Monthly Archives: June 2016

Not My Cuppa Tea!

Today, Atithi Devo Bhava (The guest is equivalent to God), a code of conduct in the Indian society, acquired a new meaning. Wagh Bakri Tea, the Ahmedabad headquartered, brew giant, redefined it.

I was invited to the opening of their new Tea lounge in Juhu at 11 am. Punctual by nature, I landed up at 11 am sharp, as I never like to keep any one waiting and abhor the same too. There was no one at the gate and a guard rudely accosted me asking me where I was heading. Upon mentioning media, he just nodded. I made my way into the lounge. No one there too, to guide or welcome us. A gentleman was seated at the table talking to a lady, I introduced myself. They were apparently from the company, but nonchalant, immersed in themselves.

Tired of standing for a long time, I took a seat. There was no sign of the young ladies from the PR agency and at Wagh Bakhri  of course, no one knew what was happening. I kept observing, bloggers, media persons coming in, feeling unwelcome, as the company personnel continued to look confused. No tea was offered. So what if we had braved the Friday morning showers and made our way to the Juhu venue? Nothing till “Sir” comes, was being murmured in hushed tones.

Half an hour elapsed, but there was no sign of anything starting. Meanwhile, eunuchs came, demanded money, the Wagh Bakri person replied, “nothing can be given till the Seth arrives and the inauguration is done.” Where then was the Seth aka Parag Desai, CEO Wagh Bakri, for whom, we were all supposedly waiting. Of course nothing was communicated to us, lesser mortals about His Highness’ arrival and the consequent delay.

Balloons were being put, the floor being swept, fans switched off. So what if we guests were sweating it out? We were inconsequential. We mattered the least to Wagh Bakri. The preparations of the event were well underway after  the invitees were there. Huh?

Minutes later we were unceremoniously shunted to the lobby of a small hotel next door and made to huddle up in the stinky lobby. If the company staff and others could be inside, on the other side of the red ribbon, why couldn’t we? Why were we invited in the first instance, if it was meant to be a company/ internal affair. Inaugurate it, settle down and then invite media some other day. You can’t have the best of both worlds and that too when you have no idea about hospitality ?

I was at the end of my tether. Called the PR lady who had just arrived. I stood out in the sun waiting. She tried to cajole me assuring me, saying it would start soon. His Highness had not yet arrived, after all, so how could it begin. 10 minutes, 15 minutes, were what we were being told repeatedly. Till 12 noon, nothing happened. Of course my patience wore off and I left, with a promise never to return again. Thank you, but no thank you, this is not Indian hospitality and if this is what Wagh Bakri stands for, I’d rather have nothing to do with their ilk future. Not my cup of tea, this!

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Small Plates, High On Flavours

Sometimes dining at a restaurant can prove to be a strain on the wallet and that is why, a foodie like me, welcomes concepts like the Small Plates Week by Cellar Door Hospitality.

Powered by Insider, a 10-day culinary event on till June 26th, this features 15 of Mumbai’ s finest informal dining restaurants, offering small plates at a uniform price across the city. Kudos! This way diners can sample a wide variety of the restaurant’s culinary offerings.

I opted for Burma Burma, the popular Burmese food eatery at Fort, Mumbai. The menu for Small Plates Week features a minimum of 6 vegetarian and non-vegetarian savoury dishes each and 4 desserts and the one here too, was varied. What’s more, one could order each small plate on the menu and reorder servings of any particular small plate they enjoyed. No wastage, this way and I absolutely endorse that.

My Samusa Hincho, a soup with samosa arrived. Soulful and palate tickling this was with the tangy flavours and the delectable samosa. Nouvelle cuisine this sure was. I was off to a good start.

The three salads also struck me as unique, each with a nice, piquant flavour and distinct. The usage of Indian spices in the tempering made them even more interesting.

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The Pyaa jo kyaw, of Bengali origin was particularly interesting with the flavoursome grounded lentils, onions and coriander. The flavours were familiar and thus, comforting.

 

As we progressed with our meal, the dishes kept on surprising me with their quality and flavours.

The Naan Pe Bya got my vote instantly. The bread was fresh, hot and delicious and the perfect accompaniment to the chickpea puree with coconut milk, spices et al. It was satiating as well as palate pleasing. The spices were just right, not overpowering but teasing the taste buds a wee bit.

Small Plates Week gives the restaurant an opportunity to showcase their best dishes that represent the culinary philosophy of the establishment, while allowing diners to discover new restaurants through extensive menus.

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The Burmese steamed buns were well-made but paled in comparison to the other dishes. The Khow suey, which Burma Burma is known for did not disappoint me. Only the boiled egg, I thought was missing, as that’s how I enjoy mine.

A huge fan of desserts, that is invariably the best part of my meal. But Burma Burma could spruce up in that department. The Shway Aye was decent, but the sweet quotient needed to be more, if it is to be termed as a dessert. Oh No Thanya Paukse or the steamed buns filled with coconut and palm jaggery were a delight. The smokey avocado and honey ice cream although boasted of great flavours, was a tad disappointing owing to the ice crystals in it.The Tagy Pyi an was flat and insipid.

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Priced at INR 1,000 for lunch or dinner, per individual, exclusive of applicable taxes and service charges, the meals are a steal, given the variety and quality.

“A meal made up of small plates has some advantages – it allows diners to experience a variety of savory and sweet dishes and allows the restaurant to showcase dishes that give diners a feel of their culinary philosophy. If your ideal dinner conversation involves talking to your friends about your food, then shared plates are perfect. Small Plates Week allows diners to taste a variety of different dishes and then ask for more of the ones they liked,” elaborates Nachiket Shetye, Director and Co-founder of Cellar Door.

I could not agree more.
So make the most of it all you food lovers. On till Sunday, there is a lot to choose from.

 

 

 

 

Utterly Butterly Delicious!

A young, energetic chef like Saransh Goila, is someone who I admire, for his talent, individuality and simple, real food. His Goila Butter Chicken has been doing the foodie rounds for a while now and I have, for the longest time, yearned to taste it. Yupp! that’s the Punjabi in me speaking.

So when I was selected to be one of the lucky few to get a sneak preview of the Goila Butter chicken or paneer, I was ecstatic.

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Being a day when I was vegetarian, I opted for Paneer and no regrets at all. No, I did not miss the chicken as the Goila Butter Paneer was as good, if not better. All ye vegetarians, are you listening please?

Along with the Goila Butter Paneer came a delectable kali dal, anardana chutney and a roomali roti. My day, oops! dinner as made.

Saransh specifies that he does not use any cream in his Goila Butter Chicken/Paneer and that is a huge relief. Not a fan of it in my savoury dishes at all.

A spoonful of the gravy of the Goila Butter Paneer and I could vouch for its lightness. The texture of the gravy was creamy alright, but with the use of kasoori methi and cashewnuts, as Chef Saransh promises. The smoky flavour as equally distinct, and that’s what sets it apart. I loved the fact that there was not a very pronounced tart and tangy taste, but instead, well-balanced flavours. Not the usual rich and creamy, butter paneer, this!

A buttery feel, the gravy had, as it just disappeared from my palate, but not before leaving a delicious after taste. But no, I could not taste any heavy butter and did not experience the accompanying uneasiness, which is characteristic of such dishes. The quality of paneer used was unmistakably superior and fresh.

The dal reminded me of the one, I used to have back home, made by my mother. No overtly tangy flavours here too, as is the case with many, from restaurants. The texture was right and the dal grains, had a definite bite to them, yet, as soft and mushy, as they should be.

The Anardana chutney struck me as unique. It had an appealing appearance as well as interesting mild flavours of yogurt and mint.

Overall, my meal was a delight for the taste buds and even several hours later, I experienced no discomfort, as is often the case with a butter chicken/paneer, dal makhni kind of meal. This one was reminiscent of home style food, albeit with a bit of indulgence.

I was satiated for now, but not satisfied. This is the kind of meal, which teases your palate mercilessly and urges you to have more.

Like all food lovers and Chef Saransh fans, I too am eagerly awaiting the opening of Goila Butter Chicken, a delivery and take-away joint, started by Chef Saransh Goila and his partner, Vivek Sahni, on June 24 near the D.N. Nagar Metro station Andheri West.

I don’t know about all the dishes, but the ones I sampled are surely going to give several established players, a run for their money.

Good luck Goila Butter Chicken, keep going!

Rating: 4/5

 

 

 

 

 

 

Culinary Innovation At Its Best

Bubbles, vapours, air, unusual mixtures and textures, and more, is what I went expecting at lunch at Chemistry 101, the fun, gastro bar at Kamla Mills, Lower Parel; Mumbai. Of course I am all for the drama and excitement, molecular gastronomy brings along, provided it is done well. But alas! there was nothing dramatic or unwarranted here.

Cardiff based, Award winning Rosette AA Chef Stephen Gomes, obviously has got his food right. He may have played around with flavours and textures, but he knows them well and has  thus succeeded in creating a unique dining experience for his guests.

My lunch arrived. The menu was limited,  being a set menu, naturally. Yet, offered me sufficient options. Skipping lambs and prawns, we opted for butter chicken and shorshe bata mach. Being from Kolkata, this had to be tried. And again, for a Punjabi, Butter chicken cannot be missed. That is sacrilege.

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Vegetarians can opt for Veg Jaipuri with Cheese Foam or Kashmiri Dum Aloo with Ratanjot Foam or Paneer Makhani with Cream Foam or even Muttar methi malai with Cream Foam. Plenty of options. 

The chilled buttermilk ravioli, was gulped by us in a jiffy. I loved it. Size matters, yes, but this one albeit small, was potently refreshing and the perfect hors d’oeuvre.

The kiwi cooler was welcome, given the warm weather outside.

The kung fu paratha with egg, caviar rice, dal and butter chicken with sundried tomato foam were a part of my appetizing thali. Well-presented, these were a medley of colours, and yes, flavours and textures too, as I discovered in due course.

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The butter chicken, despite its avant garde presentation, was true to its flavours. The creaminess was unmistakable. A Punjabi can vouch for that. Equally flavoursome was the somewhat, mild, sosrshe bata mach, not as pungent as the original though.

The dal was well-spiced and tempered to perfection and had a home-style feel to it.  Just the way I love mine. The caviar rice was a treat for the eyes, colourful and attractive. Equally comforting to the palate with the dal.

The paratha, though sinful, was delicious and paired perfectly with the butter chicken.

What do I say about the khari biscuit ice cream with jalebi mousse? A spoonful, and I was sold out. A work of art and innovation. The astute manner in which the humble khari biscuit had been elevated and used in the ice cream, was praiseworthy. The not-so-sweet jalebi mousse was the exact contrast of the ice cream in flavour and textures. Together, they wowed my palate without a doubt.

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I had been procrastinating and finally paid a visit to this place. And I loved Chemistry 101.If a simple lunch was so good, the dinner with tapas et al will be even better am sure.

Affordably priced, this thali is a steal, given the quality of food, its presentation and portion sizes.

This place is worth making a beeline for lunch some day soon.

Rating : 4/5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Monsoon Magic in Goa

Goa really never has to try hard to woo us. We are all in love with it, aren’t we?

Throughout the year, this destination, full of surprises, lures us, yet, monsoons are a time too, to head to Goa as well. Contrary to popular belief, the rains and the scenic beauty replete with the rivers joyfully overflowing with their rushing streams, the trees dancing to the tune of the winds and the fields a lush, verdant green carpet, is not all there is to look forward to. There are the traditional  festivals that acquaint you with tradition and also provide merriment galore.

 

These festivals are unique to Goa and each one has an interesting story behind it.It is truly worth discovering a Goa, that is beyond the ordinary, this Monsoons.

  • Sao Joao: Goa readies itself for the gala Sao Joao fest celebrated on June 24 in Siolim Goa. This monsoon feast has special significance in Christianity as it is dedicated to St John the Baptist, the firebrand prophet. The celebration of San Joao goes back nearly 150 years, when San Joao revelers from Chapora and Zhor villages of Anjuna, Badem in Assagao and Siolim would come up year after year in boats to the chapel of Sao Joao in Periera Vaddo, Siolim, to pay homage and take part in the traditional dali. The festivals takes place at the beginning of Monsoon season in Goa and people of all ages jumping into wells, streams and ponds.
  •  Ponsachem Fest : It is a Jackfruit festival called ‘Ponsachem Fest’ celebrated on the occasion of Sao Joao in Socorro village. Parish priest Fr Santana Carvalho says that the inspiration for the festival comes from Sao Joao itself. This is an occasion to savour Goa’s choicest jackfruits and the scrumptious items made from it. I am all for this festival as I love the versatile jackfruit and love to experiment with it in my kitchen

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  •  Sangodd: The Feast of St. Peter, also known as Sangodd, is a monsoon-based celebration by Goa’s local fishing community. Their boats are tied together to form rafts, which serve as makeshift stages on June 29. On these stages are erected miniature models of chapels or churches.
  •  Chikalkalo : Come July and there is the Chikalkalo. People celebrate Chikalkalo, a traditional festival, at Marcel, Goa. It is an annual traditional celebration, in which people of Marcel village take part after the ‘Ashadi Ekadashi’.

Touxeachem Feast of Telaulim

  • Touxeachem Feast: The magnificent Church of St Anne also known as the Santana Church locally, is the scene of the very unusual feast every year on July 29. The Church located at Talaulim in Tiswadi taluka, is dedicated to St Anne. The couples come to the Church to seek the blessings of St Anne, who herself was blessed with a child after 40 years of barren life. They buy cucumbers from local vendors at the feast and offer them at the feet of St Ann and carry them home to eat. Touxeachem Fest (in Konkani) literally translates as the Cucumber Feast in English. Besides the huge number of devotees from all around Goa, a large number of newly married couples is in attendance.   

Patollio

  • Patolleanchem feast: It is a feast depicting a rich old Goan culture. This festival is organized on the feast of Our Lady of Assumption and Independence Day. Patollio ( a sweet made of jiggery and rice covered with a turmeric leaf) is prepared by the villagers  and is blessed by parish priest Fr Santana Carvalho  and is served to all and this is how the name Patolleanchem feast derives. I look forward to this feast to gorge on this delicacy which is painstakingly prepared by family members.
  • Bonderam is a local festival, celebrated on the third or fourth Saturday in the month of August, in the quaint island of Divar, away from the hustle and bustle of the capital city. In remembrance of old territorial battles that took place on the island, mock skirmishes are re-enacted by boys and girls wielding fotashes (toy flags made with bamboo) and using berries for missiles.

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I am certainly heading to Goa to witness some of these first hand and partake in the celebrations. Are you?