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