31 March, 2015

Guest Column: Deccan Chronicle

Today's column in the Deccan Chronicle had me talk with Sandeep Madhavan from Mode AKA who've put together a fabulous track for the upcoming Byomkesh Bakshy movie. I got his views on how Bollywood is starting to be more open to music from indie artists.

30 March, 2015

Gig Review: Amit Heri Trio at B-flat, B'lore

This particular gig featured the Amir Heri trio play at B-Flat. the trio comprised of  Amit Heri on guitars, Ranjit Barot on drums and Karim Elaboudi on keys. The house was surprisingly packed compared to other gigs of this nature. while the musicians seemed to have spent minimum time in rehearsing together (which they admitted), they had a blast jamming away on stage - such is the beauty of jazz and the mastership of music that every member of the trio possessed. What did get to me a bit on some of the songs was the lack of a dedicated bass player that would have taken those songs from mind-blowing to (as Russell Peters puts it) mind-blasting. There was even a guest appearance by Kartik Mani. This was a really fun gig to be at and at the end I was absolutely floored by the quality of music being made. Here are some pics from the gig.

29 March, 2015

Food Mood: Aperitivo Evening with Peroni Nastro Azzurro, Bang at Ritz Carlton, B'lore

I was recently invited to an Aperitivo Evening sponsored by Peroni Nastro Azzurro at the Bang located at the Ritz Carlton. This was the first time I have been to the fabulous venue here and simply loved everything about the location. Towering over the centre of Bangalore, the venue was apt for an evening of fine Peroni beer along with some fabulous Italian appetizers. I also got to take look at some of the art work by Shola Carletti, an Italian painter and sculptor. My knowledge of art is limited to doodles and comic books, so lest I come across as a philistine, I’d better not comment on the same. 

As far as the appetizers go, Chef Anupam had put together an excellent fare. I really enjoyed this little starter made out of duck and fig. The little pastry had three distinct flavours as you bite through. The immediate flavour is that of the fig. This slowly gets replaced by the taste of the duck and finally the taste of the pastry. I also enjoyed an appetizer which had a prawn over a shot glass, the contents of which were beer and tomato extract. The shot itself wasn’t strong, but the taste complemented the prawn excellently. There were numerous other appetizers that evening. An excellent end to the evening was the Tiramisu which was made fresh and left a fabulous taste in the mouth.  Overall, it was a fun evening of meeting people, copious amounts of Peroni beer, great food and great music. Here are some pictures from the evening.

Chef Anupam (center) with fellow food bloggers Natasha and Nitin

Food Mood: Tiger Trail, at the Royal Orchid Hotel, B'lore

Over the weekend, I was invited to a bloggers meet at the newly opened Tiger Trail restaurant at the Royal Orchid Hotel. I have fond memories of going to the other Tiger Trail restaurant at another property when I was a kid. It also happened to be one of my dad’s favourites. All that nostalgia had me looking forward to the evening.

Located in the lawns of the Royal Orchid, the restaurant has a nice segregated outdoor feel. Surrounded by trees and shrubs, the gazebos and tables are very cozy, ideal for an intimate dinner. However, with summer approaching a big worry was the mosquitoes in the evening, they did not disappoint. That aside, the setting is quite lovely. We were welcomed with choice of drinks between a really heavy lassi and a fabulous aam panna. Normally, the aam panna is a bit bitter, but this particular blend hit the perfect note between sweet and bitter. I shamelessly ordered two more large glasses through the evening. Or was it three? For those of you who are wondering if they serve liquor, they do have a compact bar with a few whiskeys, rums and a wine. Not the most extensive collection, but I’m guessing they would add to the same as time goes by.

Lassi and Aam Panna

Chef Rana Gomes had put together an abridged version of the regular menu for the bloggers present. The restaurant menu is largely inspired from the Awadhi style of cooking. I started off with the Tunde Kabab. While the kabab itself was alright, it still missed the authentic Lucknow style. And that was a little disappointing. To be honest, I’ve not come across any kabab place in Bengaluru whose Tunde Kabab has come even close to the real thing. This was followed by a vegetarian starter, the Tarana Kabab. This comprised of baby corn, broccoli and paneer marinated in yogurt and spices. While the recipe itself isn’t unique, the taste was quite different from other similar preparations I’ve had. I’m not sure what exactly the spices were, but the combination was quite delightful. I always despise it when the vegetarian starter is better than the non veg starter. (No offence meant to the vegetarians). There was another non veg starter, the Murgh Gulnar which was your average chicken tikka kabab with some additional spices. This was accompanied by the Shakarkandi Kabab which was potato cubes marinated in spices and cooked in a tandoor. I even had a small helping of the Murgh Yakhani Shorba soup. Overall, the starters were a little above average, but the Tarana Kabab stood out as something I recommend.

Tunde Kabab

Shakarkandi Kabab

Murgh Gulnar

Tarana Kabab

For the main course, I started off with the Chaap Noorani – a preparation of lamb in cashew cream and butter. The lamb was very tender and had soaked in the gravy quite well, taking on the flavour. The gravy itself is on the sweeter side and is quite rich in flavour. For those who prefer a spicier dish, this would not be the one for you. But I did enjoy this particular dish. There was also a Murgh Korma which was rather mellow in taste compared to the normal spiciness one would expect. I do understand from the chef that most local palettes are used to a little more spice in their cooking. However, the Awadhi style is more muted. I also tried the Paneer Khurchan which was a very homely preparation of onion, capsicum and tomato gravy with paneer. While the dish itself sounds quite basic, the taste was very nice and the spice levels were higher than the rest of the dishes in the main course. 

Chaap Noorani

Chef Rana Gomes

The best part of the meal, and the one big reason I would recommend folks to try the Tiger Trail is for their Indian Breads. I’ve not come across such a diverse collection and this was the superstar of the meal. The bread basket consisted of four varieties of breads, each which had a unique taste. The first bread was a Taftan, a bread with a lovely taste of sweetened milk flavoured with a hint of saffron. Second was the Chironji Naan, a naan sprinkled with chrironji seeds. I rather enjoyed the third bread which was the Ajwani Naan which was fluffy, and the dough was made of milk and egg. The final bread was the Tashkent naan which had a very nice earthy taste as it was cooked in a clay pot. Tiger Trail has made the effort to get chefs all the way from Lucknow to make their breads. The recipes are family secrets and are not shared with the rest of the team. And this definitely makes it stand apart from the rest of the meal, and the rest of the breads at other restaurants. If not for anything, definitely visit Tiger Trail to try out these breads. A big plus point with the muted gravies is that the taste of the breads comes through.

The BRILLIANT bread basket

Awadhi Lamb Biryani

Before we hit the dessert, I had a helping of the Awadhi Lamb Biryani. While the flavour of the rice did not thrill me too much, the lamb was very tender, very tasty and had a nice hint of saffron through the meat. I wasn’t a big fan, especially after the stellar Indian breads. Dessert was quite simple with a serving of kulfi and another serving of gulab jamun. The former was quite good, but the latter was way too sweet for my taste buds. 

Overall, the big plus points of Tiger Trail for me, were the ambience and the breads. The restaurant is just a few weeks old, but they’ve got the service in place. The food is relatively mild on the spice levels, so those of you looking to set your taste buds on fire, this isn’t the place to be. It’s a good start and I would like to go back after a few months to see if they’ve remained true to the Awadhi style of cooking or have they upped the spice levels to suit the local palate. Do not miss the breads here!

Guest Column: Deccan Chronicle

Earlier this week, another article I had written for the Deccan chronicle appeared. In this article, I wrote about the three big albums that released over the last three months and my thoughts about them.

20 March, 2015

Gig Pix: Nouvelle Vague

Nouvelle Vague is one of the bands that I've come across recently whom I absolutely enjoyed from the word 'go'! This French-based cover band have a very interesting take on the music they cover. The band takes rock and pop songs from the 60's and 70's and puts their own twist to each song by giving it a very South Americna bossa nova groove to it. They've covered songs such as Master and Servant by Depeche Mode, Human Fly by The Cramps, Dancing with Myself by Billy Idol and even Uncovered by Queens of the Stone Age.

The band played at the opening of the Le Meridien Hotel in Gurgaon this evening. They also happen to have written the music that plays in all Le Meridien Hotels world wide. Overall, this was a high-energy gig that had everyone dancing away from the time the first note was played.

The band has been founded by by musicians Marc Collin and Olivier Libaux who've worked with numerous vocalists and musicians over the years to breathe new life into songs. Here are some (meaning  'quite a lot') pictures from the gig.