Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Bowl Manifesto Menu at Mamagoto Packs a Punch

For the last few years, India has got over its obsession for faux Chinese to some extent and moved over to Pan Asian-flavours from Hong Kong, Japan, Thailand, Vietnam, Korea, Burma. Earlier one had to venture into 5 star hotels to try these cuisines but now many affordable Standalone restaurants have flourished, luring palates in metros and other big cities. Mamagoto has certainly been ahead in taking Pan Asian to a large burgeoning market for these exotic flavours. Their bright, cheerful interiors, their quirky decor and branding and constantly innovative menus offer enough variety to the seasoned Pan-Asian connoisseur as well as the debutant.

While I have many favourites on the Mamagoto regular menu, but their seasonal changes are always a treat. I ventured to the spacious and welcoming Kondapur branch  to sample the Bowl Manifesto menu which is dedicated to comfort food meant for sharing.

One can enjoy wholesome meals in bowls bursting with umami to satisfy your Asian cravings. There is a variety of sumptuous and flavourful Aromatic Rice Meals with Tofu or Fish, or 8 Treasure Bowl or Hot China Action, the menu offers eight exciting options to choose from. The meals are very balanced and in generous portions.

For starter we tried the UnblievaBao Duck which is not a bowl but Super Bowl worthy. It has Mama's own secret spice crispy duck served in a Bao with spring onions and cucumber. It is like a Peking Duck 2.0. There is also a chicken version. I love the textured flatware and crockery in hues of aquamarine and grey that adds another dimension to the meal.

From the regular menu, we were tempted to try the Sushi, given the paucity of good Japanese restaurants in the city. We ordered the California Roll and Ebi Tempura Sushi, both of which were outstanding and fresh.

We tried the 8 Treasure Bowl which was highly recommended and had quite a melange of ingredients. The bowl arrived with a profusion of colour and taste. Chicken, Edamame, Rice, Peanuts, Tofu, Celery amongst others. I personally like my dishes with lesser ingredients and for me somehow the flavour was lost in so many contrasting tastes.  But I am sure others may like this sort of fulfilling dish. I am sure next time I will try the Aromatic Rice Meal with Fish which has fish in a home made aromatic chili sauce served with Jasmine fried rice and rocket salad.

We also tried the Medium Hot Mushrooms which turned out truly spectacular. With 4 varieties of mushrooms in a fiery chilli reduction, spring onion and dry red chillies with udon noodles, this dish is a true winner. One can also try the Tofu Two Ways which has tofu in pepper sauce, salt & pepper, udon noodles and veggies.

These Great China Bowls, coupled with some UnbelievaBaos, will surely become our go-to summer meals!
You have to check out these new babies with all the goodness in just a bowl!

Needless to say, we ended the meal with a shared bowl of their heavenly Home-made Coconut and Palm Sugar Ice Cream which restores your faith in ice-cream.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

The Indian Night Buffet at Deori Showcases Stunning Regional Indian Cuisine

Deori, the Indian restaurant at Hyatt Hyderabad, Gachibowli underwent a total refurbishment and a facelift recently. The Hyatt team under the leadership of Mr. Gopinath Gopalan, GM has been constantly upgrading their services and offerings ever since the first day I walked into this beautifully landscaped hotel last year. Set amidst sprawling green acres, the Hyatt has one of the best, manicured gardens in the city, making it an ideal hotel for outdoor events and dining with plenty of Al Fresco areas.

Deori, the Indian restaurant which was already well known for its authentic regional cuisine in Gachibowli area has further been enhanced. The moment you enter the place, striking artwork on the walls catches your attention. The new tableware and fabrics have been chosen with great care. I am told this was entirely the effort of the hotel staff, without using any interior designer. There is a profusion of typical Indian colours everywhere and yet there is a contemporary feel. They have also started a very lavish Indian Night buffet bringing regional Indian cuisine in a glossy avatar.

On one wall you see a bright and appealing pickle bar, which is a way of showcasing the stellar pickle making skills of Indian women. Almost every household has its favourite set of pickles and the woman of the house traditionally made these pickles according to the season, in bulk. These carefully guarded jars of merriment were sent over to friends and relatives who couldn't make some of their own. It was good to see this typical Indian tradition kept alive at Deori.


Rajasthani mirror work table runners and earthy artefacts prepare you for what would be in the offing in the buffet. If the long salad and appetiser counter is anything to go by, we are in for a treat. Delicious pachadis, papads and pickles with chaas served in ethnic manner certainly rouse your appetite. The fragrant aroma of curry leaves crackling with mustard seeds can declog all the senses. The live stations outside ensure you have a fresh supply of the choicest kebabs, tikkas and tandoori rotis and naans.

The colourful Pickle Bar

Chef Anand, who has always been very dedicated and creative, has really pulled out all the stops this time, in this buffet. In the soups the Murgh Badam ka Shorba for non-veg and Tomato Rasam for veg set the right mood.  In the starters one can have choices such as Tunde ke Kebab, Hariyali Murg Tikka, Achari Paneer Tikka and Kavipoo Varuval( crispy fried cauliflower).  In main course, particularly enjoyable were Mutton Sukka, Kothmir Guddu Curry(Egg Curry with plenty of coriander), the Bisi Bele Bhaath, Sarson ka Saag, Gurda Kaleji with Kulcha, Dal Makhni. The Pumpkin Poriyal had a delicacy rarely found in buffets and the Methvikura Pappu( local fenugreek and lentil preparation) was dearer to me than Dal Makhni(I am a Punjabi , btw and I am kinda bored with Dal Makhni).
Mutton Sukka

Poornam Elaiyappam

The range of breads was totally awe inspiring-Kashmiri Naan and Kuttu Paratha adding a lot of variety to the regular Indian breads.

After the exceptional main course, how better could the dessert get? Lo and behold, the Deori has an all new 'Mithai Ghar' of its own. This specially set room was like a treasure trove of exquisite Indian mithai such as Jalebi, Boondi ke Laddoo, Sandesh, Khaja, Thevar Rabri, Malai Chamcham and more. The Papaya Halwa was something unique I tried for the first time. The Adai Pradhaman was the perfect end to the meal. Not only is this Mithai Ghar a part of the Night Buffet, but you can also buy exquisite Indian sweetmeats on retail here in natty little designer boxes. These authentic and pure sweets would make perfect gifting items, rather than giving insipid and spurious chocolates or cakes.

In the weeks to come classical music and dance performances will further enhance the experience. Priced at Rs. 1199/+ taxes, this Indian Night Buffet is worth every penny as the homestyle cooking showcasing the best of North Indian and South Indian cuisines, leaves you satisfied and sated. The cyclic menu will ensure that overtime you go there, you will find something new on the menu. The Hyatt team has gone that extra mile to make a truly enchanting Indian meal experience with ingenuity and creativity!

Friday, February 23, 2018

Nizami Food gets Farzified

The hush-hush Hyderabad winter has given way to a radiant spring time. The weather is perfect, neither too hot, nor too cold. This is the best time of the year to indulge in some great Hyderabadi food. Of course Hyderabad is one city where food overpowers everything all the year round. To the extent that sometimes there is an overdose of Hyderabadi food. You often wish for a relief or a re-churning of things. Or at least a re-think.

Khatti Dal Cappuccino, Tomato Foam, Curry Leaf Dust
Paneer Pakeeza, Gongura Pickle Mayo
In all of this, Farzi café Hyderabad celebrates the colourful and effervescent Nizami Food Festival by bringing together royal and authentic flavours from the Nizami cuisine. The food festival offers authentic delicacies from Nizami cuisine ranging from soups, main course and desserts to choose from. But when it is Farzi Cafe we are talking about, trust them to shake things up a bit. Normal is boring, as they say. So the Farzification of Hyderabadi food is what some of us bloggers experienced yesterday. Each dish presented itself like a bouquet of the choicest colour, flavour, texture and creativity.
Badam & Akhrot ki Tikki, Green Tomato Chutney

Maghaz Masala Tarts, Tadka Cream

Dum ke Kebab, Pickle Onion
Each dish is prepared with an innovative twist to match the culinary preferences and local palate. For the lovers of non-vegetarian food, the menu is exclusively curated with dishes such as Shikamipuri kebab, Sheermal Sponge, Mint Pesto; Patther ke kebab, Wasabi Cream, Walnut Dust; Dum Ke Kebab, New Pickle Onion. The soups set the tone with tangy Khatti Dal Cappuccino  Tomato Foam, Curry leaf Dust  and the delicious Hyderabadi Marag, Sheermal Crouton. In the appetisers the Maghaz Masala Tarts, Tadka Cream simply stole the show. For vegetarians the Badam and Akhrot ki Tikki is memorable.

Shahi Hyderabadi Veg Ratatouille

Haleem Risotto

For the Main Course or 'Masghool Dastarkhwan' one can have exquisite creations such as Darbari Chicken Handi, Fenugreek Kulcha or Shahi Haleem risotto, Keema Aamras Croquets with Crispy Coin Paratha. The Doodh ki Biryani is one biryani you will find different from the regular biryanis for each grain of rice in it has been cooked in milk, giving it a luxurious feel. Vegetarians have ample choice in the form of Paneer Pakeeza with Gongura Pickle Mayo, Paneer Bagh-E-Bahar Lasagna and Hyderabadi Shahi Mix Veg Ratatouille (I simply loved it!) served with whole wheat bread.

Khubani ka Meetha Tart, Apricot Gel, Malai Air
Textures of Exotic Fruit Platter
The desserts are sure to leave you spell bound! Choose from Qubani Meetha ka Tart, Textures of Exotic fruit platter, Irani Chai crème Brulee with Osmania biscuit and more for a sweet tickle to your taste buds.

Speaking on the occasion Zorawar Kalra, Founder & Managing Director, Massive Restaurants Pvt. Ltd.  Said, “Nizami cuisine includes a wide variety of dishes and it is one of the most preferred cuisines in our country. Nizami cuisine is a rich mélange of bold flavors, tantalizing spices and an array of local influences. With a strong culinary heritage, this cuisine is a blend of tradition and novelty. Our in-house Chefs are delighted to offer an exclusive experience of Nizami cuisine to our patrons. The food festival promises to delight customers with its uniqueness.”

The spread will be available till March 7th, 2018 for lunch & Dinner. Kudos to the team for being so young and fresh in the city and already redefining the traditional cuisine of the place with so much confidence and cadence. Do visit Farzi Cafe, Hyderabad to experience the authentic Nizami flavours at Farzi café Hyderabad.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Healthy Cooking With Anaida

SodaBottleOpenerWala Hyderabad has always had something exciting to offer. It is one of those restaurants you can't get tired of, always bustling and fun, great food, chirpy Bollywood music and Irani memorabilia. This month the Persian Pop-Up called Pop Goes the Princess, curated by Anaida has added one more reason to visit the restaurant. 

Salad e Salamat


Spicy Vegan Bowl

The special menu has some classic Persian dishes such as Persian Haleem, Esfahan, the no-rice Beryani; Fesenjan, a tangy sweet and sour chicken or Mushroom stew with pomegranates and walnuts. Her Buddha Bowls in the form of Vegetarian Kufte Bowl, Spicy Vegan Bowl, Persian Chicken Bowl and Mutton Bowl are a revelation of sorts. They may not be traditional Persian stuff in terms of presentation but that is the hallmark of a good Chef. That he/she can take tradition and heritage and create something new and appealing with it.

Frankly, when I went for the Pop-Up, the meanie in me went with some pre-conceived notions. Umm, Ok yet another celebrity chef! Maybe she is the face for presenting an exotic cuisine. Maybe she'll have airs. Well, ten minutes into talking to Anaida and you can't help falling in love with her. You realise she is such a sweet, smart and genuine person. She knows her food, she is so passionate about good food, nutrition and wellness. She has hajar anecdotes about each dish, ranging from her childhood to dealing with difficult situations during her sessions as a life coach. Her approach to food is very holistic in nature, with in-depth research into the nutrients present in each ingredient and their effect on the human body. Perhaps because her mother was a naturopath who never let them have medicines as kids and relied on natural treatments for common ailments. Anaida brings that ancient wisdom into her craft and yet gives it a contemporary liveliness and verve. 

I was lucky to meet her again last week in a Healthy Cooking Workshop where she taught us how to make two of her dishes on the menu-Soup e Jadooi and Salad e Salamat. Well, if you want to have the original stuff, head to SodaBottleOpenerWala, Hyderabad before the end of this month. If like me, you like to try new recipes at home, here are two of her brilliant recipes that I tried and that turned out super! They are easy healthy and nutritious to boot.

My version of Anaida's Soup e Jadooi

My version of Anaida's Salad e Salamat

Monday, February 19, 2018

Unwind in Style at Tabula Rasa Cafe & Bar

Often in city life we spend our days cooped up indoors in air-conditioned rooms all day. I even live in a high-rise, on a slightly higher floor for the first time, and there are days when I feel a palpable disconnect with mother Earth. Nothing refreshes me more than descending down those floors once or twice a day and walk on terra firma and breath in some fresh air. It is like starting afresh, on a clean slate, energised to deal with a cluttered lifestyle again. Clean slates are important, to de-clog the brain, to clear your lungs, to teach your heart how to throb again.

Which is why it is always so good to find open air restaurants and cafes. Al fresco dining has a charm of its own. Not only is it eco-friendlier, it is a sure shot way to rejuvenate your senses and breathe in some fresh oxygen. One of my most exciting discoveries in this category, this fortnight has been the Tabula Rasa Bar and Cafe at Jubilee Hills, Hyderabad. Nestled amidst fragrant frangipani trees and cobbled floor, and an understated, trendy and contemporary set up, Tabula Rasa is an open air bar that serves great drinks and plays classy music. Tabula Rasa is a Latin phrase often translated as "blank slate" in English and originates from the Roman tabula used for notes, which was blanked by heating the wax and then smoothing it. This roughly equates to the English term "blank slate" or more literally, "erased slate" which refers to the emptiness of a slate prior to it being written on with chalk. Visiting this place is sure to help you unwind to the core and feel rejuvenated.

Berry Blossom

Tabula Rasa features live music gigs through the week, showcasing brilliant young, local bands and artists. On Saturdays they have a DJ night where you can dance into the night and let your hair down. As far as the menu goes, they have some wonderful cocktails that are perfect for the setting. I started with a Berry Blossom which is a vodka based cocktail with berries infused in vodka, cranberry juice and ginger ale. It is a wonderful blend indeed. The mood is set and live music begins to add to the experience. 

Thai Grilled Chicken

Jalapeno Cheese Poppers

For bar nibbles we try the Thai Grilled Chicken and Cilantro Prawns which both possess a distinct flavor. We also try a Sauteed Herbed Vegetables which are really nicely done, crunchy and not even a bit overcooked, simply perfect. For vegetarians the Jalapeno Cheese Poppers are also a great option that we loved. My drink needs a refill and this time I try to be more adventurous. By now I know Tabula Rasa has a list of their own unique cocktails crafted to perfection. So I try a Spiked Kerouac which is a Margarita along with a shot of strawberry infused Tequila. The presentation of this cocktail is stunning. It is however quite heady and perfect for someone who can handle strong spirits well.


For the main course we try the dependable Fish and Chips which are served with flair. But what is a review without some experimentation! So we try the Pineapple Grilled Pork Chops (Great sauce) and Mushroom Fried Chicken Burger (a decent burger) and Blackened Fish with Cherry Tomato Butter Sauce which is served with Paprika Rice(a bit too tangy for me). In fact all their burgers are pretty good with interesting elements such as Jalapeno Stuffed Chicken Burger or Pork Back Rack Burger.

Pineapple Grilled Pork Chops

For vegetarians there are ample interesting choices such as Grilled Corn and Spinach Cake with Fricasse of Green Peas and Broccoli or Mexican Veg Pizza or a Bean and Zucchini Burger.

The lively music and the animated conversations all around the island bar keep your spirits high through the meal. The crowd too looked very artsy and bohemian that gives the place a cool vibe. Our senses were sated, so there was no scope for dessert but we decided to share a plate of Tres Leches which helped end the evening on a soft, mushy note. Tabula Rasa would definitely be a great place for a romantic date with its soft lighting and casual ambience and cute tables and perched chairs under the frangipani trees. It is also a perfect setting for de-stressing with friends at the end of a hectic work day!

Tabula Rasa at night