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“HOLA Amigos”. Yep that might just have been how I’d walked out after a breezy Mexican lunch at Oakleaf. Oakleaf is the restaurant in Oakwood Kapil, right in center of the Financial district. This is the first food festival at Oakleaf and what better way that to kick it off with Mexican. The menu options are evenly balanced between vegetarian and non-vegetarian served in huge-sized portions. So yeah if you are looking for your Nachos and Burritos fix, you might as well walk into Oakleaf to have them over some lovely cocktails that they’ve been whipping up.

Mexican Food Festival - Oakleaf (1)

We started off with the Fajita Nachos with the Nachos being served on a bed of refried beans and cheese. The pico de gallo was truly good and freshly made. I’m going to be honest that I did switch to the non-vegetarian side of the menu quite fast having a bit of the vegetarian bites. The Layered Tortilla Pie was quite interesting and a looked like a true Chef’s take on the Lasagna. The tortillas had been layered in between beans, jalapenos, lotsa cheese, picante sauce and baked. The icing sure had to be the guacamole and sour cream on top.

Mexican Food Festival - Oakleaf (1)

Mexican Food Festival - Oakleaf (5)

Another of the delicious dishes and quite a color highlight had to be the Mexican Fire Rice. The rice had been cooked with vegetables and cheese, sour cream, jalapenos, capers and cilantro with this in turn had been filled into bell peppers with ranchero sauce and cheese. Baked and Cheese had truly become synonymous with delicious.

Mexican Food Festival - Oakleaf (2)

Moving on to the non-vegetarian section of the menu, the Texas Fajita and Fajita Tacos were quite good. The tortillas had been prepared fresh with the sour cream and pico de gallo again playing wonders with the dish. The Carne Asada at Oakleaf is served in a baguette. In between is a juicy piece of steak topped with sweet onions. The Chicken, Red Beans and Rice Burrito was quite good too with a mix of Mexican spices.

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Mexican Food Festival - Oakleaf (2)

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The Mexican Food Festival at Oakleaf is one way to go delicioso for your taste-buds. The have a really nice and compact menu with most of the dishes right.

It’s on from 19th Sept. – 2nd Oct with most dishes being priced between Rs. 400-600.

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Goa offers so much diversity when it comes to food. Goa is not just about shacks, King’s beer and beautiful beaches, but there’s so much that we end up exploring every time we visit Goa. Our last exploration in Goa let us to discover the 10+ different varieties of pao. Apart from the international cuisine that Goa welcomes with its open arms, they also have their own unique style of food.

Goa’s local food is influenced by the Portuguese and Saraswat Hindu and you see local flavors like coconut, vinegar, kokum, wine. Piri Piri – small chilies also play an important role in spicing things up. Hyderabad as such doesn’t have a standalone restaurant for Goan cuisine and opportunities to savor the Goan flavors locally are quite less too. So it was quite exciting to have Chef Anthony D’Souza from Vivanta by Taj – Panaji here to showcase the best of his Goan cuisine right here at Taj Vivanta – Begumpet.

Goan Food Festival (5)

We started our Goan food journey with Bolinas de batata – veg potato balls with gooey cheese filling. This vegetarian Goan dish was a pleasant delight. Diners around popped up as many 6-7 of these as soon as these arrived on the table. You should definitely not miss these at the festival.  I then moved on to try the different meats at the live station.

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Chicken Jere Mere on Skewer, King fish peri peri. Coupled with beer, these can definitely take you back on the beaches of Goa. Spices along with ginger-garlic, vinegar and chilliest form the base of the marination for these meat and were definitely fresh and delicious. Prawns ravas fry with a Kokum drink served alongside was another one of my favorite among the starters that was perfectly coated and deep fried.

Goan Food Festival (6)

Goan Food Festival (2)

For main course, a quick walk along the counters and I picked up my all time favorite – Chicken Xacuti and pao. Now anyone who has visited Goa would have tried this dish which is most famous among the Goan curries. A coarse brown curry with a base of ginger-garlic, onion, chilies and coconut goes well with hot rice, pao and in fact any meat that you can lay your hands on. One bite and the flavors reminded me of how much I had missed this dish and I had to go back to Goa soon. But I was happy with the flavor right here in Hyderabad.

I moved on to the next few favorites Goan Fish Curry and Beef Chilly Fry. While the quintessential Goan favorite King’s beer was definitely missed again, hot rice paired with the curry was perfect. Goan fish curry was less spicy but the Beef Chilly Fry was perfectly done.

Goan Food Festival (3)

I usually don’t eat vegetarian food but looking at the Hindu Goan influenced dishes by the chef, decided to move on to featuring dishes like Varan Bhaat  – rice and dal served along with mix veg mardol, bean foogath which is dry preparation with coconut and beans and channacho ross which was subtle coconut curry. These dishes were definitely less spicy than their Portugues-inspired dish counterparts and the veggies brought out the freshness of the coconut and the kokum that it was cooked with.

Moving on to the desserts, decided to have a bite of Bebinca, the multi-layered Goan dessert. Featuring on the dessert menu was also the Doce, a chickpea and coconut sweet.

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Goan Food Festival (1)

The Goan Food Festival at Viva, Vivanta by Taj is on till the 2nd of October along with the regular buffet at Viva. The menu shall be changing every day to feature so as to showcase many more of the Goan dishes,

 

 

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Vietnamese food with it’s use of fresh ingredients, more affluence to flavors and its ability to stick with simplicity has been one of our favorite cuisines. From a bowl of Pho to the lovely spring rolls, enticingly done Banh Mi to meat on skewers, Vietnamese food right now is spreading it’s wings around the world.

Vietnamese Food Festival

Republic Of Noodles (1)

So it was no surprise with Lemon Tree, Gachibowli doing a Vietnamese Food Festival at it’s specialty Asian restaurant, Republic of Noodles. With a new Chef Kiran at the helm, the kitchens of the RON at the Lemon Tree, Gachibowli have now been smoothed out. We started off with a delicious bowl of Chiang Mai Noodle Soup which packs a little bit of spice with a beautiful refreshing tone of the coconut milk along with noodles and chicken. The Mang & Con Vit is a duck and Bamboo shoot soup. I quite liked the flavors of the duck morsels in my soup but felt it a little saucier than normal.

Republic Of Noodles (2)

Soups (1)

Soups (2)

Nuoc Cham, the most famous of the Vietnamese dipping sauces is showcased deliciously in the Nuoc Cham Lamb Sticks. The lamb are left to marinate for quite a while in the sauce along with lemon grass and then cooked on a lemongrass skewer. Ga Chien Lan Bot is a perfect beer accompaniment. Crispy chicken with a sweet and sour sauce, what isn’t to love about that? The Hatien Style Vietnamese Basa which are tender fish marinated in basil was the best one we had among the appetizers that night.

Appetizers (1)

There is quite a lot of options on the Vegetarian appetizers menu too. Instead of the lamb satay the vegetarians can choose to have the Bean Curd Satay. The quintessential Vietnamese Spring Rolls feature elegantly too in the menu and are paired with a peanut plum sauce. I quite liked the Taro Cake among the vegetarian appetizers we had that night. The Taro Cake is a colocasia, potato and vegetable cake as quite a melt in the mouth.

Main Courses (5)

Main Courses (1)

The best part about Republic of Noodles at the Lemon Tree Hotels is that you can have any dish of your choice in the choice of meat you want to have it with. There is superlative choosing of the chef but rather the customer gets to choose his/her meat and dish. So almost all of the main course listed that night could be had with an option of chicken, red meats, chicken/duck or seafood. Along with the Vietnamese Fried Rice and Noodles, we had quite a hefty amount of main course dishes.

Main Courses (2)

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The Cuu Nuong Dau Lanh goes perfectly with the rice and is quite a red gravy made with chilly bean sauce. The Roasted Lamb and button mushrooms in the curry was amazing with some haricot beans thrown in there. But if we had to list out our choices among the main course dishes then two stood out way among the others. They were the haricot beans, mushrooms and broccoli in bean curd sauce (Chien, Xao Dau Ha Lan, Nam, Cai Xanh) and the Vietnamese Cari which essentially is a coconut milk base gravy with exotic vegetables.

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The Vietnamese use a lot of moong beans in their dessert. Being a country with a major rice-eating population, the desserts make use of rice too. I quite really liked the Xai Dau Xanh Dua, rice with moong beans and coconut cream. A little more coconut cream in the dessert would have made it so much better though. The Che Ba Mau on the other hand was amazing though. Sago, Water Chestnuts in a bowl of coconut cream. There was a polishing effort that it took us to complete the dessert.

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Desserts (1)

The Vietnamese Food Festival is on at the Lemon Tree, Gachibowli from the 15th-25th of September 2016.

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Odia Food has been a seldom explored cuisine. Even though Odia cooks have been the most sought after in many kitchens throughout India, they have never ventured into cooking their own state-food. Odia Food is rich in flavors and has mostly never left the state’s borders.

It is in this context that the Odia Bhoji food festival holds special importance. Aish at The Park, Hyderabad is conducting the Odia Bhoji and given a special platform for a little known cuisine. Having heard of Chef Mandaar’s penchant for creativity and Chef Bibu, I knew I was going to have a good meal ahead.We started off with the most famous street food of Odisha, the Dahibara Aloodum and Piaji Ghuguni.

Odia Bhoji

Now the denizens of Cuttack take their Dahibara Aloodum real serious and me kind off fall a little into that category. The Dahibara Aloodum served at the food festival blew me away. It was the right proportion of spicy and delicious. The aloodum was a standout topped on the soft dahibara. The Piaji was served exactly the way it’s made in Odisha. The Odia prefer their snacks in small, tiny pieces and the piaji was made the exact same way.

Ghuguni Piaji

Moving on to the Maccha Bhaja and Mangsa Chop, I only knew the wave of nostalgia flooding over me. Next up was the Kanji which is a yogurt and rice soup bursting with loads of garlic. Pakhala is in itself a huge meal in itself. It’s fermented rice served with loads of accompaniments on the side. Each household makes it’s own version of ingredients to go with the Pakhala. The odia style of mashed potatoes, Aloo Bharta, Chingudi Checcha (smashed prawns), Sajana Chuin Aloo Bhaja (drumsticks and Potatoes fry) and Badi Chura completed the presentation of the Pakhala.

Presentation Of Pakhala

Maccha Bhaja & Mangsa Chop

Coming to the mains is where the bhoji (feast) literally starts. The Odias prefer a lot of khattas (sour chutneys) with their food and here in the food festival that was displayed proudly. From the Ambula Rai (chutney of dry mangoes and coconut), Khajuri Khatta (date chutney with tomatoes) and Oou Khatta (Elephant Apple chutney). Among the mains on that day was the Maccha Tarkari (Fish Curry) and Mangsa Kassa (Mutton kassa).

Main Courses (2)

Besara is another beautiful preparation in Odia households making use of mustard. Now the besara can be made using lots of ingredients from vegetarian to non-vegetarian variants. The Besara served at Aish was on the lines of the food served in temples. Odisha takes great pride in it’s temple food where culture has played a great part in reshaping the cuisine of the state. Hence many dishes at the Odia Bhoji had temple food like the Mandira Dali, Chenna Tarkari, Kanika and Pheni.

Main Courses (1)

Among the desserts were Odisha’s famous Rasgollas and Chenna Poda. Lots of sweets in the state are made pre-dominantly using chenna (cheese). The Rasabali comes from the town of Kendrapara and also had been made by Chef Bibhu as part of the festival.

Odia Desserts

The Odia Bhoji is one of those unique food festivals which delves into the authenticity of a lesser explored cuisine. The Odia Bhoji is on till the 19th September 2016 at Aish, The Park.

Thanks to Swati for the invite and bringing Odia food to Hyderabad.

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Mushrooms are complex ingredients. It can take over an entire dish by itself and also complement another ingredient when paired perfectly. Can you imagine an entire restaurant menus designed around mushrooms. That the beauty of the ‘shrooms we looked forward tonight.

Mushrooms is one of those ingredients that you can either hate it or love it. During my teens, I hated the mushrooms cooked in tomato based curry at home. But with time, the earthiness and complexities of mushroom soon started to wow me. I remember falling in love with it when I was first served a mushroom risotto in one of the restaurants back then. It was then that I started experimenting with different varieties of mushrooms. I think Tuscany at Trident decided to create a gastronomical experience and create ‘Fiesta Fungi’ festival around different types of mushrooms brought in freshly from Thailand.

Fungi Fiesta At Trident (1)

We’ve loved the creative gastronomical delights that Chef Manik Magotra brings in with these food festivals. Its an intricate palate journey that he takes us through each time. With the Fungi Fiesta at Tuscany at Trident Hyderabad, he showcases different mushrooms like Porcini, Oysters, White Fungus, Morels and of course the Truffles. Each course is about a pairing and give the mushrooms a dish to shine through.

Fungi Fiesta At Trident (9)

Our introduction to the world of mushrooms started with a foamy Wild Mushroom Cappuccino with delicate espresso foam. Creamy and subtle wild mushroom flavor provided a perfect start to our meal. The body of the Mushroom Capuccino is brought out strongly by the button mushrooms but you can still distinguish the morels and shitakes in each sip. The espresso isn’t quite strong to, with the chef quite understanding the balance between the two.

Fungi Fiesta At Trident (8)

Next on the menu was the appetizers of assorted Crumb Fried Button and Chocolate Mushrooms served with saffron cream, pepper coulis and balsamic reduction. Balancing the flavors of the mushrooms and taking it to the next level is the chocolate coated mushrooms served at the center of this exclusive plating. I’ve got to admit the level of detail that went into the Chocolate Mushrooms. With both Chocolate and Mushrooms being ‘umami’ flavors, they were married perfectly with a pinch of sea salt.

Fungi Fiesta At Trident (11)

Fungi Fiesta At Trident (10)

The Oriental Crust Pizza was served with fresh galangal, white fungi and fresh selection of seafood ranging from squids, prawns and salmon. This was quite an interesting take on a pizza that I honestly couldn’t imagine the different flavors together. The freshness of the seafood and the galangal actually let the mushrooms shine through and the pairing working brilliantly.

Fungi Fiesta At Trident (2)

Fungi Fiesta At Trident (12)

Capturing the European flavors on the menu was the Salmon Ravioli with shitake mushrooms and served with fresh dill cream and capers. The capers jus was a standout with complex flavors that just did it for me. The jus so beautifully brought the whole dish together with fresh dill cream and weight of the shitake mushrooms holding it all together. Finishing off our main course was the Portobello Mushroom Risotto beautifully done with sundried tomatoes and mascarpone cheese. The sundried tomatoes balanced the rich creamy mushroom flavor and can be devoured without any guilt.

Fungi Fiesta At Trident (3)

Fungi Fiesta At Trident (5)

The dessert was where things got a little interesting with the Truffle Oil Ice-Cream. The goal was to have mushrooms play a significant role in each course and it had been achieved in the desserts section as well. Getting a white truffle oil ice cream perfect is quite tricky because the measurements have to be perfect. I remember Chef Heston Blumenthal had put it rightly that there are two rules to remember. The more fat in the ice cream, the longer it takes for the flavor to emerge. Likewise, the more fat there is, the longer the flavor lingers. This was decadent end with the Truffle Oil Ice-Cream and the chocolate Mud Pie.

Fungi Fiesta At Trident (7)

Fungi Fiesta At Trident (6)

The Fungi Fiesta is on at Tuscany, Trident Hyderabad from the 18th-28th of August 2016 for dinner.

 

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The Mylapore Food Festival at Dakshin, ITC Kakatiya is one of the most beautifully thought out food festival in recent times. Curated by Chef Rajan who has been with ITC for more than 45 years, this is a fresh take on a city’s cuisine. Mylapore was once the cultural hub of South India. The city of Mylapore abounds in temples, mosques, churches and is also a home to many music sabhas.

Mylapore Food Festival - ITC Dakshin (2)

Many people throng to Mylapore for religious purposes along with the city’s penchant for Carnatic music. With the numerous temples around, the city had a huge number of Brahmin population. Consuming onion and garlic was considered unholy and thus the cuisine of Mylapore took a huge turn.

Mylapore Food Festival - ITC Dakshin (3)

At the dinner at Dakshin, ITC Kakatiya we were joined by at our table by Chef Rajan and Chef Sakala Sankara. I’d definitely say that alongside the amazing food, I absolutely loved the company of dining with Chef Rajan. He is an extremely humble person who walks around the restaurant with a smile on his face. Dakshin is one intricately designed restaurant catering to South Indian food. The pace is beautifully lit up and the traditional cutlery complete the South Indian feeling with aplomb.

Mylapore Food Festival - ITC Dakshin (6)

We started off with Thakali Rasam and Bread Bom. The Bread Bom is a dish which has been created by Chef Rajan himself. He is famous all over the country for this unique creation of his which is essentially bread cutlets stuffed with loads of vegetables and cheese. The Thakali Rasam was absolutely heavenly and hit all the right flavors.

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Mylapore Food Festival - ITC Dakshin (7)

Mylapore Food Festival - ITC Dakshin (5)

Mylapore Food Festival - ITC Dakshin (1)

Even the menu does include non-vegetarian dishes, but Mylapore cuisine as a whole is completely vegetarian. Hence they’ve been classified separately as just Chef Rajan’s special. We decided to stick to the Mylapore dishes for the night as Chef Rajan talked us through the food.

Most of the dishes were simple, authentic and packed with flavor. If you’re a person who loves South Indian food, trust us when we say that you won’t be disappointed. The Malabar Avial had been beautifully cooked and paired perfectly with the steaming hot appams. Among the other dishes were the Urlai Roast, Thakali Purapu, Murmgaikai Vathakuzambhu. My favorite dish among the great line of dishes was the Bendakai Morkuzambhu which is essentially fried okra cooked with a chilly coconut paste in a yogurt gravy. It went perfect with appams and also the Bhahaam Sadam i.e rice tossed over in almonds.

Mylapore Food Festival - ITC Dakshin (8)

Mylapore Food Festival - ITC Dakshin (10)

Like we’ve already stated before and will continue to tell it once again, this festival is an absolute delight. It isn’t just about food of a city, but brings forward the expressions of the Mylapore city on a plate. And of course while you’re there, it’s hard not to miss the smile of Chef Rajan as he serves his patrons.

The Mylapore Magic Food Festival is on from 22nd-31st of July 2016 for dinners only at Dakshin, ITC Kakatiya. The dishes are available on a’la carte orders.

Address : Dakshin, ITC Kakatiya, Begumpet
Phone : 040 33194210

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Gujarati food has always been very close to my heart. Having grown up in a Gujarati neighborhood, Sunday mornings were essentially spent having the combination of fafda jalebis as part of breakfast. The sweet kadi made up most of my family dinners and we all waited for the winter more for the undhiyo than the season itself. Till date I make sure, I get one box of undhiyo every winter to make up for my cravings. The ‘When Tradition Meets Taste Buds’ festival at Momo Café – Courtyard by Marriott had us excited to relish the traditional Gujarati dishes by home chef Nirupama Gandhi.

We started our dinner with an appetizers plate consisting of Khandvi, Patra and Methi ka phool wada. Khandvi is made usually with three basic ingredients – gramflour, curd and turmeric and then tempered beautifully and folded into rolls. It’s then steamed and one of the best appetizers you could lay on your hands on. The Patra was next and I was told Home chef Nirupama sourced all the colocasia (arbi) from Mumbai.  The Patra was delicate and beautifully done. Methi ka phool wada is another authentic Gujarati dish that’s made with methi flowers, besan. These small bites of wada with imli/dhaniya chutney were a tasty bites of flavors.

Gujarati Food Festival At Marriott (1)

The Gujarati household have their unique way of making their food. The meal usually consists of shaak or subji, rotli, dal, kadhi, rice. The Undhiyo made almost differently by every other household with each adding their own choice of vegetables, muthiya and raw bananas. Right from the time I tasted the first bite, I knew this was the taste I had grown up on and loved every bit of it. The slight tinge of peanut and sesame seed paste with the coconut played the perfect balance of flavors and all I needed was a bowl of plain hot rice to feel at home. The Dal Dhokli which is another favorite was soft and delicate. We moved on to the Chowli ka Sabji. Now I have never liked chowli but the flavor of the spices with hot poori changed my mind and I would love to try these at home sometime.

Gujarati Food Festival At Marriott (5)

Last but not the least to end the meal was the Kadhi. I usually make the Gujarati style of Kadhi at home and love the sweet-salty flavor of it. Home chef Nirupama actually told me different variations of the kadhi that I could try at home and shared different recipes that I will definitely be trying soon.

This was one of the best homely meals that I have tasted in a long time. For desserts, the Besan ke Ladoo stole the show. Soft and rich in ghee, you could never be content with just one. The Puran Poli, Jalebi and Malpua made for a hearty end to the meal.

Gujarati Food Festival At Marriott (3)

Gujarati Food Festival At Marriott (2)

The Gujarati Food Festival is part of the buffet at MoMo Cafe at Courtyard by Marriott and is on till the 31st of July.

Address: Courtyard by Marriott, Opposite Hussain Sagar Lake, Tank Bund Road, Near Necklace Road, Hyderabad
Phone : 040 27522999

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Sunday’s are usually end up being the laziest of days of the week. Starting off wondering what breakfasts should be, rummaging through the fridge and ultimately settling for some eggs, pancakes or French toast, hash browns and fresh juice. That’s our idea of a brunch when at home.

The idea Of Picnic Brunch launched at Olive Bistro had us excited. Having been to Olive Bistro numerous times earlier, there’s seldom been a time when we’ve walked out with our tummies half-empty. With the concept of Buffet, you end up wanting to try everything laid on the table and sometimes leading to wastage too. The Picnic Brunch is Olive Bistro’s concept to save on some of that wastage which are usually associated with Buffet. It aims to get fresh, hot food on your table on order so you can enjoy more dishes and also have a vast menu to choose from.

Olive Picnic Brunch (1)

Each table is set with a Picnic basket with a checkered cloth. The basket is filled with fresh homemade bread and butter, juice, newspaper and cutlery. The menu on offer is humongous and you can choose from a variety of salad, soup, eggs, grills, sandwiches, burgers, pizza pasta and desserts.

Chef Arun D’Souza has his own little garden of herbs and vegetables. This goes a long way in retaining the freshness of the ingredients in each of his dishes and delicate flavors.

Since this was a fun Picnic Brunch, freshly baked Banana Bread and Cheddar Corn Bread was served on the table. The Banana bread with a thin layer of maple butter was the perfect start to a delicious brunch. The Cheddar Corn Bread layered with garlic cream made it a perfect combination alongside freshly squeezed fruit juice.

Olive Picnic Brunch (2)

We then moved on to my favorite part of Brunch, eggs and chicken. You can choose from a variety of egg dishes on the menu. Choices on the menu include the classic Benedict or Florentine or Ham & Cheese. The eggs are also served with a choice Chorizo sausages and steaks alongside. We loved the Classic Florentine served with creamed spinach along with English muffin and hollandaise sauce.

Olive Picnic Brunch (9)

Olive Picnic Brunch (10)

A good salad is like a Mid-summers Sunday dream. The Caesar salad was a refreshing change on the plate. Not wanting to fill up with just these, we decided to move on to the next page of the menu which had the main dishes calling out to us.

Olive Picnic Brunch (3)

Olive Picnic Brunch (4)

Olive Picnic Brunch (6)

For the entrees, Olive Bistro does serve pizzas by the slices giving the option to choose from five varieties of wood-fired oven pizza. I’ve am a little inclined towards the BBQ and mushroom pizza here at Olive Bistro. The Caprese Pizza that was made with toppings of basil pesto, three different types of cheese and finished with balsamic glaze was absolutely delicious.

Olive Picnic Brunch (8)

There are also Burgers, Pastas and Wraps as part of the Picnic Brunch but we decided to skip those and move on to the desserts. The desserts also include freshly made-to-order pancakes and French toast.  The Orange Blossom Ricotta Pancake served with candied orange and drizzled with maple syrup was heavenly.  There were other desserts laid out on the dessert table which included Chocolate Mud Pie and other assorted cakes and pastries too. Mango and Rhubarb cheesecake is one of the new dishes on the menu worth trying.

Olive Picnic Brunch (12)

Olive Picnic Brunch (11)

It’d suffice to say that the Picnic Brunch at Olive Bistro is for the big appetite and slow brunch afternoons. It’s one of kind way to spend an outing with friends and family while enjoying delicious, indulgent food. It’s the kind of brunch, I’d much prefer to go to with the Chef making fresh food on order than a huge buffet which has a lot of food that one would mostly skip.

A video posted by FoodDrifter (@fooddrifter) on

Location : Olive Bistro, Road 46, Inside Durgam Cheruvu,Jubilee Hills, Hyderabad
Phone: 040 69999127

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India as a sub-continent is enormously vast with each region having it’s own myriad of flavors. The cuisine changes with every state and even sometimes every few kilometers. Considering the riches, spices and trade destination that India was at a point of time in history, it has seen it’s fair share of conquests. The Mughals, British, Portuguese, Persians and lot of other cultures have played an important role in reshaping Indian Cuisine.

To say that Indian food is immaculately complex would be understatement. But where do you reach the point of retracing back the roots of popular dishes? Many of them have been re-structured to suit local palates while many popular dishes have been lost in history. Partition too had a crucial role in reshaping the food scene in the Indian sub-continent.

Now that’s why the “India afore 1947” food festival at Kanak, Trident Hyderabad brings along with it so much of importance to the dining scene. I remember this talk with a person who had associated East Bengal and West Bengal cuisine to be just a common bundle. I too had faced that notion at one point in time until I went deep into the study of the roots of the style of cooking. Each side of Bengal had it’s own nuance with East Bengal cuisine being more rustic and utilizing lot of different cooking methods like smoking, etc…

Irani Prawns

Among the appetizers we got to sample were the Dudhiya Kebabs and Singaras. The Singaras are not to be confused with the traditional Samosas we get among other parts of India. It is a lot different than the samosa with fillings of peanuts and potatoes which might be peeled or unpeeled.

Dudhiya Kebab

Singara

The Dudhiya Kebabs were my favorite. Packed with lots of nuts and cheese, these were an absolute melt in the mouth. The Lahori Chicken Keema Kebab had been borrowed from our neighboring country. Cooked on a grill the Lahori Chicken Keema Kebabs had a delicate, smoky flavor and went well with the fresh mint chutney.

Lahori Chicken Keema Kebab

Now the main courses were the part which had us excited. Most of the dishes we got to sample that night borrowed heavily from Sindh and Baluchistan. I could perfectly understand Chef Manik Mangotra’s thought of utilizing his crew which has some fine Sindhi chefs among them. Nevertheless to say the Dal Pakwan and Koki were wonderfully delicious. I’ve had the fortune of eating at a couple of Sindhi households in my time and the taste of the dishes at the table did remind me of those.

Main Courses

Dal Pakwan

There is always that one dish that you base your dinner about once you walk out. But for us with the dinner that night at “India Afore 1947”, there were two. One was the Bhindi Gosht, a Balochistan style lamb curry cooked with okra. But I definitely have to give special mention to the Balochi Murgh Sujji. The Balochi Murgh Sujji is a simple roast chicken but what gave it the depth of flavor were the spices. It felt a lot similar to the Afghani Sajji but yet the flavors of pepper, fennel and lemon were highlighted.

Balochi Murgh Sujji

Naan Peshawar

We ended the wonderful meal with Mohanthal, a sindhi dessert and Chenna Jalebi. It almost felt like two extremities of the Indian sub-continent on a dessert plate.

Mohanthal

Chenna Jalebi

The only thought I’d add about the “India Afore 1947” food festival at Kanak isn’t just about the dishes alone. I’ve gone to Kanak numerous times earlier to have known the quality of cooking and food that Chef Manik and his team serves. This festival is about undertaking a challenge. A challenge to not let dishes be lost in modern-cooking and tracing back their history.

The “India afore 1947” Food Festival is on at Kanak from 18th-31st July 2016

Location : Kanak, Trident Hyderabad, Opposite Cyber Towers, Hitech City.
Phone: 040 33165264

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As the weekend arrives, I can’t help but get excited each Sunday for the brunch at Jonathan’s Kitchen at Holiday Inn in Gachibowli. Jonathan’s Kitchen has been serving real wonderful food since quite sometime. We’ve always walked out of the place with great food memories. Add in the potent mix of creative drinks that Komatose whips out and you’ve had the perfect combination of a wonderful Sunday brunch.

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I’ve always been a person who prefers a set menu rather than a vast buffet spread. With a set menu I can choose to have the dishes, prepared fresh by the chef on order than walk around having left out food of a buffet. And when in Jonathan’s Kitchen you got to have the Lust from their line of signature drinks. Named after the ‘Se7en Deadly Sins’, the lust is a hot favorite. It’s a hot combination of chili infused vodka, strawberry puree and lime.

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Jonathan’s Kitchen has a vast and diverse menu which is also represented in it’s choice of set menu. Specializing in dishes from many regions of the world, I’ve always felt their strengths lie in Asian and Continental. So there was no denying when the Wasabi Prawns and Prawns Cocktail had arrived out our table that we had to just polish it clean. The Wasabi Prawns especially were brilliant and is almost part of our every order when we visit Jonathan’s.

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The liquor flowed as the afternoon progressed and so did the food. The Bhatti da Murgh was served fresh out of the tandoor while the Dahi ke Kebabs was a highlight from the vegetarian starters. Pizzas is where I’ve always felt Jonathan’s towers ahead than many restaurants. Their thin-crust pizzas are simply put – cheeselicious.

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Having already been stuffed with the starters, we went light for the main course. Skipping through the Indian dishes, we settled for a simple Pasta and Chicken breast. I always tend to be more inclined to the mashed potatoes when it comes to a continental dish and the one here on the plate was polished off clean. The mashed potatoes had been made exquisitely and it takes a simple dish to understand the brilliance of a chef.

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Completing our brunch with the dessert, we had spent nearly quite a while being set up for high. The drinks are truly potent and the food is wonderful. For a five-course meal at Rs 999/+-, the brunch at Jonathan’s Kitchen is pure value for money. But I’m one who looks more at quality and Jonathan’s Kitchen delivers on that aspect with brilliant dishes as part of their menu. We walked out of Jonathan’s Kitchen with yet another great experience wanting to go back there another weekend.

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Address : Jonathan’s Kitchen, Holiday Inn Express & Suites, Gachibowli, Hyderabad
Phone: 040 33165791

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