Tag Archives: Homechefs

Zesty flavours of Assam : O’Tenga

Having been born and brought up in Kolkata, Assam is quite close to my heart. Literally too, a State not too far away. With several friends from there, I have often sampled a lot of their local dishes. But of course many of those were unknown to me.

Mumbai is not exactly a place where you expect to find Assamese food. Have on an odd occasion tried some dishes at a pop-up but found those hugely disappointing.

Naturally then, when I heard about O’Tenga a delivery outfit started by two young Assamese girls, Joyee Mahanta and Priyangi Borthakur, serving Assamese home style food, I was intrigued. Apart from a 24-hour advance pre-order, one can also order from Swiggy for both lunch and dinner. They also offer meals on a daily or monthly basis.

It was their passion for their cuisine and the lack of it in Mumbai that made them start O’Tenga. Working on recipes from their mothers and grandmothers, the duo perfected each dish through trial and error, as they gave up their full-time jobs and took the plunge.

The menu includes traditional food like khar (made by filtering water through the ashes of sun-dried banana peels), xaak bhaji (lightly seasoned green, leafy vegetables), dail (lentils), tenga (a tangy curry), pitika (mashed potatoes), besides fish, chicken and mutton dishes.

I start my meal with khar, owing to its alkaline nature. This dish gets your stomach ready for the rest of the meal. The last dish again must be with tenga as it is acidic in nature.

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My meal comprising massor muro or fish head khar, chicken with black sesame paste – til diya murgi mangxo, paaleng xaak bhaji, dal, lau bilahi tenga or bottle gourd tenga, pitika, mutton, rice, was a delightful journey of comforting flavours. Appeasing to the eyes as well.

Each dish was distinct and boasted of simple flavours. Tangy, fragrant, piquant, aromatic, dishes wowed my palate in turn as I tried each of these. The textures were equally varied. I loved the use of mustard oil which is achingly familiar for my taste buds. The ingredients were, as expected the hero in each dish.

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No overpowering spices in their food at all. No forced attempt to dress up the food or make it look fancy either. And that to my mind was what made the food outstanding. It was like eating food at a friend’s home.

What makes their food authentic are the recipes of course but the ingredients locally sourced from Assam make all the difference. From guti aloo to bhut jalokia and kajinemu, they try to procure these from Assam. Of course vegetables, are picked up locally from Mumbai and fresh seasonal ones are preferred by them.

Abundant pork dishes on the menu for pork lovers and of course plenty of mutton, chicken and fish too. The vegetarian options too are sufficient and in fact the offerings are unique.

I rounded off my meal with the customary payox or payesh but with the addition of camphor, which was new for my taste buds.

A thoroughly enjoyable meal, affordably priced and extremely varied.  I am certainly waiting to try the other dishes on their menu.

Rating : 4/5

 

 

 

 

 

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Mangalorean Flavours From Home

Mangalorean cuisine is something we Mumbaikars crave for, as it is not easily available. Once in a while one is lucky to frequent a friend or relative’s home and relish a traditional meal. Even then, there are variations in a Mangalorean Hindu and Catholic meal.

The long drive to Four Points by Sheraton, Vashi, Navi Mumbai from the Western suburbs seemed tedious and long, but after the dinner at Asian Kitchen, curated and prepared by the home chef duo, Vijaya Bangera and Rekha Salian, under the guidance of Executive Chef Mukul Jha, I was glad to have made the journey. The ten day Mangalorean food festival ends tonight.

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The ambience at the restaurant was eclectic and vibrant, yet traditional. The buffet spread was vast with non vegetarian and vegetarian choices galore.

Pumpkin stew, struck me as extremely innovative. And the taste and flavours were indeed unique. Tomato Rasam, Kori Sukha, Bangude Puli Munchi, Neer Dosa with Jinji chutney and the Mangalorean staple Ganjee rice, were some of the dishes on offer.

Speaking about this festival, Chef Mukul Jha, Executive Chef, said, “Mangalorean cuisine is known for its fresh and spicy flavors with rice and fish being staple preparations owing to its coastal origin. We wanted our guests to experience a traditional home cooked meal by our home chef duo who will prepare nothing but the best and leave you with a taste of authentic Mangalorean food.”

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Each dish was distinct from the other. The masalas for each, was prepared by the home chefs from scratch. No ready made masalas for these ladies. They prefer to labour and get it right. That is what set this meal apart and gave it the feel of a home-cooked meal, all the way.

The chicken curry was light and flavourful. Appeased my taste buds. Paired well with the Kori roti or Mangalorean rice wafers. The spices were subtle yet, evident in each spoonful. The mutton curry in the typical Kundapur coarsely ground spices, was fiery and lip-smacking. It was comparatively more robust, but not overpowered by spices again.

Their fish curry was quite different from the one, we Goans are used to. Delectable nevertheless. I relished it with red rice, the way I do at home.

Of course the food was spicy and replete with coconut. Dried chillies (badige), pepper, coriander, cumin, turmeric, cardamom, cloves and cinnamon and tamarind, were the other ingredients which were predominant.

The vegetarian preparations like Genasu Podi (Sweet Potato Chips), Bisi Bele Bhat, were outstanding too and well-made.

The desserts were tradtional as well. Banana Halwa, Hannu Kesari Bhat, Sweet Appams and Godhi Payasam were the perfect finale to a grand meal.

The passion and enthusiasm of the home chefs was infectious and their humility was overwhelming. They obviously loved to cook and were beaming politely at the words of appreciation coming their way.

It was easily one of the most enjoyable meals I have had in a while. Even though the venue was a hotel, the flavours were quintessentially, home type. Add to that, prompt service, alert staff, warm hospitality and a traditional ambience. Naturally then, it was a memorable dining experience.

 

Fun, Fusion and Fashionably Simple

Goan food is something every gourmet dreams of. Chicken Cafreal is the quintessential favourite of every Goan when it comes to a non-seafood or meat dish. Although a rare occurrence. Perhaps one of the best known chicken dishes in Goan cuisine, apart from Xacuti. In fact, any food lover enjoys this dry, spicy and mouth-watering preparation as a side dish.

Naturally then, even though this is something fairly regular in our Goan household, I was curious and excited to try the Haute Chef version of the Chicken Cafreal.

Haute Chef is a unique “meal kit” concept, built around incredible cooking experiences. They send a box of pre-measured, labeled ingredients along with easy to follow step-by-step instructions, to put together a truly gourmet dish in your home kitchen. No hassles of planning, shopping, measuring. It couldn’t get any simpler, trust me.

 

Whew! I decided to give their Chicken Cafreal a shot. Of course I knew how to prepare it, but their recipe was interesting and I loved the way they suggested we serve it with veggies and the akhrot or walnut dip, instead of a basic salad we often eat with.

Curated by chefs trained at the Culinary Institute of America (CIA), the recipes are simple enough keeping novice cooks in mind.

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The ingredients struck me as fresh and of an outstanding quality. The recipe and instructions too, were easy to comprehend.

The green marinade, I must confess, was quite different from the one we make at home and are used to. We add lime juice or Goan vinegar in our green marinade masala. This one was more like a spicy coriander and mint chutney. But produced delicious results nevertheless.

Also, our first marinade is generally not just salt and lime, as mentioned in this recipe, but a garlic ginger paste too.

I followed the recipe, faithfully and yes, was rewarded with a flavoursome, spicy Chicken Cafreal, in 35 minutes. I relished it with the veg crudites and akhrot aioli. This one was fairly different from the cafreal I am used to. And that is what made it so unique. That little twist, I guess, was needed.

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The Haute Chef boxes come well-packed with fresh ingredients, simple instructions and the meals are definitely a value for money. What’s more, you are elated as you have made it all by yourself.

Batti ka chop with pineapple chutney and gur imli chutney, Amritsari masala paneer with tajini raita, sarson ka saag ki tikki with makki salsa, are some of their other avant garde offerings which are enticing me. Fusion and fun stuff. I like it. Waiting to try some more for sure.

Rating : 3.5/5

 

 

A Little Bit of Gujarat On My Plate

The sweet-sour taste of Gujarati food is what draws me to it and always has. I love the way, the hint of sweetness, enhances the other latent flavours. With my fetish for this cuisine, I found myself heading to Sofitel Mumbai BKC for their Padharo Gujarat food festival complete with dance, folk music, puppet shows et al

Tuskers, the all vegetarian restaurant at the Hotel which boasts of a separate kitchen to ensure the purity of vegetarian food, played host to this food festival. Quite naturally, all the Gujarati food was strictly vegetarian and yet, lip-smacking.

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The well-arranged thali, was a treat for the eyes. Farsan in a Gujarati meal is always the highlight and the vatana ghugra and khaman dhokla served to us were no different. Delectable flavours of the starters paired with tangy chutneys was the perfect beginning to our meal. Prepared by 2 Home Chefs Neha Varma and Urmila Gohil, along with the Maharaj Jankidas Vaishnav, at Tuskers, the meal was bound to be a unique experience. And it was.

The aam panna was refreshing and energized us completely.

Neha Varma  one of the Home Chefs told me, “Working at Sofitel Mumbai BKC, was as comfortable as my own home kitchen and that helped me serve up the right balance in the cuisine. Gujarati cuisine has a sweet touch and the combination of flavours is designed to please every palate.”​  There could be no greater compliment for the Hotel, I thought.

Gujarati Specialists

The Phangavela Mug-Mut No Salad was fresh and wholesome. Something that I enjoy wholeheartedly. For the mains we were served, an array of Gujarati delicacies. Ringna-Batata Sambharyo, Surti Kadhi, Undhyo, sev tamatar, dal, theplas, bajra rotla and of course khichdi. The delicate flavours of each dish were distinct and no where did the spices over power the taste buds. They gently teased the palate, leaving us craving for more. With so much of variety, of course no monotony would have set in and the brilliant Home chefs ensured, none did. Each dish was different and had its own identity. The food was home style, with less or negligible oil and the ingredients absolutely fresh.

The surti kadi and undhyo were two dishes which were outstanding, as far as I was concerned.

The desserts, after the sumptuous main course, sadly did not match up to our expectations.

The service was warm and hospitable, in keeping with the Gujarati household culture and Sofitel Mumbai BKC’s tradition.  A thoroughly enjoyable evening, well spent over a heart-warming meal.

On till February 28, make your way quickly and savour this authentic meal.

Rating: 3.5/5