Monday, May 06, 2013
Thursday, March 21, 2013
My friend and I decided to go to Amma Naana, opposite the Park Sheraton to do some shopping and also drive through the Boat Club Road and grab some street food from the main road, which was famous in that area. We had a plate of Vadai in sundal gravy and split a Molagai Bajji with chutney. The vadai was sooper crisp and undoubtedly tasty. On the whole, it was a clean light fare and the bill for two main courses and a starter was INR 38.
Then I decided I needed something sweet for my palate. My friend took me to Bellario right next to the Park Sheraton. He promised me that this small outlet tucked away on this busy main road serves an out of the world lip-smacking, fresh, mind-blowing ice-cream right in front of you. He warned me the first scoop will make me swoon. I decided he was just being a drama queen.
We settled for the classic fig and honey, no additional toppings, the usual white sugar and skimmed milk. The boys blended the fig, honey, a little sugar and milk and made a coarse crepe like consistency batter and applied it over the high freezing pan. As it slowly kept freezing, the boys kept scraping it and made layers of it continuously and patted it into a thick ball of creamy, delicious scoops of fig & honey.
I was in 11th heaven. Words cannot do justice to that indescribable feeling of tasting this simple, tasty, fresh classic fare.
They even had vegetarian ice-creams as well as customized versions to suit the adventurous souls.
Your souls will never rest in peace once you taste Bellario's ice-creams. You will keep coming back for more and more and more till death do you apart.
Thursday, March 07, 2013
Hajjiali's Falooda & Cream made its humble beginning in 1937 inside the mosque of the legendary saint Haaji Ali in Mumbai. Today, it has become a cult for falooda lovers.
I refused to believe it; but my friend had told me so many tales of their mouth watering faloodas and sandwiches that I had to eat it to believe it. Believe it, I did and also packed a fruit falooda and a Paneer Bhaaji Cheese sandwich for my mom.
I had tried on a few occasions to drop in at Hajjiali on Greams Road, but the timing was always off and I never made it. This time, the saint blessed me. I was quite excited when I saw the place. The ambiance was not great and neither was the wash area. All that anxiety faded when I ordered a Schezwan veg sandwich and a dry fruit falooda.
I had never tasted a falooda before, but when I saw the mouthwatering tall glass of rich milk blended with rose syrup, to which basil seeds and glass noodles or vermicilli was addded, served with a scoop of ice-cream and a mighty generous sprinkling of dry fruits, it reminded me of its closest cousin (according to me only), the Bubble Tea I had in Canada. The Bubble tea originated in Taiwan in the 1980s and is made with tea and milk or fruits served with tapioca seeds.
Falooda is a dessert that originated in Persia and was actually known as faloodeh. We acquired a taste for it when the Mughals brought it to us along with their invasions. The faloodeh certainly invaded my heart and I shall not rest until I make my own faloodeh at home and post it on my food blog. While the Persians made the vermicelli using arrow root, we used wheat as a base. Today there are so many versions of this lip smacking dessert in Asia to include Burma, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Srilanka as well as the Middle East.
The sandwiches were done to perfection. The grated cheese was perfectly laid over the schezwan mixture and finished with the veggies. It was grilled well and the portions were spot-on. I wonder if they had measured the perfect bite size and served it. Biting into club sandwiches can usually be a messy affair because of the height of the sandwich.
Hajjiali blew my breath away. Prices were not frightening and service was good, which made the deal a lot sweeter. For two lip-smacking faloodehs and two sets of spicy sandwiches, we were presented a cheque for INR 357.
Now that's what I call, a Steal!
Friday, March 01, 2013
Tuesday, February 19, 2013
Tired and completely sapped, a late lunch beckoned us in the hot afternoon. We had decided early on that we will stick to Icarus for lunch. This is the second time we were heading out there for some fresh, tasty Punjabi food. The place has been done up a bit and looked inviting. A traffic sign with the left turn symbol directed us into Icarus. The interiors also looked a lot better and well lit.
During our previous visit, we missed out on the sarson ka saag, which is a gravy made from mustard leaves. So this time, I made sure I ordered that first up, along with some fabulous Makki Ki Roti (Indian flat bread made with maize) - this is the recommended combo, and I added a tall glass of cold, well beaten buttermilk. The Makki ki rotis(s) were crisp, phenomenally tasty and the sarson ka saag heightened the experience. Mind you, this deceptive piece of bread is easy to bite into; but once the bread settles in your stomach, you will feel a lot fuller than you expected. Last,we also ordered a dry Bhindi Fry (Ladysfinger fry) to go with the phulkas. The bhindi fry was a little spicy, but that did not stop us from wiping the plate clean to the last bhindi.
Prices seem to escalated a bit. The bill for two of us for 2 makki ki rotis, sarson ka saag, Bhindi fry, 3 rotis, kheer, buttermilk and a jal-jeera came up to INR 550 approximately. Service was excellent and there's no second guessing about the quality and quantity of food served.
On the whole, I was happy I finally made it to Icarus, once again ---- Annadhata Sukhi Bhava! (May the giver of food be happy)
Monday, February 18, 2013
Friday, February 15, 2013
Last week, on one of those busy weekdays, I had managed to wrap up work on time and surprisingly got back home in 40 minutes without being held up by traffic-jams. A friend of mine who had recently returned from Bangkok invited me to join him on a visit to the Parathasarathy temple at Tiruvallikeni, now known as Triplicane. It was an unexpected blessing. On an earlier occasion, when I tried to make a trip to the temple, it did not materialize.
When I entered the temple, I was filled with awe and joy. The temple was quite empty and I was able to spend time at the main shrine and absorb His presence to my heart's content. The temple priests also took immense interest in answering my curiosity questions about the temple's history.
The temple is over 2000 years old and one among the 108 Divyadeshams in India. Believed to be built by the Pallavas in the 8th century, subsequent contributions were made by the Chola and Vijayanagara dynasties. The temple follows the Thenkalai tradition. Bhagavan stands 9 feet tall facing east.
In the great epic, Mahabharata, prior to the war at Kurukshetra, Arjuna requests Lord Krishna to stay by Arjuna's side in the war. The Lord becomes Arjuna's charioteer in the great war. Partha refers to Arjuna and Sarathy means Charioteer, hence the name, Partha-sarathy, Arjuna's Charioteer. As a charioteer, the Lord sports a moustache, denoting valour and manliness. So he is also known as Meesai-Perumal (God with a moush) in Tamizh.
In keeping with His promise, the Lord does not use the Sudarshana chakra in the war, instead wields the holy conch Panchajanya in his Abhayahasta (right hand) to announce the war and his Varadhahastam (left hand) points downwards towards His feet denoting the Gyana Mudra. Out of love for His Bhakta (Devotee), here Arjuna, the Lord shields him from Bhishma's arrows in the war and hence His face shows scar marks. In order to treat His wounds, only ghee is used. No spices or ground nut oil is used in the temple. It is also a constant reminder to devotees that outward beauty is fleeting.
The name Tiru-alli-keni refers to Goddess Mahalakshmi who is believed to have been born here in a lotus flower in the tank. Tiru refers to the Goddess, Alli is the lotus and Keni is the pond. Sage Bhrigu prays to the Lord requesting Him to become Bhrigu's son-in-law. In answer to the sage's prayers, Mahalakshmi is born as Vedavalli. When it is time for Her marriage, Lord Ranganatha comes to Bhrigu to ask for his daughter's hand in marriage. Vedavalli Thaayar (mother) has her own shrine in the temple.
Another unique feature is the presence of the Lord with the entire family. He blesses devotees along with his Mother Rukmini, wife Mahalakshmi, brother Balarama, son Padyuman and grandson Anirudha.
When you enter the temple, you will be surprised to notice a message from Swami Vivekananda. This deepens the significance of this great temple. The Tiruallikeni Parthasarathy temple is also featured in Mahakavi Bharathi's songs including the great saint Thyagraja and Muthuswami Dikshitar. Further, the temple is also known as the panchamurthy (5 idols) stalam since it is the abode of Lord Venkatakrishna, Yoga Narasimhar, Sri Rama, Lord Gajendravaradha and Ranganatha.
I would not recommend going to the temple on auspicious days because of the teeming crowds. If you want to enjoy being with Him, go on a lean day, sit there and pray. You will leave the temple premises with peace of mind and joy.