Thursday, January 20, 2005

Of the Steamed Dosas, the Babai Idlis and the CHUTNEYS ...

Being a perfect Puneite (or do I say पुणेकर) ... I am really passionate about certain things in life (पुलंची जाज्वल्य अभिमानाची concept ) ... be it my city Pune, my friends or the food I eat! So much so that even after staying in Hyderabad for as long as 2 years now I still relate myself to Pune better than Hyderabad! So much so that given a good job opportunity (read GOOD job opportunity) I will be willing to go back to Pune any day! But if I sit back and think deeply, I do realize that I am going to miss some things in Hyderabad when I go back!! Yes I am! Because these are the things hold me back in Hyderabad today!

Yesterday, after quite some time I went to an eating place called "Chutneys" in Hyderabad. Talking of Chutneys ... it is a classic THEME RESTAURANT run by someone who's an IIML MBA. The Theme is Andhra Pradesh! Well, you do get Chinese and Punjabi food at Chutneys ... but I personally feel that people who go to Chutneys to have Chinese or Punjabi food are as stupid as those who go to Alibaug and order Chicken and no sea-food!

The Ambience of the restaurant is good ... dim lit ... yellow light ... with Andra Folk Art on the walls and Telagu Classical Music being played in the background! Cane Chairs to sit, Copper glasses for drinking water and food served on the leaf of a banana tree! Wow!

The Best part of the meal here is what its own name says ... "Chutneys" ... 4 of them ... I just love the plain white chutney made out of nothing but Coconut, Jagerry and little bit of salt to taste! When you are seated on your table, the waiter just fills in the 4 bowls of Chutneys for you. And to say it in a typical "को.ब्रा" ishtyle ... you are not charged for any amount of Chutney you consume ...

Another thing that you get free here and which is equally awesome is the Sambar! The taste, I am damn sure, cannot be achieved by the Sambar Masalas manufactured by Everest, Bashash, Pravin, KePra or even a combination of these. (Believe me I have tried all). Its their trade secret ... and definitely deserves to be! I haven't had such a sumptious Sambar anywhere else ... good thick Sambar with only onions and tomatoes. If there is any place in the world that can make Sambar half as good as Chutneys ... then its Vaishali in Pune! In other places I have had Sambar which contain all sorts of vegetables from different gourds, capsicum, cabbage, cauliflower, carrot and even pumkin!!! Gggrrr!

At Chutneys you can order various Andra Dishes that you can enjoy with these Chutneys and the Sambar. Not many of these can you get elsewhere! For e.g. the flair in which they serve the Babai Idli, with fresh & pure butter melting on the steaming idle... ummmmmmm! A friend of mine who came to Hyderabad some time ago was not a big fan of idlis and it took a bit of convincing from me to get him order a Babai Idli. And today he speaks more about the Idli than I do. The Masala Dosa, Mango Uttapum, Rawa Dosa, Pesarattu ... words are too weak a medium to describe all these! And moreover I just cannot do two things at a time ... when I eat at Chutneys I just eat , I cannot spend any energy thinking about how good the food is!

But thats not all ... here is the best part ... another (strangely) nice dish that you get at Chutneys is the "Steamed Dosa" ... The Menu Card says that this item was optimised to suit the likes and taste of the Biggest Gulti Film Star - Chiranjeevi ... But trust me its really good. I have tried making a Steamed Dosa at home but have failed badly! Its baked in (what the waiters at Chutneys call) "Japanese Style". (If someone knows how Janapnese people steam their rice please do tell me). One side of it is fluffy, porus and soft ... nicely steamed. But surprisingly the other side is crispy, crunchy! Now how is that possiblllllle? Well ... you just need to come to Chutneys once in life to understand it! If you have not had a dinner/brunch at Chutney ... then I can bet on anything that you are missing something really great in life!

Mannn ... I wish Chutneys was in Pune!!