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.