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Monday, May 26, 2014

South Indies, Shivaji Nagar ~ A Restaurant Review


Last weekend, we had been to South Indies Restaurant in Shivaji Nagar, Pune for dinner; I was invited by Pallavi from PRaxis Media for a complimentary lunch/dinner to sample the revamped menu at the restaurant.

South Indies, the chain of Billionsmiles Hospitality Pvt. Ltd is re-launching its restaurant in Pune with the all new theme and cuisines for the lavish taste. I tagged my hubby along. He being a hard core North Indian food lover, it took a little bit of pestering to make him to come along with me to try authentic south Indian cuisine. But, at the end he did like his experience at South Indies.

This restaurant is situated in the heart of the city and is easily accessible. When we reached there we were greeted by the manager who look us to our designated seats and explained us the concept of the menu. South Indies doesn't do Ala-carte menu. For dinner they have a huge set menu for dinner that we enjoyed that evening.

To start with we were served with 'rasam puri', which is a close cousin of the famous 'Golgappas' we all know. But, here it comes with an innovative South Indian twist. Puffed up puris were served with 4 types of rasam and 3 chutneys.  I loved the pudina rasam and pepper rasam. All the chutneys were great. However, I did feel that the puris were not crunchy enough. Overall, it was a great way to start our meal. 


Next on the starter list was 'Appe'. This was one dish I was familiar with. I have a few friends from down South and hence, I have had the opportunity to taste them before. The appe served to us at the restaurant were nice and warm - aptly spiced and we devoured them all with coconut chutney. A thumbs up for this one.

This was followed by a plate full of 6 types of starters - their name I can't possibly pronounce perfectly. The best thing to do would be to refer to the menu picture above. The manager explained us what the name means and we were good to go ahead and sample them.

We has masala spiced mini idlis which were awesome, curry leaves flavored paneer which was also great. I also liked the veggie uttapam. The arbi tikki was also good. I didn't like the sago wada and the other mushroom starter, mostly because I don't like either mushrooms and sago.

The variety they serve here is mind boggling. I has already started to feel full, so I decided to watch out for the portion size of the dishes.


After starters, we were served with cardamom flavored yogurt sorbet - which I simply loved. It was nicely flavored with cardamom, the sweetness was just right and it was quite soothing.


Apart from this, we had also ordered two mocktails which were not a part of the set menu namely - Lava Flow and Cool Blue. Both of them were nicely chilled and met our expectations.


After a refreshing yogurt sorbet, the main course was served. 


First was 'Neer dosa; that came with a spicy tomato gravy. Another was 'appam' that came with a coconut. curry. Of the two gravies, I liked the coconut one more as it was mildly spiced. The appam was nice and soft.

It was followed by curries and parathas. There were 2 types of parathas and three types of curries. The curries were specially good, all tasted good - they were rightly spiced. A thumbs up for it.


Before we move on the the desserts, a little about the decor and ambiance of the restaurant. The settings of the restaurant is nice.  I particularly like those round designs on the wall. It is well lit - not too bright and just right to give a cosy feeling. However, the restaurant can get a bit noisy when most tables are occupied. And my husband complained to me that he could not quite feel the AC in the restaurant. I think that is one area where they can still improve.

I also had curd rice before heading for desserts. It was okay - it was the first time I had it. It came with a wide variety of pickles. I quite liked the sweet mango pickle and helped myself with a generous serving of it.



The desserts menu was quite extensive. So much so that we were actually spoilt for choices. All the dishes from starts, drinks to main course was served to us on the table. But, for desserts we had to go over the desserts counter and take out pick. There were brownies, shahi tukda, gulab jamun, phirni, and two types of payasam. They also had some freshly cut fruits and an ice-cream counter. The ice-cream was served with a variety of toppings. I didn't try it as I was already so full.

I did feel that the desserts had quite a North Indian influence. I tasted each of them - they were quite nicely done. I quite liked the brownies and payasams and my husband loved the gulab jamoons. I quote him here - he said, 'they are out of the world.'


There can be no better way to finish a South Indian meal than having a cup of authentic filter 'kapi' aka coffee. I am not really a coffee person. I occasionally indulge in cold-coffees and lattes once in a blue moon. But, I loved the coffee here - it was simply 'amazing'.

Overall we had quite a nice experience at South Indies.  I will definitely recommend it to any one looking to have some authentic South Indian food. For me South Indian food have always meant the popular dishes like the Dosa, Upma, Idli, Vada, Uttapam, etc. But, you can't find these things on the menu here. The menu is quite innovative and that's what makes this place very different.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Once Upon a Crush by Kiran Manral


Once Upon a Crush by Kiran Manral

The first thing that catches you attention about the book is the book cover. It is so girly and I quite liked it!

Meet Rayna De - an independent career Bong woman, who is stuck in a job with a boss from hell. She is still going to turn thirty soon and is pestered by her parents to meet suitable guys of their choice to get settled in life. Needless to mention she has zero love life. Her life consists of all the mundane things – go to office, work, sleep and office again. Things slightly perk up in the office when Deven Ahuja – the handsome guy seem to be falling for her. But, when things are about Rayna, nothing happens the way you expect them to.

Even though he seems interested in her, there are other rumors circulating about him. To top this Rayna boss is making her life difficult in the office. Out of the blue her best friend lands up in Mumbai and takes shelter in her house indefinitely! Hows Rayna is going to deal with the things happening in her life? Is she going to find the love of her life? Is she going to succumb to the pressure of her parent and her demanding boss? Well, these are the things to read in the novel.

Once Upon a Crush by Kiran Manral, is a quick and entertaining read that comes with a liberal dose of witty and humorous dialogues. It has all the masala of a Bollywood movie. The author has a humorous way to describing each and every character in the novel right from the lady herself to her melodramatic friend Pixie, her irritable office colleague Mathur, her boss Aparajita and of course, the office hunk Deven Ahuja. There are several twists and turns in the plot that can keep the readers engaged. I did enjoy reading it. However, I must say that I found the way the novel ended, quite predictable.

If you are looking for a quick read, then you can pick this book for sure.

About the Author:  Kiran Manral has worked with some of the leading media houses in India as a features writer and journalist. Her debut novel, The Reluctant Detective, was published in 2012. She lives in Mumbai with her family and puts her job definition down as school gate mom.
I received the book from Leadstart Publishers in exchange for an unbiased review.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The Silicon Mind by Manikarnika Lagu ~ A Book Review


 It has been quite a while since I read a sci-fi thriller novel. That is why when I got the opportunity to from Become Shakespeare to review Manikarnika Lagu’s ‘The Silicon Mind’, I could not resist. I set aside all the books that I had with me to read and started with it. I am so glad to say that I was not disappointed.

‘Artificial Intelligence’ (AI) is a subject that has always fascinated me. And since, this book explores the impact it can have on our lives in the times to come – this book fascinated me as well. The blurb gives you a brief synopsis of the story line and at first you feel like you know what to expect from the book. But, as you read it you know that the author has handled the story deftly and you are in for quite some surprises. I loved the way the story is narrated in the novel. It starts with Ray - Head of India’s leading coma clinic - Chetna and a leading neurosurgeon, working on a secret project of developing a sophisticated neural chip. He is looking for volunteers on whom he can implant the chip to study its behavior. Then we have Dr. Aman Kapoor, a reputed physician who has had an accident and as luck would have it falls into coma.

Aman becomes Ray's unsuspecting guinea pig - Ray and his American collaborators successfully implant a silicon chip inside Aman's brain - true to the book's sci-fi genre, a robot does the operation! Aman wakes up - rejuvenated and changed forever. As Ray and his team expected, his brain has been enhanced to superlative degrees but his body suffers strange illnesses, a result of the conflict between the material chip and the corporeal brain. The story is about how Aman manages to trace his bizarre bodily symptoms with help from Manasi, his psychiatrist, and her journalist friend, Ishaan.

Overall, the book is quite an exciting read. The author has given insights into how sophisticated our brain and that makes the book a more enjoyable read. There are a few chapters in the book that are written from the perspective of the neural chip where it tells how it is responding to the new environment inside Aman’s brain and how it wants to manipulate things to show his supremacy. In fact, the book was quite a revelation to me on the brain's working. Even a person with little knowledge about brain’s working will enjoy it. All the characters in the book are sketched well, with all the needed details. As you read the book, you realize that the author has done the research on the topic very well – that is why you will find no loose ends to the story. The growing closeness of Aman with his psychiatrist Manasi adds a love angle to the otherwise scientific novel and that makes it all the more interesting!

If you are looking for a quick read in the sci-fi genre, then you should pick up this book for sure. Highly recommended!


Thanks for stopping by! Cheers!

Friday, May 16, 2014

Fizzy Strawberry Lemonade ~ To Cool Your Head


Summer is here in full spat. The sun shines brightly all day and keeps the mercury soaring relentlessly. Of course, there is some respite in the evening when the cool breeze blows, but for most part of the day you can feel the heat all the time.

In order to enjoy summer make summer bearably, we can obviously enjoy cold chilled drinks. Coz, when the rain hits (which should happen in a couple of weeks), you wont be able to chilled drinks as much as you like. For those will be the time when you will want to gorge on some Onion Bhajji and Masala Chai. So, for now keep your spirits up with this 'Fizzy Strawberry Lemonade'.

To tell you the truth, what I am sharing today is not really a recipe, but just a mixing of ingredients. Unless of course, you want to make the strawberry syrup from scratch. If you would like to do that you can refer to this post to know how to make the syrup. Here I have used the ready made strawberry syrup from Mapro fro convenience sake.


For 1 200 ml serving

Ingredients:
2-3 tbsp Strawberry Syrup
Sprite or 7-Up to top up, chilled
Lots of Ice cubes
Mint Sprig

Process:

Add the strawberry syrup to a tall glass. Add ice cubes. Top it half way with Sprite or 7-Up. Stir. Add more Sprite or 7-Up to fill the glass. Garnish with mint sprig. Serve immediately.

Tip:

- Prepare it right before serving to maintain the fizziness of the drink.



Enjoy! Thank you for stopping by!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

The Temple of Avinasi - The Legend of Kalki by Ayush Pathak

From the ashes of Epic Wars shall the great Lord of Dark rise,
So terrible his wrath, every protestor shall demise…
Ripped apart would be the Shield and the protecting forces,
A whole world shall fall, mortal or otherwise…



When I started with this book, I was not really expecting too much. For the first couple of pages I was having problems getting used to the terms like Light Seekers, Dark seekers, Devs, Asurs, Nashwar, Nishachar, etc. But, as I delve a bit deeper, things got clear and I started enjoying the book and there was no looking back! The story in the book takes you into a magical world. At the end of the book, I was simply amazed by the author’s vivid imagination and the way he has weaved a fantastic story. One will find that the author draws inspiration not only from Indian mythology but also from those from around the world.

The story revolves around the prophecy of the final avatar that will save the Earth from all the evil aliens and dark forces. This so called avatar is presented to us in the book as the fourteen year old child – Angel (I know such a clich├ęd name), who oblivious to what destiny awaits him lives in the valley with his friends and father. But, his perfect life is soon to get unsettled. We will know about that in the book. There is too much happening in the plot that it is difficult to summarize in a review.

Although I admit that I loved reading the book, I do wish the author had named the characters different. This book is supposedly based on the Kalki avatar from Hindu mythology. But, when you hear that he is named ‘Angel’ – it doesn’t quite sync well. Also, I found Angel’s father name funny - Mr. Betterclouds! Also, I felt the author had only the Indian readers in mind when he wrote this book because words like Nishachar, Nashwar, etc., won’t really go well with readers who do not have much idea about such Hindi words.

The language used in the book is simple. The author has made the effort to put in every single detail of the world he talks about in the book. You can imagine each and every scene as it if is happening right before your eyes. The story moves forward smoothly and swiftly, keeping the readers on the edge. There are many layers in the story and each of them gets unveiled at appropriate times throughout the story and it builds the tempo.

This book is the first one of the six book series that the author has in mind to write. With this book, he has raised the bar quite high and I am hoping he lives up to the mark in the rest of the books in the series. I will certainly look forward to them.

I received this book from Leadstart publishing in exchange for an unbiased review.



Thursday, May 1, 2014

Kairi Panna - Green Mango Mint Cooler - Summer Recipes


Summers are here. The mercury doesn't show any signs of relenting. What can come to our rescue in such times are obviously chilled drinks.

This summer shun the cola and other such drinks are go for homemade thirst quenchers like this mango mint cooler, aka kairi panna.

How to prepare green mango pulp?

I generally prepare the mango pull by cooking the mangoes in pressure cooker for 2 whistles on medium- high flame. Once the cooked mangoes are cooled down, I scrape of the pulp from the cooked mangoes. This pulp can be frozen in the freezer section of your refrigerator for months. When needed just keep the container of the pulp outside for half and hour, scoop out the amount of pulp you need as keep the rest in the freezer again.

Here is what you will need:
Serves 4

Ingredients:

1/4 to 1/2 cup green mango pulp, depending on how tart it is.
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1/4 mint leaves
1/4 tsp to 1/2 tsp black salt
1/4 tsp to 1/2 tsp roasted cumin
600 ml chilled water
Lots of ice cubes to serve

Process:

In a saucepan add sugar and water and boil it till the sugar melts to form a sugar syrup. Set aside to cool it down

Churn the mango pulp and mint leaves in a mixer till smooth. Strain it to remove any fibrous part.

In a tall jar add the mint and mango pulp, add the water, the prepared sugar syrup, black salt and roasted cumin. Adjust spices and sugar as per your need. Stir till well combined. Add loads of ice cubes and pour into glasses. Serve chilled.

Thank you for stopping by! Cheers!
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