Sheekh Kebab

Noorani

A visiting friend needing to catch a train from Bombay Central brought us in search of quick sustenance, and suddenly Noorani came to to fore, not having visited since years.

A quick check and there was parking arranged in the front and we entered. Quite full, with some love birds also sitting in the ‘Family room’.

A quick order of Sheekh Kebab – surprisingly two pieces were excellent, succulent and juicy whilst the other two were just ok. Bheja Masala was wonderful as confirmed by the two friends who tasted it; whilst Kheema mutter was just perfect, with less oil and spicy. This went down well with tandoori rotis and papads.

All in all a nostalgic and quick meal.

Location: Near Haji Ali
Meal: Lunch
Food: 7/10
Service: 8.5/10
Damages: Approx ₹1000/-

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Masala Library

Masala Library – a new place opened by the famous Jiggs and Jorawar Kalra in BKC and making waves for a long time. Their VP operations had been quite keen that I check out the place, but personal commitments kept it in abeyance.

Soon, December with my birthday arrived and I decided to try out at least 3 new places during the birthday week. Monday began disastrously at Renaissance Powai; but tuesday seemed destined to be quite good, in spite of not having a driver. Reached Masala Library quite on time and met Varun, had a little chat – they have just two sittings in the evening 8.30 pm and 10 pm – which actually was quite nice.

The layout is quite open and spacious – though the pass thru could have done with 12-15 inches more for people to walk thru, but then this is Bombay ;) We were seated quite well, at the end back to the wall in the opposite direction from the kitchen and bar, probably on purpose, but then this gave quite a view of the entire restaurant and is normally considered VIP seating, if my little knowledge serves me right.

We began with a light refreshing drink, no alcohol since I was driving, and then the entire menu in some form was presented.

There was maska bun, yogurt spears papdi chat adn sev puri on the go – Amazingly presented, and just burst in your mouth giving a flavour, difficult to repeat, a sort of tradition with a twist; could have had multiple of these.

This was followed by wild mushroom chai – molecular twist and quite exciting to watch, wife and daughter did not love it but loved the watermelon chaat that followed.

Added to this were the last of starters – curry leaf & pepper prawns – amazingly succulent but I felt they had a bit of too much salt (probably evolved taste buds due to no drinks) Dahi kebab – just exquisite and melt in the mouth kind, as were the pesto kebab.

Taking a break, cleansing the palate with Misti Doi Sorbet – another unique molecular proposition that went exceedingly well.

After a couple of deep breaths, the main course began with Prawn Chettinad (salt persisted :() Tandoor chaap soya rada – quite nice, but the ladies hate soya and were not too excited about it. But the bhindi jaipuri and papad ki subji made up for it very well, it had a bit of rajasthani masala which was quite nice. The anar and mint raita made on the table with nitrogen was chilled and went extremely well with the food. The bread basket was quite nice.

We were unable to finish the entire lot, before being told that there was still sweets to be eaten. Daughter who is a hardcore sweet person, was off sweets, so we tried two of them – Jalebi caviar which won hands down from both of us, compared to Ghewar cheese cake, which did not work for me at all.

All in all a wonderful evening; and definitely worth a repeat in february. The service was perfect, with the server explaining everything.

Advice: Ask for the Tasting menu and allow the server to help, they are extremely knowledgeable.

Disclaimer: It was on invitation and hence unable to grade my usual.

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Bread ka Chivda

I had written about cooking earlier and had begun the process all over again, with eggs, sandwiches, pizza, pasta and now bread chivda.

I am yet to write about my earlier experiments, but since this is fresh in memory I decided to begin with it.

Bread chivda has been a perennial favourite since childhood with weird experiments made then. Over the years I learnt that it is also known as Bread Upma.

Ingredients

8-10 slices of bread or 4 Pav
2 tbs oil
1/4 tbs of rai, haldi
1/2 tbs of red chilli powder
Salt to taste

Recipe

Dice bread or Pav in small pieces, if fresh then put them in the oven so that they become crisp – though there is another school of Upma thought that it should be soft, so whatever works for you.

Take a sauce pan – non stick works better but for kurkure the regular is fine.

Pour oil, let it sizzle a bit, add rai (black mustard) once it is hot, add the cubes of bread. Keep turning it over at medium flame and let it turn a little brown. Add the haldi, chilli powder and salt. Continue turning so that it mixes well. Preferably on medium flame.

Switch off and serve hot.

Time 10-15 minutes

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100 Pillows

100 Pillows A weird name for a restaurant isn’t it?

This began early this year, when a good friend Yashesh kept sharing his dream of wanting to spend time in Goa and open an restaurant. He had already invested in a house there and was very keen to shift.

Time passed quickly and suddenly he had a lease signed up, name decided and I get a call out of the blue “When is your Shravan?” and just a couple of days before Shravan I am invited by him and his lovely wife Cherry who is the main chef and back bone, because our man Yashesh is like Lord Faukland and will be faffing around in his shorts and cursing the cellphone companies for no signal in Goa.

So I reached their place and along with a couple of other friends tried out a vast array of food. Whilst I shall not share my comments, I will share the photographs.

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The photographs speak for themselves, don’t they. So go to Goa, Tweet to them, grab a bite and learn why the name.

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My Le 15 Patisserie story

A place famous for macroons run by Pooja Dhingra opened an outpost in Palladium, lower parel sometime in 2011/12 if my memory serves me right.

I happened to notice it the day they opened and decided to take it for my daughter, unfortunately they were over. My daughter who is a sweet fanatic, kept insisting that since my office was close by I pick them up soon.

Over the next couple of months, I must have passed the place number of times at various times of the day (since we had a store and it was easier to meet people in High Street Phoenix) Every single time, there were no macaroons available or at times just one variety. I had tweeted this in disgust a couple of times, when Pooja had responded that it was teething problems and they were selling it pretty fast etc. Fair enough, but then you need to scale up. However, their business so moved on, no longer worked in lower parel so forgot about it.

This year they opened in Bandra and there was a repeat of the similar; probably more to do with my luck, but couple of other people also shared the same problem :) In the meantime, just like youngsters these days, my daughter decided to go off sweets for a while and hence there was no urgency what so ever.

But hearing me talk about it, a dear friend Manisha Lakhe decided to gift us a box, not realising that my daughter was no longer fascinated.

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She picked them up and made a special trip to bring them over. Wife tried one, found them good. I tried two halves and liked them, but not being a sweet lover, did not understand the fascination about them. Mother finished the rest, one every day :) and loved them.

Will I buy them for myself – Not really; but yes once my daughter decides to eat sweets again, it is a distinct possibility. Or better still, ask her to eat them at Palladium, given the fact that she now works there and save me the hassle. Though I am now given to understand that they have enough stock.

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Pico Express – Trial

Pico Express had opened in Lokhandwala and I was amongst the first to try it out and write here

After nearly a year, somebody from a PR company sent a request mail (very polite) asking if I would be interested in trying out their Pot – something they had just introduced, which was basically a full meal and perfect for working people or even as a one off evening.

I responded saying that I had tried out their non vegetarian and found it good and in fact had tweeted about it also. However, they sent across another trial with a thank you note. Nowhere during this entire communication was a request to tweet/blog about it.

During the same week, I noticed that a lot of famous food lovers & personalities had also received it and there were discussions, photographs galore.

I tried it out along with my daughter and found it quite good, in fact better than my paid trial ;) however my daughter claimed credit of having mixed it and heated it correctly.

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Post that, I’ve tried out all the variants and found the non veg better than veg, maybe because I don’t like mushrooms and similar vegetables :) And yes, they had also kindly sent a voucher for Rs. 500/- to try out the other stuff. I preserved it, because of its proximity, I had practically tasted everything, but soon.

This retails around 200-300 and is decent value for money.

Spill the beans

Receiving a couple of tweets from the place/owner decided to head there with some other Twitter Junta The Coffee Nazi Shubhashish and B50 last week.

It was raining when we reached and the place quite empty except the server. Nice Yuppie feel with a cycle hung and bright colors. There are 2-3 bar stools below and two tables on the mezzanine floor.

Americano, Cappucino and cold coffee was ordered and a piece of pan pizza followed by lemon and chocolate tart.

The coffee was nothing to write home about, more or less similar to what one would get at CCD or similar. The tarts were tarts, the pan pizza was ok, similar to a monginis/star bazaar product.

Except for the price, there is absolutely no differentiator which would make one visit repeatedly. Though it may appeal to the young college love birds.

And yes, I had to listen to my daughter who laughed ‘Papa, how do you land up at such places, these are for youngsters’

Location: Meera Apartment Oshiwara
Meal: Coffee & Snack
Food: 5/10
Service: 6.5/10
Damages: Approx 500 for 4

Hyderabad Xpress

A fortnight back, read about Hyderabad Xpress via Roshni Bajaj and her recommendation about it. Having interacted with her on Twitter and found some common food love, decided to try it out when celebrating Iftaari at a friend’s place.

Being a large group of 10 people, called up and asked for Gibran, the owner who was recommended by Roshni Bajaj.

Gibraan was unavailable and hence his partner Zayed helped in the ordering.

Chicken Shahi Hyderabad Dum Biryani – The only difference seemed to be nos of chicken pieces compared to regular dum biryani.

Mutton Hyderabad Dum Biryani – Very similar to chicken.

Found both biryani to be bland, and as Wajid who is a connoisseur of biryani commented – no masala stuck on the pieces, neither did the rice have a bit of masala, sirf basmati chawal se biryani nahi banti.

The raita and baigan ka salan were a complete let down, the salan in particular – tasted completely different than any salan I have tasted till date. Either the restaurants in Hyderabad have no clue of what a salan is or Hyderabad Xpress have a different recipe, but it tasted like oily masala paste.

Lukhmi Kebab – Looked nice, tasted OK, but the different pieces tasted different, with two being fresh and the others dark/burnt and crisp with the overcooked taste, maybe a leftover refried.

Matka Veg – There was not much to expect from this dish, given that vegetarian in the menu was just basic and it stuck to its groove – could have given it a miss.

There was no Paneer, because according to Zayed, quality paneer is not available in Bombay.

Dum ka Kheema saved the evening, it was delicious with just the right spice and there seemed to be a dash of malai which tempered the sharpness, but fail to understand how can you ‘Dum’ a kheema.

The assorted Roomali (some were half cooked) Phudina paratha (excellent) with limited onions & rare lime completed the meal.

Would we try it again, maybe for the kheema and sheek but the biryani was a complete let down.

Location: New Link Road, Andheri West
Meal: Dinner
Food: 5/10
Service: 6/10
Damages: Approx 4000 for 10

Zooming on Zomato

Zomato says I joined 22 months ago. Much much later than Burrp about which you can read here.

I shifted or added on Zomato would be a better word, because of the problems of integration, upload at Burrp after they acquired which was irritating. Was the adding on smooth, No, there was the usual login issues etc which was handled pretty smoothly by the team.

They grew by leaps and bounds, expectations grew which is normal. Their supposed analytics, architecture was first rate – never mind that the ‘about us’ was a directly similar to another website including words, spellings et all for a while – and at times this became a peeve for me.

1) Their response time changed from proactive to reactive
2) The interaction became 3rd party, at least for me.
3) The famous architecture/analytics fell by the wayside somewhere.

On the point no 3 I suffered a couple of instances which really ticked me off.

Instance 1 Happened a year and half back. They wrote/tweeted asking for my postal address and a few days later, received an envelope which had a voucher of a restaurant worth 1000/-. I felt very good, till I read the details – Restaurant in Mulund, reservation etc etc – If you know Bombay, then you know going for a meal of 1000/- from Andheri to Mulund will end up costing you much more than that; also I know which mall, location the restaurant is located, so never full, just opened But then I guess that is what rewards in India normally mean.

Instance 2 An email asking permission to print some of my reviews in a book they were launching. Duh! good form to ask, appreciate it, but when I give you my content the T&A takes care of everything. This was followed up by an urgent request for my Bio, latest HiRes picture etc. I was already doing cartwheels now. Managed to send, inspite of not being around. Book release, nice, invited, given a free copy with lunch, Spent the entire journey back trying to locate a) My handsome picture 2) Reviews to realise there were some minor reviews printed. And maybe my photo is there, not in my copy probably. Yes, Yes I know it is their prerogative but raising expectations?

Instance 3 This is too recent and painful – probably needs a separate blog post to itself.

My thoughts on this are simple:

1) You invited to review, I accepted – no commercial transaction involved
2) You raised expectations with the reviewer, visitor, users.
3) Nowhere in your analytics, contests, follower did I participate, ask, demand for reward or gratification.
4) My profile created has all the details, you interact on other social platforms, then why is it so difficult to use analytics to talk to me

Does this mean that I will stop reviewing – No, but my expectations have taken a nose dive. I don’t see a value addition over time for me as a reviewer.

Hamper from Burrp

Burrping away with Burrp

Burrping since April 2008 is what my profile reads. Frankly don’t know why, how I landed up on the site, but began with a couple of reviews, when the ex owner wrote back, thanking me, met him, liked what they were doing with the product, continued with some reviews, read that it was sold off, did not like changes on the website, travel, work interfered – time passed by.

Fast forward to 2012/13 – changed/upgraded phones, realised there was an App, tried it out, found a bit of convenience, travelling, managed to knock of dozens of reviews of places – yes they’ve shifted focus to retail, events, shows et all – and boom there was a barrage of gifts. A hamper of chocolates and shot glasses; followed by a voucher of one night stay in Goa.

This was by no means the first gift from them, In the distant past they had sent a complete set of stationery, some other glasses/coasters etc.

AND this post is not about Freebies :) But just the logic of their gifts/rewards and communication.

1) I have no clue or interaction with anybody in the team except Deap years ago and after selling it off, he has moved.
2) I have never participated in any contests willingly or wanted to.

So seriously do not know the logic with which they reward.

Am I happy with the gifts – Sure, who would not like gifts, but like the uniqueness more.

Will I continue burrping with burrp – Possibly, but as a reviewer have a lot of problems with their site.

I would like them to actually listen to the reviewers more and try to simplify a lot of aspects given the fact that this is the crowd sourcing age and they have been making use of us.

But, Yes, Keep the gifts coming :) Make them more unique….