Monthly Archives: August 2012

An evening of bread making

I love bread and can have it any time of the day or night. And more so today, when the variety is endless. Multigrain, foccacia, ciabatta, baguette, panini. Although the market is flooded with delicious breads, I love to experiment and make my own at home too. So, when an opportunity to attend a workshop on bread-making from Chef Sunil, the Senior Pastry Chef of the Mars Group, presented itself I jumped at the chance. It was at Eat Around The Corner in Bandra. One of my favourite restaurants anyway.

 A few eats and drinks later, we marched to the Kitchen, hair caps et al. Multigrain bread was what Chef Sunil started with. An absolutely delightful experience. He made everything look so simple and gave us some insights which were hitherto unknown to me. Effortlessly he folded the bread, after the dough was prepared. The multigrain mix that he used was packed with nutrients.

The Fruit and Nut cake was tackled next. Chef Sunil made it seem like child’s play. But it was really basic and gave everyone around, the confidence to try it at home. The ingredients just needed to be mixed well in sequence and hey presto, the batter was ready.

Chef emphasized that the fruits should be mixed well in the dry flour initially else, when the cake rises, the fruits will settle down. That, I thought was a valuable tip.

 

The French baguette came last. In this, no sugar had to be added, but the rest of the ingredients were same as the first multi grain loaf, minus the multigrain mix of course.

It was a thoroughly enjoyable evening, informative and interactive. I emerged from their kitchen, more confident and well-equipped to make better breads.

There’s a lot more to come…..Ellipsis

Mumbai has reason to be proud. Ellipsis, the modern American-concept restaurant in South Mumbai, has changed the culinary scene in the city. You are in for a treat in “experimental dining” for sure.

After a long tiring day, we landed at Ellipsis, for dinner. (Until then, it was open only for dinner). It is open for lunch too from later this week.

The ambience and décor immediately relaxed me. Ellipsis’ rustic, yet modern décor, custom-made designs were aesthetically a treat. I loved the tiled tabletops and supple leather seating.

The menu was equally interesting. Ellipsis offers a menu inspired by myriad seasonal ingredients and international techniques. It is broken into three categories – Garden, Farm and Sea – with a menu that changes and is printed daily — a rarity in Mumbai. Items from the Garden include Beet Salad with cardamom, coffee, herbs, pickled vegetables and beet meringue to Gnocchi with roasted garlic, corn, peppers, parmesan, mushroom duxelle. The dishes are al meant for sharing, which really makes your meal more interactive and enjoyable.

 Ellipsis takes pride in providing an unparalleled dining experience, even by American-palate standards. Attention to detail, from scratch ingredients to progressive cooking techniques, is prevalent across dishes. Executive Chef and former Chicagoan, Kelvin Cheung, leads the team with a menu that  adheres to the American trend of farm-to-table.

The hand-rolled Pretzel Bread with the dips, teased my palate sufficiently. Grass skirt and The Fawn were the two mocktails recommended and were extremely refreshing. The green asparagus soup… truffled crème fraiche, white asparagus, was a melee of flavours which soothed my palate. Subtle, yet distinct. Homemade Ravioli with pumpkin came next and was an absolute surprise. The apple, sage, arugula, truffle, parmesan, complimented the sweet pumpkin taste.

I am an incorrigible fish eater and was thrilled, when the pomfret… brown butter, caper, panko, parsley, cauliflower arrived on the table. Light and flavoursome, it surpassed my expectations. The chicken… eddoe, radicchio, long beans, baby carrots, natural jus, was a visual delight but did not entice me as much as the other dishes.

Chocolate Fondant, the sinful dessert was the perfect end to the delectable meal we savoured.

Chicken and waffles  fried chicken, sour dough waffles, foie gras butter, bacon gastrique and served with housemade sriracha; Holland Pork Belly  with steamed buns, are some of the other must-try on the menu.

The chef ensures that items from the sea make their way to the kitchen via air charter to Mumbai in order to provide fresh items like Tuna with soy gel, avocado, Montpellier Octopus Carpaccio with Iberico ham, confit potato, frisee and parsley.

Progression doesn’t stop in the kitchen, bar consultants Alex Day and David Kaplan of New York’s Death & Company – have put together a robust beverage program. Not only is Ellipsis the only restaurant to sell Pinot Grigio and Prosecco on tap, but it also holds exclusive serving rights on more than 20 spirits and 6 beers. Guests can enjoy a healthy selection ranging from “Buzzfree” cocktails, housemade seltzers, syrups, garnishes and infusions, specialty cocktails and shots, the classics, fresh juices and international beers.  Only premium spirits and double pours are used in cocktails.

In short, a meal at Ellipsis is truly, a gourmand’s delight. Fresh ingredients, subtle flavours, impeccable service. Indded, that’s not the end. There is more to come. It is in fact just the beginning.

“We are thrilled to announce the launch of our first venture,” says Rohan Talwar, Founder & CEO, IB Hospitality. We too are Rohan!

Palate Pleasing Parsi khana

I am still recovering from the delectable Parsi fare I indulged in last week at Saptami at HolidayInn Mumbai International Airport, where the Parsi Food Festival, “Chala Aao Jamva” was in full swing. As I have said before, I always enjoy executive chef Sudhir Pai’s culinary treats, but this time it was Chef Sheriyar who bowled me over. He had prepared a special menu for a week long Festival.  Parsi cuisine is a mix of Persian food with a Gujarati influence in it. And the combination, I daresay,  is eclectic.

The Tareli Kolmi, aka spiced fried prawns were just right to ignite our taste buds. Pattra ni Macchi came next, but I found it a tad insipid. Nothing to match the prawns.  Murgi na Farcha or batter fried chicken was unique but really filling.  The papad and chutney were to die for. The chutney with raisins, dates, ginger, carrots was a real palate pleaser.

In the main course, I enjoyed Salli Botti. That dish never disappoints me.  Although I feel guilty enjoying it replete with the fried potato or salli, Dhan dal patio, a lovely sweetish spicy onion masala, reminded me a lot of Goan Prawns Balchao. Simply loved it. The chicken dhansak ( a chicken, lentil and vegetable potpourri) and brown rice are my ultimate comfort food and it just melt in my mouth. The dhanajeera masala made it flavoursome. Parsi food tends to use a lot of ginger, onions and garlic but the food is not very spicy.

Other dishes on the menu were Gosh nu Pulao, Lagan nu Stew, Ghau ni rotli, etc. Each dish was authentic and Chef Sheriyar had lent it his touch.

The desserts included Lagan nu Custard, Kulfi Falooda, Sagan ni Sev, Mithu dahi, Ravo. I relished the eggy melt-in-the-mouth custard and was mesmerized by the way it was presented in a cup rather than the usual boring way.  

 

I couldn’t help thinking why Navroz comes but once a year. Would love to sample this food again soon. Maybe a Parsi friend will invite me over?

Mumbai’s Khana Khazana

I am a compulsive foodie. But then most Mumbaikars are. We love our food and are always on the lookout for new and exciting eating places. I am always excited about embarking on a new culinary journey. While new restaurants keep opening and people throng to these, there are some which have been around for a while and are wellknown because of the food experience they offer. These are some of my favourites. The list is long actually, but a few top of the mind.I am sure you love them as well !

It is a part of the culinary ethos of Mumbai. Every visitor to Mumbai wants to experience Leopold Cafe and more so after 26/11. Every evening is busy at this multi-cuisine café, where people are seen guzzling draught beer and munching sandwiches or enjoying a Chicken Stroganoff or Fried Fish n chips. The “beer tower” which constitutes two pitchers is hugely popular. I also enjoy their breakfast immensely although it is a huge effort to go there on a Sunday morning.

A legendary name amongst the gourmands, Sampan brings back to Mumbai the true flavours of the Orient. It reopened in 2009. The bespoke view of JuhuBeach that this restaurant offers, makes it special. I love their Cantonese food. They also serve several spicy Sichuan dishes – a style of Chinese cuisine originating in southwestern China, famed for bold flavours, particularly the pungency and spiciness resulting from liberal use of garlic and chili peppers, as well as the unique flavour of the Sichuan peppercorn. Chef Penpa’s cooking is the ultimate treat. Their dimsums are delectable as is the Sampan Chicken & Sesame Prawns Toast. But a must try here is the steamed clay pot rice.

If I am in town, I have to stop by at Café Samovar, JehangirArtGallery, Kala Ghoda. The place is abuzz with excitement at all times and the visitors are an eclectic mix. A quick lunch of home-cooked food, or a leisurely chat over tea and keema samosas. The options are many. Their Mutton Biryani, samosas, iced tea, Kathi rolls, Russian salad, are a class apart and the quality remains excellent even after so many years.

Oh! Calcutta may not be a very old restaurant in terms of the number of years of its existence but has definitely made its impact. Food lovers enjoy the food here and I am no exception. The Tardeo one is great but I prefer the express one closer home in Shastri Nagar Andheri West. The fish preparations, kosha mangsho(mutton), luchi, aloo dum, cholar daal are my all time favourites and absolutely authentic. Each time I feel nostalgic and crave for my comfort Bengali food, I head to this place.

I have a weakness for sea food and although Mumbai abounds in sea food restaurants, Pratap Lunch Home in Fort has always been special. The food is fresh and the preparations authentic. I have been going there for years now but they have never disappointed me. The Surmai tawa fry is delectable. Can’t have enough of it. The Mutton Pulao too is a must-have. Those fond of squids should try the squid chiily fry. The fish is fried to perfection and the masalas are as authentic as they can get. The food here is truly a treat for the taste-buds and worth going all the way to town.

My Favourite Sunday Brunches

 

 

There are a plethora of brunches in Mumbai Hotels and restaurants, and so the options are many. Customers can pick and choose as each Hotel tries to woo us with a lot of excitement thrown in apart from the brunch of course. Free flow of spirits and wines, live entertainment usually jazz, kids sections, make it so irresistible. While most of these are multi cuisine spreads, some focus on a single cuisine as well.

Don’t rush through your brunch, else you will ruin the experience. Relax and savour your meal, step by step, as you chat with your friends or family. Expect to spend at least two hours or more for this meal. Just exploring the buffet stations can take you a while as you are spoilt for choice. Confused? I usually am. Salad bar, hot and cold dishes, chilled seafood, pasta, Japanese sushi, grilled station, desserts, cocktail bar, the list is endless.

The brunch at Seasonal Tastes at Westin Mumbai is my favourite. The spread at the brunch is reinvented and I rarely get to eat the same stuff. The highlight of this brunch are the live counters which serve exotic stuff.

 

A pioneer in Sunday Brunches, Indigo was one of the first to introduce these in 1999. And I still love to go there. Indigo is famed for its relaxed ambience and great food. What relaxes me further is the live band. Their desserts too are to die-for. Saptami at Holiday Inn International Airport is another great option for a leisurely Sunday brunch. The fare is unusual and the service impeccable. Citrus at the Leela too has a vast array to choose from. Their counter serving roast meats is my personal favourite.

When am in the mood for a Pan Asian brunch then I head to San Qi at Four Seasons. Even Shiro Mumbai is a good bet for a Sunday brunch. Closer home, I have Mainland China, which never fails me as well as China 1.

So after a stressful and hectic week, the best way to treat yourself is by heading for a lavish Sunday brunch. That’s how I reward myself. Let’s see where I land up tomorrow for Brunch! any suggestions?

Goenchi kodi : My fav Goan fish curry

 

I am a true blue Goan. Can never tire of a Goan fish curry even if I have it number of times in the week. So all it needed was a little persuasion from Chef Sunita Lopez at Zuri White Sands Goa (whee I am currently) and I found myself willingly giving the nod to try their version. The Goa rice and fish curry served was delectable. One of the best I have ever sampled.

The masala paste which formed the base of the curry was unique and that’s what sets it apart. Garlic, turmeric, red chillies, coriander seeds, were definitely the spices used, no different from what I use when I make it, but yet it tasted different. I also add green chillies and ground cumin. All these spices have to be ground to a paste along with coconut. And yes,  Kashmiri chillies are a must for their colour.

Kokum is typically the souring agent I use. That is crucial to the taste. Kokum is more commonly used, yet in summer, some people use raw mango or bimli as well. That lends a special flavour to it.

In South Goa one tends to use less of coconut and the chillies are more fiery. This is what gives it the local flavour. North Goans like us, cannot do without their Kashmiri chillies or the long chillies which are less pungent.

The coconuts that grow so abundantly in Goa form a generous and integral part of our food. In the fish curry, one should use it ground to a fine paste. In case you don’t have fresh coconut, substitute it with coconut milk. But that changes the texture of the curry too.

Onions and tomato,  cut lengthwise should be sauteed, before the masala (mentioned above) is added.

The fish can be any sea fish but must be firm and robust.

 My Recipe :


1 tbsp coriander seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds

1 tsp mustard seeds
8 dried red Kashmiri chillies
½ tsp turmeric
5 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
3cm root ginger, peeled and grated
3 tbsp oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 large tomato, chopped
Fresh coconut
2 fresh green chillies, slit lengthwise
400g fish – any sea fish like Rawas, Pomfret

  • To make the masala, grind all dry spices, along with coconut in a food processor.
  • Heat 2 tbsp oil in a large pan over a medium heat, then add the onion. Fry until soft and lightly golden, add tomatoes, then stir in the masala mix. Cook, stirring, for a couple of minutes, until the aroma of spices pervades your nostrils.
  • Add water and bring to boil. Add the chillies and kokum. Turn down the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes until the curry has thickened slightly.
  • Add fish and cook for a few mins.

 This is best eaten the next day as the masala then coats the fish well