Mexiloko!

I have very little knowledge about mexico. My brushes with Mexico include Speedy Gonzalez, a few episodes from Breaking Bad and the 90s song by Carlos Santana, Maria Maria (Though I don’t think that’s a very good reference point. I don’t know if its Mexican at all to begin with.)

Let's be honest. Who doesn't love this guy?

Let’s be honest. Who doesn’t love this guy?

So today, when I was in Bandra, standing outside three restaurants, I was mentally weighing my options. Subway vs. Lebanese food. My friend asked if I wanted to try Mexican food. When I told her I had never ate it before, the decision had already been made. 

God sure knew what he was talking about

God sure knew what he was talking about

In a way, the restaurant reminded me of Harvey Dent from the Batman series. Half of the property was dedicated to the Mexican restaurant and the other half was dedicated to the Lebanese restaurant. It was like two children who shared a room had drawn a line down the middle of it after a particularly intense fight, but hey. This is Mumbai we’re talking about. This kind of thing can’t exactly be helped, I’m guessing.

Now the thing is, I’m not really welcoming to the idea of Mexican food because whenever I’ve tried it in restaurants or other places, I’ve never liked what I’d eaten. So this was a day of firsts in a way. In an effort to try and be at least a little frugal, my friend and I decided to order a shared meal for two. The meal consisted of two burritos, nachos and churros.

Best. Nachos. Ever.

Best. Nachos. Ever.

First up, served as an appetizer of sorts was nachos served to us in a black plastic basket. They were topped with chopped onions and tomatoes and topped with melted parmesan cheese. The quantity was so much that I began having doubts about whether we could actually finish the meal beyond all the nachos we were eating. These were hands down, the best nachos I’ve ever eaten. They weren’t too salty, too cheesy or too bland. The cheese was melted throughout and didn’t really became a coagulated mess even after it wasn’t hot.

The burrito was served with a jalapeno chilli dip and a tomato dip

The burrito was served with a jalapeno chilli dip and a tomato dip

While looking at it, the burrito reminded me of wraps I’ve eaten from places like Faasos, but it tasted entirely different. I opted for mine with potatoes and my friend opted for beans. The potato one didn’t have an overwhelmingly aaloo taste to it, surprisingly, but the flavours blended in perfectly with the other filling of the wrap. It wasn’t too spicy. It was in fact filled with a burst of flavours more than anything.

The best dessert I've had in a while.

The best dessert I’ve had in a while.

The churro felt so delicate that I thought it would crumble if I simply pinched a little harder. Served with a little pot of piping hot chocolate sauce and coated with sugar and the slightest dash of cinnamon, this dessert is the answer to any sweet tooth craving you could possibly have.

I just wish the restaurant had normal chairs. I know this is a really odd complaint, but all the chairs on that side of the restaurant were ridiculously high, as if they were masquerading as bar stools. For someone who is 5’2 and at times rather ungraceful, the chair proved to be quite a challenge in itself. Though admittedly, that is my only complaint with the restaurant. Good food, good service and economical fares made for an extremely good first tryst with Mexican food.

Flying high, gastronomically

The hospitality industry has always fascinated me. When I was invited to the LiteBites Airport food trail, I didn’t realise how much more about it I would be learning. A team of food bloggers explored the airport and had a chance to sample dishes from the various new food joints that were going to open there. Our journey began at around 2p.m and ended at around 4:45 pm! Quite an interesting day it turned out to be.

Café Istanbul Mezze- the three different types of hummus. I have a huge weakness for hummus and coupled with pita bread that was dry, light and of the perfect consistency, this was a dish I really enjoyed.

Pita bread and hummus from Cafe Istanbul

Pita bread and hummus from Cafe Istanbul

Pineapple Panna- was a nice mocktail served to us at the beginning. It was made of smoked pineapple and the glass had a frosted edge that consisted of salt and chat masala. Very interesting as I’ve been acquainted with pineapple in its fruity, less intense form. Smoking the pineapples gave it depth and dimension, which really made the mocktail intriguing.

Pineapple Panna

Pineapple Panna

 

Pesto and Cheddar on Tomato bread, Baker street- It was an adorable, perfect little light treat. The tomato slice lent it’s flavour to the rest of the elements, making sure the dish had a particular taste to look out for. The pesto was very well done, though the Cheddar hardly made its presence felt in this little bread based snack.

Chef Rashmi, working her magic on the Pesto cheddar `

Chef Rashmi, working her magic on the Pesto cheddar `

 

 

Quinoa and nut, Zesty Honey Mustard- This was the dish that didn’t work well for me because of my own personal bias. I don’t like honey mustard and the flavours of Quinoa didn’t appeal to me. If you enjoy these flavours, then it’s a lovely dish. The crumbly consistency makes it fun and easy to digest. The dish was well done. Just wasn’t my taste.

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Szechwan Noodle Bhel Spoons (Bottoms up)- This was presented in the most appealing manner, but I didn’t enjoy this dish. The noodles were slightly hard and it’s way too much to take in one mouthful. The Szechwan sauce tasted nice. Not too spicy with a bit of ginger.

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Mini Taco Salad (Flamez n Roasted)- This was so good, I had to ask for a second serving. The shells were of the perfect consistency- crisp and light without being too crunchy or too soggy. Topped with shredded cabbage and stuffed with onions and tomatoes, this was truly, a well-crafted dish.

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Zambar express was a restaurant that specialised in south indian food. It was something I was looking forward to since I’d been craving South Indian food for a while, what with being away from home and everything. I was not disappointed when I was served mini idlies with three different types of chutney. This dish earns bonus points for presentation because it was neatly wrapped in a banana leaf pouch, secured with toothpicks. The second dish was idiyappam with vegetable ishtew and it was truly reminiscent of home for me. Strong accents of coconut and carrots helped bring the dish home into a perfectly stylized version of the humble dish.

Miniature Kutchi Dabeli (Street foods by Punjab Grill)- my experiences with dabeli have been limited to street food, so finding it in this slightly fancy setting was a bit of a surprise. I enjoyed how the originality of the flavour was retained while it was given a few fancy touches that included sev and even a few pomegranate seeds!

Kutchi dabeli

Kutchi dabeli

Rajasthani Pyaaz Kachori, thanda Baingan Bharta (Naashto)- The presentation of this dish had the group of us excited because of its innovative presentation. It was admittedly, the yummiest kachori I’ve ever had. The cool Baingan Bharta on top added for an interesting contrast between the essences of the two vegetables. In fact, I don’t even like Baingan. The fact that I didn’t mind its presence says a lot about how I perceived the dish.

Onion kachori and thanda baingan bharta.

Onion kachori and thanda baingan bharta.

Grilled saffron Polenta, marinated tomatoes & basil (Fres Co) Polenta is a dough based dish and it was the first time I had tasted it. I wasn’t majorly impressed by the dish as it seemed slightly dry and didn’t leave a lasting impression on my palette.

Polenta- beautifully presented.

Polenta- beautifully presented.

 

So much delicious food.

So much delicious food.

 

We had a blast tasting all the food, but we needed a break. While some of us had green tea, I opted for my favourite comfort drink- hot chocolate!

My palette cleanser of choice- Hot chocolate!

My palette cleanser of choice- Hot chocolate from Baker’s street.

 

 

The lovely dessert platter we were served.

The lovely dessert platter we were served.

Banana pakoda, coconut jaggery cream (Zambar Express)- I’m normally used to fried bananas in a savoury context, so it was a refreshing change to try it as a dessert. The two perfectly complimented each other to make a melt in the mouth, deep fried combination.

Tres Leche, Berry Compote (Flamez n Roasted) I didn’t enjoy this dish as much as I should have as it felt soggy and a bit overly sweet.

Churma Saffron Ghee (Nashto)- a traditional dish brought to life by serving and presentation. The Churma was rich and melted in your mouth, true to its origins.

Salted caramel nankhatai (Baker street)- This was my favourite dessert of the lot. It had a crunchy, hard outer covering while the salty and sweet flavour appealed to much to the indecisive soul who resides within me.

 

Overall, the airport experience minus travel was truly memorable. We got to see so many interesting sights like the one below

The view from the international departure area

The view from the international departure area

 

A food truck in an airport!

A food truck in an airport!

 

The folks at LiteBite were nice enough to give us this amazing hamper at the end of it all to spread the Christmas cheer.

The folks at LiteBite were nice enough to give us this amazing hamper at the end of it all to spread the Christmas cheer.

 

 

Shubho Mahalaya

I first met a Bengali when I was 11. His name was Gogol Ganguli, and Jhumpa Lahiri spoke to me at great length about identity crises and generation gaps. That was the first time my curiousity was piqued by the culture as described in that book. I became increasingly fascinated with their expressive eyes, their ‘well-rounded’ language, their passion, their intellect and of course, their fierce love for Calcutta. The Namesake was my earliest exposure to Bengalis. Before I joined college at Symbiosis, never did I imagine that I would have the pleasure of meeting so many of them and that I would go on to become close friends with some of them.

So when you know as many Bengalis as I do, you’d know how they speak of home with an air of reminiscence and a twinge of nostalgia in their voices. Well, my beloved bongs took it a step further. They organised a feast, which is called ‘bhog’ to celebrate Mahalya.

So I went a step further and tried to find out what Mahalaya is all about. It’s an auspicious occasion observed seven days before Durga Puja. It was originally an invocation. When the demon king Mahisasura was increasingly cruel to the gods, the gods pleaded to Vishnu to annihilate this demon, unable to bear his tyranny. The Trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva came together to create a powerful female goddess with ten arms- Goddess Durga or Mahamaya. Goddess Durga rides on a lion to battle Mahisasura and then slays him. After he has been slayed, heaven and earth rejoice at her victory.

Such a victory of epic proportions would certainly not go uncelebrated here at Symbiosis International University!

First up, we were served Luchi. Luchi is the Bengali name for Puri and I didn’t really find it different from the puris I’ve had elsewhere, but they had less oil and I really appreciated that. The first dish to be served with it was Alur Dom. That’s the Bong version of dum Aloo. A dish that (incidentally) I’m not very fond of, but I bit into it nevertheless and I was pleasantly surprised. The gravy that the Alur was in was full of flavour and spice without being overwhelmingly spicy and the potato actually retained its natural flavour, hence adding a few sweet notes to the dish.

Luchi and Alur Dom

Luchi and Alur Dom

Next up we were served Khichuri, which is their version of Kichdi. I quite liked it because it was warm and I could taste the slightest trace of ghee somewhere there. My friend Jui directed me to eat the Khichuri with Labra. Labra is a mixed veg curry that had carrots, beans and a few other veggies. Again what I loved about the Labra, was how the true flavours of the vegetables came through beautifully, despite the fact that it was cooked with oil and spices. The vegetables retaining their flavours puts a very interesting spin on the dishes and they make them feel so much more organic and beautiful.

Khichuri

Khichuri

My personal favourite was the Bhaja. Bhaja was thin crispy potato fries served with roasted groundnuts and garnished with a hint of chilli powder. The potato melted in my mouth instantly and though one would think that the flavours of the groundnut and the potato would clash, they didn’t. They formed the most beautiful symphony in the simplest of snacks.

What a feast it was! Photo courtesy: Swastika De Sarkar

What a feast it was!
Photo courtesy: Megha Varier

The organisers, hard at work Photo courtesy: Swastika De Sarkar

The organisers, hard at work
Photo courtesy: Swastika De Sarkar

Overall, the experience was absolutely magical. It made me feel satiated without feeling stuffed and uncomfortable. I felt a sort of comfort that lulled me from deep within when I finished my meal. I may not be Bengali, I may not understand their language, but in those few beautiful fleeting moments when I was eating food, so lovingly served to me by my own friends, I finally felt like I was home.

 

The best foodie music ever

So instead of writing about food today, I’ve decided to try something slightly different. Here’s a list of songs that I love listening to while eating or when I’m having a fun night out in general.

1. Madari- Vishal Dadlani, Clinton Cerejo and Sonu Kakkar.

https://youtube.com/watch?v=L-9s4nTLSdA%3Ffeature%3Dplayer_embedded

This song obviously HAD to be the very first on this list because it is an eternal favourite. Everytime I hear it, my mood instantly perks up and I have to resist the urge to sing along because I can never get the words right.

2. Naan Nee- Madras

This mellow song is perfect for those days when you should be cuddling bae on a rainy evening, but you know you got Pizza, which is even more freakin awesome.

3. Wish you were here- Pink Floyd

One of my favourite things to do is to head over to the NCC canteen in Pune and just lose myself to a glass of coffee, listening to this masterpiece by Pink Floyd. Trust me when I say, it is nothing short of blissful.

4. We are Young- Fun

Night on the town? Check. Best High Heels on? Check. Favourite cocktail. Check. You are all set to belt out the words to this beautiful (should-be) teen anthem as you make the most of every moment of your night on the town.

5. Thode Bheege- Kaminey

[https://youtube.com/watch?v=juhpOvGTzSQ%3Ffeature%3Dplayer_embedded%22%3Ehttps%3A

If you ask me, this is one of the most underrated songs in the film. It’s one of the most beautiful melodies I have ever listened to. I like to listen to this song while its cold out and I’m cuddling under the covers with my favourite paperback novel and a mug of hot chocolate. Love, indeed.

6. Banana Pancakes- Jack Johnson

This is my absolute favourite Sunday morning song. It’s one of those light, happy, catchy songs that you can listen to while you contentedly munch on a delicious home-made Sunday brunch.

7. A beautiful mess- Jason Mraz

This is the kind of song I like listening to when I’m alone. It helps me feel like I’m listening to someone speaking to me, addressing me. Also, it sounds great when you’re eating it with Falafel.

8. Yellow- Coldplay

A song I could listen to on loop and not get tired of. Yellow by coldplay is, in my opinion one of their best tracks. Listen on a Saturday night in with your girlfriends with a tub of ice cream and a night filled with gossip and fun.

Have any tracks that go well with good food? Do drop a comment and let me know :)

The most non-veg things that have been said to me

Image courtesy: Zomato

I was going to write a long theoretical post about how non-vegetarians hardly ever seem to understand us vegetarians, but instead, I’ve decided to come up with something better. Here’s a list of the funniest things that people have said to me, with reference to vegetarianism.

1. “You’re a vegetarian? How do you live?”
– I’m Anti-Matter. You are the first to uncover my secret. Congratulations.
2. “Why don’t you just pick the chicken off and eat the pizza?” – On being offered a slice of chicken pizza.
– No. I ain’t touching that tainted pizza.
3. “This tastes like cow fodder”- When someone took a bite of my granola bar.
– Um Bro. You can’t ask to take a bite of my food and then insult it. That’s just wrong.
4. “I would never marry a vegetarian”- On discussing marriage with a male friend.
– You should list that on your next matrimonial ad. ‘Bride wanted: Fair, slim, carnivorous’

5. “Maybe they’ll have a paneer steak”- when a couple of friends were planning a trip to a restaurant whose speciality was steak.
– Thanks but no thanks
6. “Come over to the dark side… We have kebabs”- On being ‘persuaded’ to turn non-vegetarian.
– Tempting as that sounds, I’m sure my side has an equally delicious alternative. Vegetarians can be quite creative. 😉
7.”I can’t imagine my life without chicken… I don’t know how you do it.”
– I do it in the same way that I speak Turkish. I don’t speak Turkish.
8. I once complained that my salad felt raw because it had no dressing, and someone actually made a snide remark about how I should be used to it by now.
9. “A little chicken soup would make you feel much better”- when I was down in bed with a cold, during the rainy season, in hostel.
– Shut up and give me my meds.

10. “My food poops on your food. It’s the circle of life.”
– Real classy bro.

11. “How will you ever get any nutrition?”
– Oh Gosh, I don’t know- how about from the food I’ve been eating all my life?
12. I once asked a friend what chicken tastes like- “It’s like trying to explain what the meaning of life is.”

13. “Do you really think that the plants that you killed for your food haven’t been alive?”
– I bet that took every last bit of intellect you owned!
14. “Everytime I order something and you ask if its vegetarian.. It’s a little sad”- on being let down by a delicious looking non-vegetarian dish.
– Well excuse me for not wanting to eat food that had a face.

15. “You can’t call yourself a true foodie if you don’t eat non-vegetarian food”
– You. Over there, with the ignorant opinion. Shut up right now.
Food doesn’t discriminate. Food doesn’t care :) It’s all a choice you make. So guys, don’t forget to go easy on us vegetarians at the end of the day, because we all love you as much as we love our aloo and paneer. <3 Don’t forget to show some love. You can leave a comment and tell me what you think of the post.

Meet the Foodie

There are scores of people who can offer you ‘helpful’ unsolicited advice. “Follow your dreams”, “stay true to yourself!”, “Carpe Diem!”, “YOLO!”. These vague statements can be really confusing if you’re someone like me- 21, still kinda young, uncertain, and lost. However, there’s one thing in my life that has always been constant- my love for food. When I was younger, I was quite the fussy eater and my parents would have the toughest time getting me to eat right. Can you believe I refused to touch Pizza till  I was in second grade? *shudders*. Luckily, time has passed and standards have dropped. I am now an eggetarian who will eat anything anywhere, as long as it doesn’t contain meat. (If you’re going to come to me and argue that eggs are non-vegetarian, don’t bother. They’re amongst my favourite foods.)


It was when I was 11 that my love for writing came to the forefront. Incidentally, my first poem was about a trip to the bakery 😀 It was fun writing it indeed. There is literally nothing I love in the world more than food. (Sorry boys 😉 )

Nothing describes me more accurately



I have a pretty amazing relationship with food- I love eating good food, I’m interested in trying new dishes and I enjoy baking/cooking occasionally (read as almost never). Starting this blog was my sister’s idea. I jokingly told her that I would love a job that paid me to eat good food. She looked me straight in the eye and told me not to wait around for a job like that, so here I am, actually going after my dream- writing about food.


Allow me to introduce myself-my name is Aishwarya. I’m currently pursuing my Master’s degree in Journalism at Symbiosis Institute of Media and Communication, Pune. [It only looks like I have my stuff sorted. Trust me, I don’t]. I was born in Hyderabad, and I’ve lived in Kerala, but Chennai is my hometown and my heart beat. Oh, how I love this beautiful city of mine! Moving to Pune was hard, but it was worth it. Now I’ve grown to like Pune just as much as I like Chennai, thanks to the people in it. Almost all my friends are like minded foodies and we love exploring new places and trying new things together.
Us, happy after binge eating at Barbeque nation.

As far as food is concerned, chocolate milk, dosas and thayir sadam (curd rice) are my biggest weaknesses. My tam-brahmness betrays me in this regard. I would willingly give up anything in the world except these things! However, “Variety is the spice of life. That gives it all its flavor” said William Cowper, an English poet. Well, I believe that taking this quote a little literally and applying it to food makes life worth living. I strongly believe in the fact that life can be one crazy adventure, and I hope you enjoy reading my blog as much as I know I’m going to enjoy writing it.

Also, always remember this