Awadhpuri, Ahmedabad

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“It’s cold,” I whimpered.

“Don’t be lazy,” my friend chided. “You’ve been hiding under those blankets for the last 48 hours. You’ll soon be a fossil.”

“It’s cold,” I sniffled.

“Get up. We are going to eat good, hearty Awadhi food. And I’m treating.”

And that’s how I was motivated to emerge from under the blankets and get dressed for a nice dinner at Awadhpuri. Located on the ‘restaurant road’ of Prahlad Nagar, the decorĀ of the place is grand but not in-your-face showy, with muted gold lighting and blue mosaic walls. There is live music playing, folk renditions of popular old Hindi songs, which I quite enjoyed. We opted for the non-veg sit-down buffet, which seemed to have a good spread representative of the specialties of the restaurant.

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The Murgh Peshawari Shorba arrived as a few pieces of boiled chicken in a soup dish, into which the waiter poured the broth, a decoction with a smoky peppery feel, which was just what we needed coming in from the cold. Accompanying it was Papdi Chaat, with fresh crunchy papdis with green chutney and curd. The meat in the Mutton Gilawati was melt-in-the-mouth soft, and the Kalmi Kabab was also quite nice, but it was the fish of the Mahi Dum Kabab which blew our minds away- tender and perfectly cooked and perfect with the Dahi Peelimirch ki Chutney, one of three chutney accompaniments.

The Warqi Paratha seemed to be a slightly oilier version of a regular paratha, but the mutton Korma Asafjahi was good, with the well-cooked mutton nearly falling off the bones. The Lahori Raseela Murgh was, to me, a fancy name for butter chicken, nothing to write home about, and the Murgh Dum Biriyani, served from a pot, was also middling, with the raita accompanying it quite flavorless. Of the three sweets, the Aam Sewaiyaan was quite good and the Gulab Jamuns passable, but I couldn’t eat more than a spoonful of Palak Halwa; it’s an acquired taste I’d rather not acquire.

Awadhpuri is a nice place for an evening out, with an upscale ambiance and good food, while being reasonable on the wallet.

 

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Punjabi Tadka at Punjab Grill

Punjab Grill

Punjab Grill, Koramangala

Punjab Grill’s new menu, a combination of their winter and chakna menus, is an eye-opener to the variety of dishes in Punjabi cuisine. Most of us know only about butter chicken and makke ki roti and sarson ka saag, but Punjabi food is not about these alone. At a recent lunch hosted by Punjab Grill, I had the opportunity to sample some new-to-me dishes and enjoy some old favorites.

Liki de tiki

Liki de tiki

Chakna

Chakna

The afternoon began with a refreshing liki de tiki, a lemonade mildly spiced with that big green chilly you see, and ginger and cumin, perfect to beat the summer heat. The kanji, made of carrot and beetroot juice with a dash of mustard, was served as a palate cleanser, and is supposed to aid digestion, and served before a meal in many Punjabi households. There was also a quartet of chakna masala nuts, spiced chana, pakore and matthra – that go well with evening drinks.

Veg kurkure

Veg kurkure

Salmon tikka

Salmon tikka

Among the array of starters I was served, the veg kurkure wasn’t really Punjabi, but I liked the wonton rolls stuffed with mushroom, olives and tomatoes, rolled in crunchy sev and served in a shot glass with a sweet chilly dip. The fish starters quite amazed me; I didn’t expect Punjabis to have any fish dishes. The salmon tikka was a treat, the smokiness imparted by the grill enhancing the delicate fish, and I gorged on the Amritsari machchi, fried sole fish served with chips. The virgin ganne ka margarita served alongside was really cool, a novel twist to the good ol’ sugarcane juice, and the hint of mint and black salt sprinkled on the rim of the glass just added to the taste.

Mutton boti

Mutton boti

Punjabis love their meat, and the proof was in the variety of meat served to me. The chicken keema with fryums was nice, and it the combination of crunchy fries with spicy chicken was a nice one. I loved the presentation of the mutton boti, in an iron box contraption, and the meat was succulent, cooked liberally with spices and ghee.

Main course

Sarson ka saag

Sarson ka saag

After all these starters, I was so full that I had just a spoonful of the main courses on offer. The dal makhni and butter chicken were so creamy, and smelled heavenly. It was heartening to see the seasonal vegetables used in the mutton hot pot- turnip, radish, apricot- emphasising the point that meat dishes need not be solely meat orgies. The sarson da saag and makke di roti was quintessential Punjab, served with butter and a dry fruit jaggery on the side.

Mele di chuski

Mele di chuski

There was barely any space in my stomach for dessert, but the mele di chuski was not at all heavy, popsicles infused with fresh fruit flavors like orange and raw mango, and vodka, if you want some kick. The gud ki chawal was not up my alley, as it was too heavy, and I don’t particularly like sweet rice, but the anjeer kulfi, with figs, pistachios and almonds, was nice.

You can’t count calories when you eat Punjabi food; every dish is liberally cooked with ghee and butter and all things health freaks run from, but in terms of flavor, the cuisine has few parallels. Of course, I’d love to see some healthy Punjabi food options where the ghee is toned down but the flavor not lost, but until then, there is Punjab Grill.

Punjab Grill
SJR Primus (Near Forum Mall)
7th Block, Koramangala
Bangalore

Note: I was invited to the restaurant for a sponsored meal. Opinions are honest and wholly my own, and not influenced by anyone else.

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A Perfect Tastykhana meal

Sicilian garlic prawns

Tastykhana is an online food delivery service operating in seven cities, including Bangalore. They have a mix of big name restaurants and local eateries on their roster, with cuisines ranging from Italian to Mexican to good old Indian.

I was invited to create a meal with starters, main course and dessert from various restaurants in the Tastykhana network in Bangalore. I decided to use this opportunity to try out some restaurants in my vicinity I hadn’t eaten from before.
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Creme Brulee at Cafe Noir

Creme brulee

Every foodie, be it a TV personality, writer, blogger or a plain Jane who loves to eat, goes nuts over French desserts. And creme brulee is supposed to be the king of them all, hyped up beyond imagination. After a lot of trepidation, I tried out my first Creme Brulee (Rs 220) recently. I say trepidation because I was sure that I would be disappointed that the real thing did not live up to the luxurious tasting dish I had imagined it to be. Well, I was not too disappointed. Creme brulee is essentially custard, but it is very different from the custard our aunts made for us as kids. It is richer, creamier and the burnt caramel crust offsets the sweetness of the custard. The original French version may be out of the world, but the Indian version doesn’t disappoint (at least Cafe Noir’s version doesn’t).

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Jo bhi ho sarkaar, gastropub means Monkey Bar

Monkey Bar

Monkey Bar, Indiranagar

The first Monkey Bar was trailblazing in a lot of ways- funky cocktails, great ambience and consistently good food. The second Monkey Bar in Bangalore takes it up one notch. Located in a big airy place off Indiranagar’s 100 Feet Road, this place blends class and quirk together. The exposed brick walls and gorgeous wood panelling speak of old-world charm and comfort; the quirky posters add some new-age hipster chic. The menu too has also undergone some changes, with some new guys and a few old favorites.

Manga

Mangaa

The preview meal I attended began with a host of cocktails, of which I could sadly taste none. But my lunch companions told me that crowd-favorite Manga (aam panna and vodka) was just as awesome as ever, the Red Riding Wood (vodka and plum juice) gave a good kick. The new cocktails like Copper Monkey, which came in a cute copper pot, were well-received too.
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