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Monday 26 May 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 22 May 2014

Once Upon a Crush by Kiran Manral | A Book Review

Once Upon a Crush by Kiran Manral | A Book Review
Once Upon a Crush by Kiran Manral 
The first thing that catches your attention about the book - Once Upon a Crush by Kiran Manral, is the book cover. It is so girly; 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 the office, work, sleep and office again. Things slightly perk up in the office when Deven Ahuja – the handsome guy at work seems 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 rumours 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 21 May 2014

The Silicon Mind by Manikarnika Lagu ~ A Book Review

The Silicon Mind by Manikarnika Lagu
The Silicon Mind by Manikarnika Lagu comes highly recommended if you are looking for a quick read in the sci-fi genre. Read my review to know why.

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 storyline 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 behaviour. Then we have Dr Aman Kapoor, a reputed physician who has had an accident and as luck would have it falls into a coma.

Friday 16 May 2014

Fizzy Strawberry Lemonade Recipe | How to Make Strawberry Lemonade | Summer Drinks

Fizzy Strawberry Lemonade Recipe | How to Make Strawberry Lemonade | Summer Drinks
Fizzy Strawberry Lemonade #Recipe
This Fizzy Strawberry Lemonade Recipe is a pretty instant one. Whenever you feel the summer blues melting you down, sip on this and chill.

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 the most part of the day, you can feel the heat all the time.

In order to enjoy summer make summer bearable, we can obviously enjoy chilled drinks. Coz, when the rain hits (which should happen in a couple of weeks), you won't be able to sip on chilled drinks as much. 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'.

Wednesday 7 May 2014

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

The Temple of Avinasi - The Legend of Kalki by Ayush Pathak
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 going 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 differently. 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 of 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 1 May 2014

Kairi Panna Recipe | How to Make Kairi Panna | Green Mango Mint Cooler | Summer Drinks

Kairi Panna Recipe | How to Make Kairi Panna - A sweet and tangy Indian summer drink
Kairi Panna #Recipe
Kairi Panna or Panha is a sweet and tangy Indian summer drink made primarily from green mangoes, mint and some spices. It is one of the most popular drinks preparation using raw mango in India. With mint as one of its main ingredients, it is said to be very cooling and soothing for the body.

Summers are already here in India and the mercury doesn't show any signs of relenting. What can come to our rescue in such times are obviously chilled homemade drinks. This summer it is time to stay away from bottled high sugar drinks and go for homemade thirst quenchers like this mango mint cooler, a.k.a Kairi Panna. 
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