Tag Archives: chicken

Celebrating the flavours of Maharashtra

Regional flavours always excite me and although I live in Mumbai, authentic Maharashtrian food is hard to find in the city save a few places, else one needs to dine at a friend’s place. Naturally then, an invitation  from Executive Chef Suresh Thampy, to experience the varied and diverse flavours of Maharashtra at the food festival at Saptami, Holiday Inn Mumbai International Airport, was hard to resist.

The air was redolent with a festive spirit and the buffet spread beautifully laid out with floral decorations et al on each table. There were enough vegetarian dishes to choose from ranging from the bhareli vangi to the ambat thikat suran and lasana che fodni cha bhaat to laal channe che usal but the piece de resistance were the non-vegetarian fare which would entice any carnivore. Saoji mutton curry, mutton kalimiri masala, shimpe kolambi masale bhaat, Malvani mutton rassa and more.

A live counter had a chef dishing out fresh seafood – surmai, rawas, mandeli a la minute. Soon a platter arrived on my table with these fried delicacies and of course the kanda bhajji. Piping hot and served with chutney, this perked up my taste buds. The kombdi cha saar, my soup for the evening was spicy and flavoursome.

20180505_211451

I could not help notice the detailing done at the buffet. Bhakarwadi, besan laddu, murmurche ladu, were on offer to give it the perfect homely touch.

The puran poli with toop and rai kadi patta chi amti arrived and the aroma was unmistakable. The well-stuffed, warm puran poli simply melt in my mouth and was deeply comforting and the balance of the flavours with the tangy and sour dal was outstanding.

20180505_214427

The vade with chicken rassa were an absolute treat. The gravy of the chicken curry replete with the quintessential Maharashtrian goda masala was tantalising for the taste buds.

20180505_212527

A bhakri with mutton curry came next and was home style all the way. The food here struck me as home made with no restaurant-like flavours. The masalas were authentic, freshly ground and the resultant curries and gravies were lip-smacking. From the mildly spiced to the fiery hot, there was something for every palate. The refreshing sol kadi helped me to wash down many a spicy dish.

20180505_213527

For dessert, there could be nothing better than savouring the king of fruits, hapus or alphonso, freshly cut and sliced and served with a dollop of ice cream.

20180505_220348

Having savoured some iconic dishes from across Maharashtra, there was an explosion of flavours in my palate, but all pleasing of course.

I could not help laud the efforts of Chef Sagar Satam who spearheaded this festival with an able team under the aegis of Chef Thampy. The touch of authenticity to these Maharashtrian flavours from home is what set this food apart.

On for dinner only till May 14, do not miss the opportunity to relish the flavours of Maharashtra at this Festival. And with cyclic menus on offer, trust me there is no question of monotony even if you land up here every other day.

Rating : 4/5

 

 

Advertisements

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

Ingredients

  • 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

Method-
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.

Aabar Khabo : Once is not enough

My connection from Kolkata, actually erstwhile Calcutta, is from birth. Yes, I was born and brought up in the City of Joy which I still sorely miss. Naturally then, Bengali food is my comfort food and I thoroughly enjoy the cuisine and all its nuances.

To visit the MoMo Cafe at Courtyard by Marriott Mumbai to try The Kolkata Konnection, Bengali food festival was a trip down memory lane for me.

20170617_194645

Curated by Executive Chef Avijit Deb Sharma and his team, including a chef from JW Marriott Kolkata, it was indeed a spread any gourmand would look forward to. The Bengali dishes were a part of the buffet spread, which of course offered other cuisines too, catering to wide palate. There was a separate counter with phuchka Kolkata’s version of pani puri) and jhal muri, the quintessential street food of Kolkata. And of course a separate section serving the lip-smacking Bengali starters, chicken cutlet, fish fry, vegetable chop et al.

20170617_195254

I bit into the fish fry and memories came flooding. I have grown up enjoying this delicacy in South Calcutta where I grew up at several places, but Mukherjee sweets in Ballygunge Place, being my all time favourite. This one was close. The fish fillet wrapped in spices, coated with breadcrumbs, was fried to perfection. Comforting and familiar flavours. The dhonepatta  bhaja or coriander fritter was spicy and fragrant. The chicken cutlet with chicken mince was delightful as was the vegetable chop with the characteristic beetroot, potatoes and groundnuts. I was off to a great start and was enjoying every morsel with kasundi or the mustard dip.

20170617_200036

The mains were a feast fit for the kings. The thaal or a huge thali with several katoris or vaatis was a treat for the eyes. Kosha mangsho or the onion based slow-cooked mutton preparation, cholar dal, alu posto, ilish or Hilsa fish, malai chingri or the creamy prawn curry, begun bhaja, kodaishutir kochuri or green peas puri and of course the pulao, fragrant with ghee and roasted nuts and raisins, was what my meal comprised. The lebu (lemon) chatni, tomato chutney and aamer (mango) chutney were also served along, as no Bengali meal is complete without these.

20170617_212048

The dishes were simple and cooked home-style. The flavours were authentic replete with the Bengali spices and ingredients (mustard oil, paanch phoran, gobindbhog rice, gondhoraj lebu) and the melange of textures, absolutely delightful.

20170617_203526

Not only was the meal delicious in terms of its taste and flavours, but equally a nostalgic one for me as I sat recounting endless occasions when I had sampled those dishes at home or with friends and family.

Rosogulla and aamer (mano) sandesh was what I finished my meal with.  Both got my vote. But of course there were other Bengali desserts on offer too.

I left MoMo Cafe happy and satiated, stuffing a Kolkata meetha paan in my mouth, with the smile not leaving my face.

On till June 24 for dinner, this Bengali food festival is a must try for those who relish Bengali food and others keen to experiment.

Rating : 4/5

 

 

 

 

 

A Superlative Menu

Salads are not all that you need to eat when following healthy dietary habits. I am all for eating healthy food, yet, food packed with nutrients and flavours. Yes, taste is key. Insipid and bland food does not meet approval with my palate.

Thus, the new Super Foods Menu introduced by TGI Fridays, the global casual dining leader,  caught my attention and immediately I set out to explore this at the Palladium, Lower Parel, Mumbai outpost.

The menu, for 3 months, though limited offers enough variety. I noticed, that the offerings had super foods like beans, broccoli, blueberries, salmon, spinach, tomatoes, walnuts and yogurt in abundance. Being natural ingredients, these are loaded with excellent nutritional benefits.

Wasabi Miso Glazed Chicken, Salmon with Cucumber Yogurt Sauce, Cranberry & blueberry couscous and Kale were some of the unique dishes. What was interesting was that, appetizers, entrees, sides and desserts, had all incorporated super foods in some form or the other, thus making the entire menu healthy.

The Fruits & Nuts Super Salad made with crisp lettuce, spinach, broccoli topped with walnuts, apples, dried apricots, cranberries, and blueberries, was a delightful medley of flavours that wowed my palate. No where was there any monotony at all.

Wasabi Miso Glazed Chicken

Next, I tried the Wasabi Miso Glazed Chicken. Bursting with simple and subtle flavours, this, lemon and olive oil-marinated grilled chicken breasts were drizzled with a spicy wasabi miso sauce. Served with toasted almond, cranberry and blueberry couscous and ginger garlic kale, this was a power-packed meal in terms of taste and nutrients. I only felt that the portion of the kale was a bit too much for the meal. One can only enjoy a certain amount of kale.

Pomegranate Honey Mustard Salmon cam next. A hearty portion, I thought to myself. Again, a lemon and olive oil basted grilled salmon filet topped pomegranate honey mustard vinaigrette. The tangy flavour were unmistakable, yet, teased my palate sufficiently.  The salmon was of exceptional quality and grilled to perfection. Unfortunately, the novelty factor of the toasted almond, cranberry & blueberry couscous and ginger garlic kale had worn off by now. Yet, I savoured the couscous.

Pomegranate Honey Mustard Salmon

Vegetarians need not despair. They can relish the Vegetarian Tex Mex Chili made with chipotle peppers, sun-ripened tomatoes, red onions and beans topped with yogurt, fresh pico de galloand jalapeno served up hot and spicy on a brown rice pilaf.

The quality of the ingredients, struck me as the best and the presentation was enough to make a person satiated already, feel hungry again. The food may seem a tad overpriced, but given the quality and portion sizes, one cannot complain.

Although we decided to skip dessert, as the meal had been too filling, the Fruit Crumble seemed inviting.  Jam-packed with strawberries, blackberries, blueberries and juicy peaches, served piping hot and topped with an ice-cold scoop of vanilla frozen yogurt,  haunted me and I  have resolved to go back another day to indulge my sweet cravings.

Rating : 4.5/5

 

 

A little British, a lot Bengali

The majestic grandeur of The Sahib Room & Kipling Bar at St. Regis, Mumbai, replete with a colonial feel is unmistakable. The aura this place exudes, befits the kind of food that is served here.

Currently running a special British Raj menu available for lunch and dinner till 31st May, the offerings celebrate Anglo-Indian cuisine, albeit with Chef Gopal Krishna’s twists. From JW Marriott Kolkata, this chef’s menu naturally leans heavily on Bengali cuisine, so he is serving the Anglo Indian cuisine of Bengal.

Anglo Indian cuisine may have common roots, but differs subtly in each state in terms of spices and the usage of local ingredients, incorporated over a period of time. Being from Kolkata myself, I was of course not complaining.

The Anglo-Indian cuisine which evolved in the Dak bungalows, Army canteens (Mess), gentleman’s clubs and the Indian Railways kitchens has been faithfully included in this menu.

The Daaber Jol which was nothing but fresh coconut water, rejuvenated me, as we settled down. Later, with my meal, I relished the Gondhoraj lebu shorbot – a refreshing cooler made with lemon and sugar, for which I have a tremendous weakness.

A Yellow lentil soup with apple, curry powder and cream, was what I began my meal with. A creamy texture, yet one, which offered a bite. It was absolutely comforting and a great way to begin a meal. There was an option of the celebrated Mulligatawny Soup too.

Dhungari Murgh Tikka

Kumro phool bhaja aka Crisp Fried Pumpkin flower, Dimer Devil Crumb or fried potato filled eggs, Betkir Paturi Mustard, poppy and coconut flavoured steamed Bhekti fish, were some of the starters, characteristic of Bengali food, that I sampled.  The essence of the flavours was captured to perfection. The dimer devil boasted of the right amount of masalas in the crust, just as the way it should be.

Subz Dum Biryani

What blew me off completely was the simple, but fragrant Dak bungalow chicken curry, a mildly spiced chicken curry from Anglo Indian cuisine. It was the quintessential Anglo Indian curry, I have grown up eating in erstwhile Calcutta. It opened a floodgate of memories for me. The only thing missing was simple steamed rice. Rotis and parathas don’t do justice to this preparation.

Dimer Dalna – an Egg curry with potato and spices, was equally authentic and well-made. Balanced flavours all the way.

Vegetarians need not despair. Mochar ghonto or Banana flower cooked with potato and coconut, is delightful and mildly flavoured. The core ingredient was intact and nowhere overpowered by spices. There are several other dishes to choose from as well.

The menu also includes few of Sahib’s signature dishes like the Satwar piste ka shorba  orToasted pistachio and asparagus cream soup, starters  like Broccoli dak bangla  and kasundi mustard.

We rounded off our meal with Bengali desserts like the Ledikeni – a cottage cheese dumpling fried and soaked in sugar syrup, Mishti Doi or the Jaggery flavoured homemade yoghurt.

A meal I would not describe as strictly Anglo-Indian, but inspired by the cuisine nevertheless. What struck me as praiseworthy was Chef’s tribute to the flavours of Bengal in an authentic manner. And I was pleased as punch at having savoured one of my favourite cuisines- Bengali.

Rating : 4/5

 

 

 

Hop along for some Hoppers

Sri Lanka’s bowl shaped pancake- light, fluffy and delicious, is my new favourite. Quite similar to appams, hoppers are made with naturally fermented rice flour. They can be eaten sweet or savoury. A staple found primarily on every table in a Sri Lankan home.Of course, I first sampled it years ago when I went to Sri Lanka, and several time later at food festivals or five star hotels, but the novelty has not worn off. In fact, I am in love with these with renewed vigour. I prefer savoury ones any day.

Naturally then, I hopped over to Madeira and Mime, a new restaurant (opened 5 months ago) in Powai to sample some great hoppers. Known for their great food and drinks, I was sure I would get good ones here.And right I was!

The doughy centre and crisp edges with a filling in the centre, are enticing. And that’s exactly what was served to me here, one Hopper with chicken sukka and the other paneer makhani. There was a mutton version too, which I decided to skip.

20170322_131026

The highlight for me was the accompanying coconut pickle- spicy, well seasoned and with a great bite to it.

The hoppers were well-made, just the way they should be and the generous chicken sukka with an egg at the base made it even more delicious.The flavours of the chicken were lip-smacking and comforting. No spice was over powering and the pieces of chicken were succulent and well-meshed with the gravy. One could just roll it and bite into it effortlessly. The paneer makhani one which is obviously a twist in terms of the filling, was not so exciting, in comparison, but tasty nevertheless.

Made of rice flour and coconut milk, hopppers are light and pair well with just about anything. The slight sour flavour and a medley of textures is what sets these apart. Made in a special pan or appachatti, these are quite easy to make as well and quick too, but yes require a special skill.

Madeira and Mime is every bit your neighborhood bar offering unique drinks and delectable food along with great service by their always-smiling staff. I too left the palce smiling after having savoured palate-pleasing hoppers.

Relish Roasts This Christmas

Roasts are delicious and apt for this festive season. What is Christmas without a roast? Roasts are usually done with large, tender cuts of meat. This is a method of cooking an item by enveloping it in hot, dry air, generally inside an oven and at temperatures of at least 300°F and often much hotter. The meat retains its flavours and can be preserved for days. These can be a bit tedious to prepare, but exciting for the palate and are worth every effort.

Goa is synonymous with roasts. Bifes assado (beef roast), Assado de Leitoa(Roast pigling), Pot roast- a braised beef dish. Every household prepares them and eats these with relish. I guess these have a Portuguese origin.

Red meats such as beef, lamb and venison and certain game birds are  typicaly the first choice for roasts. But there are other options too. Roast chicken, roast turkey, roast beef tenderloin, roast pork leg, roast pork belly, roasted suckling pig, roasted whole fish like red snapper, sea bass, sear fish etc. Always remember to “brown’ the meat by exposing it to high temperature for a short period, before roasting it in an oven. This imparts a traditional flavour and color to the roast, which is unparalleled.

 roast-chicken

I have never been a great fan of  red meat, so prefer a roast chicken any day. It is my all-time favourite. A rosemary, garlic and lemon roast chicken is something I really enjoy making. My idea of a perfect meal on a  lazy Sunday and a jazzed up version for Christmas. The aroma of a roast chicken comforts me as it fills the air in my kitchen. Brining the chicken in salt water is essential prior to roasting, in order to keep the chicken moist. Also, seasoning is important. Salt, pepper, garlic, fresh herbs, can be used for seasoning. Ensure you season all parts well. Juicy meat and crisp skin are the two hallmarks of a perfectly roasted chicken. It is an art to perfect that.

Many people roast meats and then use them over a period of time in salads and sandwiches. Potatoes, boiled vegetables like carrots, beans, baby corn, asparagus and polenta are typical accompaniments for roasts but rice and noodles are eaten too, especially in Singapore.

tandoor-roasted-amritsari-salmon-3

Lamb roast is equally a delight for the palate. And of course the Christmas roast is legendary. A roast turkey with a Bordeaux red wine, is an absolute treat. An interesting way to boost your meal when you serve roasts is by adding a gravy to it. The texture and flavours are enhanced. A creamy mushroom gravy is a good option.

In fact winters are a great time for roasts in India and I look forward to December and January to enjoy these with friends and family.

Indigo deli and Grandmama’s Cafe in Mumbai do some of my favourite roasts.

 

So what roast meat are you preparing this Christmas?