Thursday, April 30, 2015

Curry Leaf--A chance discovery

Got up in the morning, a little early for the weekend at 7 am, and went to the ATM to draw some money. A side-ways glance showed me a small board showing ‘Morning Tiffins.’ Had been eyeing this board for some time and curiosity drew me to the place. As I walked in , thinking of the traditional dosa-idli-uttapam, I came across this!

I almost let out a cry of joy at seeing this. My kid just LOVES Kerala food and I went back home, restlessly waiting for him to wake up.
Finally, we went there at around 9.30 am and ordered the puttu with kadla curry. We ordered for the full one and divided among the three of us. We could have a choice between a puttu made with white rice or the one made with brown rice (the Chemba). We ordered the white one and a Kadla curry. They have a half-portion or full portion available for almost every item.

Pic courtesy: Curry Leaf

Th puttu was deliciously made with a steamed combination of coconut and rice flour and went beautifully with the accompanying Kadla curry (black chana cooked in coconut oil with the sharpness of ginger-garlic and masalas). Just loved this combination of bland and spicy.
The next were the appams. The appams disappointed us slightly as they tasted almost like the regular dosas. We were told that the batter hadn’t been allowed to rest for a while as it ought to be and hence didn’t taste right.

Appam with kadla curry and vegetable stew

The vegetable stew that accompanied it didn’t look all that appetizing but taste-wise it was great! A recipe of mixed vegetables cooked in the creaminess of coconut milk rendered a special taste to the stew and went very well with the appam.

Vegetable Stew
Wanting to not leave out anything from the vegetarian menu, we next ordered for the kappa. Kappa is tapioca and tasted like the sweet potato without its sweetness. The texture was also very similar. It was garnished with a tadka and served with tamarind-red chilli chutney. This combination was fabulous!

Kappa with chutney

The icing on the cake was when we were able to conclude the meal with a coconut pudding. The pudding was jelly-like but in a very different way to a panna cotta. It had a wiff of coconut flavor from the tender coconut, but not enough to render an authetic flavor.  The sweetness (from condensed milk?) was overpowering.

Coconut pudding

In every dish I find that the bland is compensated with a spicy accompaniment.  I also found that there is hardly any use of oil. This breakfast doesn’t sit heavy on the stomach.
The only drawback for me was they cooked in regular oil instead of the famed coconut oil in the Kerala cuisine. The owner told us that it was because coconut oil may not be palatable for everyone. Had we known, we would have insisted that he does.Our total bill for three for breakfast came to 280/-
Never knew that this place which advertises tiffins more than its name, Curry Leaf, had this gem of Kerala food hidden within. The timings are 11 am to 11 pm everyday and from morning on Saturdays and Sundays. It is a tiny place (15-20 people capacity) and runs more on a small but faithful clientele of Kerala food lovers. In fact, they had opened it that day in the morning just because some of them had planned to gather there before they left Hyderabad
They will re-start, after a short break, from May 10th.This place is next to the ICICI ATM to the left of AXIS bank on the Secunderabad-Tarnaka road.

I am no authority on Kerala food and therefore cannot say if they serve an authentic one. But what my experience doesn't tell me, my taste buds do...and what they tell me is that Curry Leaf is worth many more visits.
Recently had their Parota which was quite nice:

Parota with Kadla curry

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Ok Bangaram

Ok Bangaram, the name doesnt lure you into watching it...i:e until you know it has Nithya Menen, a dynamic actor.
Mani Ratnam is back with the genre in which he has proved himself over and over again.
Casting Dulquer Salmaan and Nithya Menen as the lead pair, Mani Ratnam’s magic works again in this dubbed version of the Tamil film, O Kadhal Kanmani. The movie speaks about live-in relationships and the fear of commitment in the young these days.
What can be truly appreciated is the sensitivity of Mani Ratnam vis-a-vis the young generations’ perception of life. He is able to capture the freshness and energy of the young and transfer it to the movie. He shows that despite a reluctance to commit, the young, when given a freedom of choice, are equally vulnerable and care for deep and meaningful relationships.
There is a very thin story line… it is just about how people like living without committing or having to handle responsibilities. The lead pair lives with Prakash Raj and, his wife in the movie, Leela Samson. Despite a complete change in body language by Prakash Raj to portray an older person, the chasm in age between the two shows (16 years) on screen. The first few interactions had me thinking if he was addressing his older sister, mother or wife. Prakash Raj as a supporting and caring husband of a wife in stage 2 of Alzheimer’s forces the young, carefree couple to rethink on their relationship.
Though a lot of thought and brisk editing has led to a rivetting  first half, the second half looked like the director himself was in as much a quandary as the couple as to where to take the relationship. The dragging story with its clich├ęd end was definitely a yawn.
The pluses are the absence of the so-called humor prevalent in all Tamil/Telugu movies, no group dances, and no dishum-dishums. There is just a blink-and-miss, half-baked idea of a guy following Nithya in the beginning. The character unexplainably vanishes as quickly too.
All-in-all, watch the movie for its fresh and energetic execution, the brilliant acting by Dulquer Salmaan and Nithya Menen; the chemistry between the two and yet another brilliant Ratnam-Rehman collaboration .
A 3/5 for me.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Yevade Subramanyam

Having heard positive reviews of this movie, I wanted to watch it but was rather caught up with lots of stuff and had to postpone doing it.
Starring Nani and new comer Malavika Nair, this movie urges you to look into yourself and ask who you are without your lineage, your job, money, educational qualification and all other superfluity. It tells that life is about the several moments you live everyday...and not just a few episodes that you can just count on your fingers. It is about peeping into yourself and find what actually gives you happiness and not what you think will make you successful in life and whether at the end of your life all these matter.
Based on this premises, we have the character of Nani  who has a childhood friend,  Vijay Deverakonda, who has never conformed to social expectations. An expensive pencil box when coveted by Nani is simply given away. The commercial values have never mattered to him.
Just when Nani who has worked hard though an IIM degree and is onto his next plan of life, of marrying the Boss's daughter, Vijay comes back into his life. He urges him to fulfill his childhood dream of going to Doodh Kashi, an abode in Mt. Everest, inspired by his teacher (Srinivas Avasarala in a cameo) who abandons his profession in pursuit of peace in the lap of Himalayas.
Nani ridicules and dismisses his aspiration as a silly childhood dream and pays no attention to it. Nani and Vijay find Malavika Nair in a pub and then on all three are friends. Malavika's and Rishi's thinking is alike in sharp contrast to Nani's materialistic one.
Circumstances make Nani go to Doodh Kashi. The obvious happens when he visits Doodh Kashi and returns a changed man...valuing things which really mean something and not just a materialistic pursuit of life.
Nani is a natural and glides through effortlessly. Malavika needs to make an effort.and unfortunately she looks like Kashmeera Shah. In places, she goes overboard. In a few places the director does it too. For example, when Nani is lost playing with the kids in Himalayas, there was no need of that approving glance from Malavika. Wish the director could just let the moment flow and take the audience with it.
The strength of the movie is a thankfully different story and the two main men leads, Krishnam Raju's brief yet impactful presence and the absence of Brahmandam and (group)dances.
Enjoy the breath-taking cinematography in lap of the Himalayas.
It does slacken in a few places but overall it succeeds in bringing a smile and an occasional tear to the eye.
This movie is targeted more at the youngsters who are just beginning to taste money and are in the process of losing themselves in hollow excessiveness.

I would rate it a 3/5. 

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Bombay Duck (Lila)

Bombay Duck (Lila) had re-launched its Indian menu and I was invited to their tasting session. Situated in a lane opposite to peddamma gudi in Jubilee Hills, it is housed in a 3-floored building, each floor having its own cuisine. Tall ceilings and glass walls render the ambiance very impressive. 
We were a group of 12 and this is a vegetarian's perspective of the experience. 
After the welcome drink, we had the Makai ka Shorba. This was superbly balanced in all its flavors: the right spiciness, thickness from the corn starch and the texture. An excellent start to the meal!

Makai kali mirch ka Shorba

The next were the starters. We had Paneer Mirch and Hara masala ka Bhoona Aloo. Paneer was marinated and grilled. Bhoona Aloo consisted of baby potatoes coated with spiced spinach paste and either baked or grilled. What goes in favor of the two were the spices surrounding the paneer and the aloo...the superbly soft paneer augmenting the experience. The drawback was that neither of the dishes absorbed the spices and after the first bite, they were rather bland. Perhaps, they weren't marinated long enough. 

Paneer kutti mirch & Hara masala ka Bhoona Aloo
The Dal Leela was one of the tastiest dals I have eaten. Superbly smooth and all right flavors...neither too spicy nor bland. My co-foodies expressed that it was not as creamy as the Dal Makhni that we experience in other restaurants. Perhaps, it wasn't slow-cooked and all, but for me, an amazing taste. Will blindly opt for it again.

Dal Leela

We had a couple of sabzis, one of them being the Ralli Milli Sabzi shown below. But really, it was difficult to distinguish one from the other. Both tasted similar and needed sharpening of flavors.

Ralli Milli sabzi

Vegetable Tawa Biryani had nice, long grains and just about ok in taste. The rice was flavorful, yet the right amount of gravy in its midst and some vegetables would have enhanced the experience.

Vegetable Tawa Biryani

The desserts were a big draw. Shahi Tukda, crisply fried bread, dipped in a sugar syrup and topped with rabri and Fruit Kheer made of various diced fruits in rabri were the favorites of the group. Can vouch for both. 

Shahi Tukda

Fruit Kheer

All in all, a decent experience. None of the dishes were bad; yet, Lila fails to impress you with a signature dish that beckons you.
Cannot comment on VFM for a tasting session.