NO MORE aloo matar
Mela: good food and good music Photo: Sampath Kumar G.P.
BANGALOREANS ARE clearly not happy with the palak paneers, aloo matar, and channa masalas being offered to them in most restaurants in the name of North Indian food. If the increasing popularity of two-month-old Mela on K.H. Road is anything to go by, they are hungry for variety.
What sets Mela apart from most restaurants is the way food is prepared. For instance, the mild-flavoured machchi tikkas (boneless fish cubes), marinated in spices and cooked in cream and yoghurt in a tandoor, make for a tasty starter. The other options include adrak ke panje, lamb chops with a touch of ginger and spices, cooked in a charcoal pit like the tangdi kababs (marinated chicken drumsticks). These starters come with chutney made with pudina and yoghurt.
The food tastes unique because the spices are not bought readymade, but prepared exclusively in Mela's kitchen. The restaurant has an expert who has designed five signature dishes for it, of which two dishes murg hyderabadi kuram and mahi khalia already feature in the menu. The others will soon join them. Mela has eight chefs, brought in from Nainital, Allahabad, and Orissa.
The other unique offerings at Mela are murg hyderabadi korma (chicken delicacy flavoured with yoghurt and chiroli nuts) and mahi korma (fiery Hyderbadi home speciality). The menu also offers murg masalam, which is a spiced and minced chicken delicacy, the gosht korma (lamb chunks cooked in curd and coconut gravy), and gosht kolhapuri rassa, which is mutton in gravy spiced with mace and sesame.
For seafood patrons, Mela offers the Goan fish curry (cooked in coconut milk and flavoured with cocum) and the Bengali maccha jhol. In the rice platter, it offers a wide range of biriyanis that also include an unusual prawn biriyani. The Indian bread section offers kheema naans, stuffed parathas, stuffed kulchas, and garlic naans.
For vegetarians there are items such as makhi mattar mushroom (a light gravy of sweet corn, green peas, and mushrooms cooked in a white sauce), corn capsicum masala (a combination of baby corn and capsicum in a semi-dry preparation), and a rare bhindi preparation stuffed with masala called bhindi Jaipuri. These go well with the main course too.
You can round off your meal at Mela with a range of desserts and ice creams.
The restaurant, which "experiments with food", plans to change the menu every four months to break the monotony. It also has an extended restaurant-cum-party hall on the roof that accommodates 200 people.
Mela, which can seat 80 people at a go, has a vibrant, yet simple and elegant interior, with soothing music to boot. "Almost 30 per cent of our clientele are those familiar with Mela's previous incarnation, the Jamba Jungle on M.G. Road," says Sunil Chandani, Director, Operations, who has 19 years of experience in the industry.
Mela is open between noon and 3.30 p.m., and between 7 p.m. and 11.30 p.m.. It also undertakes outdoor catering and soon plans to start smaller restaurants in the city. Mela can be contacted on 2129020/2993666.
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