Tag Archives: comforting

Tea Tales & Winter food

Winters are somehow all about indulgence. Given the weather when the temperature drops, one can getaway by giving in to one’s guilty pleasures. More calories are needed to generate body heat, we are told, so we all gladly embark upon that task. Sadly, Mumbai does not gift us real winters, yet, we unabashedly gorge on some winter delicacies.

Another thing which is synonymous for everyone with winters, is a hot brew-tea or coffee. I love my tea and  when a winter menu is about tea and food, naturally I am ecstatic.

Brooke Bond Taj Mahal Tea House (TMTH) has curated a new Winter Menu, using the most exotic and fresh produce of the season.  TMTH has handpicked season’s popular ingredients and created an interplay of flavours to intrigue the diner’s taste buds.

Irresistible this sounded, so I set about to explore it one evening.

As I settled in, I discovered each item on the cleverly crafted menu, was aptly complemented by one of their signature tea blends.

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The falafel chaat arrived on the table and was paired with  a pink guava and kaffir lime tea. The tangy chaat with palate-teasing flavours, was delightful. After a sip of the light tea, the flavours came alive with a vengeance. I was off to a good start.

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Next was the salad with paneer and the tea to go along, was a delicate Oriental Jasmine and rose. A unique blend of the East and West- a romantic tea, which uplifts your mood instantly. It did just that. It perked my taste buds and I found myself enjoying the hearty and crunchy salad even more.

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Teas being paired with every course, I thought was an exciting thing to do in order to enhance the dining experience. And it really worked wonders.

Risotto infused with Sambar was served next but the watered down version did not entice me enough. The silver needle and berries tea paired with it though, took me by surprise. Fruity and flavourful, it was comforting all the way and yet, added zest to my palate with its intoxicating flavours. Who needs wine with teas like this around?

The Idly Crust with Pomfret was the piece de resistance. Fresh fluffy soft fish with a delectable crust was a treat for the taste buds.

What can I say about the matcha semifreddo. It bore ample testimony to Chef’s mastery over his craft. The matcha tea flavours, lend themselves seamlessly to this dessert and in fact enhanced the taste. Layers of Matcha cream and cake covered with grilled almond slivers and served with chocolate sauce. Truly decadent. Paired with the robust mocha tea this course was truly memorable. Assam chai with a rich coffee cream crown and finished with cracked roasted coffee beans. Whew! I had tasted nothing like this ever before.

There is Chai cheese cake tart too, for dessert lovers, which I have to head back to try.

This menu is truly innovative and offers something for every palate. A special treat for the Vegans is using the winter staple Ragi in a contemporary Vegetable Quiche. Vegetarians can relish the Multigrain Hari Matar Burger, while carnivores will enjoy the Baked Irani Lamb Kheema – Aubergine parceled shells baked with lamb kheema inspired by Dhansak flavor and glazed with Béchamel sauce, among others.

I left the place with a smile as the manner in which teas had been paired with food,  especially the fish course was a true revelation. And I had sampled the very best of teas and food. It does not get any better than this. Winters had set in for me this evening, and I was not complaining.

Rating : 4/5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Soulful Soups

Ah! there is something about soups in this weather that is so comforting. If made with the right ingredients and spices, these can be nourishing as well as healthy too. Nothing like a steaming bowl or mug of soup especially for dinner. In fact, on most days I prefer just that.

Goan, Bokdiacho caldo (mutton soup) made from mutton bones, onion, ginger, garlic, turmeric, coriander leaves and dices of potato, salt and pepper, is my all-time favourite. It is filling and boosts my immunity too. Caldo Verde with potatoes as the base is also a light and flavourful vegetarian soup of Portuguese origin.

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Being from Kolkata, I am used to relishing a spicy Thukpa, a Tibetan soup made with mixed vegetables, mixed meats and noodles  when the mercury dips. There is something for every palate in global cuisines too. Mulligatawny, Tom Kha, Tom Yum, Miso soup, Lobster bisque. My mouth is watering now.

Be imaginative and play around with flavours and textures. Be experimental. And global soups are not your only options. A plethora of soups from our very own Indian cuisine are a delight in this weather. Soups made from dals or lentils, paya soup, tamatar ka shorba or even a murg shorba. The options are endless.

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Don’t forget to add seasonal veggies in your soups wherever possible for that extra health quotient. Pumpkin, potatoes, cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, work wonders. And yes, the right spices to for additional warmth and immunity.

Cinnamon works wonders, as do ginger and garlic. I love to add these in my soups where ever possible.

If the soup alone is insufficient, pair it with garlic bread, toast or add macaroni to your soups or even red rice, to make it more sumptuous.

There is nothing like a well-made soup, it is soulful and comforting in winter, keeping winter blues at bay.

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

A Sublime Experience

There is nothing more comforting than a cup of tea. Brewed to perfection of course.

I was excited when my colourful bag from Sublime House of Tea arrived with a bright red coloured box offering an array of exotic brews. I could not wait to sip those.

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Seventh Heaven, Wellness Brew and Green Long Ding, which are extremely sought-after across the world were flavours I was going to sip at home. And that too as tea bags, convenience personified.

What I like is that Sublime’s portfolio of fine tea presents a mix of the classical, the popular and the avant-garde. From sought after bouquets such as Green Tea, Assam Tea and English Breakfast to intriguing localised brews like Moroccan Mint, and Seventh Heaven, eclectic admixtures like White Tea with Raspberry and the complex flavours of herbal tisanes like Rose in Bloom and Chamomile, there is a tea to suit every palate and occasion. I am fussy about my teas and found Sublime teas could please me with ease.

I brewed my Rose in bloom with care. Oh! the pyramid tea bag as against the normal filter paper ones, made a world of difference.

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I could see the water in my cup change colour as a mellow hue was imparted to it and yes, I could get the aroma of rose petals too.

The Seventh Heaven actually transported me to the same place. It rejuvenated me completely serving as a balm for my tired nerves.

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‘Sublime House of Tea’ is promoted by the Prestige Group and Sublime Galleria. Naturally then, one can be sure of the quality.

I have always been an avid tea drinker being from Kolkata and today tea is being touted to have a host of health benefits too. Apart from an evening cup of tea, I enjoy a cup after dinner too and the range from Sublime House of Tea is just right for a cup, last thing at night to relax me before going to bed. There are many flavours waiting to be tried as the box contains several tea bags.

So which flavour shall it be tonight? Moroccan Mint perhaps?

 

 

Aroma, Art and An Appetizing Meal at Shiro

I am a little partial to Pan Asian cuisine, I must confess. After Indian ghar ka khaana aka home cooked food, it is my favourite cuisine. The sheer variety, usage of spices, unusual flavours, cooking methods, appeal to me and make we want to eat more of it.

The new menu at Shiro, unarguably, one of the finest places for Pan Asian cuisine in Mumbai, beckoned me. I was informed that some of the classics and old favourites had been retained but almost 40% of the menu was new inclusions. That sounded exciting.

Shiro’s decor and interiors always have a calming effect on me. Something to do with the Zen ambience, I guess.

Our Sushi and Maki rolls arrived. Aesthetically presented as ever. The crispy duck maki rolls got my instant vote. The texture was unique, as were the flavours.

Crispy duck maki

The Chicken summer rolls from Vietnam are my all time favourites and Shiro offers the best ones. The shredded chicken, herbs, peanut hoisin sauce filled in rice paper rolls are light and mouth-watering. It is the simplicity in the flavours which sets them apart.

The Chilean seabass with lime reduction tantalized my palate. The light but distinct flavours, were comforting. The fish was fresh and I loved the way the texture was kept intact. Absolutely melt in the mouth. The Miso black cod was delightful. But the sweet potato mash served alongside got brownie points instantly.

With each dish, the degree of innovation in the new menu struck me as commendable. The Chefs had put in a lot of thought.

Chilean seabass with chilli lime reduction

The skewers were equally a treat. Loved the subtle Thai flavours. These live grills are a new inclusion and a welcome addition to the menu, I can assure you.

Quality ingredients, palate tingling flavours and a plethora of choices, characterize the new Shiro menu.

Our main course was served. Chicken Massaman curry, garlic fried rice, Yaki udon noodles, prawns and assorted mushrooms with spicy thai herb sauce. We were spoilt for choice.

The use of garam masala in the Massaman curry fascinated me. A striking similarity to Indian cuisine, I thought. And yet the masalas were not overpowering. The medley of mushrooms was exotic to say the least and paired well with the noodles and rice. Aromatic all the way.A perfect recommendation by the Chef. I was satiated and yet, craving for more.

Vegetarians need not despair. Plenty of exciting options for them too in the new carefully planned menu.

Massaman curry with mix vegetables

It was dessert time. The chocolate and sour cherry dome bowled my taste buds completely. A work of art on plate it was.  It literally exploded in my mouth unleashing a burst of chocolate and sour cherry.It was an outstanding combination. Undoubtedly my favourite dessert at Shiro, hereon.

Chocolate cherry bomb

It was one of the most memorable meals I have had in a long time. Impeccable service, warm hospitality and an absolutely sublime dining experience.

Rating: 4.5/5