Monday, August 29, 2016

Peninsular Kitchen - Bringing the Best Coastal and South Indian Cuisine to Delhi

Few days ago, a friend of mine asked if I could recommend a quintessential Indian restaurant in Delhi that serves authentic cuisine from the coastal region.

Interestingly, there are nine states and two union territories that form the Indian coastline, and to my knowledge, the only restaurant in Delhi that serves authentic cuisine from five coastal states (Goa, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and Andhra Pradesh) is the Peninsular Kitchen.

So my answer was in a way pretty obvious!

On a related note, I noticed that even though I had visited and reviewed this restaurant in the month of May early this year, I had completely forgotten to post my review on the blog.

In this blog post, I make a case about why you should visit the Peninsular Kitchen.


Opened to general public in May 2015, Peninsular Kitchen is the brainchild of restaurateur Gaurav Goel who hails from Delhi. Gaurav is a hotel management graduate from IHM Mumbai (1997). As luck would have it, he spent a good 15 years in the same city working for F&B brands.

Peninsular Kitchen

Being a foodie himself, Gaurav developed a strong liking for the coastal food after frequenting South Indian states like Karnataka, Kerala, etc. In fact, the liking grew so much over a period of time that he gave up his corporate job in 2014 and returned to his birthplace to start a new coastal restaurant.

Gaurav Goel

Post relocation, Gaurav researched the F&B market in the national capital for almost a year and inferred that the coastal cuisine was grossly under-presented here for various reasons. So he, along with his wife, Anshu Goel, decided to invest in this restaurant. Together, they did a market survey on location and zeroed in on the posh Ambience Mall in Vasant Kunj (to both of them, South Delhi seemed like a more lucrative business proposition than Gurgaon at that point in time).

And that's how the Peninsular Kitchen was born!

Peninsular Kitchen

With a cover area of more than 1500 square feet, the restaurant is conveniently housed on the third floor of Ambience Mall. The kitchen is in the capable hands of Head Chef Shankar Pujari and Sous Chef Ramadasan. Arun Kumar dons the responsibility of the Operations Manager, which includes supervising a staff of 20.

See Through Kitchen

The restaurant can easily accommodate nearly 48 guests and is open every day from 10:30 am to 12 midnight.

Peninsular Kitchen

If you're visiting them on a weekday, make sure to check with staff w.r.t. the Happy Hours (from 11 am to 9 pm).

Peninsular Kitchen

As I entered their premises, I couldn't help but notice the aesthetically done 'nautical' design. What really struck me was how every minutest level of detail was taken care of, leaving no scope for uncertainty - be it the hanging anchors or the wall paintings of the coastline.

Peninsular Kitchen

According to Gaurav, half the guests who walk in here have little idea about the coastal cuisine. As a rule of thumb, the restaurant does not serve any kind of Dosas between 4 to 7. The idea is to educate people on South Indian and coastal cuisine, which goes way beyond the cliched Dosas and Idlis.

Hanging Anchor at Peninsular Kitchen

Here are my top recommendations of what you should try at the Peninsular Kitchen.

Welcome Drink

Solkadhi
Often served in Goa and the Konkan region of India, Solkadhi is hailed for its digestive properties. It is made from coconut milk and kokum.

Solkadhi

Beverages

Mocktails

Deccan Emerald
Tamarind water based drink, infused with mint rock salt and Sprite.

Guava Burst
Filled with the richness of Guava nectar, mint, green chili with roasted cumin, and lime.

Guava Burst

Coconut Mojito
Topped with lemonade and ice, this breezy cocktail is made of lime chunks, mint leaves, brown sugar, and coconut syrup.

Coconut Mojito

Cocktails

Paan Burst
Experience this unique vodka based cocktail blended with betel leaves and gulkand.

Ambitini
Another vodka based cocktail infused with Aam Panna and a combination of lemon and guava juices.

Khattalicious
What happens when you mix Kala Khatta syrup with dark rum and soda? Nothing short of Khattalicious!

If you have room for more, go for the Green Chilly Sangria.

Soup

Punarpuli Saaru
Popularly known as Kokum Rasam, this popular soup comes from Udipi in Karnataka. Known to contain several medicinal properties, this soup is highly recommended to treat cases of constipation or indigestion.

Starters

Seafood

Fried Fish Koliwada
Relish the unique flavors of boneless Fried Fish Koliwada, a popular dish from the state of Maharashtra. Best served with green mint/in-house chutney.

Fried Fish Koliwada

Kerala Stir-fried Prawns
Popularly known as Malabar Chemmeen Varathathu, this rare dish from North Kerala is both sweet and spicy, with a twist of onion tomato masala.

Chicken

Ghongura Chicken Fry 
Ghongura Chicken Fry is a classic combination of Ghongura/Sorrel leaves, chilies, and marinated chicken. Cooked in special Andhra style recipe, this South India delicacy is a must have.

Ghongura Chicken Fry

Vegetarian

Tossed Mini Idli
Steamed idlis tossed in spicy podi/lentil masala make a perfect snack for all occasions.

Tossed Mini Idli

Savory Rice Dumplings
Popularly known as Kuzhi Paniyaram, these shallow fried rice and urad dal dumplings are quite a rage in Tamil Nadu. Best served with gun powder (dry dal chutney).

Savory Rice Dumplings

Curries

Seafood

Malabari Fish Curry
Popularly known as Meen Moilee, this classic fish curry from Kerala wins hands down for its unique flavor. I liked that the coconut gravy was mildly spiced and contained a perfect blend of green chilies and shallots.

PS: You could also try the Kerala Fish Curry (a. k. a. Naadan Meen Kari), which is a traditional fish curry from Kerala.

Jinghe Ka Korma
This prawn delicacy from the city of Hyderabad is cooked in rich spicy gravy containing khoya and cream.

Mutton

Mutton Stew
This goes pretty well with Appams and contains boneless chunks of mutton perfectly cooked in cardamom flavored coconut gravy.

Chicken

Andhra Chicken Curry
Popularly known as Kodi Kura, this curry traces its root in the Konaseema region of coastal Andhra. If you like your curries to be spicy, this is the dish to go after. The gravy is thickened with poppy and sesame seeds.

Chicken Xacutti
This is a classic Goan chicken curry, made of chicken and potato mixed with a rich gravy of poppy seeds, fennel, and coconut.

Vegetarian

Vendakai Pulusu
Vegetarians in the house must try this tangy tomato gravy which contains ladyfinger and spices from the land of Seemandhra.

You could also try the Kadala Curry and Parippu Curry if you're curious about the South Indian version of the dal.

Curries at Peninsular Kitchen

Accompaniments
  • Red Rice
  • Steam Rice
  • Appam
  • Malabari Paratha
  • Idiyappam
  • Neer Dosa
Malabari Paratha
Appam

Desserts

Aravana Payasam
This special dessert from Kerala contains a good amount of jaggery and is prepared as an offering to Lord Ayyappa on Pongal.

Aravana Payasam and Pineapple Halwa

Pineapple Halwa
This classic dessert contains slow cooked pineapple with coconut milk and dry fruits.

Bebinca
Bebinca is a traditional Goan dessert with seven layers, including plain flour, sugar, ghee (clarified butter), egg yolk, and coconut milk.

Ada Prathaman
Served around Onam, these rice pancakes are cooked with jaggery and dry fruits.

Finally, Peninsular Kitchen is a one stop destination to satisfy all your coastal and South India food cravings. In my opinion, this will be a key differentiator compared to their competitors like Swagath, Zambar, or Sanadige

Peninsular Kitchen

I strongly urge you to try your own local cuisine first before you try any other. India has a lot to offer!

Peninsular Kitchen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Food On Wheels - Best Authentic North Indian Cuisine in Faridabad

Last month I was invited by the Rastogi family to review their flagship food property in the heart of Faridabad by the name of Food On Wheels.

I graciously accepted their invitation for two apparent reasons - one, they agreed to arrange a cab for me knowing that it takes approximately 40 minutes from my place to reach their restaurant, and second, this was going to be my first food review of a food joint in Faridabad.


Open every day from 12 noon to 3 pm and then from 6.30 pm to 11 pm, Food On Wheels is hailed for serving the best, authentic North Indian cuisine in Faridabad. Their curries and tikkas from the live kitchen are to die for!

That said, little did I know that I would be meeting one of the most promising, young food entrepreneurs on the day of review, Ayush Rastogi, the brainchild behind Food On Wheels.

Ayush Rastogi

At 19 years of age, Ayush is probably one of the youngest food entrepreneurs in the country right now. And you can easily tell that he is passionate about food (cooking in particular) - in fact for the entire duration of my stay there, Ayush assisted the folks in kitchen, churning out one amazing dish after the other.

Ayush Rastogi

Here are my top recommendations of what you should try at Food On Wheels.

Tandoori Non Vegetarian 
  • Stuffed Tangri Kebab (Specialty)
Stuffed Tangri Kebab (Specialty)
  • Chicken Burra
Chicken Burra
  • Chicken Seekh Kebab
Chicken Seekh Kebab
Tandoori Vegetarian 
  • Dahi Ke Kebab
Dahi Ke Kebab
  • Soya Kaleji
Soya Kaleji
  • Chili Paneer Tikka (Specialty)
Chili Paneer Tikka (Specialty)
  • Veg Galauti (Specialty)
Veg Galauti (Specialty)
Mains - Vegetarian Gravy 
  • Tawa Chaap Masala 
Tawa Chaap Masala
Mains - Non Vegetarian Gravy 
  • Chicken Gurdaspuri (Specialty)
Chicken Gurdaspuri (Specialty)
  • Hari Mirch Ka Chicken (cooked in Desi Ghee)
Hari Mirch Ka Chicken (cooked in Desi Ghee)
Breads 
  • Keema Kulcha
Keema Kulcha
  • Garlic Naan
Garlic Naan
Desserts 
  • Oreo Pudding Pot
Oreo Pudding Pot

Food On Wheels might not be easily accessible for residents of Delhi-NCR but is surely a popular hunting ground for those in Faridabad. They also specialize in free home deliveries here (minimum order of INR 250), thus earning the reputation of a takeaway restaurant. 

Kitchen Staff in Action at Food On Wheels

There's limited seating available for 35 guests, should you want to enjoy a fully AC dining experience. They even make special arrangements for birthday/kitty parties and outdoor catering.

Limited Seating at Food On Wheels

I didn't have enough time to try their rolls, Chinese food, mini meals, special combos, sandwiches, burgers, and wraps, but whatever else I tried was absolutely brilliant. Won't mind visiting them again!

Food On Wheels Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

Thursday, August 25, 2016

10 Incentives to Visit Bottles and Barrels - The Craft Brewery

Last month I was invited to review one of the most popular microbreweries in Gurgaon by the name of Bottles and Barrels. The invitation was extended by VenueMonk, an online events marketplace that helps you find and book the best suited venues for all occasions.


Bottles and Barrels is conveniently housed on the second floor of Star Tower in Sector 30, Gurgaon. The property is hailed for its kitchen, lounge, and terrace, and I am not surprised why!

Bottles and Barrels

In this blog post, I am going to offer you 10 incentives to visit Bottles and Barrels.
  1. The kitchen is in the capable hands of Executive Chef Abdul Kalam, who comes with 14 years of hands-on F&B experience, not to forget a specialization in world cuisine food. Having worked for reputed brands like the Vatika Hospitality, Abdul introduces a mélange of Indian, Oriental, Continental, and Italian delicacies.

    Executive Chef Abdul Kalam

  2. If you’re a local business or a corporate located in or around Sector 30 in Gurgaon, go for a ‘five-course meal’ lunch buffet available on weekdays. You can also try the Live Grill and Cold Food section … start your conversations around quality freshly cooked meals and awesome beer selection.

    Bottles and Barrels

  3. Talking of beer, choose from a vast array of Craft beers, such as the Pilsner Lager Beer, Jaggery Ale, Belgian Wheat Beer, and my personal favorite, American Bitter Ale.

    Craft Beers

  4. For connoisseurs of luxury, Bottles and Barrels offers you an opulent terrace dining experience, with six gazebos evenly distributed between low and level seating.

    Terrace Dining Experience

  5. Walk in on any Wednesday night and chances are that you’ll get treated to live performances by some of the best artists in the city. Ladies, in particular, have another reason to celebrate since every Wednesday night they get to savor their favorite cocktails free of cost. You heard it! Cocktails are on the house, since it’s a Ladies Night.

    Performance Stage at Bottles and Barrels

  6. Don’t worry if you cannot make it on a Wednesday though. On other weekdays, the talented resident DJ Vikram spins foot tapping retro rock, disco hits, house and Bollywood numbers, to get things ticking. You just cannot hold yourself back from getting into the groove; so come let your hair down or simply relax over a couple of beers.

  7. With an ultramodern gastropub vibe and an unmatched contemporary décor, it is easy to silo Bottles and Barrels as a great place to dine or enjoy freshly brewed beers. But the place is much more than that! Sports aficionados can indulge in a game of pool while having unlimited fun, competing against other players who could well be your besties.

    Pool Table at Bottles and Barrels

  8. And while you’re basking in the magnificent culinary experience, make sure to sit besides a sleek water body specially crafted to soothe you into a perfect state of relaxation.

    Water Body

  9. My recommendations for what you should try at Bottles and Barrels include:
    • Appetizers
      • Chelo kebab served with four tangy dips – Beetroot Labneh (pink), Mint (Green), Hummus (Yellow), and Iranian (White) 

        Chelo Kebab with Four Tangy Dips

      • Thai Cheese Cigar Rolls with Thai sauce and Kimchi

        Thai Cheese Cigar Rolls with Thai Sauce and Kimchi

      • Phyllo Artichoke

        Phyllo Artichoke

      • Beer Battered Fish Fingers
        •  
        Beer Battered Fish Fingers

      • Grilled Cottage Cheese Skewers with Chili Sauce
    • Mains
      • Dal B&B (Combo of Dal Bukhara, Kabila, and Makhani)

        Dal B&B

      • Thai Chicken Curry

    • Cocktails
      • Whiskey Sour

    • Desserts
      • Date Pancake with Ice Cream

      • Kashmiri Phirni

  10. End your rendezvous on a perfect note by meeting Rohit Maingi, the man behind the stupendous success of Bottles and Barrels. Rohit recently brought the fourth edition of Beer Pong slam to Bottles and Barrels in association with Vh1 India and Koala Fight Media. The knockout of beer mugs in Gurgaon, according to Rohit, brought about a strong sense of participation, camaraderie, and bonding.
Rohit Maingi

Bottles and Barrels rates extremely high in terms of uniqueness of their offerings – be it food, ambiance, or entertainment.

Bottles and Barrels Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato