Tag Archives: Bhelpuri

Indique Heights – Indian Food That Hits All The Right Notes

By Lakshmi:

Chevy Chase, Maryland, a suburb of Washington DC occupies a very special place in our hearts.  It is where we lived, went to school and worked when we moved from India to the US.  Each time we return, we are overjoyed to go back and stay at a place we called home for many years.  This time was no different and what made Christmas day extra special was an incredibly beautiful, satisfying meal at Indique Heights.

Located right above the Friendship Heights metro station, Indique Heights is located right at the District/Maryland line.  As you come off the escalators and approach the restaurant, you are transported from a very modern commercial building to the ambiance of a home in India thousands of miles away.

A beautiful traditional swing occupies a prime location while comfy seating flanked by beautiful, colorful Indian artwork makes for a very relaxing lounging experience.  We turned up without reservations on a day when most restaurants were closed and the restaurant was packed.  We loved the excuse to linger, sit on the swing and take pictures.

The dinner menu at Indique Heights, carefully curated by Chef Vinod brings together an eclectic combination of Indian street food with north and south Indian cuisine. For those tired of the same repertoire of dishes served at many an Indian restaurant, the dishes here can be a beautiful, new sensory journey.

We started with the street food appetizers – Papri Chaat (flour crisps, potato, chick peas, yogurt, cilantro & tamarind Chutney), Bhel Puri (rice puffs, crispy gram flour noodles, cilantro, tamarind chutney) and the Mini Dosas (crepe made with a fermented batter of lentils and rice).  Everything was fresh and hit every sensory bud.  Spicy, Tangy, Sweet….my mouth waters just thinking about the flavors.  Sathya was so in love with the Mini Dosa that she went for seconds and thirds, till the restaurant loving her enthusiasm comped her a few more!

Given our vegetarian group, we ordered a thali (an assortment of vegetarian dishes with bread, rice and dessert), a biryani with rice and veggies, and some naan bread with  kadai paneer.  Unlike some of the grease filled dishes served by their brethren, the food here was light, with the spices bringing out the richness of the individual flavors, leaving one wanting to decipher the various ingredients making up the exquisite taste.

After all this food, there was not much room for dessert, but given the family’s staunch belief that life is too short to live without dessert, we indulged on that front as well.  An assortment of gulab jamun (deep-fried dough balls in sugar syrup) and some ice cream completed the meal.

To us, it was the perfect culmination to a beautiful day spent with family and friends in a city we adore.

Many years ago, Chef Vinod had catered my brother’s wedding when he had just one small restaurant in Rockville Maryland.  Now, he has multiple restaurants in the area and the food at Indique Heights leaves no unanswered questions on why Vinod and his restaurants are successful.

If you are in the DC area and in the mood for Indian food, do give them a try.  You can read more about them, their locations and more at

http://www.indiqueheights.com/

Juhu Beach – Many Shades of Life in Mumbai

By Lakshmi:

Who?  Anyone visiting Mumbai who wants to experience the many shades of life in the city on a beach.

What? Juhu Beach is located in the suburbs of Mumbai.

How? You can take a taxi, auto or a public bus to the beach.  The JW Marriott in Mumbai is located on this beach.

Why? Growing up in Mumbai, Juhu Beach was a favorite economical Sunday outing.  It was a few minutes from home, we got fresh air and cheap food and occasionally bumped into a movie set as an added treat.

Recently, I got to spend about three weeks at the JW Marriott in Mumbai and this gave me the opportunity to experience many facets of a Mumbaikar’s life on the beach.  First, given the shortage of space in Mumbai and most people living in cramped quarters, Juhu Beach is this wide open space that serves as an oasis and a great equalizer across all socio-economic classes.

An early morning outing on the beach provides a profusion of life scenes.  There are joggers and walkers getting their early morning exercise.  The less intense workouts are accompanied by conversations around challenges faced at home, issues in the office and of course a plethora of tips on the SENSEX and what stocks to invest in.   One or more groups of yoga enthusiasts get busy doing their “surya namaskar” and other asanas.  Even in this early hour, you are suddenly jolted by the yell of kids playing soccer on one end and cricket on the other.  You see a few couples in a distance walking and talking before getting into another crazy day in the city.  There are a few solitary garbage collectors, cleaning up while looking to see if there is anything that is salvageable from the trash of the day.  And let’s not forget the city’s many stray dogs.  While a few run along uninvited with beach joggers, others are fighting or congregating around discarded food.  The many food stalls stand deserted at this early hour and in the backdrop you can see the buses already starting to transport hordes of people to their daily destinations.

Fast forward to the evening and while you still have fitness enthusiasts working out, there are crowds of people of every shape, color and size that descend on the beach in droves, suddenly flooding the beach with a profusion of every color imaginable.  The food stalls now are humming with action and the smell of all of Mumbai’s well loved junk food including bhel puri, pani puri, ragda patties and more permeates the air.  Couples are cute feeding each other or sharing shaved ice “gollas”.  Kids are building sand castles and nagging parents for the cheap toys and balloons sold by street vendors.  As the sun goes down, people slowly, partially unwillingly get up to go home, having enjoyed their small piece of bliss in a tough city.