Thursday, June 19, 2014

Having dinner with a Goan Family

There are highly promoted eateries at flashy destinations where on a weekend you are sure to spot a few known faces as well. The food there is good, so is the ambience and décor. You come away feeling 'arrived'.

And then there are small little places with ho hum furniture, clean but not fancy crockery and an old friend’s home sort of ambience. Typically it would have a restricted menu, no alcohol, no nonsense owners and a small but loyal and frequent clientele. These are places you will frequent again and again to savor that unnamed pleasure of eating a good meal in peace without having to dress up for the occasion and remembering to not slouch over your plate while you try to lick up the last bit.

One such place on my list has been Bernado’s the little Goan restaurant in Gurgaon which everyone from tripadvisor to zomato will tell you is a must visit and which over the years has shifted location many a time. With the faithful always sniffing them out and walking in for yet another date with the awesome vindaloh or the sexy xacuti.

In her spare time between visits to the kitchen Aunty is on social media

Uncle and Aunty who run the tiny place at DLF Supermart 1 give you a polite smile when you walk in. If you are a new customer you adjust to the low height, less space scenario and wonder what is the fuss your friends have been making about the place. On the other hand if you are frequent visitors you share a few pleasantries with the couple, ask what is fresh today and then you settle down in the tiny space. 

He served us our food with a smile and then asked in Bangla if we enjoyed it :)
One of the boys in the brightly colored flowery shirts will ask you for your order and relay the same to Aunty who will nod and then head to the kitchen to execute the order.

As you become accustomed to the idea of the people sitting at the next table being able to hear everything you say (yes the space is that small) you tune in to the music playing in the background and find that its usually Portuguese and Konkani. The beats such that you can close your eyes and imagine yourself in Goa.  If you were to ask you will find that the singer is a daughter of the family.

And instead if you were to look around you would find loads of b&w pictures of family holidays and  
occasions on the walls.

Get acquainted with family
Look closely and you will recognize Uncle and Aunty from their wedding portrait as well.

Even before you finish looking through all the pictures your food would arrive. Fresh, wholesome food with zero pretenses and 100% flavors.
On my latest visit to Bernados I had the partner with me, who had heard a lot about the place from me but never visited. So I let him order whatever he felt he could be comfortable with. Since he is not a fish eater the choice of course got a little limited.
Here is what we ate:

Mutton Croquettes

Arroz de Chourico (Goan sausage Pulao) 

Caldinho De Camarao ( prawns cooked in a mild yellow curry)

As always the food was well made and we ate in silence looking up only to make faces at the little girl at the
next table who (unlike our own little devil) was a sweetheart and kept sitting next to her dad and eating peacefully. Looking up only to smile at us from time to time.

Once done with the meal we asked what could we order for desserts and were told only Bebinca was available. The partner was thrilled as that’s one dessert he really loves.

The meal for two costed us about Rs. 1000/-.

We walked out satiated and happy. Bernados does that to you. It’s like visiting the home of an old school friend you have grown up with while the friend is away. You say hello to the parents, you ask after their health, you eat some amazing food and you come away feeling thrilled having relived some very happy memories. In our case the partner had proposed marriage in Goa so the place is forever special J

Friday, June 13, 2014

Much Needed Spice for a Monday

Some places you visit and then yearn to go back to. Some places your friends in distant cities visit often, swear by and you keep oscillating between what the fuss is all about and wanting to go and check it out for yourself. Lings in Bombay which Knife from Finely Chopped visits quite often has been one such place for me.
Since I live in Delhi this has not been an easy thing to accomplish then last year Knife came to Delhi NCR stayed for a few days and reviewed Canton Spice a restaurant at Cyber Hub which happens to be run by the Ling family. This had me excited, now was my chance to try out the Chinese food I have been swooning over long distance.
One thing or the other prevented my visiting Canton Spice till the past Monday when I finally got a chance to walk in with a few friends for a on-a-whim dinner plan.

The place had a pleasant ambience and it was very non chinese in its décor. What I mean is it didn’t  have red, dragons or frilly lamps. What it did have was a comfortable, well lit, focus on the food kind of aura.

Apart from the menu – huge blackboards also highlighted the day’s special and for a while we were lost about what to order. The fact that my table mates were not much into experimental eating was also a matter to be kept in mind.

We eventually settled for some Chilly Garlic Spare Ribs and Drums of Heaven for starters and beer to go with it. The food was served quickly and we were happy to note that the portions were good. The Spare ribs I can safely say were the best I have ever had in Delhi firm yet soft and very very flavorful.

If this in not tempting, what is?

For the main course we ordered chicken pan fried noodles a favorite with the partner, Mongolian chicken – diced chicken in a mildly spicy gravy and a schezwan chicken fried rice. While the pan fried noodles were well made and so was the mongolian chicken, I found the rice a little too dry and lacking flavor though the others on the table were quite fine with it.

 I also insisted on ordering a bitter gourd and egg scramble something Knife had written about long back. Surprisingly the dish wasn’t bitter and it helped clear the palette which was fighting the onslaught of meat.

The very interesting Bitter Gourd and egg scramble to which they had also added some mushrooms on special request

The yummy pan fried noodles. You will have to excuse me about not posting pictures of the other items on the table...I was so engrossed in eating that I plain forgot to click.
We overall enjoyed our meal. The fact that the portions were generous was borne out by the fact that we couldn’t finish what we had ordered and had to get the extra food packed. Canton Spice gave me reason to smile and I am looking forward to returning there soon to try out the sea food which comes highly recommended.

I finally now know what it is Knife writes about though my mission of eating at Lings in Bombay hopefully with the Knife still awaits.

A Quikr signage kept ready to be put up - made for an interesting image at Cyber Hub

Monday, June 9, 2014

Going Bananas Over a Banana Bread

Let me start with saying I hate bananas. Always have. Somehow its a fruit I can never get myself into eating in any form and that includes even with ice cream.  

So when I said I want to bake a banana bread my household was in splits. Me and bananas just didnt match up.

I was however adamant that bake the bread I will. The fact that it was whole wheat, no sugar and very little oil convinced me that try I must.

As part of the plan I forbade anyone to eat up three bananas I had kept aside for ripening to the fullest. And on Sunday got down to baking this bread whose recipe I had found at Chef At Large from a fellow member whose name I have forgotten.


Milk ......................... 2 cup ( I used toned milk)
Banana ................. ....... ..3 well ripened

Flax seeds .................. 2 tbsp
Pure vanilla extract....... 2 tsp
Coconut oil ................. 4 tbsp
Honey ....... ................. 6 tbsp
Whole wheat flour....... 2 cup  
Baking powder ............... 4 tsp
Baking soda ................... 1 tsp
Cinnamon powder ............ 3 tsp
Salt ....................................  a little less than a tsp
Raisins ................................ a handful soaked in water beforehand


(I used the convection mode on my microwave oven)

1.           Preheat the oven to 185 deg.centigrade
2.           Prepare a cake tin by greasing and dusting it
3.           Slightly toast the flax seeds and blend it well with little water(2-3 tsp)
4.           Puree the banana
5.           In a large bowl mix milk, banana puree, flax mixture, pure vanilla, coconut oil and honey
6.           In a separate bowl sift the rest of the ingredients
7.           Now mix the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir until they are just combined
8.           Transfer the mixture to the cake tin, sprinkle the raisins on top and bake  for 30 minutes
9.           A toothpick inserted should come clean
10.        Let it cool for 5 minutes and transfer to a wire rack

You can choose to use any other dry fruits you like or even keep it plain.

My mom tasted the bread and went bananas...see for yourself. And even i could eat the same without frowning. :)

Friday, June 6, 2014

Picking Yummy Morsels

Walking out of office for a quick lunch and a few laughs with a girlie gang is a complete life saver when you feel life isn’t taking you the places you were promised as part of the grown up deal. 

And so it happened that four of us escaped for a quick lunch last week – the destination Dana Choga a restaurant with a long history of feeding Gurgaon people delicious, Punjabi food in a no nonsense straight to the tummy way.
Accompanied by giggles and gossip we landed up at the Atul Kataria Chowk outlet and were lucky enough to grab the last empty table before the place completely filled up with the lunch crowd. The fact that the place was packed on a hot weekday said something good about the food.

Now two of us are Non-Veg eaters with a vengeance, one sways in between and the fourth is a strict vegetarian and this means that we always end up ordering too much.

After much asking around for each other’s preferences we settled on a crisp honey chilli lotus stem and some soft drinks as starters followed by a dal makhani, dum aloo, chatpata murg, raita, plain rice and assorted breads for the main course.

The food took about ten minutes to come which is quick by any standards however so hungry were we that we asked for and polished off the onions in vinegar bowl and also got the waiters flustered by constantly asking them when the food would arrive. 

We drummed on the table, looked at the kitchen door, followed every dish with greedy eyes to their respective tables and did everything we normally never do. Like one of us mentioned, ‘I can do this only when my daughter is not around.’  It sure is fun to revert to college days at times.

To cut a long wait short – the food arrived and we dug in. The crispy lotus stems were gone before you could say hello. The main course arrived and I really loved the chatpata murgh so stuck to eating it with raita and hot tandoori rotis with more vinegar soaked onions. The other informed that the rest of the food was yummy too. I had a bite of this and that and found it to be so.

Lunch over we got the remaining food packed and then ran back to office happy and thrilled with our little rendezvous.

Double Delight
On Saturday the hubby and I planned to run a few errands and in doing so landed up at the Vasant Square Mall in Vasant Kunj around 12 noon, imagine my delight when I spot a Dana Choga Kitchen there. I abandon all plans for grocery shopping and convince him that shopping on a filled tummy is much better so we should eat first.
A DCK is a quick service limited menu offering from Dana Choga which offers their yummy delicious food in just right for one sized portions.

We had a quick look at the menu and I gleefully settled for a ghosht biryiani while the hubby went for a murg malai tikka thali which came with a creamy smoky dal makhani, laccha paratha, raita, chutney and a bit of salad.

To while away the three minutes they took to serve our food we also ordered a mango and a jamun gattagat – thirst quenchers with a lovely desi twist.
The food was amazingly good and I polished off the biryiani at amazing speed and secretly resented the hubby the few spoons that he tried as well.

Grinning from ear to ear (a good biryiani does that to me) I asked if we should have something sweet and found that they had something called a pista fudge. Now usually I don’t ask for sweets and even less new ones that I don’t know anything about. BUT DCK had won me over with their just right food and I was willing to experiment.

The sweet dish came, three brown balls in a cream coloured base with a few pista shavings on top. Didn’t look like much but then I had a spoonful and it was yum. Not too sweet, not too chilled just right. It literally hit my nonexistent sweet spot.

Oh did I mention the outlet though small was spotlessly clean and cheerful too. The food was delicious and we barely managed to cross the Rs.500 mark.

Lovely food. Full marks to Dana Choga especially the DCK concept.