Dining at The Hub

After having spent two birthdays away from my parents, I was lucky to be able to celebrate it with them, this time around. As much as I’d like to say it was divine coincidence, I can’t quite. The biggest celebration for us Bengalis, falls at the same time as does my birthday. Unlike me, my parents see that as something wonderful. As a kid, I didn’t quite agree with them. Solely because it meant there would be a holiday on my birthday. Now, I don’t really care. Birthday’s don’t mean much to me.

The fewer people that wish me, the happier I am.

Despite pleading for a bunch of books rather than making a big deal, I was given a Polaroid camera and a lavish dinner. I’m not complaining though! Food is my deathly sin, one I will gladly face Satan for.

Having arrived at The Hub, my parents decided on experiencing the buffet. I chose to go A la Carte. For the appetiser, I decided on the Atlantic Smoked Salmon with a Maple Mustard Emulsion, Sour Cream and fresh greens. 

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Can we just take a minute to appreciate how beautiful this dish looks? It tasted even better! I think I went into a trance of sorts while eating this because I had cleaned up the plate before I even realised. The salmon was cooked perfectly and the mustard emulsion was the perfect kick, balancing the sweetness of the salmon and the tanginess of the sour cream.

Next up, for my main course, I decided on the Pan seared Sole with steamed lentils, pan fried mushrooms in sherry cream with crispy pancetta. 

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The first thought that struck me when I first laid eyes on this dish was, ‘That is one pink dish!’ I hate the colour pink but that didn’t stop me from diving into my food. The colour of the food didn’t dampen the tastes one bit though. The sole was placed on top of the lentils and mushrooms. My knife sliced through the meat like butter and the sherry cream, oh my! It was so silky and light. It went brilliantly with the rest of the dish and made sure my palette was clean with every bite I took. Being a fan of mushrooms, I just wish there were more in the dish. Somewhere between the pancetta and lentils, the taste of the mushrooms often got lost.

Oh and to go with these divine dishes, I decided on a glass from the 2012 bottle of Pater Sangiovese Toscana. It blended in very well with the dishes I chose to try and it did a wonderful job of satiating the wine lover in me.

For my dessert, I chose the Crème Caramel with Cherry Compote. Unfortunately, I was half way through the dish before I realised I had forgotten to take a picture of it. I can assure you of this though, it looked as beautiful as the rest of my courses did.

Once we had finished our dinner, we headed out where we stumbled across this art installation.

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The Goddess of the Wild by Bobo

The inspiration and idea behind this installation was:

Every year Calcutta dresses up for the annual autumn extravaganza celebrating the spirit of victory; the victory of Good over Evil, Hope over Despair, Love over Loss. These overwhelming emotions are represented in the form of the mother Goddess Durga slaying the demon king Mahishasura, most importantly diminishing his ego in the process.

The tales of this battle resonate in the ears of the children who grow up in the otherwise sleepy neighbourhoods of Calcutta. These stories have become very relevant today, given the many battles we are fighting at both the individual and societal levels. Whereas every epoch has its own problems and their corresponding solutions, our contemporary moment has witnessed the intensification of issues on a planetary scale. Are we exhausting our capacity to live sustainably and in harmony with each other and our surroundings? How are we placed to accept difference - different people, different beings, varying cultural norms, multiple religious temperaments? The mythological metaphors represented in this installation invite us to re-evaluate ourselves on these lines.

There are demons and thus there is Hope. One cannot dismiss the growing awareness in recent years towards the shared goal of empowering India's women. A lot of positivity and productive thought has been spent on the cause. Owing to the presence of social media and the platforms for freer expression, as well as due to altering family structures, many urban and rural women in the country today are moving past oppressive patriarchal norms that have historically disadvantaged women in both the domestic and professional spheres. This installation is a tribute to such a blossoming and powerful new sense of womanhood. The representation of the feminine soul as a Bengal tigress also references the wild cat that has been fighting its own battle of survival in our forests. Relatedly, the recent tiger census shows a considerable growth in India's tiger population. We hail the efforts of conservationists, women's rights groups, and everyday people who have contributed to such betterment. The Goddess, here shown as a tigress, is a powerful woman, a mother, and a warrior. More power to her adds more power to us.

I enjoyed my birthday a lot. It was a quite evening spent with my loving family and that is all my heart needed. Add to that, there were no reminders of the fact that I had turned a year older and still was as clueless about life as I was before.

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Experiencing Addis

Being a working girl has its perks, I guess. Every time you pull out that slim card from your wallet, you realise that you can now take care of yourself, that you don’t have to crack open the piggy bank or ask yourself a thousand times over, “Should I ask Mum Dad for some money, or leave it be?”

At the same time, like it is with everything else out there, you sacrifice as well. You don’t have all that much time to yourself. When the alarm goes off, you can’t roll over or snuggle deeper into your duvet and decide not to step out or bunk whatever plans you had. You have to get up, get ready and head to the one thing that allows you to fund yourself.

The point I am trying to make, through all my ramblings, is this: YOU DO NOT GET MUCH TIME TO GO OUT AND CHOMP ON AMAZING FOOD.

There, I said it. My biggest woe as a working girl is out there.

It had been ages since I had last gone out and enjoyed a good meal with my friends and God did I miss it. Thankfully, Hari’s birthday came round and I got the chance to not just go out and let lose but also  experience a cuisine I never thought I’d try, let alone enjoy.

Addis, a small restaurant tucked away near the British Library serves authentic Ethiopian cuisine and for anyone reading this, a experience worth having.

A tad bit similar to the concept of sharing as is done in Indian cuisine, the food is served on plates with diameters as large as two backpacks put together. Maybe I am exaggerating here, but the plates were gigantic. Moving on from my shock on seeing the size of the cutlery, the food is served on these plates and everyone eats from the same plate, their chosen main courses served where they are seated. I can well imagine my explanation not doing much good, so I’m hoping the pictures to follow, will explain better.

With the walls seemingly plastered with dried mud, an appearance of cracks here and there, Ethiopian calligraphy decorating the ceiling and a soft yellow light emitting from all corners of the restaurant, Addis is welcoming and the aroma of food engulfs you, the moment you enter.

Once we were seated, my friends and I decided not to have any alcohol, instead, make it a night of fizzy drinks.

From someone who’s experienced the cuisine and restaurant, here’s a small tip. Don’t go there if you’re starving, neither should you go there with a belly somewhat full. The food is extremely heavy and leaves you with barely any energy to move or even leave your seat. Also, the food takes some time to prepare but that does not mean you should stuff yourselves full with the appetisers they have to offer !

For my starters, I chose Salata Aswad (deep fried aubergine salad, covered in rich tahini and yoghurt butter sauce served with pita bread)

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Another starter that was ordered was Seneg Karia (green chillies stuffed with onion and tomatoes)

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Another starter decided on, the only one that may not have wowed us was the Ayeb Be Gomen (cottage cheese mixed with thinly chopped spinach and cooked with various types of spices)

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Once we had polished off the starters, we waited for the mains which arrived in due time. First, as mentioned before, came the gigantic plated with the Ethopian version of flat bread, Enjera. 

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The plates served with Enjera for all the hungry mouths.

Enjera is flatbread made with yeast and when you first start eating it, the sourness of the yeast is quite strong, but once the gravy of your main course is absorbed by the enjera, the food is absolutely DIVINE and that my friends, is no exaggeration.

While most of my friends and I chose Tibs Firefir (cubes of lean lamb with fried onion with seven special spices mixed) my room mate decided on Doro Firfir (chicken cooked with hot pepper and sauce of spices, mixed). My vegetarian friends chose the Yetesom Beyaynetu (mild mixed vegetable sauce made with cabbage, potatoes, carrots and chickpeas seasoned with special spices) while two of my more devious friends decided on the Addis Special (a mixed platter of meat: Chicken, lamb with fresh vegetable salad) to have a taste of everything there was to offer.

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Endear served with Tibs Firefir and Doro Firfir

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The Addis Special.

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Yetesom Beyaynetu to be soon poured over the Enjara.

Soon, we were gorging and boy, did we enjoy the feast. If only, one of us could finish our portion though. Full to bursting by the end of it, we asked for the bill only when we found the energy to raise our hand and grab the attention of our server. If the world would allow it, I bet we would have gone home, rolling on the streets, instead of waddling at the slow pace that we did.

For my foodie readers out there, residing in London, I urge you to give this place a try and give your taste buds some love!


Chomping on Kati Rolls

Remember the innumerable times I have mentioned how difficult it is to get into Dishoom since they don’t take reservations? Well, back in the day, I once enticed Ian and Sarah to accompany me on one more (failed) attempt to get into Dishoom.

It didn’t end well.

We were told we’d have to wait for at least two more hours and all three of us were extremely hungry.

Disappointed and cranky, we started looking for alternative places to go try out. Luckily enough, I was reminded of the Kati Roll Co. which was quite close to where we were. Excited we headed there and thank God we did, for the food was delicious and the price was extremely affordable, made even more so thanks to a student discount !

We walked into a small cafe, the brick walls flooded all over with old vintage Bollywood movie posters. Massive bulbs hung from the ceiling and small tables were placed all round seated at which were mostly people of our age, enjoying a quick bite and laughter filled conversations.

Having ordered, the three of us sat down, Ian with a cold beer and Sarah and I sipping on bottles of Mango Lassi.

Within five to ten minutes, our food had been served and we were unwrapping our steaming hot Kati Rolls. While Ian and Sarah had ordered two of each, I was happy with one. I quite prefer the menu the cafe had to provide. With ten to twelve options, one doesn’t have to lose much sweat over deciding which treat to go for.

On my recommendation, Ian and Sarah ordered two Chicken Anda Kati Rolls which basically means a flatbread cooked in egg stuffed with chicken, onions, different sauces, tomatoes, cucumbers and a few other vegetables. Besides that, they ordered two Chicken Tikka Kati Rolls which was flatbread stuffed with grilled chicken and other ingredients similar to the Chicken Anda Kati Roll. I chose the Chicken Anda Kati Roll as well, since it was always my preferred choice back home and I wasn’t planning on switching to a different option anytime soon.

Happy Face 1.

Happy Face 2.

Since both the Americans were taller than me (yup, thats the excuse I am going with) they finished their food faster than me, which was good in a way cause while they started butting heads immediately after, disagreeing on some random topic, I was peacefully and without interruption, enjoying my meal. Devilish… I know !

All in all, despite having to walk away (AGAIN) from Dishoom, we stumbled across something equally yummy, so no complaints whatsoever.

If you’re ever in the mood for a quick yet filling bit, head to Kati Roll Co. and if you’re a student, don’t forget to ask for your discount !!

Till then Mavericks…

High Tea With My Girls

Having grown up reading Enid Blyton, I would always dream of one day going off on some adventure with my closest friends and coming across a beautiful farm with a warm host who would treat my friends and me to freshly baked scones and jam, tea and sandwiches.

Time passed, I grew up, the dream changed somewhat but the hope never really withered.

Having lived in London for almost eight months, it was atrocious on my part that I hadn’t yet experienced or indulged in the British High Tea. Not long after my friends stumbled across this revelation did I find myself seated in the cozy interiors of Patisserie Valerie, waiting to enjoy what was in store.

Patisserie Valerie

To begin with, my girls and I were served tea with milk on the side. We all poured ourselves a cup and sipped on it at a leisurely pace. The tea thankfully wasn’t too strong seeing as I’m not the biggest fan of it. (Team Coffee all the way !)

Before long, we were on our second cup, enjoying the conversation and the mellow music that surrounded us.

Tea time !

Our table was then cleared away and the tea was replaced with two silver serving trays. The bottom tray was laden with a variety of sandwiches, the middle tray had scones with clotted cream, raspberry and blueberry jam on the side and the top tray had a variety of desserts for us to choose from.

Delicious is the word.

While Dipa and Mary decided to split the delicacies among themselves from one of the trays, Esperanza and I decided on the same with the other one.

We started with the scones that were delectable to say the least. With a good smearing of either of the jams or the clotted cream and my oh my wasn’t I in heaven. Despite the fact that the scones were quite heavy, it didn’t stop up from stuffing our faces with the sandwiches next. There were two cheese and tomato quiches as well which almost melted in the mouth.

Plain and Blueberry Scones

There were two of each sandwich so no one lost out on tasting any of them. There were simple cheese and lettuce, tomato, salmon, chicken and ham sandwiches and before anyone knew it, they were over. Since we enjoyed them so much, we asked for another round and cleaned them up as quickly as we did before, if not faster !

The delicious sandwiches !

By this point, we barely had any space in our bellies for more but greed got the better of us. The desserts were almost calling out to us and we beckoned to their call without hesitation. The desserts ranged from two chocolate eclairs, a vanilla muffin to a caramel biscuit, a chocolate pastry and a raspberry pastry. Since there was only one of each except the eclairs, we divided all of them in half. Even for a massive sweet tooth like me, the desserts turned out to be way too much to handle and had to be munched on really slowly. We enjoyed all of them except the chocolate cake which just didn’t do it for us, but hey, no complaints about the rest.

The desserts.

After having dabbed at our lips with napkins one last time, we just settled down, no food on the table, trying not to move. For my first experience, it couldn’t have gone any better and I could finally put to rest the dream I had imagined, having turned countless pages as a child lost in the world built of Enid Blyton’s words.

Honestly, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Until next time Mavericks…Keep dreaming.

My girls and I; Esperanza, Dipa, Mary and Me.

Oh Polpo !

On the days that I am extremely bored and could actually find counting grains of sand extremely interesting, one might see me scrolling through the Zomato app on my phone, drooling over pictures of food, wishing dearly I could eat all of them.

One such occasion had me looking into a Venetian restaurant called Polpo. Next thing you know, I was a woman on a mission, convincing my friends to make a plan so we could try out the food this restaurant had to offer. Soon enough, I had everyone’s agreement and we found ourselves dressed up and ready to eat !

Situated very close to Charring Cross, Polpo has a very cozy interior with quite the romantic feel to it. Lowly lit candles are placed at each table and the playlist is in sync with the atmosphere.


We were seated the minute we entered. The waitress serving us was proficient and made us very very happy when she said there would be a constant serving of food and that we wouldn’t have to wait at any point of time for our food.

Since the menu had so many options to choose from, we decided to order two or three dishes each and then have everyone share it. This turned out to be an excellent idea since we ended up ordering sixteen dishes all of which were lip smackingly good and had us patting our content bellies.

While the girls were used to me fidgeting with my camera and clicking pictures of the food, the two dashing men in our group were not. Being the wonderful gentlemen that they are, both Finn and Ian patiently waited while I snapped away at their food.

Now, get ready for A LOT of food people…

Ian, whom I fondly call Yeti (Ladies, he is quite the good looker, please don’t think otherwise based on the pet name I have for him) always enjoys a drink with his meal. So, besides the Negroni that he sipped on through the course of our meal, Yeti ordered a plate of Bruschetta served with Coppa, Peperonata and Goat Cheese. He also ordered a plate of Grilled Herbed Polenta and a main dish of Rabbit meat served with Apricots and Sage Terrine.

Coppa, Peperonata and Goat Cheese Bruschetta.

Grilled Herbed Polenta.

Rabbit meat with Apricots and Sage Terrine.

Might I also add that I got to taste and enjoy a variety of ingredients I had never tried before in my life and it was an enjoyable experience. I had never tried Rabbit before or as Dipa puts it, Bugs Bunny, but I really liked the taste of the meat, the same way I did the Octopus, which Dipa had ordered ! Read on to know and drool some more my lovely Marauders.

Dipa being the pescetarian that she is, ordered the Salmon Tartare with Horseradish and Carta di Musica. She also decided on the Octopus served with Fennel Carpaccio and the White Anchovy and Smoked Mozzarella pizzette.

Salmon Tartare with Horseradish and Carta di Musica.

Octopus with Fennel Carpaccio.

White Anchovy and Smoked Mozzarella.

Mary and Finn decided on sharing a plate of  Cicheti which served one piece of a variety of small bites. We sliced them for all to share and thank god we did cause or else, we all would have been missing out on some real tasty snacks. Alongside that, Mary chose the Wild Mushroom Piadina and a plate of Meatballs ‘alla Vedova’ which was beef meatballs cooked in breadcrumbs.


Wild Mushroom Piadina.

Meatballs ‘alla Vedova’.

Besides the Cicheti, the adorable and last-undergraduate-to-leave-the-hall, Finn, decided on the Spinach, Parmesan and Soft Egg Pizzette and a plate of Classic Beef and Pork Meatballs.

Spinach, Parmesan and Soft Egg Pizzette.

Classic Beef and Pork Meatballs.

After being quite indecisive, I decided on the Rustego, Chestnut Mushroom and Ricotta Pizzette, a plate of Meatballs and Spaghetti with Parmesan on the side and the Pork Belly served with Radicchio and Hazelnuts.

Rustego, Chestnut Mushrooms and Ricotta Pizzette.

Meatballs and Spaghetti with Parmesan on the side.

Pork Belly with Radicchio and Hazelnuts.

Fun story while we’re at it…While everyone was busy diving into their food, I was sitting there, fork and knife in hand, enjoying mini bites of every one’s dishes, wondering out loud why my dishes weren’t being served. Everyone expressed their own curiosity regarding it excepting one particular human in our group.

Any guesses as to who it was ?

It was none other than Yeti.

Would you like to know why ?

Well, I’ll tell you. It was only when Yeti dearest was served his Rabbit dish that he realised he was on his fourth course whereas he had ordered just three. Realisation hit seconds later, and a horror struck Yeti turned to me and confessed that he had all along been happily munching on my Pizzette.

*Round of applause for Yeti*

But but but…being the gentleman he is, he ordered me another plate so all was forgiven !!

Once we had cleared out all our plates, we took a break from all the eating and decided to just enjoy the music and chit chat for some time. Mary and I though had other plans. Having eyed the desserts, we couldn’t hold ourselves back and ended up ordering the Nutella Pizzetta. Dipa decided on joining us by ordering for herself the Chocolate Salami.

Nutella Pizzetta.

Chocolate Salami.

Here’s us, post all the eating.

Mary, me, Ian, Finn and Dipa.

Polpo definitely won my heart and the approval of my taste buds. I would like to think of myself as their personal advertiser since I’ve been recommending the restaurant to all who will listen.

It is a wonderful place to enjoy at if you’re looking for a romantic meal or a break from your hectic schedule.

As a customer, I would definitely recommend the Meatballs with Spaghetti, Wild Mushroom Piadina, Cicheti, Pork Belly with Radicchio and Hazelnuts, Octopus with Fennel Carpaccio and the Rustego, Chestnut Mushrooms and Ricotta Pizzette.

Go give it a try Mavericks. I promise you, you won’t be disappointed !!

Roti Chai

Remember when I said, being away from home made me miss India and its cuisine a bit too much?

Ya well, despite having quite the heavy meal at Dishoom, my desi soul wasn’t quite satiated. I was craving more. The lingering taste of the cuisine made me want to have more of it and I just couldn’t find the excuse to go savour it.

So, when Esperanza’s birthday came round and she expressed her desire to go eat Indian food again, I all but fell out my chair with excitement. Instead of going to Dishoom, we decided on trying out a different Indian restaurant named Roti Chai. Roti Chai has two floors on which it serves food. Despite the fact that it serves the same cuisine, the first floor serves a more diverse range of street food and the like.The service is fast and it isn’t that heavy on the wallet. As my girls and I were going out for dinner and it was after all, our darling Espy’s birthday, we decided on treating her to the high end meal.

Upon entering, we were welcomed by a giant sign that not so subtly directed us towards the ground floor where we would be dining.

Bhojan Kaksh which translates into ‘Eating Area’

After being seated, we took a few minutes to settle down and take in the decor and setting of the restaurant. Lanterns hung low from the ceiling and steel racks were nailed to the wall on top which were placed suitcases to give the feel of a railway carriage. It was quite unlike the first floor which was decked with posters and mud dolls of Indian cultural performers. Having become warm and comfy in our seats, we were given the menu cards. We opted out of the set three course menu and decided on ordering a variety of stuff so that we could all taste and enjoy the dishes. Dipa and I, proud Indians that we are, helped Mary and Esperanza out as they went through the menu cards. After quite a lot of indecisiveness, we had finally decided on our starters. On our insistence, Mary and Esperanza decided to try out the Seasonal Pav Bhaji and Dhaba Tandoori Chicken. Being massive fans of prawns, Dipa and I decided on sharing a plate of Chilli Garlic Prawns.

From left to right : Seasonal Pav Bhaji which is spiced vegetable mash with buttered ‘pav’ bread, Chilli Garlic Prawns cooked with Goan chilli, roasted garlic, rock samphire served atop coconut rice and Dhaba Tandoori Chicken where the meat is rubbed with traditional tandoori masalas.

The minute the starters were laid in front of us, we dived in. I squealed in joy upon popping the first prawn into my mouth. It was so juicy and delicious. What made this dish even more yummy was the fact that it was served with coconut rice which is one of my favourite comfort foods. The rice is fried in yoghurt and coconut cream and makes for quite the hearty meal. With that first bite, I couldn’t help but miss my mum and home terribly. While I was lost in prawn land, Mary and Esperanza had started on the Seasonal Pav Bhaji. Despite the fact that it was a tad bit spicy, the buttery ‘pav’, which is a loaf of bread in the shape of a bun and the flavours of the ‘bhaji’ won them over. Although Esperanza’s eyes were close to watering, it didn’t stop her from spooning some more on her plate. We tried the Dhaba Tandoori Chicken at the end because it was a big chunk of chicken leg which had been pit roasted. For Indians like Dipa and me, the flavours were anything but spicy but Mary and Esperanza found the masala rubbed on the skin of the meat a little spicy. Nothing a big dash of lemon didn’t fix though !

We then requested for the menu cards once again, our appetites still quite ravenous. After much musings and explanations about what dish is what, we chose our main courses. While Mary decided on trying out the Parsi Chicken Dhansak, Dipa chose the Koliwada Fish Kari and Esperanza and I both zoomed in on the Butter Chicken. We ordered a side of Steamed Basmati Rice, Raita, one serving of Tandoori Roti and two servings of Garlic Naan. 

It wasn’t long before our noses caught the smell of our food wafting from the kitchen and before we knew it, the dishes were in front of us, waiting to be eaten.

The Koliwada Fish Kari is a traditional fisherman style dish with tilapia, coconut and South Indian spices.

The Parsi Chicken Dhansak is a Zoroastrian sweet and sour chicken dish with lentils, butternut and spices

The Butter Chicken is an old Delhi style chicken thigh tikka dish served with ‘makhani’ gravy and a touch of fenugreek.

The Garlic Naan went brilliantly with the Butter Chicken. The kick of the garlic along with the creamy gravy of the chicken made every morsel melt in my mouth. The chicken was cooked perfectly and there was enough for more than one person. Being a big fan of Butter Chicken, I don’t think there will ever be a time when I’ll have something bad to say about the dish. Esperanza enjoyed it too although being a little sensitive towards the flavours of India, she cleaned out the dish with her nose and eyes watering. The Raita helped soothe the taste buds since it had an added element of pomegranates in it which, surprisingly, went quite well with the cucumbers and yoghurt. On tasting Dipa’s Koliwada Fish Kadi, I was immediately reminded of a very common South Indian dish called Sambaar which is served alongside Idlis and Dosas. Not being a huge advocate of fish in general, the fish of this dish won me over. It was extremely soft and the curry in which it was cooked made it all the more tastier. Having never tasted Zoroastrian dishes before, Mary’s dish was a first for me as well and I have to say I enjoyed it quite a lot. It was a wonderful mix of sweet and sour where no one particular taste overpowered the other. Unlike the others, I preferred her dish with Tandoori Roti rather than Basmati Rice or Garlic Naan.

We had finished off our mains faster than we had expected. Boy, we must have been hungry !

Doesn’t it look divine ?

Since it was Esperanza’s birthday, we couldn’t leave without some sugar tingling on our tongues now could we ? On Dipa’s recommendation, we decided on ordering the Chocolate Tart with Cinnamon Cream. It lived up to its fame I have to say. I was a little sad knowing my wish to try the Chai Brûlée had been over ruled but one spoon of this sin and my mind wasn’t thinking straight one bit. The chocolate mousse of the tart was silky smooth and the tart was baked just right. I never thought I would enjoy cinnamon cream so much but it was just out of this world. Gah, I have no words for it !!

Chocolate Tart served with Cinnamon Cream.

To preserve our lovely moments in this restaurant, we had a group picture taken and after one too many attempts, we got the perfect one.

From right to left : Esperanza, Dipa, Mary and me !

Personally, I don’t know which one I preferred more, Dishoom or Roti Chai. Even if I were held at gun point, I would be stammering and fumbling for words, both are THAT good.

My advice ?

Try both of them out. Maybe you can help me decide or find yourselves in the same quandary as me.

Have fun Mavericks !!


“Oh my God, this smells just like home” gushed a very excited Jenny as we walked into the quaint greek restaurant in Bayswater. Having lived with quite a few Greeks these past few months, it was but a matter of time before they dragged us to the nearest restaurant and made us try their cuisine that they so proudly talked of. Having loved their company and stories, I was always up for it. Plus, they come from the land of sands and beaches. They have a little bit of sunshine tucked in their sleeve, no matter how sullen the London weather gets.

The Greek restaurant we decided to try out, Santorini, seemed to have brought Greece to London. With walls painted a very calming white with hues of turquoise blue, I felt as though I had been transported to the beach, a delicious glass of Sangria in my hand. The floor was adorned with glass frameworks of sand and sea shells and the soulful yet heartbreaking songs of Kaiti Garbi, a very famous Greek singer, kept us entertained and serenaded.

Sand and sea shells adorning the floors.

Boat paddles hung on the walls.

Volkan Santorini.

Having absolutely no clue about what to order, we let the two Greeks, Mary and Jenny, choose the dishes for us. They explained to us that according to the Greek culture, it was more convenient to order loads of starters and less mains each of which would be then shared by everyone so that no one missed out on tasting the dishes. After a quick conversation in Greek with the server, we settled down with glasses of iced water as we waited for our food to arrive. Not long after, we saw a server walking towards our table with the first of many orders.

To begin with, we were served Tzatziki, Greek Salad, Keftedes and Pita Bread which is served along with any dip ordered.

Keftedes were minced meat balls made out of beef and lamb. The Tzatziki was a yogurt dip with cucumbers and garlic. The Greek Salad consisted of tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, green bell peppers, olives, feta cheese and extra virgin olive oil.

Pita Bread.

We immediately dug in, smearing copious amounts of Tzatziki on our Pita Bread. The garlic in the dip was the right amount since it wasn’t overpowering but at the same time delivered the kick one expected. Imitating Mary and Jenny, we tore pieces of our Pita Bread and spooned the Greek Salad onto it and then popped the massive morsels into our mouth, shamelessly. While the salad was extremely fresh and the feta cheese made me swoon with happiness, the minced meat balls with lemon juice squirted on top balanced out the flavours perfectly.

Just as we were cleaning up with these dishes, we were served Cretan Cheese Saganaki and Fresh Fried Calamari.

Fresh Fried Calamari consisting of fresh deep fried baby calamari served with a side of Ouzo mayonnaise.

Cretan Cheese Saganaki was sautéed breaded graviera cheese drizzled with honey and sesame.

The Cretan Cheese Saganaki stole the show for me. The melted cheese with honey on top turned me into a puddle of flesh in my seat. There was a mini party in my mouth with every bite I took. It was my favourite dish out of all the rest and I really wish I could be munching on some right now. It was heavenly. The calamari wasn’t oily at all and was the right amount of crunchy and soft and the servings were huge. Having cleaned out the tiniest of crumbs on our plate, we took a break from eating to make some space in our bellies for the mains that were soon to be served.

All too soon, they had been laid on the table. While Antonin and his brother Florian decided on the Kleftiko, us girls, decided on the Mousaka.

The Kleftiko, a house special, is a slow braised lamb shoulder served with oregano roasted potatoes.

The Mousaka, another house special, is baked aubergine with minced lamb with layered potatoes, topped with béchamel cheese sauce.

The flavours of the Kleftiko reminded me of a lamb dish served back home. The meat was succulent and the spices used along with the oregano roasted potatoes made me want to keep on having more. Once we had divided the Mousaka, which in presentation faintly resembled lasagna, I hesitantly had my first bite, not being the biggest fan of aubergine. I then continued having bigger morsels. It was so delicious ! The béchamel cheese sauce was very different to taste but so yummy and the alternate layers of lamb, aubergine and potatoes made me say ‘yum’ one too many times.

Having licked my cutlery clean, we pondered over the very important question; “Should we have dessert?” By this time all of us were quite full and could barely move. We went back and forth, trying to decide, none of us agreeing or disagreeing. We decided to take a break and it was at this point that we decided on having pictures clicked because

a) Why not ?
b) No proof, no believers
c) Refer to point a)

The kitty brothers as Jenny likes to call them; Antonin (right) and his brother Florian (left).

The boys weren’t the best when it came to using my phone camera so we girls decided on having our picture clicked a little later. We returned to the question of whether we should satiate the sweet tooth or not and ultimately, greed won over. We just couldn’t resist the temptation !! Having looked through the dessert options, we decided on having two servings of the same dessert which was Mastic Panacotta.

The Mastic Panacotta is panacotta infused with mastic and served with wild cherry coulis on top.

My first taste of the panacotta made me crave some more but at the same time made me wonder whether I liked the taste or just wanted to remember what the infusion reminded me of. The mastic comes from the bark of the Mastic Tree, commonly found in Mediterranean regions. After having had tiny bites of the dessert, Antonin tried one more time to take a picture of us and he succeeded this time. Yeah us !

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From right to left: Jenny, Mary and yours truly.

It was when I was nearly done with the dessert that I realised that mastic tastes faintly like the cardamom spice. Once the realisation hit me, I couldn’t get enough of it. By this time, my stomach was grumbling in protest and I knew I wouldn’t be able to eat anymore. Thankfully, Florian came to the rescue and cleaned up both the desserts for us.

Not wanting to leave immediately, we stayed there chatting, losing ourselves to the music playing in the background. Since it was a Friday, the restaurant was quite busy which meant we had to leave soon since people needed to be seated and we were holding on to seats we didn’t need. So, with a heavy heart but a very happy belly, we left the restaurant promising to return soon.

Look at us happy foodie souls.

Santorini, you own my tummy heart and now more than ever, I believe, a part of me is Greek or was Greek if you readers believe in reincarnations. The food we had reminded me of the sun and summer and it becomes a little too difficult to reign in the excitement every time I think of the fact that I will be visiting Greece soon. If not for anything else, I’m heading there for the food and I for one CAN. NOT. WAIT !

Get Those Chopsticks Ready

If there’s one cuisine besides Indian that I don’t get tired of eating, ever, is Chinese. I have loved chomping on their divine dishes since I was a kid. As I grew older, I started trying my hand at eating the food with chopsticks. The attempts usually involved one chopstick flying across the room or the food dropping back on the plate before it was anywhere close to my mouth.

Good times…

Having arrived in London, I haven’t stuffed myself with food from Subway, kFC, Pizza Hut which is surprising. What is even more shocking is that I didn’t go hunt down the nearest Chinese restaurant the minute I landed on British soil. Even after I found a restaurant five minutes away, I did not head down there. I was starting to question the immense power my laziness had over me and trust me when I say this, I was worried.

When my college friend Swetank and I decided to celebrate his return from Paris with food, I was left with the challenging task of choosing a cuisine and finding a restaurant that served the cuisine. After surfing through countless Buzzfeed articles about food joints in London and overusing the Zomato application on my phone till it didn’t crash, I finally decided upon a restaurant in Chinatown called Leong’s Legend Continues. Having found each other amidst the jostling crown near Leicester Square, Swetank and I trudged towards the restaurant trying really hard not to shiver in the cold.

Well, at least I was.

The entire street was decorated with lanterns as Chinese New Year was being celebrated and luckily, we got to witness the Dragon Dance as I like to call it, just before entering the restaurant.

There’s a small video of the dragon dance on my Instagram feed if you readers would like to watch it. My Instagram is @snehasarcar. Check it out, it was so amazing !

Having witnessed the celebration, we walked into the restaurant only to find ourselves in a queue. Thankfully, we were seated within minutes, on the second floor of the restaurant. The decor was simple with lanterns lighting up the entire room. We were handed menus by our server who was extremely sweet and efficient throughout our time there.

Meet Swetank. I force him to smile for my pictures.

I had been craving dumplings for the longest time ever and Buzzfeed had featured Leong’s Legend Continues in an article titled 17 Delicious Dishes Every Londoner Should Try which you can read here. Putting my faith in the article, I ordered the Xiao Long Bao which were dumplings stuffed with pork in soup. They were so delicious, I can’t even find the words to express how very divine they were. Unfortunately (fortunately for me) Swetank is a vegetarian so he couldn’t try them. More for me. Yeah ! So while I tried to correctly grab and lift the dumplings with my chopsticks that refused to stay steady, Swetank enjoyed a chilled beer.

Look at these morsels of sheer perfection.

We then took a long look at the menu and only came to a decision after the server had swung by our table two-three times. I decided on having the Stir Fried Sea Noodles since I felt quite full already having gorged on all the dumplings by myself. Swetank decided on a plate of Vegetarian Noodles and Aubergine with Mashed Garlic in Tao Pan Sauce as a side dish.

Stir Fried Sea Noodles.

Vegetarian Noodles.

Aubergine with Mashed Garlic in Tao Pan Sauce.

Since the portions of the main dishes were so much, neither of us could finish our meals. By the end of it, both of us were reclining in our chairs trying not to move cause we were so stuffed. Despite not being able to take another morsel, I felt quite sad when our plates were cleared away.

I walked out of the restaurant, the happiest person on the planet. I finally had Chinese cuisine in my belly after having lived in London for six months. Leona’s Legend Continues definitely gets my tick of approval for its cosy decor and delicious food. I wouldn’t mind taking another trip to this restaurant. If not for anything else, for the Xiao Log Bao at least !

Have fun Mavericks !!
With love,

Packs a Punch

I have always enjoyed the explosion of flavours in my mouth when I have had Indian food. Despite having an appetite and insatiable hunger for almost all kinds of cuisines, I never realised how much I savoured and enjoyed Indian food (my mother’s cooking included) until I came to London and barely got to taste it.

Having heard of Dishoom one too many times, I decided quite adamantly to try it out. Unfortunately, luck wasn’t on my side. Dishoom having been rated one of the best restaurants in London obviously catered to a large audience, but they didn’t take reservations. It was because of this reason, that on two separate occasions, my friends and I had to turn back and find some other restaurant to eat in since the waiting period was upto two hours. My cribbing didn’t stop though.


And finally, it happened. My two girlfriends decided to take me out on a surprise lunch date. From the time we left the hall till the time I didn’t see the restaurant, I had no clue as to where we were headed. I was blindly following my two friends. Upon seeing the sign of the restaurant though, the squeal that escaped my lips deafened the whole of Covent Garden I think. It most probably did.

Here’s a little snippet about Dishoom. The restaurant reflects and encapsulates the slowly fading atmosphere of old Parsi cafes in Mumbai with high ceilings and low hung bulbs where time seems to move slowly and the food speaks for itself. Can I just say, it does a brilliant job of keeping the memory of Parsi cafes alive.

Rules of the cafe : No smoking. No fighting. No credit. No food from outside. No talking loud. No spitting. No bargaining. No cheating. No water to outsiders. No matches. No gambling. No combing hair. All castes welcome.

Seated in the middle of the restaurant with wooden chairs and marble topped tables all around me, I felt as though I had been transported back to India for a few seconds. The restaurant walls were decked with posters and picture frames of old movies and the low hanging bulbs gave the restaurant a dimly lit but extremely cosy feel. After being seated, we were served water in traditional steel glasses and handed the menu and boy did my excitement shoot through the roof upon glancing at it.

Wanting to chomp on everything they had to offer, we decided on ordering Chilli Cheese Toast, Dishoom Calamari and Okra Fries as starters.

Chilli Cheese Toast : A Bombay standard. Cheddar melt on white bloomer. We had it with chillies on the side.

Dishoom Calamari : Tiny tender squid, grainy crumb – crunch, quick fried and tossed into a bowl with Dishoom drizzle.

Okra Fries : Fine lady’s fingers for the fingers.

These were served with three different dips/sauces; a tamarind dip that was extremely tangy with a hint of spice, a spicy dip made with chillies and swimming in oil and a minty green dip that was refreshing and had a slight taste of curd in it. Having cleared up every single crumb on the plate, we then mused over what to order for our mains. Dipa being the pescetarian that she is, decided on Mahi Tikka, a bowl of Steamed Basmati Rice, House Black Daal and Classic Raita as a side dish. I decided on having Chicken Ruby with two servings of Roomali Roti. Esperanza having once before tried the biryani, wished to eat it again and so chose the Chicken Berry Britannia.

Mahi Tikka : In Bombay, Mahi can be any fish, but this is sustainable Asian bass fillet in a subtle yoghurty marinade.

House Black Daal : A Dishoom signature dish – dark, rich, deeply flavoured. It is simmered over 24 hours for extra harmony.

Classic Raita : Delicate minty yoghurt, cool as the cucumber.

Chciken Ruby : A good and proper curry redolent with spice and flavour. Tender chicken in a rich, silky ‘makhani’ sauce, best mopped up with a Roomali Roti.

Chicken Berry Britannia : The Dishoom variation on the legendary Irani cafe special, with cranberries.

As you can tell, we lapped up every single morsel and I personally, had to refrain myself from licking my fingers. The Mahi Tikka was extremely soft and almost melted in the mouth. The Ruby Chicken was very creamy and thick albeit a tad bit spicy. The Chicken Berry Britannia was rich in flavour and the cranberries gave the right amount of sweetness. I couldn’t get enough of the food and felt a pang on finishing our meal. Despite having no space in my stomach for more, I was lusting for more dishes.

Before we left, we decided on ordering Kulfis as dessert. While Dipa and Esperanza chose the Mango Kulfi, I chose the Pistachio Kulfi. Esperanza who hails from Italy, declared that the Kulfi was the best she ever had and that it was better than gelato. THAT, coming from an Italian is HUGE.

Mango and Pistachio Kulfis.

We couldn’t leave without having a group picture taken of course. All the time we were there and even after we had left the restaurant, the smiles on our faces were so bright, it could blind someone. My desi soul so to speak was doing cartwheels in delight and couldn’t stop gushing over how delicious the food was.

Dipa, me and Esperanza.

People,if you are in London, visit this place. Stand in line if you have to, but visit it. You will keep coming back for more, I guarantee that.

Don’t believe me ? Read the review for Dishoom written by Dipa who prides herself on being quite the foodie. She’ll give you the cold hard facts. Also, if you wish to find out more about eating joints and whether they deserve a thumbs up or not, head over and read all about the glorious restaurants London houses on Dipa’s food blog : Dipa Dishes.

Happy munching Mavericks !

With love,

Post Valentine’s Dining

Who says you can only celebrate Valentine’s with your better half ?
You can just as well celebrate it with your friends or family and that’s exactly what I did. Three days later. With my best friend, who also turns out to be my better half, but we’ll just overlook that.

My boyfriend and I decided to go out and celebrate Valentine’s Day by doing what we love most, eating. Since both of us were busy with research proposals and presentations, we decided to go out and relax a few days later when we were both stress free.

With no clue as to where we were going to dine or what had been planned, I set out, in painfully high heels towards Holborn to meet up with my him. Having found each other, we walked towards a cute Italian restaurant, Amarcord Ristorante Italiono, where he had made reservations (in the bathroom of his office mind you). Turns out the restaurant served Italian cuisine and since I absolutely love the cuisine, wasn’t surprised when I found myself clapping gleefully and eyeing what people were eating while shamelessly salivating.

We were seated in a quiet corner of the restaurant and were immediately handed menu cards.  There were so many options, it was quite the struggle for me to decide my order. Finally, we chose our food and soon enough were being served our starters.

While I went for Avocado Con Gamberet, which was ripe avocado with prawns and cocktail sauce, my boyfriend chose the Aletti Di Pollo Pica, which was charcoal grilled chicken wings with garlic and red chillies. Both the starters were served with salad on the side.

Avocado Con Gamberet

Aletti Di Pollo Pica

The portions served were extremely generous. I was quite certain I would not be able to enjoy my main course on seeing the size of the starter but surprisingly, the food was light and so didn’t weigh me down. The prawns in my starter were fresh and soft with the right amount of cocktail sauce. The sauce had very balanced flavours and was neither extremely tangy or sweet. The combination of prawns and avocado went very well and I found myself cleaning up every inch of the plate. My boyfriend had very similar opinions about his starter. He didn’t find it too spicy and the wings were grilled just the way he preferred it. He also ended up finishing up my starter since eating healthy is more his thing than mine. I did get a disapproving look from him though when I not so subtly pushed my plate towards him, wordlessly asking him to clean up the salad on my plate.

As soon as we were done with our starters, the waitress came by and took our plates away and served us right after with our mains. I thought the portions of the starters were big, but the portions of the main courses were even more. Steaming hot and beautifully presented, we dove into our food without a second thought.
While he had gone for the Pizza 4 Formaggi, which had Parmesan, Mozzarella, Cheddar and Gorgonzola Cheese, I decided on trying the Ravioli Al Funghi, which was ravioli stuffed with meat cooked in mushroom and cream sauce.

Pizza 4 Formaggi

Ravioli Al Funghi

When I started slicing the ravioli, it got submerged in the sauce and I for a second thought the cream sauce was a bit too much and might make me queasy but once I was done with my dish, I realised it was the perfect amount. The mushrooms were cooked just right and the cheese had oozed all over the ravioli and mixed well with the sauce to make it creamy and silky. The drizzled parmesan on top simply made it more delicious. My boyfriend’s pizza which was bigger than both our faces put together was thin crusted. Quoting him in regards to the pizza ‘my taste buds are having a little dance party’ I think is more than enough explanation as to how much he enjoyed his dish.

We left with our food souls extremely satiated and a massive smile etched on our faces. Our post Valentine’s celebrations was fun filled and full of laughter, love and merriment, just the way we wished it.

With soothing music playing in the background, warm hosts, a cozy atmosphere, massive portions of amazing food at reasonable prices, Amarcord has for sure become a favourite. I can’t wait to go out and try some more of their lip smacking food. Anyone in the area, should definitely give it a try.