Monthly Archives: January 2012

The Great Indian Thali

The review first appeared in Bangalore Mirror though I’m still trying to figure out the headline. 

TGIF is an acronym that’s familiar in the dining-out context, and that’s probably why TGIT made us do a double take. We noticed it during our monthly check on The Elegant Elephant – just to see if it’s open. Not.

So, TGIT. Nope, not Tuesday, not Thursday, but The Great Indian Thali. Located on the busy 80 ft Road in Koramangala, (map) in the building that is now a mini Church Street with El Tablao, Barbeque Factory and the soon-to-be-launched Resto-bar & Grill. Yes, there’s valet parking. And guess what, all the restaurant owners have a mallu connection. Keramangala rises. Bwahahaha.

While many a restaurant in Bangalore serves a North Indian and/or South Indian thali, or even a region specific version, TGIT clearly has ‘Mile food mera tumhara’ in mind. But they do plan to have a monthly region-specific special with guest chefs soon. Meanwhile, you can lounge on low seating, or functional or high chairs as you watch the traffic snarls below and contemplate if Curd Rice and Paneer Lababdar do have a future together, and what theme links Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara and Bryan Adams.

The prix fixe (set) menu features four starters and the samosas that were served first turned out to be the hot favourites. A crispy exterior with a standard but mildly spicy and non greasy filling and complemented by the imli chutney meant that everyone asked for a second helping. The Dahi vada – soft and fluffy vadas in a faintly tangy curd, was equally popular. We also got the not-so-commonly-found Makhai vada – made with corn ground to a paste, and though the snack was not in the same league as the ones preceding it, its uniqueness makes it a dish worth trying out. Its blandness can be offset by the chilli chutney that’s provided. The cheese balls were the most debated dish, as a few of us found it well worth gobbling up, especially with the mint chutney, but discerning palates detected that the cheese was not really fresh.

In the main course, the Ker Kismis, a Rajasthani specialty made of desert berries was a dish that found favour with everyone. The different texture provided by the berries and the occasional sweetness rendered by the kismis made it a singularly unique offering. The Paneer Lababdar was a close second and was taken down a notch by the slightly hard paneer, though the mildly spicy gravy did its best to make up. The Parwal Masala, made with unpeeled point gourd was another dish that used its texture to good effect. The Shrikhand, though classified as a dessert, made an appearance, probably to serve as a combination with the Masala Puri. But it proved to be too diluted and though the masala puri got the flavour right, the combo didn’t really work out. None of the other main course dishes – Dal Makhani, Dal Tadka, Aloo Matar – managed to leave an impression. The Fulka proved to be too thick and the Pulao rice needed some more cooking. The curd rice just about managed to stay true to character.

Since it was a prix fixe menu, there was no danger of desserts not being available. The soft Gulab Jamun did a splendid job and got the sweetness of the syrup just right. The Rasmalai continued to be another dependable source of sugar based joy. The Lauki Halwa was a unique option and though it was a tad heavy and greasy, we thought it was an acceptable part of the halwa’s character. And yes, there was paan in a wrapper.

The prix fixe menu is priced at Rs.328+tax on weekdays and Rs.382+tax on weekends. With the starters and desserts doing an excellent job, the meal began and ended well. The main course was a bit of a disappointment. Considering that one can have as many servings of preferred dishes, the pricing is quite justified. With a few unique dishes mixing it up with favourites from across the country, TGIT does seem to have a reasonably good offering when you’re in the mood for vegetarian fare.

The Great Indian Thali, Lotus – 612/1, 80 feet Road, 4th Block, Koramangala Ph: 08065471151

PS: Yes, it’s a veg restaurant, and you can stop laughing!

The Veteran

Frederick Forsyth

The book is quite a departure from the regular thrillers that Forsyth is famous for, but that doesn’t take away anything from the quality of the work. It consists of five stories, which showcase the research that characterises Forsyth’s works. I’d actually have taken these for Jeffrey Archer’s work for the quality of the ‘twists’, and sometimes, even the wit.

‘The Veteran’ and ‘The Art of the Matter’ are renditions of the concept of justice, with the latter giving us quite a few insights about the art world and its inhabitants. ‘The Veteran’ would seem an open-and-shut mugging case and the trial that follows, but develops layers as it proceeds. There is something very satisfying about this story as well as the last one. In ‘The Miracle’, a tourist couple on their way to experience the Palio horse race in Siena, come across a stranger and his tale of the supernatural. ‘The Citizen’ involves a drug enforcement officer and a range of characters who are involved in a drug trafficking episode.

‘Whispering Wind’, the last story is considerably larger than others, and while the average ‘Bollywood’ viewer would find the concept familiar, it is still a great story based on ‘The Battle of the Little Bighorn’, the amount of detailing takes it up several notches.

‘The Veteran’ might be named after the first story or perhaps the expertise that key characters in all five stories exhibit. The most endearing aspect of this book is how it marries clinical descriptions and detailing with stories that exude warmth and humanity. That, and the excellent endings make this a great read.

Consistency and cohesion

Google’s Search Plus your World once again made me think about consistency, (in terms of a brand’s voice) a subject that finds frequent mentions here.

Consistency in branding has been a golden rule for a long time. But by now, brands would be used to seeing their messages layered with the contexts and perspectives added by users on social networks. Considering the transient nature of the feed and search capabilities, and despite their inherently ‘viral nature, brands could still console themselves a bit about reach.

After all, despite the march of the social networks, Google was (and is) still easily dominant when it comes to specific search, and brands could still play a few SEO/M games. But now, Google is accelerating its social fusion into search; the layering will happen here too, and the incumbent search gaming tools would start getting blunted.

In this context, I wondered if brands should probably move from consistency to cohesion. Consistency was a good tool in a mass media era when one way distribution and a linear flow of information ruled. In this era of collaborative media, cohesion factors in context  – time/place/person etc to the brand’s message. It lends flexibility to the brand’s voice, qualifies it, and helps empower internal and external customers. So, rather than getting an OCD over exact phrases, colours etc, the brand custodians could work on how best to package the brand’s core DNA in different settings. Then, even if consumers don’t share as-is, at least the brand’s perspective would be context relevant. Your thoughts?

until next time, consistently cohesive

PS: My guest post on afaqs last year lists some advantages of this approach under “What happened after the TVC ended?”

Never Discount Art

While he lived, they made fun of his art. After an entire life bemoaning the fact that he sucked at art, he finally bled to a slow painful death. But then, his art became immortal, as did he. Suddenly everyone wanted a stake in his works. Of course, you all must know his name – Drawcula.

until next time, arty stick stake :D

Soul City

The last Thai dine out didn’t really work for us, though it was at a (now former) favourite. The cuisine is a preferred one, and thus was seeded the idea to Thai up the loose ends. And that took us to the city within the city. Soul City in UB City (map), located within the Oakwood Service Apartments, right next to Shiro.

Tastefully done interiors, and since we were early, we got the choice of seats. There are TVs too, in case you really run out of conversation topics. The windows are curtained, though I’d have loved to watch the skyline! In addition to this menu, (courtesy Zomato) they also have a well stocked bar. From the menu, the idea is all about good food without categorising it into specific cuisines or dining experiences. Not a bad thought at all, and it meant that we got representation from Thai, Vietnamese, Chettinad, Moroccan and many more cuisines in the menu.

Not the regular modus operandi, but we started with a vegetarian soup – a case of coconut milk scoring over chicken. The Tom Kha Taohu was a spicy soup, and the tofu and mushrooms ensured that we didn’t miss the fowl play. I’d have liked it to be a tad thicker but that is probably just greed. The coconut milk theme continued in the main course too. We ordered the Penne with Red Curry Coconut Sauce and Gang Kua Subparod. (Chicken) The Penne dish was actually a veg dish. but they were nice enough to add chicken on request. The red curry coconut sauce was extra good thanks to the cheese and the mild spice made it a fantastic dish! The Gang Kua Subparod was very good too, again coconut based curry served with rice, but the fruity flavour (pineapple) that it is supposed to have was completely missing.

We would’ve liked to order a starter too, but the reason we skipped that was the desserts section. I wouldn’t say it was a really tough call, but the Banana and Chocolate Pancakes were quite tempting too. However, in the presence of a higher chocolate power, it had to lose. The Chili Chocolate Mousse did look quite good, but turned out to be a bit of a disappointment, since the chili was totally missing. What replaced it was a vague tart flavour that also took away from the chocolate. :(

All of the above cost us about Rs.1250. Despite the anti-climax, the service was quite helpful and prompt. The overall experience was quite positive, and we’ll definitely drop in again to listen to music that reminded me of mixtapes –  R Kelly, Cyndi Lauper, Dido….

Soul City, Oakwood Premier Prestige, UB City, Vittal Malya Road Ph: 22348888