23 Mar

Incognito Restaurant at Baner| A Review

Incognito Restaurant at Baner| A Review

Truly the Best Food I have eaten in a while.

A couple of weeks ago I did a video shoot for series of #MobileFoodPhotography and the co-owner gave some valuable inputs on how should I describe the food served at Incognito.

Incognito Restaurant at Baner| A Review

Incognito Restaurant at Baner| A Review

When he realised that I have not had food at the other outlet in Phoenix Market City, he profusely welcomed me and my family to dine there as soon as possible.

Incognito Restaurant at Baner| A Review

Incognito Restaurant at Baner| A Review

At the first opportunity I took up on his offer and we went for a happy visit.

Incognito Restaurant at Baner| A Review

Incognito Restaurant at Baner| A Review

Since the place is newly set-up, the crowd is less, but it doesn’t take away from the beauty and the detailing to decor which has gone into the place.

Incognito Restaurant at Baner| A Review

Incognito Restaurant at Baner| A Review

It is a well-lit place with some quirky artefacts displayed in various nooks and corners. I loved these quirky stuff.

I was also very excited to try out the food as someone very recently told me that ‘Incognito serves some of the best food in the city.’ And the person I refer to is in Pune food business. So I had quite high expectation of the place.

Incognito Restaurant at Baner| A Review

Incognito Restaurant at Baner| A Review

And I must admit, I wasn’t disappointed.

Go-to dish for my kids these days is Pasta in white sauce as it is least spicy and full-cheesy. So kids settled for 2 servings of that. And it really was good.

Incognito Restaurant at Baner| A Review

Incognito Restaurant at Baner| A Review

We chose Marinated Mushrooms, Stuffed Jumbo Olives and Roasted Eggplants in the AntiPasti Platter served with Garlic Croutes. The roasted eggplant and croutes were among the best I have ever eaten. Really a must try for all.

Incognito Restaurant at Baner| A Review

Incognito Restaurant at Baner| A Review

After helping kids finish off the second serving of pasta and gorging on antipasti, there was  very little space left. :)

Incognito Restaurant at Baner| A Review

Incognito Restaurant at Baner| A Review

Just for that tiny corner of space in our stomach (sigh!) we ordered Green House Melt Burger which is a mildly spiced veg patty served on toasted bun with shredded iceberg, onions, dill pickle, tomato and cheese, accompanied with crispy fries and greens. And it was truly food-gasmic. I never knew burger could be this good. I really would like to order this once more.

Incognito Restaurant at Baner| A Review

Incognito Restaurant at Baner| A Review

We rounded off the meal with Chocolate Dream – a rich chocolate gateaux filled with blueberry and passion fruit chocolate truffle. This was a tad disappointing for me.

Incognito Restaurant at Baner| A Review

Incognito Restaurant at Baner| A Review

Even for my video I had shot a selection of dessert and overall I found them a bit too sweet and bit too basic for my taste. When compared to all other dishes wonderfully turned out and served, the desserts seem pretty commonplace.

Incognito Restaurant at Baner| A Review

Incognito Restaurant at Baner| A Review

But a good meal, great ambiance and superb service.

I am craving to go back to this place again, more so because it is very close to my place and I don’t have to trudge all the way to Phoenix Mall to enjoy a good meal.

Incognito Restaurant at Baner| A Review

Incognito Restaurant at Baner| A Review

I hope more F & B brands take their cue from Mallaka Spice and Incognito and open good restaurants in Western corridor of the city. It would be very welcome.

20 Mar

Apple Sauce | Basics | How To

Apple Sauce | Basics | How To

If you have baked eggless recipes on my blog, you would realise that Apple Sauce is quite frequently used as an egg replacer in many recipes.

Apple Sauce | Basics | How To

Apple Sauce | Basics | How To

It is one of the easiest thing to make and has immense usage in our kitchens – for baking, for naturally sweetening our dishes or even as baby food.

All you need is few apples, little sugar if so desired and a small cinnamon stick. You are all set to make your own Home-made Apple Sauce.

Apple Sauce | Basics | How To

Apple Sauce | Basics | How To

You can add fresh ginger or cardamom powder for flavour if you wish.

The apple sauce stays fresh for a week in refrigerator and for another month in freezer.

Apple Sauce

Apple Sauce | Basics | How To

The quickest apple sauce. No sugar, no artificial flavour.

Yields: 2 cups of apple sauce

  • 3 medium sized firm Apples
  • 1/2 inch of ginger
  • 1/2 inch of cinnamon stick
  • 1 tablespoon water
  1. Peel the apples and remove their core. Chop them into smaller chunks.
  2. Now place all the ingredients in a thick bottom pan. Cover with a lid and allow it to cook on slow flame.
  3. After 5-6 minutes the apples will soften completely. You may need to check the pan for doneness earlier as well if the apples are already tender.
  4. Remove from flame and mash the apples completely. Strain the sauce to remove the cinnamon & ginger pieces. Allow to cool.
  5. Store in an air-tight container in refrigerator for upto a week or upto a month in freezer.
  • Preparation time: 5 minutes
  • Cook time: 5 minutes
  • Total time: 10 minutes

16 Mar

Evviva Sky Lounge | Photoblog

2 weeks ago I shot my first video on #mobilefoodphotography at Evviva Sky Lounge – Courtyard by Marriott Pune City Center, I was floored by such a gorgeous location.

Evviva Sky Lounge | Photoblog

Evviva Sky Lounge | Photoblog

Since I stay in one end of the city (Wakad), driving down to East Pune is a 1.5 hour long chore in slow traffic which we don’t enjoy. There is a rare hop to eateries in that area, which actually is major chunk of Pune’s F & B scene.

Evviva Sky Lounge | Photoblog

Evviva Sky Lounge | Photoblog

After winding up the shoot for video, I realised that I have not been able to click a single image of the amazing lounge, which prompted me to invite myself over to Evviva to do a full justice to the place.

Evviva Sky Lounge | Photoblog

Evviva Sky Lounge | Photoblog

This photoblog aims to bring to you one of the most beautiful place to spend an evening with your partner. I have not been to a more romantic place in a long time.

Evviva Sky Lounge | Photoblog

Evviva Sky Lounge | Photoblog

It is pleasantly sunny and welcoming while you watch the sun go down and exhilarating breezy when the night falls and the glittering city comes to life.

Evviva Sky Lounge | Photoblog

Evviva Sky Lounge | Photoblog

Located in the midst of buzzing city, you feel on top while looking down upon the world go by both literally & metaphorically speaking.

Evviva Sky Lounge | Photoblog

Evviva Sky Lounge | Photoblog

It is in that moment you feel good about taking that pause to enjoy life and drink in the awesomeness surrounding you, pun intended. ;)

Evviva Sky Lounge | Photoblog

Evviva Sky Lounge | Photoblog

The city is moving around you busily while you are sipping on that wonderful poison of your choice. I couldn’t ask for a better way to spend my evening.

Evviva Sky Lounge | Photoblog

Evviva Sky Lounge | Photoblog

Add to this perfect setting, food which I have grown up on – North West Frontier cuisine. Lucknowi, Avadhi gravies, marinated well and cooked on slow fire to bring out all the textures and flavours.

Evviva Sky Lounge | Photoblog

Evviva Sky Lounge | Photoblog

Evviva Sky Lounge | Photoblog

Evviva Sky Lounge | Photoblog

We were served Paneer Bhatti Tikka and Murg Kalami Kebab which were perfectly marinated and charred. The paneer was super-soft and chewy.

Evviva Sky Lounge | Photoblog

Evviva Sky Lounge | Photoblog

For main course there was Afghani Nalli Nihari, Paneer Pudina Khas and Dal-e-Evviva with Hari and Lal Mirch Paranthas, a chef Akhilesh’s speciality.

Evviva Sky Lounge | Photoblog

Evviva Sky Lounge | Photoblog

I have been looking for that perfect Dal Makhani since moving to Pune and looks like my search has come to end here. It really is good and trust me I have had some horrendous concoction served  in the name.

Evviva Sky Lounge | Photoblog

Evviva Sky Lounge | Photoblog

Evviva Sky Lounge | Photoblog

Evviva Sky Lounge | Photoblog

V liked Nalli Nihari’s gravy a lot but wasn’t very impressed with lamb ham. He found the paneer dish to be far more hitting the mark of North Indian cuisine.

Evviva Sky Lounge | Photoblog

Evviva Sky Lounge | Photoblog

What I also liked was the attention to detail which the restaurant has maintained at the lounge like – small clip on lamps on menu for easy reading during night, or hot-pots (tagines) which keep the food warm while you are busy being happy in the ambience and conversation.

Evviva Sky Lounge | Photoblog`

Evviva Sky Lounge | Photoblog

The plating is done and the food is served from individual hot pot, only when you are ready to eat.

Evviva Sky Lounge | Photoblog

Evviva Sky Lounge | Photoblog

Next time my in-laws are in town, I would definitely be leaving the kids behind and drive down to this amazing location to soak in the night along with some real good food with V.

Evviva Sky Lounge | Photoblog

Evviva Sky Lounge | Photoblog

If this photoblog didn’t prompt you to plan your coming weekend at Evviva, I will eat my words. ;) I am bringing the best lounge bar in Pune alive on your screen.

Evviva Sky Lounge | Photoblog

Evviva Sky Lounge | Photoblog

Over all a great place, great ambience, and equally good food. I can’t ask for more.

13 Mar

Bidding Adieu to Strawberry Season | Photostory

Bidding Adieu to Strawberry Season | Photostory

From my travels to Mahabaleshwar and Panchgani we had got 3 kilos of strawberries, fresh and ripe.

Bidding Adieu to Strawberry Season | Photostory

Bidding Adieu to Strawberry Season | Photostory

When we buy, we always plan to eat some, then store some for my strawberry baking, smoothies and other delicacies.

Bidding Adieu to Strawberry Season | Photostory

Bidding Adieu to Strawberry Season | Photostory

But when we reach home and unpack, V can’t help but eat all and thinks baking with fruit is a waste of money if the fruit can be consumed fresh. His logic!

Bidding Adieu to Strawberry Season | Photostory

Bidding Adieu to Strawberry Season | Photostory

But anyways the same happened with these too. In an attempt to finish them as fresh fruit and not freeze them for future use, we ate three kilos in record 3 days. :|

Bidding Adieu to Strawberry Season | Photostory

Bidding Adieu to Strawberry Season | Photostory

Men don’t change. And it is better to not waste your effort on them too.

Bidding Adieu to Strawberry Season | Photostory

Bidding Adieu to Strawberry Season | Photostory

Bidding Adieu to Strawberry Season | Photostory

Bidding Adieu to Strawberry Season | Photostory

To bid adieu to the season of strawberries I have only these images to show for.

Bidding Adieu to Strawberry Season | Photostory

Bidding Adieu to Strawberry Season | Photostory

And hope that next season I can freeze some for my use.

Bidding Adieu to Strawberry Season | Photostory

Bidding Adieu to Strawberry Season | Photostory

27 Feb

Vegetable Dum Biryani | Product Review: Zaiqa Spices

Vegetable Dum Biryani

Finally I did it.

Just like I had this mental block taking on baking which now seems like a lifetime ago. I also had this block of making the first Biryani.

Vegetable Dum Biryani

Vegetable Dum Biryani

The reasons were plenty – one being that I never manage to keep the grains as separate as should be. So rice dishes are a big panic button for me. Then Biryani is considered a non-vegetarian fare and vegetarian version is frowned down upon.

You get the gist.

Vegetable Dum Biryani

Vegetable Dum Biryani

Finally I overcame that fear and chose to tackle it. I also break my kitchen hiatus of last 2 months with this biryani and a full-fledged meal of Dal Makhani, Paneer Do Pyaza, Boondi Raita, Seviyaan and Naan. Finger-licking meal.

For this sumptuous biryani I made use of Zaiqa spices which are personally made and packaged by Anisa Arif of Zaiqa – The Spice Store. She and I are connected on Facebook through a group of passionate home chefs and bakers.

Vegetable Dum Biryani

Vegetable Dum Biryani

When she approached me to review her range of spices I was thrilled to say the least as I had heard great reviews about her spices from other fellow members of the group.

She sent me over a range of spice mixes to cook from. I was overwhelmed. She is a dear! The best part I liked about the spices are that they are customised to suit ones need. You have no-onion, no-garlic mix for Jains (read: me), then you have spices for non-vegetarian fare and so on. Also the mixes come with 2 types of recipe behind each package making it so easy to create fantastic dishes with these.

Vegetable Dum Biryani

Vegetable Dum Biryani

I settled on trying the Biryani and Kadai Jalfrezi Masala from the selection. The result for Biryani are for here to see and devour with your eyes. I will share the images of Paneer do Pyaza soon.

The spices are pretty easy to use and you can make many recipes using these. You can store them in refrigerator and they stay fresh for a year after opening.

Vegetable Dum Biryani

Vegetable Dum Biryani

You can order these spice mixes by contacting Anisa. She is based in Chennai and ships worldwide.

Website – http://shop.zaiqathespicestore.com/

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/ZaiqaTheSpiceStore

Contact No. – +91 9940 555 657

Vegetable Dum Biryani

Vegetable Dum Biryani

The steam cooked and rich Vegetable Dum Biryani to tantalise your senses.

Yields: 1 large vessel of Dum Biryani

  • Vegetable Layer:
  • 50 grams of cauliflower, broken into small florets
  • 50 grams of carrot, chopped 3/4" long diagonally
  • 50 grams of french beans, chopped 3/4" long diagonally
  • 50 grams shelled peas
  • 1/2 capsicum, halved and sliced 3/4" long
  • 1 big potato, halved and sliced into 3/4" long ribbons
  • 1 onion, halved and sliced 3/4" long
  • 1 tomato, halved and sliced 3/4" long
  • 2 green chilles, chopped 3/4" long diagonally
  • 3 bayleaves
  • 3 cloves
  • 1/2 inch cinnamon stick
  • 1 big cardamom
  • 1/4 teaspoon cardamom powder
  • 1/4 cup of oil
  • 1 teaspoon of Zaiqa Biryani Spice Mix
  • salt to taste
  • Rice Layer:
  • 11/4 cup of basmati rice (long grain)
  • 3 3/4 cups of water
  • 2 cloves
  • 2 bayleaves
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1/2 tablespoon oil
  • salt to taste
  • few drops of color - optional
  1. For the vegetable layer - In a wok, heat the oil and let all the whole spices except cardamom powder temper till they release the wonderful aroma.
  2. Then add onions and fry them till golden brown. Add the remaining vegetables along with cardamom powder. Allow them to cook till tender.
  3. Add the Zaiqa Biryani Spice mix. Divide the cooked vegetables in 2 portions. Set aside.
  4. For the Rice Layer - In a big pan, boil water with salt, bayleaves, cloves, milk and oil (the ingredients under rice layer). You can cover the pan while the water boils.
  5. Add rice, allow it to cook uncovered on medium-high flame till hald cooked like al dente stage. Strain the rice, reserving the liquid. I usually use this liquid to make curries or even knead dough. Divide the strained rice in 2 portions.
  6. Grease a heavy bottom big pan or vessel liberally. Spread one layer of rice in the vessel. Sprinkle 1-2 drops of color on top. Now spread one layer of vegetables on top of it. Repeat with the second layer of rice, color and vegetables. You can divide in more layers if you like. Seal the vessel with aluminium foil.
  7. Place the vessel on low flame and allow the biryani to cook for 5-10 minutes. Place a griddle pan (tawa) on low flame and move the biryani vessel onto the griddle. Now allow it cook on this indirect heat for another 20-30 minutes or longer if desired.
  8. Serve hot with raita.
  • Preparation time: 15 minutes
  • Cook time: 45 minutes
  • Total time: 1 hour