Sunday, 25 August 2013

BBQ Workshop at Weber Experience Center, Bangalore

Grilling and Barbeque sessions are always a fun activity. Weber organized an Independence day workshop at the Weber Experience Center. Having always fancied cooking outdoors on a grill, I jumped at the opportunity to attend this workshop.

The day complimented very well with the session by presenting us the perfect weather to be cooking outdoors.  With a round of introductions we jumped in preparation and cooking mode. Over the course of the next 4 - 5 hours, each of us participants shared responsibilities and got working right from preparations like kneading the dough for the pizza, slicing and dicing of vegetables, marinating the meat, assembling the desserts, grilling, baking and more.

With Neetha leading and guiding us through her recipes, we ended up cooking and eating the following:

Multigrain Pizza –Thin crust & Cheese Burst Pizza
Paneer Tikka on Skewers
Gooey Choco Lava Cake
Malabar Stuffed Chicken - A whole chicken stuffed with seasoned veggies

Herbed Grilled Chicken Tikka Sizzler with BBQ sauce

Apple-Walnut Pie

Yes!!! All of this was prepared on the Weber Grill.

At the workshop, I got to meet some lovely people with a common connecting factor - Food. In addition to meeting people, grilling and eating a lot of food, we also learnt:

1. Grill basics such as lighting charcoal, maintaining grill temperature and grill safety

2. Marinating techniques
3. Grilling meats & vegetables
4. Use of grill accessories
5. Baking on the grill

In all, the workshop was very informal, gave me a hands on experience, was very educative and a lot of fun. At the end of the workshop, I was left with a happy and overloaded tummy, an experience and a lot of learning to take away.

Interested? Does Weber organize these workshops on a regular basis? Do you wish to enroll?
Yes, there are 3 types of BBQ workshops that are organized at the Weber Experience Center:
1. Introductory Weber BBQ Familiarization Workshop (Free)
2. Intermediate Weber BBQ Workshop (~ Rs. 1500 per person) * this is the one I attended*
3. Advanced Weber BBQ Workshop (~ Rs. 3000 per person)

For more details or to enroll for the Weber BBQ workshops, you can contact them either on phone, email or follow them on their FB page to stay updated.

Phone Number: 9900027067 / 080-42406666
Follow Weber India on FB, click here.

Address: 11/2, Haudin Road, Ulsoor, Bangalore 560042

Monday, 12 August 2013

Deva Wines by SDU Winery, Bangalore

I love weekends; for it is that time of the week when I can sleep long hours, laze around, and spend time with my family and friends. However, a fortnight ago, my 5 days a week job spilled over the weekend, meaning no break. At that point, I didn’t miss the weekend and was all geared up for the new work week to begin. It was just the second day of the week when the long work hours had my system wanting the weekend to arrive. 

A little ahead in the same week, I could no longer wait for the weekend to arrive. Why?

Your first guess might be – ‘To sleep’


“Then for what?”

I was excited to visit India’s first boutique winery that has been set up in the Nandi Valley Appellation. Yes, I received an invite for a winery tour to go through the wine making process, wine tasting, food, and again a lot of wine. It definitely was going to be a fun and educative day at SDU Winery.

At SDU winery, we tasted and savored various wines from the ‘Deva’ portfolio. Yes! ‘Deva’ meaning ‘Divine’ is the first brand of wines from SDU winery.

We took our seats around the table and in no time were joined back by Mohit Nischol, the wine expert and business head at SDU. Mohit kicked off the wine tasting session with a brief introduction about their Wine Maker ‘Andrea Valentinuzzi’ and how their focus was to deliver wines that are very easy on the palate.  

In the next 3 hours or so, we savored:
- A well balanced and but to be launched white wine ‘Deva Chardonnay’;
- Recently launched – the fruity and fragrant Vintage 2012 - ‘Deva Syrah’ and ‘Deva Cabernet Sauvignon’, and
- The wonderfully blended Vintage2013 - ‘Deva Syrah’ and ‘Deva Cabernet Sauvignon’ which is yet on its way to completion and launch.

I must admit that I am no wine expert and speaking on this note - None of the wines left me feeling uneasy or pungent in my mouth; which is how I assume a lot of us feel when we drink some specific wines. I loved these because they actually were so enjoyable and easy to drink.

Here is a little analysis from me on the tasting notes for the wines I consumed on this day:

A lovely, well-balanced ‘Deva Chardonnay’ – dry, medium bodied, mouth-watering and fruity white wine was first served to us. Once consumed, this wine leaves a nice lingering taste on the palate. This wine is yet to be bottled and launched in the market. I now eagerly wait for October which is when the white wine ‘Deva Chardonnay’ is expected to arrive at retail stores in Bangalore.

What followed was more wine tasting. This time around it was the turn of 2 red wines that have already been launched in the market a couple of months ago. They are vintage 2012 ‘Deva Syrah’ and ‘Deva Cabernet Sauvignon’. Both these wines like Chardonnay are very easy on the palate.

‘Deva Syrah’ is a light red, fruity, medium bodied dry wine with a hint of spice notes. ‘Deva Cabernet Sauvignon’ is a dark red, dry, good bodied wine with nice fruity notes and evident notes of spice. I enjoyed the fruitiness of the Syrah and the lingering taste left behind by the ‘Deva Cabernet Sauvignon’. Ask me to pick one and it will be the ‘Deva Cabernet Sauvignon’ for the tannins in it leave a velvety feel.

These wines were enjoyed in the company of a lovely spread of bite sized snacks which included various cold cuts, breads, cheese board and accompaniments. This was a lot, but it really whet my appetite for a wonderful lunch that was being set up.

The wines we enjoyed on our last leg were again 2 red wines, vintage 2013 blended Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon which were very easy and enjoyable on the palate. Like the Chardonnay, these wines are on their way to completion and will be in the market soon.

There are more wines, both red and white which are currently being aged in the French Oak barrels that inherits flavors like vanilla, spices and more. I got to smell the red wine which was heavenly but didn’t get to try it yet. Mohit said, “Being a wine thief would really upset and piss off wine maker Andrea.”

Food is something I can’t resist posting about. So here is a sneak-peek at a scrumptious lunch.

What made my day incredible were not just the lovely wines and the food but also a world of knowledge that I gained all through the day. By the end of the day, I not only fell in love with Deva Wines but also with:

- The dynamics of wine tasting, and

- Wine making process.

I promise to write and share with you about each of the above points in the future posts to come.

A Quick Summary
I am so impressed by these wines that I have to mention again, “Deva wines are really easy drinking wines and I believe each one of you; whether first-timers or wine experts (and everyone in between) will really enjoy these wines.” 

Go to your nearest retail outlet and try it out for yourself. Red wines syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon are priced reasonably at Rs. 275 and Rs 325 for the 350 ml bottle and at Rs. 500 and Rs. 600 for the 750 ml bottle. Believe me, they definitely are worth a try.

Deva Chardonnay, the white wine is expected to launch in October. Though I’m more of a red wine person, I await October which is when I can get my hands on this lovely well balanced white wine.

This is not all, Deva Reserve (both red and white) – premium wines are expected to hit the market too early next year. Yes, if you read a little above; these are the very same wines that are currently being aged in the French oak barrels.

Watch out for this space for more updates. For now, I’ll leave you’ll with a picture of the wines being aged in the French oak barrels.

Are you thinking of being a ‘Wine Thief’ too?

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Zaffran, Bangalore

Zaffran a fine dine restaurant specializes in Mughlai cuisine. Originally from Mumbai, they made an entry into Bangalore in the year 2011 on St. Mark’s road. Somewhere in the second half of 2012 they opened shop in Orion Mall, Malleshwaram. Post the shutdown of Zaffran on St. Mark’s road, their outlet at Orion mall is the only one in Bangalore. A lot of good feedback about the food (especially the Raan biryani) has been the driving force behind my visits; ‘Yes, Visits’ to Zaffran.

The Menu at Zaffran lays emphasis on the rich culinary delicacies of Northern India. Their menu comprises of an array of mouthwatering delicacies which includes soups, starters, refreshments, main course, accompaniments, biryanis and desserts; all of which can be consumed in the company of some alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages offered from their full-fledged bar. The menu is well structured with the courses clearly categorized independently and further between vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes.

What we ate:
Having visited Zaffran multiple times, I was able to sample a variety of items from their menu. To do the honors was masala papad which actually is a crisp roomali roti topped with the tomato and onion masala. Being made with all-purpose flour, it has a tendency to get tough and chewy as it gets cold. When had hot and fresh, it was actually quite nice. An interesting dish to nibble on as one waits for the other courses to arrive.

For starters, Murg Zaffrani Tikka served with mint chutney visited us during both my visits. It had a nice flavor of saffron, was tender, well cooked and in a word 'Delicious'. For the vegetarian, the pick was veg. Galauti Kabab. I didn't try it but the vegetarians loved it.
Image Courtesy: Zaffran Management

In the course of visits to Zaffran, another non-vegetarian starter we relished was the succulent Tandoori Murg. The overnight marinating does pay off and is evident from the flavor it exudes.

In the mains, it was Rogan Josh and Paneer Makhni that paid visit to our table. The Rogan Josh came with a twist; the recipe at Zaffran involves extensive use of saffron. The meat was succulent and tender slipping off the bone with slightest of the efforts. Though the Zaffran version tasted good, I personally would prefer the authentic Rogan josh. The vegetarian counterpart was a fine dish which was paneer immersed in a rich and creamy tomato based gravy. It was indeed a fine dish to order for the vegetarians. These gravies were accompanied by assorted Indian breads which were well cooked too.

On one of the occasions, we called for the Murg Tikka biryani which was served along with raita. The biryani was flavorful combination of aromatic rice and succulent pieces of chicken tikka and could do even without any accompaniment.
Image Courtesy: Zaffran Management

A visit to Zaffran cannot be complete until you have had the Raan Biryani (mutton leg) served here. The portion is enormous and can feed 5- 6 people. The mutton is very tender, flavorful and melts in the mouth instantly. The rice is well flavored with saffron and the mutton masala it is cooked along with. This preparation packs the flavors of the meat, rice, spices and saffron so well that it can entice the weakest of the taste buds.

Zaffran offers both indoor and outdoor seating options. The decor is really classy. The music playing in the background is really soothing and has a mid-eastern world influence.

The service first time around was average. The staff seemed a bit hesitant and puzzled when asked for recommending the food to pick. The service during other visits has been reasonably good. I appreciate the management for being receptive to the feedback given and acting upon improving it.

An average meal for two will cost Rs. 1500 for food excluding taxes and charges; yet leaves you well satiated. Being located as a part of the mall, there is no valet parking offered.

Quick Tips:
Raan Biryani is what I will always go back here for every single time. 

Address: Orion Mall, Brigade Gateway, Malleshwaram - Yeshwanthpur, Bangalore
Phone Number: +91 80 6595 8888