Biryani Review – Behrouz Biryani (Multiple Outlets, Hyderabad)

Today, I am reviewing a a biryani ‘PALACE’ I’ve heard about quite often in the past but never really got around to trying…. Behrouz!

Every Hyderabadi knows that if there is one thing that we cannot resist, it is Biryani. We are known for making it, for eating it and for discussing it everywhere we go. So, naturally, I have to do justice to my local heritage. Here it goes!

As usual, we have three major parameters that we are going to judge this by:

  1. Delivery / Service
  2. Packaging
  3. Food

Delivery / Service:

I am particularly pleased to say that their service was amazing. Due to personal constraints, I placed an order four days in advance and I then forgot about it. But they did not. They came on the scheduled date, at the scheduled time and delivered my food promptly. Definitely not disappointed.

I give the service 5/5.

Packaging:

This was the part which I was enthralled about. The packaging was GORGEOUS. I did not know that the biryani box could look better than the biryani itself! Okay, enough gushing. See for yourselves…

I give the packaging 5/5.

Food:

The biryani box came with a generous portion of biryani, a tiny portion of raitha and two gulab jamuns. This satiated my craving for biryani as well as my insatiable sweet tooth. There also was a tiny sachet of cardamom powder which was so delightful.

Starting with the biryani, one thing I noticed first was the delicious spread of dry fruits. The vegetables were scrumptiously fried to the right extent and the tandoori paneer was perfect – crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside. One thing I didn’t like, however, and this is my own personal opinion – is that there was far too much dry spice to it. That, I am sure, will be a definite treat for those who relish that kind of food.

Coming to the gulab jamun… what can I say? They were filling, juicy and such a wonderful touch to the end of a lovely meal.

I give the food 4/5.

Overall:

An experience I don’t regret. Good food, great taste and lives up to the Hyderabadi vibe!

Final rating: 4/5
Verdict: Go for it!

Behrouz Biryani Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The Elephant Chaser’s Daughter, An Awaited Memoir

 

Amidst the lull of three generations lies a tale so splendid that it is sure to awaken our minds and spirits. Such is the story of The Elephant Chaser’s Daughter which promises to show a glimpse into the backward society that we often fail to realize as a part of our own. Set in the backdrop of a tiny village down in the south of India, the book talks about the taboo that surrounds the ‘untouchables’.

Coming from one such family herself, Shilpa Anthony Raj is the first person to recall her own memories and showcase her livelihood from an insider angle. Delving into societal issues such as poverty, discrimination and hardships, The Elephant Chaser’s Daughter deals with some major hindrances that can be related to. Shilpa’s ease and flow make the writing all the more diverse, showcasing a unique perspective towards our societal issues. The writing follows a narrative style that makes the connection with readers more personal.

For decades spanning over centuries, the upper castes have been crudely dominating the voices of those beneath them – thereby forming the main essence of portrayal. As the title suggests, this first person memoir is one of its kind in the way it captures pain without glorifying circumstances. While each minute detail has been painstakingly written to the most realistic possible sense, there are multiple undertones, characteristic portrayals and sequences that surpass the worst that can be left to imagination.

Caught between the world where the burden of suppression looms large and the world of windows where opportunities come through, Shilpa’s has a question of a lifetime. Where does she truly belong? It is the author’s ability to rise beyond the oppression and continue to pursue her passions relentlessly despite the traditional values weighing her down that forms the central theme of the memoir.

Shilpa’s journey of self-discovery highlights the pages of the book and has created quite a buzz right before its release. Expectations are high on this one and they all, I am sure, will be met. The Elephant Chaser’s Daughter is already available for orders since 10th of July, so, you can get the book before it’s launched officially on 28th this month! Block your calendars!

 

Pizza Review: Oven Story Pizza (Multiple Outlets, Hyderabad)

Today, I am reviewing a place I am SUPER excited about. Oven Story Pizza.

I have been WAITING to try this place out for ages. Because I love Pizza. We ALL love Pizza. So, anyway, when I got approached for an honest review, there was NO way I was going to say no. Thus began my Oven Story journey. Check it out!

We have three major parameters that we are going to judge this by:

  1. Delivery / Service
  2. Packaging
  3. Food

Delivery / Service:

I asked for my food to be delivered around 8:30 PM and I got a call at 8:15 to confirm the address. I was very happy with the service as the Pizza was delivered piping hot, with decent quantity of seasonings and was on time.

I give the service 4.5/5.

Packaging:

Whenever I order food, I love to look at the packaging quality. Given the number of Pizza outlets and the competition, especially in Hyderabad, I was enthralled to see how Oven Story would stick out.

The packaging is very cute, just like the store’s name and I thought it was perfect.

I give the packaging 5/5.

Food:

Now, the Pizza! *Drum Roll*. The moment I opened the box, I was welcomed by the sight of the generous toppings and oozing cheese. Definitely no complaints! The Medium Pizza looked quite big, stuffed with toppings and mouth-wateringly delicious.

I ordered the Peri Peri Tandoori Paneer Pizza and I was surely not disappointed. The first slice, I believe, is the make or break slice. As I carefully picked my slice, trying not to let ANYTHING topple, I was in awe.

First bite? Scrumptious.

It was then that I knew that Oven Story is probably the only decent competition to Domino’s (Haters, stay away!) that I have come across. Just one word. AMAZING. I will relish the taste for a long, long time to come.

I give the pizza 5/5.

Overall:

A fabulous experience that made me want more instantly. Oven Story is now the crowned glory.

Final rating: 5/5
Verdict: You Wont Regret It!

Ovenstory Pizza Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Wraps Review: Faaso’s (Begumpet, Hyderabad)

Today, I am reviewing a quickly growing brand called Faaso’s.

The delight of receiving a food delivery is unmatched. The anticipation when the delivery guy calls for the address, the rumble in the tummy when you know the food is nearby, the excitement of getting to eat something that you hope will be delicious… Every single phase of the above is unmatched. This time, I wasn’t disappointed.

Let me take a shot at reviewing Faaso’s with three major parameters:

  1. Delivery / Service
  2. Packaging
  3. Food

Delivery / Service:

I asked for my food to be delivered around 8 PM and I got a call at 7:45 to confirm the address. The guy delivering my food was extra sweet, very respectful and quite quick too. He handed over the food and I couldn’t wait to begin.

I give the service 4.5/5.

Packaging:

This was the most thrilling part for me. I LOVE the way Faaso’s does its packaging. It’s vibrant, colourful and just makes the food all the more tempting. The wraps came in cute boxes that were so endearing. Bonus points for all that colour and excellent marketing strategy for sure.

I give the packaging 5/5.

Food:

Now, the main part. The Food. I ordered two wrap, one vegetarian and the other Non-Vegetarian. They were both piping hot which complimented a rainy Hyderabad perfectly. The outside was fresh and soft, which was quite a relief given the number of stale and hard wraps I’ve eaten in the past from other restaurants.

Coming to the fillings, they were hot, delicious and melted in the mouth. I specifically loved the Faaso’s masala that came with it.

Definitely an excellent meal.

I give the food 4.5/5.

Overall:

It was a genuinely great experience. I surely didn’t regret it even one bit. I recommend this to anyone who has a flavor for fast food, varied taste buds and / or loves Non-Vegetarian food because these guys surely know what they are doing.

Final rating: 4.5/5
Verdict: Just go for it!

Faaso's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato/

Shilpa Raj, An Exciting New Arrival

Sweet Sixteen. A young age for discovery, expression, and inspiration. For Shilpa Raj, it marked the literary beginning of a lifelong journey. With a mindset to become an author, she began a fruitful research into her past that centered on the hardships her family faced, as she strung together decades of memories to form the basis for her central theme. Now, at 23, she is ready to showcase what can only be anticipated as a debutant’s masterpiece.

The Elephant Chaser’s Daughter’ is a memoir of the harsh experiences that multiple generations of her family has had to endure. What I find enthralling about this book is that Shilpa is the first person of her age from the ‘untouchable’ community of three hundred million to write about the unimaginable hardships, indignity and violence experienced as an insider.

Coming from a background that is downtrodden, this inspiring young woman has risen strong, representing those like her whose dreams are shattered by unending trauma and lack of opportunity. It is admirable how Shilpa has taken it upon herself to become a role model, not only through her words but also through her deeds. Shilpa spends her free time counselling those from similar backgrounds and also teaches English.

In the seven years that it took to build this narrative, Shilpa also became the first member in her family to complete her higher education with an MSc in Psychological Counselling. Her hobbies span towards photography and dancing, both of which she embraces with the same passion she has for writing. To add another feather to her cap, she is also a major part in a Netflix Original Documentary titled ‘Daughters of Destiny’ which tells the lives of five young women, Shilpa included, who have had the courage and the determination to rise from the ashes. This series is awaiting release around the same time as her book.

The Elephant Chaser’s Daughter is all set to hit the stores by the 28th of July and will definitely prove to be a stellar display of raw emotions, complex perspectives and empathetic instances that will linger in readers’ minds for a long time. Stay tuned to this section for further updates!

Book Review: If Wishes Were Horses by Tim Hemlin

I just read If Wishes Were Horses by Tim Hemlin which is a collection of short stories. Here is what I thought…

BOOK COVER:

I personally did not find the cover too appealing. It was dull and not catchy at all. I feel like something different can be done too make it attractive.

Cover Rating – 2.5 / 5

TITLE JUSTIFICATION:

I loved the title. It’s from a famous quote “If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.” It is catchy and interesting. Makes a person want to grab the book and give it a read.

Title Rating – 4.5 / 5

Theme

This is the first part of a mystery series by Tim Hemlin centered around the character “Neil Marshall”. It has a ‘Richard Castle’ vibe to it from the famous ‘Castle’ series. This book is a gripping tale of an emotionally damaged and financially unstable man whose passion is literature. When circumstances require for him to work for a restaurant an move in with his friend, he finds himself trapped in a sticky situation. This is centered around his friend’s murder and the horses he breeds for a living.

What really shone through was the research and the situations that the author very clearly has thought through thoroughly. It is impeccable and shows the passion that he has towards writing. I really commend him for his skill. The narration is done very cleanly, without even a little confusion and the style of writing is very clear.

There aren’t any major grammatical errors. The suspense is maintained very well throughout the book.

Rating – 4 / 5

OVERALL IMPRESSION:

All in all, this was a great read and something I would definitely recommend to anyone who is interested in mysteries or thrillers.

Final Rating: 4.5 / 5

Verdict: Recommended!

Order Now!

My new novel, ‘Twisted’ is now out in stores. Take a peak into the sample chapters and order your copy today at Amazon!

Read Sample Chapters of ‘Twisted’ for FREE!

Hey Guys!
My new book ‘Twisted’ is now out in stores. So, I thought I would share the first two chapters with you all so that you can read it and decide if you would like to buy the book! Order links will be at the end of this post.

Prologue

The umbrella refuses to open.

I look around the crowded street, wondering if anyone is watching me struggle with the inanimate object. But they are too busy trying to escape the rain. So, I try one more time. Another gust of wind threatens to blow my clothes off me as I cling onto my skirt for dignity’s sake, muttering curses out loud for choosing to wear it on this particular day. The air is filled with the scent of moist earth. 

As I step out onto the curb, looking up at the sky, I warn it not to shower all over me. Just then, a drop plops onto my nose, making me flinch. I begin fishing in my bag for a tissue, squinting awkwardly as the drop rolls down the tip of my nose and hangs there precariously, threatening to fall off if I don’t act immediately. 

Then it happens.

As if in a movie, it drops in slow motion, staying mid-air for a very long time. Then it suddenly splashes to the ground with a deafening noise that I know only I can hear. As it touches the floor, it bursts into a million, tiny, colourful droplets and I look up, to see if anyone around me even notices my presence. That is when I realize in horror that everything has come to a standstill.

Literally.

The adults stop walking, the children aren’t crying anymore and the cars freeze in the same position. Movement no longer exists. But before I can react, I feel a hand on my shoulder. 
“Mom,” I say smiling, without turning.
I don’t need to turn around to know who it is. It has to be her. That cold palm on my shoulder is a touch that I have known for so many years in my life that it no longer feels like a surprise.
“How could you tell?” she chuckles as I face her, taking in her beauty.
The sight of my mother fills my heart with more warmth than dread.
“Your fingers,” I say, laughing. “I’ve known them for years.”
“You looked beautiful last week,” there is a glint in her eyes.
I frown, trying to remember meeting her seven days ago. I would have remembered if it happened. I turn back towards the colourful droplets in an enthusiastic attempt to show them to her. But they are gone. The people around me begin to move again, minding their own lives. When I face my mother, she is gone too.

It is weird that I still wish to be with her every single day, that I want her to love me like she used to. I want to live in the same house with her again, instead of in my own. I am 35 years old with a child and a husband. So much of my life has gone by but that is not really why it is weird. 
It is because I haven’t ‘seen’ her since 18th September, 20 years ago.
Because that is the day she died.

 

Chapter 1

“Are you really that desperate?” he asks, cocking his eyebrow like he just won the ‘Comment of the Year’ Award.
“Excuse me?” I look at him angrily.
“You heard me! You are pathetic!” He shakes his head at me. “Get out of my house.”
I glare at him. My fists clench.
“I am not paying you anything,” he says, “Do whatever you want.”
But instead of punching him, I reach into his bulging shirt pocket, pull out a wad of cash and say in my most professional voice, “Thank you, Sir. That should cover your cable bill for the month. Oh, and I appreciate the generous tip.”
He looks at me, confusion written across his face.
Then, he grits his teeth.
“What is this? Are you a thief now or did you just want an excuse to touch me?”
I sigh, turn around and start walking away. This client is just not worth talking to.
Yes, before you ask, I work at a cable company. My job is to collect money personally from defaulters. Generally it is only from the women but I suppose there must have been some sort of mix-up.
It isn’t glamorous work, but at least the pay is good.
Okay, fine, I admit it. I hate what I do. Especially when the clients are this repulsive.
“Hey lady!”
I turn around and look at him.
“How do I know you aren’t stealing my money and that you really are from the cable company?”
“I have a badge, sir!”
“So? You could be a prostitute with a stolen badge for all I know!”
I fight the urge to kill him and instead, continue to stare at him like an idiot. It has finally happened. Words have failed me. If only my husband could see this now!
As I look away, it hits me.
This man is accusing me of selling my body. He is accusing me of being a thief. What is worse is that I am letting him get away with it. A wave of feminism surges through me. Women do not deserve to be treated this way. If this was a man in my place, they would be bonding over chilled beer or at least a cup of coffee before ending this on a peaceful note. But this man is trying to take advantage of me because I am a woman. I refuse to let him.
Gritting my teeth, I turn back and barge into his living room.
“Look, mister! You have no right to insult me that way!”
“It is not my fault that you work at that disgusting place. I haven’t been able to watch a single thing for more than two weeks.”
“Well, if you weren’t so cheap, maybe we wouldn’t have had to cut the cable connection!”
“Look who is talking about being cheap,” he snorts. “You are in my house, begging me for money and I am the cheap one?”
“Look. I don’t appreciate this. You have called me a lot of names just because I am doing my job. I could call the company and have you removed from the customer list.”
“Oh, really?” he challenges. “Then you really will be out on the streets doing god knows what. Customers come first. Remember that… No matter what you end up doing.”
His double innuendos enrage me. Over my dead body, I think.
If I were to sleep with someone for cash, which is what he is implying, I would definitely be very choosy.
Err, I mean, I am married! Married women do not sleep around.
Looking around frantically, I find a glass of water on his dining table and pick it up. In a moment of rage, I hurl the water at him. For good measure, I also throw the glass at his face. Even though he ducks, I feel proud.
“Jerk,” I spit. Not very original, but at least it’s something.

As I am descending the stairs, my face burning with anger, paranoia strikes me. What if he is dangerous? What if he chases me and kills me in the middle of this empty street? There isn’t a single house or person in sight. Who’s going to save me? Oh my God, does he have a gun? You can get those weapons anywhere these days!
That is when I start running. At this point, you have to know something. I have always been terrible at sports. I failed in PT class, was never picked in games period and often faked an ailment during Sports Tryouts. So, needless to say, running is not my thing. But I manage to get into my car, panting, my hands shaking so badly that I can’t insert the key properly.
A sudden knock on my window makes me freeze.
Without looking, I scream loudly (Also not my thing so you can imagine how weird I sounded) as I force the key in and floor the accelerator at once. There is a sudden jolt, the car rams into a tree, the safety balloon bursts, I feel a shooting pain in the side of my head and before I know what has happened, I blank out.
Death is my last thought.

***

When I open my eyes, everything is hazy. But eventually, as I adjust to the surroundings, I see that I am now in a white room. For a second, I think I am in an asylum. Oh my God, I gasp in my head. I have finally been diagnosed as insane. But then I realize it is actually a hospital. I close my eyes, trying to remember what had happened.
Nothing.
No memory, whatsoever. I have no recollection of what put me in this room.
Realizing that there is no point in stressing over something that I have no clue about, I start looking around instead. Out the glass pane, on my right, I see my husband on the other side.
He is talking to someone, smiling. The person he is talking to is the doctor. My doctor. I know, because he has a stethoscope around his neck. This is proof enough that I haven’t lost my mind completely. Yet.
I relax a little. Just then, something happens. The room starts to spin, very slowly at first but then it gains speed. I panic, looking around, desperately hoping that my husband turns my way so that he can help me. Is this what death feels like, a horrible merry-go-round?
Clutching the sides of the bed till my knuckles turn white, I start breathing heavily. The terrifying sound of my own heartbeat is replaced by a piercing noise. Instantly, I turn to face the glass window. It is slightly cracked, almost invisible. But then, it starts spreading like the branches of a tree, getting bigger and bigger till the whole glass looks like a spider web of cracks. Then, it shatters. I flinch, expecting the tiny bits to come and cut me into shreds, but nothing happens. I finally open my eyes slightly.
“Honey?”
It is my husband. I sit up and hug him tight, sobbing. I then realize that his face is very unfamiliar to me and that sends a jolt down my spine. Feeling awkward, I pull away. The spinning has stopped. Everything is back to normal.
“The window… Spinning… I… Thank you, Anuj. You saved my life”
He smiles but even though I can’t recognize his face, I can tell he is disappointed.
“What happened?” I ask.
“Nothing, sweetheart” he says, kissing me on my forehead as I try not to flinch. “Thank God you are safe.”
It is then that I see his office tag. A very silly detail under the circumstances, surely, but I am drawn to it.
‘General Manager,’ it says, ‘Offshore Technologies.’
Under that is a photo from when he was younger.
But the name on the tag isn’t Anuj.
It is Jay.

 

Synopsis

“It is weird that I still meet my mother almost every day.
I am 35 years old. But that is not why it is weird.
It is because nobody else has seen her since 18th September, 20 years ago.
Because, that is the day she died.”

Meet Ria, the charming woman with an edge. Her life is nearly perfect. Or so it seemed, until one fateful day an accident wipes out parts of her memory. Suddenly, she starts to experience strange visions involving repressed childhood memories which send shivers down her spine.

A man called ‘Anuj’ whom she can’t remember.
The sadness that led to her mother’s sudden death.
Answers that her husband Jay refuses to share.
Secrets begin to resurface and Ria is left with no option but to confront her own fears.

Twisted is a tale of love, family and friendship, where bitter memories and shocking truths drive everyone to the point where they have to decide – Will the relationships crumble to dust or can love really conquer all?

Order Links (Paperback and e-book):

Within India:

Notionpress
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International:

Amazon US
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