Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Restaurant Review - The Crown at Residency Towers

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I have eaten several times at the Residency Towers's Main Street buffet. I have always enjoyed the food there. But somehow, I have gone all these years without even realizing that there is a restaurant on the rooftop. This month, I got to eat at, and review the food at the The Crown.

The Crown is named for the dome that caps the building, and the beautiful interior that the dome houses.

The restaurant boasts inside & alfresco dining. The seating outside is just gorgeous, but tonight we were dining in the very opulently decorated inside seating area.

Before we get further into this post, let me apologize for the photographs. I find myself doing that too often. I really out to be better at shooting in low light by now! That said, the lighting at The Crown, while not optimum for photography, is very romantic. Look at our candle-lit table!

The first thing that struck me as soon as we sat down was the place settings and decor on the table. When you look around at the posh interiors, one cannot help but wonder if the glassware, cutlery & crockery was brought from the flea market. This is something that the restaurant should look into.

The alfresco and inside dining areas have different menus and different price tags. You pay more for eating in the fresh air, and there is a different a la carte menu as well. But we were there to sample a set menu designed for those dining under the dome.

The starters started arriving, and all our niggles about the crockery just vanished. That Galouti Kabab knocked everybody's socks off! Melt-in-the-mouth, perfectly spiced cakes of finely minced lamb on a round pastry that did not remind of any other pastry/roti I have ever eaten. The pastry was flaky, tender and absolutely perfect with the kabab. I think I put away quite a few of these gems!

The chicken kabab was also great. Cooked perfectly so the chicken just melts away. Just delicious. The fish was not a big hit with me, but there were others who enjoyed it.

The main courses arrived next. There was a creamy chicken gravy. I honestly don't remember what it was called, but it was yummy. The mutton roganjosh was very nice and the lamb shanks were really well cooked. I was personally very pleased to hear that the chef doesn't use tomatoes in his roganjosh gravy. Perfect!
The naans were just wonderful. Flaky, light and not chewy at all as nanns sometimes tend to be. I loved it! The Biriyani was okay. Nothing to write home about. The highlight of the main courses was the Dal Makhni. Slow-cooked dal laced with generous amounts of butter, the flavor is amazing. The chef shared with us that they cook the dal for over 24 hours at The Crown. No wonder the flavors are so mellow and rich! Just brilliant.

The dessert arrived, and I opted for the Western dessert. It was a chocolate cake-like thing. I don't know the name, to be honest. I wasn't a fan. While the saucy chocolate topping on the cake was nice enough, the flavor and texture of the cake didn't impress me at all. I was surprised when the others at the table seemed to like it! Honestly, I didn't want to go back even for a second spoonful.

Next time, I will just go with the usually safer Indian desserts.

Overall, the food was very good. I would do just what I did this time around - gorge on the starters, top it up with the main course, and pick at my dessert plate. At around Rs. 790 for unlimited portions of everything on the menu, it is a pretty sweet deal. But you should be aware that the menu is different every evening, and if I were you, I would call ahead to find out which day is Galouti Kabab day! :o)
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Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Pinwheel Cookies

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Before the Christmas season has passed me by, I want to get a post out.
This has been one of the busiest Christmas-es I have ever had. So many things happening that I sometimes thought I wouldn't be able to get everything done. But here's a gist of what's been happening with me.

1. We lost a friend this year - Thom Petty. You might have seen the tribute post for him. He is having a great time in heaven with Jesus, I'm sure!
2. The band I sing with - the WOW band, has been busy this season, and we've had a lot of fun singing all around the city.
3. I conducted my first baking workshop for a MOPS (Moms of preschoolers) group, and it was sooooo much fun! We made carrot cake/cupcakes with a coconut frosting and it turned out great!
4. I did another restaurant review earlier this month, and I can't wait to share it with you. Look out for that post in a couple of days!
5. We had a really lovely barbecue dinner at church and I marinated chicken & beef for 200 people! It was a lot of work, but SO rewarding & yummy!
6. We had some other fun Christmas dinners/parties (and a few birthday parties thrown in too) and I have been eating way too much good food! Not that I am complaining :)

The only disadvantage of this busy-ness has been that I have hardly had any time to bake, and even less time to blog. Here are a few things I made this season.

Blueberry-Apple Muffins
Scottish Tablet Candy (SOOOO yummy!)
No bake Oatmeal squares
Carrot Cupcakes with Coconut Frosting
Christmas-sy Pinwheel Cookies
Since these are not all particularly Christmassy desserts, I will post the recipes (and better pictures!) for these treats over the next few weeks.

To start off, here's something for the season from our home.

Christmas Pinwheel Cookies
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 cup white sugar
2 medium eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 - 3 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
Green food coloring
Red food coloring

1. Sift the 2 1/2 cups of the flour, salt and baking powder and set aside.
2. Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
3. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
4. Add the vanilla and mix until well incorporated.
5. Add the dry ingredients and mix to form a soft dough. If the dough is too sticky, add more flour. If you use medium eggs, you shouldn't need more than 2 1/2 cups.
6. Divide the dough into two equal sized portions. Divide one of the portions into halves again.
7. Wrap the larger ball of dough in clingfilm and refrigerate for at least an hour.
8. Add red food coloring to one of the smaller balls of dough, and green food coloring to the other. Knead to incorporate.
9. Wrap the balls of dough separately and refrigerate.
10. Divide the uncolored dough into two portions.
11. Refrigerate one ball. Roll the other portion into a rectangle about 1cm thick.
12. Roll out one of the colored doughs into a rectangle about 1cm thick.
13. Lay the colored dough on a piece of clingfilm, and place the white dough rectangle on top of it.
14. Using the clingfilm, roll the two doughs along the length to create a log.
15. If you desire, press some sprinkles/jimmies onto the outside of the log. Wrap well in clingfilm and refrigerate.
16. Repeat the process with the other colored dough and the remaining white dough.
17. When you are ready to bake, slice the cookies about 1/2inch thick using a sharp knife.
18. Arrange on a baking tray making sure there's at least 2 inches between each cookie.
19. Bake at 350 for 8-9 minutes, or until the sides are just starting to turn golden.
20. Let them rest on the baking tray for 2-3 minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack.

These cookies look really nice, and I think next time I will add lime zest or some spice to make the flavor a little more interesting!
From our home to yours, I pray you have a wonderful, happy & blessed Christmas filled with love, joy & laughter. God bless you! :)

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Friday, December 16, 2011

Peanut butter cookies with Chocolate Centers - For Thom Petty

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I thought long and hard about what my big comeback post would be. I haven't had a recipe post out in months, and I figured I should come back with something decadent & mouthwatering. 

Instead, this post happened.

This week, a friend passed away and went to be with the Lord. This post is for you - Thom Petty!
I felt this would be the most appropriate thing to make for Thom. Those who know him know how much of a softie he is, despite his gruff exterior. This cookie is a crisp peanut butter cookie on the outside with a melting chocolate center.

Peanut Butter Cookies w/ Chocolate Center
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup crunchy peanut butter
1 1/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
12 small squares of dark/milk chocolate

1. Sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt and set aside.
2. Beat the butter until light & creamy.
3. Add the sugars and continue to beat.
4. Add the egg, vanilla and the peanut butter and beat until light and fluffy.
5. Add the flour mixture and mix well until thoroughly combined.
6. Wrap the dough in clingfilm & refrigerate for an hour.
7. Divide the dough into 12 equal sized portions.
8. Press one square of chocolate into each portion and form the dough into a smooth ball with the chocolate in the center of the ball.
9. Place the dough on a baking sheet at least 3 inches apart.
10. Bake at 200C/400F for about 12 minutes or until the edges are lightly golden.
11. Allow to cool for a few minutes and transfer to a cooling rack.
12. Eat while slightly warm.
This recipe makes 12 large cookies. You could make 24 smaller ones, but the giant portions are intentional. Guests at Thom's restaurant will bear testament to the fact that his portions are huge. I remember when we were sampling his menu items before his restaurant opened many years ago. Most of us told Thom the portions were way too big. And his response was that he ate big portions, and so he wanted to make sure no one left his restaurant feeling anything less than full. Yes, he was generous too.
If you are wondering why there are Christmas decorations in the picture, it is not just because Christmas is around the corner. It is also because Thom LOVED Christmas. His restaurant is without doubt the most decorated restaurant in the city. Maybe even the country! We'll miss him most at Christmas time.
Thom Petty, we are going to miss you! Chennai is going to miss it's un-skinny chef. But I rejoice that you are safe & resting in the Lord's arms with no more pain. See you on the other side!

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