Let your mouth water this monsoon

Krutika Mody ensures that you get your share of the comfort food that are an integral part of the Indian monsoons.

Chai

This beverage has become so popular that it has officially entered the English dictionaries. It’s a must for breakfast, it’s a stimulant and is also had as a refreshment. Tea is popular almost everywhere in India, though it’s called by different names and prepared in different ways. In Kashmir, for example, tea is called kehva and is served with milk, crushed almonds and pistachios. In Assam and Darjeeling, they brew it lightly and drink it plain. In Ladakh and the North East, they add yak butter and salt to make a warming tea soup. Masala chai, however is found in street corners in most Indian cities and uses powdered spices to add flavour the milky tea. People have their own recipe for masala chai but most mixtures include pepper, cinnamon, ginger, clove and cardamom. Instead of going to fancy restaurants for an overpriced cuppa, go to the street stalls and ask for a cutting. Recommended: My Tea House in Bangalore Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf in Delhi Tea Centre in Mumbai Alpha Hotel & Café in Hyderabad Cha Bar in Chennai If you’re stimulated enough and want to read more on teas, look at our breakfast teas article.

Pakodas or bhajiyas

These hot, sometimes spicy, snacks are deep-fried fritters. Vegetables like potatoes, onions, eggplant and spinach are dipped into a batter of gram flour and fried. Newer varieties substitute cottage cheese, regular cheese and even bread for the veggies, and are often the less, spicy options. Have these piping hot, dipped in green mint chutney and enjoy the way they warm you up on a cold, grey afternoon and for once don’t think about the calories! Recommended: Food Street in Bangalore Sagar Ratna in Delhi Mumbai Times Café in Mumbai Minerva Grand in Hyderabad The Grand Sweets & Snacks in Chennai

Pepper rasam

Also known as milagu rasam, pepper rasam is a popular South Indian dish made from asafoetida, tamarind, yellow lentils, curry leaves and black pepper. It’s sipped like a soup or poured over rice and fires up your insides regardless of the weather outside. Many consider it the perfect remedy for a blocked nose or fever. But you don’t need to get sick to try it out. Go to any restaurant serving South Indian food and ask for a bowl of rasam. Recommended: Annachi Truly Chettinad Restaurant in Bangalore Sarvana Bhavan in Delhi Madras Café in Mumbai Cafe Nandini in Hyderabad Saravana Bhavan in Chennai

Corn

If you’re walking on the streets and see a cart laden with corn cobs, stop and ask for a bhutta. Also known as makai, bhutta is roasted on a rustic coal stove. A piece of lemon is dipped in a mixture of chilli powder and salt and then smeared over the corn. If the hawker is particularly enterprising, he’ll even coat the cob with a teaspoon of butter. The treat costs less then Rs 30. Alternatively, you could try a cup of hot steamed corn, which uses American corn with butter thrown in for good effect, grated cheese or spices. Whether it’s on the cob or in the cup, don’t miss this snack! Recommended: Forum Mall in Bangalore MXCorn, Pacific Mall in Delhi Fun Cinemas, Mumbai Inox Theatre in Chennai
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Paapi Pet Ka Sawaal Hai

Have you ever held pani-puri eating competitions with your friends? Well, Krutika Mody picks five major eating competitions that are kinda like that, only multiplied a thousand times over. You’ve to forget most of the rules your mom taught you if you’re taking part in competitive eating. Chew your food properly before swallowing; don’t stuff your face, don’t eat food which has dropped down, and though mom might not have specified any rule about swallowing your own puke, we’re pretty sure she would be against it.  Yes, competitive eating is not for the meek or the polite. Indeed, it is tailor-made for the Homer Simpsons of the world. You’d be surprised how seriously competitive eating is taken. A recognised sport, it has its own governing body: Major League Eating (formerly called International Federation of Competitive Eating). They host some 80 to 100 competitions a year. Competitors train to expand their stomachs, though the organization disapproves of it. Training without expert supervision is extremely dangerous, so kids, don’t try this at home. We give you <drum roll> some of the biggest eating championships in the world: It’s a man eat – Hot Dog world
Joey Chestnut (image courtesy: http://www.ifoce.com)
20 champions selected from cities across America meet on July 4th and try their mouth to win the title of the biggest eating competition in the world. Most competitors (called ‘gurgitators’) employ the ‘Solomon’ technique. Break the hot dog into two pieces, eat it together, dunk the bun into lemonade and swallow it whole. Sounds disgusting? You’ve read nothing yet. These champions most times end up barfing but continue to hold it in their mouth. See, the rules of the game state that if the barf falls down on the table, or touches the ground, the player gets disqualified. I’m talking of Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest. The first time this competition took place was on 4th July 1916 when four immigrants competed on who could eat the most Hot Dogs from Nathan’s Famous stand on Coney Island. Why? To prove who was the most patriotic. Ridiculous as it sounds, Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest has since then, become a huge annual event with more than 40,000 spectators coming to watch it and with over a million people watching its live telecast on ESPN. The reigning champion is Joey Chestnut of San Jose. He has set the world record of eating 68 Nathan’s Famous Hot Dogs and Buns in 10 minutes. Chestnut is 6 feet tall and weighs 218-pound (99 kg). Payouts: First Place: $10,000 Second Place: $5,000 Third Place: $2,500 Fourth Place: $1,500 Fifth Place: $1,000 Tons and tons of Wontons!          Though it’s only 2 years old, the CP Biggest Eater is the biggest eating competition in Asia. Shrimp Wantons take the place of Hot Dogs.  The 2011-2012 edition was held in 4 major cities: Melbourne, Singapore, Hong Kong and Bangkok. The Reigning champion is, Joey Chestnut who broke his own 2010-2011 record of eating 380 shrimp wontons in 8 minutes by 10 more. Yes, 390 shrimp wontons! World No.1 Female Eater Sonya Thomas (her moniker is ‘The Black Widow’ for her ability to “destroy” competitors four times larger than her) also set a new female world record with 231 shrimp wontons eaten in 8 minutes. Think you can stomach that? Think green! Think only non-vegetarians can rule these eating contests? Not quite. Vegetarians can take part in The World Deep-Fried Asparagus Eating Championship. It’s a different matter that the reigning champion is not a vegetarian.  It’s Joey Chestnut. Yep. Same guy. He has won this event six times over the past seven years. His record? Eating 9 lbs 5.2 oz of deep-fried asparagus. PRIZE PAYOUTS 1st-$1,500 2nd-$750 3rd-$500 Sweet Somethings!
Tim Janus in his Eater X Avatar
Competitors can have their (free) cake and eat it too! “Eater X” Tim Janus made a world record last year of consuming 42 cupcakes in 8 minutes in The Isle Waterloo World Cupcake Eating Championship. Talk about getting a sugar rush! Janus’s stomach expands four times larger than a normal stomach. Besides cupcakes, Janus also holds world records in eating the most tamales, burritos, cannoli and tiramisu. PRIZE PAYOUTS 1st-$1,500 2nd-$1,250 3rd-$1,000 4th-$750 5th-$500 Thank the lord! The Wild Turkey 81 eating competition takes place a couple of days before Thanksgiving where contestants have to eat a 10 pound whole roast turkey in 10 minutes. The competition is held at the TimesCenter in New York City. Last year, Sonya “The Black Widow” Thomas ate 5.25 pounds of turkey in 10 minutes to win the $1,581 first-place prize. She weighs only 98 pounds (45kgs). Watch the video at your own risk. We are not to be held responsible for any nausea you might experience. Video:

It’s getting hot in here…

But don’t take off your clothes! Beat the summer heat by chilling with these drinks. Krutika Mody asked our burrpers for their favourite summer coolers and here are the seven most recommended ones. Jal Jeera Where: Horn Ok Please Recommended by: REETH ‏ @REETH21 Rani – Peach Flavour Where: Mahalaxmi Supermarket Recommended by: Wafa Haji ‏ @waF1a Mastani Where: Sujata Mastani Recommended by: B ‏ @BS1878mutd, Rashida ‏ @rashida_k, Amit Paranjape ‏ @aparanjape                   Sugarcane Juice Where: Cane Yard Recommended by: Padma ‏ @padma8376 Hangover Buster Where: Juice Destiny Recommended by: euphoria Peach Ice Tea Where: Zest Coffee Bar Recommended by: pravngupta                       Solkadi Where: Fish Curry and Rice Recommended by: abhi8684    

Bonobo introduces new menu

Krutika Mody and Shirin Mehrotra go for the tasting of Bonobo’s new menu to find out what’s interesting. Bonobo’s open-air seating is the perfect place to chill after a tiring day of work. It made for a perfect setting to try out the new entrants in their menu. Here’s a preview of the dishes that make their debut. We ordered both the soups – the roasted tomato and basil, and the forest mushroom soup. Though Shirin is not a fan of cream-based soups, she found that the tomato and basil soup was the ideal comfort food on a chilly night. The forest mushroom soup, on the other hand, was light on the stomach even though it tasted very rich. I enjoyed it but it might not be everyone’s bowl of soup. Both the soups were served with different bread.
Double melon + greek feta salad
The salads looked very tempting when they first arrived on our table. The double melon + greek feta salad wasn’t up our alley but we polished off the warm Chivre and pickled beet salad. The orange pieces were refreshing and we absolutely loved the addition of macadamia nuts. So when I say polished off, I literally mean it. We decided to order our drinks. Shirin asked for a white wine while I opted for a martini, which was dirty and just the way I like it with jalapenos that gave it the extra kick.
'Angry Birds'
The appetisers let us down. Shirin and I were excited when we spotted Angry Birds chicken balls on the menu. We wondered how this famous game inspired the chef. However, when the dish was placed in front of us, we were left bewildered. The appearance definitely didn’t bring Angry Birds to mind but we thought maybe the taste would be fiery. It turned out to be quite the opposite. Shirin felt that the chicken balls were hard and sweet due to the excessive topping of barbeque sauce. The only vegetarian option in appetisers that night was the mezze platter, which was too bland for our taste. Right from the hummus to the falafel, there seemed to be a consistent lack of salt. Shirin decided to go ahead and order the prawns to combat her disappointment with the Angry Birds. The kalamiri got over by the time she ordered the dish so she had to make do with prawns. Thankfully, they succeeded in taking her mind off the first appetizer. Her tip: A perfect accompaniment to drinks but don’t order them with white wine because the spice quotient is a little high. For the main course, I ordered for Mac ‘N Cheese and seafood-lover Shirin chose the Vietnamese Basa. My dish was gooood! I love cheese and this one had me completely pleased. Shirin had never tried spaghetti with fish before, but the Vietnamese Basa completely bowled her over. Basa with red sauce made for a good dish.
Chocolate fondue
By the time we were done eating, we had very little space left for desserts. Still, we ordered a chocolate fondue which took some time to arrive. There were fresh fruits, marshmallows and cake pieces for us to dip in the chocolate. Unfortunately, the chocolate burned not five minutes later. The problem was the candle but we did give our feedback to the floor manager and the next time we go there, we’re sure it’ll be perfect. Check out their full-fledged new menu with prices here: Bonobo Menu burrp! says:***

GQ India’s Marathon Pasta Lunch

A day before the Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon that took place on Sunday, January 15, GQIndia.com hosted a pasta lunch for a select group of marathon runners at Indigo Deli. Krutika Mody and Shirin Mehrotra share their experience. I’m not much of a runner. The only time I run is when I’m getting late for work. So it was interesting for me to meet people who actually enjoy running.  Shirin and I were particularly pleased to meet Ashok Nath and Shayamal Vallabhjee, who were there to give last minute tips to the marathoners.
Shayamal Vallabhjee and Ashok Nath. Photo courtesy: GQ India
Ashok Nath is a veteran marathoner and has been a two-time winner in his category at the Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon. He is also one of the few runners from India to repeatedly qualify for the prestigious Boston Marathon. Shayamal Vallabhjee on the other hand is a sports enthusiast, a motivational speaker and has worked with some of the best athletes in the world. He has also participated in over nine marathons all over the world. We got some great tips from both the speakers, like how a first-time marathon runner with no training should use the walk-jog technique to complete the marathon (though it would take around 5 hours!).
Shayamal Vallabhjee addressing the runners. Photo courtesy: GQ India
So, why pasta lunch you ask? Well, eating this Italian dish before the marathon is a time-honoured tradition for marathoners. Pasta is high in carbs and serious runners need to store it up so it can fuel their run.  GQ wanted to bring this tradition to Mumbai. Ms. Maya Hari, director of Conde Nast India Digital, explains this further, “A majority of our GQIndia.com audience are passionate about sports. By bringing our expert columnist Ashok Nath and trainer Shayamal Vallabhjee to our readers and marathon runners who have been engaging with us via our website at a pre- marathon pasta lunch, we are extending our online engagement and sharing last minute tips and advice.” Chef Jaydeep Mukherjee of Indigo Deli who designed this menu especially for the runners gave us so much more than the four different types of pasta. These were accompanied by delicious banana smoothie, minestrone soup and fruit platter. So we dug into our food with nary a thought about any calories, surrounded by super-fit people. It’s a different thing that we didn’t burn any off the next day. I’ll just wait till I’m late for work again.

Dining out in Chennai

Winters in Chennai may sound like a cruel joke played by Nature. But making the most of it while dining out could be one way we could have the last laugh. Krutika Mody lists four restaurants in Chennai where the weather can only enhance your dining experience.   Pergola
Pergola
If you suffer from acrophobia, you’d better stay away from this 15-floor restaurant. Part of The Accord Metropolitan Hotel, the restaurant gives an incredible view of the city, particularly at night. This open-to-sky restaurant also has an indoor dining option with glass enclosures that don’t take away from the view. So enjoy the Chennai ‘chill’ as you sip your wine and bite into succulent minced chicken kiev.   Pasta Bar Veneto This restaurant has a simple and understated elegance with white walls and huge French windows that open out to a lovely open-air, entertainment area in the middle. Live bands perform every other weekend and there’s always soft music playing in the background. Relax by smoking a hookah and munching on delicious ricotta fingers.  
Shiraz Cafe
Shiraz Café The bright orange façade of this café might startle you at first but its serene setting will lure you in. The courtyard is surrounded by trees and lush greenery and littered with simple tables topped with glass lanterns. Nazrin, its owner-chef-hostess, will make you feel at home. Sit outdoors to make the most of clement weather, sip Irani chai and watch the beautiful garden through the French windows. We especially love their beautiful stained-glass paintings created by Nazrin’s husband Farhad.   Kipling Café
Kipling Cafe
Sit in one of the cabanas here that are spread over half an acre of land, anchored by the sprawling white bungalow. The cabanas have billowing muslin curtains that give a sense of privacy and make for a perfect romantic spot. The cool weather at night will only make it more romantic. Order the pepper pizza and prawn bisque.

KFC goes the veg way

KFC, in a bid to appeal to a larger set of junk food-eating audience, has introduced two new veg meal combos. Read what hardcore vegetarian Krutika Mody thought of it. Kentucky Fried Chicken, known for its…well… Kentucky fried chicken, wants to expand its base after helping so many processed food-eaters expand theirs. It recently launched its vegetarian options to woo ‘grass-eaters’ like me. If you still decide to try them after reading this review, you can choose from their latest offerings: Veg Zing Kong Box and Veg Rizzo.

Veg Zing Kong Box

The Veg Zing Kong Box has one Zinger Burger (a veggie based crispy fillet packed between lettuce leaves, mayonnaise and sesame bun), fries, three pieces of Veg Strips (mixed-veggie filled fingers, strongly tasting of corn) served with a salsa dip and a glass of Pepsi. Oh, and a small bar of Cadbury’s 5 Star.

The burger was dry. A bit more mayonnaise and fresh lettuce would have made it palatable. I couldn’t muster up enough will to finish it despite my abhorrence to wasting food and had to leave it half-way. The Veg Strips were hot, crunchy and just about average. You can rarely go wrong with fries but the salsa dip is definitely a better substitute to plain old tomato sauce and made them more enjoyable. Pepsi, was…well, Pepsi. Calcium corroding, but hey, you do have the option of replacing it with another beverage from the a la carte. But you’ll have to shell out some more dough. My best box moment was when I bit into the perfect bar of Cadbury’s 5 Star. So, would the Veg Zing Kong Box would be my first choice were I to get hungry and in need for a quick bite? Absolutely not. It wouldn’t even be my last. Cost: Rs 221 (Rs 185 + taxes)

Veg Rizzo

If you want to buy Rs 107 worth(less) of flavourless rice which tastes like tasteless pulao with a thin red gravy that does nothing to make it more appetising, this is the perfect option for you. You get two hot pieces of Veg Strips but no salsa dip with it. Cost: Rs 107 (99 + taxes) Verdict: Beware people-who-refuse-to-eat-meat-for-various-reasons! There’s still a long way to go for KFC before it can become vegetarian-friendly. burrp! says: *

Food loving toons

They are cute, funny and often wacky, but these cartoons know their food. Krutika Mody tells you some interesting facts about the foods your favourite toons can’t live without. Spinach it! Spinach saves Popeye from the baddie Bluto, helps him rescue Olive, his lady love, and protects him from bullets a la Rajnikant. In turn, Popeye returns the favour by rescuing spinach. Yep, Popeye’s popularity helped increase spinach consumption in America by almost 33 % in the 1930s. The spinach-growing community of Crystal City, Texas, erected a statue of the character as a thank you! Spinach is also a junkie term for weed, so when Popeye ate spinach, did you know it was a snide reference to weed? Smokin’! ———————————————————————————————————————————————————————————– Nuts about dough What’s Homer Simpson’s favourite food? Duh, donuts! One of his most popular quotes is “Donuts. Is there anything they can’t do?” The first Friday of June each year is celebrated as National Donut Day in the US. Who said we can’t bring that to town!   ———————————————————————————————————————————————————————————- Who moved my cheese? Did you know that in 16th-century Europe, people believed that eating cheese could make you stupid? Jerry from the Tom & Jerry certainly proves that superstition false as he cleverly dodges the mouse-traps that Tom lays out for him, getting the cheese every single time after risking his life. But maybe that’s because he could be suffering from Turophilia – obsession or extreme love for cheese. ————————————————————————————————————————————————————————— Rustle up some bugs Eating bugs may sound disgusting to most folks, but Timon and Pumbaa (of The Lion King fame) absolutely relish them. And in case you’re thinking that only cartoons and people in reality shows eat bugs, then you are about to be surprised. Entomophagy, or eating bugs as food, is already a common practice in over 13 countries, including Thailand, Vietnam, and Cambodia. In fact, the UN encourages bug eating to stamp out famine and cut global warming. And guess who is a fan of fried crickets? Angelina Jolie and her brood of children.   —————————————————————————————————————————————————————————— The cat loves layers This lazy cat that takes bribes to chase mice worships food. Lasagna, in particular, makes his mouth water. In Garfield’s own words, “I never met a lasagna I didn’t like.” But maybe he would think differently were he to see the Brazilian animated movie The Killer Lasagna (2002) where a lasagna left in a defective fridge mutates, turning it into a monster, whose sole objective is to kill the people who had made it. Eeks! ——————————————————————————————————————————————————————————— An apple a day Snow White, with her entourage of seven dwarfs, wasn’t very fussy about food. But I’m guessing that after the evil-queen-trying-to-poison-her episode, she wasn’t overly fond of apples either. Maybe the castle shrink would have cured her of Malusdomesticaphobia?

Yeh paratha, woh paratha, har paratha!

That’s what you’de like to say at Paratha Mantra. With over 30 varieties of parathas, this ‘only vegetarian’ place will manage to satisfy your stomach but not your heart. Krutika Mody eats, and writes about it. This new restaurant is all about parathas – from the regular onion and potato to the more ‘exotic’ olive and jalapeno. You can even get one with customised stuffing. We go there to find out if the wide variety is enough? First impressions Located adjacent to Kala Ghoda Cafe and Trishna, this one will definitely get the eyeballs. But whether it will also get the footfalls remains to be seen. You enter through a glass door into a rectangle room which is small but gives a sense of spaciousness – probably because of the white walls. It has seating on either side and on level two. We liked the well-lit interiors and the low-hanging false ceiling that dips and curves like a huge frothy wave. But we didn’t find the seating very comfortable – they have veneered wooden benches (with no cushions) that aren’t flat but curved. Drinks: We called for a soft drink (Rs 30), which turned out to be the 200ml Coke (the same size popularised by Aamir Khan’s “paanch” commercials a few years ago). So you can imagine our surprise when we paid six times the MRP even though we know it’s regular for restaurants to charge more for soft drinks. But it’s disappointing all the same. Our lemon iced tea (Rs 75) was mediocre with no hint of mint or sliced lemon. We also ordered for a lassi (Rs 50) which came in an impressively tall glass and was adequately thick and sweet. The chaas (Rs 40) was quite refreshing too. So we suggest you stick to the traditional beverages. Main course: There were too many choices with intriguing combinations but we finally settled for their specialty Pizza Paratha (Rs 135) that the menu had highlighted in red. But there are lots of options under their ‘Specialty’ section including pav bhaji and vada pav parathas. The pizza paratha had the crunch of a capsicum and the tang of tomato sauce, tasting more or less like a pizza you’d find at an Udipi restaurant. From the regular section, we decided to go all out and order a cheese paratha (Rs 95) – because no one can go wrong with a cheese paratha. And we were right. It had just the right amount of cheese with bits of coriander. To go with this, we ordered small bowls of chole and dal makhani (Rs 45 each). The dal makhani had just the right amount of cream and went perfectly with the cheese paratha. But we wish they had put a little more effort in the chole; it was slightly bland and after the first couple of bites we left it alone and concentrated on the dal. Dessert: They had three options including gulab jamun, but we had our eyes on chocolate paratha (Rs 180). Unfortunately, it wasn’t what we were expecting. We got dry chocolate filling instead of the oozing brown melt-in-your-mouth liquid. And for some reason, it tasted of chocolate sandesh instead of Nutella that we thought it would be. Overall, Parantha Mantra is a decent place with good food. One paratha is enough to fill a person with an average appetite. The servers are quick, polite and eager to help without being intrusive. The concept of specialising in parathas is not a new one, but the location and price work in this restaurant’s favour. It is ideal for a large group of people since the numbers allow them to order different types of parathas. What also wins this place points (or lose them, depending on how you’re looking at it) is the fact that is completely vegetarian. But be warned – if you’re going here in the next couple of weeks, make sure you have enough cash on you; they don’t have the card machine in place yet. Meal for two: Rs 695. (burrp! reviews anonymously and pays for its own meals)    

Bangalore celebrates burrp’s 5th birthday!

Food, fun and great conversation.  We give you snapshots of our Bangalore party that was held in Manchester United Cafe on Sunday, August 14 to bring in our fifth birthday! Our Standee outside the restaurant welcomed our Bangalore burrpers to celebrate burrp’s journey with us. The staff helped us setting the place up and we couldn’t wait for the burrpers to arrive. We had so much fun karaoking to great music. The girls took over the mike and sang Celine Dion’s My Heart Will Go On. We’ve never heard such a cheery rendition of this number 😉