Author Archives: Nicholas Pillai

Tormenting a Client – Questions Questions Questions… and why this Foodie does it?

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This is just a rant… It has happened more times this month then other months. Usually I might get 6 to 8 calls asking for classes to help teach them to cook for their future restaurant.  Some or most have zero cooking experience.  They come from different walks of life, anything from a Hair stylist to Lawyers and even Doctors.  This month to day as of today, I had 12 calls.

The problem with people or clients or should I say potential restaurateurs who call me to teach them to cook, is that they give me orders with no basis.    It is fine because that is what I do,  some will not tell me their motive, some will shoot me with a few dishes, some will give me a list of about three dishes and some will say they want to learn… for some reason Chicken Chop.  That’s it.  What is it for I will ask?  “I want to open a café”.

The conversation will go on..                                                             Man-With-Question-02

Me: What kind of café do you want to open?

Client: Western Café.

Me: So you only want to learn Chicken Chop?

Client: Yes, er maybe Spaghetti.

Me: (further probing) .. Where is your café going to be located?

Client: Penang.

Me: Penang has a lot of good food.  What is going to be special about your restaurant?

Client: I don’t know. Just a few types of food, Chicken Chop and Spaghetti is enough.

Me: Why don’t you email me your needs, also think properly what else you want to serve in your café.  You need a few more things actually, you cannot operate with so few things.

Client: Why cannot?

Me: Have you seen a restaurant or café menu with five or six items?

Client: No..

Me: Don’t  rush, just go and do a proper survey of the area and see what is lacking and fill that void.  Do you know how to do a simple SWOT analysis?

Client: What?  Why do you ask so many questions?

Me: Because you seem unaware and rushing into things.  And setting up a café is not cheap.   I don’t like to see my clients fail.

Client: ok ok I will think..                                                                        man with questions3

Almost 80 percent or even 90 percent of the time, they will never get back to me. Simply because I ask too many questions.

Why do I ask questions?  Because I know for a fact, most people do not check and learn the market they are going to operate in.  They just think about it and try to learn a few things and then possibly open a restaurant and 90 percent of the time.. FAIL!

I also ask questions to make sure we are on the same wavelength. We need to be because this is important as through the course we need to be able to discuss your strategies, your whole food chain in the café, and this means questions.

I ask a lot of questions because we need to develop a two way conversation.  When we cook together in class, we need to question each other more so on the clients side because they are learning.                                                    question chef

So there are lots of reasons why I ask questions.

And being the person who taught them to cook, it actually makes me look bad and worst still I will feel bad if they fail. And I do not like to feel bad!

I more often actually reject people who I do not feel will be right for the industry. And you may think, “How dare he?” “Does he think he is that good to map peoples future?”  Well so far.. knock wood, I have yet to be wrong.  I rather not take your money, teach you, and then let you fail.

Or worst still, take your money, watch you mess up, you open your place, further mess up and I will not hear the end of it with constant phone calls and messages of failing this and that.

And quite a few who I rejected and went off with other people come back to me to clean up the mess.  I do not clean mess.  It is not a good thing for me to do as it will mean I am discrediting the other person.

I could be quite well off earning close to 6 figures a year just by teaching people who want to open restaurants and that doesn’t include my normal classes and my other food activities.  Mind you my fees are not cheap because I know the work involved  and it takes a few hundred hours and the after sale service goes on for months.

The problem is, I develop friendships and relationships with my clients over the few weeks or months when they come to learn that. Their failure will be my failure.

So now you know why I ask a lot of questions!

Now with the trend to do Food Trucks… it gets worst!

June 2015 Baking and Cooking Classes

Thosai and Idly – An Indian Breakfast

Saturday June 6th 10 to 1 pm

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Learn to make Indian Breakfast delights. You will learn to make;

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  1. Idly
  2. Thosai
  3. Masala Thosai
  4. Potato Masala
  5. Coconut Chutney

Price Per Person: $100 (Class will commence once there are 6 students)

This is a hands on class.  Be prepared to work.

Cookies and Cookies

Saturday June 6th 2.30 to 5.30

Learn to make 3 easy no nonsense cookies.  You will learn;

  1. Mocha Almond Chocolate Cookies
  2. Sujee Cashewnut
  3. Cranberry Almond

Price Per Person: $95 (Class will commence once there are 6 students.  This is a fully hands on class.

 

Pavlova and Meringue Roulade

Sunday June 7th 10 to 1 pm

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Learn to make Pavlova and Meringue.  You will learn to make;

  1. Pavlova
  2. Meringue Roulade – with a Berry Balsamic Reduction
  3. Decorating you Pavlova and Meringue Roulade

Price Per Person: $100 (Class will commence once there are 6 students)

 

Curry Saturday

Saturday 13th 2.30 to 5.30

Learn to make different curries. You will learn to prepare;

  1. Malay Chicken Rendang
  2. Indian Mutton Paretal
  3. Nonya Vegetable Curry

Price Per Person: $120 (Class will commence once there are 6 students)

 

Puff Pastry Class

Sunday  June 14th 2.30 to 5.30

Learn to make puff pastry from scratch.  You will learn;

  1. Puff Pastry
  2. Apple Strudel
  3. Spinach and Cheese Puffs
  4. Spicy Tuna Puffs

Price Per Person: $100 (class will commence once there are six students)  Max 6 students in a class.

Banana Butterscotch Cake with Salty Butter Scotch Sauce

Saturday June 20th 10 to 1 pm

Banana Caramel Cake

A Big cake with a Long Name with an equally Big Taste. You will learn;

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  1. Rich Banana Cake
  2. Butterscotch Frosting
  3. Salty Butter Scotch Sauce

Price Per Person: $95 (Class will commence once there are 6 students)

Hainanese Chicken Rice

Sunday June 21st 10 to 1 pm

Learn to make Hainanese Chicken Rice. You will learn to prepare;

  1. Silken Chicken
  2. Heong Fun
  3. Chilly Sauce
  4. Ginger Garlic Oil
  5. Sweet Soy

Price Per Person: $100 (Class will commence once there are 5 students)

Beriani Class

Saturday June 27th  10 to 1 pm

Learn to make two types of Beriani.  You will learn to make;

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  1. Hyderabadi Mutton Beriani Dum
  2. Chicken Malabari Beriani

Price Per Person: $95 (Class will commence once there are 6 students)

Gluten Free Bread

Saturday June 27th 2.30 to 5.30

We will learn to make Gluten Free Bread. You will learn;

  1. Paleo Bread – Flourless Bread
  2. Gluten Free Loaf – Using Gluten Free Flour
  3. Gluten Free loaf with Xanthan Gum

Price Per Person: $100 (Class will commence once there are 6 students)

Smoked Mutton Class

Sunday 28th 10 to 1pm

The wafting aroma of Smoked Mutton when you open it at the table for your family and friends will leave everyone in awe.  Always does at class anyhow.  You will learn;

  1. Smoked Mutton
  2. Oven Baked Naan Bread
  3. Egg Plant Burtha – Nice Smokey Brinjal Curry like dish

Price Per Person: $95 (Class will commence once there are 6 students)

 

Classes will be held at 70 Road 14/24 Petaling Jaya.  Please call 016 6827465 or email cookingwithnicholas@gmail.com to book and to make any enquiries. 

Please check my blog www.nicholaspillai.wordpress.com

 

Baking and Cooking Classes for May 2015

It has been a blissful holiday.  What was meant to be eight days ended up being 14 days of bliss with a wonderful trip to Darwin thrown in. And I regret now for not  travelling to Darwin sooner, the only other state I have not visited besides Tasmania.  Darwin is just wonderful.  The markets, the people, the food, the peacefulness, the wonderful sunsets, the beaches and not forgetting the shocking AUD12 four pieces of Putumayam with chicken, brown sugar and veg!

So hence, class starts late this month.

Saturday May 16th 2.30 to 5.30

Indian Vegetarian Class

Learn to prepare an Indian Vegetarian Meal which is as wholesome and easy.  You will learn to prepare;

  1. Green Beriani
  2. Chick Pea Masala
  3. Vegetable Bharatha

Price Per Person: $95 (Class will commence once there are 6 students)

 

Sunday May 17th 2.30 to 5.30

Eggplant Wonders – Cooking with Brinjals

Brinjals or Eggplants are one of the more versatile vegetables around and it is widely used in almost every food culture.  You will learn;

  1. Eggplant Sambal
  2. Eggplant Dip
  3. Eggplant Fritters

Price Per Person: $95 (Class will commence once there are 6 students)

Saturday May 23rd 2.30 to 5.30

Raw Vegan Desserts

I had some nice raw vegan desserts in Bali and Darwin certainly set the standards to the variety of these kinds of desserts.  You will learn to make;

  1. Nutty Chocolate Brownie
  2. Raw Vegan Chocolate Cheesecake

Price Per Person: $90 (class will commence once there are 6 students)

Sunday May 24th 2.30 to 5.30

Nasi Lemak Kukus Class

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An all time favorite.  You will learn to prepare;

  1. Nasi Lemak Kukus
  2. Spicy Fried Chicken
  3. Sambal
  4. Sotong Sambal

Price Per Person: $100 (class will commence once there are 6 students)

Saturday May 30th 10 to 1 pm

Friands – Little teacakes with a bit more class

I had Friands in Australia a few times many years ago.  I had it this time and it was so much  better that I went for  class. Friands are like little cupcake size cakes, suitable for little teaparties and even for kids to take to school.. and adults as well to take to work for a snack.  You will learn;

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  1. Coffee and Walnut Friands
  2. Lemon and Cranberry Friands
  3. Glace Icing

Price Per Person: $85

Sunday May 31st 10 to 1 pm

Pineapple Tarts for Raya

Learn to make traditional pineapple tarts.

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  1. Old Fashioned Opened Tarts
  2. Rolled Tarts
  3. Pineapple Jam

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Price Per Person: $95 (Class will commence once there are 6 students)

Please check my blog www.nicholaspillai@wordpress.com for updates.  Please call or whatsapp 0166827465 if you need any further clarification.

 All classes will be held at 70 Road 14/24 Petaling Jaya. 

April Baking and Cooking Classes 2015

Hainanese Chicken Rice

Saturday April 4th 10 to 1 pm

Learn to make Hainanese Chicken Rice. You will learn to prepare;

  1. Silken Chicken
  2. Heong Fun
  3. Chilly Sauce
  4. Ginger Garlic Oil
  5. Sweet Soy

Price Per Person: $100 (Class will commence once there are 5 students)

 

Ways with Eggs

Saturday April 4th 2.30 to 5.00

A simple class that is often requested and I always seem to ignore. This changed when I did a few private classes and realized many didn’t know how to do these eggs properly.  Eggs are Easy and Eggs can be eaten for Breakfast, Lunch and Tea and Dinner if you wish!

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You will learn;

  1. Scrambled Eggs
  2. Omelet – A Breakfast Omelet
  3. Baked Eggs – Seems to be a craze as a One-Bowl-Wonder!
  4. Poached Eggs – the hardest to do

This is a fully hands on session.  Each student will have their own set of eggs to work with.

Price Per Person: $95 (Class will commence once there are 5 students)

 

Soup Days

Sunday April 5th 2.30 to 5.30 pm

There are days when I just crave English style soups and broths.  Here are my favorite easy soups.

  1. Scotch Broth
  2. Potato and Leek Soup
  3. Old Style English Watercress Soup

Price Per Person: $90 (Class will commence once there are 6 students)

Five Layered Strawberry Cake

Saturday April 11th 10 to 1 pm

This was a challenge. My friend gave me a photo of a very In Fashion now cake and I did it.  You will learn to make;

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  1. Strawberry Cake – using fresh strawberries
  2. Cream Cheese Topping – This is not so easy as I found out Twice… once because I was texting and the other, I was trying to multitask. Full concentration is needed.
  3. Assembling the cake

Price Per Person: $95 (class will commence once there are 6 students)

 

Chicken Chicken Chicken 2

Sunday April 12th 10 to 1 pm

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Another class of Chicken Snacks.  You will learn my favorite;

  1. Korean Fried Chicken
  2. Kam Heong Chicken
  3. Nam Yee Chicken

Price Per Person: $100 (Class will commence once there are 6 students)

 

Puff Pastry Class

Sunday April 12th 2.30 to 5.30

Learn to make puff pastry from scratch.  You will learn;

  1. Puff Pastry
  2. Apple Strudel
  3. Spinach and Cheese Puffs
  4. Spicy Tuna Puffs

Price Per Person: $100 (class will commence once there are six students)  Max 6 students in a class.

 

Ways with Fish

Saturday April 18th 10 to 1 pm

I’m fussy when it comes to fish, here are some of the fishy stuff that I like.

  1. Fish and Chips
  2. Rich Fish Pie
  3. Indian Style Fried Fish

Price Per Person: $120 (class will commence once there are 5 students)

 

Tiramisu oh Tiramisu

Saturday April 18th 2.30 to 5.30

Tiramisu is always an expensive favorite and we often feel we never get enough of it when we leave a restaurant.  Let’s change that.  Learn to make;

  1. Traditional Tiramisu
  2. Mixed Berry Tiramisu

Price Per Person: $95 (Class will commence once there are 6 students)

Chicken Curry Bread

Sunday April 19th 10 to 1 pm

Learn to make a Malaysian only favorite.  People still line up for it each day.  You will learn;

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  1. Bread Dough – Specially for Chicken Curry Bread
  2. Chicken Curry

Price Per Person: $75 (Class will commence once there are 6 students)

English Tea Delights

Sunday April 19th 2.30 to 5.30

A day of all things English. These are ideal for breakfast or tea, or be like me… anytime of the day!

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You will learn;

  1. English Muffins
  2. Crumpets
  3. Pancakes

This is a fully hands on session.

Price Per Person: $95 (Class will commence once there are 6 students)

 

 

Pao and Siew Pao Class

Saturday April 25th 10 to 1 pm

Learn to make Steamed Pao and Siew Pao. Learn to make the two different Paos from scratch.

You will learn to make;

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  1. Steam Pao
  2. Siew Pao
  3. Vegetarian Char Siew Filling

Price Per Person: $95 Class will commence once there are 6 students

 

French Macarons

Saturday April 25th 2.30 to 5.30

Learn to make the little morsels that everyone seems to either hate or love.  You will learn the fundamentals of making;

  1. French Macarons
  2. Chilly Cheese Filling
  3. Salty Green Tea Butter Icing Filling

Price Per Person: $100 (Class will commence once there are 6 students)

Japanese Bread

Sunday April 26th 10 to 1 pm

This will always be my most favorite bread class.  Hard work but it always pays off in the end.  You will learn;

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  1. Japanese Soft Bread
  2. Cheese and Onion Scrolls
  3. Bread Loaf
  4. Sausage Bread

Price Per Person: $100 (Class will commence once there are 6 students)

 

Old Fashioned Butter Cake

Sunday April 26th 2.30 to 5.30

Let’s make Old Fashioned Butter Cake and Butter Icing

You will also learn to do some basic decoration like spreading icing, piping the sides and covering borders on your own cake.

This is a hands on session. The old fashion way to make this is by using a spoon.  So we will be doing it the traditional way.

Price Per Person: $95 (Class will commence once there are 6 students)

 

Classes will be held at 70 Road 14/24 Petaling Jaya.  Please call 016 6827465 or email cookingwithnicholas@gmail.com to book and to make any enquiries. 

Please check my blog www.nicholaspillai.wordpress.com

 

Fees are to be paid once you make a booking, if a class is canceled you will be refunded.  If fees are not paid, your name will be not be placed on the list.

March Cooking and Baking Classes


Sunday March 1st 10 to 1 pm

My Favorite Cakes

You will learn to make;

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  1. Lamingtons
  2. Swiss Roll
  3. Coconut Butter Cream Filling
  4. Coconut Frosting
  5. Chocolate Coating

Price Per Person: $100 (Class will commence once there are 5 students)

Saturday March 7th 2.30 to 5.30pm

Panna Cotta Class

Learn to make the ever famous Panna Cotta. You will learn to make;

  1. Plain Panna Cotta
  2. Panna Cotta with Balsamic Berries
  3. Masala Tea Panna Cotta

Price Per Person: $95 (Class will commence once there are 6 students)

Sunday March 8th 10 to 1 pm

Chicken Chicken Chicken and a Chutney

Let’s learn to prepare stuff I ate in Bangalore.  These are usually found in Indian Restaurants here and there.  We will learn to prepare;

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  1. Chicken Lollipop – Looks like Boxing Chicken with a difference.
  2. Chicken Tandoori – Grilled in the oven
  3. Chicken Malai Tikka
  4. Date Chutney

Price Per Person: $100 (Class will commence once there are 6 students)

Saturday March 14th 10 to 1 pm

Hainanese Chicken Rice

Learn to make Hainanese Chicken Rice. You will learn to prepare;

  1. Silken Chicken
  2. Heong Fun
  3. Chilly Sauce
  4. Ginger Garlic Sauce

Price Per Person: $100 (Class will commence once there are 5 students)

Sunday March 15th 2 to 5.30

Chicken, Chicken, Chicken  and a Dip 2

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Another class of Chicken Snacks.  You will learn my favorite;

  1. Korean Fried Chicken
  2. Chicken Croquettes
  3. Nam Yee Chicken
  4. A hot and sour dip

Price Per Person: $100 (Class will commence once there are 6 students)

Tuesday March 17th 2 to 4.30

Meatloaf and its many uses.

Let us learn to make a good wholesome yummy meatloaf and then turn it into other favorite foods that can be eaten at home or even at school.

You will learn to prepare;

  1. Meatloaf
  2. Meatloaf with Mashed Potatoes and Vegetables
  3. Meatloaf Shepherds Pie
  4. Meatloaf French Bread Pizzas

Price Per Person: $95 (Class will commence once there are 6 students) This class is open to teenagers who are on school holidays.

Saturday 21st 2.30 to 5.30

Retro Desserts..

I remember well my mum learnt these desserts once or twice in the 80s but never made it.  So today we will learn to make;

  1. Bombe Alaska
  2. Baba au Rum or Rhum babas

Price Per Person: $95 (Class will commence once there are 6 students)

Sunday 22nd 2 to 5.30

French Baguette Class

Learn to make two types of French Bread.

You will learn to bake from scratch the French Method with the crusty finish and the American Method which is slightly crusty.

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This is a fully hands on class.

  1. French Baguette (Banh Mi – Vietnamese)
  2. American Baguette

Price Per Person: $90 (Class will commence once there are 6 students)

Saturday 28th 10 to 1 pm

Doughnuts Sweet and Savory

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I love eating Doughnuts but more so the one the Chinese Hawkers sell in the market just with sugar and nothing fancy.  We will learn to make different snacks using Doughnut Dough. You will learn to make;

  1. Doughnut Dough
  2. Doughnut Malaysia
  3. Chocolate Fondant Glaced
  4. Sausage Doughnuts

Price Per Person: $95 (Class will commence once there are 6 students)

Sunday 29th 2.30 to 5.30

An Easter Lunch Menu

  1. Boneless Lamb Roast
  2. Potato Basil Fritata
  3. Green Bean Salad
  4. Creamy Pumpkin Soup

Price Per Person: $110 (Class will commence once there are 6 students)

Classes will be held at 70 Road 14/24 Petaling Jaya.  Please call 016 6827465 or email cookingwithnicholas@gmail.com to book and to make any enquiries. 

Please check my blog www.nicholaspillai.wordpress.com

 Fees are to be paid once you make a booking, if a class is canceled you will be refunded.  If fees are not paid, your name will be not be placed on the list.

Varthur Sunday Market – Whitefield, Bangalore

The last time I was here, Richard decided we should go to Central Market and in my mind I had visions of Expat ladies selling their wares and their different foods and handicrafts, simply because Richard himself was a little vague about things.  I remember the drive there. We went through busses and cars and scooters and automated rickshaws and too many people along with a Procession and a company holding some opening and when we got there, the place smelt like cow dung!

So once again I didn’t have much hope.  So we drove to Varthur Sunday Market which is not far from where we live, about 30 minutes or so we are dropped of amidst throngs of people and moterbikes and we walked towards the market.

Varthur Market got it’s name from the Vathur Lake.  While it is very village like with its small shops and roadside peddlers, lots of Varthur has been earmarked for development, so there might not be a Varthur Sunday Market one day. So do visit Varthur Market if you are in Bangalore.  So from here, you know I kind of enjoyed myself.

Here are photos of the market.

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Upon entering, well there is no particular entrance actually, it just depends where you are coming from, this is the sight that greets you.

Never in my life have  I seen such big amounts of French Beans, Chillies, Onions, Potatoes and a lot of other vegetables all over the place.  The vegetables were very fresh and a healthy color and the prices were just so shockingly low, you might wonder how these people make a living?

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I was trying to take a photo of the weighing scale, but the lady kept giving me, “what you trying to do look?” I would love to own one of these weighing scales because they must be old.

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Look at the colors, the Carrots are almost standard size and then I thought I noticed Turnips. ?  These “turnips” look better then any of the turnips I have seen before.  It looks so light green and fresh.  Then looking closely it was actually Kohlrabi.  Kohlrabi is kind of a turnip and cabbage combined.  This too was a surprise as it is added into soups and even sliced and fried with a tempura batter. In Malaysia the Chinese might stirfry it and there are even recipes of it eaten with local cincalok.

The beetroots was another wonder.  I only knew on this day at Varthur Market that Indians use beetroot in their cooking.  All my life I thought Beetroot was a typical western vegetable used in salads and some Australian Burgers may give you a slice of it as well. Yukkk!

The color of the aubergines are not what we are used to.  It looks appetising and not so deep purple.  If you notice where the man is standing, there was even remnants of Rhubarb or so I thought, but it was actually local Chards.  Strangely after checking, it is also part of the Indian Diet.

The bittergourd actually looks more frightening and potent then what we are used to.   There were a lot of Bottle Gourd, at least that is what I think it is.  Again I never could imagine this to be apart of the Indian diet.

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This is betel nut leaf, all arranged and sold with different Areca Nuts. Again I got that funny look, so I didn’t dare take anymore photos.  It is strange how everyone stopped and looked at me when I entered the market.   There are heaps of Betel Nut leaves  here all arranged so well.  I actually have it in my garden so next time if I serve it, I might just do the same thing.

In Malaysia and Thailand this is used as part of our cooking ingredients.

Here however, it is chewed with Areca nuts and can often make the person high.  The irritating thing about this is the spitting after all the flavor is gone.

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Indian provision needs are available as well.  They will sell different lentils, and rice and oils and jaggery which is palm sugar with varying colors.  Those little square things on the right is a form of jaggery.  I saw a lot of spices and chilly powders but the thing is, LANGUAGE!

People in Bangalore speak Hindi and Kannada, so don’t be fooled that all Indians speak Tamil as most people think.. even me once upon a time. This is the difficult part of buying stuff over here especially from small retailers.

I was so silly, I had this intention of buying spices thinking it was different chilly powders and turmeric. Then I wondered why the colors looked odd, then Kenneth told me it was colored Sandalwood Powder. So there you go.

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More local fresh produce… just look at how crisp and gorgeous it all looks.  More vegetable varieties here, sweet potatoes, bitter gourd, capsicums, and look at those gorgeous washed potatoes..  they are perfect size for a good baked potato and they even had baby potatoes.  The Pumpkins looked so photogenic as well.

The photo didn’t quite happen though.  These two boys perked up when I started taking photos.

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At 11.30 am, and they were still so fresh.  Look at the Coreander leaves, and they even had Dill.  It was such a learning experience for me.

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The myriad colors of Vegetables.

 

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Watermelons galore.  They were everywhere.

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Local Bangalore Grapes…40 rupees for 500 gm, and it was a nice sweet and sour and seedless too.

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More local fruits. The Honeydew was a perfect size for one person.  THe pomegranate was wonderful, ruby red and sweetish as well. I do not like sweet fruit.  I also bought some mandarins.  All 40 rupees per 500 gm.

Now for the not so pretty part… but seriously I am sure many moons ago Malaysia was the same.

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I only took this because of the unformed eggs in the chicken.  How do you eat that?

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More chooks a hanging.

And last but not least!

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GORY!

 

Salt Mango Tree – Prestige Ozone, Whitefield, Bangalore

Prestige Ozone as the name suggests homes luxurious villas with with up to date facilities and amenities to rival many hotels around.  The houses are posh and safety within the well maintained compound makes this place a little dream for me.  It houses many of the expat community and the wealthier Indian population.

Now within Prestige Ozone a newly opened restaurant called Salt Mango Tree.  Richard and Kenneth have been boasting about this restaurant from the moment I stepped into the car at the airport.  Richard’s curry flavors are quite questionable at times and Kenneth, well he likes it, he eats it, no comments from him.

So Sunday night before they left for the Netherlands they decided to have dinner over there, and since I opened my big mouth and said  I had not had any Beriani Rice yet, even during my last trip, so they said I had to try it.

Upon entering Salt Mango Tree, well it says nothing that it is an Indian Restaurant featuring Kerala food, because I did see Italian food on the board along with Indonesian food as well.  So I thought, ok…. here goes one of those places that cannot have signature food but needs to cater for the different ethnic groups in the Prestige Ozone enclave.  Can’t be that good I thought.. since you cannot present your Signature food to the masses.

Ambience wise, sparse, and nothing that shouts anything Kerala. Truth be told, yours truly is also not well versed with Kerala ambience so this is all big talk, but frankly there was nothing Indian for that matter besides the very friendly, polite and professional waiters.

So the menu was handed to me.  Me who has no idea of Kerala food gazed at the menu and frankly speaking knew nothing.  There were a few Kerala words I noticed as I have heard the Tamil word before, so I guessed my way through the menu with Richard recommending everything in the end.    I must say, the variety of Kerala foods was baffling for me because coming from a country where we have a lot of Indian food, I think only five or six foods on that menu made its way to Malaysia.

It made me realise how shocking my knowledge of Indian food was, and this is something I have to look into this year.  I need to learn about Indian food – South Indian in particular.

So we ordered Appetisers.  I chose Fish Chukka and Vazhappoo Cutlet.  Both I have never heard off in my life. As usual, we set them off to prepare the Appetisers first and then proceeded to order our drinks.  This according to Richard would synchronize the whole meal.  So for beverage I ordered The Green Machine, Kenneth ordered the Vanilla Milkshake and Richard ordered a very pretty drink, which for the life of me I cannot remember the name.  Yes, I have my moments.

For main course, we ordered Choru Mutton Curry which was the special of the day but actually a starter, so there was a bit of confused looks when we tried to explain that it was fine to serve us a starter as a main.  We ordered the Thalssery Chicken Beriani which was also a special and Kariveppila Kozhi Curry with Parotta.  Of all the above, I knew the Kozhi curry had curry leaves!

Parotta is similar to Roti Canai but truly lacks the oiliness that we are used to in Malaysia.

So the appetisers appeared.  Fish Chukka.  Having no idea what it was as the description was quite vague.  So from apperance, it looked wonderful to me.  Boneless fish cubes which I believe to be Mackeral cooked perfectly that it was not dry and flaky or undercooked and falling apart. It was perfectly flavored with the spices and I saw some cariander seeds and thickly grated coconut which added that extra bite to the fish.  I must look up this recipe and try it out, or at least learn about Kerala cuisine.   I am sure the coconut is manually scraped with the myriad coconut scrappers they seem to have in the shops and supermarkets over here.

Fish Chukka can be eaten with rice or on its own.  I think, this will be nice as a wrap, get a tortilla skin,, add some vegetables and stuff it with Fish Chukka. I am sure it would be good.

 

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Then the Vazhappoo Cutlet came.  Again I had no idea what it was although |I knew it was a cutlet of some sort which I also make but this one had banana flower.  This was something I was looking forward to.  I have only eaten banana flower cooked Malay or Indonesian style floating in coconut milk, and it was not my favorite at all.

This was served with Beetroot chutney.. It was a frightening looking sauce that looked more chilly hot then anything.  I swear I never knew beetroot was part of the Indian diet till I came to Bangalore the second time.  I asked the waiter how this came to be but got a muffled up answer so as I am  typing this I am looking for information.

20150208_193402Just found out that India is the second largest beetroot provider in the world, but mostly it is all consumed by the country itself.  Nothing more can be found at the moment.  So it is no wonder it is used in many dishes all over the country.

So here is my view of the Vazhappoo Cutlet.  It had a nice texture and its main ingredient was potato.  However, I feel, the banana flower should have been more visible and at least give me something to bite that I can distinctly know it is banana flower.  There is nothing wrong with it because it is probably how it is made, but I would prefer to taste some banana flower or at least bite some.  The cutlets did go well with the beetroot sauce or chutney.  The spiciness of the beetroot along with the sweetness of it did give the Vazhappoo Cutlet some layers of different flavors.  It did go well with the onion and carrot pickle.

Having said all that, if we use the banana flowers then we might not have bananas,

Then as Richard had mentioned about synchronizing the meal order, the drinks came.

I only seem to be able to find Richards and my drink for some reason.  Richard’s drink which for the life of me I cannot seem to remember was truly a nice calming 20150208_193922drink.  It had Basil seeds (biji selasih in Malay or Tulsi Seeds in Tamil) that dotted the drink. It might be the Nellika Magic which had Coreander leaves and lime with a pinch of salt with soda water.  Refreshing and had a nice tang and the little basil seeds gave it that bite. It even had bits of green chilly.

I love basil seeds.  When I was a kid  I would freak out everyone telling them it was frog eggs.

20150208_194203My Green Machine was somehow less photogenic as it consisted of Coriander, Mint, Coreander, Lemon and salt all juiced together so then end result was GREEN.  Maybe some little garnish might have given it some uplifting or perhaps.

It would have been a wonderful drink for breakfast, a nice pickerupper but somehow it didn’t complement my meal.

This is my fault for choosing the drink.

 

Then our main courses appeared. Our Karivepilla Kozhi Curry which was a chicken cooked in spices with curry leaves was utterly mouth watering.  I love curry leaves so I don’t mind eating them.

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This curry went perfectly with the Parotta’s and Rice.  The blend of spices was just perfect to me. I think it could have been spicier but perhaps because Richard was around, so Salt Mango Tree held back the chillies.  The boneless chicken had taken in all the flavors and was still succulent.

I do not eat Indian food very often unless it is the simple dosa and idly’s so these were actually all a first time for me except for the Beriani.   Let’s just say that it was truly a virginal affair.

20150208_195758The Thalassery Chicken Beriani was quite an eye piece to me any how.  All dhummed up with Chappati dough in a eartherned vessel was just special to me. The chappati dough is used to cover the pot so that the steam will cook the rice and the frangrance will not escape.  And it sure didn;t escape this one.

Then he opened it and out came the steam from the cooked rice with chicken.

Unlike the Beriani Rice we usually eat in Malaysia 20150208_195921which is very highly spiced and very deep in color either from turmeric of spice powder, Kerala style is usually not so flavorsome and deep in color but still good. One would say it is tenderly spiced and lightly colored to make it look like it is very light in flavor.

The waiter served us carefully and the fragrance of the rice when it hit the plate was truly wonderful.  It didn’t reek of spiciness but was just tenderly flavored enough.

Next was the Choru Mutton.  This at first glance resembled Mutton Varuvel which is also South Indian and usually served in Indian shops in Malaysia.  The curry is cooked dry and often it goes well with beer.

This Choru Mutton however, was different.  It was a lighter version of the Varuvel.  It didn’t have the chilly hotness yet it was heavily spiced, but unlike what I usually cook comes with heaps of curry leaves, potatoes and dried chillies and lots of spices.  This one had a lot of class.  Although this is South Indian, and so is Mutton Varuvel, I wonder how South is my version, because at this moment I feel it is at the bottom of the list.  Quite shocking isn’t it!

 

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The Choru Mutton was tender yet dry but the dryness went well and the secret weapon here was the coconut shreds.  I have never ever seen that used before.  Either due to lack of knowledge or just plain ignorance I have never ever seen this kind of coconut used before.  The dry fried coconut gave the dish so much more texture and flavor and a nice crunch.  It was not as dry as well, it had just the right amount of juiciness.

20150208_195752Meanwhile, the Parottas were just perfect.   It was fluffy and not oily but also not dry.  Even when it was cold it was still nice and remained fluffy.  Our Malaysian Roti Canai tends to get doughy and hard.

I had a good time at Secret Mango Tree.  It was an eye opener for me because now I know I lack so much knowledge of South Indian food.  So lacking that it is embarassing for me to say I can cook Indian food.!

I am thinking of packing some Choru Mutton to take it back home.

So since the year is still young, I am committing myself to my first Resolution for the year.  Learn and promote new South Indian Style food!