BIRYANI! This Persian word which has been defined as an Indian dish made with highly seasoned rice and meat, fish or vegetables, can trigger drooling in most of my friends. But to me, this word strikes terror! It is not that I hate the dish or resent the fact that it is probably the workhorse of the Mughlai kitchen. It’s just that be it an office party, a church fellowship gathering, a school picnic or the building Christmas party, there seems to be one and only one choice of food – and that is the biryani!

Bordering boredom, my foodie tentacles have always sighed at the sight of the standard biryani and the post meal comments that go with it. Haven’t you heard the “its just too spicy – burning my tongue” comment, or the “I can’t seem to find any meat in this serving” comment? Ridiculously monotonous, I have loathed the sight of the biryani, and year by year it seemed to have gotten worse.

Well, that’s what I thought. And then came along Charcoal Biryani. Now, don’t ask me how I got dragged into visiting a place that specializes in biryani, when I am the typical non-believer. But it so happened that my husband turned out to be the culprit who was excited about trying a new eatery, and he narrowed down to this place. We arrived at lunch time to this self-service eatery, placed our order, and then waited. After a brief waiting period, here is what it looked like.


First up was the Tandoori Chicken biryani. The whiff of freshly smoked tandoori emanating from this box made this my favourite of them all. Juicy chunks of chicken, mingling with fresh basmati rice, not very spicy, but classically tandoori is what makes this biryani stand up from the rest. I’ve had tandoori biryanis several times, but none can compare to this one!

Next came the Afghani Chicken Tikka Biryani. This boasts of an earthy taste with a strong base possibly of pepper and turmeric, giving it an unsophisticated and simple profile very much for the delicate palate.

The Diliwala Butter Chicken Biryani seemed like the classic butter chicken pieces in rice, a tad little more spicier than the conventional makhanwala, but nonetheless a delight. I was almost tempted to order for a naan to go along this biryani…lol!

The Awadhi chicken biryani showcases Bhojpuri cuisine at its best. The spicy-sweet aromatic flavour of cardamom with the pungent honey flavour of saffron give it a unique aura, distinguishing it from the other biryanis I tried.

After four small biryanis we still had place for some more food, and ordered the Chicken Kalmi Tangdi Kebab, which was a huge juicy leg piece, sporting a whiff of cashew and mint. The flavour was outstanding, and we could have gone on for more had we not stuffed ourselves already.

So, at the end of my meal, I enjoyed the strawberry souffle the most for desert and I must relent to the fact that I could have been misled by the substandard biryanis I was exposed to all this time, into thinking that biryanis are boring. Thanks to Charcoal Biryani, this has opened a whole new dimension to what a real biryani actually is!

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



You know that you are at a lousy pizza place when you get served an oversweetened carbonated drink along with puffed up bread. That is the same story repeated again and again at almost all pizza chains, with the only difference being the sodas replaced by diluted iced teas.

If you are really looking for a gourmet pizza, check out Chilli Flakes! Thin crusty and crispy base with drooling cheese, all well-endowed, this pizza got my mouth watering profusely after my first bite. I had ordered the Chicken Heaven pizza, which was loaded with chunks of chicken, both salami and sausage. Interspersed were sun dried tomatoes and caramelized onion both of which add a sweet after taste to the racing spiciness of the chicken. The rosemary sprinkled on the pizza gives it a piney citrusy flavour. All this on thick layer of cheese and you will most definitely have yourself wanting more!

You can also choose the puff base for your pizzas which comes in a rectangular size with a flaky thin crust and hmmmm melting cheese. This is truly amazing and the PIZZA + PUFF combo is just great!

The other pizza on my table was the Peri Peri Chicken pizza. I don’t think I have ever gone wrong with the peri peri version of almost any dish I can think of, and this pizza definitely is worth the try. The five spices that go into a peri peri – paprika, pimento, oregano, basil and tarragon, really work at giving the tongue a ticklish sizzle and I love the way this flavour sits on the pizza.

Best part about this pizza place is you can order half pizzas too!

Chilli Flakes also provides for fresh juices – I tried the grape and watermelon ones – which were fresh real fruit juices, and not over loaded with ice, just how I like it.

Growing up there were’nt many option for pizza places, and you had to take what you got. This has changed so much for the better with joints like Chilli Flakes which I would expect, that with pizzas like these, would end up leading the pack! I am definitely going back for more next week…


Tandoori fries
Bombay Masala Chicken
Chicken Heaven
Chiku Milkshake
Quattro Formaggi (4 CHEESE)


Chilli Flakes Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


FROOZO- Guilt Free!

Froozo is a unique ice cream parlour. The deserts are hand-made and a delight to look at but here are some honest views about the place and desserts!

What we didnt like about the place!

  1. When we walked in firstly the room was very warm as the AC was switched off and it was so hot. Not the type of environment we would want to experience at an ice cream parlour! Nevertheless the staff then switched it on later!
  2. There were too many mosquitoes and it was annoying as they were no mosquito bats or anything to keep them away. I had kids with me and this was a put off trying to eat desert, shoo the mosquitoes and enjoy the experience!
  3. Music was too loud, its not a pub but i assumed supposed to be a family joint!
  4. There were no proper tissue boxes around or wet wipe or basin or hand washing/soap facility.
  5. The area didnt seem to be kept too clean!

What we liked about the place!

  1. Staff were very friendly and helpful and polite.
  2. deserts were reasonably priced
  3.  Quantity was adequate per serving
  4. We had waffles and it was a turn off as the waffles were so soft and didnt taste anything great.


What we ordered :

  1. Potato tornado : This was really crisp and tasty and well done. Liked it very much & ordered the Chipotle Cheese flavour. HIGHLY RECOMMEND!
  2. Froozo taco : This was a unique dessert in a taco and the combination was good. Ordered the Brownie affair. The taste was average overall. The ice cream is prepared with the other elements depending on what you choose all on a froozen tava. Its then cut into rolls and served as per your requirements.
  3. Waffle : The waffle we had was so soft and the taste overall of this desert was not that great! Added the Kitkat to this dessert but we were disappointed with this dessert.
  4. Froozo Milkshake : This was refershing and we enjoyed the blend of ice cream and other elements. The Banofee Bite we highly recommend. HIGHLY RECOMMEND!


The deserts are average in taste but delightful in terms of appearance and its lovely to see how they are made. The freakshakes we had was good and a big thumbs up for that and the potato tornado. The place is not up to the standards and needs a lot of improvement. Overall a place good to visit once just to experience but nothing super exciting in terms of taste!

So here’s the story of how we ended up visiting Froozo!

I vaccinated my kids & it was painful, for them and for me. Watching the needle pierce their skin sent a shiver down my spine. Although vaccines are good and a necessity, I felt guilty of subjecting my children to  this atrocity. As I watched their tears roll down their scared faces, I knew that I had to make it up to them. As we left the hospital, I decided to take them to Froozo. I had heard about this place through a school friend, and it was on my to-do list. But I never got to doing it, up until now.

Froozo is a unique ice cream parlour. The deserts are hand-made……….more like hand crafted, and are a delight to look at and eat as well. The process of making each desert is demonstrated right in front, allowing for sinful customization of each temptation. This adds to the desi satisfaction that you get what you are paying for. The amount of each component of the desert is well evident as it is getting prepared right before your very eyes. The wait leading up to the final preparation is in itself a mouth watering countdown, sure to make all your digestive juices stimulate your appetite into a frenzy.

At the end of the deserts we began rubbing our tummy with the hope that the calories would get burned on our way out. Both our sons, went from being cranky and sore, to ecstatic with baby giggles and chuckles filling the gaps while they feasted. I owe it to Froozo for helping me get rid of the guilt that followed me out of the hospital. The beaming faces of my boys was testimony to their satisfaction with their meals.

Below are a few videos of the place, validating my conclusion that, if you want to eat a work of art, you need to head to Froozo!

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Froozo Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


Shor in the City – Effects of Noise Pollution By Dr. Ashish Castellino

I have lived in Mumbai all my life. Right from my school days, this city has amazed me. From riots to stock market crashes, terrorists to bandhs, floods to water shortage, and tax reforms to infrastructural reforms, this city has probably seen it all. The resilience of the aam aadmi against all odds has always been commendable. But one must ask for how long is the common Mumbaikar going to put up with rising living and healthcare expenses at the cost of worsening quality of life conditions.

The City Wealth Index released earlier this year by international property consultants Knight and Frank in their annual wealth report ranks Mumbai at 21, internationally ahead of mega cities like Toronto, Washington DC and Moscow. However, the Mercer Quality of Living Index, has ranked Mumbai 154 out of 231 cities worldwide, which means that although we live in a city where we earn and afford more, on an average, we are unable to pay for a better quality of life.

Of all the health based challenges that we face today, we have been up in arms against air and water pollution with affordable housing and cleanliness initiatives like the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan also showing the way for a cleaner and healthier city. But there is one problem that silently eats away at our health, most of the time going unnoticed. This problem is noise.

Noise – The Silent Killer

Noise is scientifically defined as a complex sound, with little or no periodicity in its waveform, but the character of which can be measured and analysed. Simply put, noise can be any sound which is unpleasant or unwanted. And so it may include sounds right from the spouse’s nagging to street dogs howling, from firecrackers to loud speakers, and of course the incessant din of everyday traffic. Noise awareness is totally based on public perception of the same and that’s probably the reason we as a nation are totally oblivious of this problem. For example, the desi processional baraat will leave the neighbourhood awestruck by its sheer traditional grandeur. But the newborn babies trying to latch on to sleep are surely going to be unimpressed by this band baja ruckus.

Effects of Noise Pollution

The effects of noise on the human body are pathological and evidently manifold. The first casualties of noise exposure are usually the human ears. The ear is an engineering marvel in that it allows for transmission of sound from a gas medium (air), through a solid medium (eardrum and ossicles) and then into a liquid medium (inner ear/cochlear fluid) causing the generation of an electrophysiological impulse, thus helping the brain decipher sound. The sound pressure transformation character of the ear causes the amplification of sound pressure levels by a factor of 20 for any sound reaching the ear. Thus, high sound pressure levels from noise causes damage to the cochlear hair cells, thereby reducing the hearing ability for affected frequencies.

The extent of damage depends on the level of auditory trauma and can range from temporary threshold shifts to permanent hearing disability due to sustained exposure. A higher environmental noise exposure has been correlated with accelerated presbycusis (age related hearing loss).

S Rosen’s work on noise induced hearing loss has demonstrated that aging is an almost insignificant cause of hearing loss which instead is associated with moderately high environmental noise exposure. He also showed that high sound levels were responsible for a statistical elevation of blood pressure.

In 1995, Berglund and Lindwall postulated that prolonged noise exposure put susceptible individuals at risk for hypertension and ischaemic heart disease. The magnitude of the effects are determined by individual lifestyle behaviours and environmental conditions in addition to the high sound pressure levels.

Ising & Guther in their work on noise related coronary heart disease had noted that continuous exposure to noise of sufficient intensity (>50dB) and unpredictability cause an increase in heart rate, peripheral vascular resistance, increase in blood pressure and viscosity, and an increase in cortisol and lipid production – all of which increase the risk for a myocardial infarction (heart attack). High noise levels are also known to cause headache, fatigue, stomach ulcers and vertigo. Berglund also emphasized that noise acts as an environmental stressor. This was evident in a study conducted at Cornell University in 1993 which showed that children exposed to noise in a learning environment developed dysgraphia (writing learning impairment).

In 1978, the US Environmental Protection Agency suggested a correlation between low birth weight babies & high rates of birth defects with higher sound level environment exposure to pregnant women. In addition, prolonged noise exposure is known to weaken the immune system, cause sleep disturbances and affect mental well-being by stimulating aggression and irritability.

How Does Mumbai Contribute to Noise Pollution?

In the city of Mumbai, you don’t have to look for the source of noise. It is, in most cases, self-evident, easily avoidable and with worthy alternatives. The city is the second most densely populated city in the world at 30,900 people per square km. Such a high population density has a direct bearing on social activity which cause a higher ambient sound level. In 2016, the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) reported Mumbai to be the noisiest city in India with an ambient noise level average of 75dB during the day & 65dB at night, irrespective of silence or residential zones. This is in comparison to the Maharashtra Noise Pollution (Regulation & Control) Rules, 2000, which recommends a maximum noise level of 55dB during the day & 45dB at night, for residential and silence zones.

A 2017 report, showed that Mumbai train commuters were being subjected to ambient noise levels of over 80dB. Using data gathered from over 2 lakh participants, Mimi, a German company, determined how far the average person’s hearing ability deviated from what was ideal for their age due to hearing loss. This was called the Hearing Loss (HL) number. Mumbai scored 18.58 which means that an average 30yr old has the hearing of a 48yr old average normal.

The solution to noise pollution is by first recognizing it to be a formidable health hazard. There are various laws already in place which address it. The Noise Pollution (Regulations and Control) (Amendment) Rules 2010 specify acceptable parameters of noise levels under various environmental condition. Although legal enforcement of rules to control noise are a leap in the right direction, it is up to individual citizens to create awareness about this health problem and make necessary social changes to bring a stop this easily controllable hazard. NGO’s like the Awaaz Foundation have conducted campaigns to increase awareness about this health problem and have received widespread support which has resulted in policy change and better implementation of noise pollution laws. As responsible citizens we need to protect our environment and ourselves from noise, and make noise control and eradication our priority.

Written By:


Dr. Ashish Castellino is Consultant ENT & Head Neck Surgeon practicing in the suburbs of Mumbai. He is a passionate and committed doctor with special interests in hearing disorders and sinus diseases. He is an accomplished musician with a penchant for expository and descriptive writing.


A memorable “Firetruck” themed birthday!

While we try to teach our children all about life, our children teach us what life is all about.

                                                                                                                                                         -Angela Schwindt


My younger son turned three a few days ago. I don’t remember where the time went from when he would struggle to roll onto his stomach, to now him being able to dress himself up. I used to think that my mother’s comments on how we grew up so fast as children was a bit exaggerated, probably reflecting her emotional needs once her children moved out of her house. But now, I realize her words were as true as it can be. I have begun to see with my own eyes what she meant by those words, and probably feel the same way now. My boy is fast growing up, his baby babbles fading into the past while his ever-expanding vocabulary grows in leaps and bounds. And so do his demands!

As we sat across the dinner table discussing our plans for our baby’s birthday, my husband had the bright idea of putting forth the most difficult question to our three year old. We had spent close to an hour going over what we thought would be the best birthday cake, and we were still indecisive. The number of cartoon characters is unbelievable. I grew up being able to count all cartoon characters on my fingers, but today, that has grown exponentially to make up an entire universe in itself! In the midst of our confusion, was our son who seemed nonchalant and clear with his answer. “Firetruck” he said, an answer which automatically raised up more questions in our head. Was it a cartoon? Would it be a model cake or a regular one with a picture on it? Where can we get this unusual cake made?

After several whatsapp inquiries, phone calls and further discussion we decide to try out Sheer Joy, a cake shop based in Sion. I am a fussy mom. I looked up Google for firetruck cakes, downloaded a whole bunch of images, chose what I liked from those pics and then explained to the guys at Sheer Joy what I wanted for this cake. I must’ve gone through 50+ pics, several phone calls till I felt satisfied that I had communicated what I want. The cake had to be par excellence, the highlight of the party, and I was not in a mood for compromise. It was the first birthday cake that my son had actually asked for and I felt emotionally obliged to give it to him.

On the day of the party, before my guests arrived, the cake was promptly delivered to my place.. I couldn’t help but take a sneak peek as the delivery guy placed the cake box on the table. I was ecstatic. It seemed like the cake was taken out of my imagination and placed into that box. Unbelievable! At 4 kg, 12 x 6 inches, the firetruck stood majestic, with all details evident, right up to it’s Maharashtra number plate! I couldn’t wait to see my sons face when he laid his eyes on it.

After serving the snacks and drinks, it was time to cut the cake. As I set up the table and placed the cake, my three year old runs up to see what it was. “FIRETRUCK!” he exclaimed, his face lighting up with joy. It took only a few seconds to get him so excited that he was all set to grab it with both his hands. “Thank you mama, thank you dada” were his next words which melted my heart as they reached my ears. His excitement showed that it was exactly what he wanted, and there couldn’t have been a happier mom at that time. As we sang the birthday song, my son continued to be enthralled by the sight of the cake, repeatedly exclaiming “Firetruck, see dada, firetruck!” And as soon as we were done with the cake cutting, he literally took no time in dismantling his cake.

The cake was truly resplendent, receiving a lot of positive comments from my guests. The ganache glaze and bitter sweet filling of the eggless dutch truffle cake made up the base of the firetruck, while the fondant icing was nice and chewy. The cake tasted elegant and rich, soft and creamy, and not sugary sweet, much to my liking. I loved the attention given to detail, including that to the indulgent accompanying cup-cakes which had cute fondant icing images of firefighting accessories like a hydrant, fire cap, hose pipe, et al. The base flavours of the cupcakes included chocolate, vanilla red velvet and blue berry. They were very colourful, bakery fresh and of a soft smooth texture, melting in the mouth on every bite. The cake was so good I had to put a clamp down on second helpings which was getting a bit too much for me to let go off. In the desert entourage were chocolate almond brownies, also from Sheer Joy, provided with a customizable ganache piping bag with which I decorated the brownies after pre heating them.

Three days later, we are still feasting on the cake, piece by piece. The freshness is amazingly intact and tastes exactly like it did on day one. My son might not remember the cake by his next birthday, but the look on his face has certainly left a lasting memory I can cherish for the rest of my life. They say money can’t buy you happiness, but it can damn well buy you a fantabulous birthday cake from SHEER JOY (Sion). (PS: They deliver all over Mumbai)



Sheer Joy Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


Oh Fudge! The BEST thick shakes ever!

Drool and indulge in the 35 Flavours of Oh! Fudge’s sinful fudge and thick milkshakes and discover a world of goodness like never before!

Go crazy and make your own fudge with a range of toppings and flavours.

Watch out for thick creamy delicious milkshakes made with nuts and chocolate so good it’ll leave you begging for more. Its so fudging thick its like a meal in itself literally!

Oh! Fudge is a fantastic product to gift to chocolate lovers, and family. Pure chocolate indulgence perfect to light up any festive occasion.

So do visit the nearest ‘Oh!fudge’ store at Kandivali, Juhu, Goregoan, Bandra and Colaba to experience it all. Thank me later 🙂

I tried the following:

Oreo chocolate shake is one master crafted shake rich in taste and aroma making each bite a delightful experience.Oh fudge

Chocolate Roasted Almond is so good it tickles your experimental side and gives a refreshing roasted almond aftertaste.Oh fudge3

Dark chocolate with orange flavour happily linger on your palette longer than you expect. A great option for both gifting and gobbling.Oh fudge2

Hazelnut,Coffee and Chocolate shake is pretty much a match made in heaven, you just can’t go wrong with this flavour. Oh fudge1

The fudges were equally irresistible and we just couldnt stop indulging!


Oh! Fudge Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


R Adda

For when weekend fun calls,  Ramee Guestline Hotel Juhu Mumbai restro bars are open for all to unwind .

“R- ADDA” Roof top Hideout Bar is synonymous with urban lifestyle. “R- ADDA” Roof top Hideout Bar has deeply looked into every aspect of space planning, presentation etc. while designing the lounge and bar. The interiors make comprehensive use of design innovation combined with the principles of flawless service circulation, strategic location placement and planning. The interiors have raised the bar to create benchmarks in higher levels of comfort, privacy and lighting.

What I liked about the place:

1) Ambiance is very pleasant and decor is tastefully done.
2) Presentation of the food and serving styles are good.
3) Staff is very helpful and attentive & help you order the best dishes as per your taste and preference.
4) Great place to chill and have fun with family/friends

What I didnt like about the place:
1) Finding the place can be a little difficult as the entrance is not very noticeable. It is situated at Ramee Guestline hotel of Juhu.
2) Service can get really slow.
3) Cocktails are average in taste overall.

The Sheesha is okay.  I recommend trying the paan mild flavour. Request for coal change if needed.IMG_1985.JPG

We tried the HOOKAH LEMONADE which was sooooo good! The other mocktails were not upto the markimg_1989.jpg
The avacado bacon and philly cheese open sandwich with sunny side up was sooooo amazing! A must try!IMG_1960.JPG


Thai Basil Chicken was just astounding! Loved the flavours and taste overall.IMG_1955

Medditeranean smoked chicken bao was very good too. A must try.


Brownie with ice cream- Not too extraordinary. But tasted good!img_4858.jpg

Lemon and strawberry Mojito’s that were extremely refreshing.IMG_4896

Chicken platter was fantastic! IMG_4901IMG_4913

Paneer chilly was well done and tasted really good.IMG_4917

Tequillla shots!IMG_4928

Pav bhaji fondue- Simple irresistable!IMG_4931

Tandoori Prawn were not that great in taste. Though the presentation was good.IMG_2075Overall:
1. A great place to chill with family or friends.
2. Good for celebrating special occasions and making memories.
3. Prices are average and you definitely get value for money.

Price: ₹1500 for two (approx.) with alcohol

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Twitter: @plum_paradise

R' ADDA Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato