Monthly Archives: May 2012

Chalo : Smoke House Deli

Phoenix Mills at Lower Parel is always pulsating, but as we stepped inside Smoke House Deli, that place was buzzing with frenetic activity, an unusual sign for a weekday evening. We were welcomed warmly and were shown our table. The place is vibrant, cheerful and the ambience immediately beckons you. The staff is attentive, polite and extremely well-informed. In fact, they guided us through our culinary journey and did a great job.

For a juicy and refreshing way to beat the heat, I opted for a Kiwi melon mocktail. It truly was the best from the season’s bounty, and extremely light and invigorating.

 Executive Chef Glyston Gracias, Chef & Manager, explained, “We always work towards highlighting subtle and honest flavours that enhance our fresh, seasonal ingredients. Our season specials are created, keeping the weather and the produce in mind. For this summer menu, we’ve incorporated cooling touches, fruity kicks and nourishing flourishes in every dish including the cold soups, salads, mains and desserts.”

 Cold Soups like Cucumber + Dill with white balsamic or Beetroot + Mustard Soup with sour cream and mascarpone, I thought were great options for summer. The Salads sounded even more tempting so we settled for a Roast Chicken Salad + Thyme Croutons with grain mustard “vinaigrette”. The crunchy texture, tangy flavours, got my palate ready for a hearty meal. For Mains, we were suggested peri peri rubbed smoked chicken with smoked pimento reduce and a chilli crusted John Dory with citrus thyme veloute on a bed of turmeric risotto. The sauce on the chicken was palate-tickling, distinct and flavourful and the chicken breasts were succulent. The chilli crusted fish simply melt in the mouth and the turmeric risotto was unique and one of the best I have ever tasted. Other exciting dishes on the menu include, Lemongrass + Dill Marinated “Rawas” with kacchi aambi + tomato “butter”, Saffron + Jalapeno Grilled Chicken with turmeric velouté, herb crust Australian lamb chops.

We rounded off our meal with a tiramisu. It never lets me down. Fluffy, light and with the right flavours, it was sinful. The Summer Berry Pavlova or Mango Cheesecake sounded delightful too, but we gave it a miss.

One of the best dining places I have visited in recent times for global food. The menu is an exciting array of sandwiches, burgers, soups, salads, pastas, and so on. The drinks menu is exhaustive too and clearly spells innovation. The presentation of the food is a visual treat as are the flavours for the palate. This deli merits another visit soon.

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Kababs ka-Baap : The Great Kabab Factory !

 

Atithi devo bhava……. Treat one’s guests like God. While this is the basic premise of Indian hospitality, how many Hotels and restaurants even bother to follow it?  Thus, the experience at The Great Kabab Factory, an Indian specialty restaurant at Powai proved to be an amazing one.

Right from the time we entered, it was service with a smile. Warm, affable and well-informed staff guided us through our culinary journey the entire evening.

Chef Dheeraj Mathur, the Master Chef is clearly a maestro in his kitchen.  I haven’t had that kind of a galauti kabab in any standalone restaurant in Mumbai, that was served here. No wonder it is their signature dish. It simply melts in the mouth.

TGKF brings delectable kababs from all over the world to one table, as part of the Jashn- e-Lahore, festival. Even in their regular menu, kababs are obviously the highlight ans what food-lovers throng for.

At The Great Kabab Factory (TGKF), one can experience mouth-watering kababs prepared in seven different styles, roasted on the tandoor or on a singhri, shallow-fried in a tawa or a mahi tawa, deep-fried in a kadhai, steamed in pots or even grilled on a stone. Peshawari Kabab, Hussaini Seekh, Atishi Champ and a kabab made from mawa, were all delectable. Chef Dheeraj’s versatility knows no bounds. 

Lahori cuisine has Afghan-Turkic-Iranian roots, a legacy of Muslim rule inSouth Asia, which got ‘Indianized’ owing to the immense usage of spices. The aromatic and spicy  Lahori dishes are known for their unique flavours and TGKF delivers its promise.

A different menu is set for each day and guests are served unlimited servings of each dish, either vegetarian or non-vegetarian. Besides the signature kababs, Galauti and Burrah, the meal comprises of daal factory, biryani, a selection of Indian breads and the best of seasonal vegetables and desserts. The sheermal, a bread made with milk and saffron in the dough was delightfully dfferent and its subtle sweetness complimented the spicy kababs.

The chicken korma was well made , as was the dal makhni and yellow dal tempered with methi. The Gosht Biryani was good, flavourful and aromatic, but not one of the best I have tasted. The accompanying chutneys and dips were interesting, especially the one made with curd.

The desserts were a treat. Moong dal halwa was luscious in taste, and the gulab jamuns were soft n succulent. The mango phirnee was relatively disappointing.

The Badshahi Dawat that we were a part of, was truly a memorable one. The evening was an enjoyable one with prompt service, attentive staff, delectable food and the way the entire restaurant was packed by 9 pm, it was evident that TGKF is a popular place. At Rs 795 plus taxes per person for an unlimited meal of non-vegetarian kababs and biryani, it is a steal. On till June 10, this Jashn-e-Lahore is a must-try, if you like to celebrate food. I defintiely do.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Interesting world flavours in new menu: Cafe By The Beach

New menus excite me and so I landed up at Café By The Beach, Girgaum Chowpatty, to check it out for myself. The Mezze platter with tabouleh, fattoush, hummus, baba ghanoush, pita bread & olives was interesting, but not the best I have had in this city.

The appetizers came next with cherry tomato & ricotta bruschetta and peppered chicken crostini. The latter was exciting, particularly the horseradish cream and juicy pomegranates as garnish, lent it a unique flavour.

From the Pasta & Risotto section, the Beetroot gnocchi with dill cream sauce was the clear winner. I am not a great one for beetroot at all and I enjoyed that the most. It was exceptional. Kudos to Chef Ashay Desai. Chicken Ravioli with roasted artichoke hearts was equally a treat, as I enjoyed the flavour of the chicken in the ravioli envelopes. The Pumpkin & goat cheese risotto was disappointing, considering I am a huge fan of risotto. Extremely dry and chewy in texture. Not cheesy enough for my palate. (No pun intended!) The Parpedelle in saffron chilli sauce was not upto my palate either. Tough in texture, a trifle flat & insipid, the saffron taste was too pronounced.

I simply loved the water chestnuts and spinach crepes served with a melange of fresh tomato and creamy cheese sauce. The contrast in the textures and flavours was outstanding. You can’t go wrong with Shepherd’s Pie and Chef Ashay is clearly a master. The Mustard crust fish with dill honey ailoli was good, especially the spicy sundried tapenade. It enhanced the light flavour of the fish. All in all, a great new menu by Chef Ashay. Fresh ingredients have been creatively used to offer exciting and varied flavours. A bit of an overdose of tomatoes though. There is something for every palate. Vegetarians can rejoice. Interesting dishes await them. A place worth visiting. A beach front café, great food and impeccable service. Check it out.

A herbal-icious menu

It’s healthy to use herbs in your cooking and these enhance the flavour and taste of the food too. I often tend to use many herbs. But an entire menu based on herbs? That’s no mean feat.

Sudhir Pai, Executive Chef at HolidayInn Mumbai InternationalAirport never ceases to surprise me. He is doing a herb festival called Herbalicious at  Saptami, the all day dining restaurant. He has thoroughly researched how these herbs were used in ancient times and introduced a menu inspired by herbs. I was curious, and was lucky to sample it beforehand and am truly impressed.

The menu which comprises of dishes prepared with thyme, tarragon, parsley, rosemary, mint, fennel, brahmi and many more is bound to be a treat for food connoisseurs. The menu consists of red and white meats, prawns and other vegetables preparations. So it’s not as if it is only boring, insipid vegetarian fare.

 It starts tomorrow and is on till May 31 for lunch and dinner. Soups such as Kerala kootum healthy curry leaf drink, Carrot and roast garlic soup baby fenugreek sound interesting.  Grilled tofu chimichurri with cucumber and avocado salad, Thyme and garlic scented prawns on a bed of mango couscous salad,  Supreme of chicken basilico with garlic cream cheese and pesto char-grilled served with fondant potatoes and broccoli, are to my mind exciting dishes and are being cooked in a healthy manner. A must-try for food lovers. 

A great one for fish, I’d recommend Prosciutto wrapped pink salmon fillet with wilted spinach and  dill lemon beurre blanc, Roast Vietnamese basa with beetroot bacon and horseradish dill cream. For those who enjoy red meat,  Rosemary and parmesan crustedNew Zealandlamb rack with red wine jus and garlic mash is perfect. For vegetarians there is Feuilletage of eggplant parmesan chunky tomato sage sauce. A dessert using herbs?  White chocolate rosemary with mango yolk dome. Whew! Chef Pai at his creative best.         

Aamer payesh (Mango Kheer) : Recipe

Ingredients : 

1 -2 Mango, ripe 

3 cups Milk (c0ndensed or whole)

50 gms raw rice 

50 gms Jaggery

For garnishing

a few chopped cashews 

elaichi (cardamom)

Method:

Wash & Boil rice in cup of milk in a pressure cooker.

Peel the mango, cut into small pieces.

Boil the remaining two cups of milk in a kadai, till it gets reduced to one-and-a-half cups and changes colour.

Add the mango pieces, the boiled rice and jaggery and stir well for few minutes.

Garnish with cashews and elaichi. Serve  hot or cold.

 

Chicken Sukha : My Recipe

Ingredients :

 250 gms Chicken Breast

1 1/2 cup Fresh coconut grated

2 tomatoes

1 large onion

 5 cloves garlic

 1” ginger

2 tbsps Garam masala

 1tsp dhana jeera powder

3 elaichis

A few Cloves

1 tsp rye

Haldi powder

 1 green chilli

Oil for cooking

 Water

Lime juice

Salt to taste

Method:

 Cut chicken into pieces and marinate with salt and haldi powder. Roast all dry masalas on tawa. Then roast coconut on tawa. Roast onion on slow fire( direct flame), till transparent. Put all dry masalas and roasted coconut in blender and grind it. Heat oil, sauté ground masala, till it leaves the sides. Stir constantly. Add marinated chicken, stir again for five mins or so. Add water and cook for 30 mins on slow flame. Switch off gas and add lime juice. Serve hot with bhakris or appams.

Mango Mania

What is summer without mangoes?? Tasteless and insipid. I love to gorge on mangoes and look forward to summers only for that. Nothing like a juicy, pulpy mango everyday. I can’t have enough of mangoes in summer in any form. Aamras and puri, mango milk shake, mangoes chopped into cubes with ice cream or yoghurt. I basically look for an excuse to eat a mango.

Apart from being consumed as a fruit, which most of us do, mango lends itself to several dishes in various cuisines. One can actually create many a culinary delight with this ‘King of fruits’. But of course desserts made of mango are the most delectable. A custard tart made from mango, freshly baked mango cheese cake, mango soufflé served with mango sauce. The options are plenty. It all depends upon how creative a chef can get. And mind you many pastry chefs can whip up magic with mangoes. Vasant Khot, the Sr. Pastry Chef at Holiday Inn Mumbai Intl Airport is one such example. I can never have enough of his desserts and specially those made with mango.

But in recent times, one dessert which has completely swept me off my feet is the Mango Meringue at Deliciae, Bandra and now in Powai.  That quaint little cafe has some extraordinary desserts. The crunchy meringue is filled with fresh alphonso mangoes with low fat fresh cream. It is absolutely sinful and simply melts in your mouth. Can’t wait to go back for some more before mangoes disappear from the market.

Though all of us love desserts made with mangoes, we often don’t realise how well mangoes can be integrated into savoury dishes too, either in their raw or ripe form. Seafood pairs well with raw mangoes and the flavour of mango, although strong is still very compatible with other flavours. Fish cakes with mango salsa are my favourite. I first tasted them in Singapore and the taste still lingers in my mouth. Mangoes apparently compliment pork too.  That’s not all, one can have Mango Margherita too. But my first choice for eating mangoes is and shall always remain in desserts only.

Wish I could be in Goa right now and enjoy the local varieties of mangoes and also attend the mango promotion at Grand Hyatt Goa. The chef there is creating exotic desserts and dishes using mangoes.