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What makes me love a Pizza? January 30, 2016

Posted by simarp in : Food , 1 comment so far
Making of a great Pizza

What makes me Love a Pizza

  1. Crust: It has to be thin crust. I don’t want to eat a bread or a piece of cake, just because it is called a Pizza.
  2. Fresh: Everything has to be fresh, except the dough. Nothing canned or processed, even the cheese.
  3. Hand Tossed: Just roll it and toss it.
  4. Base: No burnt base please, I don’t eat charcoal, brown is good.
  5. Dough: At least 72 hours before it goes into oven. Made today, served today dough doesn’t bring in the natural tang, which I love.
  6. Cheese: Fresh mozzarella.
  7. Chicken: Marinated with herbs and grilled.
  8. Tomatoes: Flavorful Husky Cherry Red Tomatoes or any other flavorful tomatoes.
  9. Basil: At least an inch long fresh basil leaves
  10. Sauce: No canned or processed. Fresh sauce made with tomatoes, herbs and crushed red chili in Olive oil.
  11. Red Chili: No flakes, just smoked & baked with the Pizza red chili cuts

Two, three, four 6″ pizzas please, 8″ would also do, but nothing more than 8″ in size.

 

Patanjali and Us January 12, 2016

Posted by simarp in : Food, Marketing , add a comment

My this post is a kind of comment/response to an article by Ravi Ananthanarayanan – Patanjali mountain or molehill? Article was published today in Mint.

Baba Ram Dev’s brand is definitely entering households, it is a slow and steady multi product entry. For my family it has entered our kitchen and replaced one FMCG brand – Dabur and two “any brands” would do to Patanjali is better. We have moved from Dabur Honey to Patanjali Ayurved and we have moved from “brand doesn’t matter” Amla Juice and Aloe Vera Juice to Patanjali Ayurved brand Amla Juice and Patanjali Ayurved brand Aloe Vera Juice. That is about Rs 1,500 per month of FMCG spend from a total of Rs 15,000.00 – Rs 20,000.00 spend. 10% share in our household which has no pro Ramdev sentiment is great for Patanjali Ayurved. All the three products are recommendations by my wife’s dietitian and endorsed by me. So, it is a word of mouth for us.  We definitely use over 300 products in our home in four FMCG lines which Patanjali Ayurved operates in, mostly brands and almost all bought at least 3 times a year. So out of 300, Patanjali Ayurved has a 1% share. Patanjali Ayurved’s two of four categories have us as buyers, Juices and Food. We don’t buy any cosmetics or any Ayurveda medicinal products from them.

One FMCG major has lost about Rs 12,000.00 p.a. account, that is Dabur for Honey, which has been built over 3 decades or more. That business has moved lock stock and barrel to Patanjali Ayurved. For juices, we don’t even know who the loser is, we bought what was available at a local grosser or a chemist or a modern retail outlet.

Here are some questions I landed putting to myself. Having done that I flipped my laptop around and sat on the opposite chair to answer them inline.

  1. Are we inclined to move to Patanjali from MDH if they come to Masalas? No, we are happy with MDH quality and price for this range doesn’t matter.
  2. Are we likely to move over  tea & coffee purchases to Patanjali as and when their products are freely available? No, it has taken us ages to get our combinations and tastes right. We know when we need Bru and when we need Nescafe and when we need premium brand because of a particular roast. Same with tea, Aap Ki Pasand handles our Super Premium Tea needs since two decades or more and Tata and HUL largely take care of our daily tea requirements.
  3. Would we move our Atta away from ITC’s Ashirwad Sharbati? Very very unlikely. That is what we need.
  4. Would we move our laundry detergents and current soap brands, largely HUL to Patanjali? Even ITC couldn’t succeed here, Patanjali has almost no chance.
  5.  Our lentils? Tata Shudh has just started making an entry, local brands are getting replaced, looks unlikely that we will move.
  6. Chips from Lays? Cold Drinks from Coke & Pepsi? Regular juices from Tropicana & Real? Cookies from Britannia & Parle G? Almost impossible.
  7. Ice Cream from Amul, Mother Dairy, Kwality Walls, Naturals and Gianis? Are you joking. too tough, 5 brands dominate our house because of particular flavors. At best if Patanjali comes with some Amla-Mango ice cream and it tastes nice, it can become a 6th brand, that’s the best chance.
  8. Amul & Mother Dairy Milk? Amul, Mother Dairy and Britannia Cheese? Mother Dairy and Gopalji Paneer? Mother Dairy and Nestle Curd/ Yogurt?  Mother Dairy & Amul Lassi/ chhach? No way.
  9. Chef’s Basket Pasta? Maggi Noodles? Knorr & Keya soups? Probably after next seven generations ;)
  10. Nonveg? Are you kidding? Patanjali won’t enter that section ever.
  11. Cadbury’s Chocolates? Bournvita? Horlicks? Too toucgh for Patanjali.

I think they will replace in our household things like Hamdard’s Roohafza, Dabur Chawanprash, Organic India’s Tulsi, Dabur’s Pudinhara, Hamdard’s Sualin, Dabur’s Hajmola. Broadly the Ayurveda connected FMCG, other that odds are firmly against them. Patanjali Ayurved as brand has been developed around Ayurveda and for it to be a universal FMCG brand would be a challenge.

 

 

Clove and Mint Poached Fish March 1, 2011

Posted by simarprit in : Food , 4comments

This one came out very well.

What you need.

  1. Fresh Water Sole (Fillets) – 500 Grams
  2. Cloves – 10
  3. Black Cardamom – 2
  4. Mint Chutney – 3 Tablespoons
  5. Poaching Liquor (I used onion, tomatoes, garlic, ginger, green chili and chicken stock)
  6. Ginger Paste – 1 Spoon
  7. Garlic Paste – 1 Spoon
  8. Lemon Juice – I Tablespoon
  9. Carom Seeds (Ajwain) – 1 Teaspoon (grounded)
  10. Turmeric Powder 1 Teaspoon
  11. Salt
  12. Black Pepper

And now this is what I did:

  1. Washed fish in Salt and Turmeric Powder
  2. Marinated fish (Salt, Black Pepper, Garlic Paste, Ginger Paste, lemon Juice)
  3. Added Mint Chutney, Cloves, Carom Seeds, Black Cardamom and one Green Chili to Poaching Liquor and took it to boiling stage
  4. Added Marinated Fish Fillets
  5. Poached till the poaching liquor reduced to half its original volume
  6. Took the fillets out and had them with a side of veggies

Done and enjoyed.

Grilled Tilapia February 22, 2010

Posted by simarprit in : Food , add a comment

23031
Grilled Tilapia is one of my favorites for late dinners. I like the way it is served at Danny’s. The grilled Tilapia is accompanied with veges, hash-browns, ranch sauce and garlic bread. The fillets when well done come out very well, even on medium it is OK.

The fillets are placed on a bed of rice made in Mexican style adaptation of pulao -(Rice Pilav)

Zest Restaurant, Vasant Kunj – New Delhi. A Review January 2, 2010

Posted by simarprit in : Delhi, Food, Review , 1 comment so far

Zest has been covered by most of the magazines and all newspapers since it opened its door to New Delhi’s creme de la creme on July 10, 2009. We decided Zest as the restaurant for our first family dine out of  the year 2010, yes, I did think twice about it, read few blogs and concluded that it is likely to be somewhere between OK and awesome. Mini and Mishti were as excited as me as it would be a change from our half-dozen faves.

So here we go:

Location: DLF Emporio, No 4 Vasant Kunj Malls, Nelson Mandela Road, Vasant Kunj Phase -  II, New Delhi – 110 070, India – Tel (+ 91 11) 43119999  – Excellent 10/10 (Though approach roads currently are under re-routing, so be prepared to get lost and keep time to reach 15 minutes on the side of error of omission)

Interior: Bar format, wine cellar followed by semi formal sitting (formal = The Orient Express, casual = Coffee Shop at any decent hotel property). Decor is great, layout of the kitchens and food counters is a little more than a bit confusing – take time to understand before you get going   – 6/10

Reservations – Works, it is better to do a table booking well in advance maybe even a couple of days in advance. Give correct number, they would call back to confirm 10/10

Hostess: Busy, pretending to be busy, on the side of arrogant – all guests are never equal approach.  – 4/10

Staff: Senor staff fairly competent, on look out to identify regulars all others looked like on-the-job-trainees, evident lack of confidence and no long term goals. Restaurant manager couldn’t be identified, though one person looked and operated as one, but as he was sans “you may ask me smile” I concluded that he can’t be the one whose career depends on this restaurants success. Overall 6/10

Crockery: White, pure white. Fine bone china from Luxemburg – 8/10

Glasses: Wine glasses and other tumblers were all fine – 8/10

Cutlery: I was expecting much better cutlery – 6/10

Table and seating: Very cramped layout, no walkways (you have to move around all other dinners)  swill chair is an excellent idea. They couldn’t find us a table for three so they made us sit on a table for six. Overall table and seating rating 5/10.

Soups & Salads: Today they had only one soup in the buffet, an adaptation of  vegetarian Manchow Soup. I am calling it an adaptation as it was one, not authentic recipe, though it was excellent in taste . Soup -10/10.

Salads were few and Cheese Platter was missing. With Red & White wine on the house – Cheese platter missing is not a good thing., there was fresh mozzarella cheese in one of the salads. I liked Smoked Salmon and Potato salad, though potatoes far outnumbered pieces of salmon. I am sure the salmon was farm raised and not wild, but good nevertheless. Total about 10 – 12 different  salads were there. Salad – 8/10. Mini who is 100% vegetarian found the selection very limited.

Starters: No separate section for starters, you have to go from kitchen to kitchen to fill your platter. My suggestion skip this course and enjoy seven distinct cuisines however we did. I took grilled Sea Bass (it was Asian Sea Bass and not the Black Sea Bass which I die for in San Jose). It was very tasty, well marinated and nicely grilled, it was accompanied with White Wine Sauce which was just perfect. 9/10  – Mini took Hing Aloo 6/10  & Hara Bhara Kababs 7/10 (her ratings) – Mishti skipped

Main course: Portion management on the counters is an issue. You never have all to choose from.

The following is the mix-n-match as courses were not separated by them, we had it all together so covering them in the main course:

Mix Veg Pizza (Mini/Mishti) 9/10 – Thin Italian hand tossed

Shell Pasta with Arrabiata Sauce 7/10 – I would have preferred little more drained pastas and some more ginger flakes

Chicken  Indian/ Arabic Kitchen (Mishti) – 10/10 She had 4 pieces, it was spicy and very tasty as per her

Veg dumplings – 7/10 (Mishti) they were bland for her

Noodles (Chilli, Tomato, Garlic): 9/10 (Mishti)

Shrimp dumplings: 9/10 They were good – I enjoyed them

Veg Pulao 6/10 – The rice was not the ideal rice for pulao and the full aroma which Dum Pukht Pulao can get was not there

Fish Curry – Indian Arabic Kitchen – 9/10 – very tasty though they said it was fresh river sole, which I am again sure it was not, it was King Fish and tasted like one. I have no issues with King Fish

Salmon Sushi – 3/10 It was nicely made but somehow I didn’t like the bonded taste of rice and salmon

Deserts: Fresh fruits, Cakes, Custards, Mousse, Rasmalai, Gulab Jamun. I loved Blueberry Mousse and Chocolate cake with Gold flake – Over all Deserts 10/10

Date: Jan 2, 2010 – Time: 1:30 – 3:30

Over all experience – 7/10

Price Rs 5,000/- or $ 110 – They include service charge @10% before Taxes. Base price is Rs 1,250.00 per person or $27 per person. Taxes and service charges account for about 25% and you invariably land up giving an additional 10% tip.

Valet Parking: Costs Rs 140.00 or $3

I recommend one visit, repeat is purely your call.

“Zest is now called Setz”

 

Tofu Sandwich Recipe November 1, 2009

Posted by simarprit in : Food , add a comment

A strange situation emerged early in the morning today, my daughter Avval wanted a “Never Had Before” breakfast, here is what she was served:

Tofu Sandwich:

  1. 4 Slices of brown bread
  2. 1 Small Capsicum
  3. 2 (1 cm Thick & 5 cm x 5cm) slices of Tofu
  4. A palm full of corns
  5. Few assorted herbs
  6. Tomato/ Onion Paste
  7. Mint Chutney
  8. Salt and Pepper to taste
  9. Olive Oil

Step by Step -

  1. Bread slices were put in toaster
  2. Corn & Straight Cut Capsicum was cleaned and put to boil
  3. Tofu slices were cooked in Olive oil and Herbs were added after Tofu slices became golden in color.  Flat pan frying with just a hint of olive oil as cooking medium
  4. Tomato/Onion  paste was lightly cooked with salt and pepper added
  5. Boiled Capsicum and Corns were mixed with Mint Chutney
  6. Cooked Tomato Onion paste was put on two slices
  7. Tofu slices were added (1 each)
  8. Corn & Capsicum mixed – with Mint Chutney were divided in two equal portions and put on top of tofu slices
  9. Sandwich was closed with the other two toasted bread slices, and bread corners were finely removed and the ready sandwiches were cross cut into two triangle sandwiches each
  10. Wow, wow , wow was celebrated

Restaurants Around San Pedro September 28, 2009

Posted by simarprit in : Bay Area, Food, Review, USA , add a comment

I am a foodie and would love remaining one for rest of my life. My work place is just across San Pedro Square in downtown San Jose, this post is aimed at putting on a piece of paper on what I like most at that specific restaurant. It is not a detailed review but more like – I have been there and I have liked this.

  1. The Old spaghetti Factory – Shrimp, Spinach and Artichoke Dip – Quality and quantity both are fine 7/10 & Lasagna Vegitariano – 9/10 This is yummy Marinara sauce makes huge difference (Both have artichoke’s)
  2. The Old Wagon – Popcorn Shrimp – Yummy 8/10 & Been Fishing, there take on Fish & Chips – Chips were out of the world, fish was fine too, decent portion 8/10
  3. 71 Saint Peter’s – Pan Seared Crab Cakes 5/10 Not to my taste & Bruschetta 9/10 – the way it should be. Main course Seafood linguine - Prawns, Scallops, Mussels, Lobster, Tomatoes – this is my favorite and I give it 10/10 – very tasty, very juicy and filling
  4. Sonoma Chicken Coop – Crispy calamari – Its is flash fried and tastes awesome, good helping 9/10 & Grilled Salmon Risotto 10/10 – The Wow dish of the downtown – I’ve had it over 20 times and every time the experience is just out of the world
  5. 19 Market – The Vietnamese fine dining – Crab and Avocado Spring Rolls – a bit dry but very tasty 7/10 & Grilled Salmon with Spicy Green Beans 8/10 (2 points go the portion is slightly less at this price point) & Brown Rice 8/10
  6. La Vic’s – Best Tacos and Burritos town – Super Veggie Burrito – 9/10 – awesome taste too filling and a meal for the day and Veggie Tacos – 9/10 Wow taste – in Orange Sauce takes you there 101/10
  7. Amici’s - Artichoke Panzanella Salad – All the veggies with bread cubes thrown in - 8/10 Tastes best with some Olive oil and vinegar & Veggie Pizza – Green Pepper, Mushrooms, Onions, Black Olives 10/10 – There just can’t be any better Pizza in this category
  8. Peggy Sue’s Diner – Clam chowder in a Sourdough Bread Bowl – 9/10 tastes good, filling & Fish n Chips – 7/10 Chips are great, fish can be less oily, helping is generous.

The above are my best 8 out of about 20 and I have had food at them several times. San Jose is a foodies delight and the San Pedro neighborhood is a jewel in the crown.

Amber India at Santana Row – A Review July 9, 2008

Posted by simarprit in : Bay Area, Food, India, Review , 1 comment so far

I have mentioned Amber India several times in my reviews about Indian restaurants in Bay Area, however i never got to doing a detailed review of Amber. Amber is a brand name for Indian food on one side and to many Indians it is not an Indian food restaurant at all. Yours truly being one of the many who never choose Amber for Indian food. With my (negative) bias put aside, I initiate my full review of Amber:

Date: July 6, 2008

Time: 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM

Address:  377 Santana Row, Ste 1140

City: San Jose, CA 95128, USA 

Tel: # ( 408 ) 248 5400

Restaurant Name: Amber India (Everyone pronounces it as Amber (the color), but to an Indian it is Amber (pronounced as Um ber – meaning Sky). The roof decoration with a star lit night sky puts the intent of the owners clearly and literally.

Location & Address: On Santana Row, San Jose. My rating: 10/10. You just can’t beat it. Ample parking too.

Food/ Menu: Indian and/or Americanized Indian/ Multi cuisine. My rating 4/10 very confusing, unstructured and lacking character. If Pindi Channa and Karavali Shrimps are in the same menu something has to be horribly wrong. Pindi Channa is supposed to be a take off on White Garbanzo or Chick Peas which are native to RawalPindi region of Punjab (the part of Punjab in Pakistan). http://www.mapsofworld.com/pakistan/pakistan-political-map.html   In the state of Punjab/ Pakistan. Rawalpindi is popularly known as Pindi. My mother was born and brought up in Pindi, I know my Pindi Channa – Pindi choley – or Chitey Choley as it is called in pindieven today. So if you go to Rawalpindi ask for Chitey Choley and not Pindi Channa. Karavali Shrimps are a take off on the Canara region of the state of Karnataka in southern India. Canara region comprises of the three coastal districts of Karnataka (Between Goa and Kerala on the western coastline of India). http://www.mapsofindia.com/maps/karnataka/karnataka.htm food from Uttar Kannad, Shimoga and Dakshin Kannad is commonly referred to as Coastal Kanada food or Coasatal Karantaka food, or Karavali or Canara food or Mangalorian cuisine. Karavali style of cuisine has influence of both Goan and Kerala style of cooking and has liberal coconut flavor to everything. I very strongly feel that putting these two distinct signature items from their respective regions on a single menu in the city of San Jose in California, is more of opportunism than culinary challenge.

Pindi Channas were not Pindi Channas because the Garbanzo beans are little different than Indian Chick Peas and they were not soaked overnight in milk and water or even only water, or kept under moist muslin cloth for two days. Pindi Channas need to be slightly white in color as a dish not jet black what we got on our table.

Karavali Shrimps were not Karavali Shrimps. Amber India’s website claims Karavli Shrimps to be “Our signature recipe of stir-fried shrimps flavored with curry leaves and black pepper”,  curry leaves fine, black pepper fine but what is paste made of onions, tomatoes, and practically every Indian masala doing out there. That’s not what the description reads. At least I couldn’t find the coastal kanadatouch in the paste or in the shrimps, it was spicy with little more than usual salt. I remember the flavor of paste but not that of the shrimps. Curry leaves and black pepper should have highlighted the flavor  of very fine quality of shrimps which were used, but it just didn’t. On our table was an (by heritage) Irish/American, a  Malayali, a Bengali and a Punjabi. The Irish/ American couldn’t finish even the one piece he had taken, the Bengali and the Malayali choose not to take second helping, the Punjabi on the table of course had the second helping (after scrubbing the paste).

Ambiance: Excellent. The best for any Indian restaurant in the bay area. My rating 10/10.

Format: A la carte, full service. my rating 10/10

Drinks:Mango Lassi, Lemonade, Heineken – No issues. My rating 8/10.

Appetizers: Karavali ShrimpsExplained in food 3/10, if your guest just leaves it after eating one morsel, it just can’t be more than that. My 2 cents, if you are by heritage Indian go infor it, otherwise best avoided. Goan Steamed Mussels: They were in Goan gravy, they were steamed and they were fine mussels. My rating 9/10. I just loved them. Tandoori Appetizer Platter: Shrimps were good, Chciken (I am told was) excellent, Lamb (I am told was) horrible. My rating 6/10

Main Course: Mint Salmon Tikka: From no angle an Indian dish, except for the tikka word in its name. OK taste 4/10.

 Hyderabadi Chicken Biryani – was good, but I am told Tandoori Oven in downtown San Jose makes it better 7/10.

Bombay Fish Masala – Sea Bass in tomato & onion thick Garvy, very tasty and well cooked, my rating if you don’t look at authenticity as an Indian cuisine 10/10. 

Pindi Channa – I didn’t like it at all. Was left on the table too. Rajjot on Wolfe Road is my best choice. My rating 1/10.

Breads: Lacha parantha, Garlic naan. My rating 6/10.

Dessert: Gulab Jamuns were very nice. As they were not stuffed, I would say my rating is 9/10.

Interior: Nice and functional – My rating 8/10.

Tables: Comfortable 8/10

Cooling: About 75 (F) could be lower. 8/10

Rates: At about 15% to 20% lower this place would have been a good value for money. My rating 6/10.

Why go:Ambiance; Location; Americanized Indian Food, Something for everyone

Why Think Twice: If you want to eat what you love and you know how it should be made and how it should taste. Names and preparations can be misleading and authentic Indian food lovers may just avoid.

Coffee Company – Pleasanton, CA May 28, 2008

Posted by simarprit in : Coffee, Food, Review , add a comment

Thank you GPS. I was driving back from Sacramento to San Jose with Mini and Mishti and we needed to go to restroom and some coffee. I didn’t want to go to Starbucks. All Food option on my GPS had the first listing as Coffee Co., my first thought was maybe Starbucks has not paid to Garmin for branding so they have just mentioned as Coffee Company, I was wrong. This is not Starbucks and it is Coffee Company, which serves Coffee with coffee. LoL.

Where? Coffee Company, 5424 Sunol Blvd. #7, Pleasanton, CA. (925) 462 5567

What we had? House Blend, Coffee with Coffee, Caffe Latte – House Blend, Apple Juice (bought out product),  Blueberry Bran and Walnut Banana Cake

How was it? Great, Fabulous, Outstanding

Ambiance & Decor: Has a distinct feel and the soul of the shop reflects. Place to go for a leisurely cup of coffee with your loved ones.

When to go? When you want coffee and not Starbucks.Cakes were good, you actually eat the cake and not the sugar… LoL..

Service: Very personalized and very warm. You just don’t want to leave.

 

Fresh: Absolutely fresh coffee and freshly baked cakes/ muffins.

Do we recommend? Yes. You must go if you are in Pleasanton and what you need is a cup of coffee.

When not to go?  If In hurry, this place may not work well. If you want a process based, factory experience of having Coffee, this would not work  atall.

Recommended for: Those who want to have a leisurely cup of coffee over a chat.

More to come…

 

Indian Restaurants in Bay Area May 25, 2008

Posted by simarprit in : Food, Review , add a comment

Today Mini & seltf invited our fiends over for a Dinner. It was tough to choose from the seven eating places which are always talked about – Rajjot, Amber, Shagun, Dasaprakash, Tandoori Oven, Sarvana Bhawan and Udipi. My selection process worked like this:

Rajjot – Great food, but you just can’t take anyone there, it remains the most famous hole in a wall.

Amber – Continues to be the best brand for Indian food, with nothing authentic Indian about it – American Indian is the closest you can put it.

Shagun – Great ambiance, unpredictable food quality – too risky.

Sarvana Bhawan – I’ve not been there but drilling down revealed major service time issues.

Udipi – Becomes too noisy, doesn’t represent India in true light.

Tandoori Oven – No table orders, place order at the counter takes formal dinning pleasure away.

Dasaprakash – Best choice scenario. By course serving would have been a better format, but they are not staffed adequately for that so they get everything together.

Thanks Romit for introducing me to Dasaprakash and encouraging me to try them even on a weekend. Dasaprakash I conclude, is the best case scenario despite the fact that it has no drinks and no meat. 

More to come…