Sunday, 3 June 2018

Maharaja Bhog.. An Atma Trupt Experience!

The aroma of deliciousness hit me as soon as I entered the restaurant. I quickly sat down before a shiny thali (with vatis arranged in a perfect semi circle) in anticipation of the delicious food I was about to to be served. Maharaja Bhog, a famous Mumbai thali eatery recently opened it's doors to Punekars. Having heard superb reviews about the place, in spite of it being a vegetarian restaurant, I happily trotted off for lunch with one of my dearest friends (Priyadarshini/Priyus to me).

They brought out a brass basin and water kettle to wash hands at the begining of the meal. They then brought out another tray with a cow shaped money bank, a handful of coins and some tulsi leaves. They requested me to put a coin from the tray into the cow money box (Gau daan) and eat a tulsi leaf. I respectfully picked a coin and put it into the money box. As for the tulsi leaf, I did not eat the whole leaf; I tore a bit of the leaf and swallowed it with water. I did not see any reason to be disrespectful of the tradition they so kindly chose share with us. 

This unlimited thali began with papads, gujjias, white dhokla, dal pakwan, three types of chutneys, puris and phulkas. For the mains we were 3 served sabzis (vegetables) dudhi, batata and bhindi. All three were absolutely yum! A paneer gravy (fab) and muthiya preparation were also a part of the thali. I loved the sweet Gujarati dal and kadi. Instead of rice, I opted for the ghee drizzled khichdi (an atma trupt sigh!)

Each and every thing served was superb. The Gulab Kheer was also delish but the best part about this meal was the unlimited Aam Ras. Please don't ask me how many vatis i polished off. πŸ™ŠπŸ™ˆ I'm not telling. Once the servers realize what dish you like best they keep coming back to serve you and they serve you generously and with so much heart.

After this meal I was to return home, pick mum up and head out to finish a load of pending chores. Wanna guess what I did after the meal? I called mum and requested her to switch on the air conditioner. I dragged (I was so stuffed that in no universe would I call it walking) my feet home, changed into comfy PJs and crashed for four straight hours. Do not ever plan anything after you visit Maharaja Bhog because the only thing you'll wanna do after this meal is peacefully doze off for hours. Don't say I didn't warn you. πŸ˜‰πŸ˜

The only let down of the luncheon experience was, they bring the same basin and water kettle to wash hands after the meal but... sans soap or lime (a la finger bowl). After having had ghee laden phulkas and puris, leaving the restaurant with semi- greasy hands was a big turn off. Except for this boo-boo, they've got everything (food & service) set up perfectly! I cannot wait to go back.... before the mango season ends. πŸ˜‰ That Aam ras beckons.

A definite 5 on 5 on all counts (except for the after meal hand wash issue).

Cost of thali on weekdays, inclusive of GST taxes: INR 499.
Cost of thali on public holidays/weekends, inclusive of GST taxes: INR 525.

Address: Level 2, Pavillion Mall, Senapati Bapat Road, Pune
Tel: 020 66421185 / 020 66421186

Maharaja Bhog Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Monday, 7 May 2018

An Afternoon with Mama at Mamagoto

Mum and I decided to go out for lunch a couple of weeks back. After much deliberation we landed up at Mamagoto, a swanky new joint at The Pavillion (the mall adjacent JW Marriott - SB Road). Well, as it was moms treat it was only fair to 'katao' mama at Mamagoto. *evil grin*

The decor is hip and the Japanese posters that adorn the wall seem quirkily cute. 

We placed our order and while we waited for our food to arrive they served us rice crackers; it was served with two varieties of sauces (spicy and sweet). I could not decide which sauce I liked better because both were really good hence, kept alternating between them.

For drinks, while mum chose the Cranberry and Kaffir Lime Punch; my choice was the Lemon Zest and Mint Lemonade. Both were very nicely made but of the two, my heart veered towards the Lemon Zest and Mint Lemonade.

We chose two appetizers; Rock Shrimp Tempura and Prawn wrapped in Bacon. The Rock Shrimp Tempura was a big disappointment with regard to the tempura batter. The prawns were served soft and soggy. How can anyone serve a soggy tempura? With regard to succulence, though, I could find no fault as the prawns were not overcooked. Unfortunately, the basic element of tempura was lost for lack of crispness. 

The Prawn wrapped in Bacon was very nicely done! The bacon was beautifully smoked (read: heavenly) and the prawns, too, were perfectly cooked.

For our mains we selected the Egg-Chicken Sticky Rice. We loved the rice. It was very flavourful! 

We chose Crispy Fish Fillet in Black Pepper Sauce to go with the rice and this, too, turned out to be a stellar dish! We could not finish the rice and fish hence requested them to ‘doggy-bag’ the mains. The food was very neatly packed. We ate the rice and fish for dinner and it tasted just as good as it had at the restaurant. (I kid you not!)

As we are in the midst of the mango season, ideally, I would've preferred the Sticky Rice with Mango but only two varieties of cakes, from the dessert menu, were available hence we decided we'd eat dessert another day and no, my name is not Bond, James Bond! (blame the bad joke on my Bawi genes :P ) All in all, except for the tempura fiasco, this was a good meal.

Total damages for 2 people was, INR 3354 (inclusive of 10% service charge which I happily paid as the service was excellent). Prices are a tad on the higher side but as long as they maintain the quality I shall not crib about the prices.

Address: 2nd floor, Pavillion Mall, Senapati Bapat Road, Shivaji Nagar, Pune
Tel: 020 71966678

A few more photographs:

Mamagoto Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Friday, 27 April 2018

Kebabs and Kormas – A Royal Repast!

Zeera, Conrad-Pune, is hosting a Kebabs and Kormas festival. I was supposed to attend the festival on the very first day but unfortunately that was not to be. Last evening I finally got around to visiting it. 

This festival is conducted by their Chef Pavan Kumar Chennam who has recently joined Conrad as Executive Chef. He had already stolen our hearts with the Parsi Food Festival, the one he conducted with Chef Anahita Gustaspi, and we were waiting to see what else he had in store for us. Pavan is one of the lucky few who has had the opportunity to work under Chef Imtiaz Qureshi (a chef who needs no introduction). When Chef Imtiaz Qureshi wanted a hundred and twenty of his recipes archived, he placed his trust in Chef Pavan to tackle this mammoth task. Having known of Chef Pavan’s culinary journey, I was sure the evening would be delightfully delicious!

We chose the non-vegetarian menu but we began our meal with one vegetarian kebab that the chef insisted we try; Nilofari Seekh. The seekh was made of lotus stems spiced with peppercorns, yellow chili powder and was fried crisp. Served with yum green chutney this kebab was excellent! I am so glad we tried this.

The non-veg kebabs served were Murgh Resha Kebab, Silbatte Ki Shammi, Murgh Kasturi, Chaamp Burrah and Tadfada Jhinga. 

The Murgh Resha Kebab was threaded chicken flavoured with curry leaves and green chilies, added to a smooth thick white sauce (quite like Russian kebabs), coated with sevai and deep fried. The flavour of curry leaves came through beautifully and yet it did not overpower. 

The mutton for the Silbatte Ki Shammi was minced on the silbatta (grinding stone) and tiny bits of onions, chilies and coriander were added to give it slight bite. We lost count of how many we polished off. *greedy grin* 

The Murgh Kasturi was a tikka mildly flavoured with kasuri methi and black pepper, coated with silken egg. They hadn’t gone overboard with the spices which is why the flavours of pepper and kasuri methi shone through. 

The Chaamp Burrah was robust and bold. It was perfectly tandoor’d with regard to flavour and texture. Not many people get the chaamp right, but they sure did! 

Tadfada Jhinga was batter fried Koliwada style and flavoured with curry leaves. Please don’t ask me how many I ate. They were stellar! 

The chef was kind enough to send us a full Tandoori Ajwaini Pomfret. It was perfectly done and flaked beautifully at the slightest touch of my fork.

For mains, we were served Koh-E-Awadh, Murgh Pista Korma, Kacchi Gosht Ki Biryani, Kaali Dal Sufiyana, Hare Masale Ka Kheema. 

The Koh-E-Awadh were lamb shanks in a smooth gravy spiced with ‘garam masala’. The quality of mutton used was excellent and the slow-cooked shanks were a melt in the mouth delight! 

The Murgh Pista Korma was a silken light green korma and for me, it was the star of the evening with regard to the main course. I simply could not stop sipping on the korma gravy. Sigh! 

The Hare Masale Ka Kheema was a dry preparation and as the name suggests was flavoured with various greens (mint, dill, coriander, green chilies and a bit of methi).

The Kaali Dal Sufiyana was yummy and the garnish of dill leaves and ghee felt amazing on the palate. 

Lastly, we were served Kacchi Gosht Ki Biryani. This is the kind of biryani I love. It was a yakhni style biryani, cooked in mutton stock. Minimal in spice but so very high in flavour! I was quite full by the time they served biryani and barely ate one piece of mutton from it but I could not stop eating that flavourful rice. This was a fabulous biryani!

They served us three desserts: Gulab Ki Thandi Kheer, Zauk-E-Shahi and Lehsun Ka Halwa. 

The Gulab ki Thandi Kheer was an elegant cold rice kheer. A simple preparation; I could find no fault with the flavours. 

The other two desserts, though, blew me away. The Zauk-E-Shahi were tiny gulab jamuns in thick slow boiled milk (rabdi); this was then gently baked. I was expecting it to be overly sweet but it was not so, it was perfect! 

As for the Lehsun Ki Kheer I have been yearning to try this for years and what better place to have it at, in Pune, than Zeera? The base of the kheer was similar to that of the Kada Prasad made from wheat flour. The hint of lehsun (garlic) in the sweet dish was subtle and spot on. It teased my olfactory senses without over powering my palate. I loved it!

The menu for this festival was well thought out and perfectly executed. Each and every dish was absolutely delish! This festival is on at Zeera (Conrad-Pune) until Saturday, April 28, 2018 and is available 7 PM onwards. This unlimited menu is priced at 1800 + taxes. Well worth the money. We were totally blown away with Chef Pavan’s knowledge of this particular cuisine and the outstanding food his team served us. With absolute honesty I have to say, Chef Pavan Kumar Chennam has done Chef Imtiaz Qureshi proud!

Where: Zeera-Conrad, Mangaldas Road, Pune
Call: 020 67456745
Until: Saturday, April 28, 2018
Timings: 7 PM onwards

A few more photographs...