The Great Indian Coastal Food Festival at the Ministry of Food, Hilton Bangalore EGL

The Ministry of Food at the Hilton Bangalore at Embassy Golf Links is back with a brand new festival that showcases the diversity of food and flavours all along the Indian coastline. The Great Indian Coastal Food Festival features food from across the coasts of Kerela, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Mangalore, Goa, just to name a few. A few bloggers and I were invited on the second day after the festival opened to try out the spread. 




The one thing that immediately hits you is the sheer number of dishes that one can sample. While that’s a good thing, it can be a little daunting as a food connoisseur to have to sample as much as you can to truly appreciate the work that’s gone into curating the menu. We kicked off the meal with a selection of fish that were marinated in various styles from Goan to Chettinad and grilled. While most of the flavours were perfect enough to ensure the taste of the fish wasn’t lost, some of the marination had a tad more salt than required. That aside, the fresh catch brought in daily ensured top notch quality. If you lack the patience to pull out tiny bones from the fish, recommend you have a word with the chef and choose from the fairly large spread accordingly.




Accompanying the grilled fish were a variety of appetizers including sundal, fried calamari, Goan roast beef and Vada. I’ve got to call out the vada on this menu. It is one of the most supremely prepared vadas I’ve had in a very long time. Almost as soft as cotton, the mildly peppery vada simply melted when we popped it into our mouths. Needless to say, it was my favourite part of the meal. Folks I did speak to a day later thought I’ve lost my marbles as I was talking about a vada after a seafood festival. Two thumbs up for this. Following closely was the Fish Tikka which was tender, flaked beautifully while retaining the spicy flavour. Another favourite among the appetizers was the Banana Stem Salad of which I took at least three helpings.








After all the appetizers, and vadas, there was limited room for the main course. I had to be very choosy from the vast spread. I chose the Bengali styled mustard fish and was delighted that I did. Strong mustard flavours immediately took over my taste buds the moment I had a spoon. Almost as close to the real deal, this was one of my favourites in the main course. I also chose the Kosha Mangsho which was relatively muted compared to the original, but tasty nonetheless. All that was missing was some luchi, which would have sealed the deal for me. I next attacked the Crab Xec Xec, a Goan delicacy that did not disappoint. All though a soft shell crab might have worked a little better, I had no choice but to tuck my napkin into my shirt and go all messy with the crab. Let’s be honest, there’s no other way to appreciate the dish. Left with very little space, I sampled a bit of the Chicken Chettinad which could have been a little more impactful with the flavour. Alas, not everyone appreciates the strong peppery flavours of the dish. 





At times like this I wish I had two stomachs because I didn’t get to try a lot of the dishes from the main course. Dessert was a relatively peaceful affair with a light ellaneer payasum ( Tender Coconut kheer) that helped with the unusually hot weather of the city as well as the strong flavours we’d been experiencing all evening. The folks at Ministry of Food have indeed put together a very commendable food festival with four rolling menus that ensure you don’t get bored. Running till the 30th of the month, the Great Indian Coastal Food Festival is priced very competitively at INR 1399 plus taxes per person. The quality of elaborate spread was reflected by the fact that even on a weekday, the restaurant was packed, something I’ve not seen at food festivals in a long time.

An evening at Nimmiserie

Chef Nimish Bhatia, a veteran of the Bangalore culinary scene opened the doors to his dream project, Nimmiserie , on Christmas day last year. I was invited to the opening day lunch with other fellow food enthusiasts to see what culinary chemistry Chef Nimish Bhatia was working on. Unfortunately I had an afternoon screening of Star Wars : The Force awakens that day and had to leave lunch halfway. I was invited back at the start of March to try out the new Tavakerie which had opened up.


The evening began with everyone being seated on the lower floor at a large table with all the extravagance of Nimmserie up for everyone to see. The meal kicked off with a Reconstructed Chilled Samosa in a Melon Wrapper with Hibiscus Dust and a Fiery Nimbu Chutney. This take on a samosa gets rid of all the fried guilty pleasure of the traditional Indian samosa and replaces it with a healthier option of a melon wrap on the outside rather than the greasy fried outer layer that we all love. Being on my salad-quest mode the last few months, I thoroughly enjoyed the flavours of this dish. I’m not sure the regular palate would appreciate it though. 



This was followed by Cream Horns a La Galawat. This dish was a new addition from the last time I ate here. Personally, I’m a big fan of savory cornettos ever since I had a Mexican-flavoured chicken and red beans cornetto on one of my trips. I might be a bit biased in saying I enjoyed this dish with the simple flavours of galwati mutton kabab coming through. The play of textures was interesting, starting off with the crunch exterior to the slightly gamey kabab filling.



The soup for the evening pushed the envelope in terms of presentation where a hot flavorful vegetarian stock is poured in front of you into a bowl filled with tomatoes that have been engineered into bubbles that pop in your mouth releasing the citrus flavor of the vegetable. Accompanying the soup are distinct floral elements of marigold. The freshness of the soup was undone by the next dish, a dhokla disc with shrimp on top with a Moroccan Chermoula sauce. I wasn’t particularly impressed with either the innovation or the flavours. While the mix of chermoula with seafood is a classic combination, the addition of the dhokla messed both the flavours and the textures for me.




We moved to the upper floor where the restaurant does away with the formal ambience of the lower floor and offers customers a more intimate environment with one section offering  tepanyaki-inspired style live cooking counters, known as the Tavakerie, and slightly more private dining sections. The private dining sections are cordoned off by beads that are very reminiscent of the early James Bond movies and made me feel that we’re going to have a belly dancer come out at any minute.



While we waited for the live counters to heat up, we were offered a salad which consisted of Smoked Chicken Breasts with Arugula, Marigold Flowers, and Basil. Throwing out very earthy aromas, I enjoyed sniffing away at the salad a lot more than eating it. The aromas matched the flavor and the salad was an ideal palate cleanser for the strong flavours of chermoula left behind by the previous dish. One of my favourite dishes.



Our innings at the Tavakerie continued with a palate cleanser of Mushroom and Camomile Shots. Strong notes of chamomile when one takes a whiff of the shot with a complementing tastes of reduced mushrooms made this a favourite amongst everyone at the table.


Pushing the envelope of innovation in flavor and presentation, Chef Bhatia served us his take on the Doda. Cooked live, the doda was made of radish and maize. Served to vegetarians with a topping of fresh goats cheese cream and to the non vegetarians with a topping of minced lamb, the dish ticked all the right spots in terms of flavor. I personally enjoyed the vegetarian version more than the non veg as the flavours seemed to complement one another much better. The minced lamb was a tad too spicy for the flavours of radish in the doda. Other chefs, please note – Radish is yet another vegetable that one can cook good veg food with. Move beyond the usual unimaginative veg spread.



The main course had a very intriguing Grilled Mock Fish for the vegetarians. While it wasn’t spot on with the texture and flavours, it was quite close to the real deal. The non vegetarians were served a grilled chicken. Both these were accompanied by an superbly flavoured Kache Ande ki Biryani ( Biryani with Raw Egg). Cooked on the tawa, the biryani had a raw egg cracked into it and served. More than the meat, and the mock meat, the biryani had strong flavours and aromas that made one salivate and crave for more. I’ll be honest in admitting I tried this at home with less than desirable results.



Dessert was a relatively muted affair with  Tarte Tatin Mishti Doi Crème Brulee.  Call me conservative, but the Bengali in me wasn’t too appreciative of messing around with the hallowed mishit doi. While the flavours were all there, my mind and heart were not able to give the dessert the due justice it may have deserved.



Nimmiserie to me is best described as a modern day progressive rock album. It has elements that are new that you can’t quite wrap your head around sitting right next to elements that are old and familiar. This is accompanied by notes that your head tells you are familiar, but your taste buds say otherwise. But at the end of it all, it’s progressive. It’s a step in the right direction, and a move like that always means there will be moments that bewilder people and moments of applause. Overall, it was a rich-experience at Nimmiserie


A new menu at Mamagoto

bout three weeks ago, I was invited to sample some of the new menu at Mamagoto. Until then, all my visits to the place have me order only one thing off their menu, the pork belly. It took a lot in me to get stay away. The evening started off with a new cocktail called the Rum Diaries. Bringing together my favourite, Old Monk Rum, with drilled pineapples, orange juice, time and pomegranate essence, this cocktail hit all the right spots. Loaded with the adequate amount of ice, this summer drink was ideal for the heat that was picking up in the city. I may have drunk my first few sips a little too fast, the ice and the rum hit me sooner than I expected. Served with some grilled orange on the side to add some texture to the drink, this is a cocktail I recommend to the Old Monk enthusiasts.

Rum Diaries


I started off the meal with a helping of Mama’s dumplings, an assortment of veg, chicken and shrimp dumplings. The vegetarian dumpling consisted of mixed mushrooms with a fairly strong vinegar dressing. While mushrooms could be a topic of debate as being classified under ‘vegetarian’, I enjoyed the dumplings. The chicken dumpling was a bit of a let-down as the flavours of the minced chicken with the chilli oil sauce didn’t quite work for my taste buds. But topping the dumplings in terms of flavour were the shrimp dumplings. Filled with Nori (seaweed) and shrimp, the dumplings hit the right balance of spice and still retained the seafood taste of the shrimp. Fortunately, the shrimp wasn’t minced too fine and had me crunching away. I shamelessly asked for a second helping of the shrimp dumplings.

Veg Dumpling

Shrimp Dumpling
I tried another appetizer, the Indo Coco Rice. The dish is a traditional sticky rice roll with chicken (vegetarian option available too) steamed with coconut milk in a banana leaf. The coconut milk flavours and aroma had to struggle to compete with the overwhelming taste of the banana leaf, which left me wanting that sweet taste which would have made the dish match the expectations I had in my head looking at the ingredients. The dish however was accompanied with a spicy sauce, the name of which I forget, that took the flavour in an entirely different direction. Natural aromatic flavours of the banana leaf with the spicy flavours of the sauce made the dish a whole lot better than when I had it without the sauce.

Indo Coco Rice
The main course was a Mama Katsu – Don. This dish was a mix of sake, soya, smoky onion sauce poured over a sticky rice and served with a topping of panko crusted fried chicken. ( Aubergine or Tofu for the vegetarians). What I did enjoy was the fried chicken on top which offered a lovely crunch as one bit through, and then soft chicken on the inside. As far as the rice goes, the smoky onion sauce was the dominating flavour that came through, it reminded me of a barbeque. While the flavours were large sweet, the quantity made the dish get a bit monotonous after a while. Probably the inclusion of a spicy element would have offered some vibrancy to the rice. I did ask for an extra helping of the hot sauce from the previous appetizer and that helped finish the dish.

Mama Katsu - Don
Dessert was Mamagoto’s classic Banoffee Pie. Anyone who has eaten this dish here knows the absolute sinful goodness the dessert offers. If you’ve not, do head over just to try this one out. And no whining about calories and all that. The dessert doesn’t need that kind of negativity in the world.

Banoffee Pie

Banoffee Pie
I closed dinner with another cocktail, the Frozen Sangria. Putting a twist on the classic gola from Mumbai, the cocktail had a large block of crushed ice dipped in a gigantic red wine sangria mason jar(ish). Talk about bringing fond memories from holidays to Mumbai with a classic sangria, the cocktail left me with quite the buzz and quite the head-freeze. I did keep going back for more. 

Frozen Sangria
From the evening’s dinner, the cocktails ranked number one on my list; the dessert was too good to waste its time being compared with others, so let’s leave that out. The shrimp prawns would be the other memorable bit for me. Do check out some of the other dishes on the menu. I couldn’t as it was a one man show that evening with no back up.

Bene meets the Persian Terrace at sea, the Sheraton Grand

Bringing two of my favourite cuisines together, the Sheraton Grand is mixing it up at their on-going sea food festival by bringing together Italian flavours from Bene with Mediterranean flavours from The Persian Terrace. I was invited to try out some of the dishes at the opening night of the festival. Readers of the blog know how much I love Mediterranean food and the flavours it offers. The evening meal commenced with an appetizer which brought together watermelon, feta cheese and prawns in a herb salad. On my current obsession to have salads with every meal, watermelon and feta cheese is one of my all-time favourites.  Throw in some prawns, what’s not to like? The dressing of the appetizer offered strong tamarind flavours, like a chaat. While tamarind powder finds a miniscule place in some Mediterranean cooking, I wouldn’t classify the dish under that umbrella. All that aside, it was a lovely little appetizer and I’m planning to try and make it at home… without the prawns alas. 



This was followed by a serving of Spanish Garlic Prawns. While the flavour was good and the dish looked absolutely appetizing, the crunchiness of the prawns was a bit uneven. Of the three prawns served, two of them had the perfect crunch one expects of such a dish; while the third seemed to have been overcooked just a little more than required. The familiar flavour of the light garlic sauce was polished off with the toasted ciabatta that accompanied the dish.



Next up were the soups. We started off with a Mediterranean soup – the Ghalieh Mahi, a spicy herb soup. One sip in and I was thoroughly disappointed by the flavour. Very reminiscent of a spinach based lentil dish that we make in South India, the soup did nothing in terms of flavour to make me enjoy it. I took a few more sips and that was about all I could take of the soup. The silver lining – the serving was small, so I did not feel guilty about wasting it. The next soup however was something very similar to what I had had at Bene a couple of years ago. The Italian style Market Seafood Soup was a winner with strong Italian flavours of seafood that packed a punch. I loved this the first time I had this, and still do. Unlike the former, this soup left me wanting just a little bit more to tease my taste buds.



The first main course was Moroccan seafood Tagine with Cous Cous. A dish that could have been perfect if not for the slightly over cooked prawns which I thought was calamari. In terms of flavour, the sauce with the citrus cous cous was delightful. But nothing like a meat not done to perfection to take away all the good work that went into the dish. The second main course was very enjoyable; a Mixed Grill of Seafood with Greek Salad and Crusty bread. The grilled prawn displayed in its shell brought a certain rustic look to the dish. The dish was simple with a whole lot of natural flavours in every bit of seafood.  A simple classic dish.





Dessert was my favourite part of the meal. The one thing I always recommend to folks going to Bene is to try the Bene Classic Tiramisu. Packed with flavour and a slight alcohol tinge when you put a spoon of it into your mouth, makes this one of my favourite dishes at Bene. Needless to say, I polished this off quickly. And while in hindsight I should have said no, I polished off a second plate from another blogger at the table who said she wouldn’t be eating any more than a few spoons. Well, I can never say no to anyone offering me food. The evening came to an end with a fine espresso.



The dinners at the food festival are prices at INR 2500 (without the paired wines) and INR 3250 (with the paired wines). Besides the set menu that comprises of both Italian and Mediterranean spread, the festival also offers a variety from their ‘Catch of the day’ market that can be cooked to your liking. The Italian flavours came out more strongly than the Mediterranean flavours. Considering my bias to the latter, I felt a tad disappointed. Don’t miss the seafood soup and the tiramisu should you head here. The festival is on till the end of the week.

The Spicier Side of Italy at Ottimo, ITC Gardenia

On some days, the stars align and the universe does everything in its power to give you memories that you will share with everyone you know (and don’t know through social media) for weeks to come. One such evening was on my very first visit to Ottimo ristorante at ITC Gardenia for their ‘Fire of Italy’ festival. Having heard so much about Chef Vittorio Greco’s creations and personality from other fellow food bloggers, my expectations were quite high.

An evening of fine Italian dining demands excellent wine. While I’m no connoisseur of the same, I resort to the very rudimentary assessment of ‘do I like the taste or not’. We were offered a Gavi DOCG from Ricossa, whose delicate fruity flavour was something I instantly took a liking to. Never having eaten at Ottimo before, I wasn’t sure what to expect in terms of the courses. We began the evening with a vegetarian appetizer, the Salt cooked Onion with Parmesan Chilli and Star Anise. Call it love at first bite, the dish offered me a completely new flavour that had me grunting with joy with every bite I took. The saltiness of the onion balanced out perfectly with the parmesan filling which was quite light. The star anise and the star anise powder were the spices that pushed the dish into the zone of absolute culinary joy. I’ve heard that Chef Greco believes that while a good piece of meat can hold its ground, the true power of innovation comes with vegetarian. This dish was a perfect example of how to do it… and do it well! The presence of a biscuit and the crispy friselle-like bread in the meal to offer a change of texture could have been avoided as it didn’t do anything to help the grand star that was the stuffed onion. Kudos to the chef on this creation.


Salt Cooked Onion with Parmesan Chilli and star anise

Salt Cooked Onion with Parmesan Chilli and star anise

This was followed by a Squid and Chorizo salad where the squid was cut into shapes that resembled pasta. Subtle flavours, nothing complicated yet nothing that blew my taste buds away when compared to the previous dish.  This was followed by the Agnolotti with Liquid Smoked Ricotta, Morels and Aglio-olio e pepperoncino. The dish was more traditional in its taste and offered the sort of bold flavours that one would expect from an Italian dish. That being said, the combination overall didn’t particularly leave me with the urge of wanting to go back for more. The blend of flavours went a little all over the place and made the dish a tad strenuous on the palette.

Squid and Chorizo Salad

Bringing the meal back on track was the next course, Lobster and Chili Double Stuffed Ravioli. Again, this dish had very bold flavours but everything worked well. The ravioli was perfect and the portions of lobster were adequate enough to leave the mild lingering taste of seafood that makes you go back for another bite to keep that flavour going. The sauces and spice were strong in flavour but subtle enough not to negate the taste of the seafood.

Lobster Double Stuffed Ravioli

The main course was something that made my taste buds dance around. Putting together some of my personal favourite flavours, the Slow Cooked Pork Belly with Pistachio and Black Pepper was an absolute treat. The pork belly was left a tad shy of being soft, a texture I am more used to. But that worked with the outer coating of pistachio. Having to crunch through a bit, the flavours of the meat and the nuts came together well in my mouth.  The pork belly was placed on a bed of spinach that brought about not only a change in texture to the dish, but a new flavour as well. And being a fan of spinach, I was more than delighted. Accompanied with a strong jus and veggies, each bite was a sheer delight. (Unintentional rhyming there).  This dish is a rich and heavy dish no doubt and comes with four fairly huge pieces on the plate. While I’d like to think it was all the previous food that I ate (obviously), I was able to conquer only two pieces on the plate. But those two pieces were sheer joy. Kudos to the chef on this dish again.

Slow cooked pork belly with pistachio and black pepper

The crowning glory of the evening, the magnum opus if you may call it, was the dessert. The Torta Caprese 2.0. This dessert was the sort of magic one has only seen on shows like Masterchef. And that evening, I saw the magic with my own eyes. Words will not be adequate to describe the theatre and the flavour behind this dish, so I’ll just let you all take a look at the video below.  (PS: I am not responsible for any unruly behaviour or unexplained emotions you may have after this)


Great appetizer, great wine, great main course and a dessert worthy of the Gods…. That pretty much sums up the evening. While the festival concluded very recently, I’m sure the folks at Ottimo would be glad to indulge you with some of the dishes from the festival. While I couldn’t meet Chef Greco who was travelling at the time, I was able to speak to him over the phone and thank him for envisioning this memorable meal and a dessert that I will tell everyone I meet about.  Look forward to more creativity from the hands of Chef Grecco at future festivals.

5 years of Edo, ITC Gardenia

After 5 weeks of being on a strict no-nonsense diet owing to health reasons, I was delighted to get back into the food blogging scene with an invite to try out the special menu at Edo at the ITC Gardenia which celebrated 5 years of top notch Japanese food. This was the first time I’ve been to Edo. I’ve heard so much about it, so naturally, expectations were high. Giving me company for the evening were Ruth (here’s her blog) and Sudhakar, who’ve always been superb company for any meal where we all drool over food and music. Well, it was their anniversary, so it was more like I was crashing their party.

The meal started off with a Zensai. This was a platter that offered an assortment of dishes including Toro Renkon (Fatty Tuna on crispy Lotus chips),Mozuku (Stringy Seaweed),Tori Gyoza (Mince Chicken and Ginger Dumpling) and a Kani Salada (Japanese mayo marinated Crab and Flying Fish Roe). Staying true to Japanese cooking, every dish on this platter offered subtle elegant flavours. My favourites were the Kani Salada and the Mozuku. The former was a very summer dish with all the cucumber and mayo marinated crab. Light on the stomach, I was willing to order and entire bowl of salad of just this. While I have tried sea weed before, and wasn’t impressed then. This preparation however introduced me to some new flavours. Almost like light tamarind chutney, the stringy sea weed helped remove the unpleasant memories of the previous sea weed dish I had had.







No Japanese meal is complete without Sushi and Sashimi. This evening, we were presented with three varieties - the Chutoro, Sake, Kanpachi (Fatty tuna, Salmon, Young Yellow Tail). Accompanied with freshly done wasabi, every piece was elegant. Each of these offered the elegance you’d expect from a restaurant like Edo. Subtle flavours of the fish differentiating one from the other. 


Next up was my favourite dish of the evening. Straight from the grill, the Negima (Chicken and leek Yakitori) with the Ebi (Grilled Prawns) were the most flavourful dish of the evening. The light sweet sauce on top of the slightly crunchy chicken on the skewer, supplemented by the leek really woke up my taste buds after 5 weeks of hibernation. The prawns on the side were grilled perfectly and besides the meat, were consistent in flavour with the chicken. If ever there was a way for my taste buds to come back to life, this was probably the way to do it. Strong flavour, yet not overwhelming. 


Before we hit the main course, a plate of Agemono (Light and crisp Tempura with accompaniments) was served. Compared to what we had eaten previously, this was the weakest dish of the evening. The dish fell right in the center of familiar tempura territory. What I was hoping for was that the sauces would introduce me to a new flavour or something that made me go wow. Unfortunately, they were nothing new in terms of flavour. While the dish tasted good, it did nothing for me with the wow factor.


The main course was a relatively simple fried rice of vegetables and some egg. 


Dessert threw up some good surprizes and stuck with the elegant theme of the evening. We were offered a platter which consisted of Madagascar Chocolate Mousse, Yuzu cheesecake and a Kaboocha Kasutera. While the chocolate mousse ticked all the boxes in terms of flavour and presentation, the Kaboocha Kasutera - a Japanese sponge cake with guava on top was the winner in the dessert. This was a completely new flavour for me and the guava did a fantastic job of cleansing the palate after the meal.



My very first meal at Edo was everything I expected it to be. From good service, to elegant food and superb company, the evening was definitely a memorable one. I look forward to my next meal at Edo once I am fighting fit so that I can try out some of the more ambitious Japanese flavours.

A culinary sojourn with The Phoenicians at Raj Pavilion, ITC Windsor

Before the food, it’s important to understand a bit of history around the theme for this particular dinner. Phoenicia was an ancient civilization composed of city-states which lay along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea through what is modern-day Syria, Lebannon and northern Israel. The civilization flourished through maritime trade between c. 1500-322 BCE. As far as the food goes, I read that they made porridges, breads and flat cakes that grew in popularity and crossed the borders  and survived for centuries. They also had vegetable gardens where they would grow peas, lentils, chickpeas, beans and fruits like fig, pomegranate, apple, lime and more. A lot of these ingredients find a prominent place in what we know as the Mediterranean cuisine. This is the theme for the food festival at the Raj Pavilion.

This sort of cuisine is among my favourites because besides being quite nutritious and healthy, one can work magic with the vegetarian dishes that tend to get ignored in a lot of food festivals. The salads are always where I find my favourites with Mediterranean food. Among the dozen salads that were on the fare, I found my palate favouring the Tamarind Tossed Papaya Salad and the Herbed Poached Shrimps with Salsa the most. Hitting similar spots on my tongue, the tanginess of both  brought out some fabulous flavours that beckoned me to go back for seconds… and thirds.



Some of the other salads like the Marinated Watermelon with Brined Artichoke and Gherkins, the Chargrilled Pineapple with Pickled Onions exemplified the rich Mediterranean flavours far better than some of the other non vegetarian salads that were on display.




I moved on to one of my all-time favourite meals – hummus and pita bread. Accompanying the hummus were other Mediterranean dips such as Taboulleh, Babaganosh and Beet Labneh. I will have to exercise my bias towards good old plain hummus as the hero of that section.




The main course of the meal consisted of vegetarian and non vegetarian food in equal variety. First up were the Greek Style Stuff Peppers. The capsicum (yes, we call them capsicum) with fillings of fruit, zucchini and a light layer of cheese. I’ve not had enough Greek food to say that it was authentic, but all I know is that I thoroughly enjoyed the dish. Unlike the more familiar mughlai styled stuffed capsicums I’ve had, this was quite light on the tummy and the interesting mix of all the fruits and vegetables left me wanting more. (Which I did go back and help myself to). Also served was the Imam Bayildi – a stuffed eggplant (or aubergine for the fancy people), my aversion to all things eggplant didn’t allow me to relish the dish.



In the non vegetarian section, I took a liking to the chicken wings with preserved lime. Although this tasted more like a summer dish to me, I wasn’t complaining as the wings were done tender enough to have the meat come off the bone effortlessly as I chomped away. The Agean Kakvia Fish dish was a tad too bland for what I’m used to when it comes to Mediterranean seafood, so I left it at a single helping. The Greek Lamb with Orzo was another dish that had me going back for seconds with the lamb cooked quite tender, and a light peppery sauce to accompany the rice made this a good dish.




Before I hit the dessert stand, we were served Shish Tawook – A twist on the popular Shwarma Roll, this had extremely tender Shish Kababs with zesty sauces and sliced veggies which made this a superb roll. I was wishing that I had started off the meal with this roll rather than ending it. I wanted to have another one, but had absolutely no space to tuck it in.


Dessert was a rather simple affair with a Baklava dumpling. While the taste of the chopped nuts and honey on the inside was good, the overall pastry was a bit heavier than what I was expecting. 


Full marks to the folks at ITC Windsor for bringing a nice historical twist to the familiar.
Mediterranean that I absolutely love. The top three picks of the meal for me would have to be the Herbed Poached Shrimps with Salsa, the Greek Style Stuff Peppers and the Shish Tawook. The food festival is on throughout the month of November. Do go and check it out.



The Seafood Sensation at Aloft Bengaluru Cessna Business Park

After the very enjoyable American Food festival at Aloft Bengaluru Cessna Business Park a couple of months ago, I was looking forward to trying out what Chef Sandeep Kumar has put together for their Seafood sensation festival. And it turns out, quite a lot. As an addition to the regular buffet, the seafood section had an impressive display of catfish, prawns, red snapper and more. I kicked off the evening with a tiny assorted platter of prawns, calamari and fish with a variety of sauces including mayonnaise, tomato, chilli-honey, and a very new flavour which was yellow mustard with green apple. Chef Sandeep is turning out to the ‘sauce guy’ for me. While it didn’t top the chocolate mole from the last time, this sauce was the best of the evening and became the staple dip for almost everything. The recent Thailand trip did have me using a little more chilli-honey sauce than usual.
While we waited for the next course I tried some of the seafood salads on display including fish and fresh fruits salad. With contrasting sweet and citrus flavours, the salad came across as something I would have probably had an entire bowl of during the summer. 




Seafood Salads
Next at the table was a fish platter that consisted of tuna, sea bass and snapper all lightly fried. Among the three, the tuna was the best in terms of how much of the flavour it retained and how it blended with all the sauces. This was the second time I’ve had the red snapper, the last being at a restaurant in the US quite some time ago. While that particular dish had a predominant and predictable citrus punch, this snapper was far milder in flavours. All the fish flaked superbly. 

Fish Platter
Next up was a very attractive looking plate of sardines and prawns. The sardines aren’t my first choice for a fish to be honest. That being said, while the dish was supposed to offer a masala sardine, it somehow didn’t make it all the way in terms of the spice levels leaving me a bit disappointed. The prawns however, were cooked perfectly. More mustard and green apple sauce!!!

Sardines and Prawns Platter

Sardines and Prawns Platter

The main course was the best part of the meal. First up was the seafood biryani with the Prawns Salan. The biryani was cooked really well, despite having all that seafood thrown in, it did not have an overwhelming seafood smell - a problem with numerous seafood biryani’s I’ve had in the past. The flavour was rich and had spices in excellent proportion. The biryani was a hero by itself. But truly bringing all the flavours to life was the prawn salan whose tangy taste of mustard made my evening. Fresh hot biryani with a tangy prawn curry on a cold wet rainy evening, it couldn’t get any better.

Seafood Biryani

Prawn Salan



I also tried the fish curry with plain rice, which was a very homely dish and reminded me of something similar with chicken that a friend’s mother would make. But unfortunately, in front of the prawn salan, this dish was a distant second. After a single helping of the fish, I went back to the seafood biryani and the prawns. It was just so sad that I had but one stomach and a mere above-average appetite, for I would have finished the biryani entirely. Also, it would have been quite uncouth if I had asked for a doggy bag. Dinner ended with a helping of pista kheer as I had absolutely no space for anything more.

Fish Curry


Rice Kheer

The Seafood sensation at Aloft Bengaluru Cessna Business Park is on till the 27th of November. My recommendation is definitely for the tuna with the yellow mustard and green apple sauce, and of course for the seafood biryani with the prawn salan. If I weren’t travelling, I’d definitely go back just to have those two again.

Street Food in Bangkok

For those of you who haven’t been following me on other social media channels, I spent 12 glorious days backpacking all by myself through Thailand. And by through I mean that I went to more than one city. Besides being a budget destination, one of my biggest attractions to head to Thailand was obviously the food. I spent the entire four hours of my flight to Bangkok imagining all the delicious street food that I would get to savour and make inappropriate noises of appreciation. The moment, they let me into the country; my sole purpose for the day was to find some Thai street food. I freshened up and went over to the Reclining Buddha temple where I spent a few hours before I stepped out and sampled some of the glorious flavours of authentic Thai food. And by George, I wasn’t disappointed at all.

The Reclining Buddha

Tuk Tuk

I kick started my vacation with a Raw Papaya Salad. Coming from India, one tends to be a tad arrogant when it comes to one’s ability to handle spicy food. But I was quickly brought down to earth with the first bite of this salad. The first flavour that hit me was the sweetness of the papaya; I thought to myself that this was going to be a breeze. A couple of seconds in, the spice kicks in….and oh what a kick it was. Parts of my tongue were enjoying the sweet taste while the rest was on fire. And yet, I went back for more. This absolutely contradicting flavours of sweet and spice kept calling me back for more. Pretty soon, I was sweating and had water coming out of my nose, but I still kept gobbling away at that salad. What a way to start off my vacation. I cooled my senses down with a nice cold bottle of fresh pomegranate juice. 

Raw Papaya Salad

Fresh Pomegranate Juice

Next up was the grilled chicken which was cooked really tender. Fresh off the grill, the chicken was as soft as a lightly toasted marshmallow and wasn’t spicy at all. Just meat with the natural flavours of coal made this a super addition to the meal. 

Grilled Chicken

Grilled Chicken
I still needed some time to allow my taste buds to regain their sense of flavour, so I walked about for a bit before I came across this stall selling fresh crunchy banana spring rolls. While the spring rolls themselves were sweet, the chilli-honey—garlic sauce that accompanied it was the kicker. Lovely contradicting natural flavours hit all the right spots. 

Banana Spring Rolls
Lunch was the very famous Pad Thai noodles at an adjacent stall. To be honest, I was a little disappointed by the flavour. I’ve had more impactful and aromatic Pad Thai back in India and this one was quite bland. Missing a lot of the spiciness, the only flavours that came through were that of the vinegar, palm sugar and the peanuts.  It could be thanks to a large group of Spaniards at my table who asked for no spice in their Pad Thai, and I got served from the same batch. But it wasn’t the end of the world. I was in Thailand where Pad Thai stalls can be found at almost every corner.

Shrimp Pad Thai

Shrimp Pad Thai
My vacation was off to the kind of start I expected it to be with regard to food. There’re a lot more blog posts coming up over the next few days.

The American Food Festival at Aloft Cessna Business Park

If one were to ask me, there are only two things that truly define the culture of the United States of America – Jazz and the Burger. While I’m sure this comment might spark a great debate, let’s all just be civil for the remainder of this post. 

Celebrating the culinary culture of the US, I was invited to try out the spread at the American food festival at the Aloft (Cessna business park). Naturally, my expectations of the burger were quite high. I was also keen to see what else would be spread. This was the first festival put together by Aloft’s new executive chef – Chef Sandeep Kumar. Chef Sandeep brings with him over a decade of experience in food and beverages with stints at the Leela Goa, the Carnival Cruise Line, The Orient Express at the Taj Palace in Delhi and more. The inspiration for the theme for this particular food festival comes from Chef Sandeep’s time with the Carnival Cruise Line that allowed him to sample a lot of dishes that are now synonymous with the American landscape.


We kicked off our lunch with a helping of chicken wings. Very American in flavour, the wings were tender and came off the bone very easily. Like with all wings, the key differentiator is the sauce that the wings are coated in. The flavour of the sauce with these wings fell right in the middle of familiar territory with a largely sweet taste with a hint of spice. Following the wings was the good old American dish of fried chicken. With a light spice in the very crunchy skin on the outside, the chicken was once again a very familiar taste. But the absolute kicker and one of the highlights of this dish was the spicy chocolate mole. 




Made from chocolate and spices mixed together for over eight hours, the bitter sweet chocolate with the pepper and spice flavour that precedes it was an absolute turn on for my taste buds. They wanted to have this sauce with everything. I couldn’t hold back my shamelessness and requested for a small bottle of this sauce to take home with me. I have diligently been dipping everything from carrots to baked crisps in it. I know that sauce set me back in my grand ‘lose weight’ plan, but oh hell… YOLO. (See what that chocolate sauce has made me do, I’m typing YOLO and all that.)

Next up was a plate of nachos salad. I’ll be quite honest in saying that the nachos were one of the better nacho salads I’ve had in ages. With a lot of local restaurants maintaining their margins by cutting out elements on their previously flavourful nacho salads, this hit the spot with the right amount of veggies, meat, salsa, sour cream and guacamole.



We moved on to my favourite part of the meal – the burger. I was served a delicious beef patty that was sandwiched between a layer of fresh mustard, a fried egg, tomatoes and onion rings. While the mustard and beef flavours dominated the burger, a quick dip in the chocolate sauce took it to a whole new level altogether. A thumb up for the burger from me. 




Mexican food and flavours are an integral part of the American food landscape. Next up was the chicken roll with salsa roja. Heavy on Mexican spices, the roll was quite filling with the salsa sauce, layer of cheese, egg and mustard topped off with a jalapeno pepper. The tiny cubes of chicken themselves did not hold any flavour; this was driven completely by everything else in the roll. After having a third of the roll, I was quite full. I reluctantly sampled the hot dog because no American experience is complete without the hot dog. Compared to the burger and the hot dog was mild. It missed the punch of the all-important relish. Relish and mustard define the taste of any hot dog.



While there were numerous other dishes on the spread including the classic American mac and cheese, a corn jalapeno timble in a coriander sauce, a veg stew, burritos and more, I was too full to have anything more. Besides, whatever little crevices were left in my tummy was reserved for dessert.



Dessert was simple plate of churros, done perfectly with a slightly crispy exterior coated in sugar with a soft inside. There was a slightly overwhelming taste of cinnamon which went even better when I dipped it in the chocolate mole. 



This is a very promising start to Chef Sandeep’s stint with the Aloft at Cessna Business Park. I’m looking forward to more such festivals that chef has planned out. He did share some of the grand plans he’s got for the next year, and cheers to more good food.

Chettinad Food Festival at Feast, Sheraton Grand

There are food festivals and there are food festivals. This one’s the latter. The culinary team at Sheraton Grand (erstwhile Sheraton Bangalore Brigade Gateway) have raised the bar for what a food festival is all about. Focussing on the strong peppery flavours of the Chettinad cuisine, Chef Marty and Chef Sabari travelled into the heart of the region to discover flavours and recipes to put up an authentic chettinad food festival at Feast.


The big difference, besides the fabulous flavours of almost every dish, is the spread of the festival that seems to be almost double of what was on offer during previous festivals. A lot more effort has gone into decorating the restaurant with spices, curry powders, ceramic dolls and more to give one a chettinad feel. Another big difference was the equal proportion of vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes that kept both camps happy. 

I kicked off the festival with a fabulous crab soup. If ever there was a way to set the pace for the barrage of strong flavours I was going to experience for the rest of the evening, that crab soup was it. Strong on pepper, with a mild helping of spices with really soft crab portions, the soup instantly hits your throat. Some might find the taste of the pepper overwhelming, but I completely enjoyed the flavour. There were quite a few appetizers, each with their own unique flavours served. The Kozhi Kal Chops (chicken leg chop) was another dish strong on pepper and spices with the chicken just coming off the bone very easily. There was also the Nethli Fry, a fish appetizer that missed the mark in my book in terms of really displaying some strong spice. A variety of knick knacks for the vegetarians were excellent too including a masala vada, appam with tomato chutney, dosa and mini-addai (a dosa variant cooked with six types of lentils).

Kozhi Kal Chops

Nethli Fry



Appam

Masala Vada and Fried Pepper Mushroom

For the main course, there was a chicken and a mutton dish. While the mutton kurma offered no new tastes as such, the chicken in the pepper gravy was a home run. Loaded with spice and pepper, the chicken dish was cooked brilliantly. The meat was tender and cooked evenly across every piece. What did work for me was the gravy. One bite in and the typical-pepper flavour of chettinad food over-whelmed my taste buds and the aroma even crept into my nose. This gravy was an excellent complement for the mutton biryani which despite looking full of flavour was relatively bland. The buffet also offered a brinjal rice and a veg pulao, both off which gave off wonderful aromas of spice when I walked by.

Chicken in Pepper Sauce

Mutton Biryani



I didn’t try out too many of the vegetarian section as most of the dishes were very familiar. One dish among all caught my eye and I was delighted that it tasted even better than it looked. The Beetroot Kolavurndai, a beetroot dumpling cooked in coconut gravy offered a very unique taste. On the sweeter side owing to the sweetness of the beetroot and coconut, this dish provided much relief in terms of flavour. The texture of the dumpling was soft and while the outer layer had absorbed a lot of the coconut taste, the inside still retained the sweetness of beetroot. This is another example of how vegetarian food can be tasty and inventive too. 


Beetroot Koluvurndai
For the dessert, I took a small helping of the halwa which was average. The second dessert, the Eleneer Payasam (coconut kheer) was light, not too sweet and acted as a nice cleanser to the end of a meal driven by punches of pepper and spice.

Eleneer Payasam

In all honesty, this has been the best food festival at the Sheraton Grand that I have been too. There is clearly a lot more work that has gone into the dishes and the overall theme. This would be the new benchmark for all following festivals at Feast. 

The Spice Island Flavours at Dakshin, ITC Windsor

As someone who takes keen interest in experiencing various cultures of the world through food, the ‘Spice Island Flavours’ festival at Dakshin (ITC Windsor) was a very unique food experience. As a part of their ‘Kitchens of India’ campaign, ITC introduced me to a unique set of flavours from South India. Brought to us by Priya Bala, the festival focuses on the culinary style of people from the Tamil community who were moved to Sri Lanka during the British Raj to work on the tea plantations. After settling there for numerous decades, civil unrest in the region had them moving back to India. This community brought with them a style of cooking that blends the Sri Lankan style of cooking traditional south Tamil Nadu flavours.

While we waited for the appetizers to arrive, we munched on some south-Indian style crisps with four flavourful chutneys. The chutneys offered familiar tastes of coconut, tomato and more and made for a good start to the meal. Naturally, I had to exercise extreme discipline not to make that my meal altogether. 


Chutney
The first two appetizers were the Khaima Somasi and the Devilled Prawns. The former is a variant of the kheema samosa with minced lamb, served with tomato chutney. While this dish was deep in familiar territory, the new flavour came from the Devilled Prawns. Tossed with onions, chilli and a piquant sauce, the dish had a delicate blend of tanginess and spice that opened up my taste buds to an evening of perfectly balanced spices. I’m normally used to prawn dishes from this region to be high on spice which I normally cooled down with a cold beer; so this flavour was quite new and did not set my tongue on fire. A dish I would definitely recommend.

Khaima Somasi and Devilled Prawns

Devilled Prawns
Before we hit the main course, we were served mini-uttapams in two varieties, one was savoury and the other was sweet and was made from bananas. I’ve never tasted the latter and thoroughly enjoyed dipping it into the chutneys.

Uttapams

For the main course, we were served Idiyappam with a coconut milk. Accompanying this were three side dishes. The first was the Erachi Curry which was a mildly-spiced lamb stew. I wasn’t a big fan of this particular dish as the flavours didn’t do anything to peak my taste buds. This was compensated with the Chicken Badun. The chicken was quite tender and the taste of pepper dominated the flavour. I’ve had a variation of this dish before in Tamil Nadu, but this packed a much bigger punch and the gravy was a good combination with the idiyappam and the rice that was served. The third and final dish of the main course, which was the star of the meal, was Anasi Perattal. This dish is a pineapple curry cooked with spices like cinnamon, lemon grass, a bit of fennel and chilli powder. Cinnamon is one of those spices that can overthrow all other tastes in your mouth when into a dish. The moment I popped a spoon of the dish into my mouth, the combination of cinnamon and the citrus taste of the pineapple hit me like a ton of bricks, in a good way. There’s a very subtle bit of spice that remains on your taste buds once the pineapple goes down, but the taste of the cinnamon lingers for long. I shamelessly asked for a second helping of this dish. 


Chicken Badun

Anasi Perattal

Dessert comprised of two dishes. The first was the Watalappam, a coconut milk and jaggery custard. I didn’t particularly enjoy this one for personal reasons. I’ve been moving away from consuming a lot of sugar in my daily meal by eliminating it from my coffee, tea, juices, etc. It’s been this way for eight months now. Hence, the jiggery in this dessert was too sweet for my taste buds. The second dessert was a simple yet elegant dessert. The Kiri Pani, a thick yogurt served with palm and jiggery honey was the fireworks to the end of a great meal. Not too sweet, this simple mix cleansed the palate completely and left me with a fresh taste in my mouth. This dessert was the second best part of my meal after the pineapple curry.

Watalappam

Kiri Pani

Priya Bala

‘Kitchens of India’ continues to bring new flavours and the ‘Spice Island Flavours’ festival is definitely something anyone looking for new tastes and experience should try out. My pick for the meal would have to be the pineapple curry, the Kiri Pani dessert and the Devilled Prawns. Kudos to Priya Bala for introducing a larger audience to these flavours.

The Secret Fruit Affair with Zespri India @ ITC Gardenia

A couple of weeks ago I was invited to a media event at the Lotus Pavilion at the ITC Gardenia. The only brief I was given was that this was a ‘Secret Fruit Affair’ and I should look forward to a treat that shines as bright as the sun. Other than that we were only told that the high tea menu for the evening would be put together by Chef Yogen Datta and his team using the exotic fruit that was shrouded in mystery.

When the event started, we weren’t told what the fruit was, but were instead served three drinks that had the fruit blended into it. Fellow food Connoisseur Monika Manchanda was quick to identify that the mysterious fruit was the kiwi fruit. A lot of us were a bit disappointed, almost like the ending to a terrible murder mystery novel, but it turns out that while the fruit was the kiwi fruit, it wasn’t the regular green kiwi fruit that we’re all used too. Zespri India launched a new variety of their kiwi fruit which is yellow and is popularly known as the Sun Gold Kiwi. 


Kiwi Cocktails
This was a part of a multi-city launch with the first leg in Bangalore. The rest of the evening proceeded with chefs from ITC showcasing Sun Gold Kiwi fruit flavoured dishes from all across the globe. While the chefs were prepping the cooking area, we got to sample some tit-bits such as bruschetta and fried wantons, all which featured the kiwi fruit. We also got to sample both the sun gold and green varieties to understand the subtle differences in flavour. 

Bruschetta


Fried Wanton
First up was the Aglio Olio of Vodka marinated Kiwi and Tuna with Spaghetti. This dish was very mild in terms of the flavours it offered. The citrus taste of the kiwi was lost in the slightly more overwhelming flavour of the cherry tomatoes and the tuna. That being said, it was still a nice summer dish and would have gone fabulously with a glass of red wine.

Kiwi and Tuna with Spaghetti

Next up was a take on the Goan classic, the Kiwi Sasam. I’m not a fan of the original dish, and was not a fan of this either. We make a similar dish at home called koottu, which tastes similar and I have a silly childhood dislike for that dish. While everyone else enjoyed the dish thoroughly, I wasn’t excited. 

Kiwi Sasam
The penultimate dish using the Sun Gold Kiwi was the Kiwi Tortilla with a Japanese Twist. The twist in this case was the spicy Japanese sauces that were used on the base of the tortilla as compared to a regular salsa sauce. This was a very fresh dish loaded with tomato, jalapeno, peppers and the Sun Gold Kiwi fruit. While preparing this took a bit of time (many hungry bloggers to feed), this dish was my favourite among the three savoury dishes that were served. This actually brought out the flavour of the kiwi fruit and had a slight kick with the spicy sauce.

Kiwi Tortilla
High tea was closed with a spectacular European-style Kiwi tart that looked spectacular and tasted even better. While I’m consciously trying to cut down the amount of sugar I take, this dish just laid waste to all my effort to stop desserts after a single bite. I could help myself and quite shamelessly threw away the spoon and used my hands to finish of the tart. I left no evidence that it ever existed.

Kiwi Tart
As far as the actual fruit goes, I did enjoy the more citrus taste of the Sun Gold Kiwi raw when compared to its green cousin. It has a flavour that lies somewhere between passion fruit and mango and is a lot more refreshing.  However, I personally feel the green kiwi fruit packs a little more punch when used as a garnish or in cocktails. While the team of chefs at the ITC Gardenia showed us some of the ways in which the fruit can be incorporated into the food we have, I would have to try a few more dishes before I am convinced that the Sun Gold can replace the classic flavour of the green kiwi fruit. I do hope that ITC Gardenia add the Kiwi Tortilla with a Japanese Twist to their menu. I want to have an entire plate to myself without having to reluctantly share. Do go out and try the new Sun Gold Kiwi at your local market. 

Rajasthani Food Festival - Aloft at Cessna Business Park

The Aloft at Cessna Business Park recently concluded their Rajasthani Food festival last weekend. I was quite fortunate to be able to savour the spread on the last day before the chefs went back home. The two-week festival was aimed at introducing new flavours from India to the hotel's target audience which mainly focuses on the employees of the nearby tech companies.

Being the last day, I was able to calmly savour all the dishes and take my time with the pictures. The meal began with a refreshing aam panna which was accompanied by some Rajasthani knick-knacks that included the famous Bikaneri bhujiya, dhungari pyaaz and chana daal ke papad which went fabulously with the assortment of pickles that were served.



Normally, I'm not a big fan of pickles and tend to be overly critical of the taste. The big plus points of the assortment of pickles that were served was the fact that none of them were overly heavy or aggressive in taste and actually complemented the papad. I rather enjoyed the aam kalonji (mango pickle) and the haldi ki chutney (turmeric chutney). Also as a part of the appetizers, we had some kota kachori with saunth ki chutney.





Until this day, Rajasthani cuisine to me has meant daal-bati-churma. I'm not the biggest fan of this dish. However, there was an interesting twist to the dish that was served with the rose churma. This particular mix was had two contrasting flavours that came out; the saltiness of the daal-bati which was followed by a sweet flavour of the rose churma which was made out of crushed rose petals and rose essence. This gave it an almost chaat-like finish which I thoroughly enjoyed.


The main course was an elaborate thali with more dishes than I can remember. After sampling all the servings, I found a few favourites and focused on those. The laal mass (mutton curry) was the best among the non-vegetarian. The flavours were stronger and had just the right amount of spice to wake up my taste buds. In contrast, the chicken was mild. I'll be candid here and admit that I did not know that non-veg was an integral part of the Rajasthani fare. Another dish that I rather enjoyed was the pitod. This was the second Rajasthani dish, aside from the daal-bati that I was familiar with. The superstar of the meal and the one dish that blew the mind of taste-buds apart was the ker sangri. The ker sangri is a delightful bean and berry mix unique to Rajastan. The flavour was very unique with the sweetness coming from the ker berry and the herbal yet tangy flavour coming from the sangri bean. The very light tinge of spices was enough to add some more punch to the dish without over powering the taste of the natural elements. It's not every day that a vegetarian dish impresses me. And this is a perfect example to every restaurant that vegetarian does not mean either paneer or aalo. there's a whole world of brilliant vegetarian food out there.



I was warned that I would not be able to finish the thali. Taking this as a personal challenge, I did try to, though unsuccessfully to complete what was placed in front of me. I had to eventually throw in the towel. I honestly had no space for desserts, but the glutton in me took two really small helpings of the malpua and ghevar.


If this was the fabulousness of the meal on the last day, I can imagine the fare throughout the festival. I'm rather grateful to the chefs at Aloft for introducing me to a new vegetarian dish that I love and hope that when the festival comes back to town next year, I can come over and order an entire bowl of Ker Sangri.

The Backpacker's Feast at Ministry of Food @ the Hilton at EGL

This was my first invite to a bloggers meet at the Hilton in Bangalore. Naturally, I was quite excited and made doubly sure not crack any sex-tape jokes. I’m not sure what the hotel policy is on that sort of behaviour coming from guests. Put together by Executive Chef Anirban Dasgupta, the ‘Backpackers Feast’ at the Ministry of Food at the Hilton is themed around bringing the best street food from around the world together at one place. The major locations chosen are Central and South America, Turkey, Singapore and India (with a main focus on Mumbai and Bangalore).





We did a quick run through of all the dishes before we got down to tasting. Choosing to go from west to east, I kicked off the elaborate meal with dishes from Central and South America. This covered a variety of dishes including chimichurri chicken wings, squid and prawn ceviche, lamb empanada, tacos and more. Two particular dishes stood out for me that evening. The first dish was the Brazilian fish stew. I loved the explosion of flavour sin this dish with all the spices coming together and yet not dominating the taste of the fish. The fish itself was cooked to near perfection. The next dish was the chipotle spike slow cooked pork belly. Among one of the finer serving I’ve had, the meat was quite lean with the fat kept to a minimum just to infuse the taste as this went down. A little bit of star anise added to the chipotle gave the right amount of tanginess and spice to make this, and the stew, among dishes that I went back for seconds for.

Chimichurri Chicken Wings

Lamb Empanada

Prawn Ceviche


Brazilian Fish Stew

Chipotle Spiked Slow-Cooked Pork Belly

I have a weakness for hummus and pita bread. And shawarma. This was pretty much the Middle Eastern journey of the buffet for me. The pita came in both crispy and soft varieties, and was lightly toasted enough to perfectly balance the cold of the hummus. The shawarma was not a big hit for me. There were similar neutral responses from the rest of the folks at the table. We moved on to the Indian section which unfortunately did not impress me at all. Most of the dishes were pretty average in taste and did not play with my taste buds in a manner similar to the stew and the pork which had set up very high standards for the rest of the evening. The lowest point of the meal was the prawn vada pav. The prawn and the potato just did not go well together and I left my vada pav after a couple of bites. The one thing that I did thoroughly enjoy was the rava fried anchovies which were very close to some of the fish I’ve had on the beaches of Chennai and Mumbai.

The bread and hummus station

Shawarma

Prawn Vada Pav

The final section of Singaporean food was quite elaborate. Having seen the dessert spread, I served myself minimum amounts of momos (another weakness) and satay. What boldly stood out was the Singapore Chilly Crab. This dish hit all the right spots. We had a resident of Singapore at the table who acknowledged that the taste was very close to what one would get on the streets of the city. The spicy sauce of the crab went very well with the rice, forcing me to go back for seconds. I was glad I kept this section for the end as the Indian section had me quite disappointed.


Chicken Satay

Singapore Chilly Crab

The dessert section was elaborate and covered a whole variety of desserts right from kulfi to Turkish delight to lemongrass cheesecake. Staying ahead of the pack was the baklava and the muhallabia which were made to perfection. The baklava was probably the best I’ve had in this city. I also tried the Churros for the first time, so I really do not have a benchmark on whether it was good or bad. For a first time taste, it was quite neutral. Dinner closed with some excellent pan wrapped in rice paper that literally melted in your mouth and some good old South Indian filter coffee.

Baklava

Churros

Muhallabia


Overall, the spread of the buffet is quiet good and allows one to indulge their taste buds in a variety of flavours and spices. As far as the dishes go, there some super hits and some misses. Most of the latter was in the Indian section. While I see the appeal of the same to a foreign tourist, the local population might not be impressed. That being said, the fish stew, the pork and the Singapore chilly crab find a cosy spot on the winner’s podium.