Sunday, 10 November 2019

Karwari Food Festival | Solitaire Restaurant Hotel Kohinoor Continental | Best Food Festival Destination | Food Review

Anybody making a list of best buffet dining destinations or food festival destinations in Mumbai, make Solitaire Restaurant at Kohinoor Continental your top pick right away. Delicious food, very value for money price point, elegant calm ambiance, excellent staff and superb service-pick your reason to visit Solitaire and just do it :)

I have been here for multiple food festivals over the years and not once have they disappointed me or my family. Have loved the Thai Food Festival, the Maharashtrian Food Festival, and now the Karwari Food Festival that is going on right now till 17th of November 2019. There aren't 500 items in the buffet, but more than enough for anybody to feast like royalty.

They have brought the perfect home-cooked feel, everything tastes like prepared by a loving grandma, so this is the right place to say goodbye to oil-laden food that is the usual trademark of typical 'restaurant food'. And the walk till Solitaire is also adorned with ambiance-enhancing decorations, nice touch :) For me, the main draw was that Karwari food, from the coastal Karnataka region, that is mainly seafood based, also had many options for a hardcore vegetarian like me. Ingredients like coconut, hand-pounded spices, tamarind, potatoes have been used generously and I cannot emphasize this enough-nothing has been doused in ghee or oil to make it tasty, rather the real taste of real ingredients shines through in every preparation. This is the best differentiating factor here that even my mother loved a lot.

Started off with PANAK, the most refreshing drink hands down, with Jaggery, Lemon, Ginger, Black Pepper together, how can this not be magical :) Alongside there was also SOL KADI and BUTTERMILK but I ended up having 3 rounds of Panak and would have had more if a delicious spread of food did not beckon me :D

The starters and salads section was hands down my favorite with plethora of bites in crunchy and healthy avatars, including-

BEETROOT KISMOR- Tangy-Spicy medley of Beetroots, Peanuts, Onions and just a dash of homemade masala,
TOUSHE MULYAR- Cooling preparation with Cucumber, Dahi, Coconut,
ASSORTED PAPAD- Do not miss the Shankh shaped papads!
ASSORTED KAAP- Basically fritters but baked, not fried, thin slices of Potatoes, Bananas, Brinjals and Yams. Sound humble but wait till you taste them, the delicious crumby coating will force you to go back for seconds.
DAL VADE- THE BOMB! I lost count of how many of these I had. Looked like the simple tikki we have but I haven't had a more balanced mix of spices, onions, daal in a tikki version EVER. I kid you not, I am salivating just thinking about it even now.
KHOTTE- Idli steamed in Jackfruit leaves, try it for the earthy other-worldly flavor not found in any food nowadays :)

For main course, we noshed on another set of down-to-earth dishes found in Karwari households. Think veggies with coconut, curries with mix of tamarind and chillies with capsicum and raw mangoes, bhakris made of healthy ingredients such as jowar way before quinoa and kale became fashionable! We had and loved-

KAIRI UDIT METHI- Raw Mango + Karela in red curry, a bite of bitter with a lot of tanginess,
BATATA TALASINI- Simple Potato Bhaaji with Mustard, 
CHANA SURANA GASSI- Bengal Gram and Yam in a hearty thick curry with coconut and hint of tamarind,
PUGHE MIRSANG ROSE- Capsicum and Potatoes in wholesome coconut curry,
BHINDI SUKKE- Ladies fingers frolicking in a paste of coconut with loving masalas,
DAL made just like mom makes at home, no butter, no ghee, no flashy tadka, just plain happiness,
JOWAR and RICE BHAKRI, AMBE-MOHAR RICE that went as well with all the curries as the jodi of Leonardo di Caprio and Kate Winslet,

The Home-made pickles were a great hit with mom in this section too.

And then we had to save some space for dessert too, a limited but nonetheless delicious selection of authentic Karwari delicacies enticed us. We had-

FRUITS such as pineapple, kiwi, watermelons, papaya,
MOONG DAAL PAYAS,a lightly-sweetened moong daal porridge, can be had even by those who do not like sugar,
SUKRUNDE, looks like pakode but tastes like Puran Poli, with the same stuffing inside the outer gram flour covering, a dollop of ghee will make it even better,
PATOLI, my mom is from Orissa and she tells me there they call this Pittha, rice batter stuffed with coconut and jaggery and then steamed in turmeric leaves, MUST-HAVE, simple but heavenly,

And the most delicious dessert ever-GADBAD ICE CREAM, a rage in Karnataka, mix of Vanilla, Strawberry, Mango ice creams with wafer chips, chocolate straws, chocolate chips, tutti-frutti nuggets, jellies, sprinkles..basically just let yourself be a 5 year old kid again and enjoy a trillion calories in a glass :D

Seriously, what else is the definition of good life? :) 

Thursday, 31 October 2019

Soulflower Apple Mangosteen Soap Review | Handmade Anti-Aging Product | Beauty Review

Ever since I reached my teens and realized that God had blessed me with the most problematic skin and hair, I stopped using soaps of any kind on my face or hair. After all, the commercial soaps are mostly full of bad chemicals, fragrances, fillers, that only increase the dryness of my sensitive skin and sucks out all the essential oils. But over the years, so many brands have come up with handmade soaps that many beauty bloggers rave about, that I started feeling enthusiastic about trying one of these. Finally, 2 months ago, I took the plunge and bought a good batch of Soulflower soaps. 

Among these is Soulflower Apple Mangosteen Soap that claims to be awesome for anti-aging purposes, let us see how it fared :)

Packaging of Soulflower Apple Mangosteen Handmade Soap is simple and secure, a big thick chunk of soap with clear instructions and ingredients list.

Ingredients list is full of tempting ones such as Fresh Apple Pulp, Mangosteen Peel Powder, Olive Oil, Castor Oil, Palm Oil, Vitamin E. It is completely SLS free.

Claims that this aromatic Soulflower Apple Mangosteen Handmade Soap exfoliates, lightens fine lines, hydrates skin, works with anti-wrinkle properties, and is fit for both face and body.

Availability of Soulflower Apple Mangosteen Handmade Soap is good online as well as offline. I bought it from Amazon for Rs. 250 for 150 grams, thanks to generous sale going on, otherwise the price is Rs. 400.

Quantity is good enough to last about 20 days when used everyday on face and body.

Usage - Like a soap. Wet the bar, create lather, use it all over face and body, rinse off. Easy-peasy.

Effect - My facial skin is combination-dry, ultra-sensitive and acne-prone while my body is dryness prone, thank God I do not get pimples and acne on my hands, legs, or shoulders. So I am very careful about the products I use on my facial skin while I can experiment a bit on my body. 

Firstly, the Soulflower Apple Mangosteen Handmade Soap melts away very easily so it is recommended to cut it in 4 smaller pieces for easy usage. It has a grainy texture that works well as an exfoliator. I took a little piece, wet it, got a little bit of lather and grainy bits and applied all over my face. I could feel the little bits doing gentle exfoliation on my skin without hurting it. When I washed it off, I felt my skin to be squeaky clean. This means that those with super dry skin will not like it at all. I followed it up with a layer of aloe-vera to give some moisture back to my skin. After 2 days I decided to just use Soulflower Apple Mangosteen Handmade Soap on body and not on face.

I had better results using it on body since it worked as a deep cleanser plus mild exfoliator and also the fragrance is really pleasing, making shower a happy experience. I always use a heavy-duty body lotion after shower so I never had to feel super-dry Sahara desert like skin after using this soap, but yes you cannot skip using a body lotion here unless your skin is very oily in which case this soap will work fantastic for you.

As for its anti-aging claims, I did not see any such result overnight but then truthfully I don't think a soap can give any kind of anti-aging effects. We use a soap for a couple of minutes, how much effect can it have on our skin in that little amount of time? A soap is supposed to cleanse skin and Soulflower Apple Mangosteen Handmade Soap does it well. If you are planning on using it on face, make sure that your skin is oily and not dry.

Overall though, I am happy that I tried it because I wanted to know what is the difference between a normal soap and a handmade soap. It definitely feels premium and different from any commercial soap. The best thing is that it did not give me any rashes or bad side-effects when used on face either. 

  • No SLS or harmful fillers/chemicals/preservatives
  • Pleasing natural fragrance
  • Works well for body
  • Did not give me pimples or rashes on face
  • Can be bought from Amazon or other online e-commerce sites

  • Expensive
  • Not good for dry skin

Recommended -MAYBE. It is a good soap, but also on the expensive side. Rating is 3.5/5.  

Friday, 25 October 2019

Easy Cappuccino Bandra Mumbai | Coffee Pizzas Croissants & More | Restaurant Review

Some of the most beautiful food haunts of Mumbai masquerade as quaint coffee shops. Sweet and cute little places, unfazed by the super-duper hustle of everyday life right outside their doors, serving delicious coffees and knick-knacks throughout the day. Makes it easy for dreamers to congregate and relax for hours altogether... Easy Cappuccino in Bandra is one such place for dreamers and coffee lovers. 

A small place on Pali Hill, can accommodate around 12-15 people on a good day, with super-fast service and excellent staff. Compact menu with hot coffee, green coffee, cold coffee, innovative shakes, mini pancakes, pizzas, and croissants. Everything reasonably priced, considering that this is located in Bandra, the queen of over-priced suburbs (or is that Juhu..well, we can focus on Mumbai's geographical economy later), suffice to say that Bandra is one heck of an overpriced place and to get a cup of steaming hot coffee in less than Rs. 200 here is nothing short of a miracle.

So here we were, my mother and I, relaxing on a Wednesday evening, contemplating the moods of nature (will it rain during this Diwali or not!) and helping ourselves to some amazing offerings of Easy Cappuccino.

-HOT CHOCOLATE- Good. Did not taste completely like Bournvita like many other places, had appropriate balance of sweetness and density, and served steaming hot. If you are a child like me who tends to burn tongue while drinking scalding hot beverages, remember the Indian sudki your parents took when drinking their morning tea. #SaveTheTongue #IssuedInPublicInterest

-IRISH COFFEE- Brilliant. Bitter and satisfying for a true Irish Coffee lover. Topped with whipped cream and caramel that brought that interplay of sweet and bitter profiles. LOVED.

-MOCHA with added Caramel on top- Me loves caramel so me puts caramel in every coffee me has. That is me trying to explain my caramel love to a 3 year old. Even if you don't love caramel as much as I do, you will like Mocha. A shot of espresso, a shot of chocolate syrup, some milk..what's not to love!

-TIRAMISU CROISSANT- Buttery flaky croissant, among the best I have ever had. But I thought the tiramisu flavor would be more ingrained from inside-out. Turns out it was normal butter croissant with some added tiramisu flavor along the sides and whipped cream served alongside. Just okay.

-PERI PERI PANEER PIZZA- Simple pizza with some paneer, peri peri sauce base, some condiments, and lotttttttts of cheese. Mini in size, just enough as a filling snack for a medium-eater. A hippo like me would need 3 such pizzas for lunch. Delicious, but mind you, this is no gourmet pizza. If there was a pizza school, this is the pizza the pretentious pizzas won't share their lunch table with, but hey we love our cheesy pizzas, right? LOVED it, because I am not pretentious :P

CINNAMON & CARAMEL PANCAKE CASSETTES- Little, and I mean, really little versions of pancakes, easily the most delicious items on the menu, but got over too fast. Beautiful balance of cinnamon, mon amour caramel, honey in a melt-in-mouth version. Would be back here for these...but I want moooooooore in one serving :D

Oh, also love how they serve little sides such as a dairy milk bar with hot chocolate and a pair of cookies with Mocha. Easy Cappuccino is heartily recommended by this happy hippo :)

Friday, 20 September 2019

Junos Pizza Ghatkopar Mumbai | Delicious Pizzas Overload | Food Review | Vegetarian Recommendation

What happens when hunger strikes at 10 PM? Call for a pizza, ofcourse.

Tried some delicious pizzas from Juno's yesternight and it was finger-licking amazing.

Delivery was done within half hour, pizzas were fresh and piping hot, 3 of us were full to the brim with two 8-inch and one 10-inch pizza, all within Rs. 1200, so quite value for money too.

We absolutely loved-

-FULL SMASH (8 inch)- THIN CRUST loaded with Capsicum, Onions, Olives, Mushrooms, Jalapenos and some green chillies. The thin crust deserves appreciation, I do not like the extremely thin papad-like crust and Juno's does not serve crust like that. It is crispy still wholesome. The toppings were also nicely spread, not too much nor too less. 

-EXOTICA (8 inch)- Again I ordered for THIN CRUST and am glad I did because this was an absolute WINNER. With abundant exotic veggies like Zucchini, Broccoli, Red & Yellow Peppers, Baby Corn, Olives and Mushrooms, what made it different was a mix of different herbs on top. So every bite was crunchy, wholesome, tangy, sweet, and an amalgamation of the best flavors you can imagine. MUST-TRY.

-PAPRIKA PANEER (10 inch)- Being a Paneer fanatic, it was mandatory to try this in THICK CRUST. Again, I do not like those deep dish thick crusts that are too bread-y or the ones that are too chewy. Here the crust is just delicious. Not chewy, not bread-y, very warm and soft and a delight to sink teeth into. With a good amount of Paneer, Red & Yellow Peppers, Capsicum & loads of Paprika, it was on the tangier side but delicious as well.

The best part about the pizzas, they already had the perfect amount of cheese, toppings and seasonings so we did not have to add anything else on top to make it lip-smacking. Absolutely loved each one of these.

-CHOCOLATE MOUSSE- Appropriately fluffy creamy and delicious, just like a good chocolate mousse should be. AND it came in a little cutting chai glass :) 

Juno's is one of my family's preferred pizza destinations time we will order in some pasta and salads too :) LOVE and Thumbs-up Recommendation.

Saturday, 14 September 2019

Dirty Buns Mumbai | Softest Breads & Tastiest Tofu | Food Review | Restaurant Review

Normally I wouldn't give high praises to rolls/buns/baos, but then Dirty Buns is not just a buns and baos kind of place, it is a must-visit in all respects :)

The vibe is fresh and funky, ambiance is cool and relaxing. The whole deal here is to create an atmosphere where people could sit back, relax and get 'dirty'...while eating their meals wholeheartedly :D The menu has baos, rolls, starters such as fries, boat-load of drinks, desserts, all intended to enjoy from heart.

Chef Boo Kim has brought some very bold flavors to light. So when you choose your poison (beverage or food) here, you are choosing everything you desire multiplied by a hundred! I absolutely loved-

AVOCADO SALAD for the green and healthy lovers with lots of lettuce, orange fennel, avocados... tantalizing,

KUNG PAO TOFU ROLL, the absolute WINNER for me, softest melt-in-mouth silken tofu with similarly softest melt-in-mouth bread and ofcourse peanuts, soy chilli sauce enhancing the flavors here,

CRISPY GOCHUJANG TOFU BAO, normally I won't order in a tofu based dish twice but since Kung Pao Tofu was lip-smacking, tried this too and turns out this one is another winner. Same melt-in-mouth tofu but a little bit different thanks to cucumbers, scallions, kimchi dressing...

Honestly, am salivating just thinking about these! Each roll/bao is generously portioned and happily messy to eat, something we all ought to do more of.

In DESSERTS, LOVED CINNAMON ROLL PANCAKE. Again, pancake is not something I prefer anywhere but Dirty Buns is one place that can make you try and love everything you never thought possible :D MUST-MUST-MUSSSSSTTTTT TRY this :)

For adventurous taste buds, try COCONUT KAFFIR LIME PANNA COTTA, very strong kaffir lime and ginger flavors through the creamy panna cotta and the crunch of granola + chilli orange basil broth gives it the most unique inspiration. LOVED :)