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Inviting India: A Week in India (Part 4) - My Experience at the Marriott Hotel Whitefield Bangalore

>> Sunday, September 18, 2016

Malaysia had 2 consecutive long weekends, so I was kept occupied with activities that I didn't have time nor the mood to complete my blog post. Furthermore, there's just too many photos to choose from to share with all of you! :D

It's almost the end of the week now & soon to be the start of a new week. Can't wait for holidays (again) :P Anyway, as promised in my last blog post, I'll be sharing on my stay at the Marriott Hotel in Whitefield, Bangalore. I was there for a week of work, so all of us spent minimal time at the hotel, mostly for breakfast & sleep time only. But I was really blessed to meet some really friendly staff at the hotel, who made my 1-week stay a truly memorable one. I can say that it's the best hotel experience I've ever had with Marriott from the few business travels that I've experienced! :D

What's to complain when I had a room with pool view as requested in my reservation (under the 'special requests' section)? It was just lovely to wake up to a mix of nature & city in the highly industrial & concrete jungle of Bangalore, where IT offices are aplenty.

I had the room with a single King-size bed, all to myself, for the entire week. The bed felt a 'lil too big for one & I wished that my other half was there for the week too. He would have loved & enjoyed the hotel stay as it was no doubt 5-star or more!

The bathroom was just fantastic! I loved the bathtub although I didn't get to utilize it to the max as I didn't have the luxury of time to spend more time in the shower each day. Almost everyday, we get off work late & by the time we're done with dinner, all I wanted to do was to sleep. Yup, it's nice to just soak in the bathtub & chill after a long day at work, but sleep time felt a 'lil too precious to sacrifice :P

Fluffy bed that's very comfortable. The pillows were slightly too soft for me, but I had 4 pillows to myself, so no complains :D 

Bliss! Thankful for a comfortable stay amidst the busy work week. 

At the Marriott Hotel Whitefield Bangalore, M Cafe, their main coffee house, serves what I feel as one of the best hotel meals...no kidding. The chefs were also very open to try out new recipes & dishes, & invited us to share recipes of what we crave that they will then cook according to our wants. Fuh!

Being an avid Indian-food lover, I just HAD to try every other familiar Indian food that I can find in Malaysia & taste the difference of that same dish in India itself. My 1st order was no other than the thosai or what they call as 'dosa' in Bangalore. I ordered the thin/paper thosai that was served with a side of dhal & 3 different types of chutneys. The thosai/dosa was THUMBS UP, #1! Crispy, well-balanced in flavor (slightly sourish, slightly salty) & the chutneys were so delicious that I could eat 'em on their own!

The chefs served me 'egg hopper'/appam with egg to try
A typical egg hopper is eaten as it is without any coconut milk or dips as the runny egg yolk serves as the 'dip' itself. Yums. It was sweet-ish, crispy on the outer layer & slightly spongey/soft on the inner layer. It's very different from what I had previously, in Malaysia, as the egg hoppers here do not have the whole runny-egg at the center, but the egg is beaten & is part of the hopper.

Pretty much my staple every morning for the whole week apart from the other dishes that I try as well
Their vada is the BEST that I've ever had...again, no kidding! Crispy on the outside, soft & fluffy on the inside, not overly spiced/filled with herbs or over-spicy, well-balanced in the sour taste & the best part is that it's ALWAYS served fresh, warm/hot. Those in Malaysia doesn't seem to have this texture-consistency. The vada batter is either too clumpy/coarse, overly spiced or just dense/dry. 

I tried at least 10 different flavors of chutney here!
It was such a 'gastronomical chutney journey'! I didn't know that there can be so many different chutney flavors as I've only had the normal coconut chutney, spicy chili chutney, tomato chutney & mint chutney in Malaysia. At the Marriott Hotel Whitefield Bangalore, these are the chutneys that I've tasted (in photo below):
Pineapple chutney, Ginger chutney, Peanut chutney, Coconut chutney, Tomato chutney, & Coriander chutney.

Beetroot chutney & carrot chutney were available on a different day

Mint chutney is a 'staple'

Tamarind chutney as well!

I felt like I was attending an informal lesson each morning on the extensive variety of Indian chutneys & cuisines. It was AMAAAAAZIIINNNGG!

There are at least 3 chefs whom I am really thankful to have met & would like to commend them for their great hospitality, service & dedication towards their passion in serving the best & only the best food & service to all their hotel guests. Unfortunately, I didn't manage to take a photo with 1 more chef as it was his off day on my last breakfast day at the hotel :( Hopefully we can meet again!

Chef Sanjay Rawat, Jr Sous Chef
Hats off to Chef Sanjay. I thought he's the Executive Chef at the M Cafe, but he was humbly one of the Jr. Sous Chefs who's co-supervising & managing the kitchen & M Cafe on the whole. He was like my go-to chef to learn from his knowledge & experience-sharing & it was like a 'dream come true' when he offered to show me around the hotel's kitchen! I've never done this, what more during a business trip, & I was overjoyed! Very friendly, teachable/willing to learn from different cultures & stories-shared, helpful, attentive to needs & situation in the restaurant & the kitchen as well, & just a very nice person to talk to throughout my week's stay. Thanks for making my 1-week stay more memorable!

The other Jr. Sous Chef is Chef Subha Adhikary, whom I didn't get to take a photo with cos he was on leave on my last breakfast day. He's alike Chef Sanjay, looks younger, but also a really good friend that I've found :)

Chef Ravi, Pastry Chef
I LOVE the pastries & especially the soft-centered chocolate cookies that he bakes together with his team! D's staple during his 1-week stay are the pastries, particularly the croissant! So flaky that it's best not to eat it out in the open space when it's windy as the crumbs fly everywhere! The soft-centered chocolate cookies are 'to-die-for'. Every chocolate lover who goes to Bangalore MUST try them! J, D & myself actually ordered 2 dozens each to bring back all the way from Bangalore to Malaysia/Singapore for our family & friends to try. It's THAT good! Chef Ravi is a young chef whom I think is truly skilled, talented & passionate with the pastries that he bakes. I wish I had more time there to learn from him. I don't get to meet him often as he's probably busy baking all the aromatic goodies for breakfast. Oh, the best part, we can even pack some pastries, breads or juices on-the-go to our office/when we left to the airport (without having additional charges appearing on our hotel bill)! My 1st time, so I was very impressed.

There was also one of the nights where the hotel had 'street-food stalls' as part of the dinner buffet! *yay* We didn't dare try the actual street food on the way to office/town as hygiene is a huge issue in India, so having to try the various street food at the hotel was a true delight!

Two of our favorites were the Pani Puri & Chaat.

Pani Puri
It consists of a round, hollow puri, fried crisp and filled with a mixture of flavored water (pani), tamarind chutney, chili, chaat masala, potato, onion and chickpeas - Wikipedia
It was interesting! I tried 2 flavors of the pani puri, one that has sour & spicy flavored water, while the other was sweet! It's so small that you basically just pop the whole ball into your mouth & enjoy the burst of flavors & textures oozing out of the mini puri :D

It's like a 'rojak' or 'yee sang' minus the fish, but with an Indian twist! You'll find some crispies, fresh coriander, vegetables & nuts that's drizzled with a sweet, sour, slightly spicy dressing. VERY appetizing! J loved it!

The kitchen tour was an eye-opening experience. The day & time where I visited the kitchen was considered a low peak day, so there were minimal activities happening in the kitchen & it's just so neat & clean! Chef Sanjay explained to me what happens at each station & what each chef needs to go through as part of the kitchen rules. I was like on cloud nine cos I've always watched how kitchens are on tv, but have never walked into an actual one :)

Here's a short 3.5 minutes video to sum up my experience at the Marriott Hotel Whitefield, Bangalore
More photos can be found in this video.

Hope you enjoyed the post! :) More on Bangalore in the next post!

Indian foodie,


Irresistible India: A Week in India (Part 3) - Food, food & food!

>> Sunday, September 11, 2016

As promised in my previous blog post, this part 3 of my week in India will feature the restaurants that we dined at & my thoughts on the dining experiences as well. We didn't get to eat out often as we were in Bangalore for a week of work, so all weekday lunches were catered in-house while dinners were our only non-catered meals, either on our own, with the team or just having a simple fast-food meal from the mall. Here are 3 of the restaurants that we visited last week:

Mehfil Restaurant
9, Venkataswamy Naidu Rd
Sampangi Rama Nagar
Bengaluru, Karnataka 560001
Business hours: 11:00a.m. - 12:00a.m. daily
GPS: 12.9844028,77.6001086

We stumbled upon this restaurant by 'chance'. It was the furniture shop next door named "Durian" that caught our attention before we noticed this restaurant! Hahaha...Not taking the risk for food poisoning by eating at street stalls or small 'coffeeshop-like' restaurants around Commercial Street, this seemed like the best option after walking for the past hour or so.

The center top dish is the fish tikka/Machli Tikka, while the small pot at the center of the photo is the aubergine dish, Baingan Ka Bharta. 

The quality of food amazed us. We weren't really expecting anything spectacular since this restaurant looks rather touristy, but hey, taste of food was satisfying & so were the prices of each dish!

The restaurant features a more 'mughal' feel, with Persian, Middle-Eastern & Indian influences all coming together in the design & menu in this restaurant. You can expect a clean, 'safe for consumption' & affordable restaurant to dine at, here at Mehfil.

We had 3 meat dishes + 1 veggie with 2 servings of naan as the guys are more of meat-eaters than vegetarians :P Thankfully we didn't order more dishes as the portions & types of dishes were quite filling.

Lamb Galouti Kebab 375 IDR (RM22.88/serving)
We didn't fancy this particular starter as we found it too salty for our liking. The minced lamb was also minced too finely & mixed with probably too much flour that we couldn't taste the meat itself. It's probably an acquired taste that we weren't used to since we're so used to having minced meat patties where we can actually chew on the meat. These were more 'pastey'.

Machli Tikka (Fish - Salmon?) 545 IDR (RM33.25/serving)
No complaints with this dish as the fish pieces were nicely marinated & barbecued. It didn't taste like salmon as its name states though...

Baingan Ka Bharta (Aubergine/Eggplant/Brinjal) 148.47 IDR (RM9.06/serving)
This is more of a Northern Indian/Punjabi dish. When we read the description on the menu, we didn't expect the dish to turn out looking like a paste/mashed/dhal; I thought that it'll look like some stir-fry with pieces of aubergine still visible. Interestingly, this was one of our favorite dishes. It was really silky smooth, went well with the naan, & was very fragrant with the blend of herbs & spices.

Tandoori Chicken 220 IDR (RM13.42/serving)
Oh, so the tandoori chicken here isn't red nor orange in color like what we have here in Malaysia/Singapore! We realized that anything with the word 'tandoori' in Bangalore or probably in India on the whole just means 'tandoor-roasted' & is not necessarily red/orange in color! lol* This version was probably marinated with more turmeric powder to give it a yellow color :) It still tasted delicious with the slightly charred taste.

Naan Butter/Garlic 43.67 IDR (RM2.66/serving)
Their naans were pretty good - soft, fluffy & nicely flavored with butter/garlic. I think I've not tasted any bad naans/rotis throughout my Bangalore trip!

Mineral Water 34.93 IDR (RM2.13/serving)

Note: There's 14.5% VAT, 5% service charge & 6% government tax on top of the prices shown above

We paid a total of RM111.02 for 3 persons, which is quite the standard price you'll pay in Kuala Lumpur, in a 'high-class' Indian restaurant (maybe the prices in Bangalore are cheaper...I'm not 100% sure). The difference is that you get some really authentic Indian food at Mehfil, Bangalore, with probably a more extensive variety as well.

(anti-clockwise from top left) Appetizer/Snack - Crackers with Mint Chutney, Lamb Galouti Kebab, Tandoori Chicken (photo only shows half the portion cos we starting eating before the camera got to it), mukwas, & dessert.

We were stuffed to the brim, so it was great that we could walk it off after the meal, for half an hour, all the way from Mehfil to Cubbon Park & JW Marriott Hotel (2.3km via Dr Ambedkar Rd). ;)

Barbecue Nation Restaurant
1st Floor, Ascendas Park Square Mall, ITPL
Whitefield Road
Bengaluru, Karnataka 560066
Tel: (+91) 80 6060 0000
Business hours: 12:00 - 3:30p.m., 6:30pm - 10:30p.m. daily
GPS: 12.9871102,77.7337324
Price: Nonveg buffet 855 IDR/person (RM52.16)

I joined J & D plus their IT colleagues for this 'carnivorous meal'. It's truly a men's heaven! Eat all the barbecue meats that you can without any time limit! *whoa....* We ate 'til we couldn't really move...hahaha...I particularly loved their BBQ pineapples....hahahahaha....they have chicken, fish, lamb, shrimps, button mushrooms, pineapples, watermelons, honeydew melons, & apples, all barbecued! Yes, you read it right...fruits on the bbq pit....

The Barbecue Nation outlet at ITPL
This bbq buffet restaurant is tucked at corner on the 1st floor of the mall. It's not very visible, but you can 'smell' the restaurant from the junction towards the restaurant! :P

Pre-cooked dishes are part of the buffet spread 

The chefs/cooks will barbecue the skewers of meat before sending it to your table upon ordering 

These grills are just to keep your meats/vegetables/fruits warm 

AP will love this place...hahaha...
Every piece of meat is thoroughly marinated & so well flavored. Some of the meats like lamb is particularly salty for me, so I didn't fancy it that much :(

There were different oils, dressings & dips to go with your barbecue meats 

This was my favorite & their signature appetizer as well: BBQ potatoes with spicy mayonaise - VERY delicious! 

Chicken 65 - interesting! Never had this in my life ;D 

There's dessert to complete your meal 

Or you can opt for some BBQ fruits!
It's SO weird....watermelon & honeydew melons are just NOT for the bbq pit...hahaha... 

Didn't try this, but BBQ brownie, really?? 

Typical Indian desserts 

Kulfi! Traditional Indian Ice-Cream
We were kids again on that evening as we got to enjoy some interesting variety of kulfis :)

J's chocolate kulfi looks so Christmasy! So niceeeeee.... 

My Paan Kulfi (Betel Leaf Kulfi) looks a bit 'sad' :(
Before I could stop the kulfi guy from cutting my kulfi & removing the stick, it was all done...bah. I would much prefer to have my kulfi from the stick...

Thanks to the IT team members, we had a "Welcome to India" cake as well! :D 

It was a lovely dinner evening as I got to meet some of the IT team members & enjoy a time of food & fellowship with them. Thanks, guys!

Jalsa Marathahalli Restaurant
25/7, Outer Ring Road
Doddannakundi, Marathahalli, Brindavan Extension
Bengaluru, Karnataka 560037
Tel: (+91) 90660 35368
Business hours: 12:00p.m. - 11:00p.m. daily
URL: http://jalsa.co.in/marathahalli
GPS: 12.9774187,77.6603795

Ok, this was yet another surprise & a totally "Maharaja-like" ambiance restaurant. Frankly speaking, it was more of a fine dining experience than a gastronomic experience for me. Food here is certainly not short of excellence, but I guess I was too tired & quite stuffed from the load of food over the past couple of days that I didn't really feel like eating anymore. We were here around 9:00 p.m. local Bangalore time, which was almost midnight in Malaysia, so my stomach was totally not bothered with food but yearning more for the comfort of the bed & some sleep...hehehe...

I felt like I was in some "Aladdin-era" palace! *Arabian niiiiggghtt...Arabian daaaaays....*

We were even given prince-ly hats/crowns to wear during our dinner there :D

Appetizer: Masala Papad 65 IDR (RM3.97/serving)
Spicy Indian savoury served with finely chopped onions and tomatoes
You can eat it on its own or dip it into the mint chutney. I find this VERY black peppery, spicy & overwhelming with chopped onions! Hahahaha...

Chutneys in the colors of the India flag :D 

Gosht Seekh Kebab 475 IDR (RM28.98/serving)
Minced mutton mixed with Indian herbs and cooked to perfection in a clay oven
Once again, the camera wasn't fast enough, so the kebabs got onto the individual plates before I could snap a photo...haha. The lighting at this restaurant is too dim, so the photos quality came out below average :( I reckon all mutton kebabs in Bangalore are really salty & that's the norm here! Very heavy in spices & salt...*gulp*

Murg Dum Biryani 375 IDR (RM22.88/serving)
Long grain rice cooked with exotic spices and morsels of chicken
This was the BEST chicken biryani that we've ever had, not just in Bangalore, but even those in Malaysia & Singapore can't compare to what we had here! The long grain rice were really fluffy, flavorful & fragrant - it was scrumptious!

The secret to moist, fluffy biryani rice?
The dough on top that covers the pot of rice & chicken...it retains the moisture within the pot ;) 

Rasamalai 175 IDR (RM10.68/serving)
Fresh cream cheese cakes soaked in reduced sweetened milk and garnished with pistachio nuts
These were quite tasty. At least they weren't overly sweet & heavily spiced. It was just nice & I kinda like the texture of the soaked cream cheese cakes that still holds its form :D

Kesar Kulfi 185 IDR (RM11.29/serving)
Frozen saffron flavored reduced sweetened milk with cardamom and pistachio nuts garnished with almond flakes and saffron
I guess I had enough kulfi for the year. Heh. I still prefer the Rasamalai to this Kesar Kulfi somehow. Perhaps it's because the former isn't as sweet as this.

Bethel Leaves with Herbs & Spices
I didn't try this & I'm not too sure what's this called in their language. It's considered a palate cleanser after the meal. 

These are really common-looking mukhwas, the Indian after-meals snack that aids with digestion.

I think dining here is more for the experience than the food, really. If you're here, you MUST try their biryani (they call it biryani & not briyani here). That's certainly a no regret.

Signing off now :) Stay tuned for Part 4, where I'll share my experience at the Marriott Hotel Whitefield plus the private kitchen tour!

Had a whole year's worth of Indian cuisines,

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