Food Review: The Gateway Hotel, M’lore

If you’ve read about my travels to Thailand, and my review of our very-Sushi meal at Shiro, Mumbai, then you already know that I’m obsessed with Asian Cuisine! 😀 I love it all – Sushi, Vietnamese Spring Rolls, Tempura, Nasi Goreng, Laksa, Thai curry, Glass Noodle Soups and Salads, Dimsum, Crackling Pork, Bao, Sticky Rice, Darsaan. You name it, I love it. And if I haven’t tried it, I will and I’m sure I’ll love it. 😀


So naturally, when my brother told me about a Pan Asian Food Festival happening at The Gateway Hotel, Mangalore, my ears perked up, and my mind was instantly swirling with images of Sushi, Dimsum, fresh salads and hot, sweet and sour punches of flavour. After tossing the idea around for a few days, last night we finally got off our lazy bums and headed to The Gateway Hotel. If you’re in Mangalore and are planning to try it out, hurry, the festival ends on January 31, 2016!

This is how the night went…

As soon as we were seated we were asked what we’d like to order and we went with the Asian Buffet. A couple of solo photographs of the brother and the boyfriend done, I headed to the buffet spread to get some clicks of the prettily laid out food.


As I walked over to the Appetizer bar, I must say, I was not very thrilled. There lay a few trays of sliced salad veggies, some Kimchi, Poached Seafood Salad, vegetarian Sushi and Crab Stick Urumaki, a Glass Noodle Salad and two platters stocked high with bread rolls. On another table lay two soups – Vietnamese Noodle Soup and Prawn Tom Yum Soup and some steamed Chicken Dimsum. When I list this all out, it seems like a beautiful spread, but one look at the Sushi and I was very disappointed. I also expected a larger variety of salads, some steamed bao and Vietnamese spring rolls; not to forget freshly fried tempura!


We began our meal with some soup. I went with a bowl of Tom Yum Soup. The reason I call it Tom Yum Soup and not Prawn Tom Yum Soup is because in my entire bowl, I managed to find just two tiny prawns sunken to the bottom. The reason they were sunken was because the soup was not thick enough and far too watery. Don’t get me wrong, I quite enjoyed the flavours; but we all know that consistency is key to a good soup. The flavour profile of the Vietnamese soup was really nice as well. Light and refreshing.

Steamed Chicken Dimsum


We absolutely loved the Steamed Chicken Dimsums. The outer coating was soft, and pulled away easily, revealing a delectable succulent filling that was so well seasoned, you kept wanting to go in for another bite. I loved the Mustard-Chilli relish that went with it (looked a lot like chimichurri to me!). Just delish!

Glass Noodle Salad


The Glass Noodle Salad looked so pretty and colourful and was packed with refreshing flavours. It was lemon-y, sweet, fresh and just lip-smacking. I liked it so much, I went back for a second serving!

Fish Takra


The crispy fried Fish Takra was another great dish. It was sweet and spicy and crunchy with a wonderfully soft centre. Just what you want from a yum starter to go with some drinks.

Bread Rolls


I am a huge fan of bread. Whenever I’m dining at a buffet spread, I make it a point to try all the different breads out there. The spread at The Gateway Hotel featured the Classic Bun and the Dinner Roll. I loved both. They were soft and melt-in-the-mouth, just the right amount of sweet sans the overpowering flavour of yeast. Just the way I like it!


There were two kinds of Sushi – a vegetarian kind that was basically a rice roll with a stick of carrot and Cucumber each and the Crab Stick Urumaki.


As you can see in the picture above, the Urumaki looks nothing like a good Sushi. It is almost impossible to locate the seafood. However, if you look closely, you can see a crab stick each stuck in there and some wasabi around it. Already disheartened with how it looked, I popped an Urumaki into my mouth. And my tongue was on fire. Due to the lack of veggies and seafood to complement and tackle the heat of the wasabi, the Urumaki was far too pungent; and not in an appetizing way. Having gorged on some amazing Sushi in Muscat, Mumbai and Thailand, this was a huge letdown. 😦

Apart from this, the Kimchi was not seasoned well enough and the Poached Seafood Salad didn’t please my taste buds. The Cottage Cheese cooked in pepper and herbs was rubbery and required a lot of effort to bite. Definitely not how it’s supposed to be.

Main Course

So, this was my general issue with the Main Course spread. While I glanced through the gravies that lined the buffet table, I could see a variety of dishes that screamed Indo-Chinese! You know the kind. There was a chicken gravy, some Mushroom, Brocolli and Bamboo Shoot and Kung Pao Chicken – all featuring the same corn-starch thickened gravy seasoned with different sauces and batter-fried chicken and veggies. This was very disappointing, because I wanted to eat authentic Asian food, not Indo-Chinese!


The only thing I decided I wanted to taste from the entire main course spread was the Jungle Seafood Curry (which looked and tasted exactly like Thai Green Curry!) and steamed rice (no, it was not Jasmine Rice). I really enjoyed the curry but hated that the seafood was – as expected – batter-fried as well. The best bit about Thai curry is how fresh seafood/ chicken/ veggies work perfectly with the spicy gravy. Despite being a seafood lover, I couldn’t bring myself to eat all that soggy batter-fried seafood; I ended up eating just the rice and curry.



The dessert bar was prettily laid out with some fresh fruit, a sweet Tofu dish, some Darsaan (which they named Darshan!), Mithai Kaja (something like a desi Baklava), Green Peas Halwa and Cream Caramel.

Mithai Kaja


Though it looked absolutely stunning, the Mithai Kaja was a little hard to bite and had a strong flavour of sesame to it. It was good, but not great!

Tofu Wrapped Pineapple


These little bites of decadent goodness were amazing. The soft tofu covering giving way to a piece of sweet and sour pineapple was a lovely surprise! I tasted it for the first time and loved it!

Strawberry Cheesecake


When bakers see soft vanilla cake as the base of a cheesecake, they see red (are graham crackers or digestive biscuits not on the market?). And that’s exactly what happened last night and it drove me mad! To top it off, well literally, there was nothing cheesy about the strawberry layer – it was just a really bad strawberry mousse. We took one bite, cringed and set it aside. Extremely unpalatable.

Darsaan (Honeyed Crispy Noodles with Ice-Cream)


Then came the best part of the meal –  and I mean no sarcasm here – the Darsaan. The noodles were crispy, oozing with the sweetness of honey and a dash of sesame and paired with Vanilla Ice-Cream, it was a match made it heaven! Super delicious!

The brother and the boyfriend then went on to ruin the amazing aftertaste of the Darsaan with some really uninviting Cream Caramel, but I made no such mistake, hence my evening ended on a beautifully sweet note! (What can I say, they should’ve listened to me!) 😛

All in all, the Pan Asian Food Festival was largely marred by the introduction of Indian flavours, which was very dissatisfying for someone who expected authentic Asian Cuisine. When we conveyed our concerns to a server, he let us know about how the first day of the festival featured authentic Asian delicacies which were not well-received by diners. Hence the adjustments with an Indian touch. That’s too bad, they’re really missing out!

If I were to rate the Pan Asian Food Festival 2016, at The Gateway Hotel, on a five star scale, I’d give it a 2.5. I believe staying authentic to classic delicacies would have taken our dining experience to a whole other level!



Food Review: Brio Cafe, M’lore

It’s been a few days since we first dined at Brio Cafe, Mangalore; and in short, the experience was a blend of hits and misses. Situated right outside the Lighthouse Hill entrance of St. Aloysius Pre-University and Degree Colleges, one would imagine that this little cafe would be bustling with students bunking class and gorging on some scrumptious fast food. But one look at the prices on the menu, and it’s clear why the place is not filled with enthusiastic young chatter. But the exorbitant prices are not all that’s off about this place…

Here I share The Foodscape’s experience at Brio Cafe, Mangalore. Brace yourselves, it’s a long one. 😛



When we walked in to Brio Cafe, we quite liked what we saw. It is a chic cafe dressed in tones of cream, beige and chocolate, and a splash of colour here and there. While dining tables surrounded with high chairs provide for a comfortable dining experience, the cute sofa-coffee table seating arrangement that the cafe sports is great for a coffee and cake break.

The brick walls add a homey vibe to the experience, while neatly set tables topped with candles bring with them an air of warmth. The carefully picked wall decor is also pleasing to the eye; though I’m not quite sure if there’s any symbolism attached to the bicycle themed decor. Something we didn’t quite like were the paper menus; they were crumpled and worn, certainly not something that complements the ambience.

Chilled and laid back, it wasn’t hard for me to be at leisure here. Also, I must mention that the cafe plays some great music! 🙂



Cheesy Garlic Bread

Priced at Rs. 100, the Cheesy Garlic Bread was quite nice. It came with six pieces of soft bread topped with semi-melted mozzarella. It was well seasoned and looked great too. However, as the boyfriend put it, ‘It just wasn’t cheesy enough!’ It lacked that blast of cheese that we all love when we sink our teeth into some velvety cheesy goodness.


Baked Stuffed Potatoes

When browsing through the menu, the Baked Stuffed Potatoes caught my eye. I instantly pictured skin-on baked potatoes, filled with chicken or sausages topped with oodles of cheese. But when we asked the server about the stuffing, he didn’t know just what it was. He told us they were stuffed with cheese, carrots and vegetables. It would have been lovely if the server knew exactly what he was serving; it provides a reassurance of sorts to diners, that they’re in good hands. We went with the potatoes anyway.


When the stuffed potatoes arrived, they looked lip-smacking. Priced at Rs. 150 and tossed in a gravy oozing with earthy flavours of paprika, the potatoes were cooked until crunchy and stuffed with as assortment of veggies like carrots, peas and baby corn. The cheese was nowhere in sight. I found that the earthy flavours of the gravy overpowered the gorgeous potatoes, the stuffing didn’t do justice to the dish and the potatoes themselves were a little too hard for my liking. The goodness of that mushy bite that is characteristic of baked potatoes was missing. All in all, the brother, the boyfriend and I were not fans of this dish.



Then came our drinks, which I think was the best part of the meal. The boyfriend went with a Pomegranate Cooler, the brother with a Chocolate Milkshake and I with a Mojito. While the former was a wonderful dance of pomegranate and lemon on the taste buds, the milkshake was smooth creamy and chocolicious; and my mojito was refreshing! However, I didn’t quite understand just why the Mojito was priced at Rs. 110. That’s crazy expensive for a drink as simple as a mint and lime concoction! The Chocolate Milkshake was Rs. 120; pricey, but edging on worth it; and the pomegranate cooler was priced at Rs. 80, quite reasonable.



Lamb Burger

For main course, the brother decided to have the lamb burger. Priced at Rs. 170, it looked inviting when it arrived, with the bread being all soft and pillowy and a side of fries. But upon tasting it, we were disappointed. The flavours and textures of lamb are beautiful and cooking it is an art. To be able to work spices in, to complement the meat’s strong flavours is definitely difficult but when done right results in something magical. This was not the case with the burger. The lamb patty was cooked in bland spices, and was then coated in a batter and some semolina before it was deep fried (why burger patties are batter fried, I will never understand). All this just took away the beauty of the meat, leaving it drab and unappetizing.



Chicken Steak

Priced at Rs. 210 (way too expensive!), the Chicken Steak was dry, overcooked and edged towards boring. The chicken breast cooked in a mushroom and garlic sauce spiked with lots of paprika, didn’t play well on my taste buds one bit. I enjoyed the fries and the buttery sauteed vegetables much more that I did the chicken. A thumbs down from me.



Grilled Prawns

The boyfriend went with the Grilled Prawns and my were they delicious! They had this smokey hot flavour coming through which worked spectacularly for the sweet meat of the prawns. And the best bit, the amazing seafood-ness of the prawn that all us seafood lovers crave, was only amplified by the marinade. And the dish was reasonably priced at Rs. 210 as well!


So, here’s the deal about the main course at Brio Cafe. All three dishes that we ordered tasted somewhat similar, if not the same. While the marinade worked splendidly for the prawns, it didn’t work for the chicken one bit. And, that both the prawns and the chicken were cooked in the same marinade was a huge disappointment.



The desserts at Brio Cafe, were the biggest letdown. The three of us are huge fans of dessert and what we had at the cafe was extremely unpalatable, to put it lightly. The Nutella Cheesecake was the most edible from the lot but was a huge disappointment in itself. The base layer of oreos was gluggy and lacked the crackle of the biscuit layer, the cheesecake layer lacked that wow factor and the Nutella topping was just not Nutella. It was a thin layer of simple chocolate that really took away the draw factor of delicious Nutella. To pass that off as Nutella is a crime in the dessert world!

The Fudge Brownie was hard, and crispy, lacked the gooeyness of a brownie, had a weird cookie layer at the bottom and the aftertaste was soapy and unsavoury. The Red Velvet cupcake was really bad. It was not red enough, not velvety enough and the frosting was crisp and hard (obviously made with shortening) and had an incredibly distasteful flavour to it. Probably the worst end to a meal I’ve ever had. Here’s hoping they really step up their dessert game!


All in all, we didn’t really enjoy our experience at Brio Cafe. We went in with high expectations and came out feeling really letdown. There were way too many negatives and just too few positives to counter them. There is room for some serious improvement and I only hope they work harder to please the evolved taste buds of foodies, both young and old. If I had to give my experience an overall rating, I would give it 2 stars out 5.  Would I dine here again? Quite simply, no.

Meal of the Month: Shiro, Mumbai

With this post, I hereby launch my new blogging series – ‘Meal of the Month’. While dining out was quite the usual back in Oman, the experimenting-delicacies-from-every-restaurant-in-town-run has experienced a few hurdles in our new life in Mumbai. For starters, eating out can be pretty expensive (and that really isn’t pretty when you’re living off your savings). Couple that with being generally lethargic and copping out at the thought of travelling by buses and trains, and you have two very lazy, crabby foodies, who’d rather just cook at home! It really is for the best, you know. Well, that’s how we save money, anyway! 😛

So the boyfriend and I decided to treat ourselves to a fancy meal once every month. That way we get to quench our never-dying hunger for good food, and we get to explore the many wonderful restaurants Mumbai has to offer. And what better way to kick this blogging series off than with a food review of Shiro, Mumbai. 😀


Shiro exudes the charm of the Orient rather perfectly. As you walk in, while your eyes do a double-blink to adjust to the warm lighting, you can’t help but notice – in awe, may I add – the dramatic high ceiling and the gigantic Buddhism inspired statues welcoming you. In an instant the first word that comes to mind is ‘classy’ and that in itself sets the tone for a gorgeous experience.


For our first course, we ordered the Chicken, Prawn and Shiitake Mushroom Siu Mai and California Maki. They do have an unlimited Sushi and Dimsum Lunch that comes at a premium, but we decided to go a la carte. The Siu Mai was moist and succulent with the paper thin outer coating giving way to a well-seasoned filling. But what took the show was the California Maki. I love me some Sushi and this Maki filled with crab-sticks, cucumber and Japanese spicy mayonnaise was just incredible! The different flavours and textures dancing a tango on your tongue is an experience I will never forget. Sweet, spicy and fresh, it was everything I want in Sushi! 😀



For the entree, we ordered the Korean Spicy Stir Fried Chicken and Clay Pot Japanese Rice with Chicken. Both were spectacular. The stir-fried chicken was a little too spicy to my liking, yet I enjoyed having it set my tongue on fire (weird, but true!). And the clay pot Japanese rice was a total win! With a smoked soy flavour coming through and some much needed tang and sweetness complementing it amazingly, it was one of those dishes that left me with a mental note to myself to try recreating it at home. So delish!



IMG_20151109_141101About now, our tummies were stuffed, and happily at that. But a meal is never complete without dessert! So, we ordered the Molten Chocolate Sesame Pops with a Philadelphia Cheese Sauce. And my, was it a treat! That smokey bitterness of the crispy white sesame paired with molten dark chocolate centres and the tangy cheese sauce was a combination made in heaven! I don’t like too much chocolate, but I couldn’t resist indulging! Just WOWW! 🙂

In all, as you can tell, Shiro was a hit with us two! The food was fabulous, the ambience warm and welcoming and the service, amazing! A big shoutout to our server Rupesh who managed to maintain the perfect balance of friendliness and professionalism, a quality that is hard to find. We had a blast, and we will definitely go back. Maybe for another meal another month… 🙂

The Foodscape’s Quick Take 

Food: 4.5/5    Ambience: 4/5    Service: 4/5    Pricing: Quite pricey, but worth it.

Food Review – The Yellow Chilli, Muscat

The Yellow Chilli_original

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.

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… 😉

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! :-/

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! 😀

Palak Pattha Chaat

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


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!

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. 🙂

Lemon Grass Chicken Tikka

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

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! 🙂

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.

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.

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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!

Biryani Paradise – Qureshi Bab Al-Hind

IMG_0822To food connoisseurs and food lovers around the world, Bukhara is a well known brand that specializes in Awadhi and Dum-Pukht cuisines. It has become so popular all over the world that in some places, Indian cuisine is identified by it. I was extremely fortunate to meet the man behind it all, Masterchef Imtiaz Qureshi. (For me, a 21 year old foodie+food-writer, this is a huuuuuge deal!) He also gave the world his amazing lineage. His sons went on to set up Grande Cuisines of India and have also branched out around the world with several other restaurant chains; Qureshi Bab Al-Hind is one of them.

A couple of months ago, I had the opportunity to meet with Ashfaque Qureshi, son of Imtiaz Qureshi, at the opening of their restaurant Qureshi Bab Al-Hind in Hormuz Grand, Muscat. That lunch was a meal I will never forget – the conversation was bubbling with enthusiasm and love for food and the delectable fare did not disappoint. Ashfaque spoke about food with a deep love for his roots and pride in his father’s success in taking Dum-Pukht beyond the borders of India. I’ve been to Qureshi twice since, and I’ve found that the food just keeps getting better.


A few days back I received a call to attend a food-bloggers meet which was to be held at Qureshi. (My first ever invite to a bloggers meet 😀 )However, even before the meet could take place, I had the opportunity to accompany a colleague to an interview with Imtiaz Qureshi.

My colleague Basim Maharbi and I with Masterchef Imtiaz Qureshi

We were invited to be part of the Jashn-e-Biryani, a Biryani festival at Qureshi which coincided with the visit of the Masterchef himself to Muscat. Meeting Imtiaz Qureshi was wonderful, to say the least. He spoke fondly of Awadhi cuisine in his deep baritone, about how it was the food of the kings, compared how food was enjoyed back in his day and how it has come to be a whole new experience. He shed light on his journey, shared anecdotes about recipes gone wrong and talked endlessly about his love for his country and his desire for his food to make his country proud. Needless to say, his food has been an ambassador of India to the world for a really long time. In fact, we all have him to thank for keeping the art of Dum Pukht alive.

What really touched me about Masterchef Imtiaz Qureshi is that he has immense pride in the recipes he has created and the line of restaurants he has brought to life, yet he so humbly looks after his guests while they enjoy the entire Qureshi experience. During lunch, he sat down with us, coaxed us to eat while the food was still hot and made sure that we ate until we couldn’t move. Such is the kind of hospitality you will receive at Qureshi Bab  Al-Hind.

Awadhi Fish, Spicy Prawn and Lamb Galouti Kebab

For the first course, we were served a kebab platter of Awadhi Fish, Spicy Prawn and a Lamb Galouti Kebab served with mint chutney and some sweet relish. The fish was mildly spiced, perfectly cooked and simply succulent. The prawn was seasoned beautifully, soft and mushy and spicy all at once. The Galouti Kebab was so delicious, I wanted to ask for a repeat! It was crumbly, creamy, tangy and spicy – exactly the way I love it! Interesting fact – when I met Ashfaque Qureshi for the first time, he told us that the Galouti Kebab at Qureshi is made with a blend of 78 spices!

The Biryani waiting to be unveiled!

Then came the Biryanis! I truly believe that when you’re in doubt about what to eat, you should always opt for Biryani – a good Biryani will surely leave you content! We were served three Biryanis – Kacchi Ghosht Biryani, Chicken Biryani and Zeer-E-Multan Biryani. The Kacchi Ghosht Biryani is a lamb biryani flavoured with aromatic herbs, mint and the flavour of the yoghurt marinade. The meat was soft and not too heavy and the mild subtle spices did a splendid dance on my taste buds. The Chicken Biryani had me bowled over! (My mouth is watering now 😦 ) But the Zeer-E-Multan Biryani took the show. It was a Biryani cooked with Portobello mushrooms, Button mushrooms and Truffles. Oh my, it felt like a delicacy sent down from the heavens! *Drooooolll* (Sorry, I didn’t click pictures, I was too busy eating!)

The Dessert Platter
Gajar Ka Halwa

Then came my favourite part of every meal – Dessert! We were served Gajar ka Halwa (an Indian sweet made with grated carrots, clarified butter and dried fruits) and Kheer (an Indian sweet made with milk and rice, flavoured with cardamom, saffron and garnished with dried fruits) with Berries and compote! This dessert platter was awesome – the Kheer was not too sweet, the Gajar Ka Halwa was crunchy and yummm and the berries cut through the sweetness and brought forth their signature tang.


In all, it was another beautiful experience at Quresh Bab Al-Hind. The ambience was breath-taking, the food lip-smacking and the company, amazing. If you love Biryani as much as I do, go check out the Jashn-e-Biryani at Qureshi. The festival ends on April 30, 2015. And if you wish to have some delicious Indian food with a home-cooked air to it, Qureshi Bab Al-Hind is the place to visit.

Meet the Qureshis – (From left) Irfan, Imran, Masterchef Imtiaz and Ashfaque