The Masala Story @ Chaubara 601, Thane

Conceptualizing is often an easy part. Making it happen is what takes up maximum efforts. It took the Chaubara owners a 15 days road trip in Punjab and Delhi to experience the unexplored culinary delights and bring it to Mumbai/Thane.

Chaubara means a room with 4 doors on each wall. 601 signifies the PIN code of the place.

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The moment you enter the place, you are instantly transported to a different place. The details if interior and ambiance is impressive. It may look a bit overdone but still doesn’t lose the aesthetic appeal.

Apart from usual table and chair sitting, they have shamianas, park bench and Pujnabi dhaba style charpai arrangements too. To promote recycle/reuse they have sourced old park benches, hospital beds, a door turned into a table top with a base of sewing machine. This creativity makes almost every nook and corner photograph worthy.

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Red Guava Pomegranate

We were welcomed by Dhniya Jeera Pani, Bukka Pyaz and Suran Chips. To accompany this, we tried Red Guava Pomegranate, a sweet guava drink, topped with pomegranate and with a lemony twist.

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Veg Platter

We started with Shakahari Platter, consisting tandoor cooked items Bharwan Kumb, Guncha-e-bahar, Aloo Najakat and Paneer Tikka.

Bharwan Kumb was mushroom stuffed with cheese, Guncha-e-bahar was spiced cauliflower, Aloo Najakat was paneer stuffed potatoes and Paneer Tikka was paneer marinated in yellow spices.

In main course we tried Sabj Mela Bahar, Daal Bukhara and Paneer Chaubara.

Sabj Mela Bahar as name suggests an assortment of vegetables. Paneer Chaubara cottage cheese cubes in mild khoya gravy and topped with roasted nuts.

A special mention to Daal Bukhara which is not to be missed. It is cooked for 16-18 hours to bring out the flavors of the daal and spices.

All these we tried with Roti ki tokri which consisted lal mirchi ka kulcha, laccha paratha, lachcha di naan, onoin kulcha etc.

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Another worth a try is Amritsari Papad which are sourced from Punjab along with spices(masalas) used for various dishes.

In desserts, we tried Sheer Biranj, Sunehre Papite ka Halwa and Rabdi Parantha which was stuffed with rabri.

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All these we washed down with a glass of heavy Lassi.

Staff was friendly and enthusiastic. A lack of proficiency was evident in the dishes and their ingredients but that is easy to overcome with a little practice and training.

Food: 4/5
Ambiance: 4/5
Service: 3.5/5
VFM: N/A

P.S.: We were invited by Chaubara 601 to try their menu.

Chaubara 601 Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


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Monsoon Menu @ Chaayos, Hiranandani Estate, Thane

When it comes to tea and related snacks, Chaayos requires no introduction. This is a month old outlet in the newly shaping-up The Walk @ Hiranandani Estate, Thane.

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We were invited by Chaayos to taste the Monsoon Special menu. Light rain, mild chilly breeze and a cup of Shahi or Pahadi Chai is an unbeatable combination.

Shahi Chai
Shahi Chai

Prefer Shahi Chai if you like milk based tea. Made with condensed milk, saffron and topped with lots of grated almonds brings a shahi touch to the humble tea.

Pahadi Chai
Pahadi Chai

Pahadi Chai is essentially Kashmiri Kahwa. Infused with lot of spices like cinnamon, cardamom, clove etc., this will sure bring warmth to your body.

Barish Wale Pakode 1
Barish Wale Pakode

No monsoon snack is complete without pakodas, a perfect pair with tea in the monsoon. Barish Wale Pakode was an assortment of Paneer, onion and Bhavnagri mirchi pakodas sprinkled with garlic and chili red powder.

Palak Patta Crisps 1
Palak Patta Crisps

Palak Patta Chips is an Indian answer to Nachos. Whole spinach leaves, battered, fried and topped with onions, jalapenos, sev and house chutney, made with tamarind, potatoes and tomatoes. The chips were crisp and had burst of flavors owing to the toppings.

Paneer Loaded Open Paratha
Paneer Loaded Open Paratha

Thin and crisp Paneer Laoded Open Paratha is a great tea time snack. Parathas were perfectly crisp and tasted great with topping of sauces and Paneer.

In desserts we tried Kulhad Wali Jalebi. The Chaayos special thin and crisp jalebi pieces served in kulhad were too tempting to resist. Chocolate Factory Cake too was equally tempting.

Food: 4.5/5

Service: N/A as this was an invite

Ambiance: 4/5

VFM: N/A as this was an invite

 Chaayos Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


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Ruha Kitchen & Bar, Powai, Mumbai

The first thing you notice after entering the place is the royal and nawabi interiors. Colorful and cozy enough to give you feeling of entering a royal dining room. While the interior is aesthetically great, the combination of western music and pan-Asian menu imposes an identity crisis to some extent.

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We opted for corporate lunch option and it had limited but sufficient varieties considering the price of Rs. 555/- all inclusive.

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Veg. Thyme Soup

The Veg. Thyme soup gave a great start to the lunch. I gave salads a miss and jumped directly to starters. The Shanghai Chilli Cottage Cheese was a standard paneer preparation with Chinese condiments. Tandoori Subz-E-Thal were marinated vegetables cooked tandoori style.

In mains, Daal Makhani and Subz Makhanwala were good in taste. Probably you can’t go wrong with this one of the most popular Indian dishes. Seemingly unappealing, I gave Four Seasons Vegetables in Hunan Sauce a miss.

Veg Hakka Noodles was again good in taste and so is Korean Fried Rice. Well, I can’t vouch for the authenticity of the Korean Fried Rice given that I was trying it for the first time.

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The desserts didn’t’ disappoint us either. Malai Firni was adequately sweet and had a good consistency. This was liked by most of us. Chocolate Brownies were bite sized and good in taste. Vanilla ice-cream and chocolate syrup would have enhanced the experience further.

The only let-down was the service. “Order for tandoori roti taking time in buffet” is a passe but they seem to have not overcome it. The basic sanity of the service fails here.

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Ambiance: 4.5/5
Service: 3.5/5
Food: 3.5/5
VFM: 3.5/5

Overall: 3.5/5

Ruha Kitchen & Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


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Bottoms Up, Andheri (W), Mumbai

Bottom’s Up is the latest addition to one of Mumbai’s great neighborhood famous for great restaurants, pubs, micro-breweries and nightlife.

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Bottoms-up is a tiny place carved out if Punjab Grill. The industrial-themed interior is minimalistic and ambiance is dimly lit, a typical of a night-life-spot.

Their cocktail collection has Mumbai inspired names and flavors, like Nariman Point, Sandra From Bandra, Ek Chalis Ki Last Local, Beedu etc.

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Gateway of India
Gateway of India

I tried Gateway of India, a vodka based drink with mint and cucumber was good to cut down the heat. Marine Drive is typical LIIT with cola replaced by beer. Try if you feel a little adventurous.

Nariman Point
Nariman Point

Nariman Point brings the spiciness of jalapeno and Chaat Masala with the base of vodka and orange.

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The food menu is concentrated to appetizers and finger food. We got to try Kachhi Mirch Ka Paneer, Makhan Masala Garlic Corn, Smoky Achari Mushroom, Chana Jor Garam and assorted chaats that perfectly complemented the drinks.

To sum up, a worthy place for weekend evenings but space can be a limiting factor.

Bottom's Up Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

P.S. – I was invited by FBAI and Bottom’s Up on their launch party.


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Indian Curry @ Tansha Comfort Regency, Vadodara

 A family gathering of around 15 people and an obvious and annoying question, where to go for dinner so that everyone gets some or other thing of their liking?

Long discussion and Indian Curry @ Hotel Tansha Comfort Regency came out as a choice. It was Sunday evening and we called to book a table only to discover that they don’t take bookings. Reaching early helped secure one as the restaurant got fully occupied by 8 PM.

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Our order consisted Hot and Sour and Almond Broccoli soups, Bruschetta, Jalapeno Cheese Nuggets, French Fries, Roasted Papad and Palak Makai Lahori Seekh Kabab to start with. In the main course, we stuck to north Indian and tried Paneer Do Pyaza and Veg Deewani Handi.

Almost everything in food was up to the mark and didn’t disappoint us.

With average service, decent interiors and good food, this surely secures a backup option berth.


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Indian Curry Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Be on a gastronomical world tour @ Asanjo, Aundh, Pune

Here comes yet another global cuisine restaurant set-up by Chef and Consultant K. M. Saif.

The place is quite small compared to usual restaurants and has 2 floors for dining. The interior is minimalistic but vibrant and the well-lit ambiance makes this place elegant.

We started with mocktails and tried Dusky Damsel, Sweet, sour and spicy punch, Cucumber margarita, Kiwi margarita, Blushing caipiroska and Ethiopian spiced tea.

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Dusky Damsel was a concoction of black current crush, grape juice and black salt. Salty and a little sour.

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Sweet, sour and spicy punch was liked by all of us. This mix of pineapple, green chili and jalapeno gave a great spicy punch.

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Cucumber margarita was muddled cucumber drink. Try only if you like cucumber and feeling adventurous.

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Kiwi Margarita was made with kiwi crush blended with ice and was garnished with fresh kiwi. This was perfectly sweet and refreshing.

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Blushing caipiroska is ice crushed mint and cranberry juice mixed drink will freeze you over. You can never go wrong with this.

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The Ethiopian spiced tea was a hot concoction of spices like clove, cinnamon, honey boiled in tea. A perfect drink to clear to the throat or to induce internal heat on a winter morning.

The food menu brings great dishes from around the world. You get the best of uncommon varieties of different cuisines like Indian, Southeast Asian, Middle Eastern, South American, Greek, Balkan and Spanish cuisines etc.

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Sambal Baby Potatoes:

Baby potatoes tossed in olive oil with onion, garlic, bell peppers in spicy sambal sauce.

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Papas ala Saif:

This is never to be missed. Named after the chef himself, this was a dish with fried potato discs, topped with yellow pepper cheese sauce and black olives. The eggetarian variant has boiled eggs on top of the fried potato discs.

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Greek veg souvlaki:
This kabab dish had soft cottage cheese and assorted vegetables accompanied by greek salad. The feta cheese and olive complemented the grilled paneer very well.

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Nachos with cheese balls:

These spinach-flavored tortillas, fully loaded with cheese sauce, beans, pico de gallo, bell peppers, mozzarella cheese and parmesan cheese. Will be a delight for cheese lovers.

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Gallo Pinto:

From the main course, we tried a Costa Rican dish having beans and rice served with grilled cottage cheese steak, red pepper sauce, pineapple salsa and dill yogurt. This is a meal in itself.

To end the meal, we were presented a deadly duo, of highly decorated and calorie laden Chocochip cookie shake and Chocolate Peanut Butter Pretzel Milkshake.

Chocochip cookie shake was chocolate milkshake served with ice-cream sandwiched between donuts in a glass rimmed with peanut butter and chocochip cookies.

The Peanut Butter Pretzel Milkshake shake was a blend of vanilla ice-cream, peanut butter, chocolate sauce, topped with whipped cream and garnished with a piece of a Pretzel which gave a crunchy and salty twist to the shake.

Service: N/A as this was an invite.

VFM: N/A as this was an invite.

While we visited just one place, we surely had a gastronomical world tour.


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Mia Cucina, Powai, Mumbai

Most of our visits to Mia Cucina were impromptu except one which was the worst one. It was 30th December and we were informed that all the tables were occupied when we inquired about a table for 2. Their body language was enough to indicate that “you are just two and today we don’t care!” Even in general, I would appreciate the staff to be a little grateful.

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That was probably the worst part. Now, coming to the good part, the food. In my several visits, pizzas and desserts have never disappointed.

Breads
Freshly baked and hot bread are savory start to a meal
Bruschetta Bell Pepper
Cicchetti – Bruschetta Bell Pepper

During my recent visit, we tried, Cicchetti, a range of bite-sized snacks/appetizers famous in Venice, Italy. The Bruschetta Bell Peppers had bell peppers, tomatoes with chili mayo and balsamic vinegar which gave it a distinct taste.

Feta-E-Peperone

Feta-E-Peperone

Vegetarians have only a few options in pizza and having tried most of them, one thing is for sure, pizzas won’t disappoint. Pair it with a good wine like Grover Zampa La Reserve and it will leave you craving for more.

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Very few places get Tiramisu right and this is undoubtedly one of them. No further explanation needed!

Decadence Cake was a real surprise. A heap of whipped cream on top of a chocolate cake. The textured look completely contrasts the luscious smoothness of the dark chocolate.

A deadly duo for sinful indulgence!

This relatively small and rustic place may not deliver a complete package but food and ambiance make me keep going to the place.


Mia Cucina Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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If you have any recommendation on something I should try during my next visit to Mia Cucina, do drop a comment below.

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