Honestly, I could not come up with a detailed review for this movie! This movie is like any other movie starring Vijay with the usual quota of songs, fight sequences, family sentiments, perverted villains…I think you get the idea. So here is something more straight forward if you are planning to watch the movie.

Reasons to watch Velayudam

  • You are a die hard Vijay fan! Lets face it! The guy dances like a dream and pulls of all the funny punch lines with a serious face
  • You are a sucker for “anna-thangachi” sentiments
  • You like Santhanam – honestly the man did not have much screen footage in the movie but still managed to hold his own
  • You want to kill a few hours of your day doing something senseless
  • You like cheesy songs that go “Chillax Baby”!!! Ughhhh…
  • You like action sequences which are insanely impossible and senseless murder!
  • You like pretty actresses who smile a lot and dance some and don’t do much otherwise. Btw their fashion sense is close to that of the junior artists gyrating in the back ground!!

Reasons not to watch Velayudam

  • You like movies with components like scripts, stories, asthetics etc., These components are blissfully absent in this movie
  • You think heroines should have author backed roles. Please see point 1. Since those components are missing, no matter what Genelia tells the papers none of the heroines have  different or strong character roles. But yes, she does manage to do a good job looking scared and helpless…great expressions! And love the Indi chick look….
  • You hate perverted villains – this movie is so full of them that it is disturbing
  • You like movies that have soulful music and like it when the songs stick to your head when you leave the theatre…all absent in this movie!
  • You are waiting for a “different” movie starring Vijay. I think you would do better to wait until the release of “Nanban”!

All said and done, the first half of the movie which is a mish mash of movies like Anniyan, kandasamy etc., is watchable / bearable. If you do intend on watching the movie please check in your brains outside the theatre!! In case you plan to wait until the DVD release, you should ask your brains to “Chillax” when you watch the movie!


Rajdhani Restaurant

Rajdhani Restaurant

Lunching at this homely restaurant was a truly royal experience. Seated at a window table several stories high above the heart of the city, our Rajsthani culinary journey was truly enjoyable as we enjoyed our thalis with a side order of gazing at the bustle of the city. The royal treatment commenced as a waiter appeared before us with a jug full of water to wash our hands. Most places treat us to a finger bowl at the end of our meal but here we felt like kings and queens as we washed our hands seated at our tables even before the start of the meal!

What followed was a quick “assembly” of the Thali in a very methodical fashion. It was magical as several waiters appeared with loads of hot and fresh food and started filling up the thalis (plates) and the tiny katoris (cups) that were placed in front of us with delicious food. The entire operation took about 3-5 minutes and we were all set to start polishing off a homey looking meal.

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We started off with the refreshing green moong dal salad followed by the puran poli (a.k.a sweet chapathi) and sweet moong dal kachori. Both these dishes were cooked to perfection as they were not too sweet nor greasy. Then there was the dahi vada (thayir vada for our dear Chennaites) – it was the story of a soggy vada and some great yoghurt!  However this was forgiven thanks to the other yummy dishes!

Next came the hot phulkas (chapathis) served with ghee (bliss 🙂 ),teplas and a variety of vegetables and dals. The cluster beans (Gawar Marwadi) was delectable and we learnt another way to cook potatoes after tasting the potato curry (Batata Kari). The capsicum / tomato curry deserves special mention and we were also introduced to the matki dal. If all this was not enough, there was some yummy kadi, spicy dal and sweet dal. I didn’t care much for the sweet dal as I don’t like savory food that tastes sweet.

The waiters appeared every 5 minutes to check if we needed more phulkas or vegetables and our wish was their command as food appeared on our plates with lightening speed. Just when we thought we were done, the dal kichadi, plain rice and curd rice made their appearance. The kichadi tasted like masala bath and the cool and creamy curd rice served with the traditional chilly and mango pickles (yum yum)

Just when we thought we were done, (that was the second time we felt that way) a choice of deserts were  presented.  We had to choose between fruit shrikand, pineapple halwa and badam bhog (this looked like Kesari) or eat all three if we could!!

Then we were finally done! At this point I have to mention that this restaurant is very quick and efficient with its service. The place looks like a huge dining hall (think Rajasthani Udupi Bhavan) with a bright decor. They only serve  thalis which are priced at Rs.325. This is worth the sheer variety of dishes, amazing service and great food. A great place to share a meal with family and friends.

Rajdhani is located at the Food Court @ Express Avenue Mall. Reservations recommended.

Do the “Spice Route”

Do you have a recipe that calls for a particular spice you haven’t heard of? You google it and know what it does but have no clue where to find it…It is not available at the local super market, leaving you lost on how you can get the perfect taste with your recipe.

The spice route located at Express Mall – Chennai, might just have the solution for you. Pure, fresh and rare spices like tomato, onion and garlic powders can be easily scooped off their spice jars and into your recipes. Once you taste their garam masala you will start trading it in for your regular off the shelf masala! Adding a teaspoon of this magic powder to your vegetables or gravies leaves the dish with a twist in terms of fragrance and freshness. The color of their Kashmiri mirch will leave you with a longing to immediately taste “Dum Aloo” with this spice thrown in while their chilli flakes might want you to use them on something other than pizza! They also have the usual spices likes turmeric and coriander powders and their own concoction of sambar and rasam powders, chutney podis etc.,They also stock an impressive collection of dry fruits like California raisins, normal and roasted cashews, almonds, pistachios, apricots, pine nuts and more along with fragrant whole spices such as cinnamon barks, cloves, bay leaves, start anise etc.,

The store has something for every chef. Spanish and desi saffron fight for the attention of gourmet chefs while the vanilla beans inspire you to create an original desert recipe. The cold bar with stuffed olives and sweets tempt the quintessential foodie while the sheer variety of green teas draw in the health buffs and yoga fans.  The store’s interesting collection of food books might just help budding chefs discover the gourmand in them.

The spices are categorized properly and well laid out. This coupled with good lighting gives the store the perfect ambience. The sales folks at the store are polite and helpful and also offer you a whiff of any spice that might interest you. They even offer recipe tips for some of the spices. Here is one: the next time you run out of tomatoes when want to prepare tomato rice you just need to bring out your secret stash of tomato powder.

The products at the store are a bit expensive. But that is the price you pay for good quality, great taste and shopping at Express Avenue! But hopefully you won’t be disappointed….

The store is located next to Max at the Express Avenue Mall, Chennai

La Shaakahari

We were glad to have reserved a table at this spiffily named joint which morphed from a quiet and sparsely populated joint to one that was completely packed with families queuing up for a table. What drew us to this newbie Chennai restaurant was its unique name with a French touch and the vegetarian menu that was a medley of predominantly Indian, Mexican and Italian fare.

We started with the roasted tomato soup which was a refreshing change from the tomato flavored corn flour based soups served across many city restaurants. This was followed by their signature appetizer, the “Lasooni Paneer Tikka”- blocks of paneer marinated in yoghurt and grilled to perfection with onions and green bell peppers laced with just the right mix of garlic and cardamom. We couldn’t resist ordering the “Mexi Potato Skins”, a combination of baked potato skins loaded with corn, green olives and jalapenos topped with parmesan cheese. However it was disappointing to find a solitary olive and jalapeno pepper on corn filled potato boats which didn’t have much flavor. This dish could have benefitted from a traditional Mexican salsa and some sour cream rather than the tomato sauce with which it was served.

Post debating the orders for the main course – there were plenty of choices starting with a range of Italian pastas, Indian, Kashmiri dishes and Sri Lankan dishes with some international recipes like a baguette sandwich and stuffed peppers thrown in for good measure. After much debate we settled for “Missi rotis”, “Garlic Naan”, “Amritsari Chole”, “Dal Makhani”, “Vegetable Biryani”, “P.K.B koftas” – koftas of cashews, almonds and pistachios served in Mughlai gravy, “Mirchi Makkai Di Pyaaz” – a concoction of bell peppers, corn and onions and “Gnocchi”, an Italian hand made pasta.

La Shaakahari

The “Missi Rotis” were tasty – soft and crunchy, the naan was grilled to perfection and the vegetable biryani was pleasing to the tongue. It had the right mix of spices and blended perfectly with the onion raita along with which it was served. Though high on masalas with its taste bordering on bitter The “Amritsari Chole” was digestible! Don’t know what went wrong there but the “Dal Makhani” made up for the chole with its rich flavors. A special shout goes out to the P.K.B koftas with its unique nutty and creamy flavors – this is definitely a must try.

Now for the pasta – Traditionally Gnocchi’s are dumplings made with flour, potato, cheese, herbs and other special herbs and served in an appropriate sauce. What was served was the run of mill small shell store pasta in white sauce simmered with dried herbs with no hint of dumplings or the flavor of potatoes. Being a lover of Italian food I was extremely disappointed and even explained this to the chef who was kind enough to listen to my rants on the subject and was gracious enough to have the pasta returned to the kitchen.

 The desert menu was ordinary with choices like carrot halwa, gulab jamoon, phirni, ice creams and brownie so we decided to call it a night! The food prices were not too exorbitant and quantities seemed just right. The service was slow but this was overlooked considering team Shaakahari is still young. The decor was pleasant with bright lighting and beautiful paintings gracing the walls, however the noise levels tend to rise further into the night so you may not to want to go here if you are planning to enjoy a romantic dinner with your special friend on a weekend. To round of my thoughts about this place: do go here if you are a vegetarian and love Indian food; experimenting with other cuisines may not be a good bet at La Shaakahari.

La Shaakahari is located on Pycrofts Garden Road, Nungambakkam , Chennai