Saturday, October 31, 2015

Biryani is considered to be a dish of Indian origin, with different versions found in the subcontinent. In India there are many forms of biryani such as Hyderabadi Biryani, Lucknawi Biryani, Dum Biryani, Kachi Biryani etc. In Hyderabad , Biryani reached its zenith in the courts of the Nizam (Ruler of the state of Deccan).

South India has more varieties of biryani than any other part of the subcontinent, rice being a staple food in South India than in the rest of India. Hyderabadi biryani is an amalgamation of Mughlai and Iranian cuisine in the kitchens of the Nizam, rulers of the historic Hyderabad State. The word ‘biryani’ is derived from the Persian language. One theory is that it originates from ‘birinj’, the Persian word for rice. Another theory is that it derives from ‘biryan’ or ‘beriyan’ (to fry or roast).

Many food historians have conjectured that the pulao was an army dish in medieval India. Unable to cook elaborate meals, the armies would prepare a one-pot dish where they cooked rice with whichever meat was available. Over time, the dish became biryani due to different methods of cooking, with the distinction between ‘pulao’ and ‘biryani’ being arbitrary. Being a rice lover myself, veg pulao was the first dish I ever learnt to cook as a young teenager and perfected very soon. However Biryani is one dish I could never really master. I have made some feeble attempts at times, but never found it nearing perfection of any kind. It always ended up overcooked or undercooked, too spicy or too bland, raw in parts or burnt! Biryani at the end of the day is a subtle balance of flavours, texture, aroma, spice, colour and richness in one whopper of a dish. It may seem easy but the precision comes with years of practice. I may pat my back at being more or less a good cook. It is only biryani that keeps my ego in check and forces me to take my culinary skills…..with a pinch of salt!

Somewhere along the line I gave up trying to cook biryani. Frankly speaking, in this day and age one doesn’t even need to. There is so much biryani available all around. Almost every restaurant serving Indian food does rustle up a biryani of some kind but it is important to do a quick survey online. I searched on Food Panda App for biryani around. And ‘Biryani Special’ popped up. The menu seemed interesting. Quickly I ordered a Pakistani Dum Mutton Biryani and a Chicken Dum Biryani. While the mood was still meatilicious, threw in some shammi kebabs for good measure. The 30% off with code PANDA actually worked and for a neat Rs 577, we had this veritable feast!

The mutton biryani was a more reddish and robust biryani, served with Burani Raita. While the chicken one had a yellow tinge and subtle green cardamom flavour. Unlike the dry texture of Hyderabadi or Awadhi Biryani, this Mughlai style Biryani is moist and rich. The good thing about biryani is that it always leaves you very happy and satisfied. It is the perfect wholesome meal to usher in the weekend and the winter season!

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Coastal Rendezvous

It is holiday season. Many of my friends are on holiday at exotic locales, while I cannot go as of now. Facebook doesn’t make it easier. Vivid, verdant vistas pop up by the minute and poke at you through your work day ennui. Add to that the ‘share your memories’ feature on FB that ensures you’re reminded of every holiday you have taken in the past few years on the same dates. So past fortnight I had a fine blend of pictures from Goa, Kerala, Mysore, Mumbai of many autumns gone by, with surf, sand and seafood. The best part about India’s coastal regions is their distinct cuisines. They may have a common thread in terms of a preference for seafood and use of coconut, yet each region uses them differently. Some curries from coastal Indian states are subtle, light, aromatic and oozing with flavours while others can be fiery and hot. For someone who has stayed and loved living in coastal regions in the past, sometimes being in land-locked Delhi can stir a very strong yearning for all things coastal, especially when a beach holiday is nowhere in sight.

I did the next best thing, I headed for the Coastal Reef restaurant in Bani Square, which has somehow emerged as a mini and budgeted cyber hub of sorts! Step into ‘Coastal Reef’ and you get that marine feel of ship like interiors of some bygone era. Pale grey walls and marine bric a brac put you in the right frame of mind for a coastal treat.


Mooligai Rasam
We started with Mooligai Rasam that set the spice tempo for a tantalising treat ahead.

Seafood Sampler
For starters we tried the seafood sampler which is  a lavish portion of four types of starters-prawn vepudu, crab kurimilagu, tawa fried fish and squid fry. The crab was an absolute delight and it was the first time I actually found squid chewable. Fish was on the spicier side while I prefer my seafood to be mild so one can focus on the flavours rather than the bite. There is a vegetable sampler and meat sampler too. Other vegetarians could try the Karaikudi Potato Roast (Slow cooked potatoes with roasted hand-pounded pepper, cinnamon and fennel) or Achies Varuval (Cauliflower florets cooked with garlic, cumin, ajwain and cashews), a welcome relief from the ubiquitous paneer for veggies in most Delhi restaurants. 

Kerala Mutton Fry

For the main course we tried Malabari Fish with Malabari Parota and Appam. But actually ordering is a tough task as they have curries ranging from Macher Jhol from Bengal to Prawn Kodagu Masala. You are spoilt for choices right from Goan Prawn Curry to Travancore Crab Thoran, yeah right here in the heart of ‘Gudgaavan’!

We also ordered Kerala Mutton Fry as it looked quite tempting. The Malabari Fish and Appams were simply outstanding. The Mutton Fry is a good dish on its own, but with seafood, I found it too spicy for my liking. The other reason was that the Malabari Fish was way too good on its own, a light and thick yellow coconut gravy with a profusion of coriander and ginger. It went well both with the Parota and Appam. For vegetarians too, there is ample choice such as Vegetable Stew, Nellore Mushroom, Vegetable Avial and Tomato Pappu, a tangy Andhra style dal. The best part is they deliver at home too, in the neighbouring sectors. The dishes have an authentic taste, thanks to the Chef who has been procured from Madurai. This is easily the best coastal taste I have experienced outside of 5 star hotels in Delhi NCR and pretty reasonable too.
Malabari Fish with Appam

Elaneer Payasam & Pineapple Kesari

Just when one thought, this was more than enough, the owner, Puneet Rekhi, who is an amicable person and very enthusiastic about guest feedback, suggests some desserts. So we try Pinapple Kesari and Elaneer Payasam. The Pineapple Kesari is just like a pineapple flavoured halwa. But the Elaneer Payasam is something else. It is a dessert that sings to you a sweet coastal song- soft, tender coconut cooked with milk until condensed and then served with fresh chunks of tender coconut. It is a dessert that lingers in your mind for long, a taste that can make you smile until the next time you come face to face with the sea and hear the sound of waves crashing on to the shore. And I mean real coasts and real waves and real surf, that we get in south of India! Not some man-made synthetic beach concoction of an oil rich country!




Saturday, October 10, 2015

Just Pressed Cold Brew Coffee Delivery

There was a time when I loved coffee. But my coffee had to be strong, rich, aromatic and pack a punch. In hot coffee you got that satisfaction from a good South Indian filter coffee. But with the advent of instant coffee brands, somehow one felt cheated with the dilution of flavour and aroma.  Instant Coffee Ads are some of the most visually engaging, yet the coffee failed to engage with me in any way.

Take the case of cold coffee. Actually I have always preferred cold coffee over hot coffee. But since there is a large amount of milk we are talking about, the coffee has to be exceptionally pure and strong to hit the right notes on your palate. I did enjoy some very strong cold coffees in certain coffee shops but now even the café frappe they serve at most places is more ice than milk. And every time I try to replicate a good cold coffee experience at home, even after putting heaps full of instant coffee, I just did not get the rich taste. Unless then you add a scoop of coffee icecream in it, which is a different story altogether!

Just Pressed recently launched India’s first Cold Brew Coffee Delivery. This is the first time such a unique concept is being offered in India, and they deliver their premium coffee all over Delhi NCR - at home or office.

JustPressed Cold Brewed Coffee is the best tasting coffee which you would have tasted! They use carefully selected Premium Arabica Peaberry and Premium Arabica Plantation AA coffee beans blended in a special ratio. These are roasted and ground to certain specifications by an award winning Master Roaster. The perfectly coarse ground and roasted beans are immersed in 100% Pure RO chilled water for 24 hours. The Cold Brew process creates a perfectly balanced and distinctively smooth cup of coffee– served steaming hot or iced cold. 


During the Cold-Brew process, time replaces heat. In a typical hot brewing process, high temperature facilitates the release of undesirable flavor elements. A roasted coffee bean contains many compounds that are extracted during the brewing process. Some of those compounds, including certain oils and fatty acids, are soluble only at a high temperature.

During the cold brew process, coffee beans are never exposed to high temperature. Cold water brewing for 24 hours extracts the delicious flavour compounds from coffee beans, but leaves behind myriad bitter oils and biting fatty acids, including undesirable elements such as ketones, esters and amides.


These are the same bitter acids and fatty oils that surface to the top of your hot cup of coffee, and give hot-brewed coffee that familiar ‘bite’ (thus the reason that some 8 out of 10 people attempt to soften the acidic taste by adding milk or cream to their coffee).
The coffee I tried was delicious to have on its own. I also tried making a lovely glass of cold coffee and after ages actually enjoyed a cold coffee at home. It's a wonderful bottled coffee to keep in your refrigerator to flavour and create many things. I also love coffee flavour in many desserts such as crème caramel or a simple fruit cream. Just pressed blends effortlessly in any base and gives the dessert a rich coffee taste. Tangy Sorbet recommends this lovely brown magic! Then all you need alongside is a golden sunset.