“It’s so beautifully arranged on a plate – you know someone’s fingers have been all over it.” – Julia Child
Progressive Indian cuisine involves blending of culinary cultures, by incorporating different cooking methods to recreate the traditional Indian dishes in a completely different avatar by presenting them in a different way while retaining the taste and feel of the rich and vivid traditional Indian flavours that effectively evoke nostalgia amongst the diners. Hence, it is not that simple and not everything goes right with the ‘Modern Indian’ combinations, but it all requires a lot of trial and errors and chances are that some things go terribly wrong and are even beyond repair. Therefore, very few restaurants specializing in Modern Indian cuisine stand out as successful ventures with time.
The first alphabet in the name ‘Veranda’ is written in Devanagri script, clearly suggestive of the restaurant serving Progressive Indian Cuisine; I.e., food which is Indian at heart but served with a modern twist. Located on the ground floor, this is a partly open-air gallery enclosed by glass on all sides allowing the early morning sunlight to enter the restaurant from the east end. The decor is classy and poise with an Indian touch here and there (the 150 year old door from Rajasthan installed on one end of the hall, for instance), and plenty of art work displayed on the walls implying an amalgamation of food and art. They have also tied up with ‘Appa art fest’ and all the art work on display is available on sale. The dining area is well lit and clean with comfortable couches and chairs and soothing music.
Kala Khata Margerita
This was a tangy, sweet concoction with a faint salty kick at intervals topped with chaat masala foam that imparted a wonderful combination of spicy, salty and sour notes.
This was an extremely potent whisky based cocktail with a rich, full bodied and smoky flavour.
This vodka based concoction containing watermelon and basil, was a cooling, naturally sweet flavoured cocktail with mildly fruity notes and the fresh basil let out a mild peppery and minty aroma and a faint sweet yet savoury flavour.
New York Whisky Sour
This was a sweet and faintly bitter concoction with a strong citrusy and sour kick; comprising of bourbon whisky, lemon juice and sugar with bitters. This whisky sour preparation didn’t contain egg white though.
This was a sweet, tangy and refreshing mocktail with fresh and fruity notes.
AMUSE BOUCHE: 4/5
The chilled, tangy and slightly sweet Aam Panna with a faint spicy after taste, was served in a test tube; while relatively warm, greasy and mildly spicy, small Podi Idli coated thoroughly in spicy gunpowder and abundant desi ghee that effectively mellowed down the spiciness of the gunpowder, was placed on the test tube stand. While, consuming them both one after the other turned out to be an effective enough palate cleanser, I would have personally preferred much less ghee and much more spice in the miniature idli.
This was a bright orange coloured, smooth, thick, sweet, gently spiced yet flavourful and rustic soup having a comforting aroma. The addition of sour cream gave it a slight tang and a blade of chive swimming in it imparted a faint oniony flavour. The crispy croutons served alongside were dressed in creamy, semi-soft, blue cheese having a characteristic stinky strong aroma and a sharp salty and tangy flavour. While the croutons didn’t quite go well with the soup, they were absolutely delicious a treat on their own.
This was a robust, relatively thinner, mildly spicy and tangy soup with a tad bit of minty freshness giving out a crisp, clean and distinctive fragrance. While the ultra-thin shreds or juliennes of chicken displayed fine kitchen skills, the caramelized onions imparted a characteristic borderline sweetness to the dish.
While the bright red, hollowed out baby beet barrels filled with hung curd had wonderfully sweet and earthy flavours; the soft, creamy, salty and tangy crumbles of feta having a strong nutty aroma combined well with the mild bitter notes of quinoa and the sweet beet and carrot gels. The salad comprising of peppery, slightly bitter and tangy arugula, the sweet-sour, juicy and citrus-y orange and relatively crunchy, mild and sweet pear also having subtle fragrant citrus notes was tossed in a very light kashundi honey mustard dressing.The pungent notes of mustard paired very well with the bitterness of arugula and the dressing imparted a distinct punch to the salad, without masking the original flavours of the elements, which definitely deserves an applause!
Dhaba Chicken Platter
This was a platter comprising of three different preparations of chicken tikkas. While the Chicken Hariyali Tikka had fresh, earthy and minty notes, the Kashmiri ChickenTikka had moderately spicy and mildly tangy notes with a vibrant rich colour and the Zafrani Chicken Tikka had a subtle flavour and aroma and faint floral notes. The kebabs placed over a salad made of diced onions, tomatoes and capsicum, were all absolutely succulent and juicy with wonderfully smoky notes, all courtesy the nicely charred specks on the chicken. The ranch dressing smeared on the platter was a creamy yet not heavy buttermilk based dressing having freshness of the herbs and characteristic yet subtle pungent notes of onion and garlic. The thick and creamy drops of kashundi mustard mayo had a well toned down yet vivid pungent notes of mustard.
Raja Dahi Varma
The Dahi bhalla or Urad dal fritters were soaked in sweetened yogurt to get a wonderfully soggy exterior, coated with yogurt and topped with crispy potato salli wafers that added a crunch to every bite. The sweet and firm squares of baked yoghurt contained pomegranate jam reduction having a sweet and sharp tart taste besides sweet and sour tamarind chutney served in the form of gel droplets. They were all assembled on a platter that was smeared with fresh,green mint chutney. What an innovative way to serve Dahi Bhallas!
The prawns, aligned artfully over a bed of light greenish yellow, opaque, smooth, rich, buttery and eggless fenugreek hollandaise with a nutty sweet and mild tangy flavour, had wonderfully smoky notes BUT were a tad bit overcooked. A slow cooked salad comprising of almost transparent onion shells and wonderfully softened tomatoes with wrinkled skin with a mild seasoning was arranged along the sides with thick, creamy, sweet, refreshing and cool dollops of mint mayo.
This was their version of Palak bhindi chaat comprising of crispy fried baby spinach leaves and okra marinated in a thin, yogurt based, mildly spicy batter which at the same time also allowed us to appreciate the mild, earthy flavour of okra and the faint bitter notes of spinach. They were topped with finely diced tomatoes and dressed in plenty of sweet and sour yoghurt, sweet saunt chutney having faint ginger-y notes and fresh and mild mint chutney.
I couldn’t try the Mushroom Car Pachino since I’m allergic to mushrooms.
The Mumbai tawa rice was disappointing as it wasn’t as spicy and lip smacking as it’s supposed to be. On the other hand, the succulent, juicy, sweet, salty and glossy preparation of chicken teriyaki was a hit and the thick and lustrous teriyaki sauce had a clean flavour with a good balance between sweet and salty notes along with faint garlic-y and gingery notes, thereby packing a plenty of umami punch in it.
Roasted Oriental Chicken Breast
The North-east Indian spicy rice was simple, lightly spiced yet flavourful and the Oriental chilli sauce was perfectly thick, spicy and sweet. The sweet and salty soy marinated grilled chicken breast, on the other hand, could have been more tender and juicy.
Gulkhand Choco Bar
While it looked like a good old choco bar, it was, on the contrary, a sweet, light, creamy and airy chocolate mousse cake stuffed with sweet and aromatic Gulkand or rose petal jam in the centre; all covered in thick, dense, rich and bittersweet chocolate on top to resemble a Choco bar and served with colourful sugar coated fennel seeds, silver coated betel nuts and chopped almonds that imparted it a nutty and sugary-sweet crunch in every bite.
This outsourced dessert was a light, delicately flavoured, sugary-sweet and creamy cheesecake resting on a spongy base, comprising of creamy, soft, thick, milky and juicy Rasmalai, followed by abundant soft and light whipped cream and garnished with copious amounts of powdered pistachios on top that imparted it’s distinctive nutty and sweet flavour.
White Chocolate Soufflé
The soufflé didn’t seem to have risen or puffed up and wasn’t even as fluffy as a soufflé is supposed to be, BUT bore more resemblance to a lava cake instead with rich, sweet and warm white chocolate oozing out as I dug into the soft cake having a relatively firmer crust on top garnished with crunchy almond slivers. The creamy, smooth and rich chocolate ice cream served along side was an absolute delish treat too and the caramelized nuts or ‘chikki’ imparted some more crunchy and nutty goodness to this dessert!
Warm and welcoming as the service was, it was equally disappointing in terms of attentiveness and pace as the food took ages to arrive on the table and so did the attendants in spite of repeated requests. While the owner and the attendants were all being wonderful and cheerful hosts, most of the attendants were confused souls also having difficulty in communicating effectively.
Food quality – 4/5
Food quantity – 4/5
Ambience – 4/5
Service – 3.5/5
VFM – NA (This meal was complimentary, courtesy an invitation by the restaurant to sample their menu.)