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Royal Cuisine Trail - Bhainsrorgarh

Food from the royal kitchens of Limdi and Bhopal had now been crossed off the list. Although the little bit of experience we had with the food from the two princely states could never justify the vastness of the cuisine, it was at least a start. The next in the ‘Royal Cuisine Trail’ was from the kitchens of Bhainsrorgarh Fort. The Bhainsrorgarh Fort is a beautiful heritage property which has now been converted into a hotel. The nearly 250+ years old fort at point of time was impenetrable. Situated on a cliff it is surrounded by the Chambal river on side and Bamani on the other.

Bhainsrorgarh Fort

To justify the food we had the night from Rajpootana Kitchen, I have to first tell of my first encounter with Kunwar Hemendra Singh. His passion for food, cooking and knowledge of ingredients is can’t be explained in mere words. When we first met, he had made us a Hari Mirch ka Maas and Jungli Aloo in a commercial kitchen which was literally one of the best dishes I’ve had in awhile. Yet he’s his own critic and lamented the change in taste that he could have got with with his own set of tools and at his kitchen. That’s when I knew that the food was going to be worth every bite.

With The Kunwar and Kunwarani of Bhainsrorgarh

Happy Moments

As Kunwar Ajay Raj Singh of Begu would later tell me that Hemendra Singh did head out early morning to get the right cut of meat from the butcher for each of his dishes. Starting off the dinner was with the Bakre Ki Champ and Macchi ke Sule. The Bakre ki Champ were mutton ribs which had been roasted magnificently with spices. In the afternoon I did sneak a chance to get into the kitchen while Kunwarani Vrinda Kumari Singh was marinating the fish and all I did notice is the simplicity. Other than the basic spices, there was no extra dose of masala and the fish was the centerpiece. These were then smoke-roasted to give us the delicate melt-in-the-mouth sooleys.

Bakre Ki Champ

Machchi Ke Sule

Now it was time to indulge in true Rajasthani-style food. There were a couple of dishes that I’ve tried before and some hereto unknown. The Safed Maas Hari Mirch was exquisite along the with the Jungli Chicken. If we take a look at Indian culinary history on a simpler note, then you either had a red (Laal) or a white (Safed) gravy to each of your dishes. The Laal Maas as a dish is a very colloquial term that went to named as a dish. The Safed Maas in turn had a light tanginess from the curd with the spice coming from the fresh green chilis. You’d be amazed to know how 3 ingredients can make a wonderful dish and that was the Jungli Chicken. Just meat, red chilis and ghee is all that goes into making a Jungli Chicken and yet it’s the precision at which to cook it makes the difference. This was simple authentic Indian cooking at it’s best.

Food From Rajpootana Kitchen (1)

Jungli Chicken

The Siri Paya makes use of both the trotters and head of mutton to get the juices out with all of the spices with a slow cooking. The result was a magnificent gravy which I thoroughly enjoyed. The vegetarian dishes that night featured traditional Rajasthani dishes like the Bharwa Bhindi, Sangri ki Sabzi, Gatte ki Sabzi and Papad ki Sabzi. The Makki ka Soyta was another superb dish where the mutton was cooked with corn kernels.

Bharwa Bhindi

Makki Ka Soyta

Siri Paya

I liked the fact that there was Bafla to go along with the gravies. The Bafla are balls of dough which have been baked with a shine on top coming from clarified butter. These can be crushed to help soak in any of the gravies much like what a bread would usually do.

Bafley

Food From Rajpootana Kitchen (3)

The desserts from the kitchens of Bhainsrorgarh that night was the Makki ki Kan and Panna Halwa. The Panna Halwa a dessert made with Hara Channa (Green Lentils) had me excited, a dish you’d seldom come across most menus across the country.

Panna Halwa

Makki Ke Kan

It was a wonderful meal curated by Rajpootana Kitchen from the erstwhile princely state of Bhainsrorgarh. Each of the meals we’ve had till are soaked in history, with each dish having a story to tell. With the next post we travel to the kingdom of Dhar.

Other Posts of ‘Royal Cuisine Trail’ are as below:

Limdi – http://www.fooddrifter.in/travel/limdi/
Bhopal – http://www.fooddrifter.in/travel/bhopal/
Dhar – http://www.fooddrifter.in/travel/dhar/

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As we continue on with the ‘Royal Cuisine Trail’ after Limdi, we headed onward to Bhopal. The moment you enter into Bhopal, the beauty of the lake surrounds you. An expanse of a city is built around the Bhopal Lake. A huge statue of Raja Bhoj with a sword looks down at the city towards the upper lake. But this trail is all about the food and that’s where we are headed now to.

Royal Cuisine Trail

We were hosted in Bhopal by Sahibzada Raashid Ali and Ayesha Ali Khan of Bhopal at their residence – Shamla Kothi. Bhopal being a central princely state, borrows it’s cuisine heavily from the neighboring kingdoms of Rampur, Awadh and Hyderabad. Rampuri and Hyderabadi touches play a primary role in most of the dishes. But there are three dishes which the Nawaabi kitchens of Bhopal identifies with – Gosht Pasinda, Bhopali Rizala and the Filfora.

At Shamla Kothi

The environment at Shamla Kothi was truly a royal setting once the sun set. Livening up the evenings was mellifluous qawaali and great conversations on history with Sahibzada Omar Faruq ‘Ali and Kunwar Ajay Raj Singh of Begu. We started with the Bhopali Shamis and Cocktail Chicken Samosas. The Shami Kebabs were outstanding with the dash of lime on them. But it was the Cocktail samosas which turned out to be quite addictive. Among the other starters that night were fresh Hummus and Labneh with Za’atar which were served with pita bread. The Labneh had been infused with chili and garlic.

Cocktail Samosas And Bhopali Shammis

Now it’s important to note that most of the Bhopali cuisine uses a lot of coriander in them. In fact most of the dishes feature coriander prominently either in whole seed form, freshly cut coriander or as a powder component while cooking. Hence the dishes Filfora and Bhopali Rizala were born. The Filfora is a jungle recipe originating from hunting expeditions. The meat is pounded finely and is cooked in it’s juices with light spices and whole lot of coriander.

Table Setting For The Night (2)

The Nawabi Murgh Bhopali Rizala is though not to be confused with the Rezala of Bengal is also inspired by the Mughlai Cuisine. There is no use of cashews and coconuts unlike the Bengali Rezala in the cooking process but it definitely packs in complex flavors. The dish again values the coriander which gives it a fine green color. The dish is garnished with peeled eggs.

Nawabi Murgh Bhopali Rizala

It is now that we gradually move on to the Rampuri and Awadh side of effects on royal Bhopal dishes. The Taar Gosht is a delicacy from the royal kitchens of Rampur was exceptional. The gorgeous red of the Taar Gosht comes from the use of fresh tomato puree which also gives it some tanginess.  I absolutely adored the Koftas which were made in an exquisite gravy. The other dishes included Quail (Bater) Masala and Paya.

Kofta

Bater Masala

Bhopal literally marries the cuisines of the North and South kingdoms. With the Hyderbadi influences came the Mutton Dum Biryani, Mirchi Ka Salan, Dahi Baingan, Khatte Aloo and Khatti Dal. But there is one dish that I wish to discuss here and that’s the Tamatar ka Kut. One of the most popular dishes among the Hyderabadi Muslims, the kut in the name refers to dry roasting of the spice mix. It’s tangy and spicy and goes great with hot rotis and Baghare Rice.

Table Setting For The Night (1)

Dahi Baingan

The food that we had from the Royal Kitchens of Bhopal was exceptional but the best was saved for the last. Among the desserts was the Double ka Meetha which had a lovely aroma of saffron and cardamom and Phirni. The highlight though will have to go to the Chana ki Daal ki Halwa. Made from split bengal gram it is sautéed till a rich aroma is achieved and flavoured with cardamom and saffron.

It was a remarkable experience at Shamla Kothi with all of this food available under the bespoke brand of Bigde Nawaab.

Other Posts of ‘Royal Cuisine Trail’ are as below:

Limdi – http://www.fooddrifter.in/travel/limdi/
Bhainsrorgarh – http://www.fooddrifter.in/travel/bhainsrorgarh/
Dhar – http://www.fooddrifter.in/travel/dhar/

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The month of April 2017 was particularly special in terms of our search for new cuisines and travel. This month after intensive planning we went on to experience “The Royal Cuisine” food at the palaces of royalties of Madhya Pradesh. The Royal Cuisine Trail began with the a tale of food through the princely state of Limdi.

Royal Cuisine Trail - Limdi

Among the numerous princely states which existed before partition, Limdi held prominence in Gujrat. With Limdi lying very close to Madhya Pradesh, the food habits of the kingdom reflected the cuisines of both the states of MP and Gujarat. We were hosted by Kunwar Shivraj Sinh and his wife at their residence in Indore to gain a first-hand experience on the food of Limdi. To give people an insight into the food of the royal kitchens, the duo of Kunwar Shivraj Sinh Limdi and Kunwarni Vijaya Singh Sirmaur have started Gourmet Royal.

Kunwar Shivraj Sinh Limdi and Kunwarni Vijaya Singh Sirmaur

The night began with Vegetarian Seekh Kebabs and Maans ke Sule. If you take the consideration of royal food, most of the dishes were born out of need. From recipes created during hunting to dishes prepared which could last them through the drier months. So unlike the popular notion of richness, they also used the fresh produce of the land with changing season and whatever spices were found around. The Maans ke Sule had been given a twist than the original recipe although holding onto the originality. The raw papaya (kacha papita) and kachri (a variety of cucumber) as used to moisten the meat. Also to be noted is that the Kachri gives the meat a bit of sourness. The fusion twist to the soole was the use of Worcestershire sauce giving it further tanginess. The rest of the ingredients were all simple being red chilies, homemade garam masala and garlic. The Maans ke sule were literally melt in the mouth and the perfect start to the evening.

Maas Ke Soole

The princely state of Limdi in Gujarat was closely related to the Malwa region of Jabua. With Kunwar Shivraj Sinh and Kunwarni Vijaya Singh Sirmaur being cousins, there is a confluence of dishes of both royal cuisines under Gourmet Royal. To gain further deep understanding of Royal Cuisines in India, it’s important to note that there was a interlinking by marriage between the princely states. This changed the entire eating habits with the women bringing along their state recipes and integrating them with the kingdoms they’d been married to. For eg. Kunwarni Vijaya Singh Sirmaur’s grandmother was from the kingdom of Nepal married to Jhabua. Thus there are also a lot of Nepali recipes being catered to under the brand of Gourmet Royal.

The Food For The Night

As we progressed on with the main course there were distinct flavors which I could identify. The Limdi Khatti Meethi Dal was beautiful bringing along the flavors of Gujarat. The sourness in the dal came from the lemon (nimbu) while the sweetness from jaggery (gud). It was all about the right balance and went great with plain rice. My favorite among the night was the Kachu Tarkari. It’s a Nepali Vegetable Raita which was especially refreshing to the palate with the use of fresh vegetables. A perfect summer accompaniment to all the other heavy food on the plate. The other vegetarian dishes on the menu included Aloo Do Pyaaza, Baked Veg, Crispy Bhindi (Okra) and smoked Paneer.

Aloo Do Pyaaza

Baked Veggies And Smoked Paneer

Now to the non-vegetarian dishes on the menu. The dishes were wonderfully represented with Desi Chicken Curry, Safed Gosht and Keema Pulao. The Desi Chicken Curry is a very simple recipe of country chicken in spices. The stewing of the ingredients gave a superb aroma to the gravy with the chicken being almost fall of the bone. But it was the Safed Gosht which had caught my attention. Now there are multiple variations of the Safed Gosht among the states of MP, Rajasthan and Gujarat. In fact this dish had change in it’s preparation with each home too. The Safed Gosht of Limdi is different from the Rajasthani version with it’s use of cashew paste. The rest of the ingredients which go into making the Safed Gosht are Khus Khus (Poppy Seeds), Lemon Juice and Khadi Hari Mirch Paste (Whole Green Chili Paste). The Safed Gosht tastes phenomenal with roti.

Non-Vegetarian Main Course

The night was full of conversation on food as we were joined for dinner by the royalties of Bhopal, Bhainsrorgarh, Begu and Dhar. The wealth of the information about royal cuisine and history which were discussed that night were impeccable. We finally concluded the exquisite meal with Mango Pudding and Homemade Phirni. I might have been a bit to greedy in reaching out for a second helping of the fabulous mango pudding.

Mango Pudding and Homemade Phirni

It is a delight to know that we can now experience the royal food from the erstwhile princely kingdoms through Gourmet Royal started by Kunwar Shivraj Sinh Limdi and Kunwarni Vijaya Singh Sirmaur.

With The Kunwar and Kunwarni

Bhopal – http://www.fooddrifter.in/travel/bhopal/
Bhainsrorgarh – http://www.fooddrifter.in/travel/bhainsrorgarh/
Dhar – http://www.fooddrifter.in/travel/dhar/

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Mumbai is my home, a city very close to my heart. My childhood was spent gorging on delicacies sent over by our neighbors. So Maharashtrian dishes were ones with which I started my food journey. These are the flavors I identify myself with.

With an invite to the Maharashtrian Food Festival at Hyatt Gachibowli, I was ecstatic. This is one of the many cuisines that you don’t get to relish so often in Hyderabad. With Chef Santosh visiting from Hyatt Pune, the flavors had to be authentic. We first started off with the dry chutney that Chef Santosh had brought along with him for the festival. Maharashtrain Cuisine is as much about the chutney on the side as the main dish itself. They hold a great deal of influence and the chutneys featured Shengadana,Til, Karlachi, Jawas and Medhkut. There were also the Bombil Chutney made with dried Bombay Duck fish which was delicious. 

Chutneys

After all it was a Maharashtrian Food Festival and the unofficial national street food of Mumbai had to feature prominently. Vada Pav is one snack I absolutely adore. The one made in Hyatt Gachibowli had all the ingredients of a Mumbai-style Vada Pav. Coriander Green Chutney, Tamarind Garlic Chutney and a sprinkle of the dry peanut garlic chutney…this was Vada Pav at it’s best. Vada Pav as a snack is very commonly available but no one in the city of Hyderabad come close to making the original.

Vada Pav

The other snack among the starters were the Kothimbir Vadi. The Kothimbir Vadi is made with Coriander and Chickpea flour which are then steamed first. Once set, the vadis are then deep fried and served piping hot. These are insanely addictive to pop-in as a snack.

Appetizers

We then moved on to the appetizers of Chicken Sukka which was a Malvani style of dry chicken and is a hot and spicy preparation which can be had both as a starter and along with the main course. As we gradually made our way to the main course, I headed towards the Kolhapuri Chicken Counter. Kolhapuri food by itself is really spicy and packs a punch. Thankfully Chef Santosh had dialled down on the spiciness quotient although it still had the lovely color from the red chilies.

The other dish which deserves special mention from the Maharashtrian Food Festival was the Puneri Dal. A very simple preparation of lentils, this was simply superb along with the combination of Batata chi Bhaji and Jowar Bhakri which was being served on order. The other dishes among the buffet included Malvani macchi curry, kolambi pulao, masala bhat and bharli vangi on the night we were at Hyatt Gachibowli.

We ended our dinner with fresh Shrikhand, Malai Pedha among other Indian desserts which had been displayed. The Maharastrian Food Festival is on at Collage in Hyatt Gachibowli as part of their regular buffet. The dishes will be rotated on a daily basis both for lunch and dinner.

Gulab Jamuns

Boondi Ladoo

 

The Festival is on at their restaurant Collage with different menu for lunch and dinner between 24th April – 3 May, 2017. Priced at 1250 AI for Lunch and 1400 AI Dinner

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Summers have set in and heading out to most destinations is going to be met with the same fate, the heat. The urge to travel is very much there but sometimes it’s good to leave the touristy stuff on the side and relax. That’s the void which Staycations fill in. When dreaming of travel and yet want to save up some money and time, staycations give the feeling in town. Relaxing and rolling around in a comfy bed, ordering room service, spa treatments and loads more leave you feeling fresh prepped up for your routine.

Couple of weekends back we checked into IBIS HITEC, the newest property by Accor Group in the Hyderabad. A smooth check-in later, we were welcomed by chef’s special shahi tucked in the room.  I’ve stayed in IBIS properties when travelling in Prague, Bangkok and loads more places around the world and have always loved them. I mostly choose IBIS for their efficiency and policy of 15 minutes to make your stay great if you have any issues.

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The room was equipped with the standard Flat Screen TV, AC and Wi-Fi. But what I loved the most is the location and proximity to most usual haunts in Hyderabad. Each of the IT companies are about 10-15 minutes from the IBIS Hitec property. If in the mood to shop then there is Shilparamam, an arts and crafts village. Ethnic Festivals, Traditional jewellery and sarees and handcrafted wooden and metal wares are some of the stuff which are sure to entice you in Shilparamam.

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Spice It at the Ibis Hotel offers a great selection in their buffet. There are also loads of food places to explore around Ibis. Madhapur nearby is packed with food-trucks post 11 PM serving great food. There are many restaurants around to indulge in your choice of cuisine in from Hyderabadi, Andhra, Italian, Mexican and many more.

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We managed to get up early and try their breakfast buffet. A huge variety of spread that offers both local and continental meal to start your day. The staff is so friendly that they make sure you are stuffed before you head out. I loved their live egg station and their dosa station.

I thoroughly enjoyed my stay at the Ibis HiTEC. Their strength lies in their location and the great service they provide. Staycations are fun and with Ibis Hyderabad we had a great time. While leaving, they made sure we were up for the summer heat by gifting us a box of freshly cut fruits, vitamin water and chocolates. Well weekend spent after all. Thanks to Chef Punit, Angelo Martins and the entire staff for kickstarting our staycation for 2017.

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ITC as a brand has been well-known for it’s products under diverse portfolios. Under their ITC Masterchef brand they’ve now introduced 5 new spice mixes. The masalas were prepared after extensive research on local flavors to bring forth the taste of South India. The blends especially are made with the intention of making cooking easier for home-chefs and at the same time not holding back on the traditional flavors.

ITC Masterchef (5)

The variants include Guntur Koora Karam, Konaseema Kodi Koora, Madurai Sambar powder, Rayala Miriyala Charu and Shahi Garam Masala. I personally have been using the Rayala Miriyala Charu and it gives me such an ease while cooking. Being a bachelor, this makes my life in the kitchen so much easier and thus having time to concentrate on other activities. Steaming hot rice, a bit either of the Charu or Sambar made using the ITC Masterchef series, pickle or papad and I’m set.

I was happy to be invited to judge the final round of Home-Chef series by ITC in Hyderabad. They’ve been doing the series in each of the metros and there had been an overwhelming response in Hyderabad. 10 Home-Chefs from diverse backgrounds met for the final round at GVK One Mall.

ITC Masterchef (3)

ITC Masterchef (4)

ITC Masterchef (1)

Judging the dishes on parameters of Taste, Presentation, Aroma and Authenticity in flavors of the dish. Things got interesting as each of the home-chefs brought forward their dishes to showcase. We got to taste such diverse foods using ITC Masterchef Masala that evening. From Aloo Methi Masala, Rice Balls with a wonderful chutney with Bingos, Guntha Vankaya Curry, Paneer Butter Masala and loads more.

ITC Masterchef (2)

Each of the dishes were wonderful in it’s own way but we had to choose one winner who ticked off each of the boxes. Overall it was a fun evening with contestants who enjoy cooking and appreciate food.

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Goa – Day 2  

The second day in Goa for us started off pretty late. Waking up after a sound sleep with the aftereffects of the Feni to be thanked, we headed out to Panjim for a shoot. But first let’s get the tummy satisfied with a proper Goan lunch at one of the oldest restaurants and bars in Goa, Café Ritz. Numerous people come and leave satisfied through the doors of Café Ritz. It’s stood it’s test of time with it’s quality. The fish thali still costs about 180 rupees and comes with Rice, Cabbage Fry, Sol Kadi, Mussels, Fish Curry and huge slice of King Fish Rawa Fry.  Phew, talk about value for money. On the side was a fiery Crab Recheado which take a lot of water and time for me to finish.

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A meal fit for the king later, we were on a trip through Fontainhas. Fontainhas in Goa houses the Latin Quarters and the houses built are truly beautiful. The architecture vibrates with tones of yellow, green, blue and red resplendent of European Cities. Do take time to look at the lovely tiles that adorn the houses because each has a story to tell. There are numerous tours which are given about the Fontainhas. You can choose to book any of them or do it on your own.

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Also while at Fontainhas do NOT forget to visit the bakery on 31 January Street. The puffs and Goan specialties are worth having. They make a mean Bebinca, the traditional Goan dessert.

Of Quaint Bakeries and Colorful Buildings. Portuguese inspired cafes at Fontainhas in Panjim.

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My evenings were spent back at Sinquerim Beach overlooking the sunset. Being on the west coast of India, the sunsets over the sea in Goa have to be admired.

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Our find for this trip has to be Burger Factory in Anjuna. Set up by a few lads from Delhi, the burgers had here beyond awesome. I’ve had massive and delicious burgers in the US and this evoked those memories. The patty was beautiful and the sauces, beyond heavenly. It was so good that I drove down again the next day despite a higher chance of missing my bus, to indulge in one last burger. The guys at Burger factory are doing a stupendous job and I’m sure gonna be heading there once again the next time I’m in Goa.

Missed the usual haunts with this visit Goa. So Lila Café, La Plage have all become touristy for my liking. That isn’t a bad thing but it’s just that I’ve moved on. Palolem Beach is where my heart lies, but going back to North Goa after so long was truly wonderful. Cheers to many more visits.

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Goa for me has almost become a second home of sorts. It’s my annual pilgrimage and also a state where I can let go of my wandering thoughts and finally relax. I’ve been there multiple times, sat on the beach doing nothing other than a King’s in my hand and let my body relax with no other thought in my mind at all. So this February as we packed our bags for Goa once again, we though to revisit places which our favorites which we hadn’t since a couple of years.

Taking up accommodation in a beautiful house called Matilda’s Place (You should definitely check them out) in Candolim. Now I usually prefer taking the bus from Hyderabad and renting bikes right from Panjim, so that I don’t have to pay extra for the to & fro auto/cab ride to the beach. This way I end up saving atleast 600-800 rupees minimum.

Goa – DAY 1

The Carnival had just ended and the remnants of the festivities had yet to taken down. Along the Candolim – Calangute road is a beautiful German Bakery run by a Nepali which is worth checking out. Even though I love the one in Palolem, this one didn’t disappoint. The breads for the sandwiches had been freshly baked and moreover they put fresh basil which is just delicious. A Ham Sandwich and Watermelon Juice I was back at my favorite store in Goa, Newton’s. Now the Newton’s supermarket is where I do all of my liquor shopping. They always have offers going on and also the varieties stocked are much better than any other store. It’s now almost a landmark in Goa.

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Now that’s a Lineup. Beer Weekend is here

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Though a lot of tourists now head to Fat Fish, I’m now over them. There was a time when I was a regular at Fat Fish for their Goan Thali during lunches but now it’s the crowd which puts me off. They also make a Portuguese inspired Goan dessert called Serradura which is superb. Driving a little further is Crazy Crabs which they’ve now renovated to look more upscale. They make a delicious Butter Garlic Crabs and Rawa Mussels Fry. Looking for a respite from the heat, I sat down to devour happily my Butter Garlic Crabs washed down with Sol Kadi.

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We then headed out to the Chapora Fort to undertake the trek we hadn’t for years. The last time I’d gone up Chapora Fort was almost 4 years back. The road was much better then but they’ve totally screwed up the climb with a lot of digging. If it’s your first time in Goa then be my guest to head up there else it’s not worth it anymore other than the view.

My evenings in Goa are set with one dish. Post relaxing on the beach watching the sun go down, I always end up going off in search off a good Ras Omelette. Now if you don’t know what’s a Ras Omelette, then let me explain it to you in the choicest words.  Imagine like the best omelette in the world made with fresh onions and green chilies and then topped off with the Xacuti gravy. The Ras Omelette is to be had with fresh buttered pav. They sell it for like 20-30 bucks in the thelas and is a must have when in Goa.

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For dinner that night we ended up going a bit exotic. Meeting a friend over for dinner we headed to Chef Soumyen’s Kitchen. Run by an Ex-Taj chef, the Steaks at Chef Soumyen’s are fabulous. The prices aren’t cheap by Goan standards but so it their quality. The Spaghetti Bolognaise was exquisite.

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Now was the time to head back to beach and just relax over either Beers or Feni. This is one trip which after many years finally made me accept Feni. The Goan Feni slowly develops on you and the first taste can be quite hard to digest. The best way to have a Feni is always in a ratio of 1:3 with Limca and slice of lemon thrown in. Trust me when I say that the sleep you get post having a Feni will be the best you’ve had in a long time.

 

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Bengali cuisine is one that is very close to our heart. I’ve spent many a weekends having a perfectly cooked Bengali lunch and turning over in my bed for an afternoon siesta.It’s filling,it’s tasty and moreover it’s absolutely satisfying.

Taj Krishna is hosting a Bengali Food Festival with Chef Santu from Kolkata. We couldn’t wait to get to try out the dishes on offer. Between the two of us we had each a vegetarian and non-vegetarian thali. With the summer heat, the Aam Porar Shorbort and Beetnoon Gandaraj Lebu Jol provided the much needed refresh. I especially liked the Gandaraj lebu drink which wasn’t overtly sweet too.

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Among the appetizers the best of Bengali street food was served. And that includes your Aloo Chop, Postor Bora, Mochhar Chop from the vegetarian side and the non-vegetarian thali featured Bengali Style Masala Fish Fry, Murgir Chop. All of these were served with fresh kasundi (mustard). The Murgir Chop was truly delicious with the kasundi.

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It was time to shift to the main course. Served in quite an elegant thali, all of the dishes had been neatly arranged. The afternoon we were the vegetarian thali featured Palangshaager chorchori which is fresh spinach cooked with pumpkin and tempered with the panch phoron spices. There was also the Dhokar Dalna and Gote Rosun ar Bhaja Masala diye Aloor Dum. The Aloor Dum went amazing with a side of ajwaini luchis.

Shifting focus to the non-vegetarian side of the tali were the Chingri Malai Curry (Prawns cooked in coconut cream), a Beckti Paturi which is fish smeared with mustard paste and steamed in a banana leaf. The highlight for me among all of the non vegetarian gravies was the Nakel Kancha-Lonka diye Murgir Mangsho. Even though made with green chilies, it wasn’t overtly spicy and the flavors were just wonderful. Having a bit of the Ghee Bhaat (Rice with Ghee), Bhaja Moong Dal and Murgir Mangsho is all I could have settled for.

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Bengali food is incomplete with having the sweets. So ending off the meal on a sweet note were the Mishti Doi, Nolen Gur Rosogula and Sandesh.

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The Bengali Food Festival is on at Taj Krishna in Fridaus. There is a thali option and also patrons order dishes on a-la-carte.

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Travelling off to far-away lands in search of wanderlust is always high on our priority. But sometimes we need to give work our ways around smaller budgets for a mini-break. What other perfect way to do so than ‘Staycation’. A perfect way to unwind while also giving some time to explore the places around the city.

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The past weekend we booked a room at the Novotel Hyderabad Airport for a quick weekend getaway. I personally love the Novotel Airport Hotel and have been there multiple times. The weekdays before have been quite hectic having to catch up with lots of articles and work.

The Drive Down:

Located on the outskirts of the city of Hyderabad towards the airport, the drive down to the Novotel Hyderabad Airport is a pleasant. The city boasts of one of the longest and best flyovers in the country and it’s smooth sailing once you get on the outer ring road. With the Hyderabad Airport having been name the best airport in the country, the lush greenery and superbly maintained infrastructure await you. I can vouch for one certainty here that if you’re looking for a short layover in Hyderabad, then Novotel Hyderabad Airport is your best bet.

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The Room:

We got ourselves a spacious room overlooking the splendid swimming pool. The bed was so comfy that I immediately jumped on it. It was just like right out of the movies with glee of having such a snug bed. Well except for the pillow fights. Neatly tucked in the washroom were the toiletries and towels.

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The Food:

If you’ve been following our blog you’d know of the innumerable times we’ve drove down to Novotel Hyderabad Airport for a meal. Haldi, their specialty Indian restaurant opens only in the evening to patrons. The night we were treated to exquisite Indian food. The spread laid out to us was enthralling consisting of Dal Makhani, Biryani, Naans and loads of Hyderabad favorites like the Paya and Nihari. The Haleem was our favorite of the night.

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The following morning, we headed down to The Square for breakfast. The breakfast spread is huge starting from your bread sections to a live eggs station. They also have live grills on Saturdays and a seafood station as part of the Sunday Brunch.

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The Facilities:

Novotel Hyderabad Airport had all the necessary facilities to take care of my weekend. From a well-maintained volleyball court and swimming pool to a gym with great equipment. There is also a huge Decathalon just a km away if you wanted to drop by for some necessary shopping.

We thoroughly enjoyed our stay at the Novotel Hyderabad Airport. This staycation was meant to relive all of the weekday stress and it did just that. It’s definitely a property worth revisiting.

 

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