One Bowl Winter at Monkey Bar
The ‘Buddha Bowl’ was a trend that gained a fair bit of momentum late last year, and seems to have made its way to the Bengaluru restaurant scene just now. Excuse me If I wasn’t paying attention before, but a sudden boost in the number of Buddha Bowl pictures on local food blogger’s Instagram profiles has caught my attention. Deep-rimmed bowls with a smaller portions of a variety of dishes thrown in to create a single meal is pretty much what a Buddha Bowl is all about. I’m just a tad underwhelmed by the ‘trend’ (if you can call it that), but this was something that mothers across the country put together when their kids viewed food as an unwelcomed distraction from play. Throw in a little bit of rice mixed with sambaar, veg curry for the day, a bit of curd on the side, topped with chips or a paapad, that was the Buddha Bowl to me. However, today’s Buddha Bowls are a lot more photogenic and a lot more complex in terms of what goes in.
Monkey Bar has introduced the “One Bowl Winter” promotion across their gastropubs in New Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Bangalore, from November 15- Dec 30. The festival features twelve hearty bowls, that showcase some very popular dishes. From the popular Kadhi-chaawal with fried bhindi to the mustard-heavy Kasundi with gobindobhog rice, from the Chicken Xacutti of Goa to a Wild Mushroom Kichdi, the festival offers choices to almost everyone. I was invited a couple of weeks ago to try out what Monkey Bar had to offer. Now, while I won’t go about sampling each and every bowl, I’ll cover my top three.
Coming in at number three would be the Korean Bibimbap. You could call it the hangover from the trip to Korea that still lingers ( and yes, I haven’t written about the trip… I will, by the end of 2017). The dish offers simple, healthy flavours with all the veggies going in. What makes it stand out is the spicy gochujang steak which had been cooked wonderfully, a little more than ‘medium rare’ but not all the way to ‘well-done’. I’d have been equally delighted if I were served a bowl of just that steak. The picture is up there to see.
My second favourite, and I can’t believe I’m saying this, was the simple Kadhi Chawal with karari bhindi, tawa aloo, radish salad, chutney papad and ghee. You could chalk this down to a week in the U.S where I had cold sandwiches for the large part, and the homely flavours of the dish were appealing. I would have liked to have put the Moroccan Vegetable Tagine of mixed veggies, chickpeas, prunes, almonds and olives, served with couscous here, but for reasons I cannot explain, the Kadhi chaawal made the cut.
My favourite, by miles, would be the Kashmiri Yakhni served with a saffron pulao. By itself, the saffron in the pulao felt a tad overwhelming. But the delicious yogurt based gravy with tender meat, perfectly balanced with spices, makes this dish perfect. A true winter bowl, the Kashmiri yakhni definitely makes the number one spot.
Damages to the wallet, the vegetarian bowls are priced upwards of INR 280++ and the non-vegetarian bowls are upwards of INR 380++. I had a few bites of some of the other dishes, and it’s clear that the chef wants to retain familiar flavours and not go over the top to put together something that sounds great but leaves people wondering whether they liked it or not. Do head over to the festival, you know my picks. I’d love to hear what you felt was your favourit