Tag Archives: curry

Amti, my comfort food

Who can resist a well-made amti with steamed rice? Not me for sure. That is actually my comfort food when overeating has happened or I have been eating out a lot. More so in the festive season.

Amti is generally, a soupy dal made, with tur dal, tamarind, spices, jaggery and coconut. A well -known lentil-based dish, amti is eaten all over Maharashtra and Goa. Even during Ganesh Chaturthi and Diwali, amti is a must on the menu. In fact I have been relishing some delectable ones these last few days, as I was vegetarian.

It is the staple part of almost every meal and yet has variations, as different dals are used -Tur, masoor and black gram or even chickpeas and split green peas. One can just unleash one’s imagination and create new versions.

Some ladies prepare a sheng daanyachi amti, using groundnut paste and it is tempered with hing, green chillies.  It is absolutely delicious and has a unique flavour and aroma. It can be relished with bhakri or even with Masale bhaaat. Kala watana amti (black gram cooked in coconut, tamarind and jaggery) is also traditional. Goda masala or kala masala is the key to a well-made amti. That is what lends it that spicy flavour and a unique taste. And it is then balanced with the addition of sugar or jaggery. The proportion of this is key to get the flavour right. The sweet n spicy taste of amti is typical. Masoorchi amti made with sprouted whole brown masoor dal is another favourite.

What is interesting is that while dals are referred to as amti, some even call any curry an amti and thus, prawn amti is popular too, among the Non vegetarians. Oh! non-vegetarian amtis with sea food can be so delicious. But I must confess, I still prefer the vegetarian versions.

My twist on amtis has been a tomato amti that I prepare. My family loves it. Paired with rice and batatachi bhaji (potato preparation), it is a lip-smacking meal. It is a bit like the tamatar saar but with coconut, chillies, garlic et al.  I once savoured a mouth-watering Bhendichi amti. Amti made with bhindi(ladies finger). I  was pleasantly surprised that it wowed my palate considering, normally, I do not enjoy my bhindi or okra in a gravy. I prefer it dry.

The key ingredients in any amti are coconut, goda masala, jaggery and tamarind. The dals can be varied or even other ingredients can be used. The flavours and taste are distinct and any meal in the Konkan region is incomplete without an amti.

Some of the delicious amtis I have tasted are in hotels in Pune at Courtyard by Marriott Hinjewadi and of course at Taj Wellington Mews as part of a Maharashtrian Food Festival. Those flavours still linger in my mouth.

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Do write in and share what’s your favourite amti. I am certainly making one for lunch today!

 

 

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Coastal Delights

The sheer variety at Barbeque Nation always baffles me. But yes, it gives me an opportunity to try those many more dishes, so I am not complaining.

Sea food is my weakness so I decided to experience the ongoing Best of Coast Festival, that is on till March 13.

The menu was an exercise in choices. There was sea food galore, but I was amazed to see the unique dishes crafted for vegetarians too.

Mr. Joju, COO, Barbeque Nation Hospitality Ltd., told me, “Best of the Coast” is Barbeque Nation’s way of paying tribute to and celebrating regional culinary traditions. Western Maharashtra has unique Konkani cuisine, a culmination of centuries of cooking traditions. While we are incorporating some traditional Marathi food into our menu, we also want to offer our patrons the best of regional and global seafood cuisines and have bought in Malayali, Sri Lankan and Thai dishes. We hope to give our guests an unforgettable culinary experience.”

Grilled-Pomfret-Fish

Well, I certainly began my gourmet odyssey with the best. A well-fried spicy and piquant grilled pomfret. Oh! It teased my taste buds mercilessly. Fresh and soft, the fish fillet simply melt in my mouth.

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The squid rings paled in comparison. However, the chili gherkin mayo served along side caught my fancy.

There were lots of chicken options and mutton too in the appetizers, but who wants anything else when the best of sea food is around?

The grilled prawns too were well-marinated and yes, fresh too, as was the basa.

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Sea Bass Ambul Thiyal – sour fish curry. Different fish cuts (Lemon Sole, Tilapia fish) in Maharashtrian Koliand Srilankan marinades could be sampled from the ‘live counters’, where the chefs adeptly fried the fish. I tried the Rawas and Tilapia. They were faultless.

Hawaiian Eggplant, Zucchini and Tomato served with Garlic Bread, Aztec Poblano Paneer, Dry Patara and Raw Mango Papaya salad, were some of the interesting Vegetarian dishes on offer. Quite innovative I thought.

The main course offered kosha mangsho, biryani, Manglorean fish curry, Chicken Hydrabadi, shrimp rice and more for the carnivores. The Biryani was a treat, boasted of some subtle flavours. The Chicken preparation bowled me over completely. A unique masala, made the gravy stand out. The shrimp rice too was delicious but the Kosha Mangsho was anything, but authentic and had far too many bones, than there ought to have been. A tad disappointing.

 

Ada Pradhaman – Kerala style Payasam prepared with jaggery, rice ada and coconut milk was a decadent dessert which I enjoyed thoroughly. There were other options like kulfi, angoor gulab jamun and phirni, but I decided to skip those.

As always, the service was prompt and attentive and the place was buzzing. The soulful rendition of songs by the singer, enhanced the dining experience.

For sea food lovers, there can be no better place than Barbeque Nation to sample the best and freshest catch in myriad preparations and forms. And there’s something for every fish lover’s palate!

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Country Curries at Shamiana

Taste buds are tantalized often and palates are pleased at many meals, but it is not everyday that you sample food that touches your soul. Curries of the World at Shamiana, Taj Mahal Palace Mumbai, was one such memorable experience.

While I have had the privilege of travelling a fair bit and experiencing several global cuisines, I have never tasted such an amazing array of delectable curries from across the world as created by Chef Amit Chowdhury and his team.

Shamiana had curated a special menu bringing together the innovative curries made using a complex combination of spices and herbs across the globe – Cape Town, Spain, Africa, Portuguese, Brazil The menu looked so inviting and the stories, behind each curry, interesting, that I read with rapt attention.

Our Pollo al curry, aka Spanish baked Chicken curry, Catalonia bread and Valencia style Mushroom and Beans arrived. I was floored with the presentation. Suddenly felt like royalty. The curry was light, with subtle flavours and extremely comforting. It soothed our palates. The beans and mushrooms accompaniment, added the right amount of crunch to the dish and perked our taste buds. Visually of course, it was poetry on plate, oops platter actually!

Guyanese Crab Curry-Guyana_The Taj Mahal Palace Mumbai

We had just about soaked these flavours that our next, Guyanese crab curry was served. What can I say about this magnum opus of a dish? The Arabian Sea Crab curry, with Wild Rice and Hot peppers Relish was a treat for the eyes and undoubtedly for the palate. While our coastal crab curries in India are so heavily spiced (but delicious) this one was so fragrant and light. Delicately flavoured. The wild rice, was the highlight and I enjoyed it thoroughly. It had a bite to it which other varieties of rice don’t quite offer.

The Bunny Chow, our first vegetarian curry, was artistry by the chef. Durban Pumpkin, Baby Potatoes, Cottage cheese and Lima bean Curry served in Crusty bread, which had been scooped beautifully to become a serving dish. I was spellbound. I loved the way the vegetables were combined in a sweet-spicy thick curry and the crunchy bread paired well with it. Reminded me of a Goan curry and pao meal.

Japanese Mushroom & Tofu Curry

Our last curry for dinner was the Japanese Mushroom and Tofu Curry – Japanese curry with shitake, cremini and haricot served with short grain rice, crispy onion and pickled vegetables. The flavours in the curry were a bit too sharp and overpowering for my palate. The rice provided some relief, but I would not rate this as one of the best on offer. My vote definitely went to the Guyanese crab curry.

Sea food lovers may love the Trini Shrimp Curry – Caribbean shrimp and green pepper curry with apple Kuchela and Jamaican rice, served with fried plantains and salsa. For vegetarians,  there was the Ottogi Curry – aubergines water chestnuts, bamboo shoots, glass noodles, garlic sesame kimchi with simmered lotus in soy sauce.

I missed having the Khoresht e Gheimeh –  Persian lamb and split peas curry, tachin, mint yoghurt, sabzi khordan served with French fries. Chef informed me that this curry makes use of liberal amounts of saffron to give a unique and flavourful taste. Sounded exciting, but I was satiated beyond words and there was no scope to taste even a spoonful. But I had enjoyed every morsel of what I tasted, so had no regrets.

Palate pleasing flavours, outstanding presentation, impeccable service and an extremely creativie menu. With these thoughts, I left Shamiana.

Delectable Asian Journey for the Tastebuds

Pan-Asian food is my all-time favourite. And a no- frill sans fuss QSR was just what I needed. Asia on My Plate (AOMP) at Bandra Reclamation, in the western suburbs of Mumbai is a haven for food lovers. There is another outlet at Lowe Parel too.

A concept food-chain by Kashind Group, AOMP is India’s very first quick service Pan Asian restaurant in town. AOMP founders Muizz Khan and Nirbhik Trehan, told me,Although, Asian concepts have long been full-service restaurants, itwas high time that the concept of QSR for our favorite Pan Asian cuisine be introduced to India at an affordable price, without compromising on health and taste.”

Ganesh, very courteously assisted us, as we entered and acquainted us with the menu for the day. We settled for the lemon coriander chicken soup. I was expecting a watery, clear soup, but what was served was a delicious thick flavoured broth with chunks of chicken. Nice and tangy, it added the right zing to our palate.

Succulent, fattened, juicy, chicken steamed momos came next. The filling was yummy. The covering perfect, unlike what is commonly served in many places. Full marks. I was only concerned about the value for money bit. 4 pieces for Rs 175 seemed a tad expensive to me.

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The main course of noodles with chicken in a luscious sauce surpassed my expectations. The sauce was unusual and flavoursome. The orange Malaysian curry was well-made and paired well with steamed white rice. Scrumptious,  and filling. The dessert, a chocolate mousse sourced from outside was lacklustre and disappointing.

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The food chain serves ready to take away Asian Cuisine prepared by exclusive master chefs who have their experiences in various Asian Countries, hence be it your special spicy thai chicken salad LAPKAI, or Japanese veg tempura. The menu includes interesting range of combos, starters, main course and deserts along with Asian-inspired fast food salads. Not surprising at all, considering, popular Chef Nilesh Limaye, is at the helm.

If you are hard-pressed for time and want a quick, yet, satisfying meal, AOMP is the place. The added attraction is that all the dishes served are green in nature which means they are chemical and preservative free. Even Ajinomoto or MSG is strictly avoided hence it bypasses your regular Chinese fast food by miles. Kudos! I like that.