Tony Paranthas and more…

Last Sunday we indulged in food from both ends of the price bands. That I am love food and have a herd mentality in this aspect has been divulged in my previous post. But occasionally I am possessed by a certain madness to eat at a specific place, it starts as a small idea mostly while reading food blogs or watching food shows; then it festers in my mind and finally I become crazy till I go there. For the sake of his sanity, the Man volunteers to take me 🙂

Yesterday we lunched at the object of my recent obsession – Indian Accent. I chanced upon it when I read about the restaurants that won those ‘best restaurant’ awards. Then I happened to see Manish Mehrotra, sweating, panting while finely finishing off and ultimately winning Foodistan- despite the pressure, the man’s love and respect for Indian food shone threw. In a FB update I saw the mini pressure cooker in which he serves the anar chooran sorbet and then I was possessed.

Greeted by lovely marigold flowers, the place is sparingly decorated- an occasional ghenda phool here and there. Located in what my friend calls ‘arsehole of new friends colony’, the place was packed. And thankfully no one ‘dressed up’ to eat here!

We chose the Chef’s Tasting Menu (non-vegetarian). The menu can be downloaded from here. Each course was different, but the underlying theme was every day Indian food with a twist you could never imagine eg. Humble ragda pattice interpreted as a ball of potato lacha and ragda mash. The Kerala themed main course- I could never imagine having idiappam with pumpkin curry- but the dish works. Wasabi cucumber raita!!!…Blue cheese naan, smoked bacon stuffed kulcha, lamb stuffed paranthas..tony paranthas in the tony hotel in the tony neighbourhood!

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I had my initial apprehensions about portion sizes in a tasting menu (well I was a tasting menu varzin) but we were so full that we went for a walk in new friends colony before getting into our car (thus inviting strange glares from the security and valet). Back home I googled for some of his recipes- they are very very simple. But its his imagination and the execution which makes Indian Accent a cut (err…many cuts) above the rest!

True to being me, I had a mini faux pas moment when I was relishing the ‘palate cleanser’ anar chooran sorbet as a dessert and the waitstaff came to clear the plates and I had the stick in my mouth. I gave the embarrassed-middle-class-girl-in-la di da-environment look. Apparently I wasn’t supposed to eat the whole of it, since I was supposed to leave some space for main course!! (Mental note- learn how to make the sorbet)

The staff requires special mention- extremely friendly and helpful and absolutely NO SNOBBERY. When we looked confused at the food, they were kind enough to explain components rather than give us a condescending look. It is so refreshing to see such a restaurant, all the awards and the reputation associated with it, to be very warm and inviting.

Dear Chef Mehrotra- I had (and still have) great respect for your non-compromising attitude towards hospitality. But after the Indian Accent experience, I have started LOVING you!! J

PS: BEST SPARE RIBS EVER!!!!

PPS: I will steal some of the cutlery if there ever is a second time.

Highway Treats: Old Rao Restaurant

For the longest time I was under the impression that ‘Rao’s only existed in Andhra Pradesh. Pay a little attention to the shacks/dhabas on NH8 towards Rewari, every establishment is a ‘Rao’ with a prefix or a suffix! The original, I am told by regulars on NH8, is Old Rao Restaurant, sandwiched between Fortune Hotel and the Hero factory (while travelling towards Rewari from Delhi). The man and I decided to make good use of a Sunday when there was no water supply in our apartment complex- a trip to Old Rao. The best part was that yours truly got to drive, much to the chagrin of the man. The bestest part was the light drizzle and a surprisingly cool day!

 

Old Rao..we are watching you...

Old Rao..we are watching you…

Old Rao is 75 mins away from Gurgaon (M.G. Road) (which means 45 mins if drive like normal people on a highway!) The place is identifiable from the highway due to the multitude of cars parked around it. We reached at 3 pm only to be greeted by a packed hall! Patrons say that the place is packed at all times. The attendant handed over a small chit which is the extensive menu of paranthas, Indian breads, currys, raitas, snacks and beverages. We ordered aloo pyaaz parantha, garlic naan, shahi paneer and spl tea.

Dhabha swaag

Dhabha swaag saada desi…

The wait is abt 20-25 mins but it seems excruciatingly long because you can see ppl at the nearby tables are tucking in warm paranthas/naan slathered with butter and curries drowning in ghee. Every table gets complimentary ‘salad’ of cukes and onion. By the time our food arrived, we had made our neighbours uncomfortable by staring at their plates!

Heaven on stainless steel...

Heaven on stainless steel…

The verdict: Old Rao is not for the faint hearted or calorie counters…the food is true to the dhaba reputation- fresh, fuss-free and fatty!! Old Rao claims to use only butter and ghee in its food. I personally enjoyed the parantha more than the naan (naan wasn’t oily enough for me!) The man enjoyed the shahi paneer. We rounded off the meal with spl tea (the closest to mallu tea that we got in north india- milky and served in a glass..yess tall glass) and the kesar kulfi which was rich with the right level of sweetness (sadly no pics). The lassi with its almonds and drizzle of rose syrup is also a must have (again no pics).

After-party: We didn’t need any dinner!!

Opaaaaa…….

Favourite day of the week needs my favourite food from my favourite country Greece….. Chicken souvlaki with tzatziki, turshi and pita. Everything from scratch.

Eat: Chicken Souvlaki Gyros

Prey: Pita bread

Love: Opaaaaaaa……!

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Saturday morning is my favourite time of the week (if i work with an orgn that gives me sat-sun off that is). It wasnt until I saw a contestant on Masterchef Oz that I learnt that pita can be made on stove top. Since Thursday night I was obsessed with the idea of making pita on stove top.

Pita: Inspiration for the pita is this video.

Tzatziki: Recipe was provided by a Greek uncle I met while travelling and an ex-colleague’s Man Friday- yogurt + crushed garlic + salt + cilantro/parsely all adjusted according to taste.

Souvlaki (there is any fixed recipe, i just made use of what was lying in the pantry): Ckn breast marinated overnight with ginger garlic + some middle eastern kebab masala (the one with smoked pepper) + red chilly powder + salt. Popped on pan and pan-fried.

Turshi: Inspired by the recipe here, but I made a mix of the brine and vinegar method. Washed and cut carrot and cukes to ribbons, squeezed out water, stuffed it into a glass bottle. Set 2 parts water 1 part vinegar on boil, threw in a green chilly, a big clove of garlic, lots of salt and some sugar. Poured boiling liquid into bottle with cukes n carrots and left it overnight.

Assembly: Cut open pita pocket, pop in salad (lettuce, onion and tomato), chicken, tzatziki, turshi and sprinkle sumac. Close the pocket, roll and enjoy…or like me stuff it into your face…G.L.U.T.T.O.N.Y!!

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Happy Weekend!

Rajasthani Laal Maas- But with Chicken

Eat: Laal Maas

Prey: Kashmiri Red Chilly

Love: My Mum gave it a thumbs up and for the first time in our lives asked me for the recipe of the dish (i am the lowest ranked cook in the house at the moment)..so yes its a winner!

The family made a trip to Kashmir last week.

How was the place?…I was prancing around the place like Anushka Sharma in the song from Jab Tak Hai Jaan (filmy me!). But let’s just say Indian tourists can even ruin paradise!! Every beautiful lake, valley, hill, river was surrounded by discarded plastic bottles, shiny snack packets (Haldirams/Bikano/Lays should be banned in the hills), and even condoms floating on Dal Lake! In fact when I first set foot on the Dal Lake Boulevard, I narrowly escaped setting foot on a discarded diaper!!

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While my co-travellers were keen on purchasing pashmina, aari work, etc, I had set my heart on Kashmiri red chilly. No matter what a place has in store for me, I always make it a point to research on the peculiar food in that particular area and if I like the food, I will end up in a local non-touristy market to purchase the ingredients.

I have major trust issues with tourist drivers, so with the help of a good natured uncle unrelated to tourist business and google, I learnt that Zaina Kadal is the local market in Srinagar. There a large number of shops offering various spices and ingredients, some of them specific to the Kashmiri Wazwan. After nagging the Man for 3 days, I finally got my bag of Kashmiri Red Chilly and I was a happy girl!..The Man was also happy because the souvenir cost him only INR 80 (for 250gms)!!

Although I had started the prep to make the Kashmiri Mirchi Korma, I was too lazy to head to the store to buy mutton. I had some chicken breast and the Rajasthani Laal Maas has been on the waiting list since a visit to Jodhpur last year around this time.

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Mehrangadh Fort or Batman Fort as the guides call it now!!! (Thanks Christian Bale…. thunks head on the wall)

 

Again the recipe calls for mutton, but I experimented on chicken based on the recipe here. I cannot bring myself to use more than 3 tablespoon oil in a dish. So the oil on top of the dish is the 3 tablespoon oil which was used to brown the onions and some fat from the yoghurt (made from low fat milk) used in the marinade. I substituted juice of lime with vinegar.

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Color is purely from the chilly..no color added by spoon or photoshop!

Endnote: Enjoy!

Bruised Ego Weekend…Bring in Some More Alcohol!

What do you do when the car servicing personnel drops your car registered in your name at home and asks u ‘oh ma’am u can drive’?!?!!
Or
When the security personnel asks you whether u are also working as a security guard because u ‘report for duty’ on saturdays and sundays??!!??
OUCH!…yeah OUCH!!!
We poach another fruit with alcohol and wash it down with vanilla ice-cream….





Now we feel better!!!!….
Eat: Pears Poached in Red Wine
Prey: Pears and Red Wine
Love: Yup!!!…(rather Slurrrrp!!!)

Old Monk for the Mallu

Eat- Rum Poached Apples
Prey- Apples and Old Monk (thats for the mallu in me)
Love- Yes
What happens when you are at home on a Sunday and (a) have no work..(b) friends live atleast 1.5 hrs away and have their own family plans on sunday (c) your one and only company is working away on his laptop creating and recreating ppts and worksheets…
(a) woke up after 11= check
(b) watched re-runs of sitcoms= check
(c) ate previous night’s takeout pizza/chinese food for brunch= check
(d) watching Salmam Khan’s Wanted/Bodyguard/Ready for the 5th time on StarGold= check
and your are still bored….
ITS TIME FOR ALCOHOL!!!!!
so sugar went into the saucepan with some water for caramelisation, then in goes some rum along with water and cinnamon and vanilla and plopped some cored apples and they cooked cooked and cooked….voila Apples Poached in Rum…pairs lovely with butterscotch ice-cream… 🙂



FYI my garden balcony is showing some signs of life (luckily this time i havent mananged to kill the plants!!!)