Food Review – The Yellow Chilli, Muscat

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On August 30, (clearly, this review has been a long time coming!) I had the pleasure of attending a bloggers’ food tasting at The Yellow Chilli in Muscat. Located at Al Mouj, Muscat (previously called The Wave), this newly opened restaurant serving Indian cuisine is a branch of The Yellow Chilli chain set up by one of the most famous Indian chefs and TV hosts – Sanjeev Kapoor.

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Peru Pyaala

Growing up, I watched a lot of Khana Khazana. On the show, Sanjeev Kapoor whipped up one delicacy after another; blending cuisines and creating fusion dishes which looked pretty simple to replicate in the home kitchen. While I watched in wonder when he cooked up dishes that I thought back then were the kind that were only served in restaurants and couldn’t be made at home (yea, silly me), I sometimes cringed when a food combination he came up with didn’t appeal to my senses. I must be honest though, I was far too young to try out any of his recipes back then; and when the cooking bug bit me in my late teens, I had long since grown out of my enthusiasm to watch Khana Khazana.

My evening at The Yellow Chilli was quite delightful. Simple ambiences, casual atmospheres and fun company always make my foodie adventures so fun. But of course, the most important part is the food… 😉

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Peru Pyaala in a mason jar

First up, we were served the signature Peru Pyaala – a sweet and tangy guava drink with a hit of red chilli on the rim of the tumbler. I must tell you, this was the perfect welcome. The flavours were aptly blended, and the real hero was the kick of the chilli powder complementing the drink! It was pure bliss to my very Indian taste buds. Simply refreshing!

Warning: If your palate is not accustomed to high levels of spice, please be informed that the chilli in the Peru Pyaala brings with it quite a distinct punch.

When ordered off the menu, the Peru Pyaala is served in mason jars. I would have loved it if we were served a regular serving  (yes, I could drink all of that!) but I think, with the chilli on the rim, it is incredibly hard to drink directly out of a mason jar and if you use a straw, you would miss out on the chilli kick! Dilemma! :-/

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Dahi Puri

We were then served two kinds of soups – a Coconut and Shrimp Shorba and Tomato Basil Shorba. While the former was creamy and coconuty with a succulent shrimp on a stick, the latter is among the most loved dishes on the menu. Light and healthy, the Tomato Basil Shorba is bursting with flavour. Definitely a must-try!

Next up was the Dahi Puri. A less messy take on the Mumbai street-food classic, these little crispy puris were filled with mashed potatoes, yogurt and a minty and sweet chutney. A great combination of flavours and textures.

And then came my favourite dish of the evening. The Palak Pattha Chaat! This was simply amazing. An appetizer of crispy fried spinach topped with a yogurt sauce, mint chutney, date chutney and garnished with pomegranate seeds, the Palak Pattha Chaat was out-of-this-world-delicious. The crackly crunch of the spinach paired with the the creaminess and tang of the yogurt and the sweet and spicy chutneys not to mention the little pomegranate pearls was a mesmerising dance of flavours and textures on my taste buds – an experience I very much enjoyed! 😀

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Palak Pattha Chaat

Here’s another look at my favourite dish at The Yellow Chilli… 🙂

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We were then served a host of other appetisers. Here are a few that I enjoyed. 🙂

Chana Jor Garam Tikki – Mildly spiced yet flavourful, these tikkis were crispy on the outside and mushy on the inside. Quite yum!

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Chana Jor Garam Tikki

Lemon Grass Chicken Tikka – Succulent cubes of chicken marinated in fragrant lemon grass and yogurt; reminded me of a comforting Thai curry. 🙂

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Lemon Grass Chicken Tikka

Papaya Peanut Kachumber – Sweet, tangy and crunchy, this salad was heartening! 🙂

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Papaya Peanut Kachumber

Khastha Kaju Chicken – This was another appetizer that I really loved. These little chicken patties were coated with crushed cashews and tossed in Indo-Chinese spices; sweet, zesty and delicious! 🙂

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Khastha Kaju Chicken

Raan Buzzkazi – This dish tasted wonderful – slices of lamb leg cooked well until tender and bursting with flavours. The downside, I felt it was too heavy for a starter.

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Raan Buzzkazi

By the end of the starters, I was near full and I could barely stomach the idea of eating main course. But I tried my best to get a taste of everything. We had the Mangalorean Fish Curry that I did not enjoy very much owing to the fact that I’ve had plenty of that over the years, thanks to my Mangalorean roots. The Lalla Mussa Dal (black lentil gravy) was just okay; a little too sweet and overly creamy for my liking. While the Mushroom Mutter Hara Pyaaz (mixed vegetables cooked in spices) was quite nice, I found the Shaam Savera (spinach koftas stuffed with creamed cottage cheese in a buttery gravy) to be a little odd tasting. Being a The Yellow Chilli signature, I expected to love it, but I didn’t enjoy it; the texture of the koftas didn’t appeal to me and the gravy was too sweet. The Murgh Noormahal Biryani (chicken biryani) was okay; the saffron was a tad bit overpowering and since I love myself a good spicy biryani, I was not very pleased by it.

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Shaam Savera

While I did have a great time at The Yellow Chilli, I was a little disappointed by how uninspired the main course seemed as compared to the appetizers. While the first course was an array of innovative takes on Indian classics, the main course didn’t wow me. As for dessert, well, I missed out. By the end of main course, we had already been two-and-a-half hours into the dinner and it was late, hence I couldn’t stay. I will be back though, hopefully…

The Foodscape’s quick take…

Location: Al Mouj – since I live all the way in Wadi Kabir, it’s much too far. But for those living around Seeb, it’s great.

Cuisine: Indian   Food:3.5/5   Ambience: 3/5

Recommended: Peru pyala, palak pattha chaat, khasta kaju chicken, lemon grass chicken and raan buzzkazi.

TheFoodscape Review: Nestle Toll House Cafe, Muscat

Being a baker, the Nestle Toll House Cookie holds a very special place in my heart. In my journey towards baking the perfectly chewy chocolate-chip cookie, the original Nestle Toll House Cookie has lent me tons of inspiration. Needless to say, the cookie holds unparalleled historical importance.

So you can imagine my joy when one evening as the boyfriend and I drove past the Al Khuwair service road, I spotted the newly opened Nestle Toll House Cafe by Chip standing tall in its neon yellow and chocolate glory. I remember letting out a shriek and announcing out loud – like a kid on sugar rush – that the Nestle Toll House Cafe is now in Muscat and that I’ve been waiting to try their stuff out my entire life! (In retrospect, I was exaggerating; but I was excited, okay?!)

Flash forward to last night. After about a month of deciding to visit the Cafe and then changing our plans due to one reason or another, the boyfriend and I finally reached the doorstep of Nestle Toll House Cafe by Chip, Muscat. My, was I excited! I could barely contain myself.

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The Cafe is super elegant. Playing with hues of yellow and black, the decor is chic and contemporary. It’s the kind of place you would like to hang out with your friends at or chill by yourself with a good book, a cup of coffee and a delicious slice of cake or cookie. But since we wanted to head home at the earliest, we decided to take some baked goodies to go.

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We browsed through an array of Cookies (Classic Chocolate-Chip, Triple Chocolate-Chip, Rainbow Chocolate-Chip, Sugar Cookies, Chocolate-Chip with walnuts and others with pecans), Brownies (Cookies ‘n’ Cream, KitKat, Button, Butterfinger and Cream Cheese), Coconut Macaroons and Cookie Sandwiches. The boyfriend settled on the KitKat Brownie while I chose to have the Cookies ‘n’ Cream one and we decided to take two Coconut Macaroons for the parents.

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When the cashier handed us the bill, we were shocked – two brownies and two little macaroons cost us RO 6.400 in total! (That’s RO 1.400 per macaroon and RO 1.800 per brownie.) At this point I would like for you to know that none of the prices are mentioned on the name tags of each goody. I have to admit that I found the goodies steeply overpriced. Knowing what goes into baking brownies and selling them, I just couldn’t fathom why the brownies cost so much more than they should have. And coconut macaroons of that puny size are simply not worth RO 1.200! As we walked out of the cafe, we only hoped that each goody tasted so good that the hole in our pockets would seem less deep.

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Sadly, this was not the case. The brownies were way too cakey, sickly sweet owing to the added toppings and the base brownie itself felt like the ones made with a store-bought mix. Nothing special or wow-worthy. The coconut macaroons were too sweet and lacked the crispy crunch that macaroons normally have. All in all, a huge disappointment.

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The Nestle Toll House Cafe by Chip holds a long-standing reputation for being one of the greatest confectioneries in the world producing some absolutely lip-smacking delicacies. I really hope the branch in Muscat does step up to the international standards and that soon we’ll have scrumptious goodies that are of complete value for our money served up at the Nestle Toll House Cafe by Chip, Muscat. There is room for a lot of improvement, and being a dessert-freak myself, I certainly hope to see some soon!