Tuna Fish Pickle Kerala style review.

We often cook from blogs but never give credit.

So these are the two sites I used.

http://www.cookingandme.com/blog/2016/06/02/kerala-fish-pickle-recipe-meen-achar/

https://curryworld.cucumbertown.com/fish-pickle-meen-achar-recipe-dish

Both are very similar and yummylicious!!

I used Y fin tuna so that there is the fish umami and it can stand as chunks. The recipes above use kingfish or seer. There is no need to add sardine when you use tuna. Plus after bottling, I poured a tablespoon of hot sesame oil over the top to keep it from spoiling. I also added whole garlic and chunks of ginger that will imbue the fishy taste and become divine little morsels!

 

Voila – The perfect southern fish pickle.

 

 

 

 

 

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Jonah’s Goes to Japan

Small D was away for half a day! Yay!! The blessed grandparents were taking her to the temple. It was the first day of the year, they may have realised the offspring needed as much luck and prayers as possible, having two heathens as parents. So big D and I decided to go to Japan, sorry Velachery and try the new Jonah’s, one of the many that are springing around the city. (I like this Jonah’s partnerships made in gourmet heaven concepts) The mall was teeming with the masses. Big D immediately went into grump mode. I wanted to roam around a little to stir up those gastric juices, but seeing the dark clouds hovering, I decided it was best to head to the nearest gadget shop and let the clouds clear before lunch. Now I have this thing about Japanese food and in particular Maki. I have analysed this love thoroughly. After all, why does a spice loving, lazy ass Mallu love a bland, raw fish stuffed, seaweed covered little morsel made by people who actually have a disease where people die of hard work. Maybe because some of the first foods a I was fed or remember eating is teeny slivers of fried fish covered with small ball of white rice and rolled into my mouth.

Jonah’s goes to Japan at first glance seemed to be a marriage made in heaven for us. Big D could have his chicken or Beef and I could savour some Momoyama sushi.

Anyways maybe it was the fact that it was the first of january, the Salmon Maki had clearly been made much earlier. The fish was stiff, the rice had congealed and dried a little. The taste was ok, but I love my Maki made fresh.

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i had ordered fish for the main course too, and was having second thoughts, seeing the state of the maki, called the waiter a few times, hemmed and hawwed and finally told him that will take the fish if he recommends it, he did.

The next was chilli garlic chicken wings.

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Again disappointed. Obviously microwaved just before arriving at the table. Fried food usually has a certain texture and feel. Microwaved food feels like a yoga mat and tastes like rubber doused in spices. Oh wait, there wasn’t any trace of salt too. Looked for the wait staff, couldn’t find them. Big D had the big hunger, his fingers refused to stray away from the chicken that I obviously wanted to send back. Plus there was a nice entertaining table next to us.

A boy and a girl were out on a date. They sat at a table and snuggled a bit. The table was a four seater, whereas they were only two (who were stuck to each other like one)

So they were shifted to a two seater and had to divide. (It was January 1’st, people came in like a tide) And sit gazing longingly at each others eyes. Hands were kneaded and feet were pleated. Until the boy said something like – “But she eats like a pig and looks like a princess.”

I snorted into my wasabi and Big D spilled the soy. He looked pleadingly at the boy. For many moons ago, he had almost done the same. And had scars to show, and only himself to blame. The hands were detached, the feet were kicked away. Eyes blazed and forks rattled. But the voice was still sweet and had no sign of the battle.

“Oh yes. She does, doesn’t she. You choreographed her or something no baby?”

Big D started gnawing on the saltless chicken bone, for the boy hadn’t noticed what was going to happen, what he had face all by his lonesome.

“What fun we had. She’s a natural Beauty” was the response. “Shall we have some dessert sweety?”

“Why don’t you get out and have it with her? You *&^*cked up b&$(%&t. You cheating pig”

Words were exchanged. We had entertainment till the return of our change. 

 

Finally someone arrived, I took a look at the sad wing that was left and decided in no decent way could I send back the plate and instead asked for salt.

Dear Lord! They gave me salt and pepper grinders. I was willing to forgive the cold maki and the saltless chicken just for this. I love it when restaurants realise ground pepper and salt, done at the table, enhances flavour like no other.

The main course arrived and as he had said, the fish was fresh, the flavours well balanced and the quantity just right! Polished off the plate in 10 mins flat! Just wish the mashed potatoes were a bit creamier.

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Big D ordered the Monster Burger. It was humungous and looked real juicy.

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The first few bites were bliss, but as the centre of the patty was approached, he turned and showed it to me. It was cooked medium rare and the spices and juices had not managed to seep through. It looked dry and just a tad undercooked. I also had a huge issue with turkey bacon. Bacon is pig. But again religious sentiments etc etc. So wont harp on it. (Or have I already)

All in all a few misses and a few hits along with great entertainment.

 

 

 

 

Spoonbill – TTK Road

There are some places that have everything going for them, but still don’t manage to get it right. I really really tried liking Spoonbill, even going to the extent of not reviewing them until I could write something nice. There were 3 reasons for this – I really liked the concept. I met the owners during my first visit years ago and liked their passion. I kept reading these rave reviews about them and decided something must be wrong the days I went. But unfortunately after my last visit, I decided to put this hesitation to rest and write the bloody review already! So I will present my case chronologically.

1. The first time we visited, it was all joy and sausages. The signature bratwurst was good, but currywurst left me cold. I also tried the doner kabab and found it wanting. Signing it off to beginners blues decided it was worth another visit, just for he sausages.

2. Consequently we kept visiting mainly for the grilled sausages – that were inconsistent to the point of concern. And anytime I ordered some other dish to go with it, I was always disappointed. Nothing like bad taste, but just not up to the mark. The prices also seemed to rankle by then as the newness of the experience had gone down, but the prices were high.

3.They started Sunday morning breakfasts, It was decent, nothing to rave about. Though I must confess I hated the waffles.

4. There was a sudden break, when after a meal of sausages, doner kabab, crepe and burrito all of us fell ill with varying degrees of food poisoning. We stopped going to spoonbill.

4. The other day, I had some work on TTK Road, Royal Sandwich was closed and I looked up to see Spoonbill and decided against all my instincts to give it another try.

There were a number of foodie posts praising their Vada Pav, so ordered that, lamb bratwurst and watermelon juice.

Please note, I was extremely hungry and yet within the first bite, I knew my gut had been right. I shouldn’t have come back. The vada had been hijacked by a bonda, the pav was soft but the spicy onions scattered on top had a distinct ‘cut the previous evening’ smell. No flavour to speak of, so I bit into the green chilli. Usually the green chilli in a vada pav is tempered and seasoned. This was just an oily chilli that had maybe been fried for a second.

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The Lamb Bratwurst was also a downer. It was chewy and the mayo, tomato and mustard sauces just managed to make it tolerable. The side of a roll was great though.

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The watermelon juice was what you can expect from a watermelon juice, except for the price. – Rs. 93.46!! For a medium plastic glass of watermelon juice! What is the world coming to??

So this is why I will not be eating at Spoonbill again.

Brick House Bistro- Anna Nagar

I am a mostly silent part of 2 local food groups, which is a blessing sometimes and a curse most of the time when you cannot go out and eat but are assailed by images and posts of food. And whenever there is a new ‘burger’ or ‘biriyani’ joint, the groups go wild. I don’t understand why these two dishes bring out such strong emotions. I do love a good burger and a good biriyani but it doesn’t make me want to troll random people on facebook or go into the socio- political repeller of good beef that is India.

Waynyways, Brick House Bistro was one joint that was being raved about and one afternoon, I undertook the long and arduous journey to Anna Nagar to eat at this joint. The place is pretty easy to find, and small. the decor is ‘contemporary indian coffee shop with aspirations’ The menu is limited and I went with wings, BBQ style (The other options were peri peri and thai)

BBQ Wings

BBQ Wings

It was a good start and I was also informed that this is the soft launch and the opening is in December. Great for them to have so much buzz even before the main opening! Next we ordered the Burger – both double and single patty options and a double hot dog. The side of fries and salad has to be ordered separately at a cost, but the price of the burger is pretty low, so I guess it works out. Plus there is no wastage. Order only if you wish. The burger was juicy and good, but nothing like the orgasmic reviews I had been reading. For that price and for Chennai, it is a decent burger, nothing more, nothing less.

Double Patty Beef Burger

Double Patty Beef Burger

The double hot dog had a good bun, pretty decent hot dogs, but I wish they had asked my preference to the amount of mustard and onions. The ratio was all wrong for me. Too much mustard and too little caramelized onions.

2014-11-15 14.59.15 2014-11-15 15.04.21We had also ordered goeey cheesy sausage fries on the side. The fries were ok but whatever the cheese on top was, it put me off, one portion was curdled (I guess when it was heated) and the other looked too processed. Now we were pretty ok with the food and willing to forgive the sppotty service since it was their soft launch phase. I hope they do a rethink on their cheeses and sauces. Adding coffee and tea to the menu would also help. Since it is a bistro. But the sad part came at the end of the meal.

The power went off and the generator was out of fuel. The owners/managers were running around like headless chickens trying to get it up and running. Someone had stolen the diesel from the generator tank apparently, I felt sorry for them but in the rush to remedy the generator, they totally forgot the paying customers sitting inside. We sat in the dark for a while and lucky for us, we had finished our meal and just had to pay. Even a few candles would have made a huge difference.

One table who had just ordered a starter before the power went off had worse luck. They had to eat their fries in total darkness and after sitting there for something close to half an hour, were told that the food was over. They were furious! I understand teething trouble, but this info should have been passed along at the earliest, not after they asked about it.

On their way out, they swore they will not come back. One of the owners/managers gave a devastated wail, but some effort at redeeming the situation could have been made. All in all, its a decent place to hang out, but not one I will be going again soon.

5/10

Pallipalayam Chicken

I was introduced to Pallipalayam Chicken at Jr. Kuppanna. It blew my mind. No overpowering spices, no drowning the chicken in oil and gravy, just chicken and chillies in a beautiful dish. So decided to try it at home. So here is my version of Pallipalayam chicken. If you can get some ready made cut shallots, its bloody easy too.

Ingredients:

1 kg country chicken. ( It should be really fresh, the whole flavour of the dish rests on the chicken)

Shallots – 250 gms (20-30)

Garlic – 10-12 cloves. Use the small cloved garlic.

Dried Red Chillies – 10 to 12 depending on level of spice needed.

Coriander and cumin powder -optional

Coconut slices – 5 to 6

oil – 3 tblsp

Turmeric powder – 1/2 tsp

Salt to taste

Kooking method:

Wash the chicken and cut into medium sized pieces. Rub the turmeric and salt into the pieces and keep aside.

Cut the shallots and garlic finely and fry in 2 tblsps of oil in heavy wok or cast iron kadai.

Yes, it was a pain slicing all these shallots.

Yes, it was a pain slicing all these shallots.

Once they are semi brown add the coconut slices and the red chillies, broken into half.

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Now add the chicken pieces, stir and cover tight.Do not add water, the water from the chicken is enough to cook it in. Just make sure your chicken is cut into medium size pieces and the cover is tight. Keep your flame low and stir once in 8 to 10 mins.

Looks bland but it isn't!

Looks bland but it isn’t!

Now there are those of you who might look at the colourless pieces of chicken and panic. After all our Indian mentality has us thinking that only brightly coloured, oily looking chicken is tasty. DO NOT GIVE IN! Or if you have to, add the coriander powder now, if you are still vary, add some chilli powder. But I should warn you, you are just spoiling it.

The dried red chilli gives enough heat and the shallots provide a beautiful flavour that has to be tasted to be believed. Once the water evaporates, check the chicken, it should be cooked. (If not, cheat and drizzle a bit of water) For those who love coconut flavour, add a bit of coconut oil (1 tblsp) at this point. Otherwise just increase the heat and stir for that perfectly seared finish.

Yum Yum

Yum Yum

 

Enjoy!

 

How not to look like an ass after calling yourself a foodie or things to know before you call yourself a foodie.

I have recently came across a number of articles that are basically a reverse foodie rant. Entire paragraphs of how so called ‘foodies’ conduct themselves in hilarious/awkward/OMG ways. I grew angrier as each article came into my screen. The premise of most of them was that anybody can become a food writer/blogger/commenter, which I think is wonderful, but most of the people quoted in the articles didn’t. What I find hypocritical is that most chef/owners love the free publicity as long as it’s good publicity. If I could say one thing to them is that the world has moved on, deal with it! The other common whine was that the customer’s of a certain area/region/caste/religion/length of hair/economic standard/blood group don’t understand their food or don’t have refined enough palates to appreciate the high form of art that they serve. All I can say is THU! (I wanted to sound ruder that ‘I spit on you’)

When you open a F & B joint which is hardcore service oriented and customers pay their hard earned, or not so hard earned money, and time for something as essential as food. They have the right to their opinion. Simple.

And everyone posting comments or writing blogs, foodies or not,  are talking about their experiences and if their tastes match, the person reading these opinions will have gained a valuable lesson without having to spend time and money learning the hard way.

Now having said all this, I also know of people who bring a certain sense of impending doom when they say they are a foodie. So here are what I think are the criteria you should fulfill in order to call yourself a food expert.

1. At some point in your life you should have had access to good home cooked food.

Good home cooked food is the foundation of any great palate. Also you do not have a baseline for comparison if you have had good home cooked food.

2. You should not hate any more 5 ingredients.

There are some things that nobody will eat. I will not touch anything that has pickled bamboo shoots in it. But if there are more than 5 things that you will absolutely not touch (ingredients not food) then you do not have the right to call yourself foodie. 3 is borderline, but once you reach 5, so many dishes and you will be out of the picture.

3. You should not hate any more than one cuisine, and should have tried atleast 10.

One of the main characteristics of a food fanatic is their openness to a variety of tastes. Now this may be controversial, but if you hate more that 1 cuisine, there is something wrong in that adventure foodie gene. Plus you cannot also say you hate a cuisine after having it once in a restaurant 3000 miles away from the region. Every cuisine has its marvels and unless you find them, you are no true foodie. 

Trying 10, it’s not as hard as you think. Take this list as reference, given example is a list of a Chennaivaasi who hates travelling.

   1. Madras TamBrahm Veg

  2. Udipi Veg Style

  3. Chettinad

  4. Tamil Muslim style

  5. Indo Chinese

  6. Kerala

  7. Pondi Tamil French fusion.

  8. Andhra

 9. Gujurati

 10. Bengali.

4. You should not hate vegetarian or non vegetarian food

This is again controversial. But I stand by it. Unless you eat both. (Only chicken doesn’t count) you cannot call yourself a universal foodie. If you stick to vegetarian then you are veg foodie and if you stick to non veg, you are a carnivorous foodie.

5. Eating humungous quantities of food does not make you an expert.

I love the biriyani there, the portions are so huge. If you do not find fault in the above statement, then you have failed. Move on.

6. Being a fussy eater and proud of it, does not make you an expert.

Privilege Denying Feminist - Sends back the same plate thrice It comes back with a hidden surprise

 

I hate fussy eaters. How many times have you wanted to slap a table companion who ruins a perfectly good plate of food, ‘because they like their dosa digestive biscuit brown and not marie biscuit brown?’ and then turn to you proudly and say – ‘I am such a fussy eater.’ Fuss pots have no place in the forefront of good cuisine. Good cuisine is often experimental and biscuit brown fusspot may ruin the joy of a black rice and miso dosa (anybody want to give this a try?)

7. You should know how to cook.

You don’t need to be gourmet chef, but knowing the basics is a must. How else will you know that the vada was dropped in cold oil and hence soggy?

8. You should be open to experimentation and welcome to new tastes and not get grossed out.

Self explanatory.

9. You should have eaten street food.

Eat only at 7 star hotes with the optional 5 star. Need a rest area that you can sleep in. Sorry, this job is not for you.

10. If you know how to write pretty ok, have some free time and take decent photographs, have started a food blog and write only great reviews for the food freebies that come your way. I need to know your secrets, but again I refuse to call you a food expert.

Disclaimer: This is not a post written by a food expert, but by someone who just loves judging them. I do not claim to have the properties that I claim a good foodie should have. Amen.

Epic Food Lady - I JUDGE YOU AND YOU AND YOU AND YOU AND YOU

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Amdavadi T Nagar

A Gujrati Cafe in Chennai! When it opened, I rushed and had my fill. Loved it.Then on subsequent visits saw the quality go down. Had almost everything on their menu. Stand outs were the Khaman, thepla, Khichdi, jalebi and puri. Then after a long time went again for lunch and discovered the combo lunch. Again, filled the belly but not the heart. the saving grace was the puri and oondhiyo.

It breaks my heart. i wanted a gujrati place without having to travel to the north of the city.

 

Combo Lunch

Combo Lunch

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Bombay Halwa House Kilpauk Thali

I was in Kilpauk for some work that got over sooner than expected. My stomach was giving the lunch time siren and on looking for nearby eat outs, I realised a branch of Bombay Halwa House was nearby. It had always been on my wishlist and I also wanted to start a grand food quest namely – The Great Thali Quest, Chennai. I love thalis and if there is one in the menu, I will surely order it. And why not? It is a little bit of everything and a plate. Variety and Quantity….what more does a foodie want? Me thinks its one of India’s biggest contributions to the world!

The Bombay Halwa House Thali

TGTQ 1

The ambience is punjabi shabby, but clean. There is a smell of tadka in the air and once seated, I didn’t waste any time. It was Thali please!

This is a basic thali. And at Rs. 150, its a steal.

Black Dal – Bland but edible.

Paneer Masala – nicely done, best dish of the 3.

Mysterious Curry – I thought it was kofta when I looked at it, then when my spoon hit it, I thought it was baby potato but it turned out to be some sort of flour dumpling with cumin in a red curry.

Onions, Chilles and company – Must have for any North Indian Meal.

Pickle & Papad – did its job

Naan- wonderfully oil laden and hot.

Not seen in the photo

Roti – A bit of a tough love types.

Buttermilk/Raita – I chose buttermilk which was refreshing and loaded with chaat masala. You can also choose raita if you do not want buttermilk.

Pulao/ Plain Rice – A choice of pulao or plain rice. I went for pulao which was good, unlike the usual Thali pulaos that are dry and bland. And the biggest surprise -there were whole peppercorns in the pulao, not something you expect in a north indian meal. But I loved it, the fiery crunch in between the veggies and rice was great. Going to try incorporate it in my next pulao recipe.

.What I missed – They could have added Rs. 10 to the price and added a sweet.

PS: DO LET ME KNOW OF GREAT THALI PLACES IN CHENNAI.

Kryptos Vegetarian

I was devastated when the Kryptos management decided to go vegetarian. I loved their stuffed chicken and the lamb stuffed in vine leaves (I don’t remember the exact names) and of course their salad bar and communal table. I had decided to never set foot in there but the joke was on me, wonders of wonders, I turned vegetarian for a few days.

The decor is the same and I was seated in a nice corner (I was alone) The menu had variety but my subconscious kept screaming -‘where is the meeeeaaat??’ Plus now they had Mediterranean, Mexican, oriental and Indian selections. A case of too many cuisines spoil everything. A complimentary masala papad snack arrived at the table and I decided on heading straight to the main course since starter, main and dessert was too much for a single person.

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My first choice of vine leaves with spinach, mushrooms and cheese was not available. So I decided to be a little adventurous and ordered Tofu noodles with shitake mushrooms. The waiter warned me, but I went ahead. I should have listened to him. I couldn’t eat more than a forkful. It was nasty!And this from someone who loooves shiitake mushrooms.

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Why they have it on the menu is a mystery, when even your own waiters strongly recommend against it.

My meal came with a single plate visit to the salad counter, which was the highlight of the meal. Though I missed cold cuts, there was a great selection of greens, antipasti, juicy mozzarella, olives, sauces and capers. I went a little crazy. The best part- lightly fried whole okra. I could have eaten a whole kilo of that stuff.

ImageI decided on another main course and stuck to safe options this time. Ravioli. It was passable, and that’s all I can say about it. But this gave me an additional stab at the salad counter – yay!!

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The hospitality was great, they even went to the extent of saying they will not charge for the noodles, but since it was my hard headed mistake, I paid for it anyway. But why on earth would you change a good thing to vegetarian blandness, I seriously do not understand. Not that I have anything against a vegetarian restaurant (I love Darios), but they did have a good thing going.

 

SOCIAL

It’s the place that doesn’t have a dress code! There was no better hook than that for the thousands of boys in Madras who had to wear ‘full pants’ and shoes and socks in the sweltering heat just to wet their lips. Alas that hook isn’t enough because by the time I came out of Social, located in MRC Nagar, I was distinctly anti social.

The decor is industrial, grunge chic with sewing machine tables and rolling cart sofas, mason jar lights and metal chairs. I was impressed. There is a large open kitchen at the back which raised my hopes unnecessarily. The menu came clipped on to a board and there was a global feel to it. All good until we looked at the right column. A pint of beer was Rs. 250! That is almost a 450% premium!!!

I decided to give the beer a skip and went for coffee which was good. But again you get good coffee in many places – this is Madras after all.

Now to the food. ‘Oh how you let us down Social’ lament starts here…

Eggs in Jar

Brilliant concept. A de-constructed eggs benedictish dish. Poached eggs topped with Hollandaise and garnished with beets in a jar.  But how the execution failed! The accented waiter had described it as poached eggs in horrendous sauce and that is exactly what it turned out to be. The eggs were not poached well and the sauce was extremely runny. There was only one texture throughout the dish – slimy! Believe me when I say that I tried liking the dish. After all it was presented well and I wanted to appreciate the riff on a classic. But I couldn’t. It tasted like baby food from hell. A bottom layer of bread or some sort of crust would have elevated the dish immensely.

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Chicken Wings

I am yet to find decent chicken wings in Chennai. If you know any place, please let me know. This one again, looked great. I searched high and low for the blue cheese dip and the buffalo sauce and then it was pointed out to me that I had to search really really low. Under the wings there was a dab of dip. Now I like to smear my wings with dip and then bite into them. The waiter was very helpful and brought me bowl of dip. I wish he hadn’t. The dip was atrocious. The wings were crispy fried and oily oily oily. I couldn’t eat more than 3. This from someone who looooves grease.

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The Social Burger

This should have been called the ‘saving grace burger’. It was the only saving grace in the entire meal. Perfectly cooked beef in a beautiful bun filled with onions. So if you want a burger and nothing else, Social is the place to go (If you do not mind paying Rs.450 for it). There were potato pops with it that were also great.

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So all in all, I wont visit Social again and I can get a similar burger at Sandy’s. (I think its the same management, I am not sure)

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