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A delightful maze of flavours a la Portugal

Dining in Goa is always a pleasure, as is visiting Goa. However, on my recent trip to my favourite State, I was in for an experience that took me by surprise. This hidden gem at Cidade de Goa, called the Alfama is a place I had never visited before and was mesmerized the moment I entered.

Designed around Lisbon’s bohemian old town, this charming place is romance and warmth personified. The lively ambience is infectious and transports you to another world altogether. The pristine white balconies, further enhance the charm.

The menu is essentially offers Portuguese Goan and Konkan food with a modern presentation and a degree of inventiveness.

I was fortunate to have a special menu curated for me by Executive Chef Sunit Sharma and his team.

The pineapple sansav and papad kismur started off our evening on a delicious note. A degustation experience was what we had embarked upon. The sansav teased my taste buds with its tangy and tart flavours while the papad kismur offered the right bite. The futi kadi proved to be the perfect way to stimulate my appetite and the fact that it contained no coconut milk made it even more lighter and refreshing.



What is a Goan or Portuguese meal without a macaroni soup? The first sip brought back a host of memories. It was comforting all the way.

The surmai recheado got my vote instantly both for its flavours and innovation. What does one even say about rawa fried prawns? Succulent and lip-smacking these were fried to perfection and the rawa crust was well-spiced.

The lobster balchao on tarts I thought was a good spin on the usual prawns balchao. Foddi with a banana and potato variation, were crispy and a snack I could never have enough of.


Each dish was distinct with authentic flavours oozing out of every bite. I devoured each one with pleasure, many of them making me take a trip down memory lane. Some of these were familiar and strongly reminiscent of what one is used to eating at home.

The chicken cafreal stuffed in the poee was delightful and paired well with the poee. The spice levels were just right and the flavours, balanced.


The meal was a surreal experience and what added to the memorable evening was the live music by the Cotta  trio- father and his son and daughter, who were a melodious trio. They serenaded each guest on their tables with music of their choice.

The first Tuesday of every month is a Fado night. Alas! I wish I was in Goa on one such night to enjoy the music.

Enjoyment tonight, seemed a mild word to describe what I was experiencing.

The shrimp curry with Goan rice sadly paled in comparison to the the other offerings.

The dessert platter comprised bebinca, the tedious, layered dessert which is synonymous with Goa, alle belle the jaggery and coconut pancakes and Manganem or the payasam which is typically a Saraswat dessert. Each of these was well made and offered distinctive flavours and textures.

I marveled at the Chef’s ability to integrate local flavours and ingredients in a contemporary manner yet, giving us a true Goan/Portuguese experience.

Coupled with impeccable but unobtrusive service, this meal proved to be one that I will cherish for a long time.


Coastal treats galore; from Mangalore

Ferry Wharf in Bandra Reclamation is a hidden gem waiting to be discovered. A bright and cheerful eatery with a warm vibe and colourful decor awaits you. 

The menu is replete with Mangalorean fare but it is the thalis priced affordably that caught my eye. 

Seafood is obviously their focus and the quality is numero uno- fresh and delicious. 

The fish, prawns and clam thalis are full fledged value for money meals. I opted for the prawns thali- my perpetual weakness. 
The thali comprised rotis, rice, vegetable of the day, prawns in a delectable gravy, tomato saar and fried prawns. The succulent prawns screamed freshness and were flavourful. The curry was home style and comforting. 

One can also settle for the clam thali with clams marinated in herbs and spices.  Fish lovers of course can treat themselves to the sumptuous fish thali.  Vegetarians fret not. You too can relish a vegetarian thali.

You cannot leave this place without trying the lip-smacking payasam made with chana dal and jaggery. 

The service is warm and unobtrusive. Lunch is served between 12 pm to 3.30pm. 

This value for money thali is a must try. 

Rating : 4/5

Tantalising flavours at Timpani

Timpani, the all day dining place at Radisson Blu Ahmedabad during my recent visit took me by surprise. Warm, vibrant and cheerful. This place was bustling at all hours.

A multi-cuisine dining place, the offerings across cuisines were varied and catered to every palate. The special emphasis on local food at all meals was something that impressed me.

Breakfast had an array of items to choose from- Pan Asian, Indian and global fare. The live counters with dosas and eggs with chefs serving these a la minute were a treat to watch.


The local Gujarati counter with farsan, moong dal chilla, moong dal halwa, patra, etc was something most out station guests, including me made a beeline for.


The food was of great quality and the ingredients, undoubtedly fresh. Noodles, cereal, fruits, idli, poha, sabudana vada, sausages, baked beans, there were a plethora of options. Timpani serves delicious buffets at each meal, as well as an abundance of à la carte choices on the restaurant’s menu.

The moong dal chilla with chutney got my vote instantly. The sabudana vada was similar to the one at home and the eggs of course were made to perfection. A range of fresh juices and tea, coffee was what one could choose from.


The service was equally impeccable with the staff being alert and attentive.

The natural light filtering in and the bright ambience adds to the charm of this place.

Executive Chef Chetak Goyal and his team ensure everyone leaves Timpani with a smile of satisfaction. I sure did.

Cooking with this versatile Greek Yogurt

Greek yogurt caught my fancy when I was living in London a decade ago and my love affair with it continues. Sadly, there was no proper equivalent to it in India till Epigamia came along recently. Rich, creamy, luscious and yet, low fat. The perfect protein and calcium fix, I need at my age.


I have been picking up and devouring various flavours of Epigamia, Banana Honey and Vanilla bean and strawberry being my favourites.

new cups_strawberry



Of course while many of us cook with dahi or curd at home especially in Indian food, as amrinades or in masalas for gravies, I was intrigued when invited to Bastian. Famed for its food, helmed by maverick Chef Kelvin Cheung, Chef was going to serve dishes created using Epigamia, Greek yogurt, I was informed. Wow! That sounded exciting.

And exciting it was. The strawberry smoothie served at the outset wowed my palate with the flavours- thick, creamy and the touch of balsamic, I think, did the trick. Was refreshing alright.

Roasted spare ribs with mango yogurt, sounded enticing. Chef Kelvin used the yogurt as a marinade and left this overnight to absorb the yogurt and tenderize the meat. The result, melt in the mouth fare, well-spiced and balanced.


The truffle mushroom sweet potato pappardelle took me by surprise. It is one of the best dishes I have ever tasted. The creamy texture imparted by the natural yogurt was a delight for the taste buds. In the non-vegetarian version, caramalised yogurt was used for the lobster. The flavour profiles matched perfectly and the textures were stuff dreams are made of. The crunch, bite, creaminess was a roller-coaster ride for the palate, which it gladly embraced. No, I did not miss being a Carnivore today.


Chef Kelvin Cheung’s mastery over his craft is undisputed and his clever and skillful use of Epigamia Greek yogurt was ample testimony.

The dessert, expectedly was a treat. The honey banana yogurt was used to make a creamy custard and served with banana bread and black pepper honey it surpassed my expectations. The natural sweetness of the yogurt accentuated the other flavours and made it a delectable dessert.

A delightful afternoon of discovery, this meal turned out to be. And with Rohan Mirchandani, one of the founders for company, the afternoon was certainly memorable.

The versatile ingredient that Greek yogurt is has set me thinking. Time to do embark upon my experiments in the kitchen with Epigamia. Not just going to wolf these down but shall put them to sue in cooking too.




Food meets films in vibrant ambience

Which one of us does not love and cherish the film Sholay? Most of us I think, do. Naturally then, when a restaurant is named after one of the famed characters of this iconic film, the intrigue factor heightens. Basanti and Co. in Seven Bungalows Andheri West thus beckoned me.

The colourful interiors, trendy decor and cheerful vibe, set the tome of our evening. The bric-a-brac and design elements thrown in appealed to me instantly. The seating area is spacious and the bar in one corner, eclectic.

The menu offered Awadhi and North Indian food with a special section of Chef Qureshi’s signature Biryanis. Yes, another chef from the famed Qureshi family.

The service staff seemed articulate and alert. Roy, serving us was well-spoken and well-informed about the menu too.


Murg Badam shorba, is what we started with and the creamy soul was comforting. The hint of saffron and the crunch owing to the almonds seamless meshed with the creamy thick broth. There were chaats too on offer but we decided to skip those.

Murg Tikka Patiala was well marinated and grilled to perfection. The smoky flavours were apparent in each bite. The Dahi ke kabab however stole the thunder. Well-made, these were soft, tangy and wholesome.


For mains, we ordered the makki ki roti and sarson ka saag with a lassoni addition. Did not work for me at all. The saag was far from the real thing. The Punjabi choley with mini lulchas, were robust and delightful. The Nalli Nihari was the star of the show. The pronounced flavours of mutton in a well-spiced gravy and soft well-cooked pieces of mutton and of course the nihari was an absolute treat. Chicken Tariwala too was a preparation which tingled our taste buds.

The assorted rotis were the perfect accompaniment- garlic naan, missi roti, makki ki roti and tandoori roti. The lamb kulcha sounded enticing too.

The dessert options were strangely limited. Jalebi rabdi and malai phirni was all they offered. Both were strictly mediocre as the textures were far from authentic. The phirni lacked the quintessential grainy texture and bite and was too pasty, whereas the rabdi was cloyingly sweet and again of a overly creamy texture. The crisp and well-fried jalebis got my instant vote though.

The thandai shot at the end of our meal was mild but served the purpose of an after-meal digestive.

This place offers an exhaustive variety -both food and the bar menu. Vegetarians need not fret as there are abundant options. The portions too are hearty and perfect for a family meal. The food is well-presented but sans any unnecessary frills.

We missed trying the biryani and in order to remedy that, I need to make a second trip to Basanti and Co.

Open for lunch and dinner, a meal for two without alcohol is approx Rs 1500.

Rating : 3.5/5

Fresh and Flavoursome

A huge fan of freshly cooked food, I like no short cuts and especially no packet, packaged and processed for me, as far as I can help it. Of course once in a while we all get lazy and give in but this is the exception in my home rather than the rule.

Thus, I was reluctant to try the range of products from Freshway Foods, a Vadodara based company, when a friend urged me too.

The packets arrived and looked attractive and the instructions easy to follow. In fact utterly simple.

Their unique freeze-dry technology, which is accepted worldwide as the best food preservation process, fascinated me. The colour, flavours and freshness of the food is preserved without affecting its nutritional value.

What’s more, their food is preservative free, which ensures it is as healthy as home-cooked food.


The Palak Paneer, which I tried first, blew me off completely. The palak was delicious and the paneer soft. It was well-spiced, was bursting with fresh flavours and I could not believe it had been created in minutes out of a packet merely by adding boiling water.

The daal makhani was equally a surprise. A laborious dal, otherwise to prepare, this one was tasty all the way and ready in minutes.  The consistency was right and the flavours reminiscent of home food.


From pulao kadhi to paneer bhurji and Veg Biryani to Moong Dal sheera, Freshway Foods offers them all. A complete vegetarian range, they have a lot of Gujarati delicacies apart from the universal favourites from all over India.

Freshway products pass through stringent quality standards and microbial tests at every stage of freeze-drying. Their strict hygiene and housekeeping regime ensures that every product is packaged with utmost hygiene and minimal wastage, keeping intact its nutritional values. That is perhaps what sets them apart.

Reasonably priced, the portions are decent too. This is the perfect solution for days when one is feeling lazy and does not want to cook and yet not order an expensive and oily takeaway. Bachelors, single working professionals and harried women can make use of their wide range.

One can order online and the packets get delivered to your doorstep.

I have actually heaved a sigh of relief now that there is a healthy food solution at hand, in terms of Freshway ready-to-eat meals. At last a brand that lives up to its promise of delivering fresh food.


Christmas Roasts

With Christmas round the corner, we all have stuffed chicken or turkey on our minds. While Turkey is usually the centerpiece for Thanksgiving dinners, chicken, pork, lamb  roasts are popular for Christmas.

Roast lamb with apricot stuffing is matchless. Another good combination for lamb stuffing is bacon, garlic and rosemary or bacon and shallots. If you’re looking for an exotic Christmas Turkey, then ricotta cheese or orange and prunes stuffing maybe the answer.

Roast Chicken

A good stuffing, believe me, can transform the taste of your roast, so spend time preparing it. Experiment with herbs, nuts and other ingredients. Some of us like cubed bread and garlic as the stuffing, while others prefer, bread mix with onion, thyme and parsley. Any type of bread will work as long as it has a firm texture and has been dried properly. Your roast can have luscious flavours owing to the unique fillings. Whatever be the filling, it is a laborious process, but worth it anyway.

My all time favourite is Roast Chicken with Apple-Sausage Stuffing, Pan-Reduced Sauce and Roasted Vegetables. And it is pretty simple and straightforward to prepare too. Mushrooms pair well with pork, so try adding those to your stuffing this year.

Make use fo fruits. These can rev up the taste of the dish to unimaginable heights. Apples, cranberries, dried apricots, dried plums, raisins are a good choice.

Bread, chestnut, sage, pork sausage, cranberries is a typical stuffing and the first choice of many.

If you don’t want to make the stuffing yourself, buying readymade ones (of course a prior order is mandatory) is also a possibility. In  Mumbai too, many take orders and supply great roasts on Christmas. And of course Mumbai hotels and restaurants have great roasts on offer for Christmas.

Roast Turkey with Cranberry Sauce, Brussel Sprouts, Roast Leg of Pork with Parsnips, are available at JW Marriott Mumbai Sahar. Chef Sanjana Patel at La Folie Lab is offering a traditional English Roast with Chicken supreme breast with Buttered beans, Roasted potatoes, Yorkshire pudding and gravy. Oh! this one is not to be missed.

Made at home or purchased, or savouring one at a restaurant, a roast is a must on Christmas. Yes, with a bowl of gravy, some roasted potatoes, carrots, broccoli and wine. Merry Christmas!


A recipe that I love to follow :

Pork, sage, onion and chestnuts stuffing


  • 2 large onions, peeled and quartered
  • 50 g stale bread
  • 200 g vacuum-packed chestnuts
  • 1 kg shoulder of pork, trimmed and diced
  • 1 bunch fresh sage, leaves picked
  • 3 rashers smoked streaky bacon, roughly chopped
  • freshly ground white pepper
  • sea salt
  • 1 whole fresh nutmeg, for grating
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 orange

Preheat your oven to 190ºC/375ºF/gas 5. Blitz the onions in the food processor until finely chopped, then tip into a large bowl. Tear the stale bread into small chunks and whiz into breadcrumbs. Add these to the bowl, then crush and crumble your chestnuts in there too. Tip your diced pork into the food processor with the sage leaves, bacon, a level teaspoon of white pepper and a good pinch of salt. Finely grate in a quarter of the nutmeg, the zest of half a lemon and just 2 or 3 gratings of orange zest. Pulse until you’ve got some chunks and some mush, it won’t even take a minute, then tip into the mixing bowl.

Because the pork is raw, you’re committed to seasoning it well so add another pinch of salt and white pepper, then get your clean hands in there and scrunch it all up until well combined.

Take just under half of the stuffing out of the bowl to use for your turkey, then transfer the rest to a lovely earthenware-type dish that you can serve from. Use your hands to break it up and push it about, then flatten it all down. Pop it in the oven to cook for 50 minutes to 1 hour until bubbling and crispy. When done, you can pour away any excess fat before serving if you want to. It will be soft, juicy and succulent on the inside, then gnarly, crispy and chewy on the outside.