Monthly Archives: July 2012

A gourmand’s journey of Mewar: Nawab Saheb,Renaissance Mumbai

One of the best culinary journeys I have undertaken in the recent past. Of course the presence of Shriji Arvind Singhji Mewar, the Maharana of Udaipur, made it even more special.

The ambience spelt royalty, as we all sat down to taste the flavours of Mewar at Nawab Saheb, Renaissance Mumbai Conventon Centre Hotel.  Executive Chef Surjan Singh Jolly, crafted some of the choicest delicacies, after painstakingly researching and experiencing this cuisine and its cultural heritage during his stay at Shiv Niwas Palace.

I was somehow expecting rich, heavy food, of which I would eat only a few spoonfuls. But I was wrong. The thali laid on the table looked appetizing. Each dish was unique. Starters like Shikaar Maas Ka Soola (Charcoal grilled lamb, garlic, red chilies, cloves smoked) and Ker Sanger Wadi, Sekma (Pan-fried Wild desert beans and berries patty, fenugreek), tantalized my taste buds. I was now eagerly awaiting the maincourse.

 Khad kokada was as authentic as it could get. It had been prepared using the  typical battle mode of cooking, by digging a “khad” or pit in the earth and using mellow flames to roast.  Wrapped in khakra leaves the slow cooked country fowl, with garlic, green onion, green chilies, black cardamom, mace, had a special flavour which was incomparable.  Soweta Degchi Maas (Braised lamb and corn kernels kedgeree, cloves, cinnamon, mint, coriander, green chilies, buttermilk) was equally a culinary delight. Cuisine from Mewar is replete with makkai or corn instead of the usual bajra, traditonally popular in Rajasthan. But the real treat was the Panchkuta. A must-have in Rajasthan am told and an interesting amalgamation of local harvests beans, berries, seeds and fruits.  The Charcoal baked, semolina-wheat flour bread, Sekma Baati  was one of the best I have ever had. The highlight of the main course was the roasted kaleji or liver raita. A masterpiece truly by Chef Jolly.

Blessed with a sweet tooth, I was looking forward to the deserts even after a hearty meal. And those were pure sin on a plate. The Mawa Kachori (Wheat flour pastry, “khoya”, milk cake, pistachio, almond, saffron-cardamom honey) and Paniya Churio (Crushed maize bread, jaggery, hot clarified butter) were amazing. Each ingredient was fresh and well-flavoured. Simply melt in the mouth. The meetha chawal reminded me of the one my mother used to prepare lovingly when I was a child.

To add a traditional touch, the chefs had prepared all the dishes in clay pots, to replicate the original experience. The prompt and impeccable service by the warm staff dressed in turbans et al, added to the grandeur of dining in Royal company. This is not a feast I will forget in a long time. The flavours still linger in my mouth and heart.  The Mewar food festival is on till July 31 and I strongly recommend that you do not miss this gastronomic experience.

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Variety is the spice of life: Carafe, Peninsula Grand

It’s not everyday that one walks into a lesser known Hotel and discovers great food. Carafe , the 24 x 7 Coffee Shop at The Peninsula Grand in Andheri East took me completely by surprise.

Carafe, the 24 hours coffee shop has a spread for the Sunday brunch. All one has to do is sit back and relax, enjoy food from across India as well as global delicacies. The Cream of Mushroom and Chicken soup, set the tone of the meal. It was delicious and made me nostalgic about the soups I used to have in my childhood. I was already looking forward to the rest of the meal.

The kebab platter, was easily one of the best I have ever tasted. The chicken kebabs were marinated to perfection, well spiced and succulent. The fish had the tangy ajwaini flavour and was fresh, crisp and yet melt in the mouth. Of course the version of Pina Colada mocktail served by them was delightful. Creamy, sweet and refreshing, the mocktail was interestingly presented in a scooped pineapple shell.

The main course options were an exercise in choices. Mutton rogan josh, Sabzi kalimirch, Peas pulao, Burmese curry, noodles. There was something for every palate. The food was flavoursome, well-presented and delicious. It was definitely the regular kind of food one experiences at a buffet. The Executive Chef Crystal Mendonca’s expertise and imagination were clearly visible.

Desserts too were a spread. Gajar halwa, Swedish apple tart, pastries, bappa doi, mousse. The Swedish apple tart is a must-try as is the bappa doi. Light and creamy, the bappa doi will have you yearning for more.

Attentive, well mannered staff with quick, efficient service completes the enjoyable dining experience. What’s more the buffet on Sunday includes a complimentary spa treatment at the Caressa Spa. So it is indulgence all the way. Don’t deprive yourself of this treat.

Burger Binge : Burgs @ Bandra

A rainy day like today seemed perfect to drop in at Burgs, the new burgers joint in Bandra. Hearty & Wholesome Burgers with milk shakes, sounded tempting enough to make the effort to venture out in this weather.

A warm and amiable young man, Krishna Kilachand greeted us and seated us politely. He took us through the menu, painstakingly explaining the range of burgers and the reasons for their inclusions. Here was a man who was definitely passionate about burgers! The father son duo of  Sanjay & Krishna Kilachand have started Burgs although Krishna is the hands-on person, chatting with customers, answering queries and even taking orders if needed.

The Dijon Chicken burger- Chicken breast grilled to perfection, sautéed in a homemade mustard sauce is what my friend opted for, while, given my soft-corner for seafood, I ordered the Prawn Kracker. The whole wheat bun with the light succulent grilled chicken pieces, was light and delicious. Quite different from the usual burgers one is used to in India. Of course the normal white bread buns are always there too.

But what bowled me over completely was the Prawn Kracker burger. It was tangy and tantalizing. The patty was well fried, with generous amount of prawns in it, replete with seasoning, lemon zest sauce, spices et al. The french fries which one could dip into the Inferno sauce set our palates on fire. Chipotle Mayo was another interesting dip.

 

For meat lovers, there’s BBQ Lamb – A delicate lamb patty smothered with our special homemade BBQ sauce. Vegetarians do not despair. You don’t have to settle for the usual aloo tikki burger. Try the Aubergine Delite  with delicately spiced brinjal patty, fried to perfect crunchiness, topped with chilly garlic mayo or the Corn Colonel-a grilled patty made of honey spiced corn kernels, topped with a special tangy sauce and homemade relish. Delectable.

The Burnt caramel shake was extraordinary, while the cold coffee was well-made too, but nothing to write home about. Strawberry Slush, Classic Chocolate, Vanilla and Lavender Milkshake, Cola Float Whizz are the other specialty Thick shakes that will have children and adults thronging for more.

A bright, all-white diner with curved corners on just about everything, from the chairs to the walls, gives this restaurant an edgy look that sets it apart from the other fast food joints.

A great place for lunch with friends or even alone. Yummy burgers and refreshing milk shakes.  Not the fast food variety of burgers. Expect gourmet burgers with fresh wholesome ingredients and value-for-money stuff. I am going back for more. Coming?

 

Tantalizingly Tandoori! MUCB’s new menu

Was quite intrigued when I heard that Manchester United Café Bar has reinvented their popular menu with the addition of several mouth-watering dishes and a new appearance. That apart, what really caught my fancy was that they had introduced a whole new tandoor Indian menu currently at the Malad outlet only. Wow! That was up my sleeve.

The foodie in me could not resist trying it out so I decided to embark upon yet another culinary journey. The tandoor menu includes a delicious spread of exquisite Kebabs.  We decided to sample the platter with a variety of kebabs. Murg Multani, fish ajwain tikka, mutton seekh kebab, chicken tikka, it had them all. Chicken kalimiri and tikka were good but the winner was clearly the mutton seekh. The fish ajwain tikka was acutely disappointing as the texture of the fish was rubbery and tough. The strong ajwain aroma and flavour that ought to be there, was missing. Most of the kebabs were a tad wettish, giving a feeling of being semi -cooked and the crisp, robust flavours normally present in a kebab were absent. Other options on the menu are Paneer Ale’, ‘Dhingri Bhara Kebab’, ‘Galauti Kebab’ and many more.

As always, Minal, the young lady serving us, was impeccable. Alert , well-informed and helpful. Trusting her, we let  her decide our mocktails and she did a great job. The kiwi n khus mocktail was extremely refreshing.

The Thai curry (Red)  and steamed rice in the main course was delicious, with the typical aromatic Oriental flavours. I opted for Goan prawns curry and rice. Well- presented, the dish was tasty but nothing remotely close to the authentic Goan curry. It was more like a Chettinad/ Kerala style prawns curry replete with curry patta and red chillies. Also the gravy was too thick and had less of coconut in it. But palate- tickling nevertheless. I throughly enjoyed it as it was in a new avatar, quite different from what we Goans, make at home.

We were recommended the Orange cheesecake, for dessert. It simply melt in our mouth and took me by complete surprise, considering I am not a great fan of the orange flavour. Pizzokie, a pizza in choco chip cookie dough with vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce is another must-try.

The new main menu too has some great offerings, but we decided to skip that in favour of the tandoor menu.

An enjoyable afternoon. Great service, lovely ambience but the Indian food can definitely be better. But yes, one knows, MUCB is not supposed to be an Indian speciality restaurant. So just enjoy!

 

A Corn-y affair!

Who doesn’t enjoy a garam bhutta well roasted on a rainy day? with a lot of lime squeezed on it and salt to taste, it perks up your taste buds.  Many hotels offer bhutts during the rainy season in their menus so you can enjoy a hygienic version. But frankly  I love it in the rains from a roadside vendor. While roasted corn or steamed corn with masala and lime have gained popularity, corn is a versatile ingredient. There ‘s so much you can do with it in your kitchen.

My personal favourite of course is makai ki roti made from maize flour. Nothing to beat that with sarson ka saag in winter. More so beacuse am a Punjabi and have grown up eating that. A dollop of home made butter on the saag and voila! you are in heaven.

I once sampled a delicious corn shorba in Delhi at a friend’s place. Was truly unique. Thick and creamy. Extremely nutritious too. Ofocurse there are endless vegetarian preparations like corn palak, corn mushrooms, corn bharta that one can prepare. But corn is not limited to Indian cuisine only.

Spicy corn fritters are hugely popular in Thailand. Paired with an interesting dip, these make a tasty snack. Thai corn cakes are also an interesting option.

Chef Sudhir Pai of Holiday Inn Mumbai International Airport has unleashed his creativity and has taken corn to the next level. Celebrating a corn festival till July 17,  with lip-smacking corn delicacies. European Polenta crusted chicken, Rajasthani Makai ka Soweta and much more at Sapatami, the all day dining restaurant, he ensures you will sample corn as never-before. So check it out.

 

 

 

Rustic & Robust Italian food: Spaghetti Kitchen

The cheerful décor with natural light filtering in makes the Spaghetti Kitchen outlet at Khar special. It’s my favourite. It has just turned a year old. Incredible. Tastefully done up in vibrant colours, it is a good dining choice.

Spaghetti Kitchen is a speciality restaurant conceived to serve up a rustic and flavoursome Italian cuisine that is acquiring universal favour among Indian diners. Genuine Italian food is robust and flavoursome, and yet, suited to the Indian palate. That’s what sets this place apart.

The new menu by Bill Marchetti, Master Chef is a delight as always. Varied and exhaustive, it is difficult to make up one’s mind. We are given suggestions and we decide to abide by those. Bruschetta is what we sample in the Primo Piatti or First Course. Superb toppings and flavours. The artichokes and capers swept me off my feet. The sea food soup with tomato chowder is palate tickling. It relaxes me completely as I watch the rains outside. Some more sea food is what we venture into with the Mixed fried sea food platter. Each variety of sea food tastes better than the other. Calamari, prawns, fish. Absolutely delicious and fried to perfection in batter with herbs. The thin crust Roman pizza is light and crispy. The topping with generous helpings of spicy chicken in an interesting marinade, complement the crust. It simply melts in the mouth. I can never resist a Pizza so decide to skip the vast array of pastas, hand crafted, long & short and others. The Vegetarian fare is as delightful as the Non vegetarian one and for once one does not regret being a vegetarian. Parmesan, Olive Oil, Basil, Tomatoes are evident in most of the dishes. Fresh and of great quality, making a real difference to the flavours.

Tiramisu is difficult to resist, inspite of a heavy meal. I am ready to indulge. Creamy, mascarpone cheese, with the right flavour, it is a treat for the palate. The Sicilian ice cream cake too is pure sin. Opt for it only if you are still hungry.

Umesh the Senior captain serves us with enthusiasm and warmth, gusing us through the new menu and that makes the meal even more enjoyable. Chef Nitin’s personal visit makes me feel special. An unforgettable rainy afternoon. No wonder I love dining at Spaghetii Kitchen.