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Pantry d'Or

Pantry d'Or

So some places have been making some noises recently and pantry d'or is one of them! Dragging my backside all the way to Anna Nagar was the sole reason, I didn't try it earlier, but then, one day, Vadivel's 'ADIMAI SIKKITAN' moment happened! Friend offered to drive. When I went home, I realised that I was the 'ADIMAI.' Bulb! Anyway, so I drove, parked and we got in! Place was empty!  The place was very nice with a neat outdoor seating and a nice, but slightly uncomfortable inside seating. The menu is simple and small, but its very typical of a nice coffee shop! Not too much, not too little, but if you're scouting for options, then this may not be the place for you. They also have options with and without fries, so that way there are options!!! Food, well, we ordered a Turkish pizza and a lamb burger! Both dishes were nice. The pizza was loaded with meat and was quite flavourful, so it was an nice starter to have. The burger had a nice pa

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Iftar @ Park Hyatt

Iftar @ Park Hyatt

WTF? When did this chef taste MY mom's biriyani !?! Those were my thoughts when the biriyani was served, but a lot of things conspired between when we were seated and when the biriyani was served. Traditionally, Iftar had samosas and cutlets and the nombu kanji and on a special day, mom/grand mom will make their biriyani and that is how I remember special Iftars as a child. Park Hyatt recreated that experience for me! An Iftar menu at Park Hyatt and I had to find out at the fag end of Ramzan . Why God? Why? Wish they had called me earlier!!!! The evening started off with traffic. Stuck on Kotturpuram high road for more than 30 minutes, we were starving and itching to get something into the stomach to maintain sanity. And thank God, when we walked into The Dining Room at Park Hyatt, we were seated and before we blinked, we were served a fantastic dry fruit smoothie and was lip smacking a platter of fruits and dry fruits. Apricots, walnut, the works! By the time

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Tunisian Food Fest, Kefi, Taj Club House

Tunisian Food Fest, Kefi, Taj Club House

Food festivals in Chennai are getting more and more exotic and Taj is leading the charge, I guess. After a fantastic food pairing with perfumes with the Master Perfumer, Nicholas at Prego, the Taj Clubhouse with a fantastic rooftop Mediterranean restaurant, Kefi, is dabbling with Tunisian food. I've never had Tunisian cuisine before and apparently they discovered Couscous, so I was quite intrigued when invited by Taj for dinner. On a Wednesday evening, the place had more than ten tables tables, mostly on the deck side, filled, so that is a great sign that Chennai is warming up to good food! Kefi, being a fancy place, always gives you an amuse-bouche. Everytime I go there, I am quite excited to see what that is. Given, its not a great deal of food, but sometimes, the tiny things make a huge impression. A little beetroot wrapped around a nice goat cheese, I believe it was! The starters came along and for once, I loved the veg starters more than the sea food one. Call

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Zaitoon Iftar Box

Zaitoon Iftar Box

The first time I had the Zaitoon Iftar Box, two years back, I was blown. I wondered how they were able to nail it! It was nailed brilliantly! Price, quantity, quality. Everything was just right. Last year, though, was the exact opposite. I thought, they were a one year wonder. Hated the box. It was overpriced and the quality had dropped from the sky to a below sea level. I had no intention of trying it out this year. I noticed the box siting at home. Folks had picked it up as they were out and there was no time to prepare something. And boy, was I glad! For the first time, this Ramzan, the Haleem was excellent. The taste, the consistency and everything about the haleem was near perfect. It was so good, that I went back and picked just the haleem the very next day. But the box is well thought out, so I'll start with the things I liked. Haleem, yes. The grilled chicken, yes. The tiny paratha with the chicken gravy, perfect size. The modified schawarma , yes. Besides the fru

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Iftar Box @ Ave 195

Iftar Box @ Ave 195

Reluctantly, I went to Ave 195. I had given up on the Haleem and everything else for Iftar, this year. The fancy places were more value for money than the low cost low quality low everything places. My friend who had it the previous day said that I should try it and give him feedback, so I went. There were two boxes, one at 199 and the other at 299. I thought, I might as well try the 299 and picked one. To my surprise, he handed me one right from the table right next to the road. "Will it be hot?" I asked. He said, honestly, "Sir, it won't be hot and this has been outside for a long time." I liked that honesty. So when I got home, heated some of the stuff up and got ready to break fast! Started with the Haleem and though the flavours were good, it was a little too runny! The biriyani well....... But the rest of the box was quite good. There were three kebabs and all three were quite good. A leg piece that was juicy, three small pieces on a stick an

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Awadhi Food Fest, Marriott

Awadhi Food Fest, Marriott

Having a long day at work while fasting, is a little more tiresome! And if you are stuck on the road in traffic at the time of breaking fast, its a little more annoying. For a day that started at 4 am and having had only water at 645 and nothing again till 8 pm, the Awadhi Food Fest came as a beautiful end to the day! Marriott has flown down Chef Younis Khan from Bombay, who apparently specialises in Awadhi cuisine and the minute we heard 'Galouti Kebab', all foodies were in! What surprised us was that the restaurant was packed on a Wednesday evening. There was a large family of about 16 people in the table next to us and they were very intrigued by us taking food photos and having the chef next to us and it was a pleasure when they wanted to take photos of themselves and were praising the chefs to no end. It's always nice when you have a great food experience and you know that the table next to you also had a great time. Its like sharing the good t

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Iftar @ Hard Rock Cafe

Iftar @ Hard Rock Cafe

I know that sounds silly. Funny maybe. Weird maybe. But after a disastrous Iftar outings thus far, when we were at Phoenix, we decided to go to HRC. I love their music. I hate their burgers. Burgers in HRC Chennai that is. 3 times was enough chance. But we decided to go anyways as we were close to HRC and very close to time to break fast. Walking in Phoenix mall didn't help containing the hunger, so..... And we ordered a Jumbo Combo. The waiter told us that he wouldn't recommend it for two people. "Try our burgers, sir. We are having a festival," he said. "I hate your burgers," I said and he looked shell shocked. Like, "Our burgers? You hate HRC burgers?" was the look he had on his face, but didn't say anything. He managed a smile. "I've tried it thrice and your beef burgers in Chennai are dry," I said. "You can try our chicken burgers," he said. "I'd like to try your jumbo combo," I said. And boy,

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Haleem from a Home Baker

Haleem from a Home Baker

What's happened to haleem in Chennai? Granted, it is alien to the city, but some of them have deteriorated so badly, that I can't believe that these were the same places that served good haleem a few years back. So, I am not going to write about them till I try them once more. The best haleem thus far has been from a home baker. I say best 'thus far' because of the Haleem she delivered! Called Meaty Wheaty, this was a different Haleem , but it knew it was different. The colour of the haleem struck me first. I looked at her and she understood. Yes, there were no lentils and this was a full bodied haleem ! Meat and Wheat. True to its name. Nothing more, nothing less. OK, there were spices and fried onions, but this was really meaty. Flavourful. It has to be with a mutton:wheat ratio of 3:1! Whoa! We ordered again a couple of days later for the whole family and everyone loved it. My search for Haleem in Chennai has been a disappointment, otherwise. The search

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Iftar @ Anise, Taj Coromandel

Iftar @ Anise, Taj Coromandel

The humble iftar gave way to the other end of the spectrum, a luxurious, four course, iftar at Taj Coromandel! Gladly, there was no haleem here too, so, its not another run of the mill, me-too, iftar , but a perfectly crafted, gourmet iftar . Honestly, this is the first time I am coming across a gourmet iftar , so it took me completely by surprise! The evening started with a huge bowl of fruits, a glass of lassi, a rose sherbet and water! The bowl of fruit was large, quite large and along with the lassi and the sherbet, was perfect to cool the stomach before the four course onslaught happened. And then the menu is presented with you and the first thing that caught my eye was the vegetarian options in each of the courses! Clearly, you can bring a friend and this is not aimed purely at the carnivores! So the first course was a soup course, very much in line with ' nombu kanji ,' concept, but a shorba . My friend opted for the veg soup which was excellent an

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Iftar at Blue Diamond!

Iftar at Blue Diamond!

Change is constant. But somethings are nice when they don't change. While variety is the spice of life, predicability is not very bad. You know what to expect. You know how much to expect. And you get what you expect. Its like the home food. It's that time of the year again. The time to feast. 'Eat and drink until the thin line of dawn in visible from the darkness of night', says the Quran. A day's fast is broken and the festivities begin. They begin everyday. The time to take a step back and reflect. This doesn't change every year. And for me, I would like to start the Ramzan Iftar journey with something that is constant. Predictable. Reflects tradition and not some 'young kid on the block' import. Yes, home food. I'll put up a recipe some other time, but the next best thing? Iftar in Blue Diamond. Let's face it, Haleem is not a hallmark of Ramzan in Chennai or the rest of TN. Its an import. Nothing wrong with imports. But for me to reli

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