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Iftar at Anise, Taj Coromandel

Iftar at Anise, Taj Coromandel

Innovations! Aren't they simply wonderful? Especially when it comes to food! Now, we've spoken at length about haleem and its impact on the Chennai Food scene and all that, but when it is innovated without losing its brilliance, I guess it is simply too good to miss. How much more can you innovate with haleem ? It is after all a goo of minced meat and grains. Can you add more flavour? Yes. But it already rich in flavour. Add more spices? Add more fried onions on top? These are deviations rather than innovation. How about serving it with a beautifully scented saffron bread?  I've never heard of this and I am not sure if it is ever served anywhere else like that! Yes, I've had some fabulous haleem , but never one served with some fantastic flat bread (ok, roti). Now it is like eating a wonderful galouti but in a haleem form. Add one egg and serve it in a thali and this is simply yummy for the taste buds and the eyes!  So, Taj has this off

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Zaitoon's Iftar Box

Zaitoon's Iftar Box

After the 5 stars and the Bangalore streets and sit-in Iftars, I had to try a couple of Combo Packs. At the first opportunity, my first choice was Zaitoon when I was stuck home-alone for Iftar! First impressions: Beautifully packed in a nice hard box and the food was arranged well enough that it didn't shake or spill inside. Perfect! Now for a box priced at Rs 299 for 300 things inside, you shouldn't complain at all. I mean, it is like a birth right to complain has been taken off! Nannari Drink tasted funny. Like a little too strong nannari syrup inside kind of funny, but after a couple of sips, it simply went inside post the 14 hour fasting stomach. Spoilt for choice over what to eat first, I devoured the haleem . It was a little spicy for my liking, but the flavours were all there and wasn't some careless haleem . It was nice and boneless except for one teeny weeny bit of bone. At this price, no complaints! Tiny puff like thing. It was like a

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Little Italy, Besant Nagar

Little Italy, Besant Nagar

After having some fantastic vegetarian foods around the city in both pure veg and in common restaurants, I am planning to make a visit to at least one veg restaurant every month! From a personal point of view, I want to understand vegetarian foods a lot more! While there are some fantastic foods that are vegetarian, only a handful of pure veg restaurants, I believe, do full justice to vegetarian foods. And I am out to find out who they are! First stop that comes to mind is Little Italy. I remember their Nungambakkam outlet from a visit about 5 years ago when friends landed there and I joined them. Food was good, but didn't entice me to go back! The Little Italy in Besant Nagar, though has a setting completely different from Nungambakkam. It is eclectic, classy and on Monday with current Chennai's beautiful weather, it was excellent. Particularly loved their vintage car parked in the open space! Wish they had seating there. There were hits and mi

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Chocolate Irish Dinner, On The Rocks, Crowne Plaza Chennai Adyar Park

Chocolate Irish Dinner, On The Rocks, Crowne Plaza Chennai Adyar Park

Chocolate Chicken? Lamb Rack with Chocolate Sauce? Chilli Chocolate soup! When anything and everything on the special menu has chocolate in it, the invite from Crowne Plaza was rather intriguing. One, chocolate is a very tricky ingredient to use in a savoury dish and it takes a huge effort (and confidence) from the chef to pull it off! Two, doing it in India, where there is a real chance that people will arrive at different times and you will have to do appetisers and mains simultaneously takes a certain level of mental preparation! And that obviously heightens my intrigue. Special menu or not, the Focaccia with Garlic drenched in oil with a Chutney side is a signature at OTR! And gladly that was served first!!! Being four of us, we could taste a variety of dishes as we all decided to order different options from the menu. Oh yes, the menu, despite being a chocolaty one had four options for appetisers and mains. This chef really has guts!

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Iftar Box, Crowne Plaza

Iftar Box, Crowne Plaza

After seeing the ad for Iftar at Crowne Plaza and knowing that they have Dakshin, one of the pioneers in South Indian Fine Dining, I was rather excited about the Iftar at Crowne Plaza. Only after I went there, I found that it was a box for take away! But, you have the option of sitting and eating at Cappuccino (their coffee shop) and the box is slightly better when you sit in house!  Why? There is more to the box! So, family was here and there was a last minute decision to eat out for Iftar . Considering, we eat only Iftar and no dinner and more often than not, no early morning meal, it had to be filling. After debating between going back to ITC and trying out Crowne Plaza, a new meal won and we were at Crowne Plaza! A large fruit platter and dates with some fresh orange juice arrived on the table! This was followed by Haleem . Now, Dakshin did not matter because, the haleem wasn't from Hyderabad! This was a UP haleem . Very very different. L

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Iftar Buffet at Fisherman's Fare, Egmore

Iftar Buffet at Fisherman's Fare, Egmore

From Opulence to everyday life. After a fantastic Iftar at ITC, we decided to check on what is more affordable for more frequent visits! With the family giving a thumbs up to Fisherman's Fare, three of us decided to see what was in store! Pleasant surprise! Nombu Kanji ! Looking at the colour, I had a sense that this was going to be good, but it was perfect. Just the tinge of lamb flavour and not trying to be a liquid haleem . It had the warmth that a good nombu kanji has and I was happy at the effort to keep Chennai's tradition alive. The haleem was pretty good too. No bones in my bowl and the flavour was just right! There are two parts to this Iftar meal. A platter served on your table with the kanji, the haleem , lime juice, badam milk and two sweets, along with a plateful of fried stuff. And then the buffet which has all of the above plus naan, two gravies, a rice and fruits. The badam milk was slightly watery, but had the right flavours, the two sweets wer

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Iftar Feast, Cafe Mercara Express, ITC Grand Chola

Iftar Feast, Cafe Mercara Express, ITC Grand Chola

From the streets of Bangalore to the opulence of the Grand Chola. Last year, I don't think I visited any 5 star hotels for Iftar. The year before that, every hotel had got it wrong in some form or the other and this year I have only seen ads from Grand Chola and Crowne Plaza. Fingers crossed! Started in Opulence. A very nicely refreshing rose sherbet with super soft dates. The dates were melt in the mouth, but weren't stuffed with anything, just natural but very high quality dates. I think what I saw on top was the gold leaf! This was followed by a nice platter of fruits. The special stuff started! The Haleem . This could possibly be the best haleem in Chennai. If you tell them to add some onions, they bring it without any onions on top. And a big plate of condiments with ginger, fried onions, chillies, ghee and other stuff. Do it yourself, they seem to tell me which was just perfect!!! My friend didn't say anything and his came with condime

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Ramzan Special, around Hotel Empire, Koramangala

Ramzan Special, around Hotel Empire, Koramangala

Continuing on the Ramzan street food series as part of Iftar options around, our next stop was Koramangala. No separate ground but on the footpath and the space next to the Hotel Empire in Koramangala, this is more polished in its looks. Big differences though. The haleem wasn't made anywhere close by I guess, so there were only packed options. Tasted a couple and they weren't great by any means. Skipped the Pista house haleem as I can get the same thing in Chennai. Everything else that we found in Bilal Mosque was available here with a lot more sweet options. The round lamb stuffed paratha was fantastic! With a nice flaky paratha stuffed with yummy lamb, this was the best dish of the day. Price Rs. 100 for a nice big round paratha. Everything else was comparatively expensive. Haleem was between Rs. 150 and Rs. 200 for a small bowl (around 300 ml). The chicken kebabs were alright. Very similar to the previous place, but slightly more expensive.

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Ramzan Food Stalls, Bilal Mosque, near Jayadeva Hospital

Ramzan Food Stalls, Bilal Mosque, near Jayadeva Hospital

Its been a while. Food streets during Ramzan in Chennai are nowhere close to their more illustrious cousins in Bangalore, Hyderabad and Delhi. While Haleem hijacked the humble but awesome nombu kanji, the food scene hasn't taken over. In away, it feels like it is a blessing, because foods like this, dripping in reused oils, spicy and unhealthy written all over it, may not be.....not may not, but IS NOT, the best way to break your 14 hour fast. However its social and its fun and I may do this street thing maybe 2 or 3 times this whole month, not more! But hey, any street food for that matter is the same! But leaving the unhealthy part of it aside, this is a boon for so many people who fast and don't have families to prepare stuff for them or for others to sample food from the culture. You can say, 'Sour Grapes', since it is not so nice in Chennai. Whatever is the take! First stop was the very well organised space near Jayadeva hosp

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