PEr FYI

October 8, 2017

Gordhan Thal, Ahmedabad…. U.N.L.I.M.I.T.E.D. .T.H.A.L.I

Gujarati thali, a vegetarian assortment native to the western state of Gujarat, is a round tray covered with dishes. The dishes’ names thrillingly alien to me and half the time I’ve no idea what they are. Jainism in Gujarat means that the state is mostly vegetarian. If you are a meat lover don’t let the evil veg word scare you as the dishes are incredibly flavourful.

The flavours were compelling and unfamiliar. Some of them, on first bite, seemed a bit blah: and your taste buds need to acclimatize.

I got the very real sense that I am enjoying the hospitality of talented Gujarati home cooks, without needing to be invited into actual Gujarati homes. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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April 12, 2015

Copper Chimney, Mumbai…drool-worthy baby leg of lamb (raan)

Copper Chimney is one of those safe, tried and tested places where you can never go wrong with its reliable and tasty Mughlai-inspired fare. Here you will find some of the most delicious bad-for-you North Indian food in the city with perfect harmony between distinctive flavors, sophisticated textures and artful presentation.

Everything I ordered was so mouthwatering good! The fabulous tawa jhinga (chilli prawns tossed with onions and capsicum in a tangy tomato masala) is a spicy smooth sensation. The delicious flavours mixed into this unique gravy taste certainly floats my boat. When it comes to North Indian food, the meat tends to be the thing. A veritable mountain of cinnamon-fragrant, soft meat sliding off the bone, raan (tender baby leg of lamb marinated in exotic herbs and slow cooked in the tandoor) is one of the planet’s higher forms of life on the food chain. The raan here was so tender (but not mushy) and succulent that you are able to eat it with a spoon. It melts in my mouth – exploding with flavour. Instead of the usual mango lassi, get them to make you one of their rich, creamy and delicious mango vanilla ice cream smoothie. Together with fresh, hot, crispy, yet chewy, garlicky, thin garlic naan, I was in 7th heaven.

The service staff were friendly, attentive and offered menu recommendations and yet not overwhelming. The service is top notch.

I have not felt so jazzed by a restaurant in quite some time! Don’t you love when you leave a new restaurant for the first time and keep blissfully sighing, “Oh my god. OH. MY. GOD.”? I did that as I left Copper Chimney. This is true truth as I say it as it is…

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June 17, 2012

Mahesh Lunch Home, Mumbai…Overrated, overhyped and overpriced

Filed under: Fine dining, Food & Beverage, India, restaurant — Tags: , , , , — PEr @ 10:21 pm

For all its name and reputation, Mahesh certainly doesn’t live up to expectations. How this place get it’s mojo is a mystery. There are definitely better options which are more tasty and lighter on your wallet when it comes to sea food.

Don’t get me wrong, not that the food is not good.  The food is nice but not quite authentic. It is cooked to suit western palettes and cost far too much. Like I said before, you get similar dishes with this kind of quality for a fraction of the price (at least 30% less) elsewhere.

The ceiling is too low and the tables are too close together.

Venting can be fun. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

March 11, 2012

Crossword Bookstores, Mumbai…my second home in India. The prices are (honestly) incomparable.

This is my second home in India. This is by far, my favorite place in Mumbai. I could spend hours there… wandering around the bookshelves. It’s organized clutter, with thousands (millions?) of books to consider adding to your collection.

They got a good combination of books, magazines, CDs collection, toys and boardgames but what attracts is the huge collection of books. From latest best sellers to children books, from Self-Help to Management. Being a chain of bookstores, Crossword is scattered all over Mumbai…..the one at Mohammedbhai Mansion (below Kemps Corner fly over) is best.

The best thing is it’s not necessary for you to buy a book if you have entered you can sit and read the book if you wish you buy or else visit again and complete the book.

The prices are …honestly, incomparable. If you so decide to buy, you can immediately started adding up how much money you would save if you came from a place like Singapore, or Malaysia or USA – another plus for Crossword.  Regardless of the low prices, this is an engrossing store. I found books which were not available in my travels all over Asia. It’s definitely cheaper here than Barnes & Nobles and amazon.com.

There is just so many books. You’ll enter Corssword with a book in mind, but you’ll probably leave with one or two books that you had no intention of bringing home. Crossword Bookstore is worth stopping by and hanging out, who knows what you’ll find. This is the true truth as I still say it as it is…

February 11, 2012

Shamiana, Mumbai…..WAAAAAY below standard of the Taj Mahal Palace

Sad to say this was a very disappointing dining experiences in recent memory. The service was very slow and the servers un-interested. Repeated reminders for coffee to be serve were futile for 20 minutes until we stood up to leave. The spread was the usual, nothing exotic – there were some Gujarati starters, few regular vegetarian and non vegetarian vegetables, breads, rice, yellow dal and biryani.

WAAAAY below the standard of Taj Mahal Palace. What a waste of money. It’s just not worth what they charge. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

April 13, 2011

Oh Calcutta, New Delhi…interesting and good bengali delicacies

They serve a buffet lunch here but being the gluttons that we were, we opted to create our own personalised buffet by choosing from the ala carte menu.

We picked bengali delicacies like Koshan Mangsho – pot roasted mutton with traditional spices in traditional style of calcutta. It was nice. The meat was slightly spicy and the very thick red gravy went well with the naan we were having. The mochar chop (banana flower croquettes) was also up to the mark. Daab Chingri (prawns cooked in tender coconut cream) featured large, succulent shrimps so fresh they almost seem to be swimming in the tender green coconut in which they are served. Magnificent. The (deshelled) crabmeat cooked in mango flavoured mustard gravy with young ginger is a good and memorable choice. What about the classical railway mutton curry? Well, the meat was nice but the curry was not flavourful enough. Must try my personal favourite, fish fry (fried fish calcutta style).

On the whole the restaurant has a good ambience and the food is good not great, but those who want Bengali cuisines would find it interesting. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

March 26, 2011

Punjab Grill, New Delhi…pretending to be a 5-star restaurant

This place pretends to be a 5-star restaurant. It is most definitely not!

We had the tandoori duck and fish curry. It’s average. Nothing much to write about. Perhaps the only thing worth mentioning is the grain and texture of the rice is very nice. Overall, it was relatively pricey as well.

The staff were attentive but they simply don’t understand the meaning of the word prompt. They were  awfully slow in serving the rice and bringing the bill. If it wasn’t for my constant reminders, by the time we received the bill and rice, we wouldn’t have been young anymore.

Do yourself a favour and eat elsewhere. This is the true truth as I still say it as it is…

March 1, 2011

Sevilla, Claridges, New Delhi…I was spellbound by the uniqueness of the ambience.

The overall setting and ambiance of Sevilla is definitely is a great date place. If you are one of those people who loves the open air, this is going to be your heaven. A fancy fire and open flames and in winter deep troughs provided the warmth. The private canopied seating near the waterfall is the best table in the house however I was expecting more authentic Spanish fare.

Ambience aside, there are few “Ole”moments with the food and beverage. The traditional spanish Sangria de Cava is Dead seamissing from the menu. We were told they have a wide selection of vodkas, so we tried the next best thing: order a bottle of Pinky (which was being offered in the menu). We were sadly told they ran out of stock as a private party drank the bar dry the night before. We eventually settled for a pitcher of Sangria and a bottle of sparkling wine …to make our own Sangria de Cava.

All three tapas we ordered seems to be prepared in the Dead Sea. They were overwhelmingly salty. It was inedible and we sent them back to the hell from which they came from.

My local Indian friend had to call 6 times to try to make a booking for a table. it’s a pity the rest of the experience doesn’t match the hypnotic magic they’d created with the setting because it’s a delightful spot in Delhi. One must note that it is open only for dinner from 7.30 p.m. to a bit beyond midnight. This is the true truth because I am still saying it as it is…

February 27, 2011

Sheraton New Delhi…good dining options in hotel and its vicinity

Dated decor but friendly service – prompt and courteous.

Its location in the new and exciting commercial center of Saket in South Delhi is great as it is very near to three malls – MGF Metropolitan (you can skip this one. You won’t miss anything), Select Citywalk and DIF Place. With so many eateries in these malls (TGIF and Hard Rock Cafe are there if you want some comfort food) and the very good Dakshin, Sheraton’s restaurant that specialises in authentic South Indian cuisine, you’ll never go hungry during your stay. Dakshin’s prawn masala and mushroom masala is recommended but forget the kodi briyani. It’s mushy and soggy. Baywatch is their breakfast room with high ceiling, great pool view and lush landscapes. M Prakash, the chef remembers my special dosa order 2 days later. The mango shake is  a WOW. At this hotel and with the malls beside, you can find that glutton in you.

A couple of hiccups. The internet assistant blamed the  front office for my inconnectivity but when I called front office, they said there is no problem. At 1am, they conspired to waste 25 mins of my time when I simply wanted to send one email before hitting the bed. I ordered a car and driver at the concierge but the car arrived late, causing me to be late for my appointment.

All things considered, you can’t go wrong with Sheraton New Delhi. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

February 26, 2011

Taj Mahal, Agra…Incredible beauty and elegance. I was mesmerised!

It’s true. It’s all true.What they say about the incredible beauty and elegance of the Taj Mahal, the jewel of India. It is indeed one of the most beautiful monuments in the world I have ever had the privilege to see. Built of pristine white marble and surrounded by green gardens, the Taj Mahal is a breathtakingly beautiful sight. It is not only beautiful, but the story behind why it was built, makes it ever so amazing.  I was mesmerised!

One enters through an imposing grand gate made of red sandstones into a symmetrical Mughal style garden.  In the dark chamber under the gateway, framed by the arch of the doorway, the Taj Mahal slowly reveals itself reveals as I walked through the gateway. There are two mosques on the left and right side of the Taj Mahal, made mostly of red sandstones.

Up close, it is even more stunning – the intricacy and incredibly delicate carvings and details and inlay work (the while marbles are inlaid with precious stones like jasper, emeralds, mother of pearl, lapis, malachite and jade) would make you love it even more to a point where you won’t want to leave. Everything was hand carved. The style is a combination of Indian, Persian and Islamic architecture. There are 2 symbolic tombs for the king and queen, their real tombs are below not for tourists to see. I was totally gripped in awe and wonder to think that without modern technology, they were able to make working fountains, achieve perfect symmetry, use optical illusions and move very heavy marble rocks.

The Indian government has done a tremendous job on keeping the surrounding areas clean. No cars within one mile radious, hence no pollution. The only vehicles allowed are electric ones.

There is a pick-pocket problem there when it gets crowded so beware.

Having said that, everyone should visit the Taj Mahal at least once in their life. The tomb’s whiteness, its symmetry, its curves, majestic scale and exquisite detail are unreal. This is the true truth because I say it as it is…

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