Bhutan Diaries, Part 4: Paro Valley

A significant number of travellers visiting Bhutan start their Bhutan trip from Paro, as it has the only airport in the country. A very small place, the whole town is visible from our balcony at Hotel Mandala Resort, which is located at an elevation. At night, the Paro Dzong as well as the watchtower at the museum which are illuminated stand out in the dark surroundings of the mountains.

Paro Bhutan

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Bhutan Diaries, Part 3: Punakha and Chele La Pass

Our next destination was Punakha valley 75 km away from Thimpu. We felt a little sad to leave Thimpu behind, as we had developed a little bit of attachment to this quiet city during the last two days. Karma, our driver assured us that Punakha is one of the most beautiful places in Bhutan, and the journey through Dochula Pass will be very interesting.

Punakha Dzong

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Jivati turns Non-Vegetarian and How!

Jivati Organic Restaurant had been serving organic vegetarian food in Hyderabad for about a year now. Their organic store is also a must visit for anyone interested in health food. However, for me, the most interesting has been their recent makeover to Jivati Restro, a fine dining place serving non-vegetarian food too. You may ask me what is so great about it. The answer lies in some exclusive stuff they are offering – choice items from all over India.


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Bhutan Diaries, Part 2: Onwards to Thimpu, the Capital City

It was the second day of our trip. The morning at Phuentsholing was not at all chilly in mid-November, and we start in a Wagon R at 9 am towards Thimpu nearly 170 km away. Our driver Karma Lama from Jaigaon was a 31-year-old Nepalese who had spent the last 12 years taking tourists into Bhutan. I was delighted to find out that we had a common interest in food.

Buddha Thimpu

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Bhutan Diaries, Part 1: Phuentsholing

A visit to Bhutan was on the cards for us since a long time. Last year while on a tour of Dooars in North Bengal, our car driver drove us into Phuentsholing the border town in Bhutan separating the two countries. It was a revelation to see how clean and beautiful the place was as soon as you cross the Indo-Bhutan border. This strengthened our resolution and we are back this November knocking the doors of one of the happiest countries of the world.

Bhutan Gate
Bhutan Gate seperates Jaigaon and Pheuntsholing

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Autumn Leaf Café: Good Food Amidst Serene Surroundings

Within the city, there are only a few restaurants where you can go to grab a lungful of fresh air while enjoying your coffee or gorging on good food. Autumn Leaf Café in Jubilee Hills is surely one of them. The open outdoor seating here is definitely a place where you can relax and enjoy things from a nicely curated menu. If you want to catch up with an old friend or spend some time with a book alone, this is definitely the go-to place.

Pork Chops

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The Extensive Sunday Brunch at The Park Hyderabad

After a happening late Saturday night, many of us prefer to start late on a Sunday and head for a brunch in our neighbourhood to continue our indulgence in good food and drinks. In Hyderabad, we have Sunday brunches of all sizes and shapes with restaurants trying to differentiate themselves with innovative offerings. The Sunday Brunch at Verandah, the all-day dining restaurant of The Park Hyderabad has now been expanded to include Aqua, the al-fresco poolside area too. A huge spread and a large number of live counters have made this brunch even more attractive.

Laham Mandi

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Exclusive Ice Creams comes to Hyderabad with Apsara and Amadora

There are many stories on how ice creams came into existence. One story attributes it to Emperor Nero of Rome, in whose court ice creams were served combining snow from the mountains with fruits. The more popular story talks about Marco Polo discovering it in China, while some think that recipes of sorbets from the West Asian cuisine transformed to ice cream as they travelled to Europe. Though we do not know the truth behind these stories, one thing for sure is that it is possibly one of the most popular foods in the world now. And we Hyderabadis love it given our warm climate.

Pan Pasand at Apsara
Pan Pasand at Apsara

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Karavalli in Hyderabad: A Culinary Trails Experience at Taj Krishna

Karavalli, the restaurant at Taj Gateway Residency Road, Bangalore is perhaps the most popular places for south-western coastal cuisines. Its menu covers the entire belt along the coastline from Goa to Kerala with a little bit of Coorg thrown in too. The restaurant has been enthralling the food lovers of the city for the last 25 years, and as a visitor to Bengaluru, I have had the occasion to dine there quite a few times.

Tiger Prawn Roast
Tiger Prawn Roast

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The Revamped Buffet at Saffron Soul, Hotel Marigold

Hotel Marigold in Begumpet is well-known to the food lovers in the city for quite a few reasons. Their oriental restaurant Mekong is arguably the best Pan-Asian restaurant in town. The banquet services of the hotel have a good reputation, and the place is one of the favourite destinations for marriages and other festivities. However, their restaurant Saffron Soul is also known for its all-day dining options including their sumptuous lunch and dinner buffets.

Branzino
Branzino

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Caribbean Sagas at Novotel, Hyderabad Airport

The islands from the Caribbean region are known for their stews, grilled meats, coconut based dishes and jerk spices. Their food habits are a confluence of British, Dutch, Creole and African tastes with the South American palate, and as a result, we really have an exciting range of cuisines which differ within the region from country to country and even island to island. Perhaps for the first time, The Novotel Hyderabad Airport brings Caribbean Sagas, a festival showcasing Caribbean cuisine in Hyderabad.

Lamb Shanks

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Bengali Rannaghor at Taj Deccan

2017 can be termed the year of Bengali food promotions in Hyderabad. Until October itself, we have already seen about a dozen Bengali festivals in the city. So when I was informed that Taj Deccan is organizing another Bengali promotion, I must admit that I was not super excited. Still, I am not someone to miss a good Bengali meal, so on a Wednesday evening, I was at Spice Junxion attending a bloggers’ table.

Luchi Kosha Mangsho

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Ulavacharu Brings its Telugu Delicacies to Gachibowli

Ulavacharu is one of the highly rated restaurants for Telugu cuisine in Hyderabad and is credited with popularizing the cuisine among the food lovers in the twin cities. The name of the restaurant comes from a very popular horse gram dish. The restaurant’s range of pulavs such as Raju Gari Pulav and Pachi Mirchi Kodi Pulav have become must-have dishes to anyone who loves the local fare. Credited with many innovations with their recipes, the restaurant is a popular destination even for tourists visiting the city.

Ulavacharu


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Chalo Jamva, the Gujarati Festival at Taj Krishna

This year, there has been quite a few Gujarati promotions in the city, including one at Hyatt Gachibowli. However Navratri celebrations is a time when many food lovers turn vegetarian, and thus it is the right time to showcase the vegetarian dishes from Gujarati cuisine. Taj Krishna has tied up with Gujarat Tourism to organize Chalo Jamva, a Gujarati food promotion at Firdaus till September 30, both for lunch and dinner.


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The Hot N Juicy Kabab Festival at Paradise Restaurant

Paradise, the iconic restaurant chain from Hyderabad is on an expansion spree. The restaurant has set up its outlets in six cities by now, the latest being Gurugram a few weeks back. With rapid expansion, the restaurant is also augmenting its menu, both in terms of adding new dishes as well as organizing food festivals. After the successful Zafrani Biryani Festival (Read about it here)  a few months back, the restaurant chain is now back with Hot N Juicy Kabab Festival, an annual event which is in its third edition already.

Paradise Kabab Festival

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Flechazo Comes to Hyderabad with its MediterrAsian Buffet

Buffets with huge spreads have always been popular in Hyderabad. Variations in it like the barbeque on the table or innovative live counters have all been lapped up by the locals. Flechazo, which has opened a large buffet place in Hitech City, is the new kid on the block. After a very successful run in Bangalore, this is the second outlet from the restaurant chain.


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A Tale of Two Chinese Breakfasts in Kolkata

For the last few decades Tangra (also known as Chinatown) has been the go-to place for Chinese food in Kolkata, but when you mention Chinese breakfast to any Calcuttan, the word that is blurted out is usually Territi Bazar. A few years back, the pork soup, spring rolls, momos and other steamed delicacies served early in the morning here were absolute winners, and I was especially in love with the pork versions. However, over the years, food lovers lament about the falling standards of the offerings there.


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The Bengali Food Festival Returns to Hotel Siesta

There are two seasons for Bengali Food Festivals in Hyderabad – one around the Bengali New Year (See: Food Festivals during Bengali New Year) and the other just before Durga Puja. In the latter period, the food lovers of Hyderabad eagerly look forward to the Bengali food Festival at Hotel Siesta – now in its third year - which provides a sumptuous buffet at a very attractive price point (Read about the festival in 2016).

Ilish Macher Jhal

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The Pan-Asian Crab Menu at Mekong, Marigold

Mekong at Marigold Hotel is definitely one of the best Pan-Asian restaurants in Hyderabad.  Their variety of sushis, dim sums, and star dishes like Massaman Curry and Khau Suey have always been among my favourites and I closely follow the new developments in this restaurant. The latest buzz in the city is about the new additions in the menu showcasing different Oriental preparations of crabs.

Fresh King Crab in Spicy Fragrant Sauce
Fresh King Crab in Spicy Fragrant Sauce

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Sumeru Launches Their New Range of Parathas in Hyderabad

The Sumeru product range from Innovative Foods Limited has always been very popular in the frozen food segment. Among the Classiques parathas they serve, I have always been a fan of their Malabar Paratha and Flaky Paratha. Their Ajwain Paratha and Methi Paratha are also quite in demand. They also have a product line called Five Senses where they market some great processed meats and seafood.

Sumeru Classique Paratha Range
Sumeru Classique Paratha Range

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Taste of Punjab, the Punjabi Food Promotion at Kanak, The Trident

Hyderabad has a special love for Punjabi cuisine. It is definitely the most popular regional cuisine in the city apart from the local ones, and the food lovers here have quite an in-depth knowledge of this food. There are more than two dozens of Punjabi restaurants worth a mention in the city, Punjab Grill and Dhaba by Claridges among them are current favourites of mine. Punjabi food festivals are also in demand in the city, the latest among them being the “Taste of Punjab” a promotion of Punjabi food at The Trident Hyderabad. The festival is being held at Kanak, the Indian restaurant at The Trident. The a-la-carte menu has been specially curated for the festival by the in-house chefs.

Jhelum Ka Jhinga
Jhelum Ka Jhinga

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Kangan Presents Indian Cuisines with Soul

It is not every day that you visit a promotion where the chefs get to prepare their favourite dishes. “Indian Cuisine with Soul” at Kangan, the Indian restaurant of The Westin Hyderabad is one such event where three accomplished chefs (Executive Chef Rakesh, Chef Yadaiah and Chef Srikanth) recreate recipes from their homes as well as prepares some favourite dishes from their culinary journey. As a result, we have about two dozen fantastic Indian dishes, some soul food and some ceremonial dishes, brought together in form of a festival.

Gosht Peshawri Qaliyan
Gosht Peshawri Qaliyan

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The Spices Unlimited Buffet at Cascade, Radisson Hitech City

A buffet with a nice spread and value for money pricing is always in demand. The “Spices Unlimited” buffet at Cascade, the all-day dining restaurant at Radisson Hitech City is an example of this. The newly revamped menu of this buffet, on for both lunch and dinner, ensures that everyone has something suiting his palate. Quite a number of live counters make this even more interesting.

Chicken Quesadillas
Chicken Quesadillas 

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The Wok-Awe Promotion at Verandah, The Park Hyderabad

About a year ago, I had attended a pasta festival at Verandah in The Park Hyderabad, where around ten diverse pasta dishes were presented. The signature handcrafted dishes impressed me a lot, as also the fact that the restaurant had gone deep into exploring a particular genre and exposing different facets of pasta preparation.

The Wok-Awe promotion which is currently on in the same restaurant is in a way similar to it. Executive Chef Mandaar Sukhtankar has showcased preparations of noodles and ramen from various countries with different sauces and ingredients. In few dishes, the chef team has also added its own twist.

Verandah Classic Ramen
Verandah’s Classic Ramen

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The New and Improved Ohri’s Eatmor at Banjara Hills

Ohri’s is one of the oldest and most popular hotel and restaurant chains in Hyderabad. The group has been a pioneer in a lot of areas in the Hyderabad food and beverages scene – be it the ice cream parlour Eatmor or the themed restaurant Silver Metro. They now have a chain of more than twenty restaurants, each presenting a different genre of Indian as well as International cuisines, ranging from sizzlers or Pan-Asian to kababs or exclusively vegetarian outlets.

BBQ Chicken Wings
BBQ Chicken Wings

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Varq Pop-Up Brings Contemporary Indian Cuisine to Taj Krishna

Pop-up restaurants are becoming popular in the Indian food and beverages scene. This concept essentially is that one restaurant plays host to another, and offers their menu for a select few days. Usually, a team of chefs from the guest restaurant comes down to make sure that their core recipes are presented in an authentic manner.

Green Chilli Tulsi Pine Nut Fish
Green Chilli Tulsi Pine Nut Fish

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The New Menu at Bidri Brings in Flavours from Three States

Bidri at Marriott Hyderabad has traditionally been known to the Hyderabadi food lovers due to its Riyasati cuisine. I have also been one of its fans due to the unique dishes on its menu, consistency of preparations as well as the numerous niche food festivals organized there. The restaurant now brings in a new menu, incorporating select new dishes from United Punjab, Telangana and Hyderabad as well as retaining the old favourites.

Bandameeda Chapa
Bandameeda Chapa

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The Flavours of 1947 Revisited at Taj Krishna

15th August 1947 is definitely the proudest day in Indian history. This was the day India became independent after two centuries of British rule. Though I was not born in 1947, I have heard so many recollections of the happenings on that day from my seniors who were lucky enough to be part of the joyous celebrations of freedom at midnight.

Tiranga cottage cheese
Delices A’L Hindustan

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With Barcelos, Portuguese Cuisine comes to Hyderabad

In recent months, Hyderabad has seen a lot of national and international restaurant chains opening shop, bringing in different international as well as regional cuisines as well as new styles of cooking. Barcelos, the South African chain of restaurants serving Portuguese food is latest on the list. The restaurant has opened their outlet in Forum Sujana Mall, Kukatpally, after successful operations in Delhi, Kolkata and Jaipur.

Chicken Drumsticks
Chicken Drumsticks
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The New Menu at Link Café, Sheraton Hyderabad

The lobby level Link Café at The Sheraton Hyderabad has always been a nice place to relax. The café always has some well-made cocktails and delicious quick bites adding to the experience. To provide their loyal clientele with an augmented choice, the café has now revamped their menu completely adding a whole range of new dishes as well as beverages.

Nicoise Salad
Nicoise Salad

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The Return of Holy Basil at Radisson Blu Banjara

A few years back when Radisson Blu Plaza opened its doors at Banjara Hills, one of the reasons of people visiting it was Holy Basil, their Pan-Asian restaurant. Along with Syn at Taj Deccan, this was one of the best oriental restaurants in town and a place known for its sushis. I have had many good experiences in this restaurant, including an informative sushi-making workshop which was conducted there.  However, with a turnover of chefs the place slowly lost its mojo, and finally, it was shut for renovation.  About four months back, we were glad to know that the restaurant has again started operations, and has a new menu in place.

Sushi

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A Traveller’s Food Diary: Maach, Mishti and More around Puri Beach

The temple town Puri in Odisha is known for its famous Lord Jagannath temple and the scenic beaches, attracting pilgrims as well as tourists.  A destination with fond memories from my childhood, I was visiting it almost after a decade. Every time I had gone to Puri, I always had some delightful food, so that was an added expectation.

Fish Puri Beach
Fresh Fish at the Fish Fry Stall

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Dhabedaar Fridays at Vivanta by Taj, Begumpet

After hectic work weeks come Friday evenings when professionals look for some distinctive places to relax.  While some prefer the new microbreweries in town, for some others trying out good food in a family environment is a priority. To cater to this clientele, Vivanta by Taj has introduced Dhabedaar Fridays, an evening promotion where you can enjoy a good quality Punjabi buffet.

Dhabedaar Fridays

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The Thai Food Festival at Amara, Trident Hyderabad

The popularity of Thai cuisine in Hyderabad is growing by leaps and bounds. A couple of months back, Bidri at The Marriott organized a Thai Festival by my favourite Chef Ninja (Read here). Mamagoto, the buzzing Asian restaurant also introduced a few Thai delicacies in their Hawker’s Hall menu. Against this backdrop, came the news that The Trident was organizing ‘Sawadika’ a Thai food festival at their all day dining restaurant Amara.

Thai seafood Amara
The Seafood Live Counter

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A Traveller’s Food Diary: Eating Out around Goa’s Calangute Beach

It was a hastily planned holiday. Another trip got cancelled and the days had to be utilized. Goa seemed the perfect destination in the monsoons. Since last time we stayed at Agonda at South Goa (Read Here: Our trip to Agonda beach, Goa) we chose Calangute as a destination this year. This was the beach where I stayed on my first visit in the 1980s with my college friends, so nostalgia also played a part in the selection.

Infantaria Butter Garlic Prawn
Butter Garlic Prawns at Infantaria

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The New Hawker’s Hall Menu at Mamagoto

Mamagoto, with its two branches in Banjara Hills and Kondapur, always has something interesting to offer based on their concept of fun Asian food. A few months back they introduced a weekday lunch called “Anti-Buffet” which has quite a following in the Twin cities. Now, the restaurant has introduced “Hawker’s Hall” – a new supplementary menu comprising of street food items from Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and even Japan.

Thai Puchka
Thai Puchka

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Chama Gaucha & Horn OK Please: The New Food Options at Radisson Hitech City

The popular perception about the food scene at Radisson Hyderabad Hitech City has so far been focused on The Oriental Blossom, their Pan-Asian restaurant. Often recognized as one of the top places for oriental cuisine in Cyberabad, the restaurant has a steady footfall from loyal customers. In the recent times, to provide some more top notch gastronomical experiences to its clientele, the hotel has launched two more interesting restaurants, offering cuisines as diverse as Brazilian, Punjabi and Lebanese.

Brazilian Chicken
Coxa De Frango from the Churrascaria

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All about Kebabs at Kebab Stories, Hyderabad

Kababs are possibly among the most favourite dishes of any non-vegetarian food lover in India. The origin of the word is from ‘Kebob’ in Arabic which means charred. Folklore says that kebabs were the fast cooked food of hunters, where chunks of hunted meat and fat were skewered on a sword and rubbed with rock salt and then charred over firewood. This group of dishes, which often has marinated and skewered meat grilled, roasted or even pan-fried are enjoyed all over the Mediterranean countries, Middle-East as well as South and South-East Asia.  The meat, spices, marinades as well as the methods of preparation differ based on local tastes.

Raan-E-Zaika
Raan-E-Zaika

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Treats from Mumbai Streets at Courtyard by Marriott

Mumbai is one of the best places for street food in India. The chaats at Chowpatty beach, the meat delicacies at Mohammed Ali Road are some of the well-known street food, but there are many other non-descript locations in every nook and corner of the metro which serve some delightful local food. “Treats from Mumbai”, a promotion of street food at Momo Café, the all-day dining restaurant at Courtyard by Marriott plays a tribute to this.

The Street Food Carts at Courtyard by Marriott

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Three New Microbreweries in Hyderabad

A microbrewery is usually a pub which brews its own beer, often only a few varieties and in limited quantities. Often such places are known for their few boutique varieties of beer. The concept started from London in the 1970s and it has taken its time to travel to other countries.

The Hoppery


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Ramzan Diaries in Hyderabad: Three Restaurants with Interesting Iftar Menus

In Hyderabad, a large number of restaurants have special offerings during the Holy month of Ramzan. While most of the places serve the oft-repeated local food, hallmarks of some of these iftar dinners are carefully designed menus, signature preparations and bringing recipes not so well-known to the fore. This post talks about three places where one can visit with family for a different kind of experience during Ramzan.

Gyarah Handi Haleem


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Haleem Trail: Green Park Hotel, Begumpet

Green Park Hotel is one of the places in Hyderabad which serves haleem round the year as part of their Midnight Biryani buffet. However during Ramzan, the hotel puts up a stall in their campus, selling Iftar food from evening till 10 pm. Apart from haleem, biryani and desserts are also available for takeaway.

The Haleem 

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Ramzan Food Walk in Bangalore: Masjid-E-Eidgah Bilal and Tilaknagar

During the holy month of Ramzan, many areas in Bangalore turn into a non-vegetarian food lover’s delight in the evenings. Catering to the people breaking their fasts after the Iftar prayers, a large number of temporary stalls come up, especially near the Masjids. Apart from Mosque Road and Shivajinagar, a large number of stalls also come up near Masjid-E-Eidgah Bilal on Bannerghatta Road, and the Tilaknagar Mosque close by.

Phal Seekh Tilaknagar
Phal and Seekh Kabas are in demand during Ramzan

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Goan Food Festival at Siesta Hitech

Qube Café at the Siesta Hitech Hotel in Kondapur is known for its value-for-money food festivals – it brings regional cuisine promotions to Hyderabad at a very attractive price. Whereas around Durga Puja their Bengali food festival with unlimited Hilsa is a huge hit, they had also done decent Kashmiri, Awadhi and Punjabi festivals in the recent past. Now the restaurant is organizing Goan Food Fiesta, a celebration of food from Goa and around.

Goan Food Fiesta


The festival buffet is priced at an attractive Rs 570 on Bookmyshow. It is part of the dinner buffet and includes a wide range of meat and seafood. The buffet is dominated by Goan food, though it has a few non-Goan preparations for the in-house guests.

Goa is a favourite weekend destination for people from Hyderabad, and as a result, food lovers here are pretty familiar with the cuisine. Recently two restaurants offering Goan food have also opened in the city. Fish and other seafood items are popular in this cuisine, which has a lot of Portuguese influence on it. The buffet at Qube Café also had a lot of seafood items in it.

Anchovy Fry
Anchovy Fry

The first dish we tried out was Anchovy Fry – a spicy and crispy preparation of small nethili fish with sliced green chillies. An ideal dish to go with drinks. Sadly Siesta Hitech does not have a liquor license yet.

Mackarel Rechado
Mackerel Rechado

This was followed by Mackerel Rechado. The rechado paste has red chillies in abundance along with cumin, ginger and other spices. The fish was soft and well-cooked and the dish worked out pretty good for me. Some of my fellow-diners had a tough time picking the bones though.

Goan Style Squids
Goan Style Squids

Goan Style Squids seemed to be an oriental preparation for me replete with a lot of chopped garlic and bell peppers. While not scoring on the authenticity front, it was definitely tasty. The Goan shacks usually have a lot of such preparations with the fresh catch to go with the fenny. There were also other starters on the buffet like Stir Fried Prawns.

Mackarel Pulao
Mackerel Pulao

The main courses had quite a vegetarian dishes – Goan Style Okra and Mushroom Fry being noticeable among these. The buffet also had some dishes from Udupi area of Karnataka like the coconut based Mixed Veg Sagu and the Mangalorean Chana Gassi.

Goan Crab Curry
Goan Crab Curry

Among the non-vegetarian items, the star for me was the Goan Crab Curry – a coconut based gravy of crab which was simply delightful. Another one I liked was Prawn Balchao, a garlic and chilli based spicy dish, which went well with rice.

Chicken Cafrael
Chicken Cafrael 

Chicken Cafrael, the green Goan curry with coriander, green chillies and mint scored on the taste front. There was another chicken dish Chicken Sukeem which I did not like. Coconut based Mutton Xacutti and Goan Fish Curry were also on the menu.

Prawn Balchao

With the curries, I missed Sanna – the rice cake which is usually eaten with the gravies.

The dessert platter had Nevris, deep-fried sweet dumplings stuffed with coconut. Bebinca the most famous of the Goan desserts was a tad too dry. I enjoyed the Mango Mousse which was part of the buffet too.

Bebinca
Bebinca


I am no expert in Goan cuisine and would not be able to vouch for the authenticity of most of the dishes. What I can say is that almost all the starters and main courses tasted remarkably good. Also, as always I wondered how the value-for-money buffet at Qube Café packs so many non-vegetarian dishes.

Mango Mousse
Mango Mousse

The festival is on only for dinner till 4th June. It is recommended for lovers of non-vegetarian Indian food.

Location:
Qube Café
Hotel Siesta Hitech
55E Kondapur, Hyderabad
Telephone: 42420000

Disclaimer: The review is based on an invite from the restaurant. However, the opinion expressed in the post are honest and unbiased.



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