Saturday, April 30, 2011

Machibele Dam.. A just like that drive

Last Saturday, we got up at 7:30 am (mean feat), had some chai, changed, and left.

The car was fueled, the Mint Lounge picked up. The music was loud, the day, cloudy. A lot of music. And so the traffic jam of Mysore Road was braved.

At the last point of civilization as we know it, a little ahead of Kengeri and a little before Raja Rajeshwari Dental College, we stopped for some piping hot idlis, vada, upma, and filter coffee.

There was a little bakery right next to the restaurant, they had just baked fruit cake and smelled heavenly. So we did their bohni and drove on.

One turn and many nurseries/ farms later..

We have an unhealthy obsession for roads.

One turn in the long and winding road and then this.

The place was unbelievably quiet. It was a beautiful sight.

It seemed like an endless moment of quiet camaraderie.

The backwater was endless. And beautiful.

We explored some country roads and drove through the very narrow roads of a village.

And a railway track completed the journey.

If you live in Bangalore, really want to hit the road, but can't go out of town, drive to Machibele on a weekend morning. It's worth the trouble of an early Saturday.

Friday, April 22, 2011

4 months, 3 places, and everything else

I think that is a good deal. Of all the places I have been to since I last updated this blog, (only) three places stood out. Calcutta rolls, The Only Place, and Ants Cafe.

Quick recap - If you are looking for a place far removed from air conditioned holes in the wall, try Chakum Chukum Calcutta on a Roll in Indiranagar. The best thing about this place is that it is not a restaurant. In a really quiet bylane of Indiranagar, amidst a lot of greenery and pretty houses, you see a tree big enough for some shade and to have a chabootra around. That is Calcutta on a Roll.They serve parathas (that we did not try), soft drinks, and hajaar different kinds of rolls. In all possible combinations that you can imagine. Double egg, double chicken, chicken double egg, egg double chicken, to name a few. Chakum has a reasonable collection of rolls for vegetarians too. Try it on a boring Saturday evening, walk around the place, sit on the chabootra, talk nineteen to the dozen, and eat a lot. Trust me, if you are anything like me (pity if you aren't), you will love this place. Because it is NOT a restaurant.

The Only Place - Another bylane restaurant that must have been around for a gazillion years. Perfect to catch up with friends on a Sunday afternoon, especially when you are nursing a hangover, the weather is to die for, and you can survive anything but alcohol. It is sort of al fresco, open on the sides, again very green, and serves some really, really good food. I had some fried prawn thing and dessert and fries and another entree. I am not sure if this post is helpful without any names, but let this post be just about the places and the overall awesomeness of food. And the food at The Only Place is just that - awesome. At very reasonable prices. Don't expect impeccable service. If the owner is in a good mood, he will be supremely sweet to you. If he is worked up about the rush, he will cut short your order and warn you about how long your food will take. Almost like dads :P Having said that, this place is worth more than 1 visits.

And Ants Cafe - perfect for rainy morning breakfast. The place is run in partnership with an Assamese NGO. The shop downstairs is worth a look. Great scarves and stoles and kurtas and shirts in cotton and silk, really pretty kitschy jewellery, and some beautiful lampshades and other bling for homes - all at prices way better than Fab India and Mother Earth. The restaurant upstairs serves all day breakfast - brilliant omelettes and sandwiches. I have heard the salads and pancakes are great too, but my breakfast was all cheese and chicken and eggs. The spanish omelette was just right. The chicken and cheese sandwich was quite likeable. But the coffee, well. Just ask them to make it really strong. Mine was, the husband'd was as tepid as every other place that is not an Udupi joint. But the show stopper here is definitely the ambience. Extremely interesting furniture - all bamboo and tree trunks and pretty, bright cushions. The terrace is almost in the middle of huge trees and there are broad leaves from indoor plants that fill in any space that is not green! The place is beautiful. Get a book or grab one from the shelf that has 15 books (yes, I counted. It was a matter of this little bet with the husband) and a lot of magazines, or bring some really good company. I opted for company and it was the nicest, laziest morning in months. Go there. Tomorrow. Picture this.

Ants Cafe

There have been other places like Hole In The Wall (stupidly small), Cafe Thulp (aaaargh!), Nizaams (err), King Bites (ya ok, my cook makes parathas), Biryanis (bloody misnomer of extremely spicy and HOT chicken pulao), Rajdhaniv(too much food, too little taste), Legends of Rock (everything tepid - the drinks, the music, the mood), Cream Center (ye cheating hai! Not even close to the mindblowing food that the chain serves in Bombay), and this paratha place (bad enough for me to not even remember the name!) and none of them stood out. Surprisingly most of them are much hyped places. I wonder why!

Also, I am almost embarrassed to tell you that I finally discovered Commercial Street last month. Glad I did! If you have been around for a while, love roadside shopping, chappals, and cotton, and if you happen to be one of the handful of people who have not been there yet, GO!

I have been reading quite a bit. I happen to be a late starter on Flipkart. And my life and the lives that have been running parallel to mine - all very good. A Fine Balance (now reading and loving it), Eat pray Love (I finally managed to finish it. Complete waste of loo minutes), By The Water Cooler (timepass, fun in parts), Catcher In The Rye (whatte classic. Love it every time I read it and I can't do it enough).

Movies. Tanu Weds Manu (AAAAAAAAARGH.), Turning 30 (Cliched turning 30 angst), Band Baaja Baarat (what was the hype about?) Break Ke Baad, Anjaana Anjani, Guzaarish, Sherlock Holmes (none of which I could sit through), My Sister's Keeper (cried buckets, loved loved loved it). So don't get me started on these. I will finally catch up on Ye Saali Zindagi and No one Killed Jessica this weekend - yes, I have been running really late here. More on this later.

I am off to Manchinbele Dam tomorrow, Kerala in July (yes, in monsoon. Yay me!), Coorg in August. I will hopefully post about the December road trip that has been a lot on my mind lately, if only because it was the happy place that helped me survive the March and April heat. Now it is raining and beautiful, the April showers. And suddenly there is so much to look forward to! Picture this.

Ah! Now I am done.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Monthly activity sheet - Food *shakes head in disappointment*

There is a tonne of places/ things I have wanted to write about since the last time I open the editor for this blog. But everything that I held important over the last one year of jobless salary earning, suddenly seems to have taken a back seat. For the record, I am not one to give in so easily. So here we go, even if my opinion on all things important in life, comes in the form of a monthly report this time!

Daddy's Deli, the parsi restaurant, Off 100 feet road, Indiranagar - If the ordering in was good, eating at Daddy'd Deli is even better. Unbelievably quick service and steaming hot parsi fare make for a very interesting, gluttonous outing. And the prawns here were the freshest I have had in Bangalore. Absolutely brilliant!

Daddy's Deli, the cafe - quaint, and very aptly in one of the quietest lanes of Indiranagar, the Daddy's Deli cafe is absolutely mindblowing. Brilliant sandwiches, refreshingly "different" peas patties, fresh, awesome salads, and a Corner House to balance all the healthy eating. You can give the coffee a miss, or strictly order black. Like most other places, getting the right coffee is pretty difficult here. But having said that, I totally recommend this place and I am now waiting for the English breakfast trip to Daddy's Deli. It will happen the first Sunday I manage to wake up in time for breakfast.

New Punjabi Hotel, HAL 2nd Stage - It is really difficult to decide what the USP of this place is - price, taste, or the refreshingly "dilli waali feeling", complete with a Sardar ji asking you if the food is good and Biharis making you feel at home, serving you like you really are a guest and not a customer, and lassi! The food is absolutely brilliant, kaali daal is to die for, tandoori chicken is surprisingly succulent, and the naans and rotis are the best I have had in Bangalore. All this for less than Rs 200 for two people who generally overeat. The biryanis can be given a miss here, the lassi and naan, absolutely not! If you thought Kund (Indiranagar) was good, try New Punjabi Hotel. This is the closest you can get to the real dhaba experience, so far away from where the real dhabas are. +10.

Daily Bread, Wind Tunnel Road - Stupid coffee, dry-ish sandwiches, brilliant salads. For those who actually go to Daily Bread for anything else except cakes and pastries. I would say stick with what they are good at. The rest of the menu is plain incidental.

Starke's Chicken and Burgers, Indiranagar - It is a pity I will never go here again because the ambience is actually interesting, complete with verandah seating and fence and all. But you pay a huge price with the painfully slow service and the terrible bouts of indigestion that follow. I never really bothered about the "I puked after I ate there" reviews because, for the record, I have a stomach of steel. But hello, I am not invincible. Stupid service, stupider staff. But what takes the cake is the stupid feeling you get when you puke in the middle of the night. Best avoided.

Purple Haze - What can I say that has not been said before. It plays music I know, it has people who don't stare at women who smoke and scream songs tunelessly, and the staff is an amazingly happy bunch. One word - cult. In the last year and a half, my Purple Haze plans always went awry. Either replaced or completely dumped. But I was there for hours at a stretch last night, came home feeling very very happy, and I am glad today after I realized that youth is not completely lost on me. It's the kind of place where you have everything you need to destress. LOUD, good music. The real classic rock. And chilled beer (which is surprisingly rare these days!). And the prices and the music make sure all your other senses are numbed. Abso-freaking-brilliant. It is a pity I went to Purple Haze only now. It is the original cult pub. It is the Toons in Bangalore, which explains why I have been feeling so young! The HRC and Jimi's and Cirrus' of the world can go take a walk because I can say with absolute certainty that last night was the first of many, many visits to Purple Haze.

I have also been thinking that all the pretentious places around should take some customer service gyaan from smaller, even inexpensive places like Purple Haze and New Punjabi Hotel. The service is not fake respectful or annoyingly intruding. People look happy to serve you and that's all that matters!

More on the other side of the break, more to come on books and movies. Happy eating. In, out, wherever!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Urban Oasis

5 minutes drive from my house in Airport Road, and this is where you get. This is in my backyard. God, you are a good man.

What to do on a Dussehra weekend in Bangalore - 2

Anelaborate 4 course meal at Kolkata. To let the festivity sink in without screaming "Iliiiiiish" at the top of our voices. The place is festive through the year, that is what makes it more special during a festival. It is all about striking a balance.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

What to do on a Dussehra weekend in Bangalore - 1

Now that I can steer clear of auto brawls, and R can't make parking excuses, we finally made it to a puja pandal this year (Indiranagar, 6th Main). After a decade!

The sights and sounds brought back some great memories when year after year, I used to try hard to get out of pandal hopping and eventually used to get dragged along anyway. The best thing about religion is all the festivity that comes with it. So once I got religion out of the way, what else would I do but eat? So I ate.


And laung latas.

Among other things at the mela. And what a mela it was!

Whether or not you have ever lived in Calcutta, or have spent all your Dussehra vacations there, if you miss the sights and sounds of those 10 days of festivity, pick up your ride. And go!

More on Dussehra later. I am on a festival high!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

The friendly homemade chicken kebab. Probably tandoori

I have a new found confidence in myself. The one that screams out loud that now there is nothing I can't do. Why you ask? Because last night I made kebab from scratch and it turned out absolutely brilliant! No rookie mistakes, no burnt parts, no burnt hearts. They say you should not go grocery shopping on an empty stomach. Well. I did. And I got home a lot of extra Real Good. So I also picked up some extra masala thinking one day I will make kebabs and biryani to perfection. And I should not run out of masalas when I decide to do it. So a small carton of pav bhaaji masala here, some tandoori kebab masala there. And even as I was unpacking the grocery, I knew the day was here :P

It is the simplest kebab you can possibly make. Here is how -

Marinate the chicken for a couple of hours in a cup of curd, salt, ginger garlic paste, lots of Everest tandoori and garam masala, a dash of turmeric and some chilli powder. If you are feeling adventurous, add some coriander paste to the marinade.

Place the marinated pieces of chicken on a grilling tray, let the extra marinade drop off, brush some oil on the chicken, and microwave it on chicken cooking combination for about 5 minutes. Then turn over the pieces, brush some oil again, and grill for the next 30-45 minutes, checking once in a while on the colour to make sure the whole thing doesn't get thrown away like the last time. Turn over the pieces and brush some oil every 15 minutes or so. Once done, brush some lemon juice and hog it all with onion rings. Absolute bliss!

The friendly homemade chicken kebab. Probably tandoori.

The grocery store did not have boneless chicken yesterday. Just so you know.