Saturday, August 20, 2016

2 Home Cooks & a Home Baker

Rakshabandhan and a Birthday rolled into one, two occasions for ever-hungry souls like us to get into super gluttonous mode!
 Lunch was Bengali food from Pakshaal, Shaonli Sengupta’s Home Kitchen.

I consider myself to be a fish racist & I am totally partial towards the variety coming out of the Sea & prefer to stay away from the river variety as much as possible. My experience with fresh-water fish has always been disastrous in and around Pune & at the risk of ruffling a few feathers here I personally find fresh water fish a bit off in terms of smell; I somehow believe (with no data to back my belief) that this might be because of the contaminated water sources. The only time I truly feasted on fresh-water fish was during my stay in Kalimpong & Gangtok where fish used to be sourced from the lovely Teesta River & used to be completely odourless.

Due to all this, my love for Bengali food was always restrained & limited to the Kosha Mangsho, Kosha Murgir Mangsho & Chingri Curry. While in conversation with Shaonli for ordering for the food she kind of talked me into going in for the Doi Maach & with utmost reluctance I did.
Coming from a Maharashtrian household, Doi/Dahi & Fish together are a complete no-no; if my late mother would’ve been around I’d have been without a roof on my head today for committing the sin of having these two together!

The Doi Maach turned around my belief about fresh water fish, not sure if this was because of the rightly sourced fish or the cooking skills of the lady but I enjoyed the Katla as much as I would’ve enjoyed my Pomfret, Surmai, Halwa or Rawas! The curry was mildly flavoured & went well with Rice. The fish, fried before going into the curry, a very typical Bengali cooking method, gave it a slight skin & the flesh beneath was super soft. The fish pieces were gigantic & were sufficient for 3 adults to make a meal.

(Doi Maach)

Anuja had read about a Duck Egg Curry that Shaonli makes & being an Egg lover she ordered for a portion of the same. This, Shaonli told me, was her take on the Shorshe Deem or the Mustard flavoured Egg Curry. Slightly milder & less pungent than the regular Shorshe curry this Hansh’er Deem’er Curry was an absolute treat.

(Hansh'er Deem'er Curry)

v         Being the Brother-in-Law’s birthday, his nephew wanted to order a cake with a lot of specifications. Cakey Bakey Doo’s Payal Potdukhe has been our go-to baker & a quick chat with her ensured that the cake was ready on the given day & time to be picked up.

Chocolate cake with Chocolate-Orange Mousse with a Captain America Shield on top (all this fuss about Super Heros fails to elude my understanding!) made up for an excellent cake. The cake was absolutely melt-in-the-mouth, soft & fresh. The orange flavour, though it came as a surprise, complimented & elevated the chocolatey flavour. Payal always makes sure that the cake is spot on in terms of taste, flavours, freshness & appearance & this time wasn’t any different!

v          Main Course, upon the Birthday Boy’s insistence came from Chiya’s Gourmet’s Jaspreet & Chandrika Nirula.  

      A couple of months back we’d ordered for a Bhuna Mutton from the Nirulas amongst other things & the Birthday Boy had been craving for it ever since! A quick chat with Chandrikaji & we ordered for a humongous quantity of Bhuna Mutton (with the intention to have leftovers for the next couple of days!) & Lal Maas.

The Laal Maas had a nice deep red colour to the gravy but wasn’t half as spicy as it appeared! A nice layer of fat on top, this one looked extremely appetizing upon opening the container & we attacked it at the word go (or was it even before that!!??)

The Bhuna was so good that the guests at the party ensured that the Birthday boy wouldn’t have to deal with it for more than one post party meal!  

(Laal Maas & Bhuna Mutton)

The mutton in both these preparations was cooked to perfection, almost falling off the bone but just short of it, which goes on to show the command the chef has on his dish!

All-in-all it was a day well spent!

Links to reach the concerned:
Chiya’s Gourmet:

Sunday, August 14, 2016

The Ganache, Kothrud

Hidden in the lanes near Bharati Vidyapeeth, More Vidyalaya Campus is The Ganache. If you're not familiar with the area, it might be a task to find this tiny eatery. We were led here by a friend who was on his umpteenth visit & having heard him rave about the food that this place served, we were more than eager to visit.

A blink & you miss kind of a place which operates from the garden of the  house of the young chef who runs the cafe; 4 tiny tables with a max seating of 10~12 at a given time & we were wondering if we'd made the right decision in trusting our friend! A look at the menu & we felt that our friend at least knows what he's talking about ;) Whether the cafe delivers what’s on the menu was the chef's prerogative & we decided to go ahead & order.

We ordered for:
1. Garlic Corn Sandwich
2. Chicken + Mayo + Jalapeño Sandwich
3 Chicken Ham + Mayo + Mustard + Tomato + Mint + Iceberg Sandwich ( That's actually what the sandwich is called, check their menu if you don't believe me!)
4. A Cafe Latte, a Black Coffee & a Cappuccino

Both the chicken sandwiches had ample amount of Chicken/Ham unlike a lot of places which shy away from putting the protein between the slices!

Our Veggie friend was raving about his sandwich & we took his word when he said it was good. The Non-Vegetarian  guys however didn't have an iota of trust amongst them & just to check if the other wasn’t bring untrue flicked one half of each other's sandwich!

(Garlic Corn Sandwich)

Cutting the long story short, my friend’s Chicken Jalapeño Sandwich was a master piece by itself; excellent flavour of jalapeños on the Mayo & generous amount of Chicken, the sandwich, grilled well, made up for a nice meal.

(Jalapeño Chicken Sandwich)

The Chicken Ham Panini had copious amount of Ham in it. The Mint, Mayo, Mustard dressing went well with the salad & ham.

All the three coffees were very nice, the Cappuccino in particular was exactly the way I love it, nice & strong! The only negative part of the evening was that none of the coffees were served the way they should've been, piping hot!


I picked up 4 Chocolate Mousse to be taken home. The  dark chocolate flavored Mousse was the best I’d had in a real long time.

The menu’s quiet concise & basic but interesting nevertheless.

The Chef cum owner of the place has kept the pricing very reasonable considering his main clientele, students from nearby colleges. The Corn S/W was priced at Rs. 70/- , the Jalapeño Chicken was priced at Rs. 80/- & the Chicken Ham was priced at Rs. 90/-, the coffees were priced between Rs. 40/- & Rs. 60/- while the Chocolate Mousse was priced at Rs. 50/- per piece.

They also serve Cheese Cakes, Cup Cakes, Ice-tea & very tempting Waffles! I've my eyes set on the Cinnamon Spiced Hot Chocolate on my next visit, which I hope happens very soon.

I vaguely remember reading that they're closed on Monday/Tuesday, not too sure about it though,  do confirm with the concerned if you plan to go on either of the two days.

Ambience: 3/5
Taste: 4.5/5
Service: 4.5/5
Novelty: 4/5
Overall Experience: 4/5

This Café will make a place in your heart with the food that they serve without burning a hole in your pocket!

Please Note: This is a completely 'No Frills' place with no ambiance as such to rave about. Do NOT go there with undue expectation about the place; the food, no doubt, is superb.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Bubsterr's Baner

Pizza by the slice is a very American concept which is slowly gaining a foothold here in India too.

Bubsterr’s was amongst or probably the very first one to come up with Pizza Slice here in Pune. Having enjoyed their pizzas at various events in town we were happy when they announced their first outlet in Kalyani Nagar about a year back & extremely thrilled when they started one near home in the Western suburb of Baner about two weeks ago!

Happened to do a take away from their Baner outlet last week. This one is located bang on Baner Road just before Balewadi Phata (coming from Aundh) near Fasoos/Cosmos Bank.

We ordered for 5 different varieties of Pizzas & a hot dog (having tried this earlier at the KN outlet this was pure indulgence!)
1. Glazed Recipe (BBQ Chicken)
2. Mustard-eee Chicken (Chicken tossed in Mustard Sauce)
3. Porky Affair (Pepperoni)
4. Pork Overload (Ham, Pepperoni, Sausage & Bacon)
5. Garlicky Mushroom
6. Chicken Relish Dog

Despite being a hard-core Non-Vegetarian my choice of pizza for the evening was the Garlicky Mushroom! I mean, who’d have thought that a Garlic Mushroom pizza could be so tasty!!??

The Pork Overload lived up to its name with generous topping  of all things pork.

The Mustard-eee was one which I didn't particularly enjoy, for me pizza & mustard sauce didn't work too well as a combination.

Pepperoni was great with ample Pepperoni on top!

Glazed Recipe was again nice, the classic BBQ Chicken kind of a pizza; something for a not too choosy/fussy palette.

(Bubsterr's Glazed Recipe)

The Chicken Relish Dog  was as good as last time; the caramelised onions takes it a notch higher than your regular dogs!

(The Chicken Relish Dog)

The pizza slice is a  10” monster slice; a slice usually serves as a meal for one & then if you've a good appetite (like me!) you could order for something to go with it! The pizza base is semi thin, nice & crunchy & the toppings ample.

At the time of pickup I was advised by the gentleman at the counter not to reheat the pizza in the microwave as it would go soggy, if need be I was to warm it either in a conventional oven or on a pan; we opted for the later & believe me just a min or two on the pan & it elevated the taste of the Pizza tremendously!

The pizza slices are moderately priced, with the Veg Slices in the range of 120~170, Non-Veg slices in the range of 180~220, while the hot dogs are in the range of 150~200. A very pocket friendly place indeed!

They supposedly serve some mean burgers too but I am yet to try them out.

I do plan to dine-in at the restaurant the next time & have been dreaming of a piping hot, fresh right out of the oven pizza slice for a long time now!

The Steak Q & Nawabi Mutton in burgers, the Overloaded Pork Dog & Honey Pepper Chicken Pizza are on my wish- list for now.

Ambience: 4/5
Taste: 4/5
Service 4.5/5
Novelty 4/5
Overall Experience 4/5

A strong recommendation: rather than packing the pizza slices do make it a point to eat at the restaurant!

(Two more Slices would've made my Pizza Pie compete!)

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Goan Odyssey

The summer was at its peak here in Pune when we drove over to Goa this time. It was a well planned trip & the plan was to eat, sleep (!!!) , spend quality time with the little one & not do the touristy things nor visit too many places (unless they served food :P )

We'd booked ourselves in the Deltin Palms Riverfront at Britona a couple of kms before Panjim. Google Maps did play a little game with us in our way to the hotel! It took a supposedly shorter route which turned out to be a supremely narrow road which went on & on & just refused to end! To top it, it led us to a garage & the kind lady proudly announced in her sweet voice 'you've reached your destination!' Battling queer glances we did a bit of prodding around & finally reached our actual destination, which, thankfully,  wasn't a nightmare!

 The room offered a beautiful view of the Mandovi River; it was a sheer pleasure sitting in the balcony & observing vessels sail to & fro all day long. The hotel had a small jetty as a part of the property, we were told that food is ferried from the hotel to the offshore casino, The Deltin Royal from the jetty.

The restaurant at the Deltin Palms had a very limited menu on offer, the Non-Veg Club Sandwich that we ordered on arrival was excellent nevertheless

On our last trip to Panjim we found a great place for Goan food by fluke while searching for a place to park & go to Cafe Bhonsle, a place highly recommended. Godinho For Great Goan Food, Since 1938 read the board proudly & we headed straight in!

We had promised ourselves that we will have our first meal in Goa the next time at Godinho's & we did exactly that! Ordered for the Prawn Papad Roll, which was Chopped & stir Fried Prawns rolled into Papad & deep fried, a Indianised Spring Roll you could say!

Fish Fry & Chicken Roast for the kiddo & he was a happy child; we ordered for a Pork Vindaloo with Unde or local bread, the Vindaloo was one of the best I've ever had with the right amount of spices & perfect punch of red Chilly.

Other than the food what we loved about Godinho was caricatures by the legendary Mario Miranda in the restaurant.

Buffet Breakfast was a part of the package at Deltin & it used to be quiet decent though not great with the usual options of Poha, Upma, Idly, Aloo Paratha, choice of egg, Cereal, Fruit Juices, Cold Cuts & Muffins; a wide variety to choose from but nothing to rave about. Once there was Misal on the menu, the B-I-L opted for it; it was to die for.. Thank God he's still alive ;)

A very highly recommended place in Panjim was Ritz Classic; having missed it the last time, we'd promised ourselves that we'll definitely make it to Ritz this time around. The Fish Thali for Rs. 170/- odd makes Ritz popular; the Thali, we read online, was available only at lunch time; since we were ok with not getting the Thali we reached here at dinner time

Pomfret Rawa Fry & Prawn Fry for the kiddo & he was a happy child! We ordered for Lepo Cafreal &  Butter Garlic Crab, neither made the cut for us unfortunately. The Prawn Curry Rice was a saviour

           (Made with canned Crab meat)

(Pomfret Rawa Fry)

(Lepo Cafreal)

(Prawn Fry)

At the next meal the little one announced that he'd had enough of Goan food & was not going to eat Indian food atleast for a day!

While driving thru Panjim we came across a place by the name Cremux Cafe & Bistro. Following our hunch we decided to climb up the stairs leading up to the cafe, & believe me, that was one of the best decision of the day!

The cafe had a very nice vibe to it & all of us settled down immediately. The mention of pizzas on the menu & Little gave a whopper of a smile! We ordered for a couple of pizzas, garlic bread & a few drinks. The pizzas were THE BEST I've ever had. The friendly maître d' made our life easy; he gave got suggestions on what to order & what not to, took care of the goofed up Mojito & offered Little a box full of pastries to take back to the hotel!

A friend of ours who's native to Goa incidentally was in Goa at the same time as us with her kids & she insisted that we visit her. So the next day we headed to Anjuna. The drive was thru serene countryside & the narrow winding roads didn't seem to end. Before going to her house we took a small detour & drove down to the beach. Nature wasn't too kind with us as the sea was rough when we went;
 there was a oil spill too & the beach wasn't too pretty a sight. A  game of Frisbee on the beach was the saving grace for Little.

Later we headed for lunch with our friend & the kids to a place owned by one of her friend, Janet & John's. This was bang on the beach.

(Squid Rings)

(Golden Fried Prawns)

John was a superb host & served us fried prawns & calamari amongst other things. For mains he told us that he'd serve us a large Halwa or Black Pomfret & taking things into his own hands made Tawa Fry (in Cafreal masala), Rawa Fry & Curry, 3 large servings of each variety, from that one Halwa, which it seems weighed over 3 KGS! The fish indeed was fresh, one could make out the difference in taste at the very first bite, we happily devoured all of it on no time! The fish curry that we were served here, I'd rate it as the best ever Goan Curry that I've ever had! The perfect blend of masala & coconut & tirphal made it a delight, was served with Goan boiled rice. It was an afternoon well spent!

A restaurant by the name 'Saib' used to entice us every time we passed by it while going to Panjim. We walked in for lunch one day, opted for a la carte over Thali. There were a lot of hits & misses when it came to food as well as service.

The old part of Panjim has a very unique characteristic to it, to date it manages to maintain the old world charm. We were here in search of a shop by the name Marcou's & G Maps made us go round & round & round the city thru 'No entry' lanes & what not! Finally we called up the shop & with their help managed to reach. It was a beautiful shop with unique things on sale.

A typically Goan thing that we found prominently in the old quarters of Panjim were the Azulejous or hand painted ceramic tiles which adorn the walls all over


The old world charm of this part of Goa was addictive & we finally moved ahead with a very heavy heart.

A grocery shop nearby beckons me & I couldn't resist walking right in.. bought some great whole spices, dried red chillies, spice powders, pastes & 3-4 bottles of the Goan Toddy Vinegar!

A yard away from the grocery shop towards where we'd parked we found something that we were not even looking for.. The Cremux Bakery Counter! We walked in & how we shopped for cakes & cookies & muffins & pies & what not!

All this had made us hungry & whilst looking for a quick bite spotted 'Jayaa's MH-09 The Spirit of Maharashtra'! We walked in to be pleasantly surprised by waiters wearing Phetas or traditional Maratha Head Gear! A quick chat with the person behind the counter & a peek into their menu had us pleasantly surprised. The menu had CKP specialties like Sode Bharli Vaangi, Vaalacha Birdhe etc. The person running the show was a half CKP, one Mr. Deshpande! It being peak lunch time we left him to attending patrons with the promise to return soon (one more reason to start planning a trip to Goa!!!)

Riorico Restaurant at Hotel Mandovi had a Goan & Portuguese Food Fest going on while we were there & how could miss it!!??

(Clam Cutlet)

(Golden Fried Prawns)

(Roast Chicken)

The food here was quiet nice & different from what we'd get so far. The extensive menu on offer needs atleast a couple of more visits to explore fully ;)

Another place that I find worth a mention here is The Thirsty Bear Deli at Bambolim, this is a 24 Hour Café & we happened to visit it unplanned; we were on our way to South Goa one evening & little had a sudden craving for ice cream while i wanted a cuppa, we saw the place & stepped in. The place is nice & cozy with sandwiches, burgers, pizzas, pastas, desserts & coffee on offer. Next door's is their sister concern, Enroute World Food Café-Bistro with the menu available & served at Thirsty Bear too.

The En-Route Café-Bistro/ Thirsty Bear Deli
Kenkre Centre, near Dental College, Bambolim.

We missed Pune's favourite restaurant, Malaka Spice's opening by a couple of weeks, would've loved to have a meal there!

One thing which I'd been wanting to try here was the Ros Omelette, the Goan favourite breakfast, spotted a cart selling this throughout the day near the Ritz Classic, saved for the next visit, hope it happens soon!

On our way back to Pune we took a wrong turn near Sawantwadi; the route was narrow, the surface condition was very bad & it took us over an hour to cover 30-35 kms, the drive nevertheless was very scenic.

(Large Cashew fruits grew in the wild here)

Took a pit stop in Kolhapur for lunch at Dehati, the place is super clean, service is super quick, food is served piping hot, tasted good, unfortunately not great! My search for good Kolhapuri food in Kolhapur still continues.

What I believe in always & found to be true this time around too was
1. Trust your instinct when looking out for a place to eat
2. What appealed to someone might just not make the cut in your case.
3. Popular places don't necessarily serve the best food around
4. Underdogs do deliver, have faith in them and if they don't, don't fret, don't get annoyed, it probably wasn't meant to be!
5. When in a new place (or old place too for that matter) explore cuisines & places.

Travel a lot & eat local that's the mantra to a Happy you :)

And don't forget, when in Goa, be like the Goans! Relax.. Live a Susegad life!