Worth Getting Your Hands Dirty

What comes to mind when you think of sweaty vendors,tiny carts, newspaper wrapped packets, steal tumblers attached to a rope, people talking all at once, ridiculously catchy slogans ,sticky fingers and that tempting aroma of calories??

There is something about street food that cancels out good judgement. Be it “pani puri” , “99 variety dosa” ,hot dogs, tacos or kebabs. That taste just cannot be replicated in a four walled surrounding! It’s a wonderful concept which provides a means of income to hundreds of people and secretly brings people together. Untouched by social classification, you can be rich or poor, black or white, you are powerless to the grasp of this sinful indulgence.

With our lives getting faster and faster, street food outlets are booming. The idea is timeless but the industry is changing everyday.

Why the makers love it: With more and more entrepreneurs going mobile to reduce their overhead costs, innovation is all around. Mobile restaurants take the business to the consumer. It gives entrepreneurs the opportunity to experiment with location without the fear of permanent losses. Opens up a wider consumer base and ability to get first hand feedback. Flexibility to change menu and reach a wider audience faster. The options have expanded from the traditional rolls and such to items like pizza.

Why the consumers love it : Choices! Economical, flexible portions, Ability to try exotic food or varieties in small portions, Time saving, An excuse to get out in the open and breathe fresh air.

Looks like a win-win but.. This is also becoming a pressing issue for the Health and safety regulators. It is hard to keep a count and ensure the quality of the food. There is a need to find some common ground between encouraging this wonderful culture and ensuring it doesn’t lead to health disaster.

If you’ve been to India or the middle east ; You haven’t really eaten if you haven’t licked your fingers after indulging in:

1. Pani puri ( always end with a sukha and if its not in a tiny leaf bowl served to you with the stuffing covered hands of a local vendor, its not right!)

2. Cheese palak dosa

3. Vada pav

4. Bhel

5. Steamed chicken and prawn momos

6. Shawarma with garlic mayonnaise (If you didn’t get it from a fat Arab guy, with a side of salted pickle, while you drooled staring at the large stand he was cutting the chicken from, its just a roll)

7. Saruk (Apologies if that’s not the way its spelt)

8. Fire roasted peanuts

9. Mutton Kababs

10. Hareesa

I have to stop because its late and I’m hungry.

Ps: Even though Bangalore doesn’t have great street food culture compared to Delhi and Mumbai, I would recommend the pani puri guy in Indranagar right next to Calafornia Pizza Kitchen, Right across the road is a Nandini milk stand and since you have gone all the way, do try the dosa guy next to it, walk ahead , buy yourself some peanuts and acknowledge how right I was !

Pani Puri
Pani Puri

chicken_shawarma pani puri place shawarma

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I think…cute..might be a super power..

It is the first day of Eid holidays and I wanted to do nothing but sleep and watch the mentalist! However as any self respecting Cocker Spaniel owner will tell you, inactivity is a rare luxury for us. I woke up this morning to fish breath kisses and unstoppable pawing. Since then every time I sat down to write or watch something I would be pawed into surrender and end up playing fetch. Finally at 6 pm after a long walk, Zoe decides to take a nap. Desperate to find out if Jane gets any closer to identifying Red John, I settled in with my laptop and put on my head phones. Halfway through the episode, A loud noise drags me out from under the covers and rushing into the kitchen.

There she was.. surrounded by lunch, dishes everywhere and paws covered in gravy. After yelling for about 10 mins, for the entire duration of which, she tactfully held her head low, she slowly looked up at me. Her tiny head tilted to the right, big brown eyes and snout covered in yogurt . Oblivious to what I was saying and wondering what the hell happened.

I think cute might be a super power. Damn you dog lover dna!

zoe

Lather-Rinse-Do Not Repeat

Disclaimer:  It won’t make sense until you finish!

A month ago:

I quit my stable job

Sold all the furniture, I had spent a year collecting

Gave up my apartment in the heart of the city

Booked a one way ticket to Oman

Got screwed over by Air India

Ended up homeless for 2 days with 50 kilos of luggage, a 6 kg kennel and my dog

Crashed on my best friend’s couch

Yes, at this point, I was a statistic!

Ate my way through a panic filled 48 hours

Got stuck with a noob cab driver in peak traffic on my way to the airport

Reached the airport, an hour before an international flight

Maxed out my credit card at Customs

Spent five hours sitting next to a crying child, all the time worrying, if my dog was alive in the hold of the horrible aircraft I was aboard

Had nightmares about strangling the child

Landed at Seeb International Airport

Got fleeced by the Airport vet

Pretended things were great and lived like I was on vacation for 2 weeks

Started a new job that I am yet to decide if I like..

You are wondering by now if this is a story about some kind of crazy meltdown that ends up with me shaving my head…well not yet 🙂 Its not a life lesson so I’m not going to say that everything will work out. It’s a journey that has taught me more about myself than I could gauge in the last twenty something years.

A fat guy with a mustache, who I hope is reading this, told me, “We will never find out how far we can really go,until we are pushed and even then, it may not be as far as we imagined”.

I have learned that while the conventional might keep us from falling face down, it limits us to mediocrity. Fame, money and appreciation create a fleeting mirage of satisfaction that fades away just as quickly as it forms. You may not realize it today, tomorrow or until its too late but we are only ever at peace when we feel a sense of purpose. When the only person you need not  convince is…. yourself.

purpose

Things that confuse and annoy me on facebook!

1. People who post pictures with random babies! aww look at how ugly you look next to that adorable kid that is not yours!

2. People who don’t know you but “like” all your posts…..and pictures…and comments… Stalker much?

3. People who take self-ies and then TAG themselves in it! We already feel bad that you live in denial about how you look , do you have to make us cry too?

4. People who put up really depressing status messages. Yes, we get that you are upset and maybe we don’t give fuck. Why you gotta make it awkward?

Not saying I might not have done maybe one of them… Just acknowledging its annoying and I feel your pain!

mem

Riunite on ice. Riunite so nice

Melting cheese, oozing sauce, the smell of basil and oregano ….a little piece of heaven..instantly transports you to a happy place. Life without Pizza is unimaginable and pizza without pepperoni is no pizza at all!

This classic, all time favorite is made ever so perfectly at Pizzeria Romano in Bangalore, it keeps you coming back for more. Tucked away on Koramangla 60 ft. road, a few steps away from Banana Beach Bar, this pizzeria is the perfect spot for a lazy dinner. The ambiance if friendly and casual, comfortable seating, a selection of both wine and hard liquor. The beige couches and woodwork set the mood for a relaxing evening. The restaurant serves a variety of Italian dishes and has a mean desert collection.

Of-course I recommend the pepperoni pizza, wash it down with a glass of Riunite lambrusco and end with a Tiramisu. Also something to remember!  “Riunite on ice. Riunite so nice”

There are few things we can enjoy as deeply as food and this would come very close! Bon appetit!

pizzeria romano-Image: Courtesy- Abhishek Roy 🙂

Impulse –> Ka-ching!

Ever lost your appetite after arriving at a restaurant starving, only find you had to wait to place your order? 

Yes, its frustrating for you and bad news for the restaurant. Chili’s however is one of the restaurants that have found a way to capture that impulse ordering! One word— Ziosk

These interactive tablets placed on each table allows customers to browse the menu, order their food, pay their bills and keep their noisy kids entertained! Ziosk says tablets have increased starters sales by 20 percent at restaurants that offer them, although Chili’s hasn’t put its appetizer menu on the tablets.They are hoping to push their desert sales by allowing customers to order deserts before they realize they are too full at the end of the meal. Customers can also order drink refills and play games.

Definitely a trend we will see more of since the tablets can help restaurants increase sales in more than one way.

The display allows for more elaborate and tempting images of food to be displayed compared to printed menus ,giving the customer that extra push to taste what they see!

It also allows to put more detailed descriptions at negligible cost and can be changed without the hassle of printing.

Faster Refills! Which happens to be the cause of frustration for most diners!

A way to keep your kids engaged.

Faster way to pay the bill saving time for both customers and restaurants especially during crowded hours.

Of-course this isn’t all good news. How would these effect the serving staff? Would these drive the customers to tip lesser since they will have limited interaction with a server? Would this take away the dining experience since we are already batting distracting cell phones and social networking in the middle of dinner? Cost of maintenance, the wireless networking required,  the risk of damage by customers.

A lot of other factors might also cause this to be a failed attempt but right now, it is an innovation with great potential. Lets wait and watch 🙂

ziosk

Lets Margarita!

In my opinion a good cocktail should have a strange combination of flavours, that, makes you want to remember the name. It should smell like alcohol while masking any flavour of it that, makes you reach for a lemon. Of course, goes without saying it should do the job!

Strawberry Margarita ! – courtesy of Left-bank, Oman

Starting off the weekend or  buying it for some-one; Strong flavors, subtle but steady buzz and of-course bright colors for the ladies make this a must-try on my list! Left Bank itself, with its great choice of location, on top of Qurum amphitheatre looking down at the brightly lit city, without all the noise and pollution is an instant mood changer. (of course if you plan to get hammered then do bring a designated driver/hand holder, nobody enjoys rolling down a hill especially the morning after!) It combines old and new accommodating both  classy and fun.

The dimly lit interior with subtle variations of blue and the modern compact furniture coupled with a spacious seating arrangement make it an ideal setting for any kind of gathering. The tables are close enough to make the place feel alive without feeling crammed. The staff is friendly and immaculately patient.

Depending on what time you visit, the crowd changes drastically. It is a family friendly place hence earlier in the day, couples and families with kids frequent the restaurant. Due to the quite location and subtle music, it is  also a good choice if you are taking a client to dinner.

Early evening, the place is filled with small groups of people of an older age, engaged in conversation or having dinner. However, as we move into the night, the place gets a lot livelier and the crowd a lot younger. The ideal time to visit would be around 9 pm so you can get a table rather than wait or stand and grab a drink.

The drinks menu also offers a good variety. From a dedicated wine menu to a collection of exotic cocktails and all the usual bar favorites. I would recommend the Apricot and Mango Martini. Yes, It tastes exactly like it sounds 🙂 de-li-cious!

Be fore warned , like most activities in Oman, it comes with a eye popping price tag so carry your card! Will definitely write more especially about the food  after a second visit! img_3455 leftbank left-bank