Brunch Feels – Many Funs, Much Chills at Hoppipola!

Brunch!
The word evokes feelings of a chilled out, lazy, long meal, filled with fun, laughter, booze, and copious amounts of food! How else can you define combining two meals into one – BReakfast+lUNCH! And Friends, Food, Fun – These three words define the experience I had at Hoppipola, Aundh a few weeks back, as I tried out there new brunch menu with #TheBTEAM fam.
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Drinks for Brunch?

No brunch can be complete without the ‘happiness’ of alchohol. And Hoppipola pulls out all stops with their exhaustive cocktail menu. Some ingenious, yet potent cocktails later, you can’t help swaying to the awesome music playing in the background

The Bull Frog

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My personal drink of choice, this Redbull-Vodka concoction definitely pulls no punches. If you are a Redbull fan, this should be your first choice!

The Long Island Iced Tea

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LIIT!

The LIIT is the usual choice of beverage for those looking for a delicious, potent option. Spiked with a multitude of ‘white’ drinks, this is one is no slouch in the ‘kick; department!

The White Wine Sangria

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Sangria

The quintessential brunch drink, wine lovers will be happy drinking this by the gallon

Starters

The Mezze Platter

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Mezze Platter

Mezze Platter

A beautiful combo of breads and dips, the Mezze platter provides multiple options to munch on while sipping.

Cheesy Nachos

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Nacho!

Can’t really go wrong with Nachos – available in both Veg and Non-Veg versions, Nachos are the perfect snack. You can’t really stop at one. I do wish these were a bit more loaded with cheese and toppings, since the ones at the bottom were left dry.

Railway Canteen Chicken Cutlets

hoppipola baconbaba thebteam chicken cutlets
Railway Canteen Chicken Cutlets

These are basically chicken nuggets with a fancy name. Crispy outer layer, minced chicken inside, these are little bundles of deep fried goodness. Still can’t figure out the name though. Is it a reference to the heart shaped cutlets you get on the Indian Railways trains? They may need to reshape the cutlets to evoke those memories ūüôā

Cajun Rubbed Grilled Fish

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Cajun Rubbed Grilled Fish

Fish filet with a cajun spice rub, grilled to perfection. Whats not to love? Served with a spicy mayo, these are brilliant.

Paneer Pita Pockets

hoppipola baconbaba thebteam paneer pita
Paneer Pita Pockets

I didn’t quite get the concept of these. Dry pita bread, dry stuffing, with virtually no sauce to speak of. This one was a miss.

Barbecued Chicken Wings

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Barbecued Chicken Wings

Chicken wings in barbecue sauce are usually a delight to eat. However, the sauce did feel a bit too sweet for my liking.

Grilled Chicken Pizza

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Grilled Chicken Pizza

A delightful thin crust pizza, with chicken tikka, bell peppers, & jalapeno, the pizza was something we reordered. Thrice. Loved it.

The veg version wasn’t too bad either

They also have a live pasta station, where they can prepare your choice of pasta, in your choice of sauce. Good stuff overall

Mains

If you do have the space left for mains, they have a couple of options, including veg/non-veg biryani and Bhurji Pao. I was a bit surprised at seeing bhurji pao for brunch. I mean, seriously?

Bhurji Pao

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Chicken Biryani

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Desserts

You can’t miss out desserts now can you? Sadly, the choice of desserts was very limited

Chocolate Mud Pie

The Chocolate Mud Pie felt more like a brownie than a mud pie. A delicious brownie, nonetheless.

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Vanilla Pannacotta with Berry Coulis

This one missed the mark. It didn’t have the trademark jiggle – felt over set and too gelatinous.

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Vanilla Pannacotta

Would I go there again?

Desserts apart, the brunch at Hoppipola is great. Priced at 555/-¬†for food only, and 444/- for drinks (unlimited), you can’t really find a better deal. The food is good, the vibe is great, and the drinks are boozy. What more can you ask for?

Definitely worth a revisit!


I was invited for the tasting event. The Usual Disclaimer applies.


Hoppipola Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Sarjaa, Aundh – Face-lifted Classics

The Classics

Sarjaa – The name evokes memories of a hotel straight out of the 90’s – waiters in white uniforms, white and red checked table cloths, dim lighting, good Indian comfort food (read: butter chicken) and ghazals playing in the background. So you would pardon my surprise when I received an invite from Radio One to visit Sarjaa for a food tasting.

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sarjaa aundh baconbaba lata mangeshkar

The Facelift

But much to my astonishment, Sarjaa is no longer the establishment it was. Flanking the entrance is a board that proudly says “Indian Fine Dine”. This definitely piqued my interest. As I walked in through the beautiful wooden doors, I immediately noticed the change to the overall decor – gone are the checkered mats and the liveried waiters. Instead, you see clean white lines, bold colors, and a sharp bar. the al-fresco dining area now is lined with a lot of greenery, while the all day cafe section has a chic vibe – definitely a place you would like to chill with friends over a coffee or a beer (they have Bira on tap!)

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sarjaa aundh baconbaba alfresco

The Food

The food, on the other hand, remains the same. The classic dishes that Sarjaa is famous for, still feature in the new and improved menu card. They have added some dishes to the Chinese menu, however, I would stick to the classics.

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Starters

We started off with the Mutton Boti kabab. A version of a mutton sheekh kabab – this was a great way of starting off the meal. Soft, tenderized mince meat, rolled into sheek kababs, these were as near perfect as you could get in this area.

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Mutton Boti

We also tried the Kharda Kolcha Kombdi Рa form of chicken tandoori coated with Thecha Рa green chilli chutney popular in Maharashtra. The spice of the green chilli definitely hit the mark, and for lovers of spicy food, this is a go!

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Kharda Kolcha Kombdi

For the vegetarians, we ordered a Kothimbir aur Cheese ke Chapete. The name is self descriptive Рthe cheesy center was gooey as ever.

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Kothimbir aur Cheese ke Chapete

Mains

For mains, we could not possibly miss the Sarjaa’s Butter Chicken. A slightly spicier version of the classic, the version dished out at Sarjaa is absolutely mind-blowing. Super rich, creamy, yet not overwhelmingly sweet, the bite of green chilly makes its presence felt. Coupled with a soft butter naan, the SBC is a must have when visiting this place.

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Sarjaa’s Butter Chicken

The mutton Rogan Josh and the Daal Makhani are two more dishes that we truly relished. Perfectly cooked, melt in the mouth mutton pieces, in a gorgeous brown gravy with hints of ginger-garlic and black pepper, the Rogan Josh was our next favorite after wiping off the Butter Chicken. The Daal Makhani was well cooked and creamy, with an undertone of a slow cooked smoky flavor that a great Daal Makhani must have.

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Mains

Desserts

They have limited options for desserts – we had to cheese between Gulab Jamun, Ice Cream and Malai Kulfi – we chose the Kulfi. This was a bit of a let down, as they outsource the desserts. Definitely room for improvement here. I would recommend finishing off mains here, and taking a walk down the road to check out the other dessert places in the vicinity.

The Verdict

Overall, the face-lift definitely makes this classic establishment feel fresh and clean. The Al-fresco area is a delight to dine in. The food maintains its classic feel. The only downside here is the plating. I would definitely like to see them work on the presentation, particularly since they are now re-branding themselves as “Indian Fine Dine”. You do eat with your eyes after all!

That being said, you can’t really go wrong here. Step in to the new and improved Hotel Sarjaa and relish the glory that it is.

The Usual Disclaimer

I was invited for the tasting event as part of the Radio One Pune Food Trails. The Usual Disclaimer applies.

Find them on Zomato

Sarjaa Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Unwind, Pune – Chill scenes

The latest entrant to the KP night-life scene – Unwind, Pune, brings with it a superb experience for patrons. Located right next to Hard Rock Cafe, Unwind spreads over 3 different areas, an open-air AL fresco/live music area, a night-club and a bistro, with wooden tables, high chairs, sofas and an overall chill vibe.IMG_20170609_212249

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I was invited for a tasting at the Al fresco area with #TheBTeam.

We started off the evening with a few cocktails. Once that truly stood out was The Hugo. Traditionally made with Prosecco, Elderflower and Mint, this version at Unwind uses white wine. Truly a delicious concoction, this is one drink you must order when in this neck of the woods.

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The Hugo

They also make a pretty good Cosmo. And you really can’t go wrong with Mojito!

Brocoli isn’t something you would see very often on my plate. Surprisingly enough, the Malai¬†Brocoli makes it to my must-order list at Unwind! Perfectly grilled broccoli, with the soft cream – super delicious!

Malai Broccoli
Malai Broccoli

We tried 2 different types of sheek kabas,¬†Murg Anari Sheek¬†and the Indo Thai Sheek. I personally couldn’t detect much difference in either – given a choice – I would take the Anari¬†Sheek – purely for how pretty it looked.

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Murg Anari Sheekh
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Indo Thai sheekh

The Barbados ka Zhinga are grilled prawns with a dark rum flambé. While the theatrics were impressive, the result of the flambé was a dry and overcooked prawn in a pool of watery-rum.

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Zafrani Murg Tikka are a good option, a simple no-nonsense chicken tikka – well cooked, served with a cream sauce topped with zafrani spices.

Zafrani Murg Tikka
Zafrani Murg Tikka

We were also served Chilli Garlic Fish as a starter. The dish that appeared had a lovely sweet and sour sauce РI would love to dig into this dish as part of the mains, along with a serving of Butter Garlic Fried Rice

Chilli Garlic Fish
Chilli Garlic Fish

Among the mains, I particularly loved the Thai Red Curry. Perfectly balanced curry with a generous amount of prawns.

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We ended the meal with a Chocolate Mud Pie. Sadly, this was more of a cake than a mud pie Рit was dense and was missing the crumbly chocolate crust you would associate with a mud pie.

chocolate Mud Pie
Chocolate Mud Pie

Overall, the place has good vibes, great cocktails, and a decent array of food to go along. Open air live music, partying in the club, or chilling with friends, Unwind has it all.


I was invited to be part of blogger’s table. The Usual Disclaimer applies.


UNWIND Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

212 All Day Cafe and Bar, Viman Nagar – New Menu

212 All Day Cafe and Bar has launched a number of new items on their exhaustive menu. #TheBTeam was invited last night to try out some of the brilliant stuff on offer.

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We started off with a round of mocktails. The¬†Good Morning Bombay¬†– a teetotaler’s ¬†version of the Bloody Mary, packed a punch. This chilled tomato based drink was loaded with pepper and Tabasco – to the point of tasting more like a Gazpacho¬†than a mocktail. Delicious and refreshing, nonetheless.

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Among the other mocktails on the menu, the R&R – a strawberry lemonade, was particularly good.


First up to our table were¬†Mrs. Beaton’s Eggs – masala scrambled eggs on a buttered bun pao, with potato slivers and a tomato hollandaise. Scrambled eggs and buttered pao is a match made in heaven, and the cheesy hollandaise added a lovely creamy note to this pairing. A must have, if down here for a snack!

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Mrs Beaton’s Eggs

Curried porridge, (aka dalia khichdi) was well made. The garnish of peanuts and edible flowers did add some sophistication to this homely meal.

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Curried Porridge

The Egg Plant Bruschetta was definitely the highlight of the vegetarian fare at 212. Caramelized onions merged beautifully with the egg-plant mash, with the figs and brie adding some lovely overtones of sweet and sour flavor.

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Giving us company through this whole tirade of food were two innocuous looking dishes Рthe 3 Hummus Pita and the Trio of Chips and Salsa. The huge bowl of tricolored chips with the array of dips was munch heaven, and the three types hummus (Beet, edamame and burnt garlic) with the crisp pita was just perfect. Definitely order one of each for a nice long chat session here. You wont be disappointed.

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3 Hummus Pita
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Trio of Chips and Salsa

One dish that you MUST NOT MISS is the Poutine. 212 dishes out an absolutely fabulous version of this French Canadian street food. Cheesy french fries, topped with sour cream and a delicious lamb mince gravy, corn and peas (or caramelized onions, mushrooms and corn for the herbivores) was easily my favorite item on the menu. I could eat buckets of this. BUCKETS!

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Shephard’s Bowl Poutine

There were two versions of prawns served to us. The Grilled Tiger Prawns were highly Instagrammable, though the tangerine sauce could have used a bit of oomph. It was underwhelming, at best. The Chettinad Prawns, on the other hand, were a revelation. The crisp coating had hints of chettinad masala. Fried with red chilli, and served with a spiced mayo, this is another highly recommended dish at 212.

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Chettinad Prawns
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Grilled Tiger Prawns

They have also added to their range of burgers and pizzas. While the Monster Chicken Burger is a sight to behold, the Chettinad Cottage Cheese Pizza with its combination of basil, curry patta and chettinad masala was quite unpalatable. The Roast Chicken Sandwich (Panini) was rather lovely, with a generous amount of melted cheese and caramelized onions.


For dessert we thoroughly enjoyed the Tiramisu Eclairs. The choux pastry topped with the airy Mascarpone and coffee dust proved to be an absolute masterful dessert for coffee lovers. Its deceptive – this dessert is one of the lightest I have ever had.

Tiramisu Eclairs
Tiramisu Eclairs

Overall, the new menu items add some lovely Mediterranean and Latin influences to the already diverse menu at 212.


I was invited to be part of blogger’s table. The Usual Disclaimer applies.


Check out the lovely Bellydriven’s take on 212 here.

212 All Day Cafe & Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Japanese Festival at Baan Tao: Sushi Supremacy

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Baan Tao, Hyatt Pune is hosting a Japanese food festival all this week, till the 26th of March, featuring celebrity Chef Shohei from Japan. They organized a Masterclass with the Japanese culinary expert last weekend, where he demonstrated some amazing techniques.

The array of sushi presented is never seen before in Pune. Fresh beautiful cuts of meat in exquisite little rolls resulting in explosions of flavor in your mouth.

Here is a little glimpse of¬†what’s on offer


We started off with a couple of asian inspired mocktails, including a Dragonfuit flavored ice tea

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Nigiri Classic: Perfect cuts of salmon, tuna, yellow tail with cooked vinegared white rice

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Nigiri Classic

Sashimi :  A beautifully curated seafood platter

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Smoked Salmon roll: Smoked Scottish salmon, cream cheese, cucumber

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California maki: Crab stick, cucumber, avocado, tobiko

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Crab Cake Sushi: Arguably, my personal favorite of the evening!

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Apart from the Sushi, we were also presented with a couple of his signature dishes.


Teriyaki chicken: Chicken breast, teriyaki sauce, grilled eggplant and leeks : a sweet sticky sauce, succulent pieces of chicken and the seared eggplant gave this dish a unique umami flavor Рnothing like I have ever had before.

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Teriyaki Chicken

Cotton tofu in mushroom sauce: Something for the vegetarians. I am personally not a fan of Tofu, but the sauce it was served in was mild, yet well seasoned.

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Matcha Tea Cheese Cake: Matcha is finely ground powder of specially grown and processed green tea, characteristic of Far East Asian celebrations. This cheese cake not only looked breathtaking, but tasted absolutely heavenly.The Matcha Cheese cake paired perfectly with the coconut icecream and the sugar mesh.

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The Japanese food festival is on till the 26th March at Baan Tao, Hyatt Pune. The sushi dishes are available as AlaCarte, as well as part of the Sunday buffet.


I was invited for a blogger’s table tasting. For all intents and purposes, The Usual Disclaimer applies.¬†


A few more pics to leave you drooling!

Baan Tao - Hyatt Pune Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Bombay Diaries – Mumbai Swag in Pune!

This Sunday evening saw #theBTeam heading to the newly inaugurated Bombay Diaries at CityPoint, DP Road. This is located right next to Mainland China, where Oh! Calcutta and Bombay Brasserie used to operate a few years back.

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Bombay Diaries runs on a very Mumbai oriented theme. With waiters dressed as Mumbai taxi drivers and the captains managing them dressed as traffic police officers, it has a very fun vibe overall. Completely open air, they also have live music playing on a daily basis. Beautifully lit up, the decor feels pretty chilled out for a nice evening with drinks and dinner.

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Waiters dressed as Taxi Drivers and the Captain is the Traffic Cop!

Bombay Diaries is the brain child of Chef Deepu Alamchandani of the Cafe Mestizo fame, so great tasting food is a given! The surprise here are the range of cocktails – super innovative, with an excellent price point (all between 150-300 for cocktails). The cocktails are served in quarter (180 ml) sized ‘desi daru’ / ‘tharra’ bottles, and salt rimmed chai glasses, leading to a very cool feel

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Cocktails : Chulbul and Chikni Chameli

Going with the Mumbai feel, the drinks are Bollywood themed. The collective favorite, Chulbul (150/-), a grenadine, lemonade flavored vodka based cocktail, with a strong flavor of jaljeera – felt like a kala khatta soda and was brilliant. Multiple rounds were ordered for this one.

Giving Salman company was Katrina, as Chikni Chameli (150/-), a strawberry, cucumber vodka based cocktail. This was lighter, but just as enjoyable.

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Cocktails: Drink Master Gogo

Drink Master Gogo (150/-) came to the table with a ‘Dhakki Chiki Dhakki Chiki Dhakki Chiki Dha!” This took us back to the Andaz Apna Apna era with a Rasna flavored vodka mix! My personal favorite, this is a must have!

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Cocktails: Bombay Thumakda

The Bombay Thumakda was a surprise for me. It is described as Strawberry, Roohafza, milk concentrate, vodka. I am not a fan of rooafza, but this was superb! Almost on the lines of an Irish Cream, this truly proves that – Doodh hai wonderful, pi sakte hai roz glassful! ūüėČ

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Cocktails : Paaji ka Panja, Bol Bacchan
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Cocktails: Desiwala Mojito
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Cocktails: Rangeela Driver

The other cocktails we tried were also pretty innovative and delicious. Each cocktail is also available in a mocktail version, so the sole teetotaler was happy too.

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Mocktails

Giving excellent company to the drinks were a whole range of delicious starters

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Mutton Seekh Lucknowi

Mutton Seekh Lucknowi – This was my favorite! Boasting some beautiful smoky flavors, these tender skewers of mutton were a delight to eat.

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Smoking the Seekh Kababs
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TBD Special Murg Tikka РFrom the Diaries

TBD Special Murg Tikka – Succulent kababs of chicken, stuffed with chicken kheema and melted cheese. Absolute delight to eat! Break open one and you can see the cheese oozing out. Sigh….

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Stuffed Paneer Tikka (From the Diaries)

The stuffed paneer tikkas are, in simple terms, a bread pattice with extremely soft paneer tikkas. An excellent option for the herbivores inclined

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Murgh Seekh Galafi

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The Murgh Seekh Galafi is a chicken seekh kabab, served on a wooden truck! The kababs were succulent, though slightly overpowered with elaichi

After the heavy barrage of appetizers and cocktails, we finally mustered the courage to move on to the mains. We started of with the Dal Bukhara. Dal Bukhara, the grand-daddy of the Dal Makhani, is a creamy, slow cooked black dal with rajma / black bean. It is characterized by the smoky rich flavor it carries due to the traditional coal fires it is cooked on. The Chef at Bombay Diaries managed to incorporate the smokiness into the dal using a chulha, giving it a near-authentic flavor. This is a #MustTry at Bombay Diaries.

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Dal Bukhara

Paired with the Chilli Cheese Garlic Naan, the Dal Bukhara was at another level all together.

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Chilli Cheese Garlic Naan

Another spectacular vegetarian item I tried here was the Kurkuri Bhindi Masala. Crisp fried Bhindi over a layer of delicious thick gravy – this is a must for every bhindi fan!

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Kurkuri Bhindi Masala

One dish I had my eye on was the Nalli Nihari. And I was not disappointed. Perfectly cooked mutton, rich, creamy, thick sauce, chock full of a pure mutton flavor. You could distinctly taste the flavor of marrow in the sauce.

To end this glorious evening, we were served some delectable soft sexy voluptuous Gulab Jamuns and some surprisingly not too sweet Gajar ka Halwa, putting a perfect end to a kickass dinner!


This write up is based on my experience at a Blogger’s ¬†table invite. The Usual Disclaimer applies.¬†


*Bombay Diaries is operational from 5 pm onwards, with live music on a daily basis.

Address: City Point, Boat Club Road, Pune

Phone Numbers: 020 60304777 / 020 60503777

Table booking recommended


The Bombay Diaries Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato