Sunday Brunch at JW Marriott: A Soothing Affair

I am an avid bruncher – everything about a weekend afternoon meal that stretches for hours, is lazy yet luxurious, and where a wide variety of food and drink are available, speak to me – it’s soothing, happy, and everything good about the weekend. My latest Sunday brunch sojourn was at the JW Marriott’s JW Kitchen. A themed affair, this is a Monsoon Sunday Brunch, with a vast menu of curated dishes that appeal during the cool rainy months. You know, pakodas, chaats and jalebi, hot-off-the-grills meats and veggies, kebabs, freshly tossed pastas and a whole lot more. Because aside from the monsoon specials, there is a whole slew of dishes and counters to whet your appetite and satisfy even the pickiest eater! The brunch offerings encompass the restaurant as well as the outdoor section – and there is a big play area for kids, as well as a separate menu for them. Live counters rotate, and each specialty restaurant of the hotel sets up shop one week – it was Spice Terrace when we visited – and showcases a couple of dishes from their menu. The stuffed chicken kebab was superb!

After walking around and getting a tour of the offerings, I started off with an order of Malaysian Roti Jala and Goan Ros Omelette Poi. Both these were spectacular, and had I not run out of space by the meal’s end, I would gladly have ended with these, too! The silky Malay curry, along with the crisp honeycomb style roti, and the delicious Goan masala ros elevated the humble omelette to another level. The drinks options were plentiful, with a bar set up outdoors and another indoors. We began with a glass of sparkling and then I decided to stick with wine, enjoying a smooth red wine sangria while my dining companion tried out a couple of cocktails. We then enjoyed a round of freshly grilled meat from the BBQ station including fish, pork, prawns and chicken.

Although I was too busy eating to take pictures of each and everything I ate from the various counters, indoors and out, I definitely remember them! There was a nice mezze spread with hummus and various other Middle Eastern dips, a salad counter where one of the chefs s making Caesar’s salad to order, a variety of cold cuts and picked and grilled veggies, and of course, extensive mains, including Indian and Continental. We absolutely loved the honey glazed ham, and there was also an interesting ham/spam cutlet with peas and mash. There was a good spread of desserts of course, and between us we sampled a fair number of gateau, mousse, cake, pudding (the hot chocolate pudding was very rich and delicious) and more. I had to end with hot jalebis from the live counter, and had really run out of space for any more, of anything, and we called it, after a solid two hours of gorging, while enjoying the gorgeous, windy Bangalore weather. The special Monsoon Sunday brunch will be available for a couple months, and it is a wonderful way to spend one’s Sunday. The attentive, warm service was a definite plus!

Monsoon Brunch at JW Kitchen (10)

Details: JW Kitchen, JW Marriott Hotel, Vittal Mallya Rd; Sunday Brunch; INR 2450 plus taxes/INR 3400 plus taxes for non-alcoholic/alcoholic options.

A splendid feast awaits: The Bohri Shahi Dawat at ITC Gardenia

Biryani and kebabs make for a splendid meal – of this there is no doubt. Each city/town has its own version of these dishes, and within the Muslim community, there are variations based on sect and state. Growing up, it was the Hyderabadi style of cooking that I was most familiar with. And I also got to try the goodies in the lunchboxes of two Bohra classmates, whose lunches, truth be told, were the most interesting amongst the group. From Khichida (which I called a white haleem in my head) to kebabs and always some sweet as well, and later attending a couple of events at their homes and experiencing the community style of eating for the first time – these then are my memories of Bohra food. Thus, when an invite popped into my mailbox, proclaiming an upcoming Bohri Shahi Dawat food festival at ITC Gardenia’s Cubbon Pavilion, I knew there was only one answer – yes! That the festival coincides with the closing week of Ramazan and the Eid celebration was an added bonus. And you too can enjoy the feast, which is available for dinner until the 2nd of July as part of their Kitchens of India – Unique Tastes initiative.

The Bohri Shahi Dawat at Cubbon Pavilion, ITC Gardenia

Young Chef Zohair, a Bohra from Mumbai (the community is predominantly from Gujarat, and with roots in Yemen and a touch of Mughal influence), curated and created every dish and detail for the festival, wanting to share his heritage and culture with diners, down to the Thaal – the giant plate that serves as the focal point of the meal, with the family sitting around it and then all partaking of the various courses off it. He had even sourced from his home town, the Chemlachi Lota – silver jug – that holds water that is used to wash hands before the meal. Tradition dictates that the youngest member of the family offers salt to every diner, since the meal is supposed to begin with a pinch of salt. Then it is time to dig into the successive courses, which will alternate between sweet (Mithaas) and savory (Khaaras). And Chef assured us that this is how they eat at home, every single day, with a multiple course sweet and savory menu! Since community style eating would present a logistical challenge, for the purposes of the festival, we were served individual “mini” thaals. Mini cause they were regular plates, not because there was any less to eat, I should add!

IMG_20170620_202715

We were offered two drinks, one sweet, one savory here too – a sweet tender coconut one (Coconut Malai with Elaichi) and Gol Paani with Sabja seeds, which featured lemon, tulsi and basil seeds and hit the spot with a nice tangy flavor. It is traditional to begin with dates in some form – Kharek was what we go that day – Dates soaked in rose syrup and stuffed with Khoya, pistachios and almonds. And then the real feasting started! And as there was a vegetarian at the table, we learned that there is an extensive range of vegetarian delicacies prepared in Bohra cooking, and a quick taste assured us that this was indeed the case! Our non-veg starters included divine Kheema Samosas – crisp, thin, fried casing encasing hand-pounded mutton mince, Kheema Pattice – mince stuffed potatoes, Chicken Cream Tikka – chicken nuggets with cream that make for the perfect comfort food on a cold evening. For the vegetarians the Nariyal Kebab (potato encasing coconut), and Dal Na Samosa, a lentil samosa would leave them happy. Before the mains, the Mango Malai was common to both thalis, and kept up the one sweet-one savory tradition.

And now it was time for the main course. For vegetarians, there was Patrel Soya nu Tarkari made with Cocoyam leaves; the non-veg version, Patrel Gosht combined mutton and the leaves. There was a Bohri Dal that used 5 lentils to great effect, and a rich Ghaker Roti which was layers of flaky pastry and ghee and didn’t need any accompaniment, though it was perfect to dip into the Kaari Chicken – a cashew gravy and gorgeous spice combination made this the dish of the night! No meal of this sort would be complete without biryani – and the Bohra Gosht Biryani (with mutton and potatoes and deep fried onions) served with a delectable Bhuna Baingan Raita, was stellar. This was one of those times when I rued not having more space – the Kaari Chicken and biryani should be savored in large quantities! Now of course the meal had to end on a sweet note, and obviously, given the season, Sheer Khurma was a must – and with the charonji and other nuts, it transported me back to Eids of childhood! For those who would enjoy ending the meal with paan, the Bohri Paan Goli is a sort of deconstructed paan ball rolled with dessicated coconut. All in all decadence and a rare glimpse into a food culture that is not easy to find locally…

IMG-20170620-WA0015

Sunday Brunch at The Hilton Bangalore

By now it is an established fact that I love Sunday brunching. Everything about it, from the late start, to the cocktails and of course, the food, which includes various cuisines and invariably an array of decadent desserts. Well then, that being my criteria for a good Sunday brunch offering and happy Sunday, the newly launched Sunday brunch at The Hilton Bangalore, Embassy GolfLinks, has checks in all the boxes, and then two additionally checked boxes too: live music and song with a mellow and quite melodious band, and pool-time for those thus inclined. Oh, and for parents – there’s a separate indoor entertainment area for the kids, and food for them too. So, you can enjoy your boozy brunch secure in the knowledge that they’re well taken care of.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Spread across not one, but two of their restaurants, Salt Grill (the poolside venue) and the indoor Ministry of Food, this is one massive spread, and we probably only touched on around half the dishes during our visit. The bar was set up outside, and the bartenders were willing to make pretty much anything one ordered, as well as customize to suit individual tastes. We started with Cosmo and Mojito for round one, then it was party time and lots of made-to-ordering happened. The service was a little slow, though the bartenders were super nice, but there were so many people and the drink orders were pouring in (yes pun intended). A shout-out to whoever on the team came up with the idea of the Jello shots – these were passed around throughout the afternoon, and were fun and quite differently served in the rind of a watermelon – and they were quite strong too!

img_20170122_144559img_20170122_144531A range of Indian starters was brought to the table from inside, and there was plenty of both veg and non-veg options. The counter with cheese, bread and crackers, dry fruit and nuts had a lovely range of cheeses that we went back to a second time. Cold cuts and salads were aplenty, and the Chaat Counter was doing brisk business. I  liked the Watermelon Gazpacho served in test tubes and there was also a counter (indoors) of Middle Eastern dips including hummus, labneh and more. These items were all kept cool on ice, which meant that they remained fresh and creamy through the afternoon. The grill section had meats with gravies and veggies, including some great roast chicken and grilled pork, but more than the meats, the star was the Quiches, which were fantastic.

There was a live pasta counter as well as a Khow Suey one – both good. There were many options for Indian and Asian mains, but we were way too full to indulge (and keeping some space for the tempting desserts), so we restricted ourselves to the flavorful Biryani, though the different Parathas being made looked rather tempting! The desserts were numerous (take a look at the slideshow below to see the range!), and apart from the range of pastries, mousses, and more, there was also a Jalebi and Rabdi counter, and a Nitrogen ice-cream one! We were there at the launch of the brunch, and it was clear to us all that Hilton EGL has a winner on its hands. So here’s to many more brunches, and remember to pack your swimsuit!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Details: Sunday Brunch; Hilton Embassy GolfLinks
Pricing: Alcoholic Brunch INR 1999 plus taxes; Non-alcoholic Brunch INR 1499 plus taxes; Kids Brunch (5-12) INR 749 plus taxes