Tag Archives: Eating Out

Foodie Thursday!

Taste of Tangra: From the kitchen of Chef Edwin

Ever wondered about the origin of “Indian Chinese” cuisine?

Apparently, it all started in Kolkata – the place where the Hakka community from China settled down many decades ago. Interestingly, according to this link, “One of the earliest records of immigration from China can be found in a short treatise from 1820. This records hints that the first wave of immigration was of Hakkas but does not elaborate on the professions of these immigrants.” Over a period of time, they grew to a large flourishing community initially involved in the tannery business. Over a period of time, many families closed down their business while others were moved to an area outside of the city. The New Chinatown area, where the community resides came to be known as “Tangra“.

Over time, the cuisine of this community began to undergo modifications to suit the Indian palate. Coriander, chillis, cumin began to make it’s way into the dishes. What resulted was “Kolkata Chinese” or what is known today as Indian Chinese. This cuisine gained popularity rather quickly and you’ll probably find “Chinese food”, even in a remote part of the country.

My first encounter with Kolkata Chinese food began way back during my childhood days in Shillong. We had a Chinese restaurant at the bottom of the hill from our place (I think it was called Abba) and dad made sure he packed us a parcel of oily hakka noodles for us whenever he passed by the place, while coming home. My sister and I would eagerly look forward to his treat!

Chef Jolly of the JW Marriott introducing Chef Edwin and the Kolkata Chinese inspired "Tangra" cuisine

Chef Jolly of the JW Marriott introducing Chef Edwin and the Kolkata Chinese inspired “Tangra” cuisine

We are given a taste of this cuisine at a special cookout session at the JW Marriott, Bangalore through 3 dishes, demonstrated by Chef Edwin, who runs and owns the very popular “Golden Joy” restaurant in Tangra. Chef Jolly (follow him here) of the JW Marriott recounts the story when upon visiting Kolkata and this area, he settled on this particular restaurant due to the quality of the food and it’s popularity.
Special kitchen set up to whip up some Tangra delicacies

Special kitchen set up to whip up some Tangra delicacies

Chef Jolly didn’t waste any time and organised for Chef Edwin to come down to Bangalore, so we can get a taste of this unique cuisine.

Chef Edwin demonstrates threaded paneer – his creation and innovation – a good alternative for vegetarians. The other two dishes are the Hakka style chilli chicken and golden fried prawns. By adding a bit of seasoning, garnish, soy sauce and Chinese wine, he cooks up these delicious dishes. Served with Indian style sauces – flavoured with mint and coriander – they have their own unique taste.

For the special occasion, we also got to taste a big spread of delicacies like like momos (pork, chicken, vegetarian), egg hakka noodles and fried rice and fish in oyster sauce.

The delicious golden fried prawns

The delicious golden fried prawns – – we did try to get the recipe for the batter – but I doubt we can replicate it even if we tried!

After a good meal, which is topped off by Tangra inspired cocktails (we tried the Beijing Bellini), we had an interesting chat with Chef Edwin who tells us a bit more about the Hakka community and his style of cooking.
Tangra inspired cocktails to add to the spice!

Tangra inspired cocktails to add to the spice!

Interestingly, he was a resident of Bangalore around 1978, but can no longer recognise the city. (Well, neither can we!). After a few years, he left and rejoined his family in Kolkata, taking over the running of the restaurant. He attributes his love of food to his mother, who is a very good cook. A lot of things he learnt by hanging on to her apron strings. But along the way, he’s also had to improvise and be creative to keep his customers happy. He says he gets people from all over the country (and even the world). “For example, I get Sikhs who won’t eat meat on Tuesday, but still want to eat out and want exceptional food,” says Chef Edwin of the kind of demanding customers he gets. He seems to manage all his customers really well; the restaurant on busy nights does around 600 covers, Chef Jolly tells us. If you look at the reviews of the restaurant online, it’s not hard to believe either.
With Chef Edwin, who lived in Bangalore around 1978. He doesn't recognise the city anymore, he says. We're not surprised!

With Chef Edwin, who lived in Bangalore around 1978. It’s changed a lot since then, he observes

The Hakka community has managed in the meanwhile to keep their language and culture alive (Hakka) over the years. They don’t however know how to read their own language, since they are all 2nd and 3rd generation Chinese brought up in India. Even at home, Chef Edwin says he insists his son speaks in Chinese. It’s the only way to ensure that some aspects of their culture is preserved. From a large community of more than 20,000, then numbers have dwindled down to a few thousand with many immigrating and moving out.

About the food, says Chef Edwin, the idea is not to drown the dishes in soy or over cook/fry the ingredients, but to bring out the flavors in subtle ways. And his food is testimony to this principle.

So in case you’re tempted to check out a few Tangra delicacies from the expert hands of Chef Edwin (and don’t want to fly to Kolkota), hop across to the JW Marriott Bangalore which is hosting the Tangda seafood festival till November 9.

So this special is a part of the JW Kitchen buffet, along with other cuisines and mouthwatering choir of desserts for Rs 1599 + taxes.

Hakka, anyone?

(Note & Disclosure: Please excuse the not so good pictures as I dropped in after another hectic event of my own and had no time to grab my DSLR! This was on an invitation from the JW Marriott, Bangalore).


Savouring the world, one dish a time!

My first taste of Portuguese food was in Goa. The owners of the now restored 213 year old mansion Palácio do Deão, built by a Portuguese nobleman, had opened their doors to visitors for a taste of the traditional cuisine. I don’t remember the names of the dishes now but our hosts Rubem and Celia Vasco da Gama had gone to great lengths to lay out a memorable spread. I do remember the fish cooked to perfection. And the calamari flavored to bring any foodie to raptures.

Dining area
This old but restored Portuguese mansion made the ideal setting for a traditional meal

A taste of Portugal Main course

I’m glad I captured some of these culinary delights on camera so when I sit back and think of the delicious food, I can supplement my memories with photographs. Of course, the images don’t do justice to the actual taste of the mouth-watering delicacies served, but they only increased my curiosity about the cuisine and food of Portugal.

Goa was a Portuguese colony till as late as 1954 and the influences on the food and culture are indelible.

The Portuguese are said to have brought in potatoes, tomatoes, guavas and even cashews from Brazil to Goa and many of these ingredients today, find their way into Goan dishes, especially the Christian fare.

In my mind, there is no better way to explore a place than through it’s food and cuisine. And as cliched as it might sounds, I do actually live to eat so it seems but a natural way for me to explore a new place. I look forward to my next meal with anticipation, especially when I am travelling. I usually go armed with a list of recommended dishes and make sure I try at least a few of them.

When in South East Asia, it’s difficult to resist a meal without noodles

Not only is exploring local cuisine interesting, but eating as the locals do adds to the whole experience.

I was recently in Vietnam, when I got to sample some really scrumptious local fare. From the traditional pho, to fresh and fried spring rolls, to the gorgeous (and tummy filling) pancakes filled with shrimp and rice, it was definitely a trip to remember for me. I even have memories of what I ate and at which particular place. The little non-assuming roadside eatery in Saigon where we sampled fresh spring rolls for the first time.

Making of the spring roll
A lady cooking fresh spring rolls; this has been her livelihood her whole life is what we’re told

The fish at a homestay in Mekong Delta, served like I’ve never fried seen before. The spring rolls we first learnt to make on a cruise ship and then relished. And the list goes on…

Pho in Vietnam
You can’t leave Vietnam without tasting the pho

Lots of seafood!
Streets are lined with sellers who pile up their stock and wait for buyers

Ingredients for the spring roll
The fresh spring roll is both delicious and healthy

I’ll have what he’s having!”

In March of this year, during a trip to Kerala I met with food and travel blogger, photographer Nelson Carvalheiro (and belatedly also found out how famous he really is!). Nelson in fact, through his amazing food pictures and experiences has the ability to bring about the above reaction from any onlooker.

Yoga poses with Nelson
Nelson indulging in a spot of yoga to get rid of all those calories piled up during our Kerala trip

During the trip, our meals were memorable, not only because of the varied spread but because of the fact that it would bring us together to discuss more about our cuisine and influences. We enjoyed authentic Kerala cuisine, the rice delicacies, the avial and stew, the fish cooked in different styles and best of all, the famous Kerala sadya (a multi-spread vegetarian meal) served during festivals but where everyone got a lesson on how to eat with their hands. It was an experience like no other. I was so taken in by the meal served on the houseboat while cruising the backwaters (probably our best!) that I even wrote about the experience.

Traditional fare from Kerala - appam with egg stew
Yummy egg stew served with fluffy appams in Kerala, India

Putta and kadlakai curry
Another delicacy called putta, with coconut and rice, along with kadla curry

As I head to Europe next in August visiting friends from various regions for the next couple of months, I am definitely looking forward to the more attractive aspect – sampling local fare. From the seafood paella and sangria of Spain to the variety of cheese in France, to the famed seafood and other delicacies of Portugal (if I am given a chance!), I’m surely looking forward to this trip already.

I definitely wouldn’t mind a “foodgasm”. I can’t think of a better way to experience Portugal!

(NOTE: This is an entry for the 16 day food tour of Portugal being conducted by APTECE. More details are here on Nelson’s blog. The last day is July 31.)

The X-Files, Part 3: A list of entrepreneurial ventures run by women

This is part 3 of the series on entrepreneurial ventures run by women. You can also visit part 1 and part 2 for more categories.

In part 3, I’ve listed all our talented women who are a whizz in the kitchen. Whether it’s baking delicious cupcakes, catering for large get-togethers, giving you a taste of Indian cuisine, or showing you the healthy way – you’ll find everything related to food here. (*Please note that these are all based in Bangalore).


Curry Classes, Sandhya Aiyer Oza
Description: Customised cooking classes
email: sandhya.oza@curryclasses.com
Website: Curry Classes
Her story:
curryclassesCurry Classes is now based in Whitefield, Bangalore. Looking to teach and help first timers, young brides to be, bachelors and anyone interested in learning simple ways of cooking. A well cooked meal at home is healthier than a take away. If anyone cares for what goes into that meal you eat it will be you… so STOP thinking cooking is tough, START thinking of what you would like to learn. Get together with your friends and make a small group to have a fun session at Curry Classes.

Do it Sweet, Heena Awasthi
Description: Home baker and cake artist
Facebook: https://m.facebook.com/pages/Do-It-Sweet/111900172238745
Her story:
I’m a home bakers and a cake artist who does theme cake and cupcake. But the other side is gateau, mousse cake, pies, tarts. Customisation is my main focus whether theme or flavour. I make everything fresh and on order with at least 4 days advance notice.

Little Bites, Shweta
Contact: +91-98452 35638
Facebook: Little Bites
Her story:
I run ‘Little Bites’ which caters exclusively for children’s parties. Our USP is non spicy, tasty and fun looking food :)

1010207_581653108583265_1324805368_nMs K Cupcakes & Sugar Angels, Katherine Deborah Abel
Description: Designer cake boutique
Facebook: Ms.K.Cupcakes and Sugar Angels
Her story:
I run Ms.K Cupcakes and Sugar Angels; the former a designer cake boutique and the latter is a non profit organization that provides celebration cakes and cupcakes to critically ill and underprivileged kids and their families.

nivashPatisserie Nitash, Navaz (along with her husband Nitash)
Description: Patisserie
Contact: 99864 21069 or 98454 27364
Facebook: Patisserie Nitash
Her story:
We are a Patisserie specializing in cakes and desserts like cheesecake, brownies, French style macaroons, tarts etc.

Saffrontrail, Nandita Iyer
Description:Nutrition Consultant / Cooking Workshops / Freelance food & lifestyle writer
email: saffrontrail@gmail.com
Facebook: Saffron Trail
Twitter>: @saffrontrail
Website/Blog: Saffron Trail
Her story:
Safffron TrailA medical doctor who got into nutrition, healthy cooking, writing about it and finally into teaching cooking, among other things – I conduct niche workshops like making salads, baking your own bread and also healthy bakes. I also conduct corporate workshops in healthy cooking / eating. Apart from this, I write on food/healthcare for several magazines and publications. Long distance consultations and counselling on nutrition and lifestyle management is also one of the things I do.

Say you Made it, Sahar Adil
Description: Home catering
Contact: +91 8041128555
Facebook: SayYouMadeIt
Her story:
sayyoumadeitNo need to panic. Just call us, place your order, (atleast 24 hours in advance), collect it, serve it, and then just “Say You Made It”. Simple. We take home catering orders for 4-40 people (and in the vicinity). We specialize in customized menu’s of our dishes which are mostly signature, which vary from a European-Mediterranean menu to the Indian delicacies that have been in our family for generations now. So for family dinners, shindigs with your friends, laid back potlucks, fun birthdays and even elegant corporate soirees we can really create a nice menu for and bring a difference to.

Since we couldn’t decide what we love more, eating or cooking for our family and friends, the stars conveniently aligned on the marriage of the two – and so “Say You Made It” was born. So every-time you don’t want to cook, but need to just give us a call, ‘ cause “you keep the credit, we’ll take the orders.” :)

Sin-A-Mon, Monika Manchanda
Description: Home-based baking boutique
Facebook: Sinamontales
Her story:
I run Sin-A-Mon a home based boutique baking setup. At Sin-A-Mon our focus is to bring the best of the flavours to you. We do cakes, breads, pies, desserts and also specialise in alcohol based cakes, desserts and cupcakes. We also do culinary workshops around baking, take food consulting projects and have a hugely (if I may say so) popular food blog.

Soul Bakers, Meeta Walavalkar-Hattangadi
Description: Healthy organic breads
Contact: 099 00 250704
email: meeta.walavalkar@gmail.com
Her story:
We make healthy organic breads free of preservatives and chemical substitutes. Start your day the healthy way with wholewheat based breads and bakes. Say bye to maida, dalda based breads and bakes. Cut those calories and carbs and enjoy yummy and healthy breakfast every morning. Stay fit, stay happy.

thecakeairyThe CakeAiry, Blossom
Description: Home bakery
Contact: 9986990668
Facebook: The Cake Airy
Her story:
I am a full time flight attendant and in my spare time I run a part-time home bakery called The CakeAiry in Hennur. Apart from baking I am a jam/ marmalade/ chutney concocter. I work purely on an order basis.

Watch out for the last of this series (part 4) in the works, which will have two more categories:


Gourmet Stroll

Food, wine and conversation

Food and wine together are an irresistible combination. Especially on a weekend, when it’s time to let the hair down, rejuvenate and relax!

However hot Bangalore is turning during the day, the evenings are relatively pleasant. At least outside. So one Saturday evening, with a couple of friends, I decided to stroll through Indiranagar trying out different wines and restaurants. This is a frequent event organized by Poshvine (if you haven’t visited this site, do it right now! – it’s a treasure trove of interesting experiences in Bangalore and other cities). Christened the Jacob’s Creek Gourmet Stroll, it turned out to be quite a culinary experience. Not to mention a chance to sample some of their wines as we hopped along.
We began with Bricklane Grill, where we gathered in a rather charming and cosy setting by the poolside. We started our culinary journey with a sparkling Jacob’s Creek Chardonnay, just the right accompaniment to the delicious aperitifs and starters for the evening. The finger food kept coming by and I especially remember the mushrooms with cheese – simply divine.

After a round of introductions and a quick overview of where we were heading (in case it slipped our mind after all the wine!), we set off for our second round. It was quite an eclectic group, which had gotten together. A few Spaniards and an Italian, adding to the flavour of the gang.

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Coming back to the stroll, we sauntered across to Terrazzo, just a short walk away on the buzzing 100 feet road. Here we had the Jacob’s Creek Chardonnay, which nicely complemented the bruschetta and the pasta dish we were served. My first experience with Terrazzo, but it probably calls for another visit later. The conversation was already getting louder and more animated by now. I chatted with a lady next to me, who confessed that she wasn’t a wine drinker, but never the less seemed to be enjoying herself.

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It was time to cross the road again. Our next stop – the Smokehouse Deli, which opened recently and has gotten quite a few reviews. On my first visit, I had a mixed experience. The service was definitely iffy, but I could tell that they were struggling with the crowds. We had to wait a very long time. The salad wasn’t what I’d expected either. This second time around proved to be a better experience, but then they were prepared for our crowd (we were above 20 people).

With our main course, they served us the Jacob’s Creek Shiraz Cabernet, a relatively easy to drink red with balanced tannins and a smooth finish. I ordered the fish with it, which was excellent. But the rest of the main options like the chicken and the tomato/polenta looked equally interesting.

To end the night, we then walked across to 100 feet restaurant. I also realized it’s been ages since my last visit. Back in the days when I had first come to Bangalore, this was one restaurant that I visited regularly and it’s nice to see that it’s still around, what with so many closing down after just a couple of years in business.

I dug into the rather attractive selection and liked the cheesecake over the other sweeter tidbits. We had the Jacob’s Creek Rose with it and while I think a sweeter wine would do better with dessert, the experience on the palate wasn’t unsatisfactory either.


The clock struck around 11 pm by the time we were done with dessert – also known as the time when Bangalore’s cinderellas must head home. All in all, an evening well spent with wine, conversation and some great food. If you like the sound of it, the next one is just around the corner!.

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new banana cafe

The search for good food in Pondicherry

It’s no secret that I love good food. And I will go to extreme lengths to find it!

I chanced upon the Banana Cafe, thanks to my sister who currently calls this town her abode. It was a small hole in the wall operation, but going by its popularity, I knew that something was obviously attracting a lot of customers. And since it was a restaurant, I deduced it had to be the quality of the food! I tried it and loved it.

On a later trip to Pondi, my sister informed me that the cafe had since been shut down as they had to vacate the small space they were operating from (it was a part of a larger house). Which was a pity since it was walking distance from where my sister lives.

But the story doesn’t end there. A few months later, on another trip I was given the good news. The owner had managed to find another place for his business. It’s now tucked away in a quiet lane called Cazy street and you’ll have to really look hard to find it. But it’s definitely worth the adventure to get there. And the best part – it’s still two streets down from where my sister resides.

The New Banana Cafe as it’s called in the current avatar, is on the terrace of a residence. You need to climb a few pairs of stairs to get to the top. The open air location means you’re treated to a nice pleasant breeze while you wait for the food. There is a mosque very close to it so be prepared in case you’re going anytime during prayer hours. Otherwise, it’s relatively peaceful. Senthil, the hard-working owner who runs the cafe,  also has wi-fi so you can sit there and type away. Not that you should go there and do any urgent work; that would totally defeat the point of being in Pondi!

But moving on to what we all want to know about… the food. First is a disclaimer: the menu is extremely limited. I’ve gone numerous times though and maybe because I enjoy the food so much, I don’t really mind the lack of variety. And it’s not Indian food – so if you’re only satisfied with roti and rice, this is not the place for you.

What I like however is that everything that comes out of the kitchen is super fresh. I love the fresh vegetables and inevitably ask for the salad. With the crunchy beetroot, the potato wedges, which Senthil makes really well, it’s actually a meal in itself. He also has fish sometimes, do enquire. He cooks up a simple minimal fuss preparation, but it’s really good since the fish is quite fresh. There are also the quiches, gratin and bakes which are well sized and make for an excellent meal, served with salad on the side. I usually order one of the drinks on the menu – try out the flower syrups with soda. Can I have one more please?


New Banana cafe at Pondicherry

If you want to try something different, I’d recommend the ragi galette – it’s not what you expect. It’s much better!

The prices are pretty reasonable too and won’t make a big dent in your pocket.

Finding New Banana Cafe is an adventure in itself, but if you’ve got a sufficiently smart phone, I would leave it to the device to do the hard work and lead you there. Be prepared to do a little bit of work before you get to the food.

Don’t expect anything fancy here. The ambience is low-key and the place is simple, but cosy. Just go there for wholesome delicious home-cooked food and you won’t be disappointed.

It’s closed on Mondays and check their opening and closing times on other days on their Facebook page – they’re online too.

I, for one, am looking forward already to my next trip there!

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Good Food Day at Caperberry

Celebrating good food at Caperberry

Caperberry remains one of our favourite restaurants in Bangalore, especially when planning a birthday or an anniversary special.

This time around we landed up at Caperberry, but it was for no particular occasion. Both me and the better half just felt like having a good meal. Which was as good a reason I guess!

Interestingly, we spied a card on the table saying “GoodFood Day”. We had always wanted to try out the tasting menu at the restaurant and given the two carrots – GoodFood Day and a 15% discount on the bill, we quickly decided to go with it.

The menu is spread over several courses and starts with an amuse bouche, defined as a single bite sized hors d’œuvre. and ends with petit fours. And of course, there’s lots of great stuff in between. But let’s start at the beginning.

The amuse bouche is supposed to whet the appetite. And that it did. Besides, we had a very light breakfast and were quite hungry anyway. It came in a spoon, was pink in colour (cranberry?!) and looked like this.

The first dish that arrived was the nori wrapped norweigian smoked salmon, which didn’t disappoint at all. It looked and tasted delicious. The light flavour of the fish is accentuated by the bright cabbage sauce and salmon remains my favourite fish. It was topped with some caviar. It was also very well presented and the colours made for a very attractive dish. It was also over rather quickly.

This was followed by the chicken liver parfait with cherry glaze on the top. Liver is something I enjoy too much, but as a whole, this one played out quite well as it was a cornucopia of tastes, thanks to the soft cream and the brandy jelly that took the edge off the liver.

Next came an interesting dish. At least the presentation was very interesting. Corneto shaped cones filled with crabmeat. Rather delicious and we quickly made our way through these crunchy bites. I really enjoyed the buttery avocado and crabmeat combination.

After this, maybe to cool us down a bit, we were presented with a sorbet. And a non-dairy one at that, we were informed. It was a bit strange to have it in the middle of the meal, but considering that this was a “tasting” experience, we kept out minds and palates open. Nothing special about the sorbet though. By now, we were actually quite looking forward to the main course.

While the better half opted for the sous vide cooked lamb roulade (which looked pretty inviting) I asked for a fish preparation instead. What I got was a sea bass fillet, with orange sauce.

The sea bass was soft and with the sauce, a rather interesting combination. I’d still say the earlier salmon dish was what I enjoyed more. The bass I thought wasn’t as good as I remember from earlier occasions I’d ordered the same thing. The better half enjoyed the lamb though.

Though we thought we’d be clutching our stomachs by now, we weren’t actually that full. The food is flavourful, but not heavy and the portions of course are designed to ensure that you can go on for a few courses more.

The thing about the tasting menu is that like the word suggests, it’s is more of tasting and exploring food. Letting different flavours play around, burst in the mouth and also enjoy the taste afterwards. It’s not about quantity or feeling stuffed.

After the main course, we then had bite size pieces of mahon jelly, which had crunchy walnut and cheese on the top of it. It took me a while to warm up to the slightly bitterish taste, but it was okay.

Then came the icing on the cake. At least this was the part the better half was holding his breath and saving up space for. The dessert. And it was melt in your mouth tiramisu which was prepared in front of us. The base layer was topped up with mascarapone cheese, to which was added kahlua espresso. Now, it’s difficult to find fault with such a dessert!

I also had their watermelon martini that I enjoyed with the meal.

The menu said the meal was supposed to end with the petit fours, but it didn’t arrive.

– Lots of different flavours, some new, some unusual combinations
– Good Food Day well spent!

– Didn’t get the 15% discount as promised! In fact, I pointed it out both on their FB page and via their website, but despite being assured they were looking into it, never got to hear of it. Would have expected better customer service from Caperberry.

– The waiter brought us the bill immediately after the dessert instead of checking if we wanted anything else. I would have loved to sip on a cup of tea after the meal. But with the hasty arrival of the cheque, I decided against it.

– They forgot the petit fours, which in the menu is after the meal.

But despite everything, overall, a satisfying experience. I would go back to Caperberry because I really like the standards of their food.

Note: The non-vegetarian tasting menu is Rs 2000. Check this link for more details.