Sunday, August 29, 2010

The gasrtonomical odyssey: Soma by the Kalras @ Sula Vineyards

The Sula vineyards
The monsoons are on and it had been over a month since I hadn't traveled or ventured out of Bombay. I've stopped my unconditional love for this city, more so after IB took me to places around the world and made me realize that cities are made by their people who are passionate for its cultures, history and spirit. They are definitely not made up of political-mafias, intra-national racism, indifference and filth!! So when life and the world showed me beautiful cities I decided to commit my first-time infidelity! City wise.
Anything over two months drives me mad in Bombay and so the monsoons were a quick excuse for a getaway. This time I headed again to Sula near Nashik.
The view of acres of vineyards in the monsoon from the Tasting Room, sipping a glass of wine is wonderful!!
So I had to. After reading Rashmi Uday Singh's TOI review  on 'Soma' - food by the Kalras, and the words 'Laal Maas' (goat meat in a spicy firy red curry) I knew I had to be at this restaurant that Rashmi featured. Mind you the Kalra's are not the same as Jiggs Kalra (of Punjab Grill fame). Honestly, I dont really care who is the cook as long as my palates are happy.
So after having many glasses of wine which included the beautiful Sula Brut Rosé Sparkling, the Dindori Reserve Viogniér (delicious and my favourite with the rich smell of Apricot and Lychees), the Madera Red etc. we were hungry for food.
The resturant opens at 12:30 pm and shares space with Little Italy. Its quiant, has an open and airy feeling with glass walls to get the maximum view of the vineyards and high wodden and wrought iron furniture. Very Italian!! Table mats with Sun Signs in Indian names and an open tandoor counter this place appealed to me instantly.
They have some Italian and world music playing too...
The staff is extremely helpful and friendly.
We went straight for the main course and I ordered the the rave reviewed Laal Maas. The last time I had this dish was at the Nahargarh Palace and Fort restaurant in Amer, Rajasthan. There in the land of the Rajputs and Marwar it was delicious. This time I wanted to see how it would be recreated in the land of the Deccans accompanied with a glass of the Dindori Reserve Shiraz (my idea)!
The Sula Brut Rose sparkling

Another curry that we ordered in the sea food section was the Jhinga Masala that was to be accompanied with the Sula Chenin Blanc (my idea again)
Then there were the Paneer Makhani and the Dal Makhani. A bread basket of Naan's and rotis were ordered as accompaniment.
To begin with came the complimentary 'Paapads' with the mint curd chutney, pickles and onion-lemon wedges.
Then came the food.
I dint bother to wait and click the pictures and did so while the food was on our plates/being served. Please excuse me for that.
The first bite of the Laal Maas and bravo!! It was soft, succelent and came off the bone. Just as good meat should.
I was transported straight back to Amer!!
The Laal Maas

The red wine added to my palate.... but I'm sure this dish would carry off on its own without any fancy wine having to butress it.
The Paneer Makhani
Next came the Jhinga curry (excellent again). Medium prawns in a fantastic central-India kind of gravy which I noticed would be a killer with rice but I dont have the appetite for both Naan and rice so skipped the temptation. The Paneer Makhani was decent too.
The Jhinga curry in the middle and Laal Maas to the right corner on my plate

The real winner however was the Dal Makani.
It was full of ghee but who cared. Nowhere else have I had such astounding and good Daal Makhani. No, not even in Bukhara @ the ITC Maurya in Delhi (okk maybe I'm exaggerating a bit) but believe me it was flavorsome!!
The Dal Makahani

We ended the lunch with the Moong Daal ka Halwa, it was hot. I dont like hot deserts. I rate it an average.
All in all, Soma get a thumbs up for me.
Damage for 4 people with drink was around Rs. 2400/-
The Moong-dal Halwa

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The gasrtonomical odyssey: Kababs

I realized, that so far I had totally neglected the mention of one my passions - Food. Which is an integral part of my planned/impromptu travels. That to let my escapades remain in my many tiny travel agendas would be like committing managers sex to an introverted hardworking subordinate in the corporate world!
So from this day onwards, you shall find some posts on my Indian Gastronomy finds. Any inputs, additional points would always be welcome.
My first post is on the oft revered Kababs.
I've had them at Calcutta, Delhi, Lucknow, Rajasthan, Hyderabad and Bombay and heres my list of favorites.

1) Aminias, New Market, Calcutta.
I always thought the hyperbole 'melt-in-your-mouth' only existed in writing. I had my first experience in 24 years at this place, on our last day when we strolled in ordered Mutton Chap (average), Reshmi Kababs (melt in your mouth indeed) and some Tandori Roti. For deserts we had the classic Firni (good) Meal for 2 is close to Rs.250/-. Nothing so far has managed to oust Aminias Reshmi Kababs from being THE fav.

2) Qureshis Kababs, GK-II, New Delhi.
Head here for the best Seekh Kababs' on a cold wintry morning that Delhi is ohh so famous for. Its a non descript, street side place with table almost reaching the road. But the Kababs make it all worth it. Damage for three people is less than Rs. 500/-
3) Shiraz, Park Circus, Calcutta.
Heard of Barra Kababs?? Those are supposed to be big. Shiraz will not disappoint you. Again the ambience is nothing to speak of. But who cares. I head out for the food, nothing else. Shiraz whips up some good Mutton Biryani too!
The Barra kababs and biryani @ Shiraz

4) Kabab Stalls on Mohommed Ali Road, Bombay
This place ranks lower because of hygenie point of view and the lack of consistency when Eid is not around. Do try the Seeekh Kababs and Boti Kababs.

5) Aangan, Koramangala, Bangalore
Perhaps the best Malai Kababs your toungue could have ever tasted. A plate sets you back by Rs. 180/-. This also happens to be a favorite with a tonn of friends.

6) Punjabi Times, Banerghatta Road, Bangalore
I dont remember the name of a particular Mutton Kabab I had nearly two years back. But what I do remember is the unforgettable taste. With the rib bones on, mutton never tasted so good.

7) Urban Tadka, throughout Bombay
These guys make amazing Achari Kababs, better than the Trident-Hilton guys!!
The Tundey "Gilavti" Kababs with onion and Seermal

8) Tundey Kababi, Chowk, Lucknow
Well personally I felt that these Gilavti Kababs are only exaggerated. There is no feel of meat and its just spices and something wishy-washy in your mouth. I had it with seermal (saffron bread) and the total damage was Rs. 25/-

Monday, August 9, 2010

Gear up for Meter Jam -12th August.

For more details visit

Ever been stranded late at night in the middle of the road, nearly pleading with an Auto Rickshaw or a Cabbie to take you to your destination.
Ever reached a point where you helplessly bribe a non agreeable auto/cab driver with a few bucks more if he gives u a ride back??
Ever cursed/abused the clan of cabbies 'cuse they drive away and pretend you dont exist on the roads??
Ever debated with one of those guys who rip you off with false/forged Meter Reading cards and on you standing your ground there are ten more of them standing as if to thrash you down??
Seems familiar??
Time to hit back at them.
We know our "system" has "enough" to deal with.
Its time we took matters in our hands.
On the 12th of August, shun them. The very Taxi/ Auto drivers. Pretend they DO NOT exist. Do your health some good, wake up early, leave early and walk it down or take the BEST if its been ages!!
No matter what, dont look at those cabbies/autowallahs.
Its for a day.
But its time we start taking these people for a "ride" too!!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Kjærlighet : Enden er

Dearest Hanky Moody,
I'm too late isn't it? Just too darn late. Too late for this whole bloody lifetime. Knowing you, you would have a smirk off your shoulder to tell me, "Chill", "Lay back and relax" and it would be as awckward and restrained between us as it has been, since I choose not to hold your hands for this lifetime. For all you know, you might never ever read this. Now that you have a beautiful, gorgeous woman as your wife who keep you happy. But often, keep wondering how would it be with the two of us, if it were to be ever. I fell in love when I couldnt have you anymore, when life was giving you to someone else. I fell in love after I declined to accept your love. Watching you walk to th sunset with someone else got a lump to my throat. But I had to face the consequences of a decision I took, a choice I made. Now I read our letters and smile, sometimes there are few tears of regret and a silent prayer for you to always be happy. This much never changes. My genuine prayers and concern for you. And I also wish, that in some lifetime, its me who is by your side.
I guess sometimes love is in prayers.

This being my last letter to you in this lifetime.


Sunday, August 1, 2010

कारवां: Travels from here, there & far away: Jaipur

@ The City Palace; Old City; Jaipur; Jan 2010

For more pics visit my Flickr Photos. Link to the Right.

कारवां: Travels from here, there & far away: Maharashtra Monsoons; Igatpuri

Raindrops on the glass window; Igatpuri; July 2010
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कारवां: Travels from here, there & far away: The beauty of the Teesta

"Oh! Teesta"; on the banks of the Teesta; Sikkim; Jan 2010

कारवां: Travels from here, there & far away: Darjeeling

Tea Pot reflecting the Gompa @ Golden Tips; Darjeeling; Dec 2009
For more pics visit my Flickr Photos. Link to the Right.

कारवां: Travels from here, there & far away: Sikkim

Prayer Wheels @ The Rumtek Monastery; Sikkim; Jan 2010
For more pics check out my Flickr Photos. Link to the right.