Chef’s Log 55: Konkan Impressed

Bhangda Fry

Bhangda Fry

Humans are such strange creatures. They pierce themselves and make lasting holes in their bodies. They create permanent wounds using ink. And they have the gall to call it ‘art’! Luckily, these puzzling tendencies do not reflect on their food. If this ever-perplexing race has anything that represents a saving grace, it is what they eat. A good example of this is the restaurant ‘Konkan Express.’ First and foremost, it is exactly what the name promises. The food is authentic; the service, quick. I tried the Bhangda Fry and the Mutton Kolhapuri with Jawar Bhakari. The fish was fresh, beautifully seasoned, and crisped to perfection. The mutton lived up to its name— it was fiery without being overwhelmingly so, and packed with full-bodied flavour. And the Bhakari, with its thick texture and earthy taste was the perfect foil for the spiciness of the mutton. It was a warm, hearty meal­—ideal for winter. Come December, I know where I’m going to be. I also recommend it for anyone looking to clear their sinuses.

Note the vibrant, rich, red of the Mutton Kolhapuri

Note the vibrant, rich, red of the Mutton Kolhapuri

https://www.zomato.com/pune/konkan-express-kothrud

Chef’s Log 53: The Scrumptious Sunday Soul Sante

Picture this: Sunshine, soulful live music, vendors with charming merchandise, and a stunning array of delicious food to choose from. It all adds up to the perfect Sunday. The Sunday Soul Sante (that usually happens in Bangalore, but came to Pune last week) is an event reminiscent of the legendary flea market that takes place in Goa. Except here, thankfully, there are far fewer humans with questionable hygiene (or ‘hippies’ as they are called). Of course, my key focus was the food. And it definitely did not disappoint.

http://www.sundaysoulsante.com/

Chef’s Log 52: YogurtYay

IMG_20150220_152844

Waffle sticks. So good. Sigh.

A good dessert, like a good book, stays with you forever. You might be surprised to learn that we have books on my planet. Well, except, they are much more sophisticated than the paltry fare available here. I use the word fare because like most things on Gastronomica, books are consumed. Ingested. Gulped down. Whatever definition works best for you. A poorly written tale will give you an exceptionally bad case of indigestion. But the best books, ah, those end up consuming you, rather than the other way around. So you see now, how desserts are comparable to books. And just like an especially well crafted story, the dessert at YogurtBay, Koregaon Park, sweeps you away into an elegantly constructed world of gastronomical fantasy. The waffle sticks are simply stunning. Crispy, crunchy and light, but rich and extravagant at the same time, they feature an amazing blend of flavours and textures. An ideal snack, I would say, especially if you are in the mood to treat yourself well. The red velvet waffle stick is luscious and creamy, while the chocolate dipped waffle stick is melt-in-your-mouth decadent. And of course, how could I not try the yogurt? It was, as I hoped, absolutely delicious—not overly tangy, and smoother and creamier than any yogurt I’ve ever sampled. The flavor (I tried the blueberry cheesecake) really popped. Of course, yogurt toppings are not a new concept, but they are a highly pleasing one nonetheless. And YogurtBay’s toppings definitely do not disappoint. So the next time you feel especially indulgent, treat yourself to this. Your taste buds will thank you.
https://www.zomato.com/pune/yogurtbay-koregaon-park

Blueberry cheesecake yogurt

Blueberry cheesecake yogurt

Chef’s Log 51: Farmer’s Market Madness

What a splendid event the Pune Farmer’s Market is. The choicest options of food, along with artisan goodies such as organic bathing products and pottery. If only there was enough shade provided (I’m particularly sensitive to the Earth’s sun, quite unlike that unrealistic ‘alien’ ‘Superman’) it would be the perfect way to spend an entire Sunday.

 

https://www.facebook.com/PuneFarmersMarket?fref=ts

 

 

Chef’s Log 49: Creptacular

Red velvet crepes with mascarpone

Red velvet crepes with mascarpone

I admit, when I first arrived on this planet I was skeptical. How could a place which does not even consider culinary science a compulsory topic of study have anything decent to offer in terms of food? Little humans are encouraged to pursue topics as trivial as anatomy and social science. And a word of advice, if you are one of those trying to understand the inner workings of the human mind (‘psychology’ I believe is the term), I suggest you cast aside any optimistic ideas you might have. The human mind is nothing more than a rather simplistic, often faulty, mechanism, believe me. But we’ll save my shattering all your delusions of grandeur for another day. The point I want to make, is that I am officially impressed. Humans have a far better understanding of food than I could have imagined. And one restaurant that has reinforced this opinion is ‘Wholly Crepes,’ located in Model Colony,Pune. I’m not quite certain what to make of the name, but I rather like it- it has an air of wit and whimsy about it. And that about describes the place as well. I believe the perfect word to sum up its charming décor, warm ambience and general atmosphere would be ‘cute’. What of the food, you ask? Well, as the name would suggest, this place specializes in crepes. And when I say ‘specializes’ I mean that they really know what they’re doing. I sampled the ‘Trinite’ crepe. It contained spinach, mushrooms, cheese and grilled herbed chicken. The crepe itself was soft,

Poached pear and goat cheese salad

Poached pear and goat cheese salad

light and beautifully seasoned, while the filling was fresh and packed full of flavor. Overall, it was absolutely delicious. I also tried the poached pear and goat cheese salad and in short, I was blown away. It contained walnuts and had a red wine and cinnamon glaze. The striking contrast between the sweetness of the pears, the saltiness of the cheese and the crunchy nuts made for an exceptionally interesting dining experience. The dish was accented by some highly complex, sophisticated flavours. For dessert, I had the red velvet crepe with mascarpone and chocolate sauce, which was interesting as well. More than anything else, I was impressed with the innovation and the utterly brilliant ingredient combinations. In fact, I think I just might have a new favourite type of food-crepes.

https://www.zomato.com/pune/wholly-cr%C3%AApes-model-colony

Trinite Crepe

Trinite Crepe

 

Chef’s Log 47: It’s All Greek to Me

Like others of my race, I too firmly believe that the occasional indulgence is not just a luxury, but a necessity. And what better indulgence is there really, than food? I am slowly discovering that money, like so many other things on this rather depressing planet, is transient- one minute it’s here, the next it’s gone. Food on the other hand, when truly exceptional at least, leaves a lasting impression on your mind, thereby, existing forever. But enough subsistentialism (for the ignorant, in simple terms: the intergalactic philosophy and study of food). My point is it is definitely worth spending on good food. And one occasion when you can do this is the Sunday Brunch at Euriska. With everything from the decor and the ambience to the locks in the restroom designed to fit the theme, Euriska prides itself on distinctly representing that part of the planet known as the Mediterranean (in particular, Greece). From my experience with the cuisine at Euriska, I can completely understand how the Greeks once ruled over most of the world. What first strikes you about this brunch is the sheer variety. There is a wide selection of breads, cheeses, grills, cold meats and desserts, so you can satisfy nearly every whim and fancy. The pasta is made from scratch, with your choice of ingredients. I had the pasta with red pesto tomato sauce. It was lovely and light, with bright, fresh flavours. Among the grills, my favourite was undoubtedly the tenderloin beef- juicy and melt-in-your-mouth soft, it was lightly charred and crisped to perfection. The potato was also tangy and delicious, with a salty sour cream or cheese centre. Of the main course, I sampled the Beef Stifado, which was quite satisfactory. My favourite section, I believe (unsurprisingly), was the desserts. They were simply exceptional. The crème caramel was rich and creamy, the crème brulee was smooth and not excessively sweet, with just the right hit of coffee, and the baklava was a delicate concoction of sticky sweetness. I quite enjoyed the lemon tart as well, which definitely lived up to its name. All in all, it was a meal fit for any very hungry individual with the capacity to appreciate excellent food. If you are one of those individuals, I strongly recommend that you visit Euriska next Sunday.

https://www.zomato.com/pune/euriska-koregaon-park

Chef’s Log 45: Curry Leaves-An-Excellent-Taste-In-Your-Mouth

Beef Dry Fry, Chicken Pepper Fry and Appam(s)

Beef Dry Fry, Chicken Pepper Fry and Appam(s)

I admit, I consider the human race to be a rather weak species. If one were to ask my opinion, I would declare without any hesitation that the only reason they thrive now is because of the utter lack of intelligence possessed by Earth’s inferior species (However, I would warn them to keep an eye on the creatures known as dolphins; they could take over any time now). So naturally when I heard of the phenomenon broadly referred to as ‘addiction’ I assumed it was a distinguishing characteristic of a weak species. I was wrong, for I myself fell prey to this affliction. I found myself suffering from withdrawal symptoms which were sometimes so extreme that they resembled symptoms of insanity; all because I was unable to access that most addictive and fulfilling of all substances- the wondrous invention that humans call ‘internet.’ She is a cruel mistress, this internet. But enough about that. I stray from what this is really about. As always, food. I recently had the exciting opportunity to explore a whole new category of food: ‘Kerala’ food. I confess I do not know much about the area from which the food originates, but having tasted its food, I’d say I love it already. The restaurant I visited, aptly titled ‘Curry Leaves,’ specializes in this kind of food. Firstly, I admire their cheekiness. Although beef is not mentioned anywhere on the menu (I’m guessing to avoid offending especially narrow-minded patrons) there is a variety of beef dishes available if desired. I sampled the beef dry fry and the chicken pepper fry with what is apparently a typical (and delicious) accompaniment- the ‘appam.’ Light and fluffy with just the right hint of crispiness, the appam plays a role similar to that of the chappati. Unlike the chappati, however it is porous, which means it soaks in the curry/gravy and really absorbs the flavour. A delightful and inventive variation is the ‘egg appam,’ which is basically an appam with a fried egg attached on top. Mind boggling, I know. The beef and the chicken were both juicy and succulent, and layered with robust flavours that mixed together beautifully. It was overwhelmingly spicy for my palate, nevertheless I thoroughly enjoyed it. I hope to make multiple visits to this place in the future. Oh, and did I mention that the prices are refreshingly reasonable as well? Truly amazing how you can be in Pune and taste Kerala at the same time.
https://www.zomato.com/pune/curry-leaves-baner

Egg Appam (how do they do it?)

Egg Appam (how do they do it?)