I have never shied from from eating creepy crawlies, my firm belief that insects are an incredible source of nutrition and probably the only form of protein for many parts of the world. Its our developed, urban world that has lost touch with such a unique source of nutrition. I was glad to encounter the silk worms again.Read More
The restaurant manager and chef were very sweet and made sure we tried a variety things on the menu. Bombay Blues serves a variety of cuisines- Indian, chaats, Lebanese, Mexican, Sizzlers etc. If you have grown up in Mumbai as Cream Center and New Yorkers as your childhood haunt- this place seems like a bit more modern version of those classics. As a kid though- the Mexican and Middle Eastern food held so much appeal. I did enjoy the nachos and cheese (home made crisps). Mom loved the alu tikki stuffed with hung curd. That was pretty unique- the creaminess of the curd with the potatoes. Of the non- veg appetizer platter I liked the jerk chicken quite a bit. The flavours were authentic something I have not had in India yet- a Jerk chicken done right. The other two on the platter was a Andhra style lamb done in a deep fried spring roll (a bit much) and the other was a spicy fried chicken.
I think the rest of the food - the pasta and the sizzler were alright. The sauce of the pasta was a bit too sweet. To be fair I was too full to eat the sizzler and the large pieces of sausage just looked a bit intimidating. I am very fond of sausages off the grill and these were missing those char grilled marks.
We finished the meal with a sizzling brownie. Even though I have had this combination many times before I still enjoy the whole show of pouring hot chocolate sauce on a hot iron platter and watch the whole thing sizzle. My parents thoroughly enjoyed their dessert. I am a bit of brownie Nazi and love a gooey super chocolatey brownie. I have yet to come across brownies in Mumbai that make the mark for me. I did take a bite and as I said before- it was alright.
I have to thank Bombay Blues though - my parents and I did enjoy our meal and the overall ambiance of the place. We relaxed and let the chef pamper us. Would I recommend it. Definitely for the snacks and appetizers and if you still have space for more experiment off the main courses.
My lovely friend Mark invited me to brunch at the Yoga House. He said its his new favourite place in Bandra. I arrived at this old house with a lovely verandah painted white with a row of tables and benches on either side with pillows. An old door that lead to an all blue azure room with a green chandelier. There were grey mattresses on the floor with orange pillows. Light streaming in from the windows. All the trimmings, doors, windows were white. It was a cheery space, relaxed the kinds you would imagine on a seaside in Greece but we were almost on the seaside in Bandra. Mark sat there relaxed totally fitting in with the space. The smile on his face showed pure satisfaction for finding this beautiful space. I was there with Sangeeta, Anand and Natasha. We ordered everything off the lunch menu- Quinoa burgers, Miknaos toast, Paneer burger, the Yogi's lunch, coffee, juices, and the healthy chocolate mousse. The food was amazing- the raw, colorful salads with sprouts, tomatoes, olives, lettuce, the fulfilling quinoa grain. I had seen quinoa around- but this was the first time I was eating it. The servings were not huge and I was skeptical if I would be full. But I was- not stuffed that I was uncomfortable, just perfectly happy with my meal. In fact I was energetic enough to walk back home with Mark (2 kms) something that does not happen usually after lunch. It was so good that evening I went back to the Yoga house to get some tea and laddoos. This masala tea had lemongrass and ginger. It was subtle and wonderful.
Can I say it enough- I love The all vegetarian, very organic, completely fulfilling Yoga House.
Many of the pictures that follow including some of the lovely portrait shots of me have been taken by MS Gopal the wonderful photographer of Mumbai Paused. He is a self claimed non- foodie but was a complete trooper to try out food outside his comfort zone. He did mention that he felt fulfilled for the rest of the day.
I fell in love over crepes many lifetimes ago. I had a
poulet au curry
(chicken curry) served with a mango chutney and he had a
followed by dessert crepe of nutella and bananas cooked in rum. It was at one of my favourite restaurants in Chicago called
. It was really my first experience with this delightful dosa-like French everyday wholesome goodness. That was many years ago.
I did not think I would find a crepe place so good in Mumbai. My friend Ashraf raved about its hot chocolate and is almost at
everyday (lucky bum lives practically next door). A site visit to Nariman Point led me to finally try the crepes at Suzette. Its located right behind the NCPA. The tiny space was elegant, raw, minimal and earthy. The table mats were brown papers with a stylized line drawing of the Paris skyline (of course with the Eiffel Tower). Simple tall glasses and glass bottles to serve water added to the quaintness of this lovely little cafe. A bookshelf, a row with benches, a few tables with chairs and bar seating at the counter
all gave the space the look of a typical Parisian cafe, warm and welcoming and a place you could spend hours at.
A blackboard menu with all the daily specials handwritten.
I chatted with the owners Antonia and Jereme about their restaurant. They told me about the hurdles of opening a French restaurant in Mumbai, learning Hindi to get their supplies from their vendors & most of all introducing the traditional Brittany crepes to Mumbaikars. Their menu though mostly crepes- sweet and savory, also has salads and an array of fresh fruit juices and smoothies (spelt as
- as one would say in the French accent), teas, coffee and of course the hot chocolates.
I ordered a salad of the day which was by far one of the best fresh salads I have ever had in Mumbai. Lettuce, beans, bacon and a balsamic vinaigrette which was in the perfect amount coating the salad making the lettuce leaves flavorful and not soggy (hate soggy salad).
Antonia recommended a lovely combination for the crepe- goat cheese, chicken, caramelized onions (OMG I love) and a drizzle of honey. Too sweet- nope it was just right. The saltiness of the chicken and goat cheese was the perfect balance with the onions and honey. The crepe itself was crispy and not stretchy like other crepes I have had. I really enjoyed its texture with the creamy goat cheese.
And finally the hot chocolate- you would think thicker the better. Well take a sip and then think again. It was not thick, it was just right, flavorful from the depths of the dark chocolate ocean. One sip and I knew I will crave this every time I need a chocolate miracle.
On my second viist (
I went back again), I met the third owner another French gentleman by the name of Pierre. He told me they use buckwheat flour which is traditional to the Brittany crepes.
I could not quite get the recipe of the crepe batter out of him but I did find one
in case you are interested.
Crepe filling is like playing with flavours and textures- spinach, tomatoes and feta; goat
cheese and apples; ham and egg; chicken and mushrooms in a white sauce. The possibilities are endless. Or check out
for more inspiration
2 hours, 05 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
- ¾ cup plus 1 tablespoon buckwheat flour
- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 2/3 cup milk
- 3 eggs
- 2 tablespoons butter, melted
- ¼ teaspoon salt
Whisk all the ingredients vigorously until the crepe batter is completely smooth; allow it to rest in the refrigerator for 2 hours before making into crepes. Melt a little butter in a crepe pan or large skillet over low-medium heat. Add 3 tablespoons of batter to the pan and swirl until the bottom of the pan is covered with batter.
Cook the crepe for 1 minute, or until the crepe is slightly moist on top and golden underneath. Loosen the edges of the crepe, slide the spatula under it, and then gently flip it upside down into the pan. Cook for 1 minute and transfer the cooked crepe to a plate to keep warm. Repeat with the remaining batter.
My friend Mona sent me this video from when she lived in Germany. This crepe maker is making a banana, nutella cream crepe. It looks absolutely delicious. Danke Mona.
, a set on Flickr
Check out the bloggers and their awesome blogs
Rushina Munshaw Ghildiyal -
Snigdha Manchanda Binjola-
Megha Goyal- Live to Eat
Sunayan Shahani -
Rhea Mitra Dalal-
My dad made his famous Layya Channa for everyone. He laboured over it for 3 hours and made two large boxes which I packed in little bags and tied with ribbons and gave to everyone. The heeng is from Afghanistan and all masalas dad hand picks and sorts out. Do write back and tell me if you enjoyed it.
It was a Friday- I was at site in Bandra and done with work early. Somehow going home felt like it would be a let down so I decided to call a few folks and see what they were doing. The first person I got through was Natasha who said she was in the changing room at some fancy wancy place in Paladium with her mum. The next person I got through was a buddy of mine from college Zameer who runs a beautiful design shop called The Busride housed in the incredible Ranwar Village in bandra. The Studio is a small two room house in the 1st floor of one of those gorgeous old Goan homes in the village. Some of the work these guys do is outstanding. Beautiful sites, great briefs and a whole lot of fun. My other friend from college Ipsit also works with Zameer. They had an intern Maulik and it was decided we will all go out for dinner. Soul Fry was the destination everyone seemed to settle on.
An hour later, wrapping up the week's work, we all set out for Soul Fry. When in Bandra walking seems to be the way to do things. The streets are sprinkled with old beautiful homes that one can only dream of even entering. My mind always wanders in to a what if.. I had inherited one of those homes. We walked past the Bandra gym where cricket was being practiced. One fellow in there recognized Zameer and got chatting. His name was Calder Salazer. What an amazing old name. We said goodbye to Calder and marched towards Pali Hill past a streetside chaat wala called Ranjeet. Zameer told us this guy was legendary even the Bollywood Khans ate at his Paani puri. The fact it was called Ranjeet cracked us up (a long lost dearest common friend). A plate of Pani Puri and Bhel Puri it was. As we ate these nice crispy balls stuffed with warm potatoes topped with spicy water, someone came up from behind me and closed my eyes. It was Natasha. We invited her to join us but she declined. So we walked further up Pali Hill to Soul Fry. Aah Soul Fry! Its probably not the best Goan food, because I dont think some nice old Goan aunty actually cooks in the kitchen but it is an honest attempt to make the food as delicious as possible. Seafood is their speciality.
We ordered prawns, clams (teesri dagdabeet) and fried surmai with pao and a pitcher of Beer. For the sweet intern boy it was the first time eating all this seafood and wine. After a bit Natasha messaged me that she is joining. We ordered up some more food and more beer. Soon the table was filled with insane laughter and crass jokes. The teesri- clams is my favourite. The sauce is slightly sweet, warm and rich. It is done in a typical Maharashtrian style which means no coconut only onions and masala. Would explain the sweetness. The fried Surmai was spicy but gentle which is what makes surmai so special.
After dinner it was decided that we must indulge and sin some more. Chocolate seemed the right way to go. San Churros was voted upon and we headed down the hill to this delightful little cafe on Waterfield Road. The place was almost full of Friday night post dinner revelers. It was very loud and mostly felt like people were on a chocolate high. We settled for some churros with white and dark chocolate and two sinful strawberry with brownies and chocolate and custard cup (cannot remember its name). Our very loud and talkative table got silent all of a sudden and in five minutes flat and finished all three desserts. The Churros are a deep fried Mexican treat, crispy on the outside ans slightly warm and gooey inside. Dipped in dark chocolate, they awaken the child inside you. The other dessert was a lovely combination of all the things you love in this world, brownie, strawberries, custard and chocolate. Cannot go wrong.
The conversation was fun border line inane and full of laughter. The food was delicious. The run -ins were unexpected and very delightful. Bandra makes a lovely setting for such Friday evenings. Could this be planned - I dont think so. We all wanted to attribute our evening to Ranjeet Pani Puri walla.
Promise for more such evenings are always made. Will they happen, we can only hope so.
|To the Busride|
|The three boys|
|At soul fry- the clams|
|Maulik and Ipsit|
|Clams all gone|
|Prawn curry and rice|
|The entrance of San Churros with a promise of the beyond.|
|The fondue plate|
|The energy of the people seated at the table behind us was wild.|
|The Churros and the strawberry brownie chocolate thingy|
"I feel it in my fingers, I feel it in my toes.
Well love is all around me, and so the feeling grows..."
I am a big fan of Le15 Patisserie's macaroons. I have blogged about them before. I know she does not like to share the recipe of the macaroons. But she did not say no either when I asked her if I could photograph her making the heart shaped treats. Pooja Dhingra kindly let me into her kitchen and click her making her beautiful macaroon. So without the recipe a simple visual treat. Enjoy!
|Thank you for letting me photograph you Pooja,|
|I always leave her kitchen a bit guilty and thoroughly in love with her baking.|
So who do you have a crush on? Or what are you doing with your loved one today? Do leave me a comment with your story.
I was in two minds to attend the Versova fish festival. After all I had already attended one last month, and I had a pretty hectic week. This excuse that excuse, but I checked in with my fellow blogger Finely Chopped and he said he was going. That was all I needed to sway my decision to attend the Versova Fish Festival.
So finally after an incredibly long adventurous day I met up with Kalyan and Madhumita who was Kalyan's twitter friend at the Costa Coffee at Versova. We drive up Yari Road asking a few Rickshawalas about the wearabouts of this festival and most of them had not heard of it. I was skeptical, it was close to 10pm. Maybe it was over, maybe we were too late. "Sassy Forks pictures from last year's fish festival were taken quite late at night" Kalyan reassured me. By the way, that is how we had all heard of the fish festival.
We arrived at the entrance of the Koli village and drove through this incredibly narrow lane. The houses were charming, a self contained village by the sea. I am definitely going come back to this place in the daytime with my camera. Finally, we arrived at the entrance of the Versova Fish Festival. A large canopy of colorful satin fabric, a huge fish at the entrance welcomed us. We walked in and bumped into the lovely Poonam Joshi of Homemade Happiness. She was on her way out and quickly pointed at some of her favourites. It took me a minute to take it all in. On the far stage there was live music with Koli dancing. The music was upbeat and alive. All around were stalls, fishing nets decorating the signages, goddesses adorning each stall. Sexy Sheila- like Koli girls were the muse of many life size posters. Each stall had a number with the address of the fishing group. The place was packed. All the tables were filled with people- families- eating , drinking, laughing- lots of fish bones and crab legs, crustacean carcass and beer cans in the bins. We were sort of lost for a minute. Kalyan said- lets try stuff we would not get at the Gajalees and Jaihinds.
We sort of walked a few steps and stopped. It was huge and there were lots of people We randomly chose a starting point. At our first stall there was a man grilling pomfret and large tiger prawns. Huge. Doused in a fiery red sauce. We ordered the prawns. All three of us stood in a corner holding this hot plate of prawns and stared at it. Madhumita took one bite and her eyes grew in wonder. All three of us struggled with our camera as we tried to peel the shell off the prawns. Our fingers and lips were red from the marinade, but our tastebuds were dancing in delight. We walked down to the next stall and tried the fried bombil. It was so fresh. Absolutely melt in your mouth fresh. Madhumita commented that this is as fresh as it gets, no smell, tastes delicate & beautiful.
|Lip smacking red marinade|
|Kalyan taking a photograph as he balances the fried bombil plate|
|The back area|
|Grandpa and granddaughter.|
We walked back and forth in the crowds. Madhumita and I finally settled at a table, while Kalyan was being recognised by people in the crowd. When I first met him, I had huge stars in my eyes.
Here a nice Koli aunty got us this lovely green crab curry and lobster curry. The crab shell disappointingly was all green masala which was delicious but no crab meat. Till we got to the legs and other parts that had to be cracked open. Our table soon piled high with carcass. Finely Chopped wanted his photo taken sucking out of the lobster head. It was so funny. We also had some Fosters and white rice roti (a common Koli preparation) as the perfect accompaniment. Then we ordered some garam garam fish pakodas.
|Lovely Koli aunty|
|Fosters and seafood|
|The way his momma taught him|
|Madhumita and the crab|
|Stall no. 10 and 11|
|The Sonali Bendre Fish pakoda making it on Twitter|
Like happy children at a toy fair, we wandered around. The place was alive, any moment a Dimple Kapadia aka Bobby would have appeared danced. Found this frankie wala who made frankies at the rate of 10 frankies a minute. the stuffing was a mashed potato like prawn stuffing with lots of masala. It was good but fiery hot. Tasted more of potatoes than prawns.
|Guiness world record of Frankie making|
We were getting full but we ran into the lovely Ms. Devyani of the Lakshmi group. We ordered fish roe, stuffed squid and tuna pakodas from her stall. We sat with our second beer. Here there were also on display whisky and port wine. Devyani said to us kindly - Cant eat fish without whisky.
The tuna pakoda stole my heart. Now I know why they say its a close substitute to red meat. It was meaty, spicy, tender, delicious and wholesome. The stuffed squid was wonderful. It was perfectly cooked and was not chewy. As we ate our food, and photographed it, Ms. Devyani told us that this festival was 6 years old. She worked for Air India and the rest of the women at her stall owned their fishing boats and sold fish to wholesalers. While in Mumbai- Malwani, Mangolorean, Karnatak and Goan cuisine is popular in restaurants like Gajalee, Jaihind, Soulfry etc. there is not a single Koli restaurant. That the Koli people are the original people of Mumbai- the seven islands. They dont come from any village this is their land. That Koli food differs from Malwani food in its sauce- there is no coconut just onion, garlic and ginger. That she hopes this festival will be the first step towards creating awareness of the Koli food. That maybe soon there will be a Koli restaurant in Mumbai. Kalyan pointed out to her that this event was not publicized by any of the major English newspapers and if it was it was very obscure.
As I finished the last tuna pakoda, I sighed and realized how important it was for us to be there, to participate in these unknown wonders of our city. Thanks Sassy Fork. Thanks Kalyan and Madhumita for live tweeting. I resolved to write a second blog post on the fish festival. I know this is long and there are so many photos but I really hope I sway you to go there tonight (the last night) or at least next year. If you love fish- I urge you to go to the Versova fish festival. Support our Koli communtiy.
|Major celebration mood|
|Lakshmi group of the Patil Gali Women's Group|
|Fish Roe, Squid Curry, Tuna fish pakoda|
|Twitterati in action|
|Yummy Squid Curry|
|Chatting with Ms. Devyani. Photograph courtesy Kalyan Karmakar of Finely Chopped.|
|Lobster not Prawn|
|Lovely Koli lady|
|The ladies of stall no. 26|
|Madhumita and Paan|
|Paan the perfect finish|
|Amongst the last people out|
|On our way out|
|1 am walk out of the Koli Village.|
Well after all this seafood - Aaal Iz Well!
I was intrigued. A hunt for things in the old marketplace led me to the threshold of Mamledar's. So this Misal Pav joint is right outside the Thane Police chowki and the Mamledar's office and hence the name. Who is a Mamledar? Well I think it is the regional district office. This little food place started to cater to the office people and the Thane Police station. But apparently is so famous that everyone comes to. The Misal pav is sold in three degrees of hotness- mild, medium and hot. Apparently the hot is searing and can burn a hole through your tongue.
Whats Misal Pav - well it literally means mixture of a spiced chana curry with all kinds of crunchies, onions, and a dash of lemon. The Misal is eaten by soaking the pav in the crunchy curry mix. Its delicious. So here are some pictures from the adventure of wandering in old Thane and then finding the famous Mamledar's.
The owner of Mamledar's told me he has been running the place for 58 years. The place is busy from the moment it opens at 8 am to 9:30 pm. There is always a line and never a place to eat. Initially he was not very happy that I wanted to take pictures - he kept saying no advertising. So I pulled up my blog on my phone and showed him the fish post. He smiled and said ok. There was a huge line outside to pack Misal Pav. Every table in the place was packed. A sure sign that a place is super.
Do come and check it out for yourself. We got the Misal Pav to go which we relished at home. Medium spicy was good for me. I am sure I could not take it spicier than that.
Here are a few photos of Thane's marketplace and then Mamledar's. All photos are taken by my phone camera.
Lovely old house
The way to a steel utensil shop
Dear readers- a very happy new year to you all. I have loved bringing my food adventures to you. This year has been quite amazing and its been great sharing it with you. Love to all.
My favourite song at this time of the year. Do listen.
"I want to eat fish for every meal of the day" I said during lunch today. To which I got a prompt response if you were from Kerala that would be the norm. Well I'm not and fish in my mind is very exotic. Since I've been back, I've been very excited about trying out all the local seafood. Though I grew up in Mumbai, my exposure to seafood was very limited. Mum is vegetarian and dad only likes chicken. It was a rare occasion once a year maybe at China Garden we would order a crab and I would nibble at the white crab flesh unable to understand what the big deal was.
Chicago definitely changed that for me. I became more adventurous. I started experimenting with fish in different kinds of cuisines - Sushi, Korean anchovies, Mediterranean, Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese, Mexican, Brazilian, Swedish, English, Zambian, Tanzanian, Ivory Coast, French you name it. I was expanding my very very limited knowledge and was even cooking up a storm in my kitchen. Grilled red snapper, buttery poached salmon, fried tilapia, curried prawns, mussel soup, king prawns on the grill, smelt chips, fried anchovies even Sushi. I tried various preparations and really started savoring the taste- fresh water fish as well as my beloved Seafood.
But I still had never tasted the local Mumbai and coastal fish, once a Goan preparation and once in Cochin. Thats it. When I got back I started reading more about it. Malwani, Mangalorean, Kohli, Goan, Karnatak, Kerala. Even in Kerala there 4 or 5 types I've been informed- Malabar Hindu, Malabar Mapplah, Travancore and Travancore Christian. Wow my knowledge in this matter was totally limited and my taste buds were dying in anticipation to try.
I read about the National Matsya Mahotsava (The Great Fish Festival) on Sassy Fork's blog. I was intrigued. This morning a random Facebook message from Rushina of A Perfect Bite swayed me to go attend and see what all this fish was about. So Janu (Ms. Cultured Purl), Rushina and I met up this evening at the Fish Festival- and for anyone who might be interested in this- today was the last day.
We skipped all the information stalls and headed straight for the food. The first food stall was run by a group of gregarious Kohli women who lived in Versova. They were giggly and happy to serve us food. Then they danced for us. I asked what they did otherwise. They were basically fisherwomen who sorted and sold fish to the sellers. They told me I could visit them in Versova after 5pm any day. I sure will. We ate some of their King Prawns, masala clams, masala prawns, fish curry, and a stuffed pomfret with the rice roti. It was delicious. Janu could not believe what she was eating. I loved the pomfret. I love fish- did I say that enough.
We decided to walk around and see all the stalls before we ate again. Stall after stall, interesting preparations. The food cuisines were limited to Konkan, Malwani and Indian Chinese. None the less the variety of fish and the preparations were great. But even better were the people behind these counters, their laughter, their celebration to share their incredible food, their smiles, their eagerness to make sure we like what they made. It was heart warming to be amongst them, they are proud fisher people, they know their fish and know how to make it. It was like chatting with various mums, they loved posing for my camera. They danced to the music, it was a party, the Kohli party. I was surprised not enough people came here. We did return to tasting the food. Tilapia manchurian, chili prawns, fried smelts with a dash of lemon, fried Bangda. We further indulged in two crabs that were stuffed with an incredible corriander chili masala, tandoori surmai and a shark curry. The tandoori surmai was probably the most delicious fish I have eaten. The flesh was buttery sweet. The shark had an after taste almost like that of shark liver oil pills. I did not mind it but no one else seemed to care for it.
Even my friend Slogan of Mumbai Paused joined us for a bit as he photographed the behind- the- scenes cooking which I joined him to see. Can't wait to see his clicks. Rushina bought a Surmai which the gang of fisherwomen are posing with. It was a lovely evening.
Did I say it enough- I LOVE fish.
As usual I had a hard time sorting, but I really wanted to share the spirit of this evening.
"The first thing that pulls you in is their seductive rainbow of colors. Then you begin to understand the attention required to execute the perfect cookie anatomy: the frilly foot, the delicate egg shell like dome. You get a clear sense of the challenge reading the trials of other bakers and the euphoria of their successes."
Well, I had the pleasure of tasting Macarons tonight at a dinner hosted by Rushina Munshaw Ghildiyal of a Perfect Bite. I am going to write about the dinner later as it is almost 1 am and this is the last thing I tasted tonight. I dont want to forget how they taste....
Pooja Dhingra of Le 15 Patisserie kindly brought these colorful, delightful melt in your mouth babies over for dessert. One bite and the surface crackles, bursting in your mouth with a soft creamy meringue like interior. The chocolate cream in the center balanced the lovely fruity dome. As soon as you opened the box a sigh escapes to see these delightful babies. I naturally reached for the yellow one as it is my favourite color. Turned out to be a tangy passionfruit. I died. My first bite it crackled, it almost fell apart. As the knife rightly said "These Macarons are the reason why food is occasionally called Orgasmic."
Feast your eyes....
Alas here in Mumbai, its just two seasons- hot season and rainy season. The rainy season is just over so now starts hot season again. On the bright side custard apple is here!
Many of you who have been following my blog from the very beginning know that I started it during my couch surfing / homeless (more dramatic sounding) days. I was in transition; I had quit my job, broken my leg, was on intense physical therapy and was trying to decide what next. So I decided to take time out of life and travel across the US thanks to the generous kindness of my friends who let me crash on their couches in exchange for me cooking them delicious meals. Halfway through the process the genesis of this blog happened. I can't say that I documented well that exciting time of my life in this blog but you can read some of the initial posts to see what I was experiencing.
When I finally decided to move back to India, I decided this blog will be a way for me to re-acquaint myself to a city I left 13 years ago. I looked up other Mumbai bloggers. I found many but the two that caught my attention were Finely Chopped and Purple Foodie. One writes food porn and the other creates it. A few weeks into my return I had the pleasure of working with Lulu of Lulu loves Bombay and I knew I was in the right company. Slowly but surely my blogging network grew and I started following up on reviews and places to eat and what to cook.
Then one fine day last week I got invited for dinner by Rushina of A Perfect Bite (thanks to Lulu). The Venue: 55 East at the Grand Hyatt. The guests: 15 Food Bloggers and food critics.
All I could say was OOOOOOOOOOOH YES!
And guess what? The invite list numbered two of my food blog crushes. Yes, they were coming too! I was finally going to meet the Knife of Finely Chopped and The Purple Foodie- 'the size 0 baker'. And there was going to be Vikram Doctor- the food blogger who writes a food column on the Economic Times. But I was also excited to meet the others- hear their stories, know more about blogging- why they blog, where they eat and most importantly where do they find their ingredients. (Remember the ordeal I had finding Parsley). How exciting could a night like this be!?! So many foodlovers at one table, and of course not to mention with a backdrop of dinner at the Fifty Five East restaurant at the Grand Hyatt should be a blast.
So let me take you through the night. I will list all the people I met at the end of the blog. Do visit their blogs. Each one is unique and has a different angle to food. So here is to citizen journalism!
Presenting 55 East at the Grand Hyatt. The interiors are designed by this Japanese firm called Super Potato.
As Anupam, the guy behind making this evening possible explained the walls are laser cut, with light being projected and further reflected with the help of mirrors creating this kaliedescope of light effects. It was quite magical like walking into an Alice in wonderland. It helps you forget about the city outside and you are in the mood for a glamorous night ahead.
The concept behind 55 East is large open kitchens where you can see the chefs prepare your meals for you. You can ask them to customize the dishes according to taste or you can try what they make. There are various cuisines being cooked up in the kitchen, mediterranean, sushi, thai, Indian and continental. Finish it all with a lovely desert selection.
Oh Yes! I am going to walk you through the various kitchens.
The kitchens were beautifully organised with the top of the line cookware. They were clean enough to eat off the floor.
I started with the Sushi
Freshly made Sushi by a Japanese chef who kindly cut me some fresh salmon and rolled it into lovely rolls. I LOVE Sushi. I was so happy to enjoy these rolls.
Oh yes that is Ocra Sushi. Crunchy ocra with sticky sushi rice.
I love loads of Pickled Ginger on my Sushi. I was in Heaven.
Moving on to my next favourite cuisine- Thai. What I loved about transitioning from one kitchen to the next- there were palate cleansers. Like these fried, crunchy, salty rice crackers. Each kitchen counter was decorated with relevant dinnerware- lovely copper, cast iron utensils and the raw ingredients used essentially in their cuisine- chillies in the case of Thai. Check out the lovely chopsticks. 55 East truly plays with all your senses.
Yummy fish curry with sauteed greens. Served up with some spiced soya sauce and jasmine rice. Also tried some of this lovely spring beans, carrots and mushrooms
Drama in the Kitchen. Oooh exciting- that chef totally did that when he saw me take his pic.. I think we had a connection there. (just kidding)
Moving on to the Indian cuisine- cleansing palette with some Papad. I tried some spicy fried Prawns. The rest I just took pictures of. The ambience was set by piles of tomatoes and lemons and dried red chillies.
Pickled Pumpkin seeds and onions relish
Deep Fried Spicy Prawns on banana leaves.
I was so ready to eat that I rushed through the continental section. Next is a picture of a cut of steak with rosemary and grilled green and yellow squashes.
I loves this lovely cast iron gravy holder. They also made tenderloin to order and many different kinds of steaks. I was more into the Thai and Sushi so I went back to try that out.
The set up from the other side.
Ok I know this is a long post. But I have to share with you the dessert counter.
Meringues in jars, chocolate and strawberry sauces, beautiful copper-ware all beckoning you to submit to these sinful pleasures. I love the styling of this place - i wonder who did it. Its a lovely play on your senses.
I think that is Marshmellows in the jars at the back. Oh why did I not ask them for S'mores.
Making a fresh crust to the creme brulee with some sugar on some velvetty custard. My absolute favourite- a thin crust of crunchy, burnt sugar to break into a soft creamy custard.
yes fresh figs made into this delectable fig pie served with custard or icecream
And they made you crepes as well. Fresh cherry compote and a side of ice cream
And finally the true stars of the evening. The fantastic blogger. Forgive me for the less than wonderful photographs... the lighting was dim, everyone was busy interacting and I was too excited for my own good.
Snigdha, Rushina and Shaheen.
Javed and Simran
Mangal and Anupam
The Knife (kalyan) taking a pic of me taking a pic of him.
Snigdha, Simran, and Mangal
The Lovely Lulu, Rushina and Kalyan
Atish- the Animator
Nitin, Nikhil (hidden), Poonam, Shaheen andThe Vikram Doctor
Poonam and Shaheen
Anupam who was our kind host
And finally an incredibly excited me in the presence of the people who I look forward to read.
I unfortunately did not capture everyone there. I missed this amazing blogger that I met that night probably becasue she was also busy taking pictures. Harini- of Tongue Ticklers. She is a working mom, romantic, writer and maker of vegan recipes (a concept that is slowly catching on in India)
I would like to thankRushina Munshaw Ghildiyal- writer, food consultant. Thanks for including me in this wonderful band of merry bloggers.
Vikram Doctor - http://blogs.economictimes.indiatimes.com/onmyplate
Finely Chopped (Kalyan- the Knife) - http://finelychopped-k.
Purple Foodie (Shaheen) - http://purplefoodie.com/
Lotsafood (Shanky) - http://lotsafood.blogspot.com/
Homemade Happiness (Poonam Joshi) - http://home-madehappiness.
Eating out in Bombay - http://eatingoutinbombay.
Lulu loves Bombay (The Lovely Lulu) - http://lululovesbombay.
Sunshinemom of TONGUE TICKLERS (Harini) (http://tumyumtreats.blogspot.
Nonchalant Gourmand (Nikhil Merchant) - www.nonchalantgourmand.
Ifoodee (Nitin Raghani)- www.ifoodee.wordpress.com
Bombay Foodie (Simmi Sareen)- Foodzone Blogspot
Snigdha Binjola - Life on a Simmer
As promised in the previous post on Delhi- Al Kauser at Malcha Marg gets its own post. Typically like street food that are famous for their kebabs, Al Kauser is a stand alone joint on Malcha Marg in South Delhi. You pull up to Al Kauser - a little 10' x10' shack in your car. Place an order for your favourite kebabs- kakori, tandoori, seekh, boti, mutton malai tikki with rotis and parathas. While waiting in the car order up some coca cola as well to help with the heat factor. Enjoy the meal in your car.
I had the pleasure of eating at Al Kauser with my friends Jes, Aman and Shagun. Jes and Aman are regulars and knew exactly what to order. We ordered the famous Kakori rolls, tandoori chicken, the dry fruit paratha and mutton malai tikki and rounded it up with a sweet delicious Firni.
Next, we ordered the mutton malai tikki roll in the dry fruit paratha. This was the most interesting combination of sweet and salty nuts such as raisin, cashews, pistachios all ground in the stuffing of the paratha which is used to wrap these incredibly hot mutton malai tikkis. Notice the green chilies in the pic. It was the most tantalising combination of sweet paratha and hot, mouthwatering and moist tikkis.
The mutton tikkis frying-
Now moving onto the Tandoori chicken. Once again one of the most tender, spicy, melting in your mouth chicken I have ever eaten. Oh! Al Kauser!
Absolutely loved the experience and the food. And safely my stomach held upto this food.
It was delicious!
Some of my other favourite street kebabs places:
Mumbai- Bade Miyan
Ahmedabad- Bhatiyar Gali (must have strong stomach)
And if you ever are in Chicago - trek up to Devon street and sit down at this little hole-in-the-wall place called Sheesh Mahal Dhaba.
My Younger sister Ms. Cultured Purl's rant about a Bollywood film- Maine Pyar Kiya that we loved to watch as kids. If you grew up in the 90's you would know exactly why she is now traumatized by this blockbuster starring Salman Khan.
The two films for me represent the transition from the angry young man (in this case woman) revenge drama of the 80's to a softer romantic love story of the 90's.
Ok Coming soon: back to food talk- my week with wine.
I love food reviews. Following up on someone's suggestion on where and what to eat there. Infact many of the blogs I follow, I love to read what people have to say about their meal served at restaurants around town. Lately two of my favs have been
(for his honest, comic and absolute love for food) and
(a food trip around Mumbai and the globe!).
I read a review about Britannia a few years back in the newspaper when I was down from Chicago on my winter break. I always thought Britannia was a biscuit brand and had clearly never heard of this legendary, quintessential, office crowd flocking lunch spot. The review was very well written and the description of the delicious berry pulao that leaves tangy bursts of flavor in your mouth with each spicy bite had me salivating. So dad and I ventured to try some food there. And what a meal. From the typical Irani interiors of a 100 year old cafe, peeling paint, old school chandeliers and red checkered tablecloths to a delectable list of Irani and Parsi cuisine- berry pulao, salli chicken, mutton cutlets, dhanshak, fried bombil (yum yum yum). Did I say YUM? Sounds charming right. Most charming was the owner Mr.
and his son who run the place. They make it a point to greet everyone who walks in through the door and despite being extremely busy, they have the time to share some stories with their customers. (Apparently the berries in the pulao are imported from Iran. Also Mr. Irani senior is as old as Britannia itself - 88 years old)
I ofcourse fell in love with Britannia ever since and have returned to it year after year to take delightful mouthful's of Berry Pulao.
Two saturday's ago as I was on my Shantaram assignment for a paper at work, dad, mum and I decided to grab lunch at Britannia. Mum had never been there and was excited to try out the place. Below is a photo series of our lunch. Again the most delightful moment was chatting with Mr. Kohinoor Irani who makes the rounds- from table to table, checking on each person and making sure we are enjoying our meal. In case something is amiss he calls out to the waiter and makes sure that the problem is fixed. He advises to come a bit early so that you can get your own favorite dishes as those happen to be other's favorites as well and tend to run out (great logic).
All I can say is Britannia never disappoints! A treasure in the city's old Fort Area. A must visit by every foodie in town as well as visitors coming to town. Old world charm mixed with true hospitality and delicious food makes it one of the best, affordable meals in the city.
personally serving his guests. The peeling paint, the hanging fans, the red checkered tablecloth, Britannia was in full swing and still serving on Saturday at 2pm.
We ordered Salli chicken (mouthfuls of succulent boneless pieces of chicken contrasted by crisp Salli chips. Mutton berry pulao- oh the berries the perfect tantalizing play in the mouth. The surprise element for me was the vegetarian Dhanshak. For a place popular for its non- veg food, the vegetarian Dhanshak was delicious. It was a perfect blend of flavours and after a point I gave up on the non- vegetarian fare to eat spoonfuls of the dhanshak. Served with rice, Britannia's dhanshak makes it to my top ten list of comfort food.
PS: The caramel custard is to die for. Also, see if Mr. Irani will spare some raspberry soda with your meal as well.
Here is a collection images of some of my favorite sweet somethings:
Melissa's mini cupcakes, NYC
One Girl Cookies, Brooklyn - Beautiful cake in the window
Gourmandise- Salt Lake City, Janu's favorite
Cupcake A la Mode- Kansas City, adorable interiors. Who would have thought in Kansas City!
Sugar Bliss - Chicago (photo from the website)
The chocolate flan at Cafe Iberico
(photo taken by my friend Jacob)
So now its Mission Chocolate in Mumbai...
For cupcake recipes see Foodista.com
So I bet here is the story for this combination of objects:
As I wear these lovely red LL Bean woolen boots and nurse my sore ankle, I will read this book 'A Whole New Mind' by Daniel Pink and sip on a hot glass of mint tea. A whole new mind is about how the creative minded are now going to rule the world (Yes! There is hope for me!!).