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Sunday, September 12, 2010
India, is not a favourite business trip destination for most of us. I have yet to come across any one colleague or business contact who honestly looks forward to going to India for business. I cannot say I do either... but then when one travels too often for business like I do, one will no longer look forward to going any where for business trips anymore. Still, I need to find motivation to sustain my energy and ethusiasm. I always believe that positive energy begets positivity in what one does. No matter how dreadful and uninviting the destination may be, I have learnt to find interesting elements to keep me engaged. Very often, these elements are related to gastronomical or retail adventures - I am, after all, a true blue Singaporean.
My trip to India last month left me a little weary about my dining experiences. Limited to eating at the same multi-cuisine restaurant in the industrial estate for most part of the week, my initial excitement for Indian food waned quickly and I started to feel cranky and yearn for variety. As a result of which, when I had to travel to Bangalore again last week, I half loaded my luggage with biscuits and cup noodles. However, I am happy to report that these really became irrelevant as I had the best Indian food I've eaten for a long time. I share with you the one restuarant that impressed us so much that we returned for a second meal immediately the next day after our first meal.
Situated in the swanky UB City Shopping Complex in Bangalore, Khansama marketed themselves as the Royal Indian Master Chef. Khansama is a Persian rooted Indian term that translates to mean, a man servant who acts as a cook or a household butler. While working in the stately royal palace kitchens, the Khansamas were known to' generate rare and flavoursome recipes to satisfy their King's gastronomic fancies....' and 'the Khansamas kept their recipes, a closely guarded secret'. When one steps into the Khansama Restaurant, one feels like one has gained privy and access into the private dining hall of the royalties and statesmen of bygone Mughal era.
The Mughal Empire, for those who are not familiar refers to the Indian-Islamic power that ruled a large portion of India from 15th to 18th century. Almost all of the outstanding architectures we see in India now were built by the Munghals (E.g. Taj Mahal). The North Indian cuisines ( The Tandooris, Kebabs, Naan...) which we have become so familiar today originates from the Mughal -an era of conquest, construction, wealth and relative stability, Khansama brings back the magnificence of the Mughlai period with rich tapestry, golden copper tablewares, beautiful wall murals and emblems of conquest.
I remember poring through their pictureless menus, salivating over the description of each dish.There are so many dishes which I would love to sample but because there were only 3 of us, we couldn't order too much. We have learnt from our Indian dining experience, that we should never be greedy. One appetizer to share and 2 main dishes with bread or rice is more than enough. Indian cooking is generally so rich and heavy that eating any more than that would leave one uncomfortably full and flatulent. During this second dinner at Khansama, I started my meal with Chicken Shorba which is a chicken soup simmered in Indian spices with a drizzle of lemon juice and coriander. Vaguely similar to the Ayam Soto, this is richer and feels many times more comforting and nutritive than Ayam Soto - definitely going to be a repeat order for me if I get to go back again.
The appetizer, Garlic & Butter Prawns is another impressive dish made up of tandoori prawns embedded in a fragrant bed of spiced fried garlic. It was so good that my Chinese colleague requested to order a second portion.
As a result of the double portion appetizer, we only had one main dish to eat with the gorgeous rotis.(flat bread) My colleague picked a Curry Lamb dish which was so rich in flavours and spices that no hint of 'lamby' smell could be detected. However, I did find the dish a tad too salty for me.
Finally, I must write about the Masala Pan,the typical 'breath freshner' served after the meal. Masala Pan is usually a mixture of nuts and herbs which standardly consists of cardamon, menthol, fennel seeds with a little sugar chips. When the attentive staff at Khansama brought over the intricate copper bowl, I was intrigued.
Laden with crushed ice, the bowl consisted of 3 carefully prepared Masala Pan bundles. Wrapped in a silver foiled raw betal nut leaf is a mixture of what I could identify as, rose jam, cardamon, menthol, toasted dessicated coconut and sugar chips. As I followed my colleague's example and chewed on the Pan, I was rather quick to frown and declare that it tasted wierd but as I continued to chew on it, the raw taste started to grow on me...I was able to finish the whole Pan bundle. These pretty little packets that came nestled in the copper bowl, had my breath smelling of roses....I wasn't sure if it was the roses or the intricate copper bowl but for a fleeting moment, I felt like a royal concubine!
2ND Floor, UB City Mall,
Vittal Mallya Road,
Bangalore - 560 001.
Tel : +90 080-41114499