Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Date night on Level 12

A dinner date with your childhood bestie is probably the most amazing thing in the world. It was a Saturday night and I decided to spend it with my best friend. I have always had a thing for pools and rooftops. Now, imagine a place with beautiful lighting, a huge pool that sparkles after sunset, a panoramic view of the glittering city lights and comfortable sofa beds by the pool. Yes, that is what Level 12 is all about. What more could one ask for?

Although it was a 45 minute drive through the traffic; but the moment I entered the restaurant, I was blown away by the marvellous ambiance. The cherry on the cake was the white and blue decor. It took me a while to get back to my senses because I really was mesmerized by the scenic view I was presented with. Away from the regular hustle bustle of the city, this place gives a very peaceful and positive vibe. Right away I knew that it was going to be a good night. 
My stomach was already grumbling and guess what the first thing on the menu was? Waterless Golgappas ! To be honest, Level 12 is a fancy place and I'd expected the food menu to be typically fancy. But, it was surprisingly different,  and impressive. I never thought I'd get a chance to gobble up Golgappas, sitting by the pool on a rooftop lounge reminiscing about the funniest memories with my bestie. Sounds crazy right? Well, it was.
The next thing that blew my mind was the DIY Palak Chat. Palak..seriously? Yes ! It tasted fantastic. It is a MUST have ! After a huge round of appetizers that comprised of Corn Cheese Kurkuri, Rajma ke Goolar, Thecha Aloo, Lamb Chops, Malai Wings and Prawns, we finally decided to move on to the main course.

I was fascinated by the food menu and I was lucky enough to meet the Chef.  Chef Japvir Singh Vhora, was the one who fed us that night. His cooking has magic and we had a real fun conversation with him. He told us about how they designed every dish and how almost everything that was on the menu had a funny story behind it. He gave us company till our main course arrived.

As soon as the main course was served, the aroma of the butter chicken took over all my senses and I already knew that it was going to be a great dinner afterall. Paneer lababdar, 12 Ki Dal, Kheema Mutter and Lahori fish curry was served with an Amritsari Kulcha !

Yes, it was almost like a short trip to North India. The Amritsari Kulcha though, I have never had a Kulcha as good as that. Then came the toughest player on the menu, The Biryani ! Served in a mini pressure cooker with a bowl full of Raita. The biryani was another star of the meal. After talking to the chef, he told us that people from not just India but from all over the world visit this restaurant. North Indian cuisine is definitely something that every person who visits India, wants to try, but since Level 12 is located in Pune, they have given a Maharashtrian twist to most of the dishes on the menu. They have seamlessly infused North Indian cuisine with the magical touch of Maharashtrian flavours. The fried chilly and yoghurt chutney is the best example of how amazingly they have managed to remind you that you are in Pune even though you are at a North Indian restaurant. After a scrumptious meal, it was time for the desserts. The hot Gulab Jamuns literally melted in my mouth and the Gajar Ka Halwa reminded me of home-cooked food made by my mom. It was served in the typical old school tiffin. This is something that I'll probably never forget.
Details matter and this place definitely creates a bang on amazing impression. I thoroughly enjoyed the food while staring at the panoramic view of the city.
The combination of the food, view and company made my day a whole lot better. So, me and my best friend usually never shut up whenever we are together..but the food at this place managed to do just that. This truly was a date gone right.

Thursday, 7 January 2016

First Biryani in Hyderabad - Hotel Shadab

It took me a while to get out of the soft fluffy bed of the hotel room, but mom did what she has always been good at, got me out and made me shower. After a series of discussions and arguments about where to have breakfast, we ended up eating at our hotel. I had heard a lot about Sultan Bazaar which is a 200 year old shopping market in Hyderabad.So post breakfast, we left for shopping. Unfortunately there was nothing very amusing or different about this bazaar and personally I feel it is like the "Tulshibaug" of Hyderabad. After a long stroll on the crowded streets of Sultan Bazaar, we decided to visit the Charminar.
Lets get real..We have a little bit of tourist in us and I wanted to tick off Charmainar from my list. It is a magnificent structure located in the middle of a busy road. It is heart-breaking to see the condition of this historical monument, I hope the authorities make an effort to preserve whatever is left. I could click a few good (instagram-able) pictures. Thanks to Retrica !

As we walked past the monument, the colours of the shiny bangles caught our eyes and women being women, me and mom dragged dad in the market. This market is known as Laad Bazaar.

There are thousands of shops lined up in this market and the vendors literally use every marketing and sales skill that they possess to make you buy stuff from their shop. The colours left my head spinning and we finally entered one store. 

After two long hours of looking around, we settled for a few bangles and used our bargaining skills. No doubt we got a great deal ! The next destination on our mind was.. No ! The only thing on our mind was food. It was already post lunch time and my stomach had started rumbling.

I had heard about this Hotel called Shadab and quite a lot of people say that this place is better than Paradise.We walked to Shadab. It was quite a long walk, but we made it. The hotel looked very shady from the outside but we chose to dine upstairs in the air-conditioned section. Typical yellow lighting and a huge wall-clock at the entry made it look grand.
 It was pretty crowded but luckily within a few seconds we were comfortably sitting on the table. I ordered for a Chicken Biryani and it left me speechless. The quantity was huge and the taste was brilliant. The best part about this Biryani was the Chicken ! So many pieces ! 
This is a must try place for all the meat lovers. 
I dont know whether it is the "authentic" Hyderabadi Biryani because I havent tried many Biryani places but, taste-wise this definitely is one of the best biryanis that I have had so far. If you are looking for a fancy ambiance and outstanding service, you might not find this place up to the mark but if you are a hard-core foodie and good food is your only priority, Shadab has to be on your list. It is reasonably priced and the service too is decent. Shadab was my first biryani experience in Hyderabad and I am going to make sure that I have biryani here whenever I visit Hyderabad again !