Tag Archives: eclectic

Goa Unlimited

Goa is second home, quite literally, yet, for some strange reason, I have never been there to witness the Carnival. I was determined to set this right in 2016 and thus planned a trip to witness Goa in all its glory during the Carnival and The Grape Escapade, organised by the GTDC and Department of Tourism Goa in the first week of February.

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My excitement knew no bounds, as seated in the VIP gallery, I waited with baited breath for King Momo and his entourage to enter Panjim in the GTDC float.  And then he did. Magnificent, colourful and majestic. Yes, the opening float was all this and more. The crowds cheered lustily as he addressed them. Poulami Ghosh, the star of Nachom-ia-Kumpasar, sang in her melodious voice, recreating the magic of Lorna, the heartthrob of Goans.

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A steady stream of colourful and innovative floats from different villages of Goa, with music, dance and performances enthralled us all. What a spectacle it was and the atmosphere was electric, as the crowds danced in their seats and waved to the performers.

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Local farmers with vegetables, fisherfolk, preserving the environment, football, weddings, washermen aka dhobis, were some of the unusual themes of the floats.It reflected the team spirit of the Goans as it did their creativity. Most of the floats were a great piece of art and craftsmanship.

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Three hours flew by amidst merriment and gaiety. The Carnival struck me as exceedingly well-organised given the scale of the event. It surpassed my expectations.

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Traffic was well managed, spectators were well-behaved and of course the quality of the floats was outstanding.

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What is nice is that those who miss the Carnival in Panjim on the first day, can catch it in other cities like Mapusa, Madgaon and Vasco on subsequent days with local floats and entertainment.

This was just the beginning of fun and enjoyment for me, as I headed to the annual Grape Escapade, a food and lifestyle festival at the DB Bandodkar grounds in Campal, Panjim.

This fete of flavours aptly encapsulates the exuberance of Goan lifestyle by highlighting Goa’s multi-cultural influences and artistic passions, thus branding Goa as a “Lifestyle Destination”. After all Goa is truly that, isn’t it?

The weather was perfect and the mood eclectic. Live performances were happening on the large stage to enthrall guests and the stalls had on offer wines from Goa and across India, as well as local Goan food by restaurants, hotels and home makers alike.

The local wines were of great quality and spelt innovation. It is indeed a great platform for budding wine makers and entrepreneurs to showcase their wines. People were eagerly sipping the wines and discussing them amongst friends and family.

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Goan delicacies like cafreal, chorizo pao, xacuti, Sanas, pork vindaloo et al were being lapped up by the crowds as the evening progressed.

The spacious grounds allowed place for everyone to roam around freely, sit and watch performances or even attend the wine appreciation session. There was truly something for everyone.

The highlight of the 4 day event was the fashion show and the selection of The Grape Escapade Queen 2016 on the last day. The huge installation at the entrance by Grover Zampa was equally astounding.

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Goa is truly festive during this week of February and offers a charm that is unparalleled. I was extremely glad to have planned this trip and was grateful to GTDC for offering me such a culturally rich experience and glimpse of Goa. Viva Goa!

 

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Eclectic Singapore Street Food

Street food clearly seems to be the flavour of the season. And it’s not Indian street food that I am talking about. First it was delectable street food at JW Marriott Sahar and recently I savoured lip-smacking Singapore Street food at JW Marriott Juhu at the Lotus Cafe.

Chef Thanabalan Chandrasekaran had been flown in for the festival to lend that authentic touch to the food that JW Marriott is so particular about. So there were exciting Singaporean dishes to  look forward to.

Good food is a way of life in Singapore and there is so much to choose from – classic dishes, street food and modern interpretation of traditional cuisine.

Singapore Chilli Crab

Elaborating on his thought behind the menu, Chef Thanabalan Chandrasekaran, Sous Chef, Singapore Marriott says “Singaporean food is a blend of Malaysian, Chinese and Indian flavours owing to the country’s multicultural heritage. Knowing how passionate Indians are about food, I wanted to recreate this experience in Mumbai, giving the guests a taste of local fare with a modern touch.”

Showcasing local and authentic delicacies was Chef Thana’s aim and he did just that. The spread was aromatic and colourful.

We began with the satays-chicken, fish and prawns. The peanut sauce infused with kaffir lime, struck me as unique and flavourful.  I liked the fact that Chef was innovating the dishes, without tampering with their authentic flavours.

The satays were grilled to perfection and simply melt in the mouth.

What can I say about the bowl of Laksa? It was comforting. Soul food actually. Each ingredient could be distinctly tasted in my sea food laksa. The flavours were delicate and yet, spicy and palate tingling. The aromas filled my nostrils even before I tasted the first spoonful. One of the best I have ever tasted in India.

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The famed chili crab was another treat. The sauce was spicy and teased my taste buds and the crab meat within the shell was soft and succulent.

Other signature dishes included Rojak Petis Singapura, Gado-Gado Molek, Mutton Rendang, Singapura Chilli Crab,  Soya Braised Duck & Stir Fried Pork Loin. The spread seemed a wee bit limited to me, if some one were to avoid red meat and duck.

It was fun to watch the chefs at work at the live stations, adeptly grilling the satays or preparing the laksa.

The quality of the ingredients was evident. Fresh and wholesome, Chef Thana had brought along several ingredients so as not to compromise on the taste and flavour of the dishes. Of course he visited the local markets and created dishes with local stuff too.

No meal is complete without the legendary Singapore Sling which was being served complimentary to every guest.

An enjoyable meal rounded off with a sago pudding, left me satiated. For me, the Laksa won hands down.

Fans of Singapore food must rush and try this street food as it is on till Aug 31 only.

A Fruity Extravaganza: Cafe Mangii Summer Menu

What is summer without the king of fruits- Mangoes? One enjoys them in every form, as a fruit, in milk shakes, smoothies, ice cream and aam ras. And we never tire of them. And when you know that it has even been incorporated in the Summer Menu of one of your favourite Restaurants, you are just plain ecstatic.

Cafe Mangii, the Italian chain of Restaurants offers great food always. Throughout the year. Have been a huge fan of this place since years.

On a beautiful Sunday afternoon, I decided to check out the new menu. The service as always, was impeccable. Suhas the Khar outlet Manager, at his politest best and the staff attentive and alert.

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Seated on a  table overlooking the window, I took a look at the new menu. A bright, sunny mango stared at me, and bought a smile to my lips. Yes, it was the menu in the shape of a sweet and smiling mango, with shades et al. Kids would love it am sure.

Soups, salads, appetizers, mains and desserts, were all fruity. Yes a lot of summer fruits had been used in the menu. Plenty of mangoes too of course. But the menu was refreshing. Literally. Watermelon Gazpacho Shots, Watermelon Pizza (which is actually a salad), Pina colada chicken, Apricot glazed hen. Whew! Innovation at its best, I thought. It struck me though that there was no pizza on his menu.

Our Chilled Melon and fresh Alphonso with pistachio soup arrived. I loved the idea of crushed pistachio on the rim of the glass. Thought it was out of the ordinary. The soup was rejuvenating. Subtle flavours. The melon was more pronounced, but one could enjoy the mango too. Perked us up and we were ready for our salad and appetizer. Perhaps the rim should have had rock salt instead? I wondered.

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Mango & Calamari with cilantro aioli arrived. Great presentation again. Colourful and appetizing. The use of ripe and raw mango to give the sweet and tangy flavour was laudable. The calamari was steamed to perfection. Light and flavoursome salad. Our palates were teased sufficiently.

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The Crispy Chicken with Asparagus & Tomatoes was a pleasant surprise too. Light for an appetizer and the grilled chicken pieces melt in our mouth. The bacon bit were well fried and complimented the dish.

I could not help thinking how effectively and skilfully the chef had integrated fruits in each section to make the dishes light and flavourful.

We settled for Raviolo in Orange Paprika Butter sauce for our mains. Stuffed with Pine Nut, leeks & Fontina, Orange Paprika Butter Sauce, the sweetish taste made this dish unique, but we preferred the Salmon al Cartoccio. It was an absolute palate pleaser. Salmon fillet marinated in ginger soy and brown sugar served with roast almonds and snow peas, has subtle, but distinct flavours. The freshness of the salmon made it so delicious. It offered a medley of flavours to the palate. My vote goes to this one for sure.

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Satiated with such a perfect meal, dessert was plain greed. We succumbed. Mangoes with fresh cream we thought might be lighter than strawberry ravioli which was being recommended. Alas! we had erred. The presentation was wow. So much so that one felt guilty to dig  spoon into it. The mangoes were completely snowed under the cream, which was insipid. In fact the taste of the fruit was masked completely. Not sweet enough. A tad disappointing.

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I hurriedly ordered a Cappuccino to salvage my taste buds and that helped.

I walked out of Cafe Mangii pleased as punch after an enjoyable Sunday lunch. An eclectic summer menu. For once I was not complaining about the heat !

For the Universal Palate: Cheval new Menu

Cheval Restaurant & Bar, has a regal air about it and transports you elsewhere- out of Mumbai. for sure. One gets a feel of being in Europe. Maybe because of the ambience and partly because of the expat crowd that throngs the bar as you enter. A happening place undoubtedly.

The restaurant section has an old world charm to it, but perhaps could do with a bit of brighter upholstery.

The new menu designed by Executive Chef – Brian Lopes, looked interesting. A good mix of global specialities. Bravia potatoes arrived first. Melt in the mouth and creamy. Just the way they are meant to be. Reminded me of Chef Sergi Arola. His signature dish it is. The chicken liver pate with cherry compote and date puree fell short of our expectations. The pate was overpowering and enveloped the palate.

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Roasted beetroot with a raspberry emulsion, walnuts and goat cheese, was our choice for salad. I have a weakness for this one. The salad was well made, the beetroot done to perfection and the goat cheese, creamy enough. However, the salad leaves could have been doused further with dressing. Were a tad too dry. The quality of the ingredients got our vote- fresh and the best.

Chef Brian dropped by to say hello to us and explained how he keeps reinventing his menu to allure his regular guests. Well, he had succeeded.

I was recommended to try the Multigrain crepe, laal maath and beetroot along with a smoked tomato fondue, while my partner settled for the delicate John Dory.  I was ecstatic as I bit into my crepe. Luscious flavours and a plethora of textures, juxtaposed. My vote went instantly to this one. The tomato fondue was the perfect compliment. One cannot go wrong with a John Dory and this one surpassed our expectations. The kaffir lime risotto so cleverly paired with this, did the trick. The aromatic, gentle flavours filled and appeased our senses. Delicious. The chef is indeed extraordinary.

Satiated, we let ourselves indulge in the desserts too. Espresso fudge served with vanilla bean ice cream and Basil panacotta strawberry coulis was what we ordered. The basil panacotta was unusual, but a wee bit less sweet for my taste buds, but made well nevertheless. The espresso fudge was decadent and sinful, as expected.

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The service was impeccable and the staff alert to guests’ needs. The food is unusual, subtle flavours and appeals to a global palate but the portions can be a bit more generous.

An enjoyable and relaxed dining experience this was.

Rating: 3.5/5

Savouring Street Food in Mumbai

Mumbai is a haven for foodies. I am not talking about restaurants only, but it’s eclectic street food. There is so much to choose from. Vada pav, behl puri, omelette pav, sandwiches, pav bhaji, keema- kaleji et al. There are several typical places for these delicacies although one gets these at every street corner.

Those apart, I recently sampled delectable street food at The Beatle Hotel in Powai. Chef Prashant Tikadia, is a culinary wizard and have known him for years. His ability to innovate and yet, serve authentic food never ceases to amaze me.

Baida curry, pav bhaji, masala tawa kobdi, vada pav, chaats, fish fry, usal, he had them all, but served them interestingly with a twist. The flavors were reminiscent of the ones you get on street side joints. I was instantly transported to different parts of Mumbai- Mohammed Ali road, Thane, Tardeo and so on. The spices were cleverly used and the texture, taste and flavours were recreated to perfection. The food was rustic and robust.

What’s more, the ambience in the restaurant was accurately created too. Each dish had a separate stall, so that one could pass by and savour what one wanted. Of course you could serve yourself, be comfortably seated and relish your food.

The attentive staff, their quick service, further made it a memorable dining experience. With oodles of calories added, I stepped out, satiated, albeit not without guilt.

Here is Chef Prashant Tikadia’s recipe. My favourite that night. Try it!

 

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Masala tawa kombdi

Chicken with bone -12 pieces

Marination

Ginger garlic paste – 050 gms

Green chilly paste – 020 gms

chopped coriander leaves- 010 gms

chopped mint leaves -005 gms

spring onion greens – 010 gms

onion- 01 no medium size

salt – to taste

lemon- 1 no

turmeric -002 gms

coriander powder-005 gms

cumin powder – 005 gms

for tawa masala

golden fried onions-  100 gms

curry leaves – few

green chillies chopped- 010 gms

coriander powder – 020 gms

cumin powder – oo5 gms

fresh coriander leaves chopped- 010 gms

chopped garlic-010 gms

chopped ginger -010 gms

sun dried coconut – 050 gms

oil- 100ml

method

@ wash  chicken and keep aside

@ peel and apply oil on whole onion and roast it at medium heat over charcoal or can be roasted in oven  till soft

@mix together all the ingridients for mariantation,add 3 to 4 table spoon water and blend it well till it become smooth,add lemon juice

@ marinate chicken with above masala for 20 to 25 minutes

@ for tawa masala heat oil add chopped garlic and fry till light golden in colour , add ginger and cook for a minute, add rest of the ingridients , add 200ml water and allow to simmer on low heat .

@ skewer marinated chicken and cook over charcoal or can be roast in oven

@ add cooked chicken to above masala and mix well .simmer over low heat and sprinkle sundried cococnut powder .adjust seasoning.

@ serve hot