Sunday, October 30, 2011

LaaJawaab in Indiranagar

Food: ★★★★
Service: ★★★★ 
Ambience: ★★★★


This restaurant which is located on CMH Rd and is only 2 mins walk from our house had been on our radar for a while. And, one day one of our Indian friends mentioned how great the food was there, we immediately decided to go.  Indeed, it was great!  And to our joyful surprise, the guy who used to host the restaurant called Chamomile (which I never got around to write about it before it sadly got shut down) that we loved was there as a new host!  We were happy to see him again there, and he was so kind to let us know the popular dishes. 

This restaurant serves Northern Indian cusines. According to the host, a lot of the ingredients are shipped directly from New Delhi area. He also told us that the restaurant is famous for their cheese dishes, and especially the cottage cheese (Paneer) dishes are their signature ones. Since we are not a huge eater, we got two appetisers, one main dish, and a dessert.  And, it filled us up.

Dsc01395For the first appetiser, we got Achari Paneer Tikka. Paneer was nicely grilled but so soft and rich. Loved it! We also got a non-veg appetizer called Peshwari Murgh Tikka. Chicken chunks were again very tender and juicy. For the main dish, we went for Saagwala Ghosht. The creamy spinach puree was just excellent which of course satisfied my hubby very much. To me, it was a bit too creamy, but I liked the taste of it.  The Jeera rice was wonderful as well as Butter Garlic Naan. 

For the dessert, we tried Backed Gulab Jamun. Sweeeeet! 

southindies in Indiranagar

Img_3314Food: ★★★★☆
Service: ★★★★☆ 
Ambience: ★★★★
This is another restaurant that we enjoyed a while ago in Indiaranagar. It is on the 100 ft Rd between CMH and Old Madras Rd. The restaurant, as you can tell by its name, is totally dedicated to the authentic south Indian dishes.  It is a higher-end restaurant, and the service is just wonderful. 
You can choose to go for an al a carte or a set menu which lets you taste little bit of popular dishes. Since it was our firt time there, we went for a set menu, which we highly recommend. We enjoyed everything, but I have to say my favorite was definitely the assortment of appetizers. Yummy!  For those of you who must have some alcohol with your dinner, sorry this place is totally vegetarian and alcohol free. But, you can probably enjoy their signature lemonade :) 

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Friday, October 14, 2011

Hoysaleswara Empire: Halebid and Belur - Part 2

Being very satisfied with Chennakesava Temple, we headed to Halebid which is only 10-15 mins away from Belur. The temple there is called Hoysaleswara Temple and is a bit larger than the one in Belur. The temple, dedicated to Shiva, was completed in 1121, four years after Chennakesava Temple.

Passing through the people trying to sell us postcards and guidebooks, we went into the site which had a beautifully landscaped garden and a museum. As it was around 4 o'clock, we skipped the museum and went into the temple directly.

Just like Chennakesava Temple, or I should say even more than Chennakesava Temple, the entire outer wall is covered with a massive number of carvings which tell us a great deal about people's lives back then. The horizontal array of smallish carvings is just fun to watch. One carving was about a man with a vessel of wine, and the guide was telling us how people used to enjoy wine and that drinking "moderately" is not a bad thing but rather a good for your health. I agree :D

The bigger pieces on the top layer are just as impressive.

On display at the temple is Nandi, the bull who served as a vehicle of Shiva and as a gate keeper of Shiva and his wife Parvati. The bull, made out of one huge piece of soapstone, still had such a great complexion that you could see the reflection on its surface.

Anyway, we were so happy with a quick (or long depending on how you see it) day trip to Belur and Halebid. We highly recommend this tour to anyone who lives near Bangalore.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Hoysaleswara Empire: Halebid and Belur - Part 1

Yesterday was a Hindu holiday celebrating Dasara (or spelled as Dussehra) which is also known as Vijayadashmi ("Vijay" meaning victory and "Dashmi" meaning tenth day). It is believed that it was on that day that Lord Rama killed the demon-king Ravana and rescued his abducted wife Sita. So, it was the celebration of the day that good conquered evil. We were planning to go to Mysor for a big celebration they have every year, but we gave up on the idea when we found out all the tickets were already sold out.

So, while everyone was celebrating Dasara, we decided to take a day trip to towns called Halebid and Belur that are about 4hrs west of Bangalore.

Thanks to our new driver Taj for taking us on the 8 hr round trip drive! It was definitely worthwhile going there. We started out by visiting Chennakesava Temple in Belur. Chennakesava means "handsome keshava" and it is a form of Vishnu. The temple was built in 1117 during the Hoysala dynasty. Hoysala which can be divided into two words "hoy" and "sala" means "Strike Sala" where Sala was said to be the person who led the dynasty and who also fought single-handedly with a vicious tiger and killed it. There is no historical backup on this story, but the legend says that the dynasty was named after him to honor his bravery. It was not Sala but King Bittiga (aka Vishnuvardhana) who later built several temples around the region after defeating the western Chalukays.

What's fascinating about this temple as well as the other one in Halebid that I will mention in my next post, is the number of decorative statues (or I should probably call carvings) on the outer walls. Almost all the walls are entirely covered by layers of carvings. The lowest row is decorated with elephants (symbolizing strength), next one with tigers (symbolizing courage), and the third from the lowest with horses (symbolizing speed).

And at the top, there are 38 freestanding bracket figures of  madanikas (Salabhanjika–celestial damsels) in various dancing and ritual postures angled between the upper walls and the over hanging eaves. All the figures are interesting to watch, as they depict how people lived back then. The one above the main entrance to the left is a famous one, which is a lady admiring her beauty in the mirror.

As you step into the main temple, the first thing you will notice is the pillars. There are a total of 48 pillars and all are unique in shape and decoration. In front of the shrine (the room with the Vishnu statue) is a round dancing stage which has a gorgeous looking ceiling and four more of those madanikas.

One of the interesting pillars is on the south-east side of the dancing stage, called Narashima Pillar, which the guide told us it used to rotate on its axis amazingly. The carvings on the pillar are just breathtaking. There is one small blank space, which is said to be left that way intentionally by the sculptor, challenging others to fill the space. Nice touch!

Another pillar which is closer to the shrine is also noteworthy. According to the guide, who seems to be in love with the woman carved on the pillar (^^), she is considered to be the most beautiful woman in the world. Forget Cleopatra or Nefertiti or Mona Lisa or Julia Roberts! What's her name? I forgot... :(

The guide was really into explaining why she was the most beautiful one. Long slanted eyes, curvy eyebrows, round face, fat lips, etc.

He even mentioned how her second toe is longer than the first one, which is considered to be important.

Guess what my hubby did immediately. He checked my toes :D