fellow food bloggers Dr Wasim & Dr Shadir, the trio of us decided to go for the kill. As we were already beaten down by the amazing meal that was set in front of us already, we requested for just one portion of the kebab and that’s all the space that was remaining. However, Chefs being chefs, bought us a complete plate with four Galouti’s neatly tucked on a Saffron Roti. The looks were very deceptive as after the customary photo clicks, I’d placed the fork on top of the kebab to pack my camera gear so that we can leave as soon as the tasting is over.
(Making of Galouti Kebab)
Within a few seconds, what we witnessed was phenomenal. Historically, Galouti came into existence because when the Mughal Kings became old and lost their teeth, they still wanted to savour kebabs that would taste divine yet be so soft that they would melt inside the mouth. True to its history, what we saw was that the fork I’d placed had actually sunk inside the kebab. That’s how soft it was. The first bite sealed the case and the verdict was out. Finally a Galouti that beats those from the ‘The Great Kebab Factory’ at Radisson Blu. The trio of us were so delighted that we kept talking about the Galouti till late that evening. A must try if you are a Galouti fan.
(Galouti Kebab)
The ‘Masala Klub’ festival is on till the 22nd of June at Beyond Indus, located at Hotel Taj Club Road in Anna Salai and a meal for two will cost you upwards of ₹ 3000.

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Tuesday, 19 February 2013

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)
(Titanic Fish)
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. 
(Loose Prawns)
(Apollo Fish)
(Banjara Kebab)
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)
(Paneer Sophiyan)
(Singapore Fried Chicken)
(Singapore Fried Chicken)
The next kebab on the table was the ‘Murg Hara Pathar’ which is a similar variant of Pathar ka Gosht excepting that it is the chicken version and the main marinade is based on palak. This was followed by the Sholay Murgh. Just like its name, the Sholay murgh had a tinge of spice yet a succulent base of mint to balance the spice. After a complete bombardment of meat it was time to take one last go at my favourite delicacy, Paneer.  The ‘Paneer Tikka Sophiyana’ was very soft and packed with aroma and flavours. It is quite similar to the Malai Tikka excepting that it had a bit more tinge of ginger. They just melted in your mouth. If I was served this first, then I’m sure I would have gorged an entire serving. The last to hit the table amongst the starters was the ‘Singapore Fried Chicken’ which is designed specifically with the kids in mind. The chicken is rolled in noodles and then marinated in their special sauce. This is then battered and deep fried. It was more of a fun food after the sampling of exotic dishes that was presented until now.
(Begum Nawab Curry)
(Kadai Paneer)
(Dal Fry)
With all the starters done, it was time to move to the next course. For the mains, a very unique dish was served as the non-vegetarian side. Called the ‘Begum Nawab Curry’ which means ‘Queen King Curry’, it was a combination of two sides in a single plate with a clear demarcation. This amazing dish can be ordered in a combination of your choice, be it chicken, mutton or vegetarian. The non-vegetarian dish is accompanied by a bed of sliced omelettes. The sample provided to us was a combination of Chicken and Minced Meat. From the vegetarian side, a portion of an excellent ‘Kadai Paneer’ was presented. Yet again the paneer was amazingly soft and succulent and the gravy had the right amount of spices to balance the taste buds. On a milder note, ‘Dal Fry’ was served in a very cute mini bucket. An assorted variety of breads is also available to pair with the mains.
(Hyderabadi biryani)
(Hyderabadi biryani)
(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

With a short break of one week, it was time for yet another CFG Showcase. The move by many restaurateurs to invite CFG members to their restaurant for a Showcase seems to be improving as the months go by. I am sure this is because they can clearly see the advantage of having a CFG Showcase both from a culinary perspective as well as from a PR perspective. 
(Inside Seating Area)
Coming to this week's showcase, Ashvita, a very cosy, niche and quite restaurant tucked inside a small lane off RK Salai had invited fellow CFG bloggers and photographers to showcase their newly revamped menu. Having been to Ashvita a couple of times more than 2 years ago, was intrigued to find out what has changed over the years and if this change still retained the atmosphere Ashvita was then known for.

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)
The CFGians slowly trickled in as the clock kept nearing the beginning time of 7:30 PM. Once all the customary introductions and camera light adjustments were made by the members, the Showcase had begun.  On behalf of CFG, I thanked Ashwin for having invited us over for the CFG Showcase and that we are eagerly looking forward to sampling his new menu. Ashwin then took over the proceedings by giving us all a brief history of Ashvita, how it started and what their core beliefs are. Ashwin also introduced the lot to a new canned drink that was on the block. A brand of Non-Alcoholic drinks called "Lounge". They were being launched at Ashvita first and will roll out in retail stores shortly. Three flavors are currently available viz., Mojito, Tonic Water and Margarita. A couple of other things that Ashwin told us was not to expect any healthy food on the menu as he believed in indulgence of taste more than health and also that they do not serve seafood, pork or beef at Ashvita.

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)
(Peas and Spinach Cream Soup)
(Pumpkin Coriander Soup)
The showcase began with a tasting session for the soups. We were served with not one or two but with five different soups. First on the table was "Asian style Tomato soup with Pasta and Egg". The soup was light and had good flavors but was a little too peppery for my liking. The pasta and the egg complimented the textures of the soup. Next was "Garlic and Mushroom Cream soup". This was a favourite with many. The garlic were roasted perfectly and mushroom well cooked and gave the right amount of crunch that was needed in the soup. The third entrant was "A Chicken Shorba with Caramelized Onion and Egg". Yes the inspiration for Ashwin was the French Onion Soup but it funneled down into this soup. As it is a Shorba, it had strong flavorings of Chicken along with caramelized onion that were not too strong and the usual egg floats. Next came the "Peas and Spinach Cream soup". This one definitely had some tweaking to do. To start with the texture was coarse and tasted a little too bland. Amongst all the soups, this was the only one that most of us used additional seasonings to bring the flavor. Last but not the least of the dishes we were to sample was the "Pumpkin Coriander Soup". A pumpkin soup was a first to me. Felt the textures of the pumpkin were well balanced with the tinge from the coriander. This was a normal clear soup sans the pumpkin and coriander flavoring. Some had suggested that the pumpkin be julienne'd rather than being used as chunks. The soup tasting session was filled with fun n frolic. I would rate the soups in the following order of awesomeness,
  1. Garlic and Mushroom Cream soup
  2. A Chicken Shorba with Caramelized Onion and Egg
  3. Asian style Tomato soup with Pasta and Egg
  4. Pumpkin Coriander Soup
  5. Peas and Spinach Cream soup
(Crispy Spinach and Sprouts)
(Inverted Masala Papad)
(Grilled Chicken and Cheese)
Once the soup tasting ended, we were immediately flooded with the starters. The starters were rushing from the kitchen at such a pace that we had to ask Ashwin and Munira to slow down the pace. The first starter to reach the table was the "Crispy Spinach and Sprouts". This was true to its name, Crispy. But for those of you who immediately associated Spinach and Sprouts with being a healthy food, you are absolutely to be mistaken. Like Ashwin had informed earlier, their is no diet/healthy food. The Sprouts and Spinach were perfectly fried and that gave them the amazing crunchiness. Next was another innovative dish, the "Inverted Masala Papad". This was nothing more but a regular papad rolled like a cone having the only healthy filling of the evening, mixed chat masala. The next starter was from the continental kitchen, "Grilled Chicken and Cheese". This was an instant favorite with the poultry lovers. The chicken juicy and was perfectly grilled with the right amount of cheese. In fact the cheese was not too strong to take away the flavors from the chicken by being too cheesy rather was of the right amount to complement the grilled chicken.
(Kakori Kebab)
(Onion Rings Salt Pepper)
(Punjabi Breakfast)
(Fried Rice Corn Tikki)
Following the grilled chicken, we were served upon with a dish I think known as "Kakori Kebab". But this was with a different take on it. Instead of the traditional kebab, this had minced lamb rolled in a thin wrap of egg. With the right amount of spices incorporated into the kebab, they were delicious. After the continual attack of meat, we were served a very simple dish with a twist. "Onion Rings Salt Pepper" as they named it. Being a major fan of onion rings, like the experimentation that was done in this dish. The dish that followed had its share of questions and answers. Called "Punjabi Breakfast", we were served a dish that consisted of boiled eggs, veggies and a sweet roti. Though Ashwin called it a Punjabi Breakfast, a fellow CFGian who happens to be a Punjabi was giving his insight that Punjabi's do not eat Sweet Roti's for breakfast. This ought to be more of the Gujarati/Maharashtrian type. The feedback was well received by Ashwin and he guaranteed that the origins will be researched upon once again. What followed next was yet another dish that was sweet. The "Fried Rice Corn Tikki" wasa tad bit sweet but they were deliciously crispy and light on the palate.
(Sesame Chicken)
(Fried Momos)
(Steamed Chicken Momos)
(Chicken Lipta)
Following the string of vegetarian dishes, came the winner dish of the evening. The "Sesame Chicken", as it was called was a clear notch above rest of the dishes that were served during the course of the evening. The dish was a chicken kebab with sesame flavorings. The chicken was succulent and cooked to perfection with the flavoring of sesame felt floating above the chicken. Just as quickly the dish arrived it disappeared in a jiffy. Following this we were presented with two different types of "Momos". The first one was a fried variant while the latter was steamed momos with chicken. They tasted pretty much the same barring the crunchiness felt in the fried one. The last of the non-vegetarian starters was a dish called "Chicken Lipta". Although looks similar to the crispy chicken dishes available at Chinese restaurants, this was a completely Indian dish. Though wasn't as crispy as expected it was certainly packed with strong flavors.
(Paneer Mushroom Jariyawala)
(Potato Chat)
(Mushroom Gotiya)
The last few dishes that arrived brought back the delight on our vegetable loving friends. The "Paneer Mushroom Jariyawala" was a typical Indian tandoori dish. The paneer was soft but the mushroom was a bit too slimy to my liking. This was followed by the "Potato Chat" and "Mushroom Gotiya". The Potato Chat was more of diced baked potatoes along with some veggies and a dressing. As the dish was placed away from us, the carnivores, I decided to skip it. The Mushroom Gotiya was another tandoori dish but the mushrooms in this were more palatable.
(Big Boss - Chicken)
(Big Boss - Paneer Tikka)
(Big Boss - Kashmiri)
Following the starters, came a completely surprising dish. Called the "Big Boss", it was indeed the big boss of all dishes at Ashvita. Customizable to suit your needs, we were served with three variants of Big Boss viz., Chicken, Panner Tikka and Kashmiri. Well the Big Boss is more like a take on pizzas. The base is replaced by a thick roti on top of which are the toppings and dressings as per your preference.  The Chicken Big Boss was my favorite among the lot. With chunks of chicken and potato with a dressing of mayonnaise, the big boss was just yummy. The Panner Tikka was similar to the Chicken variant except that it had more cheese and a lot more vegetables. The Kashmiri Big Boss was quite different from the previous two. It was in fact packed with wonderful flavours of dry fruits and nuts that it tasted like a mix n match of sweet and savoury dish.
(Assorted Indian Breads)
Once all the big boss's were eliminated by us, Ashwin threw a much bigger task for us. The Buffet was now open for us to sample. CFGians who always are excited to taste food practically gave up this evening. After a stomach filling sampling of 5 soups and 17 starters, none had the capacity to have a buffet dinner. Some totally skipped it while others decided to take small servings to sample. The main course on the offering were

  • 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.
(Oreo Milkshake)
(Mocha Milkshake)
(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. 
(Beetroot Halwa)
(Vanilla Cake)
(Citrus Cake)
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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