Friday, February 24, 2012


These 'Spices' were part of the decor at the buffet representing the restaurant by that name. I simply loved this display

I have always been fascinated by JW Marriott from the time I went there for researching the five-star hotel for my novels. I got an opportunity to see the many restaurants, ballrooms, conference rooms, rooms, suites and their gardens, all thanks to a friend of Venkat’s.

Food array from Saffron
A few months ago, I went to cover a conference – Washrooms And Beyond, an event organised by Media Pulse Public Relation. They had organised a buffet at the end of it. The food served was a mix from the three of the restaurants at JW Marriott and their famous bakery.

Mezzo Mezzo counter
Mezzo Mezzo is their Italian restaurant. Saffron serves authentic Indian Royal Cuisine. Spices is a Pan Asian restaurant serving Thai, Chinese and Japanese food. Then there is the Bombay Baking Company that brought forth the desserts as well as the breads.

All set to prepare yummy Thai Curry - both green & red - both veg & non-veg
I am a pure vegetarian. I had a few bites of Dum Aloo – baby potatoes in spicy red gravy; Subz Biryani – Saffron scented basmati rice, simmered with yellow chilli flavoured curry and seasonal vegetables; Subz ki Handi – fresh vegetables cooked with fried onion and cashew nuts and garnished with cream and a Pudhina Parantha.

Bombay Baking Company displaying breads and cheeses to be served with sauces
Everything was just perfect. I have never tasted such yummy biryani elsewhere. And the parantha was too delicious. It was hot and fresh. I don’t quite know how they managed to get it in that state to the buffet table. Simply amazing!

Our table at the conference room
I could not resist tasting a little of Thai Green Curry that was made right there. It was yummy, but I prefer my vegetables to be a little more cooked then they were.

Rows and columns of desserts from BBC
While the breadsticks served during the conference were too fresh, crunchy and delicious, I did not enjoy the desserts from BBC. There was a vast range of them, kept in large trays. They reminded me of rows and columns of the military. I somehow did not enjoy any of those while I did taste some of them. May be my taste is too Indian.

The Bar
Mezzo Mezzo did have a pasta section, but I did not have any place in my tummy to try that one out.

I will vote for SAFFRON any day. The food was Perfection personified.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


Pizza By The Bay

Last Thursday was a holiday for Vini due to elections; Viggy had to string his guitar at Furtado’s and I tagged along with the two of them to do some shopping in and around CST.

The three of us met for lunch at Pizza By The Bay at around 3.45 pm. While Viggy had performed at this place when it used to be Jazz By The Bay around 3-4 times, I have never been here.

Viggy was keen to have beer but could not as it was a dry day. The three of us had a yummy lunch that lasted for more than an hour despite the super-quick service. It was a thoroughly enjoyable experience with a cold breeze from across the sea and hot delicious food on our table.

Caesar's Salad
THUMBS UP 1: We ordered a Veg Caesar’s Salad. Crunchy vegetables – green and yellow peppers mainly – were tossed with crispy iceberg lettuce, garlic croutons and parmesan in a creamy Caesar dressing. It was perfectly flavoured and totally yummy. Viggy and I went to war over the croutons. And the salad disappeared in just a few minutes.

Penne Primavera
THUMBS UP 2: We asked for a pasta dish – Penne Primavera. That’s penne with black olives and zucchini in a creamy tomato sauce. While the portion was just right for one person, the sauce was perfect. I am not too keen on a tangy sauce and my daughter does not like it too cheesy (pun unintended). This was an exact combo. We simply loved it.

Spring Fling Quad Pizza
THUMBS UP 3: There was this Spring Fling Quad Pizza that we ordered. This is elliptical in shape and is cut into four quarters, each with a different topping. There was fresh, sliced mushroom; tandoori paneer, broccoli and American Corn. This place is not called Pizza By The Bay for nothing. There is a bay, right outside the window and perfect pizzas served inside. The pizza bread was oh-so-fresh and the toppings were perfectly seasoned. My kids enjoyed the mushroom while I had a bite of all the other three. The paneer was as good as that available in Delhi and that is saying something. The pizza was a wholesome, delicious experience.

Garlic Bread straight from the oven
THUMBS UP 4: We ordered two batches of garlic bread. This is half a loaf, sliced and with garlic butter in between. They heat it in the oven without separating the slices. Hot, crunchy garlic bread is brought to the table and the melted butter almost drips over as you separate the slices. Pure heaven!

Iced Teas - Lemon & Peach
THUMBS UP 5: I asked for a Lemon Iced Tea; Vini got a Peach Iced Tea and Viggy went for a Pepsi. Both the teas were very good while they could not do much about the Pepsi.

THUMBS DOWN 1: Vignesh had asked for a mocktail – Virgin Pina Colada and was not too impressed with it. He said that he has tasted way better than the one served here.

The bill came to Rs. 1600 plus and I suppose that’s quite alright for the food and the lovely ambience.

Vini dons the chef cap:

I was keen to take pictures of the pasta counter and asked permission from the management. They fell over themselves in encouraging us to not only take pictures but they also invited Vinitha to make a pasta dish. She was quite thrilled to wear the chef’s cap as she prepared Pasta in a creamy sauce. She thoroughly enjoyed the experience as the chef told her how it was done as he added the ingredients one after the other. The best part of it was that they let us taste some of the pasta, at no extra cost. I have to mention here that it was simply divine.

A super experience, indeed!

Vini plays chef at Pizza By The Bay
For those interested

143, Soona Mahal, 
Marine Drive, 
Churchgate , 
Phone: 22856115 / 22820883

Friday, February 17, 2012


Has Bollywood finally arrived!!!!!!!!!! A simple, short film with not too many songs

Cast: Imran Khan, Kareena Kapoor, Boman Irani, Ratna Pathak Shah, Ram Kapoor
Director: Shakun Batra

I know it’s been a while since I wrote film reviews. While I could not write a review for Rockstar as I left for Chennai some hours later, I did not feel like talking about Don 2 and Agneepath as the violence in both films almost did me in.

Seeing the promos for Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu had put me off watching the film totally. My husband was not keen either. But I noticed that Mumbai Mirror had given it four stars. I did not read the review as I did not want to know the story, etc. I waited the week out for Vini to be free to watch it with me today. Am I glad I went!

THE STORY: Rahul Kapoor (Imran Khan) is the only child of his parents (Boman Irani & Ratna Pathak Shah). He has led a repressed life from childhood and his life has been chalked out completely by his parents. Rahul has accepted his way of life without fighting it. He lives in Las Vegas while working for a big firm. Unfortunately for him, he loses his job due to recession. But Rahul is unable to admit the fact to his parents who are actually visiting with him at that point. He pretends that everything is hunky dory until they leave. Soon after, he decides to go to a psychiatrist and his path crosses with Riana’s (Kareena Kapoor). Almost 27 to his 25, Riana has a tremendous impact on Rahul’s life. She is the exact opposite of what he is. And thus begins the romance…..

MY PERCEPTION: The film is simply superb with just two songs that do not distract you away from the script. Do not go by the promos. They don’t give you a clue about how the film actually is. And better still, the film runs for just about an hour and 40 minutes. Can you believe that?

I just loved the story and was very happy with the ending. It is not just one more romance from Karan Johar and Ronnie Screwvala. Ok, I just realized my mistake. I did not know that Ronnie Screwvala was one of the producers. I would have watched the film without any hesitation if I had. And I also need to congratulate debut director Shakun Batra. Way to go, man!

I am never sure whether Imran Khan is a good actor or bad. I suppose he is both depending on his director. Well, the actor did very well in this film. Kudos!

Kareena Kapoor was also excellent in her role as Riana. Keep up the good work, Kareena.

Boman Irani and Ratna Pathak Shah as Imran’s abominable parents did great work of their roles.

VERDICT: A fun watch with an unexpected but perfect ending. I would say a must watch if you like light films.

RATING: **** Snazzy

* Silly
** Shaky
*** Smart
**** Snazzy
***** Super

Just giving a brief verdict on the other films that I watched but did not write about…

ROCKSTAR ***** Super
Ranbir Kapoor rocked as the hero. I would go so far as to say that Ranbir has proved that he is the best in all four generations of the Kapoor Khaandaan. The music was amazing and the editing simply superb. AR Rahman deserved all the awards in the world for this one. I am proud to be walking the earth in the same times at this gentleman. Mohit Chauhan’s voice is liquid gold.  Need I say more?

DON 2 ** Shaky
The one question that I wanted to ask SRK after watching this one was “why this kolaveri kolaveri kolaveri da?” I am amazed that Farhan Akhtar made this film. Over and above that, SRK received the Zee Critics Award for Best Actor for his performance in this film. Wonder how much he paid for that one? Mr. Khan, please take a sabbatical of may be 2-3 years and come back to filmdom with a fresh outlook. Happy holidays!

AGNEEPATH **** Snazzy
I still did not want to write a review. Hrithik Roshan proved yet again what an excellent actor he is. Sanjay Dutt was a class apart. I don’t think I have ever seen Rishi Kapoor play a negative role. He was simply superb! But the first prize I will give to Kanika Tiwari who played Hrithik’s sister. She was so cute and acted so well, despite talking very less. As you can see, I have not mentioned Priyanka Chopra – well, she is not worth a mention here.

Thursday, February 16, 2012


Delhi Metro

Well, I had saved the best experience for the last one during my Delhi Trip. The Delhi Metro is simply awesome as it gets you from Point A to B in just no time.

The first time I travelled by Metro was in Singapore when I went there with my family in November 1999. Yeah, so long ago!

Singapore Metro in 1999 with Vignesh
The Karol Bagh Metro Station was barely 20 minutes walk from Hotel Jewel Palace, where we were staying. Or a cycle rickshaw could take us in about 7-8 minutes for Rs. 10.

Vini at Karol Bagh Metro Station on our way up to the platform
Once there, we could take a Metro line to just anywhere in Delhi. Sometimes, of course, we needed to change lines. What catches one's eye the most is the neatness and cleanliness, both in the trains and stations. The Delhi Metro started functioning since December 2002. It's wonderful to see how clean everything is. I was totally impressed.

That's me on the other side. Don't miss the cleanliness
There are six different lines in the Delhi Metro and they intersect at various points. There is the Red Line, Yellow Line, Blue Line, Orange Line, Green Line and Violet Line – almost all the colours in the rainbow, it looks like.

I got a chance to travel by the Blue Line that runs through Karol Bagh Metro Station. Rajiv Chowk Metro Station is an important junction where the Blue Line and the Yellow Line intersect. I went to this station a number of times to travel further elsewhere.

The Yellow Line and Violet Line intersect at Central Secretariat. I went there to take the Violet Line to Kalkaji Mandir Metro Station to reach Baha’i Temple.

The map of Delhi Metro at Akshardham Metro Station
The staff at the ticket counter is very helpful in giving directions. You will find maps at strategic points in every station, giving you an idea of how to get where you want to go.

The Delhi Metro is too convenient and it’s a pleasure to travel within the air-conditioned coaches. They felt so warm after the cold wave outside. There are long seats along the walls inside with standing space in the middle.

The coaches were extremely cosy
An announcement system gives you exact directions as to where you are, which is the next station and which places are nearby to that particular station. They also announce on which side the doors will open.

There is also an electronic map in every compartment showing the direction in which the train is travelling, which stations are already crossed and which will be the next port of call.

The electronic map inside the compartment
There are separate compartments for women. The connecting doors are all opened up after around 9 pm to join the compartments together. The metro lines function from 6 am to 11 pm.

The best part is the fares are so reasonable. You travel for about 20-25 stations paying about Rs. 20. I am not sure about the ticketing for kids. But the system is built in such a way that people need to buy a ticket – a token or coin, actually – to travel by metro. You reach the ticket counter, buy the token, scan it against a machine to enter the platform and feed the token into a machine when you get out at your destination. The automated gateway opens only when your token is fed within.

Sign on platform floor indicating the position of women's compartment
There was a funny incident that happened when I got off at  Kalkaji Mandir Metro Station. There was this woman with a kid. He seemed to be about four years of age. She had obviously not bought a ticket for him. Usually, the gateway opens when the token is fed and one person can step out before it shuts immediately. She gave him her token; he fed it in the machine and walked out. The gate shut before she could get out. She stood there, unable to get out. I don’t really know what happened after that as a counter clerk was doing his best to help her.

The queue for security check and across is the way into the platform at Karol Bagh Metro Station
The security is very tight at the metro stations. I am not sure whether this is always the case or whether it was due to the approach of the Republic Day. There were a number of security personnel roaming about. Otherwise too, all bags are scanned while people go through security check, however long the queue is or whatever the time of day it is.

There are a number of facilities available at the metro stations. Food and beverage stalls are there while clean toilets are found in every station. Lifts, escalators and staircases galore are found at the metro stations. You will find slogans everywhere encouraging people to use the stairs to keep fit. This was meant for me, I am sure. I climbed 8-10 floors of staircases everyday that I was in Delhi. That’s mainly because I am not very enthusiastic about climbing an escalator and the lifts are usually at one end of the station and it became too much going in search of them. Of course, directions were given everywhere.

In fact, at stations where the different lines intersect, directions are given in a beautiful way. You can see stickers of yellow feet walking in one direction and blue feet in the opposite direction. You follow the stickers and land up at the correct platform.

Metro is a great way to travel for physically challenged people too. The lifts are large enough to take in wheelchairs while the trains themselves are on the same level as the platforms. This makes getting in a breeze. The compartments are large enough to hold a wheelchair.

Seating inside the coach
You may find people from different strata of society. Men wearing three piece suits to work, college students, housewives on shopping sprees, people on their way to weddings wearing silk clothes and jewellery, labourers on their way to work, so on and so forth.

I saw another sight that truly impressed me at Central Secretariat Metro Station. That is the starting point for the Violet Line. The Yellow Line also intersects here. The platform is marked where the doors to the compartments should be. People stand here in long queues. Watching them are security personnel. Believe it or not, there is one security guard for every doorway. They ensure that people do not break queues and also make sure that those getting out are given first opportunity. This is simply amazing.

Another day at Karol Bagh Metro Station
Of course, the need for this disciplining can be easily understood. For all the sophistication the metro has to offer, the public is still the same – whether educated or not, whether young or old. Everyone tries to rush into the train the moment it arrives. No one seems to be bothered that there are those waiting to get out. And the most important point is that the trains wait at every station for 2-3 minutes; the automated doors will not shut as people get in or out. So, why the rush? Of course, there is no push and pull as in Mumbai Local Trains. The metro compartments have double doors and the entrances are so wide. If people used their common sense, they could come out from one half while people can get in through the other half. It obviously needs a man-with-a-gun to ensure order. The sad truth is that’s how we are!

Another fascinating thing I noticed about the metro is that there are times the train is travelling way above the city and there are times when they travel underground. But not once did I feel the train going up or down a slope. Amazing!

But the brakes are not that great. The trains jerk 2-3 times before they reach or leave a station. Don’t know why!

I can’t wait for Mumbai Metro to launch!


Tuesday, February 14, 2012


The snack counter

This restaurant serves only vegetarian food and snacks. They also have a counter selling sweets, namkeen and many different types of biscuits.

Vini and I visited this restaurant for lunch on the day we left Delhi to get back to Mumbai. This is situated very close to Hotel Jewel Palace where we were staying.

THUMBS UP 1: We ordered a Paani Puri (yeah, that’s what it was called in this restaurant, not Gol Gappa). They served it at our table with the puris, filling, sweet chutney and theeka paani separately, and we made our own paani puris. It was nice.

Jeera Rice, Dal Tadka & Kachcha Papad

THUMBS UP 2: I wanted to have Jeera Rice and Dal Tadka. The serving was a little more than I needed and so Vini had a few bites too. Both the rice and dal were delicious.

THUMBS UP 3: Vini asked for a Burger and she swore that she had never tasted bread that was fresher than there. She thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

THUMBS UP 4: We shared a Sweet Lassi between us. It was big enough for both of us and tasted very good.

Veg Burger
THUMBS DOWN 1: I asked for roasted papad along with my food. It was cutely rolled and served. But it was not roasted well. The waiter was not too bothered when I told him that it was ‘kachcha’ and made no effort to have it changed.

THUMBS DOWN 2: I was impressed with the array of biscuits and sweets. I ordered a few boxes after tasting. The sweet was good. But the biscuits I brought home were not as fresh as the ones we tasted. The restaurateur knew that we were not locals. We mentioned that when we asked for stuff that would last as we had to take them home to Mumbai. Despite that he gave stuff that was not fresh which made me realize that he meant to cheat. I would not want to visit this place ever again.

For those interested:

2659, DB Gupta Road,
Karol Bagh , Delhi
Phone: 41546143 / 41546144 / 9868275992

Monday, February 13, 2012


Vini warming her hands

Vinitha had been telling me a lot about this restaurant and we were keen to go there to have drinks and dinner. I don’t much care for hard drinks but I would not have minded having a rum and coke as it was tooooo cold at Delhi.

The Doorman

We went there around 8 pm and stood outside with the Sardarji who was serving as doorman as he was warming himself in front of an iron pot full of red-hot coal. It felt so wonderful as the cold outside must have been about 7 degrees at that point.

At the entrance
We got a table within 5 minutes and went in to a lovely ambience. It had the look of a village outdoor with an artificial tree right in the middle of the restaurant. The lighting was perfect and we sat down to have a look at the menu.

Not too keen on ordering hard drinks, we finally settled down to have cocktails.

Inside Pind Balluchi

THUMBS UP 1: Vini asked for a Caprioska and simply loved it. This had vodka, lemon chunks, sugar, crushed ice and soda. 

THUMBS UP 2: We asked for two Masala Papad. They were fresh and yummy.

THUMBS UP 3: We asked for Makkai de Kabab for starter. It was delicious. The green chutney served along with this was simply superb.

THUMBS UP 4: The Dal Makhani that we ordered was excellent.

THUMBS UP 5: We asked for one Tandoor Roti and a serving of Jeera Rice. These were good and that’s how we managed to finally finish our dinner at Pind Balluchi.

THUMBS DOWN 1: I asked for a Green Apple Martini. This was made of vodka, green apple juice, soda and ice. While the taste was good, it was too sweet. I had asked the waiter whether it will be sweet and he had said that it would be mildly so. Even after adding more soda, I found it too sweet for my taste.

Makkai de Kabab
THUMBS DOWN 2: We asked for a mixed vegetable for the main course. The first shock came when we saw it was a dry sabzi. We had not thought of asking beforehand. The taste was also very mediocre with very less salt.

THUMBS DOWN 3: We made a mistake of asking for one Khasta Roti and one Missi Roti. Both were horrible and neither of us could finish them.

Green Apple Martini. Cheers!
Despite the minus points, it was definitely worth a visit. We only need to be more careful about what we order after clearly finding out whether the vegetable had gravy, etc. We also made the mistake of trying to add salt to the vegetable ourselves. That did not make it better as it could not be mixed properly to the dry vegetable. We should have insisted that they take it back and add the salt.

For those interested:

Pind Balluchi Restaurant & Bar
2105, D B Gupta Road,
Karol Bagh,
New Delhi - 110005
Opposite Maruti Suzuki Showroom
Khasta & Missi Rotis; Dal Makhani and Mixed Vegetable
Phone: 011-45077777 / 9958292941

Saturday, February 11, 2012


McDonald's @ Connaught Place, Delhi

Well, if you have seen one McDonald’s, you have seen them all. I have been to the outlet at Bandra, Phoenix Mills, CST and a few other places in Mumbai; one of their branches at Singapore (they served only non-vegetarian there and so we had only ice-cream) and now this branch at Connaught Place, Delhi.

I thought I will write about McDonald’s in general and my visit to this branch in particular. I was alone during this outing. I had just been to Baha’i Temple and had taken a metro to Rajiv Chowk. It was almost 4 pm and I was very hungry. I walked around Central Park looking for a nice place to eat that will serve local fare.

French Fries all gobbled up; McVeggie Burger and Iced Tea
This area has a number of shops selling high-end brands and there were not too many eateries there except for fine-dine restaurants. I almost completed taking a full circle before I saw Big Mac and decided to eat there. I was too tired and hungry to search for longer.

The place was fairly big – could seat about 80 people and it was packed. I managed to get myself a McVeggie Burger with cheese, French Fries and Iced Tea (yeah, despite the cold) and managed to get a seat. The ambience was good with two TVs at a higher level. Some cartoons were on and I really loved them.

I started sipping the tea to find that it was mildly flavoured water. I was not too keen on getting up and going back to the counter as I was sure that I would lose my seat. That’s when I called one of the employees over and told him what my problem was.

The place was packed
I was absolutely impressed with the service. He took my tea back to the counter and got me fresh iced tea that was simply yummy.

The burger was good. But over the years, what I notice is the size has shrunk and shrunk while the mayonnaise content has reduced terrifically. Don’t they understand the meaning of VALUE FOR MONEY? The prices are increasing tremendously, anyway. Why not give enough?

I got French Fries only because there were no Potato Wedges. I like the wedges way more than the fries. During an earlier visit to the Phoenix Mills outlet, I found out that they did not serve Potato Wedges any more. Now, I found out that McDonald’s has stopped serving wedges altogether. But why? I simply love them.

Friday, February 10, 2012


Shishir Saras Mela at Dilli Haat

I have heard a lot of people talk about Dilli Haat and was keen to visit it. I was not aware that there were two outlets, or I would have tried to find out more about it. We went to the one close to the INA Metro Station. It was around 7 in the evening. 

Folk Performance
There was a rural handicrafts exhibition happening there just then and it was called the Shishir Saras Mela. Dilli Haat is basically a place for handicrafts and food stalls from the different states of India. It gives you a good idea about our country’s culture. 

Handicrafts from Andhra Pradesh

I felt that it looked like something akin to our Kala Ghoda Fair in Mumbai, but much toned down. 

From Gujarat
We walked around to see a number of stalls with handicrafts, saris, suit materials, shawls, handbags, pottery, wooden toys, paintings, glassware and a lot more. There was a live folk performance going on when we entered. 

Handbags and more from Madhya Pradesh

The place was alive with a lot of people around despite the cold. We walked all around and bought some bangles and earrings for Vinitha. 

Wooden kitchenware from Tripura

Finally, we settled down at a Rajasthani food outlet and ordered one thali and shared it between us. We also asked for one plate of bhajias – this had one mirchi bhajia and one khanda bhajia. The food was good, not great.

Tanjore Paintings from Tamil Nadu
Somehow, I was rather disappointed with the place. Maybe, I had had very high expectations after hearing so much about it. Or maybe I was at the wrong address.

Rajasthani Thali
Click here for more Dilli Haat pictures