Tag Archives: creativity

My Top Ten for 2015

It is next to impossible to pick my Top Ten favourite dishes  in Mumbai for 2015. Most dishes that I have sampled this year, were delectable, some I tasted for the first time, others, my all time favourites. But these ten dishes took my taste buds by storm and struck me as unusual and unique, in texture, flavours, presentation and creativity. Hence, these find a place here………

1.The sliced chicken with stone ground mustard at Ming Yang, Taj Lands End, Mumbai was a memorable dish. The subtle yet, distinct flavours of this dish haunt my taste buds even now. An absolute winner!

2.The authentic Andhra thali at Gongurra, Juhu, with a variety of fiery and flavourful dishes, all cooked home style wowed me instantly.

Gonguura Special Thali

3.The Jackfruit Biryani at Monkey Bar, Bandra, is one of the best I have ever had.  The texture and unique flavours, of this well made biryani, struck me as outstanding. Sadly it is currently off the menu as Jackfruit is not in season, but I hope it is back.

4. The Murg Musallam biryani at Times of Biryani, Andheri West, is the best thing to happen to the gourmand in me this year. Fragrant, nouvelle, value for money, delicious. Irresistible, the biryanis at this place are. Difficult to choose one fav, but this one scores a wee bit over others.

Murg Masallam Biryani- Times of Biryani

5.Sambal Bajak, a red fragrant curry at 38 Bangkok Street, a vegetarian, Pan Asian cuisine restaurant, was one of the nicest curries I tasted this year. And that too vegetarian!

6.Being a dessert person, I enjoy most desserts, but this one was the piece de resistance. Chocolate and sour cherry dome at Shiro, Worli was mastery at its best. Rich, sinful and decadent, it was beautifully presented and an amalgamation of a myriad textures and flavours.

Chocolate cherry bomb

7.Kasundi Mustard Basa with red rice risotto at Le Pain Quotidien was a fine example of Indian flavours, meshed perfectly in global cuisine. The artisanal flavours of this fish, rendered me speechless.

8.Baked Parmesan polenta with chipotle fig relish at Asado, The Cocktail street, Bandra was a unique discovery my taste buds made in 2015.

9.Litti Chokha, a winter favourite from Bihar  at the newly opened 29, a regional Indian cuisine restaurant, was a gastronomic delight. The stuffed bread made from pulses and cereals, with the crunchy baigan bharta, with a distinct tangy and smoky flavour, was a memorable experience.

10.What can I say about the aromatic Mushroom Hot pot rice at Ruka, Juhu, the newest entrant in Juhu? A dish, one can never tire of. Perhaps I saved the best for the last?

So let us see what 2016 has in store for my gourmet escapades. Here’s wishing everyone a Happy and Prosperous 2016. Eat well, enjoy, stay healthy and fit.

 

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Be Desi, Buy Desi : Desi Deli

I am a great one for lauding the efforts of home chefs. No wonder Lolita Sarkar, who is a home chef turned entrepreneur, intrigues me and we decide to visit her newly opened, lil’ eatery in Bandra Reclamation, called Desi Deli.

Lolita herself, greets us warmly and patiently explains the concept behind Desi Deli. An Advertising film maker turned entrepreneur in the food space. Impressive. She has always enjoyed cooking for large numbers at home parties and strived to create something new in her dishes. With friends and family, relishing her hot dogs, Lolita began taking baby steps in this direction. A few pop ups across the city, gave her the much needed confidence and then, Desi Deli happened. A logical outcome of her passion and talent.

Wild Thing

The eatery is ordinary, just a few tables, but the menu, excites you immediately. Her interpretation of Desi Deli, delicious Indiagenous food, is appealing. The menu clearly reflects the creativity of an Advertising professional. The choice of words is unmistakable

We decide to skip the Classic desi hot dogs- Amar, Akbar and Anthony denoting, vegetarian, chicken and Pork versions. . Globe trotting desi sound more interesting.  Sonorian, Venetian, Mexican, and yes, even The Goan Desi are some of the options. These come in Vegetarian, Chicken and Pork. Grilled pineapples in a tangy lemon sauce, with peppers et al catches our fancy. Lolita agrees to making a chicken version, as we are not keen on Pork.

Lamb burg

The burger, she suggests. The Tangy Chic Burger. Seems exciting enough. Our burger arrives. The presentation is neat, not extraordinary. A bite into it, gives us a taste of a succulent, juicy chicken pieces and oodles of tangy flavours. Delicious. The freshness of the ingredients is evident. We enjoy it thoroughly.The accompanying fries, more like the Bengali aloo bhaja made of finely shredded potatoes is delectable.

The Hot Dog pales in comparison. The Killer red sauce (so reminiscent of a Goan masala) and lemony sauce do not marry well. The flavours and textures are clearly mismatched. Maybe we should have tried something else? We decide to move on.

While the quality and creative twist in both these is unquestionable, the size of the burger and hot dog, given the price, is unappealing. These are not filling enough and at Rs 275- 300, these are far from pocket-friendly.

We skip the wraps or Tamales and settle for a Ghugni Souk with Mutton, a dish which has its origins in Bengal. Can I resist that? of course not. It has a Moroccon twist to it with the cous cous. I like that. I expect ghugni with couscous, but it turns out to be the opposite. The plate is full of cous cous with a a small helping of mutton infused ghugni in the centre. But the taste makes up for my disappointment, if any. Flavoursome and comforting. The cous cous complements the ghugni. A perfect example of creativity an imagination. Filling too. The house deli fresh salad along with it is crunchy and tingles our palate. This dish gets my vote.

The Usquebaugh blend ice tea that I am sipping is too mildly flavoured and watered down. The hint of tea is not enough even to tease my taste buds. Lolita has warned me of the delicate flavours, but being from Bengal myself, I am acquainted with those. However, this one does not fit the bill.

Screwpine Aam, Begum in crepe, Modak redux, Trucker tycoon. Yes, these are the interesting names of the desserts in the menu. Being a chocolate fanatic, Trucker Tycoon is quite obviously our choice. Tawa toast oozing with chocolate and mascarpone cheese, the dessert promises. I am taken by surprise. Two tiny pieces of toast with the filling. That too not generous, given the price. Reminiscent of what mothers make at home for kids with Nutella.

Lolita personally oversees every order and chats with her guests. Her central kitchen in Khar seems well managed and her staff here too is efficient.

Conceptually, Mumbai needs a Desi Deli with robust and unique hot dogs and thus, while Lolita’s efforts and creativity deserve a pat on the back, the pricing and portion sizes definitely need to be re-looked at to make it viable for customers.

Rating: 3/5

A Dash of Innovation

I can never tire of eating kebabs. I simply love them. But was wondering how new, could kebabs get as I entered MoMo Café, at Courtyard by Marriott, Mumbai. Expected to see the same Reshmi, Sheekh and Shammi Kebabs, Paneer Tikkas, on the menu. But I was in for a surprise. Chef Amit Dash, the new Executive Sous Chef at the Courtyard by Marriott, Mumbai, ensures that the kebab experience is different and one-of-its-kind. His kebabs are truly innovative.

Murg paan kebab, dahi kebab, prawn spiked with brandy, katori galouti, kebabs made of lotus stems, mushrooms. Wow! And it’s not as if the names were unique only. Each ingredient used was interesting. The kebabs were not doused with a dozen spices, suppressing the flavours of the meats and vegetables. Instead, spices were used sparingly to bring out the flavours. The marination was primarily yoghurt but the spices blend with it gave it a different spin.

The murg paan kebab, chicken blended with betel leaves paste was exotic. A real treat.  The flavours of the prawns were enhanced with the brandy and they simply melt in the mouth. Equally unique was the dahi kebab, although a tad too soft. Nuts had been used innovatively with hung curd in this kebab.  The katori galouti had an interesting katori made of dough laced with spices in which the galouti was placed.  I have never had such a galouti kebab before. The mushrooms were delicious too. Only the paneer was a bit disappointing as the paneer was tough and rubbery in texture.

All the kebabs were not predictably grilled in the tandoor. Chef Dash believes that kebabs can be made using different styles of cooking too as required.  Some were shallow fried, some deep fried and others grilled.

Chef Dash never ceased to surprise us that evening. Each kebab was distinctive.  The kebabs wee a wholesome meal on their own and one really did not need to savour anything else despite the lavish spread on the buffet