Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Authentic Marwar on your table at The Westin Pune

Rush ahead to catch your table for The Flavours of Marwar – a special food festival at Kangan, The Westin Pune Koregaon Park. It is on only till July 31. Taste the authentic essence of Marwar.

Daal Baati Churma
Most would obviously think greasy but delicious vegetarian fare when we hear the words ‘Marwar Cuisine’. It is more than the typical Marwar fare you might eat at your friend’s place. It is a healthy mix of both veg & non-veg fare which can be tasted at Kangan, the Indian food restaurant at The Westin Pune Koregaon Park. The reputed five-star hotel has already started its Marwar Food Festival called The Flavours of Marwar. It is on till July 31, 2016.

Jugalbandi Kebab
A word of warning – if you are on diet, this is the best meal to break it. The appetizers just get you thinking & wanting for more. The winner is the Pathar Ka Soola which is lamb slices marinated in spices & grilled to perfection. It appears like Tandoori Chicken. But the tenderly cooked lamb just melts in your mouth and leaves a well-cooked spice flavour. The same can be said about Jugalbandi Kebab which is an interesting combo of lamb & chicken mince (yup, mouth already has started watering) treated with mild spices and cooked on skewers. While the kebab might remind you of Malai kebab, the lamb-chicken combo leaves a lasting taste due to the spice mix. I personally also loved the Marwari Seekh which again is an interesting blend of veggies and dry fruits which is then roasted in Tandoor. I loved the fact that the veggies & dry fruits could be tasted independently. Other two options – Mirchi Vada and Jodhpuri Paneer Tikka – were neat but I was too impressed by the other kebabs. What went well with the starters were the special drinks. I tried out the Kalakhatta which was more of well-made & easygoing Jeera drink.

The main course had a tough, according to me, to live up to the well-done appetizers. The winning
main courses are two, as per my view. The first is the obvious Rajasthani specialty Laal Maas or red meat gravy. I loved the well-made lamb which had absorbed the rich spicy gravy. The Achaari Ker Sangri is a twist to a special Rajasthani delicacy. The tangy taste of Ker Sangri (a typical Rajasthani vegetable) works well with the Achaari (pickle) flavour. The very popular Dal Baati Churma which is the face of Rajasthani cuisine is another winner. Well spiced Dal and Baati works well for the appetite and even better if you add the churma. Murgh Makai Soyta which is a mild preparation of boneless chicken cooked in spices might be an interesting option to choose as it does not overpower your palate. The mild preparation might not excite many as you have strongly spiced options but I loved this very aspect. The rest of the main course – Papad Mangodi (moong dal dumpling in mild yellow gravy) and Jodhpuri Gatta Curry (Bengal gram dumpling in spicy yoghurt gravy) were good but I already was wowed by other dishes.

Maave Ke Ghewar
The icing on the Rajasthan cuisine was the absolutely delightful Maave Ke Ghewar – a traditional sweet from the region but given a twist here. This sweet made from cottage cheese has milk reduction added to it and is covered with saffron & pistachios. The result is a sweet delight to die for. Not overwhelmingly sweet but just right for the sweet tooth, I loved this sweet option tremendously.

Those looking for a good Marwari food should visit Kangan at The Westin Pune Koregaon Park for their absolutely delightful The Flavours of Marwar which is on till July 31, 2016. Rush Quickly for a fabulous meal!

VENUE: Kangan, The Westin Pune Koregaon Park, Mundhwa
TIMING: 6.30 PM to 11.30 PM

CONTACT020 30189197

Monday, July 25, 2016

Chakhna & Fine Dining

Try the Chakhna food option at Punjab Grill at Phoenix Market City, Viman Nagar if you want to go beyond its fine dining experience and have a budget to lookout for.

Terrace of Punjab Grill
Adding something extra is always welcome, especially when it comes to good food. Punjab Grill which happens to be a known & well-liked gourmet fine dining restaurant has been wowing Punekars as it was recently launched at Phoenix Market City, Viman Nagar. Apart from catering to fine diners looking for some fantastic Northern food delights, the eatery has recently launched their terrace for a more casual dining experience with food options of its own. Punjab Grill belongs to the house of Lite Bite Foods.

As mentioned before, the terrace has casualness attached to it with casual sitting and soft music being played. The food is quintessentially North Indian with drinks similar to it. The food launched by the brand is the new ‘Chakhna’ menu which goes with the whole mood along with starting price of Rs. 100. The chow ranges from quirky desi-videshi combo drinks to total Desi Chakhnas & snacks.

Tandoori Kukkad Wings 
In the Rs. 100 options, your options are very typical but interesting. You have the Classic Masala Peanuts Kaffir Lime Scented, Mixed Seeds Chana Zor Garam, Chhalli Masalewali Corn on the Cobs and Masala Ande Corn Meal Toast. While all tasted good, the Mixed Seeds Chana Zor Garam was perfectly spiced and tangy for my taste while the Masala Ande was just like one like and went well with the Corn Meal Toast. Chakhna never got better. The beverages for Rs. 100 were Kingfisher Draught Beer Mug, Blender’s Pride, Smirnoff Vodka, White Rum, Dark Rum and Gin. Pick your poison for a lovely evening.

Then, I tried the main North Indian bite sized meals to spice up the evening. I loved the spicy flavour which enhanced the sweetness of pineapple in the Tandoori Pineapple with Shashlik (Rs. 250). I found the Paneer Ke Soole (Rs. 250) like any paneer starter – not bad, but nothing great either. Vegetarian or not, everyone has to try the Chukandar Ke Kebab (Rs. 250) which is delicately flavoured Beetroot kebab with yoghurt filling. This melt-in-your-mouth kebab allows every individual ingredient to wow you.

Ambarsari Macchi Desi Aloo Chips 
For the non-vegetarians, the options would be more and equally good. Try the Chicken 3 Ways (Rs. 300) which had Haryali Kebab, Malai Kebab and Tandoori Chicken. All well, the Chicken Haryali Kebab had the green Masala well prepared & applied. I loved the slightly spicy with a hint of honey (I presume) on the Tandoori Kukkad Wings (Rs. 300). Though prepared well and with not too overwhelming spices, the Kotkapure Da Atta Chicken (Rs. 300) was not my cup of tea. For the uninitiated, it is chicken cooked inside an atta or flour coating and then broken open. The Ambarsari Macchi Desi Aloo Chips (Rs. 400) again was typically spiced fish pick-me-ups which would have been better with less salt. It went well with the aloo chips.

Seating Arrangements
Everyone on the table agreed on the beverages or special cocktails being quite an agreeing factor the delicacies. The Nimboo Ka Achaar Caipiroska (Rs. 350) is the piece-de-resistance. The tangy spiciness of the pickle added a unique charm to the vodka cocktail. The Bloody Mary (Rs. 350) was a bloody good Bloody Mary with a strong hint of curry leaves. Those who love their usual dose of JD & Coke can go for Matka Jack (Rs. 650). There is also Punjabi Krantt (Rs. 350) and Dangar Dose (Rs. 400).

Overall, the slightly hatke experience of eating snacky bite size food was good. It was couple with live music on the day I visited. Some might feel to question to need to visit a rather fine diner for Chakhna. But what matters here are well-prepared food and a fantastic complete experience for an enjoyable evening. Punjab Grill can definitely be that option for those with budget.

Venue: Punjab Grill, Level 2, Phoenix Market City, Viman Nagar
Contact: 020 66890610 

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Pune Events Listings

Here are the latest events happening in Pune. Choose your favourite for a great time… 

Fiddlecraft is back on Saturday at AFK, the newest, happening run-of-the-mill pub in town in Nagar Road. Fiddlecraft is coming up with their new track.  
WHERE: Alter Figo Kresyndo, Nyati Unitree, Near TCS and Gunjan Chowk, Nagar Road
WHEN: July 23, 2016
TIMINGS: 8 PM Onwards

L’Alliance Francaise de Pune & Pune Music Society invite jazz enthusiasts to the free concert of French band EYM Trio consisting of Elie Dufour (piano), Yann Phayphet (double bass) and Marc Michel (drums). They are influenced by legends like Duke Ellington, Chick Correa, Michel Petrucciani, and modern musicians and bands like Avisha├» Cohen, E.S.T, and Joshua Redman.
WHEN: July 26, 2016
WHERE: Mazda Hall, Camp

Alto Vino, the Italian restaurant of JW Marriott Pune offers a new Italian Set Menu. The Italian treat will present a five course hand crafted menu with exclusive pre-plated food. Alto Vino’s resident Chef Christian Huber knows just the right tricks to impress the visitors. Head to JW Marriott Pune’s specialty Italian restaurant ‘Alto-Vino’ to delight your taste buds with an all new set Italian meal.
WHERE: Alto Vino, JW Marriott Pune
WHEN: Till July 31, 2016
TIMING: 7:30 PM Onwards
PRICING: Vegetarian Set Menu: INR 2000++; Non-Vegetarian Set Menu: INR 2500++; Wine Paired Menu: INR 3500++
FOR RESERVATIONS, CALL:  020 6683 3333​

There is another bout of international artists at Phoenix Marketcity Pune, as this time around Phoenix has invited Ukraine artist Anna Zherebtsova for an experiential act. Anna while standing on a 10 ft pole will enthralls the crowd with her acrobatic dance moves.
WHERE: Phoenix Marketcity, Pune, Atrium 5, Lower Ground, Nagar Road
WHEN: July 23, 2016
TIMING: 6:00 PM Onwards  


Revel in your Saturday​ at ​HUB​ by listening to the artistic Balalaika Band, as they have tagged themselves as a 5 piece ‘Experimental Rock’ band, with Kapil (vocals), Swapnil (drums), Aalaap (lead guitars/midi keys effects), Karthik (Rhythm Guitar) and Amit (Bass Guitar).​
Where: 4th Floor, Xion Mall and Multiplex, Next to Taj Gateway, Hinjawadi road.Pune.
When: 2 3rd July, ​ 2016
Time: 8pm onwards
For more information please contact: 07888032991, 7888032992

To publish listings here, please email to

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

On a Persian Food Trail at The Westin Pune Koregaon Park

The Persian Food Festival called A Persian Feast at Seasonal Tastes at The Westin Pune Koregaon Park will delight you with its authentic tastes. Rush now as it lasts till July 24

Persian cuisine has come to town for a few days. Known for its diversity, many Asian cuisines have borrowed dishes and cooking styles from the grand Persian kitchen. And bringing that to the Puneri table is The Westin Pune Koregaon Park which has its Persian food fest going on titled A Persian Feast. You need to rush in to their restaurant Seasonal Tastes as the festival gets over by July 24. Special guest chef has been called from Grand Sheraton Bangalore – Chef Subimon.

Vegetarians & non-vegetarians are in for a treat as the menu has sufficient dishes to delight your taste buds. The special bloggers table organised started with the middle-eastern staple – Mezze. We were served the basic – Hummus & Babaganoush, while others – Burani Spinach, Kashka Badanjan, Mutabla, Muhamara and Kashkabadigan – too were presented. While the Hummus & Babaganoush were as authentic as ever, the Kashka Badanjan (also made from Brinjal), Mutabla and Muhamara (rep pepper & walnut dip) were simply superb. It was served with superbly prepared pita bread. Ashe Adas which is an amazingly prepared Lentil Soup could be a meal in its own.

The starters were better too. The Joojhe Kebab, though well-made, tasted similar to a well-made chicken kebab. The Falafal & Kibbeh were just the way it should taste like – delicately spicy. The Paneer Sabsi Kebab tasted just like any normal well-prepared Paneer Tikka. Fatayer had to be the pick of the Kebabs. This small pie for easy eating had an interesting filling of spinach and feta cheese. Mahi Kebab (Deep Fried Fish Kebab) was as tender as it gets but could do with less salt. The Iranian Chicken Shawarma was so soft and had chicken, yoghurt and spices deftly mixed.

We turned to the main course which had delicious & fragrant Saffron Rice & Baghali Polo Veg as the base. The Ghormeh Sabzi, an Iranian veggie dish, happens to be Iran’s national dish and has leafy veggie with spices. Other dishes like Ghereh Badanjan, Khoresh Maigo & Veg Salona worked well.

Time for some desserts! The very popular Baklava was the winner – rich with dry fruits and sweet but not too much. Omali which is the Iranian rice pudding was good but pale as compared to Baklava.

Do visit the Persian Food Festival at Seasonal Tastes at The Westin Pune Koregaon Park, if you want to taste some enjoyably genuine Persian delights.  

VENUE: Season Tastes, The Westin Pune Koregaon Park
DATE: Till July 24, 2016
TIMING: 24 Hours

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Indian Cuisine Deciphered

Writer Colleen Taylor Sen speaks to Sapna Sarfare regarding her latest book Feasts and Fasts: A History of Food in India which reveals Indian cuisine like no other book.

Much has been written about Indian cuisine. Yet, not all these books & their authors can claim to be an authority on the subject. Colleen Taylor Sen is an exception. A Canadian-American translator & author, Colleen has written vastly on Indian cuisine including 6 books. Despite her Slavic Studies educational background, it is her prolific writing on different topics she is renowned for.
Her latest book, Feasts and Fasts: A History of Food in India explores Indian cuisine keeping in mind India’s religious, social and other growth, along with topics like vegetarianism, street food, festivals & food, and so on. Colleen speaks about this project which puts focus on Indian cuisine once again.

A lot is always being spoken about Indian cuisine. How does your book differ in that sense?
Despite the growing surge of interest in Indian cuisine and history, the only other comprehensive work on the subject is the late K.T. Achaya’s wonderful book Indian Food, written over 20 years ago in 1994, and followed by his Historical Dictionary of Indian Food (1998). By contrast, dozens of books have been written on the history of other national cuisines. Achaya’s book covers the food of certain regions in depth, especially his native Karnataka, but devotes less attention to other cuisines such as Bengali, Assamese and tribal cuisines. I know that my own book has similar shortcomings and hope that many other people are inspired to write histories of not just Indian cuisine but their regional and even local cuisines, drawing upon original sources.

What are the aspects of the book which will tempt food lovers and readers alike?
The book has a lot of anecdotes, historic recipes, and even poems. My favorites include an ode to ghee from the Rig Veda and a whimsical argument among leafy vegetables about which is the superior in a 16th century Sanskrit treatise called the Ksemakutuhalam (Diet and Wellbeing.). Feasts and Fasts is also lavishly illustrated with photographs and paintings. 

How tough was it to write a book like this considering the sheer vastness of the cuisine?
Colleen Taylor Sen
It was very challenging. I have been writing about Indian food for over 30 years and accumulated a lot of material in the process, but  it still required a great deal of research. It took me three years to write it. I was limited to translations into English but on occasion asked native speakers, such as my husband who is Bengali and a friend who is a professor of Sanskrit for help. Some of the existing translations are poor because the translators were not cooks and didn’t know how to translate culinary terms. 

Any aspect(s) which surprised or amused you?
I was surprised by many things. Some people think that Kebabs came with the Mughals, but in fact, meal grilled on skewers over a fire goes back thousands of years to Vedic times. Also, in classical Ayurvedic medicine, meat and even alcohol was part of some cures. As an 11th century Ayurvedic physician wrote, “The recommendations of medicine are not intended to help someone achieve virtue (dharma). What are they for, then? They are aimed at achieving health.”

Your educational background is different from what you write currently. How did the process towards writing on food start?
Although my educational background is in Slavic languages, I was familiar with the techniques of scholarly research and writing and this was very helpful. I started writing about Indian food for newspapers and magazines in the United States decades ago, when very few people were doing so, and eventually adopted a more scholarly approach to the subject by writing several books.

Has your foray into writing about Indian food come from the fact that you are married to an Indian?
It very much comes into it. My husband is Bengali and has been very interested in food since childhood. His late mother Arati Sen was a well known Bengali journalist who wrote a widely-read column in the magazine Desh under the pen name Srimati. She wrote a lot about food and even introduced me to the late Kundal Lal Gujral, founder of the iconic Moti Mahal restaurant. 

Indian food still has not reached the global status. As an authority on Indian cuisine, what do think?
That is a very good and much debated question which Professor Krishnendu Ray explores in his recent book Ethnic Food. In the United Kingdom, Indian food is, of course, very popular both as an everyday food and as haute cuisine. London alone has several Michelin-starred Indian restaurants. In the United States, Indian food is less popular. One reason is that India is less familiar to Americans than to the British for whom it is part of their history. Another is that other cuisines have long gained a popular foothold in the U.S., especially Chinese, Mexican and Thai. I believe that one way Indian food will become more popular here is via street food both in food trucks and restaurants that serve Kathi Rolls and other wraps, Bhelpuri, and similar dishes.

Colleen Taylor Sen’s latest book Feasts and Fasts: A History of Food in India is out in the market. Visit her website for more information on her and her work.

Feasts and Fasts: A History of Food in India
AUTHOR: Colleen Taylor Sen
PUBLISHER: Reaktion Books
PUBLISHED: January 2015
GENRE: Food, History, Culture
LANGUAGE: English 
PRICE: Rs 562
PAGES: 352 

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Pune Events Listings

Here are the latest events happening in Pune. Choose your favourite for a great time… 

Learn to bake different textured and flavored cookies and biscotti all by yourself with the help from Nims Cake n Craft and their Premium Cookies Workshop. Their chefs will do a semi hands-on workshop and prepare some yummy cookies like Honeybee Cookies, Almond N Pistachio Biscotti, Double Chocolate Chunk, French Stick Cookies and Crisp Coconut Cookies. 
WHEN: July 16
WHERE: Nims Cake n Craft, Jangli Maharaj Road
CONTACT: 8888884747

Act One Scene One  brings to you Jungle Book 2 – The Beast Attacks, a play with a twist in life of
Mowgli. The musical adaptation in Hindi & English takes you through Mowgli’s journey of coming back to jungle and finding himself entwined in Sher Khan’s evil plan. Well-known actors such as Kavin Dave and Anjum Sharma play Baloo and Sher Khan respectively, while Mowgli is played by Mohit Agarwal.
WHEN: July 17 2016
WHERE: Nehru Memorial Hall, Atur Foundation House, Dr. Ambedkar Road, Camp
TIMING: 5 PM Onwards   
FOR TELE-BOOKING, CONTACT: 9270429000. For online bookings, visit (Special discounts available for Indian Armed Forces, Senior Citizens & Differently Abled.)

The demand of Yoga teachers has grown exponentially over the last few  years. Join Yogi Pashupatinath at Om Studio for free orientation sessions to discover exciting career prospects in this growing field of alternative yoga and the potential it holds for your growth. 
WHEN – July 16–17 2016
CONTACT: 8390000401

Punjab Grill has introduced an exciting new ‘Chakhna’ menu with dishes priced at Rs. 100! Savor the true taste of Punjab with unique bar grub like Amritsari Macchi with Desi Aloo Chips, Channa Zor Garam, Tandoori Kukkad Wings, Kotkapure Da Atta Chicken among others with your drinks. Enjoy the menu to experience the essence & magic of North Indian food with drinks for a fun-filled, laidback evening!
WHERE: Punjab Grill Pune, Viman Nagar

Tune up your Saturday night with Raagalogik, a band formed by Ashish & Aditya with an intention to represent classical music in a different manner. The band fuses classical music with different genres like progressives, jazz, blues etc. Catch the very talented performance at HUB Pune.
WHEN: July 16 2016
WHERE: HUB Pune, 4th Floor, Xion Mall and Multiplex, Next to Taj Gateway, Hinjewadi Road
TIMING: 8 PM Onwards 
FOR RESERVATIONS, CONTACT: 07888032991, 7888032992

To publish your listings here, please email me to

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Le Meridien Pune Presents Hyderabadi Food Festival till July 16 2016

An exciting offering from the land of the Nizams with Le Meridien Pune's Deccan delights through their Hyderabad Food Festival. Visit while you can till July 16.

It is always exciting to hear from Le Meridien Pune when it comes from delicious food. This time, it is their Hyderabad Food Festival which will be serving Deccani delights from the land of the Nizams. For this, they have invited a specially talented chef from Hyderabad, Chef Yadaiah Bandaruof from The Westin Hyderabad Mindspace. Started on July 9, it will continue till July 16. Reserve the evenings from 7 PM onwards for the sumptious spread. 

On a visit to taste the delights, the buffet served along with their normal buffet has all the famous delicacies which the city's food is famous for. The best part is that the menu will keep on changing daily. Be prepared to be surprised daily. 

I loved the Kache Gosht Ki Biryani which was delicately flavoured and was quite light to eat. The meat was as tender as it gets. Nothing is as tempting as this Biryani. Vegetarians too have option. The Khatti Dal too was well-prepared and not overwhelmingly khatti. The Kheema Kaleji got my thumbs up for being a change from the usual kheema you get. Spicy but not too overwhelming, it just got me craving for me. The varied kebab and other starters out of chicken, fish and veggies were good for the weather. I loved the Lamb Shorba which was as delicately flavoured as the Biryani. But it is not for beating the rainy weather. The dessert counter was icing on the Hyderabadi food cake. The Sheer Korma is just unbeatable. Sweet but not too sweet, it had all the ingredients made to perfection. The Lauki Barfi just did not get my attention. 

As mentioned before, the menu offers a lot more than mentioned here and will keep changing to keep everyone interested. The chef has made sure that the spiciness is kept in control so that everyone can try things out without calling for the fire brigade. He has kept things authentic so you know that eating is unadulterated fun. Go on and keep your evenings free to attend to the Hyderabadi Food Festival at Le Meridien. 

WHERE: Feast, Le Meridien, Raja Bahadur Mill Road, Sangamwadi
WHEN: Till July 16, 2016
TIMING: From 7 PM Onwards