Tag Archives: flavoursome

Casual, boozy and indulgent brunch

This smokery and charcuterie, The Boston Butt at Kala Ghoda, Mumbai, is known for its good food, flavoursome and stylishly presented with high quality ingredients. I decided to check it out for myself on a Sunday Brunch.

The ambience is relaxed and the place pulsating. The live music on a Sunday is a sure-shot attraction.

The bright and cheerful place with a spacious layout and chic decor adds to the charm.

The brunch menu is limited but allows you a decent amount of choices. One can begin with a cocktail and the beer float with ice cream is an insta hit. Of course there are other options too.

Sunset boulevard

The smoked bbq chicken pizza was delightful and a great way to begin for sure. This brunch does not have a spread laid out before you on a table but is served to you at your table. Luxury I say!

From the raw section, I opted for the house-cured & cold smoked sushi grade blue thread fin indian salmon, apple-fennel slaw, cream cheese, shallot oil, mini bagel. It was exquisite in both presentation and flavours. It got my vote instantly. Others can opt for cobb salad or esquites.

The small plates section offered abundant options and was enough to confuse me. The bourgeois P.I.G: smoked bacon chili jam, mini brioche, mascarpone was the right choice. The in-house brioche was soft and pillowy and the bacon jam, a testimony of great flavours. A lip-smacking combo, is what I could say for sure.

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Smoked mozzarella, batter fried & wok tossed with chili, garlic, scallion, was my other choice and there too I was bang on. The smoked flavours imparted a unique texture to the mozzarella enhancing its taste and the chilli and garlic added the right amount of zest.

Cottage Cheese Steak

The quality of ingredients used in each dish struck me as first-class and outstanding. This place obviously has an edge over many for the way they smoke their meats. One of the best that I have experienced in stand alone eateries in Mumbai.

 

Carnivores can rejoice and celebrate real meaty treats here.  The tbb brunch smoked platter: smoked pulled chicken, smoked pulled pork,st louis style smoked pork rib, bbq-beans, coleslaw, pickles, bbq sauces, was any meat lover’s delight. Perfectly smoked, the variety of meats provided an amalgamation of textures and flavours and the sauces and pickles, further teased my taste buds. My piece de resistance for the afternoon this was.

Just when I thought I had savoured the best, my dessert swept me off my feet. The skillet chocolate chip cookie, with vanilla, salted caramel & chocolate ice creams, enveloped my palate and I was experiencing food coma. The cookie is the best I have had in a long time. Sinful and decadent, to say the least.

The service staff can be a bit more alert, else, the experience here is outstanding.

Mesmerized with the flavour offerings and the quality of the food, I left The Boston Butt to enjoy the rest of my Sunday even more.

If you enjoy good food, a great ambience and foot-tapping music, make sure you do not miss this Sunday brunch with a difference.

Rating: 3.5/5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Patiala Peg of Royal Flavours

For us ordinary mortals, the food cooked and served from the Royal kitchens in India is always a subject of mystique and intrigue. One often wonders, what is it that they eat, how is it cooked, what are the secret ingredients that set their food apart and so on. After all royalty and food have always been an interesting but typical combination.

Fortunately, as a food writer and a passionate foodie, I have travelled and have been fortunate enough to sample food from some of the Royal Kitchens and yet, the unknown ones, continue to fascinate me.

Rajkumari Sarvesh Kaur from the Royal family of Patiala curating a food festival titled Royal Kitchens of Patiala sounded exciting enough. Add to that Chef Amninder Kaur, whose die-hard fan I am and thus sampling a meal at Masala Bay, Taj Lands End was the most obvious thing to do.

Chef Amninder Sandhu, Taj Lands End along with Rajkumari Sarvesh Kaur  had created a menu which could plunge any food lover into a coma. Executing the royal recipes  Chef Amninder had served Mutton Yakhni Shorba, Teekkha Kebab, Murg Kibiti, Shahi Paratha, Paani de Haath di Roti, Halwa Behzai and Shahi Phirni.

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The recipes were all from the Royal family which had generously been shared, which I thought was a wonderful thing to do.

The setting was perfect, the table befitting a royal meal. The only time in my life I have felt close to royalty, I must confess!

The Mutton Yakhni shorba arrived. The aroma was evident and the flavours subtle but distinct. I was off to a great start. The Teekha kabab lived upto its name, fiery it was and perked up my taste buds instantly.

Locally sourced ingredients and cooking methods are what are intrinsic to this cuisine and Chef Amninder had executed these to perfection. Most of the dishes were slow cooked, one could easily tell the difference, as the flavours were pronounced and the spices, subtle.

The main course was a melange of flavours with unique textures teasing our palates. Cocktails using traditional Indian spices were cleverly paired with each course. The chutneywali masoor dal struck me as unique, although I still prefer the basic one myself. My vote went instantly to the creamy gobi or cauliflower, swathed in cream but decadent, nevertheless.

The shahi paratha again was a treat. Bursting with a sinful filling, it paired well with the rich gravies and dry preparations alike.

The kofta roganjosh was delicious, with a soft and creamy texture and the right hint of spice.

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What can say about the mutton aloo bukhara? Yes with dried plums wrapped in masala and inextricably co-mingled with the mouth-watering mutton this dish was the piece de resistance for me. Cooked to perfection, the mutton simply melt in the mouth. Luscious flavours enveloped my palate and I was satiated. So much so that I skipped the halwa behzai, which I had all along been looking forward to.

The food boasted of unique flavours, with no spice overpowering the core ingredients. Yet, the food was rich and heavy, expectedly so. The cuisine is meat intensive and does not make use of too many vegetables.

Being a Punjabi myself, sampling this food from the royal kitchens of Patiala was a revelation, but one that I will always cherish.

 

Kokum, Konkan’s wonder fruit

Come summer and I crave a glass of refreshing tangy kokum sherbet. And of course, no Malwani or Goan meal is complete without a glass of sol kadi for me, made from kokum, coconut milk, ginger, et al.

Kokum cooler

Kokum is an amazing purplish red sweet and salty fruit, also called garcinia. It is a popular souring agent in the Konkan region and I cannot do without it in my kitchen.  I love the fact that it is multi-faceted and lends itself to so many dishes. But yes, it should be fresh. The flavours are completely different when it is not fresh and appears dehydrated.

Whole dried kokum can be used in curries. I cannot imagine my fish or prawns curry without the tangy kokum or even my dry bhindi or ladies fingers, for that matter.

But I must confess, I learnt about kokum fairly late in life, when I got married to a Goan. In Kolkata, where I grew up, we had never heard of kokum, let alone use it. For us, tamarind was always the souring agent.

Halwa-Fish-Curry

In all curries where coconut milk is added, I tend to use kokum. I once sampled the most unusual kokum coconut chutney at Park Hyatt Goa. The taste still lingers in my mouth. It was exceedingly well-made.

It is called Bhinda in the Konkan region. I am somehow fascinated by the colour of kokum apart from its flavour. People in Kerala use it as well. In Maharashtra, moong dal amti with kokum and goda masala is legendary. It is a must try.

Kokum is used for its unique flavour and peculiar sourness that it gives to the dishes and hence used in Konkan Cuisine. A chef once told me an interesting way that kokum is used. Yes, Kokum butter, prepared from seeds is used in confectionery preparations. Some chefs have created unique European dishes using Kokum too.

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Apart from its utility in the kitchen, kokum, owing to its anti oxidant and anti fungal properties, teats sores, prevents infection, improves digestion, treats constipation, and application of direct Kokum on skin removes all kinds of rashes and allergies.

Although it is available freely in Mumbai too, I still prefer getting my stock of kokum from Goa. It is fresh and flavoursome and I can be sure of the quality. Madgaon market is my favourite place to pick the best kokum.

So try using kokum in your culinary experiments, if you have not already. It is bound to tease your taste buds.

A Taste of Ecuador

I was lucky to have attended the All You Need Is Ecuador Press Conference yesterday. Oh! It was such a revelation. Ecuador is such a beauty. A unique place with universal appeal. The 8th most bio diverse country in the world. Whew!

Pro Ecuador, the Institute for the Promotion of Trade and Investment of the country, were such gracious hosts.  Consul General of Ecuador, Mumbai, Hector Cueva Jacome and Priscila Moscoso Meiller, Trade Officer were warm and ever willing to share information.

The cuisine sounded even more interesting. To a gourmand like me, the food has to be tempting. And it sounded extremely appetizing and varied. Most regions in Ecuador follow the traditional three course meal of soup, a course that includes rice and a protein, and then dessert and coffee to finish. Supper is usually lighter and sometimes consists only of coffee or herbal tea with bread. Wow! Sounded just like what I would enjoy. They also eat a lot of fish, shrimps and tuna in particular. Perfect, I thought.

We sampled Empanadas De Viento – A combination of the gooey cheese and onions inside a crispy fried empanada and topped with sugar. I relished them immensely, but could not help note the similarity between these and our own Rissois from Goa. These were definitely strongly reminiscent of Rissois. Those too are little envelopes, usually filled with prawns, onions and white sauce and deep fried. Of course there is no sugar on those. But there is no cause to be startled at the similarity, I thought. After all Rissois are delectable Portuguese turnovers, which we Goans have received as legacy and have incorporated in our cuisine.

Empanada De Viento

These empanadas de viento are the perfect breakfast or afternoon snack with a hot cup of black coffee, I was informed. And the good ‘ol Goan Rissois can be savoured anytime too.

The other dish we tried during lunch was exotic. Pescado encocado or fish with coconut sauce. One cannot go wrong with fish. Not at least where I am concerned. This Ecuadorian fish with coconut sauce, called pescado encocado, is a traditional coastal dish of fish seasoned with citrus and spices and then cooked in a sauce of cilantro, onions, tomatoes, bell peppers and coconut milk. As I tasted the flavoursome sauce, subtle yet, with a pronounced flavor, I was once again reminded of our Goan fish preparations with coconut milk. Gosh! The similarities were too many.

Encocado de pescado

Our caldeen is on these lines. And our basic Goan fish curry too. Of course we use prawns as well apart from fish. But so do the people of Ecuador. I was told that one should ideally use fresh coconut to make the sauce. Just as we Goans do. Both the coconut water and grated coconut flesh, but if you are in a rush, use canned coconut milk for convenience. Ah! The short cuts in modern rushed times, which we all resort to.

Back in Ecuador, Pescado encocado is typically served with rice and fried ripe plantains. You can also serve it with patacones or green plantain chips instead of the sweet ripe ones.

I was transported to heaven after my Ecuadorian meal of rice and Pescado encocado. You too must try it. It is really simple to prepare.

 

Pescado encocado or fish with coconut sauce

Recipe courtesy Pro Ecuador.

Yield: For 4-6 people

Pescado encocado or fish with coconut sauce is an Ecuadorian coastal dish of fish seasoned with citrus and spices and then cooked in a sauce of cilantro, onions, tomatoes, bell peppers and coconut milk.

Ingredients

  • 2 ½ lbs halibut or any other fresh fish, cut in medium size chunks
  • ¼ cup lime juice, from about 2 limes
  • Juice from 2 oranges
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp ground coriander seeds
  • 2 tbs sunflower or olive oil
  • 1 medium sized onion, diced
  • 2 bell peppers, diced
  • 4 roma tomatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 14 oz can of coconut milk
  • 3 tbs cilantro, finely chopped
  • Salt to taste

Instructions

  1. Mix the lime juice, orange juice, crushed garlic, cumin, paprika, coriander powder and salt in a small bowl.
  2. Marinate the fish chunks for 1 – 2 hours.
  3. Heat the oil to prepare a refrito or base for the sauce, add the diced onions, tomatoes, bell peppers and salt, cook for about 5 minutes on medium heat.
  4. Add the coconut milk to the refrito, mix it in well and cook for about 10 minutes, if you prefer a thicker sauce you can thicken the sauce by adding ½ tsp of tapioca starch or corn starch.
  5. Add the fish fillets, cover partially and let simmer for about 20-25 minutes.
  6. Sprinkle with cilantro and serve with rice and fried ripe plantains.

Mediterranean Fare and More…….

Aqaba at Lower Parel’s fashionable corporate address, Peninsula Business Park is any gourmet’s delight. A sprawling, 3000 sq. ft. restaurant with 1000 sq. ft. al fresco section, high ceilings and elegant décor, this restaurant is named after the quaint and picturesque coastal city in Jordan.

Aqaba’s menu, both all day dining and  the Aqaba specialty menu, is an amalgamation of  dishes from Greece, Turkey and Lebanon with provincial specialties from Southern Italy, Spain and Northern Africa. Fairly exhaustive, it is an exercise in choices, given the variety.

The outdoor al fresco section (currently not operational owing to the Monsoons) offering world cuisine overlooks lush lawns and provides a peaceful sanctuary throughout the day to its patrons. At sunset, the space gradually morphs into a lively tapas bar. I cannot wait to experience that.

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Tropical, the pineapple juice based drink with a hint of banana and lemon was refreshing and unique. An interesting blend of flavours and not cloyingly sweet.

Soup Harrira, was a simple, flavoursome Moroccan  soup, with a lentil base and lamb pieces. Nourishing and nutritious. Loved it. The presentation was equally a fest for the eyes.

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Our Spinach Roca salad cam next but was a bit disappointing as the quantity of goat cheese was highly inadequate. That in fact lead to the bitterness of the leaves in the salad getting accentuated.

The elaborate Mezze platter with six varieties more than made up for the salad. Shish touk the flame grilled chicken skewers were well-marinated.  Samak Meswi, the grouper fillets  grilled to perfection and served with tomato, preserved lime and garlic were mouth-watering. The fish was of a flawless texture, not disintegrating as in some places it does. But the highlight of the platter undisputedly was the lamb dolma.  Grapevine leaves stuffed with rice, lamb, nuts, mint and garlic, steamed and served with a lip-smacking dip. I could satiate myself with these alone. The garlic tzatziki had the right consistency and ingredients and was one of the nicer ones I have tasted.

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By now, our palates had been sufficiently wowed and could only get better, I was certain. And it did. Kotopoulo Stifado aka cinnamon flavoured chicken stew with mushrooms, potatoes, olives, tomatoes, onions served with an Aqaba pilaf was heavenly. Its aroma filled my nostrils as it arrived on the table.  A spoonful of it and we were transported into another world. Absolutely delicious.

The food at Aqaba surpassed my expectations and the service was flawless too. I only felt that the food its great quality notwithstanding was a wee bit overpriced and thus not exactly value for money. Especially the Kotopoulo Stifado. The quantity was not extraordinary, neither the ingredients exotic, to merit that kind of a price.

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We rounded off our meal aptly with a rose petal ice cream(again tiny, half scoops, albeit three) served with honey, pistachios and Cointreau(negligible Cointreau taste n flavour)

Overall, an enjoyable dining experience and Aqaba is definitely going to be the first choice of many a gourmand in Mumbai and visitors alike. Me included!

 

Cookout With Chef Seefah and more….

Thai food is my favourite and an opportunity to cook with Chef Seefah, a culinary wizard at Four Seasons Hotel Mumbai, was an invitation I could not resist. Giving up a Saturday afternoon in favour of this culinary pursuit, seemed worth it.

We were a small, coherent group and had a separate cooking station to ourselves. Chef Seefah, a petite young Chef, seemed even more enthusiastic than us. That really got me charged. We were going to prepare three Thai dishes with authentic ingredients, under her guidance and supervision.

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The ingredients were well laid out and we actually ground the Thai red curry paste ourselves. It was sheer joy. A sense of achievement filled me as Chef Seefah lauded my efforts for having ground a perfect paste. Vegetarian Thai red curry was what we prepared first. Felt good when it was ready and we served it in a bowl. Our very own culinary feat. Thai green curry with chicken now seemed like child’s play. That too turned out well. The green paste is aromatic and fills your nostrils as you sauté it in oil. It made me feel hungry.

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Som tam, the popular raw papaya salad was our last dish. Chef Seefah, made it look so easy and effortless as she pounded the ingredients deftly.

Another surprise lay in store for us, as we were treated to a Thai lunch with Chef Seefah’s signature dishes. Mi Grob Chao Wang (Fried Noodle in sweet and sour sauce), as the appetizer was perfect. Tingled my palate sufficiently with its subtle yet, tangy flavours. Steam Chilean Sea Bass Yellow Bean Ginger sauce with Thai Chicken Green Curry, came next. The otherwise fairly bland fish was pepped up with the yellow bean ginger sauce, flavours of which were unparalleled. Bua loy sam si ( Three – Colour Rice Dumpling in coconut Milk) was the traditional dessert, creatively prepared by Chef Seefah without any artificial flavours or colours.

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The event in association with the Thai consulate, was an enjoyable one and debunked several myth about Thai food. It is the authentic ingredients, which make all the difference. Thankfully, most of those are easily available in Mumbai now. Aren’t I glad I attended this event ? We had wonderful company, good food and the warm hospitality courtesy, Four Seasons Hotel.

Armed with tips from Chef Seefah, I am planning to cook a Thai meal soon!

Lush flavours of the Far East : Umame

Umame has somehow always intrigued me and I have been waiting for an opportunity to sample the Pan Asian cuisine here. What better time than the week-long Times City Gourmet Week I thought, so I hopped along for a lunch.

Umame’ which means the fifth flavour, a savoury taste derived from glutamates, is an apt name for this restaurant. As the name suggests, this flavour is different from the other four well-known flavours of sweet-sour-hot and salty, Umame the restaurant too, is distinct.

The spacious seating struck me as soon as we entered. The dark wood floorings, textured charcoal-coloured ceiling and a gleaming black marble bar are majestic and appealing. The Al-fresco area that overlooks the Oval Maidan is the highlight.

The set menu for the week is by no means limited. It offers something for every palate.  The Chicken Tinola soup which I tried was soothing. A clear soup, its subtle flavours teased my taste buds and the succulent pieces of chicken were delicious. My friend’s Vietnamese Tamarind soup of tender chicken was equally a surprise. It was not too spicy like normal hot n sour soups, and yet, replete with flavours. Vegetarians may opt for Roasted Pepper and tomato cappuccino or a Tom yum with tofu and straw mushrooms. Quite innovative I thought.

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My pepper crusted Alaskan cod with balsamic teriyaki glaze, served on a bed of sticky rice and greens was an absolute treat. Grilled to perfection, the teriyaki flavour complimented the cod and the bland sticky rice paired extremely well with it.  The flavours exploded in my mouth, yet, were not overpowering.

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The Thai style barbecued chicken which my friend selected, was served with steamed rice. It had the right amount of Thai flavours and was delightful, but not extraordinary. Vegetarians need not despair. Thai Green palace curry, Cottage cheese and water chestnuts steaks in Korean sesame sauce sound equally exotic.

What do I say about the dessert- My sweet mistake? It is pure indulgence and the best I have sampled in a long time. That is a mistake I’d love to repeat. Chocolatey with a soft, creamy texture, it simply melt in my mouth. and the presentation too was outstanding.

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For lunch, there are no appetizers, but for dinner, you have a vast array to choose from. Chicken sui mai, Dumpling of prawn n chive, barbecued cottage cheese and many more.

At Rs 1000 plus taxes for lunch per head and Rs 1200 plus taxes for dinner, dining at Umame is a steal. Undoubtedly, value-for-money. The team of Chefs, Dilshad and Farrokh Khambata can take a bow. Umame is a great fine dining place sans any pretense. The service however is a bit slow and the staff, a trifle confused.

Overall, a memorable dining experience. Be sure to go there this week, if you have not already and for regulars, once is not enough!