Bikanervala Singapore – Changi Airport Terminal 3

Its no mean feat that Changi Airport has been considered to be the best airport in the world consistently. It is the global hub for most flights passing through the SEA region and has a steady stream of travelers and tourists frequenting its space. So its imperative for it to have a wide variety of dining options that suit different cultures. Adding its flavour to the newly opened dining joints in Changi Airport Terminal 3 is Bikanervala , a fully vegetarian restaurant serving all types of Indian cuisine. Operating under new management, the restaurant has amped up its presentability aspect in terms of its huge seating space, warm lighting, a mithai (sweets) counter and a snacks corner. It has a distinguishable red sign that cannot be missed as you walk towards the corner of the viewing mall from where you can also see the flights land and take off. The fact that it is open 24*7 also makes it convenient in case you are a vegetarian and looking for eating options at Changi Airport.

Bikanervala Changi

Bikanervala Changi Airport T3


Mithai counter at Bikanervala

Mithai counter at Bikanervala

The Orders
Bikarnervala is an Indian homegrown chain that has an international presence and a standardized global menu. The same menu has been launched in Singapore and it has a lot of variety in terms of subsets of Indian cuisine – North Indian, South Indian and Indian Chinese. So basically you’ll get to taste the diversity of Indian cuisine at fairly affordable prices.

Bikanervala is famous for its chaats globally and hence we tried their recommended dish, the ‘Raj Kachori’. Let me tell you that its a royal treat – both in terms of presentation and taste. Kachoris are fried cakes of refined flour stuffed with lentils and yogurt and topped with mint and dates sauce. The tangy and sweet flavours blend beautifully in this dish and is meant to be eaten hot – so eat this tasty appetizer before the outer shell starts getting soft and soggy.

Raj Kachori

Raj Kachori at $6.5


Since we are fans of North Indian food, we tried the ‘Chole Bhature’. The chole (chickpeas) were made with authentic spices and turned out to be delicious. The bhature which are the puffed and fried version of Indian bread were non-greasy and did not lose their fluffiness for the entire course of the meal and that was really good. Highly recommended.
Chhole Bhature

Chhole Bhature at $9.5


For lunch and dinner, they also have thalis and combo meals on their menu. We tried their ‘Deluxe Thali’ which had so many items in the right portion sizes that it is worthy of being called a meal. The first thing that caught my attention was the plate that was used for serving. The compartmentalized plate was spot-on as it helps in segregating the dry and gravy items with great convenience and hence you don’t find yourself struggling for space on the plate. In their Deluxe Thali, they serve Paneer, Dal Makhani, Veg of the Day, Raita, Pulao, Naan, Laccha Paratha, Papad, salad, pickle and sweet. Most of the items were tasty but the notable ones were the Dal Makhani, Pulao and the Paratha. This veg thali is ideal if you want to eat a decent portion size before catching a flight.
Deluxe thali

Deluxe thali at $14.5


Ever since Ananda Bhavan closed at Changi, one does miss the availability of popular South Indian dishes like idlis and dosas at the airport. Because of the extensive options at Bikanervala, you’ll find those standard items here now. The dosa was crisp and nice and the sambhar was well-seasoned. They also have mini-utappams and vadas that are good for breakfast or as snacks. The South Indian items are definitely good but overall I preferred their North Indian items since that is their forte and they have a better grasp on the authentic taste in that genre.
Dosa idli and vada

Dosa idli and vada with sambhar


To combat the humidity in Singapore, a refreshing glass of ‘Mango Lassi’ never fails. The yogurt based drink acted as an effective thirst quencher and was not overly sweet. The taste of alphonso mango in the drink was authentic and we liked it.
Mango Lassi

Mango Lassi


They have a mind-boggling assortment of sweets that can be had a la carte or conveniently packaged and taken home. They also have mithai boxes that are suitable for gifting. After putting in some thought, we tried the Kaju Roll (Rose), Rasmalai and Lamba Jamun. I have to say that their Rasmalai is outstanding with its perfectly chilled badam pista sauce and great texture of the malai. Do not miss it if you are here! In the Kaju Roll, the rose with cashews was an interesting combination to taste and it also had a substantial amount of pistachios to add some more texture. And if you are fan of the jamuns in sweets, then I preferred the Lamba Jamun to the Kala Jamun here. This place is a Mecca for Indian sweet lovers!
Mithai at Bikanervala

L to R: Rose Kaju Roll, Rasmalai, Lamba Jamun


Since it’s mainly Indian cuisine, if you are a vegan, you will find some items that cater to your dietary requirements and some that can be customized. This space is quite well-done and suitable for large groups. If you work in the East, you can also head here for team lunches. Their in-house ‘Bikano’ snacks are available here and so are their specialty items. We picked up a box of ‘Achari Mathri’ which is a teatime snack and it was very good. For enticing your taste buds with authentic Indian vegetarian cuisine, for its convenience of location, for its friendly service and for its astounding variety in Indian sweets, Bikanervala at Changi airport is a must-visit. Here’s hoping that the quality of food remains consistent at this restaurant as it was during this meal.

In a Nutshell Deelightful Rating
Cuisine Type: Indian ★★★★
Nearest MRT: Changi Airport
Address: Changi Airport, Terminal 3, Viewing Mall Level 4
Timings: Mon-Sun: 24 hrs
Website: https://www.facebook.com/bikanervalaSG/
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Urad Dal Chutney – Side Dish for Idli/Dosa

When you want something that’s a little different from the traditional coconut or coriander chutneys, this Urad Dal Chutney steps in as a perfect side dish for idlis and dosas. Since this is a no coconut chutney, it can be prepared in larger quantities and refrigerated – typically for up to a week. The red chillies and tamarind make a spicy and tangy combination and the dish attains balance. This chutney makes me breeze through a work week if I have idlis or dosas in my breakfast plan.
Recipe Details :
Serves: 4 pax
Time: 15 mins
Difficulty: Easy
Ingredients :

  • 1/4 cup urad dal
  • A small ball of tamarind
  • 3 red chillies
  • 1/2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
  • A pinch of asafoetida
  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 garlic pod, skin peeled (optional)
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tsp oil

Urad dal chutney

Urad dal chutney


Method:

  • In a pan, add the oil and a pinch of asafoetida. Stir for a bit and then add the urad dal, red chilli and tamarind. Sauté the dal on a low flame till it turns golden brown. Then switch off the flame and remove this aside on a plate to cool.
  • In the same pan, add the chopped onions and garlic and cook them till the onions turn brown. Then switch off the flame.
  • Now allow both sets of roasted items to cool completely.
  • Then put these items into a mixer. Add salt and grind into a smooth paste. Add water depending on the consistency you want and your chutney is ready.
  • Finally temper the chutney in sesame oil with mustard seeds, urad dal and a single red chilli just before serving.
  • Urad dal chutney

    Urad dal chutney


Methi Chole Sabzi / Fenugreek Leaves and Chickpeas Sabzi

When you want to pack proteins in your diet, get going with chickpeas. North Indian style curries with chickpeas are perfect for lunchbox recipes. Methi Chole is a popular Punjabi dish that combines fenugreek leaves with chole in a spicy gravy. It’s also a convenient way to include greens in your meal in a tasty manner. The aroma of this curry is amazing and it’ll make you want to eat it as soon as you make it.
Recipe Details :
Serves: 4 pax
Time: 30 mins
Difficulty: Easy
Ingredients :

  • 2 cups methi leaves, chopped
  • 1 cup chickpeas
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 1 big tomato, finely chopped
  • 1.5 tsp ginger-garlic paste
  • 3 cloves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 cardamom pods (break and finely powder)
  • 2 green chillies, slit in half along the length
  • 2 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp garam masala powder
  • 2 tsp aamchur / dry mango powder
  • 1 tsp red chilli powder (optional)
  • Salt to taste
  • 3 tbsp oil

Methi Chole

Methi Chole


Method:

  • Wash the fenugreek leaves and chop them roughly.
  • Fenugreek leaves

    Fenugreek leaves

  • Wash and soak the chole in water for 6 – 8 hours.
  • Drain the water and add the chole in a pressure cooker along with 3 tsp of salt and 3 cups water. Pressure cook this for 6 whistles on a medium flame. Then switch off the cooker and let it cool till the pressure is naturally released.
  • Meanwhile, heat oil in a pan. Once the oil is hot, add the bay leaves, cloves, cardamom powder and let them crackle for a few seconds.
  • Now add the chopped onion, a pinch of salt and saute them till they are translucent. Add ginger garlic paste to the onions and continue cooking till they are golden brown.
  • Add the chopped tomatoes and green chillies at this stage and fry them for 2 mins.
  • Then add the turmeric powder, garam masala powder, dry mango powder and coriander powder. Mix well to combine. Let this paste cook for 2-3 mins.
  • Add the chole along with the cooking water. Taste and add more salt, if required.
  • Cook the chole for around 10 mins on a low flame.
  • Finally add the chopped fenugreek leaves and mix them well and cook them for another 3 mins. The aroma of the sabzi is amazing.
  • Methi chole

    Methi chole

  • Tastes good when served hot and best paired with roti or naan.

Tips:

  • Make sure the chole is well cooked before you add it to the gravy. You can cook it for some more time in the pressure cooker if needed.
  • Ensure that the methi leaves are washed well. Rinse them multiple times before cutting.

Nukkad Restaurant and Panchtantra Breakfast menu launch – Syed Alwi Road

A ‘Nukkad’ in Hindi is a street corner where people generally hang out and talk about their daily life. In the modern times, it also loosely and conveniently translates into a grab-on-the-go concept that is ideal for takeaways. At a stone’s throw from Mustafa, is the newly opened Nukkad, a flagship restaurant of the Panchtantra group, serving Indian drinks and desserts on Syed Alwi Road. Those of us who have grown up in India will identify with the fact that we typically have a craving for a late night dessert binge in the form of chuskis (golas), milkshakes and lassis. Now imagine finding all of them at a convenient location after the exhausting exercise of weekly grocery shopping at Mustafa! A quick glance at their menu will show that all the favourite flavours that go in these items are present to bring a wave of nostalgia. They have also launched a new breakfast menu in the main Panchtantra restaurant which will also be covered in the latter part of this blog post.

Nukkad menu

Nukkad menu

Nukkad – The Orders

As the days get hotter, it’s best to pamper yourself with a refreshing drink. With the season of mangoes around, we decided to try the milkshake made with the king of fruits – ‘Mango Magic’. Without an iota of doubt, I can say that Alphonso mangoes are superior in their sweetness, richness and flavour. They are best suited to be used as an ingredient in a milkshake that also acts as a filling dessert. This drink was filled with the creamy and slightly heavy texture of delicious mangoes. Interspersed in the shake were a small quantity of chocolate chips which act as a nice twist. Do not miss this if you are a fan of Indian mangoes.

Mango Magic and Badam Tutti Frutti

Mango Magic and Badam Tutti Fruity


Another drink absolutely worth trying is the ‘Badam Tutti Frutti Milkshake’. This delicious summer cooler is loaded with the goodness of almonds and pistachios. It acts as the perfect refreshment since it’s extremely light in texture which makes it as easy to drink as buttermilk. A single sip of this well-made drink and you don’t feel like keeping the glass down – highly recommended.
Chuski is an ice lolly made up of crushed ice and flavored with various syrups like rose, khus, orange, strawberry or the famous kala khatta. It is also known as gola and is a vivid memory of my childhood in India. Nukkad gives you the option to mix upto four flavours of these syrups and customize your chuski. We tried the recommended combination of ‘Rose and Khus’ which was topped off with a slight sprinkle of chaat masala and it was an enjoyable experience. Khus is a fragrant, cooling herb with a woody aroma but is not overpowering like sandalwood. It goes well in sherbets and ice lollies and quite interesting to try as an unique option.
Two in one chuski

Two in one chuski at $4.5

Panchtantra Breakfast – The Orders
With an endeavor to make your mornings special, Panchtantra have launched their breakfast menu which will be available from 7.30-10.30 am everyday. These items will act as useful vegetarian options for Indian tourists who mostly stay in the area or seek to pack something and take while they are visiting attractions in Singapore. They have poha, upma, kachori, samosa and kulche as the main items in their breakfast menu.

We tried their ‘Chole Kulche’ which is a loved street food in North India. The chickpeas are made with an authentic Punjabi taste and traditional spices – and they are delicious! The kulche are made in a traditional oven, topped off with a generous amount of butter and best when eaten hot. You can opt for no butter, if you want. This item is extremely filling since two kulchas are served in one plate.

Chole Kulcha

Chole Kulcha


Kachoris are crusty, flaky deep-fried snacks that are popular as street food. We ordered the Aloo Kachori and this version had a spicy and tangy potato masala inside that will remind you of the aloo sabzi that you eat with pooris. The presentation of the dish was top-notch – spiralized onions, a sprig of coriander and the outer lining with dots of tamarind and dates chutney. Eat a little of everything in one bite to fully enjoy the dish.
Aloo Kachori

Aloo Kachori


For their new concept of a Indian drinks and desserts bar, for their chuskis and their convenient location, drop by this Nukkad and catch up on stories with your family and friends.

In a Nutshell Deelightful Rating
Cuisine Type: Indian ★★★1/2
Nearest MRT: Farrer Park
Address: 83 Syed Alwi Road, Singapore 207662
Timings: Mon-Sun: 7.30am – 11.30pm
Website: https://www.facebook.com/panchtantrasg/

Brinjal Gothsu / Eggplant Gothsu

Gothsu is a traditional South Indian side dish mainly used as an accompaniment for idli, dosa, upma and Pongal. It is made with brinjals as the primary ingredient as the smoky aroma of the vegetable combines well with the tamarind and the tempering of lentils. The Indian spices are brought to the forefront in this tangy gravy.
Recipe Details :
Serves: 4 pax
Time: 30 mins
Difficulty: Easy

Ingredients :

  • 1 big eggplant/ brinjal [This is the big purple eggplant that is available in Indian stores. Some would identify it as bhartha baingan.]
  • 2 small onions, finely chopped [If you use small onions / shallots, then take around 12 of them]
  • 1/2 cup tamarind extract
  • 1 tbsp chana dal/ bengal gram dal
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 4 dried red chillies
  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp sambhar powder (optional)
  • 1/4 cup chopped coriander for garnish
  • A pinch of asafoetida
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tbsp oil

Brinjal Gothsu

Brinjal Gothsu


Method:

  • Roast the brinjal on an open and low flame after applying cooking oil on it. For ease of cooking, pierce the brinjal in multiple locations with a fork.
  • After a few minutes, the brinjal will shrink in size – at this point switch off the flame. Wait for it to cool down and peel off the skin of the brinjal. Once the skin is peeled, rinse the brinjal in a bowl of water to prevent the smoky smell from overpowering the dish.
  • Once the peeled brinjal has cooled down, mash the brinjal nicely by hand for at least 10 mins till you can feel a smooth texture. This can also be done in a mixer but I prefer doing it by hand. This also helps me to keep a check in case there are any insects in the brinjal.
  • Now in a pan add a little oil and then add the chana dal. Once the dal turns golden brown, add in the coriander seeds and red chillies. Roast the mixture well and switch off the flame. Let it cool for around 10 mins. Then pulse them into a fine powder in a mixer.
  • Take oil in a pan and wait for it to warm up a bit on a low flame. Add the chopped onions and saute them till they turn translucent.
  • Once the onions turn into a light pink colour, add the tamarind extract, sambhar powder, asafoetida and salt. Add very little water at this stage. Stir them well and let this boil on a low flame for around 7 mins.
  • Now add in the ground powder from the mixer along with a cup of water and allow this to boil for another 5 mins.
  • Finally add in the mashed brinjals to this gravy and mix well. Add in another cup of water and salt at this stage. If the consistency is too thick, you can balance the water accordingly. Let this boil for another 5 mins. If you cover the vessel with a lid, it will cook and boil faster.
  • Brinjal Gothsu

    Brinjal Gothsu

  • Before serving, add the sesame oil and garnish with chopped coriander leaves. Tastes good when served hot.

Tips:

  • Make sure you get the right brinjal for the recipe – do not use the smaller version.
  • Use a low flame to roast the brinjal and keep turning it to make sure it’s roasted evenly.

Ridge gourd and Taro Leaves Curry/ Turiya Patra Sabzi

Cooking on weekends is therapeutic for me as I get the time to experiment with new dishes. Last weekend while grocery shopping, I found taro leaves at Mustafa and decided to pick them up to make Alu Vadi. Alu Vadi is an Indian snack made with stuffed and rolled taro leaves. It is usually eaten at tea time and is common in Gujarati and Maharashtrian cuisine. I, however, wanted to make something for lunch and decided to go the gravy/curry route by combining taro leaves with ridge gourd. I remember eating ‘Turiya Patra nu Shaak’ at my Gujarati neighbour’s house in India, and could place the flavour profile between spicy and tangy. As daunting as it sounded to start this preparation from scratch, I gave it a go and the result was pleasantly surprising. Patience is key to nailing this dish successfully.

Recipe Details :
Serves: 4-5 pax
Time: 60 mins
Difficulty: High

Main Ingredients :

  • 1 packet of taro leaves (12-15 leaves)
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 3 tsp oil
  • 1 tsp asafoetida powder (optional)
  • 2 ridge gourd, peeled and cut into small pieces
  • 1 tsp ginger-garlic paste
  • 1 tsp finely cut green chillies
  • 1 tsp garam masala powder
  • Salt to taste

Ingredients for gram flour paste:

  • 1.5 cups gram flour/besan
  • 1 tsp red chilli powder
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 2 tsp ginger-garlic paste
  • 1 tsp oil
  • 1 tbsp crushed jaggery
  • 2 tbsp seedless tamarind soaked in 1/4 cup of water
  • Salt to taste
  • Coriander for garnish (optional)

Ridge gourd and taro leaves curry

Ridge gourd and taro leaves curry


Method:

  • Wash the taro leaves thoroughly in running water and set them aside. Ensure that the leaves are fresh. Wipe them with a cloth until they are dry. Cut off the stalks from the base of the leaves.
  • Washed taro leaves

    Washed taro leaves

  • Mix all the ingredients mentioned in the preparation of the gram flour paste in a bowl. The paste has to be slightly thick for easy application on the leaves.
  • Place the leaves with the vein side facing downwards and the tip facing towards you. Gently apply the gram flour paste all over the leaf surface. Now place a leaf with the tip in the opposite direction and create an alternate stack of leaves, applying the paste on each alternate surface. Keep a minimum of 8 leaves to make a roll.
  • Spreading of gram flour paste on taro leaves

    Spreading of gram flour paste on taro leaves

  • After the paste is applied on 8 leaves placed alternately facing on top of each other, roll the stack into a neat and tight pattern horizontally.
  • Rolling of leaves

    Rolling of leaves

  • Then cut this rolled leaf into 2 or 3 pieces depending on the length of the rolled leaf stack.
  • Now heat oil in a non-stick pan and add mustard seeds. Once they splutter, add the cut ridge gourd pieces to it. Add the rolled taro leaves to the pan at the same time.
  • Cut ridge gourd pieces

    Cut ridge gourd pieces

  • Do not stir too much after placing the leaves as they might tear. Shake the pan (do not use a ladle) generously to mix the ingredients.
  • Next, add ginger-garlic paste and green chillies and mix well. Cover the pan with a lid and let it cook for 10 mins on a medium flame.
  • If the gravy is too thick, add a bit of warm water to help cook the leaves. This also helps in not letting the ingredients stick to the bottom of the pan.
  • Add turmeric powder, salt, cumin and coriander powder when you add water. Keep checking the gravy consistency because gram flour has a tendency to absorb water.
  • Cooking of the curry

    Cooking of the curry

  • Keep checking in between to ensure that the taro leaves are turning tender. Try breaking the leaves with a spoon. If they break easily, add the garam masala powder and stir well. After 2 mins, switch off the pan. Cook it in pan without lid at this stage.
  • Finally add the coriander garnish and serve hot with rotis, naans or rice.

Tips:

  • Take your time while making the rolls. Work slowly but consistently – do not let the paste dry on the leaves.
  • Keep the gram flour paste on the thicker side – it’s easy to take a little in a smaller vessel and thin it as required.
  • Ensure that the taro leaves as well as the stuffing are fully cooked before serving.

Yantra Restaurant – Temple Food Festival

Food and Indian festivals go hand-in-hand. During the auspicious season of Navratri, the Indian fine-dining restaurant, Yantra has launched a ‘Temple Food Festival’. This event will continue till Oct 10th 2016 and is available only for dinner. Located in Tanglin Mall, this restaurant is a well-known name to people staying in Singapore and food festivals here always catch my attention. Helmed by Chef Hemant Oberoi, the restaurant is serving wholesome Indian plates (thalis) from four distinct regions in India during this festive season. The thalis being served are: 1) Golden Temple Thali (Punjab in North India) 2) Tirupati Balaji Temple (Andhra Pradesh in South India) 3) Jagannath Puri Temple (Orissa in East India) 4) Nathdwara Temple ( Rajasthan in West). The diversity in Indian cuisines is projected in a balanced manner via this food festival. According to Hindu tradition, temple food is termed ‘prasad’ (offerings to God) and hence this festival is fully vegetarian.

The Orders
Punjabi food is my weakness and it was a no-brainer for me to order the ‘Golden Temple Thali’ from Amritsar. But before I get started on the food items, let me just say that visiting the Golden Temple is an experience in itself. I am glad that I had the privilege to visit this Sikh temple. Many articles term it as the world’s largest free kitchen with their langars (canteen) serving almost 100,000 visitors everyday. But what amazed me during my visit was the amazing and generous spirit of the volunteers who relentlessly work to make you feel at home.

Coming back to Yantra’s thali, it had the standard items of Punjabi cuisine. Punjabi cuisine is so much about the authenticity of taste that there were many hits and few misses in the thali. Noteworthy dishes were: ‘Kali Mirch Papad’ for its slight kick of spice, ‘Pakode Waali Kadi’ for the marinated fritters to have fully absorbed the flavour of kadi, ‘Aloo aur achar waali sabzi’ for the gravy style potato dish made well and ‘Langar wali dal’ which is a treat of lentils. If you are a fan of Dahi Bhalle (Vadas soaked in yogurt), then you will like it – but this is the slightly sweeter version. What disappointed me was the ‘Chole’ as it did not hit the right notes for me. This is a spot-on thaali with bhatura, garlic naan and rotis as the breads served on the side.

Golden Temple Thali

Golden Temple Thali


The beautiful state of Rajasthan in India needs no introduction. And one of the famous temples near Udaipur is the Shrinathji Mandir. Mainly known for their saatvic tradition in terms of food at this temple, Rajasthani influence was amply evident in their cooking style.
Our next order was the ‘Nathdwara Temple Thali’ and we were quite eager to try it. Noteworthy dishes were: ‘Aloo Methi’ as the potatoes has captured the right flavour of fenugreek leaves, ‘GawarFalli’ which was long cluster beans done to perfection,’Dal Baati’ which was quite good, ‘Chokki Patta Gobi’ which was tasty cabbage cooked in Indian spices. The vegetable variety and the overall balance of sweet and savory dishes made this thali interesting for me.
Nathwara Temple Thali

Nathdwara Temple Thali


Save the best for last, especially if we are talking about Indian desserts. The ‘Kulfi’ is a part of Golden Temple Thali and is extremely delicious. Its a denser and creamier version of ice-cream and was well-flavored with cardamom.
Kulfi

Kulfi


‘Basundi’ is thick sweetened milk that is flavored with cardamom or saffron and garnished with nuts like pistachios. It was interesting to try it with Lapsi which is basically broken wheat. And also served alongside was ‘Aate Ka Halwa’ and this was a part of Nathdwara Temple Thali. The basundi was overly sweet for my liking.
Basundi and Lapsi

Basundi and Lapsi


On the whole, if you want to experience the authentic taste of vegetarian food from different states in India, this is worth it. Priced at $49++ per plate, it was good for the experience and ambience. And what better way to work out a weekend appetite!

In a Nutshell Deelightful Rating
Cuisine Type: Indian vegetarian ★★★1/2
Nearest MRT: Orchard
Address: 163 Tanglin Rd, #01-28 Tanglin Mall, Singapore 247933
Timings: Till Oct 10th 2016, only for dinner
Website: http://www.yantra.com.sg/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/Temple-Food-Festival-2016-Menu.pdf