Sunday, August 30, 2009

Oh! Calcutta Oh! Yes

This has been a heavy duty food week with a nawabi lunch at Karim's (Gurgaon) a few days back consisting of Biriyani, Burra Kebab, Chicken Afghani, Jehangiri Qorma and the masterpiece - Mutton Raan, this was followed by Haleem from Pista House. And it was only fair that it ended with a lavish Bangali spread at Oh! Calcutta (Nehru Place, Delhi) this afternoon.
Coming back to the lunch, some school and college friends of mine planned this a few days in advance and exchanged emails to get into the mood. This post by Shantanu Ghosh (a highly recommended food blogger) obviously upped the ante.
Bangali cuisine is quite elaborate to begin with. A normal lunch at a Bangali household is usually a 4-5 course event - starting with some veg/fish fries as appetisers, a veg curry, dal, a non veg curry (fish/chicken/mutton), and a sweet dish. So, when you come to the most well known Bangali chain in the country for their Sunday lunch do budget for 1.5-2 hours and tie the belt a little loose.
The lunch started with some very well prepared fish chops, crisp and fresh with kashundi (mustard sauce), and the ubiquitous luchi and chholar dal. They also had some seafood and chicken salad, though I can't vouch for their bangaliness.
Then we moved the the steamed rice and veg part of the meal. Though the Bangali cuisine is better known for it's machh (fish) and other non-veg side, we do have a heavy armoury of the the torkaris (veg curries)! As you can see, the greyish curry next to the rice is perhaps the most famous of them all - shukto. Somewhat similar to avial in the southern part of India and the mixed-veg sabzi of the norh. Along with that there was doi potol (a very Indian vegetable whose English name I am not aware of, cooked in a curd based gravy),  and aloo-fulkopi posto - between the shukto and chholar dal in the picture. This is a dry-ish dish of potato and cauliflower smeared with posto (poppy seeds).
And now the 'main course' the amish or the non-veg part of the meal. I apologise for the poor clarity of the picture, by the time I reach this part of the lunch I am usually too one-tracked on the food and lose the focus on the photos. A trait that I may not try to rectify too soon!Anyway,, the reddish to the top left of the plate was Tomato Rui Machher Jhol (Rohi fish in a thick Tomato based curry) more or less a staple at most homes. Next to that is the most authentic home made murgir jhol (chicken curry) you will come across. And finally the chingri machher malai kari (prawns cooked in a coconut based gravy). All three items reeked of the bangali home kitchen and brought back fond memories to the table of 5 bangalis living in Delhi, nteresting none of us are from Kolkata, which seems to be the only place in Bengal that anyone seems to know!
There was a most well prepared Mutton Biriyani with the Bangali style whole boiled potato in it. However, by that time I had dug into my plate with my hands and so there is no pictorial proof of the same.

By the time we were through with this we couldn't move too many muscles in the body, least so the mouth and legs, however a Bangali meal being incomplete without the mishti (sweets) we had to attack the chaler payesh (a rice & milk concoction) and Rosogolla (I won't translate this).

A weekend lunch buffet (they don't have dinner buffets) will come to around 600 INR with taxes. On the whole the place definitely gives you an slice of the Bangali cuisine. But remember, you will do justice to the place only if you go when hungry, very hungry!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

10 Movie Reviews In 1400 characters

I intend to write a review after most movies I watch, but have ended up doing so for just 3 movies over the last one year. I would like to attribute the dismal intention:action ratio to two technologies - Facebook and Twitter. Usually I update a 140 character review no sooner than I finish watching a movie and that generates the ennui to do more justice to the review later. One of the resolutions I took this morning while in the 'I-must-do-something-fruitful' moods, is to review most movies going forward.

To make up for the lost ones I am jotting down the 140 character reviews with ratings of the movies I saw over the last year or so.

Pulp Fiction


Love Aaj Kal

Harry Potter And The Half Blood Prince

Angels & Demons

The Usual Suspects

The Prestige

Black Friday



I couldn't search my tweets beyond this (around 6 months from now), and that by itself was a pretty tough task. In case you want to search your previous tweets you can try the following steps.

1) Go to and enter you Twitter username and password.

2) Download the .csv which will give you all your tweets till around 6 months back.

3) Search for your tweets in the .csv file and check the date.

4) Go to and put a number after the =, this is the page number of your tweets. E.g will give you the 6th page (starting from the latest) of your tweets. After this you just need to narrow down the tweet by changing the page number depending upon the date of the tweets you see.

I know this is not close to the most elegant way of searching tweets, but that's the best option as of now to my knowledge. If you know of a more convenient method please do let me know.

UPDATE: Just found a much better way of archiving ALL your tweets and searching through them as well! Please follow the instructions here. You just need to use my favourite Google product - Google Reader.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Pista House's Haleem - Divine Gastronomy

This post has a very high probability of wandering into the realms of exaggeration, and if some of you have gathered such from the title I don't blame you. However, hand on foodie heart, I shall try and be as objective as is practically possible writing this piece after having a plateful of it, three to be precise. The 'it' is obviously the haleem from Pista House, Hyderabad.

To get everyone on board I think we should know the basic facts right.

Ramadan (Arabic: رمضان‎, pronounced: /rɑmɑd̪ˤɑːn/) (also written Ramazan, Ramzan, Ramadhan, Ramdan, Ramadaan) is the ninth month of the Islamic Calendar. It is the Islamic month of fasting, in which participating Muslims refrain from eating, drinking, smoking, and indulging in anything that is in excess or ill-natured; from dawn until sunset [Source: Wikipedia]

It is during this time that many Muslims break their day long fast by the dish, the protagonist of this post, Haleem.

Haleem "is a type of stew made from pounded wheat and mutton (or beef) made into a thick paste. It is the mainstay during the Holy month of Ramadan. It is a tradition to break the daily fast (roza) at Iftar with a plateful of haleem." [Source: Wikipedia] Detailed recipe here.

Okay, now that the basics have been covered, time for the details.

Think of what Sachin Tendulkar is to cricket, Ustad Bismillah Khan to the flute or Madagascar to vanilla. Now, that is what Pista House is to Haleem.

We are in the month of Ramadan and having spent a year in Hyderabad I had this craving for Haleem earlier this week. After a few tweets and status updates, God in the guise of Pratyush Prasanna told me via a Facebook comment that Pista House in fact delivers Haleem to quite a few cities of India (research tells me they are - Hyderabad, Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Kochi, Bangalore, Ahmedabad Coimbatore & Pune) and what's more they also accept orders and payments over the internet using credit/debit cards! Mahatma Gandhi's great grandson confirmed it. The minimum order has to be 1 kilo, which comes at a very reasonable 320 INR and is usually shipped within 1-2 days, the package will arrive between 8-11 PM if you are outside of Hyderabad.

I did what I was ordained to.

A bad thunderstorm in Hyderabad and some logistical difficulties tried to stand between my destiny and me, but only for a day. Around 10:30 PM tonight our doorbell rang and Veni came rushing to tell me it was The Haleem!

I leave you with a thought and some pictures. There are very few food items that make you, urge you to live that bit longer just so that you can taste it one more time, Haleem ranks right at the top of the chart. The other of course being Hyderabadi Dum Biriyani. On second thoughts, the culinary God's seem to have been a bit too blatantly biased towards the city of Nizams! God bless Hyderabad, God bless Haleem!

 The package has arrived on our dining table

The famous Pista House emblem

And we are one step away from the first look.

 Nothing has looked more deceptive than a kilo of lumpy haleem.

And there it is, in all it's glory after being heated for 3 minutes. The aroma of meat, ghee and a hundred spices filled our dining room and I guess and hope will not leave it in a hurry!

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Who Am I?

Nowadays quizzing is all about hi-tech rounds and roundabout connections. So, I have decided to go retro and bring back the quintessential '90s round of 'Who Am I?' where the question has clues about the answer (usually a person) and the sooner you get the answer the more points you get. Simple? Okay, one more rule, you cannot click on the clues. Once you do the game is over. You start from 0 points and every clue you miss you get a negative 10 points.
Let's get going!
What's your score at the end of the quiz? His was 166.