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.