Carte Blanche, Pondicherry

Pondicherry is well known for it's French influence. Hence, it would only be customary for one to visit one of the many French restaurants in the area. We paid a visit to Carte Blanche, a French restaurant located in Hotel de L'Orient along Rue Romain Rolland in the French quarter.

This quaint little upscale restaurant offers French and Indian dishes in a very French setting. The candle-lit courtyard provides the setting for the ultimate romantic dinner. The only thing missing was the music of the accordion, but even without - the ambiance was simply one of a kind.

For appetizers, I ordered a Chilled Cream of Apple and Almond Soup. Similar to gazpacho (in terms of the temperature), the cream in the soup brought the sweetness of the apples and flavors of the almonds together, and the chill brought the dish some novelty.

I ordered myself the forbidden meat here in India, a Beef Steak with Garlic Butter and Roasted Baby Potatoes, priced at Rs300 (RM20). I also made the mistake of ordering the steak well-done. Stupid, I know, but nevertheless the garlic butter brought about the natural flavors of the meat, which was also quite tender.

My grand-aunt ordered the Chicken Roulade with Mushroom Sauce and Sauteed Vegetables worth Rs250 (RM16). The chicken was slightly overcooked, though it was wonderfully flavored with thyme, and accompanied the chunky mushroom sauce very well. The vegetables were crisp, and naturally sweet.

My grandparents, not as willing to try a different cuisine, ordered the Kadai Chicken worth Rs250 (RM16). This north Indian curry was not as spicy as the kind in the south, though you could taste the flavors of saffron and coriander throughout, and there was an abundance of tender chicken pieces.

We also ordered a dish of Pondicherry's renowned Creole cuisine - a fusion of Indian and French food. The White Chicken Curry worth Rs250 (RM16)was truly unique. The curry sauce, made with almond paste and cream, was truly comfort food. The creaminess of the curry and the spiciness, showed the cuisine's marriage of Tamil dynamism and French restraint perfectly.

My grandparents ate their Kadai Chicken with some Chappatis which were priced at Rs20 (RM1.50) for 2 pieces. We were also served complementary Bread with Home-made Butter. The butter was amazingly delicious, and I could not get enough. It compensated the stale bread pieces, which I'm assuming are old baguette pieces.

Finally, for dessert we all shared an Earl-Grey flavored Creme Brulee worth Rs120 (RM8). The texture of the dish was amazingly creamy, and the flavor of the tea permeated the custard. The only down-side was that there was not much caramelized sugar on top, which I sort of like, nonetheless - no complaints here.

In conclusion, Carte Blanche was truly an amazing experience. The setting itself, was to die for. The food was pretty good too, and the staff were amazingly friendly and interacted a lot with my grandpa, whom I could tell was loving the experience. Definitely a 'must-visit' on your itinerary here.

Presentation: 7/10

Ambiance: 9/10

Service: 8/10

Overall Taste: 7/10

General Impression: 8/10




Le Cafe on Pondicherry Beach

I spent one of my lunchtimes in Pondicherry at Le Cafe. This quaint sea-side cafe exposes tourists and locals alike with cafe culture, a way of life that Pondicherry is synonymous for.

Neither one of my grandparents or my grand-aunt (who is a local) have experienced this before, and hence, they were quite eager to try it. Le Cafe's address is very prestigious as it is located along Goubert Avenue, right next to the Ghandi Statue.

In the summer weather, each of us ordered cold drinks.My grandmother ordered herself a cold Plain Lassi worth Rs50 (RM3.50). This chilled Indian yogurt drink was loved by my grandmother who drank every bit of it up.

I ordered my grand-aunt a Vanilla Milk Shake worth Rs65 (RM4). My grand-aunt, absolutely loved it, and so did I. The ice-cream, which was homemade, combined with the fresh cow's milk gave the shake more quality and taste than it was worth.

I ordered myself an Iced Latte worth Rs90 (RM6). To my surprise, it also came with a scoop of ice-cream, an interesting addition. The latte however, was a let-down. I could not taste the coffee at all, and it ended up tasting a lot like the milk shake we ordered. There's something about Indians and weak coffee I do not understand.

To eat, my grandfather ordered himself a Sauteed Mushroom Sandwich worth Rs105 (RM7). This sandwich was an interesting one, as it was filled with mushrooms and raw cucumbers - a combination of which I did not understand, but worked. Nothing big about this dish, but it was tasty nonetheless.

My grandmother and I shared a Grilled Chicken with Mustard Sauce worth Rs170 (RM11). A few problems with this dish: Firstly, there was no mustard sauce. Secondly, the chicken was rock-hard. The only thing I enjoyed were the fries and salad. The portion was quite small too.

My grand-aunt ordered the Chicken Salad with a Mayonnaise Dressing worth Rs105 (RM7). Again, there was no mayonnaise in sight, but there was quite a bit of chicken in the dish, which made it worth it's money. The dish was also cooling, with it's various different types of veg, making it an ideal dish for this weather.

For dessert, we ordered Madeleines priced at Rs30 (RM2) each, and Ice-Cream priced at Rs35 (RM2.50) for two scoops. The madeleines were delicious, with a subtle yet evident hint of cinnamon, and the ice-creams (homemade) were incredibly decadent and creamy. I absolutely loved it.

In conclusion, Le Cafe does not serve the best food, but they do serve greed drinks and pastries - some of which are on display (such as the croissants and pain du chocolat). If ever you decide to visit this small but bustling city, stop by this joint for some sea-breeze, a coffee and maybe a madeleine or two.

Presentation: 4/10

Ambiance: 7/10

Service: 6/10

Overall Taste: 4/10

General Impression: 6/10





Caravela @ Velankanni, India

After a day of attending masses, visiting shrines and prayer in the blisteringly hot Indian sun, I treated my grandparents and grand-aunts to lunch at Caravela, a restaurant located in a rather upscale hotel, the Clinton Park Inn along Church Main Road, Velankani - India.

Indeed, I was feeling very picky, and in no mood to eat at a road-side stall. So we sat down at the air-conditioned restaurant to order our food. The waiters were kind, though they were reluctant to turn on lights, and the food took quite a long time to arrive.

The food was well worth the wait however, as the Chicken Biryani worth Rs180 (RM12), was unbelievably delicious. The chickens was tender, and in abundance. The dish also came with boiled egg and frankly, I could not get enough of it. Truly one of the best biryani's I've ever had to date.

Then, we ordered some Butter Paneer worth Rs120 (RM8). The panner was nice and firm, though not rock hard, and was submerged in a tangy butter sauce that worked amazingly with white rice. The only complaint about the dish was that the paneer was scarce.

Our next dish was a Green Vegetable Curry of which I do not know the name (my apologies). The curry was worth Rs90 (RM6). I loved this curry, for the fact that it had an interesting flavor. The curry tasted a lot like…parmesan cheese. Once again, the perfect accompaniment to white rice, and the vegetables were nice and crisp.

The Raita that we had was flavored with saffron powder that permeated the yogurt, yet did not overpower it. These Indians seem to get the perfect balance when it comes to spices. My grand-aunt particularly loved this dish a lot.

For dessert, everyone had some Indian Ice-Cream, two scoops costing Rs60 (RM4). The ice cream, by the brand of Amul, was one of the most creamiest ice-creams I've ever had. I kid you not. India would be one of the last places I'd find ice-cream as creamy as this.

My grandfather had Gulab Jamoon (deep fried ghee balls) with Ice Cream worth Rs80 (RM5). The gulag jamoons were large and contained little sugar syrup (a balance which I simply love). Though the combination of ice-cream and this…just didn't work for me.

I ordered myself a South Indian Coffee worth Rs60 (RM4). This coffee, with the exception of the coffee my grand-aunt makes, was my best coffee to date. It was strong enough to fit my expectations, and for once - I was able to add sugar to it and sweeten it to the level I wanted.

Though slightly overpriced, by local Indian standards, I had no problems paying because it unbelievably cheap by standards in Malaysia. The food was unbelievably yummy and most importantly - authentic. The restaurant setting is the best setting you could possibly get in the dusty town of Velankanni, and the hotel's rooftop garden poses the best possible view you can get of the pilgrimage town. Definitely a 'must visit' if ever you go there.

Presentation: 6/10

Ambiance: 7/10

Service: 4/10

Overall Taste: 9/10

General Impression: 8/10




My Food Diaries - India, Day 3


On our way to the pilgrimage site of Vellankani, we stopped at the town of Karaikal to have breakfast at a restaurant named Tasty (I know, very original), located in Hotel Paris (once again, very original) along the Karaikal Main Road.

I had myself a Ghee Dosa, and indeed - it was the largest dosa I have ever had. The dosa (which spanned about the length of my arm) was unfortunately quite salty in comparison to what I'm used to, and lacked ghee (Indian butter).

It was very filling, however, and the servings of Tomato Chutney, Coconut Chutney and Dhall Curry were quite tasty, though they were no match in comparison to the chutney my grand-aunt makes.

My breakfast was also accompanied with some Indian Coffee. The coffee, though a hit with my grandpa, was too weak for me, and to be honest - tasted like sweetened, boiled milk. It was pleasant, though had no hint of coffee whatsoever.


For Lunch, I took my grandparents for Indian food at a restaurant called Caravela. Please read the review HERE.



My Food Diaries - India, Day 2


For breakfast, I had Appam with Tomato Chutney. The Appam was sweet, soft and fluffy - qualities which are rare with the appams back home. The sweetness of the appam contrasted with the saltiness of the chutney. As for the chutney, the coconut added a depth of flavor whilst the green chillies added much needed spice.

As usual, breakfast here was served with some slices of amazingly sweet Indian Mango, and a glass of Indian Coffee with Fresh Cows-milk. Breakfast of a maharaja yet again.


My grand-aunt prepared a sumptuous feast for the senses. Each dish provided them with different colors, textures and tastes. The Vegetable Biryani was subtle in flavor, yet contained hints of star-anise and coriander.

The Chicken Kurma (not pictured) was filled with chicken slices that literally came off the bone - having been cooked to perfection. The kurma was also subtle in flavor yet enough to complement the rice, rather than overpower it.

We also had Chicken 65 (blurred in the foreground) which contained juicy pieces of chicken, marinated in turmeric and chili powder, deep-fried till crisp and hot. The dish puts KFC to shame.

In the middle, was my portion of Beetroot Salad with onion, boiled egg and sweetened yogurt. The juice of the beetroot gave the dish a nice pink hue which contrasted with the rice and chicken. The dish was very cooling, perfect in the hot Indian weather.

To complement our meal, we had Rassam, a sort of Indian soup, flavored with Tamarind and black pepper. Though it was piping hot, it was incredibly refreshing for me, and I drank quite a bit of it.



My Food Diaries - India, Day 1


My beloved grand-aunt prepared fresh Idli with a twist. This unusual rendition of the ever-famous Idli was served with Tomato Chutney. The idli flour was sweetened with sugar and topped with chick-peas and desiccated coconut. The combination of idli and chutney saw a perfect marriage of sweet and salty.

My breakfast was complemented with honey-sweet Mangoes and Coffee with Fresh Cow-milk (not pictured). Now I guess, this is the perfect example of the ultimate Indian breakfast.


Upon visiting some distant relatives for lunch, we were served a feast on banana leaves - similar to what you'd get at Nirwana Maju, though a million times better.

The Biryani Rice was was full of flavor, though subtle enough so as to not overpower the other condiments on our leaf. The chicken in the biryani was so tender that it immediately came off the bone.

The Chicken Curry was flavored with cardamom, cloves and star anise. Personally, the amount of spices this dish contained was too much for me to handle, though I pulled through, eating the dish in the hot, open-air dining room.

The Yogurt with Onions was a nice breeze of fresh air, despite the air itself being as still, hot and humid as ever. The yogurt was incredibly fresh and tasted nothing like the yogurt you get at supermarkets. I gobbled much of it down in an instant.

The Pickled Vegetables gave our palates a nice kick. The sweet and sour tamarind based marinade was a great accompaniment to the rice that we had.

At the very top, the Stir Fried Okra with Desiccated Coconut was a dish I had never tried before. The coconut gave the dish much of it's flavor, and the texture of the okra contrasted with much of the other dishes.

This spread was accompanied with some Jackfruit, a Banana and a slice of that honey-sweet Indian Mango. We also were served Mango Juice as we ate (not pictured). Indeed…mangoes galore.



My take on India

All photographs courtesy of the BrianandRepublic

Yes, my blog has been inactive for quite sometime now, but only because I was on an amazing holiday in India. You heard me, India. Some of you reading would be shocked that I linked the word 'amazing' to a country like India.

A lot of people, especially local Malaysian-Indians, tend to look down on India. I myself am guilty of having such a perception. But after going there to experience India for myself, the question I think we should ask ourselves are - what is there to look down upon?

Yes, the poverty there is far from negligible and the streets are far from spotless. But the truth is that we fail to look beyond the dirty roads and the street beggars. When I was there, the experience I had allowed me to do just that, and what I saw was utterly incredible.

I learnt a lot about Indian history the past two weeks, and was indeed shocked to find out just how long ago our culture dates back to. The many historic temples struck me with awe and wonder. I was even more stuck to find out that my mother-tongue is one of the oldest languages in the world, dating back to the year 300BC.

It was amazing to see the the amount of faith these people had in God when I visited the sea-side pilgrimage town of Velankanni. Hindus, Muslims and Christians; both rich, poor, old and young, came to this town from miles away to pay homage. There was no rivalry, just a common yearning to grow together spiritually.

It was also unbelievable just how resourceful Indians can be. They are grateful with whatever they have and make use of just about anything.They are also very careful about they way they use electricity and water - making them, truly, good friends of mother earth. The world (and myself included) ought to learn a few things from them.

But seeing as this is a food blog, I shall elaborate more on that particular aspect of Indian culture. Food has a special place in Indian culture, which made me think about the impact that this perception on food had on the cultures of Malaysia and Singapore. Our love for food may have just evolved from the Indians themselves.

My grand-aunt is an excellent cook. I call her my 'India mummy' for a reason. Her food is made with the strictest hygiene standards, and are not only nutritious but absolutely delicious. Watching her cook, she incorporates many textures, scents, colours and tastes into her meals, making them a feast for the senses. Her meals are made with much love too.

Though what my grand-aunt does, is simply what each and every Indian cook does (though my grand-aunt does it exceptionally well). Essentially Indian food is, to put it plainly, a feast for the senses. The beauty of Indian cuisine is that there is much experimentation with the cuisine, with no right or wrong combo of flavors to use.

I've documented the food that I've eaten and the restaurants I've visited, giving you an insight into what Indian food is all about, and the experiences I've had in India's culinary scene. I enjoyed the entire culinary experience very much, and if it's one thing I'll definitely miss - its the food.

Looking back at my stay - the dusty roads and chaos added a nice charm to the place, rather than being a hindrance. It added to the experience that was India. With the rituals, tastes, sights, smells, people, beliefs and history - India isn't just a place, it's a way of life.

Much more to come...