Monthly Archives: October 2015

Around the World With Ten Pizzas

Endowed with an adventurous palate, I embarked upon a gastronomic journey last night at California Pizza Kitchen at Infiniti Mall Malad, Mumbai. After all it was an exciting Pizza Trail with pizzas from across the world!

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Sipping our Malta & Pom and Melon Duo, in virgin avatars, we were sufficiently rejuvenated and got a respite from the humidity outside. The menu looked interesting. A variety of Pizzas from all over the globe, highlighting the varied flavours of each country. Our drinks were well-made, with liberal amount of fresh fruit pieces, fresh juice et al, creatively served in jars. Value for money, all the way!

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To begin with, we settled for the Lebanese Grill chicken. The succulent pieces of chicken were flawless in texture and flavour and grilled to perfection. The marinade too was distinct, as were the herbs. Yet, it was a tad bland for my palate. The Charmula fried fish gave me no scope for disappointment. Crisply fried, the fillet was melt in the mouth and the accompanying lime cream sauce added the right amount of zest.

The Cheeseburger pizza was strongly recommended by the chef. We complied. And it was a great choice. Laden with the goodness of cheese, it was like having a burger in a Pizza form. Delectable. The chicken cubes, generously layered, added to the experience.

Cheese Burger Pizza

As a Vegetarian option, we opted for the Thai curry pizza. While the characteristic Thai flavours were pronounced, something seemed missing in this one and it failed to tease my taste buds. Perhaps it was a bit too dry? I loved the presentation though.

Of course there were a host of exciting options on the menu that Pizza lovers can choose from. Verdure from Italy or Peri Peri from South Africa, in vegetarian and non vegetarian versions.

The Banoffee Bombe was an absolute treat and exploded in my mouth, quite literally. A rather large serving and filled with chocolate and coffee mousse, banana and dulce de leche cream. The marriage of flavours couldn’t be more heavenly. The mousse was creamy, soft and just the way it should be. The banana flavours were not overpowering and enhanced the taste of this otherwise, sinful dessert.

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The prompt and courteous staff at CPK is always a delight to have around. This is my favourite outlet.

The ingredients used struck me as fresh, of the finest quality and the variety, mind-boggling. An enjoyable bit of globe-trotting, I indulged in.

Rating: 3.5/5

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So Long Farewell…….

Bidding good byes is always tough. More so when it is something which is inextricably co-mingled with the ethos of your city.

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As I stepped into Journalism in 1989, one heard of The Zodiac Grill opening at the Taj Mahal Palace Mumbai. An unparalleled fine dining experience, we were told. Of course as a newbie in Journalism, there was no chance that one could step into the haloed precincts of The Zodiac Grill. It was beyond our means then.

Several years later, I was lucky to be able to make my way into this restaurant with a high intrigue value, for a dinner with the man in my life, later my husband. It was a special occasion we were celebrating. I remember being awe struck and looked above, at the famous Zodiac dome gobsmacked, as we were seated. The food, i daresay was beyond my expectations. I knew I would cherish this meal all my life.

I was lucky once more, when I was invited to The Zodiac Grill. This time for a special media lunch one last time at this iconic restaurant. A special menu had been designed for us today with all the signature dishes. I looked at the coveted menu and felt special.

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We were pampered from word go with the usual warm hospitality, characteristic of The Taj Hotels. What can I say about the lunch and service? Perfect, as expected.The Camembert Dariole had not changed a wee bit since I last had it, over a decade ago. Light, fluffy, melt in the mouth and sinful. Instead of the customary Chicken Zodiac Grill, which of course is to die for, I opted for the sea bass instead. An absolutely sublime experience.

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Amidst conversations, anecdotes from Prakash, one of the old timers there and the drama around the sorbet (lights being dimmed), the afternoon flew. A thoroughly enjoyable one of course.

Taljinder Singh – Area Director Mumbai and General Manager, The Taj Mahal Palace Mumbai reminsced, “In 1989, India welcomed its first fine dining restaurant with the introduction of The Zodiac Grill. The Zodiac Grill has left a mark in the culinary world by exceeding all expectations. An end of an era, we are indeed honored to have been a part of the delightful epicurean legacy The Zodiac Grill leaves behind.”

Amit Chowdhury – Executive Chef, The Taj Mahal Palace Mumbai, added, “The Zodiac Grill came into being to cater to the changing taste palate of our guests. After a lot of research on the preferences of the new age traveler, the decadent menu which kept changing every 3 months in the first two years was set in place by Chef Hemant Oberoi and General Manager Subir Bhowmick to reflect guest’s evolving palate. The Zodiac Grill is indeed a testament to the gourmet legacy bestowed by the food aficionados and for our guests who have showered us with love and admiration”.

I suddenly felt myself overcome with emotion as I tasted my Kahlua Mousse, another gem from this place. We were on our last course, the last time.  In November, after its 26th birthday, the curtains will finally go down on The Zodiac Grill.

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Legends live on and so will a place like The Zodiac Grill. In our memories, forever.Of course, some place else will come in place of The Zodiac Grill’s physical space, but nothing can replace it. The eternal optimist, I thought, the brighter side is that there will be a new restaurant at The Taj Mahal Palace Mumbai. We all wait with baited breath and look forward to that next March.

A Morning Well….spent!

Wellness. Well, that word means different things to different people. To me, wellness, denotes, a healthy mind and body. For which of course, one needs to eat healthy food, do physical exercise, have a good night’s sleep and more.

No wonder, the first time I came across the Westin Mumbai Garden City’s six pillars of wellness, I couldn’t help thinking how they had got it absolutely right. Eat well, sleep well, play well, work well, move well and feel well. And I completely relate to these. It is wellness, encapsulated, so aptly.

I have always admired the Starwood Group’s Westin brand,  for being the front-runners in the wellness space. Very few hotels are really concerned about a guests’ well being as he travels and is away from home, some times for long stretches.

Lara Dutta, as their Well-being Brand Advocate for Asia Pacific,  is indeed the perfect choice. A working lady, a mother, Lara epitomizes fitness, health and well-being and is an inspiration to many.

After having heard Lara speak straight from the heart about wellness, at the well-being movement meet, I was rejuvenated and energized sufficiently. But even more so, as I sat enjoying the array of farm fresh salads crafted specially for our well- being by Executive Chef Rahul Dhavle and his team, under the expert guidance of Santosh Johri, Director F&B at Westin Mumbai Garden City.

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Crunchy, fresh, an interesting mix of ingredients with a medley of textures and flavours juxtaposed, the salads proved to a meal by themselves. Some first time combinations and pairings I came across.

There was more to come. Purple potato gnocchi, pumpkin ravioli, beetroot risotto et al. I enjoyed the bite the gnocchi had to it and yet, was melt in the mouth. The purple potato as an ingredient, is relatively new to me, and I thought it has been brilliantly incorporated into a gnocchi. The desserts were of course decadent. But I indulged guilt free as was assured there were no preservatives, artificial flavours etc in the food served. When at Westin, you can be sure.

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Fresh fruit based refreshing drinks, attractively served in glass jars did the rounds as we chatted with the hosts at Westin Mumbai. I relished my water melon and basil juice as I braced myself to face the onslaught of the Mumbai heat outside once again. But I was now ready.

Some days, you just feel so well. Thank you Westin Mumbai Garden City.

Fizz, Fun, Farcha & More….

Brun maska, cloyingly sweet chai, khari biscuits, are so Bambaiya and the Irani cafes at which we relish these are such an intrinsic part of our lives in Mumbai. Or shall I say, were? Yes, unfortunately, the favourite hangout of many of us -the Irani Cafes are fast disappearing. No wonder, when I first heard of SodaBottleOpenerWala  opening in Mumbai and Restaurateurs duo, Sabina and AD Singh doing their best to keep the flag of Irani cafes flying high, I was both touched and thrilled.

After opening several SBOWs (as we fondly call these), across India, Mumbai too got its first one recently in Mumbai’s plush BKC.

Getting a table here at night is an achievement by itself. We were lucky, as Shonali the Manager, juggled one for us albeit near the bar. That was in fact the most happening area with mixologists displaying their flair for bartending, adeptly preparing and mixing an array of drinks.

Shekangebin is what we opted for. Shikanji with jaggery, prune pieces was refreshing as it was sweet. Served in rustic, but cute bottles, it got our vote instantly. Of course there were several alcoholic and non alcoholic options in the menu. Raspberry soda was tempting but I let that be for another time.

Shekangebin

SBOW is definitely a happy place with a great vibe to it which welcomes you immediately and you feel at home from word go. So typical of an Irani cafe too. Warmth personified.

Our Chicken Farcha arrived. Boneless pieces of chicken fried to perfection with a spicy and delicious taste. I loved the way it was served in the traditional way on aluminium trays et al. No frills and yet, so appealing

Spicy mushroom on khari was delectable. Expectedly oily of course but we were not complaining. The mushroom topping was creamy and left you craving for more. The place was teeming with people who were having a good time. Us included.

How can one come to an Irani cafe and not eat keema pav? We succumbed and later, patted ourselves on the back for our perfect choice. The keema with its sweet spicy and tangy flavours was so typically reminiscent of the real one we are all used to. Served with the hot pav, it was a great combination. I have so many fond memories associated with this dish.

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A plethora of mutton dishes are on the menu to tantalise the taste buds of mutton lovers. And of course chicken too.

The menu here has been well-planned and with Chef Darius at the helm, there is no concern about the authenticity of the dishes. But I like the fact that apart from Parsi and Irani favourites, Mumbai street food, which we all cannot do without is also included. Dhanshak (classic Parsi dish of mutton with lentils and served with caramelized rice and kachumber), Paatra Ni Macchi (chutney steamed pomfret), our version of the Berry Pulao (veg, chicken and mutton), Prawn Patio (A tangy prawn preparation, sweet, sour and mildly spicy) and other old time favourites like Sali Mutton and Chicken, Goan Fish Curry, Chicken Baida Roti inspired from Bade Miya,  occupy a pride of place on the menu.

Sali Murghi

Vegetarians can equally feel at home at SBOW. Aloo Aunty’s Vegetable Cutlet, Tardeo A/c Market Mamaji’s Grilled Sandwich and the Bombay Raasta Sandwich, Bharuchi Paneer Akuri with dry fruits et al,  are dishes everyone and anyone who loves food will enjoy.

The rules don’t change. One has got to keep space for the bakery items when at an Irani cafe and we did the same at SBOW. Freshly baked in the morning and sold by the piece, there is a wide selection and everyone can find their favourite item on the menu, I assure you. From Badam Nan Khatai to Shrewsbury Biscuit, Mawa Cake to Lagan nu Custard, there is everything. I gorged on the Apple Pie with Custard. The custard was a bit too sweet for my palate but the warm apple pie, filled generously with all things nice was an absolute delight and comforting.

This quirky SBOW, encapsulating all the elements of a typical Irani cafe in terms of decor, bric-a-bracs and more, is a must-visit for anyone who loves Irani food and fun. One can relax, enjoy great food and service, here.

This SodaBottleOpenerWala opens its doors and lets you into a place which is bound to be special to any Mumbaikar.

Rating: 4.5/5

Creamy Green n Red Pepper Pasta: Recipe

This quick and easy to prepare creamy Green Pepper Pasta can home handy when you are not in the mood for an elaborate meal but want something delicious made in a jiffy. One of my favourites, obviously.

Ingredients:

500 gms tagliatelle

1 Tbsp cooking oil

1 Green pepper

1 red pepper

300 ml parmesan cheese

100 ml double cream

200 ml creme fraiche

2 tbsp butter

salt and pepper

Method:

Boil pasta in water with salt and oil  till al dente.

Rinse with cold water

Dice peppers into cubes. Mix together with cheese, creme fraiche and cream.  sprinkle salt and pepper as per taste.

Place pasta in an oven proof dish.

Sprinkle chopped peppers. Pour over the cheese mixture and bake at 225 degrees C for approx 15 minutes

Remove from oven, let it stand and serve hot.

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Recipe: Hungarian Chicken with Eggs

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A simple recipe, can be made at home in minutes with minimal ingredients. Delicious and filling.

Ingredients:

200 gms chicken salami

4 chicken frankfurters

2 onions sliced finely

3 tomato slices

2 green peppers cut into fine strips

4 eggs lightly beaten

I tbsp oil

Pepper powder

Paprika powder

Salt to taste

Method:

  • Cut salami into strips and frankfurters into 2 cm pieces. Heat oil in a pan and lightly saute both for a few minutes.
  • Add chopped onions and peppers and saute, allowing them to turn tender.
  • Add tomato slices, and mix well on a low flame.
  • Pour beaten eggs and stir till set.
  • Sprinkle salt, pepper, paprika powder and serve immediately.

Note: Pairs well with bread/ Indian pav

Drumstick Brinjal: Recipe

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Drumstick Brinjal

Ingredients:

1 medium sized brinjal

1 drumstick

4 tomatoes finely chopped

1 inch fresh ginger piece chopped finely

Fresh coriander leaves chopped

2 tbsp oil

½ tsp mustard seeds

½ tsp cumin seeds

¼ tsp cumin powder

¼ tsp chilli powder

¼ tsp turmeric powder

1 tsp coriander powder

Salt to taste

Method:

  • Cut the drumstick into 4 pieces and cook in water with salt and turmeric powder.
  • Cut brinjal into small pieces and also cook in water with salt and turmeric powder
  • Heat oil in a pan and add mustard seeds, cumin sees till they pop.

  • Keep on low heat, add cumin, coriander, chilli powders and immediately add the ginger and tomatoes. Add salt.
  • After 2-3 minutes, add the cooked vegetables and stir well.
  • Cover and let the vegetables cook over a low flame, for 5 mins in the gravy.
  • Garnish with coriander leaves and serve hot with rotis
  • Cut brinjal into small pieces and also cook in water with salt and turmeric

Heat oil in a pan and add mustard seeds, cumin sees till they pop up. On low heat, add cumin, coriander, chilli powders and immediately add the ginger and tomatoes.  After 2-3 minutes, add the cooked vegetables and stir well. Let the vegetables cook over a low flame, for 5 mins in the gravy. Garnish with coriander leaves and serve hot with rotis