Archive for the ‘Restaurant Review’ Category

Golmaal Parathas

Saturday, August 27th, 2011

The best thing in the world is a vacation in India if you ask me 😉 Yup, that’s what me and my lil one are enjoying these days, a 2 month break in India. Both my mom and MIL are cooking for me, there are people to do chores for me and to take care of lil R, give him a bath, take him out for walks and the best of all- those little shops that are there at every corner where you can get everything and last but not the least, shopping!! These days I have been roaming around Bangalore(or Bengaluru) shopping for clothes, checking out new places to eat, meeting friends etc etc.,

This past week when my Sister In Law took me out for shopping in Jaynagar 4th block, we shopped till we dropped, and she suggested this place to add some energy to do a second round of shopping! We stormed into the Paratha Specialist place- called as “Golmaal Parathas” a pure vegetarian restaurant.

I was not too keen as I thought there would be nothing interesting but the menu had nearly 90 types of parathas starting from the usual aloo paratha extending on to aloo methi, palak paneer, dal paratha, chana paratha, rajma paratha, mixed veg, beetroot paratha, cheese and onion, chili and cheese- you imagine it, you got it!

I ordered my all time favorite of aloo methi and a glass of buttermilk, while SIL chose palak paneer paratha. I was surprised to see a foot long paratha infront of me in a couple of minutes accompanied by pickles, yogurt, sweet chutney, mint(green) chutney and a gravy(chana masala) and a spicy hot fried green chili with onions and lemon. The hot and flaky paratha was melting in our mouths and given the size of it, to be honest we could not finish either of our parathas. And the cost? Around 100 rupees per paratha. I ended up agreeing with their view “Yeh to Desi Hai”!!

I’d say check it out if you haven’t done it by now(may be I just now found the place as I do not live there). Watch this space for more places to find tasty khana in Bangalore! Are there any of your favorite places you’d like me to check out too? Let us know!

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Dinner at a Teppanyaki (Japanese Restaurant) and Interview with the chef

Friday, April 9th, 2010

Though I love to cook at home and enjoy simple home made dishes, I also enjoy eating out. From having onion bajjis delivered to the apartment in the South of France to enjoying a cheese Fondue in Switzerland, through our travels, we have had different cuisines, that too we were able to find Vegetarian food!

When I eat out at restaurants I always wonder how it will be to see a chef cooking my meal infront of me, just like an episode out of Iron chef. Such thoughts remind me of the stories N tells me when he stays in Japan and the Teppanyaki Restaurants he loves to eat at. Teppan in Japanese means iron plate and Yaki means grilled or pan fried. In Teppanyaki restaurants, as the guests sit around the table with the hot plate at the center (which is used for cooking), the chef prepares the meal at the table, infront of the guests, entertaining them with his/her style of cooking. Be prepared to see some miss and blink action with the chef’s playing catch and throw with utensils and salt and pepper shakers.

In America, the Teppanyaki style of cooking was made famous by Benihana Restaurant Chain. Started in Newyork, in the 1960’s, Benihana is now spread across the globe with nearly 80 restaurants in the US, Canada, Europe and Asia.
We have been to Benihana previously and this particular Benihana we went to last week was in Plano, Texas, it was a very late celebration of N’s Birthday in March.

Sometimes living in Texas and being a Vegetarian is a tricky situation as for Business Lunch and Dinner we end up in a Steak House with just a bowl of salad or French fries. The interesting part in this restaurant is that though Steak and succulent seafood entrées and Sushi are well known and famous in Japanese Steakhouses, Benihana offers a unique dining experience for vegetarians as well as steak lovers. Just take a look at the menu and you’ll know!

We got a table facing the gorgeous fountains of the mall and while we waited for our cook top to heat up we sipped some refreshing iced tea with lemon. The beauty of the tables here is that the chef cooks the meal surrounded by guests(up to 8 guests can be comfortably seated around the table). By the time we look at the menu and decide what to order, the cook top gets hot enough for the chef to start cooking.

There is no confusion of an order missing in the kitchen or getting a different dish as the chef always checks with us before cooking. There will be a movable cart next to the chef which will contain the necessary ingredients for cooking Japanese food: Rice, Noodles, Proteins (Seafood, Chicken or Steak), Sauces(Soy sauce, Vinegar, hot sauce), Seasonings (Salt and Pepper, Sesame seeds), Butters(Plain, Garlic butter, Sunflower oil), vegetables ,eggs and tofu.

The dinner preparation starts soon after the chef confirms the orders from each of the 8 guests. While we watched Fried rice being prepared, the waitress brought us more appetizers- vegetable tempura, a garden salad with ginger dressing, Edamame and Miso Soup. Preparing food is an art and the chef reminds us of this concept through out the meal. The rice takes the shape of a beating heart. Onions, Scallions,egg and carrots decorate the hearty fried rice.

The entertaining is not only with the rice, the onion rings used as a side is transformed into a flaming volcano as it moves around the sizzling cook top. As soon as the volcano fumes have cooled down, the zucchini slices are attached to become a chook-chook- train :)

Want to know what I am taking about? Instead of eating the same Fried rice and noodles, check out Benihana for weekend! If you have kids(we saw some kids in our table giggling and getting involved) they are sure to love these tricks shown by the chef as he grills the onions! Yes, by the time the onions are grilled to perfection, they would have played many characters in the food play by the chef. And the perfect drink that goes with this selection of appetizer is the hot green Tea.

N had requested a Spicy Tofu with fried rice and I had the Steamed vegetables. The rest of our table had Lobster, Shrimp with noodles, Scallops and NY strip, though the options available also include filet mignon and tenderloin.

Though the table was a mix of vegetarians and meat lovers, the fact was that whichever entrée was prepared first, it was always vegetarian, only after serving us, the chef proceeded to prepare the entrées for other guests at our table. I wish the transatlantic flights provides such good, hot and delicious food for us vegetarians instead of a fruit bowl! Not only that, after each entrée was prepared the chef took the time to clean the table and only then he proceeded to cook the next course.

N’s tofu looked like a thick slice of steak and it was sautéed with green onions and a variety of sauces and he had it with the fried rice. The steamed vegetables were moved around the cooktop to heat it uniformly as the chef prepared the other entrée’s. The vegetable steamer had some Cauliflowers, Broccoli, Baby radish, Squash, Spinach, Asparagus, String beans and cherry tomatoes, lightly seasoned with vinegar, salt and pepper.

The chef skillfully diced the shrimp and lobster tails and with even more precision tossed them into this hat, with a rhythmic beat provided by salt and pepper shakers. The knife skills are so amazing that after he sliced the meat to perfection, the chef got a round of well deserved applause from the table. The dining experience was more of a performance than just cooking and the food was delicious, seasoned perfectly and cooked according to our preference.

Dessert options were as unique as the dining experience, including a green tea ice cream and banana tempura.

Here is a look at our full meal before we gobbled it :)

Though we visit Benihana often, anyone can join the Chef’s table and get a complimentary dinner for their Birthdays (conditions apply, check here). Benihana almost has a Million Members in this exclusive club! The best part is that the picture taken at the table is immediately processed into a personalized greeting card and presented to the person celebrating his/her birthday. There is also a free Kabuki club membership which offers children under 12 to choose a cute Kabuki Mug of their choice on their Birthday to take along when they select a kid’s special menu.

What are you waiting for? Get to know more about Japan and its cuisine and hospitality, watch how your food is made, interact with the chefs and enjoy a memorable evening at Benihana. Give the usual fried rice, noodles or soup and break and enjoy freshly made, piping hot, perfectly seasoned food, made infront of your eyes!

Our thanks to Chef Buddy and Restaurant Manager Bobby at the Plano Benihana for talking to us about the Teppanyaki Style of Cooking.

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Dinner at a Palace- Restaurant and Interview with the Chef

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010

In India, food is considered as divine and is represented by Goddess Annapoorani. And any offering given at a temple is considered to have the blessing of the presiding deity. There are even some temples whose food is said to cure some eye diseases and problems of the stomach. I never thought I would find a place in Texas(!!) that still follows this tradition of simple home cooking, that comes with the blessings of a deity. When I was in Dallas last week, I was looking for a Indian place to try and I found Kalachandjis, a vegetarian restaurant.

Kalachandji’s Palace, Restaurant and Temple is a place where you can get food for the mind and for the stomach. Kalachandji’s is Dallas’s longest serving Vegetarian Restaurant, often voted as the # 1 choice for Vegetarians by Magazines. Started in the year 1982, for nearly 27 years Kalachandijis has been serving vegetarian, home made food, cooked according to ayurvedic traditions.

The name itself is quite unique for a Indian restaurant as most Indian restaurants have a similar name wherever you go,like a dosa corner or Dakshin. The name Kalachandiji is the name of the presiding deity of the Palace. Kala means black and Chand means moon, hence the name translates to that of the beautiful moon face of Lord Krishna. How the 500 year old deity came to Texas is another interesting fact. It is believed that during the foreign invasion of India, the statute of Lord Krishna was hidden to avoid stealing and after many years , Swami Prabhupada found the statue as a door stopper in a shop in Jaipur. Once obtaining the statue of Kalachandji, efforts were taken to construct a temple in Dallas and the Palace was created for his residence.

The restaurant is divided into the Palace-Temple, a magnificent Garden with fountains, Tulsivanam, the Restaurant and a shop for Indian goods. Once entering into the Palace, automatically one can sense the peace, the cool wind due to the garden and the sizzling sound of running waters. Ofcourse, there is the aroma of food that invites you into the restaurant.

We had a chance to meet the Chef and Palace Coordinator Manjulai Devi and she showed us around the palace and gave us a brief history of the place. The food for nearly 400 people a day is cooked by Chef Manjulai Devi and Chef Sweta and it is made according to ayurvedic traditions. It is believed that food can absorb the emotions of the person who cooks a meal and so every meal made at this restaurant is called as a Food Served with Love as the Chef’s cook it with positive thoughts. Another interesting fact is that none of the dishes offered here has any Garlic, Onions, Canned or Frozen food.

The range of food offered here is Indian-Fusion with less spicy Indian food and either a Pasta, Bread or BBQ Tofu for the International food lovers.

And the menu is changed everyday, you can check the menu here. You wont find a Steaming pot of Biryani but the mouthwatering array of dishes for the day we visited were Dal Soup, Vadas, Pooris, Home made cinnamon bread and raisin bread,Poppadams, Brown rice, Spanish Tomato Rice(with olives), Enchiladas, Curry with Paneer, Steamed spinach and steamed vegetables with Tahini Sauce along with a salad bar.

The dal soup is so flavorful that you won’t notice that it is missing onions and garlic. Once the tongue is all fiery from the soup, soothing effect of salad teases the palates.

The salad bar has mixed greens, steamed vegetables, cucumbers, olives, carrots and beets along with peppers. The best part is their home made salad dressing. The almond blend dressing is chunky- crowd favorite dressing and most of the guests were gulping it by the bowls instead of using it as a dressing. Other dressings like Green Goddess, Italian Basil or Lemon Tahini are also home made and as flavorful as the names suggest.

The best drink that goes with such a meal is- Tamarind Tea! I was surprised to hear the name at first and took a little sip just so, but the cold tea sure packs a punch. Made with turbinado sugar and tamarind, the tea is a real refresher. The taste is so addictive that for every plate refilled, you would want to refill the tea also. And even finishing off a couple of plates, there is no heavy feeling as there is no masala to make the tummy feel uncomfortable.

But we were not done yet, once we cleaned off our plates, we were served a classic pineapple coconut halvah(Farina with coconut,pineapples and nuts)and a sweet rice pudding.

Once the tummy was full, we decided to walk around the garden along with Chef Manjuali Devi. The garden-patio has a couple of seats near the fountains and were spread out through the garden. The chef shared that during the summer most people would come to the Palace with a nice book, have a filling meal and enjoy the rest of the evening reading the book in the Garden! Why not, with a couple of glasses of the tea to drink it sure would be a relaxing evening.

The last stop of our tour is the beginning of this post- Kalachandiji’s temple. Surrounded by Tulsi plants, with Radha on his side, Kalachandji was actually celebrating Valantine’s Day with his dear devotees. Heart shaped balloons and garlands decorated the place of worship.

Surrounding Kalachandiji were paintings that describe the life of krishna, starting from his birth to butter stealing days to rasa-leela. Each painting is supported by a beautifully hand crafted pillars made from India.

If you are interested in learning Indian cooking, what could be better than starting it at a Palace? The Palace Chef’s offer cooking classes for beginners every Thursday for two hours and more information on the cooking classes, you can click here. The class is not just a demonstration class but the entire set of students is fed a full course meal that is cooked by the Chef for the class.

And the cost of Dinner Buffet? It is just around $10 per person. Want a relaxing meal on a tiring weekend? Checkout Kalachanjis for a unique dining experience.

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