Category Archives: Food

Recipes, restaurant reviews, food articles, seasonal eats. Everything you need to know about food.

Restaurant Diaries: Colaba Junction 

A couple of days ago, Dev and I decided to go out for dinner and try a new Mumbai street food restaurant in downtown Toronto. Colaba Junction is located at the corner of College St. and Bay St. It’s a fairly small restaurant with roughly 15-20 seats. The decor of the restaurant is fantastic and well designed. 

When we first arrived, I started looking at the menus hanging against the wall and immediately the cashier asked me to ignore those menus as those were the new menus and weren’t currently valid. 

He handed me a paper menu and told me to order from there. I started looking at the menu realizing it was slightly higher priced than the menu hanging above. So, I jokingly said to the cashier that had we come the next day, we’d probably save a bit of money since the new menu was lower priced. He said, “yeah but there’s nothing I can do about it.” Probably not the best first impression to give a customer that’s about to write a review about you. After that disappointing start, we still ordered tons of food and took a seat as we waiting for it to arrive. 

The arrival of the food was reassuring and had me extremely excited. The presentation was extraordinary and looked amazing. 

Dev ordered the Vegetable Thali and a vara pau and I ordered a Meat Thali. The thalis looked completely different than any of the thalis I’ve ever had before. There was ample food served that could easily feed at least two other people. 

However, the food wasn’t hot, it was lukewarm and by the time we got to our second naan, it was cold. I complained to the cashier that the temperature of the food was quite cold but he assured me that the food was fresh and because of the front door opening it may have gotten cold. 

I later went to order a paratha and noticed the “chef” or guy behind the counter take out a frozen paratha wrapped in plastic; the same way that you receive Shaana parathas from the grocery store. I immediately changed my order and asked for a naan instead hoping that it would be freshly made. Unfortunately, that too looked like a grocery store frozen naan. 

Disappointed and turned off from the frozen naan and paratha, I folded my napkin over my plate and decided to end my meal. 

The curries and gravies taste good aside from the cold temperature. But paying $49+ for two thalis and a vara pau just to receive frozen naan was extremely disappointing; that I didn’t even bother to finish my review of the meal.

Before leaving, I spoke to the cashier again and explained how disappointing it was to see their chef take out frozen naans and parathas from the freezer to serve us and he kind of just shrugged his shoulders as if that was normal. 

This restaurant could have been a big hit with its decor and food presentation, had the food actually been up to the standard it was expected at. Needless to say, we will not be visiting or recommending this place to anyone. 

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Restaurant Diaries: The Great Maratha

Recently, in search for a good Indian restaurant, a friend of my husband’s suggested we visit a former colleague’s restaurant. We try to stay away from friend’s restaurants as we don’t want to dine for free or at a discount. But we’d heard so many good things about this restaurant and I was craving good Indian food, plus anxious to review a new restaurant before the year ended, we decided to visit The Great Maratha. It’s a decent sized restaurant near Eglinton Ave. West and Bathurst. Cozy enough to enjoy a nice meal with family or friends and competitively priced that it doesn’t burn a hole in your wallet. 

We started our meal with Onion bhajiya and the TGM Royal Platter; which came with a side of mint and tamarind chutney. The onion bhajiya was perfectly fried and crispy, as it should be. The Royal Platter consisted of beef seekh kabobs, achari tikka, mint tikka, fish tikka and tandoori vegetables. I found the beef seekh kabobs a bit bland and wanting more spice. But the other items were fantastic and well seasoned.

Our main course consisted of tandoori naan, roti, rice, goat curry and fish curry. The naans and roti were cooked to absolute perfection. Crispy and well-cooked and rice seasoned just enough to compliment the curries with overpowering the tastes.

In general, I am not a fan of fish curry as I have yet to try one that I absolutely love enough to have regularly. Disappointingly enough, this fish curry didn’t do the job either. It had a slight sweetness to it; which for me isn’t how fish should be in a Maharashtran restaurant. I’ve known their food to be more savoury and spicy. But I won’t completely skip this curry. It was well-made, the fish was perfectly cooked. I just there was more of a kick to it.


The goat curry was well seasoned and the chunks of goat just the right amount of tenderness. But again, like the fish curry this too needed a little more heat. 

Overall, the meal was satisfactory and flavourful enough to come back again when craving a good tandoori meal. For three adults and one child, the meal was competitively priced. 

I will definitely be visiting again. But next time may ask for the curries to be slightly spicier. 

Check out their website at: http://www.the-great-maratha.com

Address: 965 Eglinton Ave. West

Phone: (416) 787-1020

Cake Mix Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies 

I recently ran out of flour at home but have promised to make cookies for some of my customers and family. Going through my pantry I found a box of vanilla cake mix and decided to use that to bake some cookies. I followed a simple cookie recipe with the consideration that all my dry ingredients and flavouring was already premixed. 

Needless to say, the cookies turn out amazing and I am still awestruck at how easy this recipe was. After this first recipe turning out delicious, I decided to make a second, third and fourth batch with different ingredients. I used oatmeal and dried cranberries, white chocolate chips and almonds, and a batch of peanut butter chips.

Here’s the quick and easy recipe:

  • 1 box white cake mix (or chocolate)
  • 1/2 cup softened butter
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tbsp vanilla essence 
  • 1/4 cup sugar

Here’s what you do:

  • Preheat oven to 350C.
  • Sift cake mix into mixing bowl, mix in sugar.
  • Add butter, vanilla and eggs and mix until a thick dough is created. 
  • Add extra ingredients (I used oatmeal & chocolate chips) and mix well.
  • Make 1 inch balls and drop on parchment lined baking sheet.
  • Bake for 7-10 minutes depending on how crispy or chewy you want your cookies.
  • Dust with icing sugar if desired and enjoy!

I bake my cookies for a bit longer because Dev likes well-done cookies. But once the top layer is no longer moist and bottoms golden, your cookies are ready. 

Restaurant Diaries: Savera Indian Cuisine

We have visited Savera Indian Cuisine a couple of times over the past few years and it has never disappointed me. Yesterday, when my craving for tandoori food kicked in, D and I decided to revisit Savera to satisfy our cravings. It’s a small restaurant, located on the west side of the city at 815 St. Clair Avenue West. There’s ample parking on the street in front of the restaurant or on a side street just a couple of steps away. 
When we arrived the 7-8 table patio was nearly full and inside the restaurant half full. We decided to sit inside since Nid was with us. I asked for a booster seat for her and 10 minutes later, was given one. It took another 10 minutes for us to receive our menus and water and that too only after I got frustrated and asked the owner who stood lingering around if he could bring us a menu. He apologized and one of the waitresses immediately brought us a menu. Not a good start to the visit but I gave them the benefit of the doubt and decided to stay. 

We ordered the Snack Platter to start; which came with Chicken Tikka, Lamb Kabob, Onion Baji, a Samosa and hot and sweet chutney. The lamb kabob and onion baji  were absolutely delicious. However, the chicken tikka was bland and undercooked. D and I split the samosa in half and just as he was about to take a bite, I pulled it out of his hand. It stunk. It was old and probably spoiled. It had a foul smell to it, like the smell of fungus or food that has been unfrozen and left out to rot. I called over the owner and let him know that there was an issue. He took it away and came back to apologize and asked if we wanted another one and I immediately rejected. A couple of moments later, his daughter Sonya came by our table to ask what the problem was. After explaining that the samosa had gone bad, she apologized, asked if we wanted a replacement item of our choosing and I declined the offer as we had already ordered plenty of other dishes for our meal. 

Sadly, that wasn’t the only disappointing dish we had to experience last night. For our main course, we ordered chicken tikka, chicken curry, fish curry, plain rice and garlic naans. 

Once again, the chicken tikka was bland and a couple of pieces seemed undercooked. The platter had so much onions and cabbage on it, which under normal circumstances I would really enjoy because most restaurants will add some spicy or salty masala to the onions and throw the chicken on top of it. However, here, the onions and cabbage had no seasoning on them just like the chicken tikka. What a disappointment, since the main purpose of our dinner here was to satisfy our tandoori cravings.

As always, D ordered the fish curry expecting perfectly seasoned fish in a spicy curry; which authentically how fish curry should be made. To his disappointment, the fish wasn’t seasoned and had just been placed on the curry. The curry itself didn’t taste bad, it was quite good. But it lacked the spiciness that we had expected. So, he ended up sharing most of my chicken curry instead of enjoying his fish.

The chicken curry was well-made and tasted authentic. It wasn’t spicy but was a perfect mixture of spices and seasoning. The chicken was well-cooked and it really hit the spot. Except for a couple of pieces of chicken, we nearly finished it. The garlic and plain butter naans we ordered with it, perfectly complimented the curry. Besides the lamb kabobs, this was a second favourite dish.

At the end of our meal, we spoke to the owners daughter, Sonya and I let her know how so many dishes were undercooked and flavourless. Being from the Indian restaurant industry for so many years, we recognized one of the chefs as a past colleague of D’s. He came outside to greet us and I mentioned to him how disappointed we were. He too apologized. I mentioned to them that I was a food critic and wrote restaurant reviews for my blog and that sadly, Savera had failed to impress us this time around. 

Sad to say, this little nook on the west-side of the city has left us terribly disappointed and I doubt we’ll be revisiting anytime soon. The 10% manager discount couldn’t justify the price we paid for the undercooked, spoiled food we were served.

Here’s the rating:

Service: 1/5 – we waited over 15 mins for menus, a booster seat for Nid and to be served

Ambiance: 3/5 – Nicely decorated and dimmed lighting. However, with their garage door patio opening, the inside of the restaurant was extremely humid and guests were left sweaty

Food: 1/5 – undercooked, under-seasoned and spoiled food was served to us

Price: 1/5 – Over priced, even after a 10% discount for the spoiled samosa. 

Portion Size: 4/5 – Good size to share

Will we visit again? 1/5 – No

Recommend to a friend? 1/5 – No

Overall Rating: 1/5

Recipe of the Month: Feta-Alfredo Chicken Spring Pasta

IMG_5227Was that title long enough for you? I couldn’t figure out the best way to sum up the medley of flavours in this quick delicious recipe.

This is a quick meal and has everything you need to feel full and satisfied! The prep time takes about 20 minutes and cook time is 10 minutes. You can use an array of fresh or frozen vegetables and pre made Alfredo or Vodka sauce. I made this one with Alfredo because it’s what I had in my pantry.

Here’s what you need: 

  • Half chopped red bell peppers
  • Half stalk chopped green onions
  • A cup of chopped mushrooms
  • A cup of chopped broccoli
  • 1/2 cup of chopped purple cabbage
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese
  • 1/2 cup each of shredded mozzarella and cheddar cheese
  • 1 bottle Alfredo sauce
  • Chilli flakes
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tsp. Paprika
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 3-4 cups pasta of choice

Here’s what you do:


Heat oil, add chopped veggies and sauté until soft. Stir in chicken and cook until tender. Add basil, parsley, salt and pepper and cook on medium heat.


Add Alfredo sauce and half cup water and let boil on medium heat until sauce thickens. Add shredded cheddar and mozerella cheese. Cover and let cook until cheese is completely melted.

FAdd feta cheese and let cook covered, mixing slowly. Remove from heat and let stand uncovered for 5-10 minutes.


Sprinkle with chilli flakes and serve with garlic bread and wine. 

And there you have it; a quick, easy and delicious recipe for those lazy days you can’t figure out what to eat. 

Restaurant Diaries: Nova Ristorante 

 

Nova Ristorante – 2272 Lawrence Ave. East, Scarborough, ON | 416.751.1200

A couple of weeks ago was mine and Dev’s 4 year wedding anniversary and he convinced me to go out for dinner to celebrate the occasion. Still battling vertigo, I was reluctant but he insisted and convinced me that we’ll finally get to try out the recently opened Nova Ristorante, I’ve been dying to try. Thankfully I agreed because it was such a delightful experience.  
Sweet Potato Fries and Spicy Mayonnaise
 

We began our evening with sweet potato fries served with a mildly spicy mayonnaise, Shrimp Fra Diavolo and a side of Italian bread. The fries were absolutely delicious and perfectly crispy, as fries should be. Shrimp Fra Diavolo was savoury and complimented the bread. Had it been slightly spicy, it would’ve been extraordinaire. But nonetheless, it was delicious!  

Shrimp Fra Diavolo – jumbo tiger shrimp in a tomato based chilli sauce
 

For the main course, I choose to try the Penne Areabiata. It was the perfect blend of ingredients, including penne tossed with a onion, tomato and red chillies sauce, sprinkled with Parmesan. It was one of the best pastas I’ve had in a really long time. The chicken was beautifully grilled and seasoned to perfection, while the tomato based sauces lingered on the tongue and really hit the spot. 

Penne Arrabiata – served with grilled chicken
 

Dev loves pesto and decided to order the Winter Pesto Ravioli. Sadly for him, the pesto was bland and watery. The ravioli was over-cooked and mushy. What a disappointment after all the great food we had just eaten. After adding tons of salt, pepper and Parmesan, it still failed to satisfy our tastebuds.  

Winter Pesto Ravioli – garlic and mashed potato ravioli in a parsely pesto sauce
 

Besides the Pesto Ravioli, our meal was delightful and the experience left me craving to come back again to try out the rest of the menu. Our waitress was helpful and informative and even offered to get Dev something else. But he insisted on trying to enjoy his ravioli. The restaurant’s casually, chic decor made for a perfect date-night and Dev and I have decided to come back and try it again. My overall rating for this new, little nook, 4/5!

Want to see more amazing pics of Nova Ristorante’s meals before visiting? Check out their Instagram page @novaristorante or visit their website at www.novaristorante.ca

For more pics of things I’m trying and what I’m up to, don’t forget to add us on Instagram (@ziddi) or follow me on Twitter (@zidditamana).

Pillsbury Crescent Roll Breakfast Wreath

IMG_3584I’ve seen this recipe on Facebook shared by many of my friends and decided to try it out this weekend as a special breakfast meal. It takes the traditional Pillsbury Crescent Rolls and turns it into something exciting, fun and delicious. Dev and Nid loved this breakfast wreath and it went delicious with spicy wedges and bacon.

Here’s what you need:

  • Roll of Pillsbury Crescent Roll dough
  • 1/2 cup grated cheddar or marble cheese
  • 6 eggs
  • 1/2 red bell pepper
  • 1/2 onion
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp. oil

Here’s what you do:

Pre-heat oven to 375°C.

Heat oil in frying pan, add beaten eggs, onions and bell pepper and cook until all scrambled together and 90% cooked. Leave the eggs slightly moist so that they don’t try out when you bake them.

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Sprinkle some flour on your counter and then roll out the dough and cut into triangles.

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Place triangles of dough on parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Stick the widest parts of the triangles together like the image below.

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Sprinkle grated cheese on the inner part of your dough-star and then add scrambled-egg mixture.

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Fold over all of the points of the stars over the eggs and cheese and try to join the points together.

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Place in oven and bake for 20-25 minutes or until pastry is golden-brown.

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Let stand for 2-5 minutes, then cut into slices and serve hot. Enjoy with bacon, Franks Red Hot and wedges!

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