Monthly Archives: May 2010

Golmaal Paratha

No, I didn’t make that up. There is actually a restaurant in Koramangala by that name, a couple of buildings before Tunday Kababi, and almost immediately after Coconut Grove. (map) The bright green board is difficult to miss, parking isn’t too difficult. We got there by around 7.30 and were the first customers, but by the time we left, many more tables were filled up. The color theme inside the restaurant might make the non vegetarians and Martian paradnoids uneasy. If you are a super-heroes fan, you’d be pardoned for wondering if you’d stepped into the Green Lantern’s/ Riddler’s secret lair. People who’re fond of green might have to be restrained. Yep, it is that overwhelming! But non-green people, don’t worry, you can focus on the food.

The menu has 99 items, and has been uploaded by the wonderful Roopashree, on Burrp. For once, the vegetarians have a clear advantage, while the non vegetarians have about a dozen choices. But to be honest, there are so many veg options that those with a less steely resolve might buckle. Greens, beans, chinese, cheese, pepper combinations, hot’n’spicy, ginger, corn, potato, green chutney – these are some of the few… sections! Yep, you read that right, you have choices within these!! Now, even with a dozen options, the non vegetarians might find it a little difficult to narrow down, and after a few rounds of discussion, we chose a Chicken Kadai Masala Paratha and a Mutton Pepper Masala Paratha. An entire page is devoted to drinks too – lassi, milk shake, butter milk, coolers, fresh juices, jaljeera.. So we also ended up ordering a Mango lassi and a Mint & Ginger Lime juice.

The Mint & Ginger lime juice arrived first and was quite tasty though the mint overshadowed the ginger completely. The Mango lassi, we were quite sure was made of Slice (or some such) and not fresh mangoes, and that was quite a disappointment. We were told that the chicken paratha would take a while. There was heavy traffic, so it must’ve been difficult for it to cross the road. Ok, sorry :D

The parathas arrived a bit later, and no, they weren’t green :p . Each paratha comes in a thali-plate with curd, pickle, chana, onion and a couple of chutneys. The hot’n’sweet red chutney is quite good. I started with the mutton paratha, and it was quite spicy. It didn’t help that i decided to try out the chilly too. The pepper was a bit unevenly distributed and the salt was a shade above what was required. The chicken paratha was very good, though you should avoid it if you don’t like capsicum. Unlike the mutton, which was minced, this one even had tiny pieces of chicken, and was only moderately spicy. The parathas are much larger than the regular size, so unless you’ve been fasting all day or are especially aggressive with food, one should be adequate.

The service is quite pleasant, they check if your paratha was good and also have a good feedback form. The first place where someone actually asked my opinion too. Usually they convey their opinion of me by giving  D the form and ignoring me. Here, they gave us two forms, and even ask about the music, which was quite decent. In my excitement, I forgot to add that one possible option they could add (they ask for that) was egg parathas.

The meal cost us just below Rs.350. Drop in for a unique menu, and decent food at very reasonable prices.

Golmaal Paratha, 1st A Cross Road, KHB Colony, 5th Block, Koramangala. Ph: 42085757

PS. The place has WiFi, but requires a code.

Menu at Zomato

Go-to-social media

A few weeks back, I’d mentioned Tac Anderson’s ‘3 types of social media strategy‘ . To quickly summarise, the first is the ‘toe-in-the-water’ approach (not really a strategy), the second is ‘optimising social media for business’ and the third is ‘optimising business for social media’. That happens to be the decreasing order in terms of current practices, probably because its also the increasing order, in terms of thought, effort and time required.

I am quite a fan of the third approach and saw this excellent presentation by David Cushman, a few days back, which showed why ‘optimising business for social media’ is perhaps the best way in the long run. In fact, it does it in such a way that it almost seems like an afterthought. On the way, it addresses the much maligned combination of words – ‘social’ and ‘media’, and the subject of ROI.

Like I said, I don’t require any convincing on the third approach too, but the more I interact with clients, I begin to understand that with all the hype, the expectations of social media are akin to the other forms of media, and the stereotyped Facebook page and Twitter account are much sought after in the strategy presentation. And that forces me to think whether we can start with approach 2, and move towards approach 3.  The feedback from open social channels slowly creating a change within the organisation and making it view everything with a different perspective. That’s quite a change from asking for perfect products and services which could ‘withstand’ social media. :)

Meanwhile, I looked at it from another perspective when I chanced upon the new IndiGo Airlines ad, thanks to a post by L.Bhat. The spunky ad, which you can view here, is shot extremely well and showcases IndiGo’s dedication to being on time. Bhat raised a valid point that this punctuality might actually be beyond their control, in some cases. I completely agree, but like I commented, I’ve used IndiGo several times, and have never had a reason to complain. All the people who’ve commented on YouTube seem to agree.

I have to confess, there’s a style to Indigo that I’m quite a fan of. Right from the way they have communicated this data  below (do note the revenues, number of flights, market share, and compare)  inside the flight, to the menu items to their stickers and even their barf bag, they are quite unique, they have an attitude and are not afraid to show it.Check this out. (thanks @gkjohn)

Clipboard01

(Source: Outlook)

DSC03160 DSC03161

(Can’t remember other airlines, I know Spicejet has quite plain stuff, anyway I liked these enough to keep a copy :D )

No, i wasn’t digressing. From what I read, IndiGo is hardly a major player in the social media space. But I think the TVC is a good way of approaching what would have been ‘strategy 2′, with a conscious design of reaching strategy 3. All that, without social media. A purely communication  (internal and external)+ organisational culture based approach to  creating a social business. That may not be Indigo’s strategic intent, but it does make me think. Is it possible? :)

What can be done to this with social media, is a different discussion altogether.

until next time, thoughts in the air

Bonus: “Culture eats strategy for lunch” via Gautam Ghosh.

 

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kiFMJfrCO_0

When Man was God…

A few days back, I read this amazing article ‘Why everything you’ve been told about evolution is wrong‘, thanks to Surekha. Though it begins by rubbishing ‘creation by God’, it thankfully moves soon enough into Darwin’s theory of evolution and the epigenome (the protective package of proteins around which DNA is wrapped), which plays a role in deciding which genes get to express themselves in a creature’s traits and how much. It talks further of how a change in the surrounding environment for even a relatively small time can affect the way genes express themselves in future generations. This raises a question mark on the ‘random mutation + environment filtering’ basis of Darwin’s theory, and suggests that the environment had a hand in creating those ‘random’ traits. Lifestyle alters heredity.

(Kindly read the remainder of the post before confronting your grandparents)

I don’t have a hard stance against anything to do with God/faith, because I find around me many things that are not really explained, many dimensions which we haven’t been able to crack. Maybe, we will, in the future, but that doesn’t mean I will be arrogant about science now. There are so many wonderful things around me that awes my mind because of the mix of complexity and simplicity, that I like to have faith in a system/being at a higher level.

But the article made me think about the way we have reached where we are, and our concepts of God and evolution. And that’s how I wondered whether man was ‘God’ at some far off point, and had some fun. A half-ass thought. For this scenario I’m accommodating both versions – i.e. God created man in his image OR nature threw up enough random genes to create a version of man with super powers.

So at some point a long way back, we have a set of humans on the planet, all of them with superpowers – lifespan, various controls over elements etc, and thanks to that, a complete disregard for everything around them. The system (God or evolution/epigenome) realises this is a bad thing and starts turning down the super powers slowly. Or maybe they fought amongst themselves and turned off each others’ powers, until only a few had them. Their lifestyle tampered with their heredity. In later generations, they appeared in patches, say in a few  who are now known as rishis/sadhus/saints. These generations however, knew that earlier beings had superpowers and begin to regard them as Gods. They also began to fear the power of nature as they experienced calamities and lost things and people that were dear to them. Man now thinks that he should be beyond the control of nature. Technology  makes its entry and is man’s weapon against everything that nature can throw at him.

Where does it go from here? Maybe nature is working to a plan – pushing man to increasingly rely on technology until the point he can no longer think for himself. And then attack man with all it has got when he’s at his most vulnerable.

until next time, a 20:20 vision we might never have :)

The Time Traveler’s Wife

Audrey Niffenegger

It is easy to treat this book as a simple love story, with the added twist of time travel, but it goes much beyond that, and in that lies the magic. The love story of Henry DeTamble and Clare, who meet when when she is six and he is thirty six, though he’s only elder to her by eight years. They get married when she’s twenty two and he’s thirty.

That doesn’t even begin to describe the story of a man, whose genetic disorder causes him to time travel unpredictably. So, without warning, he finds himself disappearing from his present and appearing in some time in the past or the future, stark naked. It is only his love for Clare that keeps him going as they try to lead a normal life.

If it had continued this way, it would just be a good story, what actually makes it a wonderful read is the wonderful way the climax has been developed. Sadness, hope and an appreciation for things that really matter. (the last matches my perspective)

I wouldn’t consider science fiction and romance a natural pairing, and so, the author must be credited for blending it superbly. While these two are definitely the themes, the sheer lack of control in two lives which so desperately want to be together, makes one ask deeper questions on the nature of life and human existence.

Online Segmenting and segregating

We’ll start the thought from the easiest place. Facebook. :) From industry leaders quitting Facebook to TC stating that media attacks on FB are getting out of hand, to Facebook deciding to launch ‘simplistic’ privacy options, there’s a ton of reading material out there. (I liked Danah Boyd’s ‘rant‘ quite a bit) But let’s get to the scope of the post, before i digress way out.

I think it might be safe to assume  that we are different persons to different people. To the large set of siblings, friends, relatives, acquaintances and the various people we interact with, we share different aspects and versions of our personality, depending on the nature, time, depth, even expectations of our interactions and relationships. So, in a Facebook context too, we would like to retain different levels of sharing and communicating too, in spite of Mark Zuckerberg thinking that having two identities shows a lack of integrity. I think this might be the core of the current tussle – a failure to understand the need to segregate connections, and therefore the content that gets distributed to them.

When i read Adam Singer’s take on Chris Brogan’s post, I was completely in agreement, because I think HE has nailed a universal truth about normalisation. The last part of the post also mentions how we write basis the kind of audience we’d like. That is a kind of content segregation too, and it is necessary now more than ever, because of content abundance.

It’s not just to do with publishing, it is also to do with the kind of communities we become a part of. The net provides tools which allows us to aggregate  people like ourselves – basis interests, attitudes, beliefs, and if everything else fails, even location :D  My point, there’s segregation all around.

Which brings me to the usual suspect – brands. I started on this last week, and found myself thinking of it during the recent UTV Bindass scuffle. Now, if we go by UTV’s brand communication, its clearly a youth brand. I’ve realised that ‘Youth’ is a very flexible segmentation, and people my age might argue that its all in the mind etc, but it was interesting to see that the average age of opinion sharers was on the erm, riper side of 30. I wonder if the brand would want this audience segment as its viewers.

It reminds me of the Facebook user’s need for segregation choices. While the net gives the brand tools to find users in a desired segment/demographic, and the brand can limit itself to engaging them specifically, there really is no way to prevent interactions coming from/happening outside the segment. In an earlier era, it was easy, because it was mostly one way communication. Now, what does a brand do if its dragged into a conversation? The non-open options (protected tweets, invite-only community etc) are not really great. Now some would say that this thought approach is close to advocating control for brands – which is a strict no-no as per the tenets of social media :) – but I can’t help but think of the choice that the brand might want in terms of the discussions they want to be part of.  In a case like Bindass, will “Thank you for the feedback, but we all know that different audience sets have different needs and likes. Hope to have some programming that you’ll like, soon.” really cut it?

In Facebook’s case, while i can perhaps understand Zuckerberg’s version of how radical transparency will make us all better, I’ll still make a case for it to be a user’s choice, unhindered by beguiling ToS and changes to it. Similarly, in a scenario in which mobs and brand-baiting are rapidly on the rise, I’d say there should be a freedom of choice for brands too. How brands use it is a different discussion altogether.

until next time, the answer, my friend, is flowin in the stream :)

PS: Noted that Hippo, which is doing some excellent work on Twitter, replied to Tony’s Hippo-crates wordplay, (reply) but ignored the (same) one which i’d tweeted a couple of days earlier. (btw, he usually beats me to most wordplay stuff and more importantly, gives credit to original tweets when he doesn’t) Anyway, smart segmentation, Hippo knows i almost never snack.

PPS: Its got nothing to do with the fact that Tony is almost a decade younger, okay? ;)

Higher Stakes

The ‘cow slaughter ban’ bill that got passed in the Karnataka assembly sometime back, got a lot of people’s erm, goat, especially Mallus, for many of whom, paradoxically, its a ‘holy cow’ issue. But the phenomenal prospects of wordplay is not what got me thinking. Its the idea of something getting banned and the protests that follow.

Take smoking, for example. I’m sure all the smokers would have been fuming at the bans that came out on various aspects of the product and its usage, but a lot of us feel that its a good thing for different reasons. Me, mostly because those lousy forwards with the much abused ‘kick the butt’ subject line, and horrible pictures, have stopped. I find that the majority of people I know support this ban, citing health reasons etc. But the beef ban, which (at least in a way) prevents killing of a life form, finds lesser supporters. Personally, I love beef, but as time passes, my feelings of guilt have also been strengthening, and its the case of a subjective like over ruling a ‘better for the cosmos’ thought. A sad rendition of  the “way to a man’s heart…. ” too. But I do wonder about a future when the majority would say that the beef ban is a good thing. A higher state of awareness?

A few days back, I read Seth Godin’s post titled “Fear of Philanthropy“, where though his context is mostly to do with ’cause marketing’, he writes about knowing how much (of giving) is enough.  He paraphrases a question (attributed to Peter Singer) “Would you save a drowning girl even if it means ruining a pair of Italian shoes? If the answer is yes, why not use that money to save 20 kids starving to death at the other end of town/world?” Isn’t it the same? (I need to read up more on Singer, Practical Ethics, and the idea of “the greatest good of the greatest number”).  Godin points to proximity, attention and intent as factors that weigh in in our decision to ‘give’.

Proximity and attention. I remember wondering in a post sometime back whether all this connectivity, instant communication and micro popularity would make us less compassionate and more inconsiderate. But then again, does this connectivity increase our proximity to issues and would it be negated by the lack of attention? Heh. Will it make us more conscious or will it cause to go even deeper into our own comfortable bubble?

Intent. I saw Will Smith’s ‘Seven Pounds’ when it played on TV recently. The idea of a man donating different organs/parts of his body, after ensuring that the receiver is indeed worthy – ‘a good man/woman’ (“You’re a good man even when no one’s looking”). Commenting on the intent would spoil the viewing for you, but the point here is the time and patience taken to identify and verify the ‘goodness’. I’d have liked to do that too, but I’m afraid of what all it would entail. I convince myself that I don’t have the time. However, I can’t help but wonder optimistically whether one day, the collective consciousness would help take my awareness so high that my intent is made all the more stronger and then, everything else will cease to be a factor. But then I look in the mirror and say that I’m better off looking within myself, for its difficult to refute an oft asked question “I didn’t make it this way, why should I contribute to making it a better place, when I can buy my happiness in other ways?” As Godin says, its effective enough, sadly so.

until next time, streamlined thoughts :)

PS. meanwhile, if you’ve been reading this blog for a while, and have liked it, do officially ‘like’ it here :)

Medici

No medicinal jokes will be entertained unless they end with ‘chee’, for that’s how you pronounce it. You can read all about the House of Medici here. It would tell you that they were a banking family turned royal house who originated from the Tuscan countryside and finally settled in Florence. It also informs you that they were one of the families who fostered and inspired the birth of the Italian Renaissance. What it doesn’t tell you much is about Catherine de’ Medici‘s role in fusing French cuisine with Italian and introducing the French to the fork. To read up on that, you’ll need to go to Medici, on 100 ft Road in Indiranagar. When coming from the Koramangala direction, its on the left, above Maharaja furniture, and opposite Indigo Nation. Parking is a breeze – valet for 4wheelers, and a large basement for 2 wheelers. :)

We walked in at about 7.15 pm, and managed to get a good table, facing the road. Extremely stylish, but understated ambiance, that’s the first thing we noticed. The place somehow gives a feel that the visitor is in safe hands, of someone who is confident of what they’re doing. Hey, the cuisine is Franco-Italian, i have to at least pretend snobbery okay? But seriously, despite the cuisine’s ‘reputation’ (in these parts of the world), that’s another aspect that Medici needs to be credited for – the efficient service that relies on pleasantness, not snobbery. :)

On to the menu. They have quite a collection of mocktails, and I was tempted to try the Funky Toffy, but I thought I had much ground to cover and this might weigh me down later. Even before we ordered, we were quite impressed with the complimentary bread served. (you must try the cheese provided along with it. Amazing) The food menu starts with appetisers, and includes a Prawn Mousseline, Beef Carpaccio, Salmon Tartare, Calamari Peperoncino, Quiche aux e’ pinards, Bruschetta, Tomato Mozzarella tian. (Rs.150-300). We chose a Poulet et de bacon quiche, “traditional French quiche with chicken and bacon”. You have the choice of 1 person/2 person portions. We chose the former, and regretted it since it was quite tasty. The crust part was slightly flaky, but complemented the filling extremely well, quite unlike anything I’ve tasted before. Highly recommended.

You could also choose from the salad section – Caesar, Rucola, Roast Duck, and Seasonal Fruit. (Rs.150-280). We briefly considered the Roast Duck, but decided instead to go for a Wild Mushroom Soup, “creamy wild mushroom finished with truffle oil”, from the choice of soups – French Onion, Bouillabaisse, Gazpacho, Borscht,  and Chicken and Leek. (all Rs.150). The soup turned to be as good as claimed (by Karthik). It was creamy (brownish color though), and the truffle oil gave it a flavor that took it up several notches.

Moving on, you could try the pasta options – Spaghetti Carbonara, Tagliatelle Puttanesca, Spaghetti Bolognaise, Ravioli, Tortellini,  Beef Lasagna, and Fusilli Marinara. (Rs.200-300) or Risotto – Prawn, Mushroom (Rs.300/250). The main course options are split into Meat, Poultry, Seafood and Veg. The veg section consists of Baked Aubergine, Asparagus Crepe, and vol-au-vent. (Rs.250). The poultry options are Chicken Parmigiano, Chicken de Medici, Duck a l’orange (Rs.300, 650). The meat section (Rs.350-400) has Fillet Mignon, tornado, Rack of lamb, and the one i chose – ‘Grilled Pork chops, “pork chops marinated with anchovy and basil served with brown jus and garlic mash”. The seafood options (Rs.350-650) are Fish en papillote, Grilled Scampi, Pepper crusted fillet of salmon, and D’s choice, Duo de poisson –  “fish fillet layered with salmon mousse and zucchini”.

The pork chops were quite good, but my folly lay in underestimating the anchovy’s effect. Like D pointed out, it did mean that they took the ingredients seriously, but it made the meal slightly difficult for me. (I have a seafood allergy, with only a few exceptions). The garlic mash was quite good though. D was quite impressed with her fish dish, and felt that (probably) the cream cheese in the salmon mousse covering added to the taste.

The dessert options are quite tempting too, especially the Chocolate Fondant, but we had a movie to catch, and were actually quite stuffed. The other dessert options are Tiramisu, Fresh Fruit Tart, Crepe Suzette, and Creme Brulee. (all Rs.150). Just a note that though the menu seems skewed towards non vegetarians at first glance, the vegetarians do have enough choice.

All of the above cost us over Rs.1200. I plan to visit soon again, to atone for my wrong choice of dish, and to try the dessert options. I’d highly recommend that you drop in too, for a really smooth ambiance, excellent service, the best food presentation we’ve seen in a while, and a choice of dishes that are not really common here.

Medici, Mannan Arcade, 2nd Floor, 1206, 100ft Road, HAL 2nd Stage, Indiranagar Ph: 42044987, 42350674

Menu and Photos at Zomato

Brand Privacy

The implications of Facebook’s recent moves are still gobbling up most of the virtual column space available. From discussions happening in my own set of connections, it does seem to have gotten a larger crowd (than the usual suspects) interested.

Jeff Jarvis’ post raises quite a few good points – the different levels of ‘public’, sharing vs publishing, to name a couple. The issue here is that Facebook is controlling where information we share on the network goes, we seem to have no choice in the matter. Mark Zuckerberg is unfortunately seen as pushing us to be public to ‘Everyone’ (a superb visual representation). But that’s where (and this is just an opinion) we might have reached anyway, given a little time. In any case, there are enough tools which allow me to create a network of my own and share it, without involving Facebook. My blogs worked that way, until I connected them with FB. Yes, it could cost me some reach, but there are ways to compensate that too, though yes, Facebook is really big.

Like I tweeted sometime back, I think we just want the networks to be more ‘open’, so that we can decide who we can be ‘closed’ to. Right now, we don’t get to decide that much, and while I’m not defending FB here, this is something Google has been guilty of for a longer time. But that’s a different topic.

I was, as usual, intrigued by how this affects brands online. Like I’ve said before, I wonder if there is a kind of hypocrisy involved when we desire privacy for ourselves, but expect brands to be more open on the social web, because it is of use to us as consumers. Many facets of this, so perhaps another post. But all this hullabaloo about privacy means that consumers will be more careful about their interaction with brands, and which ones they want to be associated with, at least online. So now, brands will require to do more to gain their trust and/or provide enough value to convince consumers, who might be otherwise reluctant to associate with a brand . Or will the casual ‘like’ become a commodity? From their own perspective, brands will now have to get used to more attention as the dynamics of Pages/Groups etc change.

Meanwhile, on another front, another trend that has been creeping up on us is the segregation of crowds on the web. Like this article notes, the web allows us tools to create a ‘people like me’ bubble around us. This is linked to the kind of ‘privacy’ we are talking about – select groups with whom we can share specific things in specific contexts? It remains to be seen how many bubbles overlap and in what way. This trend, I believe will not die out soon, and the ‘groups’ will become even more careful about who is let in. How does a brand balance itself among different groups of people who now agglomerate themselves and are choosy about who they associate with online? Is this an opportunity to finally manifest the idea of being different things to different people, according to their finely split needs?

until next time, its ‘like’ complicated :)

Bonus Read: How Facebook’s Community Pages and Privacy changes impact Brands by Jeremiah Owyang

Gulp fiction

I’m quite a huge fan of Heroes and was quite sad to see Season 4 end, more so than normal season finales, because after quite a while, there was a villain that I could really empathise with.  Robert Knepper as Samuel Sullivan just rocked. Though the villainy is manifested in his selfish desire to become more powerful, there was something in his arguments that made me forget it at regular intervals. To give you some context, the entire series revolves around people with special abilities (think X-Men). This season, mostly through Knepper’s character- Samuel, emphasised a lot on how society treats such people. Samuel’s desperation to belong (and later make normal people respect his kind) is expressed very well in his conversation with another character with abilities, Claire.

“Freedom is what you do with what’s been done to you”, says Claire, quoting Sartre.

“I always thought freedom was just another word for nothing left to lose”, counters Samuel, without acknowledging “Me and Bobby McGee” :)

The urge to belong and the pain of being different. Mo wrote a post recently on being chided for missing a reference in a conversation. A reference to Pulp Fiction.  At a broader level its also a small commentary about our consumption of popular culture, and second had experiences. Its a sentiment I share – that somehow the consumption of popular and even off beat culture and getting the respective references is the benchmark for judging a person. So, to get bombarded with “haven’t you seen/read/eaten.. don’t you know..” is now a common thing. Like I told her, thanks to everyone becoming media, C+ is actually a great grade, considering the noise.

In some ways, I felt it also throws up our need for validation. The consumption and the opinions we have on that decide the kind of role we land in our immediate crowd, and now, the larger world. From “Govinda movies??!!” and “MLTR is why I go away from you” to “Eww, you’re still on Orkut?! .. Omigod, how can you play Farmville??”,  this judgment happens all the time  :)

At times, the validation is for others and their expectations, and at times for the self. In many ways, I think its like some gladiator fight where a person is just fighting himself, and the expectations he has set. The audience could be the self, or others. If its the latter, its all okay so long as the person conforms to a broadly accepted set of norms within the crowd.Even if one wants to get out of it, its difficult. Its difficult to sever the connection between a validation that is given to one without asking and the ties that one would want with other humans. :)

In Heroes, Claire’s character’s ability is instant regeneration. Break a bone, receive a bullet wound, and she heals instantly. In the last scene of season 4, she throws herself from the top of a Ferris wheel, lands on the ground all broken up, and immediately heals, all in front of a waiting media crew. An open challenge to society to accept her the way she is. And another character says “Its a brave new world”. To me, it was a statement of hope, one that will get out of a TV show that’s part of popular culture, and enter the real world.

But meanwhile, for now, until the pill happens, the moment one goes beyond what can be immediately understood, and what provides a point of reference, one has to be ready for “And I will strike upon thee… “:D

until next time, reverence to reference :)

Sultans of Spice

Somewhere out there is a hotelier influenced into Dire Straits. :) SoS (no, don’t go by that acronym, I’m just using it because its easier :) ) is a restaurant in Koramangala, part of the BluPetal business hotel. The hotel also has Zheng (Chinese) and Latte-Tude (Euro Indian cafe). Its located on the Jyoti Nivas College Road, here’s the map. SoS is on the fourth floor.

The restaurant has a mix of 3 cuisines – Dilli, Punjabi and Afghani. The ambiance is very pleasant, the lighting accentuates the paintings and the flagons, the seating is comfortable, and Jagjit Singh in the background adds to a relaxed feel.

On to the menu. Each section has a selection from each of the 3 cuisines. Karthik had recommended that I skip Punjabi and concentrate on the other two. After a look at the menu, i’d agree, only a couple of items are tempting enough to hold their own against the Afghan/Dilli onslaught. The menu starts with the Thandai, and you can choose from ‘Annanas ka panna’, ‘Pudina Shikanji’, ‘Boondi Jaljeera’, ‘Dilliwali Masala Chaas’, ‘Kale Gajar ki Kanji’, and so on (Rs.60-80). We chose a safe Amritsari malai lassi, only because I’d already troubled my stomach quite a bit in the afternoon with all sorts of stuff i hadn’t had in a while – liver, brain kind. (Chandu’s Military Hotel with a couple of tweeps, but that’s another story. :) ) The lassi was described as ‘A thick sweet yoghurt drink, with a flavor of rose water, generously dunked with fresh cream and dry fruits’. It proved to be quite good, and they were generous with the cream, but you could try out some of the other stuff, mostly because you don’t come across them regularly.

You could also choose from the Shorba-e-Bahaar (soups) – Tamatar Dhaniya, Khumb Malai, Kalimirch Paya, Gosht Nehari, lasooni Murgh and so on.  The starters section also allows you to choose from the three different cuisines. For vegetarians – Bulani Kuchaloo, Tikka Rasmonak etc from Kabul, Keshav Bharwan Aloo..from Punjab, Dwarka Nath Papdi Chaat, Alu Mukki etc from Dilli. There are about 10 options in the Rs.110-180 range. My kind get to choose from Kebab-e-Mauhi, Jheenga Pashtooni etc from Kabul, Tandoori Kukkad, Boti Shoti, Kaleji Keema Lasooni, Rum waali Masaledar Chaampen (Old Monk flavored :D)  from Punjab, and Sultani Seekh Kabab, Dil Dilli Machli Tikka, Tunde ke Galawat (a hat tip right there, nice), Matiya Road Bharwan Tange etc from Dilli. In all, over 20 options ranging from Rs.240-450.

For the main course, vegetarian – Guncho Keema, Dal Sultani etc from Kabul, the Sarson da Saag gang from Punjab, or the Paneer Gulle ka Qorma etc from Dilli, about 15 options in the Rs.180-225 range. The non vegetarians will be quite overwhelmed by the choices.. and their descriptions. Afghani Gosht ka Stew, Burrah Kaliyan etc from Kabul, Butter Chicken Makhan Singh da, Palak naal Macchi curry etc from Punjab, Karim’s Keema Matar fry  (another hat tip), Macchli Musallam etc from Dilli. Just over a dozen choices in the Rs.280-450 range. To go along with that, you could either choose from about 4 rice items (including a Karim’s Zaffrani Mutton Biriyani, a couple of veg options too) or the regular rotis (the Kabuli Naan is a relative exception perhaps) at Rs.160-230 and Rs.45-80 respectively.

So, from all of that, we chose a Murgh Taftaan to start with. Its described as ‘the best seller in all of Damiyan market, boneless chunks of spring chicken in a green chilli, lemon and corriander masala’. It was quite the ‘melting in the mouth’ kind, though the lemon and corriander masala were subdued. The chutney provided could’ve been better too. For the main course, we had a Murgh Qorma Kabuli, “whole chicken cooked in tandoor simmered with a robust brown onion and curd qorma”, and to go along with it, a couple of kulchas. The chicken dish I’d recommend highly, thick gravy and well cooked chicken (not boneless, by the way), goes well with the kulchas. For dessert, you could choose from a few unusual options – Sitaphal ki Kulfi, Sultanat e Jamun, Amritsari Chikoo Phirni, Khar Yeku etc. (Rs.110)

The meal cost us just below Rs.800, including a 5% service charge. The service is prompt and helpful, and they have a good feedback form that gets into specifics. I’d recommend you drop in at least once – for a range of items you don’t usually get to see on a menu, good service and a pleasant ambiance that really helps you relax. I’d also recommend that you go in a herd – that will help you take full advantage of the options available.

Sultans of Spice, #60, Jyoti Nivas College Road, 5th Block Koramangala. Ph: 43431800/18

Menu and Photos at Zomato