Sunday, November 29, 2015

Azad Hind Dhaba, Salt Lake City, Kolkata

Sometime in 2013, I visited Kolkata for the first time. We were only there for a few days and dined out almost every night. 

As the Azad Hind Dhaba had been highly recommended and was almost right round the corner for us, we popped in for a dinner. 


Rather unassuming on the outside, it's the d├ęcor which is its USP. 


The food was nothing much but not so bad either. Sadly, I've only this picture of the accompaniments. 


It's a cosy, homely sort of place and, while you wait for your order, you can enjoy the wall art.


Very typical of the art that decorates the back of many an Indian lorry.


I love peeking into restaurant kitchens. But I think this was on the outside.


The staff was very friendly and made us feel very much at home.


As we emerged, replete, we rejoiced in the sight of the Azad Hind home delivery motorcycles.


I've just noticed that their website has recipes: A Paneer dish, a Kali dal, a chicken and a mutton curry! 

The website is as entertaining as a visit to one of their outlets. 

Friday, November 27, 2015

6 Ballygunge Place, Kolkata

In July 2013 we were in Kolkata and, almost every evening of our short stay, we tried out a new eatery.  6 Ballygunge Place  was reasonably near where we stayed and we were told we would find a fairly authentic Bengali thali there.
The restaurant is an unassuming area, very discreetly tucked away.  Once inside, it's a different world. Much care has been spent on the ambience.


The place is spick and span. With gleaming stainless steel thalis all laid out invitingly.


There is always someone attending to sprucing up the settings and enough waiters to hearken to your every demand.


You literally feel transported to another day and age with kind of photos that decorate the walls.


Naturally we ordered for a thali and here's how it looked:


The place mats are all enchanting and here's a sample of some of them:


I have no idea what's written on them.


There's nothing fishy, I'm sure-it might be a poem by Rabindranath Tagore?


Besides the thali, we also had some of the famous fish in mustard gravy.


The biggest surprise was when we got the finger bowls.


Apparently, this is tea for washing our fingers!

When I was a teenager, I often hung out with a Bengali friend and got a rough idea of what to expect in Bengali thali: some greens, some bodi, some fish, some dal, etc. 

Of course, at this age, I know that nothing is uniform, not even the food from one and the same region. A Bengali thali will differ depending on region, religion, and, most of all, family tastes. 



Saturday, November 7, 2015

Random Snacks, Pune, October 25, 2015


India has a vast range of snack foods. That's just because it's such a huge country and, every few yards, you have diversity. 
     Pune, in particular, harbours a whole host of snack food shops and eateries, and it's not just Maharashtrian fare. There's more than adequate representation of North and South, and, obviously, of the West, but it's also not too hard to find the East, too.
     I'm a major fan of snack foods, especially the Indian ones. Most weekends, we cruise around in the afternoon, and, more often than not, return home with some goodly booty.
     Here's a random sample of one such weekend:
Clockwise from top: Kerala Meat Fry, Bakarwadis and Yam Chips

PAGES FROM THE DIARY OF A SNACK FAN
Friday, October 24: 
He returns home with Bakarwadis, a gift. I've only first eaten them here, in Pune. I can't get enough of them. 
5:30 PM: 
We find ourselves on Ambedkar Chowk, Aundh Road, Khadki, Pune. Behold, yon Sarani Kerala Fast Food. He, of the we, decides he needs some Kerala meat fry! 
5:45 PM: 
We remember that we need coffee and head for the nearby South Indian shop. Chena chips, we cannot resist. 
I rarely venture to try to make this dish as it's one of those deceptively easy ones. Those are always guaranteed to end up disasters. However, long, long ago, I had a great recipe from a friend. I must remember to ask her for it again. 



Neither of these recipe will produce the chips we ate. I love Elephant Foot Yam. Which is bizarre since it's a pain to peel and not really possessed of character. Ah, well, my next post will probably be about this itchy root vegetable.



Bhakarwadi

This is a truly wicked treat! Spirals, layers, coconut, poppy seeds, flavour! 


A box or pack of Bhakarwadis would make a fine gift if you're visiting folks out of Pune, or anywhere else in Maharashtra. Come to think of it, I'd love to get some this Diwali.