With some of the best chefs in the country shifting base to Pune, it is now at the cutting edge of culinary tastes and trends. There are a lot of options available for fine-dining where we usually end up spending quite a lot. What no one talks about is the small eateries that the locals swear by.
Budget food and places to eat in Pune offer great food at great prices,if you know where to find them. One such new place that’s opened is Cara- Barbeque and Biryani.
Whether you are here for a short visit, or are a local in search of the best biryani, Cara is not something you should miss out on. Tucked away in a corner on the main road near Magarpatta, it’s easy to drive right past it. But if you like some good old fashioned kebabs and biryani, driving past Cara would be a wrong thing to do.
This local favorite has a homely atmosphere with a lovely outside seating. Here you pay for the food, not the decor. You take your time to eat your dinner, and the owners expect you to chill there for a long time. This one month old joint has already got it’s set of loyal customers who swear by it’s Dum Biryani and Chicken Korma.
We entered Cara on a Tuesday evening. It was 9:00pm, and I had just stepped out of office, and after a long day at work I was in the mood for some GOOD food. One of those moods where a slight mistake in the preparation would put me off, you know what I mean?
On entering Cara, the delicious aroma of the kebabs in the tandoor filled my nostrils.There was a promise of some good food in the air. We chose a table at the end of the restaurant (there are about 10-15 tables in the outside seating area, and 4-5 inside) and proceeded to enjoy what turned out to be one of the most memorable dining experiences in Pune.
Here’s what we ordered-
Chicken Kasturi Kebab
Chicken Malai Tikka
Chicken Angaari with cheese garlic naan
Chicken dum biryani
After having a few of their starers, you’d want to order a lot more. And after having a look at the prices, you’d definitely want to! Without wasting much of your time, here’s the verdict-
150 bucks for half a plate of tandoori chicken. Worth it? Hell yeah! And even before the dish reaches the table, the smell is all over the place. And it makes you drool- and how! One look at the chicken pieces and I knew I was going to bite into something heavenly. And boy was I right! Succulent pieces of juicy chicken which almost melt in your mouth. Flavors that are soaked right till the end. Best part? You can eat as many pieces as you want to, because tandoori chicken has an extremely small percentage of fat! Yay!
Chicken Kasturi Kebab
The only other time I had such a juicy, flavorful kebab preparation is at Courtyard by Marriott City Centre, Pune during their Kebab Festival. Rs. 170 for a plate gets you 6 huge pieces of chicken kebab. And the flavor! Kasturi methi has a slight bitter taste and can make the chicken taste stale and bitter. But this one was perfectly prepared- juicy chunks of chiken, and the fresh flavor of kasturi methi. No hint of bitterness. The cook did some magic with this one. *Drool*
Chicken Malai Tikka
Rs. 170 for a plate of 6 juicy, large pieces of chicken tikka. Heaven. What I’ve had at other places is just chicken tikka without the masala, and a little bit of sweetness. No hint of “malai” whatsoever. These guys once again have managed to get this right. Sweet and buttery, this one is guaranteed to make you drool.
Chicken Angari with Cheese Garlic Naan
The smell of the chicken gravy will make you drool. No kidding! I couldn’t WAIT to dig in. The brown gravy is semi-thick, has a wonderful blend of garam masalas, and the best part- it’s very light on the stomach. Chicken cooked in the tandoor, and marinated with spices, chilies and garlic- tell me what about it sounds wrong?
The cheese garlic naan was such a hit! I usually prefer plain tandoori rotis, so when I tried tasting this one, I couldn’t stop at half a naan. The cheese doesn’t solidify even when the naan cools down, the naan stays soft, and there is an ACTUAL strong taste of cheese in the naan. One of the best cheese garlic naans I’ve ever eaten.
Chicken Dum Biryani
This one’s a hit with the locals. I don’t really need to talk much about this. The aroma of saffron-garam masalas-tandoor, the chunky pieces of chicken, the flavor of the rice, the caramelized onions….there’s absolutely nothing that you can find wrong with this. Best part? Very light on the stomach, and extremely refreshing.
Another good point about the food- it’s so light, eating all the dishes did not make us uncomfortable. I had already given full marks to the food and hospitality when I was pleasantly surprised to see a red velvet cake being brought to my table. THAT’S how friendly the owners are. THAT’S how comfortable they make you feel. Living up to their name, and how! (Cara means friend in Irish) So um, I’m going to give them a 10/5 for their brilliant hospitality and food. I would also expect you guys to go there and try EVERYTHING at least once.
For all its culinary aspiration Cara remains a simple, inexpensive, humble cafe. A pleasurable way to indulge your gastronomic senses. If you are someone who likes exploring, you won’t mind the no-frills decor. If you are in the area, please stop by. You’ll thank me later. They also have home-delivery for those feeling too lazy to get out. If you wish to entertain guests at your place, they also take party orders.