Monthly Archives: September 2012

A Sub-lime experience: Quiznos

Bandra sure is swinging like always. First, Bagelwala and now Quiznos.  New food places keep mushrooming in this happening suburb of Mumbai. USA’s popular sub chain, Quiznos, has made their entry in the Indian sub-continent, by opening their flagship franchisee outlet in Mumbai.

 Bhavana & Kunal Khatri, are the enterprising duo who have started this. Bhavna said, “India today boasts of a variety of fast food chains, but Quiznos  offers different food for different tastes right from different types of soups, salads, pizzas, and a lot of other stuff.”

The cozy, vibrant interiors immediately appealed to me. The staff at the counter is well-informed and takes you through the offerings painstakingly. The concept of all the subs being toasted is good. The breads used for the Subs are exciting. Multi grain, Italian white and rosemary cheese. Yummy. I settled for the Rosemary cheese of course and the chicken carbonara Sub. My colleague tried the Chipotle chicken. Mine was a mildly flavoured sauce, but creamy and with a stringy texture. The other one was spicy and crunchy. The carbonara sauce however tasted different than what it does in a pasta with bacon. But nevertheless, delicious.

The Smokey Chilli Chicken Sammie ( a multi grain wrap basically) was good too. In fact, more filling than the Sub. Total value-for-money, I thought. The freshness of the ingredients struck me as I munched through it. Quiznos, is particular about what they serve and they care about the customer’s health. Thank God for that.

The subs, sandwiches, sammies are affordable. Equally exciting is the sub of the say offer. What sets it apart from Subway is the choice of a non-veg and veg sub daily.

The Hot BBQ chicken salad, was the winner. Crunchy, tangy with succulent chicken pieces in a delectable BBQ sauce. We simply loved it. Never felt more healthy !

Office goers and students are going to love this place. It offers them just what they are looking for. A hearty meal which is tasty and easy on the wallet. And then there are combos too.

We may have gorged on the Non-vegetarian stuff only, but the vegetarians have a lot to choose from. Aloo Spinach, Veg Hara Bhara, Paneer Tikka. You name it and they have it in the subs. The menu has Pizzas as well, if you are not too fond of subs and sammies. And yes, you can begin your meal with a Spicy tomato soup or a cream if mushroom soup @Rs 50 only.

 I loved what I ate and that’s what Quiznos stands for. So it did live upto its promise.

Lord of His Kitchen: Chef Kroongtana Nimnu

Chef Kroongtana Nimnu seems at ease in the Hotel kitchen, even though he has arrived recently.  As the new Chef De Cuisine at Ocean, Sahara Star, he is in command. Authentic Thai recipes and traditional Chinese dishes is what he has come armed with. He explains, “The menu focuses on Thai & Chinese and will have sprinkling of other Pan Asian Cuisines also. But you know, the two nations are inseparable. Thai cuisine blends the two cultures of China and India.”

 

Thai cuisine, according to him, encompasses, all flavours in one dish, sour, sweet, salty, spicy and bitter. Other cuisines salt their food with salt, but the Thai food is salty from fish sauce. He is aware that “most of our major customers are Indians. The new menu has many dishes which have a touch of Indian foods such as curry. Though, I would like to keep the original taste & flavour. However,  I am willing to meet guest preferences,” avers Chef Nimnu.

 Originally, from Thailand, he learnt cooking at an early age from his mother, owing to his keen interest in the kitchen.

 He is aware of the challenges of catering to Indians, especially Mumbaikars, who are foodies and have a discerning palate. With the variety he has introduced in the new menu, he promises his guests a gastronomical journey, like never before. 

He has seen a bit of Mumbai and the traffic intimidates him, yet eh loves the city and its people. Beneath that calm persona and quiet smile, is a confident chef, who deftly prepares food and wooes his guests.

His food struck me as very simple and authentic and yet, tuned to the Indian palate. He is obviously particular about his presentation, as each dish was uniquely and painstakingly presented.  The flavours were distinct and the aroma filled the nostrils even before one sampled the dish. Even a Thai green curry which I have been eating all my life tasted so different. Perhaps, the real one at last? Simply loved it. Am already yearning for more.

 

 

 

 

Dilli Darshan @Copper Chimney

Delhi chalo, this slogan could not have been more apt for me last week. Of course I did not really need to go all the way to Delhi to sample ‘Purani Dilli Ka Zaika’, a gastronomic extravaganza of the culinary magic of Old Delhi and its renowned dishes. I merely needed to step into any of the Copper Chimney outlets in Mumbai. And I did just that. I headed to the Lower Parel Copper Chimney at Phoenix Mills.

Delectable kebabs, fragrant pulaos and exotic curries were on offer as part of this exciting promotion. Murg boti or Chicken tikkas and tali machli were the two non-vegetarian starters recommended. The basa fish was well-marinated and fried, to my taste. The tikkas had a great marinade, spicy et al, but were a bit too soft. I prefer my kebabs grilled a little more and crisp. The aloo tikki with chole was replete with memories of my student days in Delhi. Swept me off my feet.

 The alert staff impressed me greatly, as did their knowledge about the menu and each of the dishes.

 I could not resist the peethi puri, something that my mother used to prepare. It paired well with the Chandni murg, which was a white gravy based chicken, with a distinct garlic flavour. A little heavy, but it was a treat for the taste buds. The Paneer was nothing to write home about but the Cholas were to die-for. Tangy and delicious, those were a class apart. Typical home-made robust Punjabi chole. Vegetarians had exciting options too. Aloo Rasedar and Khubani Kofta sounded mouth-watering. I regret not having sampled the Afghani Pilao, with mutton, but just could not manage it.

 Had to indulge myself with the Kalakand n kesari phirni. It was the best phirni I have ever had in Mumbai. The rice was ground to perfection and blended well with the khoya, milk and other ingredients. Transported me instantly to my grandmother’s place. 

The master-chefs at Copper Chimney had indeed succeeded in whipping up some Old Delhi special delicacies, reminiscent of the Mughal era, to the delight of us gourmands.

 The festival is on till 10th October at all Copper Chimney outlets across the city. Don’t miss it of you remotely love food. It is a rare treat.

Bring on the Bagels: Bagelwala

Bandra has always had some of the best eateries in Mumbai and the addition of Bagelwala has enhanced the dining pleasure of gourmets. Behind Tarun Tahiliani’s outlet off Turner Road Bandra lies Bagelwala, a cosy, casual, sit-in café and diner that specializes in fresh, hand-rolled, ‘authentic New York style’ bagels.

 

Must confess had the real bagels after really long, as I bit into my Smoked Herb chicken bagel. Warm, of the right consistency, the luscious bagel with the filling, just melt in my mouth. They have been relentlessly experimenting for months to get their bagels right. The tangy sundried tomato chicken bagel that we tried, was equally a delight. The banana walnut cake slice was yummy and so reminiscent of home-made simple cakes. The home made lemonade was fresh. Only the Cappuccino was disappointing. Milky, sans any coffee taste. That could do much better. 

There’s exotic stuff for vegetarians too. Avocado, spinach, et all and of course a great pick of cold cut bagels including Turkey.

A bagel is a bread product, traditionally rolled by hand into the form of a ring. It is customarily topped with poppy or sesame seeds and served with cream cheese. A bit like our Kankon from Goa?

At Bagelwala, the bagels are fresh and hand-rolled. What’s more, they make their very own cream cheeses (plain and flavoured) and accompanying sauces! Bagelwala serves breakfast too and does a home delivery of 13 bagels and 250 gms of cream cheese for Rs 900 anywhere in Mumbai. But yes, am not sure if the Bagels are value- for-money, as one bagel is not too  filling. Or maybe it’s the original stuff that one is paying a premium for?

There is self service so you cannot expect anyone to wait upon you. The bagels are good and the place cute and warm. Definitely worth checking out.

Spinach n Pasta Bake: Recipe

 

 

 

Ingredients:

400 gms pasta

1/4 litre milk

2 cloves garlic

100 gms nutmeg

1kg spinach

3 eggs

butter

salt to taste

Method :

Boil the pasta in lightly salted water, until al dente and drain completely. Pre heat oven to 180 degrees and grease a baking dish. Mix spinach with milk and eggs, using a hand mixer ideally, and season with nutmeg and salt.

Place pasta in the greased baking dish and piur spinach mixture over. Stand the dish in a larger one and add boiling water. The water should cover half the dish. Place in the oven and cook for approx 40 mins. slice the nutmeg and garlic cloves. and sprinkle on top of the dish. Place back in the oven for 5 moins or so and remove. serve hot.

Spicy Trail : Kerala Cafe

I relish Coastal food. Goan cuisine occupies a pride of place in my favourite cuisines, but I enjoy food from Kerala as well. Not surprising therefore, when I heard of Kerala Café a new eatery in Malad on Link Road, I decided to check it out.

And what a delight the food was. The Chicken Pepper we settled for had a nice, tangy gravy, replete with tamarind and pepper. The pieces of chicken, albeit small, were well-fried and delicious. The chicken however should have been boneless ideally. There were far too many bones to deal with and was pretty irksome by the end of it. Freshly made hot, fluffy appams were a perfect match to the chicken preparation. Mutton ginger, with succulent, fleshy pieces of mutton had a robust, spicy flavour. The aromatic fish biryani with Surmai was a treat. The fish was fried to perfection and the masala in the flavoured rice added the right tinge of spice to the biryani. The other Biryani options were chicken, mutton and egg.

 

On weekdays, for lunch, Kerala Café offers a fish thali, which is immensely popular. On weekends it is only a vegetarian thali though. The Vegetarian section  in the menu, is exhaustive too with Avial there of course. There are a few dishes in egg, several in Fish, prawns, chicken and mutton. There are a host of breads- aapams, dosas, kerala partaha, puttu et al. Payasam is the only dessert served.

It is a simple restaurant, clean and hygienic, with no frills.  The guy at the counter doubles up as a waiter and serves you your food. No fuss, he is polite but business-like. Visit Kerala Café if you’re looking at good, affordably priced food with authentic flavours.

Garma garam khichdi……

Today is the perfect day for some hot khichdi. My ultimate comfort food anytime and more so in the rains. Khichdi, Khicuri, khichri…. it is known by many names, but they all mean the same thing – a combination of dal and rice cooked together, sometimes with vegetables.

It is a complete and nutritious meal in itself. Different parts of India prepare khichdi differently, but we all love it. My favourite is the Bengali version with moong dal, potatoes, other vegetables. A dash of chilli powder, bay leaves n garam masala, added and it is unparalleled. Light and delicious. It is simple to prepare too and can be made at a short notice. Pair it with papad and pickle or begun bhaja(brinjal fry) and you are in seventh heaven.

Gujaratis too make great khichdi which is eaten with their sweetish kadhi. Delectable. The Gujaratis also do a spicy version called the vaghreli khichdi. Mumbai has several restaurants which serve this khichdi. Soam in Babulnath, Mumbai makes delicious bajra khichdi. Taste plus health. I somehow don’t relish the daal khichdi offered by Udupi joints in Mumbai. there is too much of haldi in those.  Another variation of khichdi which I enjoy making is palak khichdi. Add blanched palak to your regular moong dal khichdi with ginger, garlic and voila! a great meal is ready. Again, it is not neccessary to use only moong dal in khichdi. I often make it with masoor dal and even chana dal. Only the tempering should be different.

Interestingly, in Mumbai we call the upvas food sabudana khichdi by the same name, even though it is not made with rice and lentils. a friend of mine makes khichdi with seven grains. It is the ultimate in taste and nutrition.

Some people enjoy their khichdi with pickle, others with curd. whatever the accompaniment, I am only particular about the fact that the khichdi should not be overpowered with spices. Otherwise the purpise of having a light meal of khichdi is defeated. In fact it is often eaten when one is unwell or has an upset stomach. I can eat it anytime.

Khichdi is a versatile dish and so much can be done with it. One can add interesting ingredients to it to give the basic khichdi a twist. I am all set for making khichdi tonight. Are you?