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Only in India (maybe)?

16 Nov

A little snippet from dinner last night at Shiro in UB City.

Waiter brings over a glass of Coke with ice for Claire.

Claire: Oh, can I have a glass without ice, please? (We don’t drink the tap and we avoid ice too)

Waiter: grunt

The waiter walks about 10 feet away, clearly still in plain sight, and takes the ice out with either his fingers or a fork. He returns with the same drink with the liquid level down about an inch and one piece of ice still in it. We are baffled.

Claire: There’s still ice in it.

Waiter: smirks

Claire: Never mind. I’ll just drink water.

The awkward situations never end.

Dinner at The Royal Afghan

12 Nov

Vegetarians must love traveling to India. Since much of the population is vegetarian, there are always options at every restaurant. I’ve been adhering to a vegetarian diet while in India, but have dabbled in a few carnivorous cravings (when appropriate). For example, when we went to eat dinner at The Royal Afghan, known for their meats cooked in a Tandoor, I couldn’t pass up a chance to try the specialties of North/West India. We started our meal with papdums topped with chopped tomatoes and onions… think Indian nachos, where the chips are fried lentil crackers.

Next we had dal Bukhara (stewed black lentils), raita with cucumber, onions and tomatoes, murgh makhani (butter chicken), tandoori lamb and a basket of parathas, rotis and chapatis.

Thankfully we had ordered the raita, because everything was super SPICY, even the lentils. The chicken was rich and the lamb was oh so tender. North Indian food is flavorful yet heavy, so we were quite stuffed by the end of the meal. And as full as we were, we felt like it was our duty as tourists to sample a few of the regional desserts. Just doing our job. 🙂 We tried the rasmalai (paneer in clotted cream) and the shir berinj (rice pudding). I liked the cardamom spice of the rasmalai, but really loved the creamy shir berinj. I am a sucker for rice pudding though.

Traveling for work means never paying for a meal. Hello per diem! Just like being taken out on a date for every meal every day of the week. A girl sure could get use to this.

The Royal Afghan – ITC Windsor
25 Golf Course Road
Bangalore, Karnataka 560052
(91)(80) 22269898

Brunch at Leela Palace

13 Oct

I know most most of you expect me to be posting pictures of idlis, dosas and chai tea (and I will), but I’m going to throw in this post about my brunch at Leela Palace, which was continental, so it sort of counts as Indian food, right? Okay, I know that’s a stretch, but I did scarf some biryani and lentils for what it’s worth. Claire and I have been getting most of our restaurant recommendations from our co-worker Gopi and I’m starting to notice a little trend. He’s been sending us to super fancy shmancy places. Remember when I mentioned being in places that didn’t feel like India? Well Leela Palace is one of those places. I immediately felt like I was transported to a resort in the South of France. Right when you pull up there are basins filled with gorgeous, floating flower petals.

And this is the view walking up towards the hotel.

So you see what I’m talking about? Not the slums of Bangalore by far. Equally impressive was the brunch buffet. I polished off a whole plate of food before I thought to take pictures. Sorry. I was hungry from our Nandi Hills trek.

Clockwise from the top: Stuffed cabbage and sauerkraut, okra, Mediteranean vegetable medley, marinated beets, salmon w/mint sauce and braised leeks.

Since I’ve been in India, I’ve developed the craziest sweet tooth. In the states I keep my dessert consumptions to nibbles from dark chocolate bars or Isabella’s Peanut Butter Bombs. Here, I have dessert after every meal. Or in the case of Leela Palace, several desserts after each meal. Two a day work outs for me once I get home! Clockwise from the top: chocolate fondue with pineapples, melon and papaya, triple chocolate mousse, fruit tart and chocolate burfi.

Yes, this is gluttonous decadence to the extreme. Now we know where to go when we want an escape. We also know that we better start getting restaurant recommendations from somebody besides Gopi if we want our money to last us the entire trip.

Mosambi Juice from Herbs & Spice

2 Oct

If there’s one thing I’ve noticed about restaurants in India, it’s that they love their juices. Every restaurant I’ve gone to has an extensive beverage list chalk full of fresh juices and mocktails. Claire and I went on our own little foot tour of Bangalore today, to help us get our bearings straight, and stopped by Herbs and Spice, a modern-looking cafe on the top floor of The Collective. Though I’m usually more of a bottled water drinking kind of girl, I also love trying new things. That’s the fun of being in a different country. There’s always something new, or at least new to me. When I saw mosambi (sweet lime) juice on the chalk board menu, I thought to myself, “I don’t know what it is, but I want it!” I quizzed the waiter about it immediately and he was nice enough to show me the green-rinded citrus fruit before I ordered a glass. The verdict: It was very similar to pulpy, frothy orange juice, but a little sweeter since they spike it with added sugar. Next time I’ll be sure to ask for less/no sugar, since it would have been nice to retain some of the natural tartness of the fruit.  Well you learn something new everyday don’t you?

Caperberry Restaurant & Tapas Lounge

1 Oct

India keeps surprising me. I packed five pounds of oats, two boxes of Luna bars and a few bars of dark chocolate, thinking for some reason, they wouldn’t sell certain foods that I’ve grown all too well accustomed to. Well I’ve officially been proven wrong. I’ve found Silk soy milk, Nutella and Goldfish crackers (and they weren’t even Masala flavored) at the grocery store.

Eating out has also been quite the adventure, since Claire and I just go with recommendations. My co-worker, Gopi, suggested that we go to Caperberry for lunch since we wanted something healthy yet filling. I thought it was going to be an Indian interpretation of a tapas restaurant, but was pleasantly surprised to find that it was in fact a molecular gastronomy restaurant. What?!? I know!! I was shocked myself. I’ve been to Jose Andres’ The Bazaar and Ludo Lefebvre’s Ludobites, but that was in foodie Los Angeles. Oh Bangalore! Forgive me. I had no idea what you had in store for me or my stomach.

We knew we had to be barricaded in our apartment by 3:30 pm due to the potential rioting from the Ayodhya verdict, so we wanted to eat a large lunch. I started with the compressed watermelon salad with Mahon Jelly, olive tapenade and mixed greens.

Claire had the deconstructed Caprese salad, composed of tomato sorbet, spherified mozzarella and balsalmic gelee cubes with greens.

Next up was my lamb shank, cooked sous vide, with gremolata and saffron risotto. Very tasty and perfectly seasoned. I’m sure glad immersion circulators exist in India.

Claire had the Penne Puttanesca. No molecular gastronomy frills but still delicious. Maybe Chef Abhijit Saba will add some spherified olives to the dish like the ones in Jose Andres’ “New Way” dirty martini at The Bazaar.

I will be back to Caperberry to try out the tapas menu. And they also have paella and fideos on the menu, which I’m always a sucker for. What else does India have in store for me?

Dakshin Restaurant

28 Sep

While traveling, I love finding little hole-in-the-wall or mom and pop-style restaurants. Eating the way the locals eat is usually the surest way to get the most authentic and delicious home style food. So when I was taken to swanky Dakshin (inside the ITC Hotel) I was more than a little skeptical.  A hotel restaurant? Why I never…

Per the suggestion of our tour guide, I ordered the vegetarian thali. Dakshin specializes in Southern Indian food, and the thali would give us a taste of everything. They started us out with two pancakes – one with bananas and the other with peas – served with tomato, cilantro and coconut chutney.

Ginger and lemon is one of my favorite flavor combinations, so when I saw this spicy, refreshing drink on the menu, I had to order it.

Presentation and service were spot on and my favorite parts of the meal were the homemade yogurt and the freshly made appams. Crispy on the edges and chewy in the middle. Perfect for soaking up the coconut curry.

We ended the meal with a palate cleanser called Paan, made from fennel, sugar, cloves and other aromatics wrapped in a betel leaf.

Overall, this was an amazing meal and I’m happy to report that after a week of eating in India, I still haven’t fallen victim to the dreaded Delhi Belly. 🙂