Salads are my weakness and Ministry of Salads sounded just like what I needed on this hot and humid Mumbai summer afternoon. So I trooped off to Bhulabhai Desai Road and lo behold, was pleasantly surprised to see this small, but cute and intimate café like eaterie. Salads galore, wraps, sandwiches, healthy juices. The display shelves were replete with the chicest of fresh ingredients and those looked so inviting. Behind the counters, the chefs were deftly tossing salads and preparing sandwiches. Looked like a lot of hard work.
What’s more, just like make your own pizza or a wok these days, one could make one’s own salad. And there was a lot to choose from. Base, grains, exotic, comfort, pickles, muscle, being some of the several interesting categories. Strictly vegetarian, the place has so much on offer, that even carnivores will not complain.
I settled for a watermelon and feta cheese salad. One of my all time favourites. Fresh and light, but not extraordinary. The use of rock melon was clever and it complimented the water melon in more ways than one. The Big Mix with green apple, rocket leaves, cherry tomatoes, broccoli et al, boasted of a distinct roasted flavour and appeased my palate. The walnuts offered the right element of crunch and the tart green apple was palate pleasing. The lemon mirin dressing further enhanced the flavour quotient.
The unique feature of each salad was their freshness and superior quality ingredients. That’s what made it stand apart.
Apart from Signature Salads, there are sandwiches and wraps too, if you are still hungry. The Pesto Wich sandwich in a multigrain bread was equally a treat for my taste buds. Laden with mozarella, zucchini, tomatoes, bell peppers, there was something familiar and comforting about it. Very home style.
The Leb Mex wrap, was a pleasant surprise. Made of a spinach dough, the wrap felt healthy from word go with hummus, zucchini, spinach and jalapenos. It could have been a little more substantial I thought. Felt a little inadequate, given the price.
My Pomegranate, ginger and celery cleanser was freshness and wellness personified. Loved it from the first sip. Green apple, carrot, lemon and honey was equally a healthy potion. There are a plethora of options to suit each one’s taste preferences. So no question of boredom setting in.
Apart from the table menu for a dining in experience, there is a takeaway menu. The salads are exceedingly well packed and not mercilessly stuffed in a box. I was happy to witness that.
Lucky people in that area who can order in every other day.
A global concept of a place dedicated to salads this place will be a haven for the health conscious.
Rating : 3.5/5
People in Bandra are going to be excited this Friday. Café Basilico, one of Bandra’s hotspots, returns in a new avatar at a new location on Hill Road. Reason enough to celebrate. I missed it terribly, for the short while that it was away.
I was lucky to get a sneak preview. The menu clearly looked interesting with a strong focus on local produce, I noticed.
Not surprising, as the produce is going to be sourced directly from Farhan’s Bhiwandi farm. I am all for seasonal produce and fresh ingredients. Makes a world of difference to flavours in food.
The roast organic tomato soup was comforting, more so as I chatted animatedly with a friend. The smoky flavour was distinct and soothed my taste buds. The slight piquancy enhanced the flavours.
The fig and goat cheese salad was hearty and the ingredients, fresh and crunchy. The Mozarella and Chicken croquettes salad too was interesting and had unique contrasting flavours. We were off to a good start.
The signature Mediterranean Platter was a treat and the baba ghanoush and hummus particularly appealed to me.
One can rarely go wrong with prawns and the peri peri sea food prawns were fresh and succulent, with a dash of spice to them, just enough to tingle our palates.
The assorted vegetarian tempuras too were well made. I did not enjoy the falafel in comparison.
But it was the Harissa Chicken which got my vote. The chicken was grilled to perfection and swathed in the harissa sauce, it simply melt in the mouth, leaving the taste buds crave for more.
The Basa too was well-marinated, and surprisingly I enjoyed it. And that is a huge compliment considering I dislike Basa immensely. Only creative chefs can turn that around and make it tasty and appealing. Chef Das certainly managed to do that.
What struck me as interesting was the fact that Café Basilico boasts of an extensive menu with several vegan options curated by Ayesha. That truly is much needed today. Kudos!
For people like me who love breads, this place is a haven.The Sandwiches and burgers section is exhaustive. Hummus & Iceberg or the Chermoula Grilled Chicken sandwiches and the Blue Cheese Beef Steak or the Soya, Barley & Mushroom Burgers, there is something for every palate.
Café Basilico’s pizzas are all prepared from their traditionally organic tomato sauce with vegan options too. That’s not all. There is an array of pastas to choose from too.
One can be experimental and enjoy one’s meal with seasonal fresh fruit juices, flavoured coolers or refreshing lemonade, iced teas and coolers like Tropical Guava Cooler or Cucumber Cooler.
The menu never ceased to surprise me. There were a plethora of coffees, green tea, premium teas and caffeine free herbal infusions too. And yes desserts too.
The mini tarts- chocolate, mango and lemon that we sampled were delicious as far as the filling went, but the tart was too soft and crumbly.
Overall, the food is of a very good quality, as is the variety and presentation. The decor is elegant and subtle and gives you the feel of a global cafe, yet, providing you privacy, if you want.
Cafe Basilico lived up to my expectations yet again.
Fun times are back in Bandra and how!
Rating : 3.5/5
I have a soft corner for puddings. Very English. Very story bookish. But I love them nevertheless. Puddings can be of different types and even using varied cooking methods- boiling, baking, steaming.
A pudding instantly brings to my mind, the bread pudding my husband makes for me, on rare occasions though. Flavoured with raisins and with a caramel base, it is unparalleled. What’s more it is steamed.So light and healthy too. Well, some amount of indulgence is permitted right?
My all time favourite is the regular Bread Butter Pudding with buttered slices of white bread, baked with egg and condensed milk. I give it a twist with vanilla beans. Oh! the aroma is to die for. Arrange the bread soaked in milk. Cover it with custard along with roasted nuts and bake it in a double boiler. This one never fails you. Me for sure. One has to be careful with the nutmeg though. Just a pinch, is a lot.
I recently tasted a Salted caramel brownie pudding at a Hotel in Mumbai. It was delicious.I am itching to make it at home myself. A sticky toffee pudding if well-made is irresistible too. But I somehow love fruits in my puddings. Seasonal ones of course.
An otherwise chocolate fan, when it comes to puddings, I prefer to skip this and try other ingredients. Strange but true. A friend of mine does a unusual tapioca pudding. Apart from the taste, the texture is unique. Our very own Rice pudding or kheer is common in India and delectable as well. A must-have on any festival or special occasion.
There are hundreds of variations of sweet puddings in England but each one begins with the same basic ingredients of milk, sugar, eggs, flour and butter. Sinful, but necessary.
Given the lifestyle choices we all make today, healthy substitutes can be used when making puddings. They should as a matter of fact.
With the advent of summer, I love to make a fresh fruit pudding using seasonal fruits and lots of nuts and honey. I also do an interesting sesame soy milk pudding. But that is great for winters. Gives warmth. Comforting too.
But without a doubt, I wait all year through for a Christmas Pudding, which easily surpasses all others. One cannot go through the season without digging into a rich one. Many hotels in Mumbai serve a great one. Generally, I like to make mine at home too. Laborious, but worth it.
Puddings need not be sweet only. Surprised? Have you ever tried the East Indian liver pudding? It is a savoury pudding which is generally used a stuffing for chicken. It is absolutely lip-smacking.
Another pudding which left an indelible mark on my taste buds is a cheese and leek pudding I sampled years ago at a restaurant in London. Nothing beats the light and fluffy, Yorkshire pudding with a gravy though.
My mouth is watering now. So what shall it be tonight? A sweet or a savoury pudding. Sweet naturally!
Now that the festive season is over, and we have begun a new year, may be we all want to eat light and healthy for a few days at least. I sure am trying. It is a healthy winter soup each night for dinner- pumpkin, cauliflower, spinach, and so on. I also tried an interesting turkey lentil soup recently. Aromatic, flavourful and warm. A soup is meant to be an appetiser, but sometimes ends up becoming the meal itself.
Not that I am feeling guilty for the over-indulgence. But it’s just nice to give the body a bit of a rest before we start again. Salads, soups, wraps, sandwiches can be varied and healthy. A low calorie meal can still satisfy your hunger.
And trust me, these need not be bland or boring. Can be carefully planned and jazzed up. Who can ever tire of the classic soup and salad meal? Not me for sure. I love it. Only make sure your salads are varied and have many colourful ingredients, so that boredom does not set in.
A hearty soup stock with winter vegetables is satisfying enough or at best pair it with a sandwich made with leftover chicken or ham. And yes, wholewheat bread. When eating a salad, try and avoid heavy salad dressings or dips. I prefer a lot of mustard instead, or even lime, for that zing in a salad.
A salad with mixed leafy greens, crunchy celery, carrots and tomatoes makes for a delicious meal. For a heartier salad, add tuna or salmon, croutons and cheese. Yes, a bit of cheating is allowed, if only to pamper your taste buds a bit. Jazz up your salad with seasonal fruits. Nothing like apples and oranges in salads. A sea food salad is a good bet too.
Pasta salad makes a filling, but still light, meal. Add veggies to your pasta, as well as some chicken, and a dash of olive oil and you have a tasty meal ready.
Wraps with smoked chicken are one of my favourites. The wraps should be of whole wheat though. Or a falafel wrap maybe?
One must keep in mind that more of protein and less carbs is ideal these days. And of course fatty foods and fried stuff should be completely avoided. Red meat is best stayed away from. After all you have had enough of sorpotel and sanna during Christmas. Haven’t you?
Steamed vegetables, legumes and beans are again a wonderful way to detox your body. Keep away from those sausages, burgers, nuggets and pate. Those may be handy and easy to consume, but are heavy and far from healthy. Processed food is a big no-no for me.
Consciously add green leafy vegetables, whole grains to your diet. Hummus chicken with brown rice pilaf is a treat and yet, light. The brown rice chicken pilaf at Nothing But Chicken or their Bistro salad are great options too.
So keep eating light and healthy meals the next few days, to ease off your system. Stay fit, Stay healthy. Tell me how January goes.
A bit late in the day to visit the much acclaimed The Fatty Bao in Bandra West, Mumbai. But it’s never too late, as they say and 2015 is not yet over!
Innovative Asian fare is what I had set out to experience. Yes, there’s a cool bar too, but I was not exactly seeking cocktails on this balmy afternoon.
The place was buzzing and I could get the waft of aromas which made me even more hungry.
The steamed Bao, with diverse fillings was what I was looking forward to. Pan seared chicken with spicy mayonnaise and pickled cucumber filled generously in a Bao, presented itself as we ordered the Teriyaki Glazed Chicken.
The chicken was well done, yet, succulent and had a good bite to it. Enveloped in the teriyaki sauce, it added a zest and zing to the palate. The mayonnaise further lent an exciting texture to the filling. Loved every morsel of this. Filling and replete with fresh ingredients, this one was a winner all the way.
Just as our palates were absorbing the taste of the Bao, our prawns in xo sauce arrived. Fresh, juicy prawns, swathed in this interesting sauce, but did not really stand out, to my mind, after the outstanding Bao.
The steamed Edamame with sea salt was crunchy as it was flavourful, albeit subtle. Simple yet, luscious flavours. One almost felt healthy biting into that.
Fatty Bao is indeed the perfect destination for a quick lunch or a leisurely dinner. The service is quick, yet not overtly overbearing.
This place is bound to appeal to anyone who appreciates well-crafted drinks like Fatty Sour and Mickey Ninja, as well as inventive Asian food served in a vibrant and chic atmosphere.
You know you are in safe hands, as the country’s most popular chefs – Manu Chandra and his trusted lieutenants Chef Prashanth Puttaswamy and Chef Karishman Dubash, are at the helm.
I loved the fact that The Fatty Bao’s menu is firmly steeped in fresh Asian flavours and yet is quirky and fun.
Open Baos, Dim Sums, Soulful Chasu Ramen, melt in the mouth Pork Belly, Lamb Shanks braised in a Masssaman curry, are some of the must-try dishes on this exhaustive menu.
The Malaysian Kapitan Chicken curry paired well with our Chilli Basil Chicken noodles. The curry offered comforting flavours and was soulful. Just right for this weather. A medley of textures and flavours juxtaposed flawlessly.
We rounded off our meal with The Passion Fruit Pannacotta. It was creamy and melt-in-the-mouth. The passion fruit flavour was predominant and the honey comb added the right amount of crunch and element of sweetness in the otherwise tart dessert. The pannacotta, was not too sweet and yet, fulfilled the craving for a dessert.
The Fatty Bao, has won me over with its food and service. It is the contemporary twist to the Asian flavours that really sets this place apart.
Rating : 4/5
Le Pain Quotidien is not a cafe I generally frequent in Mumbai. But alas! I want to remedy that now. I stepped in for lunch yesterday to sample their new menu to commemorate their 25th birthday worldwide and discovered what I have been missing for such a long time.
Known for its farm fresh ingredients, pure and organic, it is indeed a delight to dine here and more so now with the new menu which actually tells you where those fresh ingredients are sourced from. Yes, the names of the vendors are listed there. I really appreciate this transparency. Makes one feel so comfortable in the knowledge that you know where, what you are eating, is coming from. Kudos!
Seasonal and local produce is what LPQ is promoting with a vengeance. And I love that concept of Think local, Be Global.
The new menu has 50% new inclusions. There is a sumptuous breakfast and brunch, all day meals which include drinks, soups, salads, tartines, main course and of course desserts.
A whole new section of set breakfasts- The Farmer, The Angler, The Desi and The Botanist, have been introduced with something for everyone’s palate, uniquely presented in an LPQ-way. I am definitely coming back to try this.
Long-standing favorites are still on the menu, including the famous Belgian Waffle, Eggs Benedict, the signature Smoked Chicken & Cheddar Tartine, The Cobb Salad, Spinach & Ricotta Ravioli or Chicken Stroganoff.
The new menu has a special focus on vegetarian and botanical (or vegan) offerings. More than before, shall I say. But of course, there’s a lot for carnivores too.
We sipped our Green Juice with kale, green apple, celery, lemon & ginger and I have never enjoyed a fresh juice more. Tangy, tart, spicy, sweet, it was a medley of all this and more. One could taste each ingredient. Rejuvenated me instantly.
Our Detox Salad with mixed sprouts, red cabbage, kale, carrot, red spinach and chia seeds came next. A visual delight for sure. Normally, I would have perceived this to be boring and insipid. But I was proven wrong. It was delicious and the fresh ingredients, the crunch and the bite that it offered in abundance, got this one, my vote instantly. And yes, I certainly got that boost and my vitamins for the day.
The sharing platter- Botanical left me speechless. The oven roasted tomato tapenade was luscious and teased my palate no end. Paired well with the in-house rye bread. The quinoa scramble was an absolute treat. The black olive tapenade and the exotic veggies were great too. It was difficult to hold oneself back and we nearly polished off the entire platter.
The Salmon and ricotta Tartines (open bread sandwiches) struck me as unique. The salmon was of the highest quality and completely melt in the mouth slices. The layer of cheese on it enhanced the flavour by adding the right amount of zest to it.
The Omega 3 Avocado Mash Tartine is a new addition and one you should not miss. Creamy and flavourful, there is a burst of flavours in one’s mouth.
In the main course, the Kasundi Mustard Basa with the red rice risotto swept me off my feet. The otherwise, insipid and flavourless Basa had been perked up beyond imagination with the mustard and the subtle spices. The well made risotto complimented it to perfection.
Each dish surpassed my expectations and Chef Amit had proven his culinary magic yet again.
Decadent desserts are on offer. Be it the new entries, Baba au Rum or the Belgian Chocolate &Cacao Cake or the all time favorite Soft-Centred Chocolate Cake and Apple Crumble with vanilla ice cream.
We were asked to try the Belgian chocolate & cacao cake and it was the perfect recommendation. Rich, gooey, melt in the mouth chocolate in a soft, well-baked cake. This was pure sin. The peach and almond pie was equally a delight in a crunchy crust base with a soft and creamy topping.
Alain Coumont, the Belgian chef and restaurateur, and founder of Le Pain Quotidien has lots to be proud of.
I had one of my best dining experiences at LPQ BKC, Mumbai in a long time.