Saturday, December 19, 2009

Veggie Nook: Grabz

Grabz for a quick bite


Grabz is a fast-food outlet that sells continental food. Grabz is a daring effort to bring affordable continental food, specifically Italian, to the discerning Hyderabadi palate. Started a year ago at Himayatnagar, it has now branched out to outlets at Sindhi Colony, Abids and Sainikpuri. The outlets offer only vegetarian fare and are designed on the lines of ‘eat-on-the move' . The outlets at Sainikpuri and Sindhi colony can seat 20 people at a time.
The menu card is concise and one go through it in about 3 minutes flat. In all, you have 6 segments to choose from: thebreads, the salads, the fries, pastas, wraps and sandwiches. Each segment offers 2-3 selections. The limited offer allows the restaurant to focus on quality. Another smart move is that for every dish on offer has a desiversion . Most of the dishes carry authentic Italian flavour. Only the ubiquitous olive oil is not as used generously.
The garlic bread is slightly over priced . The Grabz special is a 2-inch round grilled bread, lightly smeared with mayonnaise-garlic spread and sprinkled with very finely chopped bell-peppers and celery. The Caesar salad consisting of iceberg lettuce, chopped red and yellow bell pepper, mayonnaise, garlic and garted parmesan cheese is a delight.
Pasta tower salad is penne pasta tossed with mayonnaise cheese, corn, jalapenos red and yellow peppers and Italian herbs. The taste resembles that of Caesar Salad but isn't as rich and doesn't carry the pungent garlic flavour that the former does.
The pasta come in arabiatta sauce and the parmesan white sauce. Grabz has three varieties of wraps—the tortilla wrap, the katti roll and the Shawarma wrap. The katti roll with its Indian masalas is one that would appeal to the spicier palate and consists of onion, capsicum and paneer. The tortilla wrap carries a strong taste of beans along with other veggies like capsicum, corn, onion and jalapenos. But the king of the wraps is the Shawarma wrap stuffed with paneer, baby corn, capsicum, tomato, onion and lettuce.
Lastly, the sandwiches priced at Rs. 50 for two comes with a number of options : Spinach corn and Club sandwich of bread slices, raw or lightly toasted as per your choice. The Spinach Corn sandwich smothered with Italian white sauce, spinach, garlic, corn and chilly flakes tastes awesome.
Everything is prepared on live counters and served hygienically in disposable containers. The eateries are open from 11 am to 10:30 pm. The fare comes to about Rs. 250 to 300 for two people.

This article was published HERE.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

In Dino

It is a very long time since I wrote in my blog. Lack of time has been the main reason.This seems to be the reason used by most of the world anyway.
Changed circle yet again to join the Times to serve in the Operations management team; I don’t even think about my bosses or work any more. It’s now simply become a means of earning money at the end of month. The hope that the bosses at satyam can do anything for me is gone. Last year when I was in projects, I was still hopeful that something would come out of this assignment. But slowly all those dreams died a slow death. I was attributing not getting a promotion to various reasons but finally realized that the boss never had an intention of giving a promotion. Left him and the circle to join in Times and have absolutely no hope of anything coming out of this too. I wonder if that is the reason that when I come back home I feel so listless…just watch some TV, eat and sleep. I don’t even cook whereas earlier I used to come home only at 9/9:30pm and still have enough energy to cook for the next day as well as that night. I am not able to do that now. Just cooking something on weekends and eating out of that almost the entire week. No zeal to eat either. If it is not for the fact that I need to eat home-made food, I would never have cooked at all…
On another note, a stupid bandh announced today is to be implemented on Sunday and Monday. City is turning violent over state's division issue and as usual the hooligans are out stoning and destroying properties. I was caught in the middle of that last week and was scared shitless. Escaped unhurt as I quickly took a U-turn on seeing the mob. Stocked on milk and Maggi for the fear of a possible bandh the next two days. Idiots have got the TV shut down too…no telecast as though mourning a dead. I obviously don’t want to watch the damage spree that these goons are on.
Rather, I caught up with “50 first dates” that I longed to see for quite some time. Two dialogues in the movie stand out “I wish I had met you before my accident”. Two: “you can never forget your first kiss” seemed very cute as the heroine keeps forgetting that she has been kissed before. And the hero counts saying that it is your first but 25th for me…..that make it 12 and a half for us:) Good that I didn’t lay sprawled out on the bean bag in front of the TV that I usually do but hauled my ass to plunk in front of a smaller monitor.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Veggie Nook: Santosh Banjara

Cashew feast


Photo: Nagara Gopal

For the love of khana Santosh Banjara's speciality dish, the vegetable biryani

Santosh Banjara, with its distinct disadvantage of being located in Banjara Hills where there is no dearth of star hotels, swanky restaurants and malls, still runs successfully because of the sheer quality of food it offers. This air-conditioned restaurant with a capacity of 160 offers only vegetarian food. Santosh Banjara also runs from Secunderabad and Abids and the eateries there are named Santosh Dhaba. The demand of the food in these dhabas led the restaurateur to open a branch in Banjara Hills recently.
Despite its elegant ambience, the restaurant is not able to shake off the image of a dhaba—right from the Bollywood numbers playing in the background to the erroneously-spelt names in the menu to the not very suave restaurant staff. Ignore the dhaba-like environment that exudes from the restaurant, and dig with gusto into the delightfully tantalizing taste offered in course after course.
Unlimited choices
It's a delight to open the menu card as you fight to choose from the mind-boggling range of varieties on offer—precisely 70 curries to choose from! The quality of food comes from the fact that the restaurant focuses only on Panjabi food— no frills like juices, beverages or sweets. Soups are priced between Rs.45 to 75 with the Talumein soup at Rs.75. It is a pleasure to sip on this scalding hot tomato-based soup served with shredded vegetables like capsicum, cabbage, carrots, cucumber and onion. It has a slight sour taste to it.
Do order the paneer sticks for starters. Paneer sticks, priced at Rs. 110, consist of thick pieces of paneer, capsicum, onion and tomato each cut into one inch squares. They are smeared with chaat masala, jeera powder and soya sauce, and shallow fried. These are then stacked with tooth picks running through and tossed together with lightly fried onions, sesame, chilli flakes and cashew. Cashew is something that you need to watch out for. Every dish has more than a generous offering of the ingredient. Only the soups seem to be spared from this calorie assault.
Amongst the main dishes, Santosh recommends Jil-Mil Paneer, a curry priced at Rs. 100 and consisting of onion, capsicum and paneer cooked in— hold-your breath—cashew paste! Added to this cashew gravy are chilli powder, chat masala and tomatoes. The Hyderabadi Biryani, at Rs.100 is a serving of aromatic rice cooked with spices and vegetables. The stuffed kulcha, priced at Rs. 40, is an offer of rotis of wheat flour stuffed with boiled potatoes, carrots and beans very finely chopped. And once the roti is rolled out—guess what— again studded with cashews, fried and served!
The restaurant also finds it advantage in running throughout the day from noon to 11.30 p.m. without a break. All portions served are ample and easily enough for two. The quality of food with its very reasonable pricing makes it a difficult proposition to resist. Set aside your calorie count and dig into this fare. Food for two is about Rs. 300-400. The restaurant also offers valet parking.

Santosh Banjara, Banjara Hills

Plus: value for money
Minus: loud atmosphere
Food: 4.5/5
Ambience: 2.5/5
Located close to Pizza Hut,
Road no. 12, Banjara Hills

This article was published HERE.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Veggie Nook: Bansuri

A taste of tiranga dosa


Photo:Nagara Gopal

Sumptuous fare The thali and ambience at Bansuri

(Rukmini Riviera)
Plus: South Indian fare
Minus: Crowded
Food: 3/5
Ambience: 2.5/5
Location: Beside Dwarka, Lakdi-ka-pul
A mongst the cluster of non-vegetarian joints found in and around Lakdi-ka-pul, Bansuri housed in Rukmini Riviera, finds a niche by catering a pure vegetarian fare. The 70-seater air-conditioned restaurant offers no music and makes no pretense of offering a great ambience. All that it offers is good food in a hygienic environment to its steady stream of customers.
The restaurant has a buffet breakfast offering a mix of South Indian and Continental. Idli, wada, cornflakes, fruits and fruit juices are the fixed items. In addition, you also find variants of dosas and upmas on offer everyday. Available from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m., the breakfast buffet is priced at Rs. 60. North Indian and South Indian thaalis are available from 11 am to 4 pm and 7 pm to 11 pm. South Indian tiffins and the inevitable Punjabi and Chinese dishes are available throughout the day.
The thali is a specialty here. The South Indian one priced at Rs. 83 has a dal mixed with a leafy vegetable, a vegetable fry, two wet curries, rasam, sambar, curd and a sweet. Rice items vary between lemon rice, pulihara and tomato rice on different days. Chapathi is also served. North Indian thali priced at Rs. 104 has rice, naan, three wet curries (of which one is a paneer item, the second is a pulse, and the third a vegetable), a dal, one flavored rice which varies everyday, curd and a sweet. The South Indian snacks, range from idlis priced at Rs. 20 for two to MLA dosas at Rs 45. Amongst these, Bansuri prides itself on its offer of the tiranga dosa. This dosa abides by it nomenclature by offering three colors (and flavours) in the same dosa. One-third of the dosa is smeared with spinach paste, a third has grated paneer and the third part has the distinct flavour of ginger. Served hot with an equally tasty sambar, coconut chutney and ginger chutney, this is a must try amongst the South Indian tiffins. This experience is incomplete if you come away without having the filter coffee here. Priced at Rs. 10, the hot brew carrying the aroma of freshly-ground coffee beans is heavenly!

Among the other items, rotis are priced between Rs. 12 to 25; rice items vary between Rs. 45- 90; curries Rs. 50-85; soups Rs. 35-45; starters Rs.75-80 and juice and milk shakes at around Rs.40. Tiffins and thali for two comes below Rs. 200; an order for the North Indian for two would come to about Rs. 400.
Despite the steady stream of customers, effort is made to ensure a clean restaurant and washroom. Seeing that the restaurant is situated just beside the road, one is apprehensive of parking space. Yet, it does offer a valet parking where the vehicles are parked in the ample space in the cellar.

This article was published HERE

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Veggie Nook: Gayathripuram

Dining in a rural experience


Photos: Nagara Gopal

Food and more The ambience and food at Gayathripuram

The name leads to an erroneous belief that it is the name of some locality in Hyderabad. But Gayathripuram, a ‘vegetarian ethnic restaurant’, situated on the National Highway, has created a niche for itself with its village setting.
On the rangoli-decorated walls are displayed some of the rural games of yore. The tables are housed under tiled roofs with earthen lamps. Old Telugu film songs are played in the background. For that perfect village look, the restaurateur has transported the thick doors and small windows from his own house in his village. Gayathripuram draws a good crowd for its breakfast which is available between 7.00 a.m. and 10.30 a.m.
The items range from Rs. 18 for a plate of idli (two idlis) to Rs. 35 for a 70mm dosa.
Lunch is served between 11.30 a.m. to 3.30 p.m. Dinner time here starts at 7.00 p.m.and goes on upto 10.30 p.m. .
Everything served here is cooked in pure Telugu style.
The taste comes not from the spices but more from the onion, coconut, coriander and garlic. A good amount of chilli powder is used to spice up the dishes. Spice lovers will enjoy the food.
Though North Indian food is available here, what’s really in demand is the lunch buffet that offers South Indian food. Priced at Rs. 55, the buffet consists of dal, two curries, chutney, rice, sambar, rasam, curd, pickle, and a sweet.

The bitter gourd curry for example is cooked the way it is done at home. Boiled in tamarind and jaggery, it is lightly sautéed with fried onion, ginger and chilli powder. Lady’s finger fry has coconut and coriander powder. Sambar is prepared from homemade sambar powder which makes a world of difference.
The North Indian food has a good range of food on offer.
A must try is the Paneer Heaven — a starter, priced at Rs. 90. However, the biryani is quite bland. There really isn’t much choice in the dessert section.
The North Indian meal would come to Rs 250-300 for a meal for two. Visit this place for the variety of tiffin and the Andhra lunch.
Parking: Ample
Plus: Spicy authentic Andhra fare
Minus: Confined space within
Food: 3/5
Ambience: 3.5/5
Located in L.B. Nagar opposite Vijayalakshmi Theatre

This article was published HERE.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Veggie Nook: Vaishnav's

Simple food sans frills


Photo: Nagara Gopal

Traditional fare Vaishnav’s is popular for its simple Indian food

Sandwiched between Country Club and the Life Style building at Begumpet is a lane heading to the Vasihnav’s, a small restaurant which is almost lost amidst the general stores besides St. Francis College.
The 32-seater running from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. specialises in low-cost pure vegetarian North Indian food. Situated on the first floor, it has no air conditioning to offer and there is no ambience to speak of. It’s run more as a family affair with the presence of at least one of the members assuring customer delight. You definitely don’t go to the Vaishnav’s for a fine dining experience but just for the simple food that it offers. This is a favourite haunt of the employees from the surrounding IT companies and students from the neighbouring college. For all people who are rather dismissive of the possible variety in vegetarian food, the answer lies in the 80 vegetarian curries and ‘dals’ on offer in this restaurant. The price ranges from Rs. 30 to Rs. 70. And among the rice items, plain rice to Kashmiri ‘Pulao’ range from Rs. 18 to Rs. 65.
The Indian breads start with the ‘rotis’ priced at Rs. 4 to Rs. 35. What’s mind boggling is again the variety of stuffed ‘parathas’ on offer—ranging from the well-known ‘aloo paratha’ to chocolate ‘paratha’! Except the ‘naan’, all varieties of Indian bread are made of ‘atta’ (wheat flour). Amongst the must tries are aloo and gobi stuffed paratha.If you want the ‘pulao’ spicy, then the vegetable ‘pulao’ offered here is not for you. It has vegetables chopped, fried and mixed with mildly spiced rice. Served with a ‘raita’ of a thin consistency, this again is ample for two people.
The ‘thaali’ priced at just Rs. 40 offers ‘rotis’, rice, ‘dal’, two curries, curd, pickle, ‘sambar’ and ‘papad’. Sweet lassi, at Rs. 18 is quite thick and tasty. Starters are priced between Rs. 50 to 70 amongst which Paneer 65 is a speciality. One such dish of starters is easily sufficient for three. All dishes ordered carry enough food for two. The USP of the restaurant is the great variety of mildly spiced, ample quantities per dish and economically priced food. The bonus is that the already low priced dishes are also offered as half dishes with half quantities at half the price. It allows a person to eat without wasting. The service is pretty quick too. Moreover, dishes which the restaurant specialises in are marked in the menu to expedite a new diner’s order. A small variety in Chinese—Chinese noodles and rice is on offer.
A parking place to accommodate two-wheelers is available. The cars can be parked across the restaurant by the road-side in the vacant place. For two people, the fare would be less than Rs 150. Food is delivered free of cost within a one-km diameter.
Plus: Great variety, low cost, prompt service
Minus: Ambience could be a put-off
Food: 3/5; Ambience: 1/5
Located at Kundanbagh near St. Francis Women’s College

This article was published HERE.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

My day today

Second day in office today and  uneventful as my RM has not come yet. He said that he would be almost an hour about 12 or so. Till then, no work. Wore my new high heels today but packed them carefully in a bag first. Put in scooter dickey and changed after parking the scooter..dragging the shoes on the road will definitely put an end to their life. Haven’t worn heels since I became a teacher. Find it difficult to stand on them for too long. It was always platforms. Felt very awkward but very nice about the black and white shoes matching my black and white dress. Not easy wearing such high heels. I think it is best to just wear them daintily in a party...that’s all.
The travel was comparatively smoother today with just two jams at Sangeet and NTR statue which I think should be accepted as pretty normal…two signals at Sangeet and one at NTR. Took about 40 mins to reach office which is good.
On the second flyover people were dodging around a car. Curios, when I turned back to look at it, I saw a HUGE dent on the front of the car and two men standing dismayed at seeing it. I felt it served them right for being so careless in driving. Brand new car with the ribbons still in tact. I am sure they will not forget this lesson in a hurry. A dent at the back is still understandable that someone must have carelessly bumped into them.
Last night I was home by 6:50pm after having started here at around 6:15 or so. Not having slept the day before, I really wasn’t feeling up to doing anything. But was starved as I had a frugal lunch at office. So got very innovative and sliced the potatoes very thin and put them on the hot pan after smearing the pan with oil. Once they soften a bit…in 2 mins, removed them. I then smeared the bread with sandwich spread, put sliced tomatoes, sliced onions, and the potatoes, put another slice on top and roasted on the pan with very little oil. Was quite good for a change…like a grilled toast. Today I brought a kheera to go with it if I prepare it again.
I went for a restaurant review again..some Vaishnav’s at Begumpet. It was ok with a la carte coming to max 70 per head…like the Singh’s. Good food for that money. Quick bite no great dining experience …food is of lesser quality than Raj dhaba. That’s the whole review in two sentences. …got some food packed too.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Veggie Nook: Mango Spice

Just short of perfection


Watch out for discrepancies between menu descriptions and what’s actually presented

This is the experience of dining at Mango Spice—right menu, right ambience, right location, courteous staff, ample parking, but the food falls just short of that magic line which would enable it to be counted in the same league as one of the mo re upscale food joints.
Earlier known as Santosh Jubilee, the recently-renamed restaurant, open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., has four cuisines on offer – Italian, North Indian, Chinese and Mexican, all pure vegetarian. The exterior doesn’t give the impression of space but once you step in, you are led down the stairs into a vast mezzanine. The well-spaced solid wood tables and chairs are neatly arranged, with western music playing in the background, and the silent and alert waiters add to the fine dining experience.
The huge selection on the menu puts the diner in a quandary. The more palatable North Indian is recommended. Amongst the North Indian starters you have the yummy paneer sataa, consisting of sticks of fresh paneer lightly tossed with bell pepper, onion and condiments.
The baby naan, called so because of its size, is delectable as it is thin, soft and covered with grated paneer and butter. They also have a unique preparation called palak rice made of spinach paste, to which diced vegetables and cashew is added and served with accompanying gravy. This preparation carries a strong aroma of curry leaves. The mildly spiced corn makanhwala curry also is a specialty here and contains American corn, cashew and paneer in yellow gravy.
Amongst the Italian starters, chips and dips is worth a mention. Tortilla chips and foccaccia (Italian bread) are served with four varieties of dips: salsa, humus, crema di avocado and spicy jalapeno. Salsa is made of tomato, grated onion and sugar; crema di avocado is made of garlic, avocado and olives; spicy jalapeno has cheese, and humus is a paste of cooked chick peas, cream and olive oil.
Insalata Dello chef and Corleone amongst the Italian salads also fall under the category where they are good but fall just short of being excellent. It has all the right ingredients but it misses whatever is needed to give it that unique Italian taste. Pizza lovers will love all the pizzas listed, with their thin crust and a vast choice of toppings.
There is a discrepancy between the description in the menu and what’s actually presented. That’s something you need to watch out for.
Amongst the mocktails, Midnight Blue, a concoction of Sprite, sugar and lemon, comes with a sweet-sour taste. Killer is recommended for people who need their drink a little pungent. Made of green grapes, lemon and mint, you are hit with an overpowering smell of mint as you sip through.
The Italian food costs around Rs.1400 and the North Indian around Rs. 800 for two.
Mango Spice

Plus: Ambience and Hygiene
Minus: Over priced
Food: 3/5;
Ambience: 4/5
Located at Jubilee Hill check post, adjacent to Reebok

This article was published HERE. 

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Today's adventure

I got up at 10: 40 am to see that there was no power supply at home. The blankets soaked overnight were left unwashed. After the early morning chores, I made uthapam for myself..three of them--by the time I was through, it was 12:10 pm already. Rushing to get ready and locking the house,  I was out of home only at 12:25 to reach the movie at Cinemax at 1pm!. I was quite troubled as I hate missing the beginning of movies.
Lack of time made me ignore the dangerously low petrol levels in the bike.
Tried driving fast but was stuck near the Mettuguda church. Had to pass two traffic signals before I could go towards the Sangeet theater road. Again HUGE traffic snarls and again had to wait for two traffic signals before turning right towards St. Ann's school. Whew! thought I ...end of traffic bottle necks...but there was again a slow moving of vehicles till I reached the first fly over. After I crossed the two fly overs, I reached the NTR statue junction where we were all made to wait for 10 minutes!!!!!!!! Damn the incompetent police. In absence of power supply, the traffic gets manually monitored which lead to even greater traffic snarls.! I had NEVER anticipated such HUGE traffic jams on a Saturday and that too at 12 30 pm...I thought that at the most I might be just a few minutes late to the movie.I came to know that these jams were because of the stupid cricket matches going on in Hyderabad.
Reached the movie a good 15 mins late!!!!!!!!grr!!!!!!! I hate it that way. 40 mins after I was properly seated, there was the interval! :(
As tho it wasn't enuf, HUGE ques at the stupid snack counter at the cinema...stood for 3 tired and went in to see that the movie had begun ! Angry at myself, I sat down to watch the rest of the movie which got over by 3: 30 pm.After "what's your rashee", this seemed like a mini movie.
Came down and peeped in at the blue fox restaurant and saw their menu card...the starters were priced at least Rs.275! Immediately ran down to the usual rhapsody and ordered chole-bhatura. Left the place, looking to buy some shoes en route. Happened to see three shoe shops together, the Loft, Bata and Mochi ...bought a white high- heeled white shoes at Mochi at Rs 1000 and started toward home after getting petrol at the HP bunk nearby.
Knew that I had to go towards Padmarao nagar, to pick up my ironed clothes. From Sangeet theater junction, instead of turning left, I went straight towards the railway station intending to go to padmarao nagar from there. I dont know where i went but realised that I wasnt going to padma rao nagar. turned back and this time again when i took a turn I realized that I was under a bridge! was I going towards tarnaka I wondered? no! i had reached the station again. Took a u-turn again and confident that I had finally caught the padmarao nagar road but after a while saw that I was passing below a bridge again! Aghast, I noticed that it was the mettuguda bridge and I was on tarnaka road. I finally gave up and reached tarnaka and home. Just near home, I felt so parched that despite the lingering throat pain, I bought myself a Sprite ....gulped it thirstily and when I went to put it in the fridge, realized that the unopened can of coke was still there. Well, tired but content...thats how I spent my day....

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Whats your Rashee?

Na Na karthe pyaar tumhi se kar baithe….
The more I dislike Priyanka Chopra, the more I seem to be seeing her movies and to top this, to like them too!
After seeing Rajiv Masand’s review of 1.5 on 5 ( ) for “What’s your Rashee?” we were dismayed as we had already booked our tickets for the 26th of September, the second day of release. There were thoughts of going to the theatre and cancel the tickets to spare ourselves the torture of 3 ½ hours of boredom. But then I wanted to see this time-pass. When we sat down to watch the movie, every minute I was thinking this is the point where it starts getting to be boring and I spent the entire 3 ½ hours waiting to see when that point would come when I would be forced to say ‘enough!’ and run away from the theatre…but I am must say that that point never came. It could also be because we went with zero expectations. Harman Baweja also surprised us with the sincerity of performance. Priyanka did try her best to try and be different in all the 12 roles given to her and stood out in a few of those roles.
The movie reminds you strongly of the TV serial 'Mr. Yogi' of our DD days. The first role of a wannabe, a Gujju girl was carried quite well by Priyanka. No great strength of script in the movie but watchable. Of course you run the risk of having to endure 12 songs…each for the 12 girls in the movie. The script could have cut down on the songs to perhaps explore each of the characters a little more. Humor in some places also keeps the audience from scooting.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Veggie Nook: Invitation

An invitation to all foodies

Photos: G. Krishnaswamy

Tempting fare The dishes have a colourful presentation; An ideal hangout place
After tasting the food in Invitation, you are reminded of the song “We are same-same but different…” from a Hindi movie made by a well-known film maker. All the food items listed are found in every other restaurant. Yet, what certai nly distinguishes the food in this restaurant is that distinctive taste. This 86-seater restaurant offering a pure vegetarian fare in an elegant ambience is within Hotel Tourist Palace located in Koti, one of the busiest commercial areas in Hyderabad.
What is not found on the menu is the ‘vegetable khazana’, which is surely a nugget waiting to be discovered and relished. A vegetable curry in yellow gravy, it contains carrots, beans, American corn, cheese, dry fruits and is garnished with tomato, cucumber and slices of lemon.
Another tasty curry is the ‘vegetable mili juli’, which, as the name implies is a combination of two gravies, green and red presented separately in the same dish. The green gravy of spinach contains American corn, baby corn, sprouted beans and mushroom. The red gravy contains diced paneer in a tomato base. The vegetable ‘biryani’ is served without the pungent gravy base but is quite aromatic. For your kid fussing over eating greens, the answer is the nutritious Russian salad on offer comprising beans, carrots and green peas in a mayonnaise and cream base. Fruits like papaya, pineapple, cherries and some sugar are also added to lend it that slightly sweet taste. No dish is served without the very attractive garnishing. At the same time, the calorie-conscious need to be cautious about the copious use of cheese and cream used in preparation of the dishes.
For someone with a sweet tooth, the limited variety of desserts offered could be disappointing and even those on offer aren’t really much to speak about. The overtly sweet fruit punch and the not-so-thick lassi don’t really encourage you to try out the desserts.
An order for two from the À la carte would be around Rs. 500-600. ‘Thaali’ with about 15 items on offer is priced at Rs. 125 and Rs. 75 for the North Indian and South Indian food respectively. The place is open for lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and dinner from 7:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. No home delivery.
Ample parking with valet parking facility is available. 

Invitation – Hotel Tourist Palace
Plus: Distinctive taste; Food presentation
Minus: not very well maintained washroom; limited selection of desserts
Food: 4/5;
Ambience: 3.5/5
Located beside ENT hospital on Bank Street, Koti 

This article was published HERE.

Monday, September 14, 2009

An overwhelming experience

I went to the Singh’s restaurant today for lunch. The restaurant owner ensured that I sit in the AC section. Meanwhile, he called his wife who then waited for me to finish my lunch. I ordered for 2 naans, one Panjabi kofta, chilli paneer for starters, two bhangda thumsup, and a veg corn soup. Vijayalakshmi (my sister-in-law) and I had a full meal and then I went to say a ‘hi’ to the owner.
The husband- wife couple was so grateful that I had done the article on their restaurant. They said that the day the article was published (on the 25th of July), there were so many clients that the waiters were at a loss about how to handle so many. Bhatia, the restaurant owner had to call up his wife to assist and even then they couldn’t handle the crowds. People came with the article in their hands trying to find the restaurant. And when seated inside, they insisted on the bhangda thumup and the lassi. It seems that they ran out of lassi that day and for some more days to come. Unable to handle the crowds, when they were slightly careless about the way the onions were sliced, the customers started asking about why the onions weren’t sliced the way they were written about in the newspaper! I was also told that at least for the next few weeks, they had a heavy rush of customers.
It seems they have now gone for renovation because of the increased number of customers. They have magnified my article 3 times and hung it in their restaurant. They didn’t allow me to pay for the lunch today. They also thanked me for writing as it is and not exaggerating one bit saying that people aren’t misled at all because of the article.
Somewhere, it feels good that your effort is appreciated and also at knowing that my article has helped increase someone’s business so much.

The article can be viewed at:

My food recommendations in The Hindu

The following are my articles published in The Hindu:

    Saturday, September 12, 2009

    Veggie Nook: Asal

    A wholesome experience

    Photos: Nagara Gopal

    Sumptuous fare Delicious ‘thali’; Popular hangout zone for IT crowd

    You may be quite dismissive when told about another North Indian food joint—haven’t you eaten at so many of those already? But Asal, as the name implies, is surely different with its offer of the ‘asali’ or the authentic, pure vegetarian North Indian home food. Its strategic location at the Hitech city with its cosmopolitan conflux makes it a prime choice for those who crave North Indian food.
    Asal has a ‘dhaba’ like ambience, very spartan with basic amenities of tables and chairs of cane, bare floors and walls. Of the 80 odd seats, 40 are inside a long hall and the other 40 are placed outdoors. You find an open kitchen on entering where the food is cooked right in front of your eyes.
    Old fashioned coal stoves are kept burning to keep the brass vessels stocked with food warm throughout the lunch. Unlike the conventionally cooked curries served in other restaurants where oil floats on top when left to simmer for long, here you find no such hazard. Food is just as though cooked at home with minimum oil and spices. Between 12:30 and 2 pm the place bustles with swarming people from the surrounding IT companies. There are people standing and queuing to get the food. The crowd abates as suddenly by 2:30 pm. There are quite a few regulars here and they all admit to being addicted to this taste of ‘ma-ke-haath-ka-khana.’

    On a typical day you have the ‘thali’ served with the Indian bread, rice, two dry curries, a wet curry, ‘dal’, and other accompaniments consisting of ‘raita’, pickle, chutney, salad, papad and a sweet. ‘Rotis’ made of wheat flour are the most sought-after here. Service is self-service.
    One goes to a restaurant to find good food, good ambience and third, value for money. In this case, it measures up to two of the criterion. If you look for niceties like a relaxing ambience, soothing music or a sparkling washroom, this place isn’t for you. Another outlet of theirs situated on the main road at Madhapur is an older branch offering the same fare.
    ‘Thali’ with limited quantity is priced at Rs. 55. The same food with unlimited helpings is priced at Rs. 65. On Sundays it is Rs.75 with special items added. Takeaways at Rs. 65 and delivery at Rs. 70 are offered in specially-ordered plastic trays.
    The place is open for lunch and dinner from 12 noon to 3:30 PM and again 7:00 PM to 11:00 PM.

    Pluses: Taste of hygienically prepared home food
    Minuses: No proper approach road; food may not appeal to the spicier palate
    Food: 4/5;
    Ambience: 1/5
    Located at Hi-Tech City behind Cyber Towers

    This article was published HERE.

    Saturday, August 29, 2009

    Veggie Nook: Venue

    Sumptuous spread to suit your palate

    Photos: G. Krishnaswamy

    Your pick Diners enjoy a meal at the Quality Inn Residency (below) the spread.

    The 3-star Quality Inn Residency hotel in Nampally houses Venue, the One Flight Down pub, and Café Capri – all of which offer pure vegetarian fare.
    Opposite the hotel’s main entrance is the 120-seater Venue. The restaurant itself doesn’t have a notable ambience but looks quite hygienic, as expected of a 3-star hotel. It is known for its buffet, though a high-priced a la carte menu is also available. Tables are arranged around the oval-shaped buffet spread in the centre of the room. This well-planned display leaves a lot of room for easy manoeuvring by the diners.
    Look up all synonyms of sumptuous to describe this very generous buffet spread. At the foot of the buffet table is a spread of salads and at the far-end are the scrumptious desserts. Conspicuous by its absence in this huge array is a live food counter. Second, in the vast assortment of desserts, there are no sugar-free desserts for the more health conscious.
    Here is a complete list of items on offer this day:
    Soups: corn garlic, almond
    Salads: green salad, coleslaw, aloo chat, salad de capri, walnut & apple in thick mayonnaise base, beans sprout, peanut pickle salad
    Starters: samosa, dahi wada, kachori, sesame vegetable dry, potato in barbeque sauce
    Indian curries: gatte ka saag, thuria tamatar , ker kajoo, palak mushroom, matar paneer, gobi musallam, paneer tikka makhanwala, palak mushroom, veg dopiaza , dal makhani
    Chinese: golden fried baby corn in HP sauce, diced vegetables in hoisin sauce, Schezwan noodles
    South Indian: avial, bhindi pakodi, rasam, sambar
    Rice: White rice, curd rice, dum biryani, lemon rice, China town fried rice
    Desserts constitute dry sweets, ‘Bengali’ sweets, Ice creams, pudding and cut fruits—in all 15 varieties on offer.

    Others: Indian breads, gypsy king (diced vegetables in thick brown gravy), au gratin, five varieties of papad, pickle, chutneys, curd, boondi raita, mirchi ka salan
    The USP of the restaurant is the excellent service provided by the amiable waiters. They hover at a respectful distance, alert to your needs. Plates are removed promptly and water refilled almost instantaneously.
    Not all food is labelled and some of the erroneously-spelt labels are quite baffling to interpret. The lack of such attention to detail prevents it from being counted as one of the more upscale buffets. Yet, it is worth a try especially as the great selection pandering to every palate leaves you quite satisfied with its taste.
    The lunch Buffet at Venue costs Rs. 175 on weekdays and Rs. 199 on weekends. Special buffets are offered on days of national and regional festivals at Rs. 225. South Indian tiffin, fast food, breakfast and dinner buffets available at their Café Capri.
    A la carte costs between Rs. 700-800 for a meal for two. Two-level parking with valet-parking facility offered.

    Pluses: No noise, no waiting lines, value for money
    Minuses: No special items that you don’t find elsewhere
    Food: 3.5/5; Ambience: 3/5
    Location: On Public Garden Road, Nampally

    This article was published HERE.

    Friday, August 28, 2009

    The dumper, the dumpee and a movie review

    Watched Kaminey last week. What movie and what performance by Shaihd Kapoor! I normally avoid watching those dark movies and those portraying violence but Rajiv Masand’s verdict of 4/5 compelled me.

    From the bumbling 22 year old Shahid in ‘Isq Vishq’ to the sassy 28 year old of ‘Kaminey’—what transformation!

    The promos of ‘Jab we Met’ showed him trying hard to hide the pain (of a very public dumping) from the media. But getting dumped proved to be the magic required to transform him into this success story…first ‘kismat connection’ which was an average hit and now Kaminey which has turned out to be a smashing hit. On the other hand, the ‘dumper’ Kareena had both her movies fail miserably…first ‘Tashan’ and now ‘Kambakht Ishq’. ‘Golmaal Returns’ saw moderate success.

    Shahid’s rippling muscles and flying mane in the ‘Kaminey’ promos had actually turned me off. Have enough of those beefcakes in Bollywood. But saw that the lean-mean image was very necessary to the role. Looks like Shahid has turned Kaminey with a vengeance. Of course, the title doesn’t have much to do with the story line. The strength of the movie is that the twins’ roles actually looked as though portrayed by two different people…one, the common man with whom we identify so easily; the second, a man on the streets, a small-time con-man. One of the twins who lisps could actually have lisped better…but that’s just one minor flaw in the otherwise excellent story. I sat glued to my seat throughout the movie not wanting to miss one single scene. Am no fan of Priyanaka but her restrained performance does win a grudging appreciation. Her girl-next-door image was a relief to the eye too..

    This movie is to be seen in the theatre and not on the small monitor.


    Damn the Hyderabad weather! It is freezing! Night temperatures of 20°C, day temperatures of 23° and incessant rains over the last 3 days! And it is not even winter—I would have been prepared. Don’t feel like getting out of bed or do anything. The tips of the fingers and the toes have turned white and cold. Just want to down loads and loads of hot coffee.

    I wonder how I used to bear the Rourkela winters then. A week ago we were supposed to be facing drought! Now this!

    Saturday, August 15, 2009

    Veggie Nook: Annapurna

    Fare for all


    A tempting fare The ambience makes quite an impression; Veg ‘thali’ is very popular among foodies

    Nallakunta finds many eminent training institutes for students and a large community of middle class people. This is the clientele that the four-year-old restaurant, Annapurna caters to. It prides itself on being the sole caterer of a multi-cuisine, pure-vegetarian fare in this locale. Located opposite Shankar Mutt, it’s easy to locate by the huge lettering in front. As you enter the restaurant on the first floor, you are escorted through a metal-detector, through the lobby and into a 100-seater. The decor, a wood and glass arrangement in traditional Indian style makes a pleasant impression. The artistic motifs on the ceiling and lamp shades add to the ambience. The soft ghazals playing in the back-ground also add to the mood. The restaurant is open from 7 am to 11 pm. The menu consists of South Indian, North Indian and Chinese cuisines. The thaali is served at lunch and dinner. The conventional South Indian tiffins are available throughout the day.
    The tiffins are in high demand here. This finds its proof in the soft and fluffy idlis. The accompanying powder, known popularly as ‘gun-powder’, with its sharp taste is quite mouth-watering. The tiffins range from Rs. 25 for a plate of idli to Rs. 60 for special dosas.

    The thaali priced at Rs. 105 has a good variety to offer with a soup, dal, five curries, butter naan , biryani, chutneys, rasam, sambar, curd, sweet and an ice-cream. The spicy aroma emanating from the Biryani is quite tempting and finds its match in its taste.
    The Chinese and Indian entrées and main course range from Rs.100 to Rs.120. Amongst the starters, the Paneer Majestic is disappointing with its copious use of jeera. Even the Punjabi Kofta comes as a disappointment with its non-descript taste. The kofta consists of vegetables and paneer bound in maida and fried. These dumplings are then served with yellow gravy prepared of onion, tomato, butter and cashew. Perhaps what makes the curry so insipid is the overuse of vegetables—vegetables not only in the koftas but also in the gravy (chopped carrot, beans, potato in the gravy). Amongst the Indian breads, the stuffed paratha stands out. Different vegetables (mainly potato) are used judiciously to stuff the paratha and it is prepared with very little oil. A limited choice of desserts containing sweets and ice creams are on offer but this is offset by the variety of mocktails.
    The Hawaiian mocktail, a creamy- yellow, thick and frothy blend of pineapple juice, orange juice, Angostura sauce, vanilla ice cream and mango ice cream with its dominant vanilla flavour is quite delectable. A meal for two would cost around Rs. 500.Ample parking space with valet parking is available.
    Pluses: Ambience
    Minuses: Overcharged fare
    Food: 2.5/5;
    Ambience: 3.5 /5
    Located at: Nallakunta, near Shankar Mutt

    This article was published HERE.

    Saturday, August 8, 2009

    Veggie Nook: Pongal

    Amidst all the malls and eateries that are fast mushrooming all over the burgeoning Kukatpally area, Pongal does find its niche with its pure vegetarian fare. The restaurant, barely a year old, looks quite decent on the exterior and is part of the hotel One Place.
    As you step into the foyer, you are greeted warmly by the usher who guides you to your table inside the softly-lit, cool interiors of the restaurant. The well-separated tables in this 90-seater give a feeling of privacy and space. The waiters are alert and helpful with the menu. The menu consists of South Indian, North Indian, Chinese, beverages, juices and desserts.
    The South Indian section runs from 7 am to 11 am and again from 6 pm to 11 pm. This section consists of Idlis, Dosas, Wadas, Upma etc. Idly, two to a plate, costs Rs. 25 but the rest of the items are priced around Rs.50 for a plate.
    The restaurant also has a South Indian and North Indian Thaali priced at Rs.90 and Rs.100 respectively. There aren’t many varieties available in the Thaali but given the fact that you get unlimited food, you might still consider it a value for money.
    À la carte has a more tempting fare to offer—
    The soups, priced around Rs.65, range from the milder corn soup on one end and the peppery Cantonese on the other. Abundant use of garlic and ginger in the Cantonese Soup makes it quite pungent but delectable.
    Amongst the starters, the Singapore Fried Cauliflower is worth a mention. Small florets of cauliflower are dipped in corn flour and fried. This is different from the usual Gobi Manchuria as it retains its original color, is crisp and has a smattering of lightly sautéed diced vegetables. This appetizer too comes with a whiff of garlic.
    The Chinese Main course consists of rice and noodles priced between Rs. 110 –Rs. 150. Among this, the mildly spiced Crispy Fried Noodles will sure appeal to the kids. The noodles are fried, the way it is done for the Chopsuey, and is tossed with diced vegetables. It is a dry preparation and needs to be eaten right away. If allowed to stand for too long, it loses the crispness.
    The main course in the Indian fare consists of about 30 kinds of curries (Rs. 115- 125), a choice of 8 varieties of Dal and an assortment of rotis. The vegetable curries, available in three kinds of gravy-bases, ranging from mild, moderate and spicy are quite delectable. What speaks for the curries and the biryani is the restrained use of spices. The absence of fiery pungency normally associated with the Hyderabadi cuisine makes it palatable to a varied clientele.  A paneer- baby corn- capsicum masala prepared in the moderately spiced gravy is a special creation offered here.
    Desserts include sweets, fruit juices, ice creams and fruit salads. A must-try is the Fruit Punch. It is served in a tall glass and contains a mix of fresh and canned juices: pineapple, lime, watermelon, orange, mango and mixed juices. The thick juice, orange-yellow in color, is mostly dominated by the orange flavor but as you sip, all the other flavors come through.
    A soup-starter-main course-dessert meal for two would cost around Rs. 600.
    The restaurant has ample parking in two floors.
     Food: 4/5; Ambience: 3.5/5
    Located at: KPHB, Kukatpally near Kalamandir

    Saturday, August 1, 2009

    Veggie Nook: Rajdhani

    Savour the traditional meal

    Photo: K. RAMESH BABU

    For a cosy meal The ambience and the thali

    If the recent pervasion of Rajasthani serials on the TV has whetted your curiosity for Rajasthan, a visit to the Rajdhani augments the experience. Rajdhani is located in the Big Bazaar Complex in the busy Ameerpet area. It caters to the moviegoers fr om the multiplex (also housed in the complex) and the people who come from far-flung places in search of a Rajasthani meal. Picture of a colourful ‘thaali’ with a promise of 32 items tempts you right at the entrance of the restaurant. A ‘haarthi-tilak’ at the entrance by a person dressed in the traditional Rajasthani attire also greets you.
    But as you step in, you do not find the Rajasthani ambience—it’s like any other restaurant. The 62-seater is air-conditioned and all the tables are pre-set with ‘thaalis’ and bowls.
    Started two years ago in Hyderabad, this restaurant is a part of the Encore hotels’ group. It serves ‘thaali’ only and runs during lunch and dinner times: 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. Rajdhani also serves the more popular dishes from Gujarat. In addition, you also find one Punjabi curry for the more spicy Hyderabadi palate. Condiments like cumin, fenugreek, asafoetida, coriander seeds and coconut in the recipe perhaps lend that unique and subtle taste to the Rajasthani cuisine.
    Before and after the meal, the server pours water from a long-snouted jar to let you wash your hands into a bowl. The Rajdhani has a fixed menu across all its restaurants in the country. The meal starts with two Farsans, or starters. This is followed by two green vegetables, a potato dish, a dish made of pulses, two ‘dals’, three rice varieties, three kinds of Indian breads, three chutneys, pickles, salad and accompaniments.
    The green chutney made of coriander and mint; the red chutney made of tamarind and dates and the fiery garlic chutney cater to the tangy palate. Sweet ‘dal’, sweet ‘kadi’, ‘theplas’ and ‘dhoklas’ constitute the Gujarati fare. Three preparations that stand out in the Rajdhani are ‘dal bati’, ‘khichidi’, and ‘phulkas’.

    Dal bati is perhaps the best-known Rajasthani food. It consists of ‘dal’, ‘bati’ and ‘churma’ .
    ‘Khichidi’ made of green gram and rice boiled together, is subtly spiced. When ghee is added to this, it is awesome! Third are the phulkas, around 3” in diameter— very thin, fluffy and soft. At the end of the meal, one gets the feeling of having had a balanced wholesome food.
    What is unique in the restaurant is the sign language used between the captain and the waiters. Each sign stands for that particular item in the menu. These silent messages help reduce din in the restaurants.
    An invitation on the kitchen door saying ‘Rasoi mein Swagat’ takes you to a very neatly maintained kitchen. The vessels washed thrice in soap, scalding water and lastly normal water adds to the sense of hygiene. Newly begun, is a take-away working lunch aimed at the busy corporator. The parking fee is deducted from your fare.
    Priced at Rs.169 for a thaali during weekdays and Rs.199 on Sundays, a meal for two comes to less than Rs. 400.

    Rajadhani Restaurant -Ameerpet
    Pluses: Mildly-spiced food; Alert waiters.
    Minuses: No washroom within the restaurant.
    Food: 3.5/5; Ambience: 3/5; Hygiene: 4.5/5
    Located on the 4th Floor in the Big Bazaar Complex; Ameerpet

    This article was published HERE.

    Saturday, July 25, 2009

    Veggie Nook: Singh's Restaurant

    Singh is king 

    Photo: K. Ramesh Babu

    Food hunt Food to keep your mouth watering
    The place is as unpretentious as its name. It caters to the shoppers in the in the very busy M.G. Road near Paradise Circle. One could easily miss the restaurant situated on the first floor. It simply calls itself Singh’s Restaurant but just be low it is a cheeky claim—Singh is King –after the release of the movie by the same name.
    As one is led through a narrow stairway to the restaurant above, it fails to impress you by its ambience. It has a total capacity for 85 with a small section of a 20-seater AC and a 55-seater for the non-AC section. The place cannot serve as a romantic getaway for a couple looking to have a candle –light dinner, but one can certainly go there with family. If restaurants are to be defined as a place where you go to have good food, then this is the one for you.
    Run by Mr. Vicky Singh Bhatia, the place prides itself on its authentic Punjabi food. Going against the grain is an assortment of Chinese food thrown in. What’s impressive about the menu is the range of foods in each section. To start with, at least 10 kinds of soups, 60 types of curries and 13 kinds of rotis! One also has a choice of biryanis with the special handi biryani included.

    Masala papad was quite tasty with the right condiments but if the cook is not warned beforehand, one can end up with an oily papad. The tandoori roti, made of atta and not the usual maida, was quite soft. Paneer tikka masala, one of Singh’s recommendations, was also tasty and made with fresh paneer. The dal makhaani would appeal to people who have a palate for non-spicy food.
    But what is surely a specialty here, claiming to be a unique concoction created by Bhatia himself, is the Bhangda Thums Up. This is made of Thums Up and chaat masala and jeera powder…all in all powerful enough to hit you with its first sip. This drink is supposed to help digest food. It’s very much in demand at the Singh’s.
    Another specialty is the Punjabi lassi—thick, frothy with just enough sugar. Very tasty and highly recommended!
    Another claim by the restaurateur is that in the entire twin cities, one would never find an onion salad as thinly sliced as at Singh’s. The onions were indeed found to be very thinly sliced—almost thin as paper. The restaurant can lay a claim to very reasonable rates too. Soups are in the range of Rs. 35-45; dals and vegetable curries between Rs. 40-95; rotis starting at Rs. 9. A meal for two comes for under Rs. 150. An order for a plate of curry/soup/ dal/rice or even a glass of Lassi is easily enough for two.

    Pluses: Home-like environment with a friendly host

    Minuses: Ambience

    Food: 3.5/5; Ambience: 2/5

    Located at M.G Road; near Gandhi statue

     This article was published HERE.  

    Saturday, July 18, 2009

    Veggie Nook: Chaaypani

    Chai, chaat and more

    Photos: G. Krishnaswamy

    Small ‘n’ cosy’ Chaaypani caters to different clientele

    A search for a good vegetarian eating outlet in Habsiguda would lead you to Chaaypani.
    Habsiguda, as known to people, is a crowded commercial place. All one could expect from the place would, at the best, be a place serving the conventional Mughlai.
    In this milieu, Chaaypani, seems to have found its niche by offering people a quick tasty snack in a small and cozy environment. It calls itself ‘The adda for veg foodies’ Chaaypaani offers more than just chai and paani. Catering to different clientele is food ranging from the Indian (chole bhatura, chaat), to Chinese (noodles, fried rice, manchuria) and fast food (pizzas, burgers and French Fries). The order for the ‘chai’ at Chaaypani revealed that it did complete justice to its nomenclature. The iced tea was excellent.
    It was served at the right temperature and with just the right amount of sugar and lemon. Not actually having ‘ice’ in the iced tea ensured that the melting ice didn’t dilute your drink by the time you finished it. All tea served here is made from premixed powder. Though it calls itself Chaaypani, it offers only four flavors in tea. In Chaaypani, you would expect more varieties of chai.

    The grilled cheese sandwich had the right amount of cheese and was crisply done, not soggy or overtly dripping with cheese. The chole bhatura was unique in taste too. The chole had no whiff of vanaspati usually used in its preparation and tasted almost like home-made one.
    The masalas added ensured that the dish struck the right balance. The soft bhaturas ensured that you needn’t pull and tug at it to tear it; neither did you end up with greasy fingers after eating it. The icing on the cake was the yummy French Fries! Highly recommended.
    The ambience was simple—a few steel tables and chairs and a few high chairs added in times of crowds. But above all what strikes the eye is the hygiene of the place, very neat despite the fact that it was raining and the lane leading to the eatery was quite swampy. The packaging of food in disposable containers gave an impetus to the feeling of hygiene.
    The price was quite reasonable with a meal for two turning to be less than Rs. 200 and with their special first anniversary offer of 20 per cent off, it’s even lesser.
    This food joint is the brain child of Narendra Sethia who is quite a foodie. The idea that started with his launching of ‘Chaaypani’ (the tea and coffee premixes) went on to the opening of this food joint. Now, his young daughter infuses the energy and passion required to run this ‘adda’. The one disadvantage that the place finds itself in is the comparative anonymity of the location in one of the by-lanes of Habsiguda. Yet, this is an advantage in itself as one doesn’t find this kind of vegetarian joint catering to a niche clientele anywhere in the vicinity of Habsiguda.
    This is a guide for those who are looking for eateries in Hyderabad/Secunderabad which serve vegetarian food exclusively. Starting this week, we focus on at least one vegetarian outlet in your area.

    Habsiguda/ Chaaypani
    Pluses: Food is cooked with very little oil.
    Minuses: The place is small and can get crowded during weekends
    Location: Habsiguda; Lane opposite HDFC Bank.
    Food: 4.5/5;
    Ambience: 3/5;
    Hygiene: 5/5

    This article was published HERE. 

    Sunday, July 12, 2009

    My own Column

    There was this itch to do something. Not really occupied in the last 5 months or so, it was getting rather boring.

    Three weeks back, I went to The Hindu newspaper headquarters to discuss the possibility of a regular column. The discussion went well and I was asked to send my proposal. I mailed my proposal with a few samples of writings chosen randomly from my blog to showcase the different genre of writing.

    It took The Hindu two weeks to decide but at last the proposal was accepted and I was asked to send in the first article. I sent it by Saturday, 11th July, and before evening I came to know that the article was liked and I am now given a column to my name :) This will be run in The Hindu every Saturday starting 18th July.

    It is a weekly column about various eateries catering exclusively to vegetarian food in Hyderabad. Not only will it constitute the food and the ambience reviews but also will be covering the restaurants area-wise.

    As a part of my job profile I wrote for e-learning courses, for university-certified courses and my blog but this will be the first time that there will be a column in my name in some publication.

    Being a foodie, I feel as though both sides of my bread are buttered. Not only do I get to taste food in different restaurants but also benefit by writing about it.
    There was also a strong desire to do a hoteliering course which I couldn’t do all those years ago…this column somewhere satiates that need too.

    Saturday, June 20, 2009


    I was watching the re-run of Different Strokes after many years.

    When I first watched this sitcom around 1992-93 (or maybe later, I don’t remember), TV was still evolving and every show was exciting to watch. There was a plethora of shows that I would watch with my young son…Small Wonder, I dream of Genie, Bewitched, Silver Spoons... At home, we still speak the language used in the shows; we were that into those early days’ shows.
    This sitcom starred Gary Coleman as Arnold Jackson and Todd Bridges as his older brother, Willis. They played two African-American children from a poor Harlem neighborhood whose deceased mother previously worked for a rich white widower, Philip Drummond (Conrad Bain), who eventually adopted them. They lived in a penthouse with Mr. Drummond and his daughter Kimberly (Dana Plato).
    One of the themes that predominantly ran through the sitcom was a voice that spoke against discrimination of color which was perhaps a prominent issue those days. These lines which sum up the theme in the sitcom continue to fascinate me:

    Now, the world don't move to the beat of just one drum,
    What might be right for you may not be right for some…
    Everybody's got a special kind of story
    Everybody finds a way to shine,
    It don't matter that you got not a lot
    So what,
    They'll have theirs, and you'll have yours, and I'll have mine.
    And together we'll be fine....

    The sitcom taught people to respect one another and live in harmony. Excellent parenting skills exhibited by Philips Drummond also found resonance in people who watched it — the way he handled the three kids, respecting their feelings — loving but not over indulgent, firm but not overbearing, giving each child his due.

    Nostalgia swept over me as I watched, “What are you talking about?” mouthed by Arnold Jackson.
    I wish (like in those days) I had stopped at this. But the compelling urge to ‘Google’ everything spoiled the fun for me.
    First, I was quite surprised to know that the show was made in the late 70s & early 80s! That would make the 3 kids my age now! They aren’t even close to being the cute kids or the gawky teenagers that I had imagined them to be!
    And this was only the beginning of a series of disappointments! What the Internet further revealed to me was more dismaying.
    Both Todd Bridges and Gary Coleman’s various misdemeanors have led to their being arrested on several occasions. Todd Bridges also has a history of drug abuse.
    Dana Plato’s story is even worse. An early pregnancy and drugs were rumored to be the reason for easing her character out of the show. She died presumably of a drug overdose when she was just 34!
    All the three could never ever live up to the success of Different Strokes.
    Somewhere the magic is gone with the harsh realities of what happened to these child stars when they got rich and famous too early in life; when the values they mouth in the sitcoms don’t percolate to their real lives; when peer pressure led to a failed life.
    For 8 long years the effusive environment created in the Drummond household infused optimism in the people watching it. Yet, it is ironical that the very people who helped others to live failed so miserably in their own.

    Picture 1 taken from
    Picture 2 taken from

    Thursday, June 18, 2009

    Different Strokes Lyrics

    Diff'rent Strokes Theme Lyrics

    Now, the world don't move to the beat of just one drum,
    What might be right for you, may not be right for some.
    A man is born, he's a man of means.
    Then along come two, they got nothing but their jeans.

    But they got, Diff'rent Strokes.
    It takes, Diff'rent Strokes.
    It takes, Diff'rent Strokes to move the world.

    Everybody's got a special kind of story
    Everybody finds a way to shine,
    It don't matter that you got not a lot
    So what,
    They'll have theirs, and you'll have yours, and I'll have mine.
    And together we'll be fine....

    Because it takes, Diff'rent Strokes to move the world.
    Yes it does.
    It takes, Diff'rent Strokes to move the world.

    Saturday, June 13, 2009

    Talk of Coinicidence!

    Sonny was supposed to come home in July and return to the US in September to complete his graduation in December 2009.
    The drudgery of the Gas station job made him come home sooner. This decision was also abetted by the dread of the Swine Flu which was close on hand…having started in Mexico…
    Whatever… I wanted him to come home to rest well after all the fatigue experienced in his job. Well, he did do so for 15 days when he got a call from a S/W co called Progress. It is surely a coincidence that the Co. is into major expansion plans in a couple of months and they needed a network Engineer to assist in their expansion plans. More of a coincidence that the person heading the Networking in the company was also passionate like sonny about Linux and the Co did have some systems that needed Linux installation. This is how sonny ended up getting an internship as a network engineer. Talk about coincidences…before coming home, he was wondering about what he should be doing in the 4 months that he was home…well, to think that the requirement should coincide with his time home…
    Call it coincidence or God’s hand that guides us!

    Tuesday, May 12, 2009

    Going to bed and what it means to me

    One, the bed is a sacrosanct place to me.
    I cannot imagine getting an unclean body onto the bed. What I need to do is have a long, leisurely bath at the end of the day…feel clean…put myself into those cottons which are extra soft…have a vast bed all to myself, a 6x6 for a 5 ft frame is a luxury.
    Have the bed sheets straightened up...let there be nothing on the bed except the TV remote and the mobile…turn the coolers on…have the room very cool before I even leave for the bath at the end of the day… a long bath enjoying the bath as the body prepares to wash off all the sweat, the tiredness from the body and prepares itself to relax…quickly stepping into the bedroom lest the sweat collects…changing into the soft soft cottons which feel so comfortable next to the skin…
    Ensure that the blinds are drawn tightly shut so that it doesn’t allow any sunlight to filter through in the morning to wake you up. Even the bed light seems harsh and I need to turn it off too. The softest of soft lights filtered through the blinds …that of the street lights seem so adequate…just enough to allow me to see myself sprawled across the bed...
    Let the head touch the pillow...cover with a thin blanket curl up with a book.When the body is clean, it totally relaxes…imagine that the body is maintained in this pristine condition for the next 8-9 hours of sleep...what bliss!


    Think of relationships….and what they mean….
    You run behind relationships always thirsting for that single person who could make a difference but does such a person exist? You see people and there is the initial attraction and the so called falling in love…which is just an attraction of the physical…….nothing beyond that and when that passes, what’s left is a person whom you see after the haze has cleared up. You see him now warts and all… there are differences now…there are those unpleasant moments those times where u r too sapped to give more…perhaps that’s why it was thought that its easiest to give when you are younger; there’s more resilience more the want to give and with the adrenalin pumping, its easy to maintain those relationships.
    But as you grow older and more rigid, there is the clash of the egos…sometimes too tired to keep giving... sometime wanting to sit back and receive to bask in the love of someone….is that love only an illusion?

    Monday, April 13, 2009

    A day well-spent (and money too)

    As planned, I set out today for the bank. I was instructed by the pea-brained call center executive that if I needed to close my FD which matured on the 3rd of April, it could be done only by visiting that particular branch. I drove all the way driving a total of 36 kms today.
    I started out at around 11:45 am. Luckily, the weather was quite good after the showers on Tuesday night. When I reached the 4th fly-over on SP road, I was very pleased to see that the narrow flyover had doubled its space. The two lanes had merged into one and there was a new road running parallel which was for the incoming traffic. This gave one of the oldest flyovers in Hyderabad the much needed respite from the heavy traffic. I often used to wonder how that old bridge (it cannot be called a fly- over) could stand the load of the heavy traffic!
    After crossing, there was the new Punjagutta flyover, the longest flyover in Hyderabad. I am sure that this new flyover is the Hyderabadi driver’s delight. I guess it is around 1 ½ kms and is quite empty. Driving at 60kmph in Hyderabad IS an experience by itself. At that speed, I only had to be careful on the numerous twists and turns on the long flyover. This flyover ended at the Chutneys at Punjagutta. Crossed this, still maintaining a speed of 40+ and reached the bank at Jubilee hills.
    Had a very pleasant experience with the lady executive there who was quite polite and patient. There were two things: one, I had to close my FD and get it transferred to my savings account. Second, because this branch was so far from my house, I had to transfer that account to the one closer to my house. But to my dismay, I found that the account transfer is actually as good as getting a new account…not to speak of the loans whose EMIs were linked to my savings account. I also spoke to the loan accounts guy about the procedure but he wasn’t too helpful with the information. Miffed, I marched straight to the Branch Manager’s (Uday’s) room. He gave me all the required information. And when I asked him about a locker facility, he said that there was no point in having a locker at Jubilee hills which was so far from my home. He called up the Manager (Nitin) at Habsiguda branch and spoke of getting me a locker! Though the trip was actually wasted because neither did I get my FD closed nor the account transferred, what was not expected was getting a locker! I was astounded to say the least. Getting a locker in a bank in Hyderabad and that too in the heart of the city was unheard of!
    I was feeling quite liberated as I had no pressure of time and therefore when I came out of the bank, I went to a second- hand, road- side book shop and got myself two books. One, ‘The three mistakes of my life’ by Chetan Bhagat; Two, ‘Blindsight’ by Robin Cook.
    Bargained but didn’t get much off. Yet, Rs.150 for the two books was quite a steal. When I set out from home, I had actually thought of buying myself a white Chikan kurta. But already having spent 150, I put that plan on hold. Going to Punjagutta and not eating at Chutneys was unthinkable. But as I was returning, I eyed the KFC opposite LV Prasad eye hospital. I immediately put a brake to my scooter. I was hesitant to take the long U-turn and therefore went inside the hospital to park my scooter, crossed the road on foot and went straight to the new Cinemax to see if there were any movies. Thought of seeing a movie on the spur. But the only movie that was screened around 3 pm was 8x10 Tasveer.. .too scared to try it, I gave it a miss and went into the complex to try out the food there. When I saw KFC, I also saw a food complex separated from KFC called Rhapsody. It had 6 eateries inside and when the Chaat Bhandaar caught my eye, I gave a miss to the rest and bought myself a coupon for a Chat Combo consisting of Tikki Ragda, Dahi Puri and a Coke. Cost me Rs 106. Wasn’t anything great or special or different from a road side eatery…except perhaps the hygiene of the place.
    My brother called me towards the end of the meal congratulating me on the take over of Satyam. I assured him that that’s why I was celebrating today as I don’t know if and when the next salary would come.
    After this, I again set out, feeling immensely sad at giving the favorite Chutneys a miss…again back on another new flyover and the wide SP road.
    I went straight past my home to go to Habsiguda branch of the bank. Saw to the left on the Tarnaka flyover and was surprised to see a BIG Bazaar! I thought Tarnaka too is wakening up to commercial prospects! Went to the Habsiguda branch and spoke about the locker brandishing Uday’s business card authoritatively as though I knew him well. It seems I am a ‘good’ customer with a good record and therefore, I am eligible for a locker. When I was skeptical if I could get a locker without an account, I was told that lockers were given based on relationships! I don’t know what relationship I had but whatever…the Habsiguda branch manager , Nitin, wasn’t there but another lady officer took my details and called me within 40 minutes to assure me that she had spoken to Nitin and that I could come on a Saturday and get my locker ! I nearly jumped with joy at this confirmation.
    Meanwhile, as I came out of the branch, I saw Café Coffee Day and thought why not add to the reckless mood I was in and splurge a little more. Went in to order cold Café Frappe @ Rs 61. I don’t know how they get the exact taste of coffee which isn’t too strong or too weak with a blend of vanilla ice cream. They got it just right…not too much ice cream or coffee. With this final binge of spending, I returned home satisfied at having explored beyond my usual 5kms radius. (Yeah, one liter of petrol lasts a month for me usually…)
    I don’t regret the money spent today when it gives me a good high at spending after a long time on food and books. As far as time is concerned anyways, I have plenty on hands!