Khan ka Khaana : Eating out at Khan Market

So you are in Khan Market, on a bright sunny day or late in the evening and wondering – where do you go? 

This market has consistently ranked as one of the costliest high end streets. In fact in 2010, it was rated as the world’s 21st most expensive retail high street by real estate firm Cushman & Wakefield. It’s the newest hangout market, a place to be seen. With limitless options, Khan Market does not disappoint. Just be prepared to spend the moollah.

 A new restaurant opens and closes every month here and it surely is the survival of the fittest, so the old favorites like Chonas or Big Chill are forever favourites, but these days the choices have truly increased! Let me list out some options-

The Fine Dining Experience: Even casual dining restaurants tend to be fine dining in this market, if you know what I mean!!

Big Chill – Continental, Italian, Desserts, Avg Cost/dish INR 400. One of the oldest most famous ones, there are two outlets in Khan Market itself. I feel that the hype is a bit more than it deserves, don’t get me wrong it used to be awesome once upon a time.

Blanco– European, Japanese, Thai, Avg Cost/dish INR 400. Food is good; they also have a happy hour. They have Meats outlet as well, some really good stuff. Every thursday is women’s night with free mojitos… so enjoy ladies!

The Kitchen – Asian, European, Japanese, Thai. Avg Cost/dish INR 350. The food is really good, it’s a small place but worth the wait for the table. Definitely try their Khao Suey and notice the number go up on their Khao Suey meter!

Mamagoto –Asian, Avg Cost/dish INR 350. Best known for their wok & curries, it’s a must try. Go for their Meal in a bowl choices, its filling and tastes good!

Chonas -Chinese, European, North Indian, Avg Cost/dish INR 250. It has been around for 20+ years and is famous for their Happy Hours and only the Happy Hours. Some people have recommended the sizzlers.

Side Wok – Asian, Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Avg Cost/dish INR 350. Great Thai food! The prawn red-curry was excellent, and to top it all they have an online reservation system. How cool is that?

China Fare– Chinese, Avg Cost/dish INR 300. It’s been the only Chinese restaurant in Khan for some time, and the food is good. But now that they have competition, we’ll just have to wait and watch. I always notice the cat sitting outside the door, see if you can spot her.

Watermelon – Health food, Avg Cost/dish INR 350. It has a relaxed lounge-like atmosphere, segmented into multiple rooms that provide some privacy, I guess?! With a limited menu and average dishes, avoid it if you are particular about your food.

Amici – Continental, Italian, Others, Avg Cost/dish INR 350.Best known for their oven fresh pizzas, they have some good days and bad days. I went on a bad day!! But have heard really great stuff about the place too.

Mrs Kaurs Crepes and More -American, Fast Food, Desserts, Others, Avg Cost/dish INR 300. Best known for their breakfast menu, they have light meals to enjoy all day too. The portions could be a little larger but that’s gives you an excuse to order some sweet-something.

Ginger Moon– Chinese, Avg Cost/dish INR 400. On my ‘To-Try’ list.

Khan Chacha Kabab Corner– Rolls & North Indian, Avg Cost/dish INR 200. Yes, the famous Khan Chacha is now a restaurant on the first floor, but the real fun of the place was the ‘street-food’ so to say atmosphere that is now lost. For the loyalist this remains the only place for kathi rolls.

The QSR (Quick Service Restaurants): by which I mean stand and eat type of places, they are certainly quick and seem to have a lot of fan following too. So don’t get discouraged by the crowds.

Hotdog Factory– American, Fast Food, Avg Cost/dish INR 100.

Chicago Pizza – American, Fast Food, Pizza, Avg Cost/dish INR 200. Their pepperoni slice is nice.

Al Bake– Fast Food, Lebanese, Avg Cost/dish INR 75. an offshoot of the NFC outlets, this one is better than the original.

Salim Kababs – Kababs & Rolls , Avg Cost/dish INR 150. Haven’t tried it yet.

Aap Ki Khatir– Rolls & Mughlai, Avg Cost/dish INR 150. This one is definitely recommended and the rolls are better than some of its counterparts in the same market.

Mrs Kaurs Premium Cookies – Bakery, Avg Cost/dish INR 75.

The Kathis – Rolls & North Indian, Avg Cost/dish INR 150.

Cocoberry- Desserts, Avg Cost/dish INR 150.

The Cafés and Pubs: for some informal, laze around type of an environment step into one of the many café’s at Khan. Some of these turn into a party zone with loud music and beer as the sun sets.

Latitude – American, Continental, Italian, Avg Cost/dish INR 450. The latest eatery to set up shop in Khan Market is Latitude 28, a café by The Good Earth, which has its kitchen supervised by chef Ritu Dalmia.

Cafe Turtle – Cafe, Continental, Italian, Others, Avg Cost/dish INR 150. An old haunt for most, it’s great to have some ice-tea and slice of freshly backed cake while you are immersed in the book you are reading.

Sugar N Spice – Bakery, Avg Cost/dish INR 75. Like any other of their outlets, breads and pastries are good.

Market Café – Bakery, Avg Cost/dish INR 200. One of the many specialties of this place is the wi-fi facility. It also has a Sheesha place on its second floor. The one thing you will find about this cafe’ at any given time is that you can actually ‘have a conversation’ without screaming your lungs out like in regular places. Quiet, comfortable and open, its a nice place if you want to really “catch up” with friends.

Route 04– American, Avg Cost/dish INR 300. You’ll find a lot of young kids, music is all American and by the end of the evening everyone is singing. Route 04 run by the owners of Turquoise Cottage and enjoys the same loyalty. Try their burgers, and head there during happy hours, they even have pitchers of LIIT as 1+1, a challenge to finish!

Cafe Oz & Bar – Continental, Avg Cost/dish INR 350. Nice beer & burgers. My fav is the lime & mint spritzer. I love the balance of café and pub that that Cafe Oz has.

Urban Café – Chinese, Continental, North Indian, Italian, Avg Cost/dish INR 600. Drinks are bit on the expensive side and so is food, when you look at the quantity. It has a nice ambience for some club/pub atmosphere with more well traveled diners. (And not just screaming teenagers, that you see in most pubs)

For the lets-stick-to-the-basics diners, there is a McDonalds, Subway, CCD Lounge, Barista Lavazza and the others thrown in for good measure. Hope you enjoy your trip to the mighty Khan and find your calling in one of the three lanes – outer, inner & middle.

Bon appétit!!

Soo Ra Sung – Korean – Bangalore

Chinese, Thai and even Japanese, we all know and have been to restaurants that specialize in these. But how many of us have tried an authentic Korean meal?

Well, I’ll forever be thankful to a friend of mine who introduced me two awesome things that are Korean.

The first is the movie My Sassy Girl…

Sassy literally means Bizarre, is a South Korean romantic comedy film directed by Kwak Jae-yong, in which the lead protagonist’s chance meeting with a drunk girl on the train changes his life. It is based on the true story told in a series of love letters written by Kim Ho-sik, a man who initially posted them on the Internet and later adapted them into a novel. I will definitely recommend anyone who like romantic-comedies to watch it.

…And the other is the restaurant in Bangalore – Soo Ra Sung.

I was fortunate enough to try out this place before I left Bangalore and it will be on my itinerary when I visit Bangalore again. Soo Ra Sung is an authentic Korean restaurant on Wind tunnel Road near the HAL Airport. How do I know it is authentic? Well, for one it is owned and run by a Korean Lady and also, of the 6 tables occupied on the day I had dinner there we were the only non-koreans.

When had made reservations to ensure we get a place, as it does get crowded on weekends. The owner is a warm & friendly lady that makes your ordering easy and experience enjoyable.

One of the highlights is the barbecue meal that is done right at the table. All dishes on the menu are complete meals. They are served with a delicious assortment of small side dishes and condiments. Everything was cooked to perfection.

Korean food stands out from other cuisines mainly because of the banchan (side dishes) that are served during meals in small bowls, and can be anything from vegetables to meat to seafood. These are served with the main dish, and there are no separate courses. So when you eat at a Korean restaurant do not over order.

Koreans have perfected the art of preserving food over thousands of years, so many of the side dishes are pickled, salted, or fermented. Some are spicy and the others sweet & salty. Kimchi, Korea’s famous spicy cabbage, has over a hundred varieties with different vegetables, including some non-spicy types. You may be given a pair of scissors to cut the kimchi. Rice is the backbone of almost every Korean meal, and all the dishes will be served with some sticky rice.

You’ll also be served Soo Jeong Gwa (Sweet Cinnamon Punch). A traditional brown-colored Korean drink, consisting of cinnamon, water, sugar, dried persimmon, and ginger. It was a light and refreshing end to a great meal. Sojo (Korean wine) and beer is also available on request. Manuscrypts has given a great description of what one can expect in Soo Ra Sung.

One thing that caught my eye was the tiny notes on the lift. The restaurant is on the fourth floor, above a guesthouse. One has to enter a tiny lift that has precise instructions on when to open and close the lift.

The roof top location gives a wonderful view of Bangalore, making a trip to Soo Ra Sung well worth the effort.

Here’s to Good Food and Great Friends!!

Bangalore’s BJN Escapades

BJN

Let’s have a pop quiz. Think of 5 fine dining restaurants in Bangalore.

DONE ?

I can bet at least one (or more) of them are courtesy the BJN group. The BJN group boasts of having about 19 brands & 40 restaurants in Bangalore, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Gurgaon, Pune and Mumbai. They also run the boutique hotel, Museum Inn, in Bangalore.

Bangalore may not be the epitome of a ‘foodie’s paradise’ or claim to have their own unique cuisine, but has adapted brilliantly to the multicultural population that resides in it. BJN has done its bid by having restaurants & bars serving a variety of cuisines and incorporating diverse themes. Whatever mood you’re in, chances are there will be a BJN joint to cure your mood swings.

In the mood for some good Chinese ? Aromas of China may be the answer. We had a buffet lunch on a Sunday afternoon and were delighted with the service and the assortment of food.

The décor of the place is very oriental with beautiful Statues of Lord Buddha. For lunch there were dim-sums, freshly made at a counter and served with spicy sauces. In the non-veg section, mouthwatering prawns, fish, lamb and chicken dishes were on the menu. In the veg section there were some dishes but with so much more around, I didn’t ever bother.

cfond

Desert was a no brainer, honey crispy wontons and ice-cream. Would you have given a second thought? There was a couple of pastries, soufflé and of course, the chocolate fondue to experiment with (p.s. Have you noticed the chocolate fondue seems to be a trademark of sorts in all BJN buffets ?) At Rs. 400 per head the buffet included a soft drink, soup, a couple of starters, main course & desert, it’s a great way to spend a lazy Sunday.

We chanced upon Aromas of China, as the restaurant next to it Café Masala was full. I’m a bit disappointed because this is almost always the case (mental note: make reservation next time). It has an Indian barbeque buffet and I’ve heard it is much better than the current fav of Bangalore, BBQ Nation.

Vaayu is the third of BJN’s restaurant at Eva mall. Vaayu is the sky lounge with a stunning view of the stars or so they say, I’ll have to try this one sometime.

vayu

Bamboo Shoots’ is another place where authentic Chinese, Thai, Malay, Korean and Singaporean fare comes alive. It has won the H&F S National Award for Excellence in Oriental Cuisine  (which they advertise enough) It is situated in BJN’s Museum Inn, along with Angeethi & Tavern at the Inn.

Tavern and Firangi Pani have an ‘English Pub’ feel to them. The large kegs turned into tables, leather upholstered chairs, rich-dark wood furniture and large beer mugs complete the look. It’s a great place to unwind or chill out before catching a move at PVR Forum.

Sahib Sindh Sultan is the restaurant next to Firangi Paani. It’s one of our ‘let’s indulge’ places, not so much for the prices but for the amount of desi ghee they put in the food.

The cuisine served at Samarkhand comes from the North West Frontier region of Pakistan/Afghanistan. So you can expect lot of Tandoori and Mughlai dishes. A bit over priced but I guess when one says fine dining they mean ‘expensive’.

samarkhand menu

BJN Group’s new offering to add to their already impressive list of North India cuisine is Khansama. Khansama follows the “Royal Indian Theme” located on Concorde Block, UB City, Vittal Mallya Road.

Dilli ki chatt & Bengal ka puchkka, that you wouldn’t have expected from BJN ? But you’ll be surprised at the variety at Bombay House. Not to confuse with- Bombay Post this attempts to recreate the magic and romance of Bollywood of the sixties and seventies. All I can say is its’ thoda hatt key’.

ub city

Hypnos is a Mediterranean Lounge, which serves Greek, Lebanese and Spanish Food, and cool cocktails, that is typical of the Mediterranean or so I hear, never actually having been there.

Where I have been a couple of times is Indijoe Resto Bar. Go there for their afternoon buffet – at 350/- it’s not too bad. They serve a mix of Italian, salads, Thai food and Biryani. The desert section has the chocolate fondue obviously.

The other choice is to spend the evening drinking & talking with some beer and good company. The last time we went there we had some Tortia Chips with Cheese Sauce (Rs 150), non-veg combo (Rs 285), Garlic Toast (Rs 95) along with a couple of Pitchers of Draught (Rs 475).

All in all BJN has been able to add a unique dining experience by creating themes of the English pub, Palace on wheels or rustic charms of a dhaba and fine dining oriental flavors or the delights of the northern frontier, while never taking away the taste and quality of the food. Their restaurants are a bit expensive, for sure, but it lives up to its motto is `Khao, Piyo, Jiyo’ !

Review: The Only Place, Museum Inn Road – Bangalore

The Only Place

The only place is one place most old timers will know of. It used to be THE place to go to for juicy steaks, delicious burgers and cheesy pastas. The location has changed but the place is still the same, for better or for worse.

The restaurant apparently got its name long back as it used to be the only place one could get beef ! I’m not sure how true that is though.

The Only Place has moved from its Mota Royal Arcade, Brigade Road address to an outdoor’sy area on Museum Road. Parking is available at the parking lot in Raheja Chambers next door. The restaurant is very popular with expats as well the local crowd and seems to have a lot of regulars frequenting it. Go there if you are a meat lover and when you don’t want to count your calories. It is ideal for a casual dinner with family and friends.

The restaurant is located in a courtyard-ish area covered by an interestingly tiled roof. Red and white checked tablecloths on the wooden table give a festive, picnic look. The tables are well spaced and the corners have wooden benches instead of chairs.

Creamy Pastas, Juicy Steaks, Sloppy Joe Burgers, Sizzlers and Sumptuous Desserts sum up the menu. I don’t remember what I ordered the first time I went there but over the past year I have been there several times and keep going back for more.

On our last visit, Chicken Chowder Soup (Rs 75) is the first thing we ordered. Chowder typically is a rich and creamy soup full of chunks of ingredients that almost make it like a stew. Traditionally made chowder has a base of bacon and is thickened up with crackers that have been broken into the base. The one here is thickened with chunks of potatoes and corn, and is quite tasty, if I may say so 🙂

The Only Place

For the main course, we tried the Vienna steak (Rs 250) which was moist, succulent and delicious – truly a treat for meat lovers. The steaks in this restaurant are served with sides of creamed potatoes, vegetables and garlic bread. You can also customize your plate at an extra cost by adding on pepper or barbeque sauce or jacket potatoes and so on.

Dessert options consisted of apple or peach pie, blueberry cheesecake, chocolate tri-layer cake or trufle pudding. We decided to stick to tradition and ordered the apple pie (Rs 90). It was yummy – warm and delicious with the vanilla ice-cream providing the right amount of coolness !

The decor is a bit dates, the service is slow, but if it’s only the food that you crave, The Only Place is pretty good.

No hard drinks are served, but it’s an absolute delight for foodies. Go a bit early or you might have to wait for your table. Experience a slice of old Bangalore at The Only Place.

RoadTrip, Indiranagar – Bangalore

Road Trip is a 50+ seater restaurant located in Bangalore’s upmarket Indiranagar area. Road Trip is a first of its kind concept restaurant that features motorcycles as a theme

The place opened in 2003 and has seen a lot of changes in the past 5 years. I believe it was also closed for some time during this period.

RoadTrip is a restaurant in Indiranagar which serves continental/Italian cuisine. To reach the place, if you’re coming from the (Old) Airport flyover, take the first left and then the first right.

Their website describes them as

“Road Trip is a 50+ seater restaurant located in Bangalore’s upmarket Indiranagar area. Road Trip is a first of its kind concept restaurant that features motorcycles as a theme.”

The place opened in 2003 and has seen a lot of changes in the past 5 years. I believe it was also closed for some time during this period. The current incarnation is not as cool as the pics on the website will lead you to believe, but I’ve been assured that the food is still the same. They still have those motorcycle headlamp fixtures and two motorcycles standing in the dining area but the rest of the stuff is gone.

Unlike most places serving Italian/Continental cuisine in Bangalore, the food here actually tastes of the real thing and the Chef is willing to listen and make changes to the dish according to the guest’s preferences.

The menu is pretty basic. Its a simple one page menu with a couple of starters (veg and non-veg), couple of main course dishes and some drinks (Iced tea – Rs 40 , cold drinks – Rs 40, fresh lime – Rs. 40 etc.).  They also serve Alcohol but all I’ve had at this place is beer (The price of which I don’t remember 🙂 ) so I won’t comment on anything else.

The last time I was there with some friends, we ordered a plate of Lamb chops (Rs. 240), a Pizza (Rs. 190), and a Penne Based pasta.

The Lamb chops, frankly, were nothing to write home about and the dish was quite bland. The meat was still nice and succulent, but it could have done with a little more spice. The chops came with some vegetables and Mashed Potatoes.

The pizza was definitely the best I’ve had in some time. They beat Little Italy (100 ft road) hands down. The toppings were ham, chicken and sun dried tomatoes. This is a thin crust pizza and, of course, highly recommended.

The pastas that we ordered were Penne based and we asked the chef to put in some extra cheese and sun dried tomatoes in it. Excellent 🙂

I’m definitely going back to this place … again.

Update 1: Was recently at Roadtrip again and tried the “Grilled fillet of fish with Lemon and Mustard sauce” and it was absolutely awesome. Rs 240 well spent. The dish is not on the menu and you can find it on the specials menu.

Reminder to Self: Check out the specials menu at Roadtrip before ordering anything 🙂

Kareem's, East Street – Pune

After successfully running 7 outlets in Mumbai – The well known Kareem’s is now in Pune. Sadly it has replaced another one of our favorite joints – Olympia Kathi Rolls.

Not to fret, though, there is some good news. Kareem’s has retained the Olympia Kathi Roll on its menu and have the same guy cooking them. 

Olympia Kathi Rolls was almost an institution, next to Portrait Studios on East Street. One can not miss the long queue outside the restaurant in the evenings. 

Olympia serves perhaps the best Chicken Kathi Rolls outside of Kolkata. Priced at a about fifty bucks it is value for money. The piping hot paratha enriched with a generous and well cooked soft covering of beaten eggs and filled with substantial pieces of succulent spicy chicken – it tastes heavenly as you dip it in the accompanying pudina chutney and freshly sliced onion rings.

One word of caution for the delhiites: This is not the Kareem’s from Old Delhi but Mumbai so don’t go expecting something you won’t get.  

Like I mentioned, the rolls have been incorporated in the menu, but apart from the rolls the menu has a lot of other stuff too. Recommended are the Kebabs, one can choose from a dozen or so in the menu. We had Murg Kurkuri Potli’ (Rs 119) but a good idea would be to take the non- veg platter (Rs449) to sample the assortment. Also, try the unusual Indian bread on offer like the Taftan (a soft rice flour bread) or Khamiri or kulcha or lachedar Parantha (Rs29/39).

 

 

Interesting observation: Almost every price mentioned on the menu ends with a 9, Rs 99, 119, 129 and so on as if the menu belongs to a Bata shoes shop 🙂 Don’t know why … I don’t judge, I only make observations 😉

Copper Chimney, Bangalore

Copper Chimney at the Central Mall (MG Road) is an upmarket restaurant which serves Mughlai and North Indian cuisine.

My wife and I were at Central today and decided to check out the place … once more. I’ve been there a couple of times earlier and unlike most North Indian restaurants in Bangalore, I actually like the food at this one.

The ambiance is quite nice … classy, uncluttered and soothing. The only problem I had with the decor were the television sets. No, they’re not loud, but they just intrude in the place and stand out. A place like copper chimney would do well with nice, soft music in the background which actually facilitates conversation unlike the television sets which are only distracting, to say the least.

On to the food – The have a kabab festival going on right now. Rs 500 will get you unlimited kababs (they have a variety of 5 vegetarian and non-vegetarian kababs), veg or non-veg gravy, nans or rotis and dessert. All unlimited. Which for a place like Copper chimney is quite good value for money and I’d recommend going for the buffet if you’re in a group (and you’re really hungry 🙂 )

We, unfortunately, weren’t in the mood for the buffet and ordered ‘La carte. Our order was a plate of Chicken Chelo Kababs (Rs. 290) (Chicken kababs served with buttered rice), a plate of Rarra Chicken (Rs. 250) (Chicken cooked with a spicy tomato based gravy) and nans (Rs. 40 each).

I’m a big fan of Chelo kababs btw, but the ones that we got here were unlike the chelos I’ve eaten anywhere else. This definitely wasn’t the kababs I’m used to. What we got was basically a rice risotto like dish with chicken kababs mixed with the rice. The rice was basically cooked in butter and was gooey and sticky. The kababs were excellent though and that was the only nice thing about the dish.

The Rarra chicken was decent enough although it could have been a little spicier (and could do with a little less tomato ).

They serve alcohol and have a decent range of cocktails and wines also. I had a pint of budweiser (Rs. 145), btw.

I’d recommend this place and would definitely be visiting again myself.

George Restaurant and Bar – Panaji, North Goa

George specializes in Goan cuisine and sea food … how do I know ? Well …

a) It says so on the banner

b) I’ve had the food and IT IS awesome

c) All the locals eat there. One can always be sure that the food is good if the restaurant is always packed and 75% of the people eating  are locals.

In the capital Panjim, you’ll find George Bar and Restaurant, right around the corner – going towards Panjim Church. On the first look, It’s an old and rickety looking joint, but they do have an a/c enclosure on the first floor – Called the family room 🙂

Like all the other times we have visited Goa, this time also we had-to-have one meal at George. So a long 3 course  lunch it was and very economical too  – in Rs. 650 we were full to the brim.

Beer like the rest of Goa is at a reasonable 70-80 bucks for 650ml, for starters we had Prawn Masala (Rs 95). The prawns were coated in an amazingly spicy onion-tomato-chilli-garlic-bellpepper’ish-masala. For main-course we ordered Squid xacuti (Rs110), Pork Vindaloo (Rs80) and Fish-curry-rice (Rs100) … Ya ! I know its sounds like a lot and it was but we wanted to get a taste of everything – And we managed to finish everything 🙂 We ended our meal with a bowl of Caramel Custard (Rs40).

Goan cuisine is an interesting mix of varied influences, apart from the seafood – chicken, beef and pork are part of the goan food tradition. Some dishes that will be on all menus in a Goa restaurant are – xacuti, sopotel, vindaloo and cafreal.

Vinhalhos / Vindaloo – is ‘vinho’ for wine, ‘alhos’ for garlic (Portuguese), ‘viande’ – ‘aloo’ for meat (French) – potato  (Indian). A very spicy blend of tones of red chilies, garlic, vinegar, some fenni and palm jaggery. (Did you know that one of the ingredients of Pork Vindaloo is coconut fenni ? )

Cafreal is a goan dish of tribal origin. It was supposedly named after the African soldiers or Kaffirs who brought it to Goa centuries ago. In this dish the meat is marinated and deep-fried. The result is rather dry, but spicy dish. This is the equivalent of Portuguese-style grilled chicken and the sauce is made from the left over marinate.

Sorpotel is prepared from meat diced and cooked in a thick and very spicy sauce favored with red chilies, cinnamon, cloves bathed in tangy toddy vinegar. Sorpotel keeps for several days, and is actually considered to taste better the day after (something like our ma-ki-dal).

Xacuti (pronounced as sha-coo-ti), has its origins in Portuguese cooking. It has lots of earthy spices like nutmeg, coriander, turmeric, chilies, ginger and cloves. Additionally tamarind and lemon juice make for a pungent curry.

I also picked up some ready-to-cook-curry-packets in Goa. Crossing-my-fingers they turn out well !

Pune di Biryani

Because of the fact that Pune has a sizeable Parsi as well as Biryani population, Pune also has a lot of really nice Biryani places. When one thinks of biryani in Pune, a couple of places pop up immediately – Dorabjee’s, Blue Nile, George just to name a few. This post is my take on them.

In the 70’s when my dad was posted at Pune, A couple of joints were his favourites. Dorabjee’s was on the top of that list for Biryani. We finally located the place after endless searching around in tiny by-lanes & twisty one-ways of Old Pune, but the food is well worth the effort.

This tiny, rundown little Iranian restaurant hasn’t changed one bit (or so it seems) in the last 20 or so years, neither in looks nor (thankfully) in taste. The menu is limited to ‘Today’s Specials’. Don’t expect top-of-the-line-extraordinaire-service, cause what you get is a no-frills service attitude – quick and simple. Almost as though everyone wants to cut to the chase, and get to the biryani asap !

They do have some other mutton and chicken dishes to choose from but unfortunately there is nothing much to eat for the vegans. We had the mutton biryani (Rs 100) which was had the typical parsi taste (not to confuse it with the Hyderabadi or Lucknawi biryani).

Although, there are 100s of variation of biryani there are 3 major types – Lucknawi (Lucknow), Hyderabadi & Iranian. What is usually passed of as Biryani in most places in India is actually Pulao. And there is a big difference between Biryani and Pulao, which most people don’t bother with.

Lucknawi Biryani is the more colourful one with the meat and rice cooked separately. Then layered as plain white rice –fried meat – masala rice – fried meat – Saffron rice. It is seasoned with dry-fruits and is not very spicy.

Hyderabadi Biryani – The meat is not fried but marinated in a paste of yogurt and spices, the layering is done with just masala rice. Neither meat nor rice is cooked prior to being layered in the Handi. This is the spiciest version of the biryani.

Iranian Biryani – Rice is separately cooked with some butter & few spices, the meat is served on top of the rice. Something like chelo kebabs, another awesome Parsi rice preparation.

In a pulao, the stock of meat forms the base and the rice is cooked with the spices so that it absorbs the flavor of the spices. There is no layering involved and the Dum technique is also not used . The Parsi Biryani is more of a pulao.

Blue Nile is another parsi place famous for biryani. I have to admit, though, I’m not a big fan of Blue Nile’s Biryani and like the other dishes more; the Iranian chicken biryani (Rs 130) is quite dry and a little bland.

They have (unfortunately) diversified into Chinese and other stuff, but the best bet are the kababs and tandoori chicken. The place smells good and the aroma of the kababs is intoxicating, and I’m sure one day I solve the mystery of what tastes as good as it smells. The one thing that you must have here is the Caramel Custard.

Both Dorabjee’s & Blue Nile are more famous because they are old, and not so much for the food. I did enjoy the experience at both the places but they didn’t come up to my expectations. After all, when you hear about the place from so may people you do expect awesome food.

George on the other hand is famous for being old & the food. I’m a bit finicky about cleanliness and only do  ‘take-away’ from here. But both my brother and husband love this place. Not only is their biryani good but the other stuff like naans and kadhai chicken are also yummy. The pan shop outside the joint is more famous than the restaurant so do indulge in a meetha pan.

Now, how can I not mention ‘Khan Bhai’, while talking about Pune Biryani. ‘Khan Bhai’ is not a restaurant. To taste this wonderful stuff one has to do a bit of hard work. Start with waking up early (to ‘book’ the biryani of course), its only sold in KG’s (abt Rs 400/kg) – one Kg is enough for 7-8 ppl, by 1pm you have to drive down to Shivaji Market area to collect it and return back to deliver the empty utensils the next day. Phew!! That’s a lot of work but trust me, it is well worth it. How do i know ? Khan Bhai’s biryani excels in the 3 biryani test – 1. The aroma test 2. The separate grain of rice test and 3. The taste Test.

Contact me to get the number for the most Fantabulous Biryani in Pune ;).

Raaga family restaurant – CMH Road, Bangalore

The restaurant seems a little confused as to how it wants to position itself.

It has an ethnic Rajasthani ambience, Jagjit Singh ghazals as background score (yeah yeah, I know its not a movie) & Rasam as part of their Thali !! But if the food is good, who’s complaining ?

The restaurant spans 3 floors, the second floor is a bit too dark for my liking but the seating and service is decent.

I have had lunch at Raaga once or twice ( cause its close from office) and took the thali both times. The vegetarian thali (Rs 75) & the non vegetarian thali (Rs 95) are both quiet good with unlimited portions of everything except the non-veg dish of the day, curd & sweet.

Although I haven’t tried anything else, the menu does look extensive with  Indian, Mughlai, Chinese and Tandoori dishes on offer.

Like most places in Bangalore, parking is a problem & the Metro (which is coming up on CMH road), just adds to the misery.